Return to Ducks a realistic possibility for Chip Kelly

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Well, this is certainly a somewhat unexpected development.

In the days leading up to and immediately after Oregon’s Fiesta Bowl win Thursday night, it was widely expected that Chip Kelly would leave the Ducks for a job in the NFL.  The head coach interviewed with at least three pro teams — Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles — with the common presumption being Kelly had closed the book on his collegiate coaching career.

If that book was closed, it’s open again.

According to Peter King of SI.com and NBC Sports, “Kelly’s going to choose between Oregon and the Eagles.”  One team is apparently out of the mix as Chris Mortensen of ESPN writes that the Browns “will reboot coach search without Chip Kelly in the fold.”

Both the Browns and Eagles have flown out of Arizona, the site of the interviews, with no answers from Kelly.

The situation involving Kelly and the NFL is still very fluid, though, as Jason La Confora of NFL.com says that “the Browns and Eagles go on about their searches, with one eye still on Chip Kelly, and we’ll see what Kelly tells his team.”  There’s speculation that Oregon will hold a meeting at some point Monday to apprise the Duck players of the coaching situation.

What’s been a growing storyline woven into the will he/won’t he dance, however, is that Kelly is not comfortable with the NFL opportunities presented to him and is seriously contemplating a return to the Ducks. “Don’t rule out Chip Kelly staying at Oregon. In fact, I’d say, after sniffing around more, there’s just as much a chance he stays than goes,” Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote.  Mortensen takes it a step further, saying that the “[m]ajority of league folks believe [returning to] Oregon” will be the ultimate result of the latest round of flirtations.

Kelly’s return to Eugene would be a huge boon for the football program and its fans on at least two fronts.

One, obviously, is that the Ducks would retain a head coach that built UO into a national football powerhouse.  In Kelly’s four seasons as head coach, the Ducks have gone 46-7, played in four BCS bowls and won three Pac-12 championships.

Secondly, this might be the last time, at least for a while and if Kelly returns, that UO has to be concerned about their coach bolting for the NFL.  After pulling out of a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last January, and stringing along two NFL clubs this January, organizations around the professional ranks will likely be hesitant — if not outright refuse — to waste the put in the time to woo Kelly in the future.

Five-star DB who flipped from Michigan to Alabama a week ago flips back to Michigan

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This just might be the perfect example of how a verbal commitment is not even remotely binding.

On Sept. 18 of this year, five-star 2019 prospect Daxton Hill announced that he had committed to playing his college football at Michigan.  On Dec. 8 of this year, that same recruit announced that he had decommitted from Michigan and, on the same day, committed to playing his college football at Alabama.

As the second Early National Signing Period dawned earlier today, Hill decommitted from Alabama and signed his National Letter of Intent with… Michigan.

And, at least for now, there will be no additional flipflopping as Hill is officially signed, sealed and delivered to Ann Arbor.

Hill, the younger brother of Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill, is the top-rated safety in the Class of 2019 and, according to 247Sports.com‘s composite board, the No. 8 prospect overall.

Battle won: Alabama flips four-star DB commit from Ohio State

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In late June, four-star Florida defensive back Jordan Battle committed to Ohio State.  A little over five months later, Urban Meyer announced his retirement as OSU’s head coach; a couple of weeks later, Meyer’s replacement, Ryan Day, officially suffered his first big loss.

Even after Battle committed to OSU, and before Meyer’s retirement announcement, he took official visits to, among others, Alabama.  As the second Early National Signing Period kicked off Wednesday, the uncertainty for the Buckeyes over the level of Battle’s commitment morphed into a hard reality as the St. Thomas Aquinas product officially flipped his commitment from OSU and signed with the Crimson Tide.

It’s a big loss for Day as Battle had been the third-highest-rated commitment in OSU’s 2019 recruiting class, and the highest-rated recruit on the defensive side of the ball.  Battle becomes the first 2019 commit to decommit since Meyer announced he was stepping down, although two 2020 four-star prospects decommitted in the days after the announcement.

On the flip side, of course, Battle’s signing merely adds to an Alabama class that entered the day as the top-ranked group in the country.

Battle is a consensus four-star prospect, rated as the No. 6 safety in the country; the No. 10 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 77 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  As was the case with the Buckeyes, it’s believed he will, at least initially, play cornerback for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama enters Early Signing Day with nation’s top-ranked class, could add at least two five-star undecideds

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It appears very likely the 2018 cycle will indeed be but a hiccup for the recruiting machine that is the Alabama Crimson Tide.

From 2011-17, Nick Saban pulled in the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class to Tuscaloosa.  Last year, however, Georgia and former UA defensive coordinator Kirby Smart knocked Saban off his recruiting perch and claimed the top class in 2018.

As we head into the second Early National Signing Day, Alabama once again sits atop 247Sports.com‘s team rankings with 304.52 points (24 commits, including two five-stars and 21 four-stars).  The Tide is also poised to add to their recruiting riches as they are in play for five uncommitted five-star prospects:

  • Florida running back Trey Sanders — No. 5 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • Louisiana defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher — No. 9 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • West Virginia offensive tackle Darnell Wright — No. 10 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • Mississippi linebacker Nakobe Dean — No. 14 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • Florida offensive tackle Evan Neal — No. 20 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board

Of the five, though, Alabama is only currently projected to corral two of them (Sanders, Neal).  LSU is in line to land Sopsher (per 247 crystal ball projections), who is expected to wait until the February signing period to put pen to paper, while Tennessee is an overwhelming favorite for Wright.  Dean is viewed to be a near tossup between UA and Georgia, with a slight lean toward UGA but also with other SEC schools (Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss) in the mix.

After Alabama, the rest of the current Top 10 consists of, in order from Nos. 2-10, Georgia (287.38), Texas A&M (282.55), LSU (274.12), Oregon (272.07), Clemson (269.57), Texas (268.18), Oklahoma (263.03), Michigan (262.36) and Ohio State (255.99).

Those last two rivals, incidentally, could make a big early splash as both are in the mix for the top uncommitted 2019 prospect, Ohio defensive end Zach Harrison (No. 4 on 247′s composite board).  While Penn State is also a finalist, the home-state Buckeyes are the projected front-runners for Harrison, who will tweet his school of choice around 12:30 ET this afternoon.

And that’s it.  A tweet.  No dog-and-pony show, no elaborate signing ceremony.  Just a tweet to announce where he will spend at least the next three years.  Refreshing.

Oklahoma losing WR A.D. Miller to transfer

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As Oklahoma is set to add players as part of the Early Signing Period later on today, it appears the Sooners will also see one leave its roster as well.

According to a tweet from Brett McMurphy of WatchStadium.com, A.D. Miller has decided to transfer from Lincoln Riley‘s OU football program.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed that “Miller is looking to transfer and has entered his name into the NCAA transfer pool.”

No specific reason for the departure was given.

A three-star 2015 signee, Miller started 10 games during his time with the Sooners.  The wide receiver made four of those starts during his redshirt junior season this past year.

The Dallas native will finish his time in Norman with 236 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns on 21 catches during his 27 appearances with the Sooners.