Johnny Manziel

SEC, Alabama lead list of invitees to NFL combine

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The NFL has announced the names of the 335 players who will be invited to its annual scouting combine held in Indianapolis on Feb. 19-24, CBSSports.com reported on Thursday.

The SEC leads all conferences with 71 invitees, while Alabama leads all schools with 12.

The ACC was second with 48 invitees while the Pac-12 had 45, the Big Ten had 36 and the Big 12 had 25. LSU was second to Alabama with 11 invitees, while Notre Dame and Florida State had nine and Stanford had eight.

A record 85 underclassmen will be going to the combine as well, which makes sense since a record 98 players declared early for the NFL draft.

Getting invited to the combine is no guarantee of being drafted, but it does tell us which players are on the NFL’s radar as of right now.

The list, by position:

QUARTERBACKS
*Bortles, Blake, Central Florida
Boyd, Tajh, Clemson
Bridgewater, Theodore (Teddy), Louisville
Carr, Derek, Fresno State
Fales, David, San Jose State
Garoppolo, James (Jimmy), Eastern Illinois
Lynch, Jordan, Northern Illinois
*Manziel, Johnnyxas A & M
Mathews, Jeffrey (Jeff), Cornell
McCarron, Raymond (A.J.), Alabama
Mettenberger, Zachary (Zach), Louisiana State
Morris, Stephen, Miami
Murray, Aaron, Georgia
Renner, Bryn, North Carolina
Savage, Thomas (Tom), Pittsburgh
Shaw, Connor, South Carolina
Thomas, Logan, Virginia Tech
Vaughan, Dustin, West Texas A & M
Wenning, Keith, Ball State

RUNNING BACKS
Andrews, Antonio, Western Kentucky
Archer, Dri, Kent State
*Atkinson, George, Notre Dame
*Bibbs, Kapri, Colorado State
*Blue, Alfred, Louisiana State
*Carey, Ka’deem, Arizona
Copeland, Javoddron (J.C.), Louisiana State
Cornett, Timothy (Tim), Nevada – Las Vegas
*Crowell, Isaiah, Alabama State
Flanders, Timothy, Sam Houston State
Fluellen, David, Toledo
*Freeman, Devonta, Florida State
Gaffney, Tyler, Stanford
Grice, Marion, Arizona State
Hewitt, Ryan, Stanford
*Hill, Jeremy, Louisiana State
Hyde, Carlos, Ohio State
*Johnson, Westleigh (Storm), Central Florida
*Josey, Henry, Missouri
*Mason, Tre, Auburn
Mc Kinnon, Jerick, Georgia Southern
Millard, Trey, Oklahoma
*Muema, Adam, San Diego State
Perkins, Ladarius, Mississippi State
Redd, Silas, Southern California
*Sankey, Bishop, Washington
*Seastrunk, Lache, Baylor
Sims, Charles, West Virginia
*Smith, Jerome, Syracuse
Taliaferro, Lorenzo, Coastal Carolina
*Thomas, De’anthony, Oregon
*Westrrance, Towson
White, James, Wisconsin
*Wilder, James, Florida State
Williams, Andre, Boston College
Williams, Damien, Oklahoma

TIGHT ENDS
*Amaro, Jacexas Tech
Blanchflower, Robert (Rob), Massachusetts
Burton, Lawrence (Trey), Florida
Denham, Anthony (A.D.), Utah
Duncan, Joseph (Joe Don), Dixie
*Ebron, Eric, North Carolina
Fedorowicz, Colton (C.J.), Iowa
Gillmore, Crockett, Colorado State
*Grimble, Xavier, Southern California
*Jacobs, Nicholas (Nic), Mc Neese State
Jensen, Marcel, Fresno State
Jordan, Reginald (Reggie), Missouri Western State
*Leonard, A.C.nnessee State
*Lyerla, Colt, Oregon
Lynch, Arthur, Georgia
*Murphy, Jake, Utah
Najvar, Jordan, Baylor
*Niklas, Troy, Notre Dame
Pedersen, Jacob (Jake), Wisconsin
*Rodgers, Richard, California
*Seferian-Jenkins, Austin, Washington
Tialavea, Donald (D.J.), Utah State

WIDE RECEIVERS
Abbrederis, Jared, Wisconsin
*Adams, Davante, Fresno State
*Beckham, Odell, Louisiana State
*Benjamin, Kelvin, Florida State
*Boyd, Christopher, Vanderbilt
Brown, Corey (Philly), Ohio State
Brown, John, Pittsburg State
*Bryant, Martavis, Clemson
Burse, Isaiah, Fresno State
Campanaro, Michael, Wake Forest
*Coleman, Brandon, Rutgers
Colter, Theodis (Kain), Northwestern
*Cooks, Brandin, Oregon State
Copeland, Damian, Louisville
Davis, Michael (Mike) Texas
*Ellington, Bruce, South Carolina
Enunwa, Onochie (Quincy), Nebraska
*Evans, Mikexas A & M
Evans, Shaquelle (Shaq), UCLA
Fowler, Bennie, Michigan State
*Franklin, Austin, New Mexico State
Gallon, Jeremy, Michigan
Grant, Ryan, Tulane
Hazel, Charles (Matt), Coastal Carolina
Herron, Robert, Wyoming
Hoffman, Cody, Brigham Young
Huff, Joshua (Josh), Oregon
Hurns, Allen, Miami
Janis, Jeffrey (Jeff), Saginaw Valley State
Jones, Tailer (T.J.), Notre Dame
*Landry, Jarvis, Louisiana State
*Latimer, Cody, Indiana
*Lee, Marqise, Southern California
Lucas, Marcus, Missouri
Matthews, Jordan, Vanderbilt
*Moncrief, Donte, Mississippi
Norwood, Kevin, Alabama
Powell, Walter (Walt), Murray State
Reesevin, Baylor
*Richardson, Paul, Colorado
*Robinson, Allen, Penn State
Saunders, Jalen, Oklahoma
*Snead, Willie, Ball State
*Stewart, Josh, Oklahoma State
Street, Devin, Pittsburgh
Washington, L’damian, Missouri
* Watkins, Sammy, Clemson
Wilson, Albert, Georgia State

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Armstrong, Matthew (Matt), Grand Valley State
Bitonio, Joel, Nevada
*Bodine, Russell, North Carolina
Boffell, Conor, Iowa
Britt, Justin, Missouri
Dozier, Dakota, Furman
Edwards, Kadeemnnessee State
Feiler, Matt, Bloomsburg
*Flemong, Cameron, Stanford
Fulton, Zachery (Zach)nnessee
Groy, Ryan, Wisconsin
Halapio, Jonathan (Jon), Florida
Harrison, Jonotthan, Florida
Henderson, Seantrel, Miami
Hurst, James, North Carolina
Ikard, Gabriel (Gabe), Oklahoma
Jackson, Gabriel, Mississippi State
James, Ja’wuannnessee
Johnson, Wesley, Vanderbilt
*Kouandijo, Cyrus, Alabama
Larsen, Tyler, Utah State
Leno, Charles, Boise State
Lewan, Taylor, Michigan
Linder, Brandon, Miami
Linsley, Corey, Ohio State
Long, Spencer, Nebraska
Lucas, Cornelius (Luke), Kansas State
*Martin, Marcus, Southern California
Martin, Zachary (Zack), Notre Dame
Matthews, Jacob (Jake)xas A & M
Mewhort, Jack, Ohio State
Moses, Morgan, Virginia
Paradis, Matthew (Matt), Boise State
Patchan, Matthew (Matt), Boston College
*Richardson, Antonionnessee
Richardson, Cyril, Baylor
Richburg, Weston, Colorado State
*Robinson, Greg, Auburn
Schofield, Michael, Michigan
Steen, Anthony, Alabama
Stone, Jamesnnessee
Stork, Bryan, Florida State
*Su’a-Filo, Xavier, UCLA
Swanson, Travis, Arkansas
Thomas, Brandon, Clemson
*Turner, Trai, Louisiana State
Turner, William (Billy), North Dakota State
Urschel, John, Penn State
Watt, Christopher (Chris), Notre Dame
*Yankey, David, Stanford

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Carrethers, Ryan, Arkansas State
Clarke, William, West Virginia
*Clowney, Jadeveon, South Carolina
*Crichton, Scott, Oregon State
*Ealy, Kony, Missouri
Edeball, Kasim, Boston College
Enemkpall, Kemefuna (I.K.), Louisiana Tech
Ford, Donald (Dee), Auburn
Gayle, Jacon (James), Virginia Tech
Hart, Taylor, Oregon
Jeffcoat, Jacksonxas
*Jernigan, Timmy, Florida State
Jones, Howard, Shepherd
Kerr, Zachariah (Zach), Delaware
*Lawrence, Demarcus, Boise State
*Lynch, Aaron, South Florida
Manumaleuna, Eathyn, Brigham Young
Marsh, Cassius, UCLA
Martin, Kareem, North Carolina
Mauro, Joshua (Josh), Stanford
Mimsvin, South Florida
Moore, Zachary (Zach), Concordia
Newsome, Jonathan, Ball State
*Nix, Louis, Notre Dame
*Pagan, Jeoffrey, Alabama
Ramsey, Kaleb, Boston College
Sam, Michael, Missouri
Smith, Chris, Arkansas
Smith, Marcus, Louisville
Stinson, Edward (Ed), Alabama
*Tuitt, Stephon, Notre Dame
*Uko, George, Southern California
Webster, Larry, Bloomsburg
Westbrooks, Ethan, West Texas A & M

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
Bromley, Jason (Jay), Syracuse
Coleman, Deandre, California
Donald, Aaron, Pittsburgh
Easley, Dominique, Florida
Ellis, Justin, Louisiana Tech
*Ferguson, Ego, Louisiana State
Hageman, Ra’shede, Minnesota
Hyder, Kerryxas Tech
*Johnson, Anthony, Louisiana State
Jones, Daquan, Penn State
Mc Cullers, Daniel (Dan)nnessee
Palepoinny, Utah
Pennel, Michael (Mike), Colorado State – Pueblo
*Quarles, Kelcy, South Carolina
Reid, Caralin, Princeton
Stephen, Shamar, Connecticut
Sutton, William (Will), Arizona State
Thomas, Robert, Arkansas
Thornton, Khyri, Southern Mississippi
Urban, Brent, Virginia
Whaley, Christopher (Chris)xas
Wynn, Kerry, Richmond

LINEBACKERS
Attaochu, Jeremiah (Jerry), Georgia Tech
Barr, Anthony, UCLA
Barrow, Lamin, Louisiana State
Borland, Christopher (Chris), Wisconsin
Bradford, Carl, Arizona State
Brown, Jonathan, Illinois
Brown, Michael (Preston), Louisville
Bullough, Max, Michigan State
*Fortt, Khairi, California
George, Jeremiah, Iowa State
Hitchens, Anthony, Iowa
Hubbard, Adrian, Alabama
Jackson, Andrew (Drew), Western Kentucky
Jones, Christian, Florida State
Kennard, Devon, Southern California
Kirksey, Christian (Chris), Iowa
Lokombo, Boseko, Oregon
Mack, Khalil, Buffalo
Morris, James, Iowa
Mosley, Clinton (C.J.), Alabama
Murphy, Trenton (Trent), Stanford
Pierre-Louis, Kevin, Boston College
*Powell, Ronald, Florida
Reilly, Trevor, Utah
*Shazier, Ryan, Ohio State
Shembo, Prince, Notre Dame
Skov, Shayne, Stanford
*Smallwood, Yawin, Connecticut
Smithlvin, Florida State
Starr, Tyler, South Dakota
Tripp, Jordan (Jordie), Montana
Unga, Devin (Uani’), Brigham Young
Van Noy, Kyle, Brigham Young
Williamson, Avery, Kentucky
Zumwalt, Jordan, UCLA

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Alexander, Maurice (Mo), Utah State
Allen, Ricardo, Purdue
Bailey, Dion, Southern California
Belue, Deion, Alabama
Benwikere, Bene’, San Jose State
Berhe, Natneal (Nat), San Diego State
Boston, Jayestin (Tre), North Carolina
*Breeland, Bashaud, Clemson
Brooksrrence, Florida State
Bucannon, Deone, Washington State
Carrie, Travis (T.J.), Ohio
*Clinton-Dix, Ha’sean (Ha Ha), Alabama
Cockrell, Ross, Duke
Colvin, Aaron, Oklahoma
Davis, Christopher (Chris), Auburn
Dennard, Darqueze, Michigan State
Desir, Pierre, Lindenwood
Dixon, Ahmad (A.D.), Baylor
Dixon, Brandon, Northwest Missouri State
*Dowling, Jonathan, Western Kentucky
Exum, Antone, Virginia Tech
Fuller, Kyle, Virginia Tech
Gaines, Edwin (E.J.), Missouri
Gaines, Phillip, Rice
Gilbert, Justin, Oklahoma State
Goodson, Demetri (Meech), Baylor
Hal, Andre (Dre), Vanderbilt
*Hampton, Victor, South Carolina
Huff, Marqueston, Wyoming
Jackson, Bennett, Notre Dame
James, Kendall, Maine
Jean-Baptiste, Stanley (Stan), Nebraska
Johnson, Dontae, North Carolina State
Joyner, Lamarcus, Florida State
Ladler, Kenneth (Kenny), Vanderbilt
Lawson, Nevin (Nevo), Utah State
Lewis, Isaiah, Michigan State
Loston, Craig, Louisiana State
Mc Dougle, Dexter (Dex), Maryland
Mc Gill, Keith, Utah
*Mitchellrrance, Oregon
Price, Jabari, North Carolina
*Pryor, Calvin, Louisville
*Purifoy, Loucheiz, Florida
Reaser, Keith, Florida Atlantic
*Reynolds, Ed, Stanford
Reynolds, Rashaad, Oregon State
*Roberson, Marcus, Florida
*Roby, Bradley, Ohio State
Sorensen, Daniel, Brigham Young
Southward, Dezmen (Dez), Wisconsin
*Sunseri, Vinnie, Alabama
Thomas, Jemea, Georgia Tech
Vereen, Brock, Minnesota
Verrett, Jasonxas Christian
Ward, Jimmie, Northern Illinois
Washington, Todd, Southeastern Louisiana
Watkins, Jaylen, Florida
Westbrooks, Lavelle, Georgia Southern

LONG SNAPPER
Heit, Marcus, Kansas State

PUNTERS
Clark, Steven, Auburn
Hocker, Zachary (Zach), Arkansas
Hornsey, Thomas (Tom), Memphis
Leone, Richard (Richie), Houston
Mandell, Cody, Alabama
O’Donnell, Patrick (Pat), Miami

KICKERS
Boswell, Christopher (Chris), Rice
Fera, Anthonyxas
Santos, Cairo, Tulane

Pat Narduzzi believes Pitt RB James Conner will play in 2016

In this photo taken Nov. 21, 2015, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi, right, applauds a touchdown by his team next to James Conner in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Louisville in Pittsburgh. Conner spent the last three months weighing whether to return next fall or head to the NFL after a torn knee ligament ended his junior season before it really began. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP) MAGAZINES OUT; NO SALES; MONESSEN OUT; KITTANNING OUT; CONNELLSVILLE OUT; GREENSBURG OUT; TARENTUM OUT; NORTH HILLS NEWS RECORD OUT; BUTLER OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP
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The college football world was stunned when Pittsburgh running back James Conner, who missed the bulk of the 2015 season due to a knee injury, announced he is battling cancer. Despite his ongoing bout with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his neck and chest, Conner is said to be in great physical shape and looks he could even be ready to play for the Panthers this fall once he beats cancer.

“I saw him yesterday in the hallway and he’s been working out with our kids to keep his sanity and he’s having fun doing it,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said recently to ESPN.com reporter James Shanker. “That’s the key is he’s having fun beating cancer and he’s got a great attitude and he looks good right now. He’s doing well and looks well. Doesn’t look like he lost weight. Looks like he could still play. He doesn’t look like he has cancer.”

Conner declared his intention to play football again when he announced his cancer to the world last December.

“I will play football again,” Conner said in early December. “I will be at Heinz Field again. I have the best coaches and teammates in the country. I thank God I chose Pitt because now I also have the best doctors in the country and together we will win. I know this city has my back.”

The former ACC Player of the Year is receiving financial support from Pitt to handle the costs of the treatments, which is allowed by the NCAA for special circumstances. This is certainly a special circumstance. Per NCAA rules, Conner and his family are required to have personal insurance but schools may pick up the tab for remaining costs not covered by the student’s insurance coverage. Pitt is able to lend its support because cancer is affecting Conner’s ability to play football.

The college football world will continue to root for Conner as he works his way back to the football field.

Cost of attendance not having negative recruiting impact on Group of Five (yet)

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs for a first down against Temple during the second half of the American Athletic Conference championship football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Houston. Houston won 24-13. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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The outlook on the impact cost of attendance has on non-power conference institutions may not be known for another year or so, but after one recruiting cycle since the power conferences were granted autonomy powers, cost of attendance stipends have not been seen to be a major difference in the game as one might have thought originally.

Underdog Dynasty took a look at the issue and how Group of Five schools have fared. The initial findings suggest Group of Five programs are not struggling nearly as much as once suspected when it comes to cost of attendance stipends, although it is something that not every program has jumped into providing just yet. And yes, the topic of stipends does pop up on the recruiting trail, which suggests the Group of Five programs that can provide a little extra money as part of a player’s enrollment do figure to have some sort of advantage. However, stipends do not appear to be a game changer on a massive enough scale.

From Underdog Dynasty;

Another fear from last season was that smaller athletic departments couldn’t afford it. Those may have been overblown as well. My Google search turned up news of South Dakota State phasing in COA stipends for all student-athletes, something North Dakota and North Dakota State already have done.

All three are FCS schools. If they can afford the stipends, albeit funding 63 football scholarships rather than 85, G5 schools should as well. Even the Sun Belt distributes more than $1 million per school in College Football Playoff payouts.

Houston, of the American Athletic Conference, just landed a recruiting class that would make a good number of power conference programs jealous, although the Cougars were the only Group of Five program to finish ranked in the top 50 in the final team rankings compiled by Rivals (BYU finished No. 48). Boise State, UCF and Temple fell in the upper half of the FBS mix as well.

Just as one year of the College Football Playoff system did not provide enough empirical evidence to suggest the Big 12 should expand to 12 just to get a conference championship game, one year of cost of attendance stipends is not nearly enough to suggest it has a devastating or minimal impact on the recruiting game in college football. This is just something that will have to be watched for a few more years in order to gather more evidence to evaluate.

Former Wolverine Brian Cole transferring to Kentucky

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2013, file photo, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops watches from the sideline during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. Stoops has recruited some high-level talent since coming to Lexington three years ago and the Wildcats have taken substantial steps forward. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File
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Maybe it’s the new uniforms. Maybe it’s an opportunity for a fresh start. Whatever the reason, former Michigan wide receiver and defensive back Brian Cole is heading to Kentucky.

Cole was a four-star recruit in Michigan’s Class of 2015. The second-ranked player from the state of Michigan was a significant addition to the Wolverines by then first-year Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, which helps make his decision to leave for another program now a bit interesting to note considering the momentum seemingly being generated in Ann Arbor. He was released from his scholarship in Michigan in January.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Cole will be forced to sit out the 2016 season and will be eligible to return to the playing field again in 2017. The good news for Cole is he will still have three years of eligibility remaining.

Cole appeared in two games for the Wolverines in 2015, but he spent most of the season held back by injury issues. His addition to the Kentucky roster is a big win for head coach Mark Stoops, who has developed a little bit of a habit for adding some talented transfers to his program in Lexington.

Michigan and Notre Dame could be rekindling their football series

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 1994, file photo, Notre Dame's Derrick Mayes (1) pulls in a touchdown catch in front of Michigan's Chuck Winters (35) during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. Mayes may have grabbed this spectacular catch for a score, but Michigan's Remy Hamilton kicked four field goals, including a 42-yarder with 2 seconds left, to give the Wolverines a 26-24  victory. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File)
AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File
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The bitter divorce between Michigan and Notre Dame on the football field could soon be forgiven. There are hints and clues the series could be heading to a revival.

Michigan athletics director Jim Hackett started lighting the fire for the rivalry series renewal discussion last week when he mentioned during a radio interview the two schools have opened communication on the subject.

“I will tell you this, the relationship is good, and it started with [Jim Harbaugh] and coach [Brian Kelly] working together on a desire to play together,” Hackett said. “But (there’s) nothing firm yet.”

In 2013, when the two schools were beginning to play what was to be their final game son the existing contract, Kelly downplayed the rivalry with Michigan by noting it has not been one of the best rivalries in Notre Dame’s history. In his defense, he is right. In fact, Notre Dame has a more storied history with Michigan State, not to mention USC or Navy.

“I really haven’t seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries,” Kelly said according to the Chicago Tribune. “I’ve seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played.

“For me, I’ve been in Michigan a long time, I’ve always felt the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game. But in the Notre Dame history books, this game has (been) played, but obviously there have been some years where it hasn’t been played for a number of years.”

Kelly did later go on to say he was optimistic the series with Michigan would return in the future. Harbaugh was quick to follow up on the idea of playing Notre Dame again. Now we just sit and wait to see when that may become a possibility.

Scheduling for both Michigan and Notre Dame have become a bit more complex in more recent years than it used to be. Notre Dame is part of an ACC scheduling rotation that guarantees a certain number of power conference opponents from the ACC each season and the Irish continue rivalry game son an annual basis with USC, Stanford and Navy. Michigan is moving to a nine-game Big Ten schedule with the requirement to play at least one power conference opponent in its non-conference slate each season. The Wolverines already have that requirement met through the 2027 season but have shown a willingness to schedule two power conference opponents in a season, which is the case in 2020 and 2021 (games vs. Washington and Virginia Tech in alternating home-and-home deals).