Newcomers Light Up Early College Football Stage
By Bo Carter
College Correspondent, sportsandoutdoors.guru
There was an old adage among college football publicists about the term “promising newcomer” used in media guides and press releases for years.
This ranked right up with the oft-quoted media guide biographical standby phrases: “makes up for lack of speed with great desire” or “solid prospect just a few plays away from seeing on-field playing time.”
These sometimes-jocular expressions have become relics of the past, but the promising newcomer tag suddenly has taken on new meaning in these days of nearly 100 underclassmen declaring for the 2014 National Football League draft.
More than ever, college coaches have scrambled to sign junior college sprinters or disenchanted transfer students with immediate eligibility and even the sometimes-controversial gridiron student-athlete who graduated early from another NCAA FBS school and has one-year of eligibility remaining.
A leading example of that one-year transfer is former NC State QB Russell Wilson, who moved to Wisconsin as starting QB in 2011, after leading the Badgers to the 2012 Rose Bowl against TCU. It wasn’t long – only last February, in fact – Wilson helped the Seattle Seahawks capture the Super Bowl.
This year’s true promising newcomers and their early showings in 2014:
Oklahoma State’s WR-KR-RB Tyreek Hill, from the tiny hamlet of Pearson, Ga., via Coffeyville (Kan.) College, had 278 all-purpose yards for the Cowboys in a near-upset over No. 1 Florida State on Aug. 29. He then cruised for 278 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving and all returns’ composite) in OSU’s 40-23 win over FCS contender Missouri State last Saturday.
Louisville QB Will Gardner, a relative newcomer who threw 12 passes as a freshman in 2013 behind Teddy Bridgewater, started the ’14 season with 33-of-50 passing for 339 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Ironically, Gardner’s hometown is Douglas, Ga., near Person in tiny Coffee County, Ga., near Waycross.
Coffee County may become the biggest college prospects’ hotbed since the famed Moss Point, Miss., on the Gulf Coast in the 1970s.
North Texas QB Josh Greer of Arlington via Navarro College as engineer of the Eagles’ 43-6 thumping of SMU last weekend in Denton with 9-of-12 passing for 86 yards and no turnovers. Teammates freshman PK Trevor Moore of Edmond, Okla., tied the Mean Green school record with five fields in that same game while true freshman RB Jeffrey Wilson (not related to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports writer with the same name) of UNT picked up 56 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
SMU’s first-year QB Kolney Cassel of Yakima, Wash., came off the bench again to hit sophomore squadman WR Nate Halverson of Portland, Ore., for the Mustangs’ first touchdown of the year on a 33-yard pass during the final play of the SMU-North Texas encounter.
Baylor soph QB Seth Russell of Garland cut loose with a eye-popping 16-for-25 passing night, 433 yards, and five TD tosses in the Bears’ 70-6 thumping of Northwestern State.
Texas A&M soph QB Kenny Hill of Southlake (and son of former Texas Rangers’ and Cardinals’ righthander Ken Hill) was a combined 61-for-86 passing in his first two games of 2014. He tried only 22 aerials while backing Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel last season. Almost lost in the Manziel madness, however, was that Kenny Hill’s passing was good for a 70.9 percent completion rate, seven TDs, and no interceptions.
Who needs seasoned veterans when these promising newcomers hit the field?
College Football Notes: ESPN televised a live tripleheader of games with Top 25 overtones last Saturday with No. 24 Missouri at Toledo, No. 15 Ole Miss at Vanderbilt and No. 8 Ohio State hosting Virginia Tech…The two highest-rated games from Week One of NCAA FBS competition were ABC’s Alabama-West Virginia from Atlanta and ABC’s LSU-Wisconsin from Houston… Retired CoSIDA and ESPN maven Arnie Sgalio recalled some of ESPN’s initial NCAA then-IAA telecasts with Jerry Gross and Paul McGuire as analyst in 1980 and ’81… ESPN reporter Adam Schefter was chronicled by the Washington Post for his reporting and football knowledge… LSU and Oklahoma will renew their series in 2027 and ‘28…FIU and Miami (Fla.) are signed for a two-game set in 2018 and ’19…Florida and Idaho formally cancelled their Aug. 29 contest in Gainesville, Fla., and rescheduled a single game for 2017 at the same site…The New York Times recalled the 2000 Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech weather-related postponement in Blacksburg, Va., and a lightning strike that burned up the rental car of Lee Corso of ESPN in the media parking area…
LSU has won a school-record and NCAA FBS-longest-streak of 47 consecutive non-conference contests since 2005 during the regular season and just ended Wisconsin’s skein of 12 straight season-opening wins…North Texas and SMU played the first of a 12-year series last Saturday in Denton, Texas…UTSA hosted its first-ever Thursday night national telecast and met its first foe from the Pac-12 Conference – Arizona – last week at San Antonio’s Alamodome. The Wildcats edged the Roadrunners 26-23.
Bo Carter is former sports information director of the Southwest Conference and Big 12. In addition to his duties here, he currently serves as secretary of the National College Baseball Writers. Follow Bo on Twitter at #bcarter52 and Facebook at Bo Carter (Carrollton, Texas).