Both literally and figuratively, Texas A&M has suffered a significant loss heading into its first full offseason as a member of the SEC.
Following up on speculation that’s been running rampant in recent weeks and increased in intensity the past couple of days, offensive tackle Luke Joeckel officially confirmed that he’s foregoing his senior season for the NFL. While he had been leaning toward an early NFL leap, a final decision by the talented lineman wasn’t made until today.
“This was a very difficult decision for me,” Joeckel said in a statement. “I have thought long and hard and visited with my family and coaches. I feel it is in my best interest to come out. I appreciate all that Texas A&M has done for me and my family. It is tough to leave a great group of coaches and players, including my twin brother Matt. I know they will have a great season in 2013 and I will remain their biggest fan. … One thing that is certain, I am an Aggie and will always be an Aggie.”
Joeckel was a first-team All-American and All-SEC selection in 2012, named the winner of the Outland Trophy as well as the prestigious Jacobs Blocking Trophy given annually to the top lineman in the conference. From the first game of his true freshman season through the Aggies’ bowl win earlier this year, he started every game, 39 in all, at left tackle.
He’s considered one of a handful of players who could potentially be selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
“Luke is projected to be one of the top players selected in the overall draft,” Aggie head football coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We appreciate everything he has done for Aggie football and Texas A&M and wish him well in the NFL.”
Just 27 hours shy of receiving his degree, Joeckel said in the release that he has “every intention of finishing as soon as possible.”
The Aggies are still awaiting an official decision from Jake Matthews, the other half of the best tackle combination in college football
There is a new preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy, at least as far as Bovada is concerned.
The betting service Tuesday listed LSU running back Leonard Fournette checks in with the best odds at 9/2. He moved ahead of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, whose odds went from 9/2 in January to 5/1 now.
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s odds moved to 11/2 while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield are all at 12/1.
Several players were added to the board since January, including UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen (16/1), Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (20/1) and Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham (28/1).
The group of newcomers also includes both of the competitors to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are both set at 28/1.
Oklahoma defensive back Jordan Thomas was arrested early Thursday morning and stands accused of three offenses.
Cleveland (Oklahoma) County sheriff arrest records show the 20-year-old Thomas was booked at 2:45 a.m. on charges of assault and battery, public intoxication and interference.
A school spokesperson told The Tulsa World the department is aware of and monitoring the situation.
Thomas, who reportedly has been released on bond, was second on the Sooners with nine pass defended last season and was credited with 46 tackles. He had five interceptions.
The World notes Thomas has been in trouble both with the law and the team previously.
Thomas was jailed in Grady County before last year’s Orange Bowl after failing to appear in court following a traffic citation.
The junior also has faced issues on the team. He missed the first quarter of the 2015 opener against Akron and the entire Tulsa game for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
The Sooners won the Big 12 last season and made the College Football Playoff.
They are expected to be contenders again this season and have a showdown with Ohio State looming in Norman on Sept. 17.
Ohio State has quietly added Joker Phillips and Brian Knorr — two experienced college coaches — to Urban Meyer’s staff.
Although the athletics department has not made an announcement yet, Phillips is listed in Ohio State’s employee directory as a sports program associate with the working title of “Football QC – kicking,” which presumably means he is a quality control assistant for the Ohio State kicking game.
Knorr is listed simply as an athletics intern.
Of the two, Phillips is the more experienced. Now 53, he began his coaching career as a G.A. at Kentucky, his alma mater, and eventually spent six seasons as a full-time receivers coach for the Wildcats in the early 1990s.
He also coached at Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina before returning to Lexington as an assistant and eventually rising to head coach in 2010.
The Wildcats went just 13-24 in his three seasons, and he spent last year as wide receivers coach of the Cleveland Browns. He also spent a season coaching receivers at Florida, where he was found guilty of a level two recruiting violation.
Knorr was most recently the defensive coordinator at Indiana. He spent two seasons in Bloomington after six at Wake Forest.
A Kansas native, he played quarterback at Air Force and previously worked in the Buckeye State as an assistant to Jim Grobe and then Frank Solich at Ohio University from 1995-2004.
The Hoosiers ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring defense and total defense last season, and he was replaced by Tom Allen in January.
Make that four new additions to Texas’ 2016 recruiting class in late June.
The school announced Wednesday that Patrick Hudson, an in-state offensive lineman from Silsbee, has signed a financial aid agreement and is expected to enroll in Austin in July when the second summer session begins.
Hudson is a four-star prospect and the 50th-best player in the country according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.
He signed with Baylor in February but was granted a release from his letter of intent after a report accusing members of the school and athletics department of mishandling accusations and incidents of sexual assault delved the school into controversy.
J.P. Urquidez and brothers Devin and Donovan Duvernay also signed with the Longhorns in the past week.
“We’re really excited to have Patrick joining our program,” Texas coach Charlie Strong said in a release. “Patrick coming to Texas, along with J.P. and Donovan earlier this week, are tremendous additions to an already impressive class of 2016. Patrick and J.P. are two big, physical, talented linemen, and Donovan is an explosive athlete who has played on both sides. We’re looking forward to getting them on campus and working with the team.”
Urquidez is also a four-star offensive lineman while Devin Duvernay is a four-star receiver and Donovan Duvernay is a three-star athlete per 247Sports.
Texas’ class is ranked seventh nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12 as Strong looks to put a rocky start to his tenure behind him and return the Longhorns to national prominence.
They start the season with a visit from Notre Dame on Sept. 4.