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Rob Weintraub's Pac-12 Alumni Trophies

Las Vegas Raiders T Kolton Miller
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is more commonly known as the Ode to Joy. Weintraub's Ninth Symphony—aka the ninth annual Alumni Awards, my selections for every season's best NFL player from each of the Power 5 college programs—is similarly a joyous occasion that caps this football season. It's a great way to gauge the health of the collegiate teams, an indicator of the volatility of the pro game, and, most of all, a fun argument starter.

PACIFIC-12 CONFERENCE

ARIZONA (9)

2012: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
2013: Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia
2014: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
2015: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
2016: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
2017: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
2018: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
2019: Reggie Gilbert, LB, Tennessee
2020: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay

The former Wildcat presence in the pros is so stagnant that Gronk came out off the retirement shelf, didn't do a ton with the Bucs except give Tom Brady a contact drunk when he wanted to have fun by proxy, then caught a couple of Super Bowl touchdowns to enable him to cruise to his seventh AAA (Arizona Alumni Award), his first outside of Foxboro.

ARIZONA STATE (15)

2012: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati
2013: Terrell Suggs, DE, Baltimore
2014: Terrell Suggs, DE, Baltimore
2015: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati
2016: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati
2017: Terrell Suggs, DE, Baltimore
2018: Terrell Suggs, DE, Baltimore
2019: Lawrence Guy, DE, New England
2020: Lawrence Guy, DE, New England

Another strong year in the trenches for my guy Guy, allowing him to cruise to another Pitchfork Award over weak competition.

CALIFORNIA (26)

2012: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
2013: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle
2014: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
2015: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
2016: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
2017: Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans
2018: Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
2019: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
2020: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay

As with their fellow Bay Area ballers in Stanford, the once-awesome array of talent flowing out of Berkeley has slowed, along with that of the entire Pac-12. Fortunately, the reliable Rodgers turned in an MVP season at age 37, proving the top of the talent base remains high, at least.

COLORADO (16)

2012: Nate Solder, T, New England
2013: Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay
2014: Nate Solder, T, New England
2015: David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay
2016: David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay
2017: David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay
2018: David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay
2019: David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay
2020: David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay

Make it a full six-Bakh for the Pack left tackle, whose absence was surely felt when he missed the NFC title game to injury.

OREGON (21)

2012: Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo
2013: Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore
2014: Max Unger, C, Seattle
2015: Max Unger, C, New Orleans
2016: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee
2017: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee
2018: Max Unger, C, New Orleans
2019: DeForest Buckner, DT, San Francisco
2020: Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

Buckner had a sensational season for his new squad in Indy, and in most cases would have cruised to a fowl repeat. But Herbert was equally impressive, as a rookie no less, and since he plays quarterback and the Alumni trophy is position-dependent, give the kid the Duck.

OREGON STATE (15)

2012: Brandon Browner, CB, Seattle
2013: Keenan Lewis, CB, New Orleans
2014: Keenan Lewis, CB, New Orleans
2015: Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans
2016: Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans
2017: Johnny Hekker, P, Los Angeles Rams
2018: Steven Nelson, CB, Kansas City
2019: Jordan Poyer, S, Buffalo
2020: Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston

It's not so easy to win an Alumni Trophy four years and four teams apart, so give Cooks his due for capturing the Beav rather easily over Nelson and Poyer. Had Oregon State alum Mike Remmers been able to block anyone when pressed into Super Bowl duty for Kansas City, he might have had an argument. Alas.

STANFORD (30)

2012: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
2013: Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle
2014: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
2015: Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle
2016: Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle
2017: David DeCastro, G, Pittsburgh
2018: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
2019: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina
2020: Andrus Peat, T, New Orleans

A rough year for Cardinal alums, with CMC and Sherman injured, tight ends Zach Ertz and Austin Hooper disappointing, and redoubts such as DeCastro and Trent Murphy merely average. Worse, the talent pipeline out of Palo Alto is dwindling. Peat tips out linebacker Blake Martinez by dint of playing a more valuable position for a better team.

UCLA (28)

2012: Akeem Ayers, LB, Tennessee
2013: Datone Jones, DE, Green Bay
2014: Anthony Barr, LB, Minnesota
2015: Anthony Barr, LB, Minnesota
2016: Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota
2017: Anthony Barr, LB, Minnesota
2018: Myles Jack, LB, Jacksonville
2019: Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota
2020: Kolton Miller, T, Las Vegas

All it took was a relocation from California to Sin City for an offensive player to break the positional dominance at Linebacker U. Kendricks was in the hunt to tie up his Forever Teammate Barr at three Bruin Awards each, but Miller was better this season.

USC (25)

2012: Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay
2013: Ryan Kalil, C, Carolina
2014: Tyron Smith, T, Dallas
2015: Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona
2016: Tyron Smith, T, Dallas
2017: Everson Griffen, DE, Minnesota
2018: Jurrell Casey, DT, Tennessee
2019: Tyron Smith, T, Dallas
2020: Leonard Williams, DT, New York Giants

The downturn in L.A. has caused attrition in the pros, with 15 fewer Trojans earning a pro paycheck than did last season. Williams had a strong season plugging the middle of the line for New York, making him the biggest Man of Troy both figuratively and literally.

UTAH (29)

2012: Paul Kruger, LB, Baltimore
2013: Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City
2014: Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina
2015: Eric Weddle, S, San Diego
2016: Eric Weddle, S, Baltimore
2017: Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City
2018: Eric Weddle, S, Baltimore
2019: Star Lotulelei, DT, Buffalo
2020: Garrett Bolles, T, Denver

Certainly Smith was the sentimental choice to capture his first Big Red U since his catastrophic leg injury, but he was the 34th-ranked quarterback by DYAR, so sentiment only carried so much weight. Lotulelei opted out of the running for a repeat, leaving Bolles a relatively easy winner.

WASHINGTON (32)

2012: Dashon Goldson, S, San Francisco
2013: Mason Foster, LB, Tampa Bay
2014: Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta
2015: Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta
2016: Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City
2017: Budda Baker, S, Arizona
2018: Cory Littleton, LB, Los Angeles Rams
2019: Marcus Peters, CB, Baltimore
2020: Budda Baker, S, Arizona

Peters and Miami running back Myles Gaskin were in the race, but in the end Baker easily was the lead dog in the battle for the Husky.

WASHINGTON STATE (9)

2012: Brandon Gibson, WR, St. Louis
2013: Ryan Lindell, K, Tampa Bay
2014: Deone Bucannon, S, Arizona
2015: Deone Bucannon, LB, Arizona
2016: Deone Bucannon, LB, Arizona
2017: Deone Bucannon, LB, Arizona
2018: Deone Bucannon, LB, Arizona
2019: Gardner MInshew, QB, Jacksonville
2020: Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville

Unlike last year, the only Minshew Mania in 2020 involved Jags fans delirious that Gardner's poor play helped Jax wind up with Urban Meyer and (presumably) Trevor Lawrence. Still, he did enough in half a season to easily capture the Cougars Alumni trophy.

Comments

5 comments, Last at 21 Feb 2021, 12:20am

1 I might take an all-Alabama…

I might take an all-Alabama alumni team over an all-Pac 12 team. The Pac-12 would have a big edge at QB with Rodgers over Tua/Hurts, but the rest of the Alabama team would be pretty stacked (imagine a WR group of Jones, Ridley, Cooper, Jeudy, and soon Devonta Smith). 

2 Bama vs Pac12

That's not shocking. Alabama pulls more 5* recruits than the entire Pac12 most years. The conference has declined enough that its arguable if it belongs in the Power 5. They haven't won a playoff game since the first year of it, nor been invited in the last 4.

3 an interesting game

all-Alabama team versus an all-LSU team would be a nice exercise. Burrow at QB, CEH, Williams, and Fournette at RB (Bama would have Henry and Ingram+), WR would be Jefferson, Landry, OBJ, with Chase coming into the league. LSU would at least have Patrick Peterson, Mathieu, Tre'Davious White, Jamal Adams (with Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams as nickel and dime backs)  to try to stay with Bama's WR corps. 

Ohio St could field a good team too. Clemson has some superstar players (Watson, Hopkins), but probably not enough depth. Miami FL used to be able to (Sapp, Gore, McGahee, Shockey, Reggie Wayne, Wilfork, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, and dozens more I don't remember right now), but most are out of the league now. FSU, Nebraska, and Notre Dame probably could have too a couple of decades ago. 

Rob W--care to do an addendum to this series for current NFLers--kind of a four-team playoff with current alumni? I nominate Bama, LSU, Ohio St, and Clemson; if there is a different team that could field a better squad, substitute them in for the 4th best of these (Clemson?). Potential replacements might be Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan, FSU, or Oklahoma. 

4 I messed around with an all…

I messed around with an all-Alabama team on Twitter a week ago:

https://twitter.com/FO_VVerhei/status/1360738863048613888

and an all-LSU team, though I missed some pretty big players (Danielle Hunter for one) here:

https://twitter.com/FO_VVerhei/status/1361852431085174788

5 I decided to parse through…

I decided to parse through hrough http://www.espn.com/nfl/college/_/letter/ quickly and see who could field a full team, there were some surprises. I don't know how reliable that is as a source, but it was quick enough to parse. Though my tabulation of that parsing wasn't always consistent. I should have just written an actual parser but I though things were small enough. It was borderline.

It just get's a little crazy how fast the NFL depth drops off or how positional it gets for some schools. It's also only a handful that have enough players at enough positions to field a full team. 

I first eliminated any team that didn't have at least 22 players, then went back and checked counts by positions. I ignored special teamers. I started on offense so if that dropped a team out I didn't always look at the D. Though with things paginated by letter some teams did get defense counts without complete offensives.

If you have 5 OL, 1 QB, and some combination of at least 5 RB/TE/WR you can make an offense.
If you have 5 OL and 6 other skill players you make the technically category.
If you have at least 1 defensive player at each level (DL, LB, CB/S) and at least 11 total you can make a defense, it might be ugly but I'm allowing it.

The offensive line requirement was hard on a lot of teams. Several teams with just 9 defensive players too.

So I get 9 college alum NFL teams, and there are a couple of surprises. 

There are 6 others that have to do some really weird things on offense but technically could. Some have a really old fashioned defense, 6 man lines were a thing.

Can make a team of some kind:

  • Alabama - Rob's done it already
  • Georgia - 2 QB, 4 RB, 2 TE, 9 WR; 1 OT, 1 G, 3 C - Pass interesting o-line though; 1 DT, 2 DE, 5 LB; 1 CB, 3 S - Workable  
  • Ohio State - 1 QB, 4 RB, 3 TE, 8 WR; 1 OT, 1 OL, 4 G, 2 C - Pass; 2 DT, 7 DE, 3 LB, 4 CB, 4 S - Pass
  • LSU - Rob's done it already
  • Notre Dame - 1 QB, 3 RB, 4 TE, 4 WR; 3 OT, 3 G, 2 C - Pass; 1 DT, 5 DE, 4 LB, 3 CB, 4 S - Pass.
  • UCLA - 3 QB, 2 RB,  3 TE, 1 WR; 3 OT, 2 G, 1 C - Pass;   3 DT, 2 DE, 4 LB; 3 CB 0 S - That's a weak secondary but a 4-4-3 D is possible.
  • USC - 2 QB, 1 RB, 6 WR; 2 OT, 1 G, 2 C - Pass; 4 DE, 2 LB; 4 CB, 1 S - It would be a 4-2-5 D but it would work
  • Utah - 2 QB, 1 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR; 3 OT, 1 G, 2 C - Good;  2 DT, 2 DE, 4 LB, 4 CB, 4 S - Good
  • Washington - 2 QB, 3 RB, 4 TE, 4 WR; 2 OT, 2 G, 1 C - Good;  3 DT, 1 DE, 4 LB; 5 CB, 2 S - Good

Technically...

  • Iowa - 2 QB, 5 TE, 3 OT, 3 G, 2 C - Good enough...; 2 DT, 2 DE, 5 LB, 4 CB, 3 S - Pass; I mean you are using TE at RB and WR but they could do it...
  • Florida - No QB, 1 RB, 3 TE, 6 WR; 6 OT, 2 G, 1C - No QB but enough others; 2 DT, 4 DE, 4 LB, 2 CB, 5 S. Of course Florida has several QB who transferred to other schools who are in the NFL now, but they weren't Gators when drafted. It's weird.
  • Miami - No QB, 4 RB, 3 TE, 2 WR; 3 OT, 2 G, 1 C - Make a RB a QB and you can do it. 3 DT, 3 DE, 7 LB 3 CB, 5 S - Pass
  • Michigan - 3 QB, 2 TE, 1 WR; 5 G, 3 C - I mean if you make Henne and Rudock WR/TE/RB players you do have enough...  3 DT, 4 DE, 3 LB, 3 CB, 5 S - Pass
  • NC State - 4 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 0 TE; 1 C, 3G, 1 OT - Gotta play a QB as WR/TE but technically. 4 DT, 2 DE, 2 LB 1 CB, 2 S - It's a 6-2-3 but it's a D!
  • Stanford - No QB, 2 RB, 6 TE, 2 WR; 3 OT, 2 G - No QB but enough TE/RB/WR; 2 DT, 3 DE, 5 LB, 2 CB, 1 S - Pass.

Also Rans:

  • Auburn - No Offensive Line. Sorry wasn't doing the counts as nicely yet.
  • California - 3 QB, 2 RB, 3 TE, 4 WR; 0 OT, 1 G - No OL
  • Clemson - 1 QB, 1 RB, 7 WR; 0 OT, 3 G, 1 C - No OL
  • FSU - 1 QB, 3 RB, 1 WR; 4 OT, 1 C - Not quite enough offense
  • Maryland - 4 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR; 2 OT - No Line or QB.
  • Mississippi St. - 1 QB, No running back, only 1 WR and 2 TE. Not quite enough to even cheat it.
  • Missouri - 3 QB, 1 RB, 2 TE,1 WR ; 2 OT, 1G, 2 C.  3 DT, 2 DE,  3 LB, 1 CB no S. Surprisingly close
  • Oklahoma - 3 QB, 2 RB, 2 TE, 5 WR; 3 OT, 2 G; - We have an offense. 2 DT, 1 DE, 4 LB; 1 CB, 1 S - Dang no defense 3-4-2 not quite there.
  • OK State - 1 QB, 2 RB, 6 WR; 1 OT, 1 C - No OL; 1 DT, 3 DE, 2 LB, 3 CB.
  • Ole Miss - No QB, 2 RB, 2 TE, 5 WR; 1 OT, 1 C - No QB or OL; 2 DT, 3 DE, 3 CB, 2 S.
  • Oregon - 2 QB,  2 RB, 2 TE, 1 WR; 1 OT, 1 G, 1 C - No OL; 1 DT, 4 DE, 3 LB, 1 S, 2 CB - 5-3-3 possible.
  • Penn State - No QB, 1 RB, 4 TE, 4 WR; 2 OT, 2 G, 0 C - No QB, No OL. 
  • South Carolina - No QB, 2 RB, 3 TE, 5 WR; 2 OT, 2 G- No QB, No OL; 2 DT, 1 DE, 2 LB, 3 CB, 1 S - Not enough D.
  • Tennessee - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 3 TE; 1 G - No other linemen
  • Texas - 1 QB, 2 RB, 2TE, 1 WR; 1 C, 2 G, 1 OT - O line fails again. 2 DT, 2 LB; 1 CB, 6 S.
  • Texas A&M - 1 QB , 1 RB, 3 TE, 4 WR;  2 OT, 3 G, 1 C - Cobbled offense; 2 DT, 3 DE,; 1 LB, 1 CB, 2 S - Not enough defense at 5-1-3
  • Wisconsin - 1 QB, 5 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR; 3 OT, 3 G, 1 C - Weird RB heavy but doable; 1 DT, 1 DE, 6 LB, 1 CB - 2-6-1 doesn't cut it.