Stud SEC RB commits CFF SEPPUKU
Once a prized CFF gem, Raheim 'Rocket' Sanders has made an interesting decision...
Who can fathom the depths of another man's heart?
- Hanshiro Tsugumo, Harakiri (1962)
The excerpt above from the Japanese classic "Harakiri" resonates fittingly with what I've observed in the last two weeks concerning transfer portal activities. Amidst a landscape rife with perplexing decisions, the emergence of a destination that aligns logically has actually become a welcome respite — a prime example being Chip Trayanum's move to Kentucky, who I recently covered.
That’s not the case with today’s transfer— former Arkansas tailback Raheim ‘Rocket’ Sanders, who announced he’d be suiting up for the South Carolina Gamecocks next season earlier this week.
In an article the other day, I joked that these players should be consulting me before they transfer anywhere, and — convenient as that would be for me — I think there’s something to that. Not that they should consult me specifically, but rather, there should be more guidance that goes into these decisions.
To be fair, I’m not on the phone calls nor the recruiting visits, and I don’t know any of these people personally, so I’m really not in a position to be speaking on what they should or shouldn’t be doing. But, if I must comment on this transfer, I’ll say that my first impression was that it wasn’t a great move for Sanders.
Out of curiosity, I decided to do some digging to verify whether that feeling was an accurate assessment of the move; and figured that a good place to start would be the OC’s background.
OC Dowell Loggains has an Extensive NFL History
Last offseason, the Gamecocks fired their OC, Marcus Satterfield, who served in that role from 2021 and 2022. The man they chose to replace him with was former Arkansas TEs coach, Dowell Loggains. That in part probably explains Sanders’ move to the Palmetto state. Unfortunately, like Satterfield, Loggains’ first season calling plays was a committee at the RB position. The lead runner—Mario Anderson, totalled 143 carries, while the next two leading RBs ran 50 and 26 times. Mr. Anderson was a good player at times this season in CFF, but not a consistent player that demanded a roster spot.
Looking deeper into Loggains, we have to go back to his NFL days, as prior to this season, he had never served in a play calling capacity in CFB.
As mentioned, prior to USCjr., he served as TEs coach at Arkansas from 2021 to 2022. He was the OC/QBs coach with the NY Jets from 2019-2020, OC of the Miami Dolphins in 2018, and the OC of the Chicago Bears 2016-2017 after serving as QBs coach in 2015. He also spent two seasons as the OC of the Tennessee Titans from 2012-2013.
The most notable pigs under his watch are: Leveon Bell with the Jets in 2019, Jordan Howard with the Bears in 2016 and 2017, and Chris Johnson with the Titans in 2012 and 2013. Keep in mind that with the NFL, the following stats are over a 16 game period, rather than 12 or 13.
Bell carried the rock 245 times in 2019, accruing 789 yards and three scores, while also catching 66 passes for 461 yards and another score. Overall, he cleared 300 touches and 1000 yards total.
Howard received 276 carries in 2017, amassing 1122 yards and nine scores; he was barely used as a receiver. In 2016, Howard actually had his best season, rushing 252 times for 1313 yards and six scores, in addition to catching 29 passes for 298 yards and another score.
Chris Johnson also went over 1000 yards in back-to-back seasons with the Titans under Loggains’ watch, receiving 276 and 279 carries in each season. The Titans also used Johnson fairly frequently as a receiver in both seasons. In total, he cleared 300 touches in 2012, and 2013.
So, while Loggains’ first season calling plays in college wasn’t what we’re looking for, it’s possible that he will be willing to #PIG one of his runners if he feels that he has a guy. That seems to be the pattern from his NFL days, at least. There are committee years baked in there, but he’s got a pretty good record of volume pig usage too. I guess the question will really come down to whether Raheim Sanders fills in as that guy…
RB Raheim Sanders — 6’2, 242
Sanders’ ascendance began — like so many other freshman — in a bowl game vs. Penn State in 2021. In that contest, he carried the Razorbacks to a dub with 79 yards rushing and two scores on only 13 attempts. Pretty nice efficiency, I’d say, so it was no wonder that he was on CFF players’ radars in the 2022 offseason.
He didn’t disappoint his shareholders, in the 2022 campaign he cleared the 1000 yard threshold, amassing over 1400 yards rushing on 222 carries, and scoring 12 times in total. In fact, despite being a bigger back, he actually demonstrated a solid capacity to catch passes as a receiver that season— catching 29 of his 33 targets for 274 yards and scoring two of his 12 TDs via the air.
In contrast, this past season was an absolute disaster. He participated in only six games, and averaged only 8.7 PPG in those contests. I can’t put all the blame on him, however, as the offence in general was a train wreck, hence why the OC— Dan Enos, was fired midway through his first year with the Hogs.
So, I get the desire from Sanders to move on, but I was hoping for a more conventional landing spot, like a Kentucky Wildcats program (before they landed Trayanum). Alas, we work with what we have, and Sanders has made his decision.
I think something that will be important to monitor this offseason is Sanders’ weight. I’m not one to fat shame — in fact, outrageously fat pigs are who I’m after — but it was clear Sanders was too heavy last season, and it effected his play. I’d rather see him closer to 230 pounds, and retain some his 2022 agility and nimbleness.
It’s also important to note the receiving usage he got in the 2022 season, because it proves that he can be used that way. But, I don’t think that at 6’2, 240+ pounds, he can be effective in that role. The receiving usage of a RB who plays for a team like USCjr. can be important, because they’re going to be playing in a lot of games where they’ll be behind.
Summary of Concerns
Unclear what to make of the system in place, OC has a mixed background, but has #Pigged RBs in the past.
Sanders didn’t look like himself last season. I assume that that is due to the weight he put on. But it could be due to another reason, and even if it is the weight, we don’t know whether that will resolve itself this offseason.
South Carolina brought in another runner via the transfer portal— Jawarn Howell, from the FCS program South Carolina State. Howell was a highly productive player as a freshman last season, and I doubt he’s coming in with the intention to ride the bench. That being said, no matter where Sanders went, there would have been other RBs in the room vying for reps.
South Carolina’s O-Line play was very poor last season. I expect that they will prioritize improving this for 2024, but that’s another concern for Sanders.
I’m trying to be more conservative with my articles and the evaluation of players this offseason, if for no other reason than the fact that I have to bear the brunt of the effects of this as a player when I go to draft eventually. It’s an odd position to be in—market influencer and market participant. It’s akin to being the Warren Buffet of CFF (I’ve actually instructed the VP interns to call me by this nickname at the head office).
Considering this, I will refrain from forming any definitive judgments at this juncture regarding the optimal range for Sanders’ profile in drafts. I prefer to see what happens during the spring, particularly his performance in the upcoming spring game. Unfortunately, the lingering uncertainty about the Offensive Coordinator's play-calling tendencies will persist into the season. Consequently, this concern is unavoidable and will undoubtedly cast a shadow over summer drafts for Sanders.
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