It Formed in a Dorm: How These NFL rising QB/WR duos launched their budding labels in college
Def Jam Recordings is an iconic music label that was formed in a college dorm by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. This duo may be the most important in the history of the genre of Hip Hop, and also music as a whole. They went on to shape how the game was played in the music industry. In the game of football, there are 3 budding QB/WR duos who also shared campuses doing a similar thing in the NFL for their respective franchises.
The Miami Dolphins duo of Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle both attended the University of Alabama where championships are the only goal. For the Miami Dolphins that is a great foundation to have since they haven't won a chip since 1974.
As a true Freshman in 2018, Tua stepped in for teammate Jalen Hurts and delivered a strike to now Philadelphia Eagle Devonta Smith to win the National Championship in overtime. The fact that he was sacked for major loss on the previous play showed that he had an uncanny amount of fortitude for his age. Miami selected Tua with 5th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and started him after 6 games, in which the team finished the season with a 10-6 record falling just short of the playoffs.
After a solid rookie campaign by Tua, The Dolphins elected to choose Waddle with sixth pick in the 2021 Draft and pair him up with his former Crimson Tide partner. The Dolphins had a 9-8 record this year and fell just short of the playoffs again. Tua was injured against the Buffalo Bills early in the season which caused him to miss several games. The team struggled until the quarterback's return in which his connection with Waddle was apparent and growing.
Miami fired Head Coach Brian Flores at the conclusion of this season and have yet to replace him. The new leadership will inherit a team with a solid nucleus which will include a quarterback who's starting record is 13-8 although he has been injured. With the National Championship pedigree of Tua and Waddle, Miami is a budding label with potential to be a mainstream hit.
The second QB/WR duo that has qualified for 2022 NFL playoffs is Jalen Hurts and 2020 Heisman Trophy Winner Devonta Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles, who also suited up for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Eagles finished with a 9-8 record to finish as the 7th seed in the NFC playoffs. The duo won a National Championship in 2018 together. Smith went on to win another title in 2021 with the team before being drafted by the Eagles to be paired up with Hurts.
The Eagles are coming off a Super Bowl win in 2018, so the championship vibes are still lingering in the locker room. When Hurts and Smith connected for a touchdown in the first game of the 2021 season, you can see the synchronicity between the two that lead Alabama to a title. The campus connection will take on Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs. Brady who is looking for his 8th Super Bowl victory, was the QB that Philadelphia defeated in the 2018 game while he was a member of the New England Patriots. Regardless of the outcome, the experience and achievement of this young duo so early bids well for the Philadelphia label for going into the future.
The final budding duo to mention is former LSU Tiger and current Cincinnati Bengal teammates Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase. While in Baton Rouge, The Bayou Boyz broke records in route to a 2020 National Championship victory over the Clemson Tigers. Burrow threw 6 TD passes and Chase finished with 221 yards on 9 receptions and 2 TDs. These two may have been the most dangerous duo any campus has ever seen.
The Cincinnati Bengals selected Burrow with the 1st overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft signaling their rebuild after moving on from longtime QB Andy Dalton and Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Burrow showed franchise leading capability before a season ending knee injury shortened his rookie campaign.
With questions about the protection of Burrow, there was much speculation about the Bengals drafting an offensive linemen. Whoever made the decision to draft Chase realized that he was the best protection Burrow could have. They've played 100K people stadiums together at LSU and proven that the moment won't ever get too big for them. Chase has set Bengals rookie records for receiving and sure fire Pro Bowler. This duo is approaching the mainstream and they are doing it at a record speed.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to be like the 49ers label of the 1980s, or the Cowboys label of the 1990s. By the end of the 2020s and starting with their home playoff game against the Las Vegas Raiders, we may be witnessing the new major label of an NFL decade.
Although this is all speculative, what is apparent is that these QB/WR duos are the head of playoff contenders and are going to be forces to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. They are game changers. The approach of how all labels are built may have to consider scouting offensive and defensive tandems in college. The benefit of labels forming in a dorm is clear and here to stay for years to come.