Bad company (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday July 18, 2007 11:49AM; Updated: Wednesday July 18, 2007 2:51PM
Every year the preseason is littered with predictions all focusing on what the great player from the previous season will do this year (see Darren McFadden). What I want to know is ... who is the guy that we haven't heard of yet (or know but hasn't exploded yet) that will blow us away in 2007?
I won't just give you one guy, Justin -- I'll give you several. Mind you, it's not like I attended spring practice at every school in the country scoping out the next undiscovered gem. So none of the names on this list are completely unfamiliar. Some of them you've probably known about since they were recruits. They should, however, adhere to Justin's list of guys who are not on any preseason Heisman or All-America lists -- and in a couple of cases have yet to play a game -- but could well be there by the end of the season.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma: The redshirt freshman with breakaway speed was so scintillating in spring practice Sooners fans have already practically forgotten about Adrian Peterson. (Or at least they had until he started showing up in that bad-ass NCAA Football '08 ad). Returnee Allen Patrick will still get his share of carries, but Murray figures to be more of a big-play guy.
Patrick Turner, WR, USC: Now a junior, the 6-foot-5 Turner was the nation's top-rated receiver in the class of 2005 (a crop that also included DeSean Jackson and Mario Manningham). Turner has shown flashes of brilliance when he's had the chance (including 12 catches for 116 yards against Washington last year when Dwayne Jarrett got hurt). Expect him to pick up where Jarrett left off.
Matt Flynn, QB, LSU: The main reason LSU is still ranked so high despite losing a quarterback who went No. 1 in the NFL draft last spring is the high level of confidence Flynn has inspired from his limited action to date. A highly knowledgeable source tells me Flynn has all the tools to be a first-day draft pick himself next year.
Everette Brown, DE, Florida State: By all indications, the sophomore is about to become the next great FSU pass-rusher. He played quite a bit as a backup last year, notching three sacks, and was a consistent standout during the Seminoles' spring.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: The excitement surrounding this incoming frosh is off the charts (see Cory McCartney's excellent profile from last week) and there's no doubt in my mind he'll be this year's version of Percy Harvin -- if he picks up the offense, if he keeps his grades up and if he doesn't quit the team before the season even starts.
Stewart, is the lesson we should learn from USC that it is better to try and stonewall the NCAA rather than comply, and with such an egregious violation is the possibility of the death penalty on the table?
Stewart, Oklahoma lost its 2005 season because of $15,500 paid to two players. Reggie Bush allegedly got $300,000 in benefits, which is roughly 20 times more. Should USC, if they are EVER punished, lose 20 seasons? And I can't wait to purchase my copy of Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls on Aug. 24th!
Michael: I appreciate your excitement about the book, but you need to slow down in your rush to send USC to purgatory. (And judging by the overwhelming response to last week's Oklahoma/USC blog entry, as well as the three e-mails that follow this one, you can tell Michael is hardly alone). First of all, no one at USC (to the best of my knowledge) is stonewalling the NCAA. That would be Bush, and he is no longer a college athlete. Secondly, NCAA enforcement history tells us the organization usually comes down much harder when the parties delivering the goods are boosters of the school (as was the Oklahoma car dealer) rather than outside parties like the wanna-be agents in Bush's case. And finally ... the death penalty? C'mon now. It's only happened once, and it went to a school, SMU, that had repeatedly and willfully broken the rules multiple times over a short period. USC, at least as of now, is clean as a whistle in the NCAA's eyes.
So while I'm sure it appears that way to the outside world, I don't think the Oklahoma or Colorado cases are going to encourage schools to cover up possible violations. For one thing, the people who work in compliance departments today are trained professionals who presumably adhere to certain codes of ethics (just like in any other business), and second of all, the punishment if you get caught covering something up is far, far worse. All this really teaches us is what we already knew -- that the NCAA is largely powerless to properly police its members and will therefore be resigned to practicing selective enforcement.