Michigan WR Nofleet defends Hoke against heated criticisms

2 Comments

Sometimes we forget how criticisms of  football coach affect the players on the team. For a number of players who chose to commit to a school in large part to their relationship with the head coach, criticisms about the coach can be taken somewhat personally. Take Michigan wide receiver Dennis Norfleet, for example. On Tuesday Norfleet acknowledged the increasing criticisms of his head coach, Brady Hoke. Norfleet’s response to that talk is a reminder there is much more to coaching than winning football games(or so they say).

Per MLive.com;

“I took it to heart this morning, they were really talking down on coach Hoke, saying his time is coming,” Norfleet said. “Coach Hoke does a lot. For me and the team. There have been times when I needed to see my family at a critical time, or I needed to see my daughter and he was there by my side throughout the way. It’s more than (just) football. In life, he’s a good coach. And right now, the way people are talking about him I don’t feel — and the team doesn’t feel — that it’s right.

Norfleet then took aim at fans, specifically, that seem to have turned on Hoke. That image was painfully put on display Saturday when after a lengthy weather delay the vast majority of Michigan Stadium was left unfilled once the game resumed. There were more Utah fans remaining in Michigan Stadium than Michigan fans, it is estimated. Utah was leading comfortably at the time of the break in the fourth quarter, but the image was lasting regardless.

“If we lose, if you’re a Michigan fan you’re supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up,” Norfleet said. “We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot.”

This is not meant to be a pity party for Hoke. Hoke has many responsibilities in his role as head coach. Norfleet suggests Hoke does many things admirably, and that very well could be the case. Unfortunately, the bottom line is Michigan has failed to meet expectations on the field at a time when the Big Ten has more or less been there for the taking. Michigan has not played in a Big Ten championship game in the first three years it has bene in place and the win total has dipped each season since Hoke’s debut in Ann Arbor.

There is still time for Hoke to turn things around at Michigan. With Big Ten conference play opening up, it is as close to a clean slate as any coach or team can get in a regular season. What Hoke does with his clean slate could determine his fate at the end of the season.

Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

TEAM ACC
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

TEAM BIG TEN
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

TEAM BIG 12
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

TEAM PAC-12
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

TEAM SEC
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

TEAM WILD CARD
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
1 Comment

USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.