Every Tennessee fan remembers it. Like a storm cloud following us around or a black eye that won’t fade away. It comes up every time a fan of an opposing team chooses to partake in some verbal fisticuffs with one of us.
To make matters worse, most of us fell for it the first time we heard it. It was the Crystal Pepsi of college football sales pitches.
“Brick by brick.”
It’s a phrase that sums up one of the most disappointing eras of Tennessee football history. So is anyone surprised that Kentucky temporarily adopted it for a recruiting tweet?
— John Schlarman (@CoachSchlarman) June 9, 2020
Let’s break the stats down in this tweet, shall we?
First off, Schlarman is the current offensive line assistant at Kentucky, and has been since 2013. So the time frame obviously make sense.
Of the players in this graphic, I could only find two of them that qualified as All-Americans. Bunchy Stallings was a 2018 AP 1st Team All-American and Logan Stenberg was a 2019 FWAA 2nd Team All-American. From what I could find, none of the others reached All-American status. But, with all the outlets that release their own All-America lists, there’s no telling where they got that third All-American to make this graphic look better.
The All-SEC number raises the same question: where did they get that? From my many hours of research, I could only find John Toth, Landon Young, Drake Jackson, Stenberg, and Stallings on a reputable outlet’s All-SEC first and second team lists. After many more hours looking at my abacus, that is only five, not six, like the graphic suggests.
The All-SEC Freshman number seems to check out. According to the SEC website, Toth was an All-SEC Freshman in 2013, as was Stenberg in 2016. Nice work, Kentucky football marketing intern!
While we’re here, what the hell is the All-Bowl team? I don’t even want to know who made that team. Especially if the sample group is the TaxSlayer Bowl, the Music City Bowl, the Citrus Bowl, and the Belk Bowl. That reads like the bowls Tennessee goes to during their worst stretch in team history. But hey, one of Kentucky’s linemen played well in one of them, one time. That’s cool, I guess?
The NFL number is my favorite, and here’s why.
Let’s start with Stenberg, who was taken in the fourth round in the 2020 Draft by the Detroit Lions, and actually just signed a four-year deal with them a few weeks ago. A sincere congrats to Stenberg for this achievement. It’s no small feat to get an extended NFL contract, these days. Other players on this graphic are a testament to that.
Take George Asafo-Adjei, for example. He was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Giants in 2019, but was put on IR in August 2019 after sustaining a concussion, then waived after a failed physical this spring. He is currently a free agent. Pumped that “NFL Players” number up by one, though, I guess?
Then, there’s Stallings, who went undrafted in 2019, but was picked up by the Jaguars as a UFA. It didn’t last long, because he didn’t even make the regular season roster. He spent some time in the short lived XFL, and, as far as I can tell, is now retired (or a free agent, depending on how you look at it) at 24.
Toth had a similar career path, going undrafted out of college. However, he actually got signed to *multiple* NFL teams’ practice squads. He spent a year each with the Eagles and Jets’ practice squads, never played a regular season snap, and eventually ended up in the fledgling XFL. Like Stallings, Toth is now a retired/free agent hybrid at 26.
So, just to recap, of the “four” NFL players noted in the graphic, one has signed a long term deal, and three couldn’t make a roster.
Credit to Kentucky, though. They’re doing their best to frame their last few years as their best in decades, for recruiting purposes. But after a little research, the numbers are pumped up or just hollow, altogether.
Maybe they really nailed it with the Butch Jones quote in the graphic.