Henry Josey

Maty Mauk, Mizzou adapting to life without DGB

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The shock of Dorial Green-Beckham’s dismissal from the team probably hasn’t completely worn off at Mizzou just yet, even if quarterback Maty Mauk insisted “it’s behind us and we can’t do anything about it.” (via ESPN.com)

Mizzou’s spring game on Saturday, then, serves as an early look at who Mauk and the Tigers turn to in the absence of the team’s best returning receiver. It doesn’t help that Mizzou lost the 167 combined catches L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas had in last season’s run to the SEC Championship, either.

The good news is that Mizzou’s receivers still have good size and athleticism. Mauk, in the ESPN story, raved about 6-foot-3 Texas transfer Darius White, who only has 13 career catches to his name. Bud Sasser, who’s listed at 6-foot-2, caught 26 passes for Mizzou last year (and also threw a 40-yard touchdown to Washington at Georgia). Veteran Jimmie Hunt (22 catches in 2013) will also see an increased role in the Tigers’ offense.

Mauk lays out a few other players he’s been encouraged by in spring practice, and noted that Mizzou is being picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC East (not exactly an unfair assessment — in addition to the receivers, Mizzou lost QB James Franklin, RB Henry Josey, OL Justin Britt, OL Max Copeland, DE Michael Sam, LB Andrew Wilson and CB E.J. Gaines, among others).

But Mauk is somewhere between being diplomatic and confident in the guys around him with DGB no longer on the team. There’s still talent in Mizzou’s receiving unit; though we won’t find out if it’s good enough to compete in the SEC until the fall.

 

Tide’s Sunseri one of record 98 players declaring for draft

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A draft-eligible Alabama rumored to be headed to the NFL — or not — will indeed be a part of a record-breaking pool this May.

Tide defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was one of 98 players included on the NFL’s official list, released Sunday, of players “who have been granted special eligibility” for the upcoming draft.  It was reported a week ago that the safety was leaning toward making the early leap into the NFL, although there was some vacillation as the redshirt junior waited until right up until the Jan. 15 deadline — plus the three additional days allotted to reconsider, provided there’s no signing with an agent — before making his final decision.

Sunseri is still rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in a mid-October win over Arkansas.

The 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL is a record, shattering and/or obliterating the old mark of 73 set just last year.  That standard broke the record of 65 set the year before that.  In 2004, just 43 players with eligibility remaining left school early.

For the second consecutive year, LSU led all schools with seven early entrants.  In 2013, the Tigers saw 10 players leave early.  Sunseri gave the Tide five players leaving early, the same number as USC and one-win Cal (?).  Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina each saw four players take the early jump into the NFL.

2014 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of early entrants has increased.

The number could have actually topped the century mark as four players who have left school early but have already graduated were not included in the NFL’s official count: Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard.

You can view the complete, official list of early entrants into the NFL draft:

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An unofficial list of underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft

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The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is upon us. It looks like we’ll have a record 92 (at minimum) declarations this year, easily topping last year’s record of 73. This draft should be among the most talent-laden in recent history.

Why the sudden exodus? Blame the new rookie wage scale, which rewards less money to first round draft picks and delays the big payout until a player’s second contract. That means the more time spent in the league, the better. A lot of these players want to get moving on proving themselves, even if they are a late round pick at the start.

Here’s the unofficial list of early entries as of the Jan. 15 deadline. The NFL will have an official list on Jan. 19:

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Carl Bradford, DE/OLB, Arizona State
Bashaud Breeland, DB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB, Alabama
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
Mike Flacco, TE, New Haven
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Viliami Moala, DT, California
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Jeoffrey Pagan, DL, Alabama
Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Kelcy Quarles, DL, South Carolina
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
George Uko, DL, USC
Pierre Warren, FS, Jacksonville State
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Terrance West, RB, Towson
James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State
David Yankey, OL, Stanford

RB Ameer Abdullah returning to Nebraska for senior season

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It’s generally rare for running backs to pass up a chance to enter the NFL Draft, given the high injury risk associated with the position. A knee blowout can cost a player millions, so even if someone has work to do on his game it’s often worth it to make the jump to the NFL.

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, though, isn’t making that jump. The first-team All-Big Ten back announced Thursday he’ll remain in Lincoln for another year, pointing to a desire to earn a degree and set himself up for life after football.

“The average NFL career, because of the violent nature of the sport, is less than five years. In analyzing these truths, I have come to realize that life is bigger than football, and that my chances of long-term success in life will be greatly enhanced by completing my college education,” Adbullah said in a statement. “Although I have always wanted to play in the NFL, at this time I would like to formally announce my intentions of returning to Nebraska for my senior season.

“If playing in the NFL is truly in God’s plans for me, then God will again present this opportunity to me after I complete my college education.”

It’s a somewhat refreshing counter-argument to the “jump at your first chance” mentality, and one the higher-ups at Nebraska no doubt are pleased with. Basically, Abdullah is gambling his stock won’t fall this coming season, though if it does he’ll have a backup plan in place.

Abdullah rushed for 1,690 yards and was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award in 2013.

Among the junior running backs to declare for the NFL Draft: Washington’s Bishop Sankey, Mizzou’s Henry Josey, Notre Dame’s George Atkinson and Auburn’s Tre Mason.

Henry Josey leaving Mizzou early for the NFL

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The miraculous comeback of Henry Josey, one of the most heartwarming stories of the 2013 season, will continue in the NFL.

Missouri announced Tuesday afternoon that the running back has decided to bypass his final year of eligibility and make himself available for the 2014 NFL Draft.  In a statement released through the university, Josey said his decision to leave thew Tigers was “difficult” and “bittersweet.”

“This is really a bittersweet decision to make,” said Josey.  “I’m so grateful to Mizzou and my coaches and teammates and fans for all of their support and everything they’ve meant to me these past four years.  It’s difficult to think I won’t be with them next year.

“But I’m really excited to have a chance to play professionally and work on fulfilling a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid.  I can’t possibly express how much I owe to so many people for helping me get to this position, my doctors, trainers, strength coaches, everyone who pushed me and helped me and believed in me, and of course my coaches for trusting me.  To the Mizzou fans, thanks so much for all of your prayers and thoughts the past couple of years, you truly inspired me to get back on the field.  I’m going to miss my teammates but I know they’ll do great things and I will always be a Mizzou Tiger.”

In 2011, Josey suffered what a team doctor described as “a one-in-a-million injury” that involved a torn ACL and MCL as well as ruptured patellar tendons.  The injury was so devastating that it knocked him out for the entire 2012 season.

Josey returned in 2013 to rush for 1,166 and 16 touchdowns, the latter total good for second in the SEC.

Head coach Gary Pinkel said Josey would be missed as much off the field as he will on it.

“Henry Josey is a first-class person any way you cut it, and anytime you take that out of your program, it leaves a void,” said Pinkel.  “He is such an amazing competitor, and I’ve said time and again just how inspiring he has been for our team the last two years.  We were so proud of him for overcoming everything he had to deal with, and to be such a positive influence on and off the field.  We’re going to miss him, no question, but Henry wants to pursue his dream of playing professionally and we wish him nothing but the best and we’ll do everything we can to help him reach that goal.  The Mizzou Football program is in better shape because of his efforts, so we’re grateful for the time he spent with us, and we know he’ll represent Mizzou well going forward.”