#1 PJ Mbanasor
Class: RS Junior
Hometown: Pflugerville, TX
Thoughts: Before we get too deep into this can I go ahead and trademark the “Mbanasorus Rex” nickname? I haven’t seen anyone else use this and thus hence force and from now on any reference to Mbanasorus Rex should be accredited to yours truly. We can call his side of the field ‘Jurassic Park’ because if they throw his direction “hold onto your butts” or “your drive is about to be extinct”. Maybe two or three folks in the student section can throw on those T-Rex inflatable costumes and put “Mbanasorus Rex’ on the back???
We’re just spit balling here folks, It’s a work in progress…
(The first big play he makes you better believe he’s getting a T-Rex gif tweet from me!)
Unfortunately for PJ it probably feels as if he hasn’t played D-I ball since the Jurassic period. After heading to Oklahoma out of High School the Top 100 player nationally got some limited work as a true freshman due to a couple guys in their secondary being banged up and a suspension. He saw action in 10 games back in 2015 grabbing seven tackles and recording a pass break up, and then he didn’t see a single snap in 2016. PJ decided his talents would probably be better utilized in a different location and the Cards snatched him up back in 2017. As we all know, due to NCAA transfer rules PJ was forced to sit out ANOTHER season to regain his eligibility and didn’t see a single snap in 2017 either. So, the extremely talented and extremely hungry Mbanasor has waited almost three years since getting to play in a real game, and if the last few months are any indication, he is ready to ball out. Typically this may be where I drop in a highlight tape or a big play but what impressed me the most this offseason about PJ is his workmanlike demeanor and his attitude toward always trying to get better. A little of that was being displayed in the interview below…
Petrino and Grady Brown (and me) have both been really excited about what the secondary is shaping up to be this year. PJ came in with the opportunity to get one of the starting jobs occupied by Jaire or Trumaine and did exactly that. Mbanasor was announced as the Week 1 starter against Alabama and unless something unforeseen happens I think he keeps that spot for the next 26 games. Through the spring, the summer, and now into the fall Mbanasor has walked, talked, and played like a leader and a young man looking to make the best of a new opportunity. Losing a first round draft pick (Jaire) and a four year starter (Tru) is never going to be easy to absorb, but Mbanasor should make that transition significantly less painful.
Sweet Tweet: No twiiter for the Jurassic giant, so instead….let’s just break some crap over each other’s backs!!!
#1 Chatarius Atwell
Position: Wide Receiver
Hometown: Miami, FL
Thoughts: Probably only a handful of fans recognize the name Chatarius Atwell, but anyone who’s read a practice recap or watched a Petrino press conference in the last four months knows good and well exactly who “Tutu” Atwell is. He’s small, he’s athletic, and to the surprise of absolutely no one he’s also very fast. Tutu played QB in high school racking up crazy numbers both in the air and on the ground finishing his career with over 4,200 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards. If that wasn’t enough, a former Miami Northwestern Alum has already offered his ringing endorsement…
The Cards recruited Tutu as an athlete but we’ve already heard stories about him throwing a few balls during the spring to help fill in when they needed another QB during practice (once a QB, always a QB). While his arm may not have turned many heads in the Spring the rest of his play certainly did. We weren’t a full week into camp before we heard Petrino spouting off about “tutu’s” more than the program director over at the Louisville ballet (last day, cut me some slack). Atwell stepped onto campus back in January and appeared to be in midseason form according to Petrino and Galloway. He was quite literally making plays from day one and forcing the coaches to take notice. While I wasn’t there personally I assume it looked something like what he was doing to these poor tortoises back in high school…
Tutu had a solid fall camp and continued to receive praise from the staff for his agility and elusiveness in the open field. Petrino has him as the #3 guy at the ‘Y’ Wide Receiver spot but I fully expect him to see a few snaps against Alabama. Tutu also got a few looks as a retrun man during camp but I think Petrino feels more comfortable putting the more experienced player in Rodjay Burns back there early. He has shown over time he’ll put a freshman back there as Russ Yeast and Seth Dawkins both got opportunities in their freshman seasons but you don’t want a freshman mistake to cost you an opportunity against the #1 team in the country.
Just as I highlighted with Josh Johnson and Javian Hawkins Tutu appears to have the intangibles to be the next Traveon Samuel type athlete, a player I loved from day one as well. I’m a huge fan of the 6-4 guy who can go up and high point the ball, or the big tight end who can fight off linebackers to pull in a catch, but nothing gets me juiced up like a 5-9 150 pounder putting the defense on skates and turning a 8 yard slant into a 50 yard touchdown. With the exception of my affinity for special teams, and of course my big O-line bears down in the trenches, I couldn’t think of any better way to wrap up another 100 days than with a shifty playmaking receiver.
This is Tutu rocking the state championship ring he won last season…here’s hoping Atwell picks up some more championship hardware in his four seasons with the Cards.
As with every other year please come back tomorrow for a quick recap of the 2018 Cardinal Countdown highlighting some of the posts I enjoyed typing the most this offseason, and by all means please go check out the four Q&A sessions I was involved in the last couple weeks here, here, here, and here, getting us all prepped for Week 1. See you all back her tomorrow to put a big bow on this thing and FINALLY get this season underway.