5 big spring football stories

Pull up a chair and let your old man tell you about the days when no one cared what spring practice was, and if you were a die hard or just simply needed something to do, maybe the spring game was worth five minutes of your time. Also, get me a glass of bourbon while you’re at it. Could be a long story.

Now, because somewhere along the line we all got to being obsessed with football to the point of delusion, Spring Practice (see, it’s capitalized now!) and Spring Games are on television, attendance figures are taken as some obtuse measure of how passionate a fan base is, and articles get written about it. Crazy times, these are.

And since Spring Practice/Games are so important, allegedly, something important must be going on in them. Come along, you hipsters, with your Four Loko and uncomfortable jeans. Apparently, we obsess over these stories today, and these are the biggest five (to this site, at least).

5. Who is Alabama’s next alien-human hybrid at running back?

“Starting running back job at Alabama” has become the Harvard Law Student of football positions. From Mark Ingram to Trent Richardson, to Eddy Lacy, to T.J. Yeldon, to Derrick Henry, the list of hateful-running bulldozer halfbacks at Alabama seems to be endless. The leader to take over for Henry is Bo Scarbrough, a bruising looking sophomore who will only enhance the ‘Bama running back reputation. He’ll be spelled at times by Damien Harris and yeah, if you don’t like Alabama plucking guys and running them down your throat, you shouldn’t be too encouraged by the future.

4. Oregon dips into the grad transfer pool again

Jeff Lockie at some point has to feel like he’s in the friend zone, where she goes out with ya just because you’re available at times, but is looking for someone she wants to be out with not just because they’re there. Last year, it was Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams. This year, it’s Montana State’s Dakota Prukop as the graduate transfer from an FCS school set to ride in on his white horse and take over the machine that is the Oregon offense. The truth is, maybe Mark Helfrich made a mistake just anointing Adams after Lockie had been grinding with the team for so long. There could be lessons in this race for all.

3. Lovie Lee and the Champaign Room

Josh Whitman and Illinois made the controversial decision to move on from Bill Cubit, who was sort of a “I need a date for tonight and you’re not doing anything. Get some clothes on and come along” hire. Most folks probably didn’t expect that at the time, a guy who’s been to a Super Bowl would be taking over the post shortly thereafter. There has been immense coaching upheaval in the Big Ten West, and Illinois suddenly might have the best situation in the division other than Iowa. What immediate differences will Illinois show? And when exactly will they be doing spring things?

2. Will the Trill ever be back now that it’s in Fort Worth?

One time “Next Johnny Manziel,” Kenny Hill, is now in Fort Worth playing for TCU, who just happens to need someone to take over for Trevone Boykin. That’s a big position to go ahead and get, because there are some places where if you play a certain position these days, you’re dead set on being successful. It’s “Wisconsin running back” or “Oregon quarterback” or “Alabama offensive lineman.” Gary Patterson will have a quarterback who maximizes his value. Can Hill, who has certainly taken an ego slap, be that guy?

1. There’s tough, and then there’s Pitt’s James Conner

Mainstream sports often gives us reasons to hang our heads, but sometimes, there is a story like Connor’s. Connor, who ran for nearly 1,800 yards as a sophomore and won ACC Player of the Year, is coming off of a torn MCL. And that’s not the most difficult part. He was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is working out with the team. That’s right, absent the toughness of coming back from a major knee injury, the guy is working out preparing to play football in 2016 while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. That is a truly amazing story of work ethic and character. It’d be hard to do anything but work your heart out for that kind of teammate.