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Thursday Morning Brews (8/28/14)

Jonathan Ferrey

Wall Decorations

For those looking forward to seeing the NFL invaded by plenty of guys like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Jimmy Graham, there's some bad news. Those guys are hard to come by. Of the ten players on this watch list, only a small portion of them seem likely to become a star at the next level: FSU's O'Leary, Alabama's O.J. Howard, perhaps Ohio State's Heuerman, and perhaps OU's Bell. This is a quirky, flawed, and mostly underwhelming group.

Preseason Watch List (Tight Ends)
Conf. School H/W Yards YPC Catch Rate
ACC FSU 6'3", 244 Nick O'Leary 557 16.9 78.6%
B1G RUTG 6'6", 240 Tyler Kroft
573 13.3 62.3%
B1G OSU 6'6", 252 Jeff Heuerman 466 17.9 72.2%
B1G MINN 6'4", 245 Maxx Williams 417 16.7 62.5%
Big 12 OKLA 6'6", 259 Blake Bell - - -
Big 12 ISU 6'3", 261
E.J. Bibbs 462 11.8 65.0%
SEC ARK 6'6", 251
Hunter Henry 409 14.6 57.1%
SEC ALA 6'6", 240 O.J. Howard 269 19.2 56.0%
SEC MISS 6'3", 217 Evan Engram 268 12.8 72.4%
Indep. ND 6'5", 261 Ben Koyack 171 17.1 66.7%

On the upside, it highlights the value of talented tight ends and the opportunity for Michigan's burgeoning group to make some noise. JB was miraculously close to making this list despite his injury.

Blake Bell, known popularly as the Belldozer during his time as Oklahoma's quarterback, is now moving out wide to make room for Trevor Knight. Another player to know is Ole Miss's Evan Engram, who is barely a tight end at 6'3", 217 but is a key part of Ole Miss's offense.

"I can't overstate it," said Hugh Freeze. "We changed last year when he went out. We were not the same."

Three of the tight ends - Williams, Kroft, and Henry - are their team's leading returning receiver, and all of them except Howard and Bell are one of the top three options. All three of the SEC's selections played as freshmen last year. Of note, Hunter Henry was a very underrated pickup by Bret Bielema, who also snagged Alex Collins out of a strong class of running backs.

The Wall

This is where the SEC makes its money.

Preseason Watch List (Offensive Linemen)
Conf. School H/W Pos. Career Starts
ACC FSU 6'6", 302 Cameron Erving LT 28 Sr.
ACC FSU 6'4", 339 Tre Jackson RG 30 Sr.
ACC FSU 6'6", 331 Josue Matias LG 29 Sr.
ACC MIA 6'6", 322 Ereck Flowers LT 18 Jr.
B1G IOWA 6'5", 320 Brandon Scherff LT 23 Sr.
Big 12
BAY 6'5", 315
Spencer Drango
LT 22 Jr.
Pac-12 STAN 6'7", 312 Andrus Peat LT 14 Jr.
Pac-12 ORE 6'3", 297 Hroniss Grasu C 40 Sr.
SEC TAMU 6'5", 305 Cedric Ogbuehi LT 30 Sr.
6'3", 295 Reese Dismukes C 37 Sr.
SEC LSU 6'5", 315 La'el Collins LT 25 Sr.
SEC LSU 6'6", 342
Vadal Alexander
LG 22 Jr.
SEC ALA 6'5", 315 Arie Kouandjio LG 13 Sr.
SEC SCAR 6'4", 311 A.J. Cann LG 38 Sr.
SEC MISS 6'5", 305 Laremy Tunsil LT 10 So.

Oregon State's Isaac Seuhalo was a tough omission. The Big Ten has a lot of good players right below this level, from Jason Spriggs to Jack Allen and all of Wisconsin's linemen.

Laremy Tunsil has been called the best tackle in the SEC, which is amazing for someone just entering their second year. He is the only underclassman on this list. Also, one of the distinguishing features for the SEC is definitely its size. The Big Ten has twelve 320-pound linemen with playing experience, and five of them on Wisconsin. The SEC has 28. If this list were bigger, the SEC's dominance of it would remain the same.

Hitting the Links Is A Wolverine

Ohio State's Gameplan With J.T. Barrett

Nothing really surprising: medium throws, allow the athletes to make plays. And obviously the backbone will still be their tough, interior running.

Penn State May Have Bowl Ban Lifted For 2015

They will have to make a case to the NCAA, but this would make this the final year of bowl sanctions for Penn State.

Who Can Lead Oregon's Run Game: Earth, Wind, or Fire

That is absolutely the best nickname I've heard in a very long time. Credit to SB Nation user DCDuck.

Tommy Trojan, & The Bruin Bear

Originally, HtL was going to be a Trojan for a day in honor of Josh Shaw. But this is worth keeping, as it's a great mini-tour of a couple monuments as well as a look into another rivalry week. When USC plays its biggest rival, UCLA, USC's Tommy Trojan is wrapped in duct tape to prevent vandalism (though someone still managed to leave a teddy bear). The Bruin Bear is also sealed off, for hibernation purposes.

Around the Big Ten: Preseason

This is a really cool thing the Champaign Room is doing - a succinct update on the week's news for each Big Ten team.

Michigan State Previews Its Wide Receivers

State is quietly building up depth and speed on the outside.

BSD Previews Volcanoes

This was a terrific, tongue-in-cheek look at the Penn State-UCF match.

Tyrann Mathieu Highlights

Once every six months or so, an alarm clock goes off in my head, and I re-watch It's A Wonderful Life, highlights of Ohio State losing a ton of games, and some plays by Tyrann Mathieu. The highlights start a little slowly, though it's a good video from start to finish. Just amazing stuff. My favorite moment was 3:17 (click a little earlier for the whole run back). Also, at 30 seconds you see a brief glimpse of the players' walk into the stadium, which is an LSU tradition started by Curley Hallman, then continued by Gerry DiNardo, Nick Saban, and Les Miles.

OTB 2014 Predictions

Includes a reference to the Nittany Lions as "Nitty Kitties," which is embarrassingly silly or just cute, depending on how long you look at it. Clever try, though.

TDG 2014 Predictions, Pt. 1 | Pt. 2

Part 1 has win totals, including an easy-to-peruse graph that shows which games they are most and least confident in predicting wins for. I'm glad to see the format in Part 2 is growing more popular, as well. For the poll, they're talking Michigan (Brown Jug), Wisconsin (Paul Bunyan's Axe), and Iowa (Bronze Pig).

Incredible Teddy Bridgewater Throw

Sports Center Top 10, of course.

Ten Sentences on Leonard Fournette

Well, this is another very cool idea, this one by the folks at ATVS. A good (and brief) read.

Michigan State Previews O-Line | Safeties

Michigan is not the only team with questions in its O-line - in fact, it seems to be a concern for a sizable portion of the B1G East teams, while Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota all count it as their primary strengths.

West Virginia TD

Stedman Bailey runs for 6.

The Daily Gopher Previews Eastern Illinois

This is getting included because it kicks off the Big Ten season, tonight, at 7:00 on BTN. Rutgers plays Pac-12 foe Washington State tonight at 10:00 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Behind The Scenes: Travelling to Ireland

There are some fun facts in here, like all of the equipment Penn State has to lug across the Atlantic Ocean - including a printer.

Players Week 1 Spotlight

This is a good list at the most interesting people to watch this weekend.

SB Nation's 99 Best Games This Weekend

UM-ASU comes in at #35.

RollBamaRoll Gives Its SEC East Predictions

This feels about right. Vanderbilt and Florida are wild cards, but it will be tough for them to do more than break even in their conference schedule. Florida is given the benefit of the doubt like that, though, because of the amount of talent on their roster, especially on defense. There is the best cornerback in the country (Vernon Hargreaves III), for one. There is a three-deep in the secondary entirely of blue-chips. There are eighteen blue-chips in the front seven. Behind Jeff Driskel, there are two near-five-star freshman quarterbacks. The team is loaded.

Shakin' the Southland Previews The ACC

Syracuse, by the way, put up some great advanced numbers in the trenches, which would help explain their win against a team like Minnesota.

Tomahawk Nation Predicts FSU's Season

TN does a great job of roundtable discussions, and this is no exception.

SI Picks The National Champion, More

All good selections for the eponymous category. Also, someone picks Michigan in the 'Surprise Team' section.

Team 135: Remember Who You Are

The beginning.