Fact or Fiction: Travis Hunter is most valuable non-QB in college football
Rivals.com national analysts Adam Gorney, Adam Friedman and Greg Smith join John Garcia Jr. to tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.
1. Travis Hunter is the most valuable non-QB in college football.
Gorney's take: FACT. There could easily be an argument made for Georgia tight end Brock Bowers or Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. or even maybe Michigan running back Blake Corum, but Hunter is a legit threat everywhere on the field as he had 11 catches for 119 yards and added an interception against TCU. Hey, Dylan Edwards had four touchdowns and Jimmy Horn Jr. had an awesome game as well but Hunter is doing it on both sides of the ball – and give him a shot in the return game and he'd do it there as well. At BetMGM, Hunter is the highest-ranked non-quarterback in the Heisman race, and while it's still an astronomical long shot, give him a few more games and he could climb even more into the discussion.
Garcia’s take: FICTION. This is tough, as Hunter is probably the most exciting non-QB to keep an eye on in the country, but we’ll push against the two-way value for now because we just don’t see it playing out the way we saw Hunter work against TCU. Playing more than 100 snaps out of the gates is no doubt an impressive feat, but it’s hard to imagine how sustainable it is going forward, especially in the all-of-a-sudden elite Pac-12 group. Colorado will need him more on defense against that gauntlet of quarterbacks, perhaps limiting his offensive prowess. If the Heisman is the bar, Harrison, Bowers, Corum, Trey Benson and others have a better chance to hoist the trophy – mainly because they’re on teams with true College Football Playoff expectations. Let’s see if CU can make it out of September saying the same.
2. Duke's win over Clemson will help Mike Elko recruit at a top 25 level.
Friedman’s take: FACT. Duke’s win over Clemson was an incredible moment for the Blue Devils program and it looks like this type of success – at least in the short term – could hold up. Mike Elko led his squad to nine wins last season as he earned ACC Coach of the Year honors. It looks like the Blue Devils could be in for another successful season this year. Riley Leonard leading that offense and an opportunistic defense make the Blue Devils a tough out for any opponent. As far as their recruiting efforts go, Duke still has a ways to go this year before making it into the top 25 of the team rankings. But if it can continue to stack up successful seasons, then consistent top 25 recruiting classes certainly aren’t out of the question. Duke’s academic standards and historical challenges on the field make it a difficult place to recruit, not to mention the recruiting powerhouses in-state and just over the state border.
Garcia’s take: FICTION. No doubt, this was a banner moment for Duke and its reach as a program is probably going to widen in the coming years. But it’s not easy to recruit at a top 25 clip in this era. Plus, Duke has had to build up its best rosters with ‘Duke’-type recruits, whether talking high-floor, developmental, high-academic or a combination of the three. Those don’t typically add up to classes climbing the rankings in a hurry. Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and others have ascended under similar circumstances, something Duke can take more advantage of in the seemingly wide-open ACC going forward.
3. The Colorado game is the most important of the season for Nebraska.
Smith’s take: FACT. I typically would not make the argument that a non-conference game is the biggest game of the year for anyone, but this is a unique situation. There will be a lot of eyeballs on this game against Colorado. Everyone wants to see Deion Sanders, and Nebraska had a top 10-rated game last week against Minnesota.
What better way to announce that Matt Rhule has the Huskers trending in the right direction early in the season than to win this game? Nebraska’s program is in desperate need of its own big win to boost confidence. That confidence would be great for the players but also for the recruits who are skeptical that Rhule can turn the Huskers around like he did at Temple and Baylor.
Garcia’s take: FACT. Look, it’s not the NFL, so 0-2 isn’t quite a death sentence in college football relative to non-playoff goals. But perception is massive in the sport and the thought of an NFL coach coming to Lincoln to straighten things up means you can’t fall to 0-2 under any circumstance. Not to mention the spotlight, recruiting impact and general hype that has been built ahead of Coach Prime’s home opener. Throw in the jabs Rhule and Sanders have tossed out since early in the offseason, and the pressure is on Nebraska coming into this one. The Big Ten is its own monster, but few outside of GBR country will be following if the Huskers don’t compete well in Boulder.