Michigan State loses offensive coordinator to the NFL

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It was reported Thursday that Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar was one of a handful of candidates for a job with the New Orleans Saints.

Two days after interviewing with the NFL club, Roushar is now officially the ex-Spartans OC.

In quotes distributed by the team, Roushar confirmed that he is leaving East Lansing for the running backs job with the Saints.  The move ends Roushar’s eight-year run on Mark Dantonio-led coaching staffs spanning two different programs.

Here’s Roushar’s statement, in its entirety:

“The New Orleans Saints and Michigan State are built on similar models, with a focus on character and people. New Orleans has won a Super Bowl, and over the last five years, the Saints have been one of the winningest organizations in the NFL. I’ve had an opportunity to work for Mark Dantonio – in my opinion, the best college football coach in America – for the last eight years, including the last six seasons at Michigan State. Now, I have an opportunity to work for arguably the best coach in the NFL, in Sean Payton. Professionally, this is an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up. Now as a running backs coach, I have the chance to learn the interworking of the NFL.

“Michigan State is poised to have a tremendous year in 2013. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have worked alongside Coach Dantonio, a talented coaching staff and gifted players. The last six years at Michigan State have been quite rewarding: six-straight bowl appearances, back-to-back 11-wins seasons including a Big Ten Championship and a Legends Division title, and four-straight victories over Michigan. It’s difficult to leave because it has been quite a ride, but professional opportunities like this are indeed rare. Coach Dantonio has built something special – it’s a program that pursues excellence in all aspects, not only on the field competing for championships, but also off the field in the classroom and in the community.”

Roushar has been with the Spartans since Dantonio came to East Lansing in 2007.  He was also on Dantonio’s Cincinnati staff the two years prior to that.  After serving as offensive line coach for his first four years at MSU, Roushar was promoted to coordinator when Don Treadwell left for the head coaching job at Miami of Ohio.

In 2012, following the departure of quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Spartans’ offense dropped from 37th in scoring in 2011 (31 points per game) to 108th in 2012 (20 ppg), and from 56th (390.4 yards per game) to 95th (359.3 ypg) in total offense.  That significant dip in performance had left many fans wondering if Dantonio would or should take away Roushar’s keys to the offense.

The decision to leave for the NFL made that a moot argument, although it now leaves Dantonio with an important hole in his staff just a couple of weeks before the start of spring practice.

“Dan Roushar has been a loyal and dedicated assistant for the last eight years, including the past six seasons at Michigan State,” Dantonio said in  statement. “He’s a great teacher and a tireless recruiter. Dan certainly played a critical role in helping build a solid foundation here at Michigan State. We’re grateful for the effort and energy he’s invested in our program.

“He’s excited about being presented with the opportunity to coach the game at its highest level. We’re thrilled for Dan and his family, and we wish him nothing but the best in the NFL.”

Former Kansas State head coach Ron Prince, who has been mentioned as a possibility at Rutgers as offensive coordinator, interviewed for the same job with the Saints as well.

(Photo credit: Michigan State athletics)

Ex-Nebraska WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. reportedly lands at Arizona

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It appears Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will continue his collegiate playing career a little bit further west than where it began.

On the same day that Kevin Sumlin was hired as the head coach at Arizona, Nate Clouse of Rivals.com reported that Johnson will be enrolling at UA this week and play for the Wildcats. The son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson will be eligible to play immediately for Sumlin in 2018.

In late June of last year, Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Not long after, the wide receiver decided to take a leave of absence, with his famous father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and would not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

At the time, the plan was for the junior Johnson to return to Lincoln and play his college football for Mike Riley.  With his father’s college offensive coordinator dismissed at the end of the regular season, Johnson took to Twitter in mid-December to announce that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cornhuskers.

Johnson was a four-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2017 recruiting class who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, but never played a down for NU. Before signing with Nebraska, he held offers from, among others, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and USC.

Minnesota CB Zo Craighton tweets he’s transferring

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Roster attrition across college football continues unabated, with Minnesota the latest to lose one its football players.

Zo Craighton revealed on his Twitter account Monday that, “[a]fter prayers and considerations,” he has decided to transfer out of P.J. Fleck‘s football program. “There will always be a place in my heart for Minnesota,” the redshirt sophomore cornerback wrote in his social media missive. “I made friends for life and I appreciate the fan base for all the support.”

Craighton played in 11 games the past two seasons, missing the final nine of the 2017 season because of injury. Coming out of high school in Louisiana, the defensive back was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2015 recruiting class.

Dick MacPherson’s grandson one of six added to Sean Lewis’ first Kent State staff

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Sean Lewis‘ first staff at Kent State will come armed with a famous coaching surname.

The football program announced Monday that Lewis has hired a total of six new assistants. One of the coaching sextet is Mackey MacPherson, the grandson of former Syracuse head coach Dick MacPherson.

The younger MacPherson will coach the Golden Flashes running backs after spending the past two seasons as an offensive graduate assistant with the Orange.  Both Lewis and MacPherson were on Dino Babers‘ staff at the ‘Cuse.

The other full-time assistant hired by Lewis are as follows:

Zac Barton — special teams coordinator
Brian Cochran — defensive line
Jon Cooley — safeties coach
Matt Middleton — wide receivers coach
Bill O’Boyle — offensive line

Nearly two weeks ago, Lewis announced the hiring of his coordinators on both sides of the ball.

Western Kentucky’s Joel Iyiegbuniwe declares early for draft

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There’s a new leader in the clubhouse for “Early Entrant With the Most Vowels in his Surname.”

On his personal Twitter account over the weekend, Joel Iyiegbuniwe announced that he is leaving Western Kentucky early and making himself available for the April NFL draft. The linebacker, a native of Bowling Green, Kent., stated that he came to his decision “[a]fter much thought, prayer and discussion with my family, coaches and advisors.”

This past season, Iyiegbuniwe led the Hilltoppers in tackles with 117, tackles for loss with 11.5 and forced fumbles with three. He was named first-team All-Conference USA following the regular season.

Including last season, Iyiegbuniwe had started 27 straight games at outside linebacker for the Hilltoppers.

Today is the deadline for draft-eligible players to inform the NFL of their intentions.