B/R 5th Down: Russell Wilson's Wild Wisconsin Commencement Speech and More

Justin Ferguson@@JFergusonBRCFB National AnalystMay 16, 2016

Former Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson
Former Wisconsin QB Russell WilsonAndy Manis/Associated Press

Bleacher Report's 5th Down captures the top social college football stories of the week. As this bitter eternity of the offseason continues, we'll focus on moments from the schools, coaches and players that kept us entertained as we wait for actual college football to make its long-awaited return.

1. Russell Wilson cracks jokes and jabs NC State at Wisconsin's graduation

While a good portion of people who finished college probably don't remember who delivered the commencement speech at their graduation, Wisconsin's Class of 2016 won't ever forget its speaker.

Wisconsin brought back Russell Wilson, the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks quarterback who finished his college football career with the Badgers, to speak to its graduating class this past weekend. What followed was one of the most memorable graduation speeches of all time—for quite a few reasons:

Wilson wasn't a straight-laced speaker at the microphone inside Camp Randall Stadium. He wore a hoodie under his gown, laughed plenty of times during the speech and even made fun of his most infamous gaffe as a pro quarterback.

"If you're playing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl and you've got 26 seconds left and you're down by four and it's 2nd-and-goal on their 1-yard line, try not to throw an interception," Wilson said, per Sam Eifling of Deadspin. "That last one is purely hypothetical, though, of course."

Through Wilson's stories of advice and what to do "when life tells you no," he also angered some fans of his first school, NC State.

Wilson said former NC State football coach Tom O'Brien told him he couldn't come back to play his senior year for the Wolfpack after spending the summer playing minor league baseball, which prompted his transfer to Wisconsin.

"[O'Brien] said: Listen, son, you're never going to play in the National Football League. You're too small. There’s no chance. You got no shot, give it up,'" Wilson said, per Eifling.

Wilson also told a story of how he was barely getting playing time for NC State baseball as a draft-eligible junior. He waited on the bench to get a chance to hit in a game against UC-Irvine, and when he finally got his chance, he hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning. 

However, Steven Muma of SB Nation's Backing the Pack wrote that Wilson fabricated several details of his baseball story:

Steven @akulawolf

RW: "My freshman and sophomore year at NC State, I had about 450 to 500 at-bats" Reality: he got 143 combined

Steven @akulawolf

RW: "Now it’s the first few weeks of my junior season, the draft-eligible year, and I’m barely playing." He got a career-high 98 ABs

Steven @akulawolf

By the way, that Irvine game that RW builds up to? Fifth game of the season. Fifth.

Steven @akulawolf

By the way, Avent also let Russ pitch. He was actively trying to find the best fit.

After Wilson finished his eventful speech, he joined Wisconsin's Class of 2016 in one final rendition of the Badgers' "Jump Around" tradition at Camp Randall Stadium:

Wisconsin Football @BadgerFootball

#UWGrad class couldn't say goodbye to Camp Randall without one last Jump Around ... with @DangeRussWilson https://t.co/QexUu7acGP

2. Baker Mayfield makes a high-speed hat exchange

Baker Mayfield is once again back on 5th Down this week, but it's not because of his famous dance moves. This time, Mayfield gets the spotlight for an incredible moment with two Sooners fans.

According to tweets from Oklahoma fans Jacob Holguin and Nathan Smith, the two honked at Mayfield as they drove by him on a highway. Mayfield caught up to Holguin and Smith, showed them an autographed Oklahoma hat and asked if they wanted it.

Holguin, who hopefully wasn't driving, said he rolled down his window and reached out toward Mayfield as the two vehicles were going "75-85 mph." Then the high-speed exchange was made, to the delight of the two Sooner fans.

Mayfield "confirmed" the story by retweeting Holguin's pictures, and he also replied to Smith when he tweeted his thanks to the Oklahoma star quarterback.

Nathan Smith @Smith_Nathan25

@baker_mayfield6 thanks for turning me into a fan girl down the highway https://t.co/dUIQc3BumO

Baker Mayfield @bakermayfield

@Smith_Nathan25 Anybody get a video of that? Haha

The Sooners are probably pleased Mayfield got to have a positive connection with some fans, but they would much rather him have those kinds of moments at much slower speeds. Still, it made for an awesome story.

3. Ohio State's spring game losers get mulch duty

Whoever says spring game results aren't important better not be standing next to a member of the Ohio State's 2016 Scarlet squad.

Last Friday, the members of that spring game team—which lost 28-17 to the Gray squad last month—were forced to shovel mulch at Buckeye Grove:

Ohio State Football @OhioStateFB

Lessons learned at Buckeye Grove today: 1. Don't wear Jordans while mulching. 2. Don't lose the Spring Game. https://t.co/X28ObgRZru

According to Brent Yarina of BTN.com, head coach Urban Meyer has had this tradition with the Buckeyes since he arrived. The losers of the game have to do some landscaping at the grove, which Yarina writes has "nearly 200 trees, one for every Ohio State first-team All-American."

Ohio State Football @OhioStateFB

The Scarlet team lost the Spring Game. Scarlet Team is now shoveling this. Don't be like Scarlet Team. #DontLose https://t.co/Cl7PCwV9xb

The Scarlet team consisted mostly of the first-team offense and the second-team defense at Ohio State, which meant that star quarterback J.T. Barrett was among those mulching it up in Columbus on Friday.

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who was a part of the Scarlet coaching staff, also had to put in work:

James Grega Jr. @JGrega11

Barrett and DLine coach Larry Johnson cleaning up the remaining mulch https://t.co/gY023yocYw

After seeing all this mulch duty, Ohio State backup quarterback Joe Burrow's breakout performance at the spring game makes a lot more sense. That was a man who didn't want to spend one of his Fridays in the dirt.

4. Jalen Hurd does something absurd on a treadmill

Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd is already quite intimidating at 6'4" and 240 pounds. That's the size of someone who should be trying to blow up offenses instead of star on one of them.

And when Hurd gets on an extremely fast treadmill, everybody's eyes get even wider.

The junior Volunteer posted a video of himself sprinting for a few seconds at 23.1 miles per hour. That figure might not seem like much in word form, so click play below and see just how fast Hurd was moving.

Hurd has already developed a reputation for posting crazy workout videos on social media, and his latest offering just might be the most incredible one yet. A player of his size just shouldn't be able to hit a top speed like that.

Have fun, any defender standing in his way this season.

5. Mark Richt starred in an old Italian jeans commercial

The Internet has a way of unearthing strange things about famous people. That rang true in college football last week when a video of an Italian jeans commercial featuring Miami (Florida) head coach Mark Richt went viral:

According to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, that is indeed a jump-roping Richt at the 0:07 mark of the 1982 commercial for Italian brand Jesus Jeans. Richt was a senior quarterback at Miami at the time of the shoot.

Matt Porter @mattyports

We unearthed a legit gem: Yes, that's Mark Richt in this 1982 commercial for "Jesus" jeans. https://t.co/gRjOxkkR1g https://t.co/AYWEiJy4tX

The video came to light last week after Porter was notified about it by Michael Scott Sheerin—another student at Miami who also appeared in the ad. The video spread so quickly that Richt was asked about it later that evening while in Atlanta.

"I do halfway remember it; it's hilarious," Richt said, per Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I knew I was going to catch it. I think everybody's mostly jealous that they didn’t get the chance."

Richt told Towers that he didn't get paid for his few seconds of Italian fame, nor keep the Jesus jeans. Sounds like Richt really got roped into a bad deal back then.

6. Tom Herman cranks up some Weed Eater Bowl trash talk

Houston head coach Tom Herman went deep into his shed of heated comments last week and pulled out a lawn-care-themed shot at in-state foe SMU.

During an appearance at the Rotary Club in Houston, Herman talked about the sacrifices needed to win a title—like his Cougars did in last year's 13-1 campaign—and the lesser ones needed to just make a standard bowl game. In this case, he referenced a bowl name that hasn't been around since 1997:

Joseph Duarte @Joseph_Duarte

Herman: 'In order to pay that price you've got to be willing 2 invest. There's a price for 9-win seasons & prices for 8, 7-, 6-win seasons.'

Joseph Duarte @Joseph_Duarte

Herman (cont.): 'Those prices are a lot easier to pay. And if you're satisfied w/ going 7-5 and going to Poulan Weedeater Bowl then great.'

Joseph Duarte @Joseph_Duarte

More Herman: 'I hear there's a private school up in Dallas that's really looking to try to get to 7 wins. We can certainly find you a home.'

What college football now knows as the Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, was once called the Poulan Weed Eater Independence Bowl from 1991 to 1997. 

Since then, it's had sponsors who didn't last as long and didn't have as memorable names as Poulan and its Weed Eater. When was the last time anyone joked about the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl? Exactly.

Maybe Herman's quote of the week will get Poulan back in the bowl-sponsoring game. A neutral fan would much rather tune in to something called the "Weed Eater Bowl" in mid-December than the "[Insert Sponsor Here] Independence Bowl." It just sounds better.

7. Virginia Tech adds a basketball player who can make incredible football plays

Virginia Tech is looking to take things to the next level on offense this season with the hire of new head coach Justin Fuente.

That attack just got even more dangerous with the arrival of wide receiver Devin Wilson, who has played three seasons at point guard for the Hokies' basketball team. Virginia Tech confirmed Wilson's spot on the team by posting a video of an absurd juggling catch he made earlier this spring in practice:

HokiesFB 🦃 @HokiesFB

Welcome to the family, @Dev_11VT https://t.co/AqYZgH8JtE

The 6'4" Wilson will bring more exciting size and speed to a passing game led by 1,000-yard receiver Isaiah Ford and massive tight end Bucky Hodges.

According to USA Today, Wilson had 230 receptions for 3,200 yards and 41 touchdowns during his high school days in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. He was a 3-star wide receiver recruit in the Class of 2013 and received four scholarship offers to play football, per 247Sports.

Although he's new to the football field for the Hokies, it's obvious Wilson still remembers to never give up on the play.

8. A Notre Dame fan gets a championship-caliber tattoo

One Notre Dame super-fan is never going to have to consult Google whenever he wants to call out the years in which his Fighting Irish won a national championship. All he'll have to do is look down at his right leg.

Matt Lombardi of College Spun spotlighted Irish fan Joe Hogan last week for a photo of his recent tattoo— the two famous locker room signs at Notre Dame Stadium:

Coleman Lucas @ColemanLucas64

Day two, #Play Like A Champion, more to learn today , starting off with practice and a full day of speakers. https://t.co/J4WNXVe6yT

Now compare the national champions sign and the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign to Hogan's tattoo. His tattoo artist did an excellent job with this one.

Hogan also gave himself enough room on his shin to possibly add some more titles if the Irish are ever crowned national champions again in his lifetime. That's a smart fan move.


9. Auburn's newest quarterback gets tips from Michael Vick

JUCO transfer John Franklin III is looking to become the next great dual-threat quarterback for Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers. In order to help reach his goal, Franklin went to train with one of the best dual-threats of all time.

Last Thursday, Franklin worked out alongside Michael Vick, the NFL's all-time leader for career rushing yards by a quarterback and a former Big East Offensive Player of the Year at Virginia Tech.

John Franklin III @jf3_5

Blessed to be able to work with and learn from the man that paved the way for QBs like myself.🐐🐐🐐 #MV7 #JF3 #Legend https://t.co/hYLnoojkdF

Vick, who compiled more than 4,500 total yards of offense and 38 touchdowns during two college seasons with the Hokies, sounded impressed with Franklin's game after the training session.

"Mike pretty much sees himself in this kid," quarterback trainer Oliver Bozeman told Brandon Marcello of SEC Country. "He’s fast, strong arm, he's a student of the game. He catches on to different things pretty fast. He absorbs information pretty quick."

John Franklin III @jf3_5

In order to be the best you got to work with the best. What's a break? We eating over here 🐐💰💯 #MV7 #JF3 https://t.co/FFMxcRu2Te

Auburn fans would love to see that inner Michael Vick come out in Franklin, who is competing with former starters Jeremy Johnson and Sean White for the No. 1 spot on the Tigers depth chart this offseason.

10. An Alabama fan responsibly trolls Auburn

Speaking of Auburn, an enemy fan invaded the Plains last week and snapped a quick picture of what many Tigers fans would call heresy. 

According to Meredith Hornsby of Bama Hammer, Alabama fan Neal Wade Lemonds was in Auburn and visited the Heisman statues that are outside Jordan-Hare Stadium. He threw a Crimson Tide hat on the statue of Auburn's most famous athlete, Bo Jackson, and took a picture with it:

Gridiron Now @GridironNow

An Alabama fan put his hat on Auburn’s Bo Jackson statue because nothing is sacred https://t.co/u1iLOhmODV https://t.co/qWg9EprzQd

Lemonds' caption on the photo proudly proclaims that "Bo Knows Bama" and gives a shoutout to the Yellow Jackets—the mascot of Jackson's alma mater, McAdory High School in McCalla, Alabama.

As far as rivalry pranks go, this one is completely acceptable. An Auburn fan even did something similar in 2010 by taping a Cam Newton jersey to Bear Bryant's statue in Tuscaloosa. 

Nothing was damaged or destroyed, which is something that can't be guaranteed in the Iron Bowl rivalry. This is a responsible way to get the other side of the rivalry fired up during a quiet offseason.

11. And, finally, Tulane unveils the freshest new uniforms of 2016

As you can probably tell if you read the first two columns of the offseason, the 5th Down is a fan of new college football uniforms. And last week, Tulane raised the bar for every other program in the country contemplating getting new threads.

Tulane is entering a new era of football this year after the hire of head coach Willie Fritz, who arrives after two successful years at option-running Georgia Southern. For the Green Wave, a new coach also means a new look on the field:

Coach Willie Fritz @CoachWEFritz

#NewWave🌊 https://t.co/2BVNsyJcCY

(Tulane gets additional bonus points for using a song from Kanye West's The Life of Pablo in its uniform hype video.)

The Green Wave have mostly stuck to green with a few blue accents in their recent uniform sets, but their new Nike look completely embraces a brighter blue. While all the uniform pieces are slick, the blue jersey is now automatically one of the best in college football.

Zach Barnett @zach_barnett

Tulane's new uniforms are cleaner than your grandmother's kitchen https://t.co/Sp9HHrKHG1 https://t.co/aJOK9WiexN

In addition to the smooth white-and-matte green helmets, Tulane also unveiled a fresh throwback helmet featuring a classic "UT" logo. 

Fear the Wave @FearTheWaveBlog

Blue Unis with the Throwback Tulane logo. 🌊🔥🌊 https://t.co/4EEEASitjx

I'm not sure if Fritz subscribes to Deion Sanders' motto of "look good, feel good, play good," but his team will at least have one-third of that equation down this fall.

Justin Ferguson is a National College Football Analyst at Bleacher Report, and he's glad he'll never be asked to tackle Jalen Hurd. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.


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