It’s been said that parents can’t pick between their kids, which is true in a Sophie’s Choice kind of way but isn’t true in an “I secretly really like the oldest” kind of way. Most fans will say they can’t choose between our beautiful football boys, but let’s be honest, we all have our favorites. I think being open and honest about it is the best policy.
In the past and present, I’ve always been partial to positions I personally played, so safeties/corners, and wide receivers. It makes the most sense; they’re the guys that I relate to. I also gravitate towards players who play the game or carry themselves the way I was brought up by my parents.
My father was a very “hand the ball to the ref and celebrate with your teammates after a touchdown or interception” type of guy. So, Will Fuller, I get. Someone like Ricky Watters, I do not understand. Still liked him though. Of course, there are no rules to this for me or anyone else. We like who we like, and sense does not have to be made.
I have written so many pieces written this offseason about predictions, educated guesses, top players, etc. I wanted to mix it up with something for people to discuss. As I said, we all have our favorites.
Running Back, Kyren Williams
Just a freshman so there is time for him to grow and make the top five next season, but he plays the game how everyone wants it to be played. In high school, he played every position as if that’s the spot he was meant to play, whether it was corner, safety, running back, or wide receiver. He runs hard inside, has excellent vision, great hands, runs crisp routes on offense, on defense he reads quarterbacks, times blitzes perfectly, and plays with a reckless abandon. Just a fabulous football player that will no doubt be a fan favorite once they get to know him. A likely new member to the baller club, which I’ll get to later.
Defensive tackle, Myron Tagovailoa Amosa
I played JC football at Long Beach City College where there is a pretty robust Hawaiian/Samoan population, and MTA reminds me of about ten guys that I played with along the two lines. He’s always smiling, is soft-spoken, and is a total animal on the field. I can just see him walking through the locker room singing some song, and I guarantee everyone on the team likes him.
5.) Wide Receiver, Braden Lenzy
I relate to nothing more than a guy splitting his time between football and track, although my guy Lenzy gave up track for our beloved football team this offseason. I always liked the Oregon product because he came out here despite being a legitimate division 1 sprinter (a state champion in all the sprints), and leaving a state with the richest track tradition there is for a school that does….not have that. The offseason work seems to have paid off for him; he’s added weight to compete against press corners and with the attrition to the wide receiver corps he has positioned himself to be a contributor in his redshirt freshman season. Do it for the track guys everywhere, Braden!
4.) Defensive End, Daelin Hayes
Much has been made of the riches Notre Dame brags about at defensive end this season. Of the players available, Hayes was the most highly regarded out of high school; the 133rd ranked player at defensive end. While he’s had a solid career, Hayes has not, however, had the type of success his classmates Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara have had. The reason I like Hayes so much is his willingness to do the little things to make his team better; the types of things that don’t really show up in stat sheets, but contribute to the overall cause. Whether it’s chasing down a play and recovering a fumble as a result of waiting backside to prevent a cut back from a runner, so his teammates get a tackle for loss, these little things are often overlooked by a star who could focus on stat chasing. Good on you, Daelin Hayes.
3.) Wide Receiver, Lawrence Keys
Who doesn’t love a smallish, shifty slot receiver? Not many know too much about Keys, and he will blow up on the scene this year due to injuries/suspensions to key receivers, but just know who was on this bandwagon in the fall of last season? (Granted it had nothing to do with football, but still.)
Just judging off of their tie game I'd say Lawrence Keys is good for about 8 catches, 150 yards, and two scores put him in coach pic.twitter.com/5ZtBtY79dM
— Greg Flammang (@greg2126) November 10, 2018
2.) Cornerback, Shaun Crawford
My beloved Shaun, back for his 5th season, still 5-8 and still giving it to them after three devastating lower-body injuries. An original member of the baller club, later joined by Julian Love and now possibly Kyren Williams, Crawford just knows how to play the game, which is why he’s the only person who could competently play the nickel spot in the last five years. His injuries have taken away his otherworldly potential–he was faster in high school than Adoree Jackson you know–but being the baller that he is, he can’t be held down. All I want for him is health and to be able to play injury-free, his talent will take care of the rest.
1.) Safety, Kyle Hamilton
All the things that will catch me are present: Played safety and receiver in high school and returned kicks. Not flashy, does his job, and is soft-spoken. First underrated as a recruit, now a seemingly unstoppable force whose only limitation is our idea of what’s possible. Don’t expect too much, they said, of the freshman as he heads into fall camp. He’s talented yes, but he’s just a freshman, things take time. Those folks walked out of his first practice having watched him make three picks. If you had told beat writers he’d haul in 15 interceptions throughout fall camp; you’d have gotten 1,000 to 1 odds against it. It doesn’t happen. But, it happened.
This tells me two things. First, the instincts everyone wants from a player are there. The Ed Reed type feel for the game. You can’t make that many plays on the ball without it. Second, he can get from point A to point B faster than any of the QB’s think, because they keep throwing it to him even when they think they aren’t. Enjoy these three years, because that’s all it’s going to be.