Yesterday, Pro Football Focus (PFF) posted their 2021 All-Sun Belt Teams, and the first thing that sticks out is the site’s selection for Offensive Player of the Year. By PPF metrics, Louisiana offensive tackle Max Mitchell concluded the “2021 regular season with an FBS-leading 95.1 PFF grade.” That’s a pretty big deal, in my arrogant opinion. Congratulations to Max Mitchell.
Of even more interest to me, however, are the Red Wolves who were named to the first, second, and third teams.
Kivon Bennett (defense), Johnnie Lang (special teams) and Alan Lamar (special teams) were named to the first team. Joe Ozougwu (defense) and Ryan Hansen (special teams) were listed on the second team. Te’Vaillance Hunt (offense) and Blake Grupe (special teams) were recognized on the third team. Honorable Mentions were made for Andre Harris, Dahu Green, Leon Jones and Elery Alexander.
Of the seven Red Wolves who made the three PFF All Sun Belt Teams, five are players Butch Jones and his staff recruited from the Transfer Portal. The remaining two are kickers (very valuable and immensely appreciated).
One conclusion we can draw from this: what we suspected after the posting of the 2021 preseason All Sun Belt Teams was absolutely true – the roster was astonishingly bereft of big time talent. You may recall that the preseason All Sun Belt Teams featured an astonishing zero Red Wolves, something that I never thought I’d personally witness.
When Butch Jones was hired, it’s obvious that he was left with a locker room in desperate need of a talent transfusion. In an attempt to salvage the season, he cannonballed into the Transfer Portal and grabbed as many bodies as he could. But as Jake Spavital discovered at Texas State this season, the Portal can only stanch so much bleeding.
Believe in the rebuild. But also appreciate the effort the Red Wolves displayed on the gridiron – grinding and clawing for two victories while never losing heart. Where the team lacks in PFF rating, it makes up for in spirit. Better days are ahead for this program.
PHOTO CREDIT: [Batman voice] “Mine”