The Eyeball Test

My spring football odyssey came to a conclusion at Georgia Tech and the number-one takeaway point I left T-Day with didn’t occur on the field. I only saw about 12 plays of the scrimmage, but what I saw in the media room afterwards should make Jacket fans feel good.

The Tech spring game was scheduled to start at 12:30; a prediction of storms forced kickoff to be moved up an hour to 11:30. Saturday is squat day for me and with my gym opening at 8:00, I couldn’t get to Bobby-Dodd until just before a gulleywasher hit which cancelled the exhibition at halftime.

That didn’t prevent me from learning something valuable about the Jackets heading into the fall: Georgia Tech is fine at running back with Anthony Allen replacing Jonathan Dwyer. Allen played well last season and looked good in the scrimmage and neither of those are the reason why I think he’ll be a star in 2010. I had a chance to talk to Allen after the game and few college athletes I’ve been around score better on the “eyeball test” than he did.

Anthony Allen, up close, looks like an NFL fullback. A veteran NFL fullback. Standing two-feet from him without his pads on I was blown away by how thick and muscular he is. He’s only my height – 5’ 11” – but has to weigh 230-pounds, at least, and that is a rocked up, solid, massive 230 with his weight properly distributed for a running back with emphasis where it matters most: hips, butt and quads. In addition to all that muscle, he has a HUGE head. Perhaps the dreadlock ponytail added to the effect, but again, standing two-feet from him, the guy has an enormous dome. That’s not a bad thing, or meant to be a shot. UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, one of the world’s greatest athletes, has an enormous cranium and in contact sports like mixed-martial-arts and football, it’s an asset.

Looks can be deceiving, especially in sports where the “looks like Tarzan plays like Jane” adage is as old as the games themselves, I, however, remember a powerful example where looks told me all I needed to know about two players.

I covered Auburn football for several years in the mid-to-late 90s and during that time, the Tigers hosted two small-time teams, each with a big-time quarterback. Louisiana Tech and Tim Rattay came to Jordan-Hare, as did Central Florida and Duante Culpepper. Both players were setting NCAA records during their careers and were scaring the daylights out of SEC and ACC teams on their schedule wishing for a much easier homecoming. As part of my duties, I gathered player audio from the opposing locker room so I was able to see the visitors up close.

Tim Rattay looked like me. I was stunned. He might have been 6-feet tall, maybe weighed 200-pounds, had no muscle mass and if he were playing a pick-up basketball game at the student rec center, no one would have given him a second look.

Duante Culpepper looked like a professional wrestler. He was bigger than the lineman, more muscular than the linebackers, had a big, thick waist with giant, muscular, athletic legs and while he was a bit doughy, obviously won the DNA lottery. Culpepper looked like he belonged in an NFL locker room and would be the first pick on any playground in America, regardless of the sport.

As NFL prospects, simply from the eyeball test, I knew Rattay was a joke and Culpepper was legit. History proved me right and I expect it to again with Anthony Allen. Allen is a grown man with a stout neck, big forearms, stacked calves, large bones and the kind of physique that doesn’t wow people at the pool, it wows people on Saturday. Jonathan Dwyer was a great player and will be missed; Anthony Allen will make that longing much less acute.

CS Classics


SEC Ethics
FSU's schedule sham.
Following the recruiting story.
Urban blight.
Tebow is The Man.
Saban envy.
UGA football should be ashamed of the team celebration.
SEC fans are the best, and the worst.
Tuberville stays.
The BCS works.