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TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 OL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

THE BIG UGLIES!!! One thing that is incredible about learning as much as you can about football is realizing how important the O-Line play is. If your team can’t block then it’s screwed. I think the evolution of talent evaluation and where it ranks in building a team roster is interesting though. As teams become more pass heavy, it’s important to realize how to build a winning team. You always have to build your team up with a QB, but for the longest time the thought was that after QB, your LT was the most important position. I think in recent NFL drafts you have seen that change in that teams will now be more likely to build their teams at QB first, but then start in with edge rushers, corners and interior defensive linemen. In an odd way this legitimizes just how important the offensive lineman are, because if teams are valuing D-Linemen at an all time high, then the O-Linemen needed to block them must be equally as important.

One things seems certain. You might be able to have a bad team with a good offensive line because you haven’t properly surrounded that particular O-Line with the right pieces, but it’s practically impossible to have a good team with a bad O-Line. This should illustrate just how important these positions are.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Jonah Williams/6’5/301lbs/SO: Williams immediately stepped into the starting role at right tackle as a true freshman and didn’t disappoint earning 3rd Team All-SEC honors playing opposing Cam Robinson who was himself a 1st Team All-American. According to Alabama statistics, Williams actually graded out as a better O-Lineman than Robinson which is crazy. Earned Alabama’s offensive player of the week 5 different times. Didn’t allow a sack in games against LSU or Texas A&M! Williams looks like a 1st Rd. pick.
Computer Hope Frank Ragnow/6’6/319lbs/SR: Ragnow is the best center in college football and should have no problems being a 1st Team All-American. He’s incredibly smart and will be an NFL starter sooner rather than later. In what has to be one of the most amazing stats of current college football players, Ragnow hasn’t allowed a QB sack for two straight seasons! Arkansas should be a lot better on the O-Line this year with 4 starters returning. Devwah Whaley should run well & Austin Allen will be well protected by Ragnow.
Computer Hope Braden Smith/6’6/305lbs/SR: Smith turned down overtures from the NFL last season to return to Auburn for his senior year. A big nasty on the interior of the Tigers O-Line, Smith will kick out to right tackle this year to help protect new QB Jarrett Stidham, the transfer from Baylor. Smith was a 3rd Team All-American as a junior. He was a 2nd Team All-SEC player as a sophomore and made the All-SEC freshman team as a true frosh. He’s made 27 straight starts. He’ll have no trouble moving to RT this year.
Computer Hope Mitch Hyatt/6’5/295lbs/JR: Hyatt stepped in as a freshman in 2015 and started at LT for 15 starts, protecting Deshaun Watson’s blindside as Clemson barely lost to Alabama 45-40 in the national championship game. He did the same as a sophomore except this time Clemson closed the deal and beat the Crimson Tide 35-31. In two seasons as a starter at LT, Clemson is 28-2 during Hyatt’s tenure. Hyatt was a freshman All-American in 2015 and was 1st Team All-ACC in 2016. He’ll be an integral part for Clemson.
Computer Hope Martez Ivey/6’5/305lbs/JR: An outstanding talent, Ivey was considered the best O-Line prospect in the 2015 high school recruiting class by Phil Steele. The Florida native chose the Gators over practically ever other program in the country. Has made 20 starts at LG over his first two seasons but Florida is finally moving him to LT where they had hoped he would eventually wind up. Ivey should handle the transition well. He earned 2nd Team All-SEC honors last season. Florida has yet to not win the SEC East with Ivey.
Computer Hope Will Clapp/6’3/309lbs/rJR: Clapp was an outstanding interior O-Lineman last year for the Tigers helping Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette combine to rush for 2230 yards & 23TD! Those numbers aren’t a typo! Clapp earned 1st Team All-SEC honors last year at LG and will make the switch to C after Ethan Pocic moved on to the Seattle Seahawks. Pocic was a 2nd Team All-American and I’ve read reports where quite a few people felt Clapp outplayed Pocic at times in 2016. If true, Clapp is in for a monster year.
Computer Hope Maea Teuhema/6’5/315lbs/JR: Big and nasty! Teuhema hasn’t gotten a ton of national attention just yet but I think that is about to change as he’s a legitimate All-American candidate who is going to pave the way for Derrius Guice to have a monster year that should put him in the Heisman discussion. Teuhema was a freshman All-American back in 2015 when he started at LG. Last year he kicked out to RT as a starter but should kick back in to RG this year as his run blocking is outstanding. He could be a 1st Rd. pick.
Computer Hope Mason Cole/6’5/305lbs/SR: Mason Cole became the first player in Wolverines history to start a season opening game on the O-Line back in 2014. Cole has bounced around a bit on Michigan’s O-Line being a tackle in 2015 before being move to center in 2016 an earning 1st Team All-Big 10 honors. Cole will bounce back out to LT this season as the most veteran offensive lineman on Michigan’s line. He’s started in every Michigan game since arriving in Ann Arbor. Cole will be extremely important this year for Michigan.
Computer Hope Brian Allen/6’2/305lbs/SR: Allen is somewhat of an undersized interior lineman who has spent most of his career playing guard for the Spartans but will slide into the center’s role in 2017 for a Michigan St. squad that should be pretty young. Allen is very smart and plays with a mean streak which you see oftentimes in the Big 10 with their interior linemen. He’s been a 2nd Team All-Big 10 lineman the last two seasons. The Spartans will need an outstanding leader on the O-Line and Allen should provide that for Michigan St. in ’17.
Computer Hope Greg Little/6’6/332lbs/SO: Little is HUGE at 6’6/332lbs and has the athleticism and quickness to stick at LT despite his weight. Little really started to get attention in Ole Miss’ 29-28 win at Texas A&M when he held Myles Garrett to just one tackle. Little was considered the best O-Lineman in the 2016 high school class according to Phil Steele and eventually became the starting LT for the Rebels over their last 5 games. He’ll have the responsibility of protecting Shea Patterson’s blindside in what will be a trying season for Ole Miss.
Computer Hope Martinas Rankin/6’5/305lbs/rSR: Rankin came from the junior college ranks to Starkville and didn’t waste much time making an impression. He became the Bulldogs’ starting LT after 3 games and did a great job pass protecting for MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald who had a great season. Rankin also did a solid job in a highly effecting MSU rushing attack. He tested the NFL waters after last season but was given a 2nd round grade so Rankin decided to come back to Mississippi St. and try to improve his draft stock.
Computer Hope Mike McGlinchey/6’8/312lbs/rSR: Amazingly enough Mike McGlinchey never played LT until last season and wound up a 3rd team All-American. McGlinchey is a natural left tackle with a mean streak. He has great size at 6’8 and almost 320lbs. Has elite athleticism and arm length combined with heavy hands. He loves to run block and I’ve read reports where some scouts think he’s quite a bit better than his former teammate Ronnie Stanley who was the 6th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He can get even better.
Computer Hope Quenton Nelson/6’5/329lbs/rJR: Big and nasty, Nelson is arguably the best guard in college football. He’s huge at 6’5/330lbs and has done a great job opening up holes on the defense during his tenure with the Irish. Nelson has somewhat of a mean streak and is incredibly smart. He’s good in pass protection as well and has had excellent coaching from Notre Dame OL coach Harry Hiestand. Combined with McGlinchey, the Irish have two potential All-Americans who could be 1st round picks. I think he’ll get better.
Computer Hope Billy Price/6’4/312lbs/rSR: Price isn’t flash but all he’s done since arriving in Columbus is start every game for the Buckeyes during a 3-year period in which Ohio St. posted a record of 37-4 and was the starting LG for the national championship team of 2014. Price is moving to center and Phil Steele makes him a 1st Team All-American in his annual, putting him above Arkansas’s Frank Ragnow. He’s gotten much better in pass protection and is already an outstanding run blocker. Price is extremely valuable.
Computer Hope Orlando Brown/6’8/360lbs/rJR: Not quite as big as Washington St.’s Cody O’Connell but Brown is enormous at 6’8/360lbs. Brown had a banner year last season earning 2nd Team All-American honors and being named the Big 12’s offensive lineman of the year. Brown will be a tricky NFL grade. He’s outstanding for the Sooners protecting Baker Mayfield in their high octane offense but he has trouble being in a 3-point stance and is obviously not very quick at the point of attack. Gotta love his size though.
Computer Hope Connor Williams/6’6/288lbs/JR: Immediately started at LT for the Longhorns as a true freshman and earned Freshman All-American honors. Followed that up last season as a sophomore by become only the 4th player in Texas history to be a 1st Team All-American as a true sophomore! Williams will be immensely important in Texas’s ability to compete in the Big XII because he needs to keep QB Shane Buechele upright. He needs to put on a bit more weight to his frame, but he’s probably NFL ready right now.
Computer Hope Scott Quessenberry/6’4/315lbs/rSR: Quessenberry has racked up 30 career starts for the Bruins and is the most veteran lineman for UCLA’s squad this season. I think Quessenberry is going to be an integral part of UCLA’s season because of the return of Josh Rosen. Rosen needs to have a huge season after his disappointing 2016 campaign and obviously having a great center would be important. Quessenberry is a smart savvy player on the interior and should do a great job quarterbacking the O-Line for UCLA.
Computer Hope Trey Adams/6’8/320lbs/JR: Adams enters the 2017 collegiate football season as arguably the best O-Line prospect in college football. He’s ENORMOUS at 6’8/320lbs with the athletic ability to play LT. Last season Adams was a 1st Team All-Pac 12 lineman and also garnered 2nd Team All-American honors. Adams really got noticed with how well he played against Alabama’s fantastic edge rushers in last year’s playoffs. He has great athleticism for his size & should continue to get better. He’s a top-5 pick in the NFL Draft.
Computer Hope Cody O’Connell/6’8/370lbs/rSR: When your nickname is “THE CONTINENT” you belong on a Terrific 20 list! O’Connell is obviously enormous and it’s interesting that he plays guard in the sense that he’s so tall at 6’8 that most coaches feel that a man of his size would clog up the passing lanes. Oddly enough Luke Falk had no problems passing for almost 4500 yards with almost 40TDs! He’s obviously not athletic enough to play in the NFL at a tackle spot but he was a 1st Team All-American guard last year!
Computer Hope Beau Benzschawel/6’6/316lbs/rJR: A kid from Wisconsin with the name Beau Benzschawel is simply destined to play on the offensive line for the Badgers. Benzschawel started in all of Wisconsin’s 14 games last year at RG and earned 2nd Team All Big 10 honors. Benzschawel is a terrific interior lineman with excellent size at 6’6 and almost 320lbs. He’s got a real chance to be a 1st Team All-American this year & make himself into a 1st Round NFL Draft pick. Wisconsin always turns out solid O-Lineman.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Alex Leatherwood/Alabama/6’6/327lbs: Arguably the best O-Lineman in the 2017 recruiting class, Leatherwood enrolled early at Alabama and is now the projected starting RT for the Crimson Tide going into the season. Leatherwood was a Parade All-American as a HS senior and also an Under Armour All-American. It’s not like Alabama’s depth chart is devoid of talent. There are high school All-Americans everywhere so the fact that Leatherwood immediately steps into the starter’s role means something. It means even more considering Alabama is the odds on favorite to win the national championship. Leatherwood should move to LT when Jonah Williams moves on and I’m guessing that Leatherwood is a 1st round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Foster Sarell/Stanford/6’7/320lbs and Walker Little/Stanford/6’7/315lbs: It feels wrong to have a Terrific 20 list of offensive linemen and not see anyone from Stanford or Iowa make the list. Sarell and Little could rectify that problem for the Cardinal as soon as this year. According to Phil Steele, Sarell was the best O-Line recruit in the 2017 class while Little was considered a top-10 O-Lineman. Both immediately become the most talented O-Linemen on the Stanford roster the minute they hit campus and I can’t help but think they won’t get significant playing time early. Both are tall. Both have the requisite bulk to play at the collegiate level so neither should require any redshirting to get their size up enough to play in the Pac 12. David Bright is the projected starting LT this year but Bright is 6’5/299lbs and spent time at left guard last season. The projected RT is AT Hall who is 6’3/287lbs, hardly the right size to play a mauling tackle position on the strong side. Hall started 13 games at tackle last year with 11 of them coming on the left side, but he’s projected to slide right. I wouldn’t be shocked if Sarell and Little take over the tackle spots at some point this season.

Jack Anderson/Texas Tech/6’5/315lbs: A Texas Tech legacy, Anderson was a high school All-American who turned down offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami-FL, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M and UCLA for a chance to play for the Red Raiders. He was the crown jewel for Kliff Kingsbury’s 2017 recruiting class and is projected to start right away fro the Red Raiders at guard. Anderson is an incredibly smart and intense O-Lineman that likes to maul. Guard suits him well and that is probably where he will wind up in the NFL, but at Texas Tech I could see him eventually move to RT. I think it’s a big year for Texas Tech. They break in a new starter at QB after Pat Mahomes left for the Kansas City Chiefs, but if Anderson works out then the O-Line should be really good with 3 starters returning at WR. Kingsbury & Texas Tech need to get to a bowl. Anderson could be a big part of that up front on the interior line.

Tommy Kraemer/Notre Dame/6’6/313lbs: Kraemer is arguably the most talented O-Lineman in the 2016 recruiting class but actually redshirted last season because the Irish O-Line depth was so deep. Mike McGlinchey & Alex Bars were the starting tackles. Quenton Nelson & Collin McGovern were the guards while Sam Mustipher held down the center position. Bars is moving to RG because ND can’t keep Kraemer down any longer and he’s projected to be the right tackle. The Irish are in a unique situation because in reality they could have as many as 4 potential All-Americans on the O-Line in McGlinchey, Nelson, Bars & Mustipher. ND also has a TREMENDOUS amount of weapons on offense with guys like Josh Adams, Alize Mack, Durham Smythe and Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, CJ Sanders, Chase Claypool and Dexter Williams. What will be interesting is the play of QB Brandon Wimbush who is coming off a redshirt year watching Deshone Kizer. The left side of the O-Line has McGlinchey & Nelson. Those guys are going to hold up, but that leaves Kraemer on the right side. If he can hold up his end then Wimbush should have all day to do whatever he wants with the weapons around him.

Obinna Eze/Memphis/6’8/283lbs: Eze is a name probably a bit off the beaten path but I thought this situation was intriguing. Memphis returns practically their entire team except the LT spot which is open. Eze seems like an ideal candidate to red shirt seeing that he’s 6’8/283lbs which is HUGE but light for sure. He could stand to gain 40lbs and he’d still be fairly thin for a guy 6’8. Even so, he’s the most talented O-Lineman on the Memphis roster and right now the projected LT is Harneet Gil who is pretty light himself at 6’7/277lbs. Gil is also coming off a redshirt so he has as much playing time at Memphis in 2016 as Eze does. Memphis is going to score and they are going to score a ton with guys like Riley Ferguson, Dorland Dorceus, Tony Pollard and Anthony Miller. Whoever plays LT for the Tigers will be responsible for Ferguson’s blindside which is going to be very important. If Eze becomes that guy, he’ll have a significant impact on how good Memphis can be in 2017.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., NCAA, Notre Dame, Offensive Linemen, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA, Washington, Washington St., Wisconsin | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 TE FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Tight Ends!!! BIG SKILL!!! I love the tight end position because these guys are some of the most important positions on the field. When you look back at great QBs in the history of football, one of the reasons they’ve been great is that a lot of these QBs have had fantastic TEs to throw to. They are a fantastic safety net and to be honest, these guys can be almost impossible to cover when in one on one situations against LBs and safeties. The standard right now is Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski who at 6’6/260lbs is a physical freak that is pretty much unstoppable when he’s healthy. His size alone makes him brutally hard to defend because he can high point the football. Throw in his ball skills and you are seeing a Hall of Fame tight end. This is true at the collegiate game as well. Last year you saw Clemson have Jordan Leggett who was highly productive. The year before Alabama had OJ Howard. In 2013 Florida St. relied heavily on Nick O’Leary being a weapon. In 2011, TE Brad Smelley led Alabama in receiving TDs. Believe me when I tell you that these guys are important.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Hale Hentges/6’5/251lbs/JR: Like the receivers, Alabama’s TEs don’t get a ton of run time. OJ Howard was the best TE in college football last season and wasn’t Alabama’s primary weapon given their prodigious running attack. Howard still caught 45 balls for 595 yards & 3TD. Hentges barely has any run time, but he was an outstanding TE recruit with a huge frame and good hands. I think QB Jalen Hurts being in his second year will be more comfortable and while Alabama will still keep running, I think Hentges can be effective.
Computer Hope Blake Mack/6’3/245lbs/SR: Mack flashed last year as a junior for the Red Wolves leading Arkansas St. in receiving with 34 catches for 652 yards & 3TD. That’s an amazing 19.2ypc which is incredible for a TE! It was Mack’s first real run time down in Jonesboro and he made the most of it. He even caught 3 balls for 49 yards (16.3ypc) against Auburn early in the years showing he can flash against the big boys. Arkansas St. returns Justice Hansen at QB so I’m interesting to see what he & Mack can do for an encore season. Will be fun.
Computer Hope DeAndre Goolsby/6’4/244lbs/SR: Goolsby showed some promise back in 2015 as a sophomore when he caught 17 balls for 277yds/1TD with a 16.3ypc. He followed that up last year with more volume catching 38 balls for 342yds/3TD but his average was just 9.0. Goolsby is a better athlete than this & Florida should be able to open the game up with him with a lot of focus going toward Jordan Scarlett & Antonio Callaway. The Gators still have some QB issues to work through, but the offense should be better & Goolsby should play well.
Computer Hope Ryan Izzo/6’5/245lbs/rJR: Back in 2014, TE Nick O’Leary caught 48 balls for 618yds/6TD for a 13-1 FSU team. The year before when the ‘Noles won the BCS Championship, O’Leary was an even bigger big play/red zone threat. Florida St. wants to use their TE and Izzo is the heir apparent to O’Leary. In 2015 FSU had Everett Golson at QB & Izzo was just a rFR. Last year FSU had a frosh QB in Deondre Francois. This season Izzo returns as a rJR and Francois has a season now under his belt. I think FSU gets back to using their TE like in 2013 & 2014.
Computer Hope Isaac Nauta/6’4/246lbs/SO: Nauta flashed last year as a true frosh catching 29 balls for 361 yards & 3TD. The 3TD was 2nd on the team behind Isaiah McKenzie’s 7. Nauta also had a true frosh QB throwing to him in Jacob Eason. According to Phil Steele, Eason was the best QB in the 2016 recruiting class. Nauta was the best TE in the same class. With Nick Chubb & Sony Michel coming back, teams are going to have to play a lot of attention to Georgia’s running game which should allow the receivers to have a field day. Nauta will go off.
Computer Hope C.J. Conrad/6’5/245lbs/JR: The Wildcats stole Conrad out of the state of Ohio and are reaping the benefits. Conrad hasn’t been a high volume player but last season he caught 19 balls for 262 yards & 4TD averaging 13.8ypc. He’s a huge target at 6’5/245lbs and has already started 20 games for UK in his first two seasons. He also flashes big play ability as evidenced by his 72-yard TD catch against New Mexico St. last season. Kentucky averaged 30PPG and return a lot of starters on offense. Everyone will be a lot better & I think Conrad benefits here.
Computer Hope Adam Breneman/6’4/250lbs/rSR: How does arguably the best TE prospect in the 2013 draft class end up at UMass? Breneman originally committed to Penn St. and during his true freshman season he eventually became the starter. Injuries derailed his next two seasons but Breneman graduated from Penn St. in 3 years & transferred to UMass for his remaining 2 seasons. Last year he led all TEs in catches (70) and yards (808) and scored 8TD. Breneman is one of the best TEs in the nation & a naturally gifted athlete. He’ll be an NFL draft pick.
Computer Hope Ryan Smith/6’4/278lbs/SR: The first thing that jumps out about Smith is that he’s a TE that is 6’4 which isn’t unusual but the fact that the kid is pushing 280lbs is CRAZY! Even crazier is that Smith is productive. Last year he caught 31 balls for 356yds/5TD averaging 11.5ypc! Even cooler is that Smith had his best game last year against Mississippi St. where he caught 7 balls for 72 yards & a TD! He’s not a big play threat obviously but he can wall defenders off with ease. Miami returns Gus Ragland at QB & I think Smith can catch 40-50 balls.
Computer Hope Tyrone Wheatley/6’6/276lbs/rSO: Wheatley is a GROWN MAN at 6’6/276lbs! You know Jim Harbaugh wants to play smash mouth football out of a 2-TE set and Wheatley is going to be one of those TE who is going to catch the football. Last year Jake Butt caught 46 balls for 546 yards & Wheatley is going to try and match those numbers now that he’s in his 3rd year under Harbaugh. This guy is a matchup nightmare and almost impossible to defend in the red zone given his size. The Wolverines are awfully young on offense the talent is great.
Computer Hope Alize Mack/6’5/251lbs/rSO: Mack will have to battle Durham Smythe a little bit to get on the field, but his big play ability is incredible & that is going to lead Chip Kelly & OC Chip Long to get Mack on the field if nothing else to force the defense to respect his big play ability. Mack ran into academic troubles last year which led to a redshirt season, but those troubles seem to be behind him. ND should have a great running attack & Equanimeous St. Brown is an outstanding WR. Mack should should see a lot of single coverage which = big plays!
Computer Hope Marcus Baugh/6’5/250lbs/rSR: You never really know how much run time a TE might get in Urban Meyer’s offense. Nick Vannett seemed like a guy who could fill it up but never really was showcased a ton. Jeff Heuerman however had a monster 2013 season. Baugh didn’t do much in his first two season but last year flashed a bit catching 24 balls for 269yds/2TD. He’s tOSU’s leading returning receiver and QB JT Barrett could look to him early and often. Baugh is big with a lot of talent & I could see him being featured in this offense.
Computer Hope Mark Andrews/6’5/253lbs/rJR: In his first two years at TE for Oklahoma, Andrews has been a 1st Team All-Big XII selection. He checks every box you’d want for a TE. Big play ability? Check (64-yard long reception). Red zone threat? Check (14TD in his first 2 seasons). Big play ability? Check (averaged 15.8ypc in 2016). Size? Check (Kid is 6’5/253lbs). Andrews enters 2017 as the best TE in college football. Baker Mayfield is still QB at Oklahoma and the Sooners return their entire O-Line. Andrews should be even better & is a 1st Rd. NFL pick.
Computer Hope Mike Gesicki/6’6/253lbs/SR: If there is a TE who will challenge Andrews for title of best TE in college football, it’s Penn St.’s Mike Gesicki. He essentially did everything Andrews did last season catching 48 balls for 679yds/5TD while averaging 14.1ypc. Like Andrews I think Gesicki is in play to be a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick in 2018. He’s huge at 6’6/255lbs and he can obviously make plays with the football. Penn St. brings back both Trace McSorely & Saquon Barkley so opposing defense are going to protect the run leaving Gesicki to make plays!
Computer Hope Cole Herdman/6’4/245lbs/rJR: I listed Purdue QB David Blough in my Terrific 20: QB post, and I think Herdman is going to be a significant factor this year as well. Herdman is Purdue’s leading returning receiver. He was more volume last year catching 35 balls for 344 yards/3TD but he also had a 53-yard catch showing he can get loose on occasion. New HC Jeff Brohm has been wildly successful thus far with QBs & I think Blough is going to improve. We know Blough is going to sling it around and I think Herdman is in line to benefit from that.
Computer Hope Hayden Hurst/6’5/253lbs/JR: Hurst was a big dude who originally was a professional baseball player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Spent two years with the Pirates and then walked on at South Carolina. No flash his freshman year but last year Hurst broke out catching 48 balls for 616yds/1TD. Hurst obviously has the size and athleticism to play great football. I think what separates him is that the game is not too big for him & I think QB Jake Bentley is going to be special. That means more opportunities for Hurst at TE.
Computer Hope Mitchell Wilcox/6’4/250lbs/rSO: After sitting out a season to bulk up, Wilcox didn’t waste any time becoming USF’s starting TE and garnering 2nd Team All-AAC honors after catching 12 balls for 278yds/2TD with an incredible 23.2ypc average! Wilcox also made a big 52-yard grab during the season showing his big play ability. Quinton Flowers returns at QB or the Bulls along with a lot of the same players save RB Marlon Mack who moved on to the Indianapolis Colts. Given Wilcox big play ability & athleticism, I think he becomes a focal point.
Computer Hope Dalton Schultz/6’6/240lbs/rJR: If you are a TE at Stanford, chances are you are going to be pretty good. Recently the Cardinal has produced Zach Ertz, Coby Fleener, Austin Hooper, and Levine Toilolo. Schultz is next in line and should be ready to have his breakout season. Phil Steele noted Schultz to be the best TE prospect in the 2014 class. He’s got great ball skills and elite level size. Stanford has someone of a QB mess on their hands, but whoever emerges is going to have a great safety valve in Schultz being able to create space & make big plays.
Computer Hope Ethan Wolf/6’6/245lbs/SR: I think Wolf is sometimes the forgotten man when you look at TEs in the SEC and that’s because I think he’s been consistently good for a long time. Wolf already has 35 starts in his career with Tennessee and he’s been steady the entire time. He has great size at 6’6 and almost 250lbs. He doesn’t need to be taken off the field for overt running plays & he does a good job of getting open. There is always a lot of talent at Tennessee but the Vols lost some significant playmakers on offense from 2016 so Wolf could emerge here.
Computer Hope Daniel Imatorbhebhe/6’4/245lbs/rSO: When you have Sam Darnold throwing you the football, you immediately become a factor because you are going to be put into positions to succeed. Imatorbhebhe was just a rFR last year and caught only 17 passes but 4 of them were for TDs and he averaged 14.7ypc. He’s a big time redzone threat for the Trojans and you can imagine the comfort level between he and Darnold has only solidified since last season. With JuJu Smith gone, somebody will have to get some of his balls & Imatorbhebhe gets them.
Computer Hope Troy Fumagalli/6’6/249lbs/rSR: With Gesicki, Wheatley & Baugh getting a lot of love, it’s easy to forget that Fumagalli was 2nd Team All Big 10 last season with 47 catches for 580yds/2TD. Fumagalli is a big target and I think Wisconsin is going to make him a bigger factor in the redzone given his size & skillset. Last year QB Alex Hornibrook had just 9 passing TDs, but Corey Clement has departed for the NFL & Wisconsin might rely a bit more on Hornibrook’s arm in 2017. If that is the case then Fumagalli is going to get a lot more looks to make plays.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Matt Dotson/Michigan State/6’5/234lbs: One of the best TEs in the 2017 high school class, Dotson comes in at 6’5 and almost 240lbs meaning he won’t need a redshirt season to bulk up to play at the collegiate level. He enters a good situation in East Lansing as TEs Josiah Price and Jamal Lyles have moved on creating quite a vacuum at the position. A vacuum that Dotson could immediately step in and fill from the moment he gets to campus. I believe a big part of freshman success is opportunity and there should be a pretty big one for Dotson. The one caveat is that Michigan St. is in the midst of a complete rebuild with the program. Jim Harbaugh has woken a sleeping giant in Ann Arbor and James Franklin has Penn St. WAY AHEAD of schedule as far as bringing that program back to prominence. Ohio State under Urban Meyer is incredible meaning Michigan State has quite a bit of work to do to get the Spartans back on top. Is there enough talent around Dotson that will allow him to flourish as a freshman? That might be the biggest question regarding what impact he can have in 2017.

Jimmy Jaggers/UCLA/6’4/245lbs: Jaggers comes into a good situation at UCLA seeing how last year’s TE Nate Iese has graduated and there is pretty much a wide open race for the starting TE spot with Jaggers being the most talented TE on the roster. It also helps that Jaggers is the biggest TE! I think UCLA QB Josh Rosen has a lot to prove this year after having missed significant time last season and not really building upon his solid freshman season back in 2015. Jagger is also unique in that he gives Rosen his first real threat at TE. UCLA didn’t really employ a TE when Rosen was a freshman and last season the Bruins had both Iese and Austin Roberts as their primary weapons at the position. The problem is that Iese was a converted LB and Roberts is more of a WR at 6’2/230lbs. Jaggers enrolled early so his chemistry with Rosen should be better than it would if Rosen had waited to step on campus in the fall. I think he’ll get opportunities to showcase as a freshman and I think the opportunities are what matters in situations like these. I think Jaggers could be a key piece for UCLA if they hope to challenge USC for Pac 12 South supremacy.

Chase Allen/Iowa State/6’6/235lbs: Allen was a huge get for new Iowa St. head coach Matt Campbell. The Missouri native picked Iowa St. over Nebraska and Michigan to start his collegiate career but the fun was only just beginning. Right before the start of last season Allen was hit by a car that resulted in injuries that caused Allen to have over 100 stitches placed in his body. He then contracted the mumps during his true frosh season and things never looked more bleak. Allen has to redshirt last season which means technically he’s still a freshman so I’m listing him here. Allen is a DYNAMIC athlete having been a 3-sport star in high school and comes from a football family where his dad had been a college head coach for at least 15 years! The Cyclones bring back QB Jacob Park and since this is year 2 of Allen being in Ames, I think he’ll have a good connection with his QB. Matt Campbell has the program headed in the right direction which means more wins which means more points which means more opportunities to shine for Chase Allen.

Parker Eichenberger/Houston/6’3/230lbs: A little bit off the radar but Eichenberger steps into a situation in Houston where the TE spot is up for grabs. Tyler McCloskey was the leading TE last year and he graduated. Last season McCloskey caught 23 balls for 233 yards & 4TD showing that while the TE spot wasn’t necessarily a high volume target for former QB Greg Ward, McCloskey was looked at in the red zone quite a bit. This year Ward is going and in comes Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen who should be more of a pocket type passer than Ward. With Duke Catalon returning at RB and Linell Bonner commanding a lot of attention at WR, the new Houston TE should be able to create some space and take advantage of opportunities. Allen was with Houston last year as a redshirt because of transferring but new HC Major Applewhite was also the OC the last couple of seasons so Allen and he should be on the same page. Eichenberger is probably a touch small at 6’3/230lbs, but he’s playable enough and with the wide open position, I think he has the possibility to emerge and play a key role in Houston trying to win the AAC.

Hunter Bryant/Washington/6’2/241lbs: Jake Browning is going to get his opportunities to throw the football even with Myles Gaskin returning after a 1,373 yards season in 2016. Bryant might be the most highly recruited TE in Washington history or at the very least his the most talented TE recruit UW has had in my recent memory. Drew Sample started 11 games at TE last year but made just 9 catches so he clearly wasn’t a high priority in UW’s offense, but Bryant could change that. He’s a little bit short at 6’2, but already at 241lbs, he doesn’t need any time to bulk up. David Ajamu is on the depth chart but he played in 14 games last year and made one catch. Michael Neal hasn’t gotten any run time. Neither has Jacob Kizer. Bryant is the most talented TE on the roster and clearly UW doesn’t think their current stable of tight ends are the best of playmakers. There are certainly a lot of mouths to feed given who the Huskies have returning even with John Ross now suiting up for the Cincinnati Bengals. Keep in mind also the Darnell Daniels was a TE for UW that is now gone and he caught 17 balls for 307yds/3TD. I think Washington wants to use their TE more and Bryant might give them that opportunity.

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas St., Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa St., Kentucky, Massachusetts, Miami-OH, Michigan, Michigan St., Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Purdue, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Tennessee, Terrific 20, Tight End, UCLA, USC, Washington, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 LB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Linebackers are up next! This might have been the most difficult position yet for me to select down to 20 players. There is seemingly a lot of talent across the nation at the LB spot which is a great thing for defenses and for us fans!  I do want to point out that my definition of “linebacker” is the traditional sense of the word that doesn’t include the edge rushers. This mean I’m looking primarily at 4-3 LBs (the SAM, WIL and MIKE LBs) and 3-4 ILBs. I think it’s worth noting that the in today’s version of football, the LB position is evolving quite a bit. A lot of teams are in some ways going away from those big thick inside thumpers, and instead are looking for more athletic guys who can drop into coverage and defend the middle of the field against the pass.

This evolution has been going on for awhile now and see this especially in the NFL with examples such as Mark Barron and Deone Bucannon. What gets tricky with these types of hybrid players is their physical size. Bucannon is 6’1/211lbs which is essentially the size of a safety, the position Bucannon played in college for Washington State. Barron is similar at 6’1/213lbs and again he played safety in college for Alabama although he’s been moved to LB in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. I’m thumper heavy for the most part in my top-20 because the guys that are 6’1/210lbs I’d consider a safety. Bucannon and Barron are interesting examples and I wonder if this evolution will actually revert back to the old mentality of thumping ILBs given how many collegiate running backs have enormous size for the position.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Rashaan Evans/6’3/234lbs/SR: Evans is a BEAST of a player but when you are playing behind Reggie Ragland and Rueben Foster, it’s going to be hard to find time to get on the field. That is a testament to how amazing the depth chart is at LB with the Tide. This will be Evans’s first years as a full time starter and he’s already a potential All-American candidate that will be the key to the Alabama defense that should once again be one of the best in the nation. Evans is a freaky athlete that should have no issues topping 100 tackles.
Computer Hope Kendall Joseph/6’0/230lbs/rJR: Joseph exploded last year for the Tigers en route to leading Clemson to their first national championship since 1981! Joseph recorded 124 tackles last season included 13.5 tackles for loss and 5 QB hurries. Ben Boulware got a lot of publicity and rightly so, but Joseph was a 3rd Team All-ACC linebacker and should easily be one of the best LBs in the ACC again this season. I think Clemson has a real chance at a repeat national championship and I think Joseph will have a lot to do with that very real possibility.
Computer Hope Tegray Scales/6’0/230lbs/SR: From a production standpoint, there wasn’t a better inside LB than Tegray Scales last year. Scales racked up 126 tackles, 7 sacks and an incredible 23.5 tackles for loss for the Hoosiers as Indiana went to their 2nd straight bowl game. Is it possible for him to still be underrated because he plays for Indiana? Scales has the ability to be a 1st Team All American this season and I’m interested to see what happens with him in the NFL. He’s an inside thumper but if he can improve in coverage, he’s got a big time chance.
Computer Hope Josey Jewell/6’2/236lbs/rSR: Jewell is an interesting guy because he racks it up when you talk about production. He tested the NFL waters this past season but was told to return to school to improve on his pass coverage ability, but he broke up 9 passes last season so it’s not like he doesn’t drop back into coverage at times. Jewell is certainly a thumper at 6’2 and almost 240lbs. An unheralded recruit out of Decorah, IA, Jewell has maximized every bit of his talent. He’s a front runner to be a 1st team All-American and he’ll be playing in the NFL.
Computer Hope Jordan Jones/6’2/221lbs/JR: Kentucky’s defense last year was dreadful in giving up 31.3PPG but that was hardly Jones’s fault who had an incredible year leading the Wildcats in tackles with 109, tackles for loss with 15.5 and QB hurries with 9. That was good enough to merit a 2nd Team All-SEC selection and keep in mind that Jones did this as a true sophomore with hardly any experience. UK’s defense should be a lot better in 2017 an Jones has a unique role in that he plays that hybrid S/WIL spot that is becoming in vogue. He plays it well.
Computer Hope Jermaine Carter/6’0/235lbs/rSR: Carter doesn’t get a lot of publicity but he’s been filling it up for the last two season at Maryland. Last year Carter racked up 110 tackles which led the team and also led the team in 2015 with 103 tackles. He’s obviously a thumper and plays the MIKE spot but he’s able to drop into coverage at times. He’s best asset is his ability to read and attack. Carter recorded 14 tackles for loss in 2015 and followed that up 9 last season. Carter is a little limited physically & he’s not getting a ton of attention, but he’s very solid.
Computer Hope Shaq Quarterman/6’1/240lbs/SO: MONSTER. If you want to like a young linebacker, then look no further than Quarterman. You can tell “THE U” is ready to return to their swag days when guys like Quarterman hit campus and then dominate. The true frosh racked up 84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 8 QB hurries and 3.5 sacks in a banner year for the Miami-FL freshman. Quarterman is a man already at 6’1/240lbs. He’s a legit All-American candidate as a sophomore and if he keeps building off of 2016, he’ll be a 1st Rd. pick in 2019.
Computer Hope Mike McCray/6’4/248lbs/rSR: I mentioned this briefly in my write up on Maurice Hurst when looking at defensive lineman, but it applies to McCray as well in that he took advantage of Michigan’s outstanding talent on their D-Line in 2016 to hunt down opponents and turn in a huge year. McCray was an all-around beast totaling 76 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss 7 passes broken up, 2 picks and 5 QB hurries. Expect a lot of the same in 2017 as I think McCray will have just as many opportunities to hunt from the weak side as Michigan’s D-Line is going to be good.
Computer Hope Nyles Morgan/6’1/238lbs/SR: Morgan is a helluva player but I think some inaccurately compared him to former Irish stand out Jaylen Smith which is an inaccurate comparison as Smith is more of a WIL backer while Morgan is a MIKE. There weren’t a ton of bright spots on defense for Notre Dame last year but Morgan racked up 94 tackles & 4 sacks which is even more impressive when you consider opposing offenses knew to stay away from him an the ND D-Line didn’t give him tons of room to diagnose and attack. I think he’ll be in for a big season in South Bend.
Computer Hope Jerome Baker/6’1/225lbs/JR: Baker is an interesting guy because hiss athleticism is off the charts and that is giving rise to some speculation that he’s even better than he’s shown. That’s amazing considering last season as a sophomore Baker had 83 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss. He even picked off a couple of passes although most evaluators think he could get better against both the run and in pass coverage. One thing is for sure is that it’s impossible to keep him off a list like this because his athleticism is off the charts. He’s that perfect hybrid WIL.
Computer Hope Ogbonnia Okoronkwo/6’1/242lbs/rSR: Okoronkwo is an interesting guy because he broke out last year for the Sooners, but he also led the team in sacks with 9 so there is some speculation he’s going to project more as a 3-4 OLB. His size though speaks more to an inside thumper and he did record 71 tackles which shows he’s all around the field. Smaller guys on the edge have worked though. Dwight Freeney is one of the best pass rushers in NFL history and he was around that 6’1/270lbs range, but Freeney was freakish athletically. I like Okoronkwo a lot.
Computer Hope Troy Dye/6’4/225lbs/SO: Like Shaq Quarterman, Troy Dye is a true sophomore that makes the list. Dye came into Eugene and had an incredible true freshman season leading the Ducks in tackles with 91 but also recording 13 tackles for loss along with 6.5 sacks. He was a Freshman All-American as a result. Dye was nothing short of outstanding on a defense that was downright terrible. I think Dye is going to improve dramatically which could be scary now that Jim Leavitt takes over as DC for Oregon. Dye can hunt and I like him being that hybrid WIL type LB.
Computer Hope Skai Moore/6’2/221lbs/rSR: Moore was an All-American candidate going into the 2016 season with some projection systems suggesting he could be a 1st round NFL draft pick. Moore was set up to have a banner year as a senior but that came crashing down when he injured himself and was lost for the season. He returns to Columbia motivated to make a comeback and I’m for one am betting on his ability. At this best, Moore is a tackling machine with the ability to hunt and drop back into coverage. I think South Carolina can be sneaky good in 2017.
Computer Hope Malik Jefferson/6’3/238lbs/JR: As a freshman in 2015, Jefferson didn’t disappoint coming in and being an immediate starter racking up 61 tackles & 7 tackles for loss. Last year as a sophomore Jefferson for the most part replicated his freshman season and the Longhorns once again gave up 30+PPG. It’s hard to miss Jefferson on the field and a lot like Jerome Baker from Ohio St., you get the feeling you haven’t seen even the surface of Jefferson’s immense talents. He’s a 6’3/240lbs WIL that can get to the QB & drop into coverage. Rare.
Computer Hope Cameron Smith/6’2/245lbs/JR: Smith has started since he set foot in Troy and hasn’t disappointed yet putting in back to back 2nd Team All Pac 12 campaigns from the middle spot. Smith is an absolute thumper in the middle at 6’2 and almost 250lbs. He led USC last season tackles with 83 but also posted 7 tackles for loss and 4 passes broken up. Smith has a chance to be an All American this year and work his way into the 1st round of the NFL Draft. With as much talk as we hear about the hybrid WIL position, having a legit leader in the middle is invaluable.
Computer Hope Micah Kiser/6’2/240lbs/rSR: From a tackling standpoint there hasn’t been a more productive LB in the country over the last two seasons than Kiser who has posted 251 tackles over the last 2 years. Last year’s 134 tackle campaign earned Kiser a 2nd Team All-American nod. It’s easy to blur the lines between collegiate and NFL football sometimes when looking at players. Kiser is limited physically, but the guy can fill it up in the middle which is very valuable. He’s a diagnose & attack player that has a hard time dropping into coverage, but the kid is a playmaker.
Computer Hope Andrew Motuapuaka/6’0/233lbs/rSR: Motuapuaka has been a productive player for awhile but really came alive in 2016 after being somewhat of a whipping boy for Hokie Nation during the 2015 season. Motuapuaka racked up 114 tackles including 3 interceptions in earning 2nd team All ACC honors a year ago. Like Jermaine Carter listed above from Maryland, the New Zealand native doesn’t have exceptional size but he’s got a knack for being around the ball and making plays. Doesn’t have great top end speed, but that hasn’t mattered much in Blacksburg.
Computer Hope Azeem Victor/6’3/225lbs/rSR: Victor missed for games last year for the Huskies and still racked up 67 tackles which was 4 fewer than team leader Budda Baker. In 2015, a fully healthy Victor led UW in tackles with 95 while also recording 6 tackles for loss along with 4 passes broken up. I like Victor a lot for Washington. He’ll be a HUGE piece of their defensive puzzle and a key contributor in getting the Huskies past USC and getting back to the college football playoffs. He’s a potential All-American and a 1st Rd. NFL prospect. I’d like to see him play the WIL more.
Computer Hope Jack Cichy/6’2/235lbs/rSR: Like Victor, Cichy missed time last year but instead of 4 games, Cichy missed half the season and still amassed 60 tackles which was 4th on the Badgers! A no-nothing prospect out of Minnesota, Cichy walked on to the Badgers squad and then earned a scholarship before the 2015 season. He earned it because in 2015 Cichy logged 60 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. You can’t miss Cichy on the field. He’s everywhere and if you only watched Wisconsin, you might think Cichy is the best football player to ever play. One of my favorites!
Computer Hope T.J. Edwards/6’1/246lbs/rJR: Cichy and Edwards are the kinds of guys that make Wisconsin look so smart and the rest of college football look so dumb. Cichy was a walk-on and Edwards had other offers from Toledo, W.Michigan and Wyoming! Now both guys are potential All-Americans who could easily wind up being Pro Bowl type players in the NFL! Edwards does everything. Last year as a sophomore he led Wisconsin in tackles but also had 3 picks and 8 tackles for loss. He and Cichy are why the Badgers could win the Big 10 title game!

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Avery Roberts/Nebraska/6’1/230lbs: Roberts had an impressive offer sheet including invitations from Clemson, Louisville, Miami-FL, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn St., Stanford, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, but he committed to the Cornhuskers and Mike Riley fairly early in the process. The Delaware native is actually the first player committed to Nebraska from the Blue Hen State since 1974! I think Roberts is going to get an opportunity in Lincoln. Nebraska is going to run a 3-4 and Dedrick Young is going to start at one of the ILB, but the other is fairly open. Roberts enrolled early and has been with the Huskers since January so he should be familiar enough with the defensive calls to succeed. At 6’1/230lbs, Roberts is big enough to step in and play immediately without needing a year to bulk up. Bob Diaco is the new DC and he was wildly successful as the DC at Notre Dame. The Nebraska faithful would love nothing more than a return to the days of the BLACK SHIRTS!!!!

Anthony Hines/Texas A&M/6’3/220lbs: The Aggies like to play somewhat of a 4-2-5 nickle package. With Otaro Alaka returning but Shaan Washington moving on, the Aggies have a hole at one of their ILB spots that Hines could fill. Arguably the best LB in the 2017 high school class, Hines enrolled early at Texas A&M so has been with the team since January. He very well could be behind Tyrel Dodson who is only a sophomore himself but Hines can make an argument that he is the most talented linebacker in College Station so he could easily find his way onto the football field. With Alaka sort of playing the WIL LB spot, Hines would move more into the MIKE, but he’s got high end top speed for a LB so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do when dropping into coverage at the collegiate level along with his ability to take and give out punishment on the inside. I think he’ll have an opportunity which is what freshman need.

Dylan Moses/Alabama/6’3/240lbs: Amazingly enough Moses might have to wait awhile before getting on the field but I wanted to mention him anyway because the guy is FULLY FORMED at 18 and enrolled early meaning he’s had quite a bit of time with the Tide already. What’s amazing about Alabama is just how many INCREDIBLE LBs they already have. Rueben Foster could play because he was behind Reggie Ragland. Rashaan Evans had to backup because he played behind Foster. Moses can’t play right away because he is behind Evans, but Moses also has Mack Wilson ahead of him. A consensus 5-star player who Phil Steele ranks as the best LB in the 2017 class, Moses only EQUALS Wilson’s credentials as Wilson too was a consensus 5-star player who Phil Steele ranked as the best LB in the 2016 class!!!! I don’t know how much run time Moses will get if any this year, but if you are looking for a 1st Rd. Alabama LB in the 2020 or 2021 draft, you will probably find Dylan Moses!

Baron Browning/Ohio State/6’4/230lbs: The Buckeyes return 6 of their front-7 from last year’s 11-2 squad that made it to the college football playoffs. The one position that doesn’t return is the SAM LB after Raekwon McMillan was a 2nd round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins earlier this year. That leaves a hole that could potentially be filled by Browning. The Buckeyes are also looking at Dante Booker and Keandre Jones, but neither player has done anything to stand out so Browning could walk into a situation that is very advantageous. Browning is big enough to play on the strong side and opposing offenses are going to have difficulty with Ohio St.’s front 7 because the talent is INCREDIBLE. I can’t imagine Browning not being in one on one situations for most of the year and keep in mind that tOSU’s D-Line is going to be MORE than good enough to occupy the O-Line which leaves Browning room to hunt or get to the QB because running backs are the ones likely to pick up him. Backs on Backs leads to Sacks. Browning could be walking into an incredible situation.

Bruce Jordan-Swilling/Georgia Tech/6’1/209lbs: Jordan-Swilling comes to Atlanta to play for the Ramblin Wreck and immediately becomes the most decorated defensive recruit on the team. The New Orleans native must LOVE engineering because he had offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida St., Miami-FL, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC but still picked the Yellow Jackets! In fact, Jordan-Swinning has huge family connections to GT with his father and brother playing football for the Jackets. I don’t know how Jordan-Swilling will fit in with GT this season. He didn’t enroll early and he’s got the build of one of those hybrid/WIL type of LBs so there might not be a redshirt in his future. Right now Terrell Lewis has that role for GT, but he’s not a returning starter so it’s still possible that Jordan-Swilling could step in right away and play. Georgia Tech also plays a lot of 4-2-5 so throwing in another WIL/S hybrid probably wouldn’t be bad. The more I look at the roster the more I think Jordan-Swilling could have a significant impact on GT’s season.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Linebackers, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, South Carolina, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 WR FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Up next in my Terrific 20 series are the wide receivers! The more I looked at the receivers this year the more excited I got. There are some definite big names like Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, James Washington and Dante Pettis, but there were quite a few smaller school guys along with some younger kids too. It’s a solid mix that I think will provide plenty of excitement on Saturday’s this season.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Calvin Ridley/6’1/190lbs/JR: Ridley has been dominant in Tuscaloosa in his first two seasons. In that span, Ridley has caught 161 passes for 1,814 yards including 14TD. Ridley’s numbers as a sophomore were down compared to his freshman totals, but you have to keep in mind that Alabama employs a run heavy offense and Ridley had to get used to a freshman QB last season. Despite that he still was a 2nd Team All SEC player. He should be a 1st Team All-American this year and eventually a 1st Rd. draft pick.
Computer Hope Cedrick Wilson/6’3/188lbs/SR: After spending two years at the junior college level, the lanky Wilson got his shot with Boise St. and didn’t disappoint in his first go around grabbing 56 balls for 1129 yards & 11TD! Having Brett Rypien throwing the pigskin probably made Wilson even better and it’ll be interesting to see what Wilson does now that he’ll be the undisputed #1 receiver as Thomas Sperbeck moves on. Wilson averaged a ridiculous 20.2ypc last season! He could be a bit heavier, but he’ll play big.
Computer Hope Deon Cain/6’1/210lbs/JR: The defending national champions lost a lot at WR with Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett and Artavis Scott moving on from the collegiate ranks, but don’t be surprised when Clemson doesn’t miss a beat at receiver because of Deon Cain. Cain is a big play MONSTER and led the Tigers in yards per catch last season at 19.1! He’s managed 14TD over his first two seasons even with being at best the 3rd option! Cain could very well elevate his game so much that he’ll be a 1st Rd. draft pick.
Computer Hope Antonio Callaway/5’11/197lbs/JR: From a naturally gifted standpoint, there might not be a more natural WR than Callaway, but his first two seasons in Gainesville have been interested. As a freshman he was a 3rd team All-American punt returner showing what a dangerous play maker he is. He was suspended from the team until the opener his sophomore season but still managed to turn in a good year last year with 54 catches, 721 yards & 3TD. Has all the tools to be the best wide receiver in all of football.
Computer Hope Simmie Cobbs/6’5/223lbs/rJR: Cobbs missed all of last season with an ankle injury, but the Hoosier wideout had a breakout 2015 season in which he averaged 17.3ypc on 60 receptions which resulted in 1,035 yards along with 3TD. Cobbs is healthy & should be in for another great season especially after fellow WR Nick Westbrook had a banner year himself. Opposing defenses shouldn’t be able to lock in on Cobbs leaving the match-up nightmare in one on one situations he should be able to take easy advantage of.
Computer Hope Allen Lazard/6’5/223lbs/SR: One of the most highly touted wideouts in the 2014 class, Lazard was a huge get for Paul Rhoads and his staff. Lazard is huge at 6’5/223lbs but he’s more of a possession type of #1 receiver. Lazard didn’t come in an dominate his freshman season, but he’s gotten progressively better in his 3 years in Ames. Last season he caught 69 balls for 1018 yards & 7TD. If he keeps improving, this season he could go for 85 balls, 1400 yards & 13TD. That’s a huge season that get Lazard drafted.
Computer Hope Jaylen Smith/6’4/220lbs/JR: Smith flew somewhat under the radar as a high school receiver. At 6’1/200lbs, Smith didn’t garner a ton of interest although he did get an offer from his home state school Ole Miss and Nebraska showed some interest. He spurned both to join forces with Bobby Petrino and he’s blossomed into a 6’4/220lbs nightmare who averaged 22.2 yards per catch last season with 6TD! He should be the Cardinals #1 receiving option this season & he does have a Heisman winner as his QB!
Computer Hope Anthony Miller/5’11/190lbs/rSR: Almost completely ignored out of high school, Miller chose to stay in his hometown and be a member of the Tigers. His career at Memphis didn’t get off to a great start having to redshirt his first year and then missing his rFR season with an injury, but Miller made up for lost time last year catching 95 balls for 1434 yards & 14TD! Miller is an exceptional athlete with huge big play making ability. The Tigers return 9 starters on offense including their QB! Miller should encore!!
Computer Hope Ahmmon Richards/6’1/190lbs/SO: Richards freshman season couldn’t have gone any better as the Florida native led the Canes with 934 receiving yards and averaged a ridiculous 19.1ypc! He broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record when he went for 117 yards against NC State. Richard wound up a freshman All-American and a 2nd Team All-ACC player. Richards has solid size and elite play making ability with break away speed. He is the unquestioned #1 receiving target for Miami-FL this year. Incredible.
Computer Hope Richie James/5’9/178lbs/rJR: Arguably the best WR in college football you don’t know about, James already ranks 2nd on MTSU’s all time receiving list and will take over as their most storied receiver after their first game against Vanderbilt on Sep. 2nd. James was a 1st Team All-CUSA his rFR season and then a 3rd team All-American his rSO year! He’s got a chance to be a first team All-American if he can improve on his numbers from last year (105/1625/12)! James also ran for 339 yards & 4TD last year!
Computer Hope J’Mon Moore/6’3/205lbs/rSR: Missouri hasn’t been very good the last two seasons so it might be easy to gloss over how good J’Mon Moore has been for the Tigers. He’s led Mizzou in receiving yards the past 2 seasons but last year Moore really broke out with 62 catches for 1,012 yards & 8TD including a 82 yard TD catch. Moore has a solid connection with QB Drew Lock who should be better this season as Missouri returns 10 starters on offense. With excellent size at 6’3/205lbs, Moore should have a great year.
Computer Hope Equanimeous St. Brown/6’5/204lbs/JR: St. Brown didn’t get much run time his freshman season with the Irish because of a shoulder injury, but the 6’5 wideout bounced back to lead Notre Dame in receiving last season with 961 yards & 9TD while averaging 16.6ypc! The talent here is without question and St. Brown has ELITE size at 6’5. He could stand to gain another 20lbs, but as it stands, he’s one of the most physically gifted receivers in college football. He’s an All-American if Notre Dame gets him the ball.
Computer Hope James Washington/6’0/205lbs/SR: I’d really like to see Washington push for Oklahoma St.’s all time receiving yards mark. Currently Washington has 2,923 career receiving yards which is 1,491 yards short of Rashaun Woods’ career mark of 4,414. A huge year and Washington could get there. The Cowboys return RB Justice Hill, QB Mason Rudolph and WR Jalen McCleskey so defenses won’t be able to key in only Washington which should free him up. This situation gives Washington a chance at 1491!
Computer Hope Jester Weah/6’3/210lbs/rSR: Weah had an incredible season in 2016 nabbing 36 balls for 870 yards & 10TD! That’s some amazing efficiency considering Weah averaged 24.2 yards per catch and scored a TD on every 3.6 receptions! Pittsburgh didn’t really utilize their passing attack much, but with RB James Conner off to the NFL and the Panthers bringing in grad transfer Max Browne to play QB, you have to figure they might throw the ball more. It’ll be interesting to see how productive Weah can be if used.
Computer Hope Courtland Sutton/6’4/220lbs/rJR: Sutton put the country on notice in 2015 when the fully formed 6’4/220lbs receiver caught 49 balls for 862 yards & 9TD averaging 17.6ypc. Proving that was no fluke, Sutton followed it up last season with 76 catches for 1246 yards & 10TD averaging 16.4ypc. The Mustangs return 9 starters on offense including QB Ben Hicks. HC Chad Morris is in his 3rd season which means his philosophies are entrenched. Sutton could very well have his best season & be a 1st Rd. NFL draft pick.
Computer Hope Taj Williams/6’4/193lbs/SR: I think more people should be talking about Williams as a potential All-American this season. He’s got a similar build to former TCU WR Josh Doctson who ended up being a 1st Rd. Draft pick of the Washington Redskins. A junior college player, Williams led the Frogs in receiving last season with 702 yards averaging 18.0ypc! From that you could argue Williams has a bit more big play ability than Doctson. Given all that TCU returns on offense, Williams should have a field day in 2017!
Computer Hope Devin Duvernay/5’11/205lbs/SO: Duvernay didn’t quite have the true freshman season that Ahmmon Richards had in Coral Gables, but the Longhorns wideout did well in his own right catching 20 balls for 412 yards & 3TD. He averaged 20.6ypc and had an 80 yard TD reception. Compact at 5’11/205lbs, Duvernay has track star speed and elite play making ability. He’ll be a bigger focal point of the Longhorns attack under new HC Tom Herman & with Shane Buechele throwing the ball, expect big things to happen!
Computer Hope Christian Kirk/5’11/200lbs/JR: Kirk in College Station has been every bit as good as Calvin Ridley at Alabama over this first two years with the Aggies. In those 2 seasons, Kirk has caught 163 passes for 1,937 yards & 16TD! Kirk has also been a solid punt returner which led him to being a 1st Team All-American last season. Texas A&M has a lot of new faces on offense this season but Kirk should be a leading voice and the Aggies will need to get him the ball as often as possible in the hopes he makes something.
Computer Hope Cody Thompson/6’2/200lbs/SR: Thompson came into his own last season for Toledo by catching 64 passes for 1269 yards & 11TD while averaging 19.8ypc! Thompson isn’t your typical possession type of receiver out of a MAC school. He’s got solid size at 6’2/200lbs with some serious big play ability. The Rockets return QB Logan Woodside so you can imagine what Thompson and he can do in an encore season! With TE Michael Roberts moving on, Thompson should be an even bigger redzone threat for TDs.
Computer Hope Dante Pettis/6’1/192lbs/SR: Jake Browning is a legitimate 1st Team All-American threat with a real shot at winning the Heisman Trophy. His top target will be Pettis who came into his own in a major way last season catching 53 balls for 822 yards & 15TD! Pettis was mostly UW’s second option behind John Ross so it will be interesting to see how Pettis will do now that he’s the #1 option for Browning. If you believe Browning is going to throw for 4000 yards & 50TD, a lot of that is going to Pettis’s way!

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Jeff Thomas/Miami-FL/5’10/175lbs: Thomas didn’t enroll early so he’s a bit behind, but the 5’10/175lbs speed burner steps into a situation that is pretty amazing. Miami-FL’s projected starting 3 wide receivers are Ahmmon Richards (6’1/190), Darrell Langham (6’4/220) and Lawrence Cager (6’5/220). All 3 are big boys which leaves the slot open for a smaller, speedier receiver like Thomas. The Hurricanes bring back a ton of experience on the O-Line, and they also return their starting RB Mark Walton who rushed for over 1100 yards last season. Given the experience on the O-Line and the size Miami-FL brings to their outside wideouts, Thomas should find himself with tremendous space underneath to exploit out of the slot. Note also that the Hurricanes lost their QB Brad Kaaya to the NFL this past spring and will bring in Malik Rozier to play QB. New QBs love having those little dump off routes to TEs and slot receivers. Opportunity plays such a big role for freshman to dominate, and Thomas walks into a situation where he should have an outstanding year should he get the opportunity and take advantage of it.

Jerry Jeudy/Alabama/6’1/184lbs: Alabama has a recent history of freshman receivers putting up big numbers. In 2015, Calvin Ridley led the Crimson Tide in receiving with 89 catches for 1,045 yards & 7TD. In 2012, Amari Cooper led Alabama in receiving with 58 catches for 999 yards & 11TD. In 2008, Julio Jones led the Tide in receiving with 58 catches for 924 yards & 4TD. Jeudy was one of the most sought after wideout recruits in the 2017 class and he enrolled early meaning he’s had time to learn the play book and develop a relationship with QB Jalen Hurts. Alabama is run heavy for sure and there is no question that Hurts is going to look to get the ball to Calvin Ridley at every opportunity, but Jeudy has big play ability with speed to burn. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to make plays especially with defenses keying in on Ridley. This is Alabama so everyone is good and the Tide have no shortage of receivers on the depth chart, but I think Jeudy could be the next in line of big time Alabama receivers.

Donovan Peoples-Jones/Michigan/6’2/190lbs: A consensus 5-star recruit and the best WR in the entire 2017 class, Peoples-Jones stayed close to home and will suit up for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. An absolute burner with tremendous ball skills, Peoples-Jones should start immediately for the Wolervines and is already the most talented player on the depth chart. Michigan lost their top-3 receivers last year (Amara Darboh, Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson) so Harbaugh and returning starting QB Wilton Speight will look for someone to fill the void. Peoples-Jones enrolled early and went through spring practice with the Wolverines so he should be ready to go from the very first down played. It’s interesting to look at Jim Harbaugh and the offense he employs. He’ll run a lot of 2-TE sets which is obviously run heavy. If you go back to his days at Stanford, Harbaugh didn’t really have ELITE wideouts, but he also wasn’t able to recruit guys like Peoples-Jones or fellow freshman WRs Nico Collins and Tarik Black. The trio of Peoples-Jones, Collins and Black was the best WR class in some time for a program and you have to wonder if Harbaugh and his staff have a lot of plans to open up the offense. I think Peoples-Jones starts that transition this year by having a monster season as true frosh.

Joseph Lewis/USC/6’2/205lbs: The Trojans depth chart is starting to look more and more like an NFL draft room dry erase board! Lewis was one of the most highly sought after wideouts in the 2017 class and he comes on the heels of last year’s two huge recruits, Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns. Lewis should be able to outproduce what those guys did in their first year. Lewis is projected to start for the Trojans right away and because he is a freshman opposing defensive coordinators won’t key on him right away. Also helping Lewis is having arguably the best passing QB in college football, Sam Darnold, tossing him TD passes! RB Ronald Jones also returns giving USC a complete and balanced attack offensively. If Lewis gets an opportunity (he enrolled early and has been with the team since January) I think he’ll take it and run with it. As I’ve said countless times when discussing freshman, a lot depends upon opportunity and given Lewis’s early enrollment along with the Trojans losing their top 2 receivers, Lewis could easily slide into that #1 receiver role and start producing right away.

Tyjon Lindsay/Nebraska/5’9/160lbs: Originally an Ohio State commit out of California, Lindsay changed his mind and opted to join the Huskers and take his talents to Lincoln! He joins Keyshawn Johnson & Jaevon McQuitty as other top flight WR commits Mike Riley and his staff convinced to come to Nebraska and it was an impressive haul indeed. Lindsay is LIGHTNING fast with big play ability written all over him. He’s obviously a smaller WR so he’ll be more of a slot/#3 WR sort of player, but I think this plays to his strengths and will give Nebraska a lethal weapon as the Cornhuskers should be completely entrenched in Riley’s pro style offense he likes to run. QB Tanner Lee is an NFL prospect with solid size at 6’4/220lbs. Lee transferred to Nebraska last season from Tulane and say out last year although this will be his 2nd year in Riley’s system. Lindsay was a huge get for Coach Riley. I think he’ll be used early and often and he’ll provide a spark to the Nebraska offense we haven’t seen in some time.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Boise St., Clemson, Florida, Indiana, Iowa St., Louisville, Memphis, Miami-FL, Michigan, Middle Tennessee St., Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St., Pittsburgh, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, SMU, TCU, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, Toledo, USC, Washington, Wide Receivers | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 INTERIOR DL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

I always think it’s interesting to note that when we talk about the absolute best defensive players in the NFL the last couple of years we also begin and end the conversation with JJ Watt and Aaron Donald. They aren’t corners and they aren’t edge rushers but rather interior defensive linemen! To me this is a position that is sometimes overlooked, but it is the position that drives the defense. Having outstanding players up front that can collapse the pocket from within and control the running game between the tackles is almost indispensable when chasing down a national championship. You’ll note that both of Clemson’s starting DTs from a year ago find their way onto my list of Terrific 20 interior defensive linemen. Alabama ALWAYS has 1st round talent at DE and NT. Washington made the playoffs last season. Their starting DTs? Yep, both made my Terrific 20 list this season.

It’s also interesting to note sexy picks for the 2017 playoffs. Florida State is expected to make a playoff run. They look to have exceptional DTs. Miami-FL is experiencing a resurgence that some might think could propel them into the playoffs as early as this season. They have both starting DTs on my Terrific 20 list. There is a lot of flash on the defensive side of the ball. Who doesn’t like edge rushers who can flat get out after the QB? There isn’t much more exciting to me on defense than a bone crushing safety who lays the wood on suspecting WRs over the middle, but who are also exceptional ball hawkers. A shutdown corner has as much flash as anyone, but as is always the case with the game of football, if you want to win, you have to have the big uglies!

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope David Moa/6’3/270lbs/rJR: Coming out of high school, Moa was a 6’3/235lbs 2-star DE from San Diego that didn’t draw much attention. Having redshirted a year and then continuing to grow, Moa has turned into a 6’3/270lbs DT for the Broncos who had a standout rSO season with 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss! Still a little light at 270lbs, Moa has some solid first step quickness & he has room to get bigger. He should be a 1st team All-MWC and he’ll be interesting to watch for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Computer Hope Dexter Lawrence/6’5/340lbs/SO: Lawrence is going to make a solid case for being the #1 overall draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s a MONSTER at 6’5/340lbs with uncanny athletic ability. Big enough to be a legit 2-gap daddy as a NT in a 3-4 scheme, Lawrence was a manchild in Clemson’s 4-3 racking up 7 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss & 6 QB hurries all as a true freshman all the while being an important cog in a national championship run! Even more impressive possibly? Kid racked up 78 tackles!
Computer Hope Christian Wilkins/6’4/310lbs/JR: Wilkins was a 3rd team All-American last year as a junior and potentially deserved better. Like Lawrence, Wilkins does everything right as a DT. He gets incredible inside pressure and if you watch Wilkins a lot, he is a natural interior DL who always has his hands up to deflect passes. Last year he broke up 10 passes which is an amazing rate. His 13 tackles for loss was 3rd on the team and he still has upside as some of those tackles for loss could turn into QB sacks.
Computer Hope Derrick Nnadi/6’1/312lbs/SR: I love Derrick Nnadi’s game. He’s not overly huge at 6’1, but at 312lbs he definitely typifies the “dancing bear” stereotype of ultra athletic big men. Nnadi does everything well up front. He generates tremendous inside pressure but is also a space eater in the middle that will make tackles and clog up opponent’s running games. I think Nnadi has some more upside as well as Brian Burns, Josh Sweat & Demarcus Christmas should all be better in 2017 alleviating some pressure.
Computer Hope Trenton Thompson/6’4/295lbs/JR: According to Phil Steele, Thompson was the best defensive lineman in the 2015 recruiting class and last year Thompson finally showed that promise with a standout sophomore campaign that saw the big man record 5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and 7 QB hurries! Thompson even won the Liberty Bowl MVP last year after Georgia beat TCU 31-23 to finish 8-5. Thompson has outstanding upside and hasn’t gotten as much run time as he’ll get this year. Expect big things.
Computer Hope Ed Oliver/6’2/290lbs/SO: The numbers are staggering. Last year as a true freshman Oliver recorded 66 tackles, 5 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 9 passes broken up and 7 QB hurries! He was without question the best interior D-Lineman in the country in 2016. Did I mention he was a true freshman!? Already a 1st Team All-American, what does Oliver do for an encore? Like Dexter Lawrence, Oliver could be the #1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Losing Tom Herman is tough, but Oliver keeps Houston relevant.
Computer Hope Daniel Wise/6’3/290lbs/rJR: It is somewhat amazing that Kansas has a player on my Terrific 20 for both edge rushers and interior defensive linemen. Wise had an outstanding rSO year last year racking up 38 tackles along with 10 tackles for loss. The Jayhawks have a pretty solid D-Line and you have to give credit to David Beaty and his staff. Beaty recruited Dorance Armstrong to come to Lawrence and his staff has done a great job developing Wise as a solid DT. KU could win 4-5 games this year.
Computer Hope R.J. McIntosh/6’4/293lbs/JR: You know the ACC is being put on notice with “THE U” starts churning out top flight defensive linemen. McIntosh didn’t do much as a freshman, but came alive in his sophomore campaign with 2.5 sacks & 9.5 tackles for loss. That isn’t too bad for a young guy feeling his way through his first year starting. McIntosh has great size at 6’4 and almost 300lbs. Miami-FL has an outstanding D-Line coming back this year that I think only will make McIntosh that much better. Scary!
Computer Hope Kendrick Norton/6’3/312lbs/JR: Like McIntosh, Norton was also a first time starter last year at DT and put up pretty solid numbers with 2 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. I’ve seen some reports of Norton’s weight being as high as 320lbs so he’s a significant space eater in the middle who has quite a bit of upside when it comes to getting to the QB. Both McIntosh and Norton spent a lot of time in opposing backfields and it it’s just a matter of when (not if!) they start getting to the QB before he releases the ball!
Computer Hope Rashan Gary/6’5/293lbs/SO: I almost put Gary on my Terrific 20: Edge Rushers, but at 6’5 and almost 300lbs, he’s more of a 4-3DT or really a 3-4 DE. He didn’t get a ton of run time last year as a true frosh yet still managed 5 tackles for loss & 7 QB hurries. The QB hurries is the stat to watch. Gary didn’t get a ton of time so those 7 QB hurries could be closer to 17-20 if he starts 14 games and doesn’t get taken out. Some people are thinking Michigan might take a step back, but Gary might not let that happen.
Computer Hope Maurice Hurst/6’2/282lbs/rSR: Hurst took a huge step forward last year which his ability to get to the QB and generate interior pressure for the Wolverine defense. Some of that could have been defenses keying on Michigan’s other D-Linemen because they were a formidable bunch led by Taco Charlton, Ryan Glasgow & Chris Wormley, but I think Hurst’s improvements are for real and he’ll play a significant role this season. I think Hurst will be able to take advantage of Michigan having elite pass rushers.
Computer Hope Steven Richardson/6’0/300lbs/SR: Richardson is a little unheralded because he’s only 6’0 and he plays for Minnesota, but he put up a great year last year with 7 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 2 QB hurries for a 9-4 Minnesota team that enjoyed their best season since 2003 when the Gophers finished 10-3. It was also Minnesota’s best defensive effort since 1999 and Richardson was a 3rd Team All-Big 10. With PJ Fleck around, confidence should be at an all-time high & Richardson should be good again.
Computer Hope Freedom Akinmoladun/6’4/270lbs/rJR: The scary thing about Akinmoladun is that the kid is still learning to play defense. Nebraska originally recruited him to play TE, but quickly abandoned the idea given Akinmoladun’s ability to add weight and retain his athleticism. The Cornhuskers are playing him as a 3-4DE, but he had 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss and an incredible 10 QB hurries last season. It would be interesting to see him turned loose as an edge rusher or make him a 3-4 OLB on passing downs. I like him.
Computer Hope Kevin Givens/6’1/285lbs/rSO: Givens probably isn’t on anyone’s radar just yet but MASSIVE amounts of credit needs to go to James Franklin and his staff for getting in on this guy. Givens came out of high school as a 6’1/235lbs LB, but after a redshirt year he’s now bulked up to 290lbs with exceptional first step quickness. He’s not slated to be a starter this year & he didn’t start last year either but he racked up 4.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss in very limited time. Don’t be shocked when he busts out in 2017!
Computer Hope Harrison Phillips/6’4/285lbs/rJR: Phillips road has a been a bit bumpy to his point. He didn’t get a ton of run time in 2014 as a true frosh and then had to redshirt in 2015 due to injury. Finally given the green light in 2016, Phillips didn’t disappoint racking up 46 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss all from the DT position in Stanford’s 3-4 scheme. He’s a bit miscast as a NT, but he’s highly effective up the middle and should have no issues being an All Pac 12 player. He has double digit sack upside in ’17.
Computer Hope Zaycoven Henderson/6’2/305lbs/SR: Lost in all the Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall hype last season, Zaycover Henderson put together a pretty remarkable season for an interior D-Lineman recording 3 sacks and 10 tackles for loss along with 2 QB hurries. Sort of like Maurice Hurst, you wonder if Henderson will be as good now that offenses will key on him, but he’s got solid size at 6’2 and 305lbs and I think he’ll keep playing well. He should be a 1st Team All-SEC guy meaning he’s one of the best in the nation!
Computer Hope Rasheem Green/6’5/280lbs/JR: One of the most highly touted prospects in the 2015 class, Green is a monster with incredible size at 6’5/280lbs. As a true frosh, Green played in every game for the Trojans which is no easy task given the depth chart & became a full fledged starter as a true sophomore. Green led USC is sacks last year and was also 4th in tackles showing an outstanding ability to limit the run as well as the pass. Green is a big reason why the Trojans could end up being the national champions!
Computer Hope Lowell Lotulelei/6’2/317lbs/SR: Utah seems like a DT assembly line and Lotulelei is the latest edition. You can make a good argument his teammate Filipo Mokofisi deserves to be the on this list but I went with Lotulelei because the guy has been a model of consistency since he arrived in Salt Lake City. Of all the players on this list, if you were looking at bets as to who would reach their ceiling this year, I think Lotulelei would be the safest bet. Not a ton of flash but great size at 6’2/317lbs and he gets the job done.
Computer Hope Andrew Brown/6’4/285lbs/SR: A 5-star recruit out of Chesapeake Virginia, Brown elected to stay close to home and commit to the Wahoos over teams like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio St., and Georgia. Brown had been hampered by injuries over this first two seasons in Charlottesville, but last year was able to stay on the field & ended the season with 6 sacks and 13 tackles for loss which is amazing considering how bad the defense was for UVA. The talent here is undeniable if healthy!
Computer Hope Greg Gaines/6’2/321lbs/rJR: I really like Gaines’ game. Washington plays sort of an odd ball 3-3-5 base defense or nickle package using a couple of huge DTs which one edge rusher and then hoping to get help via one of their outside LBs. This means that the Huskies need their DTs to generate a lot of inside pressure and Gaines does that. Gaines came to UW at 6’1/290 but has grown and inch and put on almost 30lbs. He had 8 tackles for loss and I think there is a lot more upside to his game going forward.
Computer Hope Vita Vea/6’5/344lbs/JR: Vea is an absolute BEAST physically at 6’5 and almost 350lbs! Vea is even bigger than Dexter Lawrence even if marginally so! Vea is an extremely unique player in that he’s a legit 2-gap daddy as a 3-4 NT, but he also gets tremendous pressure, finishing 2nd on the Huskies last season sacks with 5. He’s the reason UW can play the kind of defense they want because he takes up so much space and commands double & triple teams. He’s an All-American candidate that is also a top-10 NFL pick.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Marlon Tuipulotu/USC/6’3/305lbs: Tuipulotu should get significant playing time and this is one of those instances where talent meets opportunity. The Trojans should have a dominant D-Line with starters Porter Gustin, Rasheem Green and Uchenna Nwosu. That should leave Tuipulotu with plenty of one on one opportunities in the trenches to make an impact. Opposing defenses are most likely going to key on known variables such as the 3 other starting D-Linemen along with other Trojan players like Cameron Smith and Ajene Harris. There is some concern going forward about the overall depth chart of the D-Line, but for the most part I think Tuipulotu gets significant playing time and makes an impact because he’ll be more of an afterthought for opposing offensive coordinators. It’ll be interesting to see how effective the true freshman can be, knowing this and getting quite a bit of playing time.

Jordan Scott/Oregon/6’1/340lbs: I’m really excited to see what Scott can do for the Ducks this season. Just a 3-star DT out of Florida, Scott wasn’t highly recruited by the big boys. He did have an offer from Florida State, but not much outside of that. He chose to go all away across country to Oregon where he seems like a more natural fit in the Ducks 3-4 scheme. Scott couldn’t walk into a better situation. He’s a space eater at almost 350lbs and should command double teams. He’s also in a unique position because DE Jalen Jelks is a returning starter and the other DE looks to be Clemson grad transfer Scott Pagano. That’s a lot of experience up front. Oregon also returns both inside LBs in Troy Dye and Kaulana Apelu meaning Scott is either going to take up a lot of space allowing the LBs to hunt or he’s going to get faced with a lot of one on one opportunities where he can shut down any type of interior running game while collapsing the pocket on opposing QBs. We are used to seeing dominant 3-4 DEs out of Oregon such as DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Scott might be a legit 3-4 NT for the Ducks that carries around 350lbs.

Marvin Wilson/Florida State/6’4/330lbs: Just a bit smaller than Dexter Lawrence, Wilson enters the 2017 NCAA football season as the most highly touted DL recruit in the 2017 class. Wilson has massive bulk and does everything well in the trenches. He’s exceptional at getting pressure on the QB while also being able to take up space and shut down running games. He demands double teams so it’ll be interesting to see if collegiate offensives will allow him to go one on one with a guard or center. The only issue I think Wilson will have his first season is finding playing time. Derrick Nnadi is one of the best DTs in college football and FSU also returns Demarcus Christmas as their other DT starter. HC Jimbo Fisher is also bringing in Ja’len Parks and Cory Durden. That is a massive amount of talent up front for the Seminoles. Wilson is going to play and I think he’s going to make an impact but it’ll be interesting to see if he makes the same kind of impact Dexter Lawrence made because of the logjam up front in Tallahassee.

Langston Murray/New Mexico/6’2/335lbs: As I’ve written many times, sometimes a player can make himself a household name because of opportunity and I think Murray steps into an interesting situation with the Lobos. Murray has tremendous size at 6’2/335lbs. New Mexico under HC Bob Davie employs a base 3-4 and there isn’t much returning at NT from last season meaning if Murray can step in and be effective, he’ll earn significant playing time. Murray is also big enough already that he won’t need a redshirt year trying to add bulk to his frame. There isn’t any doubt that New Mexico is a work in progress this season after a mass exodus of players from the defensive side of the ball, but that means opportunity for a guy like Murray. I’m not sure he’ll cash in that opportunity, but a legit 3-4NT who can eat up space makes the 3-4 defense flow and you can be sure that the New Mexico coaching staff understands this. The Lobos are going to run the ball and take up time. That’s for certain so the defense will get plenty of rest. If Murray can eat up space then the other defenders can hunt, making an otherwise rebuilding defense, highly effective. Let’s see if Murray can seize the opportunity.

Quinnen Williams/Alabama/6’4/285lbs: Williams is a rFR, but I wanted to get a guy from Alabama on this list because how can you talk about interior defensive linemen and not mention Alabama!? Regardless of who Alabama loses to the NFL Draft, they always have dominant D-Lines and I think Williams is going to be a star in 2017. Williams had an outstanding spring game for the Tide and he’s projected to be the starter along with NT Da’Ron Payne and DE Da’Shawn Hand. Payne & Hand could easily be All-SEC type of players meaning Williams as a relative unknown should have his way early on. That won’t last because he’ll be dominant, but Williams should be able to capture enough momentum early on to propel himself through the season and make people notice for the 2019 NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season. The only downside to Williams is the incredible amount of talent in Tuscaloosa, but if he can get playing time and remain in the starting lineup, I think Williams emerges as an All-SEC type of player.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Boise St., Clemson, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Interior DL, Kansas, Miami-FL, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas AM, USC, Utah, Virginia, Washington | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 QBs FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Back with my “Terrific 20”! This time we are looking at quarterbacks. Remember that I’m not ranking the top-20 QBs, but rather listing them in alphabetical order by team. As I outlined in my Terrific 20: RB post, it was simply too difficult to try and distinguish between the top-20, and even if I did, I’m not sure there is any real value added to that discussion.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Jalen Hurts/6’2/214lbs/SO: It was fairly remarkable what Hurts was able to do at Alabama as a true freshman. He might have added to Nick Saban’s number of gray hairs at times, but Hurts was nothing if not exciting. There are certainly some things Hurts can work on. He was flat out terrible against Florida, Washington & Clemson in Alabama’s last 3 games. He wasn’t that great in the 4th quarter or in 3rd down. He’ll improve in all those areas and I could see him going for 3000/1000 in 2017.
Computer Hope Deondre Francois/6’2/205lbs/rSO: Francois took a beating all season long and still managed to play in every game and lead Florida St. to a 10-3 record including a bowl win over Michigan in what was considered a “down” year for the Seminoles. He’s essentially the successor to Jameis Winston and I wouldn’t be against Francois leaving FSU with a title the way Winston did. The rFR was outstanding on 3rd down throwing 10 touchdowns to zero picks. That shows that he won’t beat himself.
Computer Hope Lamar Jackson/6’3/200lbs/JR: Jackson was incredible last year on his way to a Heisman Trophy by throwing for 3,543 yards and rushing for 1,571 yards with a combined 51TDs! It was an easy pick although the Cardinals faded considerably down the stretch losing their last 3 games. Jackson has some room to improve. He wasn’t great on 3rd down & struggled against top flight competition. Louisville loses quite a few starters on offense so it might be difficult for Jackson to repeat last year.
Computer Hope Brent Stockstill/6’0/223lbs/rJR: You simply can’t argue with Stockstill’s numbers. In his first two years he’s thrown for 7200+ yards with 61TD to 16INT. Stockstill was lethal in the 4th quarter & on 3rd down last season and even made himself into more of a running threat. The Blue Raiders finished 8-5 but that was more due to a defense that couldn’t stop anyone because Stockstill guided the offense to almost 40PPG. He should become MTSU’s all time leading passer at some point in 2017.
Computer Hope Gus Ragland/6’1/211lbs/rJR: Miami-OH started the 2016 season 0-6 before HC Chuck Martin inserted Gus Ragland into the starting lineup afterwards going 6-0 to become bowl eligible and losing a nail biter to Mississippi St. in the St. Petersburg’s Bowl 17-16. Ragland was outstanding finishing the season with 17TD to just 1INT! Ragland completed 82% of his passes in the 4th quarter and on 3rd down he threw 6TD to 0INT. There wasn’t a single think Ragland wasn’t good at doing last year at QB.
Computer Hope Nick Fitzgerald/6’5/230lbs/rJR: You might not think Fitzgerald is much of a runner with him being 6’5/230lbs, but the MSU QB ran for 1,375 yards & 16TD while averaging 7.1ypc! He’s more of a running threat than Dak Prescott ever was although at this point Prescott was the much better passer. Prescott was able to lead the Bulldogs to the #1 ranking and I could see Prescott being able to follow suit if he can keep improving as a passer. The size/speed combo is scary, but he needs to be accurate.
Computer Hope J.T. Barrett/6’2/220lbs/rSR: You don’t get much more experience than 5th year senior JT Barrett who has to be the single biggest reason why the Buckeyes are big favorites to win the national championship this season. Barrett is a big time two way threat that rarely if ever beats himself. He’s going to throw for 2600-2800 yards. He’s going to rush for 700-900 yards and he’s going to score 35-36 combined TDs. He could be a bit better in the 4th quarter, but the games are usually over by then for him.
Computer Hope Baker Mayfield/6’1/218lbs/rSR: If you are looking for a Heisman favorite that isn’t Lamar Jackson, then Mayfield is probably your best bet. Mayfield almost threw for 4,000 yards last year with 40TD while completing 71% of his passes! He won’t be able to pass Landry Jones for OU’s all time leading passer but he should finish his career just behind him. I think it’ll also be interested to see where Mayfield goes in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’ll have tons of experience with outstanding accuracy which is key.
Computer Hope Mason Rudolph/6’5/230lbs/SR: Rudolph is going down as Oklahoma St.’s all time leading passer and it should take him a couple of games to get there. Almost overlooked a bit because he plays in the same conference as Mayfield, Rudolph has had an outstanding career and has the physical tools to get plenty of NFL looks. I’d like to see him beat Oklahoma his senior season. Rudolph actually beat the Sooners in 2014 when he was a frosh, but has been downright awful the last two seasons.
Computer Hope Justin Herbert/6’6/225lbs/SO: Herbert wasn’t supposed to be the starter last year, but after Dakota Prukop struggled, Herbert took over. He needed a couple of games to warm up but in back to back games against Cal & Wazzou, Herbert threw for 747 yards & 10TD to 1INT! He’s only win a couple of games, but for a true frosh to complete 64% of his passes with a 19:4 TD to INT ratio, you can’t help but be impressed. Herbert has huge size & a big arm. He’s poised to have a monster year for the Ducks.
Computer Hope Trace McSorley/6’0/204lbs/rJR: I’m listing the best 20 QBs this year in college football and I think McSorley is one of them. With that said, his advanced metrics aren’t promising. McSorley completed just 49% of his passes on 3rd down. He only completed 58% in the 4th quarter. It’s hard to argue with the statistical season McSorley put up last season, but he threw up a lot of prayers that were answered. If he gets significantly better with his accuracy, then Penn St. literally walks into the playoffs.
Computer Hope David Blough/6’1/200lbs/rJR: Tough not to think of the Drew Brees comparisons as 6’0 QBs from Texas who play at Purdue. Blough is a BALLER! His game wasn’t pretty at times (5 picks against Cincy) but in a 4-game stretch against Iowa, Nebraska, Penn St. and Minnesota, Blough went 118/200 (59%) for 1439yds & 13TD to 4INT! He needs to cut down on his mistakes but the kid is fearless and if he sticks in West Lafayette for his last two seasons, he has a chance to be Purdue’s historical leader.
Computer Hope Quinton Flowers/6’0/215lbs/SR: Last season Lamar Jackson passed for 3543 yards. Flowers passed for 2812. Last year Lamar Jackson ran for 1571 yards. Flowers ran for 1530. Last season Lamar Jackson combined for 51 passing & rushing TDs. Flowers had 42. Last year Lamar Jackson led Louisville to a 9-4 record. Flowers led USF to an 11-2 mark. If a non-Power 5 guy can win the Heisman, it might be Flowers because he’s going to put up big numbers and USF has a legit shot at finishing 13-0.
Computer Hope Shane Buechele/6’1/205lbs/SO: Buechele was the best passer I saw all of last season. Has a great arm with outstanding touch. Sure his numbers weren’t as good as Sam Darnold’s or Baker Mayfield’s, but as far as tossing the ball around, I thought Buechele showed the most upside. Buechele was in a tough situation to begin with in Austin playing for a coach on his way out, but he still managed to completed 60% of his passes & throw for almost 3000 yards. He’ll get a lot better which is scary.
Computer Hope Logan Woodside/6’2/201lbs/rSR: Like Gus Ragland above, Woodside is another MAC QB who simply didn’t do a thing wrong last year under center. Woodside was outstanding against winning teams. He was outstanding in the 4th quarter. He was outstanding on 3rd down. He dominated conference play. He ended up with 4000+ passing yards & 45TD! The Rockets are going to be MAC East favorites, but given how amazing Woodside was in 2016, it’s hard to imagine posting better stats!
Computer Hope Josh Rosen/6’4/220lbs/JR: Rosen battled a lot of injuries last season and the Bruins simply weren’t very good, but when you look at some of Rosen’s advanced stats, he played extremely well. Rosen played really well in Pac 12 play and was more than good on 3rd down & in the 4th quarter. His accuracy isn’t fantastic although it’s far from bad. I think what’s keeping him back is getting his accuracy in that 65-66% range. It probably doesn’t help that HC Jim Mora is on the hot seat so we’ll have to see.
Computer Hope Sam Darnold/6’4/225lbs/rSO: Right now Darnold is the odds on favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft! His redshirt freshman season was nothing short of amazing as Darnold threw for almost 3100 yards & 31TD while completing a staggering 67.2% of his passes! His situational football was outstanding & most important, Darnold was dominant against ranked teams. Darnold elevated his game when the lights were brightest and this year he gives USC a chance at a national championship!
Computer Hope Jake Browning/6’2/205lbs/JR: Browning is a guy with a lot more to prove than most people think and you can be sure that both he and UW HC Chris Petersen are aware. Browning put together a great statistical season, but you can make an argument that USC, Colorado & Alabama were the 3 best team’s Washington faced last season and Browning went a combined 46/98 (47%) for 527 yards with 4TD & 4INT. Washington went 1-2 in those 3 games. Browning needs to play well against elite teams.
Computer Hope Luke Falk/6’4/225lbs/rSR: It’s easy to put Falk on any list of great QBs in college this year because his statistics are incredible and Wazzou is turning into a top-20 team. Falk earns it though. He’s was extremely good last year in conference play, in the 4th quarter and on 3rd down. Falk also flashes at times against elite competition showing he can get it done in a variety of ways. He’ll become Wazzou’s all time leading passer this season and give the Cougars an outside show at the Pac 12 North title.
Computer Hope Mike White/6’4/225lbs/rSR: If you want a good reason to be very high on David Blough, just take a look at the kind of QB White morphed into under HC Jeff Brohm’s watch down in Bowling Green. White was outstanding last season for WKU but what really sticks out to me is White’s ability limit his mistakes. Playing in CUSA, White didn’t really get to tee it up against ELITE competition although he did play against Alabama and wasn’t dreadful. White has a real shot at leading WKU to a 13-0 season.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Hunter Johnson/Clemson/6’4/200lbs: Johnson was the #1 QB in the 2017 class according to Phil Steele and with Deshaun Watson now playing for the Houston Texans, the starting job is up for grabs with the defending national champions. Junior Kelly Bryant looks to be the odds on favorite to win the starting job, but Johnson might get some opportunities and he enrolled in the spring so he’s had more time than most true freshman to learn the offense. Clemson lost a lot of impact skill players but returns an outstanding offensive line that would provide quite a safety net for a freshman QB. At the very least I think Clemson will run some sub-packages for Johnson early and see how he performs.

Nick Starkel/Texas A&M/6’3/205lbs or Kellen Mond/Texas A&M/6’2/200lbs: Starkel is a rFR while Mond is a true frosh, but this is tricky with senior QB Jake Hubenak coming back to College Station. Hubenak backed up Trevor Knight last year but didn’t do bad in mop up duty and even started 3 games. HC Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat a bit as the Aggies have posted 3 straight seasons of 8-5 ball along with bowl losses the last two seasons. Starkel & Mond are more talented QBs than Hubenak is, but Hubenak brings an air of veteran leadership to a team and coach that needs to win desperately. How Sumlin decides between veteran leadership and big play upside might determine if he’s around in 2018. Remember that A&M plays road games against UCLA, Florida, Ole Miss & LSU. Having a senior going into hostile environments might not be a bad thing.

Feleipe Franks/Florida/6’6/220lbs: Another redshirt freshman, Franks was one of the most highly touted QBs in the 2016 class. He’ll have to beat out Luke Del Rio for the starting job, but my guess is at some point Franks takes the reigns as Florida’s upside potential with Del Rio under center is somewhat limited. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this year sets up exceedingly well for Florida in regards to scheduling. They have 3 true SEC road games against Missouri, South Carolina & Kentucky! They avoid both Alabama & Auburn out of the West. They do have tricky games against Michigan to open the season and Florida St. to end the season, but at worst the Gators are probably 10-2 and SEC East champions this year. Franks is a big story if he guides Florida to the SEC championship game, HC Jim McElwain’s 3rd in as many years.

KJ Costello/Stanford/6’5/216lbs: Keller Chryst is supposed to be the starter, but Chryst tore his ACL in last year’s Sun Bowl win over North Carolina which could open the door for Costello who is a rFR and is actually entering his 2nd year at Stanford. A huge recruit out of the 2016 class, Costello has a lot of size and arm strength. He has the ability to really thrive at Stanford this season given what is coming back. Sure the Cardinal lose Christian McCaffery but Bryce Love will do a solid job while Stanford brings back an excellent O-Line and plenty of receivers. It really should be a coming out party for Chryst because Stanford has a team that could potentially get into the playoffs if things break right, but that could be Costello if Chryst isn’t ready to go.

Joshua Jackson/Virginia Tech/6’1/211lbs: The Hokies QB situation is a little muddy with Jackson coming off a redshirt season and with AJ Bush transferring in from a junior college after initially being a Nebraska recruit. Hendon Hooker is also a true frosh who should be in the mix. Jerod Evans is a pretty big loss, but I think Virginia Tech has some interesting upside. Defensively we should see vintage Hokies football led by DC Bud Foster. I think Justin Fuente’s offensive schemes work perfectly well with this so the Hokies could be in line for a lot of wins if they get significant QB play from Jackson who could benefit in this situation. It’ll be tough to get by Florida St., Clemson or Louisville from the Atlantic, but winning a Coastal division title would be pretty great for the freshman.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Louisville, Miami-OH, Middle Tennessee St., Mississippi St., Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Purdue, Quarterbacks, South Florida, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, Toledo, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Western Kentucky | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20 – TOP 20 RBs FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Let the previews for the 2017 NCAA Football season begin! I’m going to try and tack a little different this year. I’ll preview the conferences too, but I thought I would change things up with my “Terrific 20” series which will chronicle the best 20 players at a given position. I’m going to start with running backs and go from position to position in whatever order strikes my fancy. One thing to keep in mind is that I’m listing the top-20 in alphabetical order by team name. I thought about trying to rank the top-20 players at a position from #1 to #20, but found it too difficult and in some circumstances I was simply splitting hairs.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Damien Harris/5’11/216lbs/JR: Harris is an elite RB which is what we’ve come to expect out of Alabama, but he almost is overlooked at times because of the presence of Bo Scarbrough. It comes down to a couple of reasons. Scarbrough is a lot bigger than Harris & in some ways is a better NFL prospect. Scarbrough also scores more TDs. Don’t let it fool you. Harris averaged 7.3ypc in SEC play last year and 7.1ypc against winning teams. Both marks mind you were better than what Scarbrough posted.
Computer Hope Bo Scarbrough/6’2/232lbs/rJR: What separates Scarbrough for me is his ability to turn it on when the lights are brightest. Last season against Auburn (Iron Bowl), Florida (SEC title), Washington (Playoff) and Clemson (National title), Scarbrough ran for 454yds & 6TD on 63 carries for a 7.2ypc average. Scarbrough has breakaway speed as well for being a big man. His longest run was an 84-yard TD run against Tennessee last season. Scarbrough should break through the 1,000 yard barrier this season.
Computer Hope Kamryn Pettway/6’0/237lbs/rJR: After redshirting his first season and getting no run time his freshman year, Pettway made the most of his rSO season running for 1,224 yards & 7TD in what was War Eagle’s lone bright spot offensively in 2016. His efforts garnered him a 1st Team All-SEC nod. Pettway is a methodical runner using his massive size to bowl over defenses. Pettway missed 4 games in 2016 & had a 4-game stretch where he ran for 770yds including a 236-yard explosion against Mississippi!
Computer Hope Nick Chubb/5’10/228lbs/SR: If not for the injury in 2015, Chubb probably would have been the first RB taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. If he had returned for his senior season, Chubb would be without a doubt the best RB coming back to college football. The injury in 2015 has dampened the enthusiasm towards the Georgia native, but Chubb ran reasonably well last season and now he’s even more removed from the 2015 knee injury. The real question is whether or not Chubb can find the form he had as a frosh?
Computer Hope Sony Michel/5’11/222lbs/SR: It’s easy to forget that Michel was actually more highly touted coming out of high school than Chubb. That changed after Chubb’s breakout freshman season but Michel filled in admirably when Chubb went down in 2015. Oddly enough when you look at Michel’s rate stats, he struggled in 2016 as well and I wonder if it had something to do with him having to go back to splitting carries with his running buddy. Love Michel’s game & would love to see him run wild on a top defense.
Computer Hope Akrum Wadley/5’11/195lbs/SR: Wadley keeps getting better and better every year. Not a huge back at 5’11/195lbs but still an NFL prospect who has increased his rushing yards, yards per carry and rushing TDs in each year he’s been in Iowa City. Another interesting note about Wadley is that he’s increased his longest run in each year as well while averaging 6+ypc in Big 10 play. Iowa will depend on Wadley more than ever this season & I think he’s poised for a huge year. He’ll run behind a solid O-Line so expect big numbers.
Computer Hope Derrius Guice/5’11/212lbs/JR: In my opinion the hands down best RB in college football this season. Guice simply runs angry and he’s liable to break off a 90-yard TD run at any moment. Guice took advantage of a Leonard Fournette injury last year and turned it into a sophomore campaign that saw Guice rush for 1387yds & 13TD while averaging 7.6ypc! He’s going to be running behind an OUTSTANDING O-Line with an experienced QB. There really isn’t anything Guice is capable of doing on a football field. Heisman favorite!
Computer Hope LJ Scott/6’1/231lbs/JR: There hasn’t been a lot of bright spots for Michigan St. football this past offseason but Scott should be able to turn that around this year. The Spartans are in for a huge rebuilding effort with only 8 starters returning, but Scott is a big powerful back who can carry a team if he can stay healthy. Last year against Michigan, Scott ran for 139yds & a TD on just 22 carries. Against Ohio St. he ran for 160yds & a TD on 19 carries. If he can run like he did in those two games over a full season, he’ll open up some eyes!
Computer Hope Damorea Crockett/5’11/225lbs/SO: Crockett was an original commit to Boise St,. but switched to Mizzou late and then flashed incredible potential  when he ran for 145 yards on just 14 carries against Florida. The following week he went for 156 against Middle Tennessee arresting the starting spot from Ish Witter & establishing himself as THE Tigers RB. He ended the season with 154 against Vandy & 225 against Tennessee! Was suspended the final game against Arkansas, but all in all had an impressive frosh season. Big time talent.
Computer Hope Tyrone Owens/5’9/187lbs/rJR: Hard not to be impressed with Owens production last season. Despite splitting carries with Teriyon Gipson, Owens still managed to rush for 1,097 yards & 7TD while averaging a fantastic 8.0ypc! He even missed a game! Owens put up some big numbers against tough defenses in Air Force & Boise State. He also went over 100 yards in 5 different games. Owens is likely going to split carries with Richard McQuarley in the Lobos run heavy offense, but he could go for 1500 & 15TD if the season breaks right.
Computer Hope Justin Jackson/5’11/193lbs/SR: Jackson is poised to become Northwestern’s all-time leading rusher in 2017. He has 4,129 career rushing yards & the record is 4,485 held by Damien Anderson. It should take Jackson 3 games to get there. Jackson is also 9 rushing TDs away from becoming the all-time leading rushing TD leader in Wildcats history. Jackson isn’t a huge big play threat but he can grind out for 5.0ypc which keeps the chains moving. He can also catch passes out of the backfield. What can you say? The guy is a football player!
Computer Hope Josh Adams/6’2/220lbs/JR: I think Adams is flying under the radar because of Notre Dame’s disaster of a 4-8 season in 2016, but he flashes big time skill. Adams torched Virginia Tech, USC & Miami-FL last season, schools with an immense amount of talent, so Adams can run over elite talent. He also has the ability to break off big runs. Most importantly, Notre Dame brings back 4 O-Linemen with 3 of them being potential All-Americans! Dexter Williams, Tony Jones & Brandon Wimbush are going to run, but Adams is a dark horse Heisman contender.
Computer Hope Mike Weber/5’10/214lbs/SO: Weber’s biggest problem this season might be getting enough touches. He split time with JT Barrett last season & still rolled up 1,096 yards & 9TD! Weber had a great game against Oklahoma last season and then it was a mixed bag at times. I’d love to see him get 18-20 carries a game because I think he could handle it, but that seems unlikely with Barrett returning and the Ohio St. depth chart at tailback. Still, Weber is a big guy with speed & hands. Those aren’t exactly a dime a dozen so I hope he’s used more.
Computer Hope Royce Freeman/5’11/231lbs/SR: Freeman dealt with injuries quite a bit last year but still managed to lead the Ducks in rushing with 945 yards & 9TD! Freeman got healthy towards the end of the season & finished the year with 3 straight 100+ yard games against Stanford, Utah and Oregon State. If healthy, Freeman is a threat to rush for 1500+ yards & 20TD. He’s going to become Oregon’s all time leading rusher at some point this season & being 5’11/231lbs, he’s definitely got NFL size. Willie Taggart is lucky to have Freeman in his first season.
Computer Hope Saquon Barkley/5’11/228lbs/JR: Barkley really jump started his hype train in the Rose Bowl when he torched USC for 194 yards & 2TD on just 19 carries in Penn St.’s 52-49 dramatic loss. It was a good thing too because Barkley’s previous 4 games were very lackluster. Another feather in Barkley’s cap is that he supposedly ran a 4.33 40-yard dash this offseason which is unheard for a RB that takes the rock as much as Barkley does. Barkley had an incredible season and it could be even better in 2017 as Penn St. is very much a national title contender.
Computer Hope Chris Warren/6’2/252lbs/JR: That isn’t a typo. Warren really is a 6’2/252lbs running back with wheels! Warren was poised for a huge year last season before going down with injury after playing in only 4 games. In his last 2 games against Oklahoma St. & California, Warren ran for a combined 225 yards & 2TD while averaging 8.0 ypc! His injury opened the door for D’Onta Foreman to have an incredible season, but I’d expect Warren to pick up where he left off & Texas will be infinitely better under Tom Herman where Warren should excel.
Computer Hope Trayveon Williams/5’9/200lbs/SO: Outside of Derrius Guice, Williams was the most electric RB I watched in 2016. Williams has incredible agility combined with break away speed. As a true frosh he averaged 7.3ypc against the SEC! He averaged 8.2ypc against winning teams! Williams torched Auburn, Arkansas & Tennessee and even had to split time with Keith Ford & Trevor Knight. Williams is likely to split time with Ford once again this season, but he’s big enough to handle the full load. I’m not sure Sumlin can afford not to feed him.
Computer Hope Ronald Jones/6’1/195lbs/JR: Jones is a play maker with fantastic speed so I can see why a lot of people are hyping him up, but a deeper look is troubling. Jones ran for over 1,000 yards with 12TD last season but he ran it up against some terrible rush defenses. When he went head to head with Saquon Barkley in the Rose Bowl, Barkley badly outran him. I’m buying the hype to be sure, but I can’t wait this season for Jones to show how effective he can be against solid rush defenses. He’ll get his chances & I think he’ll come through.
Computer Hope Myles Gaskin/5’10/191lbs/JR: Gaskin reminds me a bit of Justin Jackson in that he doesn’t have that explosive level of running the way Derrius Guice or Saquon Barkley has, but he’ll grind down a defense in a way that it doesn’t look that amazing but you look up and it’s in the 3rd quarter and you he’s ran for 120 yards! Like Jackson, Gaskin is likely going down as UW’s all time leading rusher & could possibly even do it this year if he has a huge season. The Huskies bring back a solid O-Line & Jake Browning so Gaskin should be impressive.
Computer Hope Justin Crawford/6’0/202lbs/SR: I can’t figure out why nobody is talking about this guy! A JUCO transfer in to West Virginia last season, Crawford took advantages to injuries to Rushel Shell and turned it into 1184 yards & 4TD! Most impressive to me is that Crawford averaged 8.2ypc in Big XII play which included a 331 yard game against Oklahoma where Crawford averaged 13.8ypc!! Crawford averaged 8.4ypc against winning teams and shouldn’t be splitting time with Shell this season. This year Crawford will start impressing NFL decision makers.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Cameron Akers/Florida State/5’11/213lbs: Akers got to FSU early this spring so he could definitely see a ton of run time in the Seminoles offense. Dalvin Cook is off the NFL but Cook showed just how productive an elite running back can be in the Florida St. offense. Jacques Patrick returns, but he hasn’t gotten a ton of run time playing behind Dalvin Cook so Akers could come in and steal away carries and potentially take the job as lead back. Akers also has ready made size for the collegiate game at 5’11/213lbs. For freshman it is a lot about opportunity and Akers should have that in Tallahassee.

Anthony McFarland/Maryland/5’8/185lbs: The Maryland situation at tailback is a little tricky given how dominant Ty Johnson was on the surface. Looking at Johnson’s raw stats (1,004 rushing yards & 9.1ypc!!!) makes you wonder why in the world HC DJ Durkin wasn’t feeding him the rock 20-25 times a game. I’ve read reports saying Johnson is OK with the distribution of carries. McFarland is a smallish back but he has ELITE speed with home run ability. If the Terps share the ball quite a bit then McFarland has a chance to get his fair share of carries with the potential to earn even more should he be successful. A close look at Johnson’s splits in 2016 show that he might have been racking up numbers against inferior opponents. If that trend holds true, then McFarland will get his opportunities.

Cordarrian Richardson/Central Florida/6’0/240lbs: An incredible get for HC Scott Frost, Richardson is a man-child at 240lbs as a true freshman! Jawon Hamilton was the starter last year as a freshman himself but underwhelmed in 8 starts rushing for 495yds/4TD/3.6ypc. Hamilton is also a bit smaller at 5’9/190lbs meaning UCF is going to have more of a runner that can overpower defenses with his physicality if they go with Richardson. Richardson also walks into a very nice situation. The Knights return their starting QB McKenzie Milton, they return 4 starters on the O-Line with 4 of the 5 projected starters being upperclassmen. They also return 8 of their top-9 receivers so Richardson won’t have to worry about defenses isolating him because UCF should be balanced on offense.

Trey Sermon/Oklahoma/6’0/220lbs: With Joe Mixon & Samaje Perine headed off to the NFL, Oklahoma has a gaping hole at tailback that new coach Lincoln Riley is going to need to fill. It’s Oklahoma so there is quite a bit on the depth chart, but Sermon brings an interesting mix to the table. He’s likely the most talented back on the roster and at 6’0/220lbs, he’s got quite a bit of size to take on defenders and keep going. Rodney Anderson is a big boy too at 6’2/223lbs, but Anderson has essentially missed the last two seasons with injuries so his health is a bit of a question mark. Sermon arrived early in Norman this past spring so he’s had quite a bit of time to learn the offense. I think he’ll get some opportunities early and if he makes the most of them, I think it’ll be hard for Oklahoma to not give him the ball. He’ll be running behind an incredible offensive line with a Heisman favorite at QB. It’s an ideal situation.

Michael Carter/North Carolina/5’9/185lbs: Opportunity is important for freshman and Carter might have a chance to shine in Chapel Hill now that Elijah Hood has moved on from the Tar Heels. Hood was incredibly successful in Larry Fedora’s system and with the Tar Heels not having a running QB in projected starter Brandon Harris (Transfer from LSU), the running back should be the primary ball carrying threat. Jordon Brown looks like he is going to get some carries but he didn’t impress last season when he got a few opportunities so Carter could potentially snag the starters role if things break right. One thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes runners are red shirted because they aren’t big enough. Carter is 5’9/185lbs which isn’t the biggest guy on the block. If UNC think he’s got a couple of more inches to grow and another 25lbs to put on, they could wait until he’s 5’11/210lbs which would make for a more powerful running back.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Iowa, LSU, Michigan St., Missouri, New Mexico, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Running Backs, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, USC, Washington, West Virginia | Leave a comment

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – THE TOP 10!

THE TOP 10!!! These are the cream of the crop in my opinion and the most elite of the elite. What’s interesting about this group is the history they are all chasing. Of the top-10 coaches, there are 5 who have won national championships. Those 5 are Bob Stoops, Dabo Swinney, Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Even though they’ve won national titles, they are chasing history in their own way. For Swinney is the prospect of becoming one of the greatest head coaches of all time. For Fisher it’s to stand side by side with Bobby Bowden in Florida State history. For Stoops it is trying to get back to what he achieve in 2000. For Meyer and Saban, their chase is for the crown of greatest college football head coach of all time. I’m of the opinion that Saban already holds the that crown surpassing Bear Bryant, but if there is a coach who could challenge Saban, it’s Urban Meyer. For the 5 guys on this list that haven’t won a national title, you can be sure they know it’s the last thing they need to accomplish to cement their legacy. The previous rankings can be found in the following links:

#50-#65
#40-#49
#30-#39
#20-#29
#11-#19

#10 – Bobby Petrino – Louisville

While it’s certainly permissible to question his off-field behavior, there is simply no questioning what Bobby Petrino can do on the field. He took Louisville to national championship contender the first go around with the Cardinals. He did the same with Arkansas. Now that he’s back in the ‘Ville, he tied Clemson for the ACC Atlantic division championship and had Louisville not lost to Clemson, then the Cardinals would have been the ones playing for the ACC Championship and the Clemson dream season would never have happened. That was year 3 and he’s already ahead of Florida State! Only Clemson and Florida St. have won more games than the Redbirds the past 3 seasons among ACC teams. Only Clemson & FSU has a better conference record. Recruiting has jumped about 10 spots already from the time Petrino took over until now. His foray into the NFL was a disaster and his questionable conduct at Arkansas was a bit concerning to say the least but Petrino has reinvented himself at Louisville and once again is proving to be one of the very best college football coaches in the nation! With Lamar Jackson returning next year, Louisville should be in the national championship hunt.

#9 – Jim McElwain – Florida

Some might think this is too high for McElwain but in his first two years in Gainesville he’s gone 19-8 with a conference mark of 13-3 winning two SEC East division titles with the Gators finishing the 2016 season ranked 14th! What’s remarkable about Florida in McElwain’s first couple of seasons is that they’ve been winning this much without any QB play. In his first season, McElwain had deal with Will Grier getting injured and then relying upon Treon Harris who should have never been under center. Last season he had to rely on a Purdue transfer who couldn’t find playing time with the Boilermakers! That same Purdue squad who has a record of 8-28 over the last 3 years! McElwain is an offensive guy so my guess is that it’s only a matter of time before Florida starts playing the kind of offense McElwain wants. They’ll always be outstanding defensively because of the athletes the Gators can attract to campus. What McElwain has accomplished with having to build up the program the way he wants it is incredible. Granted, they’ve been dominated in the SEC Championship game and the SEC East hasn’t exactly been fantastic, but I think that is more of a reflection on missed opportunity for teams like Tennessee, Georgia & South Carolina than it is on McElwain taking advantage of a weakened division. McElwain is starting to dominate recruiting too and Gators fans can be rest assured that McElwain won’t leave Gainesville for Ohio.

#8 – David Shaw – Stanford

Frankly this might too low for Shaw. Jim Harbaugh might have laid the foundation for the Cardinal in recent times, but what Shaw has done since taking over the program is nothing short of incredible. In his 6 seasons in Pao Alto, Stanford has won 4 Pac 12 North division titles. They’ve won 3 Pac 12 championships. They are a perfect 3-0 in the Rose Bowl and they’ve been to 4 BCS bowls. Shaw is on a 3-bowl game winning streak and in 5 of this 6 years the Cardinal have never finished below 12th in the final AP Rankings with 3 seasons in the top-10! He’s consistently bringing in top-20 classes which is incredible given the academic restrictions that Stanford is under. Even in his worst season, 2014, Shaw still guided Stanford to an 8-5 season with a bowl victory! Stanford had a little trouble getting started last year but finished the year on a 6-game winning streak to get to 10-3 which was the 5th time in 6 years Shaw had Stanford with double-digit wins. Shaw’s 64 wins in 6-years is Stanford’s greatest run in Cardinal football history! It’s going to be interesting going forward with Stanford and Shaw. The Cardinal lost to both Washington & Washington St. last season and Chris Petersen and Mike Leach aren’t going anywhere. I’m a HUGE fan of Gary Andersen at Oregon St. and the Oregon Ducks bring in a guy in Willie Taggart who at the VERY LEAST will have Oregon as one of the most talented teams in the nation. USC is starting to flex and Mike MacIntyre put the Pac 12 on notice last season. The Pac 12 is changing and it’ll be great to see how Shaw adjusts to the changes.

#7 – Bob Stoops – Oklahoma

Arguably the most underappreciated football coach in America. The last two seasons Bob Stoops has lead the Sooners to a 22-4 mark with a 17-1 conference record. He’s won the Big XII both years. He’s finished #5 in the AP poll both years. Got to the college football playoffs in 2015 and then won the Orange Bowl last year with a convincing 35-19 win over Auburn. All of that winning and Stoops still gets flack for not having Oklahoma where they need to be! What’s hurt Stoops in recent times is his inability to win big time games. It’s unfortunate that Stoops won a national title in Norman in his 2nd year back in 2000 because since then the expectation has been a national championship (as it should be at Oklahoma) but the Sooners have come up empty over the last 16 seasons! That’s a long time to wait when you are an Oklahoma fan. Oklahoma did play for the national title in 2004 and 2008 but the Sooners were hammered in the Orange Bowl in 2004 by USC 55-19, and then in 2008 Tim Tebow got the better of them in Urban Meyer’s 2nd national championship. The other knock on Stoops is that he hasn’t recruited at an extraordinarily high level the past few years (although his 2017 class is a top-10 class) and the Big XII has the perception of being “weak” which hurts Stoops to a degree because he’s the big fish in a relatively small pond. I’m not sure I buy into either excuses, but getting hammered early last year by Ohio State wasn’t a good look and Texas hasn’t given Oklahoma too much competition in the Big XII for quite awhile now. Stoops makes a VERY compelling case to be #3 on this list and #7 does seem a bit low to me, but he ended 2016 on an incredible note and the 2017 recruiting was fantastic. Stoops could very well creep back into top-3 status sooner rather than later.

#6 – Jim Harbaugh – Michigan

The last 3 coaches before Jim Harbaugh had the following first 2-seasons record at Michigan:

Brady Hoke: 19-7
Rich Rodriguez: 8-16
Lloyd Carr: 17-8

Jim Harbaugh in his first two seasons has gone 20-6 with back to back double digit win seasons! The only other Michigan HC in Wolverines football history to begin his career with back to back double digit win seasons was Fielding Yost who posted back to back 11-0 seasons back in 1901-1902! What Harbaugh has done at Michigan is nothing short of spectacular. Rich Rodriguez was a complete mess. Brady Hoke was lost and terrible once he got his own players to Ann Arbor. I’m a big Lloyd Carr fan, but outside of the national championship team Michigan had in 1997 where they went 12-0, Carr never had a team lose less than 2 games. Carr also lost more bowl games than he won and in his last 7 bowl games, Carr’s Wolverines teams were 2-5! Harbaugh has come in to one of the most significant, historically relevant programs in college football history, that hadn’t been relevant in almost 20 years and immediately made them a top-5 team. His last two recruiting classes have both been top-5 classes. Michigan is now competing with Alabama, Ohio St., USC, Florida, Florida St., and Clemson for recruits. Some might think ranking Harbaugh at #6 could be a bit too high too fast, but look at his track record at Stanford. Look what he did at San Francisco? Sure he hasn’t won the Big 10 East yet. He hasn’t beaten Ohio St. yet either, but Harbaugh’s entrance into the Big 10 made the Big 10 East immediately the best division in college football with the best rivalry now being amped up to all time historical levels. He’s a master motivator and is just getting started. If he can post back to back 10-3 seasons without any firm foundation in place, what is Michigan football going to look like when Harbaugh has the program firing on all cylinders?

#5 – Chris Petersen – Washington

I think some people thought Petersen might struggle a bit at Washington after leaving the comfortable confines of Boise. Dan Hawkins couldn’t make it work at Colorado after he left Boise State. Dirk Koetter had a much tougher road at Arizona State after leaving Boise State although Koetter has reinvented himself and is now the HC of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has the Bucs close to playoff contention. The same struggle was thought to follow Petersen to Seattle. Most thought Petersen would turn out well, but that it might take a few years…..yeah it took 3. Petersen’s first two years with the Huskies saw Washington go a combined 15-12 with back-to-back 4-5 conference seasons. In Year 3, Washington would finish the season 12-1 (8-1) with a Pac 12 North division championship, a Pac 12 outright championship and a spot in the college football playoff. The playoff wasn’t spectacular as UW lost to Alabama 24-7, but to be honest, Washington played a pretty tight game against the Crimson Tide despite losing the game. Recruiting is improving under Petersen although it’s always going to be hard to pull kids into dreary Seattle over hot spots like USC, Florida, Florida St., Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Miami-FL, Texas, LSU, UCLA, Tennessee, Arizona State, Arizona and South Carolina. And that isn’t mentioning traditional powerhouse football teams with less than ideal locations such as Penn St., Ohio St., Michigan, and Notre Dame. With that said, Washington should be able to push their recruiting into the top-20 range annually without a problem and that is more than enough talent for Petersen to win and win big with. I think Rick Neuheisel and Don James showed that the Huskies could be relevant on the national stage and Washington is one of those teams that makes college football better when they are winning. The Pac 12 is changing a bit with a lot of incoming young talent as head coaches so Petersen has his work cut out for him, but he’s got Washington ahead of schedule and I don’t think they’ll regress. Washington should be as good or better in 2017 as they were in 2016.

#4 – Jimbo Fisher – Florida State

It’s easy to forget now that Fisher has the Seminoles back at the apex of college football that in Bobby Bowden’s last 5 years as HC, Florida St. posted a combined record of 38-27, finishing outside the final AP-Top 25 in 3 of those 5 seasons and having a losing bowl record of 2-3. Recruiting was way down and some thought that Bobby Bowden was finished and the FSU program along with him. Bowden was finished, but Florida St. wasn’t. Fisher stepped in immediately and led FSU to a 10-4 season, won the ACC Atlantic division title and got a bowl win, giving FSU their first double digit win season in 6 years! Fisher would win the ACC in Year 3. He’d win a national title in Year 4 and play for a another national title in Year 5! Bowden’s last 5 years in Tallahassee saw the ‘Noles go 38-27, but Fisher’s first 5 years in Tallahassee would see FSU post a 58-11 record with a national title and 3 ACC titles! The turnaround was absolutely stunning and put Florida St. back into the ELITE of the ELITE category. Recruiting soared and Fisher has the program humming with no let up in sight. One of the biggest clues that show how good a place FSU is in under Fisher is their last two seasons. Florida St. has had back to back 10-3 seasons finishing #14 in 2015 and #8 in 2016. Those are great if not spectacular seasons, but at this point in Fisher’s tenure, they seem like rebuilding seasons for FSU or disappointing seasons. When you average being a borderline top-10 over a 2-year period and it’s looked at as disappointing, you know you have expectations at an all time high, and Fisher knows he can meet those expectations!

#3 – Dabo Swinney – Clemson

It’s almost impossible to argue Swinney’s success. I’m trying to keep my analysis to the past 5 years and Swinney has enough success those 5 years, but if we stretch Swinney out to his last 6 years, he’s led Clemson to a 70-13 record including a 6-2 bowl record, a national championship, 2 national championship game appearances, 3 ACC championships and 4 ACC Atlantic division titles! It’s a better resume than anyone not named Nick Saban and Swinney can certainly stack up well with Urban Meyer. He has shown he can recruit top-5 classes to Clemson meaning there doesn’t seem to be any weaknesses to Swinney’s arsenal when it comes to head coaching college football. He’s leaped Jimbo Fisher in the ACC Atlantic which is no small feat and he’s keeping Bobby Petrino at bay, which again is no small feat. Swinney was also able to avenge his 2015 championship game loss to Alabama by besting the Tide in 2016 behind QB Deshaun Watson. Swinney has 6 straight 10+ win seasons at Clemson which is a school record. I’d also say that this year Swinney passed Danny Ford as the greatest football coach in Clemson history. The only question now facing Swinney has he moves forward is sustaining that success. The way you become legendary is winning multiple championships the way Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have been able to do. Note that Bob Stoops couldn’t do it. Mack Brown couldn’t do it. Jimbo Fisher hasn’t done it. Jim Tressel couldn’t do it. Steve Spurrier couldn’t do it. Lou Holtz couldn’t do it. It’s not easy. Winning a championship to begin with isn’t easy, but Swinney has about as much momentum going forward as I’ve ever seen and it’ll be interesting going forward to see how much he goes after a historical legacy. He’s a great head football coach. Is he an all-time great?

#2 – Urban Meyer – Ohio State

Speaking of all-time greats……it’s one thing for Dabo Swinney to pass up Danny Ford as Clemson’s best coach of all time. It’s quite another for Urban Meyer to be on pace to make people forget about the legendary Woody Hayes. Meyer has been in Columbus for 5 seasons guiding the Buckeyes after he left a Florida Gators program he won two national championships with. In those 5 seasons, Ohio St. is 61-6 including 3 perfect Big 10 seasons, one perfect season, a national championship, 5 Big 10 division titles and one outright Big 10 championship. In Woody Hayes’s first 5 seasons the Buckeyes were 33-11-2 with one national championship and 2 Big 10 titles. It’s comparable but I’d say Meyer has Woody. It’s hard to knock Meyer’s success. It’s incredible and he’s VERY DESERVING of being #2 on this list. Ohio St. is a machine at this point and there isn’t a team in America that out-recruits Ohio St. other than Alabama, and even then I’d say the Buckeyes Tide have equal talent. The one knock I have on Meyer is that I think he ran from Saban when Saban took over Alabama. I think this is incredible strategy by Meyer, but it also shows to me why you can never put Meyer ahead of Nick Saban unless Meyer just hammers him head-to-head 3-4 times in national championship games. Meyer took over Florida in 2005. Saban’s last year at LSU was 2004 and remember that Saban won a national title in Baton Rouge in 2003. So Meyer came into Florida without Saban at Alabama and the Mad Hatter at LSU. Fullmer goes 5-6 at Tennessee in 2005 and Mark Richt is in Georgia, but he’s not much of a problem for Meyer. Kentucky & Vanderbilt aren’t issues and South Carolina had just hired Steve Spurrier and it’ll take the Ol Ball Coach a little bit of time to get the Gamecocks rolling. Meyer recruits arguably the greatest college football player in history (Tim Tebow) and wins national championships in 2006 and 2008. Saban comes back to Alabama in 2007. Meyer couldn’t have known this. It takes Saban a season to get Alabama rolling but in Year 2, Saban has the Tide at 12-0 and playing for an SEC championship. Tebow is a junior at this time and in the SEC Championship game, Florida beats Alabama 31-20 although Alabama held a 20-17 lead going into the 4th quarter. In 2009, Timmy Tebow is a senior and Florida is expected to win a national championship giving Tebow 3 in 4 years. Florida goes 12-0, but so does Alabama. They meet in the SEC Championship game and instead of Tebow willing Florida to another win, Alabama DESTROYS Florida 32-13 on their way to Saban’s first national title with the Tide. Without Tebow in 2010, Florida slides to 8-5 and takes another beating at the hands of Alabama 31-6 in regular season play. Urban leaves Florida citing health reasons or family reasons or some combination of the two. It’s suspect timing because Alabama would win 2 of the next 3 national championship games with Auburn winning the other. Of course, a year later Urban Meyer takes over the Ohio State team which is conveniently in a conference without Nick Saban.

It’s an interesting story and probably 100% conjecture although it does make some sense. The irony of course is that Meyer comes to the Big 10 East where in 2012, the conference is in turmoil so to speak. Michigan is somewhat of a joke now that they’ve gone through the Rich Rodriguez era and Brady Hoke is screwing up. Penn State is a complete mess due to the Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky scandal that is erupting. Bo Pellini can’t get Nebraska figured out and Ohio St. finds itself in the Big 10 Leaders division with Indiana, Illinois & Purdue! Sure Wisconsin is around, but as good as the Badgers are, Meyer has to know that Wisconsin could NEVER keep up with the influx of talent to Columbus with how Meyer recruits. The problem is that it doesn’t stay that way. Two years later the Big 10 welcomes in Maryland & Rutgers and the divisions change. Michigan & Michigan St. come over to the Big 10 East while Wisconsin changes to the Big 10 West. Penn St. rights the ship quick with Bill O’Brien before turning it over to James Franklin. Mark Dantonio is now in the same division as Meyer and lo and behold, Michigan brings in Jim Harbaugh! The Big 10 Leaders division goes from being a laughing stock division that Ohio St. could have dominated for decades to the Big 10 East which is now arguably the most difficult division to play in with 4 of the best head coaches in all of college football.

This bites Meyer a bit. Ohio St. was ineligible for postseason play in 2012, but in 2013 Ohio St. loses the Big 10 championship to Mark Dantonio and Michigan State. In 2014 Ohio St. does manage to win the national championship in the first ever football playoff scenario beating Alabama 42-35 in the semifinals before beating Oregon, but in 2015 they miss the Big 10 title game because of a tie-breaker loss to Michigan St. and last year they miss the Big 10 title game again due to a tie-breaker loss to Penn State! They get to the playoffs last season, but are humiliated by Clemson 31-0 in the semifinal game. Luckily Ohio St. didn’t draw Alabama because shades of 2008-2009 come to mind if that scenario played out again. Saban would have remembered and the outcome for Ohio St., like it was for Florida, wouldn’t have been pretty. I write all of this not to cast doubt on Meyer’s legitimacy. He’s an all-time great legendary coach. Everyone agrees, but I think an overlooked aspect of Meyer’s career is that he’s been fairly strategic in trying to put himself into the best place possible. You can’t knock him on that. Opportunity doesn’t come often and he’s taken advantage of that opportunity by helping it with putting himself in the right situations. That and winning Tebow from Mike Shula during Tebow’s recruitment has done wonders for Meyer’s status.

#1 – Nick Saban – Alabama

G.O.A.T! He’ll eventually tie or pass Bear Bryant’s record of 6 national championships. Saban already has 5 and to be honest he’s probably the greatest coach in Alabama and LSU history. Hell he might be the greatest coach in Michigan State history as well! Saban has been at Alabama now for 10 seasons. In those 10 seasons he’s gone 119-19! The man has averaged 12 wins per season for a decade! He’s won 4 national championships, 6 SEC Championships, 8 SEC West championships and has finished ranked in the AP top-10 for the last 9 consecutive seasons! This doesn’t even account for the national championship he won at LSU, the SEC championship he won at LSU or the 3 SEC West titles he won at LSU. Saban has also won 8 bowl games in this 10 years in Tuscaloosa. Nobody can out-recruit the Tide & Saban. He deals with a lot of coordinator turnover because everyone wants his coordinators to take over their teams! Jim McElwain was his OC. Now he’s the HC at Florida! Kirby Smart was his DC. Now he’s the HC at Georgia! Lane Kiffin was a former HC for USC, Tennessee and the Oakland Raiders and spent the last few seasons as Saban’s OC! Mark Dantonio was on Saban’s staff for 5 years at Michigan St. and he’s now the HC at Michigan State! Jimbo Fisher was on Saban’s staff at LSU. He’s the HC now at Florida State! The one constant is Nick Saban himself. We could go on and on about his accolades but they’ll all point to the same conclusion. Nick Saban is the best football coach in college football right now. He’s also the greatest college football coach to ever live.

May 27, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Alabama, Big 10, Big XII, Clemson, Coaching, Florida, Florida St., Louisville, Michigan, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Pac 12, Rankings, SEC, Stanford, Washington | Leave a comment

NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2016 FINAL RANKINGS

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Deshaun Watson might not have won the Heisman but he proved he was the best player in college football by taking down the Tide 35-31 in dramatic fashion and handing Clemson their first national title since 1981! The Tigers did the ultimate by beating both Urban Meyer and Nick Saban in the playoffs which makes the championship all the sweeter. Watson was huge. The defensive effort was fantastic. And Dabo was well…Dabo! Swinney is now 70-13 the past six seasons. He’s proven ELITE.
#2 Computer Hope What if Bo Scarbrough doesn’t get hurt in the 3rd quarter? The Tide were up 17-7 when Scarbrough went down & then were outscored 28-14. Why didn’t Alabama hold on the last play of the game forcing Clemson to kick a FG to send the game into OT? Lots of question surrounding this loss for the Tide, but you can’t deny that Jalen Hurts was terrible, the offense couldn’t convert on 3rd down and the defense couldn’t find a way to get off the field against Watson’s passing attack. The best team won.
#3 Computer Hope If you don’t believe full games out of Jake Butt and Jabril Peppers is worth at last 2 points for the Wolverines then I have no idea what to tell you. If you watched them all season, it was easy to see that Michigan was right behind Alabama & Clemson. They were possibly with them assuming full health. The Wolverines dominated the Buckeyes in Columbus yet lost. They dealt with injuries against Florida St. & lost by one point. This ranking is based on “What if?”, but I think Michigan deserves it.
#4 Computer Hope What an unbelievable way to win the Rose Bowl!? The Trojans go up 20-7 on Penn St. only to see the Nittany Lions roar back to take a 49-35 lead into the 4th quarter by outscoring USC 28-8 in the 3rd quarter. Not to be outdone, the Trojans outscore PSU 17-0 in the 4th capped off by a last second FG that gave USC a 52-49 win! USC won 9 straight to end the season including wins over Penn St., Colorado, Washington, UCLA & Notre Dame. USC definitely proved they were the class of the Pac 12.
#5 Computer Hope The season ended on a disappointing note with the loss to USC in the Rose Bowl, but how amazing has the transformation of Penn St. been under James Franklin? Franklin in his 3rd year led the Lions to an 11-3 record which included wins over Ohio St., Iowa, Michigan St. & Wisconsin en route to a Big 10 championship, their first since 2008. The best part is that it can only get better. QB Trace McSorley & RB Saquon Barkley return next year & Penn St. is recruiting well. The Lions are B-A-C-K!
#6 Computer Hope I’ve been making FSU pay all season for the disastrous loss to Louisville back on September 17th, but if you simply consider it a loss, FSU lost to Louisville, North Carolina by 2 and Clemson by 3. Dalvin Cook was arguably the best RB in the nation. FSU ended the season 10-3 on a 5-game winning streak including a stunning 33-32 win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Defensively, the Noles were A LOT better than their stats would indicate. If their TO margin was great, FSU could be the champs.
#7 Computer Hope In much the same way the Seminoles paid for their loss to Louisville, the Buckeyes lived off their early season demolition of Oklahoma. The Buckeyes were definitely exposed in a 31-0 embarrassment at the hands of Clemson, but Ohio St. didn’t look so good for a lot of the season. They lost to Penn St., but barely escaped games against Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan St. & Northwestern. The playoff committee backed themselves into a corner with Ohio St. & they shouldn’t have played Clemson.
#8 Computer Hope The Badgers took care of business in the Cotton Bowl beating a feisty Western Michigan squad to end the year 11-3. It’s hard to rank Wisconsin any lower than this. They beat LSU to start the season & their only 3 losses came against Ohio St., Michigan & Penn St., all by 7 points. Paul Chryst seems like the heir apparent to Barry Alavarez & he should be in Madison for a very long time. In his first two years with Wisconsin, Chryst is 21-6 with a Big 10 West title & 2 bowl wins. I think they only get better.
#9 Computer Hope Like Michigan, this is more of a ranking based on top end talent. When LSU was healthy, they combined an efficient passing attack with Danny Etling behind a DEVASTATING rushing combination of Leonard Fournette and Derius Guice. The defense was arguably the best in the nation which really begs the question of how it was possible for LSU to lose games behind an ELITE rushing attack and an ELITE defense? That is the riddle Ed Orgeron needs to solve because LSU is too good for 8-4.
#10 Computer Hope Losing to Alabama 24-7 in the national semifinal dulled an amazing season for the Huskies who finished 12-2 as Pac 12 champions in Chris Petersen’s 3rd season in Seattle. The loss to Alabama should be instructive going forward & the Huskies are poised to dominate the Pac 12 North for years to come. The one knock is that UW has to beat quality teams. They lost to USC & Alabama with their big wins coming against Stanford, Utah & Washington State. I think it’s a problem they’ll rectify.
#11 Computer Hope The Sooners paid dearly for early season losses to Houston & Ohio St., but roared back winning 10 straight games, going undefeated in Big XII play and then routing Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to finish 11-2. Given their competition, the Sooners possibly saved the best for last. The defense held a solid Auburn running attack in check while the offense rolled behind Baker Mayfield, Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook and Samarje Perine. Given Ohio St.’s & Washington’s performance in the playoffs, Oklahoma makes a case with a great year.
#12 Computer Hope Even if Colorado was completely unmotivated to play in the Alamo Bowl, Oklahoma St,’s dismantling of the Buffs 38-8 was impressive no matter how you slice it. The Cowboys were up 31-0 going into the 4th quarter in dominant fashion surpassed only by Clemson’s demolition of Ohio State. If you believe the refs robbed the Cowboys in the C.Michigan loss then OK-State’s only real losses were on the road to Baylor & Oklahoma. The 10-3 reads more like 11-2. The Cowboys will be in the national title chase in 2017. You’ve been warned!
#13 Computer Hope Down 24-0 at halftime to Arkansas in the Belk Bowl, the Hokies stormed back outscoring the Hogs 35-0 in the 2nd half to end their season 10-4 with an ACC Coastal title. Take out oddball losses to Georgia Tech & Syracuse & the Hokies could have been 12-2 with a much better bowl slot. First year HC Justin Fuente was a huge success in Blacksburg in his first season. JUCO QB Jerod Evans was a revelation & the Hokies rushing attack gave VT a new offensive identity. That attack with a Bud Foster defense is a dangerous combo.
#14 Computer Hope Losing to Oklahoma 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl isn’t that bad considering Oklahoma probably had their best game of the year and if the Sooners played like that against Ohio St. & Houston, they would have been 12-0 & in the playoffs. War Eagle got off to a rough 1-2 start but their eventual 8-5 record includes losses to Clemson, Alabama & Oklahoma! Those 3 teams finished a combined 39-4! They also lost to Texas A&M early when the Aggies looked like a playoff team & Georgia when Kamryn Pettway was hurt. Very good team. Tough schedule without solid QB.
#15 Computer Hope Let’s just assume Colorado simply wasn’t interested in the Alamo Bowl, and frankly who could blame them considering they were angling for the Rose Bowl and missed out to a team they finished ahead of in the Pac 12 South. The Buffaloes had a banner year finishing 10-4 with a Pac 12 South title when most pundits predicted them to finish dead last before the season began. The real question is whether or not the Buffaloes can build on this breakthrough season. QB Sefo Liufau & a ton of defensive players won’t be returning in 2017.
#16 Computer Hope The Cardinal held off a pretty good North Carolina rally in the Sun Bowl to preserve a 25-23 win & finish the year 10-3. Stanford suffered a bit with 3 losses in 4 games in the early/mid season to start the year 4-3. With Washington & Washington St. playing so well in the North, Stanford was out before they really started. The losses weren’t so bad though. UW on the North. Colorado won the South & Wazzou finished 2nd in the North. Those 3 combined to finish 30-11. Tough way to finish for Christian McCaffery’s career,  but 10-3 isn’t awful.
#17 Computer Hope Early season losses for teams like Oklahoma & LSU took those squads out of the national spotlight. For the Redbirds it was almost the opposite. Louisville lived off a 63-20 hammering of Florida St. to a 9-1 start with their only loss coming at Clemson by 6 points. At that point they were still in the mix for a playoff spot. Then they lost to Houston and then to Kentucky and then to LSU in the Citrus Bowl where Lamar Jackson was exposed against an excellent defense. This is a top-20 team but the 9-4 certainly feels disappointing. They should have been 12-1.
#18 Computer Hope The Broncos proved they belonged by outscoring Wisconsin 16-10 over three quarters of the Cotton Bowl. Unfortunately, Wisconsin outscored them 14-0 in the 1st quarter giving the Badgers a 24-16 win and ended WMU’s perfect season. The loss was tough. Even worse was losing HC PJ Fleck after the season to Minnesota. It’s an odd move to be sure considering WMU could have potentially went 13-1/14-0 next season & Fleck would have been in even more demand. Then again, it’s the Big 10 West and not the Big 10 East. Fleck might be on to something.
#19 Computer Hope Utah probably got more than they bargained for from Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl. If Richard Lagow was any kind of QB, Utah probably falls to the Hoosiers & doesn’t rank in the top-25. Fortunately, Joe Williams put on a show & ran for 222 yards against an overwhelmed IU defense. Utah had a solid year going 9-4 although the loss to Colorado had to hurt because it cost them the South. They lived off their USC win but it’s worth nothing that the Utes’ 4 losses came by a combined 19 points. Like Colorado, it’ll be interesting to see how Utah reloads with USC back.
#20 Computer Hope Florida isn’t back to where they want to be, but I think the program scored a big win with Jim McElwain staying in Gainesville when rumors were swirling he could have taken off for Oregon. In his 2 seasons at Florida, the Gators have won SEC East titles. Sure they have lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship game both years & they have lost to Florida St. each year but progress takes a bit of time. Last year they were blown out by Michigan in their bowl game. This year they blow out Iowa. They aren’t back to being a top-10 program but they aren’t far.
#21 Computer Hope It was SO REFRESHING to see that Hurricane swagger on display in the Russell Athletic Bowl. THE U came to play & destroyed a solid West Virginia team 31-14. QB Brad Kaaya put on a clinic while the Miami defense held a Dana Holgorsen offense to just 14 points & 11 first downs! It was a tale of 3 season for Miami. They started off by winning 4 straight. Then they lost 4 straight before ending with 5 straight wins. Three of the 4 losses were close & those 4 losses came to Florida St., Notre Dame, Virginia Tech & North Carolina. Pretty good for Mark Richt’s first year.
#22 Computer Hope It took the Bulls overtime to defeat South Carolina, but USF pulled it out 46-39 to finish 11-2 which is the best record in the history of the program that started back in 1997! QB Quinton Flowers and RB Marlon Mack had outstanding years leading a dominating running attack that ranked 5th in the nation at a tick above 285 rushing yards per game. An untimely loss to Temple kept the Bulls from potentially winning the AAC championship but what a season. Taggart bolted USF for Oregon, but the Bulls landed Charlie Strong! I think USF will be fine in the transition.
#23 Computer Hope On the one hand you have a San Diego St. team the destroyed Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl 34-10 with a massive defensive effort that all but destroyed the Cougars rushing attack and picked off Houston QB Greg Ward four times. That Aztec team finished as MW Champs with an 11-3 record. RB Donnel Pumphrey ends his career as the all time leader in rushing yards in D1 history. On the other you have a SD Stat team that lost to S.Alabama, Colorado St. & Wyoming. Weird. HC Rocky Long has put together back to back 11-3 seasons. He’s got the program humming.
#24 Computer Hope I would have liked the Mountaineers coming out a little motivated to play than they showed against Miami-FL in the bowl, but it’s hard to argue a 10-3 season in which your only losses came against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Miami-FL. Nobody picked WVU to finish 3rd in the Big XII so the season was a rousing success. HC Dana Holgorsen has now improved WVU in each season since 2004. His guys are in place & the program is definitely his. I think he has WVU at a point where they need to start competing with Oklahoma for conference titles. That’s the next step.
#25 Computer Hope BYU flew under the radar for most of the season because of their 1-3 start, but the Cougars finished 8-1 in their last 9 games including a 24-21 bowl win over Wyoming that was a lot more impressive than it looks. You can argue BYU didn’t beat anyone of note although they did post wins over Michigan St., Mississippi St., Cincinnati & Arizona, but their 4 losses came by a combined 8 points! Those losses were to UCLA, Boise St., West Virginia & Utah. If BYU finishes 12-0 they were playing in a New Year’s 6, but could they have had an argument for a playoff berth?

DROPPING OUT

#16 WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS: Love the Cougs but they ended the season on a 3-game losing streak to finish 8-5. They were better than this. They also lost their bowl game to Minnesota which is hard to justify considering the mess that Minnesota football during this time. If Wazzou can quit losing early games to FCS teams they can turn into a consistent 10-win team which would put some pressure on Chris Petersen and Washington. Luke Falk coming back next season is going to be interesting.

#17 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS: Really an odd year. Pitt finished 8-5 with 4 close losses but also posted wins over Penn St. & Clemson. I kept them out of the top-25 due to the 5 losses and the bowl loss to Northwestern which didn’t make a lot of sense although Northwestern did become “that” team that nobody in the Big 10 wanted to play. No team in college football had two better wins than Pittsburgh, but the five losses?

#20 IOWA HAWKEYES: It was somewhat of a disappointing season for Iowa given that they went undefeated last year during the regular season, but the Hawkeyes had a chance to salvage a disappointing season by beating Michigan & Nebraska down the stretch. The problem was losing 30-3 to a Florida team looking to crash for the 2nd season in a row. This lead to an 8-5 finish for Iowa which isn’t awful all things considered, but still left something to be desired. The losses to Northwestern and North Dakota State probably should have been wins which could have meant a 10-3 finish which would have looked better as a follow up to 2015’s 11-2 season. I’d love to see Iowa breakthrough and get to the playoffs and even win a national championship. I think it would amazing for college football, but I’m not sure Kirk Ferentz is the guy to get that done.

#21 ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS: Completely collapsed in the 2nd half against Virginia Tech in the bowl game to finish 7-6. When Arkansas was playing at full tilt they were one of the most difficult teams to handle let alone defeat, but the team couldn’t find any real consistency from week to week. There isn’t a bad loss on the schedule outside of Missouri, but that also describes the perils of living in the SEC West. If you play anyone of note out of conference, you could easily be a top-20 squad with 4-5 losses on the year.

#22 TEMPLE OWLS: Top-25 teams shouldn’t be losing bowl games to Wake Forest. Temple was without HC Matt Rhule who bolted for Baylor, but the Owls were still able to win the AAC and get to 10 wins. It’s more interesting that Rhule would jump ship at Temple for Baylor. Art Briles showed you could potentially compete for championships in Waco and I suppose Rhule thinks he can get the Bears over the hump. That’s tough. I wonder why he wouldn’t potentially wait for other jobs to open up given the state Baylor’s program is in currently.

 

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, BYU, Clemson, Colorado, Final Rankings, Florida, Florida St., Iowa, Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, NCAA, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Penn St., Pittsburgh, Power 25, San Diego St., South Florida, Stanford, Temple, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL – BOWL SEASON PREVIEW!

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl seems fitting. You really can’t say enough about what a tremendous job Bob Davie has done for the Lobos. New Mexico was a combined 3-33 in the 3-years before Davie took over. How he has them at potentially a 9-4 season with back-to-back bowl games in his 5th year. As for the game, New Mexico has the nation’s best rush offense so UTSA will need to figure out a way to stop it if they’re to win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Las Vegas Bowl: Talk about a consolation bowl for early watching! The 9-3 Cougars take on the 10-3 Aztecs! Both of these teams were thought to win their respective conferences. Houston didn’t but SD State did get their revenge win over Wyoming to take the Mountain West. Tune in for Houston QB Gary Ward & DT Ed Oliver. Both guys have been outstanding this season. The Cougs won’t have Tom Herman but this is a fantastic early game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Camellia Bowl: Jason Candle did an outstanding job in his first year as HC of Toledo. The Rockets went 9-3 and won the MAC East. Their 3 losses came against W.Michigan, Ohio & BYU. Not bad at all. Appalachian St. has an outstanding defense. At 9-3 they have 2 losses to Tennessee and Miami-FL! It’ll be interesting to see if the Mountaineers can put a stop to Toledo’s Cody Thompson, Logan Woodside & Kareem Hunt. This game will be very compelling. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cure Bowl: Somewhat of a ho-hum bowl game as 6-6 UCF takes on 7-5 Arkansas State. UCF has a couple of tremendous corners in Shaquill Griffin and DJ Killings. They’ve been a terror to QBs all season long & that shouldn’t change. Helping them is OLB Shaquem Griffin who has totaled 11 sacks and 19 TFL on the season. Ark State is mostly a running team although they don’t do it particularly well. I’d tune in for the Knights defensive playmakers. Computer Hope
Computer Hope New Orleans Bowl: A couple of 6-6 teams going at it from CUSA and the Sun Belt conference. Obviously this is going to be one of those games that nobody is paying particular attention to but both teams feature a pretty good running back. Southern Miss’ Ito Smith ran for 1300+ yards & 15TD averaging 5.5ypc, while ULL’s Elijah McGuire ran for 1,028 yards & 7TD. This is HC Mark Hudspeth’s 5th bowl in 6 years as HC for the Ragin’ Cajuns. He’s done well. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Miami Beach Bowl: This game is played in Marlins Park which is the home of the Miami Marlins which is pretty cool. This is a bad matchup for C.Michigan. After a nice 3-0 start which saw them beat Oklahoma St., CMU went just 3-5 in MAC play & 3-6 in their final 9. Tulsa’s offense is prolific! They have a couple of thousand yard rushers, a thousand yard receiver & a three thousand yard passer. I think Tulsa scores 50+ in this game & dominates. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Boca Raton Bowl: Every time I hear the words Boca Raton I always think of Episode 9 of Season 1 of The Sopranos entitled Boca about Junior Soprano going down to Boca with one of his girlfriends, Bobbi Sanfillipo. The entire episode revolves around Junior’s amazing cunnilingus skills that eventually gets out. The part I always liked best is the end when Junior shoves Bobbi’s head in pie. Oh the game! Lots of scoring here with two good offenses. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Poinsettia Bowl: This is one of the underrated bowls I’m interested in. Wyoming HC Craig Bohl did a helluva job this year with the Cowboys. Nobody picked them to be this good, but Wyoming pulled off a coup to win the MW Mountain division & posted wins over Boise St. and San Diego State! BYU is tough. They went 8-4 but their 4 losses came by a total of 8 points! The Cougars are THIS CLOSE to being 12-0! Kalani Sitake did a GREAT job at BYU! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Idaho Potato Bowl: What a job Paul Petrino has done in Moscow! The Vandals were 3-21 the two years before Petrino took over and in his first two seasons they were even worse at 2-21. Last year they improved to 4-8 & in Petrino’s 4th season the Vandals are bowl bound at 7-5! They also went 6-1 in their last 7 games! They’ll have it tough with Colorado State. The Rams can score with a very balanced offense. Tough game for Idaho but great year. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Bahamas Bowl: If Old Dominion doesn’t lose on the road to W.Kentucky, the Monarchs finish 10-2 and undefeated in CUSA. The probably win the conference title and get to 11-2. HC Bobby Wilder has this program humming & I wouldn’t doubt if they become THE premier team in CUSA. A win here makes them 10-3 on the season & I expect them to take care of E.Michigan. EMU HC Chris Creighton was 3-21 his 1st 2 seasons. This year EMU went 7-5!! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Armed Forces Bowl: How is this for disappointing! If Navy blows out Temple in the AAC Championship game, they had an outside shot at jumping W.Michigan & getting to the Cotton Bowl to play Wisconsin. Instead the Middies are playing Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Bulldogs had a solid year but their defense is suspect & if Navy comes to play they should have no issues forcing the issue on offense. Win & Navy finishes at 10-4. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Dollar General Bowl: Frank Solich has done an outstanding job with the Bobcats. Western Michigan got all the publicity this season, and rightly so, but Ohio’s 8-5 record is a bit misleading. The Bobcats never lost a game by more than 9 points and 4 of those 5 losses were by 7 points or less. That 8-5 record is close to 12-1! Troy is exactly the same. The Trojans had a great 9-3 season but 2 losses were close so 9-3 could be 11-1. This should be a very good bowl. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Hawaii Bowl: And this is where we make the case for too many bowl games as the 6-7 Rainbows get in via exemption to play Middle Tennessee State. A lot of credit has to go to Hawaii 1st year HC Nick Rolovich for getting Hawaii into a bowl given that over the past 4 seasons the Rainbows have an 11-39 record. Hawaii’s last bowl game was in 2010 & their last bowl win was in 2006. Tune in for MTSU QB Brent Stockstill & RB I’Tavius Murray. They’re big! Computer Hope
Computer Hope St. Petersburg Bowl: LOVE THIS GAME! Talk about a wild season for Miami-OH! They lose their first 6 games, but win their final 6 to get bowl eligible! Some of that was schedule, but the switch to QB Gus Ragland made a HUGE difference. Ragland is 6-0 as a starter this season with 15TD to ZERO picks! Nobody picked Miami-OH to get to 6-6 & now they get an SEC team in a bowl! Outside of WMU/Wisconsin, this is the MAC bowl game to watch! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Quick Lane Bowl: Potentially a snoozer, Maryland and Boston College are a couple of high major squads coming off 6-6 regular seasons. These are a couple of teams still finding their way. Steve Addazio at BC is still figuring out his rushing attack without Andre Williams and Tyler Murphy. DJ Durkin obviously has a defensive reputation & the Terps improved defensively but still have a ways to go. The bowl is nice here but both teams actually need the reps. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Independence Bowl: The funny thing about Vanderbilt is that their 6-6 record could easily be 10-2. The Commodores have some excellent wins on the resume. They beat MTSU, WKU, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Georgia. Four of their 6 losses were close! Derek Mason has done an outstanding job! They’ll be competitive. I want to see which NC State shows up. The NC State against Clemons & Florida St? Or the NC State against Louisville? I hope the former. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Heart of Dallas Bowl: The Black Knights get to their first bowl since 2010! If you feel like you are having deja vu, don’t worry. These two teams actually played each other on October 22 when North Texas upended Army 35-18! Making matters worse? North Texas got to a bowl game by exemption given their 5-7 record. That’s too bad. Army deserves better. How amazing is it that the Knights have wins over both Temple & Navy? What are the odds? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Military Bowl: Temple wins the AAC so they get Wake Forest in the Military Bowl? No wonder Matt Rhule left out in a hurry for Baylor!! This feels like a huge slap in the face to the Owls. Temple is on a 7-game winning streak. They are 10-3 & a conference champion. Wake Forest is 6-6 & 2-6 in their last 8 games. They finished 5th in the ACC Atlantic with a 3-5 conference record. I get the conference tie ins but this is a huge opportunity lost for college football. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Holiday Bowl: This should be a pretty cool game regarding contrasts in styles. Minnesota wants to control the clock with their running game while Wazzou obviously wants to light up the scoreboard with their passing attack. What’s interesting here is the Gophers have a very good run D but a suspect pass D. I wonder if they’ll try to rush 3-4 and drop 7-8 and dare the Cougars to run the football? Teams have tried this and the Cougs have made them pay! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cactus Bowl: A couple of close road losses to Wyoming & Air Force prevented the Broncos from a 12-0 & potentially 13-0 season which would have robbed Western Michigan of the Cotton Bowl. WMU is a better story so I’m glad it worked out, but Boise has to be fairly happy it was able to keep Bryan Harsin. There was some rumor about a move to Oregon which would have been tough. A win here make Harsin 32-8 in his first 3 years on the blue turf. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Pinstripe Bowl: This is a pretty neat bowl game that will be played in Yankee Stadium. I thought the Panthers had a good shot at winning the Coastal this year but 3 close losses took them from 11-1 to 8-4. The same could be said for Northwestern. I thought the Wildcats became the team nobody wanted to face in the Big 10. A couple of odd losses early & a loss to Minnesota took a potential 9-3 & made it 6-6. Both teams are going to try & run the ball. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Russell Athletic Bowl: OLD SCHOOL BIG EAST!!! I love this game. Couple of interesting subplots here. Miami-FL isn’t great but the Mountaineers are still looking for some validation of their 10-2 record. A win here to get to 11-2 at least shows they can win outside the Big XII. For the Canes, they were 0-3 in close games so that 8-4 is VERY close to 11-1. They’ve won 4-straight & really want to go out on a high note. Brad Kaaya can improve his stock here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Foster Farms Bowl: Getting better by subtraction? Former Indiana HC Kevin Wilson led the Hoosiers to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in 25 seasons yet resigned over philosophical differences and DC Tom Allen takes over. I don’t think Hoosier Nation could be any happier with Allen as HC and some think it was a preemptive move to keep Allen from taking a different HC job. What a wild ride in Bloomington! GO HOOSIERS! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Texas Bowl: This is an intriguing game on paper given that both teams are 8-4, but this has the feel to me of a K-State blowout win potentially because I’m not sure a lot of the A&M players will feel like this one is worth playing. Guys like Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall have nothing really to gain here. On the other hand, would Texas A&M dare to make a move away from Kevin Sumlin should the Aggies get blown out and turn in another 8-5 season? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Birmingham Bowl: Outstanding season for the Bulls and former HC Willie Taggart. Unfortunately Taggart has taken his talents to Eugene Oregon as the next HC of the Ducks so a new era in USF football starts with Charlie Strong! I love the move for South Florida because I think Strong is an OUTSTANDING recruiter and putting him in Florida should put a lot of teams on notice. It would be pretty cool to see USF finish the season 11-2. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Belk Bowl: This should be a really fun game. In his first season at Virginia Tech, HC Justin Fuente has really done some solid things with the Hokies offense making more of a run-centric unit and that will pay massive dividends down the road given Bud Foster’s defensive prowess. It’s not unlike what Arkansas does under Bret Bielema. VT will utilize their pass a bit more, but you get the gist. I really hope VT gets that 10th win but Arkansas needs a W too. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Alamo Bowl: This is the first game you can really start looking at conference strengths. By all accounts, Oklahoma St. was the 2nd best team in the Big XII. I’d say the Buffaloes were the 3rd best team in the Pac 12 behind Washington & USC. Does a #3 Pac 12 team beat the #2 Big XII team? The big matchup here will be the UC secondary against Mason Rudolph. I don’t think the Cowboys are going to able to air it out & Coach Mac gets the Buffs to 11-3! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Liberty Bowl: I think some people are a bit disappointed in Kirby Smart’s first season as HC of the Bulldogs but Georgia’s 7-5 record includes 3 games that were lost by a total of 4 points. The ball bounces the other way & UGA is 10-2 & SEC East champs. They beat UNC & Auburn. I don’t think Nick Chubb was 100% all season & Jacob Eason was a true frosh QB. Leonard Floyd & Jordan Jenkins were huge losses. Win or lose here, Georgia did well. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sun Bowl: Not saying this was a wasted season because the Tar Heels could still get a bowl win & finish 9-4, but when you look at back at their season, the Tar Heels should be 11-1. That would have won the Coastal & given UNC a good shot at New Year’s 6 bowl even if they lost to Clemson. Don’t dismiss Stanford in this one. I think the Cardinal is looking for respect & getting to 10-3 could potentially put them in the final AP Top-15. Love this game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Music City Bowl: Games like this are sort of neat because both are historically great programs and if you look at the jerseys alone it’s cool to see them, but this isn’t the mid-1990s. Nebraska is Big 10 #6 going up against The Vols are are SEC #6/7. What could make this game interesting is a blowout win for the Huskers. Butch Jones is on thin ice as it is. Could a blowout win for Nebraska combined with the 49ers firing Chip Kelly lead Kelly to Tennessee? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Arizona Bowl: It’s pretty cool for South Alabama to get to a bowl game even if it is with a 6-6 record, but this is a massive mismatch that the Falcons should take advantage of. Air Force is 8-4 and on a roll having won 5 straight including wins over Colorado St. and Boise State. They have one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the nation & South Alabama is going to be overwhelmed when they see it. This opened with AF -15. They cover. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Orange Bowl: I’d expect Michigan to come out and dominate this game. Florida St. is better than their 9-3 record, and as talented as Dalvin Cook is at tailback, I have a hard time believing he’s going to get away with running against Michigan when Ohio State couldn’t. If Deondre Francois tries to air it out, it’s turnover season & the Wolverines really start blowing it out. This might be the sexiest game outside of the playoffs, but Michigan kills it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Citrus Bowl: Love the storylines here. For LSU this is a chance for Ed Orgeron to really put this program at 100% going forward. It’s also a chance for Lenoard Fournette to boost his draft status & for Derrius Guice to start a Heisman campaign in 2017. For Louisville it’s a chance to end the season on a high note & a chance for Lamar Jackson to prove what a great player he is by taking on and beating by far the best defense he’s seen all season. Can’t wait. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Taxslayer Bowl: Great bounce back season for Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech was 3-9 last year & has a shot at 9-4 this year with a win over Kentucky. It was also a solid year for the Wildcats who got to a bowl game for the first time under HC Mark Stoops and beat Louisville to finish the regular season. I think this is a big jump off game for the 2017 season as both teams return a lot of players & should be even better in 2017. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Peach Bowl: Chris Petersen is an exceptionally creative coach so the thing to watch here is how well the Huskies can play in the 1st quarter while Alabama could potentially be taken off guard. At some point in time talent is going to settle in and the Tide have a GIGANTIC advantage here, but if UW gets out to a 14 point lead, can they hold on for dear life? This is best case for Washington. Worst case is that they’ve never seen anything like Bama’s front-7 and lose by 30. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Fiesta Bowl: I’m not a fan of this game. I understand the reasoning behind putting Ohio St. in the playoffs but Penn St. beat them and won the Big 10 championship. I think the Nittany Lions got a raw deal which taints the playoff regardless. A lot of talk here about how this game is Deshaun Watson against JT Barrett, but I think Clemson’s defense is going to be tough & the Tigers have so many weapons on offense against a fairly young defense. Still should be a great game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Outback Bowl: This is a great game for Iowa to end the season on a high note. The Hawkeyes have won 3 straight games which includes wins over Michigan and Nebraska. Their 8-4 record is a lot closer to 11-1 given their close losses than people imagine & it’s easy to forget that some thought Iowa had the schedule this year to set up another 12-0 run. Finishing 9-4 is great albeit somewhat disappointing. As for the Gators, they really need to avoid another late season collapse. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cotton Bowl: ROW THE BOAT!!! The Western Michigan story is a fantastic one, but this is a situation for Wisconsin that is almost unwinnable. Lose and you lost to a MAC school. Win and all you did was beat a MAC school. It’s interesting to note that WMU is 2-0 against Big 10 schools this year having beat Illinois and Northwestern by a combined 25 points. The Badgers beat both by a combined 59 points. It would be so cool to see PJ Fleck pull of a 14-0 season! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Rose Bowl: Two teams couldn’t be any hotter coming into this one. Penn St. has won 9 straight games including wins over Ohio St. & Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship game. USC has won 8 straight games including wins over Colorado, Washington, Notre Dame & UCLA. I really think these teams are out to prove they should have been in the playoffs. USC beat both UW & Colorado. Penn St. beat Ohio State. This might be the best bowl outside of the national championship. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sugar Bowl: Love this game. If the season started tomorrow and the Tigers were healthy, knowing what we know now, I think they’d go 11-1. War Eagle has a top-5 defense that is massively underrated in my opinion. Their running game is also exceptional so Auburn can put a lot of pressure on Oklahoma. I think OU is playing for respect. A win over Auburn legitimizes them as a team that maybe should have been in the playoffs. A loss here hurts the Big XII quite a bit. Computer Hope

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Air Force, Alabama, Appalachian St., Arkansas, Arkansas St., Army, Auburn, Baylor, Boise St., Boston College, Bowl Season, BYU, Central Michigan, Clemson, Colorado, Colorado St., Eastern Michigan, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas St., Kentucky, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Miami-FL, Miami-OH, Michigan, Middle Tennessee St., Minnesota, Mississippi St., Navy, NC State, NCAA, NCAA Playoffs, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Texas, Northwestern, Ohio, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Old Dominion, Penn St., Pittsburgh, San Diego St., South Alabama, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Stanford, TCU, Temple, Tennessee, Texas AM, Toledo, Troy, Tulsa, UCF, USC, Utah, UTSA, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington St., West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan, Wisconsin, Wyoming | Leave a comment