Alabama v Missouri

Saban expects Fluker to leave for NFL


With the 2012 regular season rapidly hurtling toward the finish line, at least some attention has turned to what’s become an annual question: will X underclassman take an early leap into the NFL draft pool?

Thanks to the talent he’s brought into Tuscaloosa over the past few years, Nick Saban has some experience dealing with that dilemma; Alabama has seen six juniors, redshirt or otherwise, leave early for the NFL the past two seasons.  And the Alabama head coach is already bracing himself for at least one other such loss after the curtain closes on the current season.

On his radio show Thursday night, Saban was asked what positional areas he and his coaching staff will be targeting on the recruiting trail.  Saban first and foremost addressed the offensive line in general and D.J. Fluker in particular, saying the latter’s “a guy who’s probably going to go out for the draft.”

The coach, though, wasn’t completely closing the door on a return.

I can’t say that right for sure yet,” Saban said of Fluker’s future, by way of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “And we won’t even consider it until after the season. That’s going to be an important spot in recruiting.”

As it is with a lot of coaches, Saban’s general rule of thumb is for underclassmen to leave if they’re considered a first-round draft pick, stay if they’re projected to fall outside the first round.  Fluker, who’s a redshirt junior, is widely viewed as a first-round talent, although a final decision likely won’t be made until the NFL’s draft advisory committee gives its projection.

Dalvin Cook returns to practice for FSU

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles runs the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida State defeated South Florida 34-14 as Cook rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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With each passing day, it appears Miami won’t be able to avoid one of the most talented and productive running backs in the country.

Thursday, Dalvin Cook returned to practice for the first time this week.  Cook suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, and had spent the previous two days of practice riding a bicycle while the rest of his teammates prepped for the in-state and conference rivalry game against The U this Saturday.

The Palm Beach Post wrote that Cook showed “no signs” of the hamstring injury that had some worried about his availability in Week 6.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher, who said Wednesday he doesn’t “ever count Dalvin out” because of his healing ability, will meet with reporters later this evening and could address Cook’s status for the weekend then.  Or, he could play to keep the Hurricanes guessing, even as most assume the All-ACC back will be on the field.

Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th.

Gophers down eight starters for game vs. Boilermakers

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 03: at Ryan Field on October 3, 2015 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Minnesota 27-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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It would be an understatement of significant proportions to say that the Minnesota football team is banged up.

How banged up?  On his radio show Thursday, head coach Jerry Kill, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, revealed his team will be down a whopping eight starters for Saturday’s game against Purdue.

Kill’s revelation comes one day after he confirmed a total of 20 players donned non-contact jerseys in practice earlier in the day.

The coach didn’t specifically identify which starters would be sidelined, with the Pioneer Press writing “[t]he known injuries to starters include safety Damarius Travis (hamstring), cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), tight end Lincoln Plsek (back) and tackle Ben Lauer (knee/hand).”

One injured starter who will play, Kill confirmed, is quarterback Mitch Leidner. While not detailing any specific injury, Kill said Wednesday that Leidner “hasn’t been healthy. He’s been beat up.”

Overall, though, the Gophers’ health, or lack thereof, is bordering on historic.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 32 years in coaching,” Kill said yesterday. “The toughest thing for me right now is all of these kids that work so hard, and when they get hurt, it kills me. … We are running out of people.”

Coming off an 8-5 season last year, the Gophers are struggling. While they stand at 3-2 after five games, the three wins came by a total of nine points over the likes of Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio. Their second loss — the first was by six to TCU in the opener — was a 27-0 shutout at the hands of Northwestern in the Big Ten opener last weekend.