SEC, Big Ten pace NFL draft selections

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After the first three rounds of the NFL draft was tucked neatly into bed late last week, the SEC held a narrow lead over the Big Ten and Pac-12 in the number of players selected the first two days.

While one of those conferences hung in there through the last four rounds, it was still the six-time defending national champs standing atop the draft mountaintop at the end of business Saturday.

Of the 253 players selected in the seven-round event, 42 were players from an SEC school.  This marks the 13th time in the last 15 seasons — including the last six in a row — that the SEC has led or tied for the most players taken in a single draft.

Nipping on the SEC’s heels, however, was the Big Ten, which saw 41 players from its conference selected.  The only other conference with more than 30 players was the ACC (31).  The Big Ten and ACC were second and third last April as well.

Since 1990, a total of 862 SEC players have been selected, far outdistancing the Big Ten and its 747 players.

Below is the conference-by-conference breakdown of players taken in the 2010 NFL draft:

SEC — 42
Big Ten — 41
ACC — 31
Pac-12 — 28
Big 12 — 25
Non-FBS — 24
MWC — 12
Big East — 12
WAC — 11
C-USA — 10
MAC — 8
Sun Belt — 6
Ind. — 4

Here are a couple of conference notes from the draft as well:

— The SEC had the most players selected in the first (nine), fourth (10) and fifth rounds (tied with six), while the Big Ten led in the second (seven), fifth (tied with six), sixth (seven) and seventh rounds (nine).  The only other conference to “lead” a round was the ACC with six selections in the third round.

— The only players from independent schools to be drafted came from Notre Dame, with four Irish players hearing their names called in the seven rounds of the draft.

— Of the 11 players from the WAC who were taken, six came from schools that are joining the Mountain West in 2012 — Nevada (four), Fresno State (one) and Hawaii (one).

As far as individual schools go, Alabama had four players taken in Thursday’s first round and finished with eight overall, the most for any one team.  Another member of the SEC, Georgia, had seven players drafted, as did Oklahoma.  Boise State, Cal, Iowa, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State South Carolina and Wisconsin all had six each, while five players each came from Baylor, LSU and North Carolina State.

Arkansas, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida State, Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego State, SMU, Stanford, Texas A&M and Wake Forest all had four players apiece selected.

At least one player from Wisconsin was taken in each of the first six rounds, while just one non-FBS school — Montana, two — had more than one player taken in the draft.

The SEC was the only conference in which each member of its league had at least one player selected, but just barely; Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee had just one player each selected, none before the fourth round.  And, for those Vols fans keeping score at home, in-state rival Vanderbilt doubled up UT with two players taken.

On the flip side, a total of 40 FBS schools did not have a single player drafted in any of the seven rounds, including 10 from the “Big Six” conferences.

Two teams each from the ACC (Duke, Maryland), Big East (Pittsburgh, USF), Big Ten (Indiana, Minnesota), Big 12 (Kansas, Texas Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA, Washington State) were all shutout over the course of the draft.  The combined record for those teams in 2011?  Two bowl bids and a 37-86 mark, which could very well explain the lack of interest on the part of the NFL.

Telly Lockette takes job at Florida State as TEs coach

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As Willie Taggart constructs his first coaching staff at Florida State, he’s added yet another familiar face.

Taggart, FSU announced earlier Thursday, has hired Telly Lockette as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach.  Lockette had spent the past three seasons as the running backs coach at Oregon State.

Prior to that, Lockette was a member of Taggart’s coaching staff at USF as running backs coach for two seasons and maintains deep ties to the fertile recruiting soil of South Florida.

“I’ve known Coach Lockette for a long time and am excited he is joining our staff at Florida State,” Taggart said. “He was an important part of my first staff at South Florida and has gained Power 5 experience with his last three seasons in the Pac-12. Coach Lockette is a tremendous recruiter and coach who does a phenomenal job developing student-athletes on and off the field. While we were at South Florida he was the primary recruiter for the Miami area and helped us sign a number of impact players, including Quinton Flowers, Khalid McGee and Deatrick Nichols. His expertise will benefit our current and future Seminoles.”

The job with Taggart at USF was Lockette’s first at any level of college football.  The first 10 years of his coaching career were spent at the high school level, including a five-year stint at Miami Central from 2008-12.

Amidst Arizona State chatter, Texas Tech DC David Gibbs signs contract extension

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Almost without fail, it pays to have your name circulating through the annual churning of the coaching rumor mill.

The latest example is David Gibbs, with the Texas Tech defensive coordinator being rumored as a target for the same job with Herm Edwards at Arizona State over the past few days.  Fast-forward to Thursday night, and Tech announced that it has finalized a new two-year contract extension with Gibbs.  The coordinator is now signed through the 2019 season.

According to the school, Gibbs’ pay will be bumped from $550,000 per year to $650,000.  That number puts Gibbs right in the middle of Big 12 DC pay.

“We are fortunate to have one of the top defensive coordinators in the country in Coach Gibbs,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a release. “Since the conclusion of the regular season, finalizing this new contract to keep Coach Gibbs at Texas Tech has been a priority for myself and [athletic director] Kirby [Hocutt]. We look forward to continuing to build one of the nation’s top defenses in the years to come under Coach Gibbs.”

Long a punchline, the Red Raiders’ defense has steadily improved in the three years under Gibbs.  This season, their 27 takeaways led the Big 12 and are the most in a season for the football program since 2008.  They’re also currently seventh in the country with four defensive touchdowns.

With Gibbs back, he’ll have 10 returning starters with which to work next season.

“There isn’t a better person to work for than Kliff Kingsbury, and I’m looking forward to continue building this program with him,” Gibbs said. “There is still plenty of work that needs to be done, but I’m excited about the future of our team.”

RB Justin Crawford to skip West Virginia’s bowl game, begin preparing for NFL draft

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Sometimes the personnel gods giveth, and sometimes the personnel gods taketh away.

Thursday evening, West Virginia announced that quarterback Will Grier will return to Morgantown for the 2018 season.  Not long after, the same football program confirmed that Justin Crawford has decided to eschew playing in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Instead of preparing for Utah in the postseason, the senior running back will instead begin preparations for the 2018 NFL draft.

“Justin has logged a lot of miles and been a key contributor for us the past two seasons,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He made a decision to not play in the bowl game based on what is best for him and his family. He came to West Virginia to further his education and be a featured back in the Big 12 and he accomplished his goals. As he starts his preparation for the NFL Draft, we wish him nothing but the best.”

Crawford has led the Mountaineers in rushing each of the past two seasons.  He’s the first WVU player to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Noel Devine in 2008-09.

After finishing third in the Big 12 this season with 1,061 yards on the ground, he was named second-team all-conference for the second straight season.  Following the 2016 season, he earned the league’s Newcomer of the Year honor.

SMU graduate assistant GJ Kinne to call plays in Frisco Bowl

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New SMU head coach Sonny Dykes has been busy assembling his staff as he prepares to jump right in the saddle to coach the Mustangs in the Frisco Bowl next week, but he will have one holdover from the previous staff to help call the shots on offense. Graduate assistant GJ Kinne will call the offensive plays for the bowl game, according to Adam Grosbard of The Dallas Morning News.

This would seem to be the most logical choice for Dykes to make in this scenario. Kinne has been working in the SMU system all season long under former head coach Chad Morris, who has moved to Arkansas with a handful of assistants. Having the most experience with the current roster and a better comfort level makes sense to have Kinne take on this responsibility so close to the bowl game. This will be a major promotion for Kinne, the former Tulsa quarterback, even if just for one game.

I certainly trust G.J. It’s going to be fun to give him an opportunity to be highly involved and it’ll be one of those things he remembers for the rest of his life,” Dykes said of the decision to have Kinne calling the offense from above. “When you’re a GA and you get to call a bowl game, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity.”

Just how smoothly this all goes is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, if things go awry, Kinne and Dykes can always just resort to going back to a chuck-it-deep mentality and see what happens.

SMU faces Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20.