The roll for those leaving eligibility on the table for an early shot at the NFL has officially grown by one, with Illinois the latest to lose a player who would’ve been a significant contributor in 2013.
Following up on reports that surfaced earlier in the week, Akeem Spence confirmed Friday in a press conference that he has decided to forego his remaining season of eligibility and make himself available for the April NFL draft. The defensive tackle said he made the decision this week after consultation with his father, and after being told he would be a second- or third-round pick.
“I would like to thank the University of Illinois for giving me an opportunity to become a great student-athlete. The current and past coaching staffs have been very supportive throughout my collegiate career. I can’t say enough about the extremely loyal fans and the entire athletic department, who have all made my collegiate experience an unforgettable one,” Spence said in a statement. “This has been a very important time in my life. My family and I look forward to the journey ahead and we expect nothing less than greatness on and off the field.
“Lastly, I deeply want to thank my father for being an incredible dad and teaching me valuable life lessons that will forever be instilled in me. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing your father is in your life and wants nothing but the best for his wife and kids. With all this in mind, I have decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2013 NFL Draft. God bless the entire Illinois community: students, professors, athletic department and fans.”
The 6-1, 305-pound tackle becomes the fourth defensive lineman thus far to officially declare early for the draft. How’d we know that? We clicked HERE, of course.
On off-field incident late last week will cost FAU one of the top offensive linemen in Conference USA moving forward.
Over the weekend, FAU confirmed that Reggie Bain sustained injuries that were described as “not life threatening” in a car accident Friday. However, the non-specified injuries will likely sideline the true junior offensive tackle for the entire 2016 season.
“I have been in constant contact and have visited with both Reggie and his family,” a statement from head coach Charlie Partridge began. “His FAU football family has surrounded him with support and will continue to do so. Out of respect for Reggie, his family and our team, all questions should only be directed to me. I know that inquiries may be well-intentioned, under the HIPPA law, and per the request of Reggie and his family, there is very little I can disclose.”
No details surrounding the accident have been released.
Bain has started all 24 games in his two-year career with the Owls, earning second-team all-conference honors following the 2015 season. Coaches made Bain a preseason all-league selection last month.
It appears someone else will have to ease the load for a newly-minted starter under center and a Heisman Trophy contender, at least in the very early portion of the season.
According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Stanford head coach David Shaw has deemed it “unlikely” running back Bryce Love will play in the season opener Friday against Kansas State. Love sustained what was described as a lower-body injury at some point during summer camp.
The good news for the program and the player is, after the opener, the Cardinal goes on a bye before hosting 20th-ranked USC Sept. 17.
Wilner writes that “Love… is considered central to eighth-ranked Stanford’s efforts to take the pressure off new quarterback Ryan Burns and tailback Christian McCaffrey.” Burns has thrown one career pass and will be making his starting debut against K-State.
Last season, Love averaged 7.8 yards on his 29 carries. He added 15 receptions for 250 yards, and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).
South Carolina has seen one of the most experienced members of its secondary not only leave the program but the sport as well.
Rico McWilliams has decided to leave the Gamecocks and give up football, first-year USC head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday. No reason was given for the decision.
McWilliams had started 18 the past three seasons, but began to tumble down the depth chart in the spring and failed to gain much ground in summer camp. He had left camp early on for what were described as personal reasons, but eventually returned.
“I am back with the team and have to stay focused,” the cornerback said just three days ago.
As a redshirt junior last season, McWilliams started 10 of USC’s 12 games, the lone exceptions being the contests against Georgia and Texas A&M. He was credited with 32 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Additionally, Muschamp announced that redshirt freshman wide receiver Christian Owens had left his team as well. A three-star 2015 signee, Owens didn’t play as a true freshman.
Via social media, Jim Harbaugh has attempted to walk back some of his strong talk.
Monday, the Michigan head coach was asked to comment on one of his former San Francisco 49er players, Colin Kaepernick, who kicked up quite the controversy this past week by sitting down during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he believes to be the mistreatment of African-Americans in this country. Not surprisingly, the outspoken Harbaugh didn’t mince many words.
“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” the coach said.
A short time later, Harbaugh took to Twitter to offer a clarification that he had no issue with Kaepernick’s motivation, merely his methods.