Three-Point Stance: Fired coaches, redshirt defenders, best players
National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three Point Stance is here with some thoughts on the Power Five coaching changes so far, some defensive redshirt freshmen who deserve some love and the best player returning to each Power Five conference.
MIND OF MIKE: Pruitt had to go; next up should be Jerod Mayo
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1. LOOKING AT THE COACHING DISMISSALS
This was supposed to be a safe year for coaches due to the pandemic but, in the end, the coronavirus couldn't stop the coaching carousel from spinning. Here’s my take on each of the Power Five firings so far.
Will Muschamp, South Carolina — Did this have to be done, especially mid-season? I think so as recruiting was falling off and this program was going in the wrong direction. Is Shane Beamer the answer? I’m not sold on that.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt — Mason kept his team in many games they shouldn’t have been in and he had this Commodores program scrappy. I know it wasn’t James Franklin-level success and 27-55 and 0-8 this season is awful but is Clark Lea a step up? Not sure.
Kevin Sumlin, Arizona — This had to be done as Sumlin was simply a disaster at Arizona and the program was headed deeper and deeper to the cellar. Jedd Fisch will be a big step up.
Lovie Smith, Illinois — I guess it was time for Smith to go but I didn’t really see a need in a pandemic year. Bret Bielema won’t do much better.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn — What will we do without the annual Gus rumors? It was time for him to go despite the crazy buyout. Bryan Harsin is a very interesting hire and could be the next great SEC coach or a complete square peg in a round hole.
Tom Herman, Texas — I really thought Herman would get another year. I felt there was enough talent on this roster to put him in the Clay Helton category of a coach who would continue to do enough to stay employed as the alum grumble. But the Longhorns made the move and I’m excited about the Steve Sarkisian era.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee — The investigation into recruiting violations really ended things here as enough was enough for the Vols. This is an important hire.
2. LOOK OUT FOR THESE REDSHIRT FRESHMEN DEFENDERS
Last week I mentioned some offensive redshirt freshmen that emerged after little to no playing time a year ago. Here are some defensive stars coming into their own.
DL Jared Harrison-Hunte, Miami — Harrison-Hunte plays the run and can rush the passer. He’s an important piece of the Hurricanes' puzzle next season with so many departing.
LB Sirvocea Dennis, Pitt — Dennis was a tackling machine this season and often in the opposing backfield.
DE Jahfari Harvey, Miami — Another Miami defensive lineman? Yep, with Greg Rousseau opting out, the playing time for the younger guys has been key.
LB JJ Weaver, Kentucky — He can play in space or with his hand down if needed and he showed excellent anticipation this season.
LB Colby Wooden, Auburn — Wooden was a nice surprise to the defense this season and turned into an elite playmaker against the run and pass.
DB DeMarcco Hellas, Alabama — He stepped in to fill a huge need for Alabama and became one of the best tacklers on the title winning team.
DE Jared Bartlett, West Virginia - Watch out for this kid next season and he could easily become one of the best pass rushers in the Big 12. He was a huge get from the Miami area.
LB Steven Parker, Kansas — Parker showed some signs in a shortened season that could have Kansas fans excited.
DB Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn — He had a big pick and had double-digit pass breakups and appears to be a future star.
3. THE BEST RETURNING PLAYERS IN EACH POWER FIVE CONFERENCE
Finally let’s look ahead to the 2021 college football season by identifying the best returning player in each Power Five conference.
Big Ten — RB Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota — This is a tough one with Chris Olave returning to the Buckeyes and how impressive Garrett Wilson has been, but Ibrahim simply carried this Gophers team last year and is an elite runner.
SEC — DB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU — Despite an injury plagued season, Stingley Jr. is still by far the most talented cornerback I’ve seen in years.
ACC — QB Sam Howell, North Carolina — This one is easy even for you Justyn Ross fans out there. Howell will be the best quarterback in the country next season.
Big 12 — RB Breece Hall, Iowa State — This was a close call between Hall and Spencer Rattler, and you can’t go wrong with either. You could even argue for Bijan Robinson.
Pac-12 — DE Kavon Thibodeaux, Oregon — The best edge rusher in the nation returns for his final season and is more valuable than even a Kedon Slovis at USC.