Knile Davis

Knile Davis responds to SN article on players quitting

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Three former Arkansas coaches – interim coach John L. Smith, defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino — told the Sporting News recently that they felt some Arkansas players quit on the team during 2012’s disastrous 4-8 season. The comments mirrored what Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson said about his team early in the season following a 52-0 loss to Alabama, in which Wilson did not play because of a concussion.

No one from Arkansas — players nor athletic director Jeff Long — commented for the story. But one former player, running back Knile Davis, has now responded to it via his Twitter account.

Here’s what Davis had to say (via ArkansasNews.com):

“The same guys who sacrificed their time and freedom. The same guys who gave their blood sweat and tears for that hog on the side of that helmet. The same guys who skipped an opportunity of a life time by not entering the draft and came back knowing the risk. The same guys that battled to get a win in the liberty bowl in the freezing cold. The same guys that battled to get the schools first BCS birth in the Sugar Bowl. The same guys that fought and won the Cotton Bowl. These same guys quit on one of the most anticipated seasons in Arkansas history?! I don’t think so. Not these guys. Not my guys. #HAWG 4 LIFE”

The SN piece did not name specific players who “quit.” Also, it would be incorrect to assume all players did (not that the ex-coaches are assuming that). And there were injuries. Lots of ’em. Davis missed a couple of games with a hamstring injury; tight end Chris Gragg missed more than half the year with a leg injury; and linebackers Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith had season-ending injuries.

This has amounted to a he said/he said story. Did Arkansas look defeated this past season? At times, absolutely. Was that the only issue Arkansas had in 2012? No way. The 10-month contract for Smith turned out to be a disaster, and Smith was never the guy the Razorbacks needed to maintain the success built by Bobby Petrino.

Say what you will about Petrino — I have numerous times — but one thing he does successfully is get his players to perform with an edge. An edge based on fear. That edge was noticeably absent last season.

So, too, was good coaching. That deserves blame as well. The Razorbacks’ pass defense was among the worst in college football and opposing teams were scoring an average of 30 points a game. And if we’re on the topic of quitting, Smith looked like he had mailed it in a season-ending loss to LSU.

The former coaches claiming certain players quit on the team only scratches the surface of what went wrong for Arkansas in 2012, even though it scratches the right spot. That scratch has removed the scab from the wound of what could have been for the Razorbacks.

Record number of underclassmen enter NFL draft

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We’ve been keeping track of underclassmen who have declared for this year’s NFL draft. This morning, the NFL released its list of 73 underclassmen who have been granted “special eligibility” for the draft by being at least three years removed from high school before declaring.

That number is a new record, breaking the one held in 2012 with 65 underclassmen declaring. In 2011, 56 players left early and 53 took off in 2010. In fact, the 73 who declared this year is 30 more than in 2004.

Of the 73 players, 33 come from SEC schools, or began their careers at SEC schools. That’s far and away the most of any conference. LSU has 11 underclassmen with ties to the program represented.

You can view the NFL’s release HEREbut here’s the alphabetized list.

Keenan Allen WR, California
David Amerson DB, North Carolina State
Alvin Bailey G, Arkansas
Stedman Bailey WR, West Virginia
David Bakhtiari T, Colorado
Dwayne Beckford LB, Purdue
Le’Veon Bell RB, Michigan State
Giovani Bernard RB, North Carolina
Tyler Bray QB,Tennessee
Terrence Brown DB, Stanford
Duron Carter WR, Ohio State
Knile Davis RB, Arkansas
Mike Edwards DB, Hawaii
Matt Elam DB, Florida
Zach Ertz TE, Stanford
Gavin Escobar TE, San Diego State
Chris Faulk T, Louisiana State
Sharrif Floyd DT, Florida
Michael Ford RB, Louisiana State
Travis Frederick C, Wisconsin
Kwame Geathers NT, Georgia
William Gholston DE, Michigan State
Johnathan Hankins DT, Ohio State
Jajuan Harley DB, Middle Tennessee
DeAndre HopkinsWR, Clemson
Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee
Jawan Jamison RB, Rutgers
Stefphon Jefferson RB, Nevada
Tony Jefferson DB, Oklahoma
Jelani Jenkins LB, Florida
Luke Joeckel T, Texas A&M
Jarvis Jones LB, Georgia
Jose Jose DT, Central Florida
Joe Kruger DE, Utah
Eddie Lacy RB, Alabama
Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
Corey Lemonier DE, Auburn
Bennie Logan DT, Louisiana State
Stansly Maponga DE, Texas Christian
Tyrann Mathieu DB, Louisiana State
Dee Milliner DB, Alabama
Barkevious Mingo DE, Louisiana State
Kevin Minter LB, Louisiana State
Sam Montgomery DE, Louisiana State
Brandon Moore DT, Texas
Damontre Moore DE, Texas A&M
Alec Ogletree LB, Georgia
Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee
Bradley Randle RB, Nevada-Las Vegas
Joseph Randle RB, Oklahoma State
Jordan Reed TE, Florida
Eric Reid DB, Louisiana State
Greg Reid DB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes DB, Florida State
Sheldon Richardson DT, Missouri
Nickell Robey DB, Southern California
Logan Ryan DB, Rutgers
Ace Sanders WR, South Carolina
Darrington Sentimore DT, Tennessee
Tharold Simon DB, Louisiana State
Dion Sims TE, Michigan State
Akeem Spence DT, Illinois
Kenny Stills WR, Oklahoma
Levine Toilolo TE, Stanford
Spencer Ware RB, Louisiana State
Menelik Watson T, Florida State
Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State
Steve Williams DB, California
Marquess Wilson WR, Washington State
Brad Wing P, Louisiana State
Cierre Wood RB, Notre Dame
Robert Woods WR, Southern California
Tom Wort LB, Oklahoma

Nation’s second-leading rusher leaving Nevada for NFL

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Two days after their long-time head coach stepped down, Nevada has lost its most productive offensive cog as well.

In a tweet posted a couple of days ago to the Twitter account of Kelli Masters Management, it was announced that running back Stefphon Jefferson has signed with KMMSports and will be a part of the 2013 NFL draft.  Jefferson is a redshirt junior and had one year of eligibility remaining.

In a statement, Jefferson confirmed his decision to become the fourth draft-eligible back to leave early for the NFL, joining North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, Arkansas’ Knile Davis and South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore.

“I have decided to take my career to the next level and forgo my senior year to enter the NFL Draft,” Jefferson’s statement read. “I do want to thank Nevada and all the staff and coaches for everything. I could not have done it without the opportunities Nevada provided to me to be successful. I will always bleed silver and blue. I know that God has plans greater than football.”

This season, Jefferson rushed for 1,883 yards and 24 touchdowns.  The latter total is tops in the nation, while the former is second behind Arizona RB Ka’Deem Casey‘s 1,929.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Dave Miller)

2012-13 Underclassmen Draft Declarations Tracker

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In an effort to keep all of the underclassmen declarations in one handy, easy-to-find location, we’ve created this page and will update it as the official word comes down that a player is leaving collegiate eligibility on the table and making the early leap to the NFL. The deadline for draft-eligible players to officially file their paperwork with the NFL is January 15.

Last year, a record 65 draft-eligible underclassmen left school early.  That shattered the record of 56 set the previous season.

So, without further ado, on to the tracker…

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tyler Bray, Tennessee (1/4/2013)
Kyle Padron, Eastern Washington (1/13/2013)

RUNNING BACKS (11)

Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (1/3/2013)
Giovani Bernard
***
, North Carolina (12/14/2012)
Knile Davis
**
, Arkansas (12/12/2012)
Michael Ford**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Jawan Jamison***, Rutgers (1/5/2013)
Stefphon Jefferson**, Nevada (12/31/2012)
Eddie Lacy**, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Marcus Lattimore
, South Carolina (12/12/2012)
Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State (1/10/2013)
Spencer Ware, LSU (1/4/2013)
Cierre Wood**, Notre Dame (1/14/2013)

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)

Keenan Allen, Cal (12/6/2012)
Stedman Bailey**, West Virginia (12/17/2012)
Josh Boyce**, TCU (1/9/2013)
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (1/10/2013)
Justin Hunter, Tennessee (12/17/2012)
Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington (1/13/2013)
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (1/9/2013)
Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (12/13/2012)
Ace Sanders, South Carolina (1/15/2013)
Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (1/7/2013)
Marquess Wilson, Washington State (1/11/2013)
Robert Woods, USC (12/31/2012)

TIGHT ENDS (6)

Tyler Eifert**, Notre Dame (1/8/2013)
Zach Ertz
**
, Stanford (1/7/2013)
Gavin Escobar
**
, San Diego State (1/7/2013)
Jordan Reed
**
, Florida (1/4/2013)
Dion Sims
**, Michigan State (1/3/2013)
Levine Toilolo**, Stanford (1/7/2013)

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Alvin Bailey**, Arkansas ((12/20/2012)
David Bakhtiari
**
, Colorado (1/9/2013)
Chris Faulk**, LSU (1/9/2013)
D.J. Fluker**, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Travis Frederick
**
, Wisconsin (1/5/2013)
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (1/8/2013)
Justin Pugh
**, Syracuse (1/3/2013)
Menelik Watson, Florida State (1/8/2013)
Tom Wort**, Oklahoma (1/9/2013)

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)

Sharrif Floyd, Florida (1/3/2013)
Kwame Geathers**, Georgia (1/9/2013)
William Gholston, Michigan State (1/5/2013)
Johnathan Hankins
, Ohio State (12/10/2012)
Brandon Jenkins
**
, Florida State (11/20/2012)
Joe Kruger, Utah (1/2/2013)
Corey Lemonier, Auburn (12/31/2012)
Bennie Logan**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Barkevious Mingo**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Sam Montgomery**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Brandon Moore, Texas (1/11/2013)
Damontre Moore, Texas A&M (12/30/2012)
Sheldon Richardson**, Missouri (11/30/2012)
Darrington Sentimore, Tennessee (1/9/2013)
Akeem Spence**, Illinois (12/21/2012)
Stansly Maponga**, (1/15/2013)
Bjoern Werner, Florida State (1/3/2013)

LINEBACKERS (4)

Jelani Jenkins**, Florida (1/7/2013)
Jarvis Jones
**
, Georgia (1/4/2013)
Kevin Minter
**
, LSU (1/3/2013)
Alec Ogletree
, Georgia (1/1/2013)

DEFENSIVE BACKS (13)

David Amerson, North Carolina State (1/5/2013)
Terrence Brown
**
, Stanford (1/8/2013)
Mike Edwards
**
, Hawaii (1/2/2013)
Matt Elam, Florida (1/3/2013)
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (1/7/2013)
Tyrann Mathieu
*
, formerly of LSU (11/29/2012)
Dee Milliner, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Eric Reid, LSU (1/4/2013)
Xavier Rhodes**, Florida State (1/2/2012)
Nickell Robey, USC 1/13/2013)
Logan Ryan**, Rutgers (12/31/2012)
Tharold Simon, LSU (1/4/2013)
Steve Williams**, Cal (1/8/2013)

PUNTERS/KICKERS (1)

Brad Wing***, LSU (1/4/2013)

(*Mathieu was dismissed by LSU and did not play his true junior season in 2012)
(**denotes fourth-year junior)
(***denotes third-year sophomore)

Hogs’ third-leading receiver still suspended for violating team rules

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Whatever’s going on with Arkansas wide receiver Brandon Mitchell, the matter hasn’t been resolved to coach John L. Smith‘s satisfaction. Mitchell was suspended for last week’s game against Ole Miss for the ol’ violation of team rules. That suspension will not be lifted in time for this weekend’s game against Tulsa, Smith said Thursday.

“There comes a point where you get through Wednesday practice, and if you haven’t used him — and which we couldn’t plan on him being here, so, no, we don’t anticipate (him playing) at all,” Smith said via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “He’s not game ready. Not game-planned, not a part of it.

“I don’t see a (timetable). Like everybody else I’m just knocking on wood, anxious.”

Mitchell is still the team’s third-leading receiver, but has just 11 receptions in the past seven games.

Arkansas will also be without tight end Chris Gragg and running back Knile Davis. Gragg has a knee injury and Davis has a hamstring problem.