Eric Johnson

Key recruiter leaving the Hawkeyes


A week ahead of its spring game, the Iowa football program has taken a rather significant hit on the recruiting front.

The Hawkeyes announced in a press release Saturday that assistant coach Eric Johnson has decided to leave Kirk Ferentz‘s coaching staff.  The state reason is that Johnson wants to pursue an unnamed career opportunity outside of football.

Johnson was a part of Ferentz’s first Iowa staff as a grad assistant.

“I know Eric and his family have given this decision great attention and thought, and we all wish them the best as they move forward,” said Ferentz in a statement.  “Eric has been a valued staff member since he joined our original staff in 1999 and has made many contributions to our program and team as a coach, recruiter and mentor.  I am very appreciative of Eric’s efforts and his commitment to Iowa and wish him all the best in the future.”

Johnson has served as assistant defensive line coach (2012-13), tight ends coach (2010-11; 2003-07) and assistant linebackers coach (2008-2009) during his decade-plus career with the Hawkeyes, but it was on the recruiting trail where Johnson made his biggest mark and where his departure will hit the program the hardest.  From the release on Johnson, who had spent the past 10 seasons as the Hawkeyes’ recruiting coordinator:

Johnson has been heavily involved in Iowa’s recruiting efforts since joining the Hawkeye staff. Iowa’s 2006 recruiting class was ranked extremely high by all the recruiting experts. Iowa’s 2005 recruiting class was ranked among the top 10 in the nation by all of the top recruiting services, while Iowa’s classes in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2009 were all ranked in the nation’s top 25. Sporting News ranked Iowa’s 2011 recruiting class second best among Big Ten programs and the 2012 class was ranked third among league programs.

Johnson ranked as one of the top ten recruiting coordinators in the country by Tom Lemming in 2001 and was named one of the Top Ten Recruiters in the Big Ten Conference by in 2007.

“My family and I can’t thank everyone enough for our 15 years at Iowa,” said Johnson. “It has been a great time in our lives. From a family standpoint, we had a chance to raise our children in a tremendous community. From a professional standpoint, I have worked for the best person in college football.

“Coach Ferentz is the best teacher, leader, and person I have ever been around; he truly embodies the Iowa way. I have also been mentored by three great coordinators in Norm Parker, Phil Parker and Ken O’Keefe, and had the opportunity to work with one of the best people anyone can ask for in Reese Morgan.”

(Photo credit: Iowa athletics)

DeMarcus Robinson, Gators’ leading receiver, suspended for FSU game

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 03: Demarcus Robinson #11 of the Florida Gators catches a touchdown pass during the first quarter of the game against the Mississippi Rebels on October 3, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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With a game against in-state rival Florida State on tap, Florida won’t have one of its few offensive playmakers at its disposal.

On its Twitter account a short time ago, the No. 12 Gators announced that Demarcus Robinson has been suspended for tonight’s game against No. 13 Seminoles.  Specifically, the school tweeted that “Robinson made a choice and will not play in tonight’s game.”

The wide receiver was suspended for, of course, violating unspecified team rules.

Robinson’s 47 receptions are tops on the team, while his 505 yards are second.  He led the team in both categories last season with 53 and 810, and in receiving touchdowns (seven) as well.

Robinson, who will likely leave Gainesville early for the NFL, has been suspended at least four times during his three seasons with the Gators.

Alabama takes halftime lead over Auburn in Iron Bowl

Keith Holcombe, Marcus Davis, Rashaan Evans
Associated Press
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No. 2 Alabama holds a 12-6 lead over Auburn at halftime of the Iron Bowl.

Alabama’s offense has been typical of the 2015 season — Derrick Henry and not much else. Henry rushed 16 times for 102 yards, while Jake Coker hit 9-of-15 passes for 106 yards.

Adam Griffith kicked field goals of 26, 40, 26 and 50 yards for the Tide, while Auburn’s Daniel Carlson countered with makes of 24 and 44 yards. Carlson also missed from 48 yards toward the end of the half, ending a streak of 15 consecutive makes.

Jovon Robinson led Auburn with 12 carries for 53 yards, while Jeremy Johnson hit 3-of-7 passes for 56 yards with three rushes for 14 yards.

Alabama held a slight 109-104 edge over Auburn in ground yards, and neither team committed a turnover.

Alabama will receive the ball to open the second half.

Michigan State one half away from Indy

Connor Cook

Needing a win to clinch the Big Ten East Division and face Iowa with a likely spot in the College Football Playoff on the line next week in Indianapolis, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is giving all he can to give the Spartans a chance to celebrate a division title in East Lansing today against Penn State. So far, so good enough. Michigan State leads the Nittany Lions 20-10 at halftime.

Penn State has managed to move the ball on the Spartans and even have more offensive yards than Michigan State, but Penn State also has two turnovers that have led to 14 points for the men in green, including one defensive touchdown. Penn State did, however, manage to put together a late half touchdown drive, capped with a touchdown reception by Chris Godwin. Michigan State’s Cook has attempted just 15 pass attempts so far, and he has completed 10 of them for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Any time Penn State has presented any sense of a threat against the Spartans, disaster seems to strike. Penn State opted to kick a field goal from the Michigan State one-yard line in the second quarter. The game’s opening drive ended with Christian Hackenberg throwing deep into the end zone from the 31-yard line, only to be intercepted by Arjen Colquhoun. Late in the first quarter, Penn State once again had a promising drive working, thanks in large part to freshman running back Saquon Barkley saving Penn State on a 22-yard run on 3rd and 23 followed by a short gain on fourth down around midfield. The drive again imploded when Hackenberg completed a pass to tight end Kyle Carter, but Carter lost the football immediately and Demetrious Cox picked up the loose ball and found blockers to allow him to return the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and a 20-3 lead.

It might as well be game, set and match for Michigan State the way this one is going, which surely is a bit deflating for Ohio State fans. After roughing up Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ohio State needs Penn State to win this game in order to represent the Big Ten East in Indianapolis as the Big Ten East champion. A Michigan State win clinches the division for the Spartans.

Adoree’ Jackson punt return gives USC halftime edge on UCLA

Eric Kendricks, Javorius Allen, Cody Kessler
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Never kick to USC playmaker Adoree’ Jackson. That si the lesson UCLA learned the hard way late in the first half in The Los Angeles Coliseum this afternoon. A 42-yard punt return by Jackson gave USC a 20-14 lead late in the first half and gives the Trojans the edge at the midway point of what amounts to the Pac-12 South Division Championship Game. The winner of this game moves on to next week to face Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC was the first to put points on the scoreboard in the Coliseum when a lengthy drive stalled inside the red zone, forcing the Trojans to send Alex Woods out for a 30-yard field goal. It would take two more offensive possessions by UCLA to put their own points on the board. Paul Perkins ripped off a 19-yard touchdown run on a fourth and one play from the USC 19-yard line, giving UCLA the 7-3 lead.

USC put together a 10-play, 85-yard touchdown drive a couple of possessions later, with quarterback Cody Kessler punching one in from the goal line. UCLA’s Thomas Duarte hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Josh Rosen in the second quarter to regain the lead, 14-10. That lead evaporated with USC’s special teams chipping in with a field goal and Jackson’s punt return.