To the surprise of no one, Mallett enters NFL draft

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Last year at this time, Ryan Mallett surprised some observers by announcing his return to Arkansas for another season.

This time around, absolutely no one will be surprised by the quarterback’s decision.

Mallett announced through a school press release that he will be leaving Fayetteville and making himself available for the April NFL draft.

“After careful consideration, I have decided to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft,” Mallett said at the beginning of a rather lengthy statement. “Ever since I was a kid, my dream has always been to play for the Razorbacks and I am thankful I had the opportunity to do so. A year ago, when I returned to school I said I wanted to help lead this team to a place among the nation’s elite and for the Razorback community to have a mindset to expect greatness. There is no doubt we got there together and this program will continue to play games on the biggest stages and when it does we’ll come out swinging.

“Playing in the NFL is a goal of mine and I am grateful to the people that have prepared me to take the next step. Coach (Bobby) Petrino is a winner, a man of character and the hardest worker I have ever seen. I’d also like to thank Coach (Garrick) McGee for everything he has done for me and in particular helping develop my mental approach to the game. The leadership of Chancellor David Gearhart and Director of Athletics Jeff Long is a model for me and I am extremely appreciative of the tireless work they do for all University of Arkansas students every day.

“The Razorback fans are the greatest in the country and their support for me and the team throughout my career has been humbling. Arkansas is where my heart is and I’m proud to say that I will always be a Razorback.”

Head coach Bobby Petrino expressed pride in what Mallett accomplished during his time with the Razorbacks.

“I am very proud of Ryan Mallett and I can’t say enough about what he has done for this program. Leaders do their job extremely well and lift everyone around them to compete better and Ryan does those things. One of the greatest parts about coaching is watching individuals become adults while they are in college and Ryan has certainly developed not just as a player, but as a person. I know Ryan will be successful in life and I wish him the best in the NFL.”

Mallett finished his Arkansas career with a game-killing pick as one of the most prolific passers in the school’s history, throwing for 7,496 yards and 62 touchdowns.  In 2010, Mallett’s completion percentage jumped from 55.8 to 64.7, although he threw 12 interceptions compared to seven in 2009.

With Andrew Luck‘s decision to remain in school earlier today, there’s a very good chance that Mallett could become the first quarterback taken in the upcoming draft.

Auburn lands UMass transfer lineman over UCLA, USC

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At least in this graduate transfer battle, the SEC has gotten over on the Pac-12.

Tuesday, Jack Driscoll, who decided to transfer from UMass earlier this offseason, confirmed that he had narrowed his potential landing spots down to three — Auburn, UCLA and USC.  A day later, the offensive lineman took to Twitter to announce that he will be enrolling at AU and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Tigers.

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 on The Plains.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.

North Carolina makes addition of Ohio State transfer RB Antonio Williams official

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North Carolina’s addition of a player from another Power Five program.

On his personal Twitter account earlier this week, Antonio Williams announced that he would be transferring to UNC.  A couple of days later, the Tar Heels confirmed that the running back has joined Larry Fedora‘s football program.

Williams will have to sit out the 2018 season because of NCAA rules.  Beginning with the 2019 season, however, he will have two seasons of eligibility that he can use at the ACC school.

Earlier this offseason, Williams had opted to transfer from Ohio State.

A four-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 7 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of North Carolina.  Williams ran for 318 yards and three touchdowns on his 63 carries the past two seasons; 290 of the yards and all three scores came this past season as he was the third back in a rotation that included Freshman All-American J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, who led the Buckeyes in rushing as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

Both Dobbins and Weber return this season, which was likely a trigger for Williams’ move from Columbus.

Nebraska AD: Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh ‘running a little bit scared right now’

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This is just the cutest, bless his heart.

As evidenced by the record-breaking spring game earlier this month, there’s an air of excitement once again surrounding the Nebraska football program, thanks in very large part to the return of Scott Frost as the head coach.  Riding that wave of optimism, new NU athletic director Bill Moos was a speaker at an Omaha Press Club luncheon Tuesday and, well, let’s just say that he may have initially been planning on dipping his toes into the feel-good spring pool but instead ended up doing a cannonball into the thing.

From the Omaha World-Herald:

We’re gonna run that uptempo offense we saw (at the spring game), and we’re gonna get the Blackshirts back to being Blackshirts. And that’s extremely important,” Moos said. “You’ve got Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh thinking, ‘We better put a little more into that Nebraska game coming up.’ And that’s the way we want it. They’re running a little bit scared right now. And they won’t admit it. We’ll leave that at that.

Nebraska will face both Michigan and Ohio State this season, with each of those serving as road games for the Cornhuskers.  Given the heat that seems to be growing under the highly-paid Harbaugh’s seat — finishes of third, third and fourth in the Big Ten East in three seasons in Ann Arbor — mentioning the U-M coach might be apropos.  But Meyer?  In his six seasons in Columbus, Meyer’s Buckeyes have lost three games combined in conference play; in three meetings under Meyer, OSU has woodshedded NU by a combined score of 181-55.

Perhaps, instead of the Big Dog of the conference, Moos should focus these early public comments on Paul Chryst, whose Wisconsin Badgers are the class of Nebraska’s division — Big Ten West champs three of the last four years — and have beaten the Cornhuskers in five straight meetings (three under Chryst) dating back to the 2012 Big Ten championship game.  Or even Kirk Ferentz, whose Iowa Hawkeyes have won three in a row in the rivalry, and by a collective 96-24 score the past two seasons.

Maybe start by finishing higher than fifth in your own division, where you were a season ago, and then work your way up?  Just a thought.

As the kerfuffle over Moos’ comments began to gain traction, the athletic director told the Associated Press in a text message that his words were “[a] bit tongue in cheek.”

“Meant to point out that the competition is aware that there’s a renewed energy at Nebraska and we aim to get back in the hunt,” Moos added in an apparent attempt to cram the toothpaste back into the tube.

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.