Last weekend, Marqise Lee stated that he “probably” would make a decision on his football future in the week after USC’s bowl game.
With a Trojans’ postseason win in the books, and for whatever it’s worth, the wide receiver’s self-appointed deadline has been stretched out a bit.
In the immediate aftermath of USC’s 45-20 trouncing of Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl Saturday, Lee said that he will make a decision on returning to the Trojans (highly unlikely) or making an early jump to the NFL (very likely) “within the next two weeks.” The junior said he would consult with, among others, new head coach Steve Sarkisian and athletic director Pat Haden.
The deadline for draft-eligible players to declare their NFL intentions is mid-January.
If as expected Lee makes the early leap to the NFL, the true junior is projected to be one of the first receivers taken. In what could be his final season at this level, though, Lee has battled both injuries and a coaching change in what’s easily been the worst of his three seasons in the Land of Troy.
His first two seasons with the Trojans, Lee totaled 191 receptions and 25 touchdowns, including 118 and 14 in 2012. Because of the injuries — and Matt Barkley‘s departure — Lee had just 50 catches and two touchdowns this season entering the bowl game. He had caught two or fewer passes in three of the nine games he’s played this year; that had happened just four times in 25 career games entering 2013.
In what could very well be his final game as a Trojan, Lee totaled seven receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Bulldogs. The yards and scores were season highs, while the catches were tied for his most (twice) since eight in the season opener Aug. 29 against Hawaii.
Most expect Josh Rosen to be one of the first quarterbacks selected when the next NFL draft rolls around. Rosen’s coach, though, doesn’t see the outspoken junior being a part of the pool of available draftees.
“My firm belief is that he will not leave,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora told Yahoo Sports‘ Pete Thamel over the weekend. “I don’t think he’ll leave. …
“I want a disclaimer, I have an option to change my opinion. But as we sit here right now, I can really honestly say I don’t think he’s going to leave.”
Mora’s proclamation comes less than two weeks before the Bruins kick off the 2017 season and around five months before draft-eligible early entrants have to officially file their paperwork with the NFL.
Rosen flashed brilliance as a true freshman in 2015, passing for nearly 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns. His sophomore campaign was marred by a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder that sidelined him for the final six games of the season. Rosen has resoundingly rebounded from that health issue, and will head into the 2017 season 100-percent healthy.
Whether he enters the 2018 season 100-percent Bruin remains, his head coach’s confidence notwithstanding, highly unlikely or even doubtful, especially given his recent comments that football and school don’t mix.
Not surprisingly, more details are surfacing in Hugh Freeze‘s unceremonious exit from Oxford.
Freeze resigned as the head football coach at Ole Miss last month in part because of Jan. 19 phone call to an escort service that was initially deemed to be a misdial. According to the Wall Street Journal, that call came a few hours after a university plane landed in Tampa, Fla., as part of a five-day, 13-stop recruiting trip. On that plane was Freeze as well as other members of the Rebels football staff.
The discovery of the link between the call and recruiting trip came after a review of phone records and other documents.
After Freeze’s “resignation,” Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork described an unspecified pattern of personal misconduct that led to the coach’s departure. Bjork somewhat expounded on that pattern to the Journal.
Although school officials had previously declined to characterize the alleged misconduct, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in response to questions from the Journal about Freeze’s travel that the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.
“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them,” Bjork said. “We took action swiftly.
Speculation of late has there being more, potentially much more, to Freeze’s forced resignation. Only time will tell how much more will ultimately come out — especially if another former Ole Miss head coach’s lawsuit, kicked out of federal court for lack of jurisdiction, is revived in the state of Mississippi as expected.
In his college football preview Bible, the great Phil Steele had Michael Pittman listed as one of three starting wide receivers for USC. With the start of a new season a little more than two weeks away, Pittman doesn’t appear set to make that magazine projection come to fruition.
According to multiple reports, Pittman suffered an ankle injury during practice Tuesday and was taken off the field via a cart after having a boot placed on his left foot. While X-rays taken post-practice showed no break or fracture, the sophomore has been diagnosed with the dreaded high-ankle sprain.
As a result, the Los Angeles Daily News writes that “[i]t seems unlikely he would be able to play against Western Michigan.” Rivals.com tweeted that the injury “[p]robably keeps him out of season opener.”
At least for now, the football program has yet to officially rule Pittman out for the opener.
Pittman was a four-star 2016 recruit, rated as the No. 9 receiver in the country. As a true freshman last season, he caught six passes for 82 yards.
In a span of just a few hours, Lane Kiffin Tuesday bolstered his first Florida Atlantic roster with a pair of Power Five transfers.
In the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, Auburn confirmed that John Franklin III had decided to transfer from the Tigers in order to be closer to his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home. Not long after, the quarterback-turned-wide receiver revealed on his Instagram account that he is “coming home and looking forward to playing my last collegiate season at FAU under Coach Lane Kiffin.”
Franklin would come to the Owls as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility.
Not even four hours later, Chris Robison took to social media on his private Twitter account to announce that he too will be transferring into Kiffin’s FAU program. The quarterback was dismissed by Oklahoma earlier this month for violating unspecified team rules.
A four-star member of the Sooners’ 2017 recruiting class, Robison was rated as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 29 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 173 recruit on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. As an early enrollee, Robison took part in spring practice and played in the spring game, completing 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards.
Roughly 12 hours after that game, he was arrested for being drunk in public. Because of only what were described as “personal reasons,” Robison wasn’t enrolled in summer classes and didn’t take part in football workouts during the same period.