My best football play was in seventh grade. I was our H-back. I wasn't fast enough to play an actual skill position or big enough to be an offensive lineman, but I had a lot of gusto on a 47 Jet Sweep that gained exactly 3 yards a pop.
I got to go out for a route once. We were losing late in the fourth quarter and in our hurry-up offense — our quarterback just screamed the plays at us while we sugar-huddled. It was fourth down, and they called a deep passing play. I went out on my cheek down curl route with the typical enthusiasm. There was no chance I was going to be targeted.
And I wasn't. But our quarterback got hit when he threw it, and the ball helicoptered in the air like a wounded duck and I was the hunting hound employed. I ran under that thing and basket caught it, 2 yards beyond the sticks. I was immediately speared by a closing safety who was maybe 4-foot-8. I ended up injuring my wrist and, if you hit it at just the right spot, it still stings to this day. My friends called me "Short Stick" after that hit, like some oddly genius mutation of "hit stick" and "short stack." We ended up winning that game, and I was the hero at least my mind.
We all remember our best plays or at least, I think we do. This week in Mobile, Alabama, I asked some of the top Senior Bowl prospects — big names, small schooler players, rising stars — what their best play was in their collegiate career.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Memphis
“The run against SMU,” Antonio Gibson said. “They actually interviewed me after and was like, ‘What did you do?’ and I was like, ‘I hit the hole, I saw him inside, so I bounced outside and gave him the stiff-arm,’ and I went back and look at it, and I was like, ‘I did way more than that.’”
“Best catch was probably Navy, because of the situation,” Gibson added. “It was a back-and-forth game. Coming out — it was either right before the half or after the half — on a post route, I beat him over the top, kinda got the crowd going, momentum going. And after that, it was a wrap.”
Note: It was like 12 minutes into the third quarter.
Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
"My Northwestern sack, that was two years ago. Bro, I was literally like this,” Josh Uche said while he held a hand up at a steep angle. “The tackle tried to pull me to the ground, and I just was able to keep my balance for the game-winning sack. Man, that’s my favorite play ever.”
Nick Harris, IOL, Washington
“I think being a center fits my personality,” Nick Harris said. “I’m not afraid to talk to people and tell them what to do. I think it’s the best position on the field, honestly. Being the field general, being able to tell people what to do, basically. I like the mental aspect of the game. I like having to watch film, watching defenses, watching coverages, to you know, give me the one-up.”
Harris detailed what he looks for during film prep.
“It depends on who we’re playing, but for me, when I’m watching a defense,” he said. “I’m looking for what they do on certain down and distances, what they do in certain situations, red zone, goal line, that sort of stuff. I’m watching the secondary, seeing if they give me certain tells on certain sorts of pressures. I’m watching the D-line and the linebackers, their personnel, how do they play, what are their strengths and weaknesses, stuff like that."
He then recalled his best play.
“We had a good play versus USC where they gave us a look that we hadn’t seen on film, but I knew how to pick it up based on numbers,” Harris said. “Also BYU: There was this pressure that they got literally every team on, nobody could figure out how to pick it up. I came to the sideline in the middle of the game randomly and thought about the play, and I told my coach, ‘This is how I’m gonna pick it up,’ and he said, ‘If they do it, try it,’ and they did, and we scored on that play.
“Andre Baccellia ran a slant, it was a pass play and I changed the protection. I told Jacob Eason to stop so I could talk to everybody. It was a five-down, interior pressure, where we have to slide the whole line and Jacob was gonna be hot off the edge, and he got it out and we scored on it.”
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
"In my career? Can’t pick that right now,” Jordan Love said. “Too many good plays, man. Stony Brook, early in the season, that was a great play, on the left, had a throw I made ... but man, I had some other ones in my career ... but that was a pretty cool play."
Note: I find it very lame that a potential first-round quarterback thinks his best play was against Stony Brook.
Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
“You know, my longest run was the 72-yard run against Indiana, against my rival,” Brycen Hopkins said. “[At the] very end of the season, last home game of my career, unfortunately, we lost. I had two touchdowns in that game, but before that, a lot of people thought I was slow, so me being able to create that separation like that from linebackers and safeties, and actually finish the run, that was a big deal."
"That, or the catch against TCU,” he admitted. “The high-point. That one hurt.”
Matt Peart, OT, UConn
"Favorite play this past season was probably — oh, it was Houston, and we were running counter,” Matt Peart said. “[The] double team was coming off of me, so you know, bust the hip of the 3-tech, and the running back cut it up for a 70-plus-yard gain [and] got stopped at the 3-yard line. It was pretty cool because, if you don’t create displacement on the double team, there’s nowhere for him to go. Gotta little bit of love [in the film room] for that, but you know, at the end of the day, you don’t want to be too prideful. You’re a student of the game, you know?”
Note: I cannot find this play against Houston. I still trust Peart, though.
Jeremy Chinn, SAF, Southern Illinois
"I had a really good play this year [against Youngstown State],” Jeremy Chinn said. “I came on a blitz and smacked the quarterback, quarterback fumbled, [the] ball was in a pile, I dove into the pile, pulled the ball out. On the field, they called it a forced fumble, fumble recovery then they looked over it and they said his arm was coming forward, so they took it back. But it was a fumble. If you go watch it back, it’s gonna be a fumble.”
Note: This probably is not a fumble.
Trevis Gipson, EDGE, Tulsa
“I would probably say the forced fumble/sack versus Texas, so it was [Texas quaterback] Sam Ehlinger,” Trevis Gipson said. “That was my junior year.
"I feel like that was an important play because, man, that was my first year starting. It was the second game of the season, and I got my feet wet versus Central Arkansas in my first game, and after that play, I felt like I could play with anyone, man.
"It was actually a tight end that plays offensive tackle for the Patriots now. The offensive tackle slid down, and the tight end came up to block me off the edge, and I just gave an outside rip. Sam took off running away, not necessarily because he saw me, and I ran as hard as I could, man.”
Note: He's talking about Andrew Beck, who is a full back/tight end for the Denver Broncos, and as far as I can tell, never tried out at tackle by the Patriots after they added him as a UDFA.
Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma
“I would probably say the play at Texas,” Neville Gallimore said. “I made that spin move. It was kinda like a — I want to say it was like a reaction. I didn’t really have an initial thought process, it really wasn’t the move I was trying to hit. I just took what was given to me.”
Gallimore then talked about the Iowa State spin move.
“I kinda felt like I was just going to do it regardless,” he said. “I knew throughout the game that I had it against that guy, and I just felt like then was the right moment to hit it."
Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
“Best play? No, not really. I guess all of them,” Devin Duvernay said. “All of them mean a lot.”
So, Duvernay’s favorite play?
“I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “I don’t have a favorite play.”