One of the most explosive players in the country has officially joined an offense that could use some TNT.
As has been reported previously, Oklahoma running back/kickoff returner Alex Ross has now officially enrolled at Missouri.
Ross showed promised as a sophomore in 2014, ranking second on the Sooners with 88 carries for 595 yards (6.76 yards a pop) with four touchdowns while averaging 31.2 yards per kickoff returns and two touchdowns.
Ross’s usage dropped in 2015 with the emergence of Joe Mixon and Baker Mayfield as ball carriers. His carries dropped to just 32 on the season for 172 yards and one touchdown, and as such his kickoff average fell 10 yards per attempt with no touchdowns.
Missouri struggled mightily to run the ball last season; sophomore Ish Witter led the team with 126 carries for 518 yards and one touchdown. The Tigers’ next leading returning rusher is senior Chase Abbington, who racked up all of six carries for 39 yards last season.
As a team, Missouri finished 120th nationally in rushing and dead last in kickoff returns in 2015.
Ross will join the Tigers’ roster as a graduate transfer and will play immediately this fall.
Rocel McWilliams opted to leave Missouri following the football program’s spring game earlier this year. Now, a couple of months later, the defensive end has officially found a new landing spot.
Following up on speculation that preceded it for the past couple of weeks, South Alabama confirmed that McWilliams has signed a grant-in-aid with the university and is enrolled in classes. Because of NCAA transfer bylaws, McWilliams will be forced to sit out the 2016 football season.
Beginning in 2017, he would then have two years of eligibility remaining.
A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, McWilliams was rated as the No. 50 strongside defensive end in the country.
As a true freshman, McWilliams took a redshirt. The following season, he saw as much playing time as he did in his first year.
Not only is Missouri losing a football player, but their baseball program is losing one as well.
Thursday night, Marquise Doherty confirmed to Rivals.com that he has decided to transfer out of the Mizzou football program and drop down to an unnamed junior college. The running back told the recruiting website that it “wasn’t any one thing” that led to his decision, although he said moving forward that he will focus on baseball wherever he lands at the JUCO level.
Doherty was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Missouri. In fact, no other player in Mizzou’s class that year was rated higher than Doherty.
After taking a redshirt for his true freshman season, Doherty was expected to play both football and baseball this year. While he played baseball during spring, he did not participate in any of the football practices that were open to the media.
As of right now, Doherty’s departure leaves Mizzou with just three scholarship running backs. However, Oklahoma graduate transfer Alex Ross will be joining the Tigers in short order, as will four-star 2016 signee Damarea Crockett.
Jeffery Simmons caught what many considered an undeserved — and wholly unacceptable — break from Mississippi State Thursday. A day later, the five-star 2016 signee caught a break from his conference for good measure.
In April of last year, the SEC voted to ban member institutions from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for serious misconduct at his previous school, with that defined as sexual assault, sexual violence and domestic violence. As the SEC wrapped up its annual spring meetings Friday, and as had previously been expected, the conference announced that it will be expanding that policy to include “dating violence, stalking or conduct of a nature that creates serious concern about the safety of others.”
Additionally, the expanded policy will require schools to perform background checks on any transfer before they are permitted to practice or play with the team. Those checks are expected to satisfy what’s described as the SEC’s “minimum due diligence expectations.”
However, the new policy still only applies to transfers; incoming freshmen are not subject to the policy. That, though, could change, especially in light of the Simmons situation in Starkville.
“I can envision a continuing dialogue that looks at what we’ve done on serious misconduct relative to transfers, and the question will be asked is that sufficient?” commissioner Greg Sankey said. “Should we remain there? That doesn’t predict outcomes, but I envision that will be a conversation topic going forward. But I never anticipated that we were done.
“This conference has been wrestling with the issue, and it’s not easy. I hope people can appreciate that. It’s not as if this is done in a sterile environment, and I think that’s an important conversation. I said that last year, and I’ve said that this year. There’s a point at which the legislation concluded for this week, and we’ll see what the future might hold without prediction.”
Rumors have been swirling throughout the off-season, but CBS made the news official on Tuesday by announcing Verne Lundquist will step down as the lead voice of the network’s college football coverage — primarily the SEC, but also Army-Navy and the Sun Bowl — to be replaced by Brad Nessler after the upcoming season.
“Verne has set the standard for college football broadcasting,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “Together with Gary Danielson he has played a key role in making the SEC on CBS the highest-rated college football package in America. After an incredible 17 years, he will be handing the reigns off to Brad, who in his own right is highly acclaimed and respected as one of the premier play-by-play broadcasters in the business. I am very pleased that Verne will still have a prominent role in our college basketball and major championship golf coverage. We are fortunate to have one more football season to appreciate Verne’s one-of-a-kind storytelling as we pave the way for a seamless and smooth transition to Brad.”
Lunquist will continue with the network covering college basketball and golf, but will cede the college football chair in what was certainly a contract bullet point to lure Nessler away from ESPN.
“Being a part of the SEC on CBS since 2000 has been the most significant assignment I’ve been given in my more than five decades in this business,” said Lundquist. “Now, it’s time to step back and take in the aroma of those tulips, those roses, and those daffodils that friends have been telling me about for years. In 2017, I’ll happily step aside from college football and welcome Brad to the booth. I’ve known Brad for more than 30 years and have always admired his work ethic and his on-air presence. He shares the same passion for college football that I do. The SEC on CBS is in great hands. Brad and Gary will form a great partnership in the years ahead.”
Nessler leaves a plum gig at ESPN, where he, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe called the ESPN Saturday primetime game and one of the two College Football Playoff semifinals each of the past two seasons.
“Verne has been a friend for over 30 years and someone I’ve always looked up to in this business,” said Nessler. “I’m not replacing him as it would be impossible to replace Verne. I am truly honored to carry on where he leaves off and work to maintain the standard of excellence he has set calling the SEC on CBS. I am excited to rejoin the CBS Sports team this season and look forward to working alongside Gary again in 2017.”