Five-Star Recruits Are Good, Right?

Imagine, it is October 15, 2019. You’re noted Jay Cutler whisperer, very good CFL coach, and current Tampa Bay Vipers head coach/general manager Marc Trestman. You have the fifth pick in the skill positions section of the XFL draft. You can take any human being in the world to catch, run, and throw footballs who isn’t on an NFL team or named Rashard Davis, Connor Cook, DeAngelo Yancey, or Jeff Badet. Who do you pick? You already have QB Aaron Murray, one of the most prolific passers in SEC and UGA history, and notable 2011-2015 high ranking recruit who never made it in the NFL. Do you follow that lead and fill the rest of your roster under only these criteria? No, it’s much too early. Do you take one of the many former NFL players who found any success? Absolutely not. It’s the fifth damn pick of the XFL draft.

You have one shot.
You have one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted.
In one moment. Do you pick the right man?

Hell yeah you do. You pick the only player you can. He’s played for ten professional football teams, and only took meaningful snaps for four of them, none of which are an NFL team. His only snaps for a collegiate program of any kind is at power house Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.

You pick the only player you can. The perfect player. TE Nick Truesdell. That is truly your only option.

Now was this Marc Trestman’s exact mindset when choosing the GRCC star to lead his team alongside Aaron Murray? There is no way to actually know what exactly someone is thinking, but I refuse to accept any other explanation. Trestman made up his roster in a less baffling manner, instead judging that its best to use the Aaron Murray Method to fill out the rest of his roster. That is, he took just about any player who was highly ranked as a recruit from 2011-2015, maybe had some success in college, but did nothing in the NFL. This includes four-star receiver Stacy Coley (2013), five-star tackle Matrez Ivey (2015), five-star end Cece Jefferson (2015), five-star cornerback Tarvarus McFadden (2015), four-star running back De’Veon Smith (2013), four-star safety Corey Moore (2011), and four-star running back Jacques Patrick (2015).

Executive extraordinaire Marc Trestman did not construct a coaching staff in the same way an excited college football fan from 2011-2015 would. I find this lack of commitment to a theme incredibly disappointing, but it may yield good results for the team. Most of his staff consists of his former assistants from the CFL, including offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch and linebackers coach Mike Archer. He also has longtime NFL coach Jerry Glanville as his defensive coordinator. My favorite coach on the Tampa Bay Vipers staff, however, is tight ends coach Pete Mangurian.

Mangurian has spent much of his career as an OL/TE coach for various college and pro programs. Except for in 2003 when he was inexplicably the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and the 4 total years he spent as a head coach for Cornell and Columbia where he combined for a 19-41 record. What did he accomplish to get the head coaching job at two of the most esteemed universities in our nation? Frankly, I have no idea and I think it is better for all of us if we never find out.

The Vipers are at +450 to win the XFL this season, which places them at fourth most likely, directly in the middle. Are these good odds? Should you place your life savings entirely into the Vipers not only finishing the season, but becoming the champions? From a football perspective, I don’t think it would be the worst bet. Marc Trestman got a reputation as an offensive guru in the CFL, and with a smart, accurate signal caller in Aaron Murray and quick athletic toys to play with in Quinton Flowers, Stacy Coley and Nick Truesdell, Trestman could make magic happen again. The concerns with the Vipers falls squarely along the defense. Jerry Glanville has his work cut out for him with big names along the defensive line and backfield, maybe he can be the one to finally bring out their talent.

Trestman’s success in the CFL and the experience of Jerry Glanville do inspire hope to be the first Tampa Bay football team to reach the postseason in over a decade. But more than anything else, I hope they succeed. I hope they succeed and validate the hours I spent throughout high school in NCAA Football 14 downloading updated rosters and creating teams in exactly the same manner Trestman has.

With the limited information available, I predict that the Vipers will have one of the most efficient offenses in the XFL led by Aaron Murray and will contend for a playoff spot, if not make the big dance. So yes, I am betting my tuition on my NCAA Football 14 methods working in real life.