We might have just finished National Signing Day for the class of 2013, but it's never too early to grade the 2014 class according to the most important criteria: name excellence. Without further ado, the 2014 All-Name Team.
First team: Prince Dukes of Staten Island, NY. This name has it all: multiple references to British nobility, obvious parallels with the Tenacious D song "Two Kings," and a crisp, two-syllable delivery. One of the finest names in this year's class.
Second team: Rip Kirk of Batesville, MS. Obvious reference to the worst on-screen death in history, William Shatner's in Star Trek: Generations. RIP Kirk, indeed.
First team: Wadzaire Blanc of Orlando, FL and Delorean Bethay of Eight Mile, AL. The complete insanity of the first name Wadzaire pairs perfectly with the Frenchiness of Blanc. The only way Wadzaire Blanc's name could be better is if he was named after an actual kind of white wine. Bethay gets here on his first name alone, an incredible throwback to the suicide door-sporting, flux capacitor-wielding machine from Back to the Future. While any make of car would likely get a player into this list (and Chevrolet Bethay would place one high in the running for captain of the team), it's the failure of the Delorean as a vehicle long before his birth that makes Delorean Bethay a first-teamer.
Second team: Kobe McCrary of Chipley, FL and D'Andre Ferby of Nashville, TN. Four-star McCrary is likely to become the first-ever Kobe Bryant namesake FBS player (you are old) -- the only other Kobe we could find is a freshman at Holy Cross. Let's also note the Watch the Throne possibilities in his last name. Ferby checks all the awesome name boxes: first-name apostrophe, toy reference, contrast between the elegance of the first and utility of the last, uneven syllable count. All-purpose.
Fullback: Roverters Barron of Mobile, AL. There aren't many fullbacks that have been scouted so far, so we will probably have to rely solely on halfbaWHY HELLO ROVERTERS BARRON. The list now includes both British and German nobility, but it's the first name that makes this moniker hum. Is it a reference to rovers, of either lunar or Blackburn origin?
First team: T.V. Williams of McKinney, TX and Lorenzo Joe of Abilene, TX. The TV in T.V. Williams is probably not short for television, but I'm going to pretend it is. As for Longhorns commit Joe, not only does he have a surprising inversion of first and last names, but the double-long O and mere presence of the last name Joe make him sound like a character in "Stack-o-Lee."
Second team: Speedy Noil of New Orleans, LA and Adonis Jennings of Sicklerville, NJ. Five-star Noil's name is descriptive of his play. It also includes a last name that is really fun to say in Steve Urkel's voice. Jennings pairs a braggadocious first name with one of the most garden variety of last names. The confidence needed to name your child Adonis is quite stunning and, apparently, well-deserved.
First team: Cannon Smith of Columbia, SC. In pre-industrial times, a cannonsmith was surely an actual job. This Smith inherits the trade from the outgoing Memphis defensive back of the same name.
Second team: Moral Stephens of Perry, FL. The world is full of dastardly Stephens (Colbert and Spurrier, to name just two), but the character of Moral Stephens, shown right there in his name, effectively counteracts all others.
Name that lends itself to jokes that only I think are funny: Will Taylor of Euless, TX. If your last name can be pronounced as a verb, you must name your child Will. In this case, "Have pants, Will Taylor" is the joke of choice, just as it is for Louisiana Tech tackle Will Taylor.
First team: Bentley Spain of Charlotte, NC and Layth Friekh of Peoria, AZ. Spain is the first aristocrat to play collegiate football and presumably participates while wearing a monocle. But his name pales in comparison to that of Friekh, a lineman whose name doubles as the title of a magazine for woodworking enthusiasts.
Second team: Andrew Mike of Tucson, AZ and Koda Martin of Manvel, TX. A good rule to live by: never trust a man with two first names. However, when the names are as fearlessly backwards as they are in Andrew Mike, you can make an exception. Martin lives up to his name by coming at the end of this list, as an addendum to the previous excellence.
Interior offensive linemen
First team: Damien Mama of Bellflower, CA; Will Clapp of New Orleans, LA and Sam Madaras of Olney, MD. Mama could be the name of Beelzebub's bride, when you think about it. As for LSU commit Clapp, "Have hands, Will Clapp" is an obvious joke that, again, is funny only to me. The pool of interior linemen names is shallow this year, so the mere fact that Sam Madaras is a near-palindrome earns him a first-team position.
First team: Lorenzo Featherston of Greensboro, NC and Da'Shawn Hand of Woodbridge, VA. Coincidentally, the top-rated weakside and strongside defensive ends are also the two most wonderfully monikered defensive ends. Featherston's is symmetric, literal, full of long vowels, and generally excellent. Hand's includes an unnecessary apostrophe and a body part last name.
Second team: Bryan Mone of Salt Lake City, UT and Rashawn Shaw of Ft. Pierce, FL. The porn name team is the Solid Verbal's thing, but I can't help myself with a name as good as Mone's. As for Shaw, how often do you have a last name that fits entirely within its own first name?
First team (3-4 scheme): Naquez Pringle of Hemingway, SC. The captain of this year's all-name defense. Naquez sounds like an Aztec city that you can visit by bus on the one sober afternoon you spend in Mexico. Pairing it with Pringle, conjuring low-fat potato chips, creates a yin and yang. The alpha and omega.
First team (4-3 scheme): Demarcus Christmas of Bradenton, FL and Travonte Valentine of Palm Bay, FL. Funny only in tandem, the Holiday Brothers should package themselves as such. When Florida commit Valentine gets a sack, FSU commit Christmas could yell, "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, QUARTERBACK!" When Christmas drops a halfback for a loss, Valentine could shout, "CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY FOR YOU, RUNNING BACK!"
First team: Raekwon McMillan of Hinesville, GA. Five-star McMillan was born in 1995. "Protect Ya Neck" and Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) were released in 1993. That means that, yes, McMillan is probably the first college football prospect named after a member of the Wu-Tang Clan (however, he is not the last). Needless to say, he does it for the children.
Second team: Joe Blue of Dillon, SC. Whether it's the colorful last name or the obvious reference to Major League when it's said quickly or just the beautiful simplicity of it, this name just works. Give it up for the Gamecocks commit's parents: with a last name as simple as Blue, some would go for an elaborate first name. Not these Blues, though.
First team: D'Ronzjiah Mathews of Ft. Myers, FL and T'Kevian Rockwell of Wylie, TX. D'Ronzjiah is the reason why proper names aren't allowed in Words With Friends; if you could use his name and dropped it on a triple word bonus, you would get 93 points and an additional 35 for using all your letters. T'Kevian might not land the same Scrabble windfall, but it does make me want to refer to Tony Kornheiser as T'Kornheiser.
Second team: Taiwan Deal of Hyattsville, MD and Greer Martini of Woodberry Forest, VA. Taiwan Deal could be the basis of a "Who's on First?" skit about international relations:
Advisor: "Mr. President, the Chinese have offered us a Taiwan Deal."
President: "Well, what are they offering?"
Advisor: "Taiwan Deal"
President: "Yes, I know, but what is the offer?"
Advisor: "Taiwan Deal. They are offering us Taiwan Deal."
President: "I understand that, but what specifically is being offered by the Chinese?"
Advisor: "Taiwan Deal."
President: "I don't know."
Advisor: "He's on third."
As for Notre Dame commit Martini, his name sounds like the most disgusting mixed drink on the menu at a dance club. Ordering a Greer Martini is probably a sign of full-blown alcoholism.
First team: Budda Baker of Bellevue, WA and Parrker Westphal of Bolingbrook IL. Budda Baker is incredible: It's alliterative, it's balanced, and it includes both perfect enlightenment and a timeless profession. Westphal makes the first team out of a weak class of cornerbacks solely for the extra R. The extra R is for extra interceptions.
Second team: Quentin Tartabull of Mission Hills, CA and Tommy Mister of Oak Lawn, IL. These two project as safeties, but the safety class is deep, so they're changing positions for us. Quentin Tartabull rolls off the tongue like butter. Crisp syllables, unique phonetics, and a classic two-syllable, three-syllable combination. Mister is here because his formal title is Mr. Mister. Take these broken wings and learn to fly again, Tommy.
First team: Dae Juan Funderburk of Washington, DC and J.R. Hunt of Chandler, AZ. Funderburk is our only three-part name, but it's thunder-and-lightning, AC/DC imagery that takes Dae Juan to the top. As for J.R. Hunt, he's named after an entire season of '80s drama Dallas.
Second team: Jaleel Wadood of Lakewood, CA and Shamir Bearfield of Jersey City, NJ. Dude. As in Wadood. As in Arizona State commit Jaleel Wadood, a man in desperate need of a backfield partner named Wabro. Bearfield has a bear right there in his name, which lends itself to a career playing defense.
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