Monday, January 30, 2006

College Football 2006 All Star Games - Review

I live for College Football All Star Games, where else can you see a D-Lineman from an NAIA school go head to head with an O-Lineman from Michigan? That my friends is a little something called The Magnolia Grid Iron Classic. College Bowl/All-Star/Classics are such a far cry from the debacle known as the NFL Pro Bowl. These kids really have something to prove. Usually the level of play is stepped up to the nth degree and there is never a lack of bone-jarring hits. It’s a great showcase for young talent. Scouts take notice! Here is the 2006 College Football All Star Games.


Outcome: North: 31 South: 14
O-MVP: WR Sinorice Moss – Miami (S), QB Charlie Whitehurst – Clemson (N)
D-MVP: LB Gerris Wilkinson - Georgia Tech (S), DE Tamba Hali - Penn State (N)
My “small school” MVP: none

While last years team included eight small school players – of which all eight went on to be drafted – The 2006 Senior Bowl Rosters had a whopping ZERO athletes from the sub-DI ranks. This was very disapointing. I understand that the Senior Bowl is set up to showcase the talents of the Top NFL Prospects, most of which are indeed D-I guys, but going from 8 to 0 is just to odd. Nonetheless it was a fun game to watch, especially seeing the great athleticism of Penn State QB Michael Robinson – he’s a great runner that could be used at a few other positions. Also, Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst showed great poise and an accurate arm. But come on guys, mix it up in 2007 will ya! Throw in a I-AA guy at least.


Outcome: East: 10 West: 7
West-MVP: QB Brad Smith - Missouri
East-MVP: DE Brent Hawkins - Illinois State
My “small school” MVP: QB Brett Elliott – Linfield/DE David Tollefson - NW Missouri State

Don’t let the score fool you, this game had some good offense. The big standout was Central Florida WR Brandon Marshall. He’s tall and very skilled, he made some great grabs and really boosted his stock. But my favorite player may have been Linfield QB Brett Elliott, a DIII athlete that showed great leadership. He capped off a 76 yard drive with a TD pass to Brandon Marshall. There was a good amount of lower division guys in this game, one of the most "eye-opening" was DE David Tollefson of NW Missouri State. He led the East with 6 tackles (all solo stops).


Outcome: West: 35 East: 31
West-MVP: QB Reggie McNeal - Texas A&M
East-MVP: DL James Wyche - Syracuse
My “small school” MVP: WR Marques ColstonHoftra

This is my favorite All-Star Game. I had been a fan of the late Blue-Gray Game but that has since died do to lack of support, much like what has happened with the Gridiron Classic. The 2006 East-West Shrine Game was top-notch, it had some exciting offense and some big-play defense. The game ended on a goal line stand by the West with no time left. A few players really stood out, such as QB Reggie McNeal from Texas A&M (who showed great ability to throw deep and pass on the run), Arkansas RB De'Arrius Howard (3TDs) and Oregon State WR Mike Haas (4r, 107y).

A slew of lower division players participated in the Shrine, they all played well and showed that they could compete with DI. Marques Colston a WR from Hoftra had a tremendous day; making an impressive acrobatic TD catch and hauling in a big pass at the one-yard line falling just shy of the game winning grab. There was also solid defensive play from big hitting Fredricc Brock (LB, Texas Southern) and tough coverman Danieal Manning (CB, Abeline Christian), along with a great effort on the Offensive Line from Cornell’s OT Kevin Boothe. QB Tarvaris Jackson from Alabama State had a decent game as did Canadian WR Andy Fantuz from Western Ontario.


Outcome: East: 41 West: 3
My “small school” MVP: QB Tyler Emmert - Carroll College (E)

A very lopsided game to say the least. Tulane safety Tra Boger scored 2TDs, one on an INT and one on a fumble recovery, a very impressive performance.

While a few small school lineman did a strong job, there was only one name worth mentioning and that is QB Tyler Emmert from NAIA’s Carroll College. He held his own against some I-A players by staying calm and tossing a nice TD. He also broke out an impressive 22 yard run.


Outcome: White: 19 Red: 7
My “small school” MVP: RB Keldrick Williams - Alabama State

This was the first year for the Magnolia Grid Iron Classic. It was set up to replace the Gridiron Classic and The Blue-Gray Game. The Magnolia G.I.C. places a team of D-I players head-to-head with a team comprised of I-AA, II and III players (each team also has some NAIA athletes). In this first contest, the White (D-I) defeated the Red 19-7. Louisiana-Monroe QB Steven Jyles had a solid game. He showed a good agility in the pocket and was good on the run. Jyles lead the White in rushing (31y) and passing (6-10, 80y, TD-INT). Also coming up big for the White where; WR Bill Sampy from Louisiana-Lafayette (44y TD rec), TE Boone Stutz from Texas A&M (TD), CB John Eubanks from Southern Miss (INT return of 90y), SS Trae Boger from Tulane (6 tackles all solo) and OLB Bernard Davis from Troy (6t, 5 solo, INT).

The small school O-Lineman did a good job against the D-I guys. They helped pave the way for the games leading rusher RB Keldrick Williams of Alabama State (67y). Defensively, DE Joe Sykes (Southern U.) had a standout game with 5 tackles (4 solo) and a sack.


Outcome: U.S.: 53 Mexico: 15
MVP: DB Wes Hostetler - Ohio Northern
My “small school” MVP: DB Wes Hostetler - Ohio Northern

An interesting Bowl game in which a small school All-Star team plays a football team from Mexico. Very strange. This year Mexico really got beat bad, the U.S. offense was very lame but the defense and special treams combined to score 36 points. One kid had an unreal game, that was Ohio Northern defensive back Wes Hostetler. He had 223 all-purpose yards and scored 3TDs … by KR, PR and INT. He broke four game records. Also Curry’s DB Charlie Gibbs and North Central’s LB Lenny Radtke both scored on INT returns.


Outcome: West: 49 East: 33
O-MVP: QB Wesley Beschorner - South Dakota (W)
D-MVP: DT Clayton Farrell – Abilene Christian
Jim Langer Award (top offensive lineman) – OL Nick Hageman - South Dakota (W)
My “small school” MVP: QB Wesley Beschorner - South Dakota (W)

This game had loads of great offense. South Dakota QB Wesley Beschorner set numerous game records by running for 87y and a TD and also passing for over 300 yards. Another record breaker was WR Richie Ross from Nebraska-Kearney who had 131 receiving yards and 2TDs, including an impressive 72 yard haul. The Defensive MVP was DT Clayton Farrell of Abilene Christian, he had 4 sacks (a record) on the day.


Outcome: South: 27
North: 14
My “small school” MVP: LB Terrance Leverett – Newberry

Despite the score the East Coast Bowl was a showcase of solid defense. Players like LB Terrance Leverett of Newberry (7t, 2tfl, ff, 2fr, INT-22y, pbu) with his jarring hits and LB Matt Vance of Fairmont State with his clutch INT return for a TD, all had great games. Another solid player was DE Mike Lewis (Adrian) who totaled 6t, 4tfl and 2 sacks on the day.

That’s that, another year of All Star Games. It will be interesting to see how many of these guys make it to the next level.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Draft Eligibility

Another Draft, another crop of underclassmen. Deciding to forgo your senior season (or junior season for some) can be rewarding for Top Prospect players. In fact, a hearty amount of NFL stars are former early entry draftees. If you were a sure top pick, would you risk an injury in your senior season? I’ve seen it happen. With Top Prospects this decision to leave school early is very understandable.

But what about those players that declare and then never pan out; some guys can be nasty at Michigan but just can’t handle the NFL … it happens. Then they find themselves drafted and cut, signed and cut or sitting at home playing Playstation waiting for the phone to ring. Once you’ve declard - there’s no turning back - sometimes you wonder what some of these guys are thinking (Maurice Clarrett).

Now lets take this to another level. What about players from lower divisions or even Junior College ranks that declare? The odds are tremendously stacked up against them. There are a few different reasons for these athletes to exit college, sometimes you simply have no choice like the Chicago Bears DT Alfonso Boone. He was originally enrolled at Central State (Ohio) but was forced to leave when the school dropped football. He found himself at Mt. San Antonio JC where he had to declare for the 2000 NFL Draft because his 5yrs of eligibility ran out. Alfonso Boone is still around and is having a solid career. He’s one of the few lucky ones.

Other players have screwed up so many times that they have no other choice but to get the heck out of college and try to grab as much money as they can from the NFL before they end up in jail … anyone remember Cecil Collins?

Then there are athletes that simply think that they have the stuff to jump to the next level, maybe they do, but remember that there is a big lack of respect for small schools. Sure you got athletcism, but can you play with the big boys? Players like WR Tyrone Jordan from Valdosta State (2004 Draft) and last years entry’s RB Derrick Johnese (Northwestern St) and WR Larry Brackins (Pearl River CC) decided to try their abilities out in the NFL with only Brackins getting an inkling of a chance. Now I’m not knocking lower division football, I respect these athletes, all that I’m saying is that it’s hard enough for a RB from Northwestern State to get himself signed as a free agent … nevermind leaving school as a Junior and expecting to be Drafted. Use your head guys … and Be Cool, Stay In School … (unless you are Champ Bailey, in that case leave school and be a millionaire).

Lets look at the small school early draft entries of 2006:

DE RODERKUS WRIGHT 6’5” 270 Grossman JC – His Junior College stats are a joke. This season alone he had 65t, 45 TFL, 26.5 sacks, 66 QB hurries, 5 BKs, 5FF, 5FR and 4PBU. These stats only prove that he can kick the hell out of Junior College linemen. Unofficial reports have him timed at 4.7/40 and jumping 37.5” in the VJ. Will be turning 25 years old and his time is running out, he was essentially booted from both Oregon and Portland State for academic and off-field issues. Does have great size and athleticism and maybe worth a quick look strictly based on his abilities. If anything he has a cool name, Roderkus.

WR TROY BERGERON 6’2” 180 Troy State/Georgia (Arena Football) – Pulling an Adrian McPherson and is entering the Draft straight from Arena Football. Why not? This guy has nothing to lose. He’s come a long way from being recruited by Auburn. He transferred to Mid. Tenn. State because Auburn wanted to make him a DB. Then after the birth of his child he decided to move on to Troy State to be closer to his family. Leaving a small blip on the college football radar he settled for working two jobs before his luck finally changed. He found himself on the roster for the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League after a short stint in AF2. In 2005 he caught 105 passes for 1372y and 31TDs, and was named AFL Rookie of the Year. Shows excellent concentration and very soft hands, a real hard worker with decent quickness. More of a late draft enry than an early one, but I thought he was worth mentioning.

DE MICHAEL WILLIAMS 6’3” 240 Texas College – Lacks great DE size, could play OLB. Is an excellent defensive player with good speed. Was a top recruit by the University of Texas but never got much playing time. In 2005 he had 72t, 12.5tfl, 5.5 sacks and 4FF. While he IS a good athlete, I’m not sure I fully understand why he’s entering the Draft early. If making the NFL from Division III is an uphill climb then making it from NAIA is like climbing Mt. Everest.

CB DANIEAL MANNING 6’1” 205 Abilene Christian – This kid is a good one. He proved he could hang with the D-I kids while starting in the East-West Shrine Game. Danieal has dominated at his level and is an 11x All American going back to his freshman season. He has all the tools; speed, athleticism, leadership, and a good head on his shoulders. Transferred to ACU after sigining with Nebraska, he has earned 3x All Conference. Very versatile player that can lineup at WR and is also a great returnman as well as a solid special teamer. Has 10 career TDs. 2005: 49t, 2tfl, sack, 4pbu, 2FF, 2FR, 3 BKs, PR-243y, 12.8y/pr, TD, KR-349y,, TD, run-20y, rec-5r, 28y. Has a good chance of being the first Abilene Christian player drafted since 1985.

And there you have it, good luck small school underclassmen and godspeed.