A number of capable SEC players missed out on combine invitations, including surprise absentee Jake Coker from Alabama. The Crimson Tide quarterback is on our list of five SEC players -- and we easily could have named more -- who could still wind up on NFL rosters next season despite combine snubs: Coker: Eighteen quarterbacks will appear before the scouts in Indy, but the senior quarterback from the national champion will not be among them. We get it: Coker’s raw and inexperienced. Maybe he’s a bit too slow to scan the field and his delivery is too long, but he was outstanding in the postseason (59-for-81 for 825 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs in wins against Florida, Michigan State and Clemson). He’s 6-foot-5 and is an impressive athlete, too. Even if he would initially be a project at the next level, it’s surprising that he won’t get a closer look at the combine.
Coker will benefit from a tremendous pro day in Tuscaloosa. I still think he'll land on a roster for the same reasons ESPN does: you can't coach someone to be an athletic 6'5", 240 pounds -- that's just genetics and good eatin'.
Retin Obasohan's quest to become an Academic All-America selection originated before he took his first college jump shot or cracked his first book. It began, in fact, about the same time he first called the University of Alabama his home. Fittingly, it also involved another incoming recruit - Levi Randolph -- and a tour of where both would start the quest. "It was like a little tour of where we, as basketball players, were going to be on campus, most likely," Obasohan said. "Walking in the Bryant Academic Center, I remember me and Levi really looking at the Academic All-America list. We both learned there weren't any names (of men's basketball players) up there. We made the decision that we're going to do it, we're to be the first people to be Academic All-American in basketball."
Obasohan, the Tide's team leader, hopes to follow in the footsteps of his former teammate, Levi Randolph, and become an Academic All-American. If you measure the award purely on heart and hard work, he'd easily attain that goal. Best of luck, Retin.
Tide WR Class Not Done
2016 receiver/tight end Mac Hereford has accepted a preferred walk-on spot with Alabama, according to his Twitter account. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound prospect from Woodberry Forest (Va.) had interest from a number of smaller programs including Northern Iowa and Samford, but didn’t pass up the opportunity with Alabama when it was presented itself.
There was speculation, even after the transfer of Dieter, that Alabama may still look to add some wide receiver depth in the 2016 class. Welcome preferred walk-on, flex target Mac Hereford.
Never too early to preview
The 2016 Conference USA football preview countdown, from North Texas to WKU From now through August, Bill C. will preview one college football team in great detail per weekday, working his way through all of FBS, conference by conference. Follow along!
Bill has already gotten a jump start on the 2016 season -- he's five teams deep in the 128, and has started with the woeful C-USA (made even more woeful by Todd Monken's departure from So. Miss to be the Tampa Bay OC.)
The Buckeyes are losing an enormous amount of high-end talent, probably more than any other program in the country. They're in position to have more than 20 players drafted, breaking their own record of 14 in 2004. That makes it all the more impressive that they're topping championship conversations this far ahead of next season. The Crimson Tide were bettors' top title pick a month ago, and they're now No. 2 behind Ohio State. Clemson and Michigan round out the top four, each at 15/2, with LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee following from there at 14/1.
Vegas makes its money off of the 70% or so of the public that are casual consumers; hence, Ohio State taking the top spot here at 6/1. While Michigan is bringing in a ton of talent for 2016, the 15/2 number also overlooks everything the Wolverines lost -- largely at the skills positions and on defense. Wolvie is still a year away, I'd guess. You could do far worse than LSU at 14/1 and Clemson or Alabama at 15/2, though.
Alabama went 4-1 on opening weekend at the UCF Knights Invitational in Orlando, Fla.
Alabama has won four or more games on opening weekend every year since 2011
All 18 players on the roster saw playing time on opening weekend. Of the 14 players with at least one at-bat over the weekend, 11 earned a hit.
The team was a perfect 13-13 in stolen bases, led by Demi Turner with four.
ALABAMA VS. THE OPPONENT 18-0 vs. UAB Current Streak: Alabama 18 First Meeting: Feb. 23, 2000 - W, 7-1 Last Meeting: April 14, 2015 - W, 14-1
Alabama softball has owned UAB like chattel, never losing to the Blazers. Despite the Tide's setback in Game 2 of the UCF Invitational (to No. 17 USF,) the Tide have otherwise been a machine, racking up four early wins. UAB, meanwhile is 1-4. Head out to Birmingham and watch the ownage in progress tonight.
Oklahoma president David Boren and West Virginia president Gordon Gee are reportedly trying to sway the Big 12 to add two more schools. One candidate for expansion is BYU and the other favorite is the University of Cincinnati, whose president, Santa Ono, has been traveling across the Midwest to lobby for inclusion in a conference that could generate $20 million a year more than what the university brings in as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
I don't see BYU joining a basketball conference which plays on Sunday and with as terrible an academic profile as the Big 12 has. It's that simple. Memphis, however, within 7 hours drive of every B12 program, with its history in hoops, with a rebuilding football program, and 1.6 million eyeballs in the metro, could be a tasty get.
Cincinnati is a done deal though, you have to think.
The departure of Craig is the latest of a big staff turnover at Auburn, which has seen defensive coordinator Will Muschamp exit for the head coaching job at South Carolina. He was replaced by LSU's Kevin Steele. Fellow defensive staffers Travaris Robinson and Lance Thompson also followed Muschamp, leaving Auburn. The Tigers also have a new offensive line coach in Herb Hand, who came from Penn State after J.B. Grimes left to go to Cincinnati.
Les Miles is going all-in, eh, by poaching Auburn's best recruiter in Dameyune Craig? Prepare for some nasty, negative recruiting wars this season on the Alabama coast, where there is serious talent to be had in the NSD Class of 2017.
Auburn, meanwhile, has lost 8 assistants in just two months. The 2014-2016 Gus Bus is rolling on three flats.
Those same people, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity, said Herman’s mind changed after South Carolina lost to The Citadel on Nov. 21 and it became clear the next coach would have a massive rebuilding job on his hands. Herman decided to stay at Houston for a deal worth nearly $3 million per year and, presumably, wait for a more high-profile situation. South Carolina, meanwhile, turned next to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who instead went to Georgia, and talked extensively with Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, who turned down an offer he did not view as legitimate, according to people familiar with the process.
How would you like to know that you're the fourth option for a second-tier SEC program? Woof. And, after all the blabbering and program promotion and staff acquisition that Muschamp made upon his hire, the Gamecocks recruiting class was decidedly underwhelming.
That BOOM you hear is Tom Herman preparing himself for a move to College Station next season and the simultaneous implosion in Columbia.