Incoming College Football Freshmen with Famous Parents
Some players become famous during their three to six years playing college football. They blaze their own trail and make a surname—Manziel or McCarron, for example—something that will live in NCAA lore for the foreseeable future.
For others, however, a path has already been blazed. A famous surname isn't something they make, it's something they live up to; the expectations are branded in their DNA.
Seven of the following nine players are like that: sons of football-playing or -coaching fathers who have given them an acute biological advantage. The exceptions are even cooler—the sons of icons in the acting or music worlds.
Having a famous father doesn't ensure the child's success. Nothing can ensure that. What it does ensure, however, is the one thing most 18-year-olds would kill for.
An immediate national spotlight.
LB Dillon Bates, Tennessee
Dillon Bates is the son of former Dallas Cowboys safety and special teams ace Bill Bates, who was a three-time Super Bowl champion in the early and mid 1990s.
A 6'3'', 220-pound outside linebacker, Dillon was a 4-star recruit and one of the top 100 players on the 247Sports composite. He followed his father's footsteps to Tennessee, and his commitment was never really much in question.
Bill was a four-year starter with the Vols who eventually found his way to the Cowboys by route of the USFL's New Jersey Generals. He started a few years in the secondary in the late 1980s before moving to a nickelback role and becoming one of the first special teams wizards in the history of the NFL.
Though one of the iconic players in Tennessee and Dallas Cowboys lore, however, the play Bill is best remembered for is sadly the one where he's steamrolled near the goal line by Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker in 1980.
OT Orlando Brown Jr., Oklahoma
Orlando Brown Jr. is the spitting image—at least in terms of proportions—of his late father, former NFL offensive tackle Orlando Brown Sr.
Brown Jr. (6'8'', 338 lbs) was committed to Tennessee for most of the past year but flipped to Oklahoma on national signing day. He was a 3-star recruit on the 247Sports composite but a 4-star recruit on the site's subjective rankings.
Brown Sr. entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 1993 and played with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens (when they moved cities). He is perhaps best remembered for being hit in the eye and wounded with a penalty flag by referee Jeff Triplette in 1999 and eventually suing the league for medical damages.
He tragically passed away in October 2011 from what the medical examiner confirmed was a complication of diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis, per Edward Lee of The Baltimore Sun.
QB Keller Chryst, Stanford
His father is Geep Chryst: the QB coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
What's more, Keller's uncle—Geep's brother—is former Wisconsin assistant and current Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst.
Many thought this might impel him to play for the Badgers or Panthers, but Keller instead chose to be close to his father in northern California, where he will enroll to play for Stanford this summer.
DB Naijiel Hale, Washington
Naijiel Hale is the only player on this list whose father is not notable for playing or coaching football. Even cooler.
He's the son of late rap artist Nate Dogg.
Hale, a cornerback, was a consensus 4-star prospect and the No. 228 overall player on the 247Sports subjective rankings. He committed to Arizona in the summer of 2013 but flipped his pledge to Washington in February 2014 after they hired Chris Petersen from Boise State.
Nate Dogg—whose real name was Nathaniel Hale—was a hip-hop icon during the 1990s and most of the 2000s. He signed with legendary rap label Death Row Records in 1993 and had collaborated with artists such as Tupac, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Warren G.
After surviving strokes in 2007 and 2008, Nate Dogg tragically passed away from complications of those strokes in March 2011, according to Mark Cina of The Hollywood Reporter.
CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
Marlon followed his father's footsteps to Tuscaloosa after considering Florida State, joining a Crimson Tide secondary in need of a major tune-up as the No. 12 overall player on the 247Sports composite and the top-ranked cornerback on the site's subjective rankings.
You mustn't look far to see where Marlon got his gifts.
Bobby ran for more than 2,700 yards combined in the 1986 and 1987 seasons, finishing 10th in the Heisman balloting the second of those two years. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos too, playing in the Super Bowl as a rookie and the Pro Bowl as a sophomore.
Unfortunately, injuries and off-field problems forced Bobby out of the NFL by the age of 26, truncating a once-promising career before its time. For an excellent feature on Marlon and Bobby—on their bond and on what the former has learned from the mistakes of the latter—check out this 2012 piece by Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com.
QB Brad Kaaya, Miami
Brad Kaaya's mother, Angela Means-Kaaya, doesn't stick out as some of other parents on this list. Her name is not immediately recognizable. Until you take a closer look at her face. Where do I know her from...
Yes, Kaaya's mom was Felisha in the 1995 cult classic Friday, acting in a memorable scene next to Chris Tucker and Ice Cube. (Note: the video in that link has NSFW language.)
Brad, meanwhile, was a 4-star quarterback from California who will travel across the country to play at Miami next season. He is 6'4'' and was one of the fastest rising players at the position toward the end of the recruiting cycle.
If it all breaks right, Angela won't be the family's only star.
DB Todd Kelly Jr., Tennessee
Todd Kelly Jr. is the son of former Tennessee defensive end Todd Kelly Sr., who captained the Vols to a 9-3 season in 1992.
Kelly Jr. was a 4-star recruit and the No. 61 overall player on the 247Sports composite. By that metric, he was the No. 5 safety and No. 3 recruit from the state of Tennessee this past cycle, committing to play in his hometown of Knoxville after starring at the Webb School.
Kelly Sr. was an All-SEC and All-America performer in 1992, racking up 11 quarterback sacks and 10 tackles for loss (which would be 21 tackles for loss as they're recorded in 2014).
He was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers and won a Super Bowl with the team after the 1994 season, when he was a teammate of the following father on this list.
Unfortunately, though, Kelly Sr. hit a development wall and would be out of the league after four largely forgettable seasons.
RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Christian McCaffrey is a shifty all-purpose back from Littleton, Co., and the son of—fittingly—former Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCafferey.
Christian is a consensus 4-star prospect and showed well at the Army All-America Game in January. He was the No. 2 all-purpose back on both the 247Sports composite and the site's subjective rankings, the latter of which ranked him the No. 70 overall player in the class.
Ed played at Stanford, entered the league as a third-round pick in 1991 and played for the Broncos from 1995-2003. He won his first Super Bowl with Steve Young as a San Francisco 49er in the 1994 season and two more with John Elway at the end of the old millennium.
He finished his career with 565 receptions for 7,422 yards and 55 touchdowns and was named to the first-team offense of the Broncos' 50th Anniversary Team in 2009, per Bill Williamson of ESPN.com.
DB Troy Vincent Jr., N.C. State
Troy Vincent Jr. is the son of Troy Vincent Sr.—better known as merely Troy Vincent during his playing days at Wisconsin and in the NFL.
Vincent Jr. is a 3-star cornerback from Maryland who committed to Penn State in June 2013 but flipped to North Carolina State after Bill O'Brien left to accept the head coaching position with the Houston Texans.
Vincent Sr. made five consecutive Pro Bowls between 1999 and 2003, starting mostly across from Bobby Taylor in an Eagles secondary that was wildly successful under head coach Andy Reid. He made three consecutive NFL All-Pro teams during that stretch (2000-2002) and was named the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2002.
He was also recently named the NFL's executive vice president of football operations and, when it's all said and done, should have a legitimate case for inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: Find anyone I might have missed? Leave a comment below and I will happily add him in.
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