Sideline swag became all the rage around college football a few years ago, beginning with the Miami Hurricanes’ Turnover Chain. Everything from thrones to swords to wrestling robes have popped — some ill-fated ideas, like garbage cans, not so much.
At Elon, creating a turnover produces something a bit longer-lasting: Welcome to "The Wall."
“We were trying to find a way to recognize our kids and motivate our kids to get the ball back,” said Phoenix coach Tony Trisciani.
Motivation comes in the form of Elon’s own, unique spin on sideline swag. Every time a defender forces a turnover, his photo is taken on the sideline with a life-size picture frame.
Stamped prominently with the hashtag #MayhemDefense, as well as Elon’s team motto: AED (Attitude, Effort, Discipline), the frame is like a living Instagram filter. Fitting, because every new addition to The Wall goes onto Twitter and Instagram, where it lives for long as the servers keep running.
But this celebration of playmaking doesn’t end online.
“[The idea] really grew on us — through social media, the whole frame deal, we just kind of built on that,” Trisciani said.
Elon did indeed build on the idea in a literal sense.
“In the locker room, there’s the Get The Ball Wall. That picture goes up on the wall in an eight-by-10.”
Football is a game that requires physical and mental endurance, dedication and aggression. But it’s still ultimately a game. And celebrations, whether an organized team thing like The Wall or a spontaneous reaction in the course of the game, demonstrate the joy that comes from playing the game.
On the other side of the ball at Elon, running back Jaylan Thomas’s touchdown celebration has become something of a signature. He first debuted "The Shrug" in a win over Richmond last season, and as promised before the 2019 campaign kicked off, it’s made a return this year.
Jaylan Thomas is out here snatching ankles. pic.twitter.com/3YPlhzC6hF— FloFootball (@FloFootball) September 7, 2019
Richmond defensive end Maurice Jackson isn’t known for any one celebration. His repertoire of demonstrations almost matches the array of game-changing moves that elicit them.
So far this season, Jackson’s posed for pantomime photos after a scoop-and-score…
…and paid homage to Robert Quinn – even if the end result may have looked more like the Weekend at Bernie’s-inspired dance move from earlier this decade.
Didn’t mean for this to look like the Bernie, was trying to steal Robert Quinn’s old celebration, but yea I’ll run with it ?? https://t.co/xZxQZGbVqz— Reece ?? (@youngboul_Reece) October 12, 2019
Quinn is one of the premier revelators in the NFL, but Jackson cited Von Miller as the League’s current standard.
“His sack celebrations are always the best because they are funny and show he’s just having fun playing the game, and that’s what I want to show as well,” he said.
So out of all of Jackson’s celebrations, which one is his favorite?
“I don’t even know, to be honest, I’ve done a lot of celebrations the past two years,” he said.
Yeah, that’s understandable for a player with 17 sacks in the last season-and-change.
“My personal favorite might be against [UAlbany] this season blowing kisses,” he added. “The crowd was wild that night so I wanted them to know that I heard them and wanted to put on a show.”
Richmond’s defensive line as a whole knows how to let loose when the situation’s right. Credit position coach Brandon Lacy, in his first season with the Spiders.
Lacy brought with him from Southeastern Louisiana some sideline swag that rewards the defense in the form of a pro-wrestling championship belt. While other programs have title belts for turnovers, Jackson said Richmond’s is a rotating honor among the defensive linemen that recognizes not just one specific thing, but a variety of contributions made to the team.
After wins, Lacy’s Twitter account @CoachBLacy features the "Roll Call." Reminiscent of the Hot 97 Ed Lover, Dr. Dre and Lisa G. radio bits of the ‘90s, the Richmond Roll Call opens the floor to freestyle raps that celebrate accomplishments from the day.
@_witnessMyrise drops the victory roll call. Not a bad day at the office for @SpiderFootball & #DBlock this week. 4 sacks, 6 TFL’s and a game sealing INT for #Darkside. Road wins are hard to get. Enjoy tonight then back in the lab tomorrow #Roadwarriors #OneRichmond #RollCall pic.twitter.com/wLtaizumt1— Coach Brandon Lacy (@CoachBLacy) October 12, 2019
Music plays a big part in Richmond’s celebrations, and none more impressive than from music major Kobie Turner.
“I was in the locker room, and they were playing some rap music, and I was just messing around. I don’t know, I guess I was thinking about conducting that day, so I just started dancing with it,” he said. “In high school, one of the choirs I was in my senior year, my teacher allowed me to conduct one of the songs.
“So that was the basis. So yeah, I just started messing around with it and thought, ‘That would be a pretty cool celebration,’” he said.
And Turner was right. His sack against UAlbany prompted a conducting of the sideline celebration.
Q2 - 5:19 | ? 13, ? 13— Richmond Football (@SpiderFootball) October 5, 2019
This time its ? Kobie Turner ? up the middle! Spiders with another sack, their 5th of the first half and UAlbany will punt from its 1. Richmond will take over at the UAlbany 28#OneRichmond pic.twitter.com/eQrkSbKcZc
The Colonial has seen other musical-inspired celebrations. One such demonstration came courtesy of Villanova’s Changa Hodge.
His 45-yard touchdown reception in Week 0 against Colgate was a culmination of hard work put in during the offseason – both on his craft as a wide receiver…
…and as a pretty mean air guitarist.