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#pounditFriday, April 16, 2021

College Football

DeVonta Smith shares how he responds to questions about his weight

DeVonta Smith

DeVonta Smith was the runaway Heisman Trophy winner thanks to the monster season he had for Alabama.

Smith caught 68 passes for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. Then he exploded as a senior with 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. He saw more action last season in part because of Jaylen Waddle’s injury, and also because of the quarterback change to Mac Jones.

There is little doubt about what a weapon Smith was for Alabama. There are high expectations for him entering the NFL. The one question that does come up when people discuss Smith as a prospect is his weight.

Smith is listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds. He appears to be skinny on the field and looks nothing like, say, this guy.

Smith believes he has proven himself on the field and doesn’t focus on the weight talk as much anymore.

“In high school, I used to feel some type of way when people tell me that, but now I really don’t care. I mean, somebody say that, I’m just gonna look at ’em and laugh. But, I mean, it is what it is. At the end of the day, I know that when I get on the field and I line up, I’m gonna do what I gotta do,” Smith told Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion.

Smith also believes that his non-imposing figures works to his advantage. He speculates that some defenders have low expectations of him due to his size, and they end up getting burned.

There could be something to that, because Smith does not look intimidating, even though his numbers definitely are. As we have been taught before, sometimes looks don’t mean a whole lot.

Report: Major NCAA transfer rule change receives unanimous approval

NCAA logo

Despite grumbling from some coaches, a major NCAA transfer reform has passed without any objection.

According to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic, the NCAA has approved the proposed one-time transfer rule, meaning players will be able to transfer once with immediate eligibility during their college careers. Notably, the rule passed with the unanimous backing of the NCAA’s Division Council.

The rule certainly has the potential to change college sports significantly. For many, the days of waiting and hoping for an NCAA waiver are over. The one-time limit should prevent the rule from being abused as well.

The new rule is unlikely to be popular with some coaches, as it could make it much more difficult to build a program. It’s certainly a big win from the perspective of players, though.

Nick Saban shared a great story about his trying to date his wife Terry

Nick Saban

Nick Saban often gives his wife Terry tons of credit and recognition for her role in his success as a coach. If you ask her, she deserves it. At least that’s what Nick says.

Saban was recognized as an AFCA regional Coach of the Year in 2018 and spoke at one of their events. In his speech, Saban shared a great story about his wife and how she believes she’s a big driver in his success. The clip went viral after a coach shared it on Twitter Tuesday. Watch the entire thing — Saban tells the story so well.

That’s a fantastic story.

Sadly, the Mick Shaffer Saban references in the story appears to have died in December at the age of 70. He ended up getting married and had a few children at least. So even if he didn’t end up with Miss Terry, at least he did have a family. As for Miss Terry, you can’t really argue with her choice of marrying Nick!

Jim Harbaugh got paid good money for a Downy commercial

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh already makes millions as the head coach at Michigan, though he did agree to a pay cut recently. Beyond just the money he made from the school, he also made some money on an endorsement deal. Good money.

Sportico published a story about how much numerous college coaches were making in additional compensation. In the article, they brought up that Harbaugh was paid $250,000 to appear in a Downy Wrinkle Guard commercial.

Harbaugh was wearing his usual khaki pants in the commercial and asked “Do you think you can keep these khakis wrinkle-free all season?”

For that, he pocketed a quarter-million dollars. Good work if you can get it.

The full story shares other examples of gigs coaches secured and how much income they reported for the deals. The $250,000 for the Harbaugh commercial was on the high end. Maybe it’s just pay back for all that Harbaugh’s khaki pant-wearing has done for the industry.

Eddie George reportedly eyeing big name OC hire at Tennessee State

Eddie George

Eddie George is trying to bring some big names to Tennessee State, according to a report.

George has enlisted Jeff Fisher, his former coach with the Tennessee Titans, to help assemble a staff after George’s hiring as Tennessee State head coach, according to John Brice of FootballScoop. Fisher’s son, Brandon Fisher, is expected to be George’s defensive coordinator. The younger Fisher is a former defensive coordinator at Southern Utah, and spent last season working at Auburn under Gus Malzahn.

An even bigger name could be in line to be George’s offensive coordinator. The top target there is said to be former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson, who is still regarded as an outstanding offensive mind despite his less-than-stellar tenure with Cleveland.

George also wants a “former NFL star and Pro Football Hall of Famer” on his defensive staff, though the individual he is targeting is not specified.

One of the reasons cited for George’s hiring was his ability to bring big-name buzz to an FCS school. This is almost certainly what they were talking about, and it could create major recruiting opportunities if George gets the staff he wants.

Eddie George to become head coach at Tennessee State

Eddie George

Another FCS school is hoping that bringing in a big-name former pro as head coach will provide a spark to its football program.

Tennessee State will name former Titans running back Eddie George its new football coach, as first reported by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. George will replace the outgoing Rod Reed, who has coached the Tigers since 2010.

While George has no direct connection to the school, he’s obviously a big name in the state. He starred at running back for the Titans franchise from 1996-2003, embracing the organization’s move from Houston to Nashville and becoming a fan favorite. He was also wildly successful in college, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1995 while at Ohio State.

George has no coaching experience to speak of, having focused on an acting career after his retirement from the NFL in 2004. The gamble is that his presence will help with recruiting, and improve the fortunes of a team that has just one appearance in the FCS playoff since 1999.

A similar hire has been working out well at another FCS school, which has no doubt been noticed by Tennessee State.

Gus Malzahn explains why UCF players had Twitter handles on spring game uniforms

Gus Malzahn

UCF players displayed an eye-catching bit of style during Saturday’s spring game, wearing uniforms with their social media handles on the nameplates.

Instead of their last names, UCF players had their social media names, particularly their Twitter handles, displayed on their backs. That applied to everyone that participated, too.

So what was the thinking behind this? Coach Gus Malzahn explained that UCF was embracing the “new age of personal branding,” adding that it was a good way to reach UCF’s younger group of alumni.

“You look at, what, 322,000 living alumni and the average age is 36. 72,000 [students] and they’re all on Twitter,” Malzahn said. “Some of these big schools, the average age of their alumni is 65 and they’re on Facebook. So we’ve got a big advantage there.”

With the NCAA increasingly backing down on players taking advantages of their names and likenesses, we’re probably going to see more things like this. UCF is getting out ahead of it, which is exactly what a school of its caliber should be doing. They may well reap the benefits of such an approach, or at least serve as a template for other schools that may ultimately follow in their footsteps.

Nick Saban shares what his challenge is for Bryce Young

Nick Saban

Bryce Young appears to have the inside track to winning Alabama’s starting quarterback job for 2021, but Nick Saban wants to see one specific thing from him.

Saban spoke about Young on Saturday following Alabama’s second spring scrimmage. While Saban praised the sophomore quarterback, he added that there was one particular area of focus where he wants to see Young improve.

“I told him one of the things that he has to work on is having presence on the field — being the man so to speak, taking charge and being in command,” Saban said, via Michael Casagrande of al.com. “I think that he’s done better at that.

“I think he realizes what he needs to do to try and help the players around him play better. And I think he’s done it very well.”

It’s easy to understand why Young might need a little coaxing. He’s in line to replace a Heisman Trophy finalist in Mac Jones for a team with championship aspirations. He’ll likely have to grow into the role a bit, but that’s what spring practices are for.

Saban has made clear that Young is leading the race for the Alabama quarterback job, and it certainly appears to be Young’s to lose. Paul Tyson and Jalen Milroe are his primary competition for the role.

Ryan Day avoids parking ticket thanks to generous Ohio State fan

Ryan Day

Ohio State coach Ryan Day has a Buckeyes fan to thank for avoiding a parking ticket.

On Thursday, a Buckeye fan in Columbus who had seen Day earlier and recognized the coach’s car noticed something: Day’s vehicle was parked in a spot with an expired parking meter. Never fear: the fan took care of the situation, putting an extra half hour on the meter for the Ohio State coach.

The act of kindness did not go unnoticed by Day.

The fan, Will Palmer, said he just didn’t think it would be right for Day to have to pay a parking ticket in Columbus.

“I decided it wouldn’t be right to let our Head Coach get a parking ticket when he was just trying to spend some time with his family,” Palmer told Mark Russell of Buckeyes Wire. “So I went back into the store, got my wallet and put some money in the meter so he wouldn’t have to come back to a ticket on his windshield.”

With kindness like that, it’s no wonder Day doesn’t want to leave Columbus.

Homeless man participated in USC football practice, ate with players

USC Trojans logo

One man recently had a heck of a time as an unintentional honorary member of the USC Trojans football team.

The LA Daily News’ Scott Wolf reported the story during the week and has some alternating details about it. One version of the story says the man expressed that he wanted to be a walk-on for the football team and was able to participate in practice until someone asked who he was. Then security was called and the guy was kicked out.

Wolf’s follow-up story says that the impostor, alternately described as a homeless man, was acting like a full member of the team. The man reportedly shared a jacuzzi with players, ate at the football dining facility without issue, and slept at a suite in the Coliseum.

There was only an issue when the man got suited up and tried to catch punts at football practice.

Former USC football player Petros Papadakis says the story is true.

Papadakis further says that USC may have made it easier on the man to gain access to facilities because they no longer have a director of security like they used to.

The man may have been able to gain access to areas that typically would have had more security measures because some procedures were reduced during the pandemic.

See, the con works until you try to get greedy. It was all gravy until he tried to field the punts! Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve heard of impostors trying to crash a sports event.

H/T Sammy