Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cairo Santos

Somewhere in the bowels of various buildings, devoted to services that scout collegians for the NFL, there are folks inscribing on an index card, or typing in to their computer, the names of guys that surfaced on their radar in 2010. I imagine just one guy made that list from Tulane for sure. And since he played on the black hole that was special teams at Tulane, he is an easy choice for Special Teams MVP.

In 2010, the Special Teams as presented by the well-coached Toledo regime, were the greatest disaster on American soil since the Hindenberg. Kick coverage was beyond terrible. The return game wasn’t much better- and any slight bump in performance over the coverage units was negated by some absolutely brutal turnovers.

Now, there is contemplation in the Tulane community that this was a failure of x’s and o’s- that the youngish second team players that populate the kicking teams are talented, yet misused. I disagree- I think it is because those second team players aren’t really good, that the Toledo recruiting renaissance is a total mirage.

I’ll point to the most noticeable prognostic of the lack of down roster talent populating special teams- the never ending sequence of return men. Eight players returned multiple kicks this year (another three returned one). Even Jordan Stephany got himself into the mix for the last game of the season and his career (2 returns-19 yards). The list goes on: Strozier, Thomas, Banks, the disasterous Van Hooser experiment. That staggering total wasn’t due to injury or sorting out just who was the best of many good options. It was failure again and again. None of them can play C-USA football at a decent level.

The special teams were littered with guys who are just not real good at this level- not because they were not taught properly. Which makes the selection of an MVP pretty straightforward.

PK Cairo Santos had a real nice season kicking field goals: 13-16, only one miss inside of 39 yards. Frankly, he was, along with Ryan Griffin completion percentage and Trent Mackey tackling, one of the three good things that were just routine, easy.

Southern Mississippi’s Danny Hrapmann was first team all C-USA (26 for 30, long of 54) and East Carolina’s Michael Barbour, Jr. was second team (14 for 16, long of 52). Those are similar “make’em” percentages- although Cairo did not bang through any long ones.

The point is that Santos is very near their class, the top class- a rare spot where you can say that about Tulane. I’m not worried so much about nailing a pair of 50-yarders per season as making them all from inside the 40-yard attempt range.

Now he has three years to add 12-15 yards to his leg strength to be a pro-prospect or 8-10 to be all C-USA. He is a nice prospect- and it would help these special teams if he could bury a few more kick-offs, particularly in the Dome.

Lastly, good for LS John Edwards get an honorable mention on the all C-USA team. He does a good job.

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