Nebraska got shut out for first-team All-Big Ten honors on the coach and media lists from the Big Ten, but senior safety Nathan Gerry is making a dent on some other lists on his own.
Gerry, who ranked second on the team in tackles (74) and interceptions (4), earned first-team all-conference honors from the Associated Press earlier this week. Then on Tuesday, Gerry earned first-team All-America honors from Pro Football Focus.
LSU’s Jamal Adams grabbed the other safety spot alongside Gerry:
Adams took his game to a new level in 2016, stepping up as a complete defensive back and one of the best all round players in the nation. Outstanding against the run and coming up to tackle receivers on short passes, Adams has seen 33 of his 55 tackles result in a defensive stop. He has improved in coverage in general too, and played a key part in LSU all but shutting out Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram when the two teams met this year. Like Adams, Gerry keeps his place here from mid-season, excelling in coverage with a PFF grade of 88.7, coming away with four interceptions and six pass breakups and impressing against the run too.
The Gerry love is nothing new for Pro Football Focus. The site has been the safety’s biggest proponent for the past two seasons.
Gerry was one of seven Big Ten players to earn first-team honors from PFF. The SEC led the way with eight (including six on defense) followed by the ACC (5), Pac-12 (3) and Big 12 (2). Collectively, five players from Group of 5 schools made the list.
Perhaps most interesting of all, no players from Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State made the first team on offense or defense. The Wolverines’ Jabrill Peppers was selected to the first team as a punt returner.
Ducks Fly South
According to multiple reports, Oregon is set to hire former high school teammate of Tommie Frazier and Shevin Wiggins, Willie Taggart. He might be more widely known as the current head coach of 10-2 South Florida.
Taggart is from the Harbaugh coaching tree. He played for Jack Harbaugh, Jim and John’s father, at Western Kentucky, starting all four years at quarterback. Immediately upon graduation, Taggart launched into a coaching career, sticking around Bowling Green, Kentucky, for eight seasons as a Hilltopper assistant. Jim Harbaugh brought him to Stanford in 2007 and by 2010 Taggart had his first head-coaching gig back at Western Kentucky.
If this is Oregon’s hire, it’s an intriguing one. Taggart’s tenure at USF is sort of defined by an offensive adaptability, switching from a West Coast Offense to more of an up-tempo spread that better suited his Florida-dominated roster. The Bulls took off after that. I’m assuming Taggart won’t be just adopting the “Oregon offense” wholesale, but there will be enough similarities there that the Ducks will probably still play plenty fast and put up some points.
It’s definitely a buzz-y hire. Taggart is a young coach and a pretty good recruiter. If this hire works out like Oregon is betting it will, Taggart will be in Eugene for a long time.
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Great news if you’re still looking for gift ideas for yourself or someone else:
One other tweet to call to your attention. Paul Dalen, a friend of mine who does really great statistical analysis, is working on a story for a business journal about the College Football Playoff and crowd-sourcing probabilities. If you have 2 minutes, click the link below and just pick winners for an eight-team playoff. That’s all you have to do.
The Grab Bag
- Here’s Oregonian columnist John Canzano on the Taggart hire.
- How hard is it for an AD to fire a coach? Three former Indiana athletic directors give you an idea.
- Another really good column from Marc Tracy of the New York Times, this one on the power structure in college football and Group of 5 schools struggling to hold onto promising coaches.
- ICYMI: Here are our men’s basketball and volleyball advance stories ahead of a big week for both teams.
Song Film Countdown of Today
My favorite thing of the year, every year, is here: The top-25 film countdown, in montage form, from Indiewire’s David Ehrlich. There’s still lots of good music in there.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.