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Ohio St.’s nine early draft entrants just miss matching LSU’s 2013 feat

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Not surprisingly, Ohio State will officially be forced to replace a handful of departing talent if it wants to find itself back in the College Football Playoff chase in 2016.

After a few days worth of reports trickling out, OSU officially announced Thursday that nine Buckeyes have decided to leave collegiate eligibility on the table and make themselves available for the April NFL draft.  The school wrote in the release that “[t]he group consists of three players who were fourth-year juniors (QB Cardale Jones, SAF Tyvis Powell and WR Michael Thomas), three who were true juniors in eligibility this season – SAF Vonn Bell, DE Joey Bosa, RB Ezekiel Elliott – and three who were sophomores in eligibility this year but who also red-shirted one of their three seasons with the Buckeyes: CB Eli Apple, LB Darron Lee and WR Jalin Marshall.”

That should be the extent of the attrition as the only other draft-eligible Buckeye, offensive lineman Pat Elflein, has previously announced that he will be returning.

The school also noted the historical context of the number of departures:

While this number of underclassmen declaring for the draft is high for Ohio State, it is not a record, according to NFL.com. Although a public relations administrator for the site wasn’t sure of the record, he did indicate LSU had 10 underclassmen declare one year.

That would be the number of early entrants for the Tigers who declared for the 2013 draft. That number would actually be 11 if Tyrann Mathieudismissed from the Tigers football program in August of 2012 for what turned out to be the failure of multiple drug tests, is counted for LSU.

Regardless of where it stands in relation to LSU, it’s an extraordinarily high number of losses for an Ohio State team that has lost just four games in Urban Meyer‘s four seasons in Columbus.

“We have some young people – some fourth-year guys, two who have graduated – who have a national championship and have decided to chase their dreams,” Meyer said in quotes distributed by the school. “Everyone was so professional about it. … I’m a fan of great players and a bunch of those guys are going to play for a while. You have to look at it that way. We recruited well and the door is open now.”

The good news for Meyer & Company is that they have recruited very well, and should have the talent to replace those lost.

The Buckeyes have landed four Rivals.com Top-10 recruiting classes during Meyer’s reign, with rankings of fourth (2012), second (2013), third (2014) and ninth (2015). The class the Buckeyes are expected to sign is currently fourth, although they could get to at least No. 2 by signing day a month from now.

WR Weston Bridges is fourth Michigan State player to enter portal

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In the offseason, Weston Bridges changed positions.  Midway through the 2019 season, it appears Bridges is now set to change schools.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Bridges indicated that he has decided to take his leave of Michigan State and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere.  It has subsequently been confirmed that the wide receiver is headed into the NCAA transfer database.

A three-star member of the Spartans’ 2017 recruiting class, Bridges was rated as the No. 31 running back in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  During the spring this year, Bridges moved from running back to receiver.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Bridges carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards last season.  He was suspended for a late-September game because of unspecified violations of team rules.

Bridges is the fourth MSU football player to enter the portal since the 2019 season kicked off, joining linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle (HERE) as well as a pair of running backs in Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE).

Louisville’s season-opening QB starter to undergo year-ending surgery

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Jawon Pass began the 2019 season as Louisville’s starter under center.  After a couple of weeks of uncertainty, the redshirt junior will end it on the sidelines.

Pass suffered what turned out to be diagnosed as a case of turf toe in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.  It wasn’t severe enough, however, to keep the starting quarterback out of the Week 2 win over Eastern Kentucky.

The past four games, though, Pass has been sidelined because of the injury.  Tuesday, it was confirmed by the football program that, as some have speculated, Pass will undergo surgery and, as a result, miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

With Pass sidelined, Malik Cunningham had started all four games in his place.  The redshirt sophomore, though, has been dealing with his own injuries, including a knee issue, that at least temporarily knocked him out of a pair of games.

True freshman Evan Conley replaced Cunningham both times, and was even named as the ACC’s Quarterback and Rookie of the Week for his performance in the upset of Wake Forest this past weekend.

For the season, Cunningham has completed 44-of-66 passes (66.7 percent) for 820 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception.  Conley is at a 64.9 completion percentage on his 37 attempts, throwing for 422 yards, four touchdowns and a pick.  Cunningham is the Cardinals third-leading rusher with 226 yards, while Conley is fifth with 84.

As of today, head coach Scott Satterfield has not named a starter for this weekend’s game against No. 3 Clemson.

USC’s leading rusher set for knee surgery

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Vavae Malepeai tolerated the pain as long as he could, until he couldn’t.

A knee injury sidelined Malepeai for most of USC’s summer camp.  Even as he had played — and played well — in all six games, the issue lingered on into the regular season; this weekend, the pause button was hit on Malepeai’s year as Clay Helton confirmed that the running back will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee.

No timetable for a return was given.

“Vavae is a warrior,” the head coach said according to the Los Angeles Times. “[He was] dealing with a sore knee and really fighting through it for his team. It’s just gotten to the point where it’s gotten too sore, so we’re going to go ahead and take care of it now.”

Malepeai’s 406 yards rushing and four touchdowns currently lead the Trojans.

With Malepeai out for the foreseeable future, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr will see their opportunities in the running game increase.  Stepp is second on the team with 241 yards rushing, Carr third at 233.  Both players have a pair of touchdowns each on the ground.

Mike Leach banned Wazzu players from social media

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With this development, just how Washington’s State’s “fat, dumb, happy and entitled” football players will communicate with their “fat little girlfriends” is the great unknown.

After starting the 2019 season 3-0, dropped two straight games heading into the bye — the first an embarrassing collapse against UCLA and then a 25-point beating on the road against then-No. 19 Utah.  Following the loss to the Utes, Tracy Claeys stepped down as Wazzu’s defensive coordinator.

Leading into this past weekend’s game against Arizona State, the Pac-12 Network confirmed, Mike Leach banned his players from using social media late last month because of the distractions such activities bring.

“I think we entertain too many distractions,” the head coach explained to the network, by way of the Yakima Herald, “and if I had it to do over again, I would’ve done it when we started camp. But no, I think we entertain too many distractions. I think we’re a little too distracted right now, but I think there is a team-wide determination to be less distracted.”

The social media ban wasn’t an immediate elixir for what ails Wazzu, however, as they fell to No. 18 Arizona State 38-34 in Week 7.  The Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 lead and held leads of 31-24 (early in the fourth quarter) and 34-31 (late in the fourth quarter) before allowing the game-winning touchdown with less than 40 seconds left on the clock.

With the loss, Wazzu now sits at 0-3 in Pac-12 play.