The first football triplets I remember earning the moniker played for the 1990’s Dallas Cowboys – the trio of Hall of Famers QB Troy Aikman (Oklahoma-UCLA), RB Emmitt Smith (Florida) and WR Michael Irvin (White House) attacked NFL defenses together for decades on their way to multiple Super Bowl titles.
In the college game, it is worthwhile to find talented triplets since it shows a multi-pronged attack that defenses cannot stop by committing to one player. Hence, a likely more consistent performance by all three in every game.
We begin our countdown of today’s triumvirates at number ten (likely a small school surprise) and the wind will come sweeping down the plain at the top of the list. Some darned fine honorable mentions to follow also as I aim to project this season’s performance, not simply reward last year’s numbers.
10. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs – QB Ross Jenkins, RB Daniel Porter, WR Philip Livas
The Bulldogs went 6-2 after then sophomore Jenkins took over the starting gig in 2008, including a Independence Bowl win (few watched the 17-10 yawner over Northern Illinois). While his numbers underwhelmed in the spot duty, he took all the reps in the spring as they attack a weak WAC schedule. Senior Porter had likely the quietest 1000yd – 10 TD season of any RB, and this season operates behind a veteran line. Finally, Phillip “Saturday Night” Livas possesses electric moves out of the slot or returning kicks (3 return TD!)
9. Middle Tennessee – QB Dwight Dasher, RB Philip Tanner, WR Malcolm Beyah
Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin mans the helm of this recent Sun Belt power looking to return to glory. Wth dual threat Dasher, senior leader Tanner and physical specimen Beyah (I always think of Dave Chappelle when I say his name) should tear up a weak schedule. Desmond Gee may emerge as the main WR threat also.
8. Houston Cougars – QB Case Keenum, RB Bryce Beall, WR Tyron Carrier
Houston, we have no problems here. This group would rate higher if there were a true star at WR but Head Coach kevin Sumlin prefers to spread the ball around. last season Carrier was the top fantas WR, but LJ Castille possesses the star power if not the numbers yet to make this a true triplet situation.
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders – QB Taylor Potts, RB Baron Batch, WR Detron Lewis
The first of a highly stacked Big 12 list. We all respect the Mike Leach system, but this triumvirate has the thinnest curriculum vitae – no worries here. Potts, like Graham Harrell, was a highly prized recruit and could be the safest pick in the nation to throw for 4000 yards and 40 TDs. batch and Lewis look primed to put up some big numbers, but the sschedule doesn’t break as nicely as 2008.
6. Illinois – QB Juice Williams, RB Jason Ford, WR Arrelious Benn
Stars are aligning for the Illini nicely in 2008, so this is the gutsiest projection of my top ten. While neither Williams nor Benn has yet to achieve fantasy stardom, no one can deny the potential. Soph Ford had 8 TD on just 81 carries and his largeness (6-0, 230) should be the main backfield weapon not taking snaps from center.
5. BYU Cougars – QB Max Hall, RB Harvey Unga, TE Dennis Pitta
Yes, I am counting the TE Pitta in the triplets. His production led the TE for most of 2008 and he will be the main cog in the passing game again. Unga has proven his ability to attack on the ground and the air, Hall starts for his third season and they even add WR Mackay Jacobsen to the mix. Hear this too – if they upset Oklahoma in the big matchup of Week One (neutral field new home of the Dallas Cowboys), BYU could bust up this BCS mess.
4. Kansas Jayhawks – QB Todd Reesing, RB Jake Sharp, WR Dezmon Briscoe
The soft September schedule may lift off the Jayhawks at a steep angle, and Reesing emerged as a national story in 2007 during an even softer “rent-a-victim” stretch (CMU, SE Louisiana, Toledo, FIU). Briscoe is listed as my number two WR in the nation, Sharp is coming off a 12-TD season. and Reesing has back to back 35-TD seasons. What more can you want?
3. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles – QB Austin Davis, RB Damion Fletcher, WR D’Andre Brown
Oooh, these Eagles are ready to fly. Freshmen Davis and Brown provided star power in Coach Larry Fedora’s freshman season, adding to an already proven RB Damion Fletcher who aims for the rare feat of a fourth 1000-yard season. I put SMiss up this high based on a very favorable schedule that brings talented Memphis and Tulsa to Hattiesburg, and a fully-stocked and veteran O-line. (PS – Drew like freshman TE Jonathan Massey on his sleeper list)
2. Oklahoma Sooners – QB Sam Bradford, RB DeMarco Murray, TE Jermaine Gresham
Last year the Sooners were the first team this decade to average over seven TD a game, and multiple broadcasts pointed to them being the first team ever to score 58+ points in six straight games to finish the regular season. For reasons I only hope are romantic and academic, probable first-round NFL Draft picks Bradford and Gresham return to avenge their BCS National Title Game loss to Florida. Murray teamed with Chris Brown last season to produce 2719 yards from scrimmage and 39 TD – no wonder they split time as I am not sure any one human could do that. Heck, few QBs can legitimately claim to have a shot at those numbers PASSING! To be fair, the Sooners would be the ONLY team worthy of a quintet if this were that exercise (add in WR Adron Tennel or Ryan Broyles – screw it, a sextet). I downgrade this squad just a bit due to a green offensive line, even knowing that this is OU and they reload well.
1. Oklahoma State Cowboys – QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter, WR Dez Bryant.
Edge to the Cowboys in this study, Sooners will have to wait until Bedlam on November 28 to settle the true score. Readers know my Pokes bias, but to me this top triplet exercise boils down to this state alone and no one else for the top spot. Zac and Dez may sound like a Disney kids show, but they are a horrror show for Big 12 defensive coordinators. Besides OSU, only Kansas and Southern Miss have true triplets with Top Tens at each fantasy position (apologies to Murray and Brown who split carries). I yielded earlier that the premiere matchup of Week One was BYU versus OU, but the Cowboys hosting of the Bulldogs has just a smidgen less national appeal.
Texas – just needs a RB to go with McCoy and Shipley
Baylor – I feel good about soph sensation QB Robert Griffin and RB Jay FInley, but I fear this will be the third season I get burned expecting big things out of David Gettis.
Akron – I love the new coaching staff, seniors QB Chris Jacquemain and WR Andre Jones need a new RB to replace Dennis Kennedy (maybe the new Ohio State transfer DeVoe Torrance?). I bet the new stadium will inspire them as well.
Memphis – always loaded, this season is QB Arkelon Hall and RB Curtis Steele (maybe even Wisconsin transfer Lance Smith), but no one standout WR exists among many talented ones.
Oregon – probably #11 with Masoli, Blount and WR Holland.
Nevada – Maybe the best backfield in the nation in QB Kaepernick and the stable of backs, but no star WR although many expect a breakout season from Chris Wellington.
Ohio State – they need to replace three NFL Draft picks who complemented QB Terrelle Pryor.
TCU – probably #12 with dual threat QB Andy Dalton, senior RB Joseph Turner and WR Jimmy Young. Also see pg 327 of the Phil Steele Preview – Horned Frogs project at #5 in the nation in YPG differential at 175 so expect some big things.