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.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.