College Football 2011: Who's the Jimmer Fredette of the GridIron?
Jimmer Fredette was one of the more explosive players in college basketball during the 2010-11 season.
He's an amazing guard, and proves that white men can jump (he reportedly has a 36-inch vertical). He can drive to the basket as well, or better than anyone in the college game.
But racial stereotypes are dogging the BYU star. Even the "mighty" New York Times asks the question, "Is Fredette too white for the NBA?" Granted, they don't come right out and say it, but when comparing Fredette to white players of the past, there's one common thread: they were all great college players who were mediocre in the NBA.
Apparently, America has come far enough in the racial politics where it's now white males who are too identifiable with their own race's stereotypes to participate at a decent level in a particular activity.
It probably doesn't help that Fredette also hails from BYU—not typically the basketball powerhouse of recent years. Can coming from a smaller program hinder a player's chances?
But since we're talking about race, let's expand the talk to college football. Granted, the NFL is a different monster as white players have seemingly dominated the quarterback position over the years, but...
Are there white college football players that may be "too white" to excel in the NFL?
Here are just five examples of those who might have a lower stock because of stereotypes of preconceptions.
Brandon Fusco—Slippery Rock (D-II) Center
Fusco (center) in the 2011 Senior Bowl, surrounded by FBS players.
We'll start with those from the small programs.
Brandon Fusco, an offensive lineman from Division II Slippery Rock is 6-4, and tips the scales at 306.
He was also invited to the NFL combine, where he ran the 40 in 5.18, had 26 reps with the 225 bench, had a vertical of 28.5 inches, and ran the 20 yard shuttle in 4.43.
While these numbers aren't stellar, they are certainly decent, and could secure Fusco a selection in the mid-late rounds of the draft.
Fusco won the Gene Upshaw award in 2010 as Division II's lineman of the year. Most surprisingly, however, was the fact that this lineman was named his team's offensive MVP for 2010.
He was also one of only three Division II players to compete in the Senior Bowl.
So why shouldn't this o-line behemoth get a shot to play on Sundays? The problem is that so many NFL traditionalists view Division II like they view the Ivy League: playing to play, not because they're good at it, but because they have the opportunity to play after high school while continuing their education.
But if the past few years have taught us anything, it's that top players from the lower divisions cans sometimes outshine those from the FBS come draft day and into their rookie season.
Pat Devin—Delaware (FCS) Quarterback
Another player from a non-FBS program who should get his shot is Pat Devin of Delaware.
For you fans in the Big Ten, if the name sounds familiar, it's because this is the same Pat Devin who quarterbacked the Nittany Lions for a few years at Penn State.
He transferred to Delaware where in 2010 he was named the CAA conference offensive player of the year by the coaches. He threw for over 3,000 yards, and had 22 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He led the FCS in pass completion percentage (.680) and was fifth in passer rating (151.6). In two years as the starter for the Blue Hens, he won 18 games.
He was also named to the All-Academic team as a graduate student in his final year at Delaware.
In 2009, he was a candidate for the Walter Peyton Trophy (FCS's version of the Heisman).
Devin is a smart, collected individual with FBS talent. Although a lingering wrist injury may be of some concern, it wasn't enough to prevent an invitation to the NFL combine.
The real question will be whether or not an NFL general manager will be bold enough to take a chance on a lesser-known smart kid from the University of Delaware.
Ryan Mallett—Arkansas Quarterback
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The third player on our list is Ryan Mallett of Arkansas.
Ryan Mallett began his collegiate career at Michigan. During his freshman year, Mallett started three games for the maize-and-blue, but appeared in 11. After a serviceable freshman season primarily a back-up, he opted to transfer after Rich Rodriguez was hired as U-M's new head coach. Rodriguez was bringing his spread offense to Michigan, and Mallett is not a spread quarterback.
Mallett landed at Arkansas, and after sitting out the 2008 season per NCAA transfer rules, he started all 13 contests for the Razorbacks in 2009. With an impressive 152.5 passer rating, Mallett completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 3,624 yards and 30 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions.
His junior year, 2010, was even more impressive. Nearly 3,900 yards (3,869) and 32 touchdowns gave Mallett a 163.6 rating, and some accolades to go along with it. He was named 2nd team All-SEC in both 2009 and 2010. He was also a two-time winner of the SEC Player of the Week award.
Mallett also finished seventh in the voting for the 2010 Heisman Trophy.
Another big, strong quarterback, Mallett's pocket passing style has been regarded as “too tradition” by some pundits for today's NFL. Mallett is also a cerebral individual, and was majoring in Sociology before opting to leave Arkansas after his junior year.
While many NFL teams are now looking for a do-it-all quarterback, like Cam newton or Michael Vick, there should be some NFL team who could use a strong, accurate quarterback—even if he is very traditional in his style.
Andrew Luck—Stanford Quarterback
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Andrew Luck is one of those player who seem to get rarer and rarer with each passing year. He opted to return to Stanford for his senior season rather than move on to a certainly lucrative rookie contract in the NFL.
Any person being honest with themselves would be forced to admit that lure of millions of dollars is tremendously strong. Even more so if you're talking about a 21-year-old.
But as luck would have it, Luck is exactly what Stanford has. At least for another year (or two).
Luck finished 2010, his sophomore season, with numbers that impressed everyone, including the Heisman voters. Were it not for a force of nature named Cam Newton, Andrew Luck would have won the Heisman fairly easily, instead placing second to Newton.
In just two years, Luck has nearly 6,000 passing yards, 45 touchdowns (compared to just 12 interceptions), has added 807 rushing yards, and has a combined passer rating of 158.5.
On top of that, Luck is no slouch in the classroom. He majors in architectural design and engineering at Stanford. No dance classes for this scholar.
Luck also has one thing many other similar quarterbacks in college football lack: size. He's 6-4 and is listed at 235 pounds. Potential tacklers must be sure to wrap him up completely, or his size and strength will overpower them.
Curiously, though, some commentators still label Luck as someone who “wouldn't fit well with the NFL” or “isn't you typical NFL quarterback.”
Dane Sanzenbacher—Ohio State Wide Receiver
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This 5-11, 182-pound wide out for the Buckeyes accounted for 1,820 yards and 19 touchdowns with his career in Columbus.
A four-year letter winner, Sanzenbacher was voted the team's most valuable player as well as the team's most inspirational player by his fellow Buckeye players. Head coach Jim Tressel later stated that it was the first time in his memory that a player had won both of the team's top awards, and had won by such a large margin.
Sanzenbacher was also named 2010 1st team All-Big Ten.
Sanzenbacher is preparing for the NFL draft while he completes his degree at Ohio State in business administration.
Sanzenbacher is not your prototypical college-to-NFL player. Throughout his career at Ohio State, Sanzenbacher shied away from “football classes,” instead always maintaining his desire to earn a degree from Ohio State. And his degree is in something other than “movement science” or “general education.”
But can Sanzenbacher's small frame compete with the behemoths in the NFL every week? Some think he's a few inches too short, a few pounds too light, and a few steps too slow.
If you ask opposing defenses in the Big Ten, they'd probably tell you he has all the skill he needs to make it at the next level.