Tag:2012 underclassmen
Posted on: December 24, 2011 12:36 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:44 pm
 

Utah State RB Turbin heading to NFL

Utah State running back Robert Turbin, who rushed for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, is parlaying his monster 2011 campaign into an early entry into the NFL.

Largely due to Turbin's strong running, Utah State went to their first bowl game since 1997. For his exploits Turbin was voted the WAC's Offensive Player of the Year.

Turbin continued the recent trend of athletes breaking news via their Twitter accounts by announcing the news Friday.

Turbin, operating under the handle @RobT_33wrote:
Id like to Thank all the fans of Utah state for all ur support thru wins n losses, and thru injuries and health.. some of u already kno but after going back and forth with my decision I've decided that its best for me n my family to take the next n go pro.. I appreciate everyone who's helped me along the way and who has supported.. Utah state will continue to grow and hopefully I've left something new guys can improve on when they go in and get their opportunity..

For those who haven't seen Turbin, he's a virtual pinball of muscle. Possessing as impressive an upper body physique as any running back in the country (well, perhaps excluding Alabama's Trent Richardson), Turbin uses his strong arms and good leg drive to plow through defenders. He's hardly just a power runner, however, possessing surprising agility and acceleration for such a powerful back.

Turbin's decision wasn't a surprising one, considering the relatively short shelf life of running backs and the fact that Turbin missed the 2010 season with a torn ACL.

Rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a likely fourth round pick and the No. 11 running back overall, Turbin rushed for 3,315  yards and 40 touchdowns over his Aggie career. He's also a reliable receiver out of the backfield, having caught 67 passes for 845 yards and 11 more scores and is among the stouter pass blockers of this year's running back class.



Posted on: December 23, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Memphis DT Poe announces that he's heading to NFL

In the history of Memphis Tigers football there have been only two first round picks. The Carolina Panthers selected running back DeAngelo Williams 27th overall in 2006. The Kansas City Chiefs a decade earlier used the 28th overall pick on safety Jerome Woods.

Junior defensive tackle Dontari Poe is hoping to join these former Tigers as soon as possible, announcing via Twitter Friday that he is foregoing his senior season to enter the 2012 NFL draft.

Wrote Poe, under the handle @bigpoe74, "Big decision know I chose right.... NFL here I come."

The news, initially reported by John Taylor of CollegeFootballTalk.com, does not come as a surprise. Listed at 6-5, 350 pounds, Poe had emerged as one of the elite defensive line prospects in the entire country this season and was prominently featured in both my own first round projection, as well as that of NFLDraftScout.com's new analyst, Dane Brugler. Each of us, in fact, are projecting the Houston Texans to make Poe the 26th overall pick.

Despite being constantly double-teamed whether he played inside or out, Poe registered 33 tackles, including eight tackles for loss this season for the Tigers. He was voted the team's defensive MVP following the season and was known in scouting circles to be strongly considering taking advantage of the relative lack of top senior defensive tackles available this year.

With his incredible size, Poe is an obvious candidate for 3-4 teams looking for nose guards, thus Dane and I's projection with the Houston Texans. Poe, however, is remarkably light on his feet for a man of his huge size and therefore will also be strongly scouted by teams using the more traditional four man front, as well.

Poe is currently listed No. 19 on my Big Board rankings. The Second Team All-Conference USA pick is currently ranked fourth among defensive tackles graded by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 32 player, overall.


Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Video of Matt Barkley's press conference


Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley announced Thursday that he will be returning for his senior season.

Below is a video of his announcement, complete with USC cheerleaders and members of the marching band trumpeting his decision.



Barkley's decision, coupled with the other returning players they have, would appear to put USC back into the national title conversation for 2012. It also sets him up for a run at the Heisman Trophy and perhaps the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

As my colleague Mike Freeman points out, however, Barkley's decision is a risky one. One scout Freeman spoke to, in fact, called the move a "foolish business decision." From my perspective, having a strong understanding of the quarterback talent thought likely to be returning to school with Barkley, it certainly sets up for an exciting battle between the USC quarterback, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Florida State's E.J. Manuel, among others, for to be the top senior rated passer heading into the 2011-12 season... assuming, of course, that they do decide to return, after all.

While scouts love the 6-2, 220 pound Barkley's readiness for the NFL, there is no denying that the strong arms and size of the 6-4, 230 pound Jones and 6-4, 245 pound Manuel are more physically impressive.




Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:46 pm
 

USC surprise: Barkley puts NFL on hold

Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley isn't going anywhere.
Barkley, the second-ranked player in NFLDraftScout.com's overall rankings, announced Thursday that he will be back at USC for his senior season in 2012.
"I have not yet finished my journey as a Trojan football player," Barkley said, adding that the USC team has some "serious unfinished business, and I intend to play a part in it."
"I am prepared to play quarterback in the NFL. It is my dream to play quarterback in the NFL," Barkley said Thursday at Heritage Hall on the campus of USC. But he said he will finish the "exceptional and unique journey he has had at USC" following in the footsteps of Luck and eventual top 10 pick Matt Leinart, who after the 2004 season opted to return for his fifth year.
Alex Smith was the No. 1 overall pick in '04, when many projected Leinart to be the top available quarterback at the end of the season. But Leinart had surgery for elbow tendinitis, which would've surely reduced his draft value, before his senior season and wound up as the No. 10 overall pick.
Jake Locker (Washington), Peyton Manning (Tennessee) and Eli Manning all returned for their senior seasons despite buzz that they would be a cinch to be drafted in the top 10.
How Barkley's decision, arrived upon after meeting with coach Lane Kiffin, athletic director Pat Haden and current and former USC players, to give Tinseltown one last spin but pass on the NFL will play out is unknown. But there's no argument about the level of talent returning at USC, which is expected to have a top five preseason ranking in 2012.
There are few doubts about Barkley as a pro prospect, but there are questions. He solicited a detailed evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee earlier in the month.
The actual grade Barkley was given by the NFL Advisory Committee is likely to remain a secret, NFLDraftScout.com has spoken to enough high-ranking pro scouts to confirm our own ranking of the Trojan passer as a legitimate first-round talent. Barkley ranked No. 2 behind only Andrew Luck in NFLDraftScout.com's quarterback rankings, which lists only those potentially available for the 2012 draft. He was also the No. 2 prospect overall.
University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, who worked with Barkley when coaching at Southern California and has faced his former pupil and Stanford's Andrew Luck twice since he moved to Seattle, told the media in November that, "If I'm an NFL head coach right now, I'd pick Matt Barkley ahead of Andrew Luck."
Scouts do have some reservations about Barkley's physical tools. Listed by Southern California at just 6-2, 220 pounds, he doesn't possess the height or bulk preferred at the position and has been protected by a strong Trojan offensive line throughout his career.
Some talent evaluators question whether Barkley has the arm strength to make every NFL throw. Though Southern Cal operates out of a pro-style offense, Barkley is rarely asked to drive the ball to the opposite hash. When he does so, his passes tend to wobble slightly. Because the USC junior has a technically clean set-up, delivery and release, the wobbly passes are thought to be an indication that Barkley may have small hands and only moderate overall arm strength.
While these traits do serve as potential red flags, scouts have much more to like about Barkley than they dislike. As mentioned, Barkley is a technically refined passer well-groomed in a pro-style offense. While many of today's rookie quarterbacks require time on the sideline to acclimate, Barkley is seen as relatively ready to "plug and play." His leadership and toughness have drawn raves from those close to the Southern Cal program. In the history of Southern California no true freshman quarterback had ever earned the starting role in the season opener until Barkley. Operating under the constant glare of Los Angeles sans an NFL team, Barkley is used to being a high-profile athlete in a major media market.
While there may be little in terms of NFL readiness for Barkley to gain in returning for his senior season, the allure of team and personal goals ultimately proved too much for the Trojan passer to leave school early. After being banned the past two years from bowl games due to the Reggie Bush scandal, Southern Cal is eligible for a bowl next year and is, not surprisingly, loaded to make a big run.
The loss of left tackle Matt Kalil early to the NFL is offset by the fact that Southern Cal is expected to return their other four starters up front. Southern Cal was one of only seven teams this season that didn't start a senior on their offensive line. The fact that Barkley is returning to throw to arguably the best receiving corps in the country in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and their leading rusher from last season, Curtis McNeal.
Completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,528 yards and a sparkling 39-7 touchdown to interception ratio, Barkley was as effective as any quarterback in the country. The fact that despite these numbers and Southern Cal being the high-profile program it is Barkley wasn't even invited as a Heisman finalist may have also contributed to his decision to return early.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:46 pm
 

T.J. McDonald returning to USC for senior season

The Trojans may have lost offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry early to the NFL, but they can take solace in the fact that junior free safety T.J. McDonald will be returning for his senior campaign.

McDonald, the son of former Southern Cal All-American and San Francisco 49er Tim McDonald, announced via an interview at  USCTrojans.com the news Wednesday afternoon.

The video, which can be seen below and by following this link, as well, shows McDonald in full USC regalia answering various questions about his decision, the role his father and head coach Lane Kiffin played in the decision and what, if any, impact T.J.'s choice may have on Southern Cal's other prominent junior known to be considering making the NFL leap, junior quarterback Matt Barkley.

McDonald cites both team and personal goals as seasons why he made the choice to return. The potential to play in a bowl game as well as match his father's All-American pedigree, compete for the Thorpe Award and get his degree are specifically mentioned.

Though McDonald is rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 free safety potentially available for the 2012 draft, the decision is a sound one. McDonald, who like former USC standout Taylor Mays, is at his best driving downhill towards the line of scrimmage, would be challenging a relatively strong class of senior safeties and is likely to enter next year as the elite prospect at his position.

McDonald finished 2011 with 67 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. The 6-2, 205 pound junior led the team with three interceptions and also blocked a kick and recovered a fumble in earning First Team All-Pac-12 honors this season.







Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Miami loses two more to NFL

A couple of weeks ago I predicted that the first underclassment to declare early for the NFL draft might come from Miami and Southern California. This was not only because of the fact that both programs are consistent producers of talent but also because neither was going to be playing in a bowl game this year.

I anticipated a few 'Canes and Trojans might leave early. Instead, it is quickly proving to be a case of mass exodus from both programs -- which continued on Friday with the news that offensive tackle Brandon Washington and defensive end Olivier Vernon were leaving Miami for the NFL.

They join redshirt sophomore running back Lamar Miller, wide receiver Tommy Streeter and defensive tackle Marcus Forston in former 'Canes leaving Al Golden's program for the NFL since the end of the season.

Southern Cal, likewise has already seen two prospects leave early -- offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry. Quarterback Matt Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald are also known to be strongly considering making the leap.

Of the two newest underclassmen leaving Coral Gables, Washington is the more highly regarded pro prospect. The 6-4, 320 pound Washington has starred for the Hurricanes at left tackle and left guard. Though he played well outside at tackle this season, most project him back inside at guard in the NFL. Washington has a short, stock build. He is surprisingly light on his feet and plays with intensity and physicality. The feeling among scouts is that Washington could play outside at the next level, but he could become a Pro Bowl caliber guard.

Washington had previously told members of the media that he was returning to school, explaining that he had not even petitioned the NFL for a grade, was excited about the progress Miami was making and was committed to earning the college degree that no one else in his family had previously attained.

The lure of NFL dollars, however, must have proven too much for Washington. He is currently behind only Stanford's David DeCastro (who also is leaving school early) among NFLDraftScout.com's 2013 guard prospects.

Vernon is a very surprising choice to leave early considering that he was suspended for the first six games of the season due to taking accepting innappropriate benefits from a booster and registered just 18 tackles on the season. The 6-3, 265 pound true junior had flashed earlier in his career, recording 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks a year ago. Vernon has an explosive burst off the snap but still needs a lot of technical work to earn consistent playing time at the pro level. He is viewed as a prospect potentially capable of making the switch to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme, which does help his cause.

At this early point, however, Vernon is only ranked 29th among defensive ends in the 2013 class and thus not even a surely draftable commodity.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
 

Kalil confirms he's off to NFL. Is Barkley next?

As it turns out, Matt Kalil is heading off to the NFL early, after all.

Beginning with a tweet from ESPN's Chris Mortensen and later confirmed by direct quotes from Kalil to the Los Angeles Times, Kalil erased any doubt about his future intentions.

The AP All-American told Gary Klein of the Times that "It was definitely a tough decision because I love SC. But, it's a special opportunity. It's time to move on."

It had been widely presumed that Kalil -- rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential top ten pick since September -- would strongly consider making the leap. He'd proven himself in two starting seasons as the Trojans' left tackle, keeping the Dallas Cowboys' 2010 first round pick Tyron Smith on the right side and earning comparisons to the great Tony Boselli along the way.

As such, when I heard rumbling a week ago that Kalil was "set to return" to USC I was as surprised as anyone. Upon hearing news of Kalil's confirmed intent to file early for the draft, I contacted my source again.

"I am surprised he is coming out," the source said, "especially with so much time before [the January 15] deadline. The impression I had was that [Kalil's] decision was going to take into account strongly whatever the quarterback decided to do. It almost seemed like the quarterback was looking for an excuse to come back. He loves it there. So, there was talk that he might come back and in doing so convince Kalil to do the same. The fact that [USC] would be past the bowl ban next year was a pretty big motivator for some of the guys."

Lane Kiffin's bunch is talented enough to once again be a primetime player in the Pac-12 conference even without their latest Morris Trophy winner, but with the offensive tackle and defensive end Nick Perry both leaving the Trojans early for the NFL, it will certainly be made more difficult.

It also puts the spotlight directly on quarterback Matt Barkley, who hasn't yet made a formal decision about his intentions.

Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:19 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
 

Stanford OG DeCastro heading to NFL

Fans of the Stanford Cardinal will not only have to endure life without Andrew Luck next season, they'll also be losing junior right guard David DeCastro, considered by many to be the elite interior lineman in the country.

NFLDraftScout.com has learned that DeCastro will leave Stanford after this season and head to the NFL.

All of the Stanford players have been asked to put off dealing with agents until after Stanford meets Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl January 2, but a source tells me that DeCastro "is definitely coming out. It isn't a matter of if, but when."

DeCastro redshirted in 2008 and has since started three consecutive seasons at right guard for the Cardinal, earning honorable mention all-conference accolades in 2009 and first-team honors both years since. The 6-5, 312 pound DeCastro was the only Stanford player to make the AP's First Team All-American team. Andrew Luck was relegated to the second team. It was behind his crushing blocks at both the first and second level that helped Stanford average 207.9 yards per game on the ground this year.

NFL teams hate to spend first round picks on interior linemen but that is precisely the grade I am giving DeCastro. He's higher on ny Big Board rankings than I've ever had a guard at this point in the year. He's also sitting firmly in the middle of my first round mock draft and is rated the No. 10 rated prospect on NFLDraftScout.com's overall player rankings.

DeCastro is joing a rare fraternity of interior linemen leaving early to the NFL. There were no early entrants among interior linemen in the draft last year. There have only been three underclassmen offensive linemen to have been drafted since 2008. Pittsburgh took Maurkice Pouncey out of Florida in 2010. The Chiefs and 49ers tooks Branden Albert and Chilo Richal, respectively, in 2008.

DeCastro and Luck may ultimately be joined by another Cardinal defection as junior left tackle Jonathan Martin is also thought to be likely to leave school early. Martin, along with Southern California's Matt Kalil and Iowa's Reilly Reiff, is considered one of a three-headed monster of junior offensive tackles who each could wind up as top 20 picks come April.

DeCastro and the rest of the No. 4 rated Stanford Cardinal will take on No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl January 2.




 
 
 
 
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