Alabama head coach Nick Saban has some ideas on how to change the NFL Scouting Combine experience that he believes would help prevent the growing trend of underclassmen declaring early for the NFL Draft. Saban thinks making the combine a more exclusive opportunity is one way to go. Another idea Saban thinks might work would be allowing players to participate in a combine event before players have to declare for the NFL Draft, allowing players to get a sense of where they really stand before making the decision to go pro or return to school.
“More guys go down at the combine than go up, because they’re not as fast,” Saban said in an interview on SiriusXM NFL radio. “And they don’t have a very good feel in comparison to all the other competition in the draft at their position. And when they come to that realization, it’s too late, the way we do it now. More guys go down at the Combine than go up because they’re not as fast and they don’t have a very good feel in comparison to all the other competition in the draft at their position. When they come to that realization, it’s too late.”
As noted by AL.com, this year’s NFL Scouting Combine invited 355 players with hopes of making it in the NFL, but only 254 players were drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. This year a record number of underclassmen declared early for the NFL Draft, with 98 players choosing to skip their senior seasons.
One of the biggest reasons for more players choosing to leave school early for the NFL is the impact of the most recent collective bargaining agreement ut in place in the NFL. For players to cash in on bigger paydays for a longer period of time, they need to start their NFL careers as soon as possible. Some players are worthy of the NFL right now, but a growing number of players may actually be making a poor decision to leave early, perhaps due to an agent leading them to believe this is the best move in the long term.
Saban has been outspoken about keeping agents away from college football, so his views on how to change the combine should not be too surprising. In fact, he may actually have a good idea with having some sort of combine event before players have to declare early, and you would think there would be a way to make something like this possible that would comply with NCAA rules. A mini combine or a series of mini combines in January, after the bowls, could help players get a real feel for whether or not declaring early is the right choice or not.
In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.
Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.
Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.
The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.
Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.
The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.
Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.
The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.
Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.
Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.
There are a ton of interesting storylines as spring practice begins across the country but one of the most intriguing programs to watch might be in Orlando as UCF looks to simultaneously follow up an undefeated season while also transitioning to a new coaching staff.
ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote a good story on the Knights changing some things up under head coach Josh Heupel the past few months like eating with players during meals, new strength and conditioning regiments and the usual offseason stuff you typically wind up season. However there was one interesting nugget about the team’s playbook that the coach relayed:
In other areas, player input has kept a few things unchanged. Take the offensive playbook, for example. Heupel and (Scott) Frost share enough offensive concepts that the new staff has adopted the terminology that players already know on the plays they have in common. So in theory, that should allow the offense to hit spring practice, which started Tuesday, with much more familiarity than another program that has completely changed over its staff.
As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In Heupel’s first head coaching gig, it seems he’s taking that to heart.
It didn’t take long nor did David Beaty have to look far for Kansas’ new safeties coach.
The school confirmed on Thursday morning that graduate assistant Cassius Sendish, a former Jayhawks team captain and defensive back, would be taking over as the team’s new safeties coach to complete the staff for 2018.
“I am honored and proud to represent the University of Kansas football program,” said Sendish in a statement. “I hold this place near and dear to my heart and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at my alma mater. I can’t thank Coach Beaty and the rest of the football staff enough for allowing me to come aboard and be a part of something special.”
Sendish replaces Todd Bradford on the staff after he made the rather head-turning move to leave coaching and take a new job in the oil industry. Recently hired Bill Miller will continue to coach linebackers while the newest hire will team up with defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to handle the secondary.
There will be plenty of time for everybody to settle into their new on-field roles as the Jayhawks will open up spring practice on March 31st.