Lil'Jordan Humphrey

Getty Images

Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson, Georgia RB Elijah Holyfield among top underclassmen not drafted

4 Comments

Too many players, not enough spots. That’s always the case when it comes to the NFL draft and this year’s edition was no exception.

As is typically the case with so many underclassmen declaring for the draft each year, many of those hopefuls get a rude awakening when they don’t hear their name called and instead become undrafted free agents. This year’s list includes a host of big names at all levels of football, highlighted by those such as Buffalo QB Tyree Johnson, Georgia RB Elijah Holyfield, Wake Forest WR/return man Greg DortchMichigan State RB L.J. Scott, Texas WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Alabama DB Savion Smith. 

Via The Athletic’s Max Olson:

Now that’s not to say all of these guys made bad decisions, as some were on the verge of being overtaken on the depth chart while others probably wanted to start earning an official paycheck for playing football to help support their family. Several of the players above were invited to the NFL Combine and considered likely Day 3 picks but never wound up getting that elusive call as team boards pushed them out of the seven rounds.

Whatever the case, the growing number of underclassmen who keep going undrafted is sure to lead to even greater calls for the ability to return to school for another year if you don’t wind up getting picked by an NFL team. Some of the names above certainly would like to do just that now but will instead have to use their snub as motivation to make in the league.

Texas losing top receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey to NFL

Getty Images
6 Comments

When it comes to wide receivers and early declarations, Texas is batting .500 in the new year.

Last Thursday, Collin Johnson announced that he would be returning to UT for his senior season.  It was thought that Longhorns teammate and fellow receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey was leaning toward making himself available for the NFL draft; Tuesday, Humphrey confirmed via Twitter that he’s leaving his remaining eligibility on the table and taking the early leap into the NFL’s draft pool.

This past season, Humphrey led the Longhorns in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,176) and receiving touchdowns (nine).  The 6-4, 222-pound Humphrey came into the 2018 season with 446 yards and one touchdown on 39 receptions in the previous two years combined.

The good news for the Longhorns, which finished inside the final Associated Press Top 25 rankings, is that, thus far, Humphrey is the only known draft-eligible Longhorn who has opted to leave early.  The deadline to submit paperwork to be included in the 2019 draft is Jan. 14.

Texas WR Collin Johnson eschewing NFL, returning to Longhorns

Getty Images
2 Comments

While not many have before him, one productive and immensely-talented Power Five player is bucking the trend of cannonballing early into the NFL draft pool.

On Twitter Thursday afternoon, Collin Johnson announced that, “after a lot of prayer and talking with my family,” he will be returning to Texas for his senior season.  The move comes a couple of days after UT convincingly handled Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Johnson’s decision is a significant one for the Longhorns’ offense in 2019.

This past season, Johnson’s 68 receptions for 985 yards and seven touchdowns were all second on the Longhorns to Lil'Jordan Humphrey‘s 86-1,176-9.  It’s widely expected that, unlike Johnson, Humphrey won’t be returning to Austin for his senior season and will instead make himself available for the 2019 NFL Draft.  Humphrey, though, hasn’t made that decision official as of this posting.

As previously noted, draft-eligible players have until Jan. 15 to officially submit their paperwork to the NFL.

Red River Revenge: No. 5 OU moves to CFP doorstep with Big 12 title win over No. 14 Texas

Associated Press
20 Comments

In their 59-56 win over West Virginia last week, the Oklahoma defense gave up yards in chunks (700 of them, in fact), but made plays when they needed to be made, registering two defensive touchdowns to put the Sooners in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship.

Again on Saturday, Oklahoma got a defensive score when they needed one. This one wasn’t a touchdown but did the trick just the same, as Tre Brown sacked Sam Ehlinger in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, turning what could have been a 34-30 Texas lead into a 32-27 OU lead and putting Kyler Murray and company back on the field.

Given a chance to salt the game, the Big 12 championship, a College Football Playoff berth and perhaps the Heisman Trophy away, Murray came through with a touchdown pass at the 2-minute mark to hand the Sooners a 39-27 win.

Murray once again dazzled, completing 25-of-34 passes for 379 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 39 rushing yards, making up for the 2-turnover performance that allowed Texas to earn a 48-45 win in October.

With the SEC and Big Ten championship games looming, Oklahoma (12-1) can now argue it has beaten every team it’s played on their march to their fourth straight Big 12 title and perhaps their third Playoff trip over that span.

But before Oklahoma could make its Playoff argument, the Sooners first had to emerge with another hard-fought win.

Texas opened the game by rolling 75 yards in nine plays — going 3-of-3 on third down for 64 yards, including Ehlinger’s 16-yard touchdown run. The Longhorns appeared to have OU stopped on its first possession when Caden Sterns snared a deflected interception in the end zone, but the play was erased by Kris Boyd‘s facemask penalty on Marquise Brown, his second such foul of the drive. Still, Texas kept Oklahoma out of the end zone when Gary Johnson stuffed Trey Sermon on a 3rd-and-goal run from the 1 for a loss of two yards.

After forcing a Longhorns punt, Oklahoma again marched — methodically, needing 13 plays over more than five minutes — into the Texas red zone but the defense again held when Boyd knocked the ball away from Brown’s grasp in the end zone on third down, forcing Austin Seibert‘s second short field goal.

Given a second chance to punish an OU field goal, this time Texas capitalized. Keyed by a 23-yard completion to Collin Johnson on 4th-and-4, the ‘Horns again moved 75 yards in nine snaps, and again scored on an Ehlinger keeper, giving Texas a 14-6 lead at the 11:22 mark of the second quarter.

On its third possession of the game, Oklahoma was again held out of the end zone. Murray appeared to hit Brown for a 45-yard gain over the middle on 2nd-and-9, but review showed Texas cornerback Davante Davis jostled the ball loose before Brown could secure the catch. On third down, Davis nailed Brown on a screen pass short of the line to gain, forcing an Oklahoma punt, but the OU defense answered by forcing its second punt.

Thanks to two penalties, Oklahoma had its worst field position of the day, beginning its next drive at its own 13, but for the first time the Sooners’ offense looked like the typical OU offense, knifing the required 87 yards in six plays, two of them to CeeDee Lamb — a 46-yard gain on the first play of the drive, then a 28-yard score to pull OU within 14-13 with 5:01 left before halftime. Another key play on the drive was a missed false start on right tackle Cody Ford on a 4th-and-1 from the Texas 32, which ended in a 4-yard Sermon rush.

After another Texas punt, Oklahoma rolled 80 yards in five plays and just 41 seconds, taking its first lead on a 6-yard toss from Murray to Grant Calcaterra with 18 seconds left in the first half.

Oklahoma received the ball to open the second half and picked up where it left off, moving 75 yards in eight plays to turn a 14-6 deficit into a 27-14 lead. Needing a score to stay in the game, Texas leaned on Collin Johnson, who caught passes for 25, 21 and, finally a 27-yard touchdown to end the OU run. Johnson set a Big 12 Championship record with 177 receiving yards on eight catches.

The Texas defense, which seemed lifeless in allowing three straight touchdown drives covering 242 yards in 19 plays, rallied by sacking Murray, stuffing Sermon behind the line and then forcing a Murray throw away to avoid another sack, giving the Longhorns’ offense the ball back with a chance to re-take the lead. Over an 11-play, 64-yard drive, Texas got the touchdown it needed, a 3rd-and-goal 5-yard strike to Lil'Jordan Humphrey, but the Longhorns did not take the lead because Cameron Dicker‘s PAT was blocked, leaving the score tied at 27-27 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.

Oklahoma moved into the Texas red zone to open the fourth quarter, but again the Longhorns stiffened, forcing a 31-yard Seibert field goal that bounced off the left up right and in.

On the ensuing drive, Texas converted a 3rd-and-10 when Parnell Motley interfered with Johnson but, on a 3rd-and-9, the Sooners got a stop when Tre Norwood got away with a clear pass interference on Humphrey.

Looking for a touchdown to put the game away, Oklahoma appeared in position to have it when Lamb broke free of Davis down the sideline, but Gary Johnson raced down the field to force the ball free from behind, and Jones hopped on the loose ball at the Texas 13.

Now needing to make a play of its own, the Oklahoma defense got one when Norwood screamed in touched to nail Ehlinger for a safety, stretching the OU lead to 32-27 and putting the Sooner offense back on the field with 8:27 remaining.

Given a chance to clinch the game, the best offense in college football came through with a perfect drive. On two separate third downs, Murray found high school teammate Lee Morris — playing on the same field the pair won three high school state championships — then hit Calcaterra on a 3rd-and-10 for an 18-yard touchdown drive, capping a 11-play, 65-yard drive that put the Sooners up 39-27 with exactly two minutes remaining.

Humphrey returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but the play was called back for a penalty; it was the ‘Horns 13th flag, totaling 128 yards. Ehlinger moved Texas to the red zone, but the last-gasp drive ended when Norwood picked him off at the OU 5. Battling a bum shoulder, the sophomore completed 23-of-36 passes for 349 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while rushing a team-high 15 times for 42 yards and two scores.

No. 15 Texas wins de facto Big 12 semifinal over No. 16 Iowa State, loses Sam Ehlinger

Associated Press
1 Comment

There were three major developments in Saturday night’s game between No. 15 Texas and No. 16 Iowa State and the Big 12 title race as a whole, and two of them happened before the game even started.

The first happened last week, when Iowa State running back David Montgomery was ejected from the Cyclones’ win over Baylor for fighting, which triggered an automatic suspension for the first half of Saturday night’s game.

The second occurred an hour before the game started and 450 miles north of Austin, when Oklahoma State upset No. 9 West Virginia. That stunner turned Saturday night’s game into a de facto Big 12 semifinal where, regardless of the outcome of West Virginia’s game with No. 6 Oklahoma Friday night in Morgantown, the winner between Iowa State and Texas would control their own destiny to reach the Big 12 title game.

The second major development came on the final play from scrimmage of the first half. Scrambling toward the Iowa State end zone, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger put his head down in an attempt to power toward the first down marker. He was stopped short and, worse, took a shot to the same right, throwing shoulder that knocked him out of UT’s win over Baylor on Oct. 13. Ehlinger remained in uniform and threw warm-up passes on the sideline but did not return.

While that was obviously bad news for Texas (8-3, 6-2 Big 12), the good news is that the Longhorns dominated the game with and without its star quarterback. Ehlinger’s scramble helped put the Longhorns up 17-3, and a 27-yard touchdown pass from backup Shane Buechele to Lil'Jordan Humphrey with 36 seconds left in the third quarter put the game on ice as Texas cruised to an easier-than-expected 24-10 win.

Before the Ehlinger injury, the sophomore quarterback was once again excellent. Texas jumped out to an early lead, rolling 80 yards in nine plays and scoring on a 7-yard Ehlinger run.

The Cyclones (6-4, 5-3 Big 12) answered with a field goal but, after a pair of punts, the Longhorns moved 94 yards in 10 plays to push the lead to 11, scoring on a 19-yard swing pass from Ehlinger to running back Keaontay Ingram to put Texas up 14-3 with 9:53 left in the first half. He finished the game 12-of-15 for 137 yards and a touchdown with 32 rushing yards and another score, continuing his Big 12 record streak of consecutive passes without an interception.

The absence of Montgomery and the early deficit put the game in Brock Purdy‘s hands, and for the first time in his young career the Iowa State freshman looked like a freshman. He was 10-of-23 passing for 130 yards with an interception and was sacked five times before leaving the game in the fourth quarter due to injury. Hakeem Butler posted six grabs for 99 yards, but no other Iowa State wideout posted more than 14 receiving yards. By the time Montgomery entered the game, the Cyclones trailed by 14 and had failed to establish any sort of a rhythm. He finished 10 carries for 33 yards and a garbage-time touchdown with 1:33 remaining and Iowa State trailing by 21.

With Ehlinger’s status unknown moving forward, the Texas offense still clicked on all cylinders. Tre Watson carried 13 times for 84 yards, including a 39-yard run that was the longest among any Longhorn this season, and Buechele completed all 10 of his passes for 89 yards and a score. Humphrey caught seven passes for 86 yards and the score, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark on the season.

Ehlinger did not miss any time after suffering the Grade 1 AC sprain that knocked him out of the Baylor game, but Texas was off the following week. The Longhorns play Friday at Kansas and the stakes are the same regardless of who plays quarterback — a win puts them back in the Big 12 Championship.