April Showers good for A&M’s spring game?

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As Texas A&M headed into its final spring game as an official member of the Big 12, and its first as an unofficial member of the SEC, there were two main focal points.

One, Kevin Sumlin‘s public “debut” as the Aggies’ head coach. And, secondly, would any decision be made on a replacement for Ryan Tannehill under center exiting the spring?

When it comes to the former, Sumlin appears to be fairly pleased with how his Aggies progressed throughout the spring and head into their first summer as an SEC school.

We had more good days than bad days,” Sumlin said. “I told them that spring is important because you can’t win any championships now but you can sure lose them.”

As it pertains to the latter focal point, things are even less cut and dried.  In the days leading up to the spring game, Sumlin very candidly stated that “[w]e don’t have a starting quarterback right now.”  Following the spring game, Sumlin was in no mood to name a starter entering the summer, saying “[i]n 15 practices, I can’t see enough to make a decision.”

Sophomore Jameill Showers, who along with fellow sophomore Matt Joeckel, redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, and true freshman Matt Davis, has been fighting for the right to replace Tannehill throughout the spring, with many projecting Showers as the odds-on favorite to be under center when A&M opens the 2012 season at Louisiana Tech.  In Saturday’s spring game, Showers did nothing but bolster that notion.

Showers went 20-of-31 for 203 yards and two long touchdowns, a 50-yarder to Ryan Swope — one of two 50-plus TD catches on the day for the record-setting receiver — and a 63-yareder to Malcome Kennedy.  Showers’ competition didn’t fare nearly as well, with Manziel going 13 of 27 for 154 yards, a touchdown and an interception; Joeckel 6 of 10 for 36 yards; and Davis 1 of 2 for three yards.

Again, Sumlin wasn’t ready to name a starter, but the coach seemed generally pleased with how the candidates for the starting job have progressed throughout the 15 spring sessions.

“We’re still careless with the football, but we weren’t nearly as careless as we were the first week of practice,” Sumlin said in evaluating the quarterbacks’ play. “We’ve made some progress there, and we made some accurate throws. We also had some drops.”

Despite Sumlin’s reticence to name a starter coming out of the spring, it’s gotten to the point where it’d be a borderline stunner if Showers is not the starter when all of the QB dust settles.

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.