Pinkel: Mizzou QB Franklin out 3-5 weeks

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Originally feared to be lost for the season, Missouri quarterback James Franklin will miss three to five weeks with a grade two shoulder separation, coach Gary Pinkel said at the Tiger Quarterback Club Monday (via The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter).

Franklin’s magnum opus was cut short in the fourth quarter Saturday at Sanford Stadium when he was hit awkwardly by a pair of Georgia defenders. He was forced out of the game — which Mizzou won, 41-26 — and gave way to redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, who will start for the Tigers this Saturday against No. 22 Florida in Columbia.

Losing Franklin no doubt is a massive blow to Missouri’s shot at winning the SEC East, as the senior is third in the SEC in total offense and has accounted for 17 touchdowns (14 passing, three rushing). But if Franklin is able to return in that three-to-five week timetable, he could be back for Mizzou’s Nov. 23 road game at Ole Miss or the Tigers’ regular season finale Nov. 30 vs. Texas A&M in Columbia.

In the meantime, it’ll be Mauk for Mizzou, who rushed for 12 yards on three carries and completed all three pass attempts against Georgia for 23 yards. The key connection there was a 20-yard back-shoulder completion to Dorial Green-Beckham, which set up Henry Josey’s game-sealing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Plenty has been made about Mauk’s chemistry with Green-Beckham, as the pair came to Columbia in 2012 after setting national prep records for passing and receiving yardage.

The SEC East, all of a sudden, runs through Columbia, Mo., in the next two weeks with the Tigers hosting Florida and South Carolina, both of which have 3-1 SEC records. Just about everyone in the SEC East is banged up — Florida RB Matt Jones is out for the season, while Pinkel said top Tigers CB E.J. Gaines is questionable for Saturday — so the division crown may come down to which team deals with injuries the best.

For Mizzou, that means getting passable performances out of Mauk. No pressure, kid.

Devin Bush confirms he’s leaving Michigan early for the NFL

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Not surprisingly, the collegiate portion of Devin Bush‘s playing career has come to an end.

In the midst of the Early National Signing Period, Bush took to Twitter to announce that, as expected, he will be foregoing his senior season in order to make himself available for the 2019 NFL Draft. Additionally, Bush confirmed that he will not be playing in Michigan’s bowl game against Florida.

“Despite getting treatment every day, I have not been cleared to practice or play in the Peach Bowl due to the hip injury I suffered in the [Ohio State] game,” the linebacker wrote.

One of the top linebackers in the country, Bush was a finalist for the 2018 Butkus Award won by LSU’s Devin White.  He was also named as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Linebacker of the Year late last month.

Bush joins teammate and defensive lineman Rashan Gary as Wolverines who have left U-M early this year for the 2019 draft.

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.