Houston

Tom Herman lands Houston’s highest-rated recruit in over a decade, possibly ever

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Houston’s new head coach has yet to coach a game, but he’s already making things happen. As best we can tell right now, new Houston head coach Tom Herman has broken down a wall that Houston has yet to climb since as far back as 2002.

Class of 2016 defensive tackle Ed Oliver, rated four stars and the seventh-best defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals, has given Herman and Houston his verbal commitment. This, of course, is a long way from becoming officially official with National Signing Day not until next February. It is, however, a sign that Herman is already having an impact on the recruiting trail at his new gig. While Oliver receives four out of five stars from Rivals, other recruiting services are a tad higher on him (he has a five-star composite ranking according to 247 Sports).

As it stands now, Oliver is choosing Houston over offers from programs like Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and more.

Per Rivals, Wide receiver Deontay Greenberry was Houston’s most recent four-star recruit in the Class of 2012. Since 2002, Houston has signed a total of five four-star players.

Go to work, Herman.

Helmet sticker to The Student Section.

Nearly 30 percent of early entries weren’t selected in NFL draft

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Not surprisingly, some of the players who left eligibility on the table for an early shot at the pros were left without a chair when the draft music stopped Saturday.

By the deadline in mid-January, a total of 84 players with eligibility remaining filled out their paperwork to make themselves available for the 2015 NFL draft.  As noted by Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com, 24 of those 84 players went undrafted as the seven-round event concluded yesterday evening.

While that’s 28.6 percent, it’s actually a better rate than a year ago.  In 2014, 36.7 percent (36 of 98) of the early entrants went undrafted.  That total of 98 last year was a record number of draft-eligible players who left with eligibility remaining, which prompted the NFL to change its protocol in an attempt to roll back the number of players leaving early.

Getting back to this year, 16 of the 24 who weren’t selected came from Power Five football programs.  TCU was the only school with two early entrants who weren’t picked (running back B.J. Catalon, safety Chris Hackett), while two of the players came from non-FCS levels.

It should be noted that most if not all of the players in this group will sign as an undrafted free agent.

Below is the complete list of those who went undrafted.

SS Durell Eskridge, Syracuse
CB Jacoby Glenn, UCF
FS Chris Hackett, TCU
WR DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame
RB Trey Williams, Texas A&M
DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
TE Jean Sifrin, Massachusetts
DT David Irving, Iowa State
WR Deontay Greenberry, Houston
DT Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
RB B.J. Catalon, TCU
WR Chris Harper, California
LB Max Flores, Northern Colorado
RB Dee Hart, Colorado State
RB Braylon Heard, Kentucky
WR George Farmer, USC
WR Nigel King, Kansas
OT Patrick Miller, Auburn
WR Zach D’Orazio, Akron
WR Tacoi Sumler, Appalachian State
OG Tyler Moore, Florida
WR Jaquel Pitts, Trinity International
LS Easton Wahlstrom, Arizona State
OLB Darien Rankin, North Carolina

Ezekiel Elliott named winner of prestigious Sullivan Award

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Three months after their title-winning season came to an end, the honors continue to roll in for Ohio State football.

Sunday afternoon, running back Ezekiel Elliott was named as the winner of the AAU James E. Sullivan Award, one of the most prestigious honors in amateur sports.  Elliott was one of 16 semifinalists for the 85th edition of the award, with former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota serving as the only other college football player up for the honor.

Here is the description of the award from the award itself:

Known as the “Oscar” of sports awards, and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.

Elliott is the second consecutive college football player to win the award as Penn State’s John Urschel claimed last year’s trophy.  Elliott becomes the eighth college football player to claim the Sullivan, joining Urschel, joining Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011)

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Other former winners include golfing great Bobby Jones (1930, first year of the award), track legend Wilma Rudolph (1960), swimmer Mark Spitz (1971), decathlete Bruce Jenner (1976) and swimmer Michael Phelps (2003).

UPDATED 4:54 p.m. ET: Below is a quote from Elliott sent out by OSU’s sports information department.

“First and foremost I’d like to thank the AAU Sullivan Award for representing the outstanding amateur athlete for the past 85 years, and secondly I want to congratulate all the finalists. I feel somewhat undeserving of this award with all these great athletes up here and all their tremendous accomplishments. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to win an Olympic gold medal so I want to congratulate all for being here.

“I’ve got to thank my parents for pushing me to being the person I am. They demand excellence out of me and that drove me to be the person I am today.

“I also want to thank Ohio State University for this and for all the opportunities it has presented me. And I want to thank my coaches and my teammates for making this opportunity possible. Football is a team sport and I’m nothing without my boys around me. Thank you!”

Ezekiel Elliott, Marcus Mariota semifinalists for Sullivan Award

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One current and one former college football player are in the running to take home one of the most prestigious awards in amateur sports.

Monday morning, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award announced the semifinalists for the 85th edition of the honor.  Among those 16 semifinalists are two college football players: Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott and former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Elliott’s Buckeyes, of course, handled Mariota’s Ducks in the championship game of the College Football Playoff, with the running back taking home MVP honors to put the finishing touches on a historic run.  Mariota had won the 2014 Heisman Trophy a month earlier.

Here is the description of the award from the award itself:

Known as the “Oscar” of sports awards, and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.

Both Elliott and Mariota will be looking to enter select company.

Last year’s winner of the Sullivan Award was Penn State’s John Urschel.  The Nittany Lion offensive lineman became just the seventh college football player to stake his claim to the iconic honor, joining Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011)

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This year’s field of 16 semifinalists will be pared to six finalists prior to the award being handed out April 19. Fans can vote for their favorite semifinalist once a day through March 15 by clicking on the link right HERE.  Below, you’ll find the complete list of semifinalists for the 85th annual Sullivan Award:

  • Pole vaulter Shawn Barber
  • Gymnast Simone Biles
  • Ice dancers Meryl Davis & Charlie White
  • Ohio State football player Ezekiel Elliott
  • Wrestler Adeline Gray
  • Luger Erin Hamlin
  • Penn State volleyball player Micha Hancock
  • USC diver Haley Ishimatsu
  • Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky
  • Oregon football player Marcus Mariota
  • UConn basketball player Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
  • Duke basketball player Jahlil Okafor
  • Georgia Tech golfer Ollie Schneiderjans
  • Water polo player Maggie Steffens

(Photo credit: BET.com)

Ex-Houston QB John O’Korn tweets he’s transferring to Michigan

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In the month or so since reports surfaced that John O’Korn would be transferring, the erstwhile Houston quarterback’s name has been connected to programs such as Florida, Texas, Miami and Wisconsin.

In the end, it looks like he’ll end up in the latter’s conference, albeit in a whole other division.

Around noon Eastern time Thursday, O’Korn tweeted out to his Twitter account the news that he has decided to transfer to Michigan to continue his collegiate playing career.  This is the point in the program where we note that UM has yet to confirm O’Korn’s addition to the roster.

Barring something unforeseen, O’Korn will have to sit out the 2015 season.  He would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

O’Korn, a three-star member of the Cougars’ 2013 recruiting class, passed for 3,117 yards and 28 touchdowns in being named the AAC’s 2013 Rookie of the Year.  After starting the first five games of the 2014 season, however, he lost his starting job to Greg Ward Jr.  He threw eight interceptions in 173 pass attempts this past season after throwing 10 in 446 throws last year.

In mid-January, O’Korn was granted a release from his scholarship.