Friday, August 28, Fletch & his merry band of photographers will be returning to cover high school football with all the gusto it deserves!
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Highlights, highlights AND MORE HIGHLIGHTS! From Minden to East Texas we will have the highlights of players, band, cheerleaders, danceteams AND STUDENT SECTIONS!
Friday, August 14, 2015
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Mock 2.0 Fletcher Draft
1. Tampa Bay-Jameis Winston
2. Tennessee-Marcus Mariota
3. Jacksonville-Leonard Williams
4. Oakland-Amari Cooper
5. Washington-Dante Fowler
6. NY Jets-Vic Beasley
7. Chicago-Kevin White
8. Atlanta-Shane Ray
9. NY Giants-Brandon Scherff
10. St. Louis-Trae Waynes
11. Minnesota-DeVante Parker
12. Cleveland-Todd Gurley
13. Saints-Danny Shelton
14. Miami-Marcus Peters
15. SF-Arik Armstead
16. Texans-Breshad Perriman
17. San Diego-Melvin Gordon
18. Kanas City-Cameron Erving
19. Cleveland-Malcom Brown
20. Philadelphia-Landon Collins
21. Cincinnati-Randy Gregory
22. Pittsburgh-Shaq Thompson
23. Detroit-Kevin Johnson
24. Arizona-Bernardrick McKinney
25. Carolina-Nelson Agholor
26. Baltimore-Shane Ray
27. Cowboys-Paul Dawson
28. Denver-Eddie Goldman
29. Indianapolis-Andrus Peat
30. Green Bay-Jordan Phillips
31. Saints-Bud Dupree
32. New England-Dorial Green-Beckham
Mock It Up To Mock It Down
By: Tim Fletcher
Grab your nearest recording device, it’s time to mockument the sports season in full swing now that The Masters, March Madness and MLB’s Opening Day have come to pass (as soon as Jordan Spieth finishes the drill this afternoon). Throw on your airiest, lightest mock turtleneck; add some ham mocks to that bean soup; let that Mockingbird sing… its Mock Draft Season!
Many, many years ago, when Mel Kiper, Jr.’s hairline started at the tip of his nose, there were only a handful of NFL draft experts who tried to forecast the 1st round in advance of the actual event. These people were called, “nerds.” You know them now as, “experts.” Whereas before, you would find “nerds” congregating in packs, similar to a group I ran around with (coincidence, I’m sure), you now will find “experts” on the draft on anything that features a .com, .org, .edu, or .polka.
Not only do these draft experts have to file a “Mock Draft” to keep the white apple on their laptops lit, they also must adjust their content more than a big league pitcher on a humid, summer evening. This is why you will see such headlines as, “Mock Draft 1.1” or “Mock Draft 2 Electric Boogaloo”. By the time the NFL stages the 1st round of the draft in Chicago’s “Auditorium Theatre” (as opposed to the run-down Theatre Auditorium) on April 30th, the draft “experts” will have more versions of the draft than a list of Jay Z’s biggest problems.
Not wanting that ‘left-out’ feeling I get at family reunions, I present to you, “Tim Fletcher Mock Draft 0.00,” an ode to my fifth-semester GPA at then-Northeast Louisiana University.
1. Tampa Bay-Jameis Winston, Florida State. QB and meme sensation for his starring role in “Oregon fumble.”
2. Tennessee-Marcus Mariota, Oregon. QB and most likely to carry Zach Mettenberger’s mustache clippings in a glad bag as part of rookie rituals.
3. Jacksonville-Leonard Williams, Southern Cal. DE stands 6’5” and weighs a steak or two over 300 pounds. Played every position on Trojans d-line and replaces Polamalu as most noted hair in NFL.
4. Oakland-Kevin White, West Virginia. WR with the thing that Raiders brass loves most: speed to track down defensive backs after interceptions.
5. Washington-Dante Fowler, Florida. DE and pass rush specialist. Some burgundy and gold fans would like to see him test his skills to the utmost in practice.
6. NY Jets- Shane Ray, Missouri, DE/LB was all-everything at Missouri, which churns out SEC defensive players of the year regularly (at least last two years).
7. Chicago-Amari Cooper, Alabama. The Best WR in the draft will need to work on his reaction time (not in terms of how DB’s play him, but how quickly he responds to Jay Cutler calling him out).
8. Atlanta-Vic Beasley, Clemson. DE who powered through 35 reps in the bench press at combine. Scouts question his lack of alpha-dog mentality. However, his beta-tape usage is off the charts.
9. NY Giants-Brandon Scherff, Iowa. Interior OL is everything last year’s 1st round pick, Odell Beckham, Jr. is---but opposite.
10. St. Louis-Trae Waynes, Michigan State. CB who is more handsy than a pick-pocket. Penalized 9 times in college. NFL receivers are just like those at Purdue and Indiana, so he should be fine!
11. Minnesota-DeVante Parker, Louisville. WR gives his old college teammate a reliable target… in the city that serves as HQ for Target!
12. Cleveland-Danny Shelton, Washington. DT who stands 6’2” and weighs 332 pounds. Will not be recognized walking around with other Browns fans.
13. SAINTS-La’El Collins, LSU. OT from LSU. Saints rarely look to BR for help and why should they? Name 15 LSU alums who have turned out great in last 4 years.
14. Miami-Marcus Peters, Washington. CB who was suspended a game last year for throwing a sideline tantrum.
15. SF- Randy Gregory, Nebraska. DE who stands 6’6” and tips the scales at 255. Just missed out on playing for Bo Pelini and Jim Harbaugh.
16. TEXANS-Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri. Can’t count Oklahoma since he never played there. Most talented wide-out comes with more baggage than George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
17. SD-Todd Gurley, Georgia. RB coming off knee surgery. If he pans out, Phillip Rivers may name his 8th, 9th, or 10th child after Gurley.
18. KC-Cameron Erving, Fla.State. OL who can do it all. Kept Winston out of trouble. On the field.
19. Cleveland-Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin. RB who specializes in big plays but was held to 1 yd. or less nearly 20% of his carries last year. Boom or bust? Sounds familiar w/their draft picks.
20. Philadelphia-Landon Collins, Alabama. S who goes from Saban’s “my way or highway” style to Chip Kelly’s “my way or highway,” style.
21. Cincy- Arik Armstead, Oregon. DL who spells Eric completely wro…he’s how big? Spell it like you want, big man!
22. Pittsburgh-Shaq Thompson, Washington. S who steps into Polamalu’s shoes at safety. Can also fill in for Le’veon Bell at RB (Shaq ran for 456 yards last year).
23. Detroit-Jalen Collins, LSU. CB is most recent product of DBU.
24. Arizona- Malcom Brown, Texas. DT who is accustomed to knocking the “L” out of things, including his name.
25. Carolina-D.J. Humphries, Florida. OL who was NOT one of three Gators who blocked their own teammate in last two seasons.
26. Baltimore-Duke Johnson, Miami. RB who we saw in between Duck Commander BBQ sauce commercials in Independence Bowl.
27. COWBOYS-Eddie Goldman, Florida State. DL who “plays the run like a full-grown man,” according to NFL.com. I’m a full-grown man. Hopefully he’s better than me.
28. Denver-Eric Kendricks, UCLA. LB who is high character. Hey! Something “else” in Denver that’s high!
29. Indy-Andrus Peat, Stanford. OL continues to make Indianapolis the “Palo Alto of the Midwest”.
30. Green Bay-Maxx Williams, Minnesota. TE whose first name already looks like it’s been double-checked.
31. SAINTS- Bud Dupree, Kentucky. LB is only guy named, “Bud” who weighs 270 pounds and runs a 4.56 40-yard dash.
32. New England-Byron Jones, UConn. CB who will fill a role and be let go five years from now before he become too expensive.
With just 18 days separating us from the 1st Round of the draft, I have just enough time to roll out enough Mocks to number all the way from 0-to-turtlenecks.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
For The Shreveport Times
Date night in Haynesville Online Version
By: Tim Fletcher
Pulling into Haynesville this foggy, Friday night, there is no need for signs directing us to Red Franklin-Memorial Stadium. Above the pine trees we spot a glowing, vapory mushroom-stadium lights limited in reach by the low hanging clouds.
Pulling off the main highway, nosing toward the shining mist, we curve around the neighborhood that hugs the stadium. Yards and houses decorated with Christmas lights serve as the 12th man, welcoming us to a place that is home for Golden Tornado football and their faithful following.
To our left, the stadium appears, crystal clear as the fog drifts upward above the lights.
“How beautiful,” my wife, a first time visitor to the stadium gasps.
“Do you want me to let you off near the stadium?”
“No. I’ll walk.”
There is no parking spot close-by less than twenty-minutes before kickoff. Especially tonight: State semifinal pitting the second-seeded Tors against the #3 seed West St. John Rams.
Three minutes later, parked close enough to the Arkansas state line to hear a hog call, we make the trek.
Aly voiced her only regret of the night, “I should have gotten out earlier.”
While I grabbed a pair of tickets, Aly was already chatting up the cheerleaders and clutching our soon-to-be well-used game program.
We entered the stadium visiting with our friend, Kevin, who also made the trip. “My neighbor is a Haynesville alum and I’ve been telling him that I wanted to go to a game one day. What better game than Number 2 vs. Number 3?”
Kevin was decked out with a black cowboy hat, gold long-sleeve shirt over a black t-shirt.
Aly had a gold fleece jacket over a black t-shirt. I wore a black sweatshirt.
Three out-of-towners appeared on the doorstep of north Louisiana’s football kingdom dressed appropriately.
Once inside, Aly said, “I forgot to bring something to dry off the bleachers.” A lady three rows back handed us a garbage back to sit on. Family looks out for family.
Quick demographic check of those surrounding us: White, black, old, young, male, female, repeat.
Blood-type: black and gold.
On come the Tors! Bursting through the paper sign, third-and-fourth generation Golden Tors experience the magical transformation from an unknown chanting, bobbing mass to “our boys”, hell-bent on doing their daddies, brothers, uncles and grandpas proud by punching their ticket to a 24th state championship game.
It didn’t take long for the elements to make its presence felt. Haynesville’s first of nearly ten fumbles ended a promising drive at the Rams 30 yard line. The Tors’ defense clamped down on the visitors from south Louisiana throughout the early portion of the game, limiting the Rams to -1 yard on their first 12 plays.
Public Address announcer Tommy Franklin (Red’s son and head coach David’s younger brother) voiced his genuine concern for the visitors with specific instructions on the location of the women’s restroom, the men’s restroom, the visitors’ concession stand as well as the gumbo hut near the home concession stand. He banged the drum for the voters in the crowd to hit the booth on Saturday---an important millage for the school system is on the ballot.
On the final drive of the first half the Rams found traction in the Claiborne parish muck. Lamore Boudoin (Franklin pronounced it Boo-DAN… I would have done the same. He’s a south Louisiana kid for crying out loud) gained 11 yards; the Rams sent another running back on the same path and he chewed up 13 yards. The home crowd yelled. They rattled their two-liter bottles filled with beans. A cowbell clanged from up above us. Nothing worked. On 4th and goal from the 1-yard line, Boudoin balled into the end zone. The Rams grabbed a 7-0 halftime lead.
‘Preacher Man,’ a frequent caller to our radio show found us at the half telling us he wasn’t worried. “David says, or does something at halftime that transforms those boys. He’ll drop a dang-it and a durn-it but that’s as bad as it gets.”
Led by star quarterback, Kendrick Jackson, the Tors had some fire in their bellies in the third quarter. The hulking 240-pounder will be a linebacker on Saturdays but he is the heart and soul of the offense on Fridays.
He has plenty of help though. Keandre Harris narrowed his body to squeeze through a small crease and then jetted toward the Haynesville sideline. 18 yards later a Ram defender banged him out of bounds into the roux of mud and sweat beneath the Tors cleats. That play is what turned the tide.
The octogenarian school-teacher, who has enjoyed the same box seats for decades near midfield clapped in delight. The crowd roared their approval as Harris slid, belly-side up clutching the ball like he was rescuing the pigskin from a burning building. When he stood up, the “44” on the back of his jersey was a secret, hidden by layers of muck.
Harris punctuated the drive on a touchdown gallop that looked like a carbon copy of his mud run, minus the gleeful slide. Success on the 2-point try turned the scoreboard into a hometown delight with the Tors on top 8-7.
Demarcian McCutcheon’s 80-yard lightning bolt early in the 4th quarter featured a stutter step in front of the Haynesville bench that froze a Ram like a set of high-beams. It provided just enough breathing room when McCutcheon geared back up to stave off the defender. More bottle-shaking, cowbell-clanging and shrieks of joy.
West St. John cut the lead to one with a score on their next drive but a heavy dose of Harris, Kendrick Jackson and James Jackson left the guests on the short end of the 26-13 decision.
Our well-worn program, with dollops of chili dog, Sprite, rain and mud, will serve as a constant reminder of a night under the lights in beautiful Haynesville, Louisiana. We arrived as guests but were leaving as brethren.
We began to stand when a larger than life cowboy sat on Aly’s purse, pushed back his big black hat and engaged us. “When you showed up, I mentioned how other schools in Shreveport get the ink and attention. I said y’all didn’t cover us enough. I’m just proud of these kids and these coaches. Here in Haynesville, we do things right. Have y’all seen ‘Dances With Wolves?”
This caught me off guard, “Uh, sure.”
“’Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?’ Do you see that this is what football is about? Do you see it’s not about recruiting, it’s bringing together kids that grow up here, live here and play in your hometown.”
This Golden Tor devotee and local attorney, Jack Slaid obviously knew how to drive home a point and left us with a smile and a handshake.
Aly and I strode out of the stadium, arm-in-arm, relishing our time with company that knows no strangers. In the dimly lit area where we parked, a young man who was next to our vehicle asked quietly, “Sir. You interested…”
I didn’t quite understand him.
“We have turkey legs for $8 and sausage for $2. You interested?”
The grill was still smoking with meat as I saddled next to his tailgate. Presented hand sanitizer, a loaf of white bread and a bin of steaming hot sausage, I handed the man $5; sanitized my hands, grabbed four slices of bread and two sausages.
The night, complete with entertainment, friends and dinner, was a success.
For The Shreveport Times
Dak Prescott You gotta have faith
By: Tim Fletcher
Dak Prescott was on top of the college football world midway through the 2014 season.
The Haughton High School alum and Mississippi State quarterback had performed at a level that pushed his name to the forefront of Heisman Trophy talk and his teams’ play landed them atop the College Football Playoff rankings.
But then, Alabama happened. The Dogs dropped from the top spot and Dak’s name disappeared from Heisman discussion.
Two weeks later, Ole Miss took it to MSU, ending any hope of a slot in the first college football playoff among the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Where is the motivation at this point? What drives Dak when lofty goals, close enough to lower the helmet and bull through, disappear? The same place it’s been for over a year now.
He looks to his wrist.
“I tape my wrists before games and before practice,” Dak explained. “I simply write ‘Faith’ on there for the faith that my mom showed me; the relationship we built from the faith we had and my faith in God. I write another little note that changes every day based on how I’m feeling. ‘I miss’ her, or, ‘I love’ her. I’ll write something like that on there. But I talk to her through the day. It’s just something that makes me feel better, knowing she’s right there listening. She’s with me in everything I do—the good and the bad.”
Dak and his brothers Tad and Jace, lost their driving force in life, Peggy Prescott last fall when their mother succumbed to cancer. Peggy drove the boys to succeed at any task attempted. As a single mom, it was her duty to push hard rather than always coddle them. But she was still a Mom---a caring, loving, Mom whose presence is greatly missed.
“Mostly during the hard times,” Dak said. “The easy times it’s easy to have people around you. When we’re winning, having success… of course I wish she was there and could celebrate with me in physical form; to see her smile and listen to her tell me how much she loves me and how proud she is of me; but through the hard times, she’s the one that I would talk to. After losses or after something bad happens, she would make me feel better. In situations like that, I talk to her in my head and feel her the most.”
Peggy must have been smiling ear-to-ear on September 20th. That’s the night Dak and the Bulldogs pulled back the curtain in Baton Rouge, revealing just how dangerous they could be. He ran for 105 yards and a score and blistered the Tiger secondary for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Prescott’s humility prevented him from saying, ‘How ya’ like me now?’ but it was noticeably enjoyable.
“To be able to beat LSU like that in Death Valley, in front of friends and family as well as people who don’t normally watch me because they’re usually watching LSU...for them to watch me as well as the team I play for was special.”
Making it even sweeter for Prescott? LSU’s recruitment of the home-grown talent was awkward from the start. “Early in the recruiting process, they were trying to recruit me as an athlete I went down to the camp and they put me in at tight end for a route or two. That really pushed me away from them. They came around later saying they wanted me to play quarterback, but still knowing they could easily switch and put me in a different position.”
Mississippi State head coach, Dan Mullen never wavered with the decision to keep the physically imposing Prescott at quarterback. That choice helped MSU win their final three games of 2013, including the Egg Bowl, as well as enjoy unprecedented success this season. The coach’s faith in Prescott also helped make Mullen a popular name to drop during conversations about head coaching vacancies around the country. Dak’s not buying what “sources” are selling.
“Coach Mullen loves Starkville and what he’s doing with this program. It’s his program. I don’t see him leaving. He wants to be the best coach in Mississippi State history.”
Dak has faith in his coach to remain with the Cowbell Clanging Crew…will Dak be back for a final run with the Dogs? He graduated earlier this month with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Psychology and Physical Training. His skill set certainly fits what NFL teams like to see from the position. However, there is the possibility the 2015 Bulldogs could be better than this batch.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys that didn’t play or saw minimal reps that will come in and get better. We’re a talented team with a bunch of underrated freaks that can gets things done and win in this conference.”
“Underrated Freak” is a way to describe what Haughton head coach Rodney Guin and his Buccaneer coaching staff helped create in 2009 and 2010. Only TCU joined LSU and MSU with scholarship offers from a “Power 5” team.
Guin was much more than a molder of football talent, though. Without a father around on a regular basis, Guin grew into the role for Dak and remains there to this day. “
He’s always been there, even before I started playing for Haughton High because of the relationship I built with him when he coached my two older brothers. He’s everything a young man needs in his life; just being the great man he is today, that gives me and others a standard to live by.”
Imagine the feeling for Prescott, months after losing his mother when he found out his high school coach and role model suffered a massive heart attack.
“It was shocking, mind-blowing. I immediately tried to contact his family and the other coaches to see what was going on. The condition he was in when I got the news wasn’t comforting. Knowing the person he is, I never lost faith that he would fight through it and make a full recovery.”
This past season, when Mississippi State bounded off the bus at Davis-Wade Stadium on game day and made their way to the locker room through the crowd as part of their game-day ritual, Prescott had his eyes peeled for one man in the throng to deliver a bear-hug: Rodney Guin.
“That’s just the hug of love and being proud and thankful for the moment and thankful to him for helping me get to this position. Being able to give him a hug to say, “thank you,” before I go play the game that I love. He actually helped me get to this university…that’s a special moment each time I get to do that on the Dog Walk.”
The special moments on the field make an incredible highlight tape. The special moments from life make a message on a piece of tape around Dak Prescott’s wrists, the highlight of his day.
For The Shreveport Times
Chief reasons for departure
By: Tim Fletcher
It seemed strange, those reports and rumors that wafted our way from Baton Rouge a few weeks ago. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis was being courted by Auburn and Texas A&M to handle the same duties on The Plains or in Aggieland.
Tiger fans were curious, but not worried.
“Why would he leave future NFL studs and a comfortable situation for either of those?”
“Chief (Chavis’ nickname, owing to his Native American heritage) loves Les and LSU. He is not going to start over from scratch… especially in the same division of the SEC!”
When Auburn unloaded a truck full of money at deposed Florida coach Will Muschamp’s front door, one rumor stream was dammed up.
Reports of an unsigned contract extension lying on Chavis’ desk in Baton Rouge persisted, even though other assistant coaches on Les Miles staff signed their deals.
The imagination soared with the possibilities:
*Did Les sneak into Chief’s office each morning and place the contract extension on top of the stack of papers on his defensive coordinator’s desk?
*Did Les have his assistant ‘buzz’ the Chief on an hourly basis to remind him of ‘Some important paperwork he needs to sign”?
*Was there a homemade sign in the men’s room near the coaches offices: “Employees must wash hands before returning to work, where its pertinent you must sign any contract extension”?
*When Chavis walked out to his vehicle after the workday was over, was the contract extension held in place on the windshield by a wiper, like a Tent Revival invitation?
As the Tigers prepared for Notre Dame, the contract extension remained lonely, unsigned, presumably gathering dust. The team departed for Nashville and the Music City Bowl. The contract, like Kevin from “Home Alone,” a forgotten puzzle piece left behind to fend for itself.
Game Day arrived. December 30th… Chavis and his charges would take down Notre Dame and he would sign the contract extension during a victorious celebration in the Tigers locker room!
First things first. Destroy the Fighting Irish! “Let’s goooooo!!!” We all, in spirit, run onto the field with the Chief… wait.
Chief spends the game in the coaches box, not on the sideline. We tone it down and wait patiently for the elevator to escort us, spiritually, to the coaches quarters high in the sky. This is where we will witness Chief’s intelligently designed defense throttling a quarterback making the first start of his career.
(Fast forward three-and-a-half-hours later).
Whew! That escalated quickly.
How in the world did Notre Dame rack up 450 yards of offense with a redshirt freshman quarterback? 11 for 17 on third downs? Was Chief’s plan to “tackle poorly” and “leave receivers more open than Texas A&M’s checkbook”?
During the game, reports from Baton Rouge indicated Chavis-to-Texas A&M was a done deal. The questions after the 31-28 loss to Notre Dame steered toward Chavis’ employment status, not the results of the just-completed Music City Bowl. Chavis insisted he only wanted to talk about the game.
Why? If I’m standing in his school-paid-for-Nikes, I am willing to talk politics, religion, in-laws… anything but that train-wreck of a defensive effort.
Eventually, Chavis grew a tad testy when the Aggie inquiries continued, “I’ve said three or four times, I wasn’t going to talk about that. I’m going to be nice…but at some point, I can be an ugly ass and I don’t want to be that tonight, so I’m not going to be that. Thank you.”
A) What a great line to use in a debate for future Presidential, Gubernatorial, Mayoral candidates.
B) Chief. You’re leaving behind a treasure-trove of talent at LSU, working for a man who sure seems like a good guy to have as a boss. You have little competition to refill the talent pool, outside of Alabama’s regular raid of northeast Louisiana and the occasional I-10 corridor export outside the state. You were making $1,300,000 per year to coach football---and that’s it. No banquets; no media obligations; just coach.
C) Answer the darn questions.
On Wednesday, Chavis touched down in Texas, stepping off a private jet wearing nifty cowboy boots, joined by A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. The only thing missing from this cliché’ was Chavis carrying “Reveille” under one arm while whistling the Aggie War Hymn.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Chavis said, “I’m excited to play with a great offense, and certainly looking forward to helping the defense get better.”
Now he answers questions! A “great offense” and a $200,000 salary bump in 2015 is all that it took to pry him away. That increase could turn into a $200,000 deficit if LSU gets its way by making Chavis pay a $400,000 buyout.
LSU will hire a solid defensive coordinator to replace Chavis, whose defense was often highly rated and feared. We will soon see if it was his “X’s and O’s” or the Jimmies and Joes that deserve the bulk of the credit.
Hopefully Tiger fans wish Chavis well in his new venture. However, more than anything they would prefer LSU extend the recent dominance over the Aggies, this time at Chavis’ peril.
A little advice for you Chief… you may want to cure your talented defensive end from crashing inside on every read-option. Also, the grass isn’t always greener on the other sideline---and it sure doesn’t taste as good.
For The Shreveport Times
Holtz and Louisiana Tech hope lightning strikes twice with another transfer at quarterback
By: Tim Fletcher
Quarterback Jeff Driskel was named Gatorade High School Player of the Year for the state of Florida in 2010. “He was a man among boys. He ran all over them and threw it where he wanted,” former Bright House Sports Network (Tampa/Orlando) anchor Joe Girvan recalled.
Somewhere between that award winning senior season at Oviedo Hearty High School (Fla.) and his transfer from the University of Florida to Louisiana Tech this past week, the Jeff Driskel career arc went from “can’t miss” to “what happened”?
Driskel committed to Florida when Urban Meyer was still the head coach and Steve Adagio the offensive coordinator. The pigskin hierarchy changed when Meyer resigned for health reasons and the Gators brought in Will Duchamp as head coach and Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator, the first of three play-callers during Driskel’s time in Gainesville.
None were able to squeeze 5-star play from the former 5-star prospect.
In 2012, as a “good game manager,” Girvan said, “who handed off to a stable of running backs,” the Gators won 11 games before losing to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
Driskel’s 2013 season was cut short after three games when he suffered a broken leg against Tennessee. This past season, Driskel posted numbers that kept LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings out of the cellar among SEC quarterback ratings.
When asked if he thought Driskel could turn things around at Louisiana Tech during his one shot with the Bulldogs in 2015, Girvan replied, “Based on what I saw, I don’t believe there is much upside there.”
Skip Holtz and Louisiana Tech disagree.
In 2014, University of Iowa transfer Cody Sokol led Tech to a Conference USA West division title, 9-wins and a thumping of Illinois in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in his one shot to be a Bulldog. Holtz believes lightning can strike twice with the 6’4”, 240 pound Driskel.
“Jeff is such a classy individual and you read his statement on his departure from Florida and you see that he can’t say a negative word about anyone or anything,” Holtz said. “He’s a very humble, classy young man. He runs extremely well, throws it well, been there and done that in a big arena.”
A quarterback with wins in Neyland Stadium, Kyle Field and Doak Walker Stadium probably won’t be blown away by the Rice Stadium environment.
Driskel also proved, after asking for his release from Florida, that the re-recruitment process wasn’t going to overwhelm him. Despite overtures from several schools, including Power 5 programs, Driskel chose Louisiana Tech.
“I know how things are,” Driskel said Friday. “I’ve been in a big-time college football program and understand where people are coming from, rather than being blown away by a weight room or locker room. Coach Holtz has a good heart, is a good person and values people. I’m excited and I know coach and the staff are excited about me, so I think it’s going to be a really good fit.”
Holtz struck out trying to land Driskel back in 2010 when he was South Florida’s head coach. He wasn’t going to waste a second chance. The night of the Conference USA Championship Game, “I had him on the phone,” Holtz said. “He said to me, ‘Coach, I don’t know a lot about Louisiana Tech right now, but the next time we talk on the phone, you won’t have that advantage on me.”
Driskel did his homework on the Bulldogs, watched the bowl game and came away impressed. “They tried to get Kenneth Dixon touches, whether it was him carrying the ball or catching it out of the backfield. They’re trying to build their team around players, mold the offense around the players. I talked to Cody and he spoke highly of the program and said he really enjoyed it. That was a big factor for me.”
The starting job won’t be handed to the Florida transfer this spring. Ryan Higgins, Price Wilson and Alex Woodall will do all they can to land the top spot on the depth chart. Sokol, in the same boat last year that Driskel is climbing into, advised the newcomer to, “Work hard and the players will welcome you.”
Drafted and signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2013, baseball is a solid plan “B” for Driskel. “In the contract I signed, there is a five-year period I can come back and play. If I ever want to go back, they have a spot for me but my goal is to be an NFL player and I think that path goes through Louisiana Tech.”
So, he fulfilled his promise to learn more about Tech. When it comes to his soon-to-be-adopted hometown of Ruston, Driskel is still in the dark.
“I googled it; went on google images to see if there was a downtown and see what it’s like. It looks like a small town but from what I’ve heard, it’s a hunting community. I’m going hunting today, so it’s something I can look forward to and maybe meet some people who will let me on their lease.”
Skip Holtz has already issued one lease to Driskel… a lease on a fresh start after a bumpy finish in Gainesville.