Back to football!
The college football offseason is full of rankings. There are your standard preseason rankings and preseason all-conference selections. There are also the random rankings thrown out there to generate engagement during a content desert. You know the ones I'm talking about. Rankings like "Top 25 Best College Towns" which inexplicably leave off some crazy place like Baton Rouge to get a big fanbase all fired up. My Twitter timeline was packed with these rankings over the summer. And if I'm being honest, I was getting really tired of them.
What I was getting tired of is that these rankings didn't seem to have any sort of criteria. What makes one college town better than another? Can you really say that Coach A is a better coach than Coach B when they have drastically different circumstances? Is one quarterback ranked above another because he has better stats, or because he's a better pro prospect, or because he has a higher athletic ceiling? When I was a physical therapist objective measures were drilled into my brain. I used tools to gather objective data, in order to demonstrate patient progress, so I could prove that I was an amazing therapist. Just kidding. It was mostly so I could show insurance companies that what I was doing was working and I only needed like two more visits to get them "functional" so please don't deny coverage.
So, I got to thinking: what would it look like to make a college football ranking without any criteria? That's how the Good Vibes team was born. You can't measure good vibes. Good vibes can't be quantified. Trust me, I tried! Out of habit I wanted to set criteria that said, "if a player can check these boxes they qualify as a good vibes player." But, it doesn't work that way. Good vibes are just something you know when you see.
Let me try my best to demonstrate with an example. Over his career Player A has 7,251 passing yards, 39 passing touchdowns, 869 rushing yards, and 18 rushing touchdowns. Player B has 2,538 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 488 rushing yards, and six rushing touchdowns over the course of his career. On paper Player A obviously has better stats than Player B. However, Player A is Bo Nix, very obviously not a good vibes player. He's more of a chaotic vibes player. That doesn't mean he's a bad player in general. He just isn't a guy that gives you good vibes when you watch him play. Player B, on the other hand, is Utah quarterback Cam Rising, definitely a good vibes player.
Good vibes players are guys that are just a blast to watch play college football. They are guys who, five years from now, will immediately come to your mind when you see one of those "name a random college football player" tweets. These guys absolutely "got that dawg in 'em." They're not necessarily the best players, although at times they are. Good vibes players are just... fun. I can't really explain it any better than that.
Here's the offense.
First Team Good Vibes
Grayson McCall - QB, Coastal Carolina: I don't want to say this was an easy selection for McCall, but it wasn't that difficult. He's everything you want in a good vibes player. He takes care of the football, his completion percentage is over 70% for his career, he is the straw that stirs a super interesting offensive drink at Coastal, he's tough as nails, and – most importantly – he's been known to rock a sick mullet. I think program fit is an important factor here, too. McCall might not be on the Good Vibes team if he put up the same stats at a different program. But, he's on a team that has a lot of fun, he wears cool jerseys, and he plays on the "surf turf." QB1.
Bijan Robinson - RB, Texas: The mission of the Good Vibes team is to select the most fun players to watch in college football, not necessarily the players with the best stats or the players most likely to go early in the NFL draft. Sometimes, though, the most fun player at a position also happens to be the best. That's the case with Bijan Robinson. He's electric with the ball in his hands, and a serious receiving threat out of the backfield. His ability to make defenders miss is absurd. I don't know if Texas is baaaaAAAAack. I don't know if Quinn Ewers is The Chosen One. But, I do know that Bijan Robinson is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
Deuce Vaughn - RB, Kansas State: I know, another obvious choice here. Vaughn is on pretty much every All-America list out there, but the Good Vibes team would be incomplete without him. Like Robinson, Vaughn is dynamic as a rusher and as a receiver. You have to be a serious dude to get as many touches as he does at 5'6" and 175 lbs. Also, very cool that his name is Deuce and he wears number 22. That's not something you can measure, but it definitely adds to the good vibes. Joining Vaughn in the backfield this season as a transfer is former Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez. I'm not sure what that means for the Wildcats through the air this year, but it will certainly make for some exciting wrinkles in the run game. Hopefully that means even more opportunities for Vaughn to showcase his skills.
Keytaon Thompson - WR, Virginia: When you watch Virginia's 2021 film it doesn't take long before you ask yourself: "who's this tall guy wearing number 99 and running over or around the entire defense?!" That's do-it-all wide receiver Keytaon Thompson. He's the definition of a player that will do anything to help the team win. He transferred to the Cavaliers from Mississippi State as a dual-threat quarterback, but has since made the switch to wide receiver. Last season – for a staff that is no longer at Virginia – Thompson lined up all over the field. He motioned into the backfield to the running back spot and aligned directly under center as a wildcat quarterback. At 6'4" he's a load to bring down. At one point last year I saw him catching passes with a cast on his left wrist. Thompson has had multiple opportunities to change numbers at this point, but has held on to the nontraditional 99. I love it. Virginia's offense might look different this year, but Thompson will still look good making plays in the 99.
Jalen Cropper - WR, Fresno State: I thought quarterback Jake Haener was going to be the Fresno State Bulldog to make a Good Vibes Team this season. But, the more I watched the more I couldn't ignore wide receiver Jalen Cropper. Cropper had at least one touchdown reception in seven consecutive games last season. Against a ranked UCLA in the Rose Bowl he hauled in 14 receptions – including a last second, go-ahead touchdown grab to upset the Bruins. Later in the season he had a four touchdown game in a win against UNLV. He even threw for a touchdown last year on a trick play! Jalen Cropper is a big play threat that puts points on the board.
Trayvon Rudolph - WR, Northern Illinois: In 2019 the Huskies had a disappointing 5-7 season, and in a 2020 season shortened by COVID they failed to win a single game. So, it came as a bit of a surprise to see them emerge in 2021 as MAC champions. A big part of their success was a punishing and effective rushing attack, which ranked fourth in the nation in terms of rushing yards per game. Teams weren't able to completely sell out to stop the run, because that's when wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph would make them pay. Rudolph was a Freshman All-American in 2020 and gathered multiple All-Conference honors in 2021. He played in all 14 games for the Huskies last year. By the way, he started out his career as a walk-on. He has outstanding concentration, excellent ball skills, and speed after the catch. That's part of the reason why NIU also uses him as a returner. Rudolph is an incredibly fun player to watch, and because he plays in the MAC you get to watch him on random Tuesday nights when no one else is on. It's awesome. Plus, in an era of NIL and transfers without penalty it's so cool to see Rudolph returning for his third season in DeKalb.
Sam LaPorta - TE, Iowa: Iowa just seems to churn out amazing tight ends. Sam LaPorta is the latest from a list that includes studs like George Kittle, Noah Fant, and T. J. Hockenson. LaPorta has tremendous hands and is difficult to bring down after the catch. He has the ability to line up on the line of scrimmage with his hand down or flexed out as a wide receiver. He also blocks his tail off in Iowa's zone heavy scheme. Tight end isn't an inherently Good Vibes position, but LaPorta does it well and earns the top spot.
Ricky Stromberg - C, Arkansas: When I think of Good Vibes at the center position I think smart and dependable. That's Ricky Stromberg. Over the last two seasons he's started 21 games, including all 13 in the 2021 season. He rarely gets penalized. It takes an incredible athlete to play that much and that well at 6'4" and 320 lbs. in a tempo-based offensive system.
O'Cyrus Torrence - OG, Florida: O'Cyrus comes over to Florida with Billy Napier. So, the new offensive system for the Gators is one that Torrence will be intimately familiar with. He's strong and has excellent length. Napier's system is very multiple, which is probably an overused term, but it means that Torrence has to use many different techniques. Finally, I just think O'Cyrus is an amazing name.
Sidy Sow - OG, Eastern Michigan: The first video I ever watched of Sidy Sow he was taking a sledgehammer to a cinderblock wall, an Eastern Michigan tradition as they take the field – which is a horrific shade of gray, but I digress. That rules. He's started every game for Eagles over the past few seasons, and looks cool doing it.
Cooper Hodges - OT, Appalachian State: As a freshman in 2018 Cooper Hodges took a redshirt year. Since then, all he's done is start every game for the Mountaineers and receive numerous accolades. He has really long hair and a great beard, which I assume is some kind of requirement for all residents of Boone, North Carolina.
Aaron Frost - OT, Nevada: Another guy with a ton of experience returning to college football. I'm beginning to think I may have a type... Anyway, Frost is a solid pass blocker. It's something he has a lot of practice with considering Nevada ranked toward the top of the NCAA in pass attempts per game under Jay Norvell. It seems like the Wolfpack coaches also thought highly of his run blocking ability. In one example, against Kansas State, I saw them move Frost inside to guard so he could pull and kick out on a 4th and Goal from the one. His versatility and experience make him a lot of fun to watch. He should be a bright spot for the Wolfpack in what might otherwise be a... well let's call it a transitional year.
Cayden Camper - K, Colorado State: I'm partial to kickers with normal looking facemasks and numbers in the nineties. Plus, Cayden Camper's tattoo sleeve on his kicking leg is badass. He gets to kick at altitude, which might be overblown but I'll just assume it adds 15-yards to his range. Most importantly, a new offense is coming to Colorado State this year with new coach Jay Norvell. That should lead to more opportunities for Camper to show off his leg.
Second Team Good Vibes
Malik Cunningham - QB, Louisville
Sean Tucker - RB, Syracuse
Mohamed Ibrahim - RB, Minnesota
A. T. Perry - WR, Wake Forest
Zakhari Franklin - WR, UTSA
Zay Flowers - WR, Boston College
Michael Mayer - TE, Notre Dame
Alex Forsyth - C, Oregon
Hunter Woodard - OG, Oklahoma State
J. D. Duplain - OG, Michigan State
Connor Galvin - OT, Baylor
Anton Harrison - OT, Oklahoma
Casey Legg - K, West Virginia
Honorable Mention Good Vibes
Cam Rising - QB, Utah
Frank Gore Jr. - RB, Southern Miss
Travis Dye - RB, USC
Nathaniel Dell - WR, Houston
Mycah Pittman - WR, Florida State
Rakim Jarrett - WR, Maryland
Will Mallory - TE, Miami (FL)
Olusegun Oluwatimi - C, Michigan
Lokahi Pauole - OG, UCF
Christian Mahogany - OG, Boston College
Blake Freeland - OT, BYU
Zion Nelson - OT, Miami (FL)
Harrison Mevis - K, Missouri
Congratulations to all of this season's selections, you've earned it! If you feel like anyone has been snubbed please come and yell at me on Twitter.
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Here is what the rest of the summer looks like at AB on FB before we kick this 2022 season off:
- Thursday, August 11th: First Team All Good Vibes - Defense
- Thursday, August 18th: Stat Spreadsheets and PDFs
- Thursday, August 25th: Sample Scheme Session