Three-Point Stance: Caleb Williams, All-Bowl Team, opting out
Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with his thoughts on Caleb Williams' transfer portal announcement, Farrell's All-Bowl Team on offense and commentary on the debate about players opting out.
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1. Caleb Williams is on the move (perhaps). Where will he land?
The Monday after New Year's has become one of the biggest days for the transfer portal it seems, and this year has been the biggest yet. And while there have been some college football-altering names enter, the tweet from Oklahoma freshman quarterback Caleb Williams that he was entering the portal is the biggest.
When former OU starter Spencer Rattler transferred to South Carolina after losing his job to Williams, Oklahoma fans weren’t upset at all. They had their quarterback of the future. With Lincoln Riley off to USC, Williams stayed and led his team to a win over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. And now he’s announced he will consider Oklahoma still but will enter (he hasn’t entered the portal as of Monday night). Where could he land?
Oklahoma — He could stay, but that seems a lot less likely with Dillon Gabriel flipping from UCLA to Oklahoma the same day Williams announced. However, with Jeff Lebby taking over the offense and the work he did with Matt Corral at Ole Miss, Williams would be smart to keep OU in his sights.
Ole Miss — The Rebels have to be under consideration with Corral leaving and how well Lane Kiffin has that offense rolling and how he develops quarterbacks. They weren’t on his list coming out of high school, but you can bet they will be now.
Georgia — This could be the team to watch despite Gunner Stockton being committed. Remember that Williams will pretty much play two more seasons, so you have to look at the current roster more than incoming recruits and Georgia has a depth issue at QB.
USC — Why not go to the coach you wanted in the first place and follow Riley to USC? The competition is solid there with Jaxson Dart, but we know Williams would play immediately and have some serious weapons.
Penn State — Considering he hails from Maryland and how well the Nittany Lions recruit the state, you have to think James Franklin might get a look here. Penn State lacks an elite quarterback, for sure.
Maryland — It’s a long shot of sorts, but he always liked his home-state school, and Mike Locksley can recruit. The Terps have Taulia Tagovailoa there already, but they can’t ignore a local five-star and elite starter.
LSU — Brian Kelly isn’t known for recruiting elite quarterbacks but Williams liked LSU out of high school and the talent there has to be intriguing.
Auburn — Bryan Harsin is known as an offensive mind and the opportunity is there immediately for a player of Williams' caliber to play and compete right away in the SEC.
Miami — Why the ‘Canes? Mario Cristobal is a great recruiter, there are some rumors that Joe Brady could land at Miami and the former LSU OC and QB whisperer is beloved by the Williams family. They are a long shot, but things are different now under Cristobal.
2. All-Bowl Team: Offense
We have a bowl game between LSU and Kansas State remaining, and then this national title thing between two SEC teams, and then college football is over. So I can feel safe doing my All-Bowl Team this week, and I begin with the offense.
There were a ton of great quarterback performances during bowl season, but it was the redshirt freshman from Ohio State who was a cut above the rest. His 573 passing yards and six touchdowns were both Rose Bowl records. Anytime you are smashing those marks in the most historic bowl game, you're going to get noted.
It was Robinson, and not Heisman winner Bryce Young, who was the catalyst for Alabama's offense in its playoff win over Cincinnati, as he picked a great time for his best collegiate performance. Robinson racked up 26 carries for 204 yards, helping the Tide pull away in the second half and setting them up for a rematch against Georgia in the title game.
RB: Jordan Mims, Fresno State
Mims did it all for the Bulldogs in their win over UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl, showing off his versatility in the process. The senior running back ran for 165 yards and two scores while adding 70 yards receiving and a touchdown.
What else is there to say about Smith-Njigba's performance in the Rose Bowl that hasn't already been said? He played one of the greatest games we've ever seen from a receiver, smashing all sorts of records with 15 catches for an astonishing 347 yards and three touchdowns.
WR: Brandon Lewis, Air Force
An Air Force receiver with a big game - how often does that happen? Well, while Louisville was selling out to stop their triple-option attack they forgot to cover Lewis, who had five catches for a whopping 172 yards and two scores, which went for 61 yards and 64 yards respectively.
WR: Jesse Matthews, San Diego State
The Aztecs might be known for their ground attack (and their punter Matt Araiza, who is one of the best we've ever seen,) but it was Matthews who stole the show in their Frisco Bowl win over UTSA. He had 11 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, accruing more than half of the team's receiving yards by himself.
The Gamecocks capped off a surprising season with a big win over UNC in the Duke's Mayo Bowl and a lot of that was due to the fact that Bell was simply dominant. The big tight end had five catches for 159 yards and two scores, including a 66-yarder and a 69-yarder.
OL: Kent State
The Potato Bowl had some absolutely epic offensive performances - both Wyoming (more on that later) and Kent State put up silly numbers. The Golden Flashes topped 300 yards passing and rushing, buoyed by the interior of their line. Guards Adam Gregoire and Nathan Monnin received PFF (Pro Football Focus) run-blocking grades over 85 for the game.
While Kent State was putting up big numbers, so was Wyoming, which eventually won the game on the back of a 411-yard rushing performance, led by quarterback Levi Williams, who had 200 yards and four scores on the ground (and added 127 yards and another score through the air). All three of the Cowboys' starting interior linemen (center Keegan Cryder, RG Logan Harris and LG Latrell Bible) were graded above 80 in both pass blocking and run blocking for the game by PFF.
The Bears capped a tremendous year with a victory in the Sugar Bowl over Ole Miss by rushing for 279 yards and not allowing a single sack and only one hurry against one of the top pass rushes in the country. Right guard Grant Miller, a transfer from Vanderbilt, had a really nice game, and he received the team's highest pass-blocking grade.
The Razorbacks did what they do best against Penn State in the Outback Bowl: bully teams with their physical running game. They ran for 353 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry behind an offensive line anchored by center Ricky Stromberg, who was the team's top-rated offensive lineman.
OL: Western Kentucky
Honestly, you could put their entire offense on the map for this game. QB Bailey Zappe had another phenomenal performance (422 yards and six touchdowns) and Jarreth Sterns caught 13 balls for 184 yards and three scores. The Hilltoppers ran for 216 yards as a team (averaging 7.7 yards per carry) and put up 59 points against a strong Appalachian State defense. But one of the most impressive things about the game was the fact that they only allowed one sack, buoyed by their tackle pairing of Mason Brooks on the right and Gunner Britton on the left.
3. Opting out on opinions.
People can be so negative. At least people who are loud on social media and on message boards. And I’m generally a negative person, so that’s fine with me. But when I see people attacking Kirk Herbstreit or others about their takes on player opt outs for bowl games, it’s just all hate and nothing else.
People don’t want opinions, they want to hate them. They don’t want debate, they want to be contrarian. And they love to think of professionals rooting for poor student athletes to entertain them for free. That’s why when ESPN’s Herbstreit commented that “this era of player just doesn’t love football” on "College GameDay" talking about elite players sitting out non-playoff bowl games, people went nuts. They did the same to me when I tweeted my admiration for Matt Corral lowering his head in the Sugar Bowl to gain yardage because he got hurt a couple of plays later and had to return on crutches.
Was I sitting on my high and mighty throne watching Corral entertain me like some king watching lions kill in an arena for sport? Nope. And was Herbstreit protecting the interests of ESPN, the network that televises all these meaningless bowl games, by calling out players who sit out? Nope. He couldn’t care less. We just love the sport and selfishly like to see players compete.
Yes, I was excited to see Corral fight hard with his team on his way to the NFL. And I was also saddened to see him get injured. But to say I had a vested interest in seeing players like Corral entertain me at risk of losing millions to injury is simply hateful and dumb. And to attack Herbstreit for questioning players' desire to play these games is the same.
We are in the age of opt outs, transfers and NIL — that’s life. For those of us who saw a different day and age of college football - or those like Herbstreit who played in one - it’s frustrating. But trust me when I tell you there’s no ill will intended.