Lather, rinse, repeat: SEC tops again in first-round draft picks

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By now, you know the drill.

With 12 players selected in the first round of Thursday night’s NFL draft, the SEC topped all conferences and tied the ACC (2007) for the most ever in the opening round.  The conference record had been 11 set in 2007.

The past three seasons, 32 of the 96 players selected have come from the conference that’s won the last six BCS championships.

Lagging well behind the SEC were the ACC (seven, which counts new 2013 member Syracuse), the Pac-12 (five) and  Big 12 (three).  Two players from football independents were taken, while the Big Ten, MAC (the No. 1 overall pick, with more on that below) and Conference USA had one player each taken.

The Big Ten, incidentally, narrowly avoided getting shutout in the first round of the draft for the first time since 1953 as Wisconsin’s Travis Fredericks (Dallas Cowboys) was selected with the second-to-last pick of the night.

The only conferences that did not have a player selected were the American Athletic Conference (née Big East), Mountain West and Sun Belt.

Of the 32 players taken last night, 14 were players who left collegiate eligibility on the table for early entry into the NFL.  10 of the 12 SEC draftees were early entrants, while four of the ACC’s seven fell into that category.

As far as individual schools go, Alabama from the SEC and Florida State from the ACC had three players apiece selected.  Florida, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Oregon were the only other programs with more than one player taken.

Just two of the 32 players selected came from non-BCS conferences (Central Michigan, Houston).

After the jump are some random notes and quotes sent out by the various sports information departments across the country regarding players selected in the first round of the NFL draft:

— Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher is the first-ever player from the MAC to be selected No. 1 overall; Marshall’s Byron Leftwich (the Herd didn’t move from the MAC to Conference USA until 2005) was selected with the seventh pick of the first round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003, the previous high-water mark for a player from that conference.  The only other Chip selected in the first round was offensive lineman Joe Staley, taken 28th overall in 2007 by the San Francisco 49ers.

— Selected by the Oakland Raiders at No. 12 overall more than five months after nearly dying on a Houston Cougars practice field, cornerback D.J. Hayden became only the second Conference USA player selected in that spot or higher.  Memphis defensive lineman Dontari Poe was chosen at No. 11 by the Kansas City Chiefs last year.

— For the second time the past three years, a Texas A&M Aggie was selected No. 2 overall.  A&M offensive lineman Luke Joeckel, taken by the Kansas City Chiefs, joined linebacker Von Miller (Denver Broncos, 2011) as Aggies selected in that slot.  All told, four Aggies have been selected second overall.  This draft also marked the first time in program history that an Aggie has been picked in the top-ten overall three consecutive years.

Ezekiel Ansah (No. 5, Detroit Lions) is the first BYU player selected in the Top Five since Jim McMahon was also taken No. 5 overall and also by an NFC Central/North club (Chicago Bears).

— With the selections of cornerback Dee Milliner (No. 9, New York Jets) and offensive lineman Chance Warmack (No. 10, Tennessee Titans), Alabama has seen a total of six of its players taken in the Top 10 of the draft the past three years.

— Offensive lineman D.J. Fluker was selected by the San Diego Chargers right after former teammate Warmack, marking the first time in NFL draft history that players from the same school had been selected with back-to-back-to-back picks in the first round (USC had three straight players taken in the seventh round of the 2011 draft).  Oddly enough, Alabama will be looking to become the first program in the BCS era to earn a crystal three-peat.

— Staying on the Tide tip, 14 players have been selected in the first round since Nick Saban took over in 2007, with 11 of those coming the past three years.

— North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper (No. 7, Arizona Cardinals) is the first guard picked in the top 10 since Colorado’s Chris Naeole was selected by the New Orleans Saints at No. 10 in 1997.

— Defensive lineman Dion Jordan (No. 3, Miami Dolphins) and offensive lineman Kyle Long (No. 20, Chicago Bears) are the first two Oregon Ducks selected in the same first round since 1972.

— Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is the first Clemson player to leave the school after his junior year and become a first round pick since Anthony Simmons was the 15th pick of the first round in the 1998 draft.  Trevor Pryce (1997) and Chester McGlockton (1992) are the other two Clemson juniors to come out early and be a first-round selection. At 20 years, 10 months and 13 days, Hopkins is also the youngest first-round draft choice in Clemson history.

— Saban, on adding to the Tide’s first-round legacy: “I think we are really proud of our players, first of all. We have had three first-round guys so far, and we have had three or four every year for the last few years. I am really proud of the coaches that helped develop them. It is great to be able to watch our player’s dreams come true in the draft.

— “While it took a while to find the right position for him to maximize his athletic potential,” Sooners head coach Bob Stoops said of Lane Johnson, who came to OU as a quarterback. “I have no doubt that he has a huge upside and will only get better with more experience playing tackle. Coach Kittle and Coach Patton did a tremendous job of quickly acclimating him to compete at a high level, while Coach Schmidt and our strength staff did an outstanding job of accelerating his physical development. Lane is a special individual and we’ll anxiously follow his progress this fall along with our many other Sooners in the NFL.

‘Attitude issues’ net 2018 FAU signee Nero Nelson a dismissal

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Lane Kiffin seemingly has a high threshold of tolerance when it comes to talented football players, but there’s apparently a line that even he won’t allow them to cross.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Nero Nelson has been dismissed from Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic football program for what were described as “attitude issues.” The dismissal came shortly after the junior college transfer had enrolled in classes at FAU.

From the Post‘s report:

A team source told The Post that Nelson immediately clashed with coaches about the team’s 4th Quarter Program, a training regiment which strength and conditioning coach Wilson Love brought over from Alabama last season. Numerous players credited the program as a key reason the Owls went 11-3 last season and ended the year on a ten-game winning streak.

When confronted about his effort during offseason training by both teammates and coaches, Nelson reacted in a “hostile manner” before other players intervened. Though coaches were willing to give Nelson another opportunity, the receiver continued to feud with teammates before leaving the team.

Subsequent to the Post breaking the story, the Sun Sentinel spoke to the wide receiver’s JUCO coach, who wasn’t exactly stunned at the turn of events.

“It’s not surprising,” Copiah Lincoln (Miss.) Community College coach Glenn Davis told the newspaper. “When he went far that far away, I was kind of concerned. He’s a tremendous talent, but he sometimes doesn’t make the best decisions.”

Nelson originally signed with Mississippi State in February of 2016 but was forced to go the junior college route because of academics. 247Sports.com had Nelson rated as the No. 3 JUCO receiver on its composite board when he signed with FAU in December of last year.

North Carolina players facing suspensions over NCAA violations

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It wasn’t exactly a banner day for the North Carolina football program Wednesday, to say the least.

Not long after Larry Fedora crammed both feet in his mouth when it comes to the subject of CTE, reports surfaced that several Tar Heel football players are facing suspensions of at least one game after selling university-issued shoes and athletic apparel.  WRAL wrote that “UNC became aware of the potential violations and self-reported them in February,” adding that “[t]he report was processed as a secondary violation by the NCAA in March.”

Neither the names nor the actual number of players involved in the violations have been revealed.  The situation arose not long after the football program switched to Jordan Brand apparel last year.

Wednesday night, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham released a statement addressing the development.

When we became aware of a situation within the football program, we self-reported what the NCAA deemed to be a secondary violation. I worked closely with Chancellor Folt and Coach Fedora to address this issue from an NCAA, University and Department of Athletics perspective, and we have taken appropriate disciplinary action.

We have high expectations of all of our students, coaches and staff, and we expect everyone to abide by and embrace team and NCAA rules. We are disappointed when we fall short, and we always strive to get better.

Details emerge in Ohio State WRs coach Zach Smith’s criminal trespassing charge

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And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.

Wednesday afternoon, news broke that Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith (pictured, right) had been cited — not arrested, as originally reported — May 12 on one count of criminal trespassing. In updating the original report, the Cleveland Plain Dealer provided details of the incident report associated with the situation that landed the Buckeyes assistant in Delaware (Ohio) Municipal Court Wednesday afternoon:

An incident report obtained by cleveland.com shows that Powell, Ohio police were dispatched to a home just after 8 p.m. on May 12 for a dispute. Smith’s ex-wife is listed as the victim on the report. The report states that there was no forced entry, the victim was not injured and that Smith was not suspected of using alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. No other details were given.

Subsequent to that, Smith’s attorney explained to the Columbus Dispatch that the situation resulted from Smith attempting to drop his 13-year-old son off at his ex-wife’s residence when she called the police.

“They pick up and drop off like every other divorced family,” Koffel said. “They said, ‘He was told by one of our officers five months ago not to drop off at her apartment.’ I said that’s not enough to override a domestic-court order on where he’s allowed to drop off or pick up his kids. It’s a court order that controls this. …

“He’s like, ‘You know what, I’m going to drop him off at your place. No harm, no foul.’

“She took exception to that and called the Powell Police Department. There were no threats. He never got out of his car. They weren’t even in an argument.”

In between the May citation and July court appearance, Smith had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

When reached by CFT not long after the reports surfaced, an OSU spokesperson declined to comment on the report. Urban Meyer is aware of the situation, and the football program is expected to issue a statement addressing the development at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Smith, the 34-year-old grandson of former OSU head coach Earle Bruce, has been on Meyer’s staff each of the six seasons since the head coach came to the Buckeyes in 2012, and will be (presumably) entering his seventh season with the program in 2018. He also worked under Meyer as a graduate assistant and quality control coach at Florida from 2005-09. Smith, a 2007 UF graduate, coached at Marshall (2010) and Temple (2011) before reuniting with Meyer in Columbus.

Suspended Mizzou starting S Kaleb Prewett has been dismissed

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Thanks to an off-field incident, Missouri’s defensive secondary will have a sizable on-field hole to fill.

In January, it was confirmed that Kaleb Prewett had been indefinitely suspended by Barry Odom for violating unspecified team rules. Six months later, the head coach confirmed at the SEC Media Days this week that the starting safety has been dismissed from his football program.

Just when the dismissal took place is unclear.

In February of 2016, and not long after he was arrested on an alcohol-related offense, it was confirmed that Prewett would be transferring from Kansas State; three months later, the starting defensive back for the Wildcats transferred to the Tigers. After sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Prewett began 2017 as Mizzou’s starting strongside linebacker before starting the last seven games at safety.

Prewett was fourth on the Tigers in tackles this past season with 60. He was also credited with four tackles for loss and two pass breakups.