ESPN+ has found a format that works for series that dive into the history of out favorite sports. We’ve seen it with Peyton’s Places covering the NFL, we’ve seen it with Abby’s Places covering soccer and now Eli’s Places is taking us deep into the world of College Football.
In the fourth episode, titled “The Only Autograph That Matters,” Eli explores the nature of recruiting in the world of College Football. He meets with LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron and even gets some recruiting advice from his brother, Peyton.
The episode opens with Eli looking through old recruitment letters he received while he was in high school. It doesn’t take long to realize these are not actual letters from schools that recruited Eli, just props for a gag. Still the gag lands, especially when Eli reads the 1(800) number from the University of Kentucky.
Eli then meets with Tom Lemming, who he calls the “Mel Kiper of College Football recruiting.” Lemming explains that he his actually working on his profile of Eli’s nephew, Arch. We then see a clip form the movie The Blind Side, in which Lemming was featured.
Lemming then explains that he was the creator of the 5-star system when it comes to rating College Football recruits. He also mentions that he started the trend of college recruits putting on the hat of the school they committed to while making their announcement.
Eli then brings us back to the first episode of his show, recalling the first football game ever between Rutgers and Princeton. They then get into the history of recruiting and Lemming credits Knute Rockne as the first to ever recruit players.
Lemming reveals that Randy Moss is the highest-rated recruit he’s ever seen and J.J. Watt is the most surprising. Eli then brings up that Peyton still complains about being number two on Lemming’s list in 1994, behind Josh Booty. He then points out that he was actually number 17 on Lemming’s 1999 list.
Lemming tells Eli to go to Yale to look up James Hogan to continue his deep dive on the history of recruiting. Hogan was Yale’s top star and, as a recruiting effort, he was awarded a monopoly on selling top-quality cigarettes on campus. Eli tries his salesmanship skills, but i doesn’t go so well.
Eli then meets with legendary running back Eric Dickerson to discuss his recruiting story. Dickerson had committed to Texas A&M and soon after, was seen driving a new car. When Dickerson was constantly asked if he was given the car as an illegal recruiting tool, he eventually changed his mind and committed to SMU instead. Angry A&M fans burned Dickerson’s car in retaliation. Dickerson set the story straight, telling Eli his grandmother bought the car.
Eli then heads on a recruiting trip of his own to LSU to meet with Head Coach Ed Orgeron. Peyton insisted on tagging along as Eli’s chaperone and of course sported his Tennessee orange. Orgeron shows the Manning boys around LSU’s facilities in a mock recruiting tour that not only provides plenty of jokes, but also provides a window into what these kinds of visits are like.
Eli then sits down with Orgeron over a plate of crawfish. Orgeron tells a story about having crawfish brought from one restaurant to another while recruiting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. He also talks about being good friends with Lemming and Eli explains that Orgeron not only successfully recruited Michael Oher, the subject of The Blind Side, but also recruited The Rock to Miami.
Orgeron shares some funny stories with Eli, including one time as a player when he put a worm in his mouth to fire up his teammates. He doesn’t exactly explain how that worked, but it certainly made for a story.
The episode comes to a close with Eli looking at how much recruiting has changed over the years, and how those old letters he found in a box at home are a thing of the past.
You can watch Eli’s Places on ESPN+ now. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $5.99 a month and can cancel at any time.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”