Archive for the NCAA Category


Best Of The Best | College Football’s 10 Greatest Freshmen

There was a time, not that long ago actually, when college football was dominated by men who looked like Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and never, ever needed a fake I.D. to get into a bar. It was the redshirt era—a time when fifth-year seniors ruled the gridiron and freshmen spent the majority of their game time waving towels over their heads on the sidelines.

But with the onslaught of early entries into the NFL Draft and the rise of the super-underclassman in recent years (see Tebow, Peterson, Crabtree, et al … ), more freshmen are arriving on campuses each fall looking to make an impact from Day One. So with the college football season nearly upon us, we thought we’d take a look back today on the game’s greatest freshmen. And yes, a few of them even managed to make their mark during the Hacksaw Duggan era:

No. 1—Emmitt Smith, Florida, RB, 1987. True impact freshmen were still a rarity during the 1970s and ’80s, but the one position that seemed to produce more than any other was running back. And the running back who made the biggest splash of them all was Emmitt Smith. A decorated prep running back out of Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia, the undersized Smith still had his share of doubters when he was signed by the University of Florida. But in his first full game as the Gators’ featured back, Smith broke the school’s 40-year-old single-game rushing record, galloping for 224 yards and a pair of TDs in a victory over Alabama. Smith finished his rookie campaign with 1,341 yards and earned Freshman of the Year honors from both the Southeastern Conference and the Associated Press. Smith bolted Gainesville after his junior year with 58 school rushing records, and went on to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

No. 2—Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, RB, 1991. Another frosh running back with a supersized high school resume and an undersized frame would make an enormous impact on the game just a few seasons later. In his second college start, Marshall Faulk shattered a pair of NCAA rushing records by rushing for 386 yards and seven touchdowns in a rout of Pacific. Faulk went on to compile one of the gaudiest freshman lines in NCAA history – 1,429 rushing yards and 23 TDs. Three years later, he exited as the second overall pick in the NFL Draft and went on to become one of the league’s most prolific backs and a fantasy player’s wet dream (he’s still the only RB in NFL history to compile 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards over his career).

No. 3—Jamelle Holieway, Oklahoma, QB, 1985. If you’re a college football fan who grew up in the Atari and Frankie Goes to Hollywood era, chances are you remember this lightning-fast quarterback well. If you’re a fan from the Xbox and Jay-Z era … well, maybe not so much. Which is a shame, because you missed seeing one of the most scintillating QBs in the game’s history. With feet as quick as a hiccup and the ability to cut on a dime, Holieway was a natural to run Barry Switzer’s option offense when he took over for an injured Troy Aikman four games into the 1985 season. He went on to lead the Sooners to an 11-1 season, capping it with a victory over Penn State in the Orange Bowl and a national championship. Holieway remains the only true freshman QB to lead his team to a national title. Unfortunately, Holieway’s remarkable freshman year would be the apex of his career, as off-field issues and knee injuries derailed his success.

No. 4—Bernie Kosar, Miami, QB, 1983. While Holieway may be the only true freshman to lead his team to a national crown, one strong-armed QB managed to pull off the feat as a redshirt frosh two years earlier. And it’s easy to overlook the accomplishment, as Bernie Kosar played like a fifth-year senior from the moment he stepped on campus in Coral Gables. Kosar completed 61.5 percent of his passes (remember kids, this was before the bubble screen era) for 2,328 yards and 15 TDs, leading the Hurricanes to an 11–1 regular-season mark and a spot in the Orange Bowl against top-ranked Nebraska. Kosar passed for 300 yards and two TDs, helping the Hurricanes halt the Huskers’ 22-game winning streak and collect the school’s first national title.

No. 5—Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, WR, 2007. The San Francisco 49ers, who selected Tech’s superstar receiver with the 10th pick in this spring’s NFL Draft, can only hope that Crabtree will have the same impact in the Bay Area this fall that he had on the Texas plains in the fall of 2007. A standout QB for perennial high school power Dallas Carter, Crabtree redshirted his first year in Lubbock while acclimating himself to the wideout position. He proved to be a quick study. In the fall of ‘07, Crabtree put together one of the most prolific campaigns in the history of the position, piling up 1,861 receiving yards and 21 TD catches under coach Mike Leach’s high-flying system. Crabtree garnered a slew of awards, including the Biletnikoff Trophy (given to the nation’s top receiver) and a unanimous All-America selection.

No. 6—Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma, 2004. Peterson is better known these days as an All-Pro back for the Minnesota Vikings. But in 2004, “A.D.” he was the B.M.O.C. for OU. Peterson exploded out of the gate for the Sooners during his freshman season, running for 1,925 yards en route to earning first-team AP All-America honors. The workhorse back (he led the nation in carries as a freshman with 339) finished second to USC quarterback Matt Leinart in voting for the Heisman Trophy—the highest finish ever for a freshman.

No. 7—Tim Brown, Notre Dame, WR, 1984. No player on this list had as rocky a start to his college career as this future Heisman Trophy winner did. The Dallas native arrived in South Bend as a ballyhooed recruit under Gerry Faust, and even earned a spot as the team’s starting kickoff returner for the season-opener against Purdue. On the opening kickoff, Brown fumbled, Purdue recovered, and the Irish went on to lose. Brown persevered, however, and went on to set the school’s freshman record for receptions. He went on to a stellar career that culminated with winning the 1987 Heisman. Brown was also a nine-time Pro Bowler in the NFL.

No. 8—Maurice Clarett, RB, Ohio State, 2002. Like Holieway, Maurice Clarett’s star burned brightest his freshman year. The talented but troubled running back was a one-year wonder for the Buckeyes, rushing for 1,237 yards and 18 TDs to help lead Ohio State to a national title. Amid a bevy of academic and off-field problems, however, Clarett was dismissed from the school a year later. He later challenged (unsuccessfully) the NFL’s rule that a player must have been out of high school for three years to be eligible for the entry draft, and was waived by the Denver Broncos a year later without ever playing a regular-season down.

No. 9—Herschel Walker, Georgia, RB, 1980. Perhaps the most physically gifted player on the list, Herschel Walker became a national sensation for the Bulldogs almost from the get-go. With a stunning combination of size, speed and quickness, Walker helped Georgia to an undefeated regular season and a Sugar Bowl victory over Notre Dame that gave the Bulldogs the national title. He finished third in Heisman Trophy balloting after rushing for 1,616 total yards and 15 TDs. Walker would win the award two years later.

No. 10 – Jared Lorenzen, QB, Kentucky, 2000. It seems only fitting that a quarterback nicknamed the “Hefty Lefty” would make a big splash right from the start, and that’s exactly what Jared Lorenzen did for the Wildcats. The 275-pounder shattered six NCAA single-season marks for freshmen, including total yards, passing yards, pass attempts and completions. His greatest performance came between the hedges in Athens, Ga., as the beefy southpaw gorged himself for 528 passing yards (still an SEC record) and a pair of TDs in a 34-30 victory over Georgia.

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In The Zone With Vinny’s Brother Nick Perretta: It’s In The Genes

                              Nick Perretta shared at length with the Bronco Blue Review information about his past athletic triumphs. He also shared about his father, former San Diego Charger Ralph Perretta, as well as his talented mother, and brother former Boise State Bronco super star Vincent “Vinny” Perretta.

 

The conversation with Nick started inquiring about his family and the close knitted ness of them – or not. Nick responded that Vinny and himself were “very close” and that there were just the four of them his father, mother, brother Vinny, and himself, that they were a close knit family. 

Nick continued that they have a very athletic family and the Perretta parents were very supportive in their children’s choices. Nick and Vinny “grew up playing football, baseball, basketball, golf and soccer.” 

Nick said that both he and Vinny played football; in fact they grew up playing football. It does not seem odd that the children whose father played pro football for many years would not want to also follow in those same footsteps.

Well Vinny has the chance to follow as he has past Minnesota Vikings mini camp and is still hanging on. His name is on the roster for a pre season game with the Indianapolis Colts on August 14th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Indiana. Perretta family, friends, and fans will be watching. 

Nick was a winner himself. His high school team won the state championship at Qualcom stadium in San Diego the site of last seasons Poinsettia Bowl between TCU and Boise State. Nick stated that he tried to play college ball but his knee would not allow him to progress so he “hung up the cleats.” 

Just because Nick hung up his cleats does not mean the former California state champion offensive lineman and defensive end is not still involved in sports. Nick is very athletic today he plays golf and surfs. I am sure that California girls like Nick’s choices as well.

It’s not hard to see that the Perretta family has strong athletic genes. It seems what ever their family does sports wise is stamped close to perfecto. 

Nick says that his father has always been and still is a great athlete. He followed that up commenting on his father being a scratch golfer. Nick praised his mother also saying she was also a good athlete and he believes that’s where Vinny gets his speed.

Nick was asked about the Poinsettia Bowl and his thoughts over the Broncos loss. Nick talked about the tailgate party at the game saying they had a ton of people at the tailgate; some 300 to 350 of what Nick calls “Perretta’s Pizza Eaters.”

Nick said, “The beer, wine, and food were all flowing like the salmon of Capistrano. It stunk to lose but it didn’t take away from the fun that we had.”

That pretty well says it, some times there is just more in life than winning, sometimes it’s about just being with family and friends.

Nick says his work schedule is very “unpredictable.” Nick works selling orthopedic implants. However, he did say that he was thinking about helping out the offensive line at his old high school. This is a genuinely nice family.

Nick said that over the years he has developed friendships with Vinny’s teammates as he followed them to their games etc, and they were at the game not just to support Vinny but the other Bronco seniors he has come to know well. Nick said he would always be a Bronco fan. Nick wants to see the Broncos at the Rose bowl in 2010.

Nick was also asked if was going to have to become a Minnesota Viking fan because Vinny might make the team. He said that he was a die-hard Charger fan and that he could adopt a second team since it was not in the AFC West.

Nick continued saying, “That being said, it isn’t a done deal yet. Vinny has a lot of work to do to make this team. However, I can assure you that nobody is more up to the challenge than he is. If anyone can do it, it’s him.”

Thank you Nick for all you have shared. This interview was as good as they get. Bronco fans will be pleased and that’s another story.

 

This article first published by Lace Banachek on 7/12/2009 at http://broncobluereview.blogspot.com/

 

 

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An Open Letter to Minnesota Vikings Fans

Written by James Brown, Gatorsfirst.com Co-Founder

This letter is to ensure you realize the joy you are about to experience watching Percy Harvin these coming years. He is leaving our Gator-centric world and entering yours, and if you feel anything but giddy, I am here to let you in on what you’re about to receive.

Percy Harvin is a fantastically talented player. And any “character issues” the draft talking heads have been feeding you are complete fabrication.

Florida fans used to be frustrated with Dan Mullen. They thought his offense was too predictable, either the Harvin or Tim Tebow show. The truth is, if the offense was getting stale, and needed a play, we needed the ball in Percy Harvin’s hands. He’d run that deadly counter (just ask South Carolina, first vid, or Arkansas, second vid), or take a direct snap. The guy is a game changer.

His early career was hurt by injuries. These were a product of a heel condition he should have straightened out by now. Our training and coaching staffs, in addition to visiting NFL scouts, often were quoted as saying he was one of the toughest players they’d witnessed play the game. I’d say he is less injury-prone, and more a guy who offensive coordinators NEED to touch the ball, and are thus more likely to get nicked up now and again. He will single-handedly win you football games when he is in the lineup.

I have to address the “character concerns.” There was never one issue or one problem with Percy Harvin as a Florida Gator. Then, in the time between his declaring for the draft and the actual draft, we hear about all these “character issues”? What gives? They brought up an on-field altercation with a high school coach, and of course the rumored failed drug test. This is hardly worthy of the comparisons to Randy Moss (had to go to Marshall instead of FSU) and others. I think the NFL Draft guys just need to have the three to four “character issues” guys to discuss every year, and they forced Harvin into the mold. He’s a great guy, and every team in the world would be lucky to have him.

And now I’ll leave you with a tribute to Percy’s Gator career. If you’re wondering which play caused me to create the “Percy Harvin: He’s Not My Father, But He’s Still My Daddy” facebook group in September 2006, it was the play v. UCF just before the 30 second mark, but the clip here doesn’t play as well as I remember seeing it in the Swamp.

You can view and comment on the original article here: http://gatorsfirst.com/index.php/florida-gators-sports-news/gatorsfirst/an-open-letter-to-minnesota-vikings-fans.html

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Vinny Perretta In The Zone: Minnesota Viking Rookie Free Agent Interview Part 2

                    Vincent Perretta Interview

The following is the continuation of the Perretta interview a week ago. Former Boise State wide receiver Vinny Perretta whose father Ralph Perretta was an NFL star offensive lineman with the San Diego Chargers answered questions for the Bronco Blue Review. Vinny was asked to share some moments regarding his newest venture that of a free agent wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. Here is what Vinny had to say about the Minnesota Vikings:

Question No. 1. How has rookie camps been going for you?

Vinny’s Answer: Rookie mini camp went very well for me. We just got done with OTA’s and now we have a month off before training camp starts. It was good to get my feet wet in an NFL system before camp starts. Hopefully I can hit the ground running.

Question No. 2. Are there any surprises that you care or are allowed to address?

Vinny’s Answer: No surprises. My dad played in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers for six seasons, and he told me what to expect. Having my dad to go to is something that I take advantage of because he has been there before and he knows what is going on.

Question No. 3. What are the coaches like in Minnesota?

Vinny’s Answer: The coaches are awesome. They are very knowledgeable and are just good guys in general.

Question No. 4. What are the players like in Minnesota?

Vinny’s Answer: The players have been awesome as well. The veterans treat us rookies like other veterans. They help us out on the field and in meeting rooms. Its nice to know that the veterans don’t’ try to push the rookies around (Vinny laughed).

Question No. 5. What are the fans like in Minnesota—do you find yourself in that same ole “gotta prove myself to everybody mode?”

Vinny’s Answer: I haven’t really met any of the fans yet. We have been at the facilities most of the time, so we haven’t really got to experience much of the city yet.

Question No. 6. How tough has the competition been at wide out so far? The talent at wide receiver is exceptional. All these guys can play. I am really impressed with all the WR’s. I believe that it starts with our receiver coach, George Stewart.

Question No. 7. Does it look like you will be making the team this year?

Vinny’s Answer: My goal is to make the team! I am focused on myself and giving it my all every single day. I haven’t really thought about not making the team yet (Vinny laughs).

Question No. 8. Do you see much of Ian and how is he doing that you can tell?

Vinny’s Answer: From what I can tell, Ian has been doing a great job. He looks good and looks like he is picking things up well. Ian has always been a good football player and he still is!

Vinny thank you very much for your time—your many fans in Boise and around the world look forward to seeing you in Purple (not bruised) this NFL season.

End of interview!

It will be a tremendous joy watching Vincent Perretta gain knowledge from Coach Stewart, as well the many very talented receivers and pros at Minnesota. Viking fans and or Bronco/Perretta fans etc herein lies a perfect example of Vinny’s personable behavior and politics.

Vinny appears to always attempt to stay on the upward path—giving his 110 percent and not giving in to negativity of any sorts.

Vinny no doubt knows as an athlete, be it Idaho, Minnesota or his former high school in San Diego, Calif. that there will always be those who just dislike you, and for no other reason than ones school or team colors he or she represents.

Still, it is my belief that anybody given any small amount of time with the Perretta’s as a whole would truly grow to appreciate them.

As for Vinny and he alone—should he make the Vikings there is not much doubt that within a small window of time he will become a crowd favorite. Why? Simply because he goes all out for who he represents, be it his sports family, those close to him and those necessarily not such as the media, bloggers, etc. Thus when word comes regarding Vinny’s pro debut the Blue Revue will be on it—and that’s another story.

 

 

 

Article first published by Lace Banachek on 6/30/2009 at http://broncobluereview.blogspot.com/

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Vinny Perretta In The Zone: Former Bronco Wide Out —The Interview

Vincent Perretta Interview

A little over a week ago Vinny Perretta answered questions for the Bronco Blue Review. Vinny was asked to share some moments from his early Bronco days to his newest venture that of free agent wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. Here is what Vinny had to say about his time at Boise State University: 

 

Question #1. What was it like for you making the Boise State team?

Vinny’s Answer: It was an honor to get to play D-1 football. It had been my dream to get to play college football. To get to play at Boise State, a winning team, was awesome and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Question #2. How has that moment defined who you are today?

Vinny’s Answer: I believe that God has a plan for everybody. He sent me to Boise State for a reason. During my time at Boise State, I got to play college football, which helped me get to where I am today, with the Vikings. I grew as a person and had the opportunity to meet a lot of nice people. My time at Boise State is something that I will never forget.

Question #3. I realize that you have had many memorable games as a Bronco – is there one or two that stand out and why?

Vinny’s Answer: The Fiesta Bowl is an obvious one for me. That day has been one of the greatest days in my life. I never thought that I would have thrown the winning touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl, but it happened (Vinny Laughs).

Question #4. No doubt you have taken many incredible hits over the years – is there one or two that you fondly recall and who was at the delivering end of it?

Vinny’s Answer: I really don’t remember any of the big hits that much, because that is something that I try to forget (Vinny Laughed). One play that was no fun for me was when my shoulder dislocated the first time of my career. It was my junior year at Washington, and my shoulder never was the same after that. I had to get surgery and sat out the rest of my junior year. 

Question #5. Is there any advise that you may have received that you would like to pass on to future Broncos?

Vinny’s Answer: Strong work ethic can get you very far in football. If you want to be one of the best, you have got to sacrifice a lot of things. Always give 110% in everything that you do.

Question #6. What do you feel was the difference in the one point? Was it failure to run the ball, failure to go deep, lack of game preparation? What may have made the difference? 

Vinny’s Answer: The Poinsettia bowl was a tough loss for us all, especially me since it was played in my backyard. I wanted to end my career on a high note, winning a bowl game in my hometown. TCU was a very solid team and they matched us on the offensive side of the ball. Our defense played lights out and held them for most of the game. We had a great game plan on offense, but we just couldn’t execute enough on the field.

 

Thats one thing Vinny has not had a lot of and thats tough losses. Vinny is a competitor, a proven winner, and a class guy – on and off the field.

Talking with Vinny is like talking to family. The Bronco Blue Review continues this interview with questions regarding his free agency with the Minnesota Vikings and that’s another story.

 

 

First published by Lace Banachek on 6/25/2009 at http://broncobluereview.blogspot.com/

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Minnesota Vikings and Percy Harvin: A Wildcat Package

The NFL has been called a “copy-cat” league, due to the fact that if one team tries something new and succeeds, another team is sure to follow.

This description couldn’t have described the 2008 NFL season any clearer. 2008 became known as the year of the Wildcat—the Wildcat offense, that is, a tricky offensive package made for confusing the defense and giving the offense an advantage.

It basically sets up mismatches in favor of the offense, giving them a better chance at scoring and defensive coordinators and players alike a major headache.

In this offensive package, anything can happen, whether it’s the running back taking the direct snap and running with it or passing it. The quarterback may line up as a wide receiver, or a wide receiver may line up as a running back or quarterback.

It simply creates a lot of confusion for the defense when trying to stop a offense.

No team did it better than the Miami Dolphins.

A team that finished 1-15 in 2007 and started ’08 with two straight losses, new head coach Tony Sparano was in need of something new, and quick, if his team was to survive in the tough AFC East.

“We’ve got to think of something”, were the words of Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano after an 0-2 start and their next game against division opponent the New England Patriots.

So, Sparano and his quarterbacks coach, David Lee, came up with a new idea.

Lee, who was at one time the offensive coordinator for the University of Arkansas, was taught a new but odd offensive scheme known at Arkansas as “The Wild Hog”.

Sparano, Lee, and the Miami Dolphins decided to use this offense on the road, against the heavily favorited New England at Foxboro Stadium.

The result was a stunning 38-13 blow out in favor of the Miami Dolphins, as Bill Belichick and his staff had no clue on how to stop this style of football.

As for the Miami Dolphins, they won 10 of their next 13 games and finished winning the AFC East division.

From that game, NFL teams were hookedm as no one had ever seen a offensive formation like that. Soon, many teams were off to try and produce the same success as the Dolphins.

Teams who tried some Wildcat play styles included the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs, the St. Louis Rams, the Cleavland Browns, the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers, the New York Giants, and even the New England Patriots tried it against their biggest rival, the Indianapolis Colts.

So, what is to be expected for 2009?

Same thing, but even more use of the crazy formation.

The Minnesota Vikings may even try and put some Wildcat formations into their playbook. In the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Vikings took University of Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin, ignoring off-the-field character issues and injury concerns, as well as failing a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Harvin is a dynamic and explosive player who has the ability to score on any play and the Vikings’ perfect fit to run a Wildcat offense of their own. Harvin was able to score both as a receiver and as a running back at Florida.

In his three-year career at Florida, Percy Harvin amassed 1,929 receiving yards and 1,852 rushing yards, not to mention the explosive dual-threat receiver found the end-zone 32 times.

The Minnesota Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress has already planned who he will use his newest offensive toy, admitting the different things you can do with a player like Harvin.

The Vikings, more than likely, will find a way to line up Percy Harvin next to the best running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson,  to try and confuse the defense.

Also, expect Harvin to line up across from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian to give the Vikings a more explosive deep threat and deadly passing game. Chances will be good that Percy Harvin or Berrian will get loose and open up the passing game for the Vikings quarterback, who ever it may be.

This will also ease the work off Peterson, who is used to seeing defenses stack the box with eight men at times to try and slow him down.

 

Key word: TRY

Defenses will now have to worry about Berrian and Harvin stretching the field, causing them to put less in the box and giving Adrian Peterson better chances of bursting through the hole and finding open field, as well as the end-zone.

There is no doubt that Percy Harvin can be a great wide receiver in the NFL, but he brings so many new treats to a Vikings offense that was 12th in the league in scoring in 2008.

As much as the Vikings have improved, they would like to see that number get higher in 2009.

They may have found the right guy for the job with a talented Percy Harvin, who is explosive on the field and able to score at anytime in the game. The Minnesota Vikings have never used the Wildcat offense in it’s rich franchise history, something they are excited to see change.

Expect Percy Harvin to be used as a wide reciever, a quarterback, a running back and a decoy with the odd Wildcat formations. This will help the offense confuse defensive coordinators and their players trying to read the offense on the field.

However, unlike the Miami Dolphins who have created a new era in football, the Minnesota Vikings wont make the Wildcat its key offensive game, but rather on the run game behind the legs of star running back Adrian Peterson.

The passing game will be used a bit more to mix up the defense and ease the work load for Peterson. 

With the help of deep-threat receiver Bernard Berrian and great slot receivers Sidney Rice and Bobby Wade opening the middle of the field, the Vikings should have better success moving the chains.

The biggest upside of adding Wildcat packages to an already powerful offensive playbook will be the fact that Childress wont have to use them if he doesn’t want to.

The real work will be made for the opposing team and its defensive coaches, who will have to take extra time during the week to figure out ways to defend the Wildcat as well as your basic run and pass plays.

Simply creating more work during the week for the opposing team can really pay off come game time.

Whether the Vikings use the Wildcat offense in their playbook or how they will use it this season remains to be seen. Now that they have one of the most talented players to run it, there is no doubt that they will definitely give it a look.

        So how much Wildcat will we see? Will the Vikings be successful? Let Me know what ya think!

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