Eddie Lacy

Five-star recruit eligible to play for Alabama next season

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Bo Scarbrough was one of six five-star recruits to commit to the Alabama Crimson Tide in this year’s class, according to Rivals.com. Scarbrough, who was considered the No. 2 athlete in the country, is the only one not currently on Alabama’s roster. But that will change this spring.

BamaOnline.com’s Charles Power reported Scarbrough is now eligible to enroll at Alabama during the spring semester.

“Yes it is (true). He’s very excited about it,” Scarbrough’s mother, Donetris, confirmed. “Roll Tide!”

At SEC media days, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, “They won’t be completed until the end of summer school. I can’t really make a prediction on what their status will be until their summer school is over.”

Saban was referring to both Scarbrough and fellow recruit Montel McBride. The offensive lineman decided to go the JUCO route after he didn’t qualify to play for Alabama.

With the eventual inclusion of Scarbrough, Alabama’s running back pipeline will continue. Current starter T.J. Yeldon is expected to follow in the footsteps of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy to become the next Alabama running back in the NFL. After all, Yeldon is consider a first-round talent by ESPN.com. Derrick Henry will then be expected to take over the starting role in 2015, while Scarbrough becomes the next phenom in the team’s stable of running backs.

Next in line: RB Derrick Henry emerging for Alabama this spring

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Alabama running back Derrick Henry has rode the momentum of a breakout performance in the Sugar Bowl, and appears (sorry, coach Saban) poised to be the next star running back for the Tide.

Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon came before him (Yeldon will be a junior this fall). He lept ahead of Kenyan Drake on Alabama’s depth chart heading into the Sugar Bowl, and staked his claim to the spot behind Yeldon with 100 yards on eight carries with a touchdown against Oklahoma.

This spring, Henry’s held off Drake to take most of the No. 2 reps behind Yeldon. Though as Andrew Gribble writes for AL.com, he’s done more than just hold off Drake — he’s asserted himself in Alabama’s offense.

“Derrick Henry has had a fabulous spring,” said Saban, who carefully doles out praise of that magnitude. “He picked up right where he left off at bowl practice last year. He works really hard. He runs really hard. He plays with a lot of toughness. He gets it. Very conscientious guy. 

“He sets a great example. Physical in the way he plays. Very conscientious and pays attention to detail.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in Gribble’s story on Henry’s adjustment period in college, as well as a pretty great quote from the running back on the Sugar Bowl. Give it a read and get acquainted with this guy, since you’ll probably see his name quite a bit this coming fall.

Mariota remains Bovada’s Heisman betting favorite

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After shifting almost weekly from player to player to player before the start of the 2013 season and into 2013, the odds are settling in on a favorite Duck.

Marcus Mariota was 9/2 in mid-September, slightly ahead of Johnny Manziel‘s 5/1; two weeks later, the Oregon quarterback is far and away the favorite at 8/5, even in the face of a HesimanPundit straw poll of actual voters that has the reigning stiff-armed trophy winner ahead at this point in time.

One word of warning: On Sept. 21 of last year, West Virginia’s Geno Smith was Bovada‘s betting favorite. Five weeks later, Kansas State’s Collin Klein was that wagering website’s overwhelming favorite. Manziel wasn’t among the 15 players listed in the September odds, nor was he among the eight listed in the Oct. 25 set of odds. He finally joined the Heisman party — albeit behind Klein — in mid-November.

Speaking of Manziel, and somewhat surprisingly, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater has leapfrogged the Texas A&M quarterback in this latest release. Bridgewater, 13/2 two weeks ago, is now at 11/2. Manziel, meanwhile, has just as inexplicably dropped to 15/2, even as his one-for-the-ages performance in a loss to Alabama came after the last release.

The opposing quarterback in that game, the Tide’s AJ McCarron, is at 10/1, as is Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. McCarron’s stock has dipped a bit in the eyes of Bovada as he was at 13/2 in mid-September.

Below are all of the latest odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Marcus Mariota (QB Oregon) 8/5
Teddy Bridgewater (QB Louisville) 11/2
Johnny Manziel (QB Texas A&M) 15/2
A.J. McCarron (QB Alabama) 10/1
Tajh Boyd (QB Clemson) 10/1
Aaron Murray (QB Georgia) 12/1
Jameis Winston (QB Florida State) 12/1
T.J. Yeldon (RB Alabama) 15/1
Brett Hundley (QB UCLA) 18/1
Braxton Miller (QB Ohio State) 20/1
Blake Bell (QB Oklahoma) 25/1
De’Anthony Thomas (RB Oregon) 25/1
Lache Seastrunk (RB Baylor) 25/1
Todd Gurley (RB Georgia) 25/1
Kevin Hogan (QB Stanford) 25/1
Bryce Petty (QB Baylor) 25/1
Duke Johnson (RB Miami) 50/1
Jordan Lynch (QB Northern Illinois) 66/1
Stephen Morris (QB Miami) 100/1
Sammy Watkins (WR Clemson) 100/1

Record number of underclassmen enter NFL draft

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We’ve been keeping track of underclassmen who have declared for this year’s NFL draft. This morning, the NFL released its list of 73 underclassmen who have been granted “special eligibility” for the draft by being at least three years removed from high school before declaring.

That number is a new record, breaking the one held in 2012 with 65 underclassmen declaring. In 2011, 56 players left early and 53 took off in 2010. In fact, the 73 who declared this year is 30 more than in 2004.

Of the 73 players, 33 come from SEC schools, or began their careers at SEC schools. That’s far and away the most of any conference. LSU has 11 underclassmen with ties to the program represented.

You can view the NFL’s release HEREbut here’s the alphabetized list.

Keenan Allen WR, California
David Amerson DB, North Carolina State
Alvin Bailey G, Arkansas
Stedman Bailey WR, West Virginia
David Bakhtiari T, Colorado
Dwayne Beckford LB, Purdue
Le’Veon Bell RB, Michigan State
Giovani Bernard RB, North Carolina
Tyler Bray QB,Tennessee
Terrence Brown DB, Stanford
Duron Carter WR, Ohio State
Knile Davis RB, Arkansas
Mike Edwards DB, Hawaii
Matt Elam DB, Florida
Zach Ertz TE, Stanford
Gavin Escobar TE, San Diego State
Chris Faulk T, Louisiana State
Sharrif Floyd DT, Florida
Michael Ford RB, Louisiana State
Travis Frederick C, Wisconsin
Kwame Geathers NT, Georgia
William Gholston DE, Michigan State
Johnathan Hankins DT, Ohio State
Jajuan Harley DB, Middle Tennessee
DeAndre HopkinsWR, Clemson
Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee
Jawan Jamison RB, Rutgers
Stefphon Jefferson RB, Nevada
Tony Jefferson DB, Oklahoma
Jelani Jenkins LB, Florida
Luke Joeckel T, Texas A&M
Jarvis Jones LB, Georgia
Jose Jose DT, Central Florida
Joe Kruger DE, Utah
Eddie Lacy RB, Alabama
Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
Corey Lemonier DE, Auburn
Bennie Logan DT, Louisiana State
Stansly Maponga DE, Texas Christian
Tyrann Mathieu DB, Louisiana State
Dee Milliner DB, Alabama
Barkevious Mingo DE, Louisiana State
Kevin Minter LB, Louisiana State
Sam Montgomery DE, Louisiana State
Brandon Moore DT, Texas
Damontre Moore DE, Texas A&M
Alec Ogletree LB, Georgia
Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee
Bradley Randle RB, Nevada-Las Vegas
Joseph Randle RB, Oklahoma State
Jordan Reed TE, Florida
Eric Reid DB, Louisiana State
Greg Reid DB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes DB, Florida State
Sheldon Richardson DT, Missouri
Nickell Robey DB, Southern California
Logan Ryan DB, Rutgers
Ace Sanders WR, South Carolina
Darrington Sentimore DT, Tennessee
Tharold Simon DB, Louisiana State
Dion Sims TE, Michigan State
Akeem Spence DT, Illinois
Kenny Stills WR, Oklahoma
Levine Toilolo TE, Stanford
Spencer Ware RB, Louisiana State
Menelik Watson T, Florida State
Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State
Steve Williams DB, California
Marquess Wilson WR, Washington State
Brad Wing P, Louisiana State
Cierre Wood RB, Notre Dame
Robert Woods WR, Southern California
Tom Wort LB, Oklahoma

Tide trio rolls into NFL draft

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As expected, two-time defending national champion Alabama has lost a trio of players to the professional ranks.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, running back Eddie Lacy and cornerback Dee Milliner each announced they were taking their multiple BCS title rings and making themselves available for the April NFL draft.  Head coach Nick Saban also confirmed that offensive lineman D.J. Fluker will be entering the draft as well.

“I would like to take this time to honor these young men for the great job that they have done in how they have represented the University of Alabama and their family,” Saban said. “They have all been great people, in terms of how they have represented our organization. From a personal character standpoint, these guys have been great representatives and great ambassadors for the University of Alabama and we really appreciate that.”

The early departures certainly put a dent in the Tide’s returning experience as, all told, they will be losing 79 starts amongst the three players.

None of the three were particularly a surprise, though, as each was strongly rumored to be a heavy lean toward leaving eligibility on the table at season’s end.

Lacy, with 14 starts in 34 career games, led the Tide this season with 1,322 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on the ground while also adding 22 receptions and two more scores through the air.  Last season, he finished second on the team in rushing, and finishes his Tide career with 2,402 yards and 30 touchdowns.

He was named offensive MVP of the Tide’s evisceration of Notre Dame in the BCS title game earlier in the week, running for 140 yards on 20 carries and scoring both a rushing and receiving touchdown.

“I want to start by thanking the University of Alabama, Coach Saban and Coach Burns, my position coach,” Lacy said. “I want to thank all of my teammates and the teachers and academic staff here at the university; the training staff, Jeff Allen and especially Jeremy Gsell; we put in a lot of time over the years here.

“Of course I want to thank all of the fans. They are great fans. It has been an amazing experience here. I developed well as a player and as a person here at Alabama. As I look back at the four years, I feel that I have accomplished all of the goals that the team and I set out to accomplish.”

All three were first-team All-SEC performers in 2012, while Milliner was also a consensus first-team All-American.  Milliner was one of three Tide players accorded that honor, including linebacker C.J. Mosely — he announced last month that he would be returning for his senior season — as well as senior offensive linemen Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack.

“It’s been a great experience for me in my three years being here,” Milliner said. “I’ve learned a lot of things -not only becoming a better football player, but also becoming a better man. Coach Saban and the coaching staff do a great job of developing players here and helping you out all that they can.

“I’d like to thank all the coaching staff for what they did for me: Coach Pruitt, my defensive backs coach, for all the help and the things that he did for me; the trainers and all the strength coaches, for developing me as a better person and the things that they do; the academic center, for all the help that they gave me in academics, for making me become more of a student-athlete. I’d like to thank all my family for all the love and support they gave me over the years. Without them I don’t know what I’d be doing or where I’d be right now.”

There have now been at least 67 underclassmen who have declared early for the draft, breaking the record of 65 set last year.  There are still four days until the NFL’s deadline for officially filing their early-entry paperwork with the NFL.