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.

Report: Ex-South Alabama coach Joey Jones heading to Mississippi State

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After stepping down from his position as head coach at South Alabama, Joey Jones will remain in the coaching game this fall. According to a report from Steve Robertson of 247 Sports, Jones will join the Mississippi State coaching staff and serve as the special teams coordinator for head coach Joe Moorhead.

Jones was the head coach of the upstart South Alabama program from 2008 through 2017. As head coach of the Jaguars, Jones was 52-50 and the program played in two bowl games. Among the highlights for Jones during his time at South Alabama, ironically, was a 21-20 upset victory over Mississippi State to open the 2016 season. South Alabama was a four-touchdown underdog against the Bulldogs and survived for an upset win after Mississippi State kicker missed an extra point attempt. Mississippi State held leads of 17-0 and 20-7 in the game before letting it slip away.

The hiring of Jones continues a trend for Moorhead in building his first coaching staff with the Bulldogs. Although Moorhead has his own experience as a head coach prior to his arrival at Mississippi State, Moorhead has been building his coaching staff with assistants with previous head coaching experience as well. Tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth and quarterback coach Andrew Breiner each bring head coaching experience to the program that, in theory, will make for a more competent coaching staff on the sidelines this fall and moving forward.

Jones will replace Scott Fountain, who left Mississippi State for Georgia amid the coaching carousel this offseason.

Chris Ash plucks new Rutgers assistant from Indiana

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In filling a hole on his Rutgers coaching staff, Chris Ash turned to a fellow Big Ten school to do it.

RU confirmed Thursday morning that Ash has added Noah Joseph as one of his 10 Scarlet Knight assistants.  Joseph has been named as the football program’s co-defensive coordinator and will also serve as safeties coach.

Joseph had spent the past four seasons coaching safeties at Indiana.  He was also that program’s defensive recruiting coordinator.

“I’d like to welcome Noah and his family to our football program,” said Ash in a statement. “His extensive experience coaching defensive backs in the Big Ten will be a tremendous asset for our players. He is a great teacher and outstanding recruiter.”

Prior to his time in Bloomington, his first on-field job at the FBS level was at North Texas as safeties coach from 2012-13.

Marshall’s Larry Aaron, paralyzed in New Year’s Eve shooting, dies

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Sadly, what was already a tragic situation at Marshall has taken an even more heartbreaking turn.

The Thundering Herd confirmed Thursday afternoon that rising redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Larry Aaron died earlier in the day at a Maryland hospital.  Aaron was paralyzed from the waist down after being struck by a stray bullet during a New Year’s Eve party, and passed away as a result of complications connected to those injuries he sustained in the shooting.

According to reports at the time, Aaron had stepped in front of his girlfriend to shield her from the bullets.

“Marshall University lost a very special young man today and it has shocked and saddened us all,” a statement from Marshall head coach Doc Holliday began. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Larry Aaron’s family and friends, many of whom were his fellow Thundering Herd teammates. His loss will be felt in every corner of our program and his spirit will never be forgotten.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, Aaron played in eight games this past season.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those impacted by Aaron’s senseless death.

Alabama confirms handful of staff changes, including addition of Miami’s DL coach

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An offseason of upheaval on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has apparently come to an official end.

Early Thursday afternoon, the Crimson Tide announced the additions of two new assistant coaches as well as the promotions/new responsibilities for others on the staff last season.  As previously reported HERE and HERE, the new hires are Dan Enos as quarterbacks coach and Craig Kuligowski as defensive line coach.  Both coaches, who come to Tuscaloosa from Michigan and Miami, respectively, will also carry the titles of associate head coach.

“We are pleased and happy to have Dan Enos joining our coaching staff at The University of Alabama,” Saban said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge with five years of head coaching experience and numerous stops as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dan is a bright football mind and an outstanding recruiter who will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best chance to be successful.”

In addition to those hirings, Saban also confirmed that Mike Locksley (HERE) has been promoted to offensive coordinator and Tosh Lupoi (HERE) has been promoted to defensive coordinator.  Locksley replaces Brian Daboll, who left after one season in Tuscaloosa for the same job with the Buffalo Bills last month, while Lupoi takes over for Jeremy Pruitt, who left after Alabama’s win in the national championship game to take over as the head coach at Tennessee.

As had previously been announced, Jeff Banks will serve as special teams coordinator while also being in charge of the Tide’s tight ends.  Josh Gattis, who was confirmed as the new wide receivers coach late last month, will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator, while Pete Golding, in addition to his duties as inside linebackers coach, has been given the title of co-defensive coordinator.

And, finally, Burton Burns will step away from his longtime role as running backs coach and take on an unspecified off-field position.  Replacing Burns in his on-field role is Joe Pannunzio, who had been in charge of tight ends.