Best Viral Moments from College Football 2016 Spring Practice
College football spring practices can be largely uneventful. In fact, a lot of coaches would like to keep them that way as their teams continue their behind-the-scenes preparation for the upcoming season.
But this is college football, a unique sport that doesn't always stay inside the lines—especially during the long offseason.
Over the last few weeks, several spring practices and spring games offered up plenty of eyebrow-raising events that spread like wildfire on social media.
A rapper earned more than $4,000 a minute to open a spring game. An NBA legend from the D.C. area randomly showed up in SEC country. Easter bunnies went to war. Unreal athletic feats were captured. Former players nearing a century in age scored touchdowns again.
With spring ball wrapping up across the country this weekend with a few more scrimmages, let's take a look at a dozen of the best viral moments from 2016 spring practices, including an Arizona fan bull-rushing a lineman to the sport's best coach inadvertently landing on a stat sheet.
Know of any other viral spring practice moments in college football that weren't included here? Share them in the comments below.
90+ Year-Old Alumni Score for South Carolina and Kansas
Touchdowns from surprise sources are one of the most entertaining trends from spring games each year. The South Carolina Gamecocks and Kansas Jayhawks each stepped their game up this spring with a pair of touchdowns from football alumni who were both in their 90s.
At South Carolina, 94-year-old Lou Sossamon rumbled in from a few yards out to put the first touchdown on the board in the Gamecocks' alumni game. Sossamon, who is South Carolina football's oldest living letterman and the program's first All-American, sparked a giant celebration in the end zone for both teams.
"It was the second touchdown in my career in football. I scored one touchdown when I was playing for the New York Yankees [pro football] team," Sossamon said, per Lou Bezjak of The State. "When I scored that one, I went over the goal line and threw the ball down. The coach said go back and center the ball. So I had to go back and center the ball."
In Kansas, 90-year-old Bryan Sperry took a screen pass 18 yards for a touchdown in Kansas' alumni game. Sperry is quickly becoming a spring-game star in Lawrence, as he scored a touchdown on the ground as an 89-year-old in 2015's edition.
Sossamon and Sperry are both living legends for their respective alma maters, and they showed they still have a few slick moves left in them after all these years. Unfortunately, as Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk noted, they're out of eligibility.
Allen Iverson Shows Up at Rocky Top
Spring games have a reputation for athletes coming out of nowhere to grab attention. While that usually happens with unknown football players on the field, it also happened in Tennessee with a new basketball Hall of Famer.
Former NBA superstar Allen Iverson showed up at Tennessee for its spring game earlier this month. The Answer posed for a picture with Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, which quickly made the rounds on social media:
We've got The Answer ✊ pic.twitter.com/fZ9f0t6KxC— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) April 16, 2016
Iverson, who played his college basketball at Georgetown, was in Tennessee's hometown of Knoxville over the weekend for an AAU benefit, per Robby Kalland of CBS Sports. He decided to take in some football, and he also talked to the Volunteers.
"Any time you can bring back a Hall of Famer to talk to your football team about playing for each other and working to be the best that you can possibly be," Jones said, per Ryan Callahan of 247Sports. "I know our players enjoyed that as well, and I'm very grateful for him coming by and spending a little bit of time with us, as well."
Fortunately for Jones, Iverson didn't talk about practice.
Arizona's Non-Spring Game Fun
So instead of a serious scrimmage spent praying that no players got injured, Arizona had some fun with its open practice during the middle of its spring camp. After some drills, the Wildcats got the fans involved in almost every way possible.
The above video shows Arizona fans both young and old...
- Kicking live field goals
- Going one-on-one against a defensive back
- Edge-rushing against a left tackle
- Absolutely destroying an interior lineman in another pass-rush drill (1:00 mark)
- Practicing a kick return, which prompted a massive celebration
- Competing in a longest pass contest
- Calling plays from the stands with Rodriguez
According to Godfrey, Rodriguez wanted to bring some energy back to the fan base after the Wildcats' 7-6 campaign in 2015.
From the looks of the faces in that video, consider that mission accomplished.
Blind Long Snapper Jake Olson Stars for USC
Perhaps the best college football moment of the entire spring came in the USC Trojans' spring game earlier this month when blind long snapper Jake Olson pulled off two perfect field goal snaps to standing ovations.
Olson's journey to play for the Trojans has been a long one. According to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, Olson first visited with the USC football team in 2009, before he had surgery to remove his right eye due to retinoblastoma, at the invitation of then head coach Pete Carroll. His time with USC inspired him to become a team member later in life.
Olson carved out a role as the long snapper for his high school team, Orange Lutheran in Huntington Beach, California, with the guiding help of his teammates. He joined USC's team as a freshman walk-on last fall but didn't see any action.
But this spring, he got his first chance to snap in front of Trojan fans, and his attempts went off without a hitch. In an interview with Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com, Olson said he wants to use his experience in the spring game to move him closer to the starting long snapper job.
"I just have to continue to take steps forward until everyone is on board and some of those doubts that I know some coaches have are gone," Olson said, per Bonagura. "I'm waiting to have more opportunities to show the coaches that I have the talent to go out there and snap."
Easter Bunnies Square off at Houston
The Houston Cougars' fifth spring practice of the year probably went like any other one across the country—except for one specific drill.
As the Cougars were practicing ahead of Easter weekend, head coach Tom Herman lined up two people in bunny costumes and let them go at it in a one-on-one "circle drill."
According to Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com, the bunnies were two strength and conditioning interns, and Herman runs some variation of the drill before each practice. For their effort and tenacity, the two bunnies—Bruiser and Buzzsaw—were named Herman's "dudes of the day" for that practice:
It's unclear whether Bruiser or Buzzsaw won the drill, as they decapitated each other during the struggle. But they both received the highest honor of all from Herman and undoubtedly brought some energy to that early-morning practice.
Hawaii Declares War in Giant Water Balloon Fight
This didn't happen during a practice or a spring game, but it was on a college practice field, and it was too cool to leave out of this countdown.
On April Fools' Day, new Hawaii Rainbow Warriors head coach Nick Rolovich and his staff declared war on their players, leaving them a note inside what appears to be some sort of team meeting room. The players were instructed to head to the practice field where they were ambushed in a giant water balloon battle.
While the coaches were outnumbered, they were armed with water guns, and some even rode golf carts onto the battlefield. According to Jeremy Mauss of SB Nation's Mountain West Connection, the battle featured "about 900 water balloons" and took a lot of secret planning from Rolovich.
The highlights of the battle in the above video include a complete blindside attack by a sidearm-throwing coach and a slow-motion shot of a golf cart flying down a steep hill to avoid getting a giant bucket of water thrown on it.
The next day, Hawaii began its spring practices. Now there's a unique way to ring in a new era of football.
Ludacris Headlines Record-Breaking G-Day
New Georgia head coach Kirby Smart wanted to get 93,000 people into Sanford Stadium for his first G-Day spring game with the Bulldogs.
Smart got what he wanted thanks in part to some late help from a famous Georgia native.
Prior to kickoff of the Georgia spring game, Atlanta-based rapper Ludacris performed for 15 minutes in front of a capacity crowd between the hedges. According to Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph, Georgia had previous pre-game musical acts fall through, but Ludacris' representatives called the program a few days before the game.
The deal was made, and it wasn't cheap. Butt reported Georgia paid Ludacris and his crew $65,000 for the 15-minute concert and agreed to provide a lengthy hospitality rider.
But that investment may turn into a great one in the long run for the Bulldogs, as the sellout crowd brought plenty of energy to a game that was attended by a laundry list of blue-chip recruits.
Nick Saban "Sacks" Alabama QB Blake Barnett
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban had another major quarterback battle on his hands this spring. Naturally, his spot behind the offense in this year's A-Day spring game gave him a close look at the competitors.
On one play, he got an extremely close view of redshirt freshman Blake Barnett.
Faced with a relentless pass rush from Alabama's defense, Barnett scrambled around in the pocket and changed direction several times before running right into Saban. Barnett was quickly whistled down on the play.
"I think that on occasion—more than one occasion—when there's a scramble, everyone seems to get attracted to me," Saban said, per Marq Burnett of SEC Country. "I think it's intentional to some degree, but as long as I don't get hurt, I really don't care. I usually can get out of the way, but I didn't do a very good job of that today."
Saban, who was a defensive back at Kent State during his playing days, didn't say whether that was the first "sack" of his football career. But a defensive-minded head coach like him had to be somewhat pleased with the takedown.
Notre Dame WR Torii Hunter Jr. Catches Like His Dad
While many in attendance for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish spring game were focused on the quarterback battle between former starters Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer, wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. made sure he grabbed his own share of the spotlight—literally.
In the second quarter of the scrimmage, Zaire lofted a deep ball down the sideline toward a streaking Hunter. The Fighting Irish wide receiver had to check up somewhat to get under the ball, and when he did, he pulled off a one-handed catch that looked similar to one his famous dad would've made in his long MLB career.
Hunter Jr. also plays baseball for Notre Dame and has to split time between the two sports. A few days after his ridiculous catch on the football field, he recorded another one on the diamond, making a one handed-grab before flipping over the fence into the stands at Florida State.
Per Scott DeCamp of MLive.com, Hunter Jr. had this to say about his role as a dual athlete:
Over the last couple of days, actually, I've had a couple guys come up to me and say, "You had a (baseball) game yesterday? I don't know how you do it; that's awesome. I appreciate that, and you coming out here and giving it your all (in football), especially when you just had a game yesterday."
If the younger Hunter continues to make strides on the football field, then there's a great chance we'll see more highlight-reel plays out of him this fall for the Irish.
Ohio State LB Jerome Baker Snags Incredible Interception
The one-handed catch fever spread from Notre Dame to Ohio State earlier this month, where linebacker Jerome Baker made what was the play of the spring-game season.
Ohio State Buckeyes backup quarterback Joe Burrow had a phenomenal game in front of a record-breaking crowd inside the Horseshoe, but one of his third-quarter passes went into the hand of a leaping Baker, who came down with an improbable interception.
According to Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com, Baker had another one-handed interception during a practice earlier this spring.
Baker told Lesmerises that his one-handed snag inside Ohio Stadium wasn't due to him wanting style points as he originally went up with both hands. He had a hurt finger on his left hand, so he decided to go for it with just his right one.
Ohio State wide receivers, consider yourselves put on notice—by a linebacker.
Running Man Challenge Invades Georgia Southern and Rutgers
If you've been on Twitter or Instagram any time in this past week, then there's a good chance you've seen the "Running Man Challenge."
The trend started in college basketball, when members of the Maryland Terrapins posted an Instagram video of themselves dancing to the 1996 song "My Boo" by the Ghost Town DJs. Some Villanova Wildcats players responded to the Terps' dance challenge, and the trend quickly became a viral sensation all across the Internet.
The challenge moved over to college football, too, with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Georgia Southern Eagles both showcasing their moves during their respective spring practices. In the above video, two Rutgers players look ready to square off in their "Ring of Honor" drill before breaking out into the dance—and getting the entire team to join them.
Georgia Southern took the challenge by playing "My Boo" over the PA system at its stadium and dancing all over the field:
It's important to let loose and have a little fun during a long spring camp, and it's hard to imagine any college athlete having any more fun than the ones doing the Running Man Challenge. The joy from it is infectious.
Texas Tech WR Derrick Willies Pulls off Insane Box Jump
What's a countdown of viral moments in college football without a ridiculous feat of strength captured on a cell phone video?
Meet Texas Tech Red Raiders wide receiver Derrick Willies, who transferred to the Red Raiders from Trinity Valley Community College in Austin, Texas, this offseason. In late March, Willies posted a video of himself landing a 60-inch box jump while wearing a 10-pound weighted vest.
Oh, and he started the five-foot jump by sitting down on a smaller box.
Willies' caption to the video, directed at Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, was perfect:
The video definitely got Mahomes' attention:
Remember the name Derrick Willies. This 6'3" JUCO transfer has the potential to do some incredible things with Mahomes in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's pass-heavy attack this fall.
Justin Ferguson is a National College Football Analyst at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.