Kenneth Harrison

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Chomping For 2020

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Florida Gators are coming off of a very good 2019 season.

They were 11-2, won the Orange Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 6 in the AP Poll. Dan Mullen is entering his third year as the head coach in Gainesville.

It looks like the Gators have finally found their first good quarterback since Tim Tebow. They started the 2019 season with Feleipe Franks under center. He was known for making poor decisions and turning the football over. He got injured in the Kentucky game and Kyle Trask stepped in to come from behind and win the game.

I think he’s a significant upgrade over Franks and playing the entire season will make a big difference.

UF is ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll. They have not won the SEC East since 2016. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but it is for this program that’s used to competing for national championships.

Some of the key departures are defensive end Jon Greenard, corner back C.J. Henderson and running back La’mical Perine. Greenard had 52 tackles, 15.5 for loss and 9.5 sacks in his final season.

Henderson had 11 pass breakups, entered the draft a year early and was the ninth overall pick by Jacksonville.

Perine was the leading rusher in 2019 with 676 yards and 6 touchdowns.

The Gators have some good players returning. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6’6, 239-pounds and one of the best in the nation. He had 54 catches for 649 yards and five touchdowns.

Wide receiver Trevon Grimes is entering his senior year and he’s going to be the No. 1 receiver. The Ohio State transfer had 33 receptions for 491 yards and 3 TD’s last year.

CB Marco Wilson had three interceptions and 36 tackles in 2019.

The schedule is very manageable.

Eastern Washington: They start the season with the college version of a preseason game against an FCS opponent. They’ll demolish the Eagles.

Kentucky: The Wildcats have lost talented players from last years team. This will be an easy win for Florida.

South Alabama: The Jaguars were 2-10 last year. We don’t expect e team from the Sun Belt to put up much of a fight under normal circumstances and this is a bad team. UF trounces them.

@ Tennessee: The first road game of the season. The Vols started poorly in 2019 but they won their final 6 games to finish 8-5. This is a rivalry game, so I expect it to be close, but I give the edge to the Gators.

South Carolina: Former Florida coach Will Muschamp has been the head coach at South Carolina since 2016. Last season they were 4-8 but they did have a huge upset at Georgia. They won’t be that lucky on this day.

LSU: We all know the Tigers were undefeated and won the national championship in 2019. Heisman Trophy winning QB Joe Burrow is gone and LSU will fall back to earth. Gators get the W.

@ Ole Miss: The Rebels are one of the worst teams in the conference, so this is a cakewalk.

Georgia: This is a Halloween day rivalry game. The Bulldogs have won the last three meetings. That streak will finally get snapped.

@ Vanderbilt: We know Vandy doesn’t stand a chance.

Mizzou: The Tigers are one of the worst teams in the division. Another lopsided win.

New Mexico State: The Aggies are traveling to Gainesville for a beat down.

@ Florida State: The Seminoles are struggling, and this is the final W of the season.

I expect Florida to finish the regular season undefeated.

Down Here

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Free agency and the NFL Draft have already taken place so we have an idea of what each roster will look like.

The NFC South has received a lot of attention with the arrival of Tom Brady to Tampa. Let’s take a look around the division and make some predictions.

Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers made the biggest splash in free agency by signing Tom Brady. They also traded for his former retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.

They drafted Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round. Wirfs played 10 games at right tackle and three at left tackle last season. He was named an All-American and he should be able to help protect Brady.

Tampa Bay ranked 25th in total defense and they probably will struggle again in 2020.

The Bucs have received a lot of hype this off season. I don’t think they can live up to it. Brady will turn 43 in August and he’s going in to his 20th season.

Think back to Peyton Manning’s final season when his play drastically deteriorated. I think age and attrition will hamper Brady. The Bucs will win 8-9 games, but they will not be legitimate contenders.

Carolina: The Panthers got rid of their franchise quarterback Cam Newton and signed Teddy Bridgewater.

They are led by All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. He’s really the only weapon on offense and they lack a talented wide receiver.

Carolina used all seven draft picks on defensive players. They did struggle defensively in 2019, ranking 31st in total defense. They gave up 28.8 points per game.

The best-case scenario would be for three or four of the players they drafted to step in and contribute immediately. That would mean they have young players making mistakes but gaining experience. The Panthers will win 4-5 games.

Atlanta: They were a tough team to figure out last season. The Falcons were bad, but they beat New Orleans and San Francisco, two of the best teams in the NFC.

They drafted two offensive linemen in the first round of the 2019 draft but they both dealt with injuries. Protecting Matt Ryan has been a recurring issue. If that can get solved, they might have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. They still were fifth in total offense.

The running game struggled last year, and it was addressed by signing running back Todd Gurley. Gurley has dealt with a knee injury that has decreased his play significantly.

They ranked 20th in total defense. Dan Quinn’s job is on the line and I think he will be fired. Atlanta should win 7-8 games.

New Orleans: The Saints were 13-3 in 2019. They were one of the best teams in the league and they return many players from that team.

Future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees sustained a torn ligament to his right thumb that caused him to miss five weeks. He’s also 41 years old so his window to win another Super Bowl is closing.

The offense has playmakers like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas that defenses have to plan for. They ranked ninth in total offense and 15th in total defense.

They will win 10-11 games. New Orleans has to hope they don’t play the Vikings in the playoffs and they will have a chance to get to the Super Bowl.

King Bees

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

When we think of the best ACC basketball programs North Carolina and Duke come to mind. The conference has some other very good programs and once upon a time Georgia Tech was in that category. Let’s look at the best players in program history.

Mark Price (1982-86): He was a two-time All-American and four-time All ACC player.

Price lead the Yellow Jackets to an ACC Championship his junior year by beating North Carolina in the ACC Tournament championship game. He was the ACC Player of the Year in the 1984-85 season.

He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1991 and his jersey was retired. He holds several records and he’s the All-time leader in steals (240), consecutive games started (126), minutes played (4,604) and 3-point field goal percentage (.440). He was the first pick in the second round of the 1986 draft (25th overall) by the Dallas Mavericks.

Kenny Anderson (1989-91): He won ACC Rookie of the Year in 1990. Anderson was All ACC and All-American both years at Tech.

He averaged 23 points per game and 7 assists per game. He was a key member of the 1990 team that got to the Final Four. That team also won the ACC title. He was the second pick in the 1991 NBA draft by the New Jersey Nets.

Stephon Marbury (1995-96): You may have noticed a theme here since we have another point guard on the list.

Marbury was a 1995 McDonald’s All-American along with Kevin Garnett, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

He averaged 18.9 ppg and 4.5 apg and was named a Third Team All-American. Tech was 13-3 in conference play which made them the regular season ACC champs.

They advanced to the ACC Tournament championship game but lost by one point to Wake Forest, led by Tim Duncan.

The Yellow Jackets got to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. He was selected fourth overall by Milwaukee in the legendary 1996 draft.

Chris Bosh (2002-03): Bosh was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2003.

He averaged 15.6 points, 9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 31 games. Georgia Tech had a disappointing season and finished 16-15. They got to the third round of the NIT. He was the No. 4 pick by Toronto in 2003, which is another legendary draft class.

Dennis Scott (1987-90): He led the Yellow Jackets to the NCAA Tournament each year he played.

Scott was ACC Rookie of the Year in 1988, ACC Player of the Year in 1990 and Sporting News Player of the Year (1990). He was also a consensus second-team All-American in 1990. In his career he averaged 21.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 3 apg. He was the No. 4 pick by Orlando in the 1990 draft.

Matt Harpring (1994-98): Harpring was a four-year starter and was named First Team All-ACC three times.

He set career highs in his senior season with 21.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, ranking second in the ACC in both categories.

He finished his collegiate career as Georgia Tech’s second all-time leader in points (2,225) and rebounds (997).

Harpring is the institute’s all-time leader in free throws attempted (675) and made (508).

His jersey was retired in his final regular season home game. He was the 15th pick by Orlando in the 1998 draft.

Travis Best (1991-95): The McDonald’s All-American led Tech to the 1993 ACC Tournament Championship.

He averaged 16.6 ppg and 5.6 apg. He was one of only three ACC players to score 2,000 points with 600 assists. He was the 23rd pick in 1995 by Indiana.

Running Wild

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC has produced a ton of talent over the years.

One of the strongest positions is running back. I want to examine the rich history of the position and see who the best RB in conference history is.

Darren McFadden (Arkansas): He’s the third leading rusher in conference history with 4,590 yards.

McFadden played for the Razorbacks for three seasons (2005-07). He improved his rushing total every year and rushed for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns in his final season.

He tied the SEC single game record with 321 rushing yards against South Carolina.

In the 2007 season finale against No. 1 LSU McFadden rushed for 206 yards, 3 TD’s and helped pull off a huge upset.

Bo Jackson (Auburn): Jackson is a legendary athlete and two sport star. He played four years at Auburn and had two seasons with at least one thousand yards.

As a senior he rushed for 1,786 yards and 17 scores. At the time it was the second most rushing yards in a season in conference history.

He won the Heisman trophy in 1985. Jackson is fifth in all-time conference rushing yards with 4,303.

As a sophomore Bo rushed for 1,213 yards, 12 touchdowns and led the Tigers to an 11-1 record.

Kevin Faulk (LSU): This is a forgotten name that deserves some respect. He spent four seasons in Baton Rouge and rushed for more than one thousand yards in his final three.

He was also a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. In that respect he might be the most complete back in SEC history.

As a senior he ran for 1,279 yards, 12 TD’s, 22 receptions and 3 receiving scores. He’s fourth on the all-time SEC rushing list with 4,557.

Errict Rhett (Florida):  When we think of the Gators of the early 90’s Steve Spurrier and passing come to mind.

Rhett did a lot of damage on the ground, racking up two thousand-yard seasons. His lowest rushing total was 845 yards as a freshman, but he averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

He’s seventh on the SEC rushing list with 4,163 yards.

Herschel Walker (Georgia): Walker was a workhorse in Athens. He led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season and national championship as a true freshman in 1980.

He was phenomenal and that was his lowest rushing total of his career. Herschel ran for 1,616 yards, 1,891 yards and 1,752 yards.

He won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 and led the Dawgs to an 11-1 record. They were undefeated and ranked No.1 going into the Sugar Bowl.

He’s the leading rusher in conference history with 5,259 yards. His stats do not include bowl games, which is impressive.

Derrick Henry (Alabama): Henry is a big, bruising back.

His first two seasons weren’t spectacular. As a junior in 2015 he broke out with 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns.

He led the Crimson Tide to a 14-1 record and national championship. Henry also won the Heisman as a junior before departing for the NFL.

Emmitt Smith (Florida): Smith ran wild in Gainesville for three seasons (1987-89). His only season under one thousand yards was as a sophomore (988) but he missed two games due to injury.

He averaged over 5 ypc each year. As a junior he ran for 1,599 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Honorable Mention: Nick Chubb (UGA), Dalton Hilliard (LSU), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Charles Alexander (LSU), Cadillac Williams (Auburn)

There are several great backs to choose from but I think Herschel Walker has to be at the top of the list.

The First Mate

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In case you’ve been under a rock, you know Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.

The Buccaneers also traded for his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski. They have not made the playoffs since 2007, but they are a preseason favorite to win the Super Bowl. I’m going to take a look and see who the best player in franchise history is.

The first pick in franchise history was defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, No. 1 overall in 1976. Selmon was one of the NFL’s most dominant pass rushers and the first Tampa Bay player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played for the Bucs for nine years (1976-84) and he was selected to six Pro Bowls.

Selmon was Defensive Player of the Year in 1979. He was First-team All-Pro three times and second team twice. In his career he had 742 tackles, 78.5 sacks and 28.5 forced fumbles. His number 63 was retired in 1986.

Warren Sapp was drafted by Tampa Bay in 1995 as the 12th pick overall. The defensive tackle had 77 sacks, which is second-most in franchise history. He made seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1997-2003. He was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999.

Sapp was a four-time First Team All-Pro and two-time Second Team All-Pro. He’s First-team on the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and Second-team on the 1990s All-Decade Team.

He was pivotal in leading the 2002 Bucs to win Super Bowl XXXVII. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Derrick Brooks was also drafted in the first round in 1995 (28th). He played in Tampa his entire career, 1995-2008.

Brooks had 1,715 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles and 7 touchdowns. He was selected to 11 Pro Bowls, Five-time First-team All-Pro, Four-time Second-team All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. He is also on the 2000s All-Decade Team. He was selected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.

Warrick Dunn was drafted by the Bucs in 1997. He’s the first offensive player on this list.

In his first stint with Tampa Bay he played from 1997-2001. He was AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. He went to two Pro Bowls.

Jimmie Giles played for four teams but was with the Bucs from 1978-86. The tight end went to four Pro Bowls during that time. He holds the team record for touchdowns in a game with four.

Hardy Nickerson (1993-99) was selected to 5 Pro Bowls during that time. He was also a Four-time All-Pro and a member of the 1990s All-Decade team.

John Lynch was known as a hard-hitting safety. He went to 5 Pro Bowls as a member of the Buccaneers. He had three seasons with at least one hundred tackles.

Ronde Barber spent his entire career in Tampa (1997-2012). He is one of two players with 40+ interceptions and 20+ sacks alongside Charles Woodson. He led the league in interceptions in 2001 with 10. He went to 5 Pro Bowls and 5 All-Pro teams.

Simeon Rice is another defensive standout from the early 2000’s. He signed with the team in 2001 and went to 2 Pro Bowls. He recorded double digit sacks in his first three seasons.

There have been several great players to choose from.

I believe Lee Roy Selmon has to be chosen as the best Buc ever.

Beasts From The East

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC East should be a very interesting division in college football. Here is how I think the division stacks up.

Florida: I give the Gators a slight edge over Georgia.

Under Dan Mullen’s watch, Florida has won 21 games and finished in the top 10 in back-to-back years.

The offense needs to take the next step and improve. The offensive line returns four starters so they should get better. Kyle Trask will be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.

Tight end Kyle Pitts (54 catches) along with receivers Jacob Copeland, Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney make up a strong receiving corp.

The defense should still be strong this season, adding UGA transfer Brenton Cox to strengthen the pass rush. The secondary will be one of the best in the SEC thanks to Marco Wilson and Kaiir Elam.

I think the deciding factor will be crossover scheduling. LSU comes to Gainesville and Georgia plays at Alabama.

Georgia: The Bulldogs lose quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D’Andre Swift and four offensive line starters.

Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman will be the new QB. Last season Newman threw for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 574 yards and 6 TD’s.

WR George Pickens had a good freshman season and he could have a breakout sophomore year.

In 2019 the defense ranked at the top of the SEC in yards per play allowed (4.3) and fewest points a game (12.6). They lost safety J.R. Reed and DL Tyler Clark but return most of the unit intact.

Tennessee: The Volunteers are going into coach Jeremy Pruitt’s third year on the right track.

They started 2019 0-2 but rebounded and won their final six games.

Quarterback play is a huge question mark and they need a drastic improvement. Whether it’s Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer, J.T. Shrout or freshman Harrison Bailey, this position will determine the success of the team.

The offensive line and running backs should be the strength of the offense.

The defense improved, holding teams to 5.01 yards per game. I think the Vols are due for a big upset in 2020. I doubt it comes against Alabama or at UGA. Most likely it will be at Oklahoma or home against Florida.

Kentucky: The Wildcats won 26 games through the first five seasons under Mark Stoops, Kentucky has posted 18 over the last two years. Finishing 8-5 in 2019 was an accomplishment for Stoops and his staff.

Starting QB Terry Wilson was lost for the season due to injury in early September but he is returning. The O-line is one of the best in the conference and they return three backs that have at least 500 rushing yards in 2019.

Kentucky’s defense finished fourth in the SEC in fewest points allowed per game (19.3) and allowed 5.3 yards a snap.

South Carolina: The pressure is mounting for Will Muschamp after finishing 4-8. He hired former Colorado State coach Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator.

They have a few options at QB with transfer Collin Hill (Colorado State), Dakereon Joyner, Ryan Hilinski and freshman Luke Doty battling for the starting job. They lost their top three running backs.

Missouri: The Tigers were 8-5 in 2018 and 6-6 in 2019.

Eli Drinkwitz is in his first year in Columbia. He is coming off of only one year as a head coach at Appalachian State.

They will not be able to make a bowl this season.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores finished 3-9 last season. On the bright side these guys are intelligent since they attend Vandy.

That’s the only thing they have to look forward to.

Wild West

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Everyone is aware of the current COVID-19 pandemic and how it has changed everyday life for the world.

The social distancing also has an impact on sports since players cannot compete against or work out with each other.

I think this will be a factor this college football season, assuming we still have one. I’m going to preview the SEC West in 2020.

 

Alabama: They were plagued with injuries in 2019. One player returning from injury is linebacker Dylan Moses. He missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. He led the Crimson Tide with 86 tackles in 2018.

They also lost the top running back in the class of 2019 for the season, Trey Sanders. Najee Harris is also back after passing on the draft.

Quarterback play is under the spotlight with Tua Tagovailoa off to the NFL, but Mac Jones played well at the end of 2019, and true freshman Bryce Young will join the mix.

I don’t think they will have the same bad luck with injuries two years in a row.

LSU: The reigning national champs lose Heisman winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady left for the NFL. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and wide receiver Justin Jefferson left early for the NFL.

Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall are returning, and they combined for 33 touchdown catches.

Texas A&M: The Aggies have returning talent on both sides of the ball.

Leading running back Isaiah Spiller (946 yards) will improve as a sophomore and the offensive line remains largely intact.

The receiving corps is led by receivers Jhamon Ausbon (66 catches) and Ainias Smith (22) and tight ends Jalen Wydermyer and Baylor Cupp.

Can quarterback Kellen Mond take the next step in development as a senior? The defense also returns most of its key pieces.

Auburn: Bo Nix should be one of the most improved players in 2020. He had a good freshman season with 2,542 yards, 16 touchdowns, 6 picks and he completed 58% of his passes. He also rushed for 313 yards and 7 scores.

Former Arkansas coach Chad Morris was hired as the team’s new offensive coordinator, and his experience working with quarterbacks should help Nix develop as a passer.

The Tigers return a solid stable of running backs, and the team’s top three statistical receivers. Unfortunately, the offensive line loses four starters.

The Tigers also have the same problem in the trenches on defense, losing three starters.

Ole Miss: The Rebels lost eight games in 2019 but five came by eight points or less.

New coach Lane Kiffin isn’t stepping into a total rebuild. QB John Rhys Plumlee had a dynamic freshman season and the top three receivers are back. Both tackles are gone so the line may have some problems.

Ole Miss showed marked improvement on defense in 2019. After giving up 36.2 points a game in 2018, this unit allowed 26.5 last season.

Mississippi State: This is Mike Leach’s first year in Starkville.

He’s known for high-powered offense, but he needs to find a quarterback and receivers. All-SEC running back Kylin Hill returned for his senior year.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks have lost 19 consecutive conference games. They have a new coach, Sam Pittman. They have former Last Chance U star, running back Rakeem Boyd (1,133 yards)

SEC Upper Crust

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Many analysts and fans consider the SEC to be the best football conference.

Depending on the year there may be an element of truth to that. I’m going to look at some of the best teams in conference history and try to determine who the best is.

1998 Tennessee: The Vols were the first national champs of the BCS era. Ironically, everything came together the year after Peyton Manning graduated.

They were led by quarterback Tee Martin and wide receiver Peerless Price. Sophomore running back Jamal Lewis tore his LCL in his right knee, so he only played in the first 5 games.

Price had 920 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Travis Henry led the team in rushing with 970 yards and 7 touchdowns. They beat Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl to finish 13-0.

1992 Alabama: The Crimson Tide were led by a strong defense. They led the nation in fewest points allowed (9.2 per game during the regular season).

They won the first SEC Championship Game against No. 12 Florida. In the Sugar Bowl they play defending national champ, No. 1 Miami. They routed the Hurricanes 34-13 to finish 13-0. They also did not allow an offensive touchdown to the Heisman Trophy winner, QB Gino Toretta.

1980 Georgia: This team was led by freshman running back Herschel Walker. He rushed for 1,616, 15 touchdowns and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.

He was talented enough to help the team overcome mediocre quarterback play. Buck Belue passed for 1,314 yards, 11 TD’s, 9 interceptions and completed 49% of his passes.

They beat No. 14 South Carolina and No. 20 Florida in consecutive weeks. In the Sugar Bowl they beat No. 7 Notre Dame to finish 12-0.

1996 Florida: The Gators are the first team on this list with a loss. They outscored their opponents 612-228.

QB Danny Wuerffel threw for 3,625 yards, 39 touchdowns and 13 picks. He won the Heisman Trophy. The offense had a lot of talent with running backs Fred Taylor and Elijah Williams.

They also had Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green at receiver.

The Gators only loss came in the regular season finale to No. 2 Florida State, 24-21. They got revenge in the Sugar Bowl and demolished FSU, 52-20.

2009 Alabama: They were led by Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram with 1,658 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had 3 receiving touchdowns.

Linebacker Rolando McClain won the Butkus Award and Jack Lambert Award.

Greg McElroy threw for 2,508 yards, 17 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and he completed 61% of his passes.

Julio Jones led the team in receiving with 43 receptions for 596 yards and 4 touchdowns.

They beat No. 1 Florida in the SEC Championship and No. 2 Texas in the Rose Bowl to finish 14-0.

2011 Alabama: The defense led the nation in every major statistical category. Running back Trent Richardson won the Doak Walker award, rushing for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Seven players were named to various All-America Teams.

The only loss was to No. 1 LSU, 9-6. In the National Championship Game, they avenged the loss and beat the Tigers 21-0. They finished 12-1.

2008 Florida: This was coach Urban Meyer’s best team.

They were led by Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin on offense.

The lone loss came to Ole Miss. They finished 13-1 with a win over No. 2 Oklahoma in the national championship.

2019 LSU: I saved the best for last. Joe Burrow had the best season for a quarterback in college football history and led the Tigers to a 15-0 record.

Past Buzzes

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It is very difficult to have one elite team for a university. Having that in multiple sports typically does not happen, especially for football and men’s basketball. I want to revisit 1990, a great year for Georgia Tech.

The basketball team for the 1989-90 season had a great year. They were led by coach Bobby Cremins. They were led by a talented trio of players nicknamed “Lethal Weapon 3”. That consisted of ACC Player of the Year Dennis Scott, National Freshman of the Year Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver.

They had some big wins during the regular season against ranked teams including No. 18 Pitt, No. 17 NC State, No. 15 Louisville and No. 20 Clemson. They also demolished No. 25 North Carolina, 102 – 75.

During the regular season they were swept by Duke and Virginia. In the ACC Tournament they beat both teams and NC State for the third time to win the conference tournament.

They advanced to the Final Four in Denver. On the way there they beat Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen. The Spartans were Big Ten champs and the top seed in the region. They were ranked third nationally and led by junior Steve Smith.

In the Final Four they lost to UNLV, 90 – 81. The Running Rebels went on to win the national championship. Tech finished the season 28 – 7.

In the fall of 1990, the football team had a historic undefeated season. They were led by head coach Bobby Ross and quarterback Shawn Jones. For the season the Yellow Jackets offense scored 379 points while the defense allowed 186 points.

Jones passed for 2,008 yards, 13 touchdowns and he had 6 rushing touchdowns. William Bell led the team in rushing with 891 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

On defense they were led by All-American defensive back Ken Swilling. He had 5 interceptions that season. He is said to have predicted an undefeated season before it started, supposedly based on a dream. Safety Willie Clay was second on the team with three picks.

The Yellow Jackets started the season with a home win against NC State. They beat ranked teams like No. 25 South Carolina, No. 15 Clemson and No. 1 Virginia. The game against UVA was nationally televised.

The tie happened at North Carolina, 13 -13. Overtime was not added to FBS football until the 1995-96 bowl season.

They also beat archrival Georgia 40 – 23 in Athens. They went to the Citrus Bowl and played No. 19 Nebraska. Going into the game the Cornhuskers were 9 – 2. The Yellow Jackets won big, 45 -21.

They finished the season 11-0-1 and No. 1 in the Coaches Poll. Colorado was the top team in the AP Poll and they were 11-1-1. I’m not sure how the Buffalos were voted No. 1 since they had a loss.

They also had a game against Missouri where they were given a fifth down. That led to them scoring a touchdown on the last play to win the game 33 -31.

They also have a common opponent, Nebraska. Colorado beat Nebraska 27 – 12.

“A lot of special things happened that season,’’ said Ross said. It was a great accomplishment by a lot of people. We started all the way at the bottom three years before that and went all the way to the top.’’

1990 was an amazing year for Georgia Tech that will never be duplicated.

King Bee

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We all have a bit more free time on our hands with everything going on currently.

It gives us some time to reflect. I’m going to determine who the best Georgia Tech football player of all time is.

Joe Hamilton is often overlooked despite having a great career. He played for the Yellow Jackets from 1996 to 1999. He set ACC career records for total offense (10,640 yards), touchdown passes (65) and total touchdowns (83).

As a senior in 1999, he was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American, won the Davey O’Brien Award and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

He was the runner-up in Heisman voting, finishing behind Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne. In 2002, he was named as one of the fifty members of the ACC 50th Anniversary Football Team. Hamilton was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

George Godsey replaced Hamilton in 2000. He led Tech to a 9 – 2 record that year. Godsey threw for 2,906 yards and 23 touchdowns; he also had the sixth best passing efficiency in the country.

In 2001 as a senior, he completed 241 passes for 3,085 yards, both of which are school records.

Godsey finished his college career as the most accurate passer in Georgia Tech history, with a career completion percentage of 63.3. He also has the fourth most passing touchdowns in school history with 41.

He has the school record for most passing yards in a game with 486 yards against Virginia in 2001. He broke the previous record, also held by him that was 454 yards versus Clemson in 2000.

Calvin Johnson is probably the name most people would expect in this conversation. Johnson played at GT from 2004 to 2006. Johnson had 178 receptions in his career, good for 2,927 yards and 28 touchdowns.

He ranks first in school history in career receiving yards, second in receptions, first in touchdown receptions, and first in career 100-yard receiving games with 13.

As a junior in 2006 he had his best season. He was honored as the ACC Player of the Year, was a first-team All-ACC selection for the third consecutive year, and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American.

Johnson tallied 1,202 yards on 76 catches. He also scored 15 touchdowns, which is the single season record for receiving touchdowns at Tech.

Robert Lavette played from 1981 to 1984. As a freshman, he was ACC third leading rusher (866 yards), third in receiving (45 receptions), first in all-purpose yards and first in kickoff returns.

As a sophomore, he led the ACC in rushing (1,208 yards), touchdowns (19) also a school and conference record, all-purpose yards (1,570 yards) and scoring average (10.4) points.

Lavette is the schools rushing leader with 4,066 yards and holds the record for rushing touchdowns with 45.

Keith Brooking played from 1994 to 1997. He’s the leading tackler in Georgia Tech history (467). He had two of the best tackle seasons in school history with 147 and 146, respectively, as a junior and sophomore.

Kelly Campbell was a great wide receiver and he held all of the records before Calvin Johnson.

Campbell is second in career receiving yards (2,907) and receiving touchdowns (24). He played from 1998 to 2001 so he was one of the favorite targets for Hamilton and Godsey.

This is a tough decision but I rank Joe Hamilton as the best Yellow Jacket.

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