Oklahoma DB Jefferson, WR Stills to declare for NFL draft

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Being on the wrong end of a Cotton Bowl blowout to Texas A&M was not how Oklahoma wanted to end the 2012-13 season. Still, wide receiver Kenny Stills (pictured) and safety Tony Jefferson had stellar seasons and helped the Sooners to another 10-win season.

On the flip side, those efforts were good enough for Jefferson and Stills to declare for the NFL draft early. Reports of their departures surfaced this weekend, but OU made it official on Monday.

“We appreciate the contributions that Tony and Kenny have made during their time at Oklahoma,” coach Bob Stoops said in a statement. “We wish them both the best as they pursue their opportunities in the NFL.”

Suffice to say, their presence will be missed in 2013.

Stills was the team’s leading receiver with 82 catches for 959 yards and 11 touchdowns. He finishes his three-year career in Norman with 2,594 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches. Jefferson, meanwhile, was the team’s leading tackler with 119 total tackles. He also had a pair of interceptions, three pass breakups and five passes defended on the year.

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET: Tony Jefferson and Kenny Stills have released statements on their decision to forego their final years of eligibility to try their luck in the NFL (courtesy of the Oklahoman)

From Stills:

To my Sooner Friends and Family,

I cannot begin to express how difficult it is to describe the emotions I have on this day as I announce that I will be entering the 2013 NFL draft. Becoming a player in the National Football League has been a lifelong dream and goal of mine that I feel I am now ready to make a reality. When I arrived in Norman three years ago, I could never have imagined the deep connection I would establish with such a warm community of people. Through the good and the bad, on such a large number of occasions, I have been humbled by the kindness of your hearts. As I get ready for the exciting next phase of my career, and recollect my time here in Norman, I feel it is important to express my appreciation to not only the fans, but also to all of the coaches and staff. I cannot thank you all enough for everything you have taught me and for the opportunities and support you have provided to me both on and off of the field. I will be forever grateful to The University of Oklahoma and can only hope my new colleagues will be as supportive and that the next stop on my journey is just as special.

From Jefferson:

My goodbye for now As I start my journey on to the next level Id like to thank the coaches, players, fans, and students at the University of Oklahoma. It’s been a dream that I didn’t even believe I was capable of dreaming. To attend an institution with such great people surrounding it makes me realize how blessed i was to come here. The coaches have had a huge impact in my life on and off the field i appreciate and owe it all to them for giving me the opportunity to showcase my abilities and not only making me a better player but essentially making me a better man. And to all the fans . I can’t express how much I love y’all . Y’all are committed and keep us players going when the growing gets tough. As this was one of the hardest decisions in my life I do have great faith in my future on and off the field because of all the love and support and guidance I have received at the university of Oklahoma. I will always live by the crimson cream , and continue to let every soul know , that there is only ONE Oklahoma ! Boomer sooner!

LOOK: BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.