DeVante Parker

Pac-12, ACC lead way with nine first-round picks

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Many of us watching college football maintained the Pac-12 was college football’s strongest conference in 2014. The NFL agreed – but it also liked the ACC a whole heck of a lot, too.

The Pac-12 and ACC led all conferences with nine selections apiece. The Pac-12’s nine selections was the most it has ever had according to ESPN’s research department. The SEC, normally the far-and-away leader of this category, followed with seven. The Big Ten claimed three picks, followed by the Big 12 and American with two each.

A few notes:

– The Big 12 narrowly avoids its worst first-round ever: Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown snuck into the first round at No. 32, the Longhorns’ first pick since 2013.

– ACC leads off for the first time in a while: As widely expected, the Tampa Bay Bucs lead off the night by taking Florida State’s Jameis Winston. He became the ACC’s first No. 1 pick since the Texans grabbed N.C. State’s Mario Williams in 2006. Winston also became just the fourth player ever to complete the trio of a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and a No. 1 NFL Draft pick.

– Just because you have good players doesn’t mean you’re good: Al Golden‘s 6-7 Miami team had two first-round picks in offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and wide receiver Philip Dorsett. So did 4-8 Florida with defensive lineman Dante Fowler, Jr. and offensive lineman D.J. Humphries. Washington led all teams with three picks – defensive lineman Danny Shelton, cornerback Marcus Peters and linebacker Shaq Thompson – despite going 8-6 and posting a losing Pac-12 record.

– Other schools with multiple selections: Florida State (Winston, Cameron Erving), Clemson (Vic Beasley/Stephone Anthony), USC (Leonard Williams/Nelson Agholor) and Oregon (Marcus Mariota/Arik Armstead) Speaking of the Oregon…

– Chip Kelly just can’t help himself. Eventually there will come a time when the Pac-12 is no longer stocked with players the former Oregon coach recruited and/or coached against. Until then it’s insider trading in Philadelphia as Kelly nabbed USC’s Agholor.

– Duke is off the clock: Laken Tomlinson‘s selection was the Blue Devils’ first first-rounder in the lifetime of its entire roster.

For those of you living under a rock, here’s how the first round played out:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, Florida State
2. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida
4. Oakland Raiders – Amari Cooper, Alabama
5. Washington Redskins – Brandon Scherff, Iowa
6. New York Jets – Leonard Williams, USC
7. Chicago Bears – Kevin White, West Virginia
8. Atlanta Falcons – Vic Beasley, Clemson
9. New York Giants – Ereck Flowers, Miami
10. St. Louis Rams – Todd Gurley, Georgia
11. Minnesota Vikings – Trae Waynes, Michigan State
12. Cleveland Browns – Danny Shelton, Washington
13. New Orleans Saints – Andrus Peat, Stanford
14. Miami Dolphins – DeVante Parker, Louisville
15. San Diego Chargers – Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
16. Houston Texans – Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
17. San Francisco 49ers – Arik Armstead, Oregon
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Marcus Peters, Washington
19. Cleveland Browns – Cameron Erving, Florida State
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Nelson Agholor, USC
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Bud Dupree, Kentucky
23. Denver Broncos – Shane Ray, Missouri
24. Arizona Cardinals – D.J. Humphries, Florida
25. Carolina Panthers – Shaq Thompson, Washington
26. Baltimore Ravens – Breshad Perryman, Central Florida
27. Dallas Cowboys – Byron Jones, Connecticut
28. Detroit Lions – Laken Tomlinson, Duke
29. Indianapolis Colts – Phillip Dorsett, Miami
30. Green Bay Packers – Damarious Randall, Arizona State
31. New Orleans Saints – Stephone Anthony, Clemson
32. New England Patriots – Malcom Brown, Texas

Twenty-six players invited to NFL Draft

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Ah, the NFL Draft. It’s that awkward in-between time when the likes of Jameis WinstonLeonard Williams, et al, aren’t college football players anymore but they aren’t really NFL players yet, either.

Nevertheless, it’s the last time the newest crop of NFL players will be identified primarily by their college, and on Tuesday the NFL released the list of 26 players invited to hear their names (and schools) called over Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on Thursday, April 30.

They are as follows:

Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
Vic Beasley, DE/LB, Clemson
La’El Collins, OL, LSU
Landon Collins, DB, Alabama
Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Dante Fowler, DL/LB, Florida
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Randy Gregory, DE/LB, Nebraska
Todd Gurley, LB, Georgia
D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
Bernardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
Shane Ray, DL, Missouri
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Danny Shelton, DL, Washington
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Leonard Williams, DL, USC

 

UAB WR opts for Louisville over Auburn

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Another day, another member of the erstwhile UAB football program has found a new collegiate home.

On Twitter early Tuesday afternoon, Jamari Staples announced that he has decided to continue his playing career at Louisville.  According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Staples opted for the ACC school over Auburn.

Also noted by the paper is one of the factors that could’ve played a role in Staples’ decision: “[h]e provides immediate depth to a U of L receiving corps that is losing five seniors, including top target DeVante Parker.”

Staples had planned on visiting Auburn in early December, but postponed the trip.  He had also received interest from Clemson, Florida and Purdue.

In 2014, Staples had nine receptions for 190 yards and a touchdown. In 2013 as a true freshman, Staples was second on the team in catches (31), yards (458) and receiving touchdowns (four).

Staples was a two-star member of UAB’s 2013 recruiting class coming out of high school in Ashland, Ala. The sophomore will have two years of eligibility remaining, plus his redshirt.

As has been the case for every former Blazer since the program officially disbanded in early December, Staples will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 thanks to a waiver.

(Photo credit: UAB athletics)

Nick Chubb rushes for 269 yards to power No. 13 Georgia by No. 21 Louisville in Belk Bowl

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Georgia running back Nick Chubb finished off an impressive freshman campaign by rushing for a Belk Bowl record 269 yards to help No. 13 Georgia (10-3) put away No. 21 Louisville (9-4), 37-14.

Chubb had a 31-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give Georgia a 17-7 lead, and he had a shorter eight-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to help drive the final nail in the coffin for Lousiville’s postseason experience. Georgia took a 27-14 lead into the fourth quarter and slammed the door on the Cardinals with a 10-0 final quarter.

Georgia did not celebrate a win without losing a couple of bodies along the way. Quarterback Hutson Mason left the game with an undisclosed injury. Wide receiver Michael Bennett also left the game with a possible knee injury.

Louisville was hit-or-miss for much of the night on offense. The Cardinals used quarterback Kyle Bolin for most of the night, completing 20 of 40 pass attempts for 301 yards and a touchdown. He was picked off twice. Despite the rough night for the offense, DeVante Parker had a good showing with 120 yards on eight receptions for the Cardinals. The offense only managed 14 points and 380 yards, but the defense was no match for Georgia’s running game.

It was quite a day for two of the young running backs in the SEC. Before Chubb got a chance to take the field in Charlotte, LSU’s Leonard Fournette turned in a powerful performance against Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl, although that was in a losing effort. Next season should be a lot of fun to watch the resurgence of power running backs between these two alone.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt picked up his ninth career bowl victory, while improving to 9-5 all-time in bowl games, moving him past Vince Dooley for most all-time bowl victories at Georgia. That accounts for about a third of Georgia’s all-time 28 bowl victories. This will be the 11th time since 2001 Richt will coach Georgia to a top 25 finish in the AP poll.

The SEC is now 4-1 in the bowl season, including a perfect mark against power five conference opponents. LSU took a loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl earlier in the day. The SEC is now tied for the best conference bowl record so far with a 4-1 mark. Conference USA is also 4-1 and the Pac-12 is 3-0, with Stanford taking on Maryland in the late kickoff Tuesday night.

The ACC took another loss to drop to 3-5 this bowl season. That record includes a woeful 1-5 mark against power conferences, with two wins against the American Athletic Conference lumped on top to help balance out the wins and losses. All that is left for the ACC is Georgia Tech and Florida State, so there is still a chance to come out of the postseason with a winning record overall, although it will be impossible to record a winning record against power conferences this bowl season.

CFT Previews: The Belk Bowl

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WHO: No. 13 Georgia (9-3) vs. No. 21 Louisville (9-3)
WHAT: The 13th Belk Bowl
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. ET Dec. 30 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Hey, it’s another bowl game pitting a defensive coordinator against his former team! After four seasons running Georgia’s defense to varying degrees of success, Todd Grantham left Athens for Louisville and a large payday to work for Bobby Petrino. Few teams were tougher to move the ball against than Grantham’s Cardinals, who ranked eighth nationally in pass efficiency defense by holding opponents to 53.6 percent completions for 6.2 yards per attempt while intercepting a nation’s best 25 passes against only 13 touchdown passes while also placing third in rushing defense (93.67 yards per game allowed) and allowed just 2.94 yards per carry (fourth nationally). Compare that to a Georgia defense that ranks 11th in pass efficiency defense but 77th in rushing defense under first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

However, Georgia doesn’t have to defend Nick Chubb, Louisville does. Despite never carrying the ball more than 11 times until Oct. 11, Chubb ripped off a 1,200-yard season by rushing for 143, 202, 156, 170, 144, 113 and 129 yards over the back half of the season. Combine that with the efficient Hutson Mason at quarterback (20 touchdowns, four interceptions) and you have to like Georgia’s chances in the even this game becomes a shootout.

Louisville won its final three games of the regular season with three different players leading the club in passing, and either Kyle Bolin or Reggie Bonnafon could start. Whoever it is should throw lots and lots of balls to DeVante Parker.

Finally, Georgia will be without offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and offensive line coach Will Friend, who are both off to new jobs at Colorado State. This leaves tight ends coach John Lilly as the Bulldogs’ play-caller. In a game of evenly-matched teams, taking the squad with Bobby Petrino running its offense opposite a tight ends coach.

THE PICK: Louisville 31, Georgia 27