Landon Collins

Kirby Smart: Alabama didn’t value OSU QB Cardale Jones enough

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In defense of Wisconsin, not many expected Cardale Jones to be capable of stepping right in to lead Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game as effectively as he did. But Wisconsin’s misfortune should have been enough of a wake-up call for Alabama with a month to prepare for the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Sugar Bowl. According to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, he and the Alabama staff may not have done enough to keep the defense grounded and aware of what Jones could do.

“All three of them (referring to Landon Collins, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams)  said they did not respect the quarterback, and our job as the coaches was to make them respect the quarterback,” Smart said in an interview on 680 The Fan in Atlanta. “Well, they heard from the media, they heard from ESPN, they heard from everybody that he was a third-string quarterback. How can a third-string quarterback beat Alabama? We didn’t promote him enough and they didn’t value his talents enough, and he came in — we thought he was a really good passer. Well, he ran the ball well, too. Well, we had not seen him run the ball . . . and not a runner like (Bama QB) Blake (Sims) and not a runner like their other guy, just big.”

In the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal game against the Crimson Tide, Jones completed 18 of 35 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 43 yards in the Ohio State victory.

Smart went on to praise Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had a monster performance as well. Smart said he saw his defense was going to be in for a long night against Ohio State’s offense even though the Crimson Tide held an early lead.

“We had not slowed them down. We had two red area stops, which were six points (two field goals), could have been 14,” Smart said. “We had a turnover, we stripped a ball. We had not slowed them down, and I’m thinking this could be 21 but it’s six, 21-6, could be 21-21. And then they scored right before the half, which we thought was deadly. They had a good two-minute drive and scored, and I knew that we were in trouble.”

Smart also said Alabama reached out to Houston head coach Tom Herman, who was Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach last season. He and Nick Saban asked Herman to offer his take on what he saw in Alabama’s defense that Ohio State was able to crack.

Helmet sticker to The Sporting News.

ACC and SEC load up on Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists

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The Butkus Award semifinalists were announced Monday morning, and so too were the semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame announced the 15 names on the semifinalist list for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the top defensive back in college football.

The ACC and SEC each have four players appearing on the semifinalist list. The Big 12 and Pac-12 each have two players listed and the ACC, Big Ten and Conference USA each have one player. Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard was named the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award, but an SEC player had won the award the previous four seasons.

Of the players listed as a semifinalist, Louisville’s Gerod Holliman and Senquez Golson of Ole Miss are tied for the nation’s lead in interceptions. Each player has eight picks this season and each has returned one of those turnovers for a touchdown. None of the players with two pick-sixes this season is a semifinalist for the award.

THORPE AWARD SEMIFINALISTS
Sam Carter, TCU, Sr.
Jeremy Cash, Duke, Jr.
Landon Collins, Alabama, Jr.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, Sr.
Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, So.
Senquez Golson, Ole Miss, Sr.
Josh Hawkins, East Carolina, Jr.
Gerod Holliman, Louisville, Jr.
Ronald Martin, LSU, Sr.
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, Sr.
Jordan Richards, Stanford, Sr.
Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma, So.
Triston Wade, UTSA, Sr.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State, Jr.
PJ Williams, Florida State, Jr.

All-SEC First Team led by eight from Alabama

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Alabama was picked by the media as the conference favorite in 2014 for good reason. The amount of talent on Alabama’s roster is in a class of its own, which is put on display by the preseason all-SEC teams released on th final day of SEC Media Week. Alabama led the conference with eight players on the All-SEC First Team.

Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper received the most voting points of any offensive player in the media poll, with 282 points. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall was named to the first team with 241 points. Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon received 281 points for the top spot on the first team offense, but Georgia running back Todd Gurley received 280 points to receive first team honors as well.

Two defensive players from Alabama also received the highest voting totals for the defensive first team. Defensive back Landon Collins received 274 points, followed by linebacker Trey DePriest (253). Christion Jones received first team honors for special teams, giving Alabama eight total first team All-SEC players.

Here is the full breakdown of the preseason All-SEC teams, courtesy of TideSports.com;

2014 PRE-SEASON MEDIA DAYS ALL-SEC TEAM

(Total points earned in parenthesis)

OFFENSE

First-Team
QB Nick Marshall, Auburn (241)

RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (281)
RB Todd Gurley, Georgia (280)

WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (282)

WR Sammie Coates, Auburn (207)

TE O.J. Howard, Alabama (188)

OL La’el Collins, LSU (231)

OL Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (188)

OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (183)

OL Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (174)

C Reese Dismukes, Auburn (226)

Second-Team

QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (118)

RB Mike Davis, South Carolina (240)

RB Alex Collins, Arkansas (126)

WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (182)

WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (71)

TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn (141)

OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina (166)

OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (112)

OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (112)

OL Corey Robinson, South Carolina (107)

C Ryan Kelly, Alabama (126)

Third-Team

QB Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (94)

RB Corey Grant, Auburn (52)

RB Keith Marshall, Georgia (44)

WR Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State (67)

WR Marquez North, Tennessee (66)

TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas (72)

OL Austin Shepherd, Alabama (106)

OL Chad Slade, Auburn (101)

OL John Theus, Georgia (96)

OL Chaz Green, Florida (94)

C Evan Boehm, Missouri (77)

DEFENSE

First-Team

DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (239)

DL Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida (212)

DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (208)

DL Gabe Wright, Auburn (192)

LB Trey DePriest, Alabama (253)

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (186)

LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia (147)

DB Landon Collins, Alabama (274)

DB Vernon Hargreaves, III, Florida (243)

DB Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (210)

DB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M (183)

Second-Team

DL Trey Flowers, Arkansas (181)

DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State (150)

DL Alvin “Bud” Dupree, Kentucky (134)

DL Markus Golden, Missouri (125)

LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State (143)

LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (137)

LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (116)

DB Robenson Therezie, Auburn (144)

DB Tre’Davious White, LSU (141)

DB Damian Swann, Georgia (127)

DB Tony Conner, Ole Miss (116)

Third-Team

DL Ray Drew, Georgia (102)

DL Montravius Adams, Auburn (94)

DL Carl Lawson, Auburn (87)

DL Jermauria Rasco, LSU (79)

LB Kwon Alexander, LSU (112)

LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (82)

LB Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss (76)

DB Jon Mincy, Auburn (99)

DB Corey Thompson, LSU (86)

DB Rashard Robinson, LSU (84)

DB Brison Williams, South Carolina (81)

SPECIALISTS

First-Team

P Drew Kaser, Texas A&M (221)

PK Marshall Morgan, Georgia (224)

RS Christion Jones, Alabama (262)

AP Christion Jones, Alabama (130)

Second-Team

P Sam Irwin-Hill, Arkansas (136)

PK Colby Delahoussaye, LSU (142)

RS Andre Debose, Florida (97)

AP Terrence Magee, LSU (111)

Third-Team
P Jamie Keehn, LSU (81)

PK Andrew Baggett, Missouri (103)

RS Marcus Murphy, Missouri (72)

AP Trey Williams, Texas A&M (89)

Bednarik Award watch list names 76 players

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Watchlist season continued Monday with the release of the 2014 Chuck Bednarik Award watch list by the Maxwell Football Club. A total of 76 players were named to the watch list.

The Chuck Bednarik Award is awarded to the nation’s top defensive player as determined by the Maxwell Football Club. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was named the Bednarik Award winner each of the first two years the award was presented (1995 and 1996), and Penn State has had four Bednarik Award winners, the most of any school. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the 2013 Bednarik Award winner.

This year’s watch list includes three of last year’s semifinalists, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and USC defensive end Leonard Williams. Georgia has three linebackers on the watch list and Stanford continues to gain respect on defense with four players named to the watch list.

Here is the 2014 Bednarik Award watch list:

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford

LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson

DE Vic Beasley, Clemson

DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State

DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State

LB Kelby Brown, Duke

DT Malcom Brown, Texas

DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

CB Alex Carter, Stanford

S Sam Carter, TCU

S Jeremy Cash, Duke

DE Frank Clark, Michigan

S Landon Collins, Alabama

DT Christian Covington, Rice

S Su’a Cravens, USC

DT Carl Davis, Iowa

LB Trey DePriest, Alabama

CB Quandre Diggs, Texas

CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane

S Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State

DE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky

DE Mario Edwards, Florida State

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State

DE Devonte Fields, TCU

DE Try Flowers, Arkansas

LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia

DE Dante Fowler, Florida

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

DE Markus Golden, Missouri

DE Randy Gregory, Nebrska

LB Bryce Hager, Baylor

CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida

DE Eli Harold, Virginia

S Anthony Harris, Virginia

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas

DT Chucky Hunter, TCU

DE Martin Ifedl, Memphis

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson

LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia

LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA

LB Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington

CB Jordan Lucas, Penn State

DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech

LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple

LB Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville

LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor

DE Norkeithus Otis, North Carolina

LB Denzel Perryman, Miami

LB Terrance Plummer, UCF

S Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss

LB Hayes Pullard, USC

DE Cedric Reed, Texas

S Jordan Richards, Stanford

DE A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

DT James Rouse, Marshall

CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

LB Jake Ryan, Michigan

LB Frank Shannon, Oklahoma

DT Danny Shelton, Washington

S Derron Smith, Fresno State

LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma

DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma

LB A.J. Tarpley, Stanford

S Robenseon Therezie, Auburn

LB Shaq Thompson, Washington

CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

DE Leonard Williams, USC

CB P.J. Williams, Florida State

LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia

Earlier today the Paul Hornung Award watch list was released. The Maxwell Award watch list was released alongside the Bednarik Award watch list as well.

In college football recruiting, mother knows best… right?

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When it comes to college football recruiting stories it often seems as though moms have a major say in the decision. Mother knows best, right?

In a recent addition to a series of recruiting flashback stories on FOXSports.com, Donovan McNabb, who wound up at Syracuse before going on to a lengthy NFL career, shared a story about the time he was asked to help convince Mike Vick to follow in his footsteps at Syracuse. Syracuse had tabbed Vick as their number one recruit and McNabb had done his part in convincing Vick to choose Syracuse for his college football career. McNabb can be charming and convincing, but that was not enough to convince one person; Vick’s mother. Vick’s mom preferred her son to stay close to home in Virginia, and as you no doubt know by now she got her say. Vick attended Virginia Tech for two years and helped bring the Hokies to competing among the best in the country on the football field.

Of course, not every mother has her say when it comes time to submitting that letter of intent.

In 2012, Alabama safety Landon Collins announced his college decision on national television during the Under Armour All-American Game. With April Justin, his mother by his side, Collins announced he would attend Alabama. This did not sit well with his mother, who had her eyes set n Alabama’s division rival.

“I feel that LSU is the better place for him to be,” she said once noticed she lacked any enthusiasm for the decision. “LSU Tigers, No. 1. Go Tigers!”

Fast forward to this year’s Under Armour Game and a similar scene played out. In fact, it even included the same mom. This time another son, Gerald Willis III, announced his decision to go to Florida. Once again, this did not sit well.

“It is what it is, Florida Gators, that’s where we’ll be,” she said. “LSU’s still No. 1.”

One of the more bizarre recruiting stories may have taken place during last year’s national signing day. SEC Freshman of the year and Arkansas running back Alex Collins had his mom swipe his national letter of intent and run off with it, delaying his opportunity to have his joyous moment. His mother reportedly wanted Collins to stay closer to home instead of go to Arkansas and hired a lawyer to fight her case. Fortunately for the Razorbacks, Collins managed to be able to get the situation resolve and he followed through with his desire to be a Razorback. Not to be outdone, there is the case of Matthew Thomas at Florida State, who ended up there in part because his mother would not sign a letter of intent for her son to attend USC.

National Signing Day is this Wednesday. Will any mothers cause a scene or sway the decision in their favor this year?