Kipp Branch

1 2 3 26

Mock Draft

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Everyone who loves the NFL can come up with their own mock draft.

Draft junkies, like Mel Kiper Jr., have made a nice career out of player projections and mock drafts.

I’m delivering my first annual Kipp Branch official mock draft.

I use the word official because I’m just dumb enough to put this in writing so I can be graded against it. Here goes the KB Top Ten NFL Mock Draft with trades factored in:

 

First Round

 

Pick 1: The Jacksonville Jaguars select the best QB prospect in the history of QB prospects Trevor Lawrence from Clemson.

Lawrence will be handed the keys to the city of Jacksonville and the surrounding community will suffer from a lack of local barbers because every young man within 150 miles of Jacksonville will refuse to get their hair cut ever again. Long hair will the cool fad in North Florida and South Georgia.

Lawrence will lead this franchise to a Super Bowl by 2025.

Pick 2: The NY Jets select Zach Wilson QB from BYU.

This pick is set in stone after Sam Donald was traded to the Carolina Panthers.

I feel sorry for Wilson because he is about to get thrown to the wolves. The Jets are struggling and the New York sports media eats young QB’s alive.

Good luck Zach you need all the help you can get.

Pick 3: The San Francisco 49ers select, and yes, I’m calling it, Mac Jones from Alabama.

Jones reminds me a lot of Joe Montana coming out of college and San Fran is the perfect landing spot for Jones.

This will go down as a great pick 5-10 years from now.

Pick 4: The Atlanta Falcons want to draft Kyle Pitts from Florida, but they don’t want to draft him this high so they trade with the Denver Broncos and move back to pick 9.

The Broncos select Justin Fields QB from Ohio State.

The Drew Lock experiment is over in Denver. Fields takes over in Denver on day 1.

Pick 5: Remember the Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase combination at LSU in 2019.

Well, this duo is about to be reunited in Cincy. Bengals take the best WR in the draft with Chase.

Pick 6: The Miami Dolphins select Devonta Smith WR from Alabama.

The Heisman winner gives Miami a playmaker that they need. The Dolphins are all in on Tua so you better get him some weapons.

Pick 7: My Detroit Lions need everything and I mean everything.

Is Jared Goff the answer at QB? Hell no he is not, but there are bigger needs.

The WR position has been gutted; wait, the phone rings and it is Jerry Jones of the Cowboys who offers the Lions some draft capital to move back to pick 10.

The Lions accept and the Cowboys select CB Patrick Surtain II from Alabama to address that horrendous secondary.

Pick 8: The Carolina Panthers select Penei Sewell, the best OL in the draft. Perfect fit for Sewell with Carolina trading for Sam Darnold. A protect our investment pick.

Pick 9: After trading down with the Broncos the Atlanta Falcons get the guy they wanted all along and that is Kyle Pitts TE from Florida.

Pitts will be a monster matchup problem for opposing teams. Great pick by Atlanta.

Pick 10: My Detroit Lions after trading down with Dallas take WR Jaylen Waddle from Alabama to replace often injured Kenny Golliday, who left via free agency.

Bonus Pick-Pick 11: The Chicago Bears trade with the NY. Giants and land in at #11 and select Trey Lance QB of North Dakota State.

Lance develops into a superstar to go along with that defense and the Bears become a beast in the NFC over the next decade.

There you have it folks. Zero chance at being correct, but it is fun to speculate.

Bark and Bite?

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There is a lot of hype surrounding the 2021 University of Georgia football team; five straight years of top five recruiting classes, close calls with Alabama on the national stage and other heartbreaks.

The big question is this team ready to break through and win that first national title since Jimmy Carter was President of the United States?

Many say it’s now or never for UGA, but I don’t agree with that mentality. UGA, under Kirby Smart, has established itself as an annual contender for SEC Championships. SEC Champions typically get a bid to the College Football Playoff.

The news out of Athens, other than the George Pickens injury, has been positive this spring.

JT Daniels has developed into a leader both on and off the field.

With the loss of Pickens, the WR room is still very talented.

The defense could be the best in the country, and Georgia’s 2022 recruiting class is currently ranked in the top three in the nation.

A lot of things have to break your way to have a national championship season and that starts with a schedule that you can navigate through. Let’s rank UGA’s 2021 opponents from 12 to 1.

12.Charleston Southern: The Buccaneers roll into Athens late in the season sandwiched in between Tennessee and Georgia Tech. This one will be over before the coin flip.

11.Vanderbilt: Vandy will be in total rebuild mode with a new head coach and a roster that needs major upgrades. Vanderbilt bailed out of the UGA game in 2020, even after the game was rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Georgia will want to make them pay for that decision.

10.South Carolina: The Gamecocks are starting over with a new head coach also, but ruined UGA’s regular season in 2019 with an upset win.

Carolina spoiled UGA seasons in 2000, 2007, 2011, 2012, and 2019. UGA better be prepared.

9.UAB: UAB went 6-3 last season, and was invited to a bowl game before it got canceled.

8.@ Georgia Tech: UGA and Tech did not play in 2020, and the pandemic cost UGA a home game in the series.

Tech is improving fast and this game starts moving back up high in the opponent rankings in 2022 and beyond.

7.@ Tennessee: The Tennessee program is in maybe the worse shape at any point in the history of the program.

The NCAA is about to drop the hammer on major recruiting violations, and it make take a while for this program to recover.

6.Kentucky: At home in October the Dawgs will handle The Cats.

5.Arkansas: The Razorbacks travel to Athens on 10/2, and this will not be an easy game for UGA. We all watched the first half last year at Arkansas.

4.Missouri: Another program that is improving fast, and UGA better be ready to play the Tigers coming off the Florida game the previous week.

3.@ Auburn: New coach at Auburn, but look at Auburn’s history some of their best seasons ever have come with first year coaches in 1993 and 2013. This team has talent and this will be a war. This game has now been moved to October permanently.

2.Florida in Jacksonville: The SEC East will be on the line Halloween weekend. UF beat UGA 44-28 in 2020, won the East and ruined UGA’s season. Enough said.

1.Clemson in Charlotte: UGA opens the season on 9/4 with the Tigers and we will know right away if this UGA team is ready for primetime.

Clemson is as talented as anyone and is in the College Football Playoff annually.

The 2021 UGA schedule sets up nicely for a title run.

Predictions

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

April is a pretty good sports month on the calendar. Opening day for MLB, final four in college basketball, Masters, NFL draft.

It is an action-packed month on the sports landscape.

Here are some of my predictions for the month of April, and notice that I put my predictions in writing, which is much different than some guy I do a Saturday morning radio show with.

1.The Atlanta Braves will win the NL East, but they will not be leading the division at the end of April.

It may take a few weeks for the Braves bats to heat up if Spring Training was any indication.

The pitching staff will keep this team in games until the bats come around.

Ronald Acuna Jr. will hit 10 home runs during the month of April. Acuna will be the one hot bat in the lineup until the others follow suit.

2.The Baylor Bears will win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship by beating Gonzaga in the championship game. This Baylor team is complete and will show that to the nation this weekend.

3.With the Roy Williams retirement look for North Carolina to lure a big-name coach from another program.

Mark Few of Gonzaga or Jay Wright of Villanova will be the next head basketball coach at UNC.

Carolina has struggled lately on the hardcourt. Tony Bennett of Virginia is a name to watch as well for this opening if the two above balk.

4.Jon Rahm will win The Masters. Rahm finished 4th in 2018, and has top 4 finishes in the US Open and PGA Championship since 2018.

Rahm is due to win a major and his game is just too good not to have a Green Jacket.

5.The Jacksonville Jaguars will select Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence with the first overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. This has been a lock since last Christmas.

6.The Atlanta Falcons trade the 4th overall selection to the Denver Broncos and get out of the QB sweepstakes and take Oregon OL Penei Sewell with the 9th selection in the first round and gain draft capital from Denver by trading down and take the best offensive lineman in the draft to protect Matt Ryan in the twilight of his career.

7.With 5 QB’s being taken in the first 8 selections possibly it means some terrific players slide down the first-round draft board.

8.The Jaguars, who also select at pick 2,5 have LB Azeez Ojulari of UGA fall right into their lap to pump some life into a pass rush that only registered 18 sacks in 2020.

This would be a dream scenario for Jacksonville.

9.By the end of April former Glynn Academy two sport star Randon Jernigan settles into a starting slot in UGA outfield in time to make an impact as Georgia improves down the stretch in the 2021 season.

Currently batting .261, Jernigan boosts his batting average to around .300 going into the SEC tournament and will lead the Bulldogs in stolen bases.

10.Mike Soroka finishes his rehab assignment and is activated by the Braves by the end of April. Soroka will go on and have a great year for Atlanta.

Bonus Pick: The Glynn Academy Red Terror baseball team will win Region 2-AAAAAA and will be the number one seed from this region in the State playoffs.

There you have it folks. If you have some extra cash floating around then I have given you sure bets to fatten your wallet.

The Green Jacket

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

My wife and I were riding around town last week and we commented on a blooming Dogwood tree we drove by.

I said its Masters time baby. We get an unexpected treat in a couple of weeks and that is we will enjoy our second Masters Tournament in 5 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Masters was played last November with Dustin Johnson claiming his first Green Jacket.

The Favorites:

Dustin Johnson: Johnson is the betting favorite to win back-to-back in Augusta.

Johnson has the ability to overpower a golf course, and if the putter is clicking then he will be in the mix.

Johnson has been playing well and we will see if everything comes together again. Johnson is a player that plays well in major championships. Johnson is also the 2016 US Open champion.

Justin Thomas: Thomas just won The Players Championship, so his game is peaking going into Augusta.

Thomas may be the best player in the world at the moment, and a Green Jacket in 2021 could be the first of many. This is a guy to keep a close eye on.

Thomas finished 4th in the 2020 Masters. Thomas won the 2017 PGA Championship.

Rory McIlroy: Rory needs the Masters to cap off the career grand slam. His best finish at Augusta is 4th back in 2015. Rory is searching for his game right now.

He just brought in a new swing coach and trying to find your game right before coming to Augusta National is like trying to mix oil and water.

Could it all come together for Rory in a couple of weeks? At 31 years of age there is plenty of time to get that elusive Green Jacket.

Jon Rahm: Currently ranked 3rd in the World Golf Rankings Rahm is due to win a major championship.

His best finish at Augusta is 4th and he has top 5 finishes in the US Open and PGA Championship.

Have you ever known a Spanish golfer that doesn’t have a great short game? Rahm will be the next major champion from Spain.

Brooks Koepka: This guy just plays well in the major championships. He has a couple of US Open’s and PGAs to his name. He finished in a tie for 2nd in the 2019 Masters.

He will be near the top of the leaderboard and will be a factor on Sunday. His game is rounding into form currently.

Bryson DeChambeau: The current US Open champion has not played well at Augusta. His best finish is 21st in 2016.

Will he try to overpower the golf course? The answer is yes and will that risk/reward style be successful for him in 2021. He has something to prove at Augusta.

Sleepers:

Rickie Fowler: I’m a huge Rickie Fowler fan.

He has top 3 finishes in all 4 major championships and finished 2nd in 3 of the 4. At 32 years of age, he is due.

He has the game to win at Augusta with a runner-up finish in 2018. If Fowler is in contention on Sunday, I will not leave my couch that day.

He will win a major in his career. Why not the 2021 Masters? Come on Rickie get it done.

Patrick Cantlay: Not many are talking about this guy, but he is that good. Every time I tune into golf on TV he is on the leaderboard. Don’t sleep on this guy folks.

Prediction: My head says Brooks Koepka and my heart says Rickie Fowler.

A Tradition Unlike Any Other takes place in just a couple of weeks.

 

The Voyage Begins

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Sean Pender is excited about his 2021 football team this fall. “We are a talented football team, and we as coaches are excited to see how the talent develops. We have the potential to be a very good football team this fall”.

The head Pirate does have to replace 14 starters off of an 8-4 team from 2020 that won a share of the region championship, and a state playoff game. “We do have some holes to fill this year, but we played a lot of young kids last year that will move into starter slots this fall, but I love the work ethic of this football team. This team wants to be very good, and they are putting in the work to support that statement.”

Let’s take a look at position groups:

QB: Senior Jeffery Waye and Junior Jayden Drayton are locked into a battle at the QB position.

Pender says “if the season started tomorrow both would see playing time at the position”.

Waye was the back-up QB in 2020 and his coach says he has been very impressed with how he is progressing at the position.

Drayton, who transferred over from Glynn Academy, has put on almost 10 pounds of muscle in the winter conditioning program and is learning the new system at BHS.

His coach says “This kid will be recruited as an athlete and he will wear a lot of hats for us this fall. He will play some QB, WR, DB, and he will return kicks for us”.

OL: Kanaya Charlton will move to LT this fall and Pender says “Kanaya Charlton is as good as we’ve had here and that says a lot”.

Charlton at 6’7 and 330 pounds can play anywhere he wants at the next level. Offers are pouring in.

Jaquan Gibson returns as a starter at guard. Jamal Meriweather, AJ Anderson, Eli Smith, Lester Clark, Matthew Moore, William McDonald, Chris Wineski, and Jonathan Welson will battle for playing time, but depth at the position group is great.

WR: The position is very deep in talent, Kevin Thomas and Pat Leggett are playmakers. J ’Maun Weldon, Zeb Jackson, Terry Mitchell, Na’verious Williams, TJ Smith, Trey Elvine, and Jayden Drayton will all see targets in 2021. “We are deep and talented and will cause issues in space with this group” says Pender.

DL: Kayshawn Thomas will be back for his junior season with an SEC offer from South Carolina.

Thomas will lead a group that consists of River Creel, Jordan Jimerson, Jameer Lang, Jamal Meriweather, Anthony Bautista, and Matthew Moore. Pender says “#99 Thomas can be as good as he wants to be and will be a force in the middle”

LB: Pirates must replace 4 starters from last fall, but were 7 deep at the position last year.

Staffon Stanley, Adam Mweemba, and Lionel Twiity all started games last year at the position.

A name to watch could be Gerald Quick, who has the frame to be outstanding player at the position.

DB: Pender says “We are stacked 8-9 deep at DB”.

Jayden Drayton was All-Region in 2020. Derrick Smith and Keon Leggett were big contributors last fall. Ivan Johnson returns at safety. Na’verious Williams was a starter at Glynn last fall before transferring.

Other names to watch JaShawn Wilson, Tyler Sams, and Zeb Jackson, and Gerald Quick.

Anthony Elvine returns as punter, and McClain Fineran will handle PAT/FG’s.

Finally, the “Wolfpack” also known as the RB group.

Ree Simmons and Kobe Hill have both had seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing.

Hill in 2019, and Simmons in 2020. Barring injury this duo will finish their Pirate careers with over 5000 combined rushing yards.

Pender says “These guys are leaders and hate to lose and that mentality has taken root on this football team”.

Leon Charlton returns, Taivon Gadson, and Neshiek Cohen add depth. Embarrassment of riches at this position.

Spring Practice starts on May 4th and ends with the Blue and Gold Spring game on May 20th.

2021 could be special on Altama Avenue. #AllAboutTheFamily at BHS.

The Rookies

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let’s take a look at a couple of young Atlanta Braves that could be depended on heavily to get the Braves back to the NLCS and perhaps further.

Other than Max Fried in 2020 the only other consistent starter in the Braves rotation was Ian Anderson.

Anderson came up late in the season and was amazing in the playoffs. In his six regular season starts Anderson posted an ERA of 1.95. He has good stuff; a fastball in the mid 90’s, a curve in the 87-88 mph range, and a change that has been improving.

Anderson is projected to be in the starting rotation for the Braves along with Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly, Mike Soroka, and Max Fried.

That rotation on paper is in much better shape than the 2020 rotation. Soroka got hurt early in the season and Cole Hamels, well don’t get me started there.

While the 2021 Braves will be in better shape in the starting rotation than the previous season. how will that rotation stack up against the Dodgers, Padres, and even maybe the Mets?

Back to Anderson, what does he have to improve upon?

He must continue to develop his change-up as a valid out pitch to keep hitters off balance. He must also throw more strikes. Anderson can pile up some pitch counts, and he needs to stay in games longer. Actually, the entire staff needs to stay in games longer due to some questions surrounding the bullpen with the departure of Mark Melancon and the status of Shane Greene.

Braves starters must start consistently pitch into the 6th or 7th innings in games or I think the team could struggle this year.

If Anderson can stay healthy, he has a decent shot at winning 14-17 games this season and maybe Rookie Of The Year.

Another contender for Rookie Of The Year is outfielder Cristian Pache.

Pache was called up by the Braves in last August and was added to the playoff roster and hit his first MLB homerun in game 3 of the NLCS.

At only 22 years of age Pache had only four regular season at bats for the Braves, but shined in the spotlight of the NLCS, as he started six games after Adam Duvall was injured.

Going into 2021, it looks like Marcell Ozuna in LF, Ronald Acuna Jr. in RF, and either Pache or Ender Inciarte in CF.

Inciarte was left off of the Braves 2020 playoff roster and that opens the door for the 22-year Pache to take over in CF for Atlanta.

Pache is already the best defensive outfielder on the team, he is fast, and his power as a hitter is developing. Pache is still developing as an overall player, but needs to be in the line-up every day to take advantage of his potential.

The outfield combo of Acuna and Pache could be a special one to watch over the next decade in Atlanta.

If I had to choose from the two above give me Anderson, because the Braves seem to have this fascination with Ender Inciarte that could limit Pache’s development.

Anderson was 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in the postseason. He should get a full season of starts in to be in contention for the NL ROY.

The Truth

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It has been an interesting week in the crowded fish tank known as the local sports market in Coastal Georgia.

It is a crowded field indeed, where different outlets rush to be the first to claim journalistic “Gold”. I understand the marketing side of things, but is it really necessary in tiny Coastal Georgia?

Jeff Herron was recently named as the new head coach of Camden County. That story was broke by Jason Bishop live on K-Bay 106.3 FM in Kingsland on February 6th, 2021. Bishop also announced live last Saturday that an announcement was coming on Monday.

Another outlet claimed that they broke this story on Monday morning before the Camden school system made it official. That was just plain wrong.

Does it really matter who broke the story of Herron returning to Camden? Not really because it was the worst kept secret in Coastal Georgia since Christmas. I just wanted to set the record straight for those who think it matters.

I love local sports in Coastal Georgia, particularly my Brunswick High Pirates, especially BHS football.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to bring the call of Pirate football over the local airwaves for 151 Friday nights since 2007 with my broadcast partner Teddy Bishop, who has the Home Broadcast Booth in Glynn County Stadium named after him.

Many people have their hobbies. Many fish, hunt, ride bikes, etc. My hobby is Brunswick High football. Don’t believe me ask my wife Sandra, who files missing person reports on me during the fall football season.

This article I write every week for Southern Sports Edition is also a hobby for me to be able to give my opinions on a wide range of sports topics of interest to me in our area.

Nobody in Coastal Georgia is taking Stephen A. Smith’s spot on ESPN so let’s make it about the kids and the adults who make it their professional mission to help them develop.

Also, nobody in Coastal Georgia is going to be bringing us the SEC game of the week on CBS any time soon. Point being we take ourselves a little too serious at times in the tiny sports fish tank of Coastal Georgia.

And let me close with this once again. Jason Bishop broke the “Jeff Herron back to Camden” story live on K-Bay 106.3 FM in Kingsland on February 6th, 2021.

I heard it with my own ears. I can’t make this stuff up folks.

Where Would You Be?

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Another recruiting cycle is complete and the Georgia Bulldogs finished with another top 5 recruiting class.

Kirby Smart is one of the top football coaches in the business. The naysayers will say that Smart can only recruit. Well to those experts let me break a little secret to you, recruiting is the life blood to any successful college football program.

When Smart was hired in 2015, UGA was a football program that wasn’t living up to the expectations.

Expectations meaning competing consistently for conference championships and national championships.

The only time UGA was a legit contender for a National Title under Mark Richt was in 2012, they lost a heartbreaker to Alabama in the SEC title game. Alabama went on to crush an overrated Notre Dame team for a national title.

Georgia had developed a reputation of being a soft program. Soft meaning not physical enough along the lines of scrimmage. That weakness showed up in some of UGA’s biggest games late in the Richt tenure like 2015 Alabama and Florida games.

That lack of physicality led to Richt’s firing.

Enter Kirby Smart who immediately began to build the UGA program from the inside out, starting with a focus both lines of scrimmage.

Year one in 2016 he finished 8-5 and changed the culture surrounding the football program in Athens.

Then In the 2017 season, Smart led the Bulldogs to their first 9–0 start since 1982 and won the SEC East after a victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Smart coached Georgia to its first SEC title since 2005 and only the fourth 12-win season in school history.

Georgia was ranked No. 3 by the College Football Playoff Committee and played No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. Georgia rallied from a 31–14 first-half deficit, ultimately defeating Oklahoma 54–48 in double overtime, completing the largest comeback in Rose Bowl history.

The Bulldogs went on to lose to the Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game 26-23.

The 2018 team finished 11-3, but ended the season on a two-game losing streak. The critics came out of the woodwork and started taking Kirby to task about how he handled the Jake Fromm/Justin Fields QB situation.

Fields ended up transferring to Ohio State. The 2019 team finished 12-2 with a win over Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.

In the COVID-19 season of 2020 UGA finished at 8-2. The 2020 season was caught up in QB controversy, but after JT Daniels took over the job the UGA offense took off.

Now going into 2021, UGA looks to be a preseason contender for a national title. A season opening game with Clemson in Charlotte will reveal a lot where this program is on a national scale.

What Smart has done in five quick years is have UGA in the playoff discussion annually. His 52-14 overall record is one of the best in the nation. His 32-9 conference record is outstanding.

At only 45 years of age Smart should be in Athens for another 10-15 years minimum.

The UGA program is on a solid foundation currently the best foundation it has been under since the great Vince Dooley years of 1980-83.

It took Dooley 17 years to win a National Title at UGA. Kirby Smart has UGA on track now going into year 6.

Trust the process UGA fans. a National Title is very close. Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee would trade places with UGA in a heartbeat currently.

Kirby Smart has built a winning culture in Athens and the best is still to come.

Dumpster fire

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As you look around the Southern college football landscape you see the Alabama, Clemson, Florida, and Georgia’s of the world playing a very good brand of football, but you can also look around and see some programs not performing very well.

We have a few programs in our geographical region that currently look like dumpster fires. Let’s take a look at my top five programs that have fallen on hard times.

 

  1. Georgia Tech: The Jackets were number one on this list two years ago. Now they are about remove themselves from lists like this. Georgia Tech is doing the right things to not be included on lists like this much longer.

Teams 1-4 on this list need to follow the Jacket blueprint. The Jackets land here as a motivational tool for 2021.

 

  1. Florida State: My how the mighty have fallen. This once proud football program has sunk to an all-time low.

Gone are the days of ruling the ACC with an iron fist, and now we see FSU backing out of playing home games against Clemson and using Covid-19 as an excuse after Clemson had already made the trip.

FSU used to be a recruiting machine and now they fight Georgia Southern and South Alabama for 3-star athletes.

FSU will be back eventually but how in the hell should a program of this magnitude ever appear on a list like this?  It cost Clemson $250K to travel to Tallahassee for a pre-game meal, but they got to see a top five dumpster fire in person.

 

  1. South Carolina: Are you starting to see a pattern of the SEC East yet?

South Carolina is a State with good high school football, Columbia is 80 miles from Charlotte and less than 3 hours from Atlanta. The recruiting base is there.

South Carolina’s biggest problem is that they are Clemson’s little brother and they can’t shake that label.

You mention that to the fan base and they get fighting mad. How can Clemson be so good and South Carolina be so bad currently? I just don’t get it and many football observers in the south don’t either.

Will Shane Beamer fix this dumpster fire?

 

  1. Vanderbilt: Vandy has never been very good in football. We all understand that the academic prestige of Vanderbilt presents some competitive challenges for this fine University.

Derek Mason has been fired and been replaced by Clark Lea from Notre Dame.

Vandy needs to get back to work of becoming a competitive football team. The Commodores did not win a football game in 2020, and decided they were just not going to show up and play Georgia in their final game of the season. That mentality alone has to go and makes Vandy a dumpster fire.

 

  1. Tennessee: How did we get here Vol fans? You are the biggest dumpster fire in college football currently. A ten-year-old boy and Tennessee fan asked his father “What is it like to beat Alabama dad?” Dad answered “I don’t know son we are Vol fans.”

Tennessee just suffered through the worst decade of football in its proud history. Six head coaches in 12 years.

Now apparently Tennessee has as many as 30 level 1 and level 2 major recruiting violations. Rumors of giving away cash in McDonald’s bags and so on.

Due to NCAA sanctions forthcoming it may be 2025-26 until Tennessee has a full complement of scholarships to offer (they could lose up to 30 over next 4 years).

This program is about to be on life support. Tennessee is having a mass exodus via the transfer portal.

Memphis is the best college football program in the State of Tennessee right now.

Damn, just damn, Big Orange nation you are the biggest dumpster fire in all of college football.

Acuna Matata

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Pitchers and catchers report in just a few weeks.

The Major League Baseball season is quickly approaching and it is time to start talking baseball, while the Kansas City Chiefs are in the process of winning back-to-back Super Bowls.

Back to my topic, who the most exciting player in baseball?

That answer is easy to me his name is Ronald Acuna Jr. Is there a more beautiful swing in all of baseball than his? The ball just explodes off his bat.

I have been watching videos of him hitting bombs this offseason in his native Venezuela with the classic bat flip and doing some humanitarian work in a once great country that has been ravaged by a dictator.

The pandemic shortened season of 2020 kept Acuna from chasing the 40-40 HR/Stolen base club. He blasted 14 home runs in just 46 games and 202 plate appearances.

Acuna recorded 40 hits with 25 of them going for extra bases. He battled a nagging wrist injury that hampered him all of last season.  Acuna had an OBP of .406 which is outstanding and walked 38 times in those 202 plate appearances.

The offensive stats are always going to be there with Acuna. The consistency of where he plays in the field has not.

Cristian Pache’s arrival in center field means that Acuna will move permanently to his natural spot of right field, where he can settle in defensively. Acuna has been blessed by the Baseball God’s with a cannon for a right arm.

Back to Acuna and the 40/40 club discussion. Becoming a member of the 40–40 club is an elusive achievement in modern American baseball, as very few players possess both the power to hit 40 home runs and the speed to steal 40 bases in a season.

Generally, a player with the strength to hit 40 home runs will not have nearly the speed necessary to steal 40 bases, and vice versa.

There are only four members of the 40/40 club in the history of baseball:

 

Members of the 40–40 club:

Year/Player/Team/HR/SB

1988    Jose Canseco   Oakland Athletics        42        40

1996    Barry Bonds     San Francisco Giants   42        40

1998    Alex Rodriguez            Seattle Mariners         42        46

2006    Alfonso Soriano           Washington Nationals           46        41

 

In 2019 Acuna barely missed the elite club by belting 41 HR’s and stealing 37 bases. Acuna could be the first player to achieve this milestone more than once in his career.

I actually think in the next 5 years Acuna will be the only man in MLB history to reach the 50/50 club.

The 2021 Braves are good enough to win the World Series. Probably should have beat the Dodgers in 2020 but we will chalk that up to lack of playoff experience.

I do know this, if I’m looking for one player to build a baseball team around it would be Ronald Acuna Jr.

He is a generational talent, and I would not be surprised if he wins the NL MVP in 2021.

The Braves have him signed to a long-term deal, but soon will have to renegotiate that deal to make Acuna one of the highest paid players in the game.

Braves fans, baseball season is almost upon us, and I hope we enjoy the next few years because they have the potential to be special, and Ronald Acuna Jr. will be the best player in baseball during that run.

1 2 3 26