On a Friday that is unseasonably cold here in Charlotte, N.C., I am bringing you the mailbag. The rain is cold outside, my house is warm inside and the questions are all pretty interesting, at least they are to me. Here we go, folks!
@InTheBleachers Do you think players are more interested in playing time, program prestige, or development for NFL when picking schools?— Hutch (@HutchNGo) March 7, 2014
Honestly, I think the answer to this is just as varied as the kids who pick a school. In other words, there is no right answer here because all of them are correct if you ask the right person.
There are kids who picked Tennessee this cycle because Butch Jones has playing time to sell. Other players chose Ohio State knowing that getting to play for Urban Meyer was a great opportunity. Meanwhile, guys know Alabama has a stocked cupboard elected to sign with the Crimson Tide because Nick Saban has consistently shown an ability to get his players drafted.
Basically, there is no right answer to this question. It all depends on the kid and what's important to him and his family.
@InTheBleachers I’ve got one if you’re still taking them. Challenges LaQuon Treadwell will face moving outside and without Donte Moncrief?— Bennett Hipp (@bennetthipp) March 7, 2014
None. Seriously, Treadwell is the complete package, a kid who is bigger and stronger than defensive backs and that creates a problem every time he lines up. He has already shown an ability to get off press coverage and a knack for sitting down in the intermediate zones, two things that will only help him as he moves into a true primary receiver role.
Treadwell catches everything and has made it clear he has no qualms about going across the middle. Those two things are going to make him a problem for defenders who, in 2014, will have to also worry about him getting over the top. The sophomore is one of my favorites going into next season, and because he has already proven he is willing to be a bully with or without the football in his hands, I expect big things from him this coming year.
Obviously, Tony Brown will have the "quicker impact" in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He's an early enrollee who already has gone through winter conditioning and will be doing spring practice. However, if we're betting on who cracks the starting lineup first, I'd take Marlon Humphrey.
Brown is a talented football player with speed to burn and plenty of athleticism. Humphrey is not as athletically gifted, but he's more polished and is no slouch when it comes to talent. I expect Humphrey, who was well coached in high school from a technique standpoint, to come in over the summer and get up to speed during fall camp.
There is opportunity at the cornerback position, and while I think both see playing time, I think Humphrey sticks in the lineup as a regular during the 2014-15 season, while Brown still takes a little time to find his way. Ultimately, the two will be tremendous complements to one another on opposite sides of the field.
@InTheBleachers why is South Carolina considering a move to a 3-4 with no DL depth?— Hutch (@HutchNGo) March 7, 2014
Lorenzo Ward explains this to Josh Kendall at GoGamecocks.com, and he speaks to the abundance of depth at the linebacker position. Ultimately, it sounds like the coach is trying to get more linebackers on the field, while relying on fewer defensive linemen, since the team does not have a ton of bodies available in the front.
My colleague, Barrett Sallee, is in favor of the move as a way to help play to the Gamecocks' strength being in the linebacking group. Personally, I'm far more skeptical because I think the key to any successful 3-4 approach is not about the linebackers, but rather, about the defensive front. There are options for South Carolina at the nose position, but finding a solid rotation of 5-techniques is never an easy thing.
Especially when the team has not been recruiting that type of player.
I do trust Lorenzo Ward, and I think he realizes that to play a true 3-4, like Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame or even UCLA, requires different personnel than he has on his roster. That said, with the smallish defensive ends the Gamecocks have on the roster and the lack of true 5-tech body types, this transition will be interesting to watch. Some defensive tackles will be asked to move outside. Defensive ends will have to experiment with standing up.
There will be plenty of moving pieces to get right for this move to be effective in Columbia, S.C.