What Emoni Bates’ commitment means for Memphis, plus the end of some QB competitions (for now)


Happy Thursday, sports fans! It’s Shanna McCarriston, once again giving you some sports news. I hope you all are having a wonderful week and if you aren’t, hang in there because we are almost at the weekend.

Today we have a lot of football to talk about, from the NFL to college. And that makes a lot of sense. There is no shortage of football news because we are oh so close to having the sport back in our lives.

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We’ll cover some NFL trade talk, touch on the ending of a few quarterback competitions (for now, at least) and more. But to start off, we actually have some huge college basketball news for a change.

📰 What you need to know

1. Memphis gets another top prospect, jumps up in preseason rankings 🏀

Five-star men’s basketball recruit Emoni Bates committed to Memphis late on Wednedsay. He chose the Tigers over offers from Oregon, Michigan State and the G League. This is the second time this month the Tigers have added a five-star prospect to their squad. The first was five-star center Jalen Duren.

Bates, a Michigan native, originally committed to Michigan State, but eventually reopened his recruitment. That set the stage for Wednesday night’s decision,

Here a closer look at Bates:

He’s a 6-foot-9, 201-pound small forwardAt one point was the No. 1 recruit in the 2022 classCurrently the No. 4 overall prospect with No. 1 NBA Draft pick potential, according to the 247Sports Composite2020 Gatorade National Player of the Year

With the additions of Bates (and Duren), the Tigers are now the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. This is the first time in program history that Memphis has had two top-five recruits in the same class. As such, there’s been some movement in our early Top 25 and 1 college basketball rankings. Our college basketball expert Gary Parrish had this to say about Memphis in the latest rankings, which were updated after Bates’ announcement:

Parrish: “Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren … project as future lottery picks capable of helping Memphis pursue a Final Four.”

To everybody else in college basketball… good luck trying to beat Memphis this year.

2. Congratulations, Trevor Lawrence and Teddy Bridgewater 🏈

Jacksonville Jaguars’ QB Trevor Lawrence and Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater both received some great news yesterday: they both earned the starting quarterback positions for their respective teams.

Let’s start with the Jags and Lawrence. Head coach Urban Meyer made the expected announcement on Wednesday, picking this past NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall selection over former starter Gardner Minshew. While Lawrence has been the presumed starter, Meyer waited until he’d seen two preseason games worth of play before making it official.

Lawrence didn’t seem bothered by the fight for the top spot at any point.

Lawrence: “I just think it’s all about competition. Especially I know coming from college like that was the same way once I came into Clemson. Kelly Bryant was the returning starter, was quarterback the year before, had a good season and coming into that it’s like — you don’t just walk in and get handed things, and I just think that’s a good way to run an organization, a team, whatever. People have to earn whatever they’re given.”

Now let’s talk Broncos. Like Meyer, Broncos coach Vic Fangio was the one who named Bridgewater the starting quarterback over Drew Lock for Denver‘s Week 1 game against the Giants. The situation is much different than the one in Jacksonville, though.

As recent as Tuesday, Fangio called the quarterback competition “pretty [expletive] close.”

Fangio: “I think it’s close for a good reason. They both have played well. The good news of this competition is we’ve got two quarterbacks that we feel we can go win with.” 

Bridgewater was sidelined for two years due to a torn ACL injury and backed up Drew Brees in New Orleans. He then signed with the Panthers in 2020, where he spent one season. Now, the starting job in Denver is his to lose.

3. SEC picks and predictions for upcoming season 🏈
Graphic by Mike Meredith

Remember yesterday where we went through underrated and overrated Big Ten teams? Well, lucky you, we have something similar today, but this time we’ll be looking at the SEC.

The SEC almost always begins and ends with Alabama. This season, they no longer have three of the top five Heisman Trophy finishers or their offensive coordinator. Another perennial powerhouse, Florida, has a new quarterback and pass catchers. This all means that the door may be open for a team like Georgia, who haven’t won a national title since 1980, to run the table. 

Ultimately, there have been a lot of changes in the SEC and a lot of questions remain on how the changes to these major teams will play out. Let’s take a deeper look and go over some underrated and overrated teams, according to our CFB experts:

Overrated teams

Underrated teams

Once again, our experts don’t totally agree. To find why, and to take a look at some bold predictions and the projected order of finish in the SEC, click here.

4. Five NFL trades that make sense right now 🏈
USATSI

The NFL preseason is halfway done and we are about two weeks (just TWO WEEKS!), away from the regular season. For organizations, this means difficult decisions are being made, as rosters need to be cut down to 53 players.

We’ve already seen some trades happen, with the Patriots moving Sony Michel to the Rams… a trade that — according to our NFL experts — actually works in the favor of the Patriots.

But what moves may come next? Funny you ask. Here are some other trades we could see happening before Week 1, courtesy of our NFL scribe Patrik Walker:

Cowboys send linebacker Jaylon Smith to the Raiders for offensive tackle Brandon Parker and a late-round pickPackers send second-round pick to Patriots for Stephon GilmoreSaints send wide receiver Michael Thomas to the Jaguars for cornerback C.J. HendersonCardinals send Chandler Jones to the Jets for safety Marcus MayRams send backup iOL to the Giants for kicker Ryan Santoso

As Walker put it, “If the respective teams pull the triggers… it’s hard to believe they’d do anything but improve ahead of Week 1.” To find out why and for more commentary on each potential trade, click here.

📝 Odds & Ends

USATSI

📺 What to watch tonight

Reds vs. Brewers, 2:10 p.m. | MIL -111 | TV: MLB.TV

White Sox vs. Blue Jays, 3:07 p.m. | TOR -105 | TV: MLB.TV

Yankees vs. Athletics, 9:40 p.m. | OAK +101 | TV: MLB.TV

Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅

Gavin Weir is absolute dominating the Little League World Series. Weir, 12, threw his fourth no-hitter of the tournament on Wednesday. That effort helped lead South Dakota to the semifinals with a 1-0 victory.

Weir struck out 14 hitters, allowed zero hits and no runs. Quite impressive. The 12-year-old has been called “the best pitcher in the country,” and has a promising future ahead of him. Take a look at more info from his performance here.

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