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Monday Musings: Would You Rather #1

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Let’s play a game.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I titled this #1 because I’d like to turn this into a mini-series (kinda like Hatfields & McCoys but different @StephenMurphey). The basic premise is my love for hypotheticals. I love discussing these “would you rather” type questions about real things. I’m not talking about things like “would you rather be a reverse centaur or a reverse mermaid” or other such nonsense; I’m talking about real life stuff that makes you think. Doing them for sports is a lot of fun because people tend to get extremely passionate about a topic that only existed five seconds prior. So let’s try it. I’ll pose the question, and then give my thoughts about it. This week’s hypothetical is:

If Tech could get a 5-star recruit at any offensive position, what position would you want it to be?

This is an interesting question to me because I think we blur the lines of positions a lot and the answer is more subtle and harder to find than it would be for most schools. We also have a ton of interplay between positions, making it tough to let one player really shine on their own. With that in mind, let’s lay down some ground rules for what positions are available.

  • A QB recruit is a typical QB recruit, not necessarily one that fits directly into the option offense. He can be dual-threat, but he was probably still rated based on his throwing ability more than anything.
  • A-backs and B-backs are obviously separate positions.

That leaves your choices as: QB, AB, BB, WR, OL, K.

Now, let’s take that list and run through what I think are the pros and cons for us in having a 5-star recruit at that position.

Note: all of this is also predicated on the fact that the recruit is successful. I’m aware that recruits can be busts, but busts don’t make for good conversation. We’re also obviously assuming that such a recruit actually wants to come play for us.

QB

A 5-star QB in our system is tricky to think about. It would certainly have to be a dual threat guy that favors his legs, probably similar to a Lamar Jackson -type (checks notes holy [Sting] Lamar Jackson was a 3-star recruit…). Such a player would be amazing in the base spread option, but would also be a godsend in the passing game. Imagine if on 3rd and 9 we didn’t consistently miss receivers? As with most teams, a great QB could make a huge impact. The main issue with such a player is defenses selling out to stop them. The spread option is based on making reads, and if the defense forces the QB to hand off or pitch, they can limit the impact he makes with his legs. Of course some of this can be remedied with play calling, but not all of it. The secondary issue is that we wouldn’t really get to use his full potential as a passer. We could call more pass plays to try to utilize his talent, but the rest of the offense isn’t setup to be pass-friendly. The OL tends to be atrocious at pass protection and our receivering corp isn’t exactly what you’d see in a typical pro-style offense.

AB

A 5-star AB would definitely be a speedy and slippery RB out of high school. They could be devastating on pitch and toss plays while also making a solid impact in the passing game. The main issue is that ABs don’t get the ball that often. No AB has gotten more than 50 carries since 2013. Qua led the group last year with just 36, which is just over 3 per game. What good is top talent if they only touch the ball 3 times a game? Now of course we could flex the offense to get the ball in their hands more, but we can only do so many rocket tosses. The outside plays only develop if the inside is working. That greatly limits what a stud AB could do. Of course, ABs tend to be important in the passing game as well, so it’d be great to have a player that could shine in that role.

BB

This would be a bruiser of a RB. Someone with a lot of power and great vision. The BB tends to be a focal point of the offense because everything works off of the middle run. A truly great back would be awesome to see in this position. Unlike some other offensive positions, I don’t think we’d have to change our offensive strategy too much to use their talent. We’ve seen BBs take over games and be unstoppable before (Synjyn Days went for 171 and 3 TDs in the Orange Bowl good god). A defense can still sell out to stuff the dive, but a versatile BB can go outside on pitches when necessary. I think a great BB would let us commit to the option offense much more purely, meaning we could just run the ball down people’s’ throats.

WR

A stud WR could be unstoppable on those 3rd and 9s we love so much. Being able to go up and grab a ball anywhere in their vicinity could be huge for our ability to sustain drives. More so than most positions though they would be severely limited (Smelter had only 35 receptions in 2014). Same as the issue with the passing QB, we just aren’t setup to pass often. Plus, our current QBs aren’t exactly amazing at ball placement. That means that any star WR may not get the balls they need to really show their talent. Not even they can catch a ball if it’s overthrown by 10 yards. A sneaky benefit of a 5-star WR though is the possibility of putting them at kick returner. We’ve seen receivers like John Ross absolutely dominate in the kick return game, and that’s something that a WR could potentially have more control over (if we ever got a real special teams unit).

OL

This one feels pretty nice given how poor our offensive line play has been this year. Imagine getting some massive corn-fed dude from Iowa or Wisconsin that could learn the run blocking in our offense as well as pass protect effectively. The effect is somewhat limited because the OL tends to perform as a group, however we can certainly scheme our way to using a particular player to our advantage.

K

Imagine a world where we’re driving late down 1, get stopped on third down on the 35, send out our star kicker, and he nails the kick straight down the middle. Man. A great kicker could help us shore up a lot of points left on the field and be a massive asset in the close games that we tend to play. Their impact may be limited and dependent on the offense itself getting into field goal range, but they could still be responsible for an extra win every year. We’ve seen our offense be forced to go for it on 4th or kick short punts because CPJ doesn’t trust our kickers (and who could blame him?). How many more points per game could we get if we had an automatic kicker we trusted?

Given all of this, I think my choice would be a B-back followed by an offensive lineman, followed by a kicker. I think the benefit of strong B-back play is too great to pass up and something that could help us control games a lot more effectively. An offensive lineman could have a similar effect, but is slightly hampered by the players next to them. A kicker may not be a popular choice, but I really do believe a great kicker is worth at least a game per season.

I think a WR is probably the least effective of these choices given how abysmal our passing game is. We rarely have a QB who can place balls well, and we certainly don’t have anything resembling an offensive line that can pass protect. Maybe a truly great WR can overcome that, but I don’t think it’s likely.

My full rankings would be:

  1. BB
  2. OL
  3. K
  4. AB
  5. QB
  6. WR

A whole other conversation is how we’d even successfully recruit star talent. Of my top choices, I think OL would be the hardest for us. 5-star guys want to go to the NFL, and we don’t really run a scheme that translates to that well. We could use Shaq Mason as an example of bringing guys to the league, but he’s alone in that category. Similarly, Butker might be someone to show off to kicker recruits (currently killing it on my fantasy team), but Johnson isn’t really known as a coach that attempts a lot of field goals. Maybe that’s because we’ve had middle school talent outside of Butker, but it’s also just not really his style. And it’s tough to convince a kid to come kick for a team that might not give him many opportunities to kick. A BB recruit is interesting - at least we could probably guarantee 15+ carries a game, but they’d take one look at our offensive line and go somewhere where blocking exists. Of these three, I think a kicker is probably the most likely. We actually got the #6 kicker in the country a couple years ago before he decommitted and went to Alabama (lol us getting into recruiting battles with Bama), so it’s certainly possible.

What do y’all think? Lemme know what position you’d like to see a 5-star in and tell me why.

Poll

What offensive position would you want to see a 5-star recruit in?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Quarterback
    (73 votes)
  • 32%
    B-back
    (61 votes)
  • 0%
    A-back
    (0 votes)
  • 6%
    Wide Receiver
    (12 votes)
  • 18%
    Offensive Lineman
    (35 votes)
  • 2%
    Kicker
    (5 votes)
186 votes total Vote Now