Marcus Mariota

Mariota wants to ‘hold off’ on NFL talk until season ends

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As the 2013 college football season has (sadly) reached its midpoint, more and more attention is turning to a pair of three-letter acronyms: the BCS and NFL.

Marcus Mariota and his Oregon Ducks have positioned themselves for a run at the former.  Conversely, many folks are beginning to think the quarterback should make a run at the latter following the end of the season.

Mariota’s 2013 season has been nothing short of spectacular and has placed him squarely on not only the Heisman radar, but on the NFL’s as well.  In playing time this season that essentially amounts to 17 quarters in the Ducks’ first six games — he’s played into the fourth quarter just once, and past the halfway point (roughly) of the third quarter in only three games —  Mariota has passed for 17 touchdowns and rushed for another eight.  He’s fifth in the country in passing efficiency  — a 60.6 completion percentage is pushing that rating down — and sixth in total offense per game at 358.3, again in large part because he’s yet to play a full game.

Arguably the most impressive thing Mariota’s done this season is something that he actually hasn’t done: in his 165 attempts, he’s yet to throw an interception.  Add in the fact that he has yet to lose a football — he fumbled once, vs. Tennessee, but recovered it — and Mariota hasn’t turned the ball over in 206 pass/run touches.

As Mariota is a third-year sophomore, he would be eligible for the NFL draft next April.  A trio of respected NFL draft experts have Mariota going third-overall in their latest mock drafts,  In his Monday Morning Quarterback posted yesterday, Peter King wrote that Mariota could be the No. 1-overall pick in the upcoming draft if he decides to come out.

As more and more NFL talk in connection to Mariota begins to surface, the player has not so unexpectedly brushed aside any rumblings of his leaving the Ducks, preferring to remain focused on the here and now and putting any conversations regarding an early leap to the professional level on the back-burner.

“My family and I have decided to hold off on these conversations until after the season,” Mariota told John Canzano of 750-AM in Portland during a radio interview Monday. “We’re obviously going to put the pros and cons together, and we’re going to do what’s best for the family.

“At the same time, my education is important… I love Oregon. I love the community. We’ll decide when the time is right.”

Selfishly, we hope Mariota stays in Eugene for another two years.  Realistically, no one could, or at least should, begrudge the talented young man if he decided to take said talent out of the non-paying collegiate game and ply his wares at the NFL level.

And if he truly does have the opportunity to go No. 1 overall?  That could make the decision even more of a no-brainer than it already may be.

ECU transfer Kurt Benkert wins Virginia’s starting QB job

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina.  Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.

First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond.  Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

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Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.

Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.

In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth.  His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.

Cassius Peat granted release by Mich. St., appears headed to JUCO

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  A Michigan State Spartans helmet on the bench during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on November 15, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 37-15.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”

A week or so later?  He gone.

MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans.  And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.

Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.

However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.

Ex-Oregon St. DB goes home to LaTech as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Justin Davis #22 of the USC Trojans is defended by safety Cyril Noland-Lewis #17 of the Oregon State Beavers in the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Oregon State 35-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.

The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program.  As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.

Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season.  Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner.  OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.

The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.

Tyler Rodgers, NMSU’s starting QB, arrested on battery charge

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tyler Rogers #18 of the New Mexico State Aggies drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14.  The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.

The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”

The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.

“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”

Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.

Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.