Biggest Revelations from This Weekend's Spring Games

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2017

Biggest Revelations from This Weekend's Spring Games

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    Todd J. Van Emst/Associated Press

    While Sergio Garcia was busy winning the first major golf of his career in epic fashion, more than 20 college football teams closed early offseason workouts with a spring game.

    The glorified scrimmages have become increasingly popular in recent years, though it's critical to not overreact in the aftermath since the spring offers few definitive takeaways.

    Consequently, reactions to some topics—a rebuilt positional unit, for example—must be cautious. Still, the spring offers a chance for meaningful insights from previous seasons to reappear.

    Spring storylines, 2016 performance, role changes, roster turnover and unexpected developments all factored into the list.

Dan Mullen Faced an Unexpected Call

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    The No. 1 goal of the spring game? Don't get anyone hurt.

    Mississippi State safety Jonathan Abram apparently forgot that objective, unleashing a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Bennie Braswell III.

    Dan Mullen called a targeting penalty and elected to end the spring game at that point rather than run a final play or two.

    Abram, a JUCO addition in the 2017 cycle, might have some answering to do in the locker room. His competitive spirit is obvious and likely welcomed on the Bulldogs defense, but—especially given the situation—that was a nasty and unnecessary hit.

TCU's Offense Remains a Work in Progress

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    KaVontae Turpin impressed in his first nationally viewed action since an injury-plagued 2016 campaign. TCU's quarterbacks, however, did not match the receiver's performance.

    Both incumbent starter Kenny Hill and projected top backup Shawn Robinson tossed a pair of interceptions.

    Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram provided unofficial final lines: Hill finished 3-of-9 for 15 yards, and Robinson managed 90 yards on 10 completions in 22 attempts.

    The Horned Frogs have the talent to contend in the Big 12, but that'll only happen if Hill makes significant improvements over the summer and receivers stop dropping passes. Otherwise, TCU will need to fight through another inconsistent year on offense.

Oklahoma RBs Look Promising

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    Gone are Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, who combined for 5,545 total yards and 56 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Although replacing that production is an enormous challenge, Oklahoma's backfield appears to be in decent shape.

    Abdul Adams, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season, is the expected starter. The spring game offered a closer look at Trey Sermon and Marcelias Sutton, while Rodney Anderson made a cameo with a 92-yard kickoff return in a non-contact jersey.

    The 6-foot, 215-pound Sermon played like his size suggests he should, powering his way to a game-best 73 yards. Sutton relied on speed, vision and elusiveness to average 6.3 yards on 10 carries.

    Oklahoma needs a featured runner, but the Sooners seemingly don't have a depth question heading into the summer. After losing talents like Perine and Mixon, that must be a huge relief.

Young Ole Miss WRs Are Dangerous

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    Though a cloud of uncertainty surrounds the Ole Miss program, a young receiving corps shouldn't be a part of the problem.

    A trio of sophomores—Van Jefferson, A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalfare poised to lead the pass-catching group that lost Evan Engram, Damore'ea Stringfellow and Quincy Adeboyejo. The new triumvirate posted 15 receptions for 357 yards in the spring game.

    Granted, that was a not-insignificant indictment of the secondary. The Rebels still have a serious issue on the back end.

    But the Ole Miss coaching staff can be confident in Jefferson, Brown and Metcalf with Shea Patterson slinging the ball this fall.

Kelly Bryant Ends the Spring as Clemson's QB

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    Somebody will earn the privilege/responsibility/burden to replace Deshaun Watson, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist for Clemson. Through the spring, one quarterback stands out.

    "If we played a game today, Kelly would be the guy," head coach Dabo Swinney said, according to ESPN.com's David M. Hale.

    Kelly Bryant boasts the most experience in the three-man race that includes Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson. However, that's just 18 career pass attempts and 178 rushing yards.

    The dual-threat junior began the practices as the unofficial leader, so the best news for Bryant is that hasn't changed. But there's a long time between early April and early September.

    Just because Bryant exited the spring as the No. 1 doesn't mean it won't change before Clemson hosts Kent State on Sept. 2.

Derwin James Is Ready for September

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    Florida State safety Derwin James missed 11 games in 2016 because of a torn meniscus in his left knee.

    He's OK.

    He's really, really OK.

    James was simply everywhere. He notched seven tackles with three stops behind the line of scrimmage, including two sacks.

    The redshirt sophomore probably would've sent Deondre Francois into another dimension had he been an opposing quarterback without a non-contact jersey. Gilbert Henric wasn't so lucky, taking an enormous yet legal hit from James that jarred loose a would-be completion on a fourth down.

    "Derwin is better than he ever was," Francois said, per Safid Deen of the Orlando Sentinel. "He's always going to be that guy."

    No arguments here.

Jarrett Stidham Backed Up the Hype

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    Jarrett Stidham entered a favorable situation in Auburn's quarterback room. However, that also resulted in massive expectations being heaped on the talented Baylor transfer.

    So far, though, so good. He finished the spring game 16-of-20 for 267 yards and scored a quirky rushing touchdown after a fumble.

    According to Justin Ferguson of SEC Country, Stidham completed four passes of 30-plus yards. That downfield passing attack has been noticeably absent from the Tigers offense since Nick Marshall and Sammie Coates departed the Plains in 2014.

    Head coach Gus Malzahn will give returning starter Sean White—who was limited for most of the spring due to injurythe respect he's earned and entertain a competition over the summer, but Stidham has only reinforced the belief he's going to steal the job.


    All recruiting information via Scout. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.