football Edit

Twitter Tuesday: Saquon Barkley, top RBs, Butch Jones, Oklahoma

Our weekly #TwitterTuesday file continues this week where you ask National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell your football questions via social media. Here are five questions we chose including Farrell’s take on Saquon Barkley.

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Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley (AP Images)

This is a great question and something we actually debated in our Podcast on Monday. As football scouts, we often lean toward what is new and what we see now versus what we have seen before, but this is a great question because all of these guys played at the same time. I’d put them in order like this:

1. Saquon Barkley – Barkley's ability in the passing game and strength as a runner puts him in elite company. His jump cuts, evasiveness, ability to break tackles and take punishment and be a factor in the passing game puts him on top.

2. Ezekiel Elliott – Elliott's speed was off the charts in college. He had great vision and he could take over games. Elliott was utilized differently than Barkley as he wasn’t nearly as involved in the passing game, but he was special.

3. Christian McCaffrey – McCaffrey was a better route runner than Barkley and was sneaky strong in between the tackles with the most explosion and quickness of the group. His size puts him behind Barkley and Elliott was more durable overall.

4. Leonard Fournette – Fournette is last mainly because of the injuries and his performance against Alabama. Neither are his fault as he was a huge running back who liked to run physically and power through people, but also had great breakaway speed. He just missed too much time and struggled in those ‘Bama games to be anything but fourth here.

Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush (AP Images)

This is a nice follow up question. I’ll give you my top 10 college running backs since the year 2000 and a few might surprise you.

1. Reggie Bush – Quite simply, Bush was amazing to watch.

2. Adrian Peterson – Pure domination from the running back spot with everyone keying on him and unable to stop him.

3. Saquon Barkley – His improvement in the passing game this year puts him very high on this list.

4. Derrick Henry – He waited his turn at Alabama and then put together one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen. For a huge running back who was the entire key to the offense, he still couldn’t be contained.

5. Darren McFadden – Because Arkansas didn’t win as much as the others, he gets overlooked, but he was amazing and dynamic.

6. Ezekiel Elliott – I still don’t understand why he didn’t get carries in the loss to Michigan State as he led one of the most talented teams I’ve ever seen. He was outstanding.

7. Christian McCaffrey – Breaking Barry Sanders' record for all-purpose yards puts you seventh on this list? Yep, that’s how good the others are.

8. LaDainian Tomlinson – See McFadden when talking about a guy who never got enough national love because of the team he played for.

9. Dalvin Cook – I think he’s the only one of a couple on this list who never went to New York for the Heisman presentation (Barkley will) and that’s insane.

10. CJ Spiller – Think of all the touches he missed because of horrible play calling. Others put up better stats over their careers and had better individual seasons that aren’t on this list, but Spiller’s talent was undeniable.

LSU commit Kelvin Joseph
LSU commit Kelvin Joseph (Nick Lucero/

This is simple to me: home-state advantage. LSU has the best home-state advantage of any team in college football and also borders Texas, while Georgia has either the second- or third-best and also borders Florida. How could those programs not recruit well? LSU only has to compete with programs coming at them from out-of-state and can recruit Texas, especially the Houston-area, with ease. Georgia only has Georgia Tech, a program that rarely lands four-stars, to compete against in-state.

LSU has it easier than Georgia because fewer programs are willing to head to the Bayou State to land recruits while many schools invade Georgia, but recruiting at these two schools regardless of results is not that difficult.

Butch Jones
Butch Jones (AP Images)

If Tennessee fires Butch Jones during the season, barring a surprise, you’ll see an interim coach hired and a permanent replacement named after the season. It had better be a good hire after Derek Dooley, Lane Kiffin and now Jones after Philip Fulmer was dismissed too soon.

What would qualify as a good hire? Let’s forget about Chip Kelly. I don’t see that happening. How about Les Miles or Dan Mullen? These are guys that have shown they can win in the SEC, are excellent talent evaluators, do a good job on the recruiting trail and are solid in-game coaches. Miles was criticized for his conservative offense, but he did win a national title and he could turn Tennessee around quickly if he made the right offensive hires. Mullen just got pasted by Georgia, but what he has done at Mississippi State over the years has to be very attractive.

Tennessee needs to hire a coach who has led a team for a long period of time and getting someone who has coached in the SEC already would be key. Other names will be mentioned (insert Jon Gruden rumor here) but I like Miles and Mullen as two solid targets.

Playing true freshmen is always a good thing for recruiting, especially at a power program like Oklahoma. You can hit the living rooms following the season and point to examples of players who didn’t have to wait their turn. This is why many programs, Oklahoma being one of them, have become very successful in recent years in recruiting because of the willingness to play the younger prospects. This is a bit of a change from a decade ago and now it’s become part of the culture of college football. But it’s not because it’s simply a great recruiting tool, it’s because high school players are much more college-ready than they’ve ever been, which means guys like CeeDee Lamb and Trey Sermon can immediately help replace superstars and allow a team like OU to reload instead of rebuild.