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Blue Devil CB Gilbert sidelined again … Duke CB Mark Gilbert is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery earlier this week to remove a loose bone fragment in his right foot. Gilbert had been a rising prospect earlier in his career, but missed the better part of two years with a hip injury.
Boiler WR Moore opts back in; LSU DT Shelvin not … Star Purdue WR/KR Rondale Moore, one of the most electric players in college football and a first round prospect for 2021, has reportedly decided to play after all this fall. Moore had opted out of the season when the Big Ten postponed its season to the spring, but with the conference now set to open an 8-game schedule on October 24th, he’s back in. On the other hand, rising LSU DT Tyler Shelvin, who had been considering opting back in, has reportedly changed his mind and will stay opted out.
PAC-12 back in business … There likely won’t be a formal announcement for several days, but the PAC-12 reportedly has decided to return to college football beginning on November 6th. The conference will play a 7-game schedule with a championship game scheduled for December 18th, again the day before the CFP teams are announced.
Jags go after second win in Thursday niter … Interesting game with some draft implications later this evening on the NFL Network’s Thursday nighter when Jacksonville hosts Miami in a rare Battle of Florida. Kick-off is at 8:20 PM ET. A win by the Jaguars would push them to 2-1 and put the notion of ‘Tanking for Trevor’ aka Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive #1 pick overall at the 2021 draft, in the rearview mirror for the Jags, at least for the present. In fact, at 0-2, Miami looks like it has a better shot at the top pick, at least in the early going, although the Dolphins did get their QB of the future when they selected former Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa with the 5th pick this past April.
Defensive positional rankings posted … The initial GBN positional rankings for the defensive prospects for the 2021 draft have been posted here: DEs; DTs; ILBs; OLBs; CBs; and safeties. And because kickers are people too, here are our early rankings for the specialists: punters; PKs; and long-snappers.
Initial Pigskin college weekly review … So far this year, the pickings have been pretty slim when it comes to finding prime draft prospects on the weekly college football TV schedule given the impact of the pandemic. Fortunately, with the SEC schedule starting in earnest this week, the fare should start to improve. In the meantime, though, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has worked his way through the tapes from week one of the college schedule and has posted the following thoughts on some of the more intriguing prospects he saw during that first week.
‘Outcry’ protagonist gets MAC scholarship … Nice story from college football which right now can use all the positive news it can get. Eastern Michigan has signed Greg Kelley, the subject of the award-winning documentary ‘Outcry’ to a full scholarship. Kelley was a star high school player from the Austin area with hopes of getting a shot in the NFL; he had accepted a full scholarship at Texas-San Antonio, but his life came crashing in around him when he was charged with sexual assault of a minor back in 2013. Kelley was convicted and spent three years in penitentiary despite a lack of physical or corroborating evidence. However, he was eventually released when the case was re-opened and serious flaws in the investigation and his defense were exposed. Kelley had enrolled at Texas earlier this year and had a walk-on tryout with the Longhorns, but was not offered a spot on the team. And while EMU is a long way from Texas in a lot of ways, hopefully Kelley will fulfill his dream of playing D1 football.
Huskers at Bucks to KO B1G schedule … The Big Ten has just released its tentative 2020 schedule which is slated to get underway October 24th. Highlighting that first Big Ten weekend will have Nebraska playing in an interdivisional game at Ohio State. In many ways, though, the conference’s schedule really gets going the following week when the Buckeyes play at Penn State. For the record, Ohio State then closes its 8 game slate on December 12th against traditional rival Michigan. The Big Ten then plans/hopes to hold its conference championship game on December 19th, the day before the college football playoff teams are selected. Meanwhile, the PAC-12, which also hopes to start play on October 24th, will not actually hold its conference vote until this coming Thursday, although all teams are reportedly now able to at least practice. At the same time, the Mid-American Conference, which was actually the first league to postpone its fall sports schedule, is meeting today to re-review a possible fall football season. The Toledo Blade, which first reported the presidents’ meeting, is reporting that the MAC is considering a six- or eight-game fall schedule that would begin also October 24th and culminate with a conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field.
Multiple players opting back in … No big surprise here, but with the Big Ten and PAC-12 apparently back for some football this fall, a number of players who had opted out of playing have changed their minds and will play. That includes a number of prominent Big Ten prospects including star CB Shaun Wade and OG Wyatt Davis, both of whom are considered to be among the best, if not THE top prospect at their respective position. Other Big Ten players who opted back in are Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth, who has said that he never actually officially opted out, rising Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield, Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman and Michigan State DE Jacub Panasiuk. Bateman’s return though is not guaranteed as he has already signed with an agent and will have some hurdles to clear before he will be able to play in college again. Meanwhile, though Panasiuk had opted out, he never declared for the draft and instead said that he was going to sit out this season because of COVID concerns and return for the 2021 college season. The Big Ten, though, still did lose at least one player as Michigan WR Nico Collins, a late first round candidate, has reportedly opted out and has signed with an agent. Washington DT Levi Onwuzurike also has opted out and declared for the draft. Elsewhere, LSU DE Neil Farrell has officially opted back in, while DT Tyler Shelvin has reportedly asked the team for permission to return. At the same time, in a couple of non-covid moves, Tennessee OG Cade Mays has won his appeal for immediate eligibility after initially being denied following his transfer from Georgia. Not so good news, though, for North Carolina FS Myles Wolfolk who has been ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season. Wolfolk, who is more of a late round or free agent type, is expected to begin prepping for the draft as he will be out of eligibility next year.
PAC-12 to meet Friday; return a real possibility … The conference presidents of the PAC-12 will reportedly meet tomorrow to discuss a possible return to the college football wars this fall. Like the Big Ten, the PAC-12 is considering playing an 8-game conference schedule starting on October 24th. It doesn’t leave much wiggle room if there are postponements and the like, but if everything does go according to plan, the conference would have just enough time to get in a championship game in time for the CFP playoff vote. Meanwhile, both the Mountain West and Mid-American conferences, the two remaining leagues still on the sidelines, will also reportedly be considering their options to return in the next couple of days. Stay tuned!
#1 vs #1 in Thursday niter … Interesting match-up in tonight’s Thursday night game as two of the three QBs selected with the first pick overall in the last three drafts go head-to-head when Cleveland hosts Cincinnati, with KO set for 8:20 PM ET on the NFL Network. For Joe Burrow, whom the Bengals selected with the first pick this past April, it will be his first chance to perform on the national stage. For the record, Burrow was ‘okay’ in the Bengals season opener last Sunday when he completed 23 of 36 passes for 193 yards, but had a pick and was sacked three times in a 16-13 loss to the LA Chargers. There will be even more pressure on Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield, the first player taken in 2018 after the team’s very disappointing season-opening 30-6 loss to Baltimore. No surprise here, but the loser of tonight’s game will also emerge as one of the early season favorites to end up with a high pick at the 2021 draft.
B1G to return late October; schedule to come … It took a little longer than expected but the Big Ten conference presidents have indeed voted to restart their season on the weekend of October 24th. The conference had shut down all fall sports until the spring, but had faced growing pressure from players, coaches, parents and fans to get back in the game with the SEC, ACC and Big XII all deciding to play this fall. The conference will play an eight game schedule with a league championship on December 19th, the day before the CFP teams are selected. However, that’s a tight schedule with no bye weeks, so its not clear what happens if games have to be rescheduled. And so far no actual Big Ten schedule has been announced. It will also be interesting to see if any of the Big Ten’s top pro prospects who have announced they were opting out – such as Ohio State CB Shaun Wade and OG Wyatt Davis or Purdue WR Rondale Moore – might have a change of heart now that the conference will play in the fall. It will also be interesting to see what happens out west in the PAC-12 where there is also going to be growing pressure on that power-5 league to play this fall. Stay tuned!
Still waiting word on fate of B1G, OSU CB latest to opt out … There is still no official word this morning as to whether the Big Ten football season will in fact be moved back into the late fall. Conference presidents met yesterday to discuss the possibility of starting up their season as early as mid-October, but no decision was announced yesterday and those talks are expected to continue today. The Big Ten had pushed back all fall sports until the spring back in August, but with the SEC, ACC and Big XII going ahead, the conference has been under intense pressure to reconsider. If the Big Ten does in fact play this fall, it will be without another one of Ohio State’s top players. CB Shaun Wade, expected to be one of the first 2-3 players at the position off the board at the upcoming draft, announced this morning that he will forego his remaining eligibility and turn his attention toward preparing for the 2021 draft. Wade is considered to be a mid-first round prospect. Meanwhile, Texas A&M WR Jhamon Ausbon has also announced that he won’t play when the SEC kicks off its abbreviated schedule later this month. The 6-2, 225-pound Ausbon, the Aggies leading receiver last fall with 66 catches, figures to be a mid-to-late round prospect for the upcoming draft.
Top prospect Lawrence appears to declare for draft … Clemson junior QB Trevor Lawrence, the consensus favorite to be the first player selected at the 2021 draft, appeared to indicate that this will definitely be his final year in college during a pre-game interview yesterday on ESPN’s College Game Day. Lawrence, who still hasn’t officially declared, was quoted as saying that he was “graduating in December and planning on this being my last year.” Of course, that also appears to leave the door slightly ajar to returning, although nobody around the Clemson program thinks there a chance this won’t be his last season. And once on the field yesterday, Lawrence didn’t show any rust as he lead the Tigers to an easy 37-13 season opening win at Wake Forest yesterday. Along the way, Lawrence completed 22 of 28 passes for 351 yards and a TD in just under three quarters of action, while also chipping in a career-high two rushing touchdowns.
B1G conference prezs talking football return … Literally as we speak Big Ten university presidents are talking about playing football this fall after all. The conference opted to postpone its season to the spring earlier this summer, but has faced tremendous pressure from players, parents, coaches, and fans – not to mention boosters – to get back in the game after the SEC, ACC and Big XII decided to go ahead with modified seasons this fall. The Big Ten is reportedly discussing a plan in which they would play an 8-game in-conference schedule starting in mid-to-late October. That would give them just enough time to be done in time for the college playoff. If the Big Ten comes back this fall, one would expect that there would be increasing pressure on the Pac-12 to do the same, although the situation there would be complicated because of the wild fires on the west coast. Stay tuned!
Titans top pick in DUI accident … Tennessee rookie OT Isaiah Wilson, the Titans’ first round pick at the 2020 draft, was arrested last evening for DUI after he lost control of his vehicle and struck a concrete wall. Its not the first off-field incident for Wilson, whom the Titans selected with the 29th pick overall this past April after he received a trespassing warning from campus police at Tennessee State. If there is any good news for the Titans its that Wilson wasn’t expected to play anytime soon anyway. He started training camp on the COVID-19 reserve list and struggled with conditioning once he was able to take part in practice. Wilson was once again placed on the COVID-19 reserve list last week.
Bonus coverage … Its sort of the first full week on the college football schedule with at least the ACC sort of getting underway. And while so many of the top prospects for the 2021 draft have opted out for the season, one who has not not is Wake Forest DE Carlos Basham (#9, 6-5, 285), a full-sized defensive end who had 11 sacks last fall. Basham will be in action when Wake hosts #1 ranked Clemson and star QB Trevor Lawrence on ABC at 7:30 PM ET this evening. Basham is considered to be a legit late first round candidate for the upcoming draft, but he clearly has the tools to go higher.
Top OSU OG Davis opts out … Another one bites the dust, or at least opts out! Ohio State junior OG Wyatt Davis has become the latest top prospect for the 2021 draft to indicate they will not be playing this season and instead will start prepping for the 2021 draft. The 6-4, 315-pound Davis is considered to be the top prospect at the position for the upcoming draft where he figures to go in the mid-to-late first round area.
Cardinal OT Little; three others opt out, enter draft … Four more college players, including star Stanford OT Walker Little, have announced they are opting out of the current season and will enter the 2021 draft. Walker was expected to be a top pick at this year’s draft, but ended up missing all but one game last fall after tearing an ACL in the Cardinal’s season opener. Little, though, isn’t the only PAC-12 OL to opt out today as rising Southern California OG Alijah Vera-Tucker made the same announcement. Vera-Tucker was ticketed to replace Austin Jackson at LT for the Trojans this fall, but at just 6-4 looks to be better suited to staying inside at the next level; he is considered to be a second-day candidate for the upcoming draft. Meanwhile, Oregon CB Thomas Graham, a mid-round candidate for 2021, made it three PAC-12 prospects to opt out today, while the fourth is North Carolina Central CB Bryan Mills, one of the best FCS prospects for the upcoming draft.