Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, JUNE 7, 2019

UF MAKES SENSE FOR KERRY BLACKSHEAR

Kerry Blackshear Jr., the most coveted graduate transfer in all of college basketball, visited Florida Thursday. While Florida isn’t the only suitor for Blackshear, who decided to give it the old college try one more year only at a different school than Virginia Tech, UF does indeed make the most sense.

Kentucky wants him badly and John Calipari has pitched UK until he’s blue in the face. Buzz Williams would love to have the guy he originally recruited to VaTech to come spend his last year as a collegian with him at his new digs, Texas A&M. Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, having lost Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone to the NBA Draft, is all but begging Blackshear to come to Knoxville. Eric Musselman is pitching Arkansas although donkeys might fly first before Blackshear sets foot on campus in Fayette Nam. Mark Few has quietly let Blackshear know that he could have a lot of fun scoring at will in the West Coast Conference where Gonzaga plays. And lest we forget, Virginia Tech coach Mike Young would probably streak the campus if Blackshear were to come back, however doubtful that might be.

All those coaches can passionately state a case why they are the ideal landing spot for Blackshear but Florida still makes the most sense. Not all of Florida’s appeal is basketball although Mike White can certainly point to a roster that only needs Blackshear to be considered a Final Four contender next year. There is that teensy matter of proximity to home (Orlando) and that might prove to be the biggest factor of all, particularly if Blackshear chooses UF.

Playing in Gainesville would allow Blackshear’s family to see both sons (younger brother Kenan signed with FAU) play without those 12-hour plus road trips. That will indeed be a factor in this decision. Dusty May could also be a factor. Remember Dusty? He was Mike White’s chief lieutenant for three years at UF. You can bet the farm he’s already been filling the heads of Blackshear’s parents with reasons why their oldest son needs to be a Gator.

Now, he could choose to go to one of the aforementioned schools, but the place that makes sense for all the right reasons for Kerry Blackshear Jr. is the University of Florida.

THE LIST FOR THURSDAY

The best defensive backs in the SEC:

1. Grant Delpit, S, LSU (6-3, 204, JR): It would take a miracle of the walls of Jericho proportions for anyone not named Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa or Jonathan Taylor to win the Heisman Trophy, much less a defensive player but if it’s possible, this is the guy. He might be the best college football player in the country regardless of position. All he did last year as a sophomore when he made first team All-America was make 74 tackles including five sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, nine pass breakups and five interceptions.

2. CJ Henderson, CB, Florida (6-1, 191, JR): Most quarterbacks look to whatever side of the field CJ is on and then go the other way, which has everything to do with good but not spectacular numbers. It’s hard to rack up the big stats if no one tests you. As a sophomore, he was in on 38 tackles with five tackles for loss, three sacks, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups.

3. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama (6-1, 198, JR): McKinney played special teams and mop-up in 2017. In 2018 he stepped in as a starter and was the perfect complement to Deionte Thompson. Thompson has moved on to the NFL so now it’s McKinney’s time to shine. As a sophomore he was in on 74 tackles including three sacks, five tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and 10 pass breakups.

4. J.R. Reed, S, Georgia (6-1, 194, SR): Reed had a very productive junior year for one of the nation’s top defenses. He’s expected to be the leader of the Georgia defense in 2019, building on a 2018 when he was in on 66 tackles with one sack, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry, two interceptions and two pass breakups.

5. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU (6-0, 192, SR): Now that Greedy Williams has gone on to the NFL, Fulton is expected to be LSU’s lockdown corner. Last season he was in on 25 tackles including one for loss with one forced fumble, an interception and nine pass breakups.

6. Marco Wilson, CB, Florida (6-0, 190, RSO): He tore an ACL in August so he missed the entire 2018 season. He’s expected to be back better than ever as a third year sophomore in 2019. As a true freshman in 2017 Wilson developed into a lockdown corner when he had 34 tackles and 10 pass breakups.

7. Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State (6-2, 185, JR): Dantzler had a nice freshman year and he built upon that experience in 2018 for one of the nation’s best defensive units. Dantzler was in on 43 tackles with one sack, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry, two interceptions and nine pass breakups.

8. Daniel Thomas, S, Auburn (5-11, 208, SR): Thomas is known as a big hitter for receivers that venture across the middle. Last season he was one of the surest tacklers in the league when he had 74 tackles including two tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and three pass breakups.

9. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama (6-2, 202, SO): When Trevon Diggs went down in game six Surtain pretty much had to stay on the field and though he got burned a few times as most freshmen do, he showed qualities that will translate into stardom very soon. In 2018 he was in on 37 tackles including 1.5 for loss with a quarterback hurry, one forced fumble, one interception and seven QB breakups.

10. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (6-1, 200, SO): Like Surtain, there were times when Horn played like a real freshman but as the 2018 season wore on mistakes were fewer and further in between.

Thursday: The best quarterback units in the SEC

SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR A FRIDAY

Chris Steele, who was a Gator long enough for a cup of coffee, and then an Oregon Duck long enough for an espresso shot, says his latest move from Oregon to Southern Cal, where he was committed before Florida and after his commitment to UCLA (confused?), is because his mama got laid off from her job per Tyson Alger of The Athletic:

“She went to work on Monday and got her official notice. On June 16, she won’t have a job anymore with the school district. I don’t come from the wealthiest family, so financially it was going to be very hard. And then on top of that, my grandma is on dialysis. So with my mom losing her job, she’s going to be a provider for my grandma just to get a few dollars flowing in. And then, you know, I think it’ll just be a lot easier if I stayed home. I came to the decision that I’ll be able to support my mom financially. It doesn’t happen every day that an 18-year-old has to try and help support his family. It’s tough. But I mean, you have to make it work. That’s the reason why I’m not going to Oregon anymore. It was going to be too much for my parents. I know a lot of people don’t understand it, but recruits, players, we’re all human like everybody else. We deal with real-life situations. It was something that was important to me, my faith, family and football, and my education.”

J.J. Cooper of BaseballAmerica.com on the New York Mets attempt to sign Florida signee Matthew Allan, he of the 97 mph fastball that they drafted in the third round:

“From the fourth through 10th rounds, New York picked seven college seniors. Because they have no ability to return to school, most college seniors have very little negotiating leverage. Assuming all seven sign for roughly $10,000 apiece (and assuming the Mets spend the five percent overage), the Mets could save $1.75 million on those seven picks to shift to signing Allan … That $1.75 million plus $701,295 for Allan’s slot allotment gets the Mets to just over $2.45 million. That doesn’t come close to the number Allan was reported to be seeking, but with potential savings on both Baty and Wolf’s deals, it does start to bring the number within the range of what the Mets could pay, especially if Allan accepts a little less than what he was asking for.”

Brad Botkin of CBSSports.com discusses the possibility that one year into the LeBron James era with the Los Angeles Lakers the honeymoon might be on the verge of ending:

“If the Lakers don’t score big this summer, they simply have to start thinking beyond the LeBron James era, as premature as that may sound after the first year of a deal. That doesn’t mean they have to do anything. But they have to think about it. And if LeBron and his camp start pressing the issue even more, well, you can read the handwriting. To say this is a big summer in the land of Purple and Gold is an understatement.”

SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF

Las Vegas is posting odds on when Alabama coach Nick Saban decides to hang up his whistle. Talking to the Montgomery Advertiser, Saban seemed to think the folks in Vegas may have been indulging in one too many magic mushrooms. Saban said, “That’s the first I’ve heard of that one. It’s amusing. After the six hours I spent at home in the chair after I got home from the hospital [following hip replacement surgery], I think you all heard I was outside walking around in the yard, I think Miss Terry was ready to call the police on me if I didn’t get back in the house. So that’s not something I enjoy, that’s not something I want to do anytime soon I can tell you that. I just enjoy being part of a team so much, the relationships. To have Julio Jones comes back the first two days I had my rehab on my hip, he was there with me doing it. Tua actually came in yesterday when I was doing rehab, gave me a medical examination. Some of these things are really special. So, no time soon. I don’t know what Vegas knows that I don’t know.”

The bromance between Vanderbilt and basketball signee Kenyon Martin Jr. didn’t last very long. A month after signing his LOI, the son of former University of Cincinnati and NBA star Kenyon Martin announced he will instead play professional basketball internationally.

LSU wide receiver Jonathan Giles reportedly has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. Giles, who transferred to LSU from Texas Tech, had only 10 catches for 59 yards in 2018. In his two seasons at Texas Tech, Giles caught 84 passes for 1,301 yards and 16 touchdowns.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Kevin Durant has been officially ruled out of Friday’s game four of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Ruptures. The Ruptures lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 … Former University of Arizona basketball assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson received a three-month all-paid vacation at Club Fed Wednesday for his part in the college basketball corruption scandal … Mark Stevens, one of the owners of the Golden State Warriors, has been slapped with a $500,000 fine and banned from NBA games and Warriors team activities for one year effective immediately after he used obscene language and shoved Kelly Lowry of the Ruptures after Lowry dove into the stands after a loose ball Wednesday night. Stevens, on more than one occasion, shouted to Lowry to “Go F#$% yourself!” … Bowling Green quarterback Jarrett Doege is transferring to West Virginia. Doege will have to sit 2019 but will have two seasons of eligibility remaining. He threw for 27 touchdowns and 2,600 yards as a sophomore … The Chicago Bears will celebrate 100 years of existence tonight in Rosemont, Illinois. Attending will be Gale Sayers, who suffers from advanced stages of dementia. He will wear his gold Pro Football Hall of Fame blazer (Sayers was the youngest player to ever enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the age of 34) but not his ring since he’s only a rain-thin 130 pounds now. Before he tore up knees in an era when few ever fully recovered from ACL tears, Sayers was the most electric football player ever in the NFL.