We are less than 100 days from the start of the college football season. As we get closer to the illumination of the Friday Night Lights, we wanted YOU to decide the futures of your favorite teams and players.
Put on your GM caps for a moment and select whether an athlete should sit, start or be traded. Obviously, NCAA rules prohibit trades, but you get the overall idea.
Voting results will be revealed a week after publication. Leave your comments below to analyze, discuss and debate this week’s batch of players.
Shane Buechele (Lamar, UT)
True freshman Shane Buechele excelled with his accuracy as a passer in his first campaign with the Longhorns, completing 60.4% of his throws. Despite his remarkable aim, he was picked off 11 times. Buechele also saw his rushing efficiency nosedive in the second half, scrambling for 161 yards on the ground and two touchdowns over 96 rushing attempts: meager numbers for coach Tom Herman — an HC renowned for his hurry-up, spread offense style-of-play.
The positives: 2,958 passing yards ranked most in school’s history for a true freshman starter. Four returning offensive linemen and five receivers of a unit that managed more than 250 receiving yards last season — tied for most in the country — will benefit Buechele’s sophomore efforts.
Westlake standout Sam Ehlinger, Josh Covey, a graduate transfer, and two quarterbacks in the 2018 recruiting class will eye the top spot at Darrell K Royal field.
Jalen Hurts (Channelview, Alabama)
For any other school, the quarterback position would be secure. However, this is Alabama, arguably the best college football program in the history of the sport. Every year, the Crimson Tide factory produces running backs destined to be engraved in bronze statues outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Late in the season, Channelview graduate Jalen Hurts seemed to struggle when coach Nick Saban resorted to the passing game. The true freshman quarterback failed to accurately complete passes for weeks; through the first seven games, Hurts completed 60% of his passes and averaged 7.9 yards per attempt: although he had a higher percentage passes (62.1) in the latter half of the season, he only attempted shorter passes (6.7 yards per attempt). Hurts vowed to work on his downfield throwing over the offseason and is gifted in escaping the pocket. The clutch gene exhibited in his late game heroics in the CFP Championship game nearly earned ‘Bama the title, advancing the ball for a needed score in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
During the spring game, new acquisition Tua Tagovailoa — the fourth-highest regarded quarterback in the 2017 class — lobbed a touchdown on his first two drives, while Hurts sputtered to a three-and-out effort, additionally tossing an interception.
Kenny Hill (Southlake Carroll, TCU)
The Horned Frogs concluded the 2016 season with a 6-7 finish, much of which can be traced back to a wildly inconsistent offense — bipolar play that looked unstoppable one week and withered the next. TCU’s had ten players targeted for passes at least 20 times last year with injuries dropping the depth like a curse bestowed on the roster by a rival fan base.
Kenny Hill anchored the third-best passing season in TCU history last year, but also led the Big 12 with 13 interceptions. In their final week against Kansas State, TCU failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2006. The offense favored the passing game, despite quarterback Kenny Hill’s interception habit, throwing for 37 plays to 36 runs — an oddity considering running back Kyle Hicks totaling 954 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season.
The last two games tallied one touchdown; Hill was victimized by his receivers often dropping passes, more than any other quarterback in the nation.
The quarterback’s season wasn’t all disaster; he was responsible for three of the top-10 most passing yards in school history, lead Big 12 quarterbacks in rushing and finished second in passing touchdowns (10).
Baker Mayfield (Lake Travis, Oklahoma)
Lake Travis standout Baker Mayfield finished last season as a Heisman candidate, leading Oklahoma to a Sugar Bowl win with 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns. Mayfield capped off the standout season with an efficiency mark of 196.4, breaking the previous NCAA record held by Russell Wilson (191.8). The Sooner left millions of dollars on the table to forgo the NFL Draft in hopes of bringing the national championship to Oklahoma.
However, the glories of his season were short-lived; almost a month after the season ended, Mayfield was arrested for disorderly conduct, public intoxication, fleeing and resisting arrest in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The obvious disregard for the law followed a string of Sooners controversies, including Joe Mixon punching a woman in a restaurant and Dede Westbrook allegedly repeatedly assaulting his wife. Could the Mayfield arrest be a distraction for the upcoming season? Or will he be the next player under coach Bob Stoops to win a Heisman trophy?
Dalton Sturm (Goliad, UTSA)
The Roadrunners were the surprise recruiting success story of the offseason, nabbing the most 3-star recruits in the program’s brief history. Despite a slew of quarterback acquisitions, UTSA coach Frank Wilson is insistent on sticking with third-year frontman Dalton Sturm. The senior lead the Roadrunners to their first postseason Bowl berth, passing for 2,170 yards and 20 touchdowns; he enters his final year as starter of San Antonio with only true freshman depth.
Besides his recent accolades, there has been criticism that Sturm hasn’t improved much over his college career. During the spring game, the senior lobbed two interceptions and two near-picks. Nipping at his cleats for the position is Frank Harris, a Samuel Clemens grad hot from shattering numerous school records and garnering all-state honors. Additionally, Bryce Rivers — a lefty out of the Alamo City — impressed in the spring game with 179 passing yards and a score.
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