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Tag:WAC
Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Nevada kicks leading RB/KR Mike Ball off team

University of Nevada head coach Chris Ault announced via a statement Tuesday that redshirt junior running back and kick returner Mike Ball has been kicked off the team.

Ault did not elaborate as to what Ball did to warrant being released from his scholarship, only indicating that his leading rusher violated team rules and protocol, leaving the university with little option but to move on.

Ball, who started five of nine games this season for the Wolfpack, had rushed for 704 yards and three touchdowns. He was also the team's career record-holding kick returner, having generated another 1,695 yards in that role.

The sudden suspension comes less than a month after Ball was recognized as the WAC's Offensive Player of the Week. Ball accumulated 216 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns in a 45-38 win over Fresno State on October 22. Of his totals, a career-high 198 yards and a touchdown came on the ground. The other 18 yards came on two catches, including one for a score.

Ball was held out of Nevada's last game -- a 24-21 loss to Louisiana Tech. Had the Wolfpack been able to win they would have clinched at least a share of the WAC title.

Nevada is more prepared to handle the loss of their leading rusher than most. Ault's trademark Pistol offense is being capably run by quarterback Cody Fajardo, who currently has only 69 less rushing yards than Ball. Farjardo has scored 12 touchdowns on the year. Nevada also boasts two other running backs in Lampford Mark (513 yards, six touchdowns) and Stefphon Jefferson (413, five touchdowns) who have also rushed for significant yardage this season.

Listed at 5-10, 215 pounds Ball has the size scouts are looking for but would be wise to consider finding another school with which to play next season rather than leave early for the NFL. He hasn't been able to maintain a starting role with the Wolfpack despite flashing the agility, power and acceleration to spark interest.

Posted on: February 17, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Pre-Indy buzz- Baldin, Smith, House running well

Agents and athletic trainers preparing their athletes for the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis are generally hesitant to put expectations on prospects prior to their official workout.

That said, each year in the week leading up to the Combine there is a buzz in the scouting community of prospects who are already turning heads in the pre-Combine preparation.

This year three players generating quite a lot of buzz are Pittsburgh wide receiver Jon Baldin , Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith and New Mexico State cornerback Davon House .

The 6-5, 230 pound Baldwin is reportedly running in the 4.4s and could push the 40" mark in the vertical jump. Results such as this could push Baldin into the first round.

Smith, a 6-2, 205 pound cornerback, has received a lot of national attention in recent weeks as some analysts have finally got around to reviewing his game tape. Graded as a top 40 prospect by NFLDraftScout.com since September, Smith could move into the top 20 if the early reports of his speed are true. Smith, according to sources, has been running in the high 4.3s to low 4.4s. If he runs that well in Indianapolis, Smith will only have to ease scouts' concerns about his off-field behavior to guarantee himself a spot in the draft's opening frame.

Just as many were slow in recognizing Smith's talents, don't be surprised if Davon House is suddenly cast as a draft "riser" if he runs in the high 4.3s to low 4.4s at the Combine, as he's been doing in preparation for the event, according to sources.

House didn't get much national attention playing for the Aggies, but like Smith, he has been highly rated by NFLDraftScout.com all year long. The First-Team All-WAC defender had signed on to play in the Senior Bowl before a recurring ankle injury forced him out of it.

The Combine always reveals some surprises. If these three players work out well, they'll be labeled as surprises by some. NFL scouts and those of us with an ear to the action won't be... 


Posted on: December 19, 2010 2:21 pm
 

Stars fail to shine in FBS, FCS upsets

Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter and Villanova wideout Matt Szczur are well on their way to being NFL draft picks next April. They'll be hoping that scouts focus more on the brilliant careers, rather than the sputtering production each provided in their final games.

Carter, the 2010 WAC Defensive Player of the Year, was held without a tackle in Northern Illinois' dominating 40-17 victory over the Bulldogs yesterday in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Szczur, who had scored a combined five touchdowns on 383 yards as a runner, receiver and Wildcat quarterback over the Wildcats' first two playoff games, was held to only 67 total yards in the loss to Eastern Washington.

It was not surprising to see the 6-2, 240 pound Carter washed out against the run while playing defensive end. As you'd expect for a player of his size, he often was blown off the ball and wasn't able to keep contain, as the Huskies averaged 7.3 yards per rush.

What was a surprise, however, was that Carter was blanked as a pass rusher, as well. The nation's 7th best sack artist (11 on the year), Carter was unable to get clear and make a play despite being 80 pounds lighter than the Huskies' junior right tackle Keith Otis. That fact will concern scouts who like Carter as a potential 3-4 convert and 4-3 SAM linebacker. 

Matt Szczur's impact on the FCS semi-final contest against Eastern Washington was more impressive statistically-speaking than Carter's was, but not by much.

Szczur rushed nine times for 36 yards and caught four passes for 25 yards. He did rush for a touchdown, a one-yard QB sneak that narrowed the Eagles' lead to 20-14 in the second quarter, but only after fumbling the kickoff to instantly kill the previous drive. Szczur's fumble was recovered by EWU and led to an Eagles' touchdown.

I expect both players to enjoy bounce-back performances in any all-star games they're invited to. (The Senior Bowl has already extended Szczur an invitiation).

Unfortunately, while they may be wearing their university's decal on their helmet in that game, the final games for Carter and Szczur for Fresno State and Villanova, respectively, were disappointing.
Posted on: December 18, 2010 11:58 am
 

Who to watch in today's 4 games

There are four college football games today and each one of them offers NFL talent.

In the FCS Semi-final game to determine who will move on and play No. 1 Eastern Washington in the national championship, Georgia Southern travels to Delaware.

The Delaware Blue Hens feature NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated senior quarterback, Pat Devlin . Devlin impressed me last week with his poise, mobility and accuracy. His arm strength has been questioned by scouts I've spoken to and there is no denying that the Blue Hens' spread offense makes it difficult to gauge just how much zip he has. That said, Devlin had enough to thread passes through tight windows and loft deep balls down the seam and sidelines last weekend against New Hampshire.

Devlin, a Penn State transfer, would be a great addition to a senior all-star game, such as the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game.

Besides the FCS playoff game, however, the FBS bowl games, of course, begin today.

In the New Mexico Bowl between BYU and UTEP, I'm most looking forward to scouting Cougar LT Matt Reynolds . Reynolds is only a junior, but he's started three seasons with the Cougars and projects well to the pro game at 6-6 and 322 pounds.

In the Humanitarian Bowl pitting Fresno State against Northern Illinois, I'm most interested in how three FSU Bulldogs perform. Pass rushing phenom Chris Carter has been able to parlay his speed off the edge into the WAC Defensive Player of the Year, but at 6-2, 240, he'll need to show the agility to handle coverage responsibilities as an outside linebacker.

Offensive guard Andrew Jackson has been a standout for the Bulldogs throughout much of his career. His drive-blocking was an underrated component of Chargers' first round pick Ryan Mathews' success last year. Jackson has struggled with foot injuries this year, however. He should be as healthy as he's been all year long for this game.

Finally, the Bulldogs' Ryan Colburn has his final chance to impress in a Bulldog uniform. Colburn, 6-3, 230 pounds, has all of the physical skills scouts look for in a developmental quarterback, but despite his solid numbers (61.8% completion rate for 2,529 yards and a 21-9 TD to INT ratio), he's been prone to critical mistakes in the past. A strong final game, however, could be enough to get him into a senior all-star game and provide just enough intrigue that scouts will want him as a potential UFA.

In a classic case of burying the lead story, Troy's spectacular receiver/returner Jerrel Jernigan is the highest rated prospect in this post and playing today. The 5-09, 190 pounder is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated senior WR and he's already accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. The playmaker with legitimate 4.3 speed will help Troy take on Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl tonight.

You can read more about the prospects to watch in the upcoming bowl games by clicking this link.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.


Posted on: December 10, 2010 12:14 pm
 

OLB Reed, CB Marsh flying up board

With the FBS regular season coming to a close many scouts are finally getting a break from the road. As such, I've been able to catch up with them and get the names of some of the country's hottest rising prospects.

I have several other contacts that I'll be speaking with this weekend and want to do some film work, myself, before finalizing the article.

Here are two players, however, that numerous scouts have touted highly over just the past 24 hours who, because they play in the West, I'm familiar with already.

I've previously mentioned Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed as a player rising up draft boards, but after speaking to scouts this week it is clear that I've still been underrating him. Reed's statistics are good (44 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) but his production would be even gaudier if he operated as a strongside linebacker, as 4-3 teams are projecting him to be at the pro level. Reed, 6-3 and 262 pounds, earned First Team All Pac-10 honors this year lining up as a defensive end for the Wildcats. He's shown the ability to rush the passer from the stand-up position, as well as from the three-point stance.

There are two elements to Reed's game that scouts are particularly intrigued by -- his nonstop motor and surprising fluidity. Many "undersized" collegiate defensive ends lack the flexibility to make the transition to a true outside linebacker role. This is precisely the area where scouts believe Reed will impress, as his agility and short area burst are expected to make him one of most impressive athletes during workouts.

Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh is another example of a player skyrocketing up draft boards. A former running back, the 6-1, 195 pound Marsh entered the season barely a blip on scouts' radar. He's steadily risen up charts this season, however, finishing second in the WAC with 15 passes broken up and improving game by game.

Marsh was particularly impressive in the season finale against Boise State's Titus Young, a wideout that some scouts believe is the No. 1 senior at the position and certainly among the nation's fastest. Marsh helped limit Young to four receptions for a season-low 34 yards.

Scouts tell me that strong performances from Reed and Marsh in post-season all-star games could ultimately push both into the Top 100.


Posted on: September 17, 2010 5:36 pm
 

Sleeper pass rushers tonight in Cal-Nevada game

Their high power offenses are sure to be the focus of tonight's California-Nevada game (10 pm EST, ESPN2), but NFL scouts will be just as curious to watch two underrated pass rushers also playing in this contest.

I listed California defensive end Cameron Jordan among the top ten senior prospects in the Pac-10 heading into the year and, thus far, he's proving to be every bit worth the early attention.

Jordan was a consideration for Player of the Week honors for his performance last Saturday against highly touted Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. Jordan, 6-4 and 285 pounds, earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades last year with 43 tackles, eigh tackles for loss and five sacks. His solid game was often overshadowed by Tyson Alualu, who, of course, was the surprise No. 10 overall pick of the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jordan, like Alualu, plays defensive end in Cal's 3-4 scheme. While he doesn't possess elite speed off the edge, he uses his hands well and plays with very good power. He projects nicely as a base end in the 4-3, or could simply remain as a five-technique in the 3-4 at the next level.

Nevada's Dontay Moch is the more explosive pass rusher of the two. At 6-2, 236 pounds, he lacks the bulk to remain at defensive end in the NFL, but he proved to scouts the overall athleticism to handle the transition to outside linebacker by clocking in at a verified 4.25 seconds in spring drills.

Moch operated last year opposite Kevin Basped. You might remember Basped as the outside linebacker whose troublesome knees forced the Jets to cut him on an early episode of the HBO series, Hard Knocks.

Basped and Moch working in tandem gave the Wolfpack one of the more ferocious pass rushes in the entire country last year. Moch, in fact, entered his senior year with 42 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks.

Without Basped, Moch has struggled to make the same impact thus far in 2010. Through the first two games of the season, the reigning WAC Defensive Player of the Year has only five total tackles -- though, not surprisingly, he also has a sack and a forced fumble.

Whether you watch the game for the underrated NFL prospects, or just to see an intriguing inter-conference battle between two western schools, this should be a fun game. If nothing else, it will make for interesting Friday night drama, as California enters the game as the nation's top-rated defense. Nevada is the top-rated offense.
Posted on: September 13, 2010 9:58 pm
 

Diamond in the Rough -- SDSU WR Vincent Brown

As I mentioned in my last post, we thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement than they received in the past as part of our Draft Slant coverage. Thus, each Monday I'll highlight the award recipients here on the blog.

Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues). Or, if you just want to see an example, you can download this free sample of Week One here .

I considered several prospects for Diamond in the Rough this week. One strong candidate was cornerback Cortez Allen from The Citadel, who enjoyed a strong game against Arizona. Considering James Madison's stunning upset of Virginia Tech, I'm looking forward to breaking down that film, as well.

However, as I scouted New Mexico cornerback Galen House Saturday (he'll be featured in this week's issue of Draft Slant), I couldn't help but be impressed by the all-around game of San Diego State Aztec wideout Vincent Brown. With the opportunity to scout both legitimate NFL prospects head to head, it was just too much to pass up, even if the Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference won't qualify for some as a true "small school." Regardless of your feeling on that particular debate, Brown, currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a 4th-5th round pick, deserves recognition.

Diamond in the Rough -- September 11, 2010
WR Vincent Brown, San Diego State 6-0 / 195 / 4.52
-- opponent New Mexico State
 
One of ten semifinalists for the coveted Biletnikof Award last year, Brown caught 45 passes for 778 yards and six touchdowns. Those might not sound like the type of numbers that would typically earn recognition as the nation's most prolific wide receiver -- until you realize that Brown's production came in just over six games. Brown began the 2009 season with touchdown receptions in his first five games and at least 100 receiving yards in his first four contests. He was sidelined with a season-ending thumb injury early in the Aztecs' seventh game of the year (Colorado State). Brown started slowly in 2010, catching "only" five passes for 39 yards in a 47-0 thumping of Nicholls State. Despite First-Team All-WAC cornerback Galen House shadowing him for much of their matchup Saturday night, Brown proved back to his playmaking self, snatching another five passes for 99 yards. Brown has good size and isn't afraid to use it or his strength to help escape the jam. He shows good foot quickness and lateral agility to generate separation in the short to intermediate routes and has the straight-line speed to attack deep. I was also impressed with Brown's hands and toughness. Brown showed the ability to extend and snatch the ball out of the air; showing these skills when making his most impressive catch of the game while going over the middle in the second quarter. Earlier in the game he'd made his most productive grab (55 yards) by beating three Aggie defenders (including House) deep on a trick play. Aztec junior quarterback Ryan Lindley, himself a talent to keep an eye on, handed the ball off and ran left -- to have the ball thrown back to him -- where he unloaded the long strike to Brown. Despite Brown's success as a receiver, the Aztecs rode a strong ground game to their victory over the Aggies. Running back Ronnie Hillman's 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns certainly stole the show, but Brown was a factor as a downfield blocker, proving to be a more well-rounded wideout than most "small school" receivers.


Posted on: June 12, 2010 10:14 am
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com