CFB News of the Week: Feb. 5, 2021

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Derrik Klassen
·6 min read
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Clemson retain OC Tony Elliott, promote CJ Spiller

Little bit of old, little bit of new, but there’s a whole lot to like about the news regarding Clemson’s offensive coaching staff.

The more important news is that the Tigers will be extending OC Tony Elliott for another three seasons. Not only did Elliott earn the comfort of job security for the next few years, but his pay bumped up a bit to $2 million per year, which ain’t too shabby when you get to be the play-caller of one of the best programs in the country.

Elliott has been with Clemson in some capacity since 2011, mostly as an RB coach. He also served as a co-OC and only took on the full OC role in 2020, which happened to be QB Trevor Lawrence’s most efficient season as a passer. Looking ahead to 2021, Elliott’s role will be slightly changing again, though he will be retaining the full-time OC job.

That is where former Clemson great C.J. Spiller comes in. Spiller, who played for the Tigers right at the dawn of this new era of Clemson football, spent last season with the team as an unpaid intern and assistant. Spiller is now taking on the RB coach position that Elliott held for the past decade, while Elliott will be shifting his positional responsibilities over to the TE group. This is Spiller’s first year ever as a coach.

Alabama 2021 recruiting class is the best … ever

To the surprise of nobody, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have finally broken the record for the best recruiting class of all-time, according to 247 Sports’ Composite Rating. Whatever you want to think about the science of recruiting rankings, holding the No.1 rated class of all-time is an incredible feat.

For the time being, Alabama’s 2021 recruiting class holds a 327.91 rating per the composite rating. They have seven five-star recruits and a whopping 16 four-star recruits currently committed, alongside a small handful of three-stars. That group includes the top OT recruit (JC Latham), the top CB recruit (Ga’Quincy McKinstry), and the top C recruit (James Brockermeyer). Seven other players also rank in the top-three for their position.

What’s more absurd is that Alabama actually held the record at 325.95 points on Wednesday morning. Later that day, five-star 2021 S Terrion Arnold committed to the Tide, which was the move that bumped them up to 327.91. It’s almost unfathomable to think that Alabama had the best class ever before tacking on a five-star recruit.

EA Sports is back to making NCAA football games in some capacity

College football video games are back! Sort of. In a potentially incomplete way. Eventually.

On Tuesday of this week, EA Sports announced that they would be bringing back a college football video game series. However, the initial statement did not call the game by the “NCAA Football” we have all come to know so dearly. EA Sports instead dubbed the series “EA Sports College Football,” which, while unclear and potentially innocuous, may suggest the series will not be coming back quite the same way it was before, and would be without an official agreement with the NCAA and the use of NCAA likeness.

The silver lining is that there could be legal changes between now and the future release of the game that allows player likeness to be used regardless of what the NCAA has to say. Until that happens, though, we should continue to assume there will be no agreement and that player likeness is probably no-go, even if we get every school in the game.

EA Sports’ follow up tweet also mentioned that they are excited to announce information on the development of the project “over the next couple of years.” Granted, nobody expected a 2021 installment of the game with this announcement timing, but opening up the development window that long suggests that there may not even be a game in 2022 — or it’s at least up in the air.

Northwestern bag one of their best recruits ever, 2021 WR Jordan Mosley

Following up the Alabama top-rated recruiting class with any other recruiting news feels terribly miniscule by comparison, but Northwestern deserves some props for pulling in one of their best individual recruits ever.

Four-star 2021 WR Jordan Mosley is Northwestern’s 13th-best recruit of all-time. He is also one of just 15 four-star recruits in Northwestern’s history. While that does not sound particularly special for most schools, it’s a great sign that Northwestern’s 2020 success, even with a grad transfer QB, is pulling in quality recruits such as Mosley.

At 6-foot and 190-pounds, Mosley has a pretty average build for a WR. He is not going to be one to go up for the ball or be a stud on the perimeter, but Mosley’s got enough juice and solid hands to make him a short-to-intermediate menace, both before and after the catch. Once Mosley snags a pass and gets a full head of steam going, he’s as scary to tackle as it gets for a wide receiver his size. Don’t be too shocked if Mosley steps in with some Day 1 contributions for the Wildcats.

Former LSU five-star TE Arik Gilbert transferred to Florida

Out goes Kyle Pitts, in comes Arik Gilbert.

A tight end / wide receiver hybrid, Pitts is a stunning athlete who has dominated the best of the best as a pass-catcher, including LSU’s Derek Stingley. The 6-foot-6, 246-pounder racked up 97 receptions for 1,419 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons, and is a solid blocker to boot. Depending how things shake out, Pitts may well hear his name in the top-10 of this year’s draft. Pitts is leaving some mighty large shoes to fill as he leaves Gainesville.

The Gators are stealing from their SEC rivals to fill in those shoes. Gilbert, a 6-foot-5 and 249-pound tight end, signed with LSU as a five-star recruit in 2020. Heralded as one of the best TE recruits ever, Gilbert delivered on that hype as a true freshman, picking up 35 catches for 368 receptions and two scores in eight appearances. Those may not be the gaudiest numbers, but tight ends usually have a ton of trouble transitioning from one level of play to the next, not to mention LSU’s questionable QB play this season.

Now, Gilbert’s role will not directly slot into Pitts’ old role. Pitts was more of a flex wide receiver who could bump in-line to block when needed. He played like a legit wide receiver who also happened to be able to block, sort of like a reverse version of the tight end role. Gilbert, on the other hand, is closer to a true do-it-all type. He is not the same kind of fluid athlete Pitts is on the perimeter, but he is still plenty explosive and can be flexed out to slot and wide receiver spots effectively. As an in-line player, Gilbert is a tough blocker while still showing off plenty of speed and fearlessness to threaten the middle of the field.

All that being said, Gilbert is still a high-end athlete for the position and any difference between him and Pitts is probably marginal, especially when someone as sharp as Dan Mullen is calling the plays. Expect big things from Gilbert sooner rather than later.