In the world of college athletics, there’s no substitute for experience and leadership. Countless players around the country have grown from wide-eyed, effervescent true freshmen to grizzled and war-tested seniors. Over the past four or five years, they have bled, sweat, and cried—all in the name of college football.
But now it’s time to say goodbye. As they begin to embark on the next phase of their lives, I take it upon myself to ensure they exit with a little extra recognition
Most Likely to Become an Olympic Diver
Few know the man behind the man. On the surface, Missouri senior placekicker Jeff Wolfert is the Lou Groza Award Semifinalist who is threatening to break the NCAA career record for combined kicks percentage. As of Nov. 10, Wolfert had connected on 222 of 232 field goals and extra points, or 95.7 percent.
But long before the former walk-on’s hidden abilities were thrust to the forefront, Wolfert was busy rocking a Speedo. Originally arriving in Columbia on a diving scholarship in 2004, Wolfert, with a Michael Phelps-like frame (6’2”, 185 lbs.), dominated the board and platform his freshman year, earning all-conference honors.
Best Inebriated College Mascot
It’s no secret being the mascot of a big-time BCS program is a demanding undertaking. Adding to the difficulty of deftly balancing studies with a trying travel schedule are the physical and spiritual demands of willing your team to victory for 12 consecutive weeks. So how can you blame these upstanding citizens for blowing off a little steam now and again?
The answer is, you can’t. But James Sheep took some pregame shenanigans a bit too far. Sheep, the Penn State senior who plays the role of the Nittany Lion mascot, was recently relieved of his duties for the remainder of the season after being arrested on Nov. 22.
Smack dab in the middle of pulling an all-nighter leading up to Penn State’s game with Michigan State, a street-clothed Sheep was pulled over by university police at 3:15 a.m. and later charged with DUI.
Most Likely to Be Confused with Some Sort of Hawaiian Cuisine
If you struggle to pronounce his name, don’t worry about it. You’re definitely not alone. Navy senior quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada couldn’t spell his own name until he reached high school.
Ever since the native Hawaiian took the reigns of the Midshipmen option offense in 2006, announcers everywhere have used caution when calling Kaheaku-Enhada’s number. The fear is that the overabundance of vowels and syllables will trick viewers into thinking the quarterback was named after some kind of radical take on the traditional Island-inspired plate lunch.
Best Suited to Handle His NFL Signing Bonus…in Weight
A 6’3”, 255 lb. hunk of man mass, Texas senior defensive end Brian Orakpo is nothing short of a genetic freak of nature. The weight room stats are alarming: a 515-pound bench press, a power clean that exceeds 380 lbs., and a 40-yard dash timed in the 4.5 second range.
Orakpo came to Austin a relatively light 210 lbs. In the four years since, the Big 12’s premier pass rusher has transformed himself into a surefire first-round pick in next spring’s NFL Draft.
Most Likely to Resort to Porn Star Status
Spending a majority of his four years in Lubbock either stuck on special teams or mired on the two-deep depth chart, Texas Tech wideout turned defensive back L.A. Reed hasn’t exactly lived up to the panache that his name emits. The former four-star recruit’s athletic ability has often been heralded by coaches, but seldom validated on the field.
Perhaps it’s time for Reed to think about life after football. With a little networking and the aid of a ’70s-inspired ‘stache, I’m sure Reed would have an easy time breaking into the talent-laden world of smut film. Helping his cause may be the unsubstantiated rumor that Reed’s Red Raider teammates have a history of being skittish when it comes to taking a spot next to Reed in the team shower.
Most Deserving of a Going Away Party
Looting. Rioting. Dizzying hysteria in the streets of Greeley. This figures to be the scene when Northern Colorado University finally bids adieu to the present group of seniors on its helpless football team.
By no means am I a historian on Bears football, but the last four seasons are presumed to be the most futile stretch ever for a program that celebrated back-to-back FCS titles as recently as 1996-97.
After posting nine wins in 2003, the UNC coaching staff rode the momentum of a 2-9 season in ’04 to recruit the superstar class that has since manufactured just five wins and floundered its way to a whopping 38 defeats.
Most Likely to Be Convicted of Theft
He has no consideration whatsoever for the well-being of others, nor does he care about the psyche of opposing offenses, particularly quarterbacks. For three-plus seasons, Victor Harris has made a career of preying on wayward passes and converting them into instant points for his team.
Affectionately known to his teammates as “Macho,” Harris is the ball-hawking cornerback that acts as the lynchpin and personification of Virginia Tech’s smothering defensive schemes.
Since excelling on special teams during his freshman season in 2005, Harris has been among the national leaders in interceptions each of the last three years and has returned four of his 15 career interceptions for touchdowns.
To boot, Harris has a 100-yard kickoff return to his credit, evidence that he has the wheels to endure even the longest high-speed chase.
Most Irrelevant Passing Quarterback
One of the better teams in the rough-and-tumble MEAC, 8-3 Bethune-Cookman features a one-dimensional offense that takes pride in rendering passing the ball completely useless. Despite the predictability, the Wildcats ranked first in the conference in rushing yards per game (217.6) and third in points (25.6).
It’s unclear whether Bethune-Cookman’s propensity for keeping the ball on the ground is by design or merely a byproduct of having one of the nation’s most inept quarterbacks. But there’s no denying the idea that the Wildcats’ offensive staff hasn’t exactly been forcing its signal-callers to throw balls through a swinging tire.
Senior starter McKinson Souverain (perhaps the coolest name in college football) completed a paltry 42.7 percent of his 75 pass attempts for a blistering 515 yards, three TDs, and two interceptions. Interestingly enough, Souverain, who somehow managed a 108.2 passer rating in ‘08, is Bethune-Cookman’s second-leading rusher, with 565 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Most Likely to File a Restraining Order Against Mark May
A little backstory: Mark May is an egotistical college football analyst for the Eastern Seaboard Prejudice Network and a former standout offensive tackle at the University of Pittsburgh, where he won the coveted Outland Trophy in 1980.
If you have ever been able to stomach his analysis for more than five minutes, you’re probably already aware of May’s boyish infatuation with the members of USC’s gangbuster defense, especially its senior leaders.
As far as the 49-year-old May is concerned, he’d much rather spend his off days rubbing Icy Hot on linebacker Brian Cushing’s inner thigh than continue to argue the decrepit nature of the Notre Dame program with Lou Holtz.
And I’m not just talking to you, Cushing. Rey Maualuga, you’re second on the list, buddy. I hear May likes the artistry of all those tribal tats.
Most Likely to Let Losing a National Championship Bid and the Heisman Trophy in a One-Week Period Stand in His Way of Millions of Dollars
Coincidentally, this superlative belongs to the only underclassman on the list. Even if you don’t follow the process of elimination, which, in this case, doesn’t exist, you can still deduce that I’m talking about poor ol’ Colt McCoy.
Not only did Texas’ junior quarterback get victimized by Big 12 officials and their inexcusably fascist tiebreaker policies that may have cost the Longhorns a national title, he was forced to sit idly by at home while his two biggest Heisman threats lit it up in their respective conference championships. Ouch!
For months, McCoy has declared and then rescinded announcements that he is making the leap to the NFL, finally stating on Dec. 8 he will be returning for his final year to make another run at a national championship.
Though some are calling him a first-day pick, which would mean a healthy signing bonus, McCoy seems content on risking injury and putting his pro career on hold for sake of giving safety Blake Gideon a chance to not totally fuck his season in ‘09.