Tag:Early Entries
Posted on: January 9, 2011 3:40 pm

Ryan Williams is going pro

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Virginia Tech now has a couple of running backs it'll need to replace in 2011.  Earlier this week Darren Evans announced that he'd be leaving Blacksburg to enter the NFL Draft, and now Ryan Williams has decided to give professional football a shot as well.  Williams made it official on Sunday morning, letting Virginia Tech know that he was not going to return for another season.

“It came down to what I felt like was the best decision for me,” Williams said. “When they say you have the potential to be a first rounder, that’s something that’s hard to pass up. This has been my dream since I was 6 and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. This is an opportunity to help out my family and especially my brother. 

“I want to thank Coach Beamer for giving me the opportunity to play. I remember when he came for my home visit with a No. 34 jersey and he told me I’d look good in it. I just thank him for the opportunity to play for his team. I also have thank Coach Hite for the opportunity to play in his backfield and for teaching my how to block and Coach Stinespring for allowing me to play for his offense.”

Williams burst on to the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2009, rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns.  Injuries hampered him a bit in 2010, as he finished the season with only 477 yards and nine touchdowns.  Still, he's been told that he's likely to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, and that's a hard opportunity for anyone to pass up.  Particularly when you play a position that's known to have a short shelf-life.
Posted on: January 9, 2011 1:01 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2011 5:54 pm

A.J. Green officially declares for NFL draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Back on Dec. 22, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green took to Twitter to angrily deny a report that he had already elected to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft . You can't blame him, with his Bulldogs in the process of preparing for a bowl game that could -- and eventually would -- doom them to a losing season at the time.

But no one save a handful of glass-entirely-full Bulldog fans expected that to mean anything but a delay of the inevitable, and now the inevitable is official : Green will be turning pro a year early.

He leaves Athens on the shortlist of the greatest receivers in Georgia history, with 166 receptions for 2,619 yards and 23 touchdowns in only three injury- and suspension-shortened seasons. Green and fellow class-of-2008 blue-chipper Julio Jones -- Green the acrobatic, elegant yin to Jones' beastly, uber-athletic yang -- both entered college football with outsized expectations. Both more than lived up to them as "A.J. or Julio?" debates sprang up across the SEC during their three years. And now both will see their names called in the first round of the same draft.

But if Green is remembered as having personally delivered on his immense potential, he'll also be remembered for playing on teams that didn't deliver on theirs. As we wrote when the first reports of Green's declaration surfaced, his three years in red-and-black coincide with the three most disappointing seasons of the Mark Richt era in Athens: the 2008 fall from preseason No. 1, the 2009 7-5 underachievement, and now the 2010 crash-and-burn all the way below .500. No one who's watched Green would blame him for those failings, but it won't change the feeling that Richt and the Bulldogs could have accomplished more with arguably the most purely talented college receiver since Larry Fitzgerald at their disposal.

Posted on: January 7, 2011 12:47 pm

John Clay leaning towards the NFL

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt made the announcement that he was going to forgo his senior season in Madison to enter the NFL Draft on Thursday, and now the word out of Wisconsin is that the odds are running back John Clay is going to follow him.  Clay hasn't made a final decision yet, but is meeting with Wisconsin staff to discuss his options this week.

Options that, when you think about Clay's situation, would make you think he's going pro.  Clay may only be a junior, but he's also 23 years old.  Given the shelf life of running backs in the NFL, it's best not to wait any longer than you have to.  Plus, there's the fact that Clay is not only a 23-year old running back, but that he's a 23-year old running back at Wisconsin.

Clay already spent the last year battling injuries, and lost a lot of carries to guys like Montee Ball and James White this season.  By returning for another season, he not only risks losing more carries to those fresher sets of legs, but also more injuries, and in turn, a lower draft stock.  If Clay does end up deciding to leave Wisconsin, he'll do so with 3,413 yards and 41 touchdowns to his name.  He was also the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2009.

Wisconsin wouldn't be in bad shape without him, either.  Although they'd be losing their human battering ram, as I said above, the team would still have Montee Ball and James White.  Those two combined to rush for 2,048 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2010.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 12:32 pm

UCLA's Rahim Moore headed to NFL

Posted by Tom Fornelli

This hasn't been a good week for the UCLA defense.  On Tuesday the team found out it would be losing its stud linebacker Akeem Ayers to the NFL, and today the Bruins found out that their top safety and interception machine, Rahim Moore, would be following Ayers out the door.  Moore made the announcement on Friday.

"I just felt like it was time," Moore said. "Leaving UCLA is hard, but it's like I had a mediocre job and now I'm going for a great job. It's not that I think UCLA is mediocre, but I have dreamed about playing in the NFL my whole life."

"I will let my work and interviews at the combine, and my game films, speak for me.  I just know I'm ready."

Moore has been a starter for the last three years at UCLA, and led the nation in interceptions with 10 in 2009.  He's considered by many to be the top safety available in the draft this year, and any time you're told that, you make the jump.  All entries into the draft have until January 18 to change their mind, but Moore says he's already hired an agent, which makes him ineligible to return.

Moore also said that he plans on returning to UCLA to earn his degree.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 11:46 am

Gators' Janoris Jenkins to enter NFL Draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In the flood of departures for the NFL Draft yesterday, featuring such luminaries as Ryan Mallett, Mark Ingram, and not Andrew Luck, there was one early entrant that seemed to be unjustly overlooked: Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who multiple reports stated would be declaring in the near future.

Jenkins doesn't have a whole lot in the way of stats -- three interceptions, a handful of tackles-for-loss, some mostly nondescript punt returns -- but being named first-team All-SEC by the AP reflects how dominant Jenkins was in man-to-man coverage, moreso than any other player in the conference that wasn't Patrick Peterson. (That the SEC's coaches selected South Carolina's wobbly Stephon Gilmore over Jenkins for first-team honors is maybe the worst case of preseason-accolade inertia we've seen that hasn't involved Adrian Clayborn.)

The consensus on Jenkins is that he'll go in the first round, possibly in the top 10 or 15 picks , and given the premium on top-level cover corners on the next level (as wel las the college one), that makes sense. Maybe he's not Ingram or Mallett in terms of star power, but there's a chance Jenkins could outshine both in the league.

Posted on: January 6, 2011 8:23 pm

Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus going pro

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If this whole football career thing doesn't work out for Barry Sanders Jr, maybe he can give being a college football reporter a try.  Yesterday the high school running back and son of Barry Sanders broke the news that Alabama running back Mark Ingram was going to enter the NFL draft.  Sanders said he was told this by Nick Saban on a recent recruiting visit.

Now, not even 24 hours later, the news has broken that Ingram is in fact going to leave Alabama, and he won't be alone when he does so.  He'll be joined by defensive end Marcell Dareus.

Now Alabama fans must sit around and wait for Julio Jones to make his decision.  Most people seem to think Jones will follow his teammates to the NFL, but if Andrew Luck is willing to go back to school, I'm not taking anything for granted.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 3:28 pm

Badger DE J.J. Watt turning pro

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Sometimes stories emerge from beneath a thicket of rumors, half-truths, "sources," and innuendos. And sometimes, when we're lucky, they break straight out of the horse's mouth :

That's Wisconsin All-American defensive end J.J. Watt, taking to Twitter to inform the world that he wil lnot return for his senior season in Madison. Watt also penned an open letter to Badger fans , in which he writes that while his choice has "been one of the most difficult decisions of my life," the NFL "has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember."

Watt leaves having finished third in the nation with 21 tackles-for-loss this season and winning first-team All-Big Ten honors; he's almost certain to be a first-day draft pick as well and could as high as the first round. Not bad for a former walk-on who began his Wisconsin career as a tight end.

Posted on: January 5, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 6:07 pm

Mark Ingram entering draft?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I don't think anybody would be shocked to find out that former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was going to skip his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.  It's just that when and if the announcement was made, you'd expect it to come from Alabama or Ingram himself.  However, this is not the case, as it seems that the son of a Hall of Fame running back is the one who has broken the news.

While on a recent recruiting visit to meet with Barry Sanders Jr, Nick Saban told Sanders that Ingram was going to be leaving and that he needed running backs.  Sanders then leaked the news to OKBlitz.com.
Heritage Hall running back Barry Sanders, Jr. briefly met Alabama coach Nick Saban Wednesday, and Sanders said Saban told him junior running back Mark Ingram will declare for the NFL Draft.
“He just said ‘We need running backs,’” Sanders said. “How Trent [Richardson] would be a senior if I were to go [to Alabama]. He told me Ingram’s leaving, he’s making it public probably Friday.”
If Ingram does leave, it would be good timing for the running back.  After winning the Heisman as a sophomore, he battled through an injury this season, yet still managed to rush for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns.  In reality, he has nothing left to prove on the college level.  He has the Heisman, and he has a national championship ring. 
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