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Posted on: October 20, 2011 5:37 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 5:38 pm
 

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 8:14 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 8:14 pm
 

Report: LSU suspends star CB, RB for drugs

The Associated Press broke news out of Baton Rouge earlier today that LSU would be suspending two of its biggest stars in cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and running back Spencer Ware. In addition, nickelback Tharold Simon is also being suspended.

According to The Daily Reveille, a student newspaper for LSU, the suspensions are being levied by head coach Les Miles because the three players each failed random drug tests.

Each player is expected to be suspended for Saturday's tilt against defending BCS champs, Auburn. It isn't yet known if Saturday's game will be the extent of the suspension. LSU, ranked No. 1, is scheduled to play at Alabama, currently the No. 2 team in the country, a week later in Tuscaloosa.

Mathieu has been arguably the nation's elite defensive player thus far this season. In just seven games this season, Mathieu has forced six turnovers, turning two of his four forced fumbles into touchdowns as well as intercepting two passes.

Ware is the team's leading rusher with 512 yards and six scores.

Simon, though not a starter, is also a key contributor. He has recorded 29 tackles and an interception of his own thus far this season.

LSU has not yet made a public comment other than have a spokesman, Michael Bonnette announce that the team was investigating the matter and that Miles "will handle [it] accordingly."

Needless to say, NFL scouts will be keeping a close eye on the developments in this case. Mathieu and Ware, in particular, had already established themselves as potential high round prospects despite the fact that each is just a true sophomore.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 10:38 pm
 

Alabama suspended star LB Upshaw vs Ole Miss

There were certainly plenty of highlights for Nick Saban's squad in Alabama's 52-7 thrashing of Ole Miss Saturday, but one blight on the otherwise success effort came with the news that the Tide suspended star inside linebacker Courtney Upshaw for the first quarter of the contest.

Saban would not explain why he suspended Upshaw. Izzy Gould, who writes for The Mobile Press-Register, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and al.com, was on hand to provide Saban's explanation of Upshaw's notable absence.

"Courtney did a really good job, played a really good game," Saban said. "He didn't play in the first quarter. ...We have internal rules and things we have in our program. Courtney's been a great ambassador and representative for the University of Alabama. He did a good job for tornado relief and raising money and did a great job. He made a poor judgement and part of what we decided to do was not start him in this game." 

Some have theorized that Upshaw was suspended for the first quarter after he was penalized last week for kicking a prone Vanderbilt player.

Once back on the field, Upshaw was back to his normally disruptive self, recording two sacks against the Rebels.

The 6-2, 265 pound Upshaw currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 outside linebacker for the 2012 draft. He has 20 tackles on the season, including 3.5 sacks. He also took an interception 45 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago against Florida.

As Saban noted, Upshaw has been a standout both on and off the field in the past for the Tide. Scouts certainly will want to investigate this suspension, but the senior linebacker showed a lot of class by establishing the 41 Fund to help Alabama residents impacted by a massive tornado that swept through much of the state on April 27.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:34 am
 

USC RB Tyler dislocates left shoulder vs. Cal

USC senior running back Marc Tyler was sidelined in the second half of the Trojans' 30-9 victory over Pac-12 rival California Thursday night with a dislocated left shoulder.

Tyler was limited to 30 yards on 11 attempts against a stout Cal run defense before suffering the injury. He was clearly in pain as he walked off the field. When he returned Tyler was in street clothes.

Tyler, 5-10 and 230 pounds, is viewed as one of the better power runners of the 2012 draft. His inconsistencies on and off the field while with the Trojans, however, have made his stock unsteady, at best. Currently, he is NFLDraftScout.com's 20th rated running back for the 2012 draft.

Tyler has rushed for 338 yards and two touchdowns so far in 2011 and has 1,521 yards and 13 touchdowns for his career.

It has been a rough few weeks for Pac-12 running backs on Thursday primetime games. Last week Oregon running back LaMichael James suffered an ugly elbow dislocation against Cal. The 2011 Heisman finalist, who is seeking his second consecutive season as the NCAA's leading rusher, is expected to be sidelined for Oregon's showdown Saturday night against Arizona State.

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly refused to provide a timetable for James' return. USC's Lane Kiffin will hopefully be a little more forthcoming with Tyler's expected return date.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Kalil vs. Cal DEs reason enough to watch tonight

Besides the fact that tonight's game between USC and California is an intriguing Pac-12 showdown, there are also plenty of NFL prospects to keep an eye on.

I expect the hype to center around USC quarterback Matt Barkley and it probably should. He's my No. 3 overall rated prospect potentially available for the 2012 draft, having shown improvement in his junior season in his decision-making and accuracy on the deep ball -- two areas I previously was concerned about.

The showdown I'll be focusing a great deal of attention on, however, lies up front in the trenches with USC left tackle Matt Kalil, also a junior, lining up against Cal's talented duo of defensive ends, Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu.

Guyton played second fiddle to New Orleans' first round pick Cameron Jordan last season, only starting four of the 11 games in which he played. Despite this fact, he finished third on the team in both tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (4.5). He did this despite playing defensive end in the 3-4, which typically places its outside linebackers in position to make plays behind the line of scrimmage but not the defensive linemen.

At 6-3, 280 pounds Guyton lacks the classic size and arm length most NFL teams prefer for 3-4 defensive ends, though scouts for some teams running odd man fronts still like him. His burst and strength, however, could make him a nice middle round option for 4-3 clubs looking for a three-technique defensive tackle or for a strongside defensive end. As such, the versatile defender currently ranks 10th on NFLDraftScout.com's list of 2012 defensive ends. 

Owusu started nine games last season (playing in all 12 contests) but wasn't very impressive statistically-speaking. However, a strong performance thus far this season has him moving up draft boards. The 6-5, 270 pound Owusu currently leads Cal in tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5) and has a forced fumble to his credit, as well. Considering his size potential and "breakout" season thus far, he could surprise as the higher of the two Cal defenders selected if he can continue his early success.

The Cal defenders will, of course, have a tough task playing against Kalil. The younger brother of former USC standout and current Carolina Panthers' center Ryan Kalil, Matt was the reason why USC elected to keep Tyron Smith playing at right tackle over his career. At 6-7, 295 pounds Matt has prototypical size and eases off the snap quickly. I've been impressed with his athleticism and physicality before, but both elements of his game will be tested tonight against Cal's unique pair of defensive ends. Perhaps even more intriguing will be how Kalil handles the blitzes Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast (formerly the defensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals) throws at him.

Tonight's game will begin at 9:00 pm Eastern and will be televised by ESPN.

 
Posted on: October 7, 2011 4:09 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.
DT Kheeston Randall, Texas: There are certainly plenty of talented players to focus on in this game, not the least of which is Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. While I will definitely be keeping a close eye on Jones' performance, I'm also very intrigued to see if the Longhorns' 6-5, 305 pound senior defensive tackle Randall is able to supply any pressure on the Sooner passing game. Randall has the frame and experience scouts are looking for, but hasn't yet played with any semblance of the consistency needed to earn a high round selection. In fact, through the first four games of the season, Randall has accumulated only five tackles (only two of which were solos). Like Texas, as a whole, to earn real respect, this is a game that Randall must play well. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

OT Matt McCants, Alabama-Birmingham: It isn't often that Conference USA teams match up with SEC opponents, but that is precisely the case Saturday when UAB hosts Mississippi State. I certainly do not expect an 0-4 UAB team to perform particularly well against a physical Bulldogs' defense, but the Blazers possess a very real pro prospect in 6-6, 295 pound senior left tackle Matt McCants. I'm anxious to see how McCants holds up physically and athletically against Mississippi State's defenders. By playing for UAB, McCants is a logical local candidate to be invited to the Senior Bowl. I'm hopeful that he'll show in this contest that he deserves the consideration based on his talent, not just his local connections. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by Root Sports/Fox Sports.

RB/WR Chris Rainey, Florida:
Though he's rarely given the credit outside of SEC country, Rainey is one of the more versatile playmakers in the country. The Gators' leading rusher (415 yards) and receiver (14 catches for 246 yards) this season Rainey's exploits on the offensive side of the ball have been well documented, but he's also a special teams threat as a returner and is even tied for the Gator lead in career kicks blocked (five). We all know that LSU's defense is fast. Rainey, along with fellow mighty mite Jeff Demps, possesses the extraordinary speed that could serve as the Tigers' biggest test yet this season. Where Rainey fits into the NFL depends on which scout you ask. Some, however, believe that he could serve as a poor man's Percy Harvin at the next level. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

OG Ryan Miller, Colorado: Standing at 6-8 and 298 pounds Miller has the build of a prototypical NFL right tackle, but has played well enough inside at right guard throughout his career that some view his best chance at NFL success remaining there. I'm not sure I among those who feel this way, however, as his height makes him susceptible to the powerful bull rushes he'll see at the pro level. Miller and his Colorado teammates will get one of their stiffest tests Saturday when they travel to play Andrew Luck and Stanford. Stanford's use of the 3-4 defense will be a different look than Colorado is used to and will put additional pressure on the Buffs' interior linemen to get out in space. I'm very curious to see how Miller, a rare five year letterman, handles the challenge. This game begins at 7:30 pm ET and will be televised by Versus.

DL Jared Crick, Nebraska: Among the better defensive linemen in the country over the past two seasons, Crick's senior campaign hasn't gone as expected. While his statistics aren't bad (19 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one blocked kick), he hasn't been the dynamic presence inside that Huskers' fans had grown used to seeing. Crick will be challenged inside in this game by Ohio State's dependable Mike Brewster, one of the better center prospects in the country. However, with Ohio State struggling to score points, this appears to be the type of defensive battle that in which Crick could make an impact. He's slipped down draft boards this season. A big performance in this key Big Ten game could stop the slide quickly. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.
 
Posted on: October 7, 2011 12:37 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:40 am
 

LaMichael James carted off field in air cast

Oregon running back LaMichael James was carted off the field with his right arm in an air cast Thursday night game against California.

The injury occured when James' arm was bent backward as he was tackled by a host of Cal defenders. The crowd hushed as they realized the Ducks' star was the injured player. James was in obvious pain as his training staff attended to him. Oregon and California players, alike, knelt in concern as 2010 Heisman finalist was driven into a tunnel in Autzen Stadium. 

James, the NCAA's leading rusher last season with 1,731 yards, had been enjoying another spectacular night. He left the field having rushed 30 times for 239 yards and a touchdown against a Cal defense that was one of the few to shut him down last year. Cal limited James to just a 3.4 yards on 29 carries last year -- a lower number than Auburn allowed in the BCS Championship game. 

Including the rushing yards he put up against Cal Thursday, James has run for 852 yards in 2011 -- or 118 yards more than the next highest rusher in the country, Pittsburgh's Ray Graham. Graham, like James, has played in five games.

Many expected James, a junior, to strongly consider leaving early for the NFL following this season.

Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Ex-Gator Janoris Jenkins dominating at D-II level

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins is playing every bit as well as you might expect for Terry Bowden and the North Alabama Lions.

Jenkins was recognized Monday for his second Gulf South Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honor thus far this season.

With the Lions tied 14-14 with Southern Arkansas Saturday, Jenkins returned a punt 89-yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Later he blocked a field goal attempt.

It was the second time Jenkins has returned a punt for a score for North Alabama. He also scored on an 87-yard return a few weeks ago against Glenville State.

For the season Jenkins has 33 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. He has three pass breakups and a fumble recovery -- which, not surprisingly, he also returned for a score. That big play came at Cowboys Stadium against then-No. 3 ranked Abilene Christian on September 17.

It was announced on Monday that the Lions had moved from No. 2 in the national rankings to the top spot, meaning that even more eyes will now be on the Florida transfer.

NFL teams will certainly have to do their homework on Jenkins. The repeated off-field mistakes Jenkins made over his career with the Gators are nothing to be taken lightly.

Neither, however, are his obvious skills on the football field.

Athletic, instinctive and possessing the closing burst to replicate his collegiate success against NFL competition, Jenkins -- from purely an athletic standpoint -- deserves consideration as the top senior cornerback prospect in the country and a possible first round pick.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com