There have been many a surprise when it comes to the latest round of underclassmen declarations, but this one, much to the delight of the Arizona State coaching staff, may top them all.
At a press conference Tuesday evening, standout defensive tackle Will Sutton stunned many by announcing he was eschewing an early shot at the NFL draft and will instead return to the Sun Devils for his senior season. The talented lineman said that he made up his mind earlier today to return because he had goals at the collegiate level he had yet to reach.
Sutton’s decision to return is a huge boon for the Sun Devils.
Despite missing one game with an injury, Sutton was tied for third in the nation in sacks (13) and tied for second in tackles for loss. In both cases, one of the players he was tied with was South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney. Following the season, he was named the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American, one of just four defensive lineman afforded the latter honor.
Had Sutton decided to make himself available for the draft, he would’ve been a lock for selection in the first round.
Former Ohio State linebacker Mike Vrabel is now the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, and one of his first moves as head coach will be to weaken his alma mater.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Vrabel wants to hire Ohio State quarterbacks coach Ryan Day as his offensive coordinator.
Day spent just a year at Ohio State and has never worked with Vrabel, but it’s his connection to another pair of major college football figures that has pointed the new Titans head coach in Day’s direction. Day spent his formative college years playing and working for Chip Kelly at New Hampshire, then re-joined him in the NFL as the quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers.
The Titans, of course, are quarterbacked by former Kelly protege and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
Mariota’s lack of progress is the reason Mike Mularkey was not retained in the first place, so Vrabel’s choice here is a significant one.
In his first season on staff, Day helped J.T. Barrett show significant improvement from his junior to senior seasons. After ranking 55th nationally in passing efficiency in 2016, Barrett leaped up to eighth this fall, connecting on 64.7 percent of his passes for 3,053 yards (8.2 per attempt) with 35 touchdowns against nine interceptions en route to winning the Big Ten and the Cotton Bowl.
Ohio State will have to replace Barrett heading into 2018, and now it seems like Urban Meyer may have to replace his quarterbacks coach on top of his quarterback.
Today in ‘You’re getting old,’ part 9,374: Ron Dayne’s kid will soon play college football.
While it seems like just yesterday that the ‘Great Dayne’ was running wild at Wisconsin and winning the 1999 Heisman Trophy, the soon-to-be 40-year-old will be back in college football in a different light: as a dad. That’s because his son, Javian Dayne, just committed to Boston College as part of the class of 2018.
The elder Dayne amassed 7,125 yards on the ground over four seasons at Wisconsin, a mark that is more than any other player in college football history but good for second on the NCAA all-time list behind San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey due to the lack of counting bowl stats back in the day. The younger Dayne doesn’t have quite the same size and stats as his dad but wasn’t too shabby at Waunakee (Wis.) High in running for 4,269 yards and 56 touchdowns the past three years.
“I absolutely hated the process,” Javian told the Wisconsin State Journal of his recruitment. “I was one of those people who wanted to get it over with. I didn’t like the process at all. … We did a lot of traveling around.”
The six-foot, 200 pound recruit is listed as a two-star by 247Sports and was recruited heavily by the Eagles since November. He’ll have a tough time becoming the starter with A.J. Dillon coming off a 1,500 yard season as a freshman but could be in the mix with several others to see some carries early on with primary backup Jon Hilliman transferring to Rutgers.
Either way, the first time the cameras find Ron Dayne on the sidelines at a Boston College game watching his son will be yet another reminder that we’re all getting very, very old.
Alex Grinch isn’t the only member of Mike Leach’s staff who is ticketed out of Pullman this offseason.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman, Oregon had poached Washington State assistant Jim Mastro to be the Ducks’ new running backs coach and run game coordinator.
Mastro has been with the Cougars since joining Leach’s initial staff at Wazzu back in 2012 and has quite a bit of experience out west, including 11 seasons at Nevada and a year at UCLA. He replaces Donte Pimpleton, who followed former Oregon coach Willie Taggart to Florida State several weeks ago.
Interestingly, this is the third straight offseason that the Ducks have poached an assistant from their Pac-12 North rivals. Quarterbacks coach David Yost left for Eugene back in 2015 while Taggart hired defensive line coach Joe Salave’a last year. Mastro should have plenty to work with upon arrival with senior Tony Brooks-James and youngster Darrian Felix likely leading the way on the ground.
Kevin Sumlin is still sorting out his new staff at Arizona but reportedly has his special teams coordinator locked up and it’s a familiar face from his previous stop in College Station.
While Texas A&M’s former special teams coordinator Jeff Banks was hired for the same position at Alabama, Sumlin has hired his No. 2 in Jeremy Springer to be the Wildcats’ new special teams coordinator, a source told Sports Illustrated this week. The trio worked together for three years with the Aggies as Springer assisted Banks in the crucial third phase of the game.
Springer was originally ticketed to join another former Sumlin assistant in David Beaty as a staffer at Kansas but instead will head west to the desert. His most recent formal title was quality control special teams/tight ends assistant at Texas A&M but he’ll be an on-field coach in Tucson.
Springer played linebacker for UTEP and is still pretty fresh-faced in the coaching profession having graduated from the school in 2011.