With first-year QB starter, Saban downplays Tide’s title chances

4 Comments

In his first year as a starting quarterback in 2009, Greg McElroy helped lead Alabama to a BCS title.  In 2011, in his first year as a starting quarterback, AJ McCarron helped lead the Tide to Nick Saban‘s second of three BCS titles at UA.

With McCarron’s eligibility expired, Saban will be looking to replace that experience and production under center with yet another first-year starter.  Ahead of that, the coach is looking to tap the brakes on, well, any optimism that may be rearing its ugly, unwanted and unwarranted head.

The two main combatants in the fight to replace McCarron are fifth-year senior Blake Sims (pictured) and Florida State transfer Jacob Coker.  Entering 2014, and even with inexperience at the most important position on the field — neither Sims nor Coker have started a game at the collegiate level — the Tide is viewed as a betting favorite to claim yet another national championship.

At least for the moment, Saban is pooh-poohing and downplaying any type of favorite talk despite what’s happened the last two times he’s had a first-year starter at quarterback.

“Well I think it is a little bit unrealistic because basically what you’re talking about is two guys [who] are untested,” said Saban during an ESPN interview when asked about title expectations. “And when you have an untested player at that position, you can be pleasantly surprised with the way they develop and how they do and how the team sorta rallies around them and the impact of their leadership, decision-making, those things are critical at the quarterback position. …

“They can also go to where they turn the ball over and do some things that make it hard to overcome. Because quarterback is such a critical position to me. Football is a great team game, but then there’s the quarterback. And most successful teams have a guy that, at least in their system, is functionally successful for the other players on the team. And in our case, because we have good skill guys, it’s important that our guy can distribute the ball to those guys and make those guys effective players for us.”

(Writer’s note: the Tide QB competition is officially a two-man thing, based on Saban’s quotes.)

Entering summer camp, and even as he has yet to take a snap as a member of the Crimson Tide, Coker is viewed as the heavy favorite to win the starting job.  Consistency and lack of turnovers will be key regardless of which player actually wins out.

Whether Coker’s the way it plays out remains to be seen; what’s certain is that, with a first-year starter, Saban & Company will rely on its loaded backfield, including the three-headed monster of T.J. YeldonDerrick Henry and Kenyan Drakearrest and suspension notwithstanding — to help the starter get his feet wet, especially early on.

Minnesota new home for Michigan transfer Benjamin St-Juste

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Benjamin St-Juste may have left Ann Arbor, but he hasn’t left the Big Ten.

Taking to Twitter Tuesday night, St-Juste announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at Minnesota.  As a graduate transfer, the cornerback is eligible to play immediately for the Golden Gophers in 2019.

Not only that, but St-Juste will have two more years of eligibility after this season as he graduated from his previous school in less than two-and-a-half years.

In late March, Michigan confirmed that St-Juste, who dealt with hamstring issues last year, had decided to medically retire from the sport.  A little over a month later, the cornerback took to social media to announce that, instead, he would be entering his name into the NCAA transfer database while also disputing that he had retired from playing football as U-M had originally claimed.

A four-star 2017 signee, St-Juste was the No. 39 cornerback in the country coming out of high school in Canada.  After playing in 12 games as a true freshman, the 6-3, 196-pound corner didn’t see the field at all due to the hamstring issue.

Mizzou QB Shawn Robinson alleges mistreatment at TCU in appeal for immediate eligibility

Getty Images
1 Comment

In early 2018, Kolby Listenbee, a former wide receiver at TCU, filed a lawsuit taking aim at the university and Big 12 for alleged abuse and harassment he claims never allowed him to fully recover from an injury that may have impacted his outlook for a playing career in the NFL.  Earlier this month, that lawsuit was settled.

Nearly three weeks later, TCU is back in the headlines with additional, albeit vague, mistreatment allegations.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Shawn Robinson, who transferred from TCU to Missouri late last year, has filed an appeal with the NCAA that would grant the quarterback a waiver for immediate eligibility in 2019.  The waiver claims Robinson was the victim of unspecified mistreatment during his time with the Horned Frogs; “TCU is contesting the grounds that waiver is supported on,” the Star-Telegram wrote.

The Kansas City Star further adds that TCU is not expected to object a favorable ruling for Robinson, but “is determined to defend itself against Robinson’s accusations.”

Regardless of what happens during Robinson’s appeal process, Mizzou will head into the summer portion of the 2019 offseason with Kelly Bryant, a transfer from Clemson, firmly entrenched as the Tigers’ starter under center.  If Robinson’s appeal is successful, though, he would provide a veteran presence as the backup should something happen to the starter.

Robinson, who has another year of eligibility he can use in 2020 irrespective of the appeal, completed nearly 61 percent of his passes this past season for 1,334 yards.  He averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt, though, and had nine touchdowns versus eight interceptions in his 204 attempts.

South Carolina in play for Clemson transfer RB Tavien Feaster

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This would certainly add a little bit of spice to the annual Palmetto Bowl if it were to come to fruition.

Late last month, and amidst rumors of a potential departure, Clemson confirmed that Tavien Feaster had entered the NCAA transfer database and was looking to continue his collegiate playing career at somewhere other than the home of the defending national champions.  Speaking to the Charleston Post and Courier this week, Feaster acknowledged that Clemson’s in-state rival, South Carolina, is one of a handful of schools that have shown interest.

“They are recruiting me like most teams. Obviously, they want to talk to me and see where I’m at with everything,” Feaster told the Post and Courier. “That’s really how it’s been with everybody. Everybody is seeing where my head is and where I’m at with everything. But, I look at it (USC) as a place that’s providing me with an opportunity to better myself and better my future.

“I haven’t really looked at it from a fan’s aspect because that’s not my job and that’s not what I’m doing it for. That doesn’t really matter to me. What really matters to me is that I go to a place that’s going to use me and play me in the way that I need to be played.”

It had previously been reported that Power Five programs such as Alabama, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia Tech had already been in touch with the running back since he entered the portal.  East Carolina has shown interest as well.

Feaster has not yet taken any visits to potential landing spots, and won’t make a decision on his football future until he’s had a chance to take trips to various campuses.

If he follows through with the transfer — the back has the option of pulling his name from the portal — Feaster would finish the Clemson portion of his playing career with 1,330 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, as well as 183 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions.  The Spartanburg, SC, native, who ran for 11 yards on three carries in the Tigers’ title game win over the Crimson Tide, started 11 of the 41 games in which he appeared for the Tigers.

In the Tigers’ 63-9 win over the Gamecocks last season, Feaster ran for 63 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.  In three career games against the SEC’s USC, The back carried the ball 21 times for 117 yards and a pair of scores.  He also caught three passes for another 19 yards.

As a grad transfer, Feaster would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.  The upcoming season will be the back’s final year of eligibility.

2020 three-star CB prospect Joshua Ancrum killed in shooting

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Yet again, a young man with the rest of his life ahead of him has had it snuffed way too early.

Citing multiple sources, 247Sports.com confirmed Tuesday night that Joshua Ancrum, a Class of 2020 football recruit, was killed in a shooting earlier that day.  The details of what led to the tragedy have not yet been divulged.

In a tweet posted early Tuesday evening, Ancrum’s 7-on-7 team mourned the high school junior’s passing.

A three-star cornerback, Ancrum held offers from Bowling Green, FIU, Southern Miss and USF. “That list was likely to grow, thanks to his strong showing at The Opening Miami,” 247Sports.com wrote. “Ancrum was named the MVP of the defensive backs at the camp with a couple of interceptions.”

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Ancrum’s senseless and tragic death.