How UAB football came back to life: An oral history: (ESPN.com, Published March 23, 2016) With UAB participating in its first spring practice since eliminating its football program in December 2014 and then deciding to bring it back six months later, I traveled to Birmingham to write about the process of re-establishing the program. I also assembled a list of all 94 UAB players who had eligibility remaining after the 2014 season and broke down what happened with each of them once the Blazers program dissolved. The Football Writers of America honored the package with a first-place award for enterprise reporting in its 2017 national contest.
Where do SEC football players come from? Look to Georgia, and specifically Atlanta: (ESPN.com, Published June 18, 2015) This was the lead portion of a four-part series that examined where SEC football programs recruited over a 10-year period. The metro Atlanta area was by far the most fertile recruiting ground for the conference's schools. Additional pieces broke down recruiting trends for schools in the SEC West and SEC East. A final piece examined SEC recruiting trends by position. The next summer, I added the newest class and took a deeper dive into state recruiting trends by position on offense and defense.
Four-part Power Five recruiting series (Baton Rouge Advocate, Published Dec. 17-20, 2017) Expanding upon the 2015 SEC recruiting series, I compiled data on the last 10 recruiting classes (2008 to 2017) at each Power Five college football program. Collaborating with Ross Dellenger of the Baton Rouge Advocate, I assembled a four-part series that explained the trends that the data revealed. Part One discussed the state of Louisiana's fertility and its importance in LSU's recruiting efforts. Part Two examined the talent-rich state of Texas and why its proximity helps LSU. Part Three broke down the importance of in-state recruiting and the conditions that can exist that would reduce its significance. Part Four concluded the series, explaining why many major programs focus their recruiting efforts on the blue-chip prospects in California, Texas and Florida. The package tied for second place in project reporting in the 2018 Associated Press Sports Editors national contest and placed third in the Football Writers of America contest.
ESPN.com "Position U" series: (ESPN.com, Published June 18, 2014) After hearing so many LSU players refer to their school as "DBU" (Defensive Back University), I set out to determine whether that was actually the case. Which schools deserve to carry the label as the best at given positions? I gathered the results of every NFL draft, each of 20 of college football’s top individual awards, coaches’ first-team all-conference selections and consensus All-America picks for all Power 5 teams (plus Notre Dame and BYU) each season between 2000-01 and 2013-14 and came up with a point system to reward those accomplishments. The team with the most points won the “Position U” title for the 2000s.
How much do first-round draft busts cost NFL teams? Nearly $9.4 million: (Forbes.com, Published April 18, 2018) Since the NFL essentially standardized the terms of rookie contracts in 2011, it became easier to determine whether a player had lived up to the expectations that accompany becoming a first-round draft pick. I looked at players picked between 2011 and 2014 -- the ones who at the time of publication had had enough time to play out a full four-year rookie contract -- and determined an average expense among those who had not yet panned out, using Pro Football Reference's Drafted Approximate Value metric as a guide.
LSU players share their Hurricane Katrina stories: (ESPN.com, Published Aug. 26, 2015) As the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approached, I spoke to 16 LSU football players -- leading with the incredible Katrina story of star running back Leonard Fournette and younger brother Lanard -- about their experiences during the storm. Here are some of their recollections.
Recruiting a major yet vital expense: (ESPN.com, Published Aug. 11, 2013) Recruiting is obviously one of the most important line items in a football program's budget, as the talent on hand is what keeps it successful. It's also the one that is most shrouded in mystery. This three-part series attempted to shed some light on the amount of money that Georgia spent on recruiting and where the money went. Additional stories focused on the school's new director of on-campus recruiting and on the recruiting grind for the coaching staff.