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Super Bowl LIV players as recruits: blue chips and no-stars alike make it to the big game

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Super Bowl LIV is here.

But before we look ahead at who might be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this season, CFTalk is turning the clock backwards. Way back in some cases. As part of the run-up to the big game, we decided to look at some of the key players in the Super Bowl and how they were regarded as recruits coming out of high school.

On thing is pretty clear in doing so: player development is a major key in both participating teams’ road to South Florida this season.

Kansas City Chiefs

You can start with the AFC champions’ depth chart. Before he was winning an NFL MVP and overtaking the league by storm, Patrick Mahomes was mostly known for having a famous dad who played baseball. He was still slinging the football around like he does now but the threat of going to the majors in baseball contributed at least a little bit in him earning only a three-star ranking according to 247Sports. He wound up re-writing the record books at Texas Tech and turned into a top 10 pick in the draft.

The rest of Kansas City’s offense was similarly undervalued as recruits. TE Travis Kelce was a two-star who wound up at Cincinnati. Speedy WR Tyreek Hill was mostly known for being a track guy and was unranked before winding up at Oklahoma State. All five Chiefs starting offensive linemen were either two or three-star recruits. Mitchell Schwartz led the way by sneaking into the top 50 offensive tackles in his own recruiting class.

Only Sammy Watkins garnered much acclaim from evaluators. He was a five-star, top 20 prospect before committing to Clemson.

Andy Reid’s defense fared a little better as recruits.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones was a five-star who stayed home to play for Mississippi State. The same is true of CB Kendall Fuller before going to Virginia Tech. DT Derrick Nnadi was a four-star who helped Florida State make it to the College Football Playoff. The Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, was considered a four-star before starring at LSU.

There’s a flip side though. Guys like DB Charvarius Ward and DE Tanoh Kpassagnon were unranked. LB’s Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson were three-stars. Pass rusher Frank Clark was a three-star from Ohio that wound up at Michigan.

San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC champs have a similar roster makeup.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was the No. 67 pro-style QB in high school. He went the FCS route to Eastern Illinois as a two-star as a result. At least he had a ranking. The guy snapping him the ball, center Ben Garland, was unranked before winding up at Air Force.

The story is the same for most of the offense. George Kittle blossomed at Iowa but was seen as a three-star linebacker. Left tackle Joe Staley was a two-star tight end funny enough, while Laken Tomlinson  was rated only slightly hire as the No. 29 offensive guard in the country coming out of high school (but only a three-star). WR Emmanuel Sanders wasn’t a top 200 recruit at wide receiver. Speedster Deebo Samuel at least as better known to people outside who didn’t follow South Carolina recruiting. Still, he was also just a three-star.

Right tackle Mike McGlinchey at least bucked the trend. He was one of just two four-stars on the offense in high school. The other was backup TE Levine Toilolo, who joined Notre Dame rival Stanford.

Defensively, the 49ers were a little more highly regarded. DT Sheldon Day was a four-star who was No. 11 nationally at his position. Fellow lineman DeForest Buckner was also a four-star who starred at Oregon, playing alongside five-star Arik ArmsteadNick Bosa earned plenty of press with his family name but also lived up to the hype as a five-star during his limited time at Ohio State. Linebackers Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner were both four-stars while Dre Greenlaw had three.

The San Francisco secondary bucks the trend however. Jimmy Ward was a no-star upon enrolling at Northern Illinois in 2010. Neither did safety Jaquiski TarttAhkello Witherspoon was a two-star corner. Richard Sherman earned three-stars as a wide receiver.

No matter what path players took coming out of high school though, they’re on the big stage now. For one team, that means just 60 minutes separates them from Super Bowl glory no matter what star ranking they had next to their name.

Vanderbilt mourns passing of beloved staffer Osia Lewis, 57, who lost lengthy battle with liver cancer

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Vanderbilt football is mourning the loss of one of its own.

In February of 2017, Vanderbilt announced that football assistant Osia Lewis was battling a form of liver cancer called cholangiocarcinoma.  This weekend, the Commodores have been forced to make the sad announcement that Lewis has lost his three-year-plus battle with the insidious disease.

Lewis was 57 at the time of his death.  He leaves behind a wife and two children.

“We are deeply saddened for the loss of our heart and soul, Osia Lewis,” the Vanderbilt football program wrote on Twitter. “Our thoughts and love are with Osia’s family and friends.

“Rest in paradise.”

In 2016, Lewis joined the Vanderbilt football staff as senior defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach.  Following his diagnosis, Lewis stepped away from his on-field coaching role but continued his duties as a senior defensive assistant.  He also carried the title special consultant to head coach Derek Mason.

Prior to his time at Vandy, Lewis was the defensive line coach at San Diego State.  He also served a pair of stints as a defensive coordinator, first at New Mexico (2003-07) and then at UTEP _2008-09)

The Tucson native began his coaching career as the special teams coach and linebackers coach at Oregon State.  Lewis then moved on to Illinois as linebackers and defensive line coach from 1997-02.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Lewis’ passing.

Ex-Indiana defensive lineman Chris Beaty, 38, shot multiple times, killed amidst violence in Indianapolis

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The violence that has sprung up in the wake of George Floyd‘s murder has directly impacted the Indiana football program.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Chris Beaty “was one of two men shot and killed in separate incidents over the weekend as violence erupted in Downtown Indianapolis.” The 38-year-old Beaty was shot multiple times shortly before midnight local time Saturday and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have made an arrest, but it’s unclear if it’s in connection to the shooting of Beaty or another man, 18-year-old Dorian Murrell, early Sunday morning.

Beaty was a defensive lineman for the Indiana Hoosiers football team from 2000-04.

Very sad and horrible news,” Beaty’s head coach for three seasons, current Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo, wrote on Twitter. “We all take responsibility if we don’t make a difference. We’re part of the problem or part of the solution there are no other choices. So sad.” wrote that “Beaty was still actively involved with IU football. He tweeted on April 26th a screenshot of head coach Tom Allen, Mark Deal and several other Indiana football alumni. He thanked Allen for checking in with the former players and said that IU football was in good hands.”

Included was a tweet from Beaty’s personal Twitter account.

The Star noted that Beaty was a nightclub manager in Indianapolis. “Beaty founded events promotion company Fresh Marketing in 2011,” the newspaper wrote. “He was the past operating partner of Revel nightclub, general manager of Dunaway’s Palazzo Ossigeno and assistant general manager of 6 Lounge.”

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Mack Brown in 2017 not ruling out a return to coaching ‘if the right situation came up’

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on June 1, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)


THE HEADLINE: Big 12 distributes record $38.8 million
THE SYNOPSIS: That’s per school.  And, this year, that number has dropped because of the coronavirus pandemic.


THE HEADLINE: Despite first-round potential in MLB Draft, Lincoln Riley expects Kyler Murray to be Sooners QB
THE SYNOPSIS: Murray was indeed selected in the first round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft.  The ninth player selected, in fact.  Murray, though, remained true to the Sooners.  And claimed the Heisman Trophy later that year.


THE HEADLINE: Bill Snyder confirms, defends decision to limit transferring WR’s options
THE SYNOPSIS: The legendary Kansas State head coach was usually the classiest guy in college football.  This wasn’t one of those times.


THE HEADLINE: Mack Brown not ruling out a return to coaching ‘if the right situation came up’
THE SYNOPSIS: In November of 2018, Brown indeed returned.  To both coaching and North Carolina.  And he’s been killing it both on and off the field.


THE HEADLINE: UAB football to be reinstated and return to C-USA play… eventually
THE SYNOPSIS: The program was shuttered the previous December.  It officially returned in 2017.   A year later, the Blazers won the Conference USA championship.  And claimed their first-ever bowl win.


THE HEADLINE: SEC unanimously supports top-four playoff model
THE SYNOPSIS: Obviously, this was the model the College Football Playoff went with.  The SEC has won three (Alabama 2015, 2017; LSU 2019) of the CFP title games.  Clemson has won two, while Ohio State won the inaugural one.


THE HEADLINE: Maize & blue t-shirt mocks Jim Tressel’s demise
THE SYNOPSIS: Michigan fans took great glee in the resignation of the Sweatervest. “Vest in peace,” the t-shirt read. On an unrelated note, Tressel went 9-1 vs. U-M.  All told, Ohio State has won 18 of the last 19 meetings in the rivalry.

Yet another Texas State football player enters Ye Olde Transfer Portal

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The transfer portal has not been kind to the Texas State football program.  Again.

According to, Jaylin Nelson has entered the NCAA transfer database.  No reason for the running back’s impending departure was given.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Nelson was a three-star member of the Texas State football Class of 2017.  It’s likely that the back will be leaving the Sun Belt Conference school as a graduate transfer.

During his time with the Bobcats, Nelson appeared in 24 games.  In that stretch, Nelson totaled 143 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries.  The Texas native also returned a pair of kicks for 34 yards.

Oh, and Nelson also attempted one pass.  Which he completed.  For 69 yards.  And a touchdown.

Nelson is at least the fifth Texas State football player to enter the portal this year.

Back in January, Gresch Jensen added his name to the quarterbacking end of the transfer pool. Earlier this month, starting safety Josh Newman took the first step in leaving Texas State by entering the NCAA transfer database.  A short time later, defensive tackle John Lilly hit the portalLast week, defensive lineman Devin Henderson did the same.

Conversely, offensive lineman JP Urquidez transferred in from Texas in late April.  Or, more specifically, he committed to the Bobcats.