Tag:Nick Saban
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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 11, 2010 5:16 pm
 

Julio Jones broke his hand against South Carolina

As if the loss to South Carolina Saturday wasn't painful enough for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Nick Saban told the press today that his star junior wideout Julio Jones fractured his hand in the first half of the game and that his status for this week's game against Ole Miss isn't known.

According to Kyle Veazey of The Clarion-Ledger , Saban said that Jones "had screws inserted over the weekend."

Playing in an offense that caters to the Tides' great running backs, the 6-4, 220 pound Jones doesn't have the flashy statistics of some of the other top wideouts in the country. Still, NFL scouts love his size and physicality. Many project him to be a potential top ten selection, though his recent inability to stay on the field has to be a concern. Jones only started eight games last year after struggling early in the season with a bruised knee. Though there is bound to some growing concern over his durability, Jones certainly proved his toughness Saturday. Despite the injury, Jones played the rest of the game, catching eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.
 
Jones leads the Tide with 32 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns this season and has 133 for 1,960 yards and 11 touchdowns for his career.

I have him currently pegged as the No. 3 overall pick in my mock draft . Should Georgia's A.J. Green dominant play since returning from his suspension continue, however, there could be switch in the order of these talented SEC wideouts coming off the board in my next projection.


Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:49 pm
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely Saturday

With three DVD burners running around the clock, I'll be recording nearly every televised college football game throughout the year. There is only so much time in the day, so I have to put some careful thought into picking the games (and more specifically, the prospects) each Saturday in which to scout live.

For most of the football-watching world, this weekend will be all about the NFL. I understand that. I'm as excited as anyone for the rest of the beginning of the opening weekend -- especially after the Saints and Vikings looked a bit rusty on Thursday night.

The NCAA season really amps up this weekend, however, with some of the more exciting matchups of the season scheduled. I'm particularly intrigued by the Ohio State-Miami, Florida State-Oklahoma, Penn State-Alabama matchups. A couple of others that haven't received the national hype they normally would due to the "Big Three" but that I'm verrrry interested to scout include Georgia at South Carolina, Colorado at California, Oregon at Tennessee and Stanford at UCLA.

Each Friday night/Saturday morning throughout the rest of the season I'll put up a similar post as this one. Should you like to scout "alongside" me, follow me on Twitter @ RobRang

These are five senior prospects I'll be watching closely:

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Ponder looked every bit the part of a high first round pick last Saturday, completing 14 of 16 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener. That, however, was against Samford. Needless to say, he might find the going a bit tougher in Norman, Saturday. Considering that the Sooners struggled defensively against a weaker opponent (Utah State), themselves, Ponder will certainly have Oklahoma's undivided attention. With a win and a strong performance, Ponder could move into the upper echelon of Heisman contenders. How he handles the noise and pressure of Oklahoma's aggressive defense will go a long way in proving to scouts that he's progressed from the poor decisions that ended his last road game. In that contest, at Clemson last year, Ponder threw four interceptions (he'd thrown only three in his previous eight games) and hurt his shoulder making a tackle of safety DeAndre McDaniel (on an interception return), ending Ponder's 2009 season. 

QB Nathan Enderle, Idaho:
Enderle entered the year as one of the more intriguing senior quarterbacks in the country. Long prior to scouts buzzing about former Vandal Mike Iupati, there were whispers that the Vandals had a legitimate NFL passing prospect. I'm certainly not expecting to see Enderle lead Idaho to an upset of Nebraska in Lincoln, but if the 6-4, 234 pound Enderle is to prove to NFL scouts that he has the moxie and arm strength to handle the pro game, he'll need to show something Saturday. The Cornhuskers are a bit of a step up in competition from last week's opponent, North Dakota. In that game, Enderle completed 24 of 37 passes for 311 yards, two TDs and an INT.

ILB Colin McCarthy, Miami: The great Miami teams of the past all seemingly boasted instinctive, athletic linebackers. In McCarthy, the 'Canes have one of the more intriguing and versatile linebackers in the ACC -- and that is saying something considering the talent in this conference. Wearing the same No. 44 that the legendary Dan Morgan starred with, McCarthy will have to enjoy a strong game against Ohio State if his defense is going to handle this multi-faceted offense. McCarthy doesn't necessarily have to post Morgan-like eye-popping statistics to help his grade in my eyes. He will, however, have to show great instincts and athleticism to contain Terrelle Pryor's running. That, in reality, might be the tougher assignment.

OC/OG Stefen Wisniewksi, Penn State: The play of Heisman-winner Mark Ingram and wideout Julio Jones might have earned many of the headlines, but anyone who watched the Tide throughout last year knows that Nick Saban's bunch won the National Championship based largely on the physicality and depth of their defense. Wisniewksi, the nephew of former Raider great, Steve, will have his hands full with this defensive line. He'll start at right guard, but we currently view his best pro position at center.

OT Nate Solder, Colorado: The Buffs have struggled through some lean years recently, but with Solder, the team boasts its highest rated offensive prospect since tight end Daniel Graham was the 21st overall pick of the 2002 draft (Patriots). Solder, who despite the presence of No. 4 and No. 6 overall picks Trent Williams and Russell Okung, earned First Team All-Big 12 honors from conference coaches last year, is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 senior offensive tackle. The veteran of 29 starts, Solder possesses rare size (6-8, 302) and yet is still quite nimble. He'd be better be Saturday, considering the variety of pass rushers he'll face against California's unique (at least for college) 3-4 scheme. Among those pass rushers is Cal's Cameron Jordan. Their individual battle could be one of the country's best, if most unheralded, of the day.


Posted on: August 11, 2010 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 12:23 pm
 

Blocking scouts from practice isn't the solution

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is, according to this report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, blocking pro scouts from Tide football practices in an attempt to cut down on the distractions to his players caused by player agents. The reigning BCS Champion coach is hoping that by doing so it will help keep his players out of hot water with the NCAA.

The strategy, which conflicting reports by Chase Goodbread of the Tuscaloosa News and Florio claim may or may not be implemented by the University of Florida, as well, has an obvious fault.

Limiting access to pro scouts, really, has nothing to do with the sleazy player agents and runners who are attempting to circumvent the rules.

Perhaps rather than limit scouts who are simply trying to do their job of identifying the rare collegiate athletes potentially capable of playing at the game's highest level, the universities should be continuing to fine-tune the education of their players on the dangers of dealing with agents prematurely.

And the NFLPA, the organization that is supposed to have some control over agents, needs to strongly consider bolstering the penalties to agents found guilty of bribing prospects with inappropriate gifts and travel.

In a very real way, locking scouts out hurts everyone except the agents.

  • The NFL loses on their ability to accurately gauge prospective players on and off the field.
  • The players lose because scouts can't scout them accurately.
  • The university eventually could lose out, as well. Prep players sign with college teams to win, but every bit as important to many players is the school's ability to market their players to the NFL. Making players less accessible to the pros is only going to make the schools less attractive to top prospects.
The argument some will make is that by locking out everyone, including NFL personnel, universities can make sure players aren't being hounded by the undesireable element. Does anyone believe that the runners and agents performing the illegal practices are slipping thousands of dollars in cash (or plane tickets, the keys to cars/homes) to players as they walk off the field from practice?

For scouts, the value in going on the road to scout players in person lies in the ability to scout practices (do players take practice seriously, etc?) and in the interviews with players and the coaching staff. Scouts I know typically try to speak to at least three staff members for each prospect -- the position coach, strength and conditioning coach, and trainer.

If locked out of practice, scouts will still be able to watch most of the film they need to see if the player has the size, speed, strength, etc. to play in the NFL.

What will be more difficult to gauge if locked out is if the players have the intangibles to deal with the money, fame and pressure of the NFL. That, could potentially lead to more highly drafted busts.




Posted on: July 27, 2010 10:19 am
Edited on: July 27, 2010 6:35 pm
 

As promised, my SEC notes after film review

After a short hiatus to the coast of Washington State to chase the elusive chinook salmon, here are the SEC film room notes I had promised.

Again, I fully recognize that there have been many off-field stories that have broken recently -- the ongoing NCAA investigations , important rookie signings and, unfortunately, the terrible accident that fractured the skull of Baltimore pass rusher Sergio Kindle, thereby endangering his rookie season and perhaps even his NFL career. 
There are so many off-field news stories right now that I am trying to focus on the action that takes places between the white lines. I posted my thoughts on what surprised/disappointed/impressed me after my initial review of ACC prospects a few days ago.

Here are my thoughts after scouting the top senior prospects in the SEC.

  • In the opinion of many NFL scouts, the essential difference between the SEC and the rest of college football is the different talent and depth the Southeastern Conference boasts along the defensive line. Though a few teams have narrowed the gap (North Carolina and Pittsburgh chief among them), the SEC again is loaded up front with run-stuffers and pass-rushers. Mississippi nose guard Jerrell Powe is currently our top-ranked prospect from the conference. He is quickly followed by pass rushers Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State) and Cliff Saunders (South Carolina). Powe has been often compared to former Boston College standout (and current Green Bay Packer) B.J. Raji for his stout presence in the middle. Like Raji, who missed the 2007 season due to academic suspension, Powe has struggled to keep his grades in check. In fact, he was deemed ineligible three consecutive years from 2005-2007. NFL teams will no doubt take Powe's academic struggles in mind when determining his final grade. What is obvious on film, however, is that he is a talented player who could physically compete immediately in the NFL.
  • The defensive line is typically what the SEC is known for, but this year the unique talent in the conference comes along the offensive line and at tight end. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter broke down the conference's depth up front in a feature article here . No fewer than eight senior SEC offensive linemen are currently viewed as potential draft-worhty prospects. The conference also boasts NFLDraftScout.com's top three rated senior tight ends in South Carolina's Weslye Saunders, Tennessee's Luke Stocker and Arkansas' D.J. Williams. I was a bit underwhelmed with each of them, quite frankly. Saunders (6-5, 272) has incredible size and surprising overall athleticism, but isn't the speed threat most of today's NFL teams are looking for. Williams, at 6-2, 244 pounds, has some speed and is a tenacious blocker considering his size, but simply lacks the bulk for most clubs. The most well-rounded of the bunch is the 6-5, 252 pound Stocker, though he doesn't possess any skills on film that left me wowed, either.
  • Considering that they're the defending National Champions, it might surprise you to learn how few of the SEC's highly rated prospects play for Alabama. In defense of the Crimson Tide, many of their top-rated prospects who would be seniors this year elected to leave early (ILB Rolando McClain, CB Kareem Jackson, etc.). Furthermore, their depth and coaching is so good that some seniors seeing the field extensively for the first time in 2010 will no doubt emerge as legitimate prospects. However, at this point, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior Crimson Tide prospect is left tackle James Carpenter, currently viewed as a 3rd-4th round prospect -- and one likely to have make the transition inside to guard. Quarterback Greg McElroy, rated as a 6th-7th round prospect is next. Of course, considering the draft-eligible underclassmen on this team (Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Marcel Dareus, etc.), the Tide rolls on.
  • Speaking of Alabama, with all due respect to Heisman winner Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson is a fabulous NFL prospect in his own right. One that I feel could have been similarly productive in Alabama's offense had been given Ingram's attempts. Luckily for Nick Saban and Tide fans, as a true sophomore, Richardson has at least two more seasons in Tuscaloosa. He flashed first round talent as a true freshman...
  • Though I wouldn't rank them among the elite prospects in the conference just yet, a few players did flash on film that haven't generated a lot national attention just yet. I mentioned Alabama's Carpenter earlier. Auburn running back Mario Fannin is a terrific receiver who has popped off the tape throughout his career, but has never been able to string together the dominant season his skill-set seems capable of producing. Fannin has struggled with fumbles and injuries early in his career, but, if over both, could enjoy a breakout campaign in 2010. Kentucky wide receiver Chris Matthews, at 6-5, 222 pounds, surprised me with good body control and enough acceleration to think he could surprise, as well.
  • One final note on the SEC prospects... I typically reserve comments for senior prospects, but Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is an obvious NFL prospect regardless of when he leaves the Razorbacks. However, I wasn't as wowed by Mallett as some apparently are. His 6-6, 238 pound frame is considered a positive by most, though his long legs and only moderate foot speed/balance concern me. Mallett has a gun and can make some dazzling throws, but at least some of his success has to be attributed to Bobby Petrino's wide-open offense. Remember, this is the same offense that convinced many of us that former Louisville standout Brian Brohm was one day going to be an NFL star. With two years of remaining eligibility, Mallett has plenty of time to iron out some wrinkles to his game, but I, for one, feel he's being a bit overrated right now... 

Posted on: July 21, 2010 2:41 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 2:44 pm
 

Dareus another NCAA worry; Saban calls out NFL

Alabama junior defensive Marcel Dareus, already viewed by scouts as a potential first round prospect, is the latest high profile player to be under NCAA investigation for his possibly inappropriate relationship with a sports agent, according to an ESPN report by Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach.

Dareus, according to the report , is being investigated after attending an agent's party in South Beach, Florida earlier this summer.

Whereas the Universities of North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida have all been relatively tight-lipped about the investigations into their student-athletes, Alabama head coach Nick Saban unleashed some wrath on the two elements he believes are at the root of the epidemic -- sports agents and the NFL.

"What the NFL Players Association and the NFL need to do is if any agent breaks a rule and causes ineligibility for a player, they should suspend his [agent's] license for a year or two," Saban is quoted in the article. "I'm about ready for college football to say, 'Let's just throw the NFL out. Don't let them evaluate players. Don't let them talk to players. Let them do it at the combine.' If they are not going to help us, why should we help them?"

"Right now, agents are screwing it up," Saban said. "They are taking the eligibility of players. It's not right that those players do the wrong thing. We have a great education process here. We have a full-time worker who meets with players and their families and does everything else."


Saban, who, of course, coached the Miami Dolphins for a brief time, probably understands the issue greater than most coaches. He's seen the recruiting of players by agents from the perspective of being a college coach, as well as from the NFL side.

While his potential solution to the problem seems rash, it also could work.

With the NCAA apparently taking the illegal player-recruiting by agents more seriously, get ready to see a steady stream of these stories. Unfortunately, Marvin Austin, Weslye Saunders, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcel Dareus may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Posted on: September 5, 2009 1:55 pm
 

Alabama's Deaderick, shot Monday, Playing Today?

As crazy as it sounds, Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick has been cleared to play in the opener tonight against Virginia Tech, despite being shot in a robbery attempt Monday night. According to head coach Nick Saban during his weekly radio address Thursday night,

“Brandon is doing extremely well. He actually practiced today. It’s a little unbelievable to me. The first thing I do is talk to our medical staff, they actually say he’ll do no damage to himself. These things are actually being treated like a puncture wound because he had no damage to any nerves, no damage to any bone in either wound. It’s like stepping on a nail, when it heals up he can play. “We’re going to take it day-to-day. He really wants to play. I’ll talk to him and defer to him because he’s been cleared by the medical staff. I’ve met with his parents and talked with them. We want to do what’s best for him and we never want to do something that would be detrimental to his future career or even our season if he played before he’s ready.”
The bullet, which went through the flesh in his forearm and re-entered his body near his hip and left by his groin, did not come in contact with any bones, major arteries or nerves.

Deaderick started all 14 games last season for the Tide, coming through with more tackles(36), tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (4) last season than All-American nose guard Terrence Cody (24, 4.5, 0.5).

Sources close to the team tell me that Deaderick isn't likely to actually play tonight, but just the fact that he has been cleared, is traveling with the team and will be on the sideline is sure to provide the Tide with an emotional boost.

Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com