Cardale Jones

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Cam Newton could become third QB with college, Super Bowl title

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A little over five years ago, Auburn — behind Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton — beat Oregon in the BCS Championship. Two weeks from now, Newton will have an opportunity to join a list that currently is only populated by Joe Namath and Joe Montana.

Namath (Alabama, New York Jets) and Montana (Notre Dame, San Francisco 49ers) are the only two quarterbacks in football history to start for a college football champion and win a Super Bowl. Newton would be the third.

Of course, guys like Tom Brady and Ken Stabler were backups at Michigan and Alabama, respectively, and went on to win a Super Bowl (in Brady’s case, Super Bowls) as a pro. Troy Aikman started for part of Oklahoma’s 1985 championship team, but was injured in October and missed the Sooners’ last push to a title. Joe Flacco lost the 2007 FCS Championship to Appalachian State, while Steve Young (BYU) and Peyton Manning (Tennessee) both left college a year before their schools won championships.

College football’s recent quarterback champions don’t lend a ton of hope that anyone will join Namath, Montana and potentially Newton anytime soon. Jameis Winston has the best chance, and A.J. McCarron started for Cincinnati after Andy Dalton got hurt.

But consider the list of quarterbacks to win a college title since 2000: Josh Heupel (now Mizzou’s offensive coordinator), Ken Dorsey (now Newton’s QB coach with the Panthers), Craig Krenzel (now a motivational speaker and founded an insurance company), Matt Mauck (who’s a dentist), Matt Leinart (who’s now a talking head for FOX Sports), Vince Young (who has a steakhouse in Austin and was arrested for DWI on Monday), Chris Leak (who’s a staffer with the Buccaneers), Matt Flynn (who most recently was the Saints’ backup), Tim Tebow (now a talking head for ESPN), Greg McElroy (now a talking head — and an underrated one — for ESPN), Newton, McCarron, Winston, Cardale Jones (who’s turning pro this year) and Jacob Coker (who’s collegiate eligibility is up).

Michigan State QB Connor Cook declines Senior Bowl invite

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Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will not participate in the Senior Bowl, the top college football all-star event on the calendar for NFL Draft hopefuls. Cook has reportedly declined to accept his invitation to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen will fill his spot on the Senior Bowl roster.

Cook is widely expected to be a first-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and because he is coming back from a shoulder injury it was not a shock to see Cook choose not to participate in the Senior Bowl. He will have a chance to make up for his Senior Bowl absence in a pro day event later as well as the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis later this winter.

Allen will now have a chance to take advantage of the Senior Bowl opportunity. The Senior Bowl is the highest-regarded all-star event that will be attended to by members of every NFL Franchise, including many head coaches in addition to scouts. What happens in Senior Bowl practices can help some prospects show off some positives that may be overlooked otherwise.

Other quarterbacks scheduled to appear at the Senior Bowl are Jacoby Brissett of NC State, Jake Coker of Alabama, Jeff Driskel of Louisiana Tech, Kevin Hogan of Stanford, Cody Kessler of USC, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Remember that only seniors are eligible to attend the Senior Bowl, so many of the quarterbacks in the NFL Draft pool like Cal’s Jared Goff, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg are not allowed to be extended an invitation.

Ohio St.’s nine early draft entrants just miss matching LSU’s 2013 feat

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Not surprisingly, Ohio State will officially be forced to replace a handful of departing talent if it wants to find itself back in the College Football Playoff chase in 2016.

After a few days worth of reports trickling out, OSU officially announced Thursday that nine Buckeyes have decided to leave collegiate eligibility on the table and make themselves available for the April NFL draft.  The school wrote in the release that “[t]he group consists of three players who were fourth-year juniors (QB Cardale Jones, SAF Tyvis Powell and WR Michael Thomas), three who were true juniors in eligibility this season – SAF Vonn Bell, DE Joey Bosa, RB Ezekiel Elliott – and three who were sophomores in eligibility this year but who also red-shirted one of their three seasons with the Buckeyes: CB Eli Apple, LB Darron Lee and WR Jalin Marshall.”

That should be the extent of the attrition as the only other draft-eligible Buckeye, offensive lineman Pat Elflein, has previously announced that he will be returning.

The school also noted the historical context of the number of departures:

While this number of underclassmen declaring for the draft is high for Ohio State, it is not a record, according to NFL.com. Although a public relations administrator for the site wasn’t sure of the record, he did indicate LSU had 10 underclassmen declare one year.

That would be the number of early entrants for the Tigers who declared for the 2013 draft. That number would actually be 11 if Tyrann Mathieudismissed from the Tigers football program in August of 2012 for what turned out to be the failure of multiple drug tests, is counted for LSU.

Regardless of where it stands in relation to LSU, it’s an extraordinarily high number of losses for an Ohio State team that has lost just four games in Urban Meyer‘s four seasons in Columbus.

“We have some young people – some fourth-year guys, two who have graduated – who have a national championship and have decided to chase their dreams,” Meyer said in quotes distributed by the school. “Everyone was so professional about it. … I’m a fan of great players and a bunch of those guys are going to play for a while. You have to look at it that way. We recruited well and the door is open now.”

The good news for Meyer & Company is that they have recruited very well, and should have the talent to replace those lost.

The Buckeyes have landed four Rivals.com Top-10 recruiting classes during Meyer’s reign, with rankings of fourth (2012), second (2013), third (2014) and ninth (2015). The class the Buckeyes are expected to sign is currently fourth, although they could get to at least No. 2 by signing day a month from now.

Ninth Buckeye departs Columbus as safety Vonn Bell enters NFL Draft

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And then there were nine.

Shortly after wide receiver Michael Thomas made his intentions known, safety Vonn Bell followed suit by declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft.

“I have decided to make myself eligible and enter the 2016 NFL Draft,” Bell said in a statement through Ohio State, via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “It has been an honor and a privilege to play at the best university in the country, to play for the best coach in the country, and to help bring the 2014 national championship to The Ohio State University and the best fans in the country.

“My time here has been very special to me and my family. And I thank all Buckeye fans for their love and support.”

Bell played in 42 games and spent the past two seasons as a starter. This season he collected 65 tackles, two passes defended and consensus First Team All-America honors.

 

The full list of departing Buckeyes stands (as of this writing) at: Thomas, Bell, running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Cardale Jones, defensive back Eli Apple, defensive back Tyvis Powell, linebacker Darron Lee, wide receiver Jalin Marshall and defensive lineman Joey Bosa.

That, uh, a lot.

Ohio State’s Jalin Marshall is seventh Buckeye to declare for NFL Draft

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Another day, another Ohio State Buckeyes player heading to the NFL Draft a year early. Wide receiver Jalin Marshall announced his decision to leave Columbus for the NFL today, leaving with two years of eligibility behind at Ohio State.

Marshall was Ohio State’s second-leading receiver in 2015 with 477 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games this past season. In addition to playing wide receiver, Marshall helped out on special teams for the Buckeyes as well. In the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame, Marshall returned four punts for 73 yards. He ended the season with 379 punt return yards.

Marshall is the seventh Ohio State player to declare for the NFL Draft with a year of eligibility remaining. He joins Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Cardale Jones, Darron Lee, Tyvis Powell and Eli Apple, who also declared on Monday. Ohio State managed to lose no underclassmen to the NFL Draft last year, coming off a national championship.