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Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott recently showed off an awesome tattoo celebrating the Buckeyes’ national championship win. And now a fan of Ohio State (Kevin Alexander) has added to the offseason artwork with an impressive tattoo of current coach Urban Meyer, former coach Woody Hayes and two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin.
In this story from Cleveland.com, Alexander details his decision to get an Ohio State tattoo on Wednesday and why he decided to switch from a Block “O” to the Hayes, Griffin and Meyer artwork.
Check out the full story here
And here’s a few photos from Alexander’s new tattoos:
Don’t be that guy.
Don’t be the old, stodgy curmudgeon who refuses to acknowledge that society moves forward.
Don’t ignore facts, research and statistical data because of some longing for the days of the Wing-T and leather helmets. Don’t let an anecdotal stat about the Super Bowl starting lineups, lazy reporting on the NFL Draft or an undefeated season from Boise State blind you to the truth.
Recruiting matters and so do the rankings. More importantly, this isn’t an opinion.
It’s a fact.
Does it take great coaching, quality development, a conglomerate of hard-working support staffers and even a bit of luck to win a championship? Are recruiting rankings an inexact science filled with busts?
Of course, but to win championships in college football, it takes great players. In general, teams with better players according to the recruiting rankings win more games and players who have more stars are more likely to get drafted.
Again, those aren’t opinions.
The 2014 College Football Playoff featured three of the top four rosters according to the recruiting rankings. Based on the last five classes, Alabama had the No. 1 roster in the nation in ‘14, Florida State was No. 2 and Ohio State was No. 4 nationally. Oregon wasn’t far behind with the 14th-ranked roster in America.
Both Florida State (No. 5) and Auburn (No. 10) had two of the top 10 rosters in the nation a year earlier based on the same criteria and they met in the ’13 BCS title game. In 2011, Alabama and LSU were two of the top three rosters in the nation based on the previous five recruiting classes. They met in the BCS title game that year and only lost to each other. Notre Dame vs. Alabama? Yup, both top-10 rosters.
Additionally, signing the No. 1 class in the nation has historically produced national titles.
Since 2002 (as far back as Rivals.com team rankings go), nearly every team that landed a No. 1 class in the nation eventually won a national championship. Texas signed the top class in 2002 and won a title three years later. LSU signed the top class in 2003 and won two titles with those players. USC inked the top class in 2004 and played in back-to-back title games. Florida won the recruiting championship in 2007 and the BCS championship in '08. Alabama claimed three national championships after winning four recruiting titles in between 2008-12.
Further, every single BCS national champion had at least two top-10 classes in the four years leading up to its championship season.
Still need more?
The good folks at SB Nation — Matt Hinton and Bud Elliott — have done marvelous work breaking down the statistics as it relates to recruiting rankings. I suggest reading the articles, but the gist of their research reveals two telling and undeniable truths: 1) Teams with better recruiting classes win more games and 2) players with more stars are more likely to be drafted.
Working with the top 75 teams in the nation — the six “BCS” leagues, Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU — Hinton plotted out where those teams ranked in recruiting and what happened when they played each other. In nearly 1,500 matchups between 2010-13, the “higher-ranked team according to the recruiting rankings won roughly two-thirds of the time” and the larger the talent differential, the easier it was to predict wins and losses. To quote the author, "it's a landslide."
Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast Recruiting Special feat. Barton Simmons:
Essentially, in a world where it’s nearly impossible to predict outcomes, picking games based purely on star rankings is actually your best bet.
There are roughly 4,500 scholarships signed each National Signing Day with about 30 prospects receiving the heralded five-star ranking. An additional 400 will get four stars while the other 4,000 check in as three- or two-star prospects. So when a stat says only 16 five-stars were drafted against 71 two-stars (like in 2014), it’s utterly lazy reporting.
Elliott provides the real data. The ratios indicate that four- and five-star recruits are 995 percent more likely to be drafted in the first round than a three- or two-star prospect. Additionally, based on the 2014 NFL Draft, a five-star recruit has a 60 percent chance of getting drafted (16 of 27) and a four-star has a 20 percent opportunity (77 of 395). Meanwhile, three-star recruits have just a 5.5 percent chance (92 of 1644) and two-stars/unranked players have less than a three-percent likelihood of getting drafted (71 of 2,434).
I’m no mathematician but 60 is significantly larger than 2.9.
Three of the best four rosters in the sport, according to the rankings, eventually filled playoff spots this year. Landing the top class has led directly to competing for a national title over the last 10 years. Higher ranked recruiting classes regularly defeat lower ranked classes at nearly a 70 percent clip. And higher ranked prospects are significantly more likely to get drafted by the NFL than lower ranked ones.
Recruiting at an elite level doesn’t guarantee success. Bad coaches underachieve with great players all the time. But no one has won a national title without elite talent.
So if you don’t like glorifying teenagers or pompous announcement ceremonies, that’s fair and totally acceptable. But don’t lie to yourself about the value of the rankings.
Remember, facts not opinions.
The athletic Dustin Johnson is known for being one of the longest hitters in the game today. His smooth, rhythmic swing produced an average driving distance of 305.8 yards in 2013, a number that ranked second on the PGA Tour. His 140 measured drives soared a total of 24.3 miles, but not as a result of hard, aggressive swinging. Here, Dustin and his instructor, top-ranked teacher Butch Harmon, share Dustin's secrets for producing those jaw-dropping tee shots.
DUSTIN JOHNSON'S EFFORTLESS POWER
If I feel like I have to try to hit one far, then I'm not swinging correctly. Butch Harmon and I always talk about effortless power, instead of power with effort.
When I'm on the launch monitor, when I'm swinging really hard — which I never do on a golf course — I can get one 330-335 in the air. A normal swing, when I'm on the golf course, it's going to fly maybe 300. Anywhere between 290 and 300. Obviously, I can step it up once in a while and maybe fly one 310. But I never like swinging with that mindset. I don't want to hit it hard. Maybe when I'm on the driving range and just goofing around I'll smash 'em sometimes for fun. But on a golf course, I might swing 85 to 90 percent at the highest.
My keys to effortless power:
• Obviously, keeping my right knee flexed, letting my arms get back down in front of the clubhead — those things slow me down a little bit and keep me from over-swinging. Some of the longest drives I've ever hit are ones that I felt like I hit easy and smooth.
• Great balance. I'm never coming out of my shoes. If I'm swinging correctly, I'm in balance. You'll notice that if I'm not swinging well, if I've gotta work to hit one far, then I'm not going to be in balance. When I'm swinging correctly, I'm going to hit it even further, and I'm going to stay balanced.
Butch Harmon's Take:
What I want amateurs to notice about Dustin's swing on the tee is his beautiful rhythm and balance. The middle of the clubhead makes contact with the ball with a nice, smooth tempo, and he has a balanced finish.
That rhythm and balance allow Dustin to make a good, aggressive, confident swing without over-swinging. Dustin has tremendous self-confidence with the driver, and that confidence is required on the tight driving holes of the PGA Tour.
Other things to notice:
• Dustin maintains an unusual bowed left wrist at the top of his backswing. I haven't worked to fix that, because it works for him.
• His flexibility and athleticism allow him to use a strong, fast unwind as he approaches the impact position. That allows him to unleash tremendous power on the golf ball.
• Dustin's head rotates through as his body unwinds, and that allows him to generate clubhead speed.
• Two keys: We've worked on a level shoulder turn, and we've worked especially hard on keeping the flex in his right leg.
This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Feb. 5:
• SI has released the cover of its swimsuit issue, and resentment of Derek Jeter grows. Here are five things you need to know about cover model and Jeter gal-pal Hannah Davis.
• If you have time to kill, browse all 52 SI Swimsuit covers in the issue's history.
• Packers DL Letroy Guion had some interesting cargo in his ride, including a sizable amount of weed and cash.
• Belichick sticks up for Carroll. Smart, especially since his own management of the end of the game was not flawless.
• Today's palate cleanser: Watch a Tennessee orthodontist make 41 one-handed catches in a minute.
• The Heat committed the most absurd turnover in history last night.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
College football’s 2015 National Signing Day is officially in the books. Prospects from across the nation and for all 128 FBS programs inked a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, which should provide all coaches with a good snapshot of how their program looks for the upcoming season.
There will be several impact performers from the 2015 class this season, and it’s impossible to narrow the names down to just 10. However, now that signing day is complete, let’s take a look at 10 names to watch in 2015 and how they could impact their team in on-field action.
10 Instant-Impact College Football Recruits for 2015
Byron Cowart, DE, Auburn
247Sports Composite: No. 1 Strong-Side Defensive End, No. 3 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Cowart: With Will Muschamp calling the defensive signals at Auburn next year, expect the Tigers to show marked improvement on defense. Cowart is a key piece of the puzzle for Muschamp, as the Tigers need an improved pass rush to compete for the SEC title. In 2014, Auburn mustered only 21 sacks, with 10 of those coming in conference play. Cowart and the return of end Carl Lawson should significantly boost the Tigers’ performance in the trenches next year.
Breiden Fehoko, DT, Texas Tech
247Sports Composite: No. 8 Defensive Tackle, No. 50 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Fehoko: Texas Tech’s defense is in need of a major fix after giving up 6.2 yards per play last season. While the numbers weren’t pretty from last year, there’s hope for a turnaround with the addition of new coordinator David Gibbs. And Gibbs has to be optimistic about his defensive line for next season, especially with Fehoko ranked as one of the top 50 recruits in the nation. The Hawaii native recorded 16 sacks and six forced fumbles at Farrington High School in 2014. Expect Fehoko to play right away for the Red Raiders in 2015.
Martez Ivey, OL, Florida
247Sports Composite Rank: No. 1 OT, No. 2 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Ivey: It’s a cliché, but winning championships and contending for SEC titles has to start in the trenches. New coach Jim McElwain has major holes to fill up front on the offensive side this offseason, as the Gators return just one starter on the line and lost four players with starting experience. Guard Trip Thurman is the lone returning starter from a group that gave up only 16 sacks in 2014. Ivey ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the 247Sports Composite, and while the increased physical demands of playing in the SEC will be a challenge, the playing time is certainly there for the talented tackle.
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
247Sports Composite: No. 1 OLB, No. 10 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Jefferson: It’s no secret Texas coach Charlie Strong is one of the top defensive minds in college football. The Longhorns limited Big 12 offenses to just 23.4 points per game (No. 2 in conference) in 2014 and should be one of the best in the conference once again in 2015. Jefferson is an instant-impact defender for Strong and should play right away with Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond departing the linebacking corps.
Canton Kaumatale, DL, Oregon
247Sports Composite: No. 16 Nationally, No. 3 Strong-Side Defensive End
Why You Need to Know About Kaumatale: Oregon is losing end Arik Armstead and nose guard Sam Kamp, leaving a line that was already thin on depth with a need for instant-impact performers. Enter Kaumatale. The Hawaii native checks in at 290 pounds and will only get better and physically ready for Pac-12 play with an offseason in Oregon’s weight room. Kaumatule has good quickness off the line and a 6-foot-7 frame will allow him to provide plenty of headaches for opposing offensive linemen. Kaumatule should be a good fit in Oregon’s 3-4/4-3 scheme.
Iman Marshall, DB, USC
247Sports Composite: No. 1 CB, No. 4 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Marshall: USC signed one of the nation’s top classes this season, and Marshall could be the top freshman from the signing haul in 2015. The Long Beach native has coveted size for cornerbacks at 6-foot-2 and was regarded by coach Steve Sarkisian for his physicality at the line of scrimmage. USC gave up 20 passing scores in 2014, but with Marshall involved and the development of safety Su’a Cravens, this secondary should take a step forward on the stat sheet in 2015.
Kahlil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
247Sports Composite: No. 2 DT, No. 6 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About McKenzie: Tennessee has a chance to surprise in the SEC East this year if the lines of scrimmage develop over the offseason. McKenzie is the type of difference maker that the Volunteers lacked on the interior this season, as Tennessee’s defense ranked ninth in the SEC against the run. McKenzie did not play his senior year of high school but dominated as a junior with 12 sacks and 74 tackles. At 327 pounds and a 6-foot-3 frame, McKenzie is the type of player coach Butch Jones needs to get Tennessee’s defense near the top of the SEC.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
247Sports Composite Rank: No. 1 WR, No. 11 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Ridley: Alabama recorded 290 receptions last season, and 183 of those catches are gone as DeAndrew White and Christion Jones expired their eligibility after the Sugar Bowl, while Amari Cooper left for the NFL. Chris Black (15 catches) and ArDarius Stewart (12 catches) are the top statistical returning wide receivers for 2015. Ridley was considered a five-star prospect and had a monster junior year by catching 41 passes for 1,131 yards and 12 scores in 2013. With Cooper, Jones and White leaving, there’s an immediate opportunity for Ridley to play major snaps in 2015.
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
247Sports Composite Rank: No. 1 Pro-Style QB, No. 12 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Rosen: Brett Hundley is gone, leaving a huge void under center for the Bruins. Jerry Neuheisel is the team’s most-experienced option at quarterback, but the job is expected to be a three-man battle this spring. Asiantti Woulard is also in the mix with Rosen and Neuheisel for snaps in 2015. Rosen enrolled in time to compete this spring, which should give the California native a chance to play right away. Starting as a true freshman quarterback in the Pac-12 is never easy, but Rosen has a chance to do just that in 2015.
Trent Thompson, DT, Georgia
247Sports Composite: No. 1 DT, No. 1 Nationally
Why You Need to Know About Thompson: He’s the No. 1 recruit in the 2015 signing class by the 247Sports Composite. Keeping Thompson in the state of Georgia and out of the hands of another SEC rival was a big deal for coach Mark Richt and coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. The 6-foot-4 defensive tackle should be poised for immediate playing time this fall, with nose tackle Mike Thornton and defensive ends Ray Drew and Toby Johnson expiring their eligibility. It’s always tough for linemen to physically prepare for the challenge of playing in the SEC, but all signs point to Thompson being up to the task.
Other Players to Watch in 2015
Blake Barnett, QB, Alabama
Terry Beckner Jr., DT, Missouri
Jake Browning, QB, Washington
Derwin James, S, Florida State
CeCe Jefferson, DE, Florida
Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
DaMarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss
Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M
Jamal Peters, S, Mississippi State
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State
Kendall Sheffield, CB, Alabama
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
After suffering one of the most difficult-to-watch leg injuries in pro basketball history at a televised Team USA scrimmage, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George began to heal with alarming speed.
That trend has continued, and George is now looking almost ready to play. After Pacers president Larry Bird said things were looking good recently, George sent out this tweet:
March?!— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) February 3, 2015
"It seems like every week Paul is getting better and better," Bird said to reporters on Tuesday. "So if we do have an opportunity to get into the playoffs and [George] can get some games under his belt and get ready to go next year ... I always say if a player is ready to play, they gotta play. We're not going to hold him back if he's able to go out there and play. When you're out like that, you lose something. ... I still think it's important if he's able to play, he should be out there.”
Bird’s approach shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. His Boston Celtics teams of yore frequently pushed through injuries. Then-teammate Kevin McHale played with a broken navicular bone in his right foot suffered in March of 1987, all the way through to an NBA Finals loss against the Los Angeles Lakers.
And while George isn’t promising to play in such a compromised state — McHale’s gambit has resulted in a visibly hobbled step he now displays on the sideline as coach of the Houston Rockets — he and his team look like they’re definitely not going to go down the maddening, confusing, constantly prolonged recovery route that teams like the Chicago Bulls have with ever-valuable superstar Derrick Rose.
In the shaky Eastern Conference, one month of George could be the difference between the playoffs and the draft lottery for Indiana. Despite having their worst season since 2009-10 at 17-32, the Pacers are just 4.5 games away from the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
— John Wilmes
Recruiting is the basic blueprint for any college football program. And recruiting isn’t just a one-month exercise, as coaches are essentially on the trail all year for multiple classes.
New coaches are often placed into a difficult position, as it takes a year or two to build relationships for a signing class. Most new coaches only have a couple of months (if that) to target their prospects to fit the new systems and fight for commitments on the recruiting trail.
Florida and Michigan are two programs that didn’t land top-10 classes in 2015 largely due to the coaching turnover and the short time to ink the 2015 prospects. Needless to say, we can’t read much into how new coaches recruited this season due to the short turnaround time. However, the numbers are certainly interesting. And it will be critical to see how these numbers change after each coach has a full year to recruit.
Sure, there are going to be hits and misses in the team and player projections each season, but there’s plenty of accuracy and meaning behind the final rankings.
Let’s take a look at how the new coaches for 2015 recruited (rankings and data from 247Sports)
Power 5 Conferences
|Pittsburgh||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Paul Chryst (2014)||23||43||18||2||0|
|Pat Narduzzi (2015)||14||62||11||2||0|
|Kansas||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Charlie Weis (2014)||25||51||19||1||0|
|David Beaty (2015)||26||72||16||0||0|
|Michigan||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Brady Hoke (2014)||16||20||7||8||1|
|Jim Harbaugh (2015)||14||38||8||6||0|
|Nebraska||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Bo Pelini (2014)||25||36||22||2||0|
|Mike Riley (2015)||20||31||16||3||0|
|Wisconsin||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Gary Andersen (2014)||26||33||20||3||0|
|Paul Chryst (2015)||20||34||17||2||0|
|Oregon State||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Mike Riley (2014)||30||63||22||0||0|
|Gary Andersen (2015)||18||70||17||0||0|
|Florida||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Will Muschamp (2014)||24||9||15||8||1|
|Jim McElwain (2015)||21||21||16||3||2|
Group of 5 Conferences
|Houston||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Tony Levine (2014)||26||76||19||0||0|
|Tom Herman (2015)||19||89||7||0||0|
|SMU||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|June Jones (2014)||24||81||9||0||0|
|Chad Morris (2015)||23||79||12||0||0|
|Tulsa||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Bill Blankenship (2014)||24||80||9||0||0|
|Philip Montgomery (2015)||19||105||3||0||0|
|Buffalo||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Jeff Quinn (2014)||23||97||6||0||0|
|Lance Leipold (2015)||19||121||3||0||0|
|Central Michigan||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Dan Enos (2014)||19||119||2||0||0|
|Colorado State||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Jim McElwain (2014)||26||87||5||0||0|
|Mike Bobo (2015)||14||119||5||0||0|
|UNLV||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Bobby Hauck (2014)||19||117||3||0||0|
|Tony Sanchez (2015)||22||115||5||0||0|
|Troy||Total||National Rank||3 Stars Signed||4 Stars Signed||5 Stars Signed|
|Larry Blakeney (2014)||17||130||1||0||0|
|Neal Brown (2015)||23||109||7||0||0|
It's starting to get boring — although, the 2015 recruiting national championship race was closer than it has been in years.
Steve Sarkisian and USC made a valiant push, landing big name after big name over the final 48 hours of the '15 cycle. When the last fax came through, however, it wasn't enough to overcome Saban. In fact, both Rivals and Scout actually rank USC's class No. 1 in the land. However, ESPN's list ultimately gave the consensus top class to Alabama by having USC at No. 3. It marks the fifth straight No. 1 class in the nation for Alabama.
Most seemed to agree that the Trojans and Tide boasted the best two collections of talent, but there were major disagreements when the rankings move beyond the top two slots. Scout, for example, ranked No. 3 Florida State (11th) and No. 7 Clemson (15th) the lowest of the four major recruiting services by a wide margin. ESPN and Rivals didn't think nearly as highly of the UCLA Bruins class as Scout or 247. There were major disagreements on LSU, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and TCU as well.
Very rarely, as was the case with Nebraska or Louisville, the four services were in complete harmony.
This is why 247Sports, Rivals, Scout and ESPN's 2015 team recruiting rankings have been combined to give fans a consensus class order.
2015 Team Recruiting Rankings
National Signing Day 2015 is (mostly) over and Alabama is once again the champion of the recruiting trail, according to ESPN and 247Sports. In fact, it's almost boring how good Nick Saban and Alabama has been at luring talent to Tuscaloosa, landing their fifth consecutive recruiting championship.
Programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State and Clemson all signed elite top 10 classes but were mostly inactive on National Signing Day. That wasn't the case in the state of Florida, out West in the Pac-12 or down on the Plains.
NSD '15 Winners:
No one won National Signing Day more than Guschamp at Auburn. Gus Malzahn and Will Muschamp have formed one of the nastiest recruiting duos in college football and it showed on NSD. Auburn landed five-star Byron Cowart and four-stars Jeff Holland, Ryan Davis and Carlton Davis on NSD to with Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. the night before. Guschamp also flipped four-star Darius Slayton (Georgia) and three-star Mike Horton (Florida) from SEC East powers on NSD as well.
UCLA dominated the headlines early on NSD, pulling elite talent to Los Angeles from all over the country. USC rallied in the afternoon, scoring elite-level talents like Iman Marshall, Rasheem Green and John Houston from instate. Both programs surged through Signing Day and secured top 10 classes. USC finished No. 2 in the rankings while the Bruins jumped 12 spots on NSD to No. 7.
Early in the day it appeared Jim McElwain and the Gators would be in the "losers" category for NSD '15. But as the day went along, Florida kept gaining momentum and McElwain was able to secure a top 20 class. This comes after taking over the worst-ranked class in the SEC. Florida jumped nearly 50 spots in the team ranks to 21st after landing two five-star prospects in Martez Ivey and CeCe Jefferson as well as four-star recruits D'Anfernee McGriff and Jordan Cronkrite.
SEC defensive lines
Five of the top seven players left on the board entering National Signing Day were five-star defensive lineman. Four of them signed with four different SEC schools. Cowart (eventually) signed with Auburn, Daylon Mack re-upped with Texas A&M and McElwain desperately needed to land Jefferson. More important, Missouri inked instate stud Terry Beckner in emotional fashion. The lone D-Line outside of the SEC to score a five-star on NSD was USC when it got tackle Rasheem Green. Additionally, Georgia signed the No. 1 player in the nation in defensive lineman Trent Thompson, Tennessee signed the No. 6 player in the nation in nose tackle Kahlil McKenzie and Bama got their own five-star D-Liner in Daron Payne.
Some (mostly older) fans don't enjoy NSD or the flamboyant nature of the event. But for most, NSD is a day of crazy plotlines, bizarre twists and creative announcements. Tennessee's Preston Williams won the day with his ensemble while Biggie Marshall won the day by announcing his commitment to USC in a way no one has ever seen before. Never change, National Signing Day. Never.
NSD '15 Losers:
Michigan, Florida, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oregon State, Pitt and Kansas were the seven Power 5 teams that changed head coaches this year. Only Jim McElwain was able to build a top 25 recruiting class in that group. In fact, no class other than Florida even finished in the top 30. Oregon State, Kansas and Pitt — who dropped 15 spots in the team rankings on NSD — didn't finish in the top 60 nationally.
McElwain was able to salvage his class with a wild but successful NSD. Harbaugh did some good work down the stretch and all signs point to domination in 2016, but the Wolverines should not be satisfied with the 36th ranked class in the nation. The haul is small (14) and the Maize and Blue signed just three of the top 50 players in Michigan. Harbaugh had to take some players "Michigan University Wolverines" wouldn't normally take in order to fill the class.
The Big 12
Charlie Strong and Texas had the best class in the league but the 11th best class in the nation would only be good for sixth in the SEC. Oklahoma was also solidly ranked in the top 20. But as a league, the Big 12 once again should be concerned about landing elite level talent as those are the only two classes ranked in the Top 30. Additionally, in 2014, the Big 12 signed just six of the Top 100 players in the nation while the SEC signed 47. This year wasn't much better as the Big 12 scored just eight of the top 100 players in the nation.
The Horned Frogs were having one of the best classes of the Gary Patterson era when NSD began with a top 30 class. But after losing the best players in the class to Texas Tech (JF Thomas), TCU dropped 11 spots in the team rankings to outside of the top 40. Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor and West Virginia all jumped TCU in the Big 12 team rankings.
They might have been a long shot, but Miami was in the mix with seven four- or five-star prospects on NSD. Al Golden and the Canes didn't win one battle among those seven, losing players to Florida, Florida State and Auburn among others. Golden has a young team and the '15 class is solid within the ACC. However, Miami didn't finish well, dropping six spots out of the Top 25.
Literally every single recruiting class was a huge success, loaded with future stars and will carry [insert school of choice] to a conference championship. At least, that's what every head football coach will tell you. Just once I'd like to hear a coach say something like "we missed on a lot of guys we wanted" or "this is a group that might get me fired in two years." National Signing Day is the purest form of coach speak.
The NCAA Tournament can be something like a big family reunion, gathering names and faces we haven’t seen in years.
As always, this year’s Tournament will have its share of long lost faces we may have had fond memories of in the last few decades.
A former national champion (Maryland) expects to be back as do three other Final Four teams from recent years (Butler and West Virginia) and a one-time Cinderella (Northern Iowa).
Before you get caught unaware on Selection Sunday, these are the teams about to end NCAA Tournament droughts this season.
Last NCAA appearance: 2009
2014-15 record: 17-4, 7-2 Pac-12
Basketball fans of a certain age probably remember Utah has a national power when the Utes reached the championship game in 1998. The run under Rick Majerus eventually ended, and Utah limped descended into irrelevance. The Utes have reached the Tournament once since 2005 and have won one NCAA game since 2003.
Even though the Utes lost Jan. 29 to a mediocre UCLA squad, Utah is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Even with the loss to the Bruins (and earlier to Arizona), Utah is outscoring league opponents by 15.7 points per game. Utah could be in contention for a Pac-12 title for its rematch in Salt Lake City against Arizona on Feb. 28.
Last NCAA appearance: 2012
2014-15 record: 18-4, 6-3 Big 12
The Mountaineers reached the NCAA Tournament seven times in an eight-season span under John Beilein and Bob Huggins, landing in the Final Four (2010), Elite Eight (2005) and Sweet 16 twice (2006 and 2008). In two seasons in the Big 12, West Virginia has missed the Tourney twice.
West Virginia has weathered a storm of transfers to become one of the toughest opponents to face thanks to its press. The Mountaineers lead the nation in turnover rate. And after starting his career at Dayton, fifth-year senior point guard Juwan Staten will finally get his chance at the NCAA Tournament.
Last NCAA appearance: 2010
2014-15 record: 19-4, 7-3 Big Ten
Mark Turgeon entered the season needing to show signs of progress after reaching just one NIT in his first three seasons. The Terrapins endured a rash of transfers before the season, but they still had upperclassmen Dez Wells and Jake Layman. The latter has taken a major step forward this season, and the team has come together around freshman Melo Trimble, Maryland’s first McDonald’s All-American in more than a decade.
With the exception of Wisconsin, nearly every Big Ten power is down. Maryland has pounced and could end up the No. 2 team in the league.
Last NCAA appearance: 1993
2014-15 record: 18-4, 9-1 American
Off the court, SMU is facing questions. Emmanuel Mudiay never played this season, and an NCAA investigation has claimed Keith Frazier. On the court, SMU keeps rolling. The Mustangs started 2-3, but they’ve lost only once since (at Cincinnati). SMU remains the favorite in the AAC, but this is a league with only three other RPI top-50 teams (No. 34 Cincinnati, No. 42 Tulsa and No. 44 Temple). The Mustangs were one of the top snubs from last season’s NCAA Tournament, but they may have put in the work to be an at-large team if they don't win the AAC tournament.
Last NCAA appearance: 2013
2014-15 record: 21-3, 9-2 ACC
The Irish missed only one NCAA Tournament in the last five seasons, so this drought isn’t much of one. Still, Mike Brey’s only win in the Tourney since 2008 is over 15th-seeded Akron in 2011. This team looks built to make noise in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish have a guard who can carry them in Jerian Grant, they can score with anyone and they already defeated Duke this season.
Last NCAA appearance: 2013
2014-15 record: 17-6, 7-3 Big East
Butler has been out of the NCAA Tournament for only a year, but few teams have had such a mountain to climb. Brad Stevens left for the Celtics two years ago, and his replacement, Brandon Miller, has been absent due to an unspecified medical issue. Butler elevated Chris Holtmann to full-time head coach earlier this season, and the Bulldogs seemed to have weathered the storm. A healthy return by junior forward Roosevelt Jones also has been a boon for a team that went 4-14 in its first season in the Big East. Butler, which has already swept Seton Hall and St. John’s this season, is going to more than double that total.
Last NCAA appearance: 2011
2014-15 record: 14-7, 5-4 SEC
Georgia has been to the NCAA Tournament only once in Mark Fox’s six seasons. This season might change that trend. The Bulldogs defeated Seton Hall in the non-conference and put together a five-game SEC win streak that ended a week ago, but they’re not giving themselves a ton of wiggle room with a road loss to South Carolina and early SEC losses to bubble squads from Arkansas and LSU. Georgia doesn’t have a ton of depth, but the Bulldogs do have two juniors and two seniors in the starting lineup.
Last NCAA appearance: 2010
2014-15 record: 21-2, 10-1 Missouri Valley
Northern Iowa went to the NCAA Tournament five times in seven seasons at one point, but hasn’t been since Ali Farokhmanesh helped the Panthers upset No. 1 seed Kansas to reach the Sweet 16 in 2010. Led by senior forward Seth Tuttle, the Panthers can wrestle the Valley away from Wichita State. The Panthers already defeated the Shockers with surprising ease Saturday to all but ensure they’ll be an at-large team.
Last NCAA appearance: 2011
2014-15 record: 15-6, 6-3 SEC
Back on Jan. 10, Kentucky going to double overtime with Texas A&M was supposed to be a sign of something wrong with the Wildcats. It was a sign of something right with the Aggies, who won six in a row before Wednesday's loss at Ole Miss. Texas A&M is a year ahead of schedule thanks to transfers Jalen Jones (SMU) and Danuel House (Houston) arriving ahead of a standout signing class. The Aggies still have plenty of work ahead of them to seal an at-large bid thanks to a non-conference schedule lacking in RPI top 100 wins.
Last NCAA appearance: 2006
2014-15 record: 15-7, 5-5 Big East
One of the biggest surprises in a surprising Big East has been charter member Seton Hall. The Pirates started league play with wins over St. John’s and Villanova — both without star freshman Isaiah Whitehead — to move into the AP top 20 for the first time since 2001. Seton Hall has cooled since that hot start, but the Pirates are at least closer to moving closer to full strength. Whitehead returned in the last two games to score 19 and 14 points. The Pirates can’t afford many more losses like Tuesday’s to DePaul if they want to stay on the right side of the bubble.
Last NCAA appearance: 2011
2014-15 record: 14-8, 3-6 Big East
St. John’s needs to get on a hot streak in Big East play and fast. A sweep of Providence and a home win over Marquette — that's all St. John's has in the Big East — won’t be enough. The Red Storm’s signature non-conference wins over Minnesota, Syracuse and Saint Mary’s might not include an NCAA Tournament team among them.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For most of Tuesday’s game at Vanderbilt, Florida coach Billy Donovan appeared to operate at a simmer.
He spent stretches of the second half seated in his folding chair on the Florida bench at the baseline. At least twice, he slouched back into his seat while Florida played defense on the far end of Memorial Gym.
As the clock ticked to the end, Donovan had pulled aside Michael Frazier, one of the few players who had a good game in this 67-61 drubbing. As he talked to Frazier, Donovan shook his head and then rubbed his forehead when sent his junior guard back to the bench.
By the time Donovan exited the players’ locker room on the way to the coaches’ locker room after the game, he adequately summed up his assessment of the Gators’ play in a critical game of the season.
“It’s a joke,” he told his team as the locker room door swung closed behind him.
After three Elite Eights and a Final Four, Florida all but punched its ticket to the NIT with a loss to Vanderbilt, a team that had won only one SEC game entering Tuesday.
Perhaps the loss wouldn’t have been so frustrating for Donovan if Florida hadn’t picked up a new lease on the NCAA Tournament in the last two games. The Gators have been a Tournament reach since November and December, but defeating Alabama on the road and Arkansas at home in back-to-back games moved Florida onto the fringe of the NCAA bubble.
Florida went to Vanderbilt at a crossroads. A win over the Commodores would continue the Gators’ hot streak and solidify them as a team worth monitoring. A loss to sub-100 RPI team would mark the Gators’ 10th loss this season and effectively end Florida’s at-large hopes.
Even with those stakes in mind, Florida showed up like a team whose season had already come to an end.
Vanderbilt jumped to a 15-0 lead, and the Gators missed their first nine shots from the field. Florida spent most of the game chasing a Vanderbilt of at least five points. The Gators couldn’t defend without fouling, allowing Vanderbilt to amass more made free throws (29 on 42 attempts) than Florida made field goals (21-of-57).
The Gators were “annihilated” on the glass, in Donovan's words — Florida grabbed nine offensive rebounds to Vandy’s 29 defensive boards and 17 defensive rebounds to the Commodores’ 13 offensive boards.
“We were frustrated that we didn’t come out ready to play and we got beat,” Frazier said. “That’s not our culture, and (Donovan) expressed that to us. We’ve got to come out with more energy to start the game.”
Florida is talking about a lack of passion and energy at a critical juncture in February, which is another reason Donovan is so befuddled, even if he saw all the warning signs.
“Things just have to change,” guard Eli Carter said.
Things have changed for Florida. Unless the Gators can win the SEC Tournament — a feat that would require them or someone else knocking off undefeated Kentucky — Florida is going to the NIT for the first time since 2009.
The loss to Vanderbilt gives the Gators their third loss to a team ranked outside of the top 100 of the RPI, compared to a 1-3 record against the top 50.
Internally, this isn't a total shock. Donovan anticipated falling below the preseason rankings. Despite losing four senior starters, Florida had enough role players and highly touted prospects and transfers in the pipeline to be ranked in the preseason top 10.
What outsiders in the preseason saw was five-star recruits ready to breakout as sophomores (Kasey Hill and Chris Walker), two key returnees with Final Four experience (Frazier and Dorian Finney-Smith) and two transfers ready to make an impact in the frontcourt (Jon Horford from Michigan and Alex Murphy from Duke).
What Donovan saw were players who were coming off the bench or playing less than 10 minutes per game for a reason.
“Last year’s team covered up a lot of these returning players’ inconsistencies,” Donovan said. “That’s what you’re seeing is a high level of inconsistency.”
Even if it’s not a surprise that a team of former role players is struggling to find its way as a team of starters, that the problems have continued into February is a source of frustration.
The Gators can defend. They are ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency on KenPom. Even in a game in which nothing went right for the Gators, the defense was a spark for the offense. When Florida started to close the gap on Vanderbilt, the Gators picked up turnovers on the press (18 total) and were able to get into transition.
But this is still a team that can’t seem to figure out how to score enough to string together wins in SEC play.
“For our guys, there’s a difference between performance and competing,” Donovan said. “Our guys get wrapped up in performing well, but we don’t compete well. That was the difference.”
In other words, Donovan has a bunch of players who believe they need to perform individually for the team to win. That’s a long way from last year’s team that went 18-0 in the SEC with four players averaging double figures but none more than 14 points per game.
After this latest loss, though, Donovan has seemed to resigned himself that those answers haven’t come in time for an NCAA bid this season.
“They’ve got to learn and they’ve got to grow, and they’re not...” Donovan trailed off. “Sometimes it takes going through a season like this to really understand how far we have to go as a team and how far they have to go as individuals.”
Running back recruit Chris Warren had a hard time deciding between Washington and Texas on National Signing Day. So the high school senior used a coin flip to decide where he would spend the next four years of his collegiate career.
Here’s video of Warren’s coin flip:
Warren said the coin flip was a real thing. If it landed tails? "I'd be wearing purple and gold right now."— Michael Florek (@michaelflorek) February 4, 2015
Chris Warren's purple and gold balloons had the coin flip gone the other way. pic.twitter.com/kWgmcrAjWp— Michael Florek (@michaelflorek) February 4, 2015
On college football’s signing day, the term “big recruit” is always tossed around at all 128 FBS programs. That term could be used to describe a recruit that fills a huge need or someone that the program fought hard to hold onto after other schools were looking for a late flip.
But in BYU’s case, the Cougars officially landed the biggest prospect of signing day. No, seriously.
Motekiai Langi was announced by BYU as a 6-foot-7 and 410-pound offensive or defensive lineman.
Only solo picture of 6 foot 7, 410 pound BYU recruit Motekiai Langi on internet is blurry pic.twitter.com/Rse1KjVXtQ— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 4, 2015
This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Feb. 4:
• Sounds like Charlotte McKinney might be in the SI Swimsuit Issue. That's not terrible news.
• It's Christmas for recruiting nerds. If you're one of them, here's a live blog to follow.
• This 5-star kid also had some fun with NSD, picking UCLA over ITT Tech and University of Phoenix. We approve of poking fun at this sometimes ridiculous process.
• Speaking of A-Rod: Good news, ladies, he's back on the market.
• Today's moment of zen from DeMarcus Cousins.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
College football’s National Signing Day always brings a few interesting moments from recruits as they decide where to continue their playing career for the next four years.
Receiver Preston Williams signed with Tennessee on Wednesday and celebrated his announcement with an outstanding fashion statement.
Check out Williams’ outfit from Signing Day, complete with Tennessee helmet:
Preston Williams, y'all pic.twitter.com/8Ju8mXfJqQ— Caleb Owen (@cowboy_caleb) February 4, 2015
6. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
If defense could be quantified es easily as offense is, The Warriors’ starting power forward would be a shoo-in for New York City this February. A “stretch-four” who makes the opposition run around with his 34 percent mark from deep, Green does everything well except for the stuff that typically makes the highlight reels. An unusually mobile 230-pounder, he’s quite the bulky utility man, and an indispensable piece for the Western Conference-leading Warriors. Helping teams win and lose on a high level doesn’t always result in glitzy accolades, but if it did, Green would be a star.
5. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns
The Suns are still ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference standings, but with zero all-stars, they have two fewer than the Thunder’s über-famous Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. And while Phoenix wins with a full-out, balanced assault of speed, shooting and athleticism, one Sun has stood out just a little bit more than the rest of them: Bledsoe. The 6’1” University of Kentucky alum is leading his team in points, steals and assists, nightly flustering other point guards with the uncanny court power that earned him the nickname “Mini LeBron.”
4. Tyson Chandler, Dallas Mavericks
The 33-17 Mavericks are four games better than they were this time last year, and right in the mix with the No. 6 seed amidst a historically potent Western Conference. But, like the Suns, they’ll have no representatives in this year’s exhibition game in New York. Chandler has been a terrific rim-protector for Dallas, and his typically productive self as a pick-and-roll finisher, clocking in with the second-highest NBA field goal percentage at .676. Tyson is just what the Mavericks have needed, and the Western All-Stars would have him along for the ride if their squad was a reflection of the truest difference-makers.
3. Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Because he plays on a bad team in year three of a transitional phase, Magic center Nikola Vucevic is still unknown to most casual fans. But he’s one of the best post-up scorers in the league, averaging 19.4 points per game as he regularly overwhelms other big men with his 7’0”, 260-pound frame and fancy touch around the rim. When Orlando’s unseasoned roster matures around him and the Magic (hopefully) bring in a defensive-minded coach, it’ll be real hard to keep Vucevic from the league’s shiny February summit going forward.
2. Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks
Kyle Korver’s having one of the best shooting years of anyone, ever. If he stays above 90 percent from the free-throw line, 50 percent from three, and 50 percent from the field (as he currently is) Korver will enter a new stratosphere of marksmanship that he can call all his own. So why isn’t he an All-Star? The 40-9 Hawks certainly have their fair share of ballers headed to NYC with Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague selected for the game, but perhaps the Eastern Conference coaches erred when they didn’t throw Korver onto the team as well.
1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
The biggest snub of all has, of course, already let the world know how he feels about his exclusion. Here’s what Lillard put out on his Instragram account, after being left off the team last week:
I just want to thank everyone that felt I wasn't good enough. This isn't unfamiliar territory for me. It actually is what my life has been inspired by. I'd be lying if if I said I wasn't disappointed or that I don't feel disrespected, but it's not too much to handle. Not the first or last guy to be snubbed, but "you should have been there" is not good enough for me. But anyway, the reason I'm in these shoes is because I've always used the hand I was dealt to my advantage. A wise man once told me "it ain't always gone be peaches and cream, but somebody has to pay for the reason it's not...one way or another." #ImThankful #Real #NonAllStar #RipCity #YellowTape
A photo posted by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on
Lillard’s made the fifth-most threes of anyone in the league this season, and he frequently drains them at will when it comes to crunch time. “Videogame Dame” has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the game’s most fearsome closers, and if he’s truly so motivated after being spurned by the league, then the Western Conference has a lot to be afraid of on his upcoming revenge tour.
— John Wilmes
Athlon Sports keeps college football fans updated throughout National Signing Day with every important announcement — with a little Crystal Ball help from the good folks at 247Sports.com. Below is the list of every four- or five-star recruit set to announce, where they are projected to go and when it will take place on NSD (based on 247Sports Composite rankings).
NSD '15 Announcement Watchlist:
No. 2: Martez Ivey, OT
Apoopka (Fla.) High (11:35 a.m. ET)
No. 3: Byron Cowart, SDE
Seffner (Fla.) Armwood (9:10 a.m.)
No. 4: Iman Marshall, CB
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly (4:05 p.m.)
No. 7: CeCe Jefferson, SDE
Glen St. Mary (Fla.) Baker County (2:05 p.m.)
No. 13: Terry Beckner Jr., DT
East St. Louis (Ill.) High (10:45 a.m.)
No. 14: Daylon Mack, DT
Gladewater (Texas) High (12:35 p.m.)
No. 23: Rasheem Green, DT
Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra (2:15 p.m.)
No. 32: Soso Jamabo, RB
Plano (Texas) West (9:20 a.m.)
No. 42: Damarkus Lodge, WR
Cedar Hill (Texas) High (12:05 p.m.)
No. 47: Roquan Smith, OLB
Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County (11:20 a.m.)
No. 49: John Houston, ILB
Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra (2:20 p.m.)
No. 55: Drew Richmond, OT
Memphis (Tenn.) University School (10:20 a.m.)
No. 63: Leo Lewis, ILB
Brookhaven (Miss.) High (11:30 a.m.)
No. 77: Chris Warren, RB
Rockwall (Texas) High (9 a.m.)
No. 85: Chris Clark, TE
Avon (Conn.) Old Farms (8:35 a.m.)
No. 87: Joseph Wicker, SDE
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly (4:10 p.m.)
No. 90: Daylon Charlot, WR
Patterson (La.) High (9:30)
No. 94: Dexter Williams, RB
Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange (11 a.m.)
No. 103: Josh Wariboko, OG
Oklahoma City (Okla.) Casady School (11:05 a.m.)
No. 104: Toby Weathersby, OT
Houston (Texas) Westfield (9:15 a.m.)
No. 105: Isaiah Prince, OT
Greenbelt (Md.) Roosevelt (9:30 a.m.)
No. 116: Jeffery Holland, OLB
Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian (10:30 a.m.)
No. 144: Rico McGraw, CB
Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth (10:15 a.m.)
No. 152: K.J. Hill, WR
North Little Rock (Ark.) High (TBD)
No. 160: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
Anaheim (Calif.) Servite (3:15 p.m.)
No. 187: Ryan Davis, WR
St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood (10 a.m.)
No. 213: Patrick Allen, OT
Reisterstown (Md.) Franklin (8:45 a.m.)
No. 222: Cordell Broadus, WR
Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman (2:35 p.m.)
No. 242: Kanya Bell, WR
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly (TBD)
No. 256: Quarvez Boulware, OG
Washington (D.C.) Friendship Academy (TBD)
No. 266: Kyahva Tezino, OLB
Los Angeles (Calif.) Bishop Mora Salesian (TBD)
No. 268: Jordan Cronkrite, ATH
Miami (Fla.) Westminster Christian (1:15)
No. 269: Jaylinn Hawkins, WR
Buena Park (Calif.) High (TBD)
No. 273: D'Anfernee McGriff, RB
Tallahassee (Fla.) Leon (TBD)
No. 286: Arrington Farrar, S
Atlanta (Ga.) Woodward Academy (3:45 p.m.)
No. 312: Tyrone Wheatley Jr., TE
Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius (3:15 p.m.)
No. 313: Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB
Nashville (Tenn.) Pearl Cohn (TBD)
No. 325: Kendrell McFadden, S
Hollywood (Fla.) Miramar (TBD)
No. 338: Carlton Davis, CB
Miami (Fla.) Norland (TBD)
No. 340: Jaylon Lane, CB
Nacogdoches (Texas) High (TBD)
Use the phrase “Greatest of All-Time” in any argument and it’s bound to escalate quickly.
But other than Jerry Rice or Michael Jordan, there are no clear answers to the eternal G.O.A.T question in sports. But after Tom Brady led his Patriots to a fourth Super Bowl championship on Sunday, the debate immediately became who is the greatest NFL quarterback of all-time?
In an effort to answer this unanswerable question, I’ve taken what many consider to be the five greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and compared them using the criteria we believe makes up “G.O.A.T.”
The criteria are as follows: 1) team success, winning and championships 2) statistical production and records 3) overall athletic ability 4) throwing talent 5) supporting cast and 6) longevity. The five names in discussion are Peyton Manning, John Elway, Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Tom Brady.
The winner will be decided based on a points system.
Disclaimer: There are many other deserving candidates like Dan Marino and Johnny Unitas, but we had to draw the line somewhere. No disrespect intended.
1. Winning and Championships
Winning is really all that matters in sports at the end of the day. Championships or bust is how we measure most elite-level athletes and quarterbacks. That considered, this category will get twice as many points as the other criteria. Montana and Brady stand above the rest with four championships, Elway checks in with two wins and five total trips with just one title each for Manning and Favre — who are a combined 2-4 in Super Bowls. But Manning leads NFL history with 52 game-winning drives (GWD) and 41 fourth-quarter comebacks (4QC) and Favre is the winningest QB in history (186). Here are the numbers below.
Note: All-time NFL rank in parentheses
|Name||SB Record||Win/Loss (%)||Playoff W/L||GWD||4QC|
|Tom Brady||4-2||160-47 (77.3)||21-8 (1st)||46 (3rd)||35 (3rd)|
|Joe Montana||4-0||117-47 (71.3)||16-7 (2nd)||33 (10th)||31 (5th)|
|John Elway||2-3||148-82-1 (64.1)||14-7 (3rd)||46 (3rd)||35 (3rd)|
|Brett Favre||1-1||186-112 (62.4)||13-11 (5th)||45 (5th)||30 (6th)|
|Peyton Manning||1-2||179-77 (69.9)||11-13 (8th)||52 (1st)||41 (1st)|
Points Awarded: Montana 10, Brady 8, Elway 6, Manning 4, Favre 2
2. Statistical Production
Comparing statistics from different eras is extremely difficult and it really only hurts Montana here. That said, Favre and Elway overlapped in a big way and both Manning and Brady played during the same era. And, technically, Montana was playing in an innovative system that changed the game forever (with the GOAT at wide receiver). All of these guys were insanely productive — among the best 10 passers in NFL history in nearly every major category.
Note: All-time NFL rank in parenthesis
|Peyton Manning||69,691 (2nd)||530 (1st)||5,927 (2nd)||673||18|
|Brett Favre||71,838 (1st)||508 (2nd)||6,300 (1st)||1,844||14|
|John Elway||51,475 (6th)||300 (7th)||4,123 (6th)||3,407||33|
|Tom Brady||53,258 (5th)||392 (5th)||4,551 (5th)||823||14|
|Joe Montana||40,551 (13th)||273 (11th)||3,409 (12th)||1,676||20|
Points Awarded: Manning 5, Brady 4, Favre 3, Elway 2, Montana 1
3. Athletic Ability
Recruiting and NFL Draft scouts would call this talent. It normally reigns supreme. The team with the most talent generally wins (although, not always). And from a talent perspective, Elway reigns supreme. From a size, speed, strength and power standpoint, few prospects have ever been as talented as Elway (the rushing comparison above proves that). Favre is a close second as he was also as strong and athletic as any quarterback has even been. And no one can question Favre’s toughness. Montana clearly is third for this exercise with Manning and Brady rounding things out.
Points Awarded: Elway 5, Favre 4, Montana 3, Manning 2, Brady 1
4. Throwing Talent
From an arm strength standpoint, Montana is likely the odd man out here, but his accuracy and ability to protect the football were excellent. Manning has the most accurate completion percentage and highest QB rating of the group. However, Favre had the strongest arm of the group with Elway close behind yet both had the lowest QB rating and completion percentage. Brady and Manning likely had the best release while Elway and Favre excelled at improvising. I’ve broken this into two categories (strength and accuracy) and awarded points for both.
Note: All-time rank in parenthesis
|Name||TD:INT||Comp. %||QB Rat||INT %|
|Peyton Manning||2.26||65.5% (4th)||97.5 (3rd)||2.6 (18th)|
|Tom Brady||2.74||63.5% (12th)||95.9 (5th)||2.0 (2nd)|
|Joe Montana||1.96||63.2 (13th)||92.3 (10th)||2.6 (18th)|
|Brett Favre||1.51||62.0 (18th)||86.0 (20th)||3.3 (59th)|
|John Elway||1.33||56.9 (86th)||79.9 (65th)||3.1 (45th)|
Strength Points: Favre 5, Elway 4, Brady 3, Manning 2, Montana 1
Accuracy Points: Manning 5, Brady 4, Montana 3, Favre 2, Elway 1
5. Supporting Cast
This aspect is much more subjective and much more difficult to analyze. But everyone agrees that Brady and Montana played for two of the greatest coaches in NFL history for two of the best organizations in NFL history. And it’s safe to say that Elway, while he did get support from Terrell Davis in his final two seasons, mostly played for the worst teams and with the least amount of support of this bunch. Manning had some nice weapons on offense but largely did it with average coaches and defenses. Favre had solid coaches, mediocre skill talent around him and better than average defenses.
Points Awarded: Elway 5, Manning 4, Favre 3, Brady 2, Montana 1
This one is a much smaller aspect to evaluating true greatness but being able to show up to work for a long period of time has plenty of value and should be considered. Favre’s consecutive start streak (297) over 20 seasons may be the most impressive record in sports. But all five of these guys played 15 seasons. However, Montana (some not of his doing) had five seasons where he started fewer than 10 games and two others with just 11 starts. Brady missed one full year with an injury and didn’t start as a rookie. Manning missed one full season with an injury as well while and Elway never started fewer than 10 games in 16 seasons.
Points Awarded: Favre 5, Elway 4, Manning 3, Brady 2, Montana 1
Bonus Info: Awards
This one means less and points are reduced. All five guys have earned an MVP trophy and all but Favre have won a Super Bowl MVP trophy as well. Manning leads the group with five MVPs, 14 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro selections. Both Brady and Montana have two NFL MVPs and three Super Bowl MVPs each. Elway has one of each while Favre has three consecutive NFL MVPs but no big game honor (that went to Desmond Howard). Pro Bowls aren’t always a great gauge and All-Pro is sort of in the same boat but the numbers are interesting.
|Name||MVPs||SB MVP||Pro Bowl||All-Pro|
Points Awarded: Montana 3, Manning 2, Brady 2, Elway 1, Favre 1
So who is the best QB of all-time?
|1. John Elway||6||2||5||5||5||4||1||28|
|2. Peyton Manning||4||5||2||7||4||3||2||27|
|3. Tom Brady||8||4||1||7||2||2||2||26|
|4. Brett Favre||2||3||4||7||3||5||1||25|
|5. Joe Montana||10||1||3||4||1||1||3||23|
*Combination of strength and accuracy rankings above
This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Feb. 3:
• Gronk killed it on Kimmel, reading from his erotic fan fiction and describing the end of the Super Bowl as calling for haymakers.
• Tom Brady says he would be happy to give his MVP truck to Malcolm Butler. How generous from the guy with untold millions and a supermodel wife.
• Interesting observation: Bill Belichick used the Broncos' failed gameplan of a year ago to beat the Seahawks.
• I can't stop watching this Vine: Do not leave Russell Wilson hanging.
• This news is burning up my Twitter timeline: "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee is finally publishing a second novel.
• Watch Henrik Lundqvist head the puck to a teammate.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
-Chicago Bulls @ Houston Rockets, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
Derrick Rose is slowly regaining his elite athleticism, and he’ll need every bit of it he can muster if he’s to challenge MVP candidate James Harden on Harden's home court. With Dwight Howard in and out of the lineup, The Beard has become the Rockets’ saving grace, as they’ve had to design nearly all of their offensive sets around his tricky forms of misdirection. See if Jimmy Butler and the rest of the Chicago defense have the formula to slow him down.
-Dallas Mavericks @ Golden State Warriors, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN
Rajon Rondo will be out of action for the Mavericks for some time with facial injuries, and that’s bad news for the Texas ballers. Particularly because the very hardest point guard to contain in the league, Steph Curry, is their assignment this Wednesday. The Mavericks will need some hot-handed shooting from Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki to come out of Oakland alive.
-Los Angeles Clippers @ Cleveland Cavaliers, 8:00 PM ET, TNT
Quietly, the Clippers have been the Western Conference’s best team since mid-January. LeBron James and the Cavaliers have reeled off eleven in a row to take that title in the Eastern Conference, as they’re starting to finally live up to the huge hype that’s followed them around ever since the King came home. Between him, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and Co., this matchup proves to fertile ground for some true superstar fireworks.
-Golden State Warriors @ Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 PM ET
Whether or not anyone saw it coming — or believes in the sustainability of it — the Hawks and Warriors have been basketball’s two very best teams through January. Something must give as their insanely good records collide in Atlanta this Friday, and two of the smartest squads of recent memory meet to give us a dose of pure basketball pornography.
— John Wilmes
Signing Day is one of the top events during college football’s offseason. After months (and potentially years of deliberating) high school prospects can officially fax a letter of intent on Wednesday, Feb. 4 to declare where they will continue their playing career.
Every year, Parade’s annual high school All-America team highlights the biggest stars headed to the next level.
The 2015 team is headlined by Kyler Murray, a dynamic dual-threat quarterback slated to sign with Texas A&M.
Here’s a look at Parade’s All-America team and the honorable mentions for 2015.
Parade 2015 All-America Team
|QB||Kyler Murray||5-11||175||Allen (Allen, Texas)||Texas A&M|
|QB||Ty Storey||6-3||220||Charleston (Charleston, Ark.)||Arkansas|
|QB||Jake Browning||6-2||205||Folsom (Folsom, Calif.)||Washington|
|RB||Jacques Patrick||6-2||230||Timber Creek (Orlando, Fla.)||Florida State|
|RB||Markell Jones||5-11||205||Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)||Purdue|
|RB||Kellen Overstreet||6-0||190||Penney (Hamilton, Mo.)||Wyoming|
|WR||J.J. Arcega-Whiteside||6-3||210||Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.)||Stanford|
|WR||Trent Irwin||6-2||190||Hart (Newhall, Calif.)||Stanford|
|OL||Richie Petitbon||6-4||320||Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)||Alabama|
|OL||Tristen Hoge||6-5||300||Highland (Pocatello, Idaho)||Notre Dame|
|OL||Martez Ivey||6-6||270||Apopka (Apopka, Fla.)||Uncommitted|
|OL||Mitch Hyatt||6-6||270||North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.)||Clemson|
|OL||Chuma Edoga||6-3||275||McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.)||Southern Cal|
|UTIL||Christian Kirk||5-11||195||Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.)||Texas A&M|
|DL||Trent Thompson||6-4||295||Westover (Albany, Ga.)||Georgia|
|DL||Byron Cowart||6-4||255||Armwood (Seffner, Fla.)||Uncommitted|
|DL||Albert Huggins||6-3||280||Orangeburg-Wilkinson (S.C.)||Clemson|
|DL||Daylon Mack||6-1||330||Gladewater (Gladewater, Texas)||Uncommitted|
|LB||Malik Jefferson||6-2||210||Poteet (Mesquite, Texas)||Texas|
|LB||Justin Hilliard||6-2||230||St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio)||Ohio State|
|LB||Porter Gustin||6-5||240||Salem Hills (Salem, Utah)||Uncommitted|
|LB||John Houston||6-3||210||Serra (Gardena, Calif.)||Uncommitted|
|DB||Iman Marshall||6-1||190||Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)||Uncommitted|
|DB||Derwin James||6-2||200||Haines City (Haines City, Fla.)||Florida State|
|DB||A.J. Gray||6-2||210||Washington County (Sandersville, Ga.)||Georgia Tech|
|6-0||175||Warren Easton (New Orleans, La.)||Texas A&M|
|K/P||Austin Seibert||5-10||195||Belleville West (Belleville, Ill.)||Oklahoma|
|QB||Tucker Israel||6-1||200||Lake Nona (Orlando, Fla.)||Clemson|
|QB||Brett Rypien||6-2||185||Shadle Park (Spokane, Wash.)||Boise State|
|QB||Joe Burrow||6-4||210||Athens (The Plains, Ohio)||Ohio State|
|QB||Alex Malzone||6-2||200||Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)||Michigan|
|QB||Brandon Wimbush||6-2||205||St. Peters Prep (Jersey City, N.J.)||Notre Dame|
|QB||De’Andre Johnson||6-0||175||First Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.)||Florida State|
|QB||Will Hefley||6-5||205||Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.)||Tulsa|
|RB||Dominick Bragalone||5-11||210||South Williamsport (Pa.)||Uncommitted|
|RB||Reggie Gallaspy||5-11||205||Southern Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.)||N.C. State|
|RB||Ke’Shawn Vaughn||5-11||210||Pearl Cohn (Nashville, Tenn.)||Uncommitted|
|RB||Darrell Henderson||5-9||190||South Panola (Batesville, Miss.)||Memphis|
|RB||Jamarius Henderson||5-11||215||Dale County Chr. (Ozark, Ala.)||Uncommitted|
|RB||Larry Scott||6-0||205||Hubbard (Hubbard, Ohio)||Michigan State|
|WR||Deondre Farrier||6-0||195||Lake Nona (Orlando, Fla.)||East Carolina|
|WR||Damarkus Lodge||6-3||190||Cedar Hill (Cedar Hill, Texas)||Uncommitted|
|OL||Maea Teuhema||6-5||340||Keller (Keller, Texas)||LSU|
|OL||Lester Cotton||6-4||325||Central School (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)||Alabama|
|OL||Drew Richmond||6-5||310||Memphis Univ. School (Tenn.)||Ole Miss|
|DL||D’Andre Walker||6-2||220||Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.)||Georgia|
|DL||Breiden Fehoko||6-3||295||Farrington (Honolulu, Hawaii)||Texas Tech|
|DL||Tim Settle||6-3||300||Stonewall Jackson (Manassas, Va.)||Virginia Tech|
|DL||Darian Roseboro||6-4||265||Lincolnton (Lincolnton, N.C.)||N.C. State|
|LB||Ricky Deberry||6-3||240||Atlee (Mechanicsville, Va.)||Oklahoma|
|LB||Roquan Smith||6-2||205||Montezuma (Macon County, Ga.)||Uncommitted|
|LB||Asmar Bilal||6-3||205||Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.)||Notre Dame|
|DB||Holton Hill||6-2||185||Lamar (Houston, Texas)||Texas|
|DB||Minkah Fitzpatrick||5-11||180||St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.)||Alabama|
|UTIL||Kerryon Johnson||6-1||200||Madison Academy (Madison, Ala.)||Auburn|
|UTIL||Austin Kafentzis||6-1||200||Jordan (Sandy, Utah)||Wisconsin|
Teenagers are complicated, fickle, naive creatures who seldom have any perspective on the trappings of adult life or that every action carries a consequence.
Few 16-year-old kids in this country know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Hell, many adults still struggle with this question.
It’s why uniforms, shoes, weather, license plates and even a coin flip have been used to select a university in the recent past. And I don’t expect National Signing Day 2015 to be much different. Here are some of our favorites from over the years:
What Fred Wanna to do?
My personal favorite came from Florida State Class of 2005 five-star signee Fred Rouse. On our national radio show on Sirius, he was asked, where are you going to college? And Rouse responded with “You know, a lot of people want me to go here or there. But I had to think, you know, what Fred wanna do? And Fred want to go to Florida State.” I think I have replayed that clip a thousand times since. The first-person, verbally illiterate announcement was absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately for everyone involved, his career wasn’t nearly as entertaining on the football field as it was on radio airwaves.
The Imaginary Scholarship
Nothing compares to Kevin Hart’s story — no, not the 5-foot-4 comedian. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound lineman at Fernley (Nev.) High wanted to play college football so badly that he wrote his own fairytale ending complete with press conference. On Feb. 1, 2008, Hart held a historic announcement at his high school in which he picked Cal over Oregon.
“Coach Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind gave me that real personal experience,” Hart said at the announcement. There was only one problem. Jeff Tedford had never spoken to, visited or contacted Hart. Neither had Oregon, Washington or Oklahoma State, his other finalists, for that matter. Eventually, Hart admitted the entire recruitment was fictitious and apologized to all parties involved.
The Forged Signature
In 2011, Reserve (La.) East St. John defensive back Floyd Raven had decided that Texas A&M was the right school for him. There was only one issue, however, his letter of intent had already been sent to Ole Miss. The Rebels' admissions department couldn’t read the signature and asked for a second copy. Raven’s mother wanted him to go to Ole Miss so badly, that she had forged the signature and sent it to Oxford without her son’s knowledge. Eventually, Floyd learned of his mother’s “betrayal” and sent the appropriately signed paperwork to Texas A&M.
Lone Star Identity Theft
The Ron Weaver saga wasn’t really a huge story on National Signing Day since he completely duped an entire university with identity fraud in 1996. In fact, it is the last documented case of identity fraud in major college football. Ron Weaver signed with Texas and played every game of the regular season in the 1996 season under coach John Mackovic as a 23-year-old defensive back. There was only one problem. Weaver was actually a 30-year-old by the name of Ron McKelvey who had used up his collegiate eligibility when he played at Sacramento State back in 1989. He duped Mackovic, the University of Texas at Austin and the NCAA — which later found no wrongdoing in the case by the school. Weaver was suspended the day before the Longhorns lost to the Hokies in the Sugar Bowl.
The Coin Flip
It takes thousands of hours of labor and thousands of dollars to recruit athletes at the highest level. But in 2009, Atco (N.J.) Winslow Township linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud trimmed the entire process to a few cents. After taking five, school-funded official visits, Glaud had narrowed his list to West Virginia and Rutgers. But the linebacker was still so torn he couldn’t make up his mind. So naturally, he decided to let chance decide his fate as he literally flipped a coin between the two programs. Heads he goes to WVU, tails he goes to Rutgers. He has posted 47 total tackles in three seasons for the Scarlet Knights.
Flip-flops happen in recruiting all the time – especially, as National Signing Day draws near. Cyrus Kouandjio, the nation’s No. 2 player in 2011, however, made heads spin in record time. An offensive tackle from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, Kouandjio's older brother, Arie, was already at Alabama. Yet Cyrus announced on ESPN that he would be attending Auburn. No more than five minutes after the bright TV lights had gone out, however, the younger Kouandjio recanted his pledge to the Tigers. He never sent in his letter of intent to Auburn and three days later it was revealed he had officially signed with Alabama via Twitter. Longtime commitments are snaked away at the last minute every season, but never has a kid committed on national television only to decide to sign with someone else five minutes later.
The Case of the Stolen LOI
Arkansas’ Alex Collins, a four-star running back from Miami, was one of the biggest stories on NSD ’13. He announced he was signing with Arkansas but it was reported that his mother, Andrea McDonald, had absconded with her son’s Letter of Intent and went into hiding. She wanted him to stay close to home and play for the University of Miami and made sure everyone knew about it. So Collins had to have a second ceremony where he signed another LOI, this time with his father’s approval. While this was going on, it was reported that McDonald hired an attorney to “represent the family’s interests.” Her efforts ultimately fell on deaf ears and Collins, wearing, of course, a camouflage suit, signed with Bret Bielema and Arkansas where he became SEC Freshman of the Year.
The Announcement Props
I am not one who enjoys recruiting announcements. They are filled with superfluous rhetoric from coaches, analysts and handlers. Every now and then, however, if done with style, an announcement can be fun – or infuriating. Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell made fans coo when he pulled out an actual Bulldog puppy to signify his decision to play for Mark Richt in Athens. Andre Smith sent the Crimson Tiders into hysterics when he pulled out the houndstooth hat at his announcement for Alabama.
But Antonio Logan-El’s live announcement back in 2006 was met with a slightly harsher response. The Forestville (Md.) High offensive lineman had been committed to Maryland for the better part of a year. While dressed in Maryland red in front of a Terps crowd at the ESPN Sportszone in Maryland — including head coach Ralph Friedgen’s wife — Logan-El first pulled out a Florida hat before tossing it to the ground. He then pulled out a Tennessee hat. That, too, was tossed aside before picking up the Terps black and red headgear. After a few nice words, Logan-El threw his Maryland hat to the ground and held up a picture of Joe Paterno and announced he would be heading to Penn State. The decision was met with screams of “traitor” and violence nearly resulted.
Who is Brian Butler and why do we care?
The most recent and bizarre trend for elite recruits is to wait until after National Signing Day to make a decision. Terrelle Pryor, Orson Charles, Latwan Anderson, Vidal Hazelton, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio and 2011's top prospect Jadeveon Clowney all signed their LOIs well past NSD. But Wichita (Kan.) East running back Bryce Brown, and his handler/mentor/coach/agent/leech Brian Butler, set a new low for recruiting sludge back in 2009.
Brown had been committed to the Hurricanes from the early stages. He did not sign on NSD and instead took a couple of extra visits to Tennessee and LSU after Signing Day. The calendar flipped to March without a decision, and Butler, who was a convicted felon and fledgling rapper, set up a website in order to charge $9.99 per month for recruiting updates on his protégé/meal ticket. Eventually, Miami (and others) stopped recruiting the troubled tailback until halfway through March, when Brown got “a sign from god” to go to Tennessee.
Bryce lasted one year in Knoxville before transferring back home to Kansas State. He played in two games in 2011, got three carries and comically declared for the 2012 NFL Draft where he was a seventh-round pick of the Eagles.
The first Wednesday in February is essentially Christmas for every college football head coach. After months of hard work on the recruiting trail, coaches will hit the offices bright and early on Wednesday for National Signing Day to welcome a new class full of freshmen and maybe a few junior college transfers to chase a national championship.
With most college football teams signing around 25 prospects on Wednesday, there’s over 3,000 players coming to the FBS ranks next season. And it’s no surprise there are some rather entertaining names among the new group of college players. Athlon combed through the recruits for the 2015 signing class by using the databases at Rivals, Scout and ESPN and rounded up the best (and most interesting) names joining an FBS roster next season.
Note: Positions of players can very from recruiting service. Players in this article were listed by position according to Rivals.
2015 College Football Recruiting All-Name Team
Musa Alsulaimani (Simon Gratz) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Austin Apodaca (Mesa C.C.) Mesa, Arizona
Bartimaeus Bell (Wekiva) Apopka, Florida
Li’Jon Cordier (Landry-Walker) New Orleans, Louisiana
Chris d’Entremont (Golden West C.C.) Huntington Beach, California
Cinjun Erskine (Barnegat) Barnegat, New Jersey
Gabe Gonslaves (Torrance) Torrance, California
Rockman Hunt (Oakland Tech Senior) Oakland, California
Grey Jackson (Fairhope) Fairhope, Alabama
Ryder Kuhns (St. Louis) Honolulu, Hawaii
Emil Neugent (Potomac) Oxon Hill, Maryland
Willy Pflug (Sunset) Portland, Oregon
Benji Philippe (Foothill College) Los Altos, California
Baylor Romney (Franklin) El Paso, Texas
Rope Ruel (Douglas County) Castle Rock, Colorado
Brion Sanchious (Northeast) Oakland Park, Florida
Chance Thrasher (Peachtree Ridge) Suwanee, Georgia
Ruvim Tyutyunnik (Riverview) Finley, Washington
Chason Virgil (West Mesquite) Mesquite, Texas
Chase Whetsel (Refugio) Refugio, Texas
DeUndre Pickett-White (Southwest) Miami, Florida
Soso Jamabo (Piano West) Piano, Texas
Bry’Kiethon Mouton (Acadiana) Lafayette, Louisiana
Shi’kim Coward (Niceville) Niceville, Florida
Bolu Olorunfunmi (Clovis North) Fresno, California
Desherrius Flowers (Vigor) Prichard, Alabama
Mon Denson (La Grange) Lagrange, Georgia
Richard Worship (Valley Forge) Parma Heights, Ohio
Mufasa Abdul-Basir (St. Joseph’s) Trumbell, Connecticut
Jatory Sparks-Brown (DeSoto) DeSoto, Texas
Dare Odeyingbo (Cistercian Prep) Irving, Texas
Hekili Keliiliki (Bentonville) Bentonville, Arkansas
Venus Triplett (North) Olathe, Kansas
Superiorr Reid (Mount San Jacinto CC) San Jacinto, California
Sanjai Bruno (Miramar) Miramar, Florida
Jett Robertson (Ironwood) Glendale, Arizona
Keke Coutee (Lufkin) Lufkin, Texas
Jazz Ferguson (West Feliciana) St. Francisville, Louisiana
Spencer Tears (Richards) Oak Lawn, Illinois
Pace Temple (Geneva) Geneva, Illinois
Fundrail Quimbley (Lee County) Leesburg, Georgia
James Kicklighter (Windsor Forest) Savannah, Georgia
Penny Hart (King’s Ridge Christian) Alpharetta, Georgia
CoChese Temple-Laws (Russellville) Russellville, Arkansas
Richard Ukelegharanya (East Longmeadow, Massachusetts)
Chadwick Maycumber (Lake Nona) Orlando, Florida
Q’ Drennan (Americas) El Paso, Texas
Deric Phouthavong (Hamilton Township) Columbus, Ohio
Raleigh Beougher (Riverside Military Academy), Gainesville, Georgia
Zacchaeus Drew-Toles (College of the Desert) Palm Desert, California
Apollos Hester (East View) Georgetown, Texas
Lucky Jackson (Lafayette) Lexington, Kentucky
Furquan Shorts (Atascocita) Humble, Texas
Buzzy Yokoyama (Orange Coast CC) Costa Mesa, California
Equanimeous St. Brown (Servite) Anaheim, California
Hunter Register (Comeaux) Lafayette, Louisiana
Hamiid Pack (Neshaminy) Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Alex Stump (St. Edward) Lakewood, Ohio
Justice Shelton-Mosley (Capital Christian) Sacramento, California
Greyson Bankhead (Centennial) Corona, California
Kyle Penniston (Mater Del) Santa Ana, California
Daniel Imatorbhebhe (North Gwinnett) Suwanee, Georgia
Alexx Zielinski (Brighton) Brighton, Michigan
Chis Copier (Snow College) Ephraim, Utah
Sebastian Sock (Valor Christian) Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Ceejhay French-Love (Poly) Long Beach, California
Case Brabham (St. Mark’s) Dallas, Texas
Tomond Hampton (Georgia Military College) Milledgeville, Georgia
Critt Johnson (Cox) Virginia Beach, Virginia
Devonaire Clarington (Booker T. Washington) Miami, Florida
Alize Jones (Bishop Gorman) Las Vegas, Nevada
Bar Milo (Chaminade) West Hills, California
Cedric Bigge-Duren (Oceanside) Oceanside, California
Cutler Salmon (St. Mary’s) Stockton, California
Barnabas Baning (St. Mary Ryken) Leonardtown, Maryland
Levon Livingston (Ballou) Washington, District of Columbia
Will Ficka (Dodge City) Dodge City, Kansas
Bravery Ratcliff (Pomona) Arvada, Colorado
Riley Lovingood (Beech Senior) Hendersonville, Tennessee
Cap McClure (Cody) Cody, Wyoming
Athlete (as listed by Rivals.com)
Ray-Ray McCloud III (Sickles) Tampa, Florida
Kai Locksley (Gilman School) Baltimore, Maryland
D’Anfernee McGriff (Leon) Tallahassee, Florida
Shaquery Wilson (Coral Gables) Coral Gables, Florida
Ykili Ross (Riverside Poly) Riverside, California
Tyriuq Trotman (Landstown) Virginia Beach, Virginia
Britain Covey (Timpview) Provo, Utah
Tuli Wily-Matagi (Kahuku) Kahuku, Hawaii
Ernest Gunn (Selma) Selma, Alabama
Evan Rambo (La Salle) Pasadena, California
Ketner Kupp (A C Davis) Yakima, Washington
Olabisi Johnson (Bear Creek) Lakewood, Colorado
Shyheim Lineberry (Asheboro) Asheboro, North Carolina
Nasir Adderley (Great Valley) Malvern, Pennsylvania
Abu Daramy (Westerville South) Westerville, Ohio
KamRon Johnson (Saguaro) Scottsdale, Arizona
Deon Sanders (Centennial) Franklin, Tennessee
Chico McClatcher (Federal Way) Federal Way, Washington
Chukuemeke Egbule (North Sore) Galena Park, Texas
Mehdi El Attrach (Lake Nora) Lake Nora, Florida
Alisshuwa Becoat (Varina) Richmond, Virginia
Ish Seisay (St. Stephens & St. Agnes School) Alexandria, Virginia
Yannia N’Guetta (C.D. Hylton) Woodbridge, Virginia
Na Vonn Gurley (Morton Ranch) Katy, Texas
Raequawon Hascall (Putnam City North) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. (Edgewood Academy) Elmore, Alabama
Benning Potoa’e (Lakes) Lakewood Washington
Mizaire Cromartie (Dudley) Greensboro, North Carolina
Twazanga Mugala (Ardrey Kell) Charlotte, North Carolina
Stone Wolfley (Morgantown) Morgantown, West Virginia
Tipa Galeai (Trinity) Euless, Texas
Winston DeLattiboudere (Howard) Ellicott City, Maryland
Dondaycee Millbrook (Pike) Indianapolis, Indiana
Mufu Taiwo (McDonough) Pomfret, Maryland
Tommy Woo (Oceanside) Oceanside, California
Nicholas Czar (Highland) Highland, Illinois
Sie Doe (Butte CC) Oroville, California
Paris Black (Terry Sanford) Fayettevile, North Carolina
Kyle Power (Cheyenne) North Las Vegas, Nevada
J. Hunter Roman (New London) New London, Connecticut
Hezekiah Applegate (Johnston) Johnston, Iowa
Success Chandler (Merced CC) Merced, California
King Newton (Carroll) Southlake, Texas
Shy Tuttle (North Davidson) Lexington, North Carolina
Olive Sagapolu (Mater Del) Santa Ana, California
Elu Aydon (Leone) American Samoa, NA
Boogie Sewell (Desert Hill) St. George, Utah
Army Motuapuaka (Salem) Virginia Beach, Virginia
Pedro Gomez (Ellsworth CC) Iowa Falls, Iowa
Kingsley KeKe (George Ranch) Richmond, Texas
Royal Silver (Washington) Cedar Rapids, Iowa
C.J. Stalker (Lakota West) West Chester, Ohio
Fotu Leiato (Steilacoom) Steilacoom, Washington
DJ Beavers (Crespi) Encino, California
Porter Gustin (Salem Hills) Salem, Utah
Nas Anesi (St. John Bosco) Bellflower, California
Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane (Hallandale) Hallandale Beach, Florida
Bo Wallace (John Curtis) River Ridge, Louisiana
Riley Whimpey (San Clemente) San Clemente, California
Bull Barge (Colquitt College) Moultrie, Georgia
Caileb Booze (Edmond North) Edmond, Oklahoma
Winner Watts (El Camino CC) Torrance, California
Ty Tyler (Charlotte) Punta Gorda, Florida
Emmitt Smith (Warren Central) Bowling Green, Kentucky
Sam Papa (Mesa CC) Mesa, Arizona
DonTwain Cornish (Lake Forest) Felton, Delaware
Colton Sis (McCook) McCook, Nebraska
Andre Jumper (American Heritage) Plantation, Florida
Sha’mond Squires (New Bern) New Bern, North Carolina
Jay Hockaday (Christ Presbyterian Academy) Nashville, Tennessee
Teamer Terry (Fullerton CC) Fullerton, California
Rufus Rushins (Bishop Fenwick) Peabody, Massachusetts
Prentice McKinney (South Oak Cliff) Dallas, Texas
Simba Short (De La Salle) Concord, California
Shola Ayinde (George Ranch High School) Richmond, Texas
Tank Scott (Highland Springs) Richmond, Virginia
Abdurrahman Yasin (Southwest Dekalb) Decatur, Georgia
Jay’Onn Myles (Pierce C.C.) Woodland Hills, California
Ephraim Kitchen (South Panola) Batesville, Mississippi
Nyhre Quinerly (Lake Taylor) Norfolk, Virginia
Thaddeus Philyaw (De Anza CC) Cupertino, California
Deshadrick Truly (East Mississippi CC) Scooba, Mississippi
Ugo Amadi (John Overton) Nashville, Tennessee
Kode Mwirigi (Las Vegas) Las Vegas, Nevada
Boomer Bakich (Highland Park) Dallas, Texas
Lyrics Klugh (Byrnes) Duncan, South Carolina
Blessuan Austin (Milford Academy) New Berlin, New York
Taj-Amir Torres (Amherst Regional) Amherst, Massachusetts
Afolabi Laguda (Butler County CC) El Dorado, Kansas
Sir’Vegias Steele (New Mexico Military Institute) Roswell, New Mexico
Guy Stallworh (Southwest Mississippi CC) Summit, Mississippi
Cules Rose (Pinnacle) Phoenix, Arizona
Emile Hope (Laney CC) Oakland, California
Blair Manly (Cibola) Albuquerque, New Mexico
James Bond (Trinity Christian Academy) Jackson, Tennessee
Speedy Miles (West Mesquite) Mesquite, Texas
BoBo Jones (Xenia) Xenia, Ohio
Stone Wilson (IMG Academy) Bradenton, Florida
Jarry Jones (Lenape Valley Regional) Stanhope, New Jersey
Chase Vinatieri (Roosevelt) Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Benedict Svwavarsson (Northeastern) Elizabeth City, North Carolina
- By Jesica Parsley
Nearly six years to the day since the receiver class of 2008 signed letters of intent to play college football, the class continued to dazzle.
In Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse fell onto his back, bobbled the football and eventually came up with the 33-yard catch that put Seattle onto the New England 5. The miracle catch won’t sear in people’s memories thanks to the interception two plays later, but Kearse’s catch is why the wide receiver recruiting class of 2008 is the best in recent history.
Kearse was merely the No. 72 receiver in that class, according to Rivals.com, but cracking the top 10 now that all have finished their college careers is achievement unto itself. Kearse was recruited alongside Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd, Justin Blackmon and a host of other great collegians and future pros.
1. Class of 2008
The Stars: Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd, Jermaine Kearse, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Terrence Williams, Randall Cobb
Best of the Rest: Jonathan Baldwin, DeVier Posey, DeAndre Brown, Jeff Fuller, Juron Criner, Roy Roundtree, Greg Childs, T.J. Moe, Markus Wheaton, Ryan Swope, Cordarrelle Patterson, A.J. Jenkins
The wide receiver class of 2008 may be the best group of recruits at any position during the last 10 seasons. Almost every top prospect delivered on his five-star promise to one degree or another. Julio Jones and A.J. Green were Nos. 1-2 in this class and have since combined for six Pro Bowl selections. The class also had plenty of gems outside of the top prospects. Two-time Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State was ranked No. 91, and consensus All-America selection Terrance Williams of Baylor was a two-star.
2. Class of 2011
The Stars: Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee, Tyler Lockett, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans
Best of the Rest: Jaxon Shipley, Donte Moncrief, Rashad Greene, Ty Montgomery, Devin Smith, Sammie Coates, DeVante Parker, Davante Adams, Cody Latimer, Kevin White, Phillip Dorsett, Jamison Crowder
The receiver class of 2011 could surpass the star-studded class of 2008. The 2011 receivers arguably topped the 2008 class in terms of college achievements. The class produced two Biletnikoff winners (Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks and USC’s Marqise Lee), three consensus All-Americans (Lee, Cooks and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans) and the NFL rookie of the year (LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr.). The best pro of the bunch, though, will probably be Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. Moreover, West Virginia’s Kevin White, Louisville’s DeVante Parker and Auburn’s Sammie Coates may all end up as first-round NFL draft picks.
3. Class of 2006
The Stars: Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, Jeremy Maclin, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton
Best of the Rest: Kenny Britt, Damian Williams, Hakeem Nicks, Riley Cooper, Greg Salas, Dexter McCluster, Antonio Brown
The No. 1 overall prospect in the class, Percy Harvin, has had a fine career, including two national championships at Florida and Super Bowl win with the Seahawks. Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree was a four-star athlete before twice winning the Biletnikoff and going on to a productive pro career. The rest of the top recruits struggled to live up to top billing, but plenty of lower-ranked prospects and unknowns became superstars. Antonio Brown (Central Michigan) and T.Y. Hilton (FIU) are NFL stars.
4. Class of 2004
The Stars: Calvin Johnson, Jordan Shipley, Sidney Rice, Dwayne Jarrett, Ted Ginn
Best of the Rest: Eddie Royal, Greg Carr, D.J. Hall, Danny Amendola, Marcus Monk, Austin Collie, James Hardy, Early Doucet
A Biletnikoff winner and three-time All-Pro, Johnson was every bit the star on the college level as he is in the NFL. He was one of three consensus All-Americans in the class along with USC’s Dwayne Jarrett and Texas’ Jordan Shipley. Do-everything receiver Ted Ginn was the No. 2 prospect in the class, but he was listed as a cornerback.
5. Class of 2007
The Stars: Dez Bryant, Golden Tate, Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, Torrey Smith, Greg Little
Best of the Rest: Arrelious Benn, Ronald Johnson, Nick Toon, Leonard Hankerson, Austin Pettis
Dez Bryant was a consensus All-American as a sophomore in 2008 and was on the way to a similar season before an NCAA suspension ended his college career. Golden Tate set the Notre Dame record for single-season receiving yards and tied the touchdown record on the way to the first Biletnikoff in school history. Though listed as a corner, Ryan Broyles set the NCAA career catch record (later broken by East Carolina’s Justin Hardy). Maryland’s Torrey Smith arguably has been a bigger impact player at the NFL level than at the college level.
6. Class of 2003
The Stars: Andre Caldwell, Robert Meachem, Adarius Bowman, Steve Smith, Jordy Nelson, Dwayne Bowe, Jeff Samardzija,
Best of the Rest: Limas Sweed, Todd Blythe, Donnie Avery, Devin Thomas, Craig Davis, Anthony Gonzalez, Chad Jackson
This class has produced a number of productive pros (Robert Meachem, Jordy Nelson, Dwayne Bowe) and not just in football (Jeff Samardzija). Tennessee’s Meachem and Florida’s Andre Caldwell are among the top receivers in their respective schools’ histories, no easy task in either Knoxville or Gainesville. Adarius Bowman played two 1,000-yard seasons at Oklahoma State, but his career was overshadowed by those who came later. Same could be said of USC’s Steve Smith, who was the running mate to Dwayne Jarrett.
7. Class of 2010
The Stars: Robert Woods, Justin Hunter, Jordan Matthews, Justin Hardy, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen
Best of the Rest: Kenny Shaw, Kenny Stills, Paul Richardson, Ace Sanders, Austin Hill, Kaelin Clay, Bud Sasser, Mike Davis, Kenny Bell, Josh Huff, Antwan Goodley
The top recruits in this receiver class struggled to find their way as Kyle Prater, Da’Rick Rogers and Markeith Ambles all transferred for one reason or another. What the class lacked in star power, it made up for in consistent production on the college level. East Carolina’s Justin Hardy caught more career passes than anyone else in college football. Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews caught more passes than anyone in SEC history. Robert Woods and Kenny Bell caught more passes than anyone in USC or Nebraska history, respectively.
8. Class of 2005
The Stars: DeSean Jackson, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Brandon LaFell, Mardy Gilyard, Eric Decker, Victor Cruz
Best of the Rest: Mario Manningham, Mohamed Massaquoi, Louis Murphy, Brian Robiskie, Malcolm Kelly, Earl Bennett, Derrick Williams
Penn State’s Derrick Williams was the No. 1 prospect in this class, and although he had a fine a career, he was eclipsed by another prep star (DeSean Jackson) and guys from Minnesota, Cincinnati and UMass.
9. Class of 2009
The Stars: Alshon Jeffery, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin
Best of the Rest: Rueben Randle, Josh Gordon, Stephen Hill, Eric Ward, Jeremy Gallon, Cobi Hamilton, Aaron Dobson, Mohamed Sanu
The class was kind to West Virginia, sending both Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to the Mountaineers. The star in the class, though, South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery, who has two 1,000-yard seasons with the Bears.
10. Class of 2012
The Stars: Amari Cooper
Best of the Rest: Dorial Green-Beckham, Stefon Diggs, Nelson Agholor, Deontay Greenberry, Gabe Marks, Bryce Treggs, Jordan Payton, Bralon Addison, Leonte Carroo, Jordan Westerkamp, Jaelen Strong, Devin Funchess (TE)
The class produced arguably the best receiver in SEC history and a bit of a mixed bag everywhere else. Dorial Green-Beckham was the can’t-miss recruit in this class, but he’s been away from football for a year after his dismissal at Missouri.