In yet another case of Marcus Mariota being a disgustingly wonderful human being, the former Oregon quarterback took home one more honor the day before he officially leaves college football and joins the NFL.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner led a list of 817 players on the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society list for 2015 – basically the Dean’s List for college football at large.
“The Hampshire Honor Society plays an important role in highlighting that college football players clearly play a leadership role in the classroom as well as on the playing field,” said NFF president and CEO Steve Hatchell. “We congratulate each of these young men for their commitment to excellence.”
To join the Hampshire Honor Society a player must carry a 3.2 grade-point average throughout their college career, be a starter or significant contributor in his final year of eligibility and meet all NCAA or NAIA eligibility requirements.
“We have honored nearly 6,000 student-athletes in the last nine years thanks to Jon Hanson’s generosity,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “We are grateful for his passionate belief in the scholar-athlete ideal, and the Hampshire Honor Society allows us to showcase the names of tomorrow’s leaders while inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps.”
Among the other big names joining Mariota on the list (which can be seen here in full) are former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, former Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly, former South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson and former Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton.
Oh, and did we mention Mariota is establishing a four-year scholarship at his former high school in Honolulu? This guy is just the worst.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is moving on to the NFL, where he has a chance to be the second first-round quarterback drafted out of Baylor under head coach Art Briles. The first was Robert Griffin III. Petty may not be receiving the hype quarterbacks like Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are receiving for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is Petty is labeled by some as a system quarterback from his time spent at Baylor, and that scares some people.
With the NFL Draft coming up, Petty is not afraid of addressing the idea he may be a system quarterback. He doesn’t see it that way.
“You’re dealing with hypotheticals when you say he can’t transition because of the system he plays in,” Petty said during a radio interview on ESPN (transcribed by The Dallas Morning News). “If you look at a spread vs. a west coast, it’s still a system. It’s not that I couldn’t do the things you’re asked to do in the NFL, that’s just not we were asked to do.”
Petty played at Baylor at a time when the Bears were essentially taking to the air and playing an up-tempo style of offense. It worked, with Petty guiding the Bears to two straight Big 12 championships, and appearances in two New Years Six bowls (Fiesta Bowl and Cotton Bowl). Along the way Petty was generally viewed as a player who would put up heavy passing stats without establishing much of a profile for the pro game. Whether that is fair or not may be answered best by seeing what Petty does later in the NFL. If he wins, who will care about Petty’s label?
“At the end of the day, it’s whatever gets you Ws, whether it’s defense or offense or field goals,” Petty added. “At some point you’re going to have to score points. People want to see that, no one wants to see a 6-3 game where everyone’s running the whole game.”
At Baylor the focus shifts to the next starting quarterback. Will Seth Russell, who tossed four touchdowns in Baylor’s spring scrimmage a few weeks back, also receive the label of system quarterback?
Baylor quarterback Seth Russell had a solid performance in a Friday night scrimmage in McLane Stadium. The expected successor to Bryce Petty threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns as the defending Big 12 champs played before 5,610 fans Friday night.
Baylor played through a 90-minute scrimmage. Baylor’s first and second team offensive units put together 600 yards and scored five times on 113 plays. Russell threw touchdown passes to three different receivers on plays of at least 54 yards. Corey Coleman scored on a 65-yard play, KD Cannon scored a 54-yard touchdown and Lynx Hawthorne broke a short play open for a 64-yard touchdown. Despite the big plays, Russell’s performance (18-for-27 with 345 yards, 4 TDs, 1 int.) was deemed “just OK” by Briles.
“He would probably tell you the same thing, but I thought Seth was just OK,” Briles said. “It’s good that he’s not where he’s going to be. We expect a whole lot, he expects a whole lot. But you still have to go through a whole lot to get where you want to get to, and he hasn’t been through a whole lot yet. I think he did an admirable job. It wouldn’t classify it as great, but it was productive with a lot of room for improvement.”
One of the highlights of the evening came from 410-pound tight end LaQuan McGowan. McGowan was the offensive lineman that scored a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl for Baylor against Michigan State. On Friday night, McGowan hauled in a 21-yard pass.
“He’s just a big kid that’s got some talent,” Briles said. “We’ve got to make sure he keeps burning hot and keeps figuring out ways to help our football team.”
Other individual highlights from Baylor’s scrimmage included Johnny Jefferson rushing for a team-high 113 yards and linebackers Kendall Ehrlich and Grant Campbell leading the defense with 12 tackles and Brance Nance recording four sacks for a loss of 22 yards. Highly rated freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham saw some playing time, completing seven of 18 pass attempts for 52 yards.
Somewhat lost amidst Baylor’s come-from-ahead loss to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl was, literally, the largest of all fat guy touchdowns.
Late in the third quarter of that postseason matchup, Laquan McGowan caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Petty to extend the Bears’ lead to 41-21 in what would ultimately be a 42-41 loss to the Spartans. What made the play utterly unique and positively fabulous and spectacularly breathtaking is the fact that McGowan was — the key word there being “was” — a 390-pound offensive lineman who shifted from his normal guard position and was lined up as an eligible receiver on the play.
Fast-forward two months, and the 6-7 McGowan is now listed as 410 pounds on the team’s official website. He’s also getting significant and meaningful looks at the tight end position during spring practice, with Art Briles stating that the experiment, such as it is, will likely continue through the non-conference portion of BU’s 2015 slate before the staff decides whether to use him at that position during Big 12 play.
“We’re looking at him as kind of a slot and tight end type of guy,” the head coach said according to the Waco Tribune. “He can certainly help us in the run game in those situations. The way we’re looking at it is we’ve got three games in nonconference to kind of feel it out and see what he can do and teach him what to do in live action.”
The pass-catching ability of McGowan, who is currently sporting a very receiver-ish No. 80 on his spring jersey, has certainly caught the attention of the man who will likely be the Bears’ new starting quarterback.
“His hands are about as big as my leg, so I can pretty much put it wherever, and he can snag it out of the air,” Seth Russell said.
Ladies and gentlemen, we now have an official declaration on who is the quarterback to beat with the departure of Bryce Petty. Seth Russell is the number one quarterback in Waco according to Baylor head coach Art Briles.
“Somebody is going to have to beat out Seth Russell for the QB job,” Briles said when meeting with the media Tuesday (per Tom O’Donnell via Twitter).
This hardly comes as a surprise given Russell was Petty’s back-up that saw the most time on the field last season. Russell, now entering his junior year with Baylor, passed for 804 yards and eight touchdowns to just one interception in his time filling in for Petty.
The other quarterbacks in the conversation are Chris Johnson and freshman Jarrett Stidham. Johnson appeared in four games in 2014 and attempted just one pass as a redshirt freshman. Stidham is one of the top additions in Baylor’s Class of 2015. Stidham enrolled early so he could be available for spring practices. He had previously been committed to Texas Tech before switching his decision in December, shortly before planning to enroll at Texas Tech.
For now the job is Russell’s to lose. Odds are pretty decent he will manage to hold on to it through the spring and again this fall, however Baylor fans should be eager to see what Stidham has to offer when his time does inevitably come. There is no rush to get Stidham on the field with Russell appearing more than capable of handling the job of starting quarterback.