NFL Draft: SEC owns 23 percent of the first 100 picks

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Three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft are in the books, and once again the SEC is leading the pack in sending talent to the draft. After 100 picks through three rounds, the SEC has accounted for 23 draft picks, including the top pick overall with South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney to the Houston Texans. The SEC has more players than any other conference in college football drafted so far.

The SEC set a record for total draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft with 63 players chosen by NFL franchises. With four rounds to go, the SEC will have to average 10 players per round to match that number. The SEC could see the pace pick up after seeing the total number of players drafted dip in rounds two (seven) and three (five) after sending 11 players in the first round Thursday night.

The Big Ten added some depth to NFL rosters on Friday night with six picks each in the second and third rounds. With four picks in the first round, the Big Ten has a total of 16 players chosen in this year’s draft. The Big Ten had just 22 players drafted in 2013, so the conference should be on pace to avoid another repeat performance of a conference-low total since 1994.

It was the ACC that provided the most picks in the third round of the NFL draft, with seven players being chosen by NFL teams. The third round also saw non-FBS programs leave their marks as well. After Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got things started with a late second round draft pick by the New England Patriots, there were four players from non-FBS programs selected in the third round. North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner was selected early in the third round by the Miami Dolphins with the 67th overall pick. Division 2 Pittsburg State celebrated wide receiver John Brown being drafted 91st overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Towson running back Terrance West was later picked up by the Cleveland Browns with the 94th pick and Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon was nabbed by the Minnesota Vikings with the 96th pick. Georgia Southern will be moving up to the FBS level as a member of the Sun Belt Conference this fall.

There are plenty of good players still to be had by NFL teams as the draft wraps up with the final four rounds on Saturday. Some names to keep an eye on include Stanford offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, Baylor offensive lineman Cyril Richardson, Boston College running back Andre Johnson, Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey and Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Teams in need of an extra quarterback have some options left on the board as well. LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage and Alabama’s AJ McCarron are all among those still waiting for a phone call on the final day of the draft.

Running back Deshawn McClease is latest player to leave Hokies

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It has been quite a busy couple of days for Virginia Tech transfer news. Within hours of Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente releasing a statement about the program’s dedication to strengthening the culture of the Virginia Tech football program after a handful of players had decided to leave the program, running back Deshawn McClease added his name to the list of transferring Hokies.

“After discussing with my family, we believe that it is best for me to transfer to another university following graduation this spring,” McClease said in a statement shared on his Twitter account Wednesday evening. “I am very eager to continue my football journey and further my education.”

McClease did not say where he is heading next. His departure is another blow to Virginia Tech’s offensive outlook for the 2019 season on a day that also saw starting quarterback Josh Jackson decide to transfer out of Virginia Tech a day after a couple of other transfer headlines surfaced around the program. As McClease mentioned in his statement, he is scheduled to graduate from Virginia Tech this spring. That will mean he will be eligible to play right away next fall for whatever team he ends up joining. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

McClease was Virginia Tech’s second-leading rusher in 2018 and likely would have been the starting running back in Blacksburg for the 2019 season had he decided to stick around. McClease rushed for 433 yards and two touchdowns last fall behind senior starter Steven Peoples.

Oklahoma State QB Keondre Wudtee leaving Stillwater via transfer

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The quarterback competition at Oklahoma State this spring has been reduced by one. Keondre Wudtee is one his way out of Stillwater after entering his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal, it was reported on Wednesday.

As noted by Pistols Firing, redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders appears to be the most likely candidate to land the starting job at quarterback for the Cowboys in 2019 following the graduation of Taylor Cornelius. Wudtee was the only other quarterback to record any passing stats for Oklahoma State in 2018 in his backup role, completing two of five attempts for 26 yards and a touchdown. A pair of wide receivers, Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner, were the only other players to attempt a pass for Oklahoma State in 2018.

Oklahoma State’s quarterback depth chart will still be padded even with the departure of Wudtee. Dru Brown, who transferred to Oklahoma State from Hawaii, is still around and the Cowboys added an early enrollee in three-star Class of 2019 quarterback Brendan Costello. Being enrolled early will allow Costello to get started with spring practices this semester in Stillwater and could potentially have him prepared to step in if needed in the fall.

As for Wudtee, we’ll see where he heads next. He will have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules, of course.

After dustup with Uga, Texas president says Bevo is not leaving the sidelines

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Finally, a story NOT about the transfer portal.

Prior to the Sugar Bowl between Texas and Georgia, somebody decided it would be fun to do a photo with the live animal mascots of the Longhorns and Bulldogs. As Uga made his way over to see Texas mascot Bevo, the longhorn burst out of his caged area and made it known he was not about being a part of a fun photo opp. Fortunately, there were no injuries to report for any people or animals in the incident, but concerns about the handling of Bevo were certainly raised.

And despite pressure from PETA to stop including live animal mascots as part of the gameday experience and any others who may have voiced concerns about the worst-case scenarios involving a live steer, Texas president Gregory Fenves says Bevo will not be retired and forced to watch Longhorns football games from the ranch.

“We take the safety very seriously, but we’re going to continue to have Bevo as our mascot,” Fenves said in a recent interview with the American-Statesman. “He’s an incredible animal and a great symbol for the university. Seriously, we’re always looking at the protocols for Bevo at public events. I don’t think they need to be revised.”

So there you have it. Bevo stays. Sorry, not sorry, PETA. Unless Bevo does decide to enter the transfer portal…

Wisconsin TE Kyle Penniston enters transfer portal

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I have never seen it myself, but the transfer portal must be the place to be. Wisconsin tight end Kyle Penniston is just one of the many players putting his name in the transfer portal, as reported Wednesday, as he begins to look for a new place to finish up his college football career.

First reported by 247 Sports, Penniston will have one year of eligibility left to use for the 2019 season. He will be eligible to play right away this fall as a graduate transfer. Penniston enrolled at Wisconsin in 2015 after accepting an offer from Wisconsin over offers from Oklahoma and a handful of other top programs in the Class of 2015.

Penniston appeared in 13 games for the Badgers in 2018 with three receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown. The instant rise of Jake Ferguson at the tight end position on his way to becoming the second-leading receiver for Wisconsin meant Penniston likely wasn’t going to play a pivotal role in the offensive gameplan in 2019. Wisconsin should still be in decent shape at the tight end position this fall, not that losing an upper classmen at the position is ever a good situation for a program. It’s worth noting Penniston was recruited under former head coach Gary Andersen, who adopted a different type of offensive scheme that would have potentially been a better fit for Penniston.

Where Penniston goes next remains to be seen.