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DUBLIN, Ohio — Bryson DeChambeau said he believes the PGA Tour will need to step in if the well-chronicled feud between him and Brooks Koepka escalates toward encouraging poor fan behavior.

The comment came after Koepka offered to supply beer for the fans evicted from the Memorial Tournament on Friday because they were believed to have been taunting DeChambeau.

DeChambeau said Saturday he was aware of Koepka’s offer but had not seen the video posted to Twitter.

“I think that’s something that the Tour needs to handle, it’s something I can’t control,” DeChambeau said after the third round at Muirfield Village Golf Club. “I tried to take the high road numerous times and I think that from my perspective, I’ll continue to keep doing so and people are going to do what they want to do. So it is what it is.”

On-site security at the Memorial said about 10 spectators were ejected on Friday after they taunted DeChambeau by saying “Brooksie” or other comments, some of which were made during his backswing. DeChambeau said he did not request that anyone be removed, but security was quick to admonish anyone who did the same on Saturday.

There were far fewer incidents during the third round and DeChambeau appeared to have good interaction with spectators, despite shooting 73 and being well out of contention.

“I wanted to say the fans were awesome today,” said DeChambeau, who defends his U.S. Open title in two weeks at Torrey Pines. “They came out, supported me. Obviously, you’re going to have people saying things, but again like I said yesterday, it doesn’t rile me up, it doesn’t affect me or anything like that.

“It’s great banter, it’s fun, but the fans were awesome, the golf course is in great shape.”

The fan response on Friday was due to a viral video conducted by the Golf Channel that never aired on television. During it, Koepka was distracted while being interviewed as DeChambeau walked behind him. He rolled his eyes and dropped an expletive, and the interview was re-done. The original was leaked, leading to a good bit of back and forth.

DeChambeau said his representatives have spoken to Tour officials but offered no details.

“I think it’s something along the lines of how the Tour wants to player to act,” said DeChambeau, who then referenced the Player Impact Program and the $40-million to be doled out to 10 players based on their ability to “move the needle.” “If he keeps talking about me, that’s great for the PIP fund.”

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Spring game previews: Key newcomers, position battles, breakout candidates




Spring game previews: Key newcomers, position battles, breakout candidates

A lot has happened in the world of college football since Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines celebrated their national championship win three months ago — not the least of which was Harbaugh departing for the NFL.

Nick Saban, recognized as the greatest college football coach of all time, retired from his post at Alabama, setting off a late coaching carousel chain reaction that left Kalen DeBoer in Tuscaloosa, Jedd Fisch at Washington and San José State’s Brent Brennan at Arizona.

Georgia scored the top-ranked recruiting class in February, and while there are more changes ahead as the spring transfer portal swings open next week, there is action on the field this weekend in the form of spring games at many power conference schools.

To catch you up, our college football reporters offer some intriguing newcomers, breakout candidates and position battles to keep an eye on.

Jump to a conference:
SEC | Big Ten
ACC | Big 12

Position battle to watch: Cornerback — The Crimson Tide will be starting over at cornerback in Kalen DeBoer’s first season as coach. Both starters from a year ago, Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry, are headed to the NFL, likely as first-round picks, and four other corners transferred. The odds-on favorite to be Alabama’s top cornerback next season is USC transfer Domani Jackson. Nick Saban heavily recruited Jackson out of high school, but he chose USC. The former five-star prospect played only one season at USC on a defense that ranked 121st nationally in scoring.

After Jackson, who knows? Jahlil Hurley returns after redshirting last season and has yet to play a snap in college. Alabama brought in three highly rated freshmen — Zabien Brown, Jaylen Mbakwe and Zay Mincey — and all three have elite skills and are pushing to get on the field right away. Mbakwe has run a 10.47 100-meter dash. — Chris Low

Most intriguing newcomer: Bobby Petrino — Petrino isn’t technically a newcomer, but he’s back in a familiar place as Arkansas’ offensive coordinator. There aren’t many more fascinating storylines in college football than Petrino’s return to Fayetteville, where he was 21-5 in 2010 and 2011 as the Hogs’ head coach before he got into a motorcycle accident with an athletic department subordinate with whom he was having an affair, then misled his superiors to cover it up. He was Jimbo Fisher’s offensive coordinator at Texas A&M last season, though it’s up for debate how much of his offense he was running. Meanwhile, Sam Pittman’s future with Arkansas (4-8 last season) started to come into doubt, particularly after the dismissal of offensive coordinator Dan Enos in October following a six-game losing streak.

By now, Petrino’s high-flying offenses and his two straight seasons of 10 or more wins at Arkansas were sorely missed, and the two paths converged. It’s an interesting gambit: If the Hogs don’t win fast enough, a wildly popular interim candidate exists. But if Petrino’s offense is a difference-maker, Pittman (23-25 at Arkansas) will have a shot at getting the train back on the tracks. — Dave Wilson

Most intriguing newcomer: QB D.J. Lagway — After accounting for 74 touchdowns (58 passing, 16 rushing) as a senior in high school, Lagway was the big prize of the Gators’ recruiting class. While Graham Mertz is still in Gainesville after a season in which he completed 73% of his passes for 2,903 yards along with 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions, Lagway is the future.

After Florida’s first spring scrimmage, coach Billy Napier complimented Lagway’s ability to learn and retain information, along with his ability to take lessons from meetings into practice. “He’s picked it up quickly, and now it’s just the game management piece is next,” Napier said. Perhaps we’ll get a good sample of that in the spring game. — Harry Lyles Jr.

Position battle to watch: Free safety — While running back Trevor Etienne, who transferred from Florida, is the fancy new addition in Athens, a position battle folks should be watching is at free safety. Malaki Starks returns at strong safety, but his former running mate, Javon Bullard, is off to the NFL. Experienced players, such as Dan Jackson, David Daniel-Sisavanh and JaCorey Thomas, could fill the void, but there are also younger options, such as Justyn Rhett or five-star KJ Bolden. The Dawgs also brought in Jake Pope from Alabama.

Take it from Starks, who said earlier this week, “That room is very competitive.” And don’t forget about new defensive backs coach Donte Williams, who comes in from USC after Fran Brown’s departure to Syracuse. The Bulldogs will figure it out because they always do, but it should be a fun battle with plenty of talent. — Lyles

Most intriguing newcomer: QB Brock Vandagriff — Vandagriff came to Kentucky as a graduate transfer from Georgia, where he was part of back-to-back national championship teams in 2021 and 2022. Vandagriff spent this spring taking most of the first-team reps and is expected to be the Wildcats’ starter. He has two years of eligibility remaining and has drawn some comparisons within the program to former quarterback Will Levis.

Vandagriff is unproven as QB1, though, as he has played in only 13 total games, completing 12 of 21 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. There is experience behind Vandagriff, as Beau Allen returns to Kentucky as a graduate transfer following one season at Georgia Southern and another at Tarleton State. — Heather Dinich

Breakout candidate: WR Kyren Lacy — Lacy is LSU’s top returning receiver and is poised to fill the holes left by the departures of Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas. Lacy, who has started 12 games for LSU, was the Tigers’ No. 3 receiver last year, and has caught 54 passes for 826 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons at Baton Rouge.

Coach Brian Kelly said Lacy used to be “easily distracted at times” but has played with a newfound consistency this spring. “What has happened here, more than anything else, is he has found the right zone to be in as it relates to practicing and preparation,” Kelly said. “He learned a lot last year watching Malik and BT and the way they came to practice every day and performed, and said, ‘I can do this, too.’ I’m really proud of him and happy for him because he’s going to have a breakout season because of it.” — Dinich

Most intriguing newcomer: DE Princely Umanmielen — Lane Kiffin has brought in an assortment of intriguing newcomers on both sides of the ball and has worked the transfer portal as well as anyone. The 2024 Rebels will have new faces from several SEC teams, and they’re counting on Umanmielen to make a major impact at defensive end. Edge rushers are always at a premium, and the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Umanmielen has experience and production going for him. He played four seasons at Florida (25 starts) and recorded 11.5 tackles for loss, including seven sacks, last season.

Kiffin made it a priority to get bigger, stronger and faster this offseason, and Umanmielen fits that mold. Kiffin said this spring that Umanmielen has “ideal size, length and speed to be a really good player, one that you don’t have to say, ‘OK, here’s how we’d use somebody to kind of hide some of the deficiencies,’ which we’ve done a lot here.” — Low

Most intriguing newcomer: TE Holden Staes — The Vols needed help at tight end with Jacob Warren and McCallan Castles gone, so they brought in Staes after he spent two seasons at Notre Dame. Look for the 6-4, 242-pounder to become a frequent target for first-year starting quarterback Nico Iamaleava.

One reason Staes picked Tennessee was the way the Vols have used their tight ends under coach Josh Heupel. Staes caught 15 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns last season for Notre Dame. He has really good hands and can make plays in space, but his blocking ability jumped out to the Tennessee coaches as much as anything. Staes is still adjusting to the pace of Tennessee’s up-tempo offense, but his versatility should be a factor in both the passing and running games. — Low

Most intriguing newcomer: QB Will Howard — Ohio State fans will get their first glimpse of the Kansas State transfer, who entered the spring as the front-runner to take over at quarterback for Kyle McCord (now at Syracuse). Howard brings the dual-threat element back to the Buckeyes’ backfield, rushing for 351 yards and nine touchdowns for the Wildcats last season.

The pressure is on Ohio State after a third consecutive loss to Michigan, the reigning national champions. But following an aggressive offseason in the transfer portal — coupled with the hiring of offensive coordinator Chip Kelly — the Buckeyes boast the players to pursue their own national title. Still, their hopes figure to hinge heavily on Howard — or his primary competition for the job, Devin Brown — providing improved quarterback play. — Jake Trotter

Position battles to watch: Offensive tackle and wide receiver — Penn State lost starting tackles Olu Fashanu, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, and Caedan Wallace from a line that showed some improvement but lacked the performance needed against top competition. The team added Wisconsin transfer Nolan Rucci, an ESPN top-40 recruit in 2021 from the state, who joins returnees such as Drew Shelton, Anthony Donkoh and J’ven Williams. Shelton is out this spring while recovering from surgery, which has created strong competition between Rucci, Donkoh and Williams, which coach James Franklin said would continue into fall camp.

Wide receiver also will be in the spotlight after a tough 2023 season. KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Harrison Wallace III both return, and Penn State added Ohio State transfer Julian Fleming. Will those three or a group of younger players provide the reliable targets quarterback Drew Allar needs? — Adam Rittenberg

Most intriguing newcomer: RB Reggie Love III — Love is new to Purdue but not to several of the Boilermakers coaches who joined Ryan Walters from Illinois. He had 883 rushing yards and six touchdowns during the past two seasons for the Illini, and will provide a strong complement to Purdue’s lead back Devin Mockobee.

Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell has multiple players who can attack defenses on the ground, as Hudson Card (203 rush yards, five TDs in 2023) brings more mobility than most Air Raid quarterbacks. Although Love had only 15 receptions at Illinois, his pass-catching ability could be amplified for the Boilers. Other newcomers to watch include defensive back transfers Nyland Green (Georgia) and Kyndrich Breedlove (Colorado), and defensive line transfer CJ Madden (Georgia). — Rittenberg

Most intriguing newcomer: Head coach Bill O’Brien — What exactly will Boston College look like this year under O’Brien? It’s a fascinating question. He’s among the most accomplished playcallers in football, but his history — at Alabama, Penn State and with the New England Patriots and Houston Texans — doesn’t suggest a guy eager to throw caution to the wind and play wide-open, backyard football.

But look at BC’s 2023 season under Jeff Hafley, and that’s when the Eagles were most dangerous, with quarterback Thomas Castellanos getting outside the pocket, winging it downfield and scrambling for yards on broken plays. In all, 17.4% of BC’s offense came on scrambles or throws outside the pocket, the third-highest rate in the ACC. So will it be more of the same with Castellanos, or can O’Brien help his QB develop as a pocket passer? — David Hale

Breakout candidate: QB Haynes King — One could argue that the same could have been said last spring, but King is still a breakout candidate for the Yellow Jackets. In his first full year as a starter — also Brent Key’s first full season as head coach — King was electric. He completed 62% of his passes for 2,842 yards, 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and added 737 yards on the ground with 10 touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per rush.

King is one of the best returning quarterbacks in the ACC, and after leading Tech to its first bowl win in seven years, it’s fair to expect even more in Year 2. If he’s able to limit turnovers, the Yellow Jackets have an opportunity to take another step in 2024. Saturday’s spring game is one of the most anticipated in Midtown Atlanta in a while, and King is a big reason. — Lyles

Most intriguing newcomer: QB Cam Ward — This is an easy one. Ward’s decision to come to Miami, after initially deciding to enter the NFL draft, is fascinating because it shifted the entire conversation around the Hurricanes. Before Ward, who played at Washington State the past two seasons, shifted gears, Miami signed Albany transfer Reese Poffenbarger to beef up the quarterback room. But now? Miami appears to have one of the strongest quarterbacks in the ACC headed into the season.

The spring game will be our first chance to see how Ward fits into this offense under coordinator Shannon Dawson, and how he jells with his receivers. Miami has two veterans returning in Xavier Restrepo and Jacolby George, and young talent that could be ready to emerge in Isaiah Horton, JoJo Trader, Ny Carr and Ray Ray Joseph. Miami has not had consistent quarterback play since Tyler Van Dyke was a freshman in 2021. If Ward is able to live up to the expectations, the Hurricanes will have a shot to be in the hunt for the ACC title. — Andrea Adelson

Position battle to watch: Quarterback — Technically, there’s no battle here. Head coach Pat Narduzzi insists Nate Yarnell is his guy, and Yarnell seems to be eager to flex some muscle in a new up-tempo offense in 2024. But Yarnell has only two games of serious work under his belt, and his role as the de facto starter was defined mostly on the back of solid performances against BC and Duke to end last season.

That Christian Veilleux, who started six games last season, and Alabama transfer Eli Holstein also are on the roster supposedly just means Pitt has depth at the position. But a strong spring game for Yarnell would help quell any rumblings about a QB battle among the fans this summer, even if Narduzzi is convinced he has his guy either way. — Hale

Breakout candidate: LB Jaden Keller — A redshirt junior, Keller has grown by leaps and bounds from his arrival as an undersized playmaker in the middle of the field, and yet, Virginia Tech still hasn’t seen the best of him. Keller has made four starts in his career and had some nice moments, but head coach Brent Pry said he remains a player the team hopes will emerge as a genuine star.

This spring has probably been the closest to that breakthrough for Keller, who figures to be the starter at middle linebacker in the fall, and Pry said Keller has been at his best during the Hokies’ scrimmages at Lane Stadium. Expect Keller to put on another show Saturday, this time with fans watching. — Hale

Most intriguing newcomer: QB Brendan Sorsby — Sorsby was thrown into the deep end as a redshirt freshman at Indiana last season, and while he didn’t exactly thrive, he did produce numbers similar to those of Cincinnati’s Emory Jones — Jones was 68th in Total QBR, Sorsby 71st — only Jones was a senior.

With a senior-heavy line and a skill corps that features not only a 1,000-yard rusher (Corey Kiner) and go-to receiver (senior Xzavier Henderson) but also a wave of intriguing transfers, such as Ohio State running back Evan Pryor and explosive UTEP slot man Tyrin Smith, Cincinnati’s offense should improve a decent amount if it has a quarterback ready to improve with it. Sorsby showed hints of being that guy last fall, and he could show a few more glimpses in the spring game. — Bill Connelly

Position battle to watch: Offensive line — New Cougars coach Willie Fritz, who replaces Dana Holgorsen, is quite the intriguing newcomer, but much of his offensive line will be as new as he is. The lone exception is right guard Tank Jenkins, who is returning for his seventh collegiate season (two at Texas A&M, four at Houston).

Houston will look to integrate three transfers (Dakota White, a 30-game starter at Lousiana Tech; Jake Wiley from UCLA; and Cedric Melton, who arrived from Ole Miss) along with five offensive linemen the Cougars signed this year. The good news is every position is up for grabs after a coaching change, but the bad news is that’s a lot of new faces at a key position after a 4-8 season in Houston’s first year in the Big 12. — Wilson

Most intriguing newcomer: WR Dorian Singer — Singer also fit this billing at USC a year ago. He was coming off a brilliant 2022 season at Arizona in which he caught 66 passes for 1,105 yards with six touchdowns and was named second-team All-Pac-12. But after transferring to USC last year to catch passes from the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams, Singer’s production regressed. He never quite got in sync with Williams the way other USC receivers did and finished with just 24 catches for 289 yards and three scores.

In hopes of regaining his 2022 form, Singer jumped back in the portal and landed at Utah, which was in desperate need of some offensive playmakers after finishing No. 120 in the country in receiving yards per game (165.8). — Kyle Bonagura

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For Georgia QB Carson Beck, being boring isn’t a bad thing




For Georgia QB Carson Beck, being boring isn't a bad thing

ATHENS, Ga. — Nobody has ever accused Georgia quarterback Carson Beck of going full “Tin Cup” and playing with go-for-broke style on the football field.

If anything, he prides himself on being boring. Yes, boring.

“If you watch guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and some of the greats, during those moments when you just couldn’t stop them, it’s because they’re always in the right place with the ball at the right time,” Beck said. “Sometimes it’s boring to watch, but it wins football games.

“I mean, obviously, it’s cool to do something spectacular, but I’m out there to win. And when you have the kind of talent I have around me at the University of Georgia, it’s about moving the ball down the field, getting first downs and throwing touchdowns. That’s the name of the game, and if it’s boring, I’ll take it.”

And yet, there is a little gunslinger in Beck, whose competitive fires burn deep but not always outwardly. His lifelong friend, Brendon Quinn, said Beck is hardly afraid to “go for the green” when the time is right.

Case in point: They were playing golf at Quinn’s home course, Queen’s Harbour Yacht and Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida, a few years ago and came to the 17th hole, a 525-yard, par-5 dogleg left with a large water hazard about 260 yards from the tee box.

Beck casually pulled out his driver. He might as well have been standing in the pocket, getting ready to deliver a strike on a crossing route as he addressed his ball.

“It’s gotta be 300 yards to clear the water,” Quinn told Beck.

Beck nodded and replied, “I know, but I’m going to hit driver and don’t really care where it goes.”

The ball shot off Beck’s club and disappeared.

“We’re all thinking it was a bad shot, that there’s no way it got over,” Quinn said. “Then we get on the other side of the water, and there it is sitting in the middle of the fairway, probably 310 yards. I’m like, ‘There’s literally no way he hit that ball,’ and he was like he always is — calm.

“Nothing ever gets to him, good or bad.”

For the record, Beck birdied the hole. He hit a 7-iron into the green and two-putted.

Once again, ho-hum. Fairways and greens. First downs and touchdowns.

“Carson’s been that person since he got here,” Georgia senior linebacker Smael Mondon Jr. said. “He’s always chill, always calm, always in control. The main thing is that he has confidence in himself, and he had that same confidence even before he played [here], before the whole world got to see him do it.”

EVEN FOR BECK, it’s surreal how much his world has changed in less than a year. He was the proverbial mop-up quarterback his first three seasons on the Georgia campus and attempted just 58 passes. He watched from the sideline as Stetson Bennett led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships in 2021 and 2022.

In August, when preseason camp began, Beck still hadn’t been named the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback, as he was competing for the job with Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton.

“It was assumed that I was going to be the starter, but nothing was set in stone,” Beck said. “My only focus was competing every day. I still have that same mindset, but it’s more a competing-against-myself type of thing now. How can I be better so that everybody else around me is better?

“Respect is always earned, and trust is always earned. And for me, to be able to do that my first season as a starter, to earn the respect and have the trust of my teammates, was everything.”

As Georgia prepares for its spring game Saturday at Sanford Stadium, Beck has gone from fighting to be the guy who replaces Bennett eight months ago to one of the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy and potentially the top quarterback taken in the 2025 NFL draft.

One NFL director of college scouting told ESPN that the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Beck was probably the No. 1 quarterback prospect at this point.

“He has all the tools — size, the athletic ability to operate in or out of the pocket, a big arm, can drive the ball into tight windows or throw with touch,” the scout said. “He also got better throughout the year.”

Beck passed for 3,941 yards last season, the third most of any FBS quarterback. He threw 24 touchdown passes and just six interceptions and also rushed for four touchdowns. His 72.4 completion percentage was a school record. He could have entered the NFL draft this year, but announced in mid-December that he was returning to Georgia.

“There was more I wanted to do here, more that this team can accomplish,” Beck said. “I’d worked hard to get to this point and waited my turn. I didn’t leave earlier when maybe I had chances to transfer, so I sure wasn’t going to leave now.”

His patience is rare in today’s college game, especially at the quarterback position, as more than 50% of last year’s FBS starters had transferred at least once in their careers. As an early enrollee in 2020, Beck was part of a Georgia quarterback room that included USC transfer JT Daniels, Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, junior college transfer Bennett and redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis. Through it all, Beck remained confident his time would come, and when it did, he knew he would be ready.

“If you’re scared of competition at Georgia, then you’re at the wrong place,” Beck said.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has pointed out several times that Beck was actually ahead of Bennett on the depth chart entering the 2021 season, when Daniels opened as the starter against Clemson. But when Daniels suffered an oblique injury, the Bulldogs turned to Bennett and not Beck to start against UAB. Bennett threw five touchdown passes and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Even then, Carson never really flinched,” Quinn said. “Yeah, he wanted to play and felt like he was good enough to play, but I’ve never known him to run from a challenge, and he wasn’t going to then.”

Similarly, Beck never flinched last season in taking over for Bennett and leading the Bulldogs to their third straight unbeaten regular season. Smart acknowledged the staff probably tried to protect him too much at the beginning of the season, but it soon became obvious Beck had everything he needed, mentally and physically, to take on whatever load offensive coordinator Mike Bobo wanted to place on him. At that point, the training wheels came off, which was never more apparent than the 27-20 comeback win over Auburn in Week 5.

In his first road start, Beck passed for 236 yards in the second half and threw the winning touchdown to Brock Bowers, all after the Bulldogs’ first possession of the second half ended in a fumble. Late in the fourth quarter, they had managed just 180 total yards before Beck led them on a tying, 98-yard touchdown drive.

“You’ve got to find calm in the chaos because, I mean, it can get chaotic out there, especially on the road,” Beck said.

Smart admitted it was difficult at times to gauge Beck’s inner fire because he is so cool and collected. Smart refers to Beck as “Mr. Mellow” because of his uncanny ability to never get rattled.

“He’s almost flatlined out there, non-emotional to the point that sometimes it drives me nuts because I’m the exact opposite,” Smart said. “Me and Bobo are strung so tightly as high school coaches’ kids, and then there’s this guy that throws touchdowns, throws an interception, and it’s the same.

“But it’s also his strength because when he does something wrong in a game, he’s not affected by it. He has great composure. You don’t want to blitz this guy because he just steps up and throws. He’s not afraid of anything. So many quarterbacks are not good because they’re worried about everything, like an emotional roller coaster.

“With Carson, sometimes I don’t know if his heart is beating.”

But just because Beck personifies “chill,” that doesn’t mean he’s adverse to mixing it up physically. Of all the winning plays Beck made last season for the Bulldogs, one that remains etched in Smart’s mind is a tackle.

Beck threw an interception in the fourth quarter of Georgia’s 37-20 win over Vanderbilt, and the Commodores’ CJ Taylor was racing down the left sideline for what looked to be an easy touchdown. Out of nowhere, Beck came flying in with a bone-jarring shoulder tackle to knock Taylor out of bounds at the 1-yard line and also knock the Vandy defender out of the game.

“I mean, he knocks the living dogs— out of the guy,” Smart said. “That’s Carson and a big reason the guys in the locker room love him.”

BECK IS THE antithesis of showy on the football field. That holds true off it as well, although he did treat himself this offseason to a new Lamborghini thanks to some lucrative NIL deals.

With his newfound fame, he has a hard time going anywhere in public without being besieged by autograph seekers, fans wanting pictures or simply people wanting to hang out with Georgia’s newest star quarterback. Beck joked that his DoorDash bill has increased exponentially.

“It’s different, but I’m always going to sign or take a picture if someone wants to,” Beck said. “It’s part of being a quarterback in the SEC. I remind myself of that, that a lot of people would love to be in this position.”

Beck, 21, has been able to insulate himself with help from some longtime friends from the Jacksonville area. None of his four roommates, including Quinn, play football. Quinn moved to Athens in February and is an online student at Florida, Georgia’s bitter rival. The two have known each other since they were toddlers, when their parents were neighbors. Two other close friends, Cole Macklin and Zach Postlethwait, are set to move in for Beck’s final season. Postlethwait is finishing up school at Florida State.

Quinn grew up a Florida fan, but wore Georgia gear at last year’s game and will again this year. But after that, he’s joked with Beck that he’s burning his Georgia apparel.

“It’s cool to live with guys you’ve known pretty much your whole life,” Beck said. “They know you in a way that you’re not just a football player, guys you can confide in. There’s a point where it’s too much football and you need time with different people.”

One of their escapes is golf, something Beck really got into around the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Quinn can’t remember a sport (or anything, for that matter) that Beck didn’t excel at when they were growing up.

Beck initially committed to play baseball at Florida as a sophomore in high school. He was a pitcher with a big-time arm, but realized his future was in football.

“I guess baseball sort of got boring,” Beck said, flashing a sheepish smile.

He later committed to Alabama for football before ultimately landing with Georgia despite Florida making another strong push.

“I couldn’t say no to Kirby Smart and a chance to play for a Georgia program I knew was on the verge of big things,” Beck said.

Quinn was convinced his friend also was on the verge of big things. They’ve competed against or with each other in everything from youth baseball to video games. Quinn moved to Colorado for six years when he was 10, but the two quickly reconnected when Quinn returned to Florida.

And even as they grew older, Quinn said Beck was still intent on making everything a competition. By the time Beck enrolled at Georgia, Quinn had become proficient at solving a Rubik’s Cube in less than a minute. Within a couple of weeks, he and Beck were having competitions to see who could solve one faster.

“He got me the majority of time, but I held my own,” Quinn said. “That just shows you how smart he is and how quickly he processes things, qualities all the great quarterbacks have.”

Beck flashed that greatness often last season and was at his best against the best teams. He was 5-1 against top-20 opponents with a 73.9 completion percentage, 1,693 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, the SEC’s leader in career passing yards (13,166) and touchdown passes (121), has been high on Beck since he stepped on campus. Murray remembers a conversation he had with Bobo, also a former Georgia quarterback, when Bobo returned to the program as an analyst in 2022.

“This kid is the real deal. He throws the ball so effortlessly,” Bobo told Murray.

Murray didn’t need to be sold.

“Oh, I know. When he gets his chance, he’s going to be a superstar,” Murray, a college football analyst for ESPN, responded.

The best news for Georgia fans, Murray said, is there’s a lot more out there for Beck, who had the No. 4 passing grade among all FBS quarterbacks last season by Pro Football Focus. The top two were Bo Nix and Jayden Daniels.

Murray heard some of the frustration from Georgia fans early last season that Beck didn’t take enough shots downfield and seemed content to work the shorter routes.

“But his understanding of how to play the position of quarterback was so impressive,” Murray said, “especially as a first-year starter, and being savvy enough to take the checkdown, make the shorter throws and not hang on and hang on until all hell breaks loose.

“At the same time, you can’t play the quarterback position if you’re afraid to make mistakes. You have to take chances, smart chances, calculated chances at certain times. That comes from experience, and I think you’ll see Carson continue to take completions, understand he’s got a great team around him, but also be a little riskier at certain points of the game and create more explosive plays.”

Beck has heard the narrative that he will have to do even more this season, especially with the loss of his top target (tight end Bowers), three of the team’s top four pass-catchers and the Bulldogs’ top two rushers from a year ago.

Granted, there’s no replacing an automatic first down like Bowers, but Beck is eager to hit the field Aug. 31 against Clemson with his new supporting cast. He thinks transfer receivers Dominic Lovett and Rara Thomas will be even better in their second seasons in the system, and even though Bowers is headed to the NFL, there won’t be any shortage of talent at the tight end position with Oscar Delp, Lawson Luckie and Stanford transfer Ben Yurosek. Moreover, this could be one of Smart’s best offensive lines at Georgia.

“All I can tell you is what I’ve seen this spring, and I’m super excited about what these guys are going to bring to the table, especially in our second year together with Coach Bobo,” Beck said. “Brock Bowers may not be out there, but how many Brock Bowers are out there, period.”

Beck still winces at the mention of the Bulldogs’ loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game last season, which kept Georgia from pursuing a historic third straight national title. He refused to watch any of the College Football Playoff games. The team flew back to Athens after the 63-3 dismantling of Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, and Beck was back home in Jacksonville by New Year’s Day.

He was in no mood to watch football. He even left a friend’s house because they were all watching the playoff games. He returned to his house, fell asleep and said he didn’t even look at social media for updates.

“Just couldn’t do it,” Beck said. “Didn’t care. Didn’t want to watch. I was so mad. I felt like we should have been there. We didn’t play our best game and put it in the committee’s hands. I was pissed off. We all were, and that’s the way we’ve gone about our business ever since.”

Amid all the talk following the loss to Alabama about whether Beck would turn pro, plus chatter about his new Lamborghini and the NIL money he was raking in, Beck never lost sight of why he came to Georgia in the first place.

Sure, the perks are nice, but winning is even better.

“I’m pretty miserable when I lose at anything,” Beck said.

Quinn has seen all sides of Beck for the better part of the past two decades. He hears the wide range of adjectives to describe his buddy — mellow, ultracompetitive, boring, low key, unflappable — and adds his own.


“There’s a lot going on around Carson right now, a lot he has to deal with,” Quinn said. “People talk about the Lamborghini, his NIL deals, all that outside stuff. Carson’s here to play football. He’s not here for anything else.

“He wants to win a national championship, have a chance to go to the NFL and maybe win a Heisman Trophy. Those are his goals, and I’d say in that order.”

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NHL Power Rankings: Preseason expectations vs. regular season reality for all 32 teams




NHL Power Rankings: Preseason expectations vs. regular season reality for all 32 teams

Less than a week remains in the 2023-24 NHL season, so we have a great sense of which teams overperformed, which teams underperformed and which teams were who we thought they were.

For this week’s edition of the power rankings — closing out the regular season — we’re comparing each club’s preseason expectation (using the standings point over/under totals from ESPN BET as a proxy) to their actual number of standings points on April 12.

How we rank: A panel of ESPN hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors sends in a 1-32 poll based on the games through Wednesday, which generates our master list here.

Note: Previous ranking for each team refers to the previous edition, published April 5. Points percentages and standings points are through Thursday’s games.

Previous ranking: 1
Points percentage: 68.13%

Preseason O/U: 105.5
Actual: 109

There were high expectations for this club, and Dallas stayed slightly above pace all season. It’s made the Stars into an odds-on favorite to compete for the Stanley Cup. Will they exceed expectations on that journey as well?

Remaining games: vs. SEA (April 13), vs. STL (April 17)

Previous ranking: 2
Points percentage: 68.75%

Preseason O/U: 103.5
Actual: 110

This team was supposed to be good; in reality, the Rangers have been great. Whether it was the coaching change or star performances (from Artemi Panarin in particular) or New York settling into a solid identity early on, the Rangers found a formula to set them apart.

Remaining games: vs. NYI (April 13), vs. OTT (April 15)

Previous ranking: 3
Points percentage: 67.72%

Preseason O/U: 108.5
Actual: 107

Carolina began this regular season in such strange fashion — allowing 33 goals in their first seven games? Yikes! — that we couldn’t help but wonder whether the Hurricanes were tracking towards disaster. Hardly. Carolina corrected to meet expectations and, after a busy trade deadline adding Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jake Guentzel, the Canes look stronger than ever going into the postseason.

Remaining games: @ STL (April 12), April 14 (April 14), @ CBJ (April 16)

Previous ranking: 5
Points percentage: 66.46%

Preseason O/U: 89.5
Actual: 104

Rick Tocchet’s club takes the cake as this season’s largest overachiever. The Canucks have been beastly in ways the oddsmakers couldn’t predict — Quinn Hughes as a Norris Trophy front-runner? — and they’ve maintained a sharp edge for most of the season. The next task is making a mark this postseason.

Remaining games: @ EDM (April 13), vs. CGY (April 16), @ WPG (April 18)

Previous ranking: 4
Points percentage: 67.72%

Preseason O/U: 99.5
Actual: 107

The retirement of Patrice Bergeron tempered expectations for the B’s, but they have proven skeptics wrong by blowing past their predicted pace to sit among the league’s top teams. It’s the Bruins’ consistency that makes them a perennial threat, and after the sting of last season’s first-round playoff loss, Boston is poised to turn up the heat this postseason.

Remaining games: @ PIT (April 13), @ WSH (April 15), vs. OTT (April 16)

Previous ranking: 6
Points percentage: 65.82%

Preseason O/U: 107.5
Actual: 104

Colorado had another strong campaign that mirrored preseason expectations — but that success was hard-won, too. The Avalanche weathered injuries to key players and their goaltending — particularly from starter Alexander Georgiev — was uneven at best. Still, Colorado stayed closely on pace. Impressive.

Remaining games: vs. WPG (April 13), @ VGK (April 14), vs. EDM (April 18)

Previous ranking: 8
Points percentage: 66.25%

Preseason O/U: 99
Actual: 106

Matthew Tkachuk & Co. likely spooked some oddsmakers with all the offseason surgeries to top forwards and defensemen. The Panthers punched back to emerge as one of the NHL’s best teams this season, with a rejuvenated Sergei Bobrovsky, unstoppable Sam Reinhart and enviable depth combining to make Florida better than advertised.

Remaining games: vs. BUF (April 13), vs. TOR (April 16)

Previous ranking: 7
Points percentage: 65.58%

Preseason O/U: 106.5
Actual: 99

An underwhelming start to the season was so bad it cost Jay Woodcroft his job as head coach. The Oilers turned it around under Kris Knoblauch though, aided by the excellence of Connor McDavid and Stuart Skinner, specifically. Even if Edmonton doesn’t quite hit the mark, at least they didn’t get buried (too far) under it.

Remaining games: vs. ARI (April 12), vs. VAN (April 13), vs. SJ (April 15), @ ARI (April 17), @ COL (April 18)

Previous ranking: 9
Points percentage: 63.92%

Preseason O/U: 106.5
Actual: 101

Toronto fumbled around enough (with inconsistent goaltending, special teams and defensive play) to fall short of the oddsmakers’ high opinions. Could the adversity from their regular season ultimately fuel the Leafs’ postseason goals? Stay tuned.

Remaining games: vs. DET (April 13), @ FLA (April 16), @ TB (April 17)

Previous ranking: 13
Points percentage: 65.82%

Preseason O/U: 92.5
Actual: 104

The Jets showed the potential to far exceed any preseason predictions at times, and they will finish ahead of their preseason over/under. But it was a lack of consistency holding Winnipeg back from reaching higher altitudes in the regular season — a problem the Jets hope to have licked when soaring into the playoffs.

Remaining games: @ COL (April 13), vs. SEA (April 16), vs. VAN (April 18)

Previous ranking: 12
Points percentage: 60.13%

Preseason O/U: 87
Actual: 95

Music City’s hockey team has been the feel-good hit of the season’s second half. The Predators’ prospects looked bleak in the beginning, but enough clicked for Nashville to put them past their expected points pace and right into the postseason mix — was the canceled U2 concert the catalyst?

Remaining games: @ CHI (April 12), vs. CBJ (April 13), @ PIT (April 15)

Previous ranking: 11
Points percentage: 60.76%

Preseason O/U: 93
Actual: 96

The Lightning hitting the over in the final stretch of a semi-tumultuous regular season very on-brand for them. This team just knows how to finish — but can they do it again in the playoffs?

Remaining games: @ WSH (April 13), vs. BUF (April 15), vs. TOR (April 17)

Previous ranking: 14
Points percentage: 60.13%

Preseason O/U: 100
Actual: 95

The Kings are playoff-bound again, but Los Angeles let itself go too often this season to be an expected, top-tier Western Conference contender. The Kings wrestled with underperforming stars, changed coaching and racked up a few too many losing streaks to hit the triple-digit mark in points.

Remaining games: vs. ANA (April 13), vs. MIN (April 15), vs. CHI (April 18)

Previous ranking: 20
Points percentage: 56.33%

Preseason O/U: 93
Actual: 89

The Isles haven’t quite reached full potential in a season stacked with familiar problems, from a dearth of scoring to general lack of direction. The coaching change to Patrick Roy was an attempted shot in the arm, and the Islanders do control their playoff fate after looking much more focused in recent weeks.

Remaining games: @ NYR (April 13), @ NJ (April 15), vs. PIT (April 17)

Previous ranking: 10
Points percentage: 58.97%

Preseason O/U: 103.5
Actual: 92

The defending champs dipped into an inevitable midseason, post-Cup hangover that threw the Golden Knights off their preferred track. It wasn’t quite the injury-riddled campaign of years past — although Vegas did notably lose Jack Eichel and Mark Stone for stretches — but the Golden Knights kept adding (that Tomas Hertl trade was a jaw-dropper) as they look towards a repeat Cup run.

Remaining games: vs. MIN (April 12), vs. COL (April 14), vs. CHI (April 16), vs. ANA (April 18)

Previous ranking: 21
Points percentage: 54.43%

Preseason O/U: 97
Actual: 86

Pittsburgh underachieved for, oh, about 70 games — and then something happened to the Penguins. It started with Sidney Crosby refusing to be denied another shot at the postseason, and everyone else followed suit to put Pittsburgh back in the race. The Penguins won’t meet that preseason points threshold but if they secure a playoff berth we’re pretty sure they won’t mind.

Remaining games: vs. BOS (April 13), vs. NSH (April 15), @ NYI (April 17)

Previous ranking: 16
Points percentage: 56.33%

Preseason O/U: 83.5
Actual: 87

The Blues managed to get in the playoff race with an accelerated second-half points pace — which could have been even stronger if St. Louis didn’t play down to the competition on several occasions. Three loses to San Jose this season? Ouch.

Remaining games: vs. CAR (April 12), vs. SEA (April 14), @ DAL (April 17)

Previous ranking: 15
Points percentage: 53.80%

Preseason O/U: 85
Actual: 85

Washington has walked a tightrope all season. Where the Capitals fall, well — it’s fairly close to the expectation! Washington leaned on young players to complement Alex Ovechkin and the other veterans, and that’s naturally led to growing pains under first-year head coach Spencer Carbery. And yet, the Capitals remain in the playoff race to the bitter end.

Remaining games: vs. TB (April 13), vs. BOS (April 15), @ PHI (April 16)

Previous ranking: 18
Points percentage: 53.80%

Preseason O/U: 86.5
Actual: 85

Dylan Larkin and friends are right on the (preseason) money. But will that be enough to put the Red Wings back in the playoffs? It’s been a dogfight in the Eastern Conference to secure those final slots. When GM Steve Yzerman stood pat at the deadline it was with a belief in Detroit’s current potential. A postseason berth would prove that prediction right.

Remaining games: @ TOR (April 13), vs. MTL (April 15), @ MTL (April 16)

Previous ranking: 17
Points percentage: 53.21%

Preseason O/U: 97
Actual: 83

Minnesota quickly fell short of its own expectations this season (hence the November coaching change) but when injuries to critical players kept piling up there was simply no salvaging things. The Wild can seek better odds (and outcomes) next season.

Remaining games: @ VGK (April 12), @ SJ (April 13), @ LA (April 15), vs. SEA (April 18)

Previous ranking: 24
Points percentage: 50.64%

Preseason O/U: 92
Actual: 79

Seattle went from being the league’s No. 6 goal-scoring team a season ago to No. 29 this season. Clearly no one predicted that sort of tailspin by the Kraken.

Remaining games: @ DAL (April 13), @ STL (April 14), @ WPG (April 16), @ MIN (April 18)

Previous ranking: 22
Points percentage: 50.63%

Preseason O/U: 106
Actual: 81

After a series of unfortunate events — including significant injuries to Dougie Hamilton and Jack Hughes, along with lackluster goaltending — New Jersey slid well below expectations as one of the season’s most disappointing teams. The Devils are stocked with young talent, but were doomed by compounding issues that even a coaching switch and trade deadline moves couldn’t fix.

Remaining games: @ PHI (April 13), vs. NYI (April 15)

Previous ranking: 19
Points percentage: 53.13%

Preseason O/U: 74
Actual: 85

It surprised many that Philly was in a playoff spot for much of the season. That the Flyers faded into the spring (and out of the postseason hunt) was closer to their anticipated outcome. Still, it’s a positive for Philadelphia’s future to know they’re closer to turning a corner than we predicted.

Remaining games: vs. NJ (April 13), vs. WSH (April 16)

Previous ranking: 23
Points percentage: 50.63%

Preseason O/U: 94
Actual: 81

Some believed this was the year for the Sabres to end the NHL’s longest playoff drought; that won’t be happening. Scoring struggles, goaltending issues and, yes, too many injuries, doomed Buffalo to yet another long offseason.

Remaining games: @ FLA (April 13), @ TB (April 15)

Previous ranking: 25
Points percentage: 48.08%

Preseason O/U: 95
Actual: 75

Calgary immediately underperformed with just four wins in its first 14 games. It set the Flames up for a seesaw of a season, where strong stretches inevitably faded into losing lulls. Oh, and stars like Jonathan Huberdeau still barely hitting double-digit goal totals aren’t exactly helping Calgary excel. The Flames can only hope the current youth movement pays more dividends next season.

Remaining games: @ ANA (April 12), vs. ARI (April 14), @ VAN (April 16), vs. SJ (April 18)

Previous ranking: 28
Points percentage: 46.20%

Preseason O/U: 77.5
Actual: 71

The Coyotes muddled their way to another mediocre season, with news this week that this could be their final one in Arizona.

Remaining games: @ EDM (April 12), @ CGY (April 14), vs. EDM (April 17)

Previous ranking: 26
Points percentage: 46.84%

Preseason O/U: 93.5
Actual: 74

A team that underwent many off-ice changes within the past 12 months, Ottawa never came close to reaching the expectations set for them — by anyone, really. The Senators said goodbye to their general manager and coach, dealt with the drama of a gambling scandal and are finding their way under new ownership and executives. Now, how will the Senators translate all those adjustments into success?

Remaining games: vs. MTL (April 13), @ NYR (April 15), @ BOS (April 16)

Previous ranking: 27
Points percentage: 46.20%

Preseason O/U: 73
Actual: 73

Montreal stayed the course in its rebuild and it kept them on track with where the oddsmakers expected — and that’s right near the bottom of the standings. Again.

Remaining games: @ OTT (April 13), @ DET (April 15), vs. DET (April 16)

Previous ranking: 29
Points percentage: 40.00%

Preseason O/U: 75
Actual: 64

Due to a number of factors, Columbus failed to be even average this season. That’s what happens when the infirmary fills up with most of a team’s top players. It also doesn’t help that they went through a coaching change (before training camp even began), and are now searching for a new full-time general manager. Nowhere to go but up!

Remaining games: @ NSH (April 13), vs. CAR (April 16)

Previous ranking: 31
Points percentage: 36.08%

Preseason O/U: 66.5
Actual: 57

GM Pat Verbeek took his team harder into rebuild mode than some envisioned. Where there was once Trevor Zegras as a beacon towards the Ducks’ future, Zegras trade rumors popped up instead. That, in a nutshell, shows where Anaheim is at in the process of outlining its next chapter.

Remaining games: vs. CGY (April 12), @ LA (April 13), @ VGK (April 18)

Previous ranking: 30
Points percentage: 32.69%

Preseason O/U: 71
Actual: 51

The Blackhawks might have been slightly less terrible if Connor Bedard hadn’t missed almost six weeks with a fractured jaw. That hurt (in more ways than one). The Blackhawks don’t appear in any rush to rebuild, though so it will be interesting to see how highly the bookmakers project them for 2024-25.

Remaining games: vs. NSH (April 12), vs. CAR (April 14), @ VGK (April 16), @ LA (April 18)

Previous ranking: 32
Points percentage: 29.75%

Preseason O/U: 64.5
Actual: 47

San Jose overachieved at underachieving. That might be the best description for the Sharks this season.

Remaining games: vs. MIN (April 13), @ EDM (April 15), @ CGY (April 18)

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