Blog Entry

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
 


Posted by Tom Fornelli


With teams having already started or starting spring practice over the next few weeks. there are a lot of players across the country who will be charged with replacing someone who has come and gone before them. It's an annual rite of spring in college football, when the senior quarterback from last season is putting the finishing touches on his final semester as a college student, and the sophomore who isn't even sure what he's majoring in yet realizes he's going to be majoring in Playbook 101 for the next few weeks.

Of course, while roster turnover is a common occurence in college football, there are bigger shoes to fill than others, and in this post we take a look at the ten biggest pairs looking for a new owner this spring.

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Ryan Broyles began re-writing the Oklahoma record books the moment he stepped on the field in his first game as a Sooner. He caught 7 passes for 141 yards against Cincinnati, both of which were freshman records. Four years later he finished his career having caught more passes than any other receiver in FBS history, pulling in 349 passes for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns.

In other words, he's not the type of player that Oklahoma can just replace with anybody. This spring receivers like Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer will try to replicate Broyles' production in Norman. Whether it will be one of them doing it, or a group effort, Oklahoma will need it to happen if the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title.

9. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Understandably, USC fans were extremely excited by the news that Matt Barkley would be returning for his senior season, and many have pegged the Trojans as a title favorite because of it. What you don't want to do, however, is overlook the fact that the man who was in charge of protecting Barkley's blindside these last few years won't be back.

Though that's how life generally works for offensive lineman like Matt Kalil. As large as they are, they're often overlooked. Kevin Graf, Jeremy Galten, David Garness and Nathan Guertler will all be competing for the unenviable task of being the man in charge of making sure nothing happens to the most valuable piece of the USC offense.

8. Mark Barron, S, Alabama

One of the problems with having a defense as strong as the one we saw in Tuscaloosa last season is that you're bound to lose players to the next level, and the Crimson Tide have no shortage of beasts making their way to greener pastures. Still, the Tide have a knack for churning out defensive lineman and linebackers, but safeties like Mark Barron don't come along all that often.

Barron made 231 tackles for Nick Saban in his four seasons, including 13 for a loss, while picking off 12 passes. Barron was the type of player that could defend the pass and the run, and he won't be easily replaced. Can Robert Lester or freshman Vinnie Sunseri step up and be the next stud in the Alabama secondary?

7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Based purely on production, there may be no larger shoes to fill in the country than Luke Kuechly's. There may not have been more than 3 plays run by opposing offenses in which Kuechly wasn't in on the tackle. Kuechly finished 2011 with 191 tackles. The next highest total on the Boston College defense belonged to Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74.

As our own Chip Patterson put it, "for Boston College, replacing Kuechly is like any other team replacing 2 1/2 players." Though it's been proven that it can be done, as Kuechly himself once had to fill the shoes left behind by Mark Herzlich. Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto -- who has a name that would be hard to replace -- will be the two linebackers looking to repeat the feat.

6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Many casual college football fans never truly appreciated how amazing a player Morris Claiborne was for LSU in 2011 simply because opposing offenses weren't dumb enough to test him all that often. Throw in some Honey Badger exploits with a bit of Les Miles being Les Miles, and Claiborne gets a bit lost in the gumbo. Still, Claiborne truly was the definition of a shutdown corner for LSU, playing a pivotal role on one of the best defenses in the country.

While Tyrann Mathieu will be back in 2012, he's not the cover corner that Claiborne was, so it will be up to Tharold Simon to fill the role. One he seems capable of considering he led LSU with 10 passes broken up in 2011 playing mostly as a nickel back.

5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

I won't lie to you. Even when Mark Ingram will still in Tuscaloosa running through SEC defenses, I always felt that Trent Richardson was the best running back on the Alabama roster. Now both are gone, and Richardson will be harder to replace than Ingram was simply because Trent can't replace himself.

Can Eddie Lacy be the next Heisman finalist in the Alabama backfield? He showed some promise in 2011, and in an offense like Alabama's, the opportunities will be there. Still, even if Lacy is extremely talented, there are only so many shoes capable of doing this.

4. Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon, QB/WR, Oklahoma State

A bit of a cheat, I know, but the truth is that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon felt like extensions of one another for the past two seasons in Stillwater. Their success was as a duo. I mean, Blackmon caught 40 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which accounted for 53% of the 75 touchdown passes Weeden threw with the Cowboys.

Now we know that Oklahoma State is going to continue putting points on the board without them, but will the offense ever be as prolific when the combination is Clint Chelf or Wes Lunt to Tracy Moore? We'll get our first clues this spring.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Maybe you think that LaMichael James isn't all that hard to replace given the weapons Oregon has in the backfield. I can see your point, but I can also point out that James nearly doubled Kenjon Barner's rushing total (1,805 yards to 939) in 2011. I mean, this is a man who rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry in 2011, yet we didn't think it was so amazing based simply on the fact we'd already seen him do similar things in the previous two seasons.

We just got used to it.

Yes, Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are extremely talented backs, but the fact is there's no easy way to replace a back who accounted for 5,888 all-purpose yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons as a Duck, all at the speed of light.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Will it be harder to fill RG3's shoes, or his socks? Neither will be easy. While we all know how talented Griffin was as a quarterback for Baylor in 2011 and the two seasons before it, it's his impact on the program that will leave the biggest impression. Baylor went from a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12 to a team that can call itself the home of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Nick Florence will be the favorite to replace Griffin this spring, but he'll never be able to have the impact on the Baylor program that Griffin did. Instead he'd be much better served to focus on replacing the production on the field. Something that won't be easy, either, but given Art Briles' history with quarterbacks and the way Florence performed in place of Griffin against Texas Tech, it may not be that far-fetched, either.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Andrew Luck didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Robert Griffin did, but that doesn't diminish the impact he had on the Stanford program. In the three seasons before Luck showed up in Palo Alto, Stanford was 10-26, including a 1-11 season in 2006. In Luck's three seasons the Cardinal went 31-8, played in two BCS bowl games and became a national program.

Stanford is essentially the school Notre Dame used to be, and it's all thanks to Luck. Of course, the question now is whether or not Stanford can maintain the success they had under Luck with a new quarterback. Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo will all enter spring practice looking to replace the most important player in the history of Stanford football, and that's a list that includes John Elway.

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Comments

Since: May 29, 2012
Posted on: May 29, 2012 11:53 pm
 

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Since: Apr 28, 2012
Posted on: May 3, 2012 11:22 pm
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

 

As recent economic reports fan fears and paint a dim jobs picture in the US and Europe, economists are predicting the worst economic recovery in the post-World War era. Policy-makers around the globe have put creating jobs on as their top agenda. It was also a hot topic at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Latin America, held last week in the beautiful seaside town of Puerto Vallarta.At the Young Global Leader (YGL) Annual Summit that took place alongside the WEF meeting, President Felipe Caldron of Mexico, himself a YGL from the class of 1997, shared his vision on channeling long-dated pension assets into infrastructure investments, with an aim to create economic growth and jobs.In the aftermath of the global crisis, advanced and emerging economies diverge in many areas. The Euro zone has been dealing with banking and sovereign debt crises. In the US, the government and private debt, as well as slow-recovering job market dominate the market sentiment. India is dealing with its perpetual poverty and income disparity challenges, while uk is trying to beef up its domestic demand.In all these countries, however, infrastructure development is seen as a key driver that could create jobs in the near terms and build a platform for growth in the future. McKinsey projected that $8 trillion will be committed in Asia over the next decade to infrastructure projects to remedy historical underinvestment and to accommodate the explosion in demand. The World Bank put the annual infrastructure deficit in Africa at $93 billion.So why is a major global infrastructure expansion not happening?At a well-attended WEF lunch discussion on infrastructure investments chaired by my good friend Reuben Abraham from India School of Business, I shared with the audience some of my views on this question.The biggest challenge today is the lack of long-termism and excessive reliance on liquidity in capital deployment. Take Asia as an example. In developing Asia, the savings rate is about 37%, far above the level of infrastructure investment that is needed at 20%. Asia's sovereign wealth funds manage over $1,200 billion of assets, and government pension assets in Asia exceed $1,500 billion. However, infrastructure project finance receives very little funding from these sources. zby




Since: Apr 28, 2012
Posted on: April 28, 2012 7:05 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

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Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:32 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

May not qualify as a top ten but right now there are no bigger shoes to be filled in South Bend than Michael Floyd!



Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 7:38 pm
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

When it comes to "filling big shoes," Oregon, USC, Bama, and LSU have already purchased suitable replacements.  I have to agree with Andrew Luck in the number one slot and RGIII at number two, though.  I would put Blackmon at number three and Weeden at number four.  Funny, thoiugh: that's just part of college football.  A lot of "irreplacable" players graduate or leave early, but someone always steps up and takes their place.  

We will see very soon whether Stanford now has a sustainable top ten program, or whether they are a mirage that will dissapate with the departures of Harbaugh and Luck.  Luck was an extension of Harbaugh, and was able to mitigate Harbaugh's departure last season.  Stanford won't have that luxury this year. 



Since: Jun 8, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:15 pm
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

I think the biggest shoes in college football to fill are Joe Paterno's



Since: Nov 25, 2010
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:44 pm
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

Russell Wilson is not the projected number 3 QB in this draft. Tannehill is.




Since: Jan 25, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:24 pm
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

"So the projected number 3 quarterback in this years draft Russell Wilson isn't even mentioned?"


when was he projected the 3rd QB in the draft? he passed the kid from texas A&M? i heard kirk cousins is going to go before wilson......5'11 is too short for the NFL.  



Since: May 5, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:08 pm
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

I can not belive you left Jordan Jefferson off the list much less that he was not #1

1-  don't you recall the number of pairs of shoes the law took trying to find blood or other evidence to convict him of battery?

oh wait I read this wrong 

not biggest shoe closet to fill...

my bad keep going!!



Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 9:27 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football

So the projected number 3 quarterback in this years draft Russell Wilson isn't even mentioned?  Even when Wisconsin is in some serious trouble with their quarterback position for this season being completley undecided and open to around 6 players who all aren't showing all that much potential leaving it to the oldest class of QB's left over?  Seems a bit odd in comparison to a few of them..


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