Saying it “was a very difficult decision for me” while at the same time proclaiming himself ready for the challenges of the next level, defensive end Corey Lemonier announced Monday evening that he will be leaving Auburn and making himself eligible for the NFL draft.
“I prayed a lot and felt this was the best for me to pursue this opportunity,” Lemonier said in a statement. “I loved every minute of my time at Auburn and I’m very appreciative of my teammates, coaches and the entire Auburn family. It is sad to leave such a special place like Auburn, but ultimately I made a decision that was best for me and my family.”
Lemonier was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2011 and made second-team all-conference this past season. He started 24 of the 34 games in which he played, and was credited with 17 sacks and 24 tackles for loss. The latter total is tied for seventh on the Tigers’ all-time list.
Depending on the draft prognosticator, Lemonier is viewed as anywhere from a mid-first-round pick to somewhere in the second round.
“We appreciate Corey’s many contributions to the Auburn football program, both on and off the field, during his three years,” said new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “Corey is a class act and we wish him nothing but the best as he pursues his dream to play professional football.”
Lemonier becomes the sixth draft-eligible underclassmen defensive lineman to leave early, the most of any one position.
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