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Andrew Ward becomes latest Nebraska player to announce plans to transfer

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Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.

As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.

Shea Patterson says he chose Michigan for chance to compete for national title

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It remains to be seen if Michigan will be able to climb the Big Ten East Division standings this season, but it is unquestionable the Wolverines have a better shot at playing for a national title than Ole Miss does this fall. That is why quarterback Shea Patterson says he decided to transfer to Ann Arbor.

Speaking to the media following the Michigan football program in Paris, France, Patterson opened up about his decision to transfer to Michigan for the first time. A big part of the reason Patterson chose the Wolverines is the opportunity to be able to compete for a championship, which is something that would be impossible with an Ole Miss program currently restricted by NCAA sanctions, including a postseason ban.

“I can live with throwing an interception in the national championship game. Or to get there, in the playoff. It might be hard to live with that — but I don’t know if I could have lived with not being able to to get the chance to compete for one,” Patterson said, according to Mlive.com. “I think watching Michigan all last year, and with the guys we got coming back on defense, I feel like we’ve got a real good shot at doing that.”

Patterson likely solves the biggest question for Michigan coming off the 2017 season now that he has officially been ruled eligible for the upcoming season. Michigan’s defense should be loaded with talent and the Wolverines return the team’s leading rusher in Karan Higdon (not to mention a nice alternative in Chris Evans). Among the biggest issues Michigan had last week was at quarterback, which hindered the rest of the offense. With Patterson likely to win the quarterback job (and yes, Jim Harbaugh is saying there will be an open competition for the job), the offense could receive a nice boost in production and efficiency. The schedule will be tricky with road games at Ohio State and Michigan State and home games against Penn State and Wisconsin (and Nebraska?), but the offense almost has nowhere to go but up.

Michigan has yet to play for the Big Ten championship in the championship game era for the conference, and Ohio State figures to be the favorite out of the East division this season. Then again, the last two years of the College Football Playoff have included a non-division winner in the four-team field (Ohio State in 2016, Alabama last year). So the precedent has been set. If Michigan can get even a marginally improved offense with Patterson, who knows?

What do Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher have that Nick Saban doesn’t? A No. 1 overall NFL draft pick

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The NFL draft is coming up later this week, and a handful of college football coaches could potentially have their first player chosen first overall. Among those looking to join a short list of active head coaches with a top overall draft pick on their watch includes Penn State’s James Franklin, USC’s Clay Helton and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.

There are just six active head coaches in FBS that have sent a player to the top of the NFL draft order, and only one of those coaches are currently at the same school they had a player go No. 1 overall. Stanford’s David Shaw was the head coach of the Cardinal when Andrew Luck went with the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts. The other five coaches on the current list have since moved on to another job since they had a player go with the first pick in the draft. Three of those active coaches will have new jobs starting this fall.

Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M was the head coach of Florida State when quarterback Jameis Winston went first overall in 2015. More recently, Sonny Dykes was the head coach at Cal when Jared Goff went to the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Dykes is now the head coach at SMU. And just last year, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin saw defensive end Myles Garrett go to the Cleveland Browns from Texas A&M with the first pick.

The two other coaches on the list of active coaches with a top draft pick are Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Mark Richt of Miami. Meyer was getting settled in at Florida after leaving Utah, but he was watching admirably as Utah quarterback Alex Smith went to the San Francisco 49ers with the first pick in 2005. Richt’s top draft pick from his time at Georgia was quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was taken first overall by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

You may have noticed (as if the headline didn’t give it away) there are some notable head coaches in college football without a top overall draft pick. Despite all the success of Nick Saban at Alabama, including a factory of NFL talent sent through the draft in recent years, a top overall pick continues to elude Saban. Not that he is worried about such a thing of course. Alabama’s NFL draft output is far more impressive when you realize quantity and quality are not short on supply in Tuscaloosa. During Saban’s time at Alabama, the highest draft pick from the school has been running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft (Cleveland Browns). Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus also went third overall to the Buffalo Bills in 2011.

But again, Alabama may not have a first overall pick, but the Crimson Tide lead the pack when it comes to first-round draft picks.

Here is a list of all the active head coaches with one No. 1 overall NFL draft pick:

  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona: Myles Garrett, DE (2017)
  • Sonny Dykes, SMU: Jared Goff, QB (2016)
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Jameis Winston, QB (2015)
  • David Shaw, Stanford: Andrew Luck, QB (2012)
  • Mark Richt, Miami: Matthew Stafford, QB (2009)
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Alex Smith, QB (2005)

Wyoming’s Josh Allen is considered one of the favorites to be chosen with the first pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, which would add Craig Bohl to the list (and he gets some of the credit for No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz, too). Penn State running back Saquon Barkley would add James Franklin to the list. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is another trendy pick for the top pick, but his head coach, Jim Mora, is no longer an active coach at this time. Sam Darnold of USC would add Clay Helton to the list, and Lincoln Riley would make the jump into the conversation if Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield happens to go first overall.

We’ll find out Thursday night if a new coach joins the list or not.

Transferring Michigan TE Ian Bunting moves on to Cal

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As it turns out, one Pac-12 football program has proven to be the beneficiary of a Big Ten transfer.

In a release late Tuesday night, Cal announced that Ian Bunting has joined Justin Wilcox‘s squad after signing a financial aid agreement with the university’s athletic department.  Bunting comes to Berkeley as a graduate transfer from Michigan, which means he’ll be eligible to play for the Golden Bears in 2018.

The upcoming season will be the tight end’s final season of collegiate eligibility.

“Ian has played college football at the highest level and on its biggest stages for the last three seasons, and he has the ability to make an impact on our football program immediately,” Wilcox said in a statement. “He is a versatile athlete that we expect to contribute to both our running and passing games with his blocking and pass-catching skills.”

In late January of this year, Bunting took to Twitter to announce his transfer from U-M.

During his time with the Wolverines, Bunting, a four-star 2014 signee, caught 11 passes for 124 yards. Just one of those receptions and six of the yards came this past season. In 2016, Bunting started the only seven games of his U-M career.

Lane Kiffin slaps FAU QB Chris Robison with ‘day-to-day suspension’

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Chris Robison‘s time in Norman ended in controversy. As he gets set to begin his quest to become Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback, Robison is again mired in a bit of a kerfuffle.

As FAU kicked off spring practice Tuesday, Lane Kiffin confirmed that Robison has been indefinitely suspended from his football program.  The only reason given was the standard unspecified violation of team rules.

One sliver of light amongst the latest off-field cloud for Robison is that the suspension trigger seems to be relatively minor in nature as the head coach said it could be lifted at any time.

“[He’s] not doing things right off the field and not just that he hurt himself, but he hurt his team,” Kiffin said by way of the Palm Beach Post. “Like we just told our players, you got choices; we can’t make the choices for you. If you don’t want to make the right choices, [there are] punishments for them.

“I think our punishments are a bit more severe than most people would be, but we want to teach our guys they gotta do everything right.”

A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program.  In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.

Robison and De'Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport.  Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.