The exodus of underclassmen to the NFL continues.
This time it’s USC junior tight end Xavier Grimble, who told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday night that he has decided to declare for the NFL draft.
“I’ve been at ‘SC for four years and have had a pretty productive career,” Grimble told The Times in a phone interview Tuesday night. “I’m healthy and just want to move on and give it a shot…. I feel like it was kind of my time.”
Grimble is the fifth Trojan to declare early for the draft, joining wide out Marqise Lee, center Marcus Martin, safety Dion Bailey and defensive tackle George Uko.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder — ranked the No. 1 prep tight end in the class of 2010 — caught 69 passes and scored five touchdowns in his USC career, with 25 catches and two touchdowns coming this past season.
His departure leaves the Trojans with two scholarship tight ends, senior Randall Telfer and junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, both of whom played a lot this past fall (when healthy). USC also has a verbal commitment from one of the top high school tight ends in the country, Bryce Dixon, of Ventura, Calif., so Grimble is leaving the Trojan tight end position in able hands.
Another former Baylor Bear has found himself a landing spot, although this time it’s not rival Texas that’s the beneficiary.
On Twitter overnight, Kam Martin announced that he has committed to play his college football for the Auburn Tigers. The running back’s decision came shortly after the Texas native took a visit to The Plains.
Martin opted for Auburn over TCU.
“The main reason I committed to Auburn was because it’s family, man,” Martin told SEC Country in an interview after announcing his decision. “Those guys did everything that I wanted to hear and everything speaks for itself. It’s the SEC, one of the biggest fan bases in the nation and I just want to be a part of something big and special.”
Martin was one of five 2016 Baylor signees who were granted releases by the university from their National Letters of Intent last week. A four-star 2016 signee according to 247Sports.com, the 5-10, 178-pound Johnson was rated as the No. 7 all-purpose back in the country; the No. 39 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 268 player overall on that recruiting website’s composite board.
As is the case with other 2016 Bears signees who have fled Waco, Johnson will be eligible to play immediately in 2016.
In Auburn’s 113-year history, it’s never played a Big Ten opponent in a regular season game. That’ll change in five years.
Penn State and Auburn announced Monday morning a home-and-home series to take place in 2021 and 2022. The first game will be played in State College on Sept. 18, 2021 and the return will take place at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.
“This is another great opportunity for our players and fans to be part of something special,” Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. “Bringing together elite programs rich in tradition is what college football is all about. We look forward to this home-and-home series with Penn State.”
Making matters betters is the home-and-home nature of this series, instead of playing it as a neutral site one-off to begin a season. Those games are fun (and, far more importantly, generate a ton of revenue) but having Penn State travel to Alabama and Tigers fans going to State College is a far better experience for traveling fanbases.
Auburn and Penn State have met twice before in bowl games, with the most recent meeting a 13-9 Tigers win in the 2003 Capital One Bowl.
Penn State also added a 2021 home game against Ball State on Monday, per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.
Notre Dame rising redshirt junior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr.‘s status with Brian Kelly’s football team won’t change after he signed with the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend.
Hunter is Notre Dame’s leading returning receiver after catching 28 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns last year. But even though he now has a professional baseball contract, his focus will remain on football and the beginning of preseason camp in August.
Hunter, the son of former Minnesota Twins, Angels and Detroit Tigers All-Star/Gold Glover Torii Hunter Sr., was a 23rd-round pick in this year’s MLB Draft.
Hunter, an outfielder, was primarily used as a pinch runner and defensive replacement for Mik Aoki’s Irish baseball team this spring. He worked a crazy schedule (“what is sleep?” he asked) to split time between baseball, spring football and classwork in March and April and hit .182/.308/.182 in 11 at-bats.
Hunter’s baseball highlight came at Florida State, though, a few days after he made a spectacular catch reeling in a Malik Zaire deep ball in Notre Dame’s Blue and Gold Game.
Auburn could be the beneficiary of an offensive transfer in the not-too-distant future, but the football program has apparently sustained a loss on the other side of the ball.
In a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account Sunday, Justin Thomas-Thornton revealed that he will be “pursuing my collegiate football and academic endeavors elsewhere.” The defensive lineman gave no reason for his decision to leave The Plains.
Thomas-Thornton, a four-star 2014 signee, played in the 2015 opener against Louisville, but didn’t see any other action the remainder of the year.
If Thomas-Thornton opts for another FBS program, he will be forced to sit out the 2016 season. He’d then be left with two seasons of eligibility that he’d be able to use beginning in 2017.