Three-Point Stance: Portal comparisons; underappreciated players; coaches
Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with some transfer portal comparisons, 10 more players from the last 20 years who just don’t get the attention they deserve and grading coaches' strengths and weaknesses, finishing with those who are ranked one through five on his list.
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1. COMPARING TRANSFERS AT THE SAME POSITION AS RIVAL SCHOOLS
With the recent commitment of former Alabama running back Keilan Robinson to Texas it got me thinking: How do some transfers at the same position compare for certain rival schools? Here are a few to watch.
RB Eric Gray (Oklahoma) vs. Keilan Robinson (Texas) – Robinson is a nice fit for Texas, especially as a guy who can catch the ball, but the former Alabama running back is a notch below Gray from Tennessee when it comes to being an every-down threat. Gray should be one of the best running backs in the Big 12.
QB Anthony Russo (Michigan State) vs. Alan Bowman (Michigan) – Russo has a huge arm and will help Michigan State stretch the field in a big way, while Bowman is a gamer who has overcome many injuries at Texas Tech and still played well. I like the Temple transfer here, though, as many don’t really know what a cannon Russo has.
RB Keontay Ingram (USC) vs. Zach Charbonnet (UCLA) – Ingram has been very impressive since he left Texas, but so has Charbonnet so this is a dead heat of sorts. The slight advantage could go to Charbonnet because of the way Chip Kelly will use the Michigan transfer.
WR Jahcour Pearson (Ole Miss) vs. Jamire Calvin (Mississippi State) – Pearson has a chance to put up big numbers coming from Western Kentucky and with Matt Corral as his quarterback, but Calvin should also stuff the stat sheet under Mike Leach the way he almost did at Washington State. Give me Pearson in this one.
WR Mookie Cooper (Missouri) vs. Wan’Dale Robinson (Kentucky) – These aren’t traditional rivals but they hope to make noise in the SEC East and each player is dynamic in space and hard to bring down. Cooper didn’t get to show much at Ohio State while Robinson was dynamic at times at Nebraska and gets the nod here.
OT Wanya Morris (Oklahoma) vs. Obinna Eze (TCU) – Again, they're not traditional rivals but Big 12 foes nonetheless, and both are very talented. Morris, from Tennessee, has a chance to be All-Big 12, while Eze, from Memphis, has great upside but isn’t there yet.
LB Henry To’oto’o (Alabama) vs. Mike Jones Jr. (LSU) – T’oto’o (from Tennessee) was one of the biggest prizes from the transfer portal, and he has proven to be a tackling machine, but Jones was very efficient at Clemson and is a sure tackler as well. Give me T’oto’o here, but it’s closer than you think.
DB Brendan Radley-Hiles (Washington) vs. Xavion Alford (USC) – Radley-Hiles was up and down at Oklahoma, but he is a physical player and a great fit at Washington, while Alford showed signs at Texas but is more of a question mark.
RB Demarkus Bowman (Florida) vs. DJ Williams (Florida State) – Big things are expected from Bowman as the lead man at Florida, but keep an eye on Williams here. The Auburn transfer has a ton of talent and could be a key to the FSU resurgence this season. But overall I’ll take the former Clemson five-star in Bowman.
DB Tyrique Stevenson (Miami) vs. Brandon Moore (Florida State) – Stevenson is an excellent addition via the portal for Miami and should impact early, but if Moore can recover from his injury and be 100% he could see a ton of playing time heading to FSU from UCF. Give me Stevenson for now.
2. MORE UNDERAPPRECIATED PLAYERS SINCE 2000
Let’s keep on rolling with the underappreciated college stars since the year 2000. Here's my next group of 10:
DE Vic Beasley, Clemson - After barely playing as a freshman, Beasley tallied 48 tackles for loss and 30 sacks over three dominant seasons. A two-time consensus All-American, Beasley's junior season was patently absurd: He had 13 sacks and 22.5 TFL in 12 games despite being constantly double-teamed.
RB Royce Freeman, Oregon - With more than 6,400 yards from scrimmage and 64 TDs, Freeman was a dominant force during all four of his years in Eugene. One of the forgotten great backs of the past 20 years, Freeman had game-breaking speed and exceptional elusiveness.
S Jim Leonhard, Wisconsin - A walk-on from tiny Tony, Wisconsin (population 113), Leonhard rewrote the record-books in Madison. He had 11 INTs as a sophomore in 2002, and finished his career with 21 picks, good for fifth all time. The three-time All-American was also one of the best punt returners in the country, averaging 12.8 yards per return while also adding three TDs for his career.
OL Robert Gallery, Iowa - In a place known for churning out offensive linemen, Gallery was one of the best to wear the Hawkeye uniform. Gallery was a road grader with a mean streak at left tackle, and he was a unanimous All-American and Outland Trophy winner as a senior in 2003.
DL Glenn Dorsey, LSU - While LSU is known as DBU (and rightfully so), there have been more than a few outstanding DLs who have come out of Baton Rouge. But Dorsey's 2007 senior season is probably the best of the bunch. The unanimous All-American won the Nagurski, Outland, Lott and Lombardi trophies and was the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year in a landslide.
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College – He has received plenty of attention in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers, but his college stats are remarkable. He had 532 tackles in just three seasons at Boston College and seven interceptions, including two for touchdowns. He led the NCAA in tackles in both 2010 and 2011 and holds the NCAA record for most overall tackles. Imagine if he played a fourth season?
DB Carlos Rogers, Auburn – After a freshman All American year, he won the Thorpe Award in 2004 in leading the team to an undefeated season. He had size and he played hurt and was clearly a team leader for one of the best Auburn teams ever.
QB Brad Smith, Missouri – Smith was an amazing dual threat for Missouri, throwing for more than 2,000 yards in three of his four seasons and rushing for 1,000 more in three different seasons as well. He was the first player in Division I-A history to pass for 8,000 yards and rush for 4,000 more in a career.
OL Rodney Hudson, Florida State – Hudson was the most decorated offensive lineman in FSU history by the end of his career, and he won numerous ACC and All American honors. He played at the tail end of the Bobby Bowden era and was one of the main reasons the Seminoles won 10 games in Jimbo Fisher’s first season. He was as reliable as they come.
DE Tamba Hali, Penn State – Hali was dominant for Penn State and led the Nittany Lions to an Orange Bowl win in 2005 with 17 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He had 64 tackles that season with four pass breakups. He was a consensus All-American and had one of the most dominant seasons of that decade.
3. MORE TOP COACHES' STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
I finally reach the end of my top 20 coaching list with a breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses. Here they are from one through five, with the top man being no surprise at all.
5. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame – I love Kelly’s in-game coaching and his game plans are very solid as well and he can develop talent. The one negative is his lack of risk taking when it comes to playing younger talent.
4. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma – Riley is an amazing developer of quarterback talent and his offensive prowess is hard to beat. He has struggled to produce a consistent defense, but that seems to be getting resolved and his playoff appearances speak for themselves.
3. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M – Fisher is a great developer of quarterbacks, same as Riley, and has that national title next to his name, so he gets the nod. His recruiting is off the charts and his use of talent is excellent - except for his last season at FSU.
2. Dabo Swinney, Clemson – It’s hard to find weaknesses in Swinney’s style as he’s a great recruiter, excellent coach and is known for his use of talent. In-game coaching could sometimes use some work and his teams can play down to the competition, but that’s nitpicking.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama – The greatest coach in college football history is an A-plus coach in every facet of the game. There are no weaknesses.