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Jumbo Package: Julio Jones deservedly cracks the NFL Top 100

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Wide Receiver U

Auburn v Alabama
Full. Grown. Man.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Spencer Hall is hanging ‘em up and shutting down his venerable EDSBS.

Though I didn’t much care for what the community became, the writing at EDSBS was never less than exceptional. I was an EDSBS reader before I even found out SBN existed in 2007. In fact, when then-Orson Hall folded up shop to join SBNation, that was the first time I found the SBN community. And, twelve years on, I can tell you that through it — and RBR, I met some of my very best friends. Never underestimate the power of passion over a kid’s game and a lot of dumb jokes to draw us together.

Even if in the end it really has gone on too long, it can be hard to say goodbye to something that has been such an integral part of your life for so long. I know that when I leave RBR, it too will be with the same knowing trepidation, years of fond memories, sadness — and, yes, even relief — that Spencer has.

With his usual mastery of the King’s English, EDSBS’s Freebird says goodbye. Give it a read:

I didn’t know what I was doing here. I still don’t, really. There was a spot on the screen. Type words into it and they appeared on the internet. It just kept going. No one had to use their real names, even. That worked for me just fine. I didn’t want to be me anyway.

Being someone else and talking about this sport all day, put me somewhat at home and closer to all these things: to writing, to a sport I never played, to places that meant everything to me that would never reciprocate the same feeling. I could laugh about it and nothing hurt, because it wasn’t me sending or receiving.

It became a hobby, then an obsession, and then a job. Sometimes it could be all three at once. On the worst days, there was a freedom in that, too. It could be pure distraction: A game played in the weird in-between parts of the country, sincere and crooked and sincerely crooked, an earnest scam bought into and perpetuated by the need to keep some piece of home, youth, family, or a friend alive, or to simply belong. To see something loud and spectacular and fleeting that went on too long, and that never really ended, just fading out into a pause until the season returned.

For the longest time, it was the best way to be free I knew.

If you want to know what classic Spencer was like, back before we bowed to our corporate overlord, this is what you missed — a story to this day that still makes me laugh out loud: Lloyd Carr’s Garage.

Spencer did use EDSBS as a platform for weightier matters too; topics that touched, angered, inspired, elicited thought and real conversation. And though he’s been often hailed as the best college football writer in the country, that does a disservice to Hall’s talent. He is one of its best writers, period.

As Levi Wallace showed last year, length and athleticism can make up for a lack of pure speed at corner. The UDFA at Buffalo eventually earned a starting spot. And though the Bills CB’ depth is quite good this season, he is cementing himself in that starting role: even as others are improving, so is he.

“Well, he’s the incumbent starter and somebody has to come and take it away from him,” Frazier said. “It’s always about competition. They’re competing every day for a starting job, all of the guys are. He’s the starter, whether guys are gaining on him or not.”

Sometimes player safety can be achieved with incremental measures, such as shortening the contact period in practices. In Wisconsin, doing so dropped concussions by a full 50%. Expect this trend to eventually percolate up to the major college ranks, even as decreased contact in the NFL trickles down.

Heading into the 2014 season the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association limited full-contact periods in practice to 75 minutes in the second week of the preseason, and then cut it further to 60 minutes per week in the weeks that followed.

The study found 86 football-related concussions per 1,000 practices before the rule change, and that number dropped significantly to just 15 per 1,000 practices after the rule change.

Michigan will be implementing similar measures this year.

This is a good sit-down with two of the better ‘Bama beat bros (BBB, or B3, if you will) — Travis Reier and Cecil Hurt:

Cecil Hurt, of The Tuscaloosa News, joined Host of “Southern Fried Sports” Travis Reier Wednesday morning to discuss how Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” ranks, and talk some football before fall practice kicks off Friday.

”Linebackers, probably because the (Eyabi) Anoma situation.” Hurt replied to Reier about which areas he will have particular interest in this fall camp.

”Even if he was out there,” Hurt continued. “Even if it was like in Spring, You want to see who is out there. How much is Terrell Lewis able to do, how are they lining up? Because that’s been an area for the last two years now, that position has kind of had a little bit of a curve.”

I’ll depart with Cecil on this one. I’m more than okay about the outside here, even with Anoma’s absence. Now, about the inside...eh, not so much.

Of the 130 DI major college football programs, how many are serious contenders?

Turns out, it’s just a paltry 16 teams.

SI’s Five Questions series continues, and today the focus turns to the Big 10.

Oh, no! Alabama is slipping in the facilities arms race...it’s only considered the fourth best in the country.

One day after Oregon released photos and details of its multi-million dollar overhaul in 2013, Alabama did the same and Crimson Tide contractors did not disappoint. Alabama’s hydrotherapy room features four waterfalls and its entryway is pure national champion swag. Here’s a shocker — Alabama’s $9.1 million, 37,000-square-foot weight room is arguably the SEC’s best. Strength coach Scott Cochran wouldn’t have it any other way at one of the nation’s most prestigious programs and the results are obvious. In 2018, the Crimson Tide announced unveiled a 10-year, $600 million initiative to upgrade Bryant-Denny Stadium, Coleman Coliseum, the Mal Moore Athletic Facility and several other athletics facilities, per athletics director Greg Byrne. They’re calling it ‘The Crimson Standard’, which should bring BDS to the forefront nationally for FBS venues. More on Alabama’s impressive football-only facility from BamaOnline’s Kirk McNair, here.

I’m probably fine being number four here: Trying to keep up with A&M’s spending (at No. 3) or mega-donor Phil Knight (Oregon, No. 2) is a fool’s game. Don’t even try it.

Not sure how many of you play PPD fantasy college football, but here are some updated stat projections. It’s hard to argue with Tua as the 5th overall QB. The supporting cast around him is better; he’ll be on the bench sooner; Alabama has the better defense; the scheme isn’t as uptempo; and the offense won’t be asked to put up as many points as the other teams on this list will (Oklahoma, Nubber, Houston, Ohio State).

Given all that, and how wide open the college game is, sitting at Number 5 is pretty outstanding for a pro-spread offense.

More at the link above.

Alabama hoops offered 4-star SG Moses Moody yesterday, a Top 40 player:

On Wednesday, four-star shooting guard Moses Moody reported an offer from Alabama on his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Moody averaged 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists per game playing for Brad Beal Elite (Mo.) on the Nike EYBL circuit this year.

Here’s a clip of some of his highlights.

I dunno know about this list, Sallee. Seems like we could probably crowdsource a better list of iconic symbols on this 150th anniversary of college football.

I’ll start. Up for deletion, no one outside of East Georgia knows or cares about that damn bird. Now Mike the Tiger? Sure.

And, now an addition: The many, many iconic pooches of college sports: Reverie, UGA, Bully, Smokey etc. Or, how about the cheer section at A&M? The iconic bonfire and midnight yell?

Leave your suggestions below.

Bill Bender has updated TSN’s Top 25. Bad news: It’s our turn for Kool-Aid. TSN has also dropped its Big 12 and Big 10 projections for the season.

Julio Jones has made the Top 10 of the NFL 100.

Jones caught 113 passes for 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns a season ago for Atlanta. Those totals were the receiver’s best since the 2015 campaign. His 1,677 yards led the NFL, and he was also the only player during the 2018-19 season to average more than 100 receiving yards per game.

A two-time first-team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler, Jones finished the year strong. Despite not recording a single touchdown reception in the first eight weeks of the season, he posted eight touchdown catches in the final eight weeks of the season -- the most out of any player during that span.

It’s not just his ridiculous production that makes JJ11 the best in my mind — nor is it Richard Sherman’s assessment. It’s his raw physicality. Julio basically answers the question: What if Terrell Owens hadn’t been a perpetual headcase?

Finally, apropos of nothing, though it is just cool: Here’s a story on Ira Belfer’s Captain Video, a San Mateo video store that predated Blockbuster, etc. and that has weathered it all — big boxes, oversaturation, on-demand, streaming. Today, it is a real life Cheers, and is not only surviving, but thriving.

“All these new companies have tried to put me out of business,” says Belfer. “But you can never chase the little guy away if the little guy is dedicated and wants to fight.”

I think that’s about it for today — I have a billion errands to run; we’re breaking in a new writer; and we’re all working on position previews. But, there’s tons here to get the conversation started.

Have a great day. RTR