Michael Vick

SEC leads all conferences with Madden NFL video game covers

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There may no longer be an NCAA Football video game produced by EA Sports, but that does not mean the SEC cannot find one more thing to brag about. With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, and previously of LSU, being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 16, the annual NFL video game published by EA Sports, the SEC now has four all-time cover athletes on the most popular sports video game in the country. No other active conference has more than two Madden cover athletes.

LSU’s Beckham Jr. is the first Tigers player to appear on the cover of Madden. He joins Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (Madden NFL 99, the first cover athlete in the franchise’s history), Alabama’s Shaun Alexander (Madden NFL 07) and Peyton Hillis of Arkansas (Madden NFL 12). The SEC actually ties the old Big East for most all-time cover athletes. The Big East is the only conference to have a former Big East player appear on the cover in three successive seasons with Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (Madden NFL 2004), Miami’s Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (Madden NFL 06). The Big East’s last representative on the cover was former Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Madden NFL 10).

The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have had two cover athletes each. Joining the Big East in the defunct conference category of Madden cover athletes are the Big 8 and WAC, each with one cover athlete. Barry Sanders (Madden NFL 25; he technically appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2000 too, but that was as a background image behind John Madden) of Oklahoma State played in the Big 8 and Marshall Faulk (Madden NFL 2003) played at San Diego State when the Aztecs were in the WAC.

One more note for those with an interest. Two players from independent programs have been featured on the cover of the Madden NFL series, and neither hailed from Notre Dame. UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (Madden NFL 2002) and Southern Mississippi’s Brett Favre (Madden NFL 09) have each graced the cover. At the time these quarterbacks were throwing passes on Saturday afternoons though, both programs were independent programs.

What about Heisman Trophy winners on the cover? There have been three of them on the cover of Madden. In addition to Sanders, Ohio State’s Eddie George (Madden NFL 2001) and Vince Young of Texas (Madden NFL 08) have appeared on the cover of the game.

Madden NFL 99 – Garrison Hearst, Georgia

Madden NFL 2000 – John Madden (Barry Sanders was in the background image, but not specifically featured)

Madden NFL 2001 – Eddie George, Ohio State

Madden NFL 2002 – Daunte Culpepper, UCF

Madden NFL 2003 – Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, WAC

Madden NFL 2004 – Michael Vick, Virginia Tech

Madden NFL 2005 – Ray Lewis, Miami

Madden NFL 06 – Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Madden NFL 07 – Shaun Alexander, Alabama

Madden NFL 08 – Vince Young, Texas

Madden NFL 09 – Brett Favre, Southern Miss

Madden NFL 10 – Troy Polamalu, USC; Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

Madden NFL 11 – Drew Brees, Purdue

Madden NFL 12 – Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Madden NFL 13 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Madden NFL 25 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

Madden NFL 15 – Richard Sherman, Stanford

Madden NFL 16 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Jameis Winston expected to end ACC’s No. 1 overall draft pick drought

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If Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the first draft entrant to hear his name called tonight by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he will be the second ACC player since 2000 to be named the number one overall draft pick. That would bring an end to the longest stretch among power conferences between top overall draft picks. Winston is widely considered to be the top choice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who own the first pick in this evening’s NFL Draft.

Calling it a drought may be a tad harsh, but every power conference has had at least one number one overall pick since the last time the ACC had N.C. State’s Mario Williams be drafted with the first pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Since then the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and even the MAC have had a top pick. Assuming Winston goes first overall, the new longest stretch between top picks will be handed to the Big Ten. Michigan’s Jake Long was the most recent top pick from the conference in 2008.

No conference has had more top overall draft picks than — surprise, surprise — the SEC. The SEC has had five players drafted with the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft. Last year it was South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.

Whether it is Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, the history suggests the odds are good one of the quarterbacks will be the first pick. Since 2000, a quarterback has been the top pick in 10 NFL Drafts. Stanford’s Andrew Luck was the most recent in 2012.

Top Overall NFL Draft Picks Since 2000

2000 – DE Courtney Brown, Penn State (Big Ten)

2001 – QB Michael Vick, Virginia Tech (Big East)

2002 – QB David Carr, Fresno State (WAC)

2003 – QB Carson Palmer, USC (Pac-10)

2004 – QB Eli Manning, Ole Miss (SEC)

2005 – QB Alex Smith, Utah (Mountain West Conference)

2006 – DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State (ACC)

2007 – QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU (SEC)

2008 – OT Jake Long, Michigan (Big Ten)

2009 – QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia (SEC)

2010 – QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (Big 12)

2011 – QB Cam Newton, Auburn (SEC)

2012 – QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (Pac-12)

2013 – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (MAC)

2014 – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (SEC)

2015 – ?