OU QB Gabriel moves to another OU ... The first domino among big-time transferring QBs fell today when Dillon Gabriel confirmed that he has transferred from Oklahoma to Oregon where he will replace Bo Nix, one of 4 Heisman finalists, who is off to the NFL next fall. With all the great seasons turned by college QBs this past season. Gabriel kind of got overlooked, but he also had a terrific season in which he threw for almost 3,700 yards and 30 TDs while completing 69% of his throws.
Clemson LB Carter to return to school … In a bit of a surprise, 3rd year Clemson LB Barrett Carter, one of the top 4-5 prospects at the position, has announced that he has unfinished business with the program and will return to school for the 2024 season. Carter’s fellow Clemson LB Jeremiah Trotter, as well as rising CB Nate Wiggins have already announced that they will be turning pro this winter.
QB Daniels, WR Harrison headline GBN All-America team … Its award season in college football and we thought we’d get in on the fun posting our annual All America team headed by LSU QB Jayden Daniels and Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison. Of course, both are among the four finalists for this year’s Heisman Trophy – along with QBs Bo Nix of Oregon and Washington’s Michael Penix – which will be announced on Saturday evening in New York. And while we don’t get a vote, if we did it would go to Daniels, although all four guys had worthy years.
Draft race goes prime time Thursday nite … Its probably not what the NFL schedule makers were hoping for when they drew New England to play Pittsburgh in this week’s mid-week prime time game, but game has as much relevance for the early selection order at the 2024 draft than it does for any late-season push for playoff positioning. That’s because New England, at 2-10, are currently sitting on the 2nd overall pick were the draft to be held this week. However, even with a win the Patriots would still be stuck at the #2 puck, at least for the week, as they would be tied with Arizona at 3-10, but the Cardinals have a significantly stronger strength of schedule figure. For the record, Arizona along with Washington which has the 5th pick this week will be on their byes this week. In fact, the Cardinals and Commanders are the final two teams to have their byes this season. Back to the Patriots for a moment, if they are to pull off the upset in Pittsburgh they’ll likely have to do it with back-up QB Bailey Zappe who reportedly will start again in place of Mac Jones despite the fact that New England was shutout at home on Sunday with him under center. The Steelers, who saw their playoff chances take a gut-punch on Sunday when they lost at home to Arizona, at the time another two-win team, will also be going with a backup at QB as veteran Mitch Trubisky will start for an injured Kenny Pickett. And in other QB news that could impact the early draft order, the NY Jets, who have the 6th pick this week, will go back to Zach Wilson at the position Sunday when they host Houston, while the Giants will stick with 3rd stringer Tommy ‘Don’t call me Danny’ DeVito at QB Monday evening with Green Bay in town despite the return of nominal back-up Tyrod Taylor as the Giants are on a modest two-game win streak with DeVito at the helm.
FSU WR Wilson confirms draft entry … Florida State WR Johnny Wilson, a 4th year junior, has confirmed that he will pass on his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2024 draft where he figures to be an early 2nd day selection. Wilson will also be skipping the Seminoles’ bowl game, but has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Post (college) -season mock posted … With the regular college football season now nicely in the books it seemed like a good time to post an updated projection for the first round of the upcoming draft. And again we remind readers that the value of a projection at this time is not that we, or anyone for that matter, are going to tell you with any accuracy at all which teams are going to take which particular player. Hopefully, though, it will give people a bit of an idea which players are likely to be selected at different points in the draft based on current intelligence.
Penn State DE Robinson to enter draft … Penn State DE Chop Robinson has confirmed that he will be passing on his remaining eligibility and entering the 2024 draft where he figures to be a mid-to-late first round candidate; Robinson will also miss the Lions bowl game. The 6-3, 255-pound Robinson was actually being mentioned as a possible top ten pick at one point earlier in the year, but his grade appears to have slipped somewhat as he missed some time with injury and never really had the expected breakout year. In the end, Robinson finished the season with just 4 sacks after posting 5.5 last year.
Selection order updated … With another week in the books, the first-round selection order for next April’s draft has been updated.
Top prospect Williams to skip bowl … Southern California has just confirmed that star QB Caleb Williams, the consensus top prospect for the 2024 draft, will not play in the Trojans’ bowl game later this month. USC is scheduled to play Louisville in the Holiday Bowl on December 27th. Normally when a player skips their bowl its to begin preparations for the upcoming draft. Williams still hasn’t said what his plans, but there had been some talk from his camp earlier this year that they weren’t thrilled with the whole draft process and might opt not to enter this year if they didn’t necessarily like the team that had the first pick overall. However, this would seem to indicate that in fact Williams is indeed going to enter the draft and that was reinforced by comments made by Trojans’ head coach Lincoln Riley on USC’s plans for the position next fall which do not appear to involve #13.
Two more QBs enter portal … A couple more prominent college QBs have entered the transfer portal as both Dillon Gabriel of Oklahoma and Ohio State’s Kyle McCord will be moving on. Gabriel, in fact, had a terrific year with the Sooners as he was among the nation’s leading passers this past fall throwing for almost 3,700 yards and 30 TDs while completing just under 70% of his passes, although he’s a little undersized and lacks the big arm to be considered a prime draft prospect. Meanwhile, it is a bit of a surprise that McCord will transfer after he lead the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record and maybe just a couple of plays from a CFP playoff berth. The fact is though that he is still something of a journeyman type who was surrounded by stars and it may be that Ohio State was planning to go looking for a more prominent guy in the portal anyway to try and finally get over the hump. Stay tuned!
Pats to 2nd; Cards to 3rd in early selection order shuffle … The early selection order for the 2024 draft will look a little different this week as New England and Arizona will flip the 2nd and 3rd picks after the Cardinals shocked the Steelers right in Pittsburgh, while the Patriots were shut out enroute to a home loss to the LA Chargers. As a result, were the draft to be held this week, the Patriots would have the #2 pick with the Cardinals at #3. Chicago, though, appears to be almost entrenched in the #1 pick after Carolina lost again today. Chicago will also have the 5th pick in the ‘if the draft were held this week’ selection order, at least for the week with Washington at #4, the NY Jets at #6, the NY Giants at #7, Tennessee at #8 and New Orleans at #9.
No 3-peat for UGA as CFP playoff teams announced … Pretty much as we thought, it will be #1 ranked Michigan against Alabama in the Rose Bowl on January 1st and Washington versus Texas in the Sugar Bowl later that day in the CFP semi-finals. The winners will play on January 8th in Houston for the national championship. Left out was unbeaten Florida State, the ACC champion, but the Seminoles just weren’t the same team after losing star QB Jordan Travis last month. And hands up everyone, or anyone for that matter, who thought for even a second at any time during the season that 2-time defending national champion Georgia, which hadn’t lost a game in what seemed like forever, would not at least make the initial 4-team playoff. Of course, the CFP playoff field expands to 12 teams next year and there probably still be some bitching about who gets in and who doesn’t, but there’s big difference between arguing about who gets into the playoffs versus which teams fully deserving of a chance to win the national championship don’t get to play at all.
Eagles, Niners hilite Sunday NFL sked … If its Sunday in America, it must be time for another big test for the Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL’s top team. This week, for example, the 11-1 Eagles will be hosting San Francisco after facing Dallas, Kansas City and Buffalo the past three weeks. Of course, there are also a number of games at the other end of the standings with implications for the early selection order at the 2024 draft; indeed, a couple of teams currently sitting on early picks have games which are at least possibly winnable. Carolina, for example, which have the worst record in the league, but traded their #1 pick this year to Chicago last year, are in Tampa Bay to face the struggling 4-7 Buccaneers, while New England, which would have had the 3rd pick overall were the draft held this week, will be hosting the 4-7 LA Chargers. On the other hand, both #2 Arizona and #5 Washington would appear to be in tough as the Cardinals play at Pittsburgh and the Commanders host Miami. At the same time, #4 Chicago and #6 NY Giants have their byes this week. As usual, the selection order will be updated after the Monday nigh game tomorrow evening.
CFP playoff decision coming up at Noon … This year’s 4-team college football playoff participants will be announced at Noon ET later today on ESPN (and TSN in Canada). And as noted yesterday the committee has a bit of a conundrum on its hands after Alabama stunned top-ranked Georgia in the SEC final. To wit: too many worthy teams; not enough playoff spots! In the end, the most straightforward route for the committee to take would be to simply say there are 5 conference champions, but because of the unfortunate QB situation at Florida State, the best 4 RIGHT NOW are Michigan, Alabama, Texas and Oregon. Unfortunately, though, what has often tended to happen with these committees in the past is they make what amounts to pretty much a personal choice and then gussy it up with a whole bunch of post facto reasons. We shall see. For the record, the 4 teams that do qualify for the CFP playoff will play in the Rose and Sugar Bowls on January 1st with the winners to face off in the national championship game a week later in Houston.
Houston, we have a problem! … Or at least wherever the CFP playoff committee is based after Alabama upset 2-time defending national champion Georgia 27-24 in this afternoon’s SEC championship game in Atlanta. One just has to assume Alabama, the SEC champ gets in; and with Washington and almost asuredly Michigan already pretty much guaranteed spots in the 4-team playoff and that leaves only left. And that could be filled, at least technically if Florida State wins the ACC game later this evening, although the fact that the Seminoles would have to go to their semi-final without their starting QB could open the door for the committee to boost one of the top one-team losses over the ‘Noles. In that case it would be almost inconceivable that Georgia would be left out of the playoffs, but you can already hear the folks in Texas, which held serve with a thumping win over Oklahoma State in the Big XII finale earlier today, screaming ‘hey, we’re a conference champ and we beat your conference champ’ while those up in Columbus will be pointing out that Ohio State is 11-1 with their only loss on the road to the now #1 ranked team in the country. Stay tuned!! Should be an interesting next couple of days!
Just a couple of notes from today’s games to date. Texas WR Xavier Worthy, one of the top prospects at the position for the upcoming draft, suffered what looked like a potentially nasty lower leg injury in the Longhorns win over the Cowboys. Also of note, Georgia RT Amarius Mims, who missed much of the year because of an injured ankle, lasted only about a quarter in the SEC title game before apparently reinjuring the ankle. In the same game, star Alabama ER Dallas Turner barely played in the 2nd half after hurting his hip in the first, Tide CB Kool-aid McKinstry also left late in the 1st half with a lower leg injury and did not return.
Report: UT QB Ewers ‘likely’ to return … ESPN is reporting this morning that the chances that Texas QB Quinn Ewers returns to the Longhorns for the 2024 season have increased ‘exponentially’ in recent weeks. Ewers has been all over the map this season in terms of how NFL teams appear to view him, and while it also appears that his grade has trended upwards in recent weeks, it is still probably a good move for him to return for one more season, especially one in the SEC.
More college conference championship previews … Of course, the SEC title game between #1 Georgia and #8 Alabama is THE big game of the day Saturday, but there are in fact three other Power 5 conference championship tilts on the schedule for the day some which have implications for the CFP playoff lineup and some which don’t including Michigan versus Iowa for the Big Ten title (which doesn’t), Texas and Oklahoma State in the Big XII (which could) and Florida State against Louisville in the ACC (which certainly will!) Enjoy!!
Add one more QB to transfer portal … Washington State QB Cam Ward announced today that he will be putting his name into the transfer portal, although he also indicated that he has not totally ruled out entering the 2024 draft. Ward spent two seasons at WSU after transferring originally from FCS Incarnate Word. This season, the 6-3, 220-pound Ward completed 67% of his passes for over 3,700 yards – 4th in the country – and 25 TDs while having 7 picked off for the 5-7 Cougars.
SEC championship preview … Conference championship weekend kicks off with the Pac-12 title game later this evening with #3 Washington set to battle #5 Oregon in what could arguably called the most anticipated game with week. If that’s the case then the SEC title game between #1 Georgia and #8 Alabama, who for the record have won 5 of the past 8 national championships between them, is a close second. Also not hard to make the case that the Dawgs-Tide match-up features more top prospects for the 2024 draft per capita than any of this weekends title game. Here’s who we’ll be watching in Saturday’s SEC title game.
Another QB prospect to transfer … College football fans may have to buy a program next year to see which QB is playing for which team as yet another has opted to enter the transfer portal. The latest to announce he’s moving on is Oregon State’s D.J. Uiagalelei who transferred to the west coast this year from Clemson.