2017 NBA Mock Draft

2017 NBA Mock Draft 1.0 (Pre-Lottery)

This mock draft will factor in team needs heavily rather than who is the best player. The draft order won’t be set in stone until the lottery takes place, but the talk is already starting on who will go number one overall.

Many scouts and experts are picking Markelle Fultz to go first, but it depends on who wins the lottery. Right now these predictions will be based solely off current standings and will continue to be until the draft lottery takes place. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA mock draft.

1: Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Josh Jackson sG Kansas

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

The Boston Celtics do not need a point guard. Fultz may be the best player in the draft, but Isaiah Thomas isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Thomas is also a proven player while any player coming out of college is unproven.

Fultz may be the best player in the draft but doesn’t fit what the Celtics need. The Celtics play great team defense and need a scorer to take the load off of Thomas.

Josh Jackson could prove to be a valuable scoring option for Boston as he averages 16.7 points per game. Jackson in a two-way player capable of becoming a superstar. Boston would be smart to add him to their core.

2: Los Angeles Lakers: Markelle Fultz pG Washington

Picking what the Lakers will do is extremely difficult. They just spent the 2015 second overall pick on a point guard. The Lakers issue is veteran leadership. They have a core of young players who just need time to develop. L.A. could trade this pick for a star player, but if they do keep it expect them to take the best available player.

That would be Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Fultz is averaging 23.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and six assists per game. Fultz also has a player efficiency rating (PER) of 28.6 and is clearly the best player in the draft. The Lakers can not pass on that just to fill a position of need.

3: Phoenix suns: Jayson Tatum Sf duke

Jayson Tatum has a well-polished iso game that is NBA ready. The Suns have a star in the making with Devin Booker and need to find a player to grow alongside him.

Tatum could grow to be a solid second option in the NBA. He can score anywhere on the floor due to his ability to create off the dribble.

One of his biggest weaknesses is his shot selection. Due to his height and ability to shoot over defenders, Tatum tends to settle for difficult shots. Shot selection will improve over time and the Suns may be able to find a Robin for their Batman.

4: Orlando Magic: Lonzo Ball Pg UCLA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit:https://www.bostonglobe.com)

Everyone is talking about LaVar Ball’s opinions rather than the play of Lonzo Ball. Ball can ball. It is as simple as that.

His father may be onto something when talking about how good his son can be. However, talking so openly may hurt his son’s draft stock.

Sticking strictly to Lonzo and his basketball ability, it is clear that he is a top prospect. Ball is a great passer with a high basketball I.Q. In the NBA Ball will be a floor general capable of running the team from the court.

Many scouts compare him to Jason Kidd, which is a pretty accurate comparison. Having a Kidd-like career would be an amazing accomplishment for anybody. Orlando needs a franchise player and that is exactly what Lonzo Ball will be.

5: Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk Sg Kentucky

Trusting the process hit yet another bump in the road this season. Joel Embiid suffered another injury after appearing in just 31 games. If that wasn’t enough, last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, will not make his debut this year either. The 76ers still believe those pieces will result in playoff appearances and maybe even titles.

Interestingly enough, reports came out that Philadelphia brass believes Simmons will be the point guard. That is why they will use this top-five pick on Malik Monk.

Monk has proven to be a flat-out scoring machine and that will translate to the NBA. Drafting Monk will allow the Sixers to develop Simmons as their point guard while putting a scorer in the backcourt beside him.

Creating a powerful backcourt could be the key to a deep postseason run. They already have a great frontcourt player in Embiid.

6: New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Pg N.C. State

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: William Howard/Icon Sportswire)

The Knicks need a young explosive point guard who will grow alongside Kristaps Porzingis. Carmelo Anthony is on the back half of his career and will most likely be out of the picture soon. Derrick Rose has been very respectable in New York, but he is not the same player that won the league MVP.

Dennis Smith is a top-five talent who will fall a bit due to some of the other needs teams have. Not all are looking for a point guard.

The Knicks would get a Russell Westbrook type of player by drafting Smith. He can score, pass and rebound with the best of them in college. He also has insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

Smith would be a great pick here if the Knicks want to take steps towards becoming a playoff team.

7: Sacramento Kings: Jonathan Issac PF Florida State

The Kings need to start from scratch. Buddy Hield seems to be the guy that Sacramento will build this team around. It looks like Willie Cauley-Stein will be the man up front with DeMarcus Cousins now out of the picture.

Jonathan Issac would be a great fit with this team. Issac is a great rebounder and can run the floor well for a big man. He also shoots well from all areas of the floor. He could play at small forward or power forward in today’s NBA style. The Kings would find a great player with lots of potential.

8: Sacramento Kings (Via Pelicans): De’Aaron Fox PG Kentucky

The Kings can afford to be risky with one of their two top-10 picks. Buddy Hield will need a backcourt partner in crime, and Fox could fit that mold.

Fox is unique because he is left handed. It is sometimes hard to defend left-handed players because defenders are used to right handed defenders. He is also extremely quick and defenders may have trouble keeping up with him.

Fox will need to work on shooting with more consistency. With Hield alongside him, all Fox needs to do is run the offense.

9: Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen PF Arizona

2017 NBA Draft

(Photo Credit: http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu)

Dallas got their center when they traded for Nerlens Noel. The guard positions seem to be held down as well with the emergence of Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry. That makes Lauri Markkanen a perfect option for the Mavericks.

Dirk Nowitzki will be going into his final season and the Mavericks need to find his future replacement. Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to replace the greatest European player in NBA history.

Drafting Markkanen will allow him to develop in his first season before Dirk rides off into the sunset.

10: Minnesota Timberwolves: Harry Giles PF Duke

The Minnesota Timberwolves are right on the cusp of becoming a great NBA team. Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins are continuing to grow and will be one of the most dangerous duos in the NBA in the coming years. They have already begun to show signs of it. Point guard is not an issue as they have Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and Kris Dunn. Picking Giles would be a shock here at number 10, but could be a huge steal.

Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the number one overall pick before he began having injury problems. We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender under Tom Thibodeau.

This pick could be a bust, but it will more likely create a young core in Minnesota capable of winning championships.

11: Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges SF Michigan St.

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)

The Hornets need a solid wing player and Miles Bridges would be a good fit.

Bridges is a dunking machine and plays with an extremely high motor. One of Bridges’ weaknesses is that he has no true position. Shooting guard, small forward and power forward are all in play for Bridges. Charlotte would likely play him at small forward.

Bridges has also shown consistent improvement in his shooting since high school.

12: Portland Trailblazers: Robert Williams PF Texas A&M

Robert Williams can jump out of this world. He can put anyone on a poster and loves to do so. There are countless highlights of him dunking on opponents.

Williams has a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and he knows how to use it. That wingspan allows him to excel as a rebounder and shot blocker.

One thing going against Williams is that he is raw as a big man. He lacks consistency like many raw prospects. The better competition gave him trouble, but with development from NBA coaches, he can turn into a solid NBA starter.

13: Miami Heat: Isaiah Hartenstein PF Germany

The Heat have been amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need. The Heat need a power forward that can stretch the floor since Whiteside is the inside presence.

Isaiah Hartenstein would be a great fit in Miami. He is a versatile left-handed player who can not only score inside, but outside as well. Hartenstein is a great passing big man with a high basketball I.Q.

The downside with Hartenstein is his immaturity and lack of experience against tough competition. However, his potential makes him a lottery pick.

14: Chicago Bulls: Frank Ntilikina Pg France

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: https://hardwoodhoudini.com

One thing is clear in the NBA: teams need a franchise point guard. The Bulls do not have a franchise point guard on their roster and will be looking for one in this year’s draft. Drafting at the end of the lottery does not leave them with many options, but it will allow them to take Frank Ntilikina out of France.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater, but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

All the skills are there for Ntilikina to become the franchise point guard the Bulls desperately need.

15: Denver Nuggets: John Collins Pf Wake Forest

Denver has a lot of young talent, and Collins is a bit of a project. If the Nuggets take a year or two to develop Collins, then he can become a valuable asset.

16: Milwaukee Bucks: Justin Patton C Creighton

There have been a lot of problems with Greg Monroe in Milwaukee. The Bucks have found a star in Giannis Antetokounmpo and need a big man inside to feed off of him. Justin Patton from Creighton can be that guy.

17: Detroit Pistons: Ivan Rabb C Cal

There have been swirling rumors that Andre Drummond was going to be traded just before the deadline. That still may happen in the offseason, and the Pistons need to prepare for that. Ivan Rabb would be a great fit with Stan Van Gundy.

18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard SG Duke

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Kennard has been unbelievable in the second half of the season for Duke. Paul George is rumored to be on his way out of Indiana via trade or free agency in two years. Kennard may not become a franchise player, but will come into the NBA as a scoring machine.

19: Atlanta hawks: TJ Leaf PF UCLA

Drafting a power forward may not make sense with Paul Millsap around, but TJ Leaf is a bit of a project. Millsap will want to be on a contending team as his career unwinds. Everyone knows the Hawks are not winning a championship. Drafting Leaf now gives him time to develop until Millsap leaves.

20: Portland Trailblazers (Via Memphis): Justin Jackson SF North Carolina

Justin Jackson would be a great fit in Portland alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The two guards can focus on the scoring and Jackson can be the team’s wing defender. Jackson is capable of guarding multiple positions and would be a solid pick by the Trailblazers.

21: Oklahoma City: DILLON BROOKS SF OREGON

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports)

It is clear that Russell Westbrook needs help. He is an animal but can’t do it on his own. Dillon Brooks is one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball. Brooks is capable of being the second option to Westbrook and a true sidekick that Westbrook desperately needs.

22: TORONTO RAPTORS: DWAYNE BACON SF FLORIDA STATE

Toronto has one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Bacon can come in and be a solid rotation player allowing the Raptors to deepen their bench as they continue to chase a championship.

23: ORLANDO MAGIC (VIA LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS): TYLER LYDON PF SYRACUSE

Orlando is a tough team to gauge and need a lot. Lydon would be a head-scratching pick, but something they would do. Lydon won’t become an All-Star but will be a solid rotation player in the NBA.

24: Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): JOSH HART SG VILLANOVA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: AP)

Brooklyn needs anything and everything and is nowhere close to being a good NBA team. Josh Hart could bring a culture change to the franchise. He is a leader and a winner and the Nets could use some of that in their locker room.

25: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): BAM ADEBAYO PF KENTUCKY

Adding Bam Adebayo to pair up with Hart could be the start of turning things around. They won’t win many games, but the rebuild has to start somewhere. Adebayo is a solid prospect with lots of potential.

26: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN PF PURDUE

The Jazz are in as good of a position as the Celtics. They will finish as the fourth or fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks. Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench.

27: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA CLEVELAND): RODIONS KURUCS SF LATVIA

Kurucs is a project and Portland can afford to draft a developmental player this late in the first round. Kurucs is versatile and can be a valuable scoring option in the NBA.

28: LOS ANGELES LAKERS (VIA HOUSTON): DONOVAN MITCHELL SG LOUISVILLE

2017 NBA Draft

(Photo Credit: By Pat McDonogh, The CJ)

The Lakers have youth on their side and drafting Mitchell will allow them to continue to build assets as trading blocks so that they can get superstars back in Hollywood. Mitchell is a solid shooting guard who can be a solid sixth man in the NBA.

29: UTAH JAZZ (VIA GOLDEN STATE): JOHNATHAN MOTLEY PF BAYLOR

Utah needs some frontcourt athleticism. Derrick Favors has only had one really productive season and looks to be on the decline. Motley’s offensive I.Q. makes him a perfect fit in Utah to be a solid role player on a solid playoff team.

30: SAN ANTONIO SPURS: THOMAS BRYANT C INDIANA

The Spurs are like the Patriots. They know what they are doing and you don’t question them. LaMarcus Aldridge’s future is in jeopardy due to health concerns. With Kawhi Leonard being a two-way star, the Spurs need a big man who can protect the paint.

 

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Texas Bowl

There are a lot of great prospects for Texas A&M, but unfortunately the case isn’t the same for Kansas State in the 2016 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl. The talent discrepancy is apparent, but  Kansas State will play any team tough. The Aggies’ prospects will have to step up for them to win. Here are the prospects to watch from this bowl game:

Kansas State Wildcats

Jordan Willis, DE

Projected Draft Range: Seventh round-undrafted free agent

Texas Bowl

Jordan Willis (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

Willis has produced this season with 11.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. He can stop the run and rush the passer, but may lack the necessary athleticism to be successful at the next level. At six foot five and 260 pounds, he is strong at the point of attack and is a good size for NFL teams.

Texas A&M Aggies

Myles Garrett, DE

Projected Draft Range: Top five

Garrett is one of the premier talents in the draft class. He is an elite pass rusher, but still really good at stopping the run too. Unless character issues or injuries come up about him, he will be taken in the top five. Minor injuries have plagued him this season. He has great size at six feet five inches tall and 270 pounds and will fit right in athletically.

Justin Evans, S

Projected Draft Range: Second Round-Fourth Round

Texas Bowl

Justin Evans (Photo courtesy: thebatt.com)

With decent size at six feet tall and 200 pounds, Evans just needs to add muscle to have an NFL body. He is a great tackler and had multiple games with over ten tackles. If Evans wants to improve his draft stock, he has to prove he can guard NFL-level receivers and tight ends.

Josh Reynolds, WR

Projected Draft Range: Sixth Round-Undrafted Free Agent

Reynolds has great size for an NFL receiver at six feet three inches tall. He has been productive with 885 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions. For Reynolds, he needs to prove that he can create separation consistently to be taken seriously at the next level. Big plays are his forte right now, but some consistency would go a long way to making him a good NFL player.

Daeshon Hall, DE

Projected Draft Range: Third Round-Fifth Round

Hall gets overlooked because he plays on the opposite side of Garrett, but he is a legit pro prospect himself. He has great size like Garrett at six feet six inches tall and 270 pounds. He isn’t as athletic as Garrett and isn’t the same pass rusher as him, but is still good at both. Hall is a solid run defender and can hope to use that to bolster his draft stock.

 

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Eliminate College Conferences

Change. It is a simply spelt and pronounced word, but becomes complex when people start to deal with change. People run away from change out of fear. People usually grimace at the thought of change. Change is often looked at as a bad thing, but change can also be viewed as a great thing. Change is needed for growth and knowledge. Society finds it hard to change things that are long standing traditions, even if they do not work, are outdated, or completely wrong.

(Photo: Daniel Gluskoter, AP)

(Photo: Daniel Gluskoter, AP)

Take a look at the national anthem controversy for instance. Rather than admit its flaws, people are back-lashing against Colin Kaepernick. Why can’t we admit our faults as people or as a society? Because people hate change, whether it’s for the betterment of society or not. It is so much easier to go with the flow rather than to adapt.

It is time for a change in college football by eliminating any and all conferences. They are unnecessary in this day and age. They serve no purpose other than to please tradition. This is a highly unpopular opinion but hear me out before you grab your pitchforks.

Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers players celebrate defeating the LSU Tigers by doing the Lambeau Leap following the game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-269730 ORIG FILE ID: 20160903_jla_sh5_731.jpg

(Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers players celebrate defeating the LSU Tigers by doing the Lambeau Leap following the game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY)

The best teams need to play each other weekly regardless of their region or conference. Week one was one of the greatest weeks of college football ever. People are still glamorizing it because it was that epic. We saw great games all over such as (15) Houston defeating (3) Oklahoma. We saw Wisconsin upset (5) LSU. We saw unranked Texas A&M upset (16) UCLA. (18) Georgia beat (22) North Carolina. (2) Clemson had to sneak by unranked Auburn by six points. Fans saw Texas upset (10) Notre Dame in an overtime classic. On a Monday night game, (4) Florida State beat (11) Ole Miss.

Week two also saw some great programs matching up for exciting games. Arkansas was unranked and upset (15) TCU. (17) Tennessee beat Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway in the most attended game in college football history with 156,990 in attendance.

(http://www.usatoday.com/videos/sports/ncaaf/2016/11/18/houston-dashes-louisville's-playoff-hopes-upset/94060980/)

(http://www.usatoday.com)

Since the first two weeks there still have been great non-conference games even as teams have gotten into conference scheduling. In week six, Navy upset (6) Houston 46-40 in one of the most exciting back and forth games of the year. Most recently in week 12, the same Houston team that was upset by Navy, and was unranked, ended (5) Louisville’s shot at making the playoffs. They upset the Cardinals 36-10.

All these non conference match-ups with top programs facing off gave us excitement. Fans of football rejoiced over how fun it was to watch these teams play their hearts off to win these big time games. These games mean so much more with the rather new playoff system that determines a true champion in college football. Eliminating conferences would not eliminate rivalries because schools would be able to schedule 10-12 games completely how they want. The only thing each school would  have to do is make sure they schedule their rival schools annually.

(MARK ALMOND)

(MARK ALMOND)

These huge games are what the fans want to see. It doesn’t have to be just about the fans either. The college football playoff committee highly values a team’s strength of schedule. Nobody wants to see Alabama playing teams like Chattanooga or Kent State, teams in which they manhandled this year. Ohio State shouldn’t be playing teams like Rutgers, who happens to be in their conference, or Tulsa. Clemson games are boring when they play teams like South Carolina State or Syracuse. Imagine Clemson scheduling Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State. If a team goes undefeated with a non-conference schedule as tough as this, there would be no question they deserve to be in the playoffs.

One of the biggest problems with the state of college football now is that great teams still get snubbed from making the playoffs. We need the best four teams in the country making the playoffs as long as it is a four team format. Maybe one day it will be a six or eight team format to eliminate more doubt, because there will always be a team or two on the bubble.

Currently the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12 and the Big 12 are known as the power five conferences. Most people can agree these are the top five conferences in the country, with each taking turns on where they rank within the power five.

In the current playoff system, one of the power five conferences will not be represented. A champion from one of these conferences will not have the chance to play in the playoffs and prove they are the best team in the country. This doesn’t account for a team without a conference, such as Notre Dame, who could go undefeated and cause two power five conferences to be left out of the playoffs. It also doesn’t account for a year like this one in which Ohio State and Michigan both look like teams capable of winning a national championship.

(http://www.sbnation.com/)

(http://www.sbnation.com/)

The first ever college football playoff left out TCU and/or Baylor in favor of Ohio State. The debate raged on about which of these teams should have gotten in. Ohio State then went on to win the National Championship as a four seed to quiet the debate, but how do we know, without a doubt, that TCU or Baylor would not have done the same? How do we know TCU or Baylor would’t have beat Ohio State? This is the problem with conferences. The Big Ten was assumed to be the better conference which is why the playoff committee chose to take Ohio State over one of the Big 12 teams. It was all because the Big 12 conference doesn’t have a conference championship game.

There is another issue at hand when it comes to conferences and the entire playoff format. There is always a talk of two teams getting into the playoffs from the same conference. If that were to happen, two conference champions from a power five conference would be left out. This was the problem with the BCS system that the playoffs were suppose to fix. The question that should be asked is how can you be a champion of the nation if you weren’t a champion of your conference? Essentially that is what happens if two SEC or two Big Ten teams get into a four team playoff. Eliminating conferences erases all the doubt. It makes teams schedule harder competition and creates more exciting games. If a school didn’t do it, they wouldn’t get into the playoffs.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Conferences started mostly due to how difficult it was to travel when teams were still taking buses. Colleges can afford to fly their teams in today’s sports and traveling is not as hard as it use to be. What is the need for conferences then? The idea of no conferences at all is highly appealing in my eyes, but will not be popular to most. It would be revolutionary to eliminate conferences. The most remarkable changes in the world once were thought to be outlandish. Conferences are a tired idea that is outdated and the sport can become more exciting by eliminating them.

 

 

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The State of College Football in Texas

The six premier college teams of Texas all look to be in great shape. Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU all scheduled easy games to begin the season, but all won in a great fashion.

Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images

Baylor beat Northwestern State 55-7 in Waco. The most important part of the game was the return of quarterback Seth Russell. Russell is coming back from a neck injury he suffered last year. Russell went 14-20, threw for 163 yards and also threw for four touchdown pass. Baylor is also working with a new head coach. Jim Grobe is the new head coach after the firing of Art Briles. Baylor fired Briles after an investigation that Baylor University allegedly mishandled many sexual assault complaints, many of which included some players for the Baylor football team.

Texas Tech had an easy time with Stephen F Austin. Red Raider junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes II lit up the Lumberjack defense. He had over 500 total yards of offense and six touchdowns. He threw for 483 yards and threw four touchdowns. While on the ground, he ran for 57 yards and scored twice using his legs. Texas Tech ended up winning the game 69-17.

In Fort Worth, the TCU Horned Frogs had a scare against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Before the end of the first half, TCU was down by as much as 10 points. TCU won the game 59-41. Most importantly, new quarterback Kenny Hill had a great game. Hill ran for three scores and threw for two more. He threw for over 400 yards, but head coach Gary Patterson would love for Hill to throw less interceptions. Hill threw two during the game.

As for the other three teams in Texas, they scheduled big time opponents. Houston, Texas A&M and Texas were all underdogs in their games, but they all came out on top.

George Bridges/ AP Photo

George Bridges/ AP Photo

Last year, the Cougars beat the Florida State Seminoles in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Many thought it was fluke, but after Saturday the Cougars showed why they belong in the National Championship conversation. Houston’s first opponent of the 2016 season was the Oklahoma Sooners.

Freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a great college debut. Oliver is former five star recruit from the Houston area. Oliver is the first five star recruit to go to a non-Power 5 conference. On the field, he showed his worth. He had seven tackles and sacked Baker Mayfield twice on the day. The defense held the Sooners to 70 yards rushing. Senior corner back Brandon Wilson had a 100-yard missed field goal return.

On offense, the Cougars were clicking. Greg Ward Jr. had over 300 yards passing and threw for two scores. Running back Duke Catalon had 88 yards rushing and receiver Steven Dunbar had 125 yards on seven catches. The Cougars would end up beat the Oklahoma Sooners 33-23 and this was their second straight Top 10 victory.

The Texas A&M Aggies hosted the UCLA Bruins for a SEC-Pac 12 match-up. The Aggies were trying out new quarterback Trevor Knight and his first outing was good. He threw for over 200 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, Knight had 31 yards rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. In overtime, Knight’s second rushing touchdown was the game-clinching touchdown.

The Aggie defense picked off Josh Rosen three times during the game. Justin Evans had two of them and Priest Willis had the other one. The defense also got to Rosen five times. Texas A&M won the game 31-24 in overtime.

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The Texas Longhorns beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sunday. It took two overtimes to do it, but they beat Notre Dame 50-47. It was a battle of the two quarterback systems. It was Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer versus Texas’ Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Shane Buechele. Buechele is the first freshman starting QB at Texas since 1944. It paid off for the Longhorns. Buechele threw 280 yards and two scores, while Swoopes was the running quarterback. Swoopes ran for 53 yards and also had three rushing touchdowns. His third rushing touchdown was the dagger. Swoopes leaped over the goal line and ended the game.

This weekend was huge for college football, but it was especially big for the state of Texas. Vince Young’s ’05 Texas team was the last team from Texas to win a National Championship, but that was 10 years ago. All six of these teams want to be the team that brings the state of Texas back to the National Championship game.

Defensive Players Who Can Win The 2016 Heisman Trophy

Everyone knows that the Heisman Trophy goes to the best quarterback or running back on one of the best teams in the country. Since 1997, when corner back Charles Woodson brought home the award for Michigan, a player from a position other than quarterback or running back has not won the Heisman Trophy. This award is supposed to go out to the best player in college football, but defensive players are often overlooked. This shouldn’t be the case, as a lot of years the best player in college football isn’t even on the offensive side of the ball. With that being said, here are the players that have the best chance to win the Heisman Trophy, while PRIMARILY playing defense this season.

Photo courtesy heavy.com.

 

  1. Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

Jackson is one of the most athletic players in the country and proves that by playing defense, offense and special teams very well. He also had a chance at qualifying for the Olympics in Rio for track and field. At corner back he doesn’t make too much noise, because opposing quarterbacks are afraid to throw to where he is covering. He only recorded one interception last season, but that number should increase this season with the emergence of the corner playing on the opposite side of the field of him, Iman Marshall. No wide receiver will have a great game against him, but he will be tested in week one against Alabama.

USC doesn’t let Jackson play offense too much, but when he plays he is always a threat. Jackson hauled in 27 passes for 414 yards last season, while also rushing for 36 yards. These offensive statistics would increase exponentially if USC played him on offense more often this season.

He also is a play-maker on special teams with four career return touchdowns, two on punts and two on kick-offs. This is a huge key for a defensive player to win the Heisman, as Woodson also was a great returner for Michigan. If Jackson continues to do returns well, it could be the icing on the cake to get the Heisman voters to cast their ballot for him.

Photo courtesy freep.com.

 

2. Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan

Peppers is making a position change to linebacker this year after being successful at corner and safety last season. He will still play those positions sparingly, but will be mainly focused on the linebacker position to start the season. His coverage skills will be the best of any linebacker in the country, due to his history playing defensive back at a high level. Even though he is undersized for a linebacker, his range and closing speed will be unmatched. Michigan is hoping his run-stopping ability will hold up against some physical Big Ten offenses.

The position change makes this a little bit harder for Peppers, but he should see an increase in tackle numbers due to playing closer to the line of scrimmage this season. He will still be able to make plays at his new position, but will have to do a lot to impress Heisman voters. Peppers also played running back and was a returner for the Wolverines, but did both sparingly. If he really wants to be considered for the Heisman Trophy he needs an increase in numbers (on defense, offense and special teams) and have big plays for the voters to be sold on him.

Photo courtesy nationalfootballpost.com.

3. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The likely number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Myles Garrett has been dominating SEC offenses for the past two years. He had 11 sacks in 2014 and 11.5 in 2015, which makes him the nations premier pass rusher heading into this season. The 11 sacks in his freshman season broke Jadeveon Clowney’s record for sacks by a freshman in the SEC. He currently sits 13.5 sacks away from the all-time sacks leader in college football (records kept since 2005), as Hau’oli Kikaha totaled 36 in his career at Washington.

Garrett won’t have a chance to play on both sides of the ball like the other candidates, but with a record breaking season in his Junior campaign, the Heisman Voters could be won over.

 

 

 

 

SEC 2016-2017 Preview

After an entertaining SEC Media Week, I am doing a quick preview of one of the strongest conferences in the land.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

SEC Player of the Year: LSU’s Running Back Leonard Fournette

For me it is a two horse race for the POTY for the SEC. It will be either be LSU’s running back Leonard Fournette or Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly. I think I am leaning closer to Fournette. He is just one of the unicorns of College Football. He is so powerful and so strong, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He does it all for the Tigers on the offensive side of the ball.

Last year, Fournette accounted for the 45% of the offensive touchdowns, which lead the nation. I think Fournette will comeback this season on mission to prove he should have been in New York last year. Fournette will easily have 2000+ yards on the ground and about 300+ yards receiving. With dual threat quarterback Brandon Harris improving from last year to spring ball and throughout the summer it will make the defense have to defend more than Fournette.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

SEC East Champion: Tennessee Volunteers

The SEC East is pretty much Tennessee’s to lose. The Vols are really only competing with Georgia and Florida for the crown in the East and that is not saying too much. This is because of all the turnover that UGA will have this year. And because Florida will have to play a new quarterback since former starting quarterback Will Grier is no longer there. Second year Coach McElwain has a great core of receivers for whoever the quarterback is but, I would not count on a new starter to take any team to Atlanta for a SEC Championship Game.

Tennessee is just the strongest team in one of the weakest divisions in College Football. South Carolina has a new coach, and possibly a new quarterback that has never played a down of college football.  Vanderbilt is still climbing out of the basement of the SEC, but they do return a good defense. I think this year will be the year we look at as Vandy’s take off year. They will probably still miss a bowl game but the nation will know that Vandy is finally playing football again.

Do you see where I am going with this? Tennessee is the only logical choice to win the division. They have one of the best backfields in the league with quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd. On the defensive side they return seven starters from their stalwart defense of a year ago. Tennessee should run away with the East crown, but it is the SEC East. Anything can and will happen.

Courtesy of AP

Courtesy of AP

SEC West Champion: LSU Tigers

On this side of the conference, we have one of the strongest division in College Football. My big favorites for the West are LSU, Bama and Ole Miss. All of those teams have great reasons why they can win the Division.

LSU with their tandem of Brandon Harris and one of the greatest running backs in school history, Leonard Fournette. Alabama still has Nick Saban, so it does not matter who their quarterback is because most of their quarterbacks are just game managers anyways. Ole Miss has the best quarterback in the conference with Chad Kelly. He is also the only quarterback in the conference with a win against the reigning National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide.

I think the division will be decided on Novemeber 5th when Alabama comes to LSU to play them under the lights of Death Valley. Whoever wins that game most likely wins the division. I think it will be LSU. We all should know that Saban has not found a way to stop a true dual threat quarterback. Until he shows that he can I will always pick the dual threat quarterback against Coach Saban. And LSU also plays Ole Miss at home this year but, they play Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road this year. Both teams look to be very dangerous this year and could spoil some teams National Championship aspirations.

SEC Champion: LSU Tigers

Les Miles has to do this year. After everything that has happened this summer in Baton Rouge, that area needs something to bring them together. Just like how Clemson did something wonderful for the state of South Carolina after the summer they had last year. Not only that, but, Les Miles need this to get the LSU fans off of his back. Last year they wanted him fired and a SEC Championship will be a great rebuttal to those fans. Miles has a great team coming into this season and he needs to strike now before they miss their opportunity with Brandon Harris and Leonard Fournette.

 

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NCAA Baseball: Super Regionals Preview

Regional Picks: 10 for 16

Gainesville Super Regional: Florida St Seminoles at Florida Gators

For the second consecutive year, these bitter rivals will meet with a spot in Omaha on the line. The Gators have had the edge lately, eliminating the Seminoles last season and sweeping a three game series this year. They also have plenty of momentum after blowing out Georgia Tech in the regional final. In case this team didn’t look dangerous enough, they are now fully healthy as first baseman Peter Alonso returned from a broken hand to hit 8-14 with three home runs in the regional. Florida St rolled through the Tallahassee Regional, capping it off with an 18-6 blowout of South Alabama. The Noles have one of the hottest, most dynamic offenses in the country, led by Dylan Busby who is batting .500 with 6 home runs in the last 7 games. This certainly has the potential to be a great series with two elite offenses, but I think Logan Shore and AJ Puk on the mound will be the difference, and the Gators will prevail.

Louisville Super Regional: UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Louisville Cardinals

Louisville has been a complete juggernaut at home, now with a 36-1 record after three easy wins over Western Michigan, Ohio St. and Wright St. They head into their fourth consecutive super regional with tons of confidence, especially in starting pitchers Kyle Funkhouser and Brendan McKay, who only gave up a combined one run in the regional. They will be a tough test for the young Gauchos, who appear to have put it all together after a rocky finish to the regular season. UCSB will need a strong start from ace Shane Bieber, who shut out Washington in game 1 to have a shot against Louisville’s top 10 offense. The Gauchos pitching should give them a chance, but Louisville has a much better offense, and when you add in the home field advantage, the Cardinals should advance.

Coral Gables Super Regional: Boston College Eagles at Miami Hurricanes

This is a matchup of ACC schools, but that’s about all they have in common. The Hurricanes are amongst the baseball blue bloods, with a four National Titles and an NCAA Tournament streak that dates back to 1973, while the Eagles haven’t been to Omaha since 1967, and before this season hadn’t had a winning record since 2010. Miami got a test in their regional, but defeated Long Beach St in an 8-7 walk off win. Miami didn’t get their usual production from star Zack Collins, who had more strikeouts than hits in the regional, but saw Willie Abreu and Jacob Heyward (Jason’s brother) step up. Boston College is probably the closest thing to a Cinderella in this year’s tournament, but after beating Utah and Tulane twice, are done flying under the radar. They’ll need their pitching to stay hot, as the Eagles only gave up eight runs in three games. However, Miami is on another level from the teams BC eliminated, and will likely have too much offensive firepower.

College Station Super Regional: TCU Horned Frogs at Texas A&M Aggies

An in-state battle between the past and the present in the Big 12, TCU is looking to make it back to back super regional wins over the Aggies. However, this time, the road to Omaha will have to go through College Station, where A&M is coming off of an easy regional win, having blown out Binghamton, Minnesota and Wake Forest. They scored 30 runs in the last two games, in large part because of Boomer White, a TCU transfer, who is batting .398 on the year. His old team is also high on confidence, entering their third consecutive super regional. Coach Jim Schlossnagle has this team playing as well as anyone in the country, after three wins over Oral Roberts, Arizona St and Gonzaga. The Frogs dominated all three aspects of the game, hitting .318, posting a 1.33 ERA and not committing a single error in the regional. Texas A&M can get hot at the plate, especially at home, but I like TCU’s well-rounded and experienced team to advance.

Lubbock Super Regional: East Carolina Pirates at Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech survived a scare against Dallas Baptist in the regional final, largely due to Hayden Howard’s work out of the bullpen, and three clutch RBIs from Orlando Garcia. The bullpen also pitched four shutout innings earlier in the weekend, which allowed Tech to come back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat New Mexico. They will meet the East Carolina Pirates, the last remaining team from North Carolina, who are arguably the most surprising team still in the field. The Pirates stunned defending National Champs Virginia on a walk off in the second game, before taking care of William & Mary to advance. The Pirates offense was on full display, as they scored at least eight runs in all three wins. The Pirates proved that they can play with anyone in the country, but I think Texas Tech in Lubbock will be too much for them.

Starkville Super Regional: Arizona Wildcats at Mississippi St Bulldogs

Mississippi St. may have come from nowhere to win the SEC title, but they are certainly in the national spotlight now. Their improved pitching was on full display in the regional final win over Louisiana Tech, where State shut out the other Bulldogs, allowing only two hits while striking out 14. They also have the advantage of playing at one of the most hostile venues, where they boast the biggest crowd in the country, and the cowbells don’t stop all game. The lone representatives of the Pac 12, Arizona came out of the losers bracket to knock off Lafayette twice and advance. The Wildcats showed off their pitching, particularly their bullpen, which the Cajuns had no success against. This pitching should be enough to keep things interesting, but the Bulldogs are a better team, and should take it at home.

Columbia Super Regional: Oklahoma St Cowboys at South Carolina Gamecocks

It was a great weekend for Gamecocks fans, as the team advanced through the Columbia Regional, and watched archrival Clemson get knocked out, opening the door to host a super regional. Carolina had a rough start, losing to Rhode Island and winning ugly against Duke, but turned it around to outscore their final three opponents by a combined 43-8. Oklahoma St. was the only team to knock off a national seed, and absolutely dominated Clemson twice to advance. The Cowboys hit .385 in the regional, and never trailed at any point. They come in hot, and also have the advantage of staying in South Carolina for an additional week, cutting out much of the travel. This is probably the most even match-up of the round, but I think Oklahoma St will score just enough to get it done.

Baton Rouge Super Regional: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at LSU Tigers

After a series of rain delays, on Tuesday LSU became the fifth SEC team to qualify for super regionals. The Tigers got a great performance from Jared Poche, who threw six scoreless innings out of the bullpen just three days after starting against Utah Valley. The bats came alive, spurred by a go ahead home run from Greg Deichmann, and LSU was able to knock off Rice. This weekend, they will get a visit from Coastal Carolina, fresh off upsetting NC State in the Raleigh Regional. The Chants loaded the bases with one out in the ninth down by two, but because of a bizarre rain delay, had to finish off the game the next day. Coastal eventually took the lead, and held on thanks to All-American closer Mike Morrison. The Chanticleers are a team that simply finds ways to win, and has some of the best pitching in the country. However, LSU has pitching to match and should advance at home.

 

Manziel and Tebow: Different Kinds of the Same?

This week, several media outlets including NBC Sports Pro Football Talk are reporting Johnny Manziel’s drug and alcohol issues are continuing to escalate. I felt compelled to remind folks how good this kid can be when he has his act together. I will detail his problems and also address his football future. In preparing to write this piece, I ended up drawing a parallel that surprised even myself.

First off, no one should lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with a human being here. He clearly has substance abuse as well as other issues. I hope he gets the help he needs.

Manziel took college football by storm during his freshman 2012 season. He accounted for 47 total touchdowns and led Texas A&M to an upset win over top-ranked Alabama. He became the first ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. His schoolyard style of play was simply mesmerizing to watch. Feel free to relive some of it below courtesy of the vetnameseguy YouTube channel. I sure enjoyed doing so.

By his sophomore season, his “Johnny Football” nickname was a regular part of American vocabulary. For me, it was the Chick-fil-A Bowl comeback victory led by Manziel that made me a believer. The win over Duke would turn out to be his final college game. Despite questions about his size and style of play translating to the NFL, he declared for the draft with two years of college eligibility left. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Photo from usatoday.con

Photo from usatoday.con

Manziel’s rookie season was disastrous. Allegations of being late to practice and skipping film study prevented him from seeing the field until late in the season. He was shut out by the Bengals in his first career start, injured early the following week against Carolina, and missed the season finale due to that injury.

The Browns continued to play quarterback carousel the following season before naming Manziel the starter for the remainder of the season in November. From there though, it all unraveled very quickly. He was demoted back to third string days after the starter announcement when video of him partying in Texas during the team’s bye week surfaced online.

This was the latest in a long line of off the field issues for Manziel dating back to his college days. The details are well documented. He has dealt with everything from skipping injury treatment to gambling in Vegas to trips to rehab, and more recently domestic violence allegations. Following this past season, he was released by the Browns in March after another legal dispute.

The following month, well-known agent Drew Rosenhaus took the unenviable task of representing the embattled star. That partnership never got off the ground. Rosenhaus dropped Manziel after less than two months, saying he needed to seek help for his issues. Subsequently, Nike also dropped the former Aggie.

Since then, Manziel has continued partying in the public eye. No other NFL team has given him a look. However, if he can get his act together I feel he is deserving of another shot. I realize it is a massive if. Manziel’s football career most resembles that of his polar opposite in terms of character, Tim Tebow.

There really are so many similarities. They both are Heisman Trophy winners who dominated college football. They both became cultural phenomenon for time. Tebow’s name even became a verb during his streak of miracle wins with the Broncos. Also, there are questions about how their unorthodox playing styles translate to the NFL. The most important similarity may be that teams are scared away from signing either guy due to the media circus that follows them everywhere, although each circus exist for vastly different reasons,

Tebow missed wide-open throws and struggled to complete half of his throws in the NFL. He got four shots in the leauge. Keep in mind that it took Peyton Manning to unseat Tebow in Denver, the best chance he ever got. From a football standpoint, the only significant difference may be that Tebow had a small taste of success in the NFL thanks to a fantastic organization and top-flight coaching. Manziel has not had that success yet. Think about it though, if Tebow got four shots, isn’t Johnny Football deserving of the second? Like I said before though, his first priority needs to be getting his life together. If he can somehow manage that, I believe there is still a phenomenal athlete they can be successful in the NFL somewhere in there.