Texas is doing something they haven’t done in a long time: being an NFL Draft trendsetter. Following the footsteps of Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette last season, the Longhorns are now ground zero for draft-eligible players skipping their senior year and the team’s upcoming bowl game at the same time.
The school confirmed reports on Thursday that defensive back DeShon Elliott would be the second Texas player to skip the UT’s bowl game and declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. He joins left tackle Connor Williams on the way out from Austin after the junior announced on Monday that he was doing the same.
“It was a very difficult decision that I put a lot of thought into,” Elliott said in a statement. “I want to thank my coaches and teammates for the support and all they’ve done to make an impact on my life. I really appreciate Coach (Charlie) Strong giving me the opportunity to play and grow as a player and person at Texas. Coach (Tom) Herman has been amazing, and I’m really excited about what he’s building here. I know that Longhorn football is in good hands. Coach (Craig) Naivar and our strength coach Yancy McKnight have helped me take my game to the next level, and because of that, I feel prepared to take this next step.
“To the awesome Longhorn fans, you have made every game in DKR an experience like no other, and for that, I thank you. And most of all, thank you to my parents for molding me into the athlete and person I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you. I am excited about the future but will forever be a Longhorn.”
Elliott was the only unanimous all-Big 12 selection on defense this season and had a stellar year to cap off his time on the 40 Acres. The safety finished the regular season with 63 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and six interceptions, the latter of which ranks third nationally. He also recorded two pick-sixes in 2017 as well.
Elliott does have a chance to pick up some hardware before he commences training for the draft, as he was named a finalist for the Thorpe Award last week.
It’s possible that the defensive back is not the last one out the door either, as there has been several reports linking linebacker Malik Jefferson to making a similar move to skip the Longhorns’ bowl game to focus on the draft and avoid an injury in an exhibition game next month. Either way, it seems Texas is back to being a focal point for NFL scouts once again — only not in the way many could have predicted a few weeks ago.
It appears Lincoln Riley has all but officially gotten his man.
Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Bob Diaco was expected to take a job on Riley’s Oklahoma football staff. Friday, Pete Thamel of SI.com tweeted that Diaco has finalized a deal to join the football program. ESPN.com‘s Adam Rittenberg subsequently confirmed the initial report.
With all 10 of Riley’s on-field assistant slots filled, Diaco will serve as a defensive analyst for the Sooners.
Diaco spent the 2017 season as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska, let go after that one year following the firing of head coach Mike Riley. Prior to that brief stint in Lincoln, he was the head coach at UConn for three seasons before being fired after going 11-26 during his time with the Huskies.
Prior to that, he was the coordinator at Notre Dame for four seasons from 2010-13.
Dan Mullen is just breaking in his new office chair, but it will be a few more years until the new head coach to truly be able to get comfortable in his new digs. The University of Florida is scheduled to begin a complete overhaul of the athletics facilities in Gainesville this summer. When it is complete, a brand new state-of-the-art football training facility will be among the highlights of the $130 million project.
The new football facility is planned to occupy a space currently used by Florida’s baseball stadium. WOrk on the football facility will have to wait until the baseball program can move into its new stadium that is part of the renovation plans at Florida.
“With the change in facility locations for both baseball and football, we will now adjust the sequencing for these projects,” Florida AD Scott Stricklin said in a press release, according to Gridiron Now. “Baseball will need to be built first, which will allow us to repurpose the current baseball site and put the stand-alone football complex in that space.”
The new football training facility will take up a good chunk of the renovation costs with an estimated price tag of $65 million for a 130,000 square foot structure. Florida won’t have to wait until 2021 to use the facility, however, as the Gators should be expected to be able to start using the new complex as early as 2019 while the construction and renovation continues.
Eastern Michigan University made some tough decisions this week when it cut four athletic programs. Although cutting football was not deemed to be an option by AD Scott Wetherbee, the decision is already having some ramifications for the football program moving forward as one high school in the state of Michigan says the Eagles are no longer welcome on their premises.
Noel Dean, who coaches both the football and wrestling programs at Lowell High School, stated in a public letter addressed to EMU head coach Chris Creighton that he will no longer welcome Creighton or anyone else associated with EMU to his high school for recruiting purposes if the university goes through with cutting the wrestling program. Dean also issues a warning to Creighton in the letter, suggesting it may not be long before the university takes another hard look at the value of the football program.
“I can’t stand by and not take a stand against what is happening at EMU with the wrestling program,” Dean wrote in his letter, which was shared by Michigan Grappler. “Wrestling contributes too much to the fabric of our schools systems in Michigan (a guy from South Dakota might not get it), but if I stick to the facts on this. wrestling is only a bone to keep people happy FOR NOW. They are coming for you next.
“If this goes through, you and your staff will not be allowed in any one of our buildings.”
That is most certainly a hard line in the sand putting EMU on notice. If one school in the state of Michigan decides to close its doors to EMU and this message spreads throughout the high school coaching community in the state of Michigan, EMU would be in some serious trouble.
Helmet sticker to The Detroit Free Press.
Ed Warinner‘s bank account might want to consider sending Jim McElwain a thank-you note.
In January of this year, Warinner left Minnesota to take a job as a senior offensive analyst at Michigan. However, a month later, McElwain was added as U-M’s wide receivers coach; in an unsurprising twist to that move, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Tim Drevno officially stepped down from his twin posts eight days after McElwain’s hiring and ultimately ended up back at USC.
McElwain, as had been widely expected before he was officially added to Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff, took over Drevno’s coordinating duties. Warinner, meanwhile, was officially named as Drevno’s replacement as line coach earlier this month.
According to mlive.com, Warinner has signed a two-year contract that will pay him $525,000 in 2018 and $550,000 in 2019. His scheduled salary for his role as an analyst with the football program? A “measly” $250,000.
Warinner spent the 2017 season as the offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota. Prior to that, He was the line coach at Ohio State from 2012-16. In 2015, he added the title of co-offensive coordinator.