No decision yet, but Manziel feels he’s ready for the NFL

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It officially remains to be seen whether Johnny Manziel will do the expected and leave Texas A&M early for the NFL.  There’s little doubt, though, that the quarterback has confidence in his readiness to do so if that’s the path he ultimately takes.

Ahead of the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday, the reigning winner, who’s a finalist for this year’s award, was asked if he thought he was ready to play at the next level as early as next season.

In my mind, I think I am,” Manziel said according to Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I feel like I’m playing, for the most part, at a really high level of football. I’m putting the ball where I want it to be and I’m throwing it with a lot of velocity.”

Late last month, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was quoted as saying Manziel would announce a decision on his playing future prior to the Aggies’ bowl game.  Sumlin later clarified those remarks, intimating that decision from the redshirt sophomore wouldn’t come until after A&M’s season was complete.

As for his current timeline for a decision, Burch writes that Manziel “will use ‘the next couple of weeks…’ to huddle with A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, private passing instructor George Whitfield Jr. and others before making his call about calling it a career at A&M.”  The Aggies will face Duke in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl; at some point between then and the mid-January deadline for draft-eligible players to declare their intentions, Manziel will make his decision public.

It’s expected that, once Manziel gathers all of the information from those he trusts, the quarterback will officially declare for the April draft.  Coming off a season in which, as Burch notes, he tossed more touchdown passes and had a higher completion percentage than in his Heisman-winning debut season — and four more interceptions, to be fair — Manziel is looked upon as the prototypical draft wildcard.

While viewed as a first-round pick by most draftniks, his positioning in that round is wildly varied.  One CBSSports.com draft expert has him going No. 4 overall, while SBNation.com sees him at No. 20.  Sports Illustrated has him inside the Top 10 at No. 8, while FOXSports.com slots him just outside the Top 10 at No. 11.

Rotoworld‘s Josh Norris, meanwhile, rates Manziel as the No. 28 draft-eligible player.  In other words, get ready for some very Tebow-ish debate over the next four months… if Manziel leaves collegiate eligibility on the table, of course.

Report: Big 12 still raking in SEC-level cash

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It’s a bad time for the Big 12. The conference isn’t signing blue chip prospects at the rate of its peers, isn’t producing draft picks at the rate of its peers and isn’t reaching and winning big games at the rate of its peers.

But the Big 12 is still getting paid at the rate of its peers.

The league’s contracts with ESPN and FOX combined with its 10-team set up have allowed the Big 12 to keep pace with the SEC and Big Ten and remain ahead of the ACC and Pac-12 in financial distribution. The Dallas Morning News‘s Big 12 writer Chuck Carlton tweeted on Friday the league’s per-school distribution will again grow 10 percent to more than $33 million in 2017-18.

The SEC distributed just north of $40 million in 2016-17, while the Big Ten was at $33 million by 2014-15.

However, since the Big 12 does not have its own television network, its conference distributions do not include third-tier rights, which its schools keep and sell on their own — like the Longhorn Network. So schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are likely getting paid equal or above their SEC and Big Ten peers.

Now if only they could start recruiting and winning like them, too.

Former Texas DT Jordan Elliott headed to Mizzou

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Former Texas defensive tackle Jordan Elliott will now be a Missouri Tiger, he announced on Friday.

Elliott chose Missouri to follow Brick Haley, his defensive line coach in Austin that landed at Mizzou after Charlie Strong‘s firing.

“They’re a program that’s on the come up, SEC ball is the highest level,” Elliott said in an interview with Power Mizzou. “Coach Haley is one of the best D-Line coaches out there. Missouri’s a powerhouse for defensive linemen. They’re coming and going first round every year. That’s real appealing to me.

“I talked to coach Haley and got it rolling.”

Elliott was a Signing Day addition to Strong’s 2016 class who was committed to Michigan before his late flip. He said that his one season in Austin amounted to a year-long version of buyer’s remorse.

“There’s a lot of speculation going around, but at the end of the day I just wasn’t happy there,” he said. “It’s nothing against the coaches at Texas, they’re great coaches. It’s a great program and I really learned a lot of things, but I just never really enjoyed Texas since I first got there.”

Elliott posted eight tackles and 1.5 TFLs in six appearances as a true freshman last season before suffering a torn MCL against Iowa State in October.

He would have been in line for starter’s snaps had he remained on Tom Herman‘s squad this fall. Instead, Elliott will sit out the 2017 campaign and have three years remaining to compete as a Tiger beginning in ’18.

 

WATCH: FCS player paralyzed in 2015 game vs. Georgia walks

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Tired of the continuous stream of negative college football news? Here ya go.

During a September 2015 game against Georgia, Southern wide receiver Devon Gales sustained a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed and hospitalized for five months. This week, Gales used Twitter to offer up a very encouraging and inspiring update — the former wide receiver, with the assist of a couple of physical therapists, taking a dozen steps.

On the way indeed.

In February, Georgia announced that it was launching “Drive to Build a Dawg House” for Gales and his family.

Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan avoids felony pot possession charge

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One of the top playmakers in Nebraska’s passing game has avoided what was originally a serious legal charge.

According to KETV-TV in Omaha, Stanley Morgan was arrested following a traffic stop May 6 in Port Orange, Fla., for possession of 21.4 grams of marijuana; according to the penal code in the state of Florida, possession of more than 20 grams of weed is considered a felony.  However, the television station wrote, “prosecutors charged the case as ‘possession of cannabis not more than 20 grams,’ making it a misdemeanor.”

Why the the charge against Morgan went from a potential felony to a misdemeanor — or reduced as the Associated Press reported — wasn’t detailed.  A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia charge was dropped as well.

Cornhuskers defensive back Antonio Reed was also in the vehicle that was driven by his teammate and was charged with misdemeanor pot possession as well.

“Head Coach Mike Riley and the Athletics Department are aware of a recent incident in Florida involving Stanley Morgan Jr.,” a statement from the university began. “We will have no additional comment until we have all information regarding this matter.”

Morgan’s 33 receptions for 453 yards were second on the team last season.  With Jordan Westerkamp‘s departure, the junior is the Cornhuskers’ leading returning receiver.

Also a junior, Reed played in 22 games last season.  He was credited with 22 tackles.