Leonard Fournette

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Impact Freshmen

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College football recruiting can be a cutthroat business. Every coaching staff is looking for the one player that can change the fortunes of its program.

In recent years, college football fans have seen freshmen such as Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston take their programs to the next level.

Incoming players now hold leverage when teams are recruiting them due to the program’s willingness to do nearly anything — within NCAA guidelines, of course — to acquire these types of game-changing talent. The promise that is most often made revolves around early playing time. More freshmen than ever are given starting spots from the moment they step on campus.

There will undoubtedly be numerous freshmen CFT could have pegged to make an impact this season. There will certainly be plenty left off this list that will. But here are the Top 10 impact freshmen we’ve identified entering the season:

1. LEONARD FOURNETTE, LSU, RB
This is the easy choice. Fournette was considered, at least by one of the major recruiting services, as the No. 1 recruit in the country. At 6-1 and 226 pounds, Fournette is a tailor-made running back for the SEC and LSU’s offense. Fournette also benefits from the Tigers losing two of the team’s top three leading rushers to the NFL. Fournette will still surrender some carries to Kenny Hillard and Terrence Magee, but the freshman is expected to get the bulk of the work. Another benefit for Fournette is playing in LSU’s run-heavy offense. The Tigers ran the ball 62 percent of the time in 2013. They should be expected to do the same behind the team’s massive offensive line.

2. CAM ROBINSON, ALABAMA, OT
During spring practice, the Crimson Tide held a competition at left tackle to replace Cyrus Kouandjio. Robinson, an early enrollee, was able to step in and claim the top spot on the depth chart. Very few offensive linemen are physically ready to start from Day 1, particularly at left tackle. Robinson, however, has a combination of size (6-6, 323 pounds) and athleticism that makes him a rare exception to the rule. Alabama head coach Nick Saban already complimented Robinson by stating, “He’s a very good pass blocker.” Whichever quarterback starts behind center this year for the Crimson Tide will know they have one of the most talented freshmen blocking their blindside.

3. RAEKWON MCMILLAN, OHIO STATE, LB
Since Urban Meyer took over at Ohio State, the coach’s goal was to become faster and more athletic on both sides of the football. Linebacker, in particular, was a sore spot for the team. Depth and play-making ability were lacking sans Ryan Shazier. While McMillan has yet to earn a starting spot, Ohio State’s coaching staff clearly has high expectations for the freshman. At the start of fall camp, McMillan was practicing with the the team’s veterans instead of with the other freshmen. Meyer stated his reason behind doing so was because McMillan acts like a “grown man.” A grown man that will eventually be asked to fill the role vacated by Shazier.

4. JABRILL PEPPERS, MICHIGAN, CB
The Wolverines’ defense was far too prone to giving up big plays against the pass last season. Peppers has the potential to be a dynamic play maker in the secondary to combine with the experience returning  at cornerback in Blake Countess and Ramon Taylor. Peppers’ athleticism projects to multiple positions in the secondary. He’s a cornerback by trade, but the Wolverines could start him at free safety to let him roam the field. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison could use him as the team’s nickel corner. Or he can do all of the above. Where the Wolverines will use Peppers will be decided throughout fall camp.

5. K.D. CANNON, BAYLOR, WR
The Baylor Bears can never have too much talent at wide receiver. Four of the team’s top five targets from last season return this fall. Although, there is one key omission. The team will be without the services Tevin Reese, who was a dynamic deep threat. Cannon has the potential to fill the role Reese left behind and take the top off of defenses.

6. DA’SHAWN HAND, ALABAMA, DE
Hand, who was rated as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2014 class by Rivals.com, may have been a little higher on this list if not for the depth Alabama already has along its defensive line. Although, with A’Shawn Robinson’s status currently up in the air, Hand should benefit from extra repetitions in camp and may be asked to make a bigger impact in the fall than initially anticipated.

7. JALEN TABOR, FLORIDA, CB
A year ago, Florida fans wondered how Vernon Hargreaves III would assimilate into the Gators’ lineup. For Hargreaves, it was a seamless transition, and he quickly developed into one of the top cornerbacks in the country. Florida’s coaching staff hopes Tabor will have a similar learning curve. The freshman will have an opportunity to prove himself after Loucheiz Purifoy, Jaylen Watkins and Marcus Roberson left Florida for the NFL.

8. KYLE ALLEN, TEXAS A&M, QB
The last time Texas A&M had a freshman start at quarterback, he went on to win the Heisman Trophy. Granted, it was “Johnny Football” and he was a redshirt freshman, but these are the footsteps in which Allen will have to follow. Allen was considered the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation. Expectations will be very high for him to play this season, but he still has to beat out Kenny Hill for the starting spot.

9. QUIN BLANDING, VIRGINIA, S
Blanding has the potential to make a bigger impact on his particular program than anyone else on this list. Despite a 2-10 season last year, Blanding became the catalyst for a tremendous recruiting class for the Cavaliers. Blanding, a five-star recruit, has received first-team repetitions from the start of fall camp. If Blanding becomes the level of defender the Cavaliers expect, he can help push the entire program in the right direction.

10. ALLEN LAZARD, IOWA STATE, WR
When one is looking for impact freshmen, the first stop usually isn’t Ames, Iowa. Lazard is a completely different story. He chose Iowa State, because his brother was already on the roster. While the Cyclones are quite talented at wide receiver, there will be plenty of balls to go around in a passing offense under new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. At 6-5 and 210 pounds, Lazard will be a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses.

Tom Herman was once fired by Subway for freeloading on pastrami

Tom Herman talks to the media during a news conference where he was introduced as Texas' new head NCAA college football coach, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Austin. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Tom Herman, the new head coach of the Texas Longhorns, has come a long way in his career. It was just a few years ago Herman was the hot assistant coach on the rise who would soon lead the Houston program to a New Years Six bowl game and a 22-4 record to make him a leading candidate for the Longhorns job. As he prepares for the biggest job of his career, Herman reflected on one of his previous jobs from his high schools days and explained how he got fired from the job.

Herman was employed by a Subway sandwich stop, and he apparently had a thing for pastrami. Having had the pastrami at Subway before, I can understand his craving. Unfortunately for Herman, his love for pastrami would be his undoing as he got caught eating as much as he could in secret. He explained the ordeal to The Dallas Morning News;

 

“I used to love the pastrami,” he says. “They had those big walk-in refrigerators. I was standing in there one day, with the door shut, just throwing pastrami in my mouth.

“It was like something out of a movie. I’ve got this bin of meat, throwing meat in my mouth, the door swings open and it’s the owner.

“He goes, ‘Get out. Don’t come back.’ “

Herman held many jobs before getting into the coaching business including at a tuxedo shop, a batting cage, multiple radio positions (he remains no stranger to making headlines on radio airwaves to this day) and even as a highlight coordinator for NFL on FOX.

“This was back when they recorded games on those big laser discs. I was a highlight coordinator. My job was to go in and watch games, watch and type. Basically every time the camera frame changed, I had to log it as something: ‘Emmitt Smith rushed for 4 yards. . . . Close-up of Jimmy Johnson on the sidelines . . . 37-yard field goal.’

“That way, when you’re watching Packers vs. Vikings, young Tom Herman has his eyeballs on the Cowboys vs. Redskins game. When J.B. (James Brown) and Howie (Long) cut into your game and say, ‘Let’s give you a quick update,’ you’d see highlights and they would read information I typed.”

That time spent breaking down highlights may have come in handy.

Air Force adds pair of assistants

13 Oct 2001:  Taylor Stubblefield #21 of Purdue tries to move past a block by Eric Brackins #51 of Michigan during the game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan beat Purdue 24-10. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Danny Moloshok/Allsport
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Troy Calhoun‘s coaching staff is once again whole.

The service academy announced in a press release Wednesday that Calhoun has added Bart Miller and Taylor Stubblefield to his Falcons staff.  The former will coach tight ends while the latter will handle wide receivers.  Steed Lobotzke, who had previously coached tight ends, will move to the offensive line.

The moves were made to replace Clay Hendrix, who left to become the head coach at Furman, and Jake Moreland, who has joined the staff at Western Michigan.

Stubblefield, an All-American receiver at Purdue, spent the 2016 season as an assistant in the CFL. His last job at the collegiate level came at Utah (2014-15).  He’s also coached at the FBS level at Eastern Michigan (2008), Central Michigan (2011), New Mexico (2012) and Wake Forest (2013).

Miller’s last coaching job came as the line coach at Minnesota at 2015.  He’s also spent time on staffs at Wisconsin, New Mexico State and Florida Atlantic.

Matt Lubick on fourth job in three months, this one at Washington

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 19:  Members of the Washington Huskies band perform as cheerleaders take the field prior to the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils on November 19, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Well-traveled doesn’t remotely begin to describe this particular FBS assistant coach.

With Willie Taggart taking over in Eugene, Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick left the Ducks in December to take over as the wide receivers coach at Ole Miss.  Exactly 12 days later, Lubick left Oxford to become the offensive coordinator at Baylor.

Less than two months later, Lubick is on the move again, with Washington announcing the assistant has been added to the Huskies’ coaching staff.  Lubick will coach wide receivers and will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator.

“I am excited to add Matt to our coaching staff,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said in a statement. “He has earned a national reputation as an innovative coaching mind and a successful recruiter. Equally as important, we believe he will be a terrific fit with our staff, players and the University of Washington.”

Lubick replaces Bush Hamdan, who left last weekend for an NFL job with the Atlanta Falcons.

Fired Oklahoma State coach Greg Adkins lands at Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 15: The Charlotte 49ers marching band plays prior to their game against the FIU Golden Panthers on October 15, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
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Greg Adkins didn’t remain on the coaching unemployment line for long.

Earlier this month, Oklahoma State fired Adkins as its offensive line coach.  Less than three weeks later, Adkins has been hired to fill the same role for the Charlotte 49ers.

“Greg brings a wealth of knowledge and experience at all levels to our offensive line,” said head coach Brad Lambert in a statement confirming the hire. “He’s coached in the NFL, at the Power Five level and at the Group of Five level. He’s an excellent recruiter and has served as a recruiting coordinator. He’s coached different aspects, like the defensive line and tight ends — all things that can benefit our offensive line play and our offense moving forward.

“He’ll be a huge asset to our program. We see a lot of benefits in him and see him as being able to influence our young guys in a positive manner.”

Adkins had spent the past two seasons at the Big 12 OSU.  He and Lambert have also worked together on the same coaching staffs at both Georgia and Marshall.

From 2003-08, Adkins served as an assistant at Tennessee under Phillip Fulmer.

“Greg is an outstanding football coach, person and recruiter — one of those guys you want to be in the trenches with,” the former Vols head coach said. “He’ll do an outstanding job with (the 49ers) program.”