Inside this Week’s SI College Football Preview: 28 Pages of Scouting Reports on SI’s Top 25 and Six Regional CoversPosted: August 14, 2013
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s 2013 College Football Preview—on newsstands now—breaks down SI’s Top 25 with 28 pages of scouting reports that include profiles of key players and breakout stars, Q&As with coaches and other vital analysis. The top six teams in SI’s Top 25 are represented on regional covers: The top six teams in SI’s top 25 are represented on regional covers of this week’s issue: No. 1 Alabama (T.J. Yelton, So., RB), No. 2 Stanford (Shayne Skov, Sr., LB), No. 3 Texas A&M (Johnny Manziel, So., QB), No. 4 Ohio State (Braxton Miller, Jr., QB), No. 5 Oregon (Marcus Mariota, So., QB) and No. 6 South Carolina (Jadeveon Clowney, Jr., DE). View all six regional covers here.
Here is SI’s preseason top 10:
3. Texas A&M
4. Ohio State
6. South Carolina
8. Notre Dame
Find the entire SI Top 25, expanded scouting reports, video breakdowns, conference analyses, a media roundtable and SI’s All-America team at SI.com/cfb
SI Top 25 Notes: *If Johnny Manziel is ruled ineligible before the season, SI moves the Aggies to No. 15; Alabama tops the SI preseason Top 25 for the fourth consecutive season; Stanford’s No. 2 ranking is the highest SI preseason ranking for the Cardinal.
Also inside SI: Heisman Trophy dark horses (see below); a look at No. 2 Stanford’s Shayne Skov and other “nerds” at good academic schools (No. 22 Northwestern, No. 23 Vanderbilt and Duke) who will make a difference on the field this year (click here); the influx of hurry-up offenses and why it still isn’t for everyone (click here); and how the 1942 Rose Bowl between Oregon State and Duke rallied a nation (click here).
Before last season started, few outside of College Station knew about the soon-to-be Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. So while everyone knows the Heisman favorites, SI’s Zac Ellis looks at some players (with odds) who could match Manziel’s epic rise and make an out-of-nowhere run at the trophy in 2013 (PAGE 59):
• Jameis Winston, Florida State, QB, Freshman (25 to 1)
• Chuckie Keeton, Utah State, QB, Junior (100 to 1)
• Duke Johnson, Miami, RB, Sophomore (50 to 1)
• Derek Carr, Fresno State, QB, Senior (100 to 1)
• Dri Archer, Kent State, RB, Senior (75 to 1)
• Stefon Diggs, Maryland, WR, Sophomore (75 to 1)
• Kyle Van Noy, BYU, LB, Senior, (150 to 1)
A year ago, Johnny Manziel was simply trying to win the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M. After a historic Heisman Trophy season, he is now learning that being Johnny Football is a 24/7 gig with many perks and a few pitfalls too. In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, on newsstands now, Manziel discusses his image, his mistakes, his struggles with fame, his future and more. Manziel, who sat down with senior writer Andy Staples for an exclusive interview last week at his parents’ house in Bryan, Texas, appears on a regional cover of this week’s SI. Staples describes on SI.com about his experience tracking down Manziel here.
“I probably rubbed people the wrong way in some cases,” Manziel says, “but at the end of the day, people are mad at me and people are upset at me because I’m doing everything they want to do.” (PAGES 28–30) People were upset last month when Manziel tweeted about his desire to leave College Station after getting a parking ticket, and while he takes full responsibility for his dismissal from the Manning Passing Academy in July, he remains shocked by the response. “I oversleep at the Manning camp, and there’s a weeklong special,” Manziel says. (PAGE 31)
“I’m adapting. I’m learning. I’m trying to learn from these mistakes,” he says. “But I’m not going to change who I am because the media wants me to be this, this or this. I’m not going to do that. . . . You love me when I’m running around being dangerous and a loose cannon,” Manziel says. “What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field. I’m still learning how to put that into perspective.” (PAGE 32)
Manziel says he and his family are still struggling to adapt to his fame. “That probably is what’s getting us in trouble—wanting to be normal,” Manziel says. “We want to be just like we’ve always been, where none of this is a big deal.” (PAGE 30) When he won the Heisman, he had no idea how much his life would change. “I never knew what that trophy would do,” Manziel says. “I never knew the power of it.” (PAGE 31) To help cope with his newfound fame, Manziel asked his coach, Kevin Sumlin, for help. Sumlin set him up this past February with a therapist to work on dealing with stress and on how to say no to autograph and photo requests.
Will Manziel say no to the NFL draft after this season? His own mother, Michelle, doesn’t see how he can stay in school. “It’s sad that the system doesn’t allow it,” she says. “We can’t go through this another year. We would all be in the loony bin.” Johnny says he could handle another year. “There’s so much that factors in,” Manziel says. “I don’t want to be a guy who has a first-round grade and come out and go into the second round. That’s the difference between $12 million and $4 million or $5 million. That’s still a lot of money, obviously, but not when you have two full years left on the table.” (PAGE 32)
Along the way, Manziel has crossed off many items on his bucket list, such as rubbing elbows with stars like Drake and LeBron James. “When we look back 20, 30 years down the road, we’re going to sit there and be like, We pretty much hung out with the f—–’ Beatles,” Manziel says. “We pretty much did everything we wanted to do.” (PAGE 32) After experiencing so much on and off the field, what does he dream of now? “Being the best player to ever play college football,” says Manziel. (PAGE 32)
While most collegiate football programs find themselves boasting the long winded resumes of their graying coaching staff, Texas Tech and their new 33-year-old head coach Kliff Kingsbury are adopting a different philosophy, “quality over quantity”. In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, senior writer Andy Staples examines how the growing number of youthful coaching programs like Kingsbury’s plan to take the gridiron by storm this fall.
Kingsbury’s age may be in the minority, but other coaches of similar age and background have continued to pop up around the country. Jake Spavital, 24, replaces Kingsbury as the offensive coordinator for Texas A&M this season and is no stranger to age centered awkwardness either. Upon his arriving at Oklahoma State as a grad assistant before the 2010 season, Spavital found himself teaching men twice his age the Air Raid offense Kingsbury hopes to bring to Lubbuck.
“It’s like the guy who created Facebook,” said Kingsbury. “It doesn’t matter how old you are if you’re great at your job.” (PAGE50)
But the suave youth of two other head coaches and 24 additional coordinators in their late 20’s and early 30’s is forcing its way on to the college football scene this season. While they can connect with players on a different level due to their proximity in age, they also run the risk of losing their sense of authority.
“You’ve got to walk that fine line of developing that relationship where they trust you and, at the same time, they know you’re their coach and they respect you” (PAGE 51), advised Rhett Lashlee, the new 29-year-old quarterbacks coach for Auburn University.
Staples concludes that no matter their age the new young coaches on the scene have the same goal as the older coaches they will square off against: to win.
Friends, Family, Coaches and the QB Himself on this Season’s College Football Phenomenon
Now that Texas A&M has lifted its ban on freshman players speaking with media, Johnny Manziel is talking. Friends, family, coaches and Johnny Football himself explain to senior writer Andy Staples how the Aggies’ redshirt freshman quarterback went from hypercompetitive Texas tot to Heisman front-runner.
Says Mike Jinks, coach of a Texas high school powerhouse that lost to Manziel twice during the Kerrville Tivy QB’s career: “We could not figure out how this guy kept beating us. Our kids would come to the sideline and say, ‘Coach, we can’t catch him!’ I was like, ‘What do you mean you can’t catch him?’ To watch Nick Saban and Will Muschamp have the same looks on their faces that I did, I feel much better now” (page 111).
Ah, synergy! This week’s SI cover story features Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, the presumptive NBA MVP and the leader of a pro hoops Lilliputian revolution. The story—which on the tablet edition features a podcast with writer Ian Thomsen—discusses how the balance of power has shifted from big men out to the perimeter.
Thomsen mentions a quote from former Celtics honcho Red Auerbach about the emergence of big “cornerman” running a team’s offense.
That quote came from a 1988 SI story about Larry Bird written by Frank Deford. And guess where you can find that story? If you said, “In the digital extra slot in this week’s SI tablet edition,” you’ve hit the nail right on the head. (If you said, “At my local library,” you’re also probably right, but you also need to get with the times, you Luddite. Deford’s story—which carries the tout “Back when Bird was the word”—is a masterpiece that profiles a superstar at the top of his game.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s Manny Ramirez, who’s sunk about as low as a man can go. How did it come to this? Tom Verducci’s fantastic story helps tell the tale, but the answer is just as apparent in the digital extra that accompanies the story, a slideshow of Manny through the years—including a memorable shot of him emerging from the scoreboard at Fenway after taking a bathroom break inside the Green Monster. During a game. Simply put, the guy has been a wack-job for his entire career. You’ll be missed, Manny.
The week’s other big story was, of course, Charl Schwarzel’s win at the Masters. Sadly, my headline suggestion was ignored: Winner Schwarzel. But the story is still a good one, and on the tablet it features a video interview with Schwarzel as well as a video roundtable with SI writers from Augusta.
Finally, we present the intriguing case of Von Miller, a studly Texas A&M linebacker who also happens to be a plaintiff in the lawsuit that a handful of NFL players have filed against the league. The story comes with a history lesson: a photo act of the top linebackers selected (by round) in NFL draft history. Where will Miller be taken? Will his rabble-rousing hurt his prospects? Find out the answer to these—and more!—draft-related questions next week, when we present our NFL draft preview. Until then….