Alabama joins LSU in offering scholarship to eighth grader

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Last summer, we noted that LSU had taken the unusual — but not unprecedented — step in offering a scholarship to a 14-year-old prospect who had yet to complete his junior-high playing career let alone high school.

Seven months later, a recruiting behemoth from the same conference has hopped on the way-too-early offer train as well.

The father of eighth grader Dylan Moses confirmed to al.com that Alabama had offered his son a scholarship over the weekend.  The offer came in the midst of the Tide’s Junior Day event and was one of several handed out.

Like everyone else, Edward Moses says he was surprised by the offer that came wrapped in a pretty little “your son could be the best player in the Class of 2017” bow.

“We got the invitation to come to Alabama’s Junior Day a few weeks ago and to be honest we were kind of surprised,” said Dylan’s father Edward Moses Jr. “When we got there, Coach (Burton) Burns took us around and introduced us to the entire coaching staff and they all seemed very interested in Dylan. They treated him like a five-star recruit.”

“We met with Coach Saban after lunch and he talked to Dylan about his future and what he needed to do to achieve his potential as a student and as a football player. When he said he was offering Dylan a scholarship, we asked a lot of questions just to make sure we knew exactly what he meant. Coach Saban said the Alabama staff believes Dylan has a chance to be the best player in the country in the Class of 2017 and they were ready to offer him a scholarship. That’s when the fireworks started going off in our heads.”

Just to reiterate, Moses has yet to complete the eighth grade and will not make his high school football debut for about six months.

Moses, who lives a short distance from LSU’s Tiger Stadium, has yet to give a verbal commitment to either of the schools, although he did say last July after his first scholarship offer that he’s “always wanted to play for LSU since I was a kid, and now it’s coming true in front of my eyes.”  The elder Moses added that the family isn’t “putting any pressure on him with the recruiting process right now” and that his son doesn’t “feels any need to rush his decision.”

As previously noted, this is not exactly an unprecedented move on the part of either Alabama or LSU.  At around the time Moses was receiving an offer from LSU, 14-year-old San Diego quarterback Tate Martell was on the receiving end of one from Washington.

Neither of those players are the youngest, however (unfortunately?), as that honor falls to David Sills, who was a 13-year-old quarterback when he received a scholarship offer from Lane Kiffin and USC.  Unlike Moses, though, Sills verbally committed to the Trojans; three years later, and after sitting in on positional meetings with Trojan players and coaches, both the commitment and offer remains rock solid.

Sills will be a member of the 2015 recruiting class.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.