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LSU exodus continues: Spencer Ware, Brad Wing departing for NFL

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Three times in the past two days, LSU underclassmen have officially announced they are leaving early for the NFL.  This evening, the official count is up to five.

Both running back Spencer Ware and suspended punter Brad Wing are confirmed early entrants into the April NFL draft, the school announced Friday.  Each had been considered two of the handful of Tigers giving serious consideration to an early move, particularly the latter following a suspension for what was reportedly multiple failed drug tests and cost him a shot at playing in this year’s bowl game.

The loss of Ware might actually be the lesser of these two given the stable of backs Les Miles has assembled in Baton Rouge, although the junior certainly possesses the physical talent and tools to succeed at the next level.  He finished second on the team in rushing yards (707) and led the club in rushing touchdowns with eight last season, with his production dropping to 367/1 thanks, again, to Miles’ stable.

“I feel confident that I am ready to go to the next level and I look forward to working hard in preparation for this next chapter in my life,” Ware’s statement read. “I want to thank everyone at LSU for all they have done for me over the last three years. I especially want to thank Coach Miles and his staff for helping me to develop on the field, and mature as both a player and a person. I also want to thank my teammates for all the support they’ve given me.

“I will forever where purple and gold as a badge of honor and I wish continued prosperity and success to the Tiger Nation.”

As for Wing, he was 11th in the nation with a 44.8 yards per punt average a year after he was 11th with a 44.4 average.  He was arguably most famous for being the first player to have a touchdown called back last season because of the then-new taunting rule.

As a redshirt sophomore, he had two years of eligibility remaining.

Can’t express enough love for Tiger Nation,” Wing wrote on Twitter after his decision was announced. “Thank you for making these 3 years so amazing. Love to the fans, my teammates and coaches.”

Linebacker Kevin Minter, safety Eric Reid and cornerback Tharold Simon had previously announced they would not be back for their senior seasons.

Northern Michigan OL Anthony Herbert passes away

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Northern Michigan offensive lineman Anthony Herbert has passed away following a workout Tuesday, the school has confirmed. He was 20.

Herbert is the second college football player to pass away in less than a week. His passing comes as Oregon has come under fire with three players hospitalized after a grueling workout, for which the Ducks’ strength coach has been suspended without pay for one month.

“Anthony’s passing is felt deeply by many,” NMU athletic director Forrest Karr said in a statement. “He made a positive impact on our campus and was everything we hope for in a student-athlete. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates, and we are focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”

Officials cited by ESPN state Herbert participated in a Tuesday workout, ate breakfast and returned to his dorm room, where he passed out. EMTs unsuccessfully attempted to revive him, and he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

“In my brief time with Anthony, I could tell that he was a great young man,” head coach Kyle Nystrom said. “He was well respected by his coaches and teammates and was a leader on the offensive line. We are devastated by this tragedy, and we are keeping his family in our prayers.”

A native of Lapeer, Mich., Herbert started every game at left guard as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. He was a member of the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.

Pac-12 announces 2017 schedule

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans scrambles prior to throwing a touchdown pass in the third quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Pac-12 announced its 2017 schedule on Wednesday, beginning with a New Mexico State-Arizona State/North Dakota-Utah double-header and ending with the conference title game, once again set for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on the first weekend of December.

The headliner is USC, the league’s presumed champion and best shot at snapping its 12-year streak without a national title, playing 12 consecutive games without a bye week. The Trojans open with home games against Western Michigan, Stanford and Texas, and play straight through their Nov. 18 finale against UCLA at the LA Coliseum.

Speaking of UCLA road games, the Bruins have a lot of them — and they’re all tough. They’ll go on the road to face Memphis, Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Utah (over a 6-day stretch) before their finale at USC. The Bruins also host Texas A&M and Oregon.

Washington’s title defense will begin with a trip to Colorado (after another pillow-soft non-conference schedule of Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State) along with a key stretch that requires a home game with Oregon followed by a trip to Stanford six days later.

For the full schedule, click here.

Washington QB Jake Browning reportedly undergoes surgery on throwing shoulder

PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 25:  Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies looks to pass against the Washington State Cougars in the first half of the 109th Apple Cup at Martin Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Pullman, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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Washington quarterback Jake Browning has undergone surgery on his throwing shoulder, according to a report from The Seattle Times.

The Times reports Browning injured his right shoulder during a 44-18 win over Arizona State on Nov. 18, though the exact nature of the injury is unknown. Washington kept the injury hidden during the season’s final stretch, as the Huskies claimed the Pac-12 championship and reached the College Football Playoff.

Browning played through the injury, hitting 21-of-29 passes for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 45-17 drubbing of Washington State just six days later. Browning’s performance suffered from there, though. He hit only 9-of-24 passes for 118 yards (with two touchdowns and no picks) in a Pac-12 Championship win over Colorado, then completed 20-of-38 passes for 150 yards with a touchdown and two picks in a 24-7 loss to Alabama.

How much those subpar performances were caused by the injury or by the opponent — or, most likely, a combination of the two — will be left to mystery.

Browning was the nation’s second-most efficient passer in the month of September, No. 3 in October, No. 16 in November and No. 66 in December. He finished the year ranked seventh, hitting 62.1 percent of his tosses for 8.8 yards per attempt with 43 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

Huskies head coach Chris Petersen has a policy of not discussing injuries, but he let on to Brock Huard’s radio show earlier this month that Browning did not finish the season 100 percent.

“I do think he was fighting through some things as the season went on because he’s a tough guy,” Petersen told the show, via The Seattle Times. “We had to do some things. Let me say this: We’ve got some tough kids on our team. Those kids, they fight through some things, and we don’t talk about who’s hurt and all this stuff, but Jake’s a tough kid and I’ll just say that. He fought through some stuff.”

Browning’s recovery time is expected to be six weeks, the paper reports.

Oregon suspends strength coach in wake of player hospitalizations

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 6: Close-up of the Oregon Ducks 'Liquid Metal' helmet during the the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies on October 6, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 52-21. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Three Oregon players were hospitalized after grueling winter workouts conducted by new strength coach Irele Oderinde, and now the school has suspended Oderinde for one month without pay.

The original report from The Oregonian, which the school later confirmed, saw at least one player contract symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a soft tissue condition triggered by overwork that can lead to kidney damage. Other players showed signs as well, according to the report.

The sources said that some players “passed out” and others later complained of discolored urine, which is a common symptom of rhabdomyolysis. After testing, others were found to have highly elevated levels of creatine kinase, an indicator of the syndrome.

As a result, Oderinde has been suspended and head coach Willie Taggart has issued an apology. Oderinde previously worked for Taggart at South Florida.

“I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies,” Taggart said in a statement. “As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first. I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university.

“I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans.

Added AD Rob Mullens: “The university holds the health, safety and well-being of all of our students in high regard. We are confident that these athletes will soon return to full health, and we will continue to support them and their families in their recoveries.”

Additionally, Oderinde will now report to director of performance and sport science Andrew Murray instead of Taggart.