Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Great White Hope


I've complained about media and fans routinely comparing white athletes to other white athletes and otherwise racially stereotyping athletes. Enter Jacob Hester, who I really like as a player. He's good. He was our leading rusher last year and averaged well over 4 yards per carry. He made 35 catches, and scored a total of 8 touchdowns, which was third on the team. He also is a good pass blocker and excels on special teams. He will be a senior on this upcoming team.

He's an excellent football player. He's also sometimes a fullback, a position some people want him to play more of.

Personally, I don't like him as a fullback. He's not a great lead blocker, and giving the ball to the fullback just takes the tailback out of the play, meaning the team is playing 10 against 11. I like him as a tailback. He can do it all at that position. He may not be as strong of a pure runner as Keiland Williams, but he can be trusted in all situations. With Hester on the field, the defense can't key on either the run or the pass.

Here's one fan comment on Mr. Hester:
Screw the stopwatch, the recruiting stars, the moves and cuts.. This guy is playing football on another level Gotta be knowledge and heart. But whatever it is, I bet he comes in on 3d and 6 in the 4th quarter of a tight SEC game.

If there is ever an example of internet/newspaper fans not knowing what coaches could see in a "lower-rated" recruit. it's JH!
While I like the sentiment of not relying exclusively on recruiting service rankings (Hester was a 2-star), I have to ask, "WHAT!?" It's gotta be knowledge and heart? Why don't you just say, "It has to be the whiteness"?

If you're the kind of guy who likes to compare athletes to one another (and I am), I think there's a very clear recent comparison for Jacob Hester that should be known to all or most LSU fans. He's a solid runner, good receiver, and good blocker. It's Joseph Addai, who did all of those things at LSU as recently as 2005. It's a good comparison, though Hester may not be quite as good as Addai, who was a 1st round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts, and recently won the Super Bowl.

But to whom have I seen him compared recently? Well, it's hard to come up with a white running back, and for some reason everyone wants to compare white to white and black to black. I've actually seen someone reach all the way back to Hokie Gajan, a running back who played for LSU and for the New Orleans Saints, last playing organized football over 20 years ago. A bit of a tortured comparison, no?

Is this ridiculous? Well, I suppose it's a good thing that some people remember Hokie Gajan, but I imagine the comparison between Hester and Hokie is more imagined than real. Heck, there's even a more recent white running back at LSU in Sammy Martin, but I suppose the fact that Hester has hair disqualifies that comparison. Hester is doing OK in the hair department, and poor Sammy Martin entered LSU with a greatly receding hairline. Maybe hair means more than race.

43 comments:

uberschuck said...

I take issue with the statement that "giving the ball to the fullback just takes the tailback out of the play, meaning the team is playing 10 against 11."

The defense does not know the play. The defenders have assignments--and the only time a defense would not be watching the tailback would be if there isn't one. Contrary to your assertion, having the fullback carry the ball isn't just taking the tailback out. The fact that we can run effectively with either player makes things more difficult for the defense. Also, running the FB can be an advantage in short yardage because he can get the ball sooner and get to the hole faster.

Joe Addai was just a workhorse and one of the best examples of a guy steadily improving over the years.

Richard Pittman said...

I agree that Addai was a workhorse and that he improved as time went on. I think Hester is pretty much the same. He did next to nothing as a freshman and pretty much only came in as a pass-catching fullback as a sophomore before breaking out as a junior. I think he'll be one of our primary tailbacks. I just don't think he has the blocking ability to be a fullback. I don't trust him leading Keiland through a hole.

uberschuck said...

On your point of comparing Hester to Addai, I agree that this comparison is more relevant than Gajan. That sort of silliness is probably due to people not getting over the fact that both are white. Whoopdyfriggindo.

And while we're comparing the two, allow me to say the obvious. Hester is really good; Addai was better. If Hester is to make up the difference in his 4th season, he's got his work cut out for him.

Richard Pittman said...

I agree there too. He's not Addai, but he's in the Addai mold. He's a poor man's Addai, by which I mean he's the white Addai.

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