For the seventh time (officially) since late November, an underclassman defensive lineman has left eligibility on the table for a shot in the professional ranks.
The latest to do the early deed is Joe Kruger, the Utah defensive end who announced Wednesday afternoon that he will not return to the Utes in 2013 and will instead make himself available for the April NFL draft. The 6-7, 280-pound junior played in 37-of-38 games from 2010-12 with 14 starts. He started seven of the 11 games in which he played this season.
He led the team with six sacks in 2012.
“Joe and his family spent a lot of time making this decision and concluded that it’s in Joe’s best interest to forego his senior year of eligibility and enter the draft,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement. “Joe certainly has NFL potential and we wish him the best as he takes his game to the next level. The Kruger name has been synonymous with Utah football for a lot of years and we are very appreciative for all they have done for our program.”
Kruger’s brother Paul Kruger is a former Utes player and current Baltimore Raven. He had another brother, Dave, who finished this past fall as a four-year starting defensive tackle.
Below is Kruger’s rather lengthy statement on leaving the Utes a year early:
“I am releasing this statement after much prayer, consideration and evaluation with my family in announcing that I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and enter the 2013 NFL draft.
“These past three years, I have been honored to be a part of a very special group of teammates and coaches at the University of Utah. I have cherished what has been my amazing college experience. The privilege to play under someone as great as Coach Kyle Whittingham has been a tremendous opportunity. The experience of playing together with my brother Dave has been priceless. Now it is my journey to pursue a lifelong dream, which is to become a professional football player in the National Football League.
“This decision is one of the toughest that I have ever had to make. As I reflect on the University of Utah, my teammates, all of my coaches, the football staff, and most importantly the Utah fans, I am filled with humility and deep gratitude. These past years at Utah have been a tremendous learning and growing experience for me. I want to thank everyone at the University and all the Utes everywhere for their support.
“It is my hope in making this decision that the fans, coaches, teammates, and the Utah athletic department will continue to support me and my family as I take this next step in attaining my goals.
“My heart belongs to Utah and I wish continued prosperity and success to my Utah Utes!”
The Valero Alamo Bowl will keep its current configuration through the 2025 season.
The Big 12 and Pac-12 each announced separate deals to remain with the San Antonio-based bowl game through the next decade. Technically, it’s a six-year extension that kicks begins in 2019.
“The Conference’s long-standing relationship with the Valero Alamo Bowl has produced some unforgettable games,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “The Valero Alamo Bowl and San Antonio have been terrific hosts for our member institutions and their fans, and we are excited to join the Pac-12 to continue our relationship through 2025.”
“The Valero Alamo Bowl has a well-deserved reputation for exciting games played in front of sellout crowds and top TV viewership,” added Pac-12 commish Larry Scott. “Our universities and their fans look forward to their trips to San Antonio and playing top ranked schools from the Big 12 Conference.”
As part of the deal, each team will continue sending its top teams that do not reach a New Year’s Six game.
The announcement came in conjunction with the Alamo Bowl’s annual Pigskin Preview.
The Big 12 has sent teams to the Alamo Bowl continuously since 1994, meaning the new agreement takes the bowl and the league into their third decade together. The league is 11-11 to date in the Alamo Bowl, but 8-3 since 2005 and 4-2 since the Pac-12 rejoined the game in 2010. The Pac-12 won each of the first two Alamo Bowls.
TCU won the most recent edition, rallying from a 31-0 halftime deficit to top Oregon 47-41 in triple overtime.
The 2016 game (the second one) will be played Thursday, Dec. 29 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
On the eve of the season, it appears one Buckeye will miss it.
Ohio State safety Cam Burrows has suffered a foot injury and will likely miss the season, head coach Urban Meyer revealed Wednesday. The cause and nature of the injury was not disclosed.
“Cam Burrows hurt his foot again,” Meyer told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “He’s going to work in our strength room, and it looks like he won’t play football.”
Burrows was in line to gobble up snaps as the Buckeyes’ second-team safety behind Malik Hooker and Damon Webb, but will instead spend the season in the weight room, literally. He’ll work as a student assistant on Ohio State’s strength staff. With a degree already in hand, it appears this will likely be the end of Burrows’ career.
If it is, he closes with 31 tackles in 29 career appearances.
“It’s been a tough go for him,” Meyer said.
And then there were six. Or eight.
We know East Carolina is no longer in the running for the two or four new spots possibly coming to the Big 12, but the folks at The Media Guides believe they do. The site reported Wednesday the Big 12 has sent formal invitations to Cincinnati, Houston, Connecticut, South Florida, Central Florida, BYU and “two other AAC schools” to advance to the next round of the process, which is believed to be in-person interviews at the league’s suburban Dallas headquarters.
With ECU out, Navy showing no interest and five of the league’s 12 teams already reported in, that leaves a pool of five possible teams for the two additional spots: Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.
Local reports have stated SMU, Temple and Tulane still involved in the process as recently as today and yesterday.
So, yeah, you do the math.
While the process publicly — and painfully — rambles on, Oct. 17 is the date to watch there. That’s the next scheduled gathering of the Big 12’s Board of Directors.
Well, here’s a story born straight out of SEO heaven.
New England Patriots quarterback — and, of course, former Wolverines signal caller — Tom Brady will serve as an honorary captain for Michigan during his Roger Goodell-mandated Deflategate suspension.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed the news on NFL Network’s Rich Eisen’s podcast. The Big House cameo will take place Sept. 17 as Michigan hosts Colorado.
Brady is free, of course, due to a wide-ranging controversy stemming from allegedly deflated footballs in the Patriots’ 45-7 trouncing of the Indianapolis Colts during the 2014 AFC Championship that led to him being suspended the first quarter of the 2016 season.
Brady played quarterback for the Wolverines from 1995-99 and has kept close ties with his alma mater since, but those have ramped up since Harbaugh’s late 2014 hiring. Most notably, Brady made an appearance at Harbaugh’s 2016 Signing Day extravaganza in February.