Fact or Fiction: Hubbard will be leading rusher in Power Five
National recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.
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1. Chuba Hubbard will outrush everyone in the Power Five next season.
Farrell’s take: FACT. JK Dobbins is gone. Jonathan Taylor is gone. AJ Dillon is gone. It should be all Hubbard all the time, as I expect him to hit over 2,000 yards again this season and outpace Najee Harris, Travis Etienne and the rest by quite a bit.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. Hubbard had 400-plus more rushing yards than Etienne last season and about 800 more yards than Harris, but the Oklahoma State running back also had 328 carries - about 120 more than either the Clemson or Alabama running back, and I just don’t think Hubbard is going to have the same workload this season. LD Brown and Dezmon Jackson should get more carries to keep Hubbard fresh, and let’s not forget that Oklahoma State’s offense will have quick-strike capability through the passing game. Clemson is expected to be without Justyn Ross because of injury, and new receivers Frank Ladson and Joe Ngata will be worked in, but I suspect the Tigers will rely on Etienne more and he’s on a mission. Hubbard will be great, but I’m taking Etienne here.
2. Clemson has the biggest in-state edge in recruiting of any team with a rival.
Farrell’s take: FICTION. Clemson has a big in-state advantage over South Carolina in recruiting, there is no doubt about that. But is it bigger than that of some others like Georgia over Georgia Tech, USC over the rest of the California Power Five programs and more? Not even close. The Gamecocks do a solid job recruiting under Will Muschamp and finished 17th last year with two five-stars compared to Clemson’s No. 2. That’s not horrible. Meanwhile Georgia finished No. 1 in the country compared to Georgia Tech, which finished No. 24, and Michigan finished No. 11 compared to No. 36 for Michigan State. Last year was an anomaly for USC, but this season the Trojans are No. 4, while UCLA is a distant second in the state at No. 44. Clemson has a big edge, but there are some states out there with a much bigger disparity.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. This is a tough question because there is a tremendous amount of disparity between some in-state Power Five rivals. Some were mentioned above by Farrell, but let’s think about Oklahoma dominating Oklahoma State in recruiting, or Iowa over Iowa State, Washington on top of Washington State, Tennessee doing better than Vanderbilt or even Alabama over Auburn, which has not had a higher-rated class than the Crimson Tide since 2010, over a decade ago. Clemson and South Carolina battle for players - Jordan Burch and Zacch Pickens are two recent ones that come to mind - so there are others that stand out more. I’m picking Oregon vs. Oregon State here. The Ducks have done so incredibly well not only locally but also in Southern California, beating USC and others for some of the best players in that region. Oregon almost never loses a recruit to the Beavers, so that is the biggest one-sided edge in Power Five.
3. Kentucky’s offensive line gets forgotten in the SEC.
Farrell’s take: FACT. Yesterday Mr. Gorney and I debated the best OL in the SEC, and I was on the side of the Vols and he leaned toward Alabama. But neither of us mentioned Kentucky and that’s a bit disrespectful. But it happens all the time and it shouldn’t. Kentucky has Drake Jackson at center and Darian Kinard and Landon Young at tackle ready to have a monster season. The Wildcats lose only one lineman and should have a great offensive line. Will it be better than Tennessee and Alabama? Doubtful, but they certainly should be in the discussion.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I’ll admit, when I was researching the question about whether Alabama or Tennessee had the best offensive line in the SEC I didn’t really even consider Kentucky. But I should have. Young was a five-star coming out of high school, Jeremy Flax and Jackson were four-stars and then the presumed right side of the line - Luke Fortner and Kinnard - were three-stars. That’s pretty good for the Wildcats. The Kentucky offense was so screwy last season because of quarterback injuries and Lynn Bowden taking over, but now things should be more settled and the offensive line should dominate.