Adam Muema

Tide’s Sunseri one of record 98 players declaring for draft

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A draft-eligible Alabama rumored to be headed to the NFL — or not — will indeed be a part of a record-breaking pool this May.

Tide defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was one of 98 players included on the NFL’s official list, released Sunday, of players “who have been granted special eligibility” for the upcoming draft.  It was reported a week ago that the safety was leaning toward making the early leap into the NFL, although there was some vacillation as the redshirt junior waited until right up until the Jan. 15 deadline — plus the three additional days allotted to reconsider, provided there’s no signing with an agent — before making his final decision.

Sunseri is still rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in a mid-October win over Arkansas.

The 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL is a record, shattering and/or obliterating the old mark of 73 set just last year.  That standard broke the record of 65 set the year before that.  In 2004, just 43 players with eligibility remaining left school early.

For the second consecutive year, LSU led all schools with seven early entrants.  In 2013, the Tigers saw 10 players leave early.  Sunseri gave the Tide five players leaving early, the same number as USC and one-win Cal (?).  Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina each saw four players take the early jump into the NFL.

2014 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of early entrants has increased.

The number could have actually topped the century mark as four players who have left school early but have already graduated were not included in the NFL’s official count: Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard.

You can view the complete, official list of early entrants into the NFL draft:

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An unofficial list of underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft

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The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is upon us. It looks like we’ll have a record 92 (at minimum) declarations this year, easily topping last year’s record of 73. This draft should be among the most talent-laden in recent history.

Why the sudden exodus? Blame the new rookie wage scale, which rewards less money to first round draft picks and delays the big payout until a player’s second contract. That means the more time spent in the league, the better. A lot of these players want to get moving on proving themselves, even if they are a late round pick at the start.

Here’s the unofficial list of early entries as of the Jan. 15 deadline. The NFL will have an official list on Jan. 19:

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Carl Bradford, DE/OLB, Arizona State
Bashaud Breeland, DB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB, Alabama
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
Mike Flacco, TE, New Haven
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Viliami Moala, DT, California
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Jeoffrey Pagan, DL, Alabama
Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Kelcy Quarles, DL, South Carolina
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
George Uko, DL, USC
Pierre Warren, FS, Jacksonville State
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Terrance West, RB, Towson
James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State
David Yankey, OL, Stanford

San Diego State’s Adam Muema slices and dices Buffalo for Potato Bowl win

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San Diego State running back Adam Muema was  a one-man wrecking crew that even Buffalo’s Khalil Mack could not slow down. Muema rushed for  229 yards and three touchdowns to power the Aztecs over Buffalo for a 49-24 victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Muema scored on a short touchdown run early in the second quarter to give San Diego State a 14-0 lead on the blue turf in Boise. Before the game was over he would add touchdown runs of 8 and 30 yards as the Aztecs were in firm control of Buffalo. San Diego State piled up 461 yards of offense and the defense held the Bulls to 265 total offensive yards. San Diego State thrived on third down, converting half of their 14 attempts while the defense forced three turnovers by Buffalo’s offense.

Buffalo got as close as 14-10 in the second quarter but the Aztecs pulled away with a pair of touchdowns in the final couple of minutes of the first half. After capping a five-play touchdown drive with just over a minute in the half, San Diego State intercepted a pass from Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata to set up a drive from the 25-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage Dylan Denso hauled in a pass from Quinn Kaehler for a touchdown and a 28-10 lead at the half. San Diego State outscored the Bulls 21-14 in the second half.

Up 49-24 with the football and just 30 seconds to play in the game, head coach Rocky Long and San Diego State pulled a highly questionable deep pass down the left sideline out of nowhere. The pass fell incomplete, but the play was totally unnecessary and could have left some bitterness on the field. Fortunately San Diego State took a knee on the next play with Buffalo opting not to use any of their remaining timeouts.

San Diego State will have some challenges coming their way in 2014. The Aztecs will play road games at North Carolina and Oregon State in non-conference play. The conference schedule will also send San Diego State on the road to play Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State. The good news for the Aztecs is they will be playing a Fresno State team in roster transition and a Boise State program moving on from the Chris Petersen era. San Diego State loses 10 seniors who started this bowl game, but the Mountain West Conference could be up for grabs for any team that can find a way to get on track early on.

Buffalo will also have 10 seniors to replace in their starting line-up next season. The Bulls may have a bit more of a difficult time continuing the level of success they had this season in 2014, but the MAC can be anyone’s conference to win most years. Buffalo only has two non-conference games scheduled as of now, on the road at army and at home against Big 12 champion Baylor.

Buffalo’s search for the first bowl win in program history will have to wait at least one more year.

Sneak Peek: 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

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WHO: 8-4 Buffalo (MAC) vs. 7-5 San Diego State (MWC)

WHAT: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (16th year)

WHERE: Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho

WHEN: Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m. ET

WHY: The San Diego State Aztecs are starting to get used to this bowl routine. For the fourth straight season San Diego State is making a bowl trip, a school record. After a dreadful start to the season, it is somewhat remarkable San Diego State is even playing at this point of the year.

San Diego State opened the season with a 0-3 start that included a road loss at Ohio State and a home loss to FCS Eastern Illinois, who were just eliminated in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs last weekend. San Diego State has certainly not been shy on drama this season either. The Aztecs played in four overtime games this season, losing just one of those to Mountain West Conference champion Fresno State but defeating Boise State.

Look for San Diego State to try to run the football against Buffalo. Adam Muema rushed for 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, including a season high 233 yards and three touchdowns against New Mexico. He will try to find some success against the MAC’s third best rushing defense. The Bulls have allowed 159.75 rushing yards per game this season, holding four opponents under 100 yards this season. But Buffalo has given up some big numbers on the ground at times as well. Bowling Green ripped off 260 yards in a regular season finale and Toledo put together 323 rushing yards in a game. Buffalo does have a defense that is tough to score against though, allowing just 22.3 points per game this season despite giving up a combined 110 points to Baylor and Ohio State in the first two weeks of the season.

Buffalo has one of the more exciting defensive players to watch this bowl season. Senior linebacker Kahlil Mack has 94 tackles this season, including 19.0 for a loss (10.5 sacks). He has also forced five fumbles and intercepted three passes. As if that was not enough, he also has two touchdowns this season.

The blue turf in Boise has been the scene for some wild games in the bowl previously known as the Humanitarian Bowl, so this seems like the perfect place to let some MACtion run wild.

PREDICTION: San Diego State 31, Buffalo 28

Carey, Yeldon among 63 RBs on Doak Walker Award preseason watch list

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Oh, you know. Just another preseason watch list coming your way.

The Doak Walker Award, given annually to college football’s most outstanding running back, released its preseason watch list on Friday with 63 candidates. Among those to be included were Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, who was the nation’s leading rusher in 2012, Miami’s Duke Johnson, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon.

The winner of the Doak Walker Award will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 12. Last year’s winner was Wisconsin’s Montee Ball.

As always, you can view the entire list of preseason candidates below. You can now also check out our preseason watch lists repository HERE.

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Michael Alisa, BYU
Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky
Dri Archer, Kent State
Brendan Bigelow, California
Beau Blankenship, Ohio
Alfred Blue, LSU
Dominique Brown, Louisville
Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
B.J. Catalon, TCU
Orleans Darkwa, Tulane
Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
Trayion Durham, Kent State
Jahwan Edwards, Ball State
David Fluellen, Toledo
D.J. Foster, Arizona State
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Marion Grice, Arizona State
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Joe Hill, Utah State
John Hubert, Kansas State
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Waymon James, TCU
Duke Johnson, Miami
Storm Johnson, UCF
Matt Jones, Florida
Henry Josey, Missouri
Ben Malena, Texas A&M
Raymond Maples, Army
Venric Mark, Northwestern
Keith Marshall, Georgia
Glasco Martin, Baylor
Tre Mason, Auburn
Lyle McCombs, Connecticut
Adam Muema, San Diego State
David Oku, Arkansas State
Branden Oliver, Buffalo
Jordan Parker, Middle Tennessee
LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
Senorise Perry, Louisville
Christian Powell, Colorado
Darrin Reaves, UAB
Silas Redd, USC
Bishop Sankey, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
David Sims, Georgia Tech
James Sims, Kansas
Kiero Small, Arkansas
Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State
Jerome Smith, Syracuse
De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Zurlon Tipton, Central Michigan
Trey Watts, Tulsa
Mark Weisman, Iowa
James White, Iowa State
James White, Wisconsin
Andre Williams, Boston College
Damien Williams, Oklahoma
Jamaal Williams, BYU
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
Storm Woods, Oregon State
T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Zach Zwinak, Penn State