Tag:Chip Kelly
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:51 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 7:56 pm
 

Oregon's LaMichael James off to the NFL

And then there was one.

With Oregon's LaMichael James confirming Friday that he's forgoing his final year of eligibility, only Alabama's Trent Richardson remains among elite running backs yet to declare their intentions for the 2012 NFL Draft.

James followed Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Temple's Bernard Pierce in announcing Friday that they intend to enter this year's draft.

"My experience at the University of Oregon has been one unlike any other, and one I will never forget," James said. "I am grateful for the people I have met, the things I have learned, and the amazing community I have had the privilege of being a part of over the last three-and-a-half years."

James rushed for 1,805 yards and scored 18 touchdowns this season, and concluded his college career with 159 yards in Oregon's 45-38 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

The question with James will be his 5-foot-9, 185-pound frame and what role teams believe he can play in the NFL. He's sixth among running backs and No. 80 overall among prospects for the 2012 draft, according to ratings by NFL DraftScout.com.

However, there will be teams that covet his ability to use a low center of gravity, quickness and acceleration to produce explosive plays on the ground and as a potential return man. He has drawn comparisons to successful former NFL backs including Warrick Dunn and Brian Westbrook. Rob Rang compared him to another undersized back in this Week 11 Breakdown. 

"I am 100 percent behind LaMichael," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "He is a very special person and certainly will be remembered as one of the very best players ever to wear a uniform at the University of Oregon. It has been a pleasure to coach him for the four seasons he has been here and is comforting to know that he will obtain his degree this spring. I could not have asked anymore from him and I am confident he will be a success at the next level."

James joins Wilson, Pierce, Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman in announcing they will forgo their remaining eligibility - Miller and Hillman are redshirt sophomores.

Assuming Richardson joins in on the fun, as expected, running back is shaping up as the 2012 draft's deepest position.


Posted on: December 5, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Oregon dismisses All-American CB/RS Cliff Harris

Considering that he earned consensus All-American honors as a return specialist and cornerback as a sophomore, many expected the 2011 season to be the last one in Autzen for Cliff Harris.

As it turns out, it will be Harris' last season as a member of the Oregon Ducks. But he isn't leaving the way most expected.

The University of Oregon announced Monday that Harris has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. The full release is below.

Harris' off-field behavior is every bit as disconcerting as his on-field talents are exciting. Harris has a long history of run-ins with the police. He was cited for speeding and driving a car with a suspended license in July, which led to Kelly suspending him for the team's opening game against LSU. He was then suspended October 24 after his second run-in with local authorities and has missed the Ducks' final five games as a result. 

The repeated mistakes are sure to force college and/or pro teams to question whether they can trust Harris.

Considering his talent, Harris isn't without options. As North Alabama proved last year in accepting a transfer from former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins (released by the Gators due to citations involving marijuana), there are always programs willing to gamble on star power.

Should Harris enter the draft, scouts will certainly do their homework on him as he's unquestionably among the elite cover corners in the nation. In 27 career games, Harris recorded eight interceptions. He led the Pac-10 with six interceptions last season and led the entire country with 23 passes broken up. Of his six interceptions in 2010, three of them were against NFLDraftScout.com's top two rated quarterbacks, Stanford's Andrew Luck and Southern California's Matt Barkley.

Harris is currently listed as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 13 rated cornerback for the 2012 draft and a middle round value. He entered the year ranked No. 2 at the position and viewed as a possible first round pick.

As promised, here is the full release from the University of Oregon regarding Harris' release:

University of Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris has been dismissed from the Ducks’ football program for a violation of team rules, according to the Ducks’ Head Coach Chip Kelly Monday.

Harris was suspended indefinitely on Oct. 24 and has since been prohibited from all football activities, missing Oregon’s last five games of the regular season in addition to last Friday’s Pac-12 Conference Championship.

The Fresno, Calif., junior had been credited with nine tackles and one interception in six games this season after missing the season-opening loss to LSU while serving another suspension.

The 2010 consensus All-American finishes his Oregon career with 61 tackles in 27 appearances, eight interceptions for one touchdown, and returned 38 punts for a 16.2-yard average and four more scores.

Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:02 pm
 

Can scouts trust Cliff Harris?

One day after news that the top-rated senior cornerback prospect in the West had been arrested came news that the top junior cornerback on the west coast also found himself in legal hot water.

As first reported by The Oregonian's Aaron Fentress, Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris was cited Monday for multiple driving infractions, including failure to use a seat belt, have a valid driver's license or proof of insurance. The fines were enough to get Harris suspended indefinitely yet again from the Oregon program.

On the surface, Harris' infractions don't seem to be that big of a deal. After all, there have been plenty of players who have been drafted -- and many as even first round picks -- who have been accused of much more troubling crimes than Harris'.

The problem with Harris is that he doesn't appear to be learning from his mistakes.

This is the same Harris, of course, who was suspended for the Ducks' season-opener against LSU after being ticketed for driving 118 miles per hour. According to the video surveillance camera aboard the police cruiser driven by the officer who pulled him over, Harris admitted to smoking marijuana while doing so. He also did not have insurance or a valid license during this stop -- the result of racking up thousands of dollars in fines from previous infractions in the state of Oregon and California (where he was raised).

NFL teams are going to be attracted to Harris for the same reason Ducks' head coach Chip Kelly is... the kid can flat play football. Harris, one of only four consensus All-Americans in Oregon football history, led the Pac-10 with six interceptions last season. He led the entire country with 23 passes defended. Furthermore, he led the country with four punt returns for scores. Harris added a fifth non-offensive touchdown by taking one of his interceptions back for a score, as well, last season.

Despite the fact that he's been battling to get out of Kelly's doghouse for much of this season, Harris has already made an impact on the field. Though he only has nine total tackles on the year, Harris is tied for the team lead with five passes broken up, including intercepting his first pass of the season in the Ducks' biggest game (at least in the biggest game he played in) against Arizona State October 15.

While Harris is undeniably athletic, teams are going to have a hard time investing a first round pick in a player that they can't trust to stay out of trouble. More and more teams are recognizing that knuckleheads, regardless of how talented, can have a negative impact on the locker room and success on the field.

I've been a primary defender of the Oregon cornerback to keep him high on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings. Despite the fact that he's being listed as 2nd-3rd round prospect in our current rankings, I've been listing him among my Top 32.

I turned in my new Big Board to my editors just a few hours ago. For the first time this year, it did not include Harris. To earn my trust back -- and more importantly that of Chip Kelly and NFL scouts -- Harris will need to finally start to handle himself with some maturity.
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 6, 2011 6:50 pm
 

Oregon CB Harris vs Cal WRs key matchup tonight

For those hoping to watch future NFL prospects in tonight's Pac-12 matchup between Oregon and California there are certainly plenty of prospects to focus on.

Oregon junior running back LaMichael James was a Heisman finalist last season and has the speed and elusiveness to contribute to any NFL team's rushing attack.

Continuing a recent tradition at Cal, the Golden Bears boast two nationally underrated front seven defenders in defensive end Trevor Guyton and inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

The top individual matchup in tonight's 9:00 Eastern kickoff, however, is Oregon junior cornerback Cliff Harris against Cal's playmaking duo of receivers, sophomore Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones. The game will be televised by ESPN.

Harris led the country with 23 pass breakups and the Pac-10 with six interceptions. Slim for some team's tastes, Harris' speed, quick feet, instincts and spectacular ball skills nonetheless make him one of the more exciting big play cornerbacks in the country. He's had to work to get himself back into the good graces of head coach Chip Kelly, however, after a well documented summer off the field.

As talented as Harris is, at 5-11 and 175 pounds, he'll have a tough challenge tonight against Allen and Jones, who are each listed at 6-3, 205 pounds.

Allen, a true sophomore, impressed last season catching 46 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns. He's already nearly eclipsed these numbers this year, hauling in a team-leading 30 passes for 498 yards and three scores, including a 10-catch, 197 yard, one score effort last Saturday against Washington.

Jones is quietly gaining traction with scouts as one of the more interesting later round receivers of the 2012 draft. Possessing an intriguing combination of size and overall athleticism, he's flashed big play ability throughout his career (10 career touchdowns) and is averaging a career high 16.3 yards per reception thus far this season (on 23 catches).


Posted on: August 26, 2011 8:31 am
 

LSU/Oregon losing its luster with suspensions


The big showdown between No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU that serves as the crown jewel of college football's opening Labor Day Weekend just keeps losing its luster.

Oregon's star cornerback and kick returner Cliff Harris, an All-American in just his sophomore season last year, has already been suspended for the contest. Harris, who led the country with 23 passes defended and the Pac-10 with six interceptions last season, was suspended by Ducks' head coach Chip Kelly after Harris' latest run-in with police. Harris, along with two teammates including starting quarterback Darron Thomas, was stopped by police for driving 118 miles per hour in a car loaned to him after being rented by a university official.

The receiver Harris likely would have been covering throughout much of the contest has now been suspended for the opener, as well.

Junior wideout Russell Shepard was suspended Thursday for the September 3 game at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas and is likely to miss more time as the university seeks his reinstatement from the NCAA. Shepard was suspended, according to the university, because he broke school and NCAA violations when he discussed specifics of his interview with investigators about the Willie Lyles recruiting controversy with a teammate also scheduled to be questioned.

LSU could also lose quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was identified by a woman outside of a club in Baton Rouge, as having kicked a man in the face during a fight, according to a police report also released yesterday.

Jefferson was one of four LSU players identified in the report.
Also interviewed by police were offensive lineman Chris Davenport, linebacker Josh Johns and wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

Police seized 49 pairs of athletic shoes from Jefferson's apartment, according to report. It is not yet known what role the shoes may have played in the fight, which occurred in the early morning hours one week ago.

While LSU head coach Les Miles has claimed that he's already begun disciplining the team for their actions, no suspensions for Jefferson or any of his teammates have yet been made public.

Should police find reason to officially charge Jefferson with a crime, a suspension from Miles could be the least of his concerns.


Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:29 am
 

Oregon Jr CB Cliff Harris suspended indefinitely

Oregon junior cornerback Cliff Harris, an underrated component of the Ducks' drive to a berth in the BCS Title Game last year, has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Chip Kelly after being arrested for speeding and driving a rental car with a suspended license early this week.

Harris, along with two other unidentified Oregon football players, was pulled over by an off-duty Oregon State police officer after the car Harris was driving was clocked at approximately 118 miles per hour. They were pulled over south of Albany, Oregon, which is north of the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

This is at least the second time that Harris, 20, has been cited for driving with a suspended license.

Kelly announced that Harris would be suspended for Oregon's opener against LSU in Cowboys Stadium in Texas "at the very least" and cautioned that the suspension could go on for much longer should Harris' behavior not improve.
“Cliff’s future clearly is in Cliff’s hands,” Kelly said. “Earning an opportunity to represent the University of Oregon and this football program certainly rests far beyond a player’s ability on the field of play. Our behavior out of the spotlight often is more important and will be held to a higher standard. Until Cliff is able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with, his status will remain unchanged.”
Though he's only entering his junior season, you can be sure NFL teams are already paying attention. Harris, 5-11 and 180 pounds, led the country with 23 passes defensed last season and led the Pac-10 with six interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown (against Tennessee). Harris is perhaps just as well known for his special teams' prowess, as he's one of the more dynamic return-men in college football.

Last year, he broke the Oregon school record with four punt returns for scores.

Harris currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 junior cornerback prospect behind only Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick. Each would rate as first round values at this early stage in the process.

As this video will show, Harris' return skills are undeniable. So too are his ball skills. And while some of his punt returns come against weaker competition, three of his interceptions last year came against elite NFL prospects Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley.

 

Posted on: June 24, 2010 10:46 am
 

Masoli a big name, but unworthy of a draft pick

Though he hasn't yet made it official, former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is expected to officially make himself eligible for the NFL's Supplemental Draft July 15.

Like most of the prospects who apply, however, Masoli has a very slim chance of actually getting drafted, however.

The myriad of off-field concerns Masoli brings with him is just one reason why scouts I spoke to in recent days expect that every NFL club will elect to pass on the talented, but troubled quarterback.

Masoli was suspended from the team for the entire 2010 season in March for his role in the theft of laptops and a guitar from an Oregon fraternity. He remained on scholarship and practiced with the team, though under the conditions of his agreement with head coach Chip Kelly, Masoli would not have been eligible to play for the Ducks until 2011.

Masoli got himself in further trouble in early June when he was pulled over and cited for marijuana possession and driving infractions. Two days following the citation, Masoli was offiicially kicked off the team.

Masoli's obvious character red-flags, themselves, are enough to pull him off some NFL teams' draft boards. The cold reality is, however, that Masoli's lack of height and downfield accuracy already meant that few teams would be looking at him as a quarterback. While his athleticism was enough to make him Oregon's leading rushing quarterback of all time (1,386 yards), it isn't enough to project him as a wide receiver, running back or safety, according to scouts.

Said one scout, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "Sure he was productive for [Oregon], but where do you play him in the NFL? He might be listed by the school at 5'11, but he's closer to 5-09... And think again about just moving him to receiver. If he runs faster than the mid 4.6s, I'd be surprised."

Though Masoli and Illinois defensive tackle Joshua Brent-Price (who also hasn't yet officially been deemed eligible) have earned some late attention from teams, it seems that BYU running back Harvey Unga remains the only lock to be drafted this year.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com