LSU hits double digits in early NFL departures

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Would the last LSU underclassmen please hit the lights on the way out?

As first reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the father of offensive lineman Chris Faulk confirmed to WWL-TV that his son has decided to leave the Tigers and make himself available for the draft.  The dad said “the family left the decision completely up to Chris, and he filed his paperwork [for early entry into the draft] with the league today.”

LSU has yet to issue a release on Faulk’s future, although could be due to a backlog of early declarations.

The move is somewhat surprising as Faulk suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice the week after the 2012 opener.  In his first season as a starter in 2011, Faulk played well enough to earn second-team All-SEC honors as well as project as a potential first-round pick in the future.

As far as how he’s progressed from what was labeled as a significant injury, the Times-Picayune writes that “LSU Coach Les Miles said earlier in the season Faulk was ahead of his rehab schedule and would be ready for spring practice.”  How the injury will impact his draft stock remains unclear.

With Faulk’s apparent departure, there are now 10 Tigers with eligibility remaining who have decided to forego it for the NFL.  Included in that total are six defensive starters.  Below is the complete list of what’s believed to be a record number of underclassmen departures for a single school in a single year:

Chris Faulk, offensive lineman
Michael Ford, running back
— Bennie Logan, defensive lineman
— Barkevious Mingo, defensive lineman
— Kevin Minter, linebacker
— Sam Montgomery, defensive lineman
— Eric Reid, defensive back
— Tharold Simon, defensive back
Spencer Ware, running back
Brad Wing, punter

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)

Duke DE R.J. Oben undergoes season-ending surgery

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The depth along Duke’s defensive line has taken a bit of a hit, the school announced Tuesday.

In a press release, the football program confirmed that R.J. Oben underwent surgery to repair damage to his left shoulder.  As a result, the defensive end will miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

The school didn’t indicate when the true freshman sustained the injury.

A three-star member of the Blue Devils’ 2019 recruiting class, Oben was rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of New Jersey.  Oben has appeared in four games this season and has been credited with one tackle.

Florida State AD says Urban Meyer won’t be the target if Willie Taggart gets fired

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It’s an open question right now as to whether or not Willie Taggart gets a third chance to turn Florida State’s football program around. But, in the event he doesn’t, Urban Meyer won’t be the target of the hypothetical coaching search.

And neither will Steve Spurrier, for that matter.

That’s on the authority of FSU AD David Coburn, who went on record with the Tallahassee Democrat Tuesday to dispute a FootballScoop report that Meyer would be the target of the search. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)

“If Coach were hit by a bus tomorrow, we would not target Coach Meyer, period,” Coburn told the paper. “I say that with all due respect to Coach Meyer, but we would not target Steve Spurrier either.”

Florida State is desperate to party like it’s 1999 again, to the point where Coburn didn’t throw out the prospect of paying Taggart’s $17-plus million buyout if Taggart doesn’t turn this season around. (The furthest Coburn would go on that point is this non-denial denial: “For the record, we have not been in contact with our Coach’s agent, period,” Coburn said.)

But they’re evidently not desperate enough to hire their former archnemesis.

Ex-assistant lands South Carolina on probation for recruiting violations

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The NCAA’s committee on infractions hit South Carolina for multiple sanctions stemming from violations by a former assistant coach, the organization announced Tuesday. The assistant was not named in the probe, but I reported at FootballScoop that former Gamecocks assistant Lance Thompson was the source of the probe.

The NCAA, South Carolina and Thompson engaged in a “negotiated resolution process,” in which the parties agreed Thompson texted a sophomore recruit following his official visit, and also sent a text notifying the recruit he would be at his high school the following day and would like to meet face-to-face.

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from texting recruits until their junior year, and from face-to-face off-campus visits until their senior year.

Thompson worked as South Carolina’s assistant head coach for defense and defensive line coach from 2016-18. He is now the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida Atlantic.

A veteran college assistant, Thompson has coached at Georgia Tech (in two different stints), UCF, LSU, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn in addition to South Carolina and FAU. He has been recognized for his work as a recruiter by ESPN and Rivals.

As part of the negotiated settlement, South Carolina has been hit with the following sanctions:

  • A $10,000 fine.
  • A prohibition of off-campus football recruiting activity during the first two weeks of the spring 2019 evaluation period and the first four weeks of the fall 2019 evaluation period.
  • A reduction of football evaluation days by 12 for the 2018-19 academic year.
  • A restriction on all telephone and text communications with football prospects for two weeks beginning Sept. 1, 2019.
  • The head football coach may have only off-campus contact with 10 prospects during the fall 2019 contact period.
  • One year of probation.
  • One-on-one rules education for the head coach regarding NCAA contact and evaluation rules, completed in May 2019.
  • The university ended the recruitment of the prospect.

Additionally, the assistant has been hit with a 1-year show-cause penalty. He will be suspended one game for the 2019 season and may not engage in off-campus recruiting during the fall 2019 evaluation period.

Florida AD Scott Stricklin posts Games Wanted ad to Twitter

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For decades, Florida avoided playing major non-conference games outside of the Sunshine State, citing their ongoing rivalry with Florida State and their annual Jacksonville game against Georgia.

The Gators still play Florida State every year, and they still play Georgia in Jacksonville on the first Saturday of November. But they’ve decided to stop letting that prevent them from playing interesting non-conference games across this great land.

AD Scott Stricklin has scheduled series with Texas, Colorado and Utah (in addition to a home-and-home with Miami) and he’s looking for more. And he wants everyone to know he’s looking for more.

“Attention ADs from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 … @GatorsFB is looking to add additional Home-and-Home series against P5 opponents. Let’s connect and schedule quality games the fans want to see!” Stricklin tweeted Tuesday.

Unless Stricklin is willing to cancel on-the-books games for 2020 or ’21, the next opening Florida has on its schedule is 2026-27. The Gators will play Utah in 2022-23, Miami in 2024-25, Colorado in 2028-29 and Texas in 2030-31.

In 2032 and beyond, though, Stricklin’s schedule is wide open. And while Stricklin is throwing bottles into the proverbial ocean, let’s throw another note in there — it sure would be nice to see Florida go north, particularly to Lincoln, Madison, South Bend, Columbus, Ann Arbor or State College.