Clemson v Syracuse

Dabo would ‘be surprised’ if Sammy Watkins returned


Entering 2013, most observers outside the Clemson football program assumed this would be Sammy Watkins‘ final season with the Tigers.

Tuesday, one of the most in-the-know individuals inside the program concurred with that assumption.

As it does every year around this time with the clock wing down on another season, the questioning of head coach Dabo Swinney turned to Watkins and the wide receiver’s future in Orange & White.  Instead of hemming and hawing around the issue, Swinney was blunt in his assessment of where he thinks Watkins will wind up playing football in 2014.

“He’s a Top 10 pick to me,” Swinney said of the April 2014 NFL draft. “I’d be surprised if he came back, but who knows?  I didn’t think C.J. Spiller was coming back.”

Spiller surprised most everyone, including those close to him, by returning to Clemson for his senior season and eschewing what would’ve been a first-round spot in the 2009 NFL draft; he was the No. 9 pick in the 2010 draft.

It’s highly doubtful, though, lightning will strike twice for Swinney.

Watkins, eligible for the 2014 draft as he’ll be three years removed from high school, is widely viewed as one of the top receivers who could possibly be available next April.  Most mock drafts have Watkins slotted comfortably inside the Top 15, with stock that’s expected to do nothing but rise once combine season rolls around.

For his part, Watkins, who is closing in on yet another handful of school receiving records, is not giving much public lip service to next year quite yet.  He does, though, sound like a player who knows he’s in the midst of a season-long audition.

“As a coach and as a player, we don’t know where I would go in the draft. It’s kind of a tricky system,” Watkins said. “All I can do is keep playing hard and give the scouts what they’re looking for, and everything will work out in the end.”

Watkins, as will be the case with multiple other draft-eligible players in a similar situation, will likely submit his paperwork to the NFL draft advisory council at some point in the near future.  Those players, including Watkins, will have until mid-January to formally declare their intention to leave eligibility on the table and enter the draft or return for another season at the collegiate level.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.