Should Johnny Manziel go to the NFL? Decision looms for Heisman winner

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By the time Texas A&M plays their bowl game this upcoming postseason the world will know what the future holds for Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and one of the favorites for the 2013 award is executed to make his decision before Texas A&M’s bowl game, according to reports Friday.

During a radio interview on Friday, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said he has not had the NFL future discussion with Manziel but does expect to know what will be happening in the offseason before the Aggies play their bowl game.

“We haven’t had that conversation,” Sumlin said. “My job is to get him all the facts that we can get him. We’ll have that discussion after the Missouri game, certainly during the bowl preparation. I’m sure the announcement will be made at that time.”

The Missouri game is the final game of the regular season on Texas A&M’s schedule.

Everybody will have an opinion on what Manziel should do. If Manziel does become just the second player to win the Heisman Trophy a second time, there will be little reason to prove and return in 2014. And Manziel may very well make history as a two-time Heisman Trophy winner. His passing numbers are improved in just about eery statistical category that matters. Manziel has thrown a few more interceptions this season than last year but his passing accuracy, touchdown total and yards per attempt are all up and his passing yardage should jump up this season despite less playing time this season for one reason or another. Still, at times Manziel does things that just do not feel as though they would blend well in the NFL.

What are those concerns? Heaving passes up and hoping Mike Evans can come down with it is one. In the NFL, Manziel will lose the benefit of the doubt of having the best player in the open field every play being able to come down with passes that will be up for grabs in the NFL. Holding the football away from his body is another. When Manziel makes the decision to run, he can be quite effective in weaving in and out of trouble, but he tends to hold the football out away from his body. In the college game he can get away with that but in the NFL he will be a bit more neutralized when it comes to speed and NFL players will have a better chance of knocking a football loose unless he keeps it closer to his body.

These are just mild concerns perhaps, and they are most certainly correctable. We do not know yet whether Manziel has the ability to break that mold or if he is even aware of some potential shortcomings he may have in the NFL. Another factor in to Manziel’s decision-making could be whether or not Sumlin is back as head coach. It is likely Sumlin is the head coach at Texas A&M next season, but what if he decides to leave for USC (or Texas)?

Should Manziel leave Texas A&M and enter the NFL Draft? He would likely be a first or second round draft pick, and his stock may not get much higher than that if he returned in 2014 for one more year. There had also been plenty of good examples to learn from about quarterbacks making the decision to come back for one more year of college before leaving for the NFL that did not quite go as planned (Matt Barkley, Jake Locker).

Just a hunch, but Manziel is going to be playing Sundays in 2014.

Five-star LB out for rest of Ohio State’s spring after shoulder surgery

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Some negative injury news comes with a bit of a silver lining for one of the highest-rated members of Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class.

Urban Meyer confirmed Tuesday that true freshman linebacker Baron Browning will miss the remainder of spring practice because of an injury.  The early enrollee underwent surgery Tuesday morning to repair an unspecified issue in his shoulder.  The Buckeyes head coach declined to reveal the details surrounding the issue that led to the medical procedure, although one report indicated it’s a torn labrum.

The good news for OSU is that Browning should be able to return to football activities at some pint in June.  Barring a setback, he’s expected to be a full participant in summer camp at the start of August.

A five-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2017 recruiting class, Browning was rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 11 player on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only two signees in an OSU class that ranked second nationally were rated higher than Browning (.9936) — cornerback Jeffrey Okudah (.9954) and defensive end Chase Young (.9953).

Browning is expected to contribute immediately as a true freshman this season.

Kentucky transfer WR Jeff Badet moves on to Oklahoma

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Jeff Badet may have left Kentucky, but he hasn’t climbed out from underneath the Stoops coaching umbrella.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday morning, Badet revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma.  The Sooners, of course, are coached by Bob Stoops; the wide receiver’s former program, the Wildcats, are coached by Mark Stoops.

Badet chose OU over another Big 12 school, West Virginia.  The receiver had paid a visit to Morgantown late last month.

In mid-January, the Wildcats announced that Badet had decided to transfer out of the UK football program.  Badet is on schedule to graduate in May, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Sooners.

A three-star member of the Wildcats’ 2013 recruiting class, Badet was third on the team in receptions and receiving yards as a true freshman.  A leg injury in spring practice the following year — a tennis ball to the eye didn’t help either — led Badet to miss the 2014 season.  Returning in 2015, he was third in receiving (29-430); in 2016, he led the team in receiving yards (670) and yards per catch (21.6).

That latter number was tops in the SEC and sixth nationally.

Rutgers grad transfer tight end moves on to Pitt

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Matt Flanagan has officially moved on from one former Big East program to another.

In a missive posted to his personal Twitter account Monday, Flanagan revealed that he will enroll at Pittsburgh in short order and continue his collegiate playing career with the Panthers.  The tight end is expected to graduate in May from Rutgers, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately for his new team during the 2017 season.

This will be Flanagan’s final season of eligibility.

The past three seasons, Flanagan played in 33 games for the Scarlet Knights. In that time, he caught 18 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns.

Flanagan also takes the student part of the student-athlete moniker very seriously. From nj.com:

The former Rutgers tight end told NJ Advance Media last November that his goal was to find a master’s program in a research-based science discipline. At the time, he called his decision “purely academic.”

At Rutgers, Flanagan is part of a select group of Rutgers students studying at the Aresty Research Center. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Flanagan spent three years researching with the hopes of publishing findings on the effects of Creatine — the same supplement made famous by MLB sluggers like Mark McGwire — and how it impacts the cells that synthesize bone.

At his new program, he’ll join a squad that doesn’t return any tight ends who have caught a pass at the collegiate level.

Syracuse makes hiring of D-II Coach of the Year official

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Dino Babers‘ second coaching staff is whole once again.

Following up on reports that first surfaced late last week, Syracuse confirmed in a press release that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) has left his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as Babers’ running backs coach.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.

“The job Justin did as a first-time head coach was fantastic,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s also been a highly-successful assistant coach. The running backs he has coached have performed extremely well, and his special teams units have consistently ranked among the nation’s best. We’re very excited to welcome Justin and his family to Syracuse.”

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.

This will mark Lustig’s first job of any kind at a Power Five program.

“My family and I are excited, honored and grateful for the opportunity to come to Syracuse and join Coach Babers’ staff,” Lustig said. “He is building a championship program there. The future of Syracuse football is very bright and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”