Arizona Wildcats

Todd Graham
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Report: Arizona St. DL coach leaving for same job at Mizzou

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Prior to today, Todd Graham had lost four assistants from his Arizona State coaching staff the last five-plus months.  Less than two days before National Signing Day, that number has climbed to five.

The Arizona Republic is confirming the initial radio report coming out of the area that ASU defensive line coach Jackie Shipp is leaving the Sun Devils to take the same job at Missouri.  If the reports come to fruition, Shipp would replace Chris Wilson, who was hired by first-year Mizzou head coach Barry Odom in mid-December but then left for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles late last month.

Wilson had replaced Craig Kuligowski, who had been a Tigers assistant for the previous 15 seasons before leaving for a job on Mark Richt‘s new Miami staff.

Mizzou beat writers, however, are warning that the reports are premature, although none have labeled them as inaccurate.  Regardless, an official announcement is not expected until after signing day Wednesday.

Shipp has spent the past three seasons with the Sun Devils.  Prior to that, he spent 14 seasons as the line coach at Oklahoma.

Graham has already lost Mike Norvell to the Memphis head-coaching job, with the offensive coordinator taking two of his boss’ assistants along with him.  The man hired by Graham to replace Norvell, Chip Lindsey, very nearly left to take the head-coaching job at Southern Miss before electing to stay in the desert.

The initial defection hit close to home as Bo Graham, the head coach’s son, abruptly resigned as running backs coach last August.

LB Michael Barton leaving Cal for Arizona as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Randall Telfer #82 of the USC Trojans is tackled after his catch by Michael Barton #8 of the California Golden Bears at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Michael Barton may be leaving Cal, but he won’t be leaving the Pac-12.

On Twitter Sunday, Barton announced that he has decided to transfer from Cal and play his final season of college football elsewhere.  Specifically, the linebacker will be transferring to Arizona to finish out his playing career.

As Barton will enter Rich Rodriguez‘s Wildcats program as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2016.

In 2013 and 2014, Barton combined to start 13 games.  Following a 2014 season in which he led the Golden Bears in tackles, he was named honorable mention All-Pac-12.

However, Barton lost his starting job in summer camp last year and didn’t start a game, playing in only 10 of Cal’s 13 games.

 

SEC, Ohio State tops on Carolina, Denver Super Bowl rosters

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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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.

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

Taking a look at the recruiting rankings two weeks from Signing Day

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes on the sidelines during the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Two weeks from this very moment, your team’s recruiting class will likely be wrapped up. The National Letters of Intent will be in, the fax machine taking a breather until next year, the press release sent and your head coach’s ever-so-pleased press conference completed.

But there is much to do between now and the first weekend in February.

Understanding that this is essentially taking a snapshot of a scoreboard merely entering the fourth quarter, here is how the top 25 recruiting classes in the country stack up according to Rivals.com:

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Notre Dame
5. Florida
6. Florida State
7. Michigan
8. Clemson
9. Baylor
10. Michigan State
11. Alabama
12. Georgia
13. UCLA
14. Texas A&M
15. Auburn
16. North Carolina
17. Penn State
18. Miami
19. Kentucky
20. USC
20. Stanford
22. Oregon
23. TCU
24. California
25. Duke

A handful of teams I’d bet the farm on — grandpa’s prize heifer included — rising between now and Signing Day are Alabama (currently ranked 11th), Oklahoma (27th), Tennessee (30th) and Texas (42nd).

Also, UAB, who won’t play football again until 2017, presently boasts the nation’s 52nd-ranked recruiting class, tied with N.C. State and Iowa State, and just head of Arizona and Illinois.