Even as Florida State is celebrating the return of one defensive underclassmen, the Seminoles have incurred an even bigger, albeit expected, loss.
Following up on reports that surfaced earlier in the week, FSU confirmed Thursday evening that All-American Bjoern Werner has officially decided to take his leave of the ‘Noles and ply his football wares at the next level.
“I’m grateful to Coach Fisher and Florida State for giving me the opportunity to be a Seminole and play for one of the top college football programs in the country,” Werner said. “I’ve learned so much from the coaches especially Coach [D.J.] Eliot and have been able to play with some of the best players in the country. After sitting down with my wife Denise and gathering as much information, I’ve decided to move on and enter the NFL draft. I’ve enjoyed my time at FSU and will cherish the time I spent as a Seminole.”
Even as Werner’s early departure was long considered inevitable, it’s a significant loss nonetheless.
Simply put, Werner was one of the best defensive linemen in college football over the past two seasons. The end currently ranks seventh in the NCAA in sacks per game and second in total sacks (13) while adding 18 tackles for loss. Following the 2012 regular season, he was named as the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year and was accorded unanimous All-American status.
He’s considered a lock to be a top-10 selection in the upcoming NFL draft, and could easily move into the top five by the time April rolls around.
“I’d like to congratulate Bjoern on his decision to enter the NFL draft,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It’s the best decision for him and his family. Not only is he a great football player but he’s an unbelievable person. His leadership on and off the field will impact this program for years to come. I wish him nothing but the best and he will always be remembered as one of the great players in FSU history.”
Werner becomes the third Seminole to leave eligibility on the table, joining cornerback Xavier Rhoads and defensive lineman Brandon Jenkins.
Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.
With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future. The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.
Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.
At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas. The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.
Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels. He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.