As far as announcements of these types that will come over the next month and a half or so, this one will stand as among the least surprising.
Missouri announced in a press release Friday afternoon that defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has decided to forego his final season of collegiate eligibility and make himself available for the 2013 NFL draft.
“This has been my dream ever since I was a little kid,” said Richardson. “It’s still not easy leaving Mizzou like this, but I know I’m ready. I really appreciate all of the support I got here at Mizzou, and I know that they will help me and my family with this next step. I’ll always be a Tiger.”
Originally a Mizzou-then-USC verbal commitment, Richardson flipped back to the Tigers in December of 2010 following two years at the JUCO level as he got his academic house in order. Finally cleared by the NCAA in August of 2011, Richardson played 24 games the past two seasons, including starting all 11 games in which he played this season.
The one game he neither started nor played in was due to an academically-related suspension.
All told, Richardson was credited 18.5 tackles for loss and six sacks during his brief two years in Columbia.
“I’ve always said that when guys have opportunities like these, if they’re ready to go, then they should go,” said Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “I have no doubt that Sheldon is ready to play in the NFL, and while we’d love to have him for another year, the important thing is that this is the right decision. It will be fun watching him play on Sundays.”
Based purely on talent, Richardson, who may be more well-known for his comments off the field than his play on it, is as near a lock for a first-round pick as one can get.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah