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Big Ten shifts schedule; fall college football very much on the bubble … It appears that the upcoming college football season is teetering right now. Yesterday, for example, the Ivy League announced that all fall sports were being put off until at least 2021. Of course, the Ivies are an FCS league where academics are far more important that athletics. Today, though, the college world was rocked when the Big Ten announced that its teams will only play conference games this fall. Currently, Big Ten teams were scheduled to play 9 of their 12 games against conference opponents, but it isn’t clear exactly how many games Big Ten teams will actually play this fall, if they play at all. And IF is the operative word here. Both Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren and Ohio State AD Gene Smith added warnings that they couldn’t guarantee any games will be played this fall as the ongoing pandemic appears to be gaining steam once again. Ohio State, for example, paused their off-season workout program yesterday because of the number of players testing positive. OSU joins a number of other major programs to have shutdown player workouts in recent weeks including North Carolina, Kansas and Kansas State, Boise State and Houston. And we don’t want to preach here, but if people want football back, they have a role to play. Follow the rules. Stay home if you don’t have to go out; if you go out respect social distancing guidelines; and if you can’t keep your distance WEAR A G-D MASK!!
Green Wave RB injured again … Tulane RB Corey Dauphine thought he’d caught a huge break when the NCAA somewhat surprisingly awarded him a 6th season of eligibility earlier this year, but it was not to be. Dauphine will miss the upcoming year after incurring a season-ending torn achilles injury that appears to have ended his college career. The 5-11, 195-pound Dauphine never put up huge numbers in college, but he’s a track guy with breakaway speed who averaged 8 yards per carry last fall. He figures to be a late-round or premium free agent in 2021.
Browns sign top pick … Cleveland has signed former Alabama OT Jedrick Wills, the 10th overall selection at the 2020 draft. Wills becomes just the 7th player selected in this year’s opening round to sign.
No supp draft this year … The NFL reportedly informed all teams earlier today that there will not be a supplemental draft this summer. There had been some talk that there could be an increase in the number of players entering the supplemental draft because of uncertainty about the status of the upcoming college football season, but that does not appear to be the case.
Pack signs top picks … Green Bay has signed its top two picks from the 2020 draft including QB Jordan Love, the 26th player selected at this year’s draft, along with second round RB A.J. Dillon. Interestingly, Love signed a fully guaranteed 4-year contract for $12.4M. It’s the first time a pick selected later than the 25th pick has received a fully guaranteed deal under the current rookie contract system. With Love and Dillon under contract, the Packers have only three unsigned picks from this past April’s draft including third-round TE Josiah Deguara, 5th-round LB Kamal Martin and 6th-round C Jake Hanson. For the record, Love is the sixth 2020 first-round pick to sign, joining Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa, Carolina DT Derrick Brown, Miami OT Austin Jackson, and DT Javon Kinlaw and WR Brandon Aiyuk of San Francisco.
HAPPY CANADA DAY … to all our fellow Canucksters! Hang in there guys!!
Niners sign 2nd #1 pick … After just signing DT Javon Kinlaw, the team’s first of two opening round picks at the 2020 draft, San Francisco has also come to terms with former Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk, the 25th overall selection at this year’s draft. For the record, Aiyuk is just the 5th player chosen in this year’s 1st round to sign a contract.
Pats lose pick; sign QB Newton … It was a good news, bad news day for New England. On the one hand, the Patriots have reportedly come to terms on a one-year deal with former Carolina QB Cam Newton who was released by the Panthers earlier this off-season. With the Patriots, Newton will have a chance to compete to replace Tom Brady if he is fully healed from a lingering foot injury. It wasn’t all peaches and cream for the Patriots, though, as they have reportedly been fined over $1M and will forfeit a third-round pick at the 2021 draft as part of the punishment for their television crew filming the field and sideline during a game in December against league rules.
Mississippi to drop rebel flag; good news for in-state football programs … What is the old Chinese expression: May you live in interesting times. That appears to be us these days. It appears, for example, that after almost 160 years the American Civil War may be coming to an end. The latest clue: the state of Mississippi, the last remaining holdout, will be dropping the confederate flag from its current state flag. And that’s good news for Ole Miss and Mississippi State football. Earlier this week, for example, star Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill indicated that he would no longer play for the school as long as the state flag celebrated the Confederacy. After making his comments, Hill got support from State head coach Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss, as well as numerous other players. The bill that passed the state legislature earlier this weekend still has to be signed by the governor, but Tate Reeves has already indicated that he will be going along.
Canes OG to sit year … Miami OG Navaughn Donaldson, one of the better prospects at the position, announced on Twitter earlier this week that he intends to redshirt this season to focus on rehabbing a knee injury that occurred in the Canes final 2019 regular season game. The assumption is that Donaldson will come back for a 5th season in 2021, although it is still possible that he opts to enter the 2021 draft.
Niners sign top pick … San Francisco has reportedly come to terms with former South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw, whom the 49ers selected with the 14th overall selection at the 2020 draft. Kinlaw becomes only the 4th player from the 2020 opening round to sign joining QB Tua Tagovailoa and OT Austin Jackson, both of whom were taken by Miami, and Carolina DT Derrick Brown.
UDub adds FCS AA QB … Washington confirmed earlier this week that FCS All-American QB Kevin Thomson has transferred to the program from Sacramento State. The 6-2, 200-pound Thomson, who was also the Big Sky Player of the Year last fall, will be eligible immediately as a grad transfer. He is expected to have the inside track to replace Jacob Eason, a 4th round pick by Indianapolis this past April. Thomson is a dual-threat QB who threw for just over 3,200 yards with 27 touchdowns last fall against 8 picks, while rushing for another 600-plus yards and a team-best 12 rushing scores.
Hoosier TE Hendershot pleads to domestic trespass charge … Indiana junior TE Peyton Hendershot, one of the top players at the position in college football, plead guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass as a result of an incident in February in which he was charged with residential entry, a felony, along with misdemeanor charges of domestic battery, criminal mischief, and criminal conversion. Hendershot had entered his ex-girlfriend’s apartment without permission and during an argument took her cell phone without permission, grabbed her by the neck and shoved her against a wall. The felony residential entry charge was later reduced to criminal trespass and the other charges were dropped when Hendershot plead guilty. He was initially suspended indefinitely by the team, but he was allowed to participate in some video team activities in recent week. Still not clear what happens to his status in the fall and the NFL will look hard at the situation when he does enter the draft, but it does appear Hendershot is in a better spot now than before the guilty plea. The 6-4, 260-pound Hendershot had a breakout year in 2019 when he hauled in 52 receptions for over 600 yards.
Dolphins sign 1st round OT Jackson … It seems like its been awhile since there was much action on the NFL transaction wire, especially involving 2020 draft picks, but Miami got the ball rolling again over the weekend coming to terms with former USC OT Austin Jackson. Jackson signed a standard 4-year deal with a club option worth an estimated $32M. Jackson, selected 18th overall this past April, was the second of the Dolphins’ three-first round picks this year. The Dolphins had earlier signed QB Tua Tagovailoa, the 5th player taken this year, but still have to come to terms with CB Noah Igbinoghene, the 30th pick overall this year. Meanwhile, Indianapolis became one of the first teams to sign their full 2020 draft class by coming terms with WR Michael Pittman, the second player selected in this year’s second round, along with FS Julian Blackmon, a 3rd rounder.
RB Hubbard/Coach Gundy spat doused for now … Updating that story from Oklahoma State late yesterday in which star junior RB Chuba Hubbard, one of the top 2-3 prospects at the position for the 2021 draft, said via twitter that he will no longer participate in the team’s activities after a photograph surfaced showing Cowboys’ head coach Mike Gundy wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of One America News Network T-shirt, a far-right cable news network known to push conspiracy theories which has been critical of the current Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The school released a video earlier this morning featuring Gundy and Hubbard in which the head coach stated that he had met with players today after Hubbard’s tweet and that things would change in the Oklahoma State football program, although what exactly those changes were wasn’t spelled out. Meanwhile, Hubbard admitted that he had gone about things the wrong way by tweeting first instead of taking his concerns to the head coach. And everybody got back to working out. Meanwhile, Indianapolis became one of the first teams to sign their full 2020 draft class by coming terms with WR Michael Pittman, the second player selected in this year’s second round, along with FS Julian Balckmon, a 3rd rounder.
Seahawks add former Pack exec to scout staff … Seattle has announced that the Seahawks have hired former Green Bay and Cleveland senior executive Alonzo Highsmith as part of their scouting department. Highsmith is officially listed as a personnel executive after consulting with the team through the past draft cycle. Highsmith spent 19 seasons in the Packers’ front office, where he worked with current Seahawks’ G.M. John Schneider. In 2018, Highsmith was hired as V.P. of player personnel with Cleveland, but parted ways with the Browns in January when the team hired Andrew Berry as its new G.M.
Huskers top WR to transfer … Nebraska has confirmed that veteran WR J. D. Spielman, one of the school’s all-time leading receivers and a solid second-tier prospect for the 2021 draft, will in fact be transferring. Spielman left the program in early March to deal with what was described as a ‘personal health issue’ and never returned. The 5-9, 185-pound Spielman had 170 career receptions for the Huskers, including 49 for just under 900 yards – an average of 18.3 yards per catch – in 2019. No word on where Spielman intends to transfer to for the coming season, however, he has not graduated and has used his redshirt year, meaning he will need to obtain a waiver from the NCAA in order to play at the FBS level this fall.
DT Wilson, FSU coach patch things up after protest spat … Just a quick update on the situation at Florida State where star DT Marvin Wilson, a potential top 10-15 prospects for the 2021 draft, suggested last week that the team would no longer engage in training activities because they were not happy with statements made by coach Mike Norvell who had been quoted as saying that he had talked individually with each member of the team about the racial injustice and inequality that many across the country are currently protesting. Wilson had responded that these conversations never happened. Instead, according to Wilson, the players had received a generated text that was sent to everybody, but that ‘there was no one on one talk between us and coach.’ In the end, Norvell agreed and apologized and Wilson and his teammates are working out again. And as suggested at the time of the original report, it is unlikely that this response will have any impact on Wilson’s ultimate draft grade as he has generally been considered to be a character player, although it will be something that NFL teams may still want to talk about during pre-draft interviews.
NCAA allows undrafted ASU P Turk to return … From the ‘there is always a first time’ file, the NCAA has granted Arizona State P Michael Turk a special waiver to return to school this fall despite the fact that he had entered the 2020 NFL draft and had signed with an agent, but was not selected, and didn’t sign anywhere as an undrafted free agent. Arizona State applied for a special waiver in hope of getting the player’s eligibility restored, citing the coronavirus pandemic as special circumstances since Turk never got the opportunity to perform at the school’s pro day which was cancelled, although he did attend the combine in Indianapolis in February. Turk, in fact, has two years of eligibility remaining. It is a very interesting move by the NCAA, which in the past has been very stringent about its eligibility rules for players involving agents and the NFL. It has also led to speculation about whether other undrafted players this year could get similar consideration.