While the Super Bowl pits two quarterbacks who were both MLB draft picks, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady aren't the only signal callers who thrived in multiple sports . The potential No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft, Jameis Winston, was also a baseball star for the Seminoles. And in the high school ranks, the nation's top-rated quarterback, Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray, could be an early-round MLB draft pick even though most expect him to play football in college.
Here's a look at six high school and college quarterbacks who have also excelled on the diamond:
6. Rashad Greene, Florida State
There’s never been any question about Greene’s talent, but in 2014 he firmly established himself as one of the great leaders in FSU history. Surrounded by an inexperienced group of receivers, Greene stepped up to become one of the most consistent targets in the nation and caught 99 passes for 1,365 yards -- with numerous game-changing plays along the way. His 74-yard touchdown against Clemson preserved FSU’s win streak, and he finished with double-digit receptions in three games and topped 100 yards receiving eight times. Greene wrapped up his career as FSU’s leading receiver in each of his four seasons.
7. Grady Jarrett, Clemson
Position: Defensive tackle
Jarrett was the vocal leader of Clemson’s dynamic defensive front, and few tackles in the country made a bigger impact on a week-to-week basis than he did. His 45 tackles paced all Clemson defensive linemen, and his 10 tackles for loss were the most by an ACC interior lineman. Jarrett was a key cog in the nation’s fifth-ranked rushing defense, and he helped solidify the middle for a unit that racked up 254 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
8. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Entering the season, fans were beginning to wonder if Paul Johnson’s option offense had run its course at Georgia Tech. Then Thomas was added to the fray, and everything changed. The sophomore proved a perfect fit for Johnson’s scheme and threw for 1,719 yards and 18 touchdowns while becoming just the second Tech QB in the past decade to top 1,000 yards on the ground. Thomas is one of just 13 Power 5 QBs in the past decade to top both benchmarks in a single season. Thomas helped Georgia Tech become the nation’s most prolific rushing offense and led the Yellow Jackets to an 11-3 season, a Coastal Division title and a win in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
9. DeVante Parker, Louisville
How do you make a case for a player who missed the first seven games of the year to rank in the top 10? With Parker, it’s actually pretty easy. A foot injury during fall camp sidelined Parker early, but the Cardinals’ receiver debuted Oct. 18 against NC State with nine catches for 132 yards, and he never slowed down. In his six games this season, he topped 120 yards five times, including a 214-yard performance against Florida State. Despite missing half the season, Parker finished seventh in the ACC in receiving yards, and among Power 5 receivers with at least 40 catches, none averaged more yards per reception than Parker, at 19.9.
10. Jamison Crowder, Duke
Crowder finished with 1,000 receiving yards for the third straight season, after turning in his fourth 100-yard game of the year in Duke’s bowl game against Arizona State. One of the ACC’s most consistent receiving threats in each of the past three seasons, Crowder was an all-purpose star who finished third in the ACC in receiving yards, second in receptions, first in punt-return yardage and sixth in all-purpose yards. Also, he was the only ACC player with multiple special-teams touchdowns this season.
To read the rest of the list, click here.
11. Clive Walford, Miami
Position: Tight end
Walford emerged as a go-to receiver for freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya, becoming one of the most reliable targets on the team. That speaks volumes to his growth because Miami has no shortage of players at the skill positions. Walford ended up leading the team with 44 receptions -- one of just nine tight ends in the country to lead his team in that category. His 676 yards and seven touchdowns ranked second on the team.
12. Nick O'Leary, Florida State
Position: Tight end
O'Leary won the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in the nation, but we have him ranked just behind Walford. The truth is, you can split hairs on who was better this season. A case can be made for both. O'Leary set career highs with 48 receptions for 618 yards to finish second on his team in both categories, while adding six touchdown catches. As David Hale pointed out in December, Walford had the stats edge in receptions per game, receiving yards, touchdowns and yards per catch, all while playing with a true freshman quarterback. None of that is to diminish what O'Leary did. It is a great year when two tight ends are worthy of such a high ranking.
13. Eddie Goldman, Florida State
Position: Defensive tackle
Goldman was the glue that held the Florida State defensive front together through injuries and some depth issues, racking up 35 tackles, including eight for loss and a team-high four sacks. But his impact goes beyond the stat sheet. Goldman held down the inside in the same way Tim Jernigan did the year before. In his biggest game against Clemson, Goldman forced a crucial fumble late in the fourth quarter and also had a sack and made a fourth-down stop in overtime to help the Seminoles win.
14. Denzel Perryman, Miami
If Miami needed a play to be made on defense, Perryman was its man. Perryman led the team with 110 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss and was named one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in the nation. There were many who questioned the Canes' overall defense, but nobody questioned Perryman, his talent and the impact he made on that unit. He ended his career on the school's top-10 list for tackles.
15. Stephone Anthony, Clemson
Like Perryman, Anthony started to come into his own in 2013 and made an even bigger impact in 2014. Anthony had a team-high 90 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 11 quarterback pressures, one interception, four pass breakups and two caused fumbles en route to a spot on the media and coaches All-ACC first team. Clemson earned a lot of attention for its play up front. Anthony deserves credit for that because he was a big key to the group's overall success.
The first is Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, which should be something of a no-brainer, given that the junior racked up 21.5 tackles for loss in the past two seasons despite serving as the backup to Vic Beasley. Only seven other players in the ACC have totaled 10 or more TFL in each of the last two seasons, and of that group, only Lawson will be back for 2015.
“A guy like Shaq Lawson, he could've been starting his first two years, but he sat behind Vic Beasley and you can't complain about that,” defensive back Robert Smith said. “But he could've just as easily been starting the same way.”
Lawson is an obvious starter this year, but the Post & Courier projects out the rest of Clemson's starters, too.
The second of Athlon's breakout candidates is Travis Rudolph, the FSU wide receiver who stepped up as a strong No. 2 option after Rashad Greene as a true freshman this season, including six catches for 96 yards and a score in the Rose Bowl.
Rudolph definitely progressed as the year went along -- he had just one catch in FSU's first four games -- but he's going to have a tougher task in 2015. Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary are gone, meaning all eyes will clearly be on Rudolph to step into the No. 1 role in the passing game. Jameis Winston is gone, too, and the question about the next FSU QB is a big one. Still, Rudolph showed how much talent he has this season, and he's on record as being eager to follow in Greene's footsteps.
Looking around the rest of the ACC, a few other names to watch as potential breakout candidates:
Andrew Brown, Virginia: Injuries limited his freshman performance, but the Hoos will have a new-look defensive line in 2015, and Brown, the former five-star recruit, will be a big part of their plans.
Shaun Wilson, Duke: The ACC already got a small taste of what Wilson can do, as he rushed for 598 yards as a freshman in 2014. His 7.7 yards-per-carry average was the best by any Power 5 running back with at least 75 carries, but his numbers in conference -- 46 carries, 186 yards, 1 TD -- weren't quite as impressive. He'll have a bigger role in 2015.
Josh Jones, NC State: The redshirt freshman started the final five games of the year at strong safety for the Wolfpack, and that happened to coincide with a 4-1 finish to the season in which NC State allowed just 4.68 yards per play -- the seventh-best rate for any Power 5 team from Nov. 1 to the end of the season.
Joseph Yearby, Miami: The freshman had more than 600 yards from scrimmage backing up Duke Johnson in 2014. Now Johnson is gone, but rising star QB Brad Kaaya remains, and Miami's offense hopes to not miss a beat. It could be a huge year for Yearby, who played his high school ball alongside FSU's Dalvin Cook.
A few other links:
- Pitt appears to have hired a former Purdue assistant to coach its wide receivers, writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Not a bad gig when you get to work with Tyler Boyd.
- Syracuse.com looks at what an early signing period might mean for the Orange.
- A renewal of the Georgia Tech-Auburn rivalry could be in the works, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- I imagine Florida State fans will not be fond of BC Interruption's final installment of The Book's national rankings for 2014 (or their Way too Early top 20 for 2015).
- NC State added to a strong recruiting class this week, notes Backing the Pack.
- Florida State's commitment list includes a ton of highly-regarded recruits, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.
- Louisville offensive lineman John Miller earned strong reviews during his postseason work, writes the Courier Journal.
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Arrelious Benn, No. 17 in 2007 class
Benn came out of talent-rich Dunbar High in Washington, D.C., where he was teammates with 2009 NFL first-round pick Vontae Davis and 2011 seventh-round selection Nate Bussey. Benn picked Illinois in November of 2008 after making official visits to Florida State, Miami (FL), and Notre Dame. His choice was due in large part to then-Illini assistant coach Mike Locksley and the fact that Davis was already on campus at Illinois and Bussey was already committed to the Illini. Benn was part of a stellar Illinois class in 2007 that included Martez Wilson, Craig Wilson, and D'Angelo McCray.
Benn hit the ground running at Illinois, earning Big Ten Freshman of the year after setting school freshman records for receptions (43) and yards (521). He caught two TD passes.
As a sophomore in 2008, Benn caught 67 passes for 1,055 yards and three TDs, and accounted for 1,668 all-purpose yards. He was named All-Big Ten second team by the coaches, and first team by the national media. He also received fourth-team All-American honors from Phil Steele Magazine.
Benn was named All-Big Ten honorable mention as a junior after catching 49 passes for 645 yards.
Benn chose to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2010 NFL draft. He left Illinois with 159 receptions for 2,221 yards, and 996 kick return yards. He caught a pass in 36 of 37 games played.
Benn was selected in the second round, No. 39 overall, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010. He has battled through a torn ACL, missing ample time the past two seasons.
Honorable mention: Timmy Jernigan, No. 17 in 2011, and Malachi Dupre, No. 17 in 2014. Jernigan was a three-year standout at Florida State starting his junior campaign on the Seminoles' BCS National title team. He was selected in the second round, No. 48 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Dupre was named to the All-SEC Freshman team in 2014 after catching 14 passes for 318 yards and five TDs.
So who just missed the cut? Consider these the honorable mentions in the ACC postseason Top 25.
Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida State. This was probably a tougher omission than P.J. Williams because Jackson was among the best guards in the entire country. The ACC has three All-Americans at this position. We chose the two who were on better offensive lines.
P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State. His omission might raise some eyebrows, but the truth is he was not the best player in his own secondary -- a group that did not live up to lofty preseason expectations. Williams finished with just one interception and 11 passes defended.
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. Williams finished with 1,030 yards receiving and six touchdowns, averaging 18.1 yards per catch (fourth-best in the ACC). The other three 1,000-yard receivers made the Top 25. He should have a spot in the 2015 preseason Top 25. Same goes for teammate Artavis Scott, who ended with 965 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
Roberto Aguayo, PK, Florida State. Even though Aguayo did not win the Lou Groza Award, he still is the most valuable kicker in the entire nation, having scored 136 points this season to rank No. 2 in the ACC. But he did miss three kicks this year so that kept him off the Top 25.
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami. Kaaya blossomed as the season went on and is sure to have a spot on this list when the 2015 preseason Top 25 makes its debut in the summer. Kaaya finished first in the ACC in pass efficiency (145.9), passing yards per completion (14.5) and second in passing yards (3,198).
DeVon Edwards, DB/AP, Duke: Edwards provided tremendous value to the Duke defense and on special teams, finishing second on the team with 133 tackles, tied for second with 4.5 sacks, while leading the team with 10 passes defended. He also ranked fourth in the ACC in kickoff return average and returned one for a score.
Synjyn Days, BB, Georgia Tech. When Days got his opportunity midway through the season, he took full advantage. He ended up with 924 yards rushing and nine touchdowns -- 835 yards and eight of those touchdowns came in the final seven games of the season.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Watson showed flashes of brilliance when he was on the field. But the problem was he wasn't on the field nearly enough to make the Top 25. He's almost a lock to be a top-5 preseason pick in 2015.
To see the rest of the list, click here.
16. Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
When Todd Grantham switched up Louisville’s defensive scheme in his first season as defensive coordinator, many predicted Mauldin would thrive in his new role as an outside linebacker and pass-rush specialist, and the senior didn’t disappoint. His 6.5 sacks were good for ninth in the ACC, and his 13 tackles for loss ranked seventh as the Cardinals’ defense ranked near the top of the national rankings for the bulk of the season. A nagging hamstring injury slowed Mauldin a bit down the stretch, but before the injury Louisville had allowed the third-fewest touchdowns per drive of any defense in the country.
17. Tyler Boyd, Pitt
Position: Wide receiver
No receiver in the nation was as vital to his team as Boyd, who accounted for 52.2 percent of Pitt’s receiving yards this season. Boyd finished second in the ACC in receiving (1,261 yards), third in catches (78) and second in receiving touchdowns (8), while chipping in with 1,928 all-purpose yards, good for second in the conference. Boyd finished the season with six 100-yard receiving games, including topping the century mark in five of Pitt’s final six.
18. Jalen Ramsey, FSU
Position: Defensive back
One of the most dynamic defensive backs in the country, Ramsey was the linchpin for Florida State’s defense in 2014. Ramsey finished the year with 80 tackles -- ninth in the ACC among defensive backs -- and two interceptions, but it was his versatility and leadership that set him apart. Ramsey was a crucial piece to FSU’s scheme, starring in coverage, where he racked up 12 pass breakups, and supporting against the run, tallying 9.5 tackles for loss. He was the only player in the nation who had at least 12 pass breakups and nine tackles for loss.
19. Cameron Erving, FSU
Position: Offensive line
Year: RS Senior
Erving entered the season as perhaps the most heralded offensive lineman in the ACC, the veteran left tackle on a senior-laden line for Florida State. But while much was expected of the Seminoles' line, the production was missing early in the year as FSU cycled through centers and the ground game failed to coalesce. Midway through the season, however, Erving made the switch from tackle to center, and everything clicked. Dalvin Cook and the running game found their footing, and Erving looked right at home in the middle of the line. For the year, FSU’s line helped cut Jameis Winston’s sack rate nearly in half, and Erving went on to win the ACC’s top blocker award for the second straight season.
20. Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech
Position: Defensive end
Year: RS junior
The Hokies’ defense lost five seniors from its 2013 defensive front, then star tackle Luther Maddy went down just four games into 2014, but the unit remained one of the most effective in the country thanks in large part to the work of Nicolas. His 8.5 sacks ranked third in the ACC and his 18 tackles for loss ranked second, and Nicolas single-handedly took over several games for Virginia Tech when the Hokies needed him most -- including racking up two sacks against both Ohio State and Duke.
Chizik has made his name as a top defensive coach; North Carolina was unwatchable on defense last season, ranking among the worst groups in America. Defense has held North Carolina back the last two seasons, and Larry Fedora was not stubborn enough to keep allowing a broken system to keep running.
He had to make a change, so he went out and hired the biggest name available.
But despite Chizik's résumé as a top defensive coach, the move wasn't met without some criticism. It is interesting, to say the least, that the Tar Heels opted to hire a coach who was accused of NCAA violations during his tenure at Auburn. Though nothing was ever substantiated, North Carolina has got to be careful about the company it keeps, considering the athletic department is once again under NCAA investigation for alleged academic fraud in its African and Afro-American Studies classes.
Fedora addressed the NCAA question unprompted in an interview with Andrew Carter of the News & Observer, telling the newspaper the school was confident the allegations were false after investigating.
“Just like everybody, we vetted him completely and are very comfortable with where we’re at,” Fedora said told the newspaper. “I mean, there were some unsubstantiated allegations out there about him and what’s happened in the past.”
Chizik was fired after a 3-9 season in 2012. In April 2013, he was accused of paying players and changing grades in a report on Roopstigo.com, run by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated journalist Selena Roberts. Chizik vehemently denied the charges then, and did so again in a statement released through his attorney to the News & Observer:
“During my time as Auburn’s head coach, I never authorized, instructed or directed anyone to change any player’s grade or provide any type of illegal payment to any student-athlete,” Chizik said.
During his stint as Auburn coach, the NCAA also investigated the recruitment of quarterback Cam Newton, but that was tied to allegations that the player's father tried to shop him to Mississippi State. Still, an NCAA cloud hung over Auburn midway through its 2010 championship season and into the 2011 season as Chizik was forced to answer questions about Newton. In 2012, Yahoo! Sports reported the NCAA was investigating allegations of recruiting improprieties between Auburn representatives and third parties.
So it is not as if Chizik has a squeaky clean image. Though he was never charged with committing NCAA violations, Chizik does come with some baggage. Not exactly ideal for a scandal-plagued program still suffering the consequences for NCAA rules violations.
Elsewhere around the ACC:
- The NFL announced the official list of early entrants to the NFL draft. Florida State led the way with five players.
- Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo tops The Sporting News' list of top 20 impact players returning to school.
- Georgia Tech has offered a grayshirt to in-state product Brad Stewart.
- Former Louisville player Patrick Grant will have his lawsuit against the university go to trial Tuesday. Grant has accused former coach Charlie Strong of breaking a promise to keep him on scholarship after he was beaten so badly by two teammates he nearly lost an eye and had to quit the team. Strong is expected to testify in the trial.
- Miami players and coaches are growing weary of all the negativity surrounding the program.
- Pitt offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings will draw a crowd at the Senior Bowl this week.
- Solid take from Andy Bitter in the Roanoke Times: Aaron Morehead's departure from Virginia Tech shows Frank Beamer has made some good hires over the last few years.
- The Orlando Sentinel lists its early list for 2015 Heisman candidates. Is Dalvin Cook the top choice from the ACC?
Here's a look at how programs in the ACC are faring on the recruiting trail heading into national signing day on Feb. 4:
ESPN 300 commitments: 1
Who they have: Steve Addazio has done a good job keeping players close to home along the upper East Coast but has also branched out to Florida and Ohio with success. No. 294 Wyatt Knopfke is a talented guard out of the Sunshine State and is joined in the class by Florida three-star quarterback Jeff Smith II and athletes Michael Walker and Mehdi El Attrach. There are five prospects from Florida in the class all told. Three-star offensive tackle Anthony Palazzolo is a key grab from Connecticut, as is three-star athlete William Harris. Running back Ben Glines is a quality pull out of Ohio.
Who they want: The Eagles have had the majority of the class wrapped for months. If there is to be a late run at a position, defensive line remains one of need.
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What went into the ranking? In addition to performance this season, we also took into account each of the players' value to their team, value at their respective position and game-changing ability. With that, here is a look at players Nos. 21-25 (plus No. 26).
21. Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State
Position: defensive end
Edwards was dominant at times but also lacked the consistency many were hoping to see out of him in his second year as a starter. Weight continued to be a problem. When he was on, he was effective, racking up 44 tackles -- 11 for loss -- and three sacks this season. But against Oregon, he was essentially a nonfactor. Cherry on top for being one of the best quotes in the ACC this season, though!
22. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
Fuller was the best cornerback in the ACC -- and he won that designation despite playing the entire season with a broken wrist. Coming off a successful freshman campaign, Fuller finished tied for first in the ACC with 17 passes defended (15 breakups, two interceptions), while earning All-ACC honors and second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation and Football Writers Association of America.
T-23. Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech AND Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Position: offensive guards
The ACC had All-American play at offensive guard this season -- Tre Jackson at Florida State also deserves mention -- so we are making an exception here and going with a tie between two of them because they are both equally deserving of recognition. Mason helped pave the way for a Georgia Tech rushing offense that led the nation with 342.1 yards per carry, the best average in the Paul Johnson era. Meanwhile, Tomlinson was a consensus All-American and first-team All-ACC selection after helping Duke average 180-plus rushing yards and 210-plus passing yards for the first time in school history.
25. Jeremy Cash, Duke
Cash was an impressive force in the defensive backfield once again for the Blue Devils, racking up more than 100 tackles for a second straight season. In fact, Cash was the only defensive back in the nation to record 100-plus tackles, 10 or more tackles for loss and five or more sacks. He also forced four fumbles on the season, tied for the second most in the ACC. With the news that Cash is returning for his senior season, expect his name to be on this list again come 2015.
26. Tyler Murphy, Boston College
Murphy was the engine that made the BC offense go, and he set a host of records in the process. His 1,184 yards on the ground set a new ACC and school record for rushing yards by a quarterback, and he ranked second among all quarterbacks in yards rushing. Murphy accounted for 56 percent of the Eagles' total offense in 2014 and had five 100-yard games. The highlight, of course, was his MVP performance in a 37-31 upset win over USC in September, in which Murphy ran for 191 yards and a score, averaging 14.7 yards per carry.
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones started just three games in 2014, but he might have made the most important contributions to his team of any player this season.
Except maybe Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Don't worry, we figured it out for you -- again.
Heading into the 2014 season, ESPN.com ranked the top 100 players in the country based on their expected contributions for the season. Jones didn't make the cut in August -- go figure -- but Braxton Miller was tied for No. 5.
Tweet Stirs QB Francois Decommit Rumors
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