Colorado State Rams

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29:  Former Tennesse quarterback Peyton Manning and current quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts is honored alongside his former college coach Phillip Fulmer before the start of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 29, 2005 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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SEC, Ohio State tops on Carolina, Denver Super Bowl rosters

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Cam Newton may be hurtling toward history, but the former Auburn quarterback will not be the lone player representing the SEC in next month’s Super Bowl.  In fact, he’s far, far from it.

As you may have heard, Newton’s Carolina Panthers are set to square off with Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos in the 50th Super Bowl Feb. 3.  Manning and Newton are two of and FBS-best 30 former SEC players who are on the two teams’ rosters, which includes those on the 53-man, reserved/injured list, practice squad, reserved/suspended by commissioner and reserve/future squad.

The Pac-12 is next with 23, followed by the Big Ten (21) and ACC (17).  The final Power Five conference, the Big 12, has 10, three less than the Mountain West’s 13.  The AAC, with eight, is the only Group of Five league to come close to double digits.  The MAC, meanwhile, is the only conference to be shutout, while all of the other divisions in the NCAA combined for 18 players.

Nearly every SEC team is represented in this year’s big game, the lone exception being Vanderbilt.  Of the dozen schools in the Pac-12, only Arizona and Washington State are missing.  Both the ACC and Big Ten have 11 of their 14 teams in the game, the lone exceptions being Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech for the former and Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers for the latter.

One of those B1G schools that’s in, Nebraska, has had at least one player on a Super Bowl roster for 23 straight years, the longest active streak for any FBS program.

Ohio State easily outdistances individual schools with seven, three more than the four each for Auburn, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Tennessee.  Alabama, Arizona State, Colorado State, Georgia, Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Utah.

A total of 20 schools have two players each, including Coastal Carolina, the only non-FBS program in the group.  The other 19 includes Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, San Diego State, South Carolina, Stanford, Troy, Tulane, Washington and Wisconsin.

QB Coleman Key transfers from Colo. St. to Okla St. to play football — and baseball

FORT COLLINS, CO - OCTOBER 10:  Quarterback Coleman Key #12 of the Colorado State Rams delivers a pass against the Boise State Broncos at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Rams 41-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Coleman Key‘s decision to leave his current home will have an impact on a pair of sports at his new collegiate home.

On Twitter Friday night, Key announced that he is transferring from Colorado State to Oklahoma State.  Not only that, but Key revealed that he will play baseball for the Cowboys as well.

Key, who played his high school football and baseball in Broken Arrow, Okla., will likely be forced to sit out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

When it comes to baseball, though, he would be permitted to play immediately.

Key was a three-star member of CSU’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 15 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Key played in five games this past season. He completed 48% (21-44) of his passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, throwing three interceptions as well.

2016 early NFL draft entries fall just shy of ’14 record

2014 NFL Draft
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So close, yet so far.  Well, technically speaking it is.

With the deadline for early entry into the NFL draft in the rearview, the NFL announced Friday that 96 players “have been granted special eligibility for the 2016 NFL Draft” and will be eligible to be selected during the April 28-30 event in Chicago. While that’s significantly more than 74 draft-eligible sophomores and juniors who declared last year, it falls two shy of the record 98 who declared early for the 2014 draft.

For some perspective, the number of players combined who declared early for the 2007 (40) and 2008 (53) falls short of the number for this year alone.

Another 11 players with eligibility remaining “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements” and are thus eligible for the draft as well. Those 11 are…

2016 NFL Draft I

Of the 96 deemed by the NFL as having special draft eligibility granted, 48 played defense and 46 were from the offensive side of the ball. There were also two kickers in this category — Southern Oregon’s Aldrick Ross and British Columbia’s Quinn van Gylswyk.

A total of 18 defensive ends and tackles are included, while the secondary, combining both cornerbacks and safeties, has 17. On the offensive side, 16 running backs are in the group, joined by 12 offensive linemen and 10 running backs. Just four draft-eligible quarterbacks cannonballed into the pool: Cal’s Jared Goff, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch.

The SEC, naturally, leads all conferences in NFL-designated special draft eligibility — The Shield differentiates this year between them and those who have eligibility remaining but earned degrees — with 25 players leaving early.  12 of the 14 teams in that conference have at least one player in the group, the lone exceptions being Kentucky and Missouri. Next up is the 15 of the Big Ten and Pac-12; the only other conference in double digits is the ACC (11).  The lone remaining Power Five conference, the Big 12, just missed with nine.

The most of any Group of Five league is the Mountain West’s four.  Two conferences, Conference USA and the Sun Belt, had no players granted special eligibility.

Individually, Ohio State saw seven players deemed to have met the NFL’s criteria for special eligibility, followed by UCLA with six and Clemson with five.  Below are the other individual schools with more than one player in this category:

4 — Notre Dame
3 — Arkansas, Baylor, Mississippi State, Ole Miss
2 — Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Cal, Indiana, LSU, Oklahoma, West Virginia

And, below this, are all of the 96 players with special eligibility for the NFL draft:

Bralon Addison, WR, Oregon
Dominique Alexander, LB, Oklahoma
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston
Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn
Vonn Bell, DB, Ohio State
Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Dariusz Bladek, OG, Bethune-Cookman
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan
Beniquez Brown, LB, Mississippi State
Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Trenton Coles, DB, Duquesne
Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
Jack Conklin, OL, Michigan State
Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
Kamalei Correa, DL, Boise State
Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
Elijah Daniel, DT, Murray State
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Thomas Duarte, WR, UCLA
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Jared Goff, QB, Cal
T.J. Green, S, Clemson
David Grinnage, TE, North Carolina State
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Jerald Hawkins, OL, LSU
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Willie Henry, DT, Michigan
Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State
Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Quinton Jefferson, DL, Maryland
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Cayleb Jones, WR, Arizona
Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
Jayron Kearse, DB, Clemson
Denver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas
Darius Latham, DL, Indiana
Kenny Lawler, WR, Cal
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Roger Lewis, WR, Bowling Green
Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State
Alex McCalister, DE, Florida
Brett McMakin, LB, Northern Iowa
Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Yannick Ngakoue, DL, Maryland
Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
Emmanuel Ogbah, DL, Oklahoma State
Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Alex Redmond, OL, UCLA
Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU
Aldrick Rosas, K, Southern Oregon
Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
Isaac Seumalo, OL, Oregon State
Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
Ron Thompson, DE, Syracuse
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Quinn van Gylswyk, K, British Columbia
Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State
Cleveland Wallace III, CB, San Jose State
Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington
Stephen Weatherly, LB, Vanderbilt
De’Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State
Daryl Worley, CB, West Virginia
Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona
Avery Young, OL, Auburn

‘Hollywood’ Higgins headed early to the bright lights of the NFL

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 28: Wide receiver Rashard Higgins #82 of the Colorado State Rams makes a catch for a first down while being defended by defensive back Justin DeCoud #13 of the Air Force Falcons during the third quarter at Falcon Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Appropriately enough, with the NFL headed back to Los Angeles, a player with the nickname of “Hollywood” has decided to make the early leap to that level as well.

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, one of the country’s most talented and productive wide receivers, Rashard Higgins, has decided to leave Colorado State early and make his way into this year’s NFL draft pool.  Higgins made his announcement on (surprise!) Twitter…

… with the football program following up with a statement from head coach Mike Bobo and a tweet of their own.

“We wish Rashard Higgins all the best as he begins this next chapter in his life,” Bobo said. “I’m appreciative of the way he represented his family, our team and Colorado State University, and gave everything he had for his teammates and our great fans on a daily basis. Rashard will always be a Ram, and I have no doubt he will be successful as he joins his fellow former Rams proudly representing Colorado State in the NFL.”

Higgins, a two-star prospect coming out of high school in Texas whose only Power Five offer was from Missouri, led the Rams in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns each of his three seasons with the program. The 6-2, 190-pound junior’s best season came in 2014 as he caught 96 passes for 1,750 yards and 17 touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns led the nation.

For that season-long performance, Higgins became the first Ram player since 1995 and just the third in program history to be named a consensus first-team All-American.

USC prez Max Nikias named playoff board chairman

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  USC President C.L. Max Nikias speaks onstage at the 18th Annual LA Times Festival Of Books at USC on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for LA Times)
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With the second College Football Playoff title game getting set to kick off shortly on the field, the organization is taking care of some business off of it.

The CFP’s executive director, Bill Hancock, confirmed Monday that USC president Max Nikias has been named as the chairman of the CFP Board of Managers.  Nikias replaces Harvey Perlman, the Nebraska chancellor who is retiring from his post at the university this summer.

Nikias will officially begin his term as chairman February 1.

“Dr. Nikias has been instrumental in the development and growth of the College Football Playoff,” said Hancock. “We appreciate his leadership and continued support. He is highly respected by his fellow presidents and chancellors and he will be an excellent chair.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank Harvey Perlman for the time and energy he has devoted to the playoff. We have been fortunate to have been led by such talented people.

For those curious as to what the Board of Managers is responsible, the CFP wrote in the release that it “governs the College Football Playoff business, property and affairs. The board develops, reviews and approves annual budgets, policies and operating guidelines. It has authority over all aspects of the company’s operations.”

Below is the current makeup of the board, which has one representative from each of the 10 FBS conferences as well as Notre Dame:

Rodney Bennett – President, University of Southern Mississippi (C-USA)
Anthony Frank – President, Colorado State University (Mountain West)
Burns Hargis – President, Oklahoma State University (Big 12)
Jack Hawkins – Chancellor, Troy University (Sun Belt)
Rev. John Jenkins – President, University of Notre Dame (Independent)
Mark Keenum – President, Mississippi State University (SEC)
Roderick McDavis – President, Ohio University (MAC)
C. L. Max Nikias (chair) – President, University of Southern California (Pac-12)
Harvey Perlman – Chancellor, University of Nebraska (Big Ten)
John Thrasher – President, Florida State University (ACC)
Steadman Upham – President, University of Tulsa (American Athletic)