Michigan State QB Connor Cook declines Senior Bowl invite

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Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will not participate in the Senior Bowl, the top college football all-star event on the calendar for NFL Draft hopefuls. Cook has reportedly declined to accept his invitation to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen will fill his spot on the Senior Bowl roster.

Cook is widely expected to be a first-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and because he is coming back from a shoulder injury it was not a shock to see Cook choose not to participate in the Senior Bowl. He will have a chance to make up for his Senior Bowl absence in a pro day event later as well as the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis later this winter.

Allen will now have a chance to take advantage of the Senior Bowl opportunity. The Senior Bowl is the highest-regarded all-star event that will be attended to by members of every NFL Franchise, including many head coaches in addition to scouts. What happens in Senior Bowl practices can help some prospects show off some positives that may be overlooked otherwise.

Other quarterbacks scheduled to appear at the Senior Bowl are Jacoby Brissett of NC State, Jake Coker of Alabama, Jeff Driskel of Louisiana Tech, Kevin Hogan of Stanford, Cody Kessler of USC, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Remember that only seniors are eligible to attend the Senior Bowl, so many of the quarterbacks in the NFL Draft pool like Cal’s Jared Goff, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg are not allowed to be extended an invitation.

Auburn scores late TD to close gap on Razorbacks

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Arkansas opened with a touchdown on that drive and added another touchdown to take a 14-0 lead, but Auburn has overcome a flurry of dropped passes to somehow trail 14-7 at the halftime break.

Dominique Reed capped the first Razorback scoring drive with an 11-yard run, but Brandon Allen got in a rhythm on the opening drive by completing three pass attempts and handing off to Alex Collins a couple of times to serve up a balanced attack. It kept Auburn back peddling the entire drive but the Tigers hung around to keep the game within reach before allowing it to get out of hand. Arkansas scored a touchdown a couple of possessions later, this time with Allen completing a touchdown pass to Jeremy Sprinkle from 23 yards out.

Auburn did finally manage to get on the scoreboard late in the first half in unlikely fashion. The Tigers orchestrated a 16-play drive that started on their five-yard line. On third down and goal from the one-yard line, Peyton Barber plowed up the middle for a touchdown to bring Auburn within one score. At the half, Auburn has 112 yards of total offense, and 95 came on that late drive alone.

Could that late touchdown be a turning point in the game?

FCS-to-Ducks transfer one of 30 QBs on Unitas Award watch list

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Even as one high-profile FCS transfer has yet to be officially added to his new Power Five program’s roster, he’s still highly thought of by at least one major award.

Tuesday, the fine folks at the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award released its preseason watch list, with the annual award given to the best college senior or fourth-year junior quarterback recognizing 30 players who meet the qualifications.  And, again, those qualifications are that they are, one, a quarterback and, two, are a college senior or fourth-year junior.

Included in that group of 30 is Vernon Adams, one of the most decorated players in the Football Championship Series who announced in February of this year that he would be transferring from Eastern Washington to Oregon for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  In early July it was reported that Adams had been admitted to UO and ruled eligible to enroll in classes at the university.  However, Adams will likely miss at least the first three days of the Ducks’ summer camp that begins Aug. 10 as he cleans up one final class that will allow him formal admission and his inclusion on his new squad’s roster.

There’s also one current FCS quarterback in the group: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

In addition to Adams and Wentz, 2014 Unitas finalists Cody Kessler of USC and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State are included in the initial watch list.   Last year’s winner was the man Adams will attempt to replace, Marcus Mariota.

Below is the complete list of preseason Unitas Award watch listers.  And, again, those eligible are college senior or fourth-year junior quarterbacks.

Vernon Adams, Oregon
Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Mike Bercovici, Arizona State
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Blake Frohnapfel, UMass
Everett Golson, Florida State
Taysom Hill, BYU
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Driphus Jackson, Rice
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Cody Kessler, USC
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
Joe Licata, Buffalo
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Maty Mauk, Missouri
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah

SEC release list of player attendees for Media Days

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Back in June, the SEC released the dates and times the 14 coaches will appear for the conference’s Media Days this month.  Five days ahead of the start of the SEC Media Days July 13, the league has released the list of players who will travel to Alabama with their respective head coaches.

As has been the standard for years, each of the 14 teams will send three players to represent the schools, for a total of 42.  Not surprisingly, given the lack of returning talent at the position, there will be just five quarterbacks in attendance: Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Missouri’s Maty Mauk and Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia , Kentucky and Mississippi State are sending all-senior contingents, while South Carolina will be represented by nothing but juniors.  38 of the 42 players are either juniors or seniors, the lone exceptions being sophomores Brandon Powell (Florida, wide receiver), Leonard Fournette (LSU, running back), Nigel Bowden (Vanderbilt, linebacker) and Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt, running back).

The Gamecocks are the only team to bring one of their kickers (placekicker Elliott Fry), while Texas A&M is bringing three linemen (two offensive, one defensive).  All three Razorback players come from the offensive side of the ball.

Below is the complete list of SEC player attendees:

Alabama
*Reggie Ragland, Sr., LB
Kenyan Drake, Sr., RB
Ryan Kelly, Sr., OL

Arkansas
*Jonathan Williams, Sr., RB
Brandon Allen, Sr., QB
Keon Hatcher, Sr., WR

Auburn
*Jeremy Johnson, Jr., QB
Jonathan Jones, Sr., DB
Kris Frost, Sr., LB

Florida
*Jonathan Bullard, Sr., DE
Brandon Powell, So., WR
Vernon Hargreaves III, Jr., DB

Georgia
*Malcolm Mitchell, Sr., WR
John Theus, Sr., OT
Jordan Jenkins, Sr., OLB

Kentucky
*Melvin Lewis, Sr., NG
Jordan Swindle, Sr., OT
A.J. Stamps, Sr., S

LSU
*Leonard Fournette, So., RB
Vadal Alexander, Sr., OT
Kendell Beckwith, Jr., LB

Ole Miss
*Evan Engram, Jr., TE
Mike Hilton, Sr., DB
C.J. Johnson, Sr., LB

Mississippi State
*Dak Prescott, Sr., QB
Taveze Calhoun, Sr., DB
Ryan Brown, Sr., DE

Missouri
*Kenya Dennis, Sr., DB
Maty Mauk, Jr., QB
Evan Boehm, Sr., C

South Carolina
*Elliott Fry, Jr., PK
Pharoh Cooper, Jr., WR
Skai Moore, Jr., LB

Tennessee
*Joshua Dobbs, Jr., QB
Curt Maggitt, Sr., LB/DL
Cameron Sutton, Jr., DB

Texas A&M
*Mike Matthews, Sr., C
Germain Ifedi, Jr., OT
Julien Obioha, Sr., DL

Vanderbilt
*Ralph Webb, So., RB
Nigel Bowden, So., LB
Spencer Pulley, Sr., C

* ‘Beyond The Field: Stories of the SEC’ Representative

Texas flattened by Arkansas to cap a dark day for the Big 12

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Monday, Dec. 29 will go down as the worst day in the history of the Big 12 since, well, three weeks ago. After West Virginia was beaten by Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl and Oklahoma was embarrassed by Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl, Texas completed an 0-for-3 day for the conference by getting outclassed by Arkansas 31-7 in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl.

If a 24-point game ever felt like a 240-point spread, it was this one.

Texas scored its only touchdown on an eight-play, 44-yard drive with 3:59 to go in the second quarter after Jacorey Warrick set the Longhorns up with a short field on a 30-yard kickoff return, pulling the ‘Horns within 17-7.

Other than that, Texas’ offensive drives traveled as followed (those among us wearing burnt orange may want to find a stiff drink before reading): two yards, 11, three, minus-4, minus-19, minus-8, minus-7, minus-2, minus-4, 29. This means that, after the touchdown drive every Texas possession went backwards except for the last one, and that drive ended in a 46-yard interception return by Henre’ Tolliver, so technically that one belongs on the list as well.

Oh, and before all that started, Tyrone Swoopes and Johnathan Gray combined to fumble a ball into the Texas end zone, which Taiwan Johnson recovered for an Arkansas touchdown.

Put it all together and Texas ran 43 plays (25 passes, 18 rushes) for 59 total yards (57 passing/two rushing), gained seven first downs, went 3-of-11 on first downs, committed two turnovers, punted seven times and netted zero points after scoring one touchdown and giving away another. Remember, this is fresh off a 48-10 blowout at the hands of TCU in which the Texas offense gave away more touchdowns (two) than it scored (five) and committed six turnovers.

Texas’ 59 total yards were the fewest by an FBS team this season, and its 1.37 yards per play are the second fewest, according to the Longhorn Network.

That, folks, is about as bad as offense can possibly be played.

Put it all together and it’s hard to call Charlie Strong‘s debut season anything but a failure.

Arkansas, meanwhile, did everything it wanted to on offense. Brandon Allen completed 12-of-23 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and the combination of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins rushed 40 times for 181 yards and a touchdown. At a much-better-than-it-looks-on-paper 7-6 and the bulk of the roster returning next season, Bret Bielema has to love how his team stacks up heading into 2015.