After finally sitting down and reviewing last week’s spring games, I’ve compiled a quick list of takeaways from some of the powerhouse programs in each division. I’ll be focusing on the SEC and some of their higher-profile players for this edition. If you didn’t catch the games, now’s your chance to catch up!

on the QUARTERBACKS:

  • The first-team offense didn’t have the best day, suffering from multiple turnovers and struggling to hold up against a nasty Alabama rush. Bryce was probably forced out of the pocket more than he would have liked and suffered four sacks before the first half was over, finishing with -61 rushing yards. Still, he did an excellent job keeping his eyes down the field and made some plays with his legs.
  • Second-team QB Jalen Milroe had himself a day, throwing for over 150 yards and rushing for another 32. He had a run “blown dead” on what would have been a 40-yard rushing touchdown. The sophomore QB has some funky mechanics but has a boat-load of tools and would probably start for any other team.
  • Freshman 5-Star QB Ty Simpson has some noticeable zip on the ball. He drove the ball outside the hash marks, and you could hear the impact against the hands of the receiver. He made some plays with his legs and only attempted a few deep passes, but he did have the ball flutter on him when throwing the ball down the field.

on the RUNNING BACKS:

  • The early reports on Jahmyr Gibbs seem to be translating to the football field. The presumed starter and top-3 devy running back picked up multiple chunk gains, including a 75-yard touchdown. He saw time as a kick returner but only saw one target on the day. Hopefully, Alabama will figure out ways to utilize his strengths in the passing game.
  • We didn’t see Jase McClellan or Roydell Williams in this game, but freshman running back Jamarion Miller got plenty of runs with the second and third teams. He looked spry, picking up a few short-yardage situations and making some adjustments at the line of scrimmage. The Trey Sanders reclamation project is also still in full swing, and Emmanuel Henderson has yet to arrive on campus, so it remains to be seen how the pecking order will break up once everyone is healthy. Still, the coaches clearly wanted to see what Jamarion could do with a few more touches.

on the WIDE RECEIVERS:

  • Jermaine Burton and Traeshon Holden were starting WR trio on the outside, with Jojo Earle in the slot. Before you get too excited about those Holden shares stewing away on your rosters, remember that Ja’Corey Brooks missed this game nursing an injury. Add in the fact that Alabama just added Tyler Harrell through the portal, predominantly an outside receiver at Louisville, and Holden’s grasp on that starting spot is loose at best.
  • Earle flashed the athleticism that everyone loves but struggled to locate the ball in this game. He had at least two balls bounce right off his hands in wide-open situations. On the other hand, Christian Leary had a massive game as the primary receiver for the second unit. He had a 70+ yard touchdown and finished the day with over 100 yards. He could push for a viable role this season, and should Earle struggle catching the ball, Saban might want to see what Leary can do in that slot role.

on the QUARTERBACKS:

  • It’s Anthony Richardson’s world, and we are just living in it. Despite the talk of an “ongoing battle” between Richardson and OSU transfer Jack Miller, the exciting third-year quarterback was the sharper of the two and looks comfortable with new head coach Billy Napier’s system. Many were concerned about Napier’s ability to utilize Richardson’s unique skill set. Last Saturday’s spring game consisted of multiple designed runs and put Richardson into advantageous situations to make plays off-script. He was poised, decisive, and made plays all over the field. 
  • Richardson completed 18 of 24 passes for 207 yards, adding another 30 yards on the ground with three total touchdowns and zero turnovers. Jack Miller completed 13 of 23 passes for 131 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Time to put this sham “QB battle” to rest.

on the RUNNING BACKS:

  • Former 5-star running back Demarckus Bowman started the game on Miller’s orange squad, while Louisiana transfer Montrell Johnson started with Richardson’s blue squad. Bowman had an afternoon he’d soon like to forget, fumbling the ball twice and only managing 3.4 ypc over 17 carries. He somehow weighs even less than his 190-pound weight as a recruit entering his third year (183 pounds) and may never live up to his 5-star pedigree.
  • Montrell Johnson had a solid day, leading the blue team in rushing and seeing time with both squads. He was even brought in at the goal-line to convert a 3rd & goal after Lorenzo Lingard failed on his two previous attempts. Montrell checks most of the boxes with size (5’11”, 210 pounds) and early production, earning Sun-Belt freshman of the year last year. It remains to be seen how the workload will split up, but Johnson is the most intriguing piece in this backfield for C2C and Devy leagues.
  • Speaking of former 5-star running backs, the aforementioned Lorenzo Lingard is also still around campus, as is Nay’Quan Wright, who has been praised as the leader and veteran of this group but profiles more as a pass-catching change-of-pace back. I’m sure we will see all these guys at one point or another, but my money remains on Johnson to lead this backfield.

on the WIDE RECEIVERS:

  • Florida continues to have question marks at WR, and I’m not sure it got any clearer in today’s game. JaQuavion Fraziars led all WRs on the day in targets but played primarily on the Gators’ second-team unit. Let’s not forget about Justin Shorter, a former #1 ranked WR recruit in the 2018 class, who seemed to be a starting receiver on the blue team … Actually, we can probably forget about him. He feels like he’s been in college for a decade, has failed to make any meaningful impact, and I’m not about to bet on him doing it now.
  • The most interesting of the group might be Xzavier Henderson, who was tied for the lead in targets on the blue squad. The 6’3” and 195 pound WR has high-end verified measurables and could finally be on the verge of a breakout with Richardson at the helm. All in all, it’s not an exciting group, but someone will have to step up as Richardson’s WR1.

on the TIGHT ENDS:

  • The only reason I wanted to mention the tight end position for the Gators is Dante Zanders. He converted from defensive lineman to a full-time TE this year, and he led the entire team in receiving. If nothing else, Zanders is a fun story to root for, but head coach Billy Napier did call Zanders an “NFL Talent” during the game broadcast, although I’m not sure if I’d bank on that outcome.

on the QUARTERBACKS:

  • Arkansas’ spring game was more of a situational scrimmage, but K.J Jefferson looked like himself and showed off his big arm, rifling passes into tight coverage. The contact-less exercise didn’t allow him to show his rushing ability, but he remains entrenched as the Razorback starter.
  • The more interesting story might be Malik Hornsby, who has struggled and looked slightly out of place during his few snaps as a QB last year. He ran the second-team unit in this game but saw time experimenting as a wide receiver. At 6’2″ and 187 pounds, his build is less than ideal for a QB, but he has the size and speed to excel as a wideout – should the transition stick.

on the RUNNING BACKS:

  • With Raheim “Rocket” Sanders’s first touch of the day, he took it to the house on a nifty 60+ yard touchdown. He dissected the line, showed impressive lateral agility for his size, and burst through the hole, outrunning the entire defense. His upside is sky-high, and he remains one of the more intriguing running backs in devy and C2C leagues.
  • We didn’t get to see Dominique Johnson, who is nursing an injury after leading the backs in rushing yards last year, but we did get to see sophomore running back AJ Green. Green, who was a track star and owns elite finishing speed, looked visibly stockier and may have added weight to his previously 200-pound frame. He should see an increased role with the departure of Trelon Smith in this 3-headed attack.

on the WIDE RECEIVERS:

  • So, who replaces Treylon Burks for the Razorbacks? Unfortunately, we still may not have clarification on that just yet. Jadon Haselwood, a former #1 ranked WR recruit and Oklahoma transfer, sported a green non-contact jersey and has been managed during spring practice. He played in the scrimmage but failed to make much of an impact.
  • The most noteworthy buzz from the receivers was possibly Ketron Jackson, a highly-ranked recruit in last year’s class who found his way onto the field in year one. Jackson opened up with the first-team offense and seemed to be in line for an important role this year. He’s received positive reports from coaching staff and fellow wideouts, calling him one of the most improved players this spring.

on the QUARTERBACKS:

  • The most critical piece of information regarding the Gamecocks revolves around Spencer Rattler. How does he rebound from a disappointing year at Oklahoma? Especially as most of us spent significant capital to acquire him in recent years. He’s received good buzz this spring and looked the part in this game. It was nothing fancy, but he was decisive, got rid of the ball with pressure in his face, and even completed a few nice strikes down the field.
  • Rattler has also added solid weight this offseason, bulking up to 210 pounds from his previously listed 200 at OU. Broadcasters mentioned that this had been an emphasis for him this offseason, and it may not stop here.
  • The backup spot remains a mystery, but Luke Doty operated the second-team unit and had a serviceable day, completing 7 of 10 passes for a team-high 85 yards and a touchdown.

on the RUNNING BACKS:

  • Is it finally time for the rebirth of Marshawn Lloyd? The redshirt sophomore reminded us he was one of the most exciting running back recruits in the 2020 class with his fluid cutting ability, fancy footwork, and acceleration. Lloyd, who is now two years removed from the ACL injury suffered as a freshman, claims he was far less than 100% last year and says this is the first time he’s felt fully healthy in a long time. He still has a lot to prove before jumping back on the radar, but it’s a positive development nonetheless.
  • Juju McDowell, a sub-180-pound sophomore running back, looks like the favored option as the backup running back. He was speedy and elusive on the day, averaging over 9.0 yards per carry and taking two catches for nine yards.

on the WIDE RECEIVERS:

  • Who is going to be Rattler’s go-to weapon? It could easily end up as Austin Stogner, a TE who transferred with Rattler from OU. Or TE Jaheim Bell, who came on strong for the Gamecocks down the stretch, but both were not available for this game. 
  • Instead, Rattler seemed to show chemistry with transfer WR Antwane Wells Jr. They hooked up for Rattler’s biggest play of the day and were spotted having numerous discussions on the sidelines during the game. A budding friendship could turn Wells into Rattler’s favorite target this year, although the Gamecocks returning leading wideout, Josh Vann, was not playing today. Transfer Arkansas State WR Corey Rucker has yet to arrive on campus.

on the QUARTERBACKS:

  • Stetson Bennett started the day and looked like his normal self. He doesn’t possess an elite arm and dynamic rushing ability, but he manages the offense well. He completed under 50% of his passes but threw for almost 300 yards, three TDS, and two INTs.
  • Carson Beck’s strong spring carried over to the game, making multiple nice throws and showing off a strong arm. He’s reportedly been pushing Bennett in spring practice this year, but Kirby has acknowledged that this is Stetson’s team heading into 2022. Should Stetson begin to struggle, Beck’s performance should give some confidence to Dawgs fans.
  • Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton didn’t do much, although Vandagriff saw quite a few more snaps. There hasn’t been much buzz out of practice about either QB, and this performance didn’t give us any reason to buzz about them now. Both remain intriguing options for the future but seem to be far from ready.

on the RUNNING BACKS:

  • This year, Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh look like the main duo for UGA. Both players’ skillset is very complimentary of each other, with McIntosh looking like a possible James Cook replacement and Milton in the bruising Zamir White-role. It was a welcome surprise to see both backs receive 4+ targets in the game, with both players catching a 30+ yard pass down the field with the starting offense.
  • Daijun Edwards was the only other back to receive a carry and looked fine as a complementary depth option. He also received four targets in this game and scored two touchdowns in the red zone. 

on the WIDE RECEIVERS:

  • There wasn’t much to note out of the WRs. Kearis Jackson led the team in receiving with over 100 yards, but the biggest story might be the returning health of Dominick Blaylock and Arian Smith.
  • Arguably one of the fastest players in college football, Smith has battled injuries for most of his career but showed off his speed on a 60-yard strike from Beck. Blaylock has been a practice superstar for most of his career but hasn’t seen the field much following an early ACL injury that took almost two seasons to recover from. He made multiple grabs showing off his exceptional body control. Both would be huge weapons for this offense if they can remain healthy.

on the TIGHT ENDS:

  • Is Georgia becoming TEU? The emergence of Brock Bowers has put a heightened emphasis on the TE position, and this group continues to deliver. Arik Gilbert has been operating as the primary TE with Bowers and Darnell Washington out for spring. There was an emphasis on using him in the red zone, as almost all five of his targets were inside the 10-yard line. He lined up in different spots but only made two catches, securing touchdowns with both.
  • This group might end up 4-deep, as Oscar Delp, the #2 ranked tight end in this class, made multiple plays in the middle of the field. He finished with a team-high nine targets, catching seven for 91 scoreless yards, and looked like a dynamic receiving option.

Follow me @FF_Guitarist for more C2C and Devy nonsense.

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