McCardell has B1G plans for Maryland’s talented receivers

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Maryland wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell knows talent when he sees it. At least, he should be given his career in the NFL. As he gets set for his first season as an assistant coach at the college level, just as Maryland prepares for a move from the ACC to the Big Ten, McCardell feels optimistic about the talent he will be coaching at Maryland in 2014.

“I looked at some of the talent level and when I got here, everybody told me how talented everybody was,” McCardell said in a report by The Washington Post. “I had done some research earlier. I was like, ‘Woah, they are talented.’ It’s up to me to make sure that talent comes out. That’s what I want to do.”

He’s not kidding. The makings of hat could be one of the most lethal receiving units in the Big Ten in 2014 starts with one of the crown jewels of the Class of 2012, Stefon Diggs. Diggs is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the football, which is why he can be so deadly on special teams as well. Maryland added five-star receiver Deon Long as the prized recruit in the Class of 2013. Long transferred to Maryland after playing the 2011 season with New Mexico. With the addition, Maryland was putting together a one-two combo that could prove to be difficult to slow down when he and Diggs are on the field together. Unfortunately for Maryland, that was the problem last season. Diggs and Long each played just seven games before being placed on the injured list for the rest of the season.

With those key injuries came some opportunities for others to get some significant playing time. Levern Jacobs capitalized by ending the year as Maryland’s leading receiver. Amba Etta got in the mix as well by ending the season as the third-leading receiver. Juwann Winfree is a four-star receiver joining the Terps this year as well out of the most recent recruiting class. So does Maryland have what it takes to have one of the top aerial attacks in the conference? They certainly appear to have the receivers to make it possible.

Last season Maryland averaged 7.8 yards per passing attempt, which ranked sixth in the ACC. Had Maryland been in the Big Ten in 2013 the Terps would have been tied for the highest yards-per-attempt average with Indiana (even if you include Rutgers in the mix). The Big Ten is also going to see a good amount of turnover among the leading receivers in 2014. Seven of the Bi Ten’s top ten receivers in 2013 are all moving on, leaving plenty of room for Maryland’s talented receivers to leave their respective marks right away in the Big Ten stat sheets.

If they can stay healthy, that is.

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.

Edgerrin James’ nephew to transfer from Miami

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Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players  suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia.  Nearly four months later, he’s gone.

In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.

“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class.  247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.

The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.