And then there were three.
Mississippi State had entered summer camp with a four-man battle to replace Dak Prescott as starting quarterback. Friday, one of the combatants, Elijah Staley, did some self-whittling of the group, announcing on his personal Twitter account that he has decided to transfer out of the Bulldogs football program.
The sophomore gave no official reason for his decision, although it’s likely he saw the writing on the quarterback room wall.
MSU head coach Dan Mullen subsequently confirmed Staley’s decision.
“We would like to thank Elijah for his contributions to our football team,” Mullen said in a statement. “During his time here, he has always been a hard worker and a great teammate. We wish him nothing but the best as he pursues another opportunity.”
A three-star 2014 signee who redshirted as a true freshman, Staley played in two games last season. He went 3-of-5 passing for 51 yards and a touchdown, while also adding 18 yards rushing on three carries.
Staley also dabbled in basketball while at MSU, practicing with the men’s hoops team in 2014-15 but never actually seeing the floor in a game. In January of this year, he announced he had decided to quit the hoops team in order to focus all of his attention on football.
With Staley out of the way, the Bulldogs’ new starter will come from the trio of, in alphabetical order, sophomore Nick Fitzgerald, freshman Nick Tiano and junior Damian Williams.
One of college football’s most versatile players in the country is taking his game to the next level. Adoree’ Jackson of USC announced, via Twitter, he is declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jackson leaves USC as a highly-decorated player and leaves behind a legacy of versatility on the football field. Jackson was named the 2016 Jim Thorpe Award winner and was a consensus All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was a threat on defense and special teams and even dabbled in offense at times. In the NFL, it is expected he will stick to defense and perhaps get a chance to play some special teams, which makes him a valuable asset in the draft.
The football-playing career for Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Anthony Jennings has officially come to a close. An appeal for an extra year of eligibility was denied by the NCAA, according to coach Mark Hudspeth.
“I’m very disappointed for Anthony,” Hudspeth told The Daily Advertiser. “I would’ve loved to have seen what he could’ve done with a year under his belt in our system.”
Getting an extra year for Jennings was believed to be a long shot, but there is no harm in trying. According to The Daily Advertiser, the case for Jennings was focused on Jennings being used sparingly during the 2015 season as a junior at LSU. Jennings appeared in two games for the Tigers in 2015 and recorded no stats. He transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette at the end of the 2015 season and was given a chance to play a significant role with the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Louisiana-Lafayette now has a bit of a concern at quarterback for the upcoming season. The program returns reserve options Jordan Davis, Dion Ray and Jake Arceneaux, who redshirted last season. All three will be expected to be given a chance to compete starting this spring for the starting job this fall.
Following a somewhat disappointing season in Knoxville, changes are in the air for the Tennessee Vols coaching staff. Among the first changes of the offseason comes at the defensive back coaching position.
Tennessee has announced the addition of Charlton Warren as the new defensive backs coach for the Vols. It is the same role he previously filled at North Carolina for the past two seasons. Warren will replace Willie Martinez, who will not be returning to the Tennessee staff in 2017, according to a released statement from the university’s athletics department.
“Coach Warren is a passionate, knowledgeable and driven football coach that has an outstanding history of developing defensive backs on the collegiate level,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said in a released statement. “He also has a great reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country with strong ties to our recruiting areas. We feel extremely fortunate to add someone of his caliber to our coaching staff and our defensive meeting room.”
Tennessee finished ranked 10th in the SEC in passing defense, allowing an average of 230.7 yards per game through the air to opposing quarterbacks. The Vols allowed the fifth-lowest opponent passer rating and picked off 11 passes while allowing 18 touchdown passes, which actually fared well among SEC peers even if just around the middle of the pack or just toward the bottom half of the conference in each category. For a school that prides itself on its defensive backs, a change was necessary.
North Carolina owned the ACC’s top pass defense in 2016, allowing just 180.8 yards per game and 11 touchdown passes. The one downside was having just one interception recorded in 13 games. Every other FBS program had at least three interceptions last season. How UNC only picked off one pass all season long is quite a remarkable feat considering how respectable the pass defense was last season.
With some room to work on the Alabama coaching staff this offseason, head coach Nick Saban has found the right opportunity to promote Mike Locksley to a full-time offensive assistant role in Tuscaloosa. The hiring was made official by Alabama on Monday.
Locksley spent the 2016 season as an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide. He spent the previous four seasons as an offensive coordinator at Maryland and was previously the head coach of New Mexico from 2009 through 2011. Locksley previously spent time in the SEC as a running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for Florida in 2003 and 2004 as well. He is a well-known recruiting machine, as if Alabama needs any extra help in that department (I say this in a joking manner, because Alabama didn’t get to where they are today without having to grind on the recruiting trail).
“We are excited to add Mike Locksley to our staff as an assistant coach on the offensive side of the football,” Saban said in a released statement. “He is an outstanding offensive mind who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as both a head coach and offensive coordinator. Mike is also one of the best recruiters in the nation and will be an excellent addition to our staff. His time as an analyst with us over the past season should also ensure a smooth transition and a full understanding of how our organization operates.”
The University of Alabama Board of Trustees still needs to approve the contract to make Locksley’s hiring official, but that should just be a formality.