QB Survivor: Meet The Hype Tribe
Bryce Young, K.J. Jefferson, and 4 more players who had all the hype
Growing up, I always knew I was different. It wasn’t until adulthood that I understood what was wrong with me.
Recently, I was at an outdoor event with a DJ and about 500 people. At one point I looked around, as I sometimes do, to see if there was anybody in the crowd taller than me. Sure enough, near the front of the masses, was a man who must have been at least 6’8.
I get a little freaked out when I come across men who are taller than me. It’s not that I am extraordinarily tall (nobody has asked me since college if I play basketball or not), but surprisingly at 6’6, I am taller than 99.96-percent of men.
Put me in a room with a 99 other men at random and statistically speaking, the odds are in my favor that I will be the tallest. People might read this and think, “Wow, you’re lucky. This must be your superpower.”
But for me it has always been this dichotomy between my external appearance to others and my internal feelings of being inadequate and meager that ultimately caused “what was wrong with me” as a child. Nowhere was this ever more apparent than in sports.
To others, I’ve always been the most intimidating and imposing figure on a field. On the inside, it was my complete and utter lack of confidence in myself and the fear of failure that literally made me the worst athlete in any game: I am not using the word “literally” incorrectly.
I remember the very first time that I was overestimated as an athlete. I was in the fifth grade, playing in a baseball game on a tattered field behind the elementary school. I don’t remember the context of the game—this was before my experiences in Little League, I think—I just remember the look in the eyes of the opposing pitcher when I stepped up to the plate.
For the entire game up to that point, the best player on the field was the other team’s pitcher. He had been dominant and I had been sitting on the bench. Until finally, it was my turn to hit, as per mandate I’m sure, and when I walked up to bat the 10-year-old pitcher mouthed the words, “Holy shit” to himself.
Picture me at that age, probably already over 5’ tall, and weighing at least as much as most high schoolers. The look that this kid gave me must have been the exact same looks that Babe Ruth got when he stepped up to the plate in the 1920’s. In his head, he’s thinking, “There goes my perfect game.”
In my head: “You have no idea who you’re up against, do you?”
It was at this moment that I could have gone in a completely different path in life. See his eyes, see his fear, and become this confident hitter who lives up to the expectations that opponents have when I meet them face-to-face. Instead, I had already made my mind up before he threw his first pitch that I was going to strike out.
Not purposefully. I just knew.
Three pitches later—afraid of the ball, afraid of the pitcher, and afraid of embarrassment—I went back to the bench as a victim of another K. Despite a lack of confidence that ensured I would never have success as an athlete, other’s over-expectations of me kept reluctantly bringing me back to sports.
I spent two years in Little League and got as many hits with the bat (1) as I did get hit in the face with a flyball (1). I would decide before each at-bat that I would fail. I would tell myself before catching a pop-up that I would drop it. It took some time for others to see how bad I was, but eventually the team was always searching for ways to keep me out of the game.
Which I understood and encouraged.
In high school, the new basketball coach once saw me in the hallway and demanded that I try out for a team and guaranteed me a spot on the sophomore roster. I was the tallest and heaviest player on either team for every game, but rarely played because I self-fulfilled every missed layup.
The calls to play football were just as loud for a 6’5, 280 lbs freshman. But that came to an abrupt end before my sophomore season when I was hauled off in an ambulance mid-practice one day.
I remember how disgusted head coach Dwaine Hatch was with me during those practices. He saw a player who had no faith in himself and had no use for me on any of his football rosters. One day during team drills, I was holding one of the bags as varsity starters would come around and hit us as hard as they could. Then this kid Chad, half my size but with ten times the desire to hit somebody, starts running at me to smack the bag as hard as he could.
A half-second before he hits the bag, I thought to myself, “This is going to be bad.”
It’s the same thought that always entered my head during sports. I was always just…afraid.
Chad hits the bag, the bag hits me, and I get this sensation in my gut of a sword entering my lower stomach and ripping across from left to right as if I was symbolically disemboweled. I immediately drop to the ground, writhing in pain, and practice halts full-stop. The trainer comes over to check me out and says we need to call 9-1-1 to get me seen by a doctor.
I’m laying on the field, of course, and coach Hatch comes over to give these words of encouragement: “Can we get him off of my field?”
The trainer delivers the disappointing news to Hatch that no, I should not be moved while I am in so much pain and there isn’t a diagnosis, and the coach just shoots me another look of disgust as he moves the team over to another area to finish practice. The ambulance comes, I’m carted off, and I decide to never play football again.
Or any sport.
Instead, I channeled all the love I had for sports into writing and I guess we all find our paths eventually.
I still do not feel like a “tall guy.” I just feel like Kenny. I don’t see other people as being differently-heighted than me—unless they are taller. I forget that to over 99.9-percent of the population, I am that “taller” person. It wasn’t being tall that made me feel like there’s something wrong with me.
It was being tall on the outside but feeling tiny on the inside and not living up to the expectations that others had of me. Needless to say, I was a 0-star football prospect when I was in high school.
These six quarterbacks were not.
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Have they/will they live up to those expectations?
By the way, there is a heavy dose of QB Survivor this week because I’m introducing you to all of the cast members. If you’re fearful that Seaside Joe will become Survivor Joe, this is not to be the case. It will probably boil down to one bonus article per week after this.
Also, I don’t want to give out any assignments per se, but if you want to help do homework for QB Survivor or contribute anything to the cause (examples: a shared excel document that tracks the weekly stats for each player; graphics; stories/articles/updates) … PLEASE HELP! It would be so appreciated. I am only one person and this is already 100% of my heart and soul into this game.
Bryce Young, Alabama - The 5-star superstar
I never want to have this attitude of, “Well, I’m right! And you’re wrong! And you must not watch the games!” when it comes to talking about football and football players. However, I just can’t relate to the sentiment that “Bryce Young should not be a team’s first pick because of size concerns” if you’ve watched Bryce Young play football over the last two years.
I’ve watched a lot of NFL Draft QB prospects over the years. I personally haven’t seen anyone more exciting than Bryce Young. Not Kyler Murray, a number one pick. Not Baker Mayfield, a number one pick. And even if you like Trevor Lawrence more as a prospect because he’s built like the “prototype” at the position and played well for three years—which I would totally understand—I still don’t see the arm talent, athleticism, and “excitement factor” in Lawrence, a number one pick, like I see in Young.
And his resume is absolutely stellar: Young is actually the only quarterback in this entire QB Survivor game who was a consensus five-star recruit out of high school. He’s the hypiest member of the Hype Tribe. Next, he becomes the first QB in Alabama history to win the Heisman. If he doesn’t win his second this year, it might only be because of “unwritten rules.”
Young has the character to be the face of a franchise. He has no concerns, that I can tell, of being able to read a defense and go through progressions. His arm angles and sidewinding throws are Patrick Mahomes-level. His athleticism and dual threat ability is at least as good as Justin Fields, I would say. In my opinion, Young has the ability to help an NFL team win games almost immediately upon entering the league.
However, at 6’ (probably shorter) and 194 lbs (potentially lighter), Young doesn’t have the stockiness of someone like Murray or Russell Wilson. Some people feel that he’s going to take a hit from T.J. Watt or Aaron Donald that he never recovers from. It could be a fair concern when investing the number one pick in the draft. That’s why we’re here to play Survivor.
Date of Birth: 7/25/2001 (draft age: 22)
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA (transferred to Mater Dei HS in California)
Weight: 194 lbs
Last game: 25/36, 385 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT, 1 rush, 6 yards (W 55-3 over Vanderbilt)
K.J. Jefferson, Arkansas - The Big Kid on the Block
I, for one, would love to see a photo of Bryce Young next to K.J. Jefferson. As it happens, Alabama plays Arkansas this Saturday, October 1. A four-star recruit in 2019, Jefferson was being wooed by a lot of major programs and chose Arkansas over Georgia, Mississippi State, and many others. As a redshirt freshman, Jefferson backed up Feleipe Franks in 2020 during a 3-7 season. As a sophomore, Jefferson led the Razorbacks to a 9-3 campaign and a top-25 ranking.
Jefferson went 189/294 for 2,676 yards, 21 TD, 4 INT, 9.9 AY/A, and rushed for a team-leading 664 yards and six touchdowns. Even after losing receiver Treylon Burks to the NFL, Jefferson is off to a better start in 2022. I think it is actually a myth that “bigger guys are less likely to get hurt” in the league, but no matter the size, Jefferson’s got an interesting arm/rushing combination that makes him a prospect worth following.
Date of Birth: 5/20/2001 (draft age: 22)
Hometown: Sardis, MS
Weight: 243 lbs
Last game: 12/19, 171 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 18 rush, 105 yards, 1 TD (L 23-21 to Texas A&M)
Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland - The brother of another
Date of Birth: unclear, born around 2000 (draft age: 23)
Hometown: ‘Ewa Beach, HI
Weight: 201 lbs
Last game: 20/30, 207 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 4 rush, 20 yards (L 34-27 to Michigan)
Cameron Rising, Utah - George “Hamgur” Costanza
You can read more about Tagovailoa and Rising in the QB Survivor Vote and QB Survivor “Last 4 In” posts!
Date of Birth: 5/13/1999 (draft age: 24)
Hometown: Newbury Park, CA
Weight: 218 lbs
Last game: 19/29, 260 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 3 rush, 27 yards (W 34-13 over ASU)
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee - The QB Survivor
Hooker was a three-star prospect in the 2017 class—ranked a few spots below Tua Tagovailoa as a dual threat recruit—and chose to go to Virginia Tech. After redshirting and spending another year buried on the bench, Hooker started 10 games in 2019 and threw 13 TD, 2 INT, while also rushing for 5 TD. However, doctors discovered a heart condition in 2020 that required surgery and that put his football career on hold for a short while.
A year later, after transferring to Tennessee, Hooker came in for the injured starter and immediately became the Vols best quarterback in years. Over his last 17 games, Hooker has 39 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, is completing 69% of his passes, and he’s rushed for eight touchdowns. He’s got size, athletic ability, he protects the football…and he’s got hype.
Date of Birth: 12/13/1998 (draft age: 24)
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
Weight: 218 lbs
Last game: 22/28, 349 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 13 rush, 112 yards, 1 TD (W 38-33 over Florida)
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami - When hype starts to lose hope
Barely more than two weeks ago, ESPN writer David M. Hale wrote an article titled, “Miami football has been waiting two decades for a quarterback like Tyler Van Dyke”. Today, Van Dyke is one more bad game away from riding the bench. What happened?
After the 2021 season, there was a good case to be made for Van Dyke as QB3 behind Young and C.J. Stroud, for most draft experts. He was in the 2020 recruiting class, like Young and Stroud, has a 6’4 frame, and he posted great numbers and a winning record during his first season as Miami’s starter. But in the last two games, both losses, Van Dyke has completed 37-of-73 attempts and thrown two interceptions. Backup Jake Garcia, the number six pro style QB in the 2021 recruiting class, could take the job soon if Van Dyke doesn’t improve. For now, Van Dyke sticks on the cast.
Tyler Van Dyke
Date of Birth: 3/1/2001 (draft age: 22)
Hometown: Glastonbury, CT
Weight: 225 lbs
Last game: 16/32, 138 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 3 rush, -12 yards (L 45-32 to Middle Tennessee State)
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Sorry you had so many painful experiences with sports as a kid, Kenneth, and that you lacked self confidence. I did too but I was a scrawny runt of a kid who was not at all athletic. Plus, I found another nail on which to hang my hat. But I look back on my childhood and early adulthood as super painful, as it is for anyone who doesn't get great parenting.
My wife's father is 6'3" and apparently our eight-year-old son got his height genes because he's on track to be about that. He consistently clings to the growth chart just above the 95th percentile and the 95th percentile is 6'2". Like all kids, like all humans, he has tremendous strengths and big challenges. He's super bright but, like me, not at all athletic. He's probably on the autism spectrum, but then I likely am too. The difference is that he has a really wonderful mom who adores him. So I think he'll emerge into adulthood feeling pretty self confident and he'll find his way much more effortlessly than many of us.
As for these QBs, it's striking how much risk there is no matter who one picks. That's how the Cardinals could invest so much in Rosen and then wind up picking Murray with another really high pick soon after. Same could easily happen to the Seahawks. As Bruce Hornsby said in another context, that's just the way it is. Some things will never change.
Bruce was trying to guide our society past its bigotry and was really saying it can be different. But picking QBs really is like that. A craps shoot within the craps shoot that is the NFL draft.
What's with the mystery shrouded Taulia birthday? I tried to find it, but it seems the entire internet can't figure out that there are two different Tagovailoas that play QB. I think this is my favorite thing about this group. Show me the birth certificate Hawaii!!
Also Cameron Rising needs to change his Instagram to something not "crising."
Also Tyler Van Dyke too closely resembles Robert Van Winkle (a.k.a. Vanilla Ice).