Tag:Early Entries
Posted on: January 5, 2012 5:29 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 5:46 pm
 

Sooner QB Landry Jones returning for senior year

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



2011 may have been a disappointment for the preseason No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners. But their chances for redemption in 2012 just took a major step forward.

Record-setting junior quarterback Landry Jones announced Thursday in a statement issued by the Sooner program that he would be returning for his senior season in Norman and postponing his chance to be a first-round NFL Draft pick. Jones had been rated the 22nd prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com and had been projected by some to go in the first 15 picks if he had declared early. 

“I want to accomplish the goals that I set before I got here, and there is still a lot more to do,” Jones said. “I want to make sure I’ve exhausted every effort in that area.  And I want to be a senior.  I enjoy being at OU and with my teammates and look forward to graduating with the guys that were in my class when I got here.”

Jones is already Oklahoma's all-time leader in both passing yards (with 12,389) and passing touchdowns (89). He has started 38 games for the Sooners, posting a record of 30-8. Jones quarterbacked the Sooners to both Big 12 and Fiesta Bowl championships in 2010.

Despite those accomplishments, Jones' draft stock fell late in the 2011 season as both he and the Sooner offense struggled in the wake of All-American receiver Ryan Broyles' season-ending injury. In the final three games of the Sooners' regular season, all without Broyles -- and against Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, not exactly a defensive murderer's row -- Jones totaled no touchdowns and five interceptions, while averaging just 6.6 yards per passing attempt.

After those disappointments, the expectation was that Jones would return and attempt to solidify his draft stock with a better season in 2012. But Bob Stoops was nonetheless relieved by Jones' decision.

“We know the positive influence Landry has on and off the field with our team,” Stoops said.  “We’re excited that he’s coming back to build on what has already been an outstanding career.  We expect another great year from him, and like the fact that he’s determined to be even better.”

Despite linebacker Ronnell Lewis's decision to enter the draft earlier Thursday, Jones' return will no doubt have Oklahoma among the favorites -- if not the favorite -- to reclaim the Big 12 title in 2012. It's a role Jones sounds like he has no problem with the Sooners adopting.

“We hope to have another opportunity to make a title run,” he said.  “Most of the offensive line returns and we have several receivers and backs return too.  We’ve also got a lot of guys back on defense, so we’re confident that we can be a strong team.”

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home.  

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Gamecocks lose Jeffery, Gilmore to NFL Draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

South Carolina likely didn't have any illusions about where star receiver Alshon Jeffery was going to play his football next season. But the Gamecocks were no doubt hoping that Jeffery might be the only major early departure for the NFL Draft; the decision made Wednesday by junior corner Stephon Gilmore, however, means that Jeffery will have company on the way out of Columbia.

Both players have now publicly declared for April's draft, with Jeffery relaying his decision to ESPN and Gilmore's mother confirming her son's choice to CBSSports.com RapidReporter Josh Kendall. Gilmore informed the Gamecock coaching staff Wednesday.

"I'm ready for the next step," Jeffery said. "I'm physical and can make plays in the red zone. I can make big plays in big games. I can work on my speed and get quicker. I want to be like Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson."

For Jeffery, the decision was a likely no-brainer. Though the buttoned-up nature of the Gamecocks' 2011 offense (and increased defensive attention without the presence of Marcus Lattimore) saw a sizable decline in Jeffery's numbers, his All-American sophomore season -- 88 catches, 9 touchdowns, and more yards (1,517) than any wideout not playing in a non-BCS league or the state of Oklahoma -- meant he'd already proven just about everything he could prove at the college level. His final collegiate game showed that his immense physical talent is as intact as ever, as he skied for a game-changing Hail Mary and finished with 148 yards in a Capital One Bowl MVP performance.

It wasn't enough for either of our CBSSports.com draft experts to move Jeffery into the first-round of their most recent mock drafts, but a series of good workouts could change things.

Gilmore didn't have nearly Jeffery's nationwide name-recognition, but he arguably had a much larger impact on the Gamecocks' 2011 success than his offensive counterpart; after a subpar 2010, the South Carolina secondary finished second in the nation in pass defense and third in opponent's passer rating, with Gilmore's four interceptions and cover-corner skills playing a large role in that improvement. Our Dan Brugler has Gilmore projected to go to the New England Patriots with the 28th pick of the draft. 

That kind of projection is why the Gamecocks will have some big shoes to fill in the passing game -- on both sides of the ball -- come 2012.

Check out where Jeffery, Gilmore, and all the 2012 draft prospects rank on the CBSSports.com draft board, and follow all the news on early entrants here. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 3, 2012 7:08 pm
 

Stanford OT Jonathan Martin declares for draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Andrew Luck might be just the start of a Stanford exodus to the NFL Draft, since as of Tuesday afternoon he already has some Cardinal company.

Junior Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin announced via his Twitter account Tuesday that he will be forgoing his senior season in Palo Alto to enter this April's draft:

 

Martin could be one of two early-entrants from the Cardinal offensive line, as All-American guard David DeCastro is also expected to declare in the near future. 

"#NERDs" or not, Martin and DeCastro stand to soon become some very wealthy nerds. In a tackle-light draft, Martin shapes up as an all-but-certain first-round selection and could hear his name called in the top 10. At 6'6" and 305 pounds with loads of experience both drive-blocking and pass-protecting in Stanford's pro-style scheme, the two-time first-team All-Pac-12 honoree ranks as the third tackle off the board here at CBSSports.com and the No. 13 prospect overall. (DeCastro, incidentally, ranks ninth.)

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview

Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:39 pm
 

Report: USC's Nick Perry to enter draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For the second time in as many days, a key USC Trojan has reportedly elected to enter the 2011 NFL Draft.

Thursday it was tackle Matt Kalil announcing he would forgo his senior season in L.A., and on Friday ESPNLosAngeles.com's Pedro Moura reported that two-year starting defensive end Nick Perry had made the same decision. Sources cited in the report said that Perry had already signed with sports agency Lock Metz Malinovic, which currently represents multiple other former Trojans.

Perry is projected to be selected as early as the late first-round and could play as either a down lineman or a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.

Though not a surprise, Perry's decision will leave a sizable hole in the Trojans' 2012 defensive line rotation. His 9.5 sacks led the Pac-12, put him among the top 20 pass-rushers nationally, and equaled the output of the entire rest of the Trojan defensive line combined. His 13 tackles-for-loss were on shy of doubling the high for any other player on the team, and he ranked fifth on the Trojans in tackles overall.

Lane Kiffin has never shied away from encouraging his players to leave for the pros if their draft projection was optimistic enough, and even after Kalil and Perry he may not be done with 2011's early defections yet; quarterback Matt Barkley has been the subject of much speculation and safety T.J. McDonald could also decide to make the leap.

Posted on: January 19, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Record 56 underclassmen declare for draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that the deadline for college football underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft has passed, teams and fans know for sure who they'll be getting back for another season, and who they won't.  What we also know is that with the NFL releasing the official list of underclassmen who have declared on Wednesday, that we have a record class.

Fifty-six players have decided to leave college early this season and seek their NFL dreams.  The most ever to do so.

Which is pretty ironic, really.  The fact that their could be an NFL lockout next season is well known amongst football fans everywhere, even if those same fans are scared to admit it.  So you would think that with potential labor strife looming on the horizon, that college players would prefer to stay in school for another season.

Which makes sense on the surface, but there's another factor in play here.  Yes, there may not be an NFL season in 2011, but we don't know for sure.  What we do know for sure is that, 2011 season or not, by the time the 2012 NFL Draft comes around there's likely going to be a rookie salary cap.  So while a top pick like Da'Quan Bowers or Nick Fairley can come out this season and sign a deal with a huge signing bonus, he may only be eligible to make 20% of that if he returned to school for another season.

So it seems that the kids want to cash in while they still can.
Posted on: January 17, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Big blow for UGA as Justin Houston declares

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If the nationwide trend this offseason has been for premium-grade junior talent to surprisingly come back to school -- see Andrew Luck, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, etc. -- no one told the SEC.

Just ask Georgia, who over the weekend lost outside linebacker-slash-pass rush specialist Justin Houston to the draft just ahead of the deadline . Houston joins the Bulldogs' A.J. Green in forgoing his senior season in Athens and is projected as a late first-round pick in the latest CBSSports.com mock draft .

For a player custom-made for the NFL's predominant 3-4 defense -- just ask NFL-trained Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, whose 3-4 schemes made Houston a 10-sack terror off the edge, not to mention a  Nagurski Trophy finalist -- the decision to come out couldn't have been too difficult. (We won't be surprised if Houston winds up looking like a steal if he does go as late as currently projected.) But it won't make it any easier for Mark Richt or Bulldog fans to stomach; between Houston's departure and the graduation of seniors Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble, Grantham's linebacking unit will have to be almost entirely rebuilt.

Unfortunately for Richt, after the 6-7 disaster of 2010, he may not be able to afford to wait for that rebuilding job to pay dividends. He paid Grantham good money to come to Athens from the Dallas Cowboys, and now Grantham will have to earn it. With major improvement required to keep Richt employed and now neither of the Bulldogs' best players from 2010 available in 2011, there won't be any time to waste.

Posted on: January 17, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2011 1:33 pm
 

Auburn's Darvin Adams declares for draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn knew a top-five pick like Nick Fairley was as good as gone. They knew first-rounder (and NCAA investigation target) Cam Newton probably wasn't far behind. But they hoped that was as deep as the damage from the NFL Draft ran.

As of today, it turns out they hoped in vain, as leading receiver Darvin Adams has also declared himself eligible for the 2011 draft .

The move comes as something of a surprise, with Adams failing to make so much as honorable mention All-SEC (albeit in a loaded field at his position) this season, seeing his statistics take a slight across-the-board decline from his breakout 2009, and generally not expected to be a higher-round draft pick. At a spindly 6'3", 185 pounds, Adams may also need some quality time in the gym to be physically ready for the next level.

At the same time, there's something to be said for Adams' impressive consistency as Auburn's two-time No. 1 receiver: 60 receptions, 997 yards, 10 touchdowns in '09, and 52 receptions, 963 yards, 7 TDs in '10. His height, sure hands, and excellent body positioning could make him a quality possession receiver regardless of draft position. And it's worth asking, above all, whether another year would do anything for Adams' draft stock anyway; with a new quarterback, rebuilt offensive line, and ever-deepening pool of receivers, Adams could easily see his personal production drop even further in 2011. (Of course, it's also worth pointing out that where winning on the team level goes, there's nothing left for Adams to accomplish.)

So the declaration comes as a surprise, yes. But it's far, far too early for anyone to call Adams' decision a mistake.


Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Nick Fairley declares for draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn made a living out of defying expectations this season, but unfortunately for them, expectations have finally won out when it's come to early draft declarations. Cam Newton announced he was taking his skills to the NFL last night, and today Lombardi Award winner and national championship game defensive MVP Nick Fairley made it official: he's forgoing his senior season on the Plains to go pro as well.

Though Fairley reportedly became emotional during the announcement and thanked the "Auburn Nation" for their support, the decision couldn't have really been all that difficult. An unstoppable force on the Tiger defensive line this season and one coming off of a dominating performance in the BCS title game, Fairley is the No. 1 defensive tackle in the draft according to many and could go as high as the No. 1 overall pick. Barring some kind of catastrophe in pre-draft workouts, Fairley is a mortal lock to go in the top five; our draft gurus here at CBS have him at No. 3 and No. 4 in their current mocks , respectively.

Combine that kind of payday with the facts that Fairley is already four years out of high school (having spent two seasons, one a redshirt, at a Mississippi junior college) and has won virtually every honor there is for a defensive lineman to win on both the team and individual level, and there was really only one choice for Fairley to make. Like his teammate Newton, Fairley was more blinding supernova than enduring college star -- he started only two games and recorded just 3.5 tackles-for-loss in 2009, before blowing up for 24 this year -- but that won't keep him from being remembered at Auburn (and in college football in general) for a long, long time.

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