Dozens of eligible underclassmen have or will announce in the coming weeks that they are leaving early for the NFL, with each carrying various degrees of impact on their respective team’s prospects for the 2013 season.
This one will likely have as big of an impact as any other.
Largely overlooked and undervalued outside of Chapel Hill specifically and the ACC in general over the past two seasons, Giovani Bernard announced that he has decided to leave North Carolina and enter the 2013 NFL draft. The running back, who likely would’ve been included in the preseason Heisman mix, is foregoing his final two years of eligibility to make the leap.
A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. ET today for Bernard to discuss the decision.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Chapel Hill and coming to UNC was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Bernard in a statement released ahead of the press conference. “I feel like the best decision for my future is to enter the NFL draft this year. I want to thank Coach Fedora, this coaching staff and the previous coaching staff for putting me in a position to succeed. I am on track to graduate and I plan on coming back to earn my degree in the Spring of 2014.”
A torn ACL suffered during summer camp cost Bernard all of his true freshman season in 2010, but the redshirt sophomore came back to earn All-ACC first-team honors the past two seasons. He led the conference in rushing, scoring and all-purpose yardage in 2012, and led the nation in punt returns average (16.4 yards per).
He accomplished all of that this season despite missing two games with a left knee issue.
“Gio is a special player and an even better person,” said UNC head coach Larry Fedora. “He flourished in our offense and was an outstanding leader for our program. After the season was over, we helped him gather as much information as possible so he and his family could make the best decision for his future. We support his decision and wish him nothing but success as he takes the next step in his football career. He is a tremendous ambassador for this program.”
Depending on which direction other players at his position take before the mid-January deadline, the 5-10, 205-pound Bernard could be the first running back selected in the upcoming draft.
Missouri’s passing game received a boost this weekend in the form of a new receiver. Damon Hazelton, Jr., has joined the team as a graduate transfer.
Hazelton arrives via Virginia Tech, but announced over earlier this month he would leave Blacksburg. This is the second transfer of his career; the Towson, Md., native signed with Ball State out of high school.
Hazelton made the announcement Saturday through a social media post.
After sitting out 2017 as an undergraduate transfer, Hazelton led the 2018 Hokies with 51 grabs for 802 yards and eight touchdowns. His production dipped a bit in 2019, registering 31 catches for 527 yards but still collecting eight touchdowns.
He joins a Mizzou receiving corps where no player caught more than 31 passes in a Kelly Bryant-led offense. With Bryant out of eligibility and Eli Drinkwitz now running the show, expect Hazelton to be the focus of the Tigers’ re-tooled passing game.
The Notre Dame football team has seen its most recent recruiting class thinned thanks to an off-field incident.
During the Early Signing Period last month, Landen Bartleson signed on as a member of the Notre Dame football team’s 2020 recruiting class. Bartleson had been expected to enroll at the university this coming summer.
Instead, Bartleson is one of three individuals arrested and charged with burglary, criminal mischief and receiving stolen property. Bartleson, 18, and two 16-year-old juveniles were taken into custody Friday by Danville, Kentucky, law enforcement officials.
The particulars, from WKYT-TV:
Danville police say officers were called to check out a burglary that happened overnight at a store on Westridge Drive.
Police say the suspects smashed a window and stole multiple weapons.
As a result of the off-field incident, the Notre Dame football program has cut ties with Bartleson. A statement from head coach Brian Kelly confirmed the development.
After reviewing all of the facts available to us and speaking with the Bartleson family, we informed them that Landen will no longer be welcomed as a member of our football program.
“This incident is very much out of character for the man we have come to know and we wish Landen and his family well.
Bartleson is a three-star 2020 prospect, rated as the No. 6 player regardless of position in the state of Kentucky.
The portal has claimed another name and Iowa State’s quarterback depth will suffer as a result.
Cyclones signal-caller Re-al Mitchell became the latest enter the NCAA Transfer Database this week and confirmed on social media that he was leaving Ames for another opportunity elsewhere.
The move is fairly unsurprising given that Mitchell arrived on campus in the same recruiting class as current starter Brock Purdy. With a pathway to significant playing time blocked by one of the best young QB’s in the sport, a ticket out of town seemed like it was coming sooner or later for the team’s No. 2 on the depth chart.
A dual-threat known for his speed, Mitchell was originally ranked as a three-star prospect coming out of high school who picked ISU over Arizona, Illinois, Kansas State, South Carolina and others. He wound up playing in six games under Matt Campbell over two seasons and threw for an even 100 yards and one touchdown.
A Southern California native, it’s possible a move back West could be in the cards for Mitchell. He appears to be insistent on playing under center but did see spot duty as a wide receiver during his stint in Ames.
Following the departure of Mitchell, Campbell will quite a bit of youth behind Purdy on the team’s depth chart. Freshman Aidan Bouman enrolled early for spring practice while fellow Class of 2020 QB and four-star recruit Hunter Dekkers will arrive later as they battle it out for backup reps. Iowa State opens the season at home against FCS South Dakota before heading to Kinnick Stadium to take on rival Iowa in Week 2.
New Texas coordinator Chris Ash’s task at turning around the team’s defense got a tad bit harder on Saturday.
According to a release from the school, linebacker Ayodele Adeoye suffered a foot injury and will undergo surgery to correct it. While he is expected to be back in time for summer workouts, the upcoming trip under the knife will knock him out for all of spring practice in Austin.
Adeoye was a top recruit out of high school in 2018 but played in just four games and redshirted his first year on the Forty Acres. He turned into a regular starter (nine games) last season however and was fifth on the team in tackles (45) while recording an interception and 2.5 sacks.
With the redshirt sophomore out, the Longhorns depth this spring as they re-tool under Ash will certainly be tested. Fellow rising sophomore David Gbenda likely will take on an increased role based on the depth chart — though he might have to earn his way back after being sent home from UT’s Alamo Bowl win over Utah due to a violation of team rules.
Texas opens the 2020 season at home against USF and new head coach Jeff Scott before heading to Baton Rouge for a must-see game against reigning national champion LSU in Week 2.