NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

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QB Hurts bolts Tide for Sooners … Former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts has reportedly decided to transfer Oklahoma where as a grad transfer he will be eligible immediately. With the Sooners, Hurts is expected to replace Kyler Murray who will either be playing in the NFL or MLB next year. Hurts started for Alabama for two seasons and even won a national championship, but lost his job this year with the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa. of course, that would set up a fascinating match-up were the Tide and Sooners to meet in next year’s CFP playoffs as they did in this year’s national semi-finals.

Big Board; positional rankings updated … With the 2019 draft field now pretty much set, the GBN Big Board ranking of the top 150 or so prospects has been updated, along with the various positional rankings (see the drop down menu at the top of the page.)

Underclassman deadline passes; no new names added … The deadline for underclassmen wishing to enter the 2019 draft to file paperwork with the NFL in order to be eligible to be selected this coming April passed at midnight last night with no major new announcements. Our unofficial list has a record 138 juniors and redshirt sophomores who have indicated in one way or another that they have applied for eligibility to this year’s draft. That compared with a comparable number of 117 last year. Meanwhile, those underclassmen who did apply to the league for early entry to this year’s draft have a 72-hour window to withdraw their applications if they have not signed with an agent or otherwise received any inappropriate benefits. Once that grace period ends, the NFL will announce the final list of underclassmen eligible for the upcoming draft. Because the GBN list includes all players with college eligibility left who indicated they will be entering the draft some of whom the NFL does not actually require they formally apply for draft eligibility, the final list will be somewhat smaller. Last year, the final NFL tally of underclassmen in the 2018 draft was 106, the first time ever the figure was over 100 so figure there will new record this year.

Buckeyes’ CB enters draft; two others stay home … With the witching hour for underclassmen thinking about entering the NFL draft fast approaching, there are reports that Ohio State junior CB Kendall Sheffield is apparently headed to the 2019 draft. Sheffield hasn’t released a formal statement, but is reportedly in a training facility for players preparing for the draft. The 5-11, 185-pound Sheffield is also a noted track sprinter who could very well be the fastest player in college football. On the other, Clemson redshirt sophomore OLB Isaiah Simmons and Tennessee junior WR Jauan Jennings will reportedly return to school for the upcoming college seasons next fall.

Okie State WR enters draft … One more underclassman to add to the list if underclassmen entering the 2019 draft is Oklahome State junior WR Tyron Johnson. The 6-0, 195-pound Johnson is a former big-time recruit at LSU who transferred to Oklahoma State where he caught 53 passes for 845 yards and 7 scores this fall. At this time, Johnson looks more like a marginal prospect, but the athletic pedigree is there.

More bowl prospects reviews … GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette is on the ground at this week’s East-West Shrine game, but before he left for St. Pete he filed one final report on his observations on which players stood out during the regular bowl season here.

Sun Belt WR Hart enters draft … Georgia State junior WR Penny Hart has become the latest underclassman to announce that he will be entering the draft with eligibility still on the board. Hart is actually a 4th year junior who missed all but two games in 2016 with a foot injury. Hart is undersized at 5-8, 180, but he is very quick and has good hands; his numbers were down in 2018 when he had 49 receptions for 700 yards after totaling over 1,000 yards in both 2015 and 2017. Hart is also a good PR who averaged 17.6 yards per this past season. Underclassmen have until midnight tonight to file paperwork with the NFL in order to be eligible for the upcoming draft.

Sooners’ QB Murray declares for draft … So there you go! With the deadline for underclassmen to file paperwork with the league in order to eligible for the 2019 draft just hours away, Oklahoma junior QB Kyler Murray has indeed announced he will be putting his name forward for this year’s NFL draft. However, its still not clear that Murray is truly committed to football as in the past 24 hours there have been reports that he indicated to MLB’s Oakland A’s who selected him with the 9th pick in last April’s baseball draft that he would stick with baseball if they offered to up their signing bonus to $15M. In fact, the key date for Murray now is February 15th when he will have to decide whether to attend spring training with the A’s or attend the NFL scouting combine which gets underway ten days later in Indianapolis.Stay tuned!

LSU LB White; Iowa TE Hockenson declare … With today’s deadline for underclassmen to file paperwork with the NFL in order to be eligible for the 2019 draft looming, both LSU ILB Devin White and Iowa redshirt sophomore TE TJ Hockenson have announced they will indeed be entering this year’s draft. White is the consensus #1 inside backer this year and a potential top 10-20 pick, while the athletic Hockenson should end up being one of the top 2-3 TEs in this year’s draft.

Deadline day for underclassmen … The clock is definitely running out for underclassmen still undecided or undeclared about their intention whether to forego their remaining college eligibility and enter the 2019 NFL draft as they have until midnight tonight to file paperwork with the league in order to be eligible. So far, what appears to be a record number of over 130 underclassmen have already indicated that they will in fact be entering the draft; however, the NFL is still waiting from a handful of big names. The biggest, of course, is Oklahoma junior QB Kyler Murray, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner whose entry into the draft would really spice up the top ten debate. Murray, though, reportedly met with the Oakland A’s, who selected him with the 9th pick overall in last spring’s MLB draft, and reportedly indicated that he would stick with baseball if the A’s increased his signing bonus money to $15M from the current figure of just under $5M. Meanwhile, there are several other big-name underclassmen NFL personnel people are waiting to hear from including star LB Devin White, a potential top 15-20 pick this year, along with Alabama OLB Anfernee Jennings, Clemson OLB Isaiah Simmons, Iowa sophomore TE TJ Hockenson, and Florida State junior PK Ricky Aguayo. Stay tuned.

East-West Shrine; NFLPA Classic star games set to start … The post-season college all-star schedule hits high gear this week with practices for both the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg and the NFLPA Classic in Los Angeles set to start Monday morning with both games scheduled for next Saturday. The Shrine game will kick-off on the 19th at 3 PM ET. As usual, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette will be on the ground in St. Pete. Look for his reports from this week’s practice sessions all week. For now, here is Pigskin’s preview of the players he is especially looking forward to seeing at this year’s Shrine workouts.  And for the record, here are the rosters for the East and West teams at this year’s Shrine game which appears to be especially talented among the back seven defensive positions. Meanwhile, the NFLPA Collegiate all-star game workouts begin at the Rose Bowl with the game set to KO at 5 PM ET on Saturday. The NFLPA game still doesn’t attract the same talent level as the Shrine game, but still has a number of players of note including Washington QB Jake Browning. He’ll be joined in the QB rotation by Brent Stockstill of Middle Tennessee, while other players to watch at the NFLPA game include Arkansas OG Hjalte Froholdt and Texas OT Patrick Vahe, along with CBs Mark Fields of Clemson and Iowa State Brian Peavy among others. Here are the full rosters for the NFLPA game as they currently stand. Of course, these two games set the stage for next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile. Stay tuned!

Tide MLB Wilson switches gear; will enter draft after all … In a bit of a surprise, Alabama junior MLB Mack wilson has confimed that contrary to earlier reports, he will be entering the 2019 draft. Wilson had indicated earlier this month that he would be staying in school, but clearly had a change of heart. Wilson is the 7th Alabama underclassman to announce entering the upcoming draft including OT Quinnen Williams, OT Jonah Williams, FS Deionte Thompson, RB Josh Jacobs, TE Irv Smith, and CB Savion Smith. For now, Wilson looks to be the top-ranked MLB for the 2019 draft as the NFL is still waiting to hear from LSU’s Devin White who would supplant Wilson if as expected he also enters the draft.

Four more spots wrapped in opening round selection order … As a result of this weekend’s conference semi-finals, four more spots in the opening round selection order for the 2019 draft have been settled. Philadelphia will pick 25th, Indianapolis will have the 26th selection, Oakland will pick 27th with the pick acquired from Dallas for WR Amari Cooper, and the L.A. Chargers will pick 28th. Picks #29 and #30 will go to the losing sides in next weekend’s conference championship games, while the Super Bowl loser will pick 31st and the Super Bowl champs will go 32nd. Here is the full, updated selection order for the first round of the 2019 draft.

QB Murray meeting with A’s; Cards coach walks back ‘top pick’ talk … The Oakland A’s are reportedly holding a last-ditch meeting with Oklahoma junior QB Kyler Murray this afternoon, presumably hoping to convince their opening round pick at last spring’s MLB draft, to stick with baseball. The A’s believe that Murray, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, will announce later today or tomorrow that he will put his name in for the 2019 NFL draft where he could very well shake up the top ten picks. One story that circulated almost immediately after word came down that Murray was in fact considering entering the upcoming football draft, was that Arizona, which holds the #1 pick, could consider taking Murray with the first overall pick and then look to trade QB Josh Rosen, who suffered through an up-and-down rookie season after the Cardinals selected him with the 10th pick at the 2018 NFL draft. That story got legs in part as a result of comments made by new Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury who called Murray a ‘freak’ whom he’d happily take with the #1 pick. Of course, that was before Kingsbury actually had the #1 and in his introductory press conference in Phoenix indicated that the situation had obviously ‘changed.’ Kingsbury also had plenty of positive things to say about Rosen, in particular, the latter’s competitiveness. In the end, though, Kingsbury also didn’t rule out any bold moves at the position, although that may largely reflect that the fact that at this time the Cardinals really don’t know what they are going to do. Stay tuned!

Star Tide FS enters draft … Alabama junior FS Deionte Thompson has confirmed via twitter that he will in deed be entering the 2019 draft where he is projected to be a mid-first round pick. Thompson is the 6th Alabama junior to enter the upcoming draft including DT Quinnen Williams, OT Jonah Williams, TE Irv Smith, RB Josh Jacobs and CB Savion Smith. Thompson will also be joined in the 2019 draft by North Carolina A&T DE Darryl Johnson. Johnson is a 6-4, 235-pound two-time FCS All-American who had 10.5 sacks this past season. The addition of Thompson and Johnson pushes the list of underclassmen declaring for the 2019 draft to over 130. Underclassmen have until the end of business tomorrow to file paperwork with the NFL in order to be eligible for the upcoming draft.

Record number of underclassmen to enter draft … As noted in the post below, the NFL is still waiting to hear from a handful of prominent underclassmen with Monday’s deadline for juniors and redshirt sophomores to file paperwork with the league in order to be included in the 2019 draft. However, while we won’t have the final numbers until later in the week, it appears that a record number of underclassmen will be entering this year’s draft. So far, our unofficial count of underclassmen who have announced in one way or another that they will be entering the draft stands at 129, again with a number of still to be heard from. That’s already well above last year’s final total of 117 which was a clear record at the time. The final NFL list which will be released later in the week will be smaller as the GBN list includes all players with eligibility left who are entering the draft, whereas some of those – for example, 6th year seniors who’ve gotten an extra year of eligibility because of an injury – do not technically have to apply to the NFL in the same fashion. In the end, last year, the NFL designated 106 underclassmen in the 2018 draft, the first year the number was over 100.

Tide CB Smith enters draft … Alabama junior CB Savion Smith is the latest underclassman to announce that he will be entering the 2019 draft. During his lone season in Alabama after transferring from the junior college rank, Smith the 6-0, 200-pound Smith started 12 games and led the Tide with 3 interceptions, while tallying 60 tackles and five other pass breakups. Smith, who figures to be a second-day pick this coming April, is the 5th Alabama underclassman to enter the upcoming draft joining DT Quinnen Williams, OT Jonah Williams, TE Irv Smith and RB Josh Jacobs, although the two Tide junior defenders the NFL is actually waiting to hear from are FS Deionte Thompson and OLB Anfernee Jennings. And sticking with the SEC, Tennessee OT Drew Richmond, another one of the top juniors the NFL is waiting to hear from, reportedly has put his name into the transfer portal, meaning its highly unlikely that he will be turning pro this winter.

Clock ticking for underclassmen; one more declares … Underclassmen still thinking about entering the 2019 draft have just over 48 hours now to get paperwork into the league offices in order to be eligible if they have not done so already. And over the last day or so one more junior has announced that he will be joining that group in Memphis junior RB/WR/KR Tony Pollard. Pollard isn’t as well known as RB Darrell Henderson his former Tigers’ teammate who announced earlier this month that he will be leaving school early to enter the draft, but he is an interesting prospect in his own right. Indeed, the 5-11, 210-pound Pollard brings new meaning to the term slash player as he totaled almost 1,600 all-purpose yards this fall including 550 on the ground and another 460 yards on 39 receptions. Pollard also has has been one of the most electrifying KO return specialists in the country with a 30.1 yards per return career average and 7 career kick return TDs; that included 2017 when he led the nation with a remarkable 40 yards per return average that included 4 return TDs and earned him several All-America nods. At the same time, a handful of underclassmen have indicated this weekend that they will be returning to school next fall including CBs Damon Arnette of Ohio State and California sophomore Camryn Byrum; LSU DT Rashard Lawrence; WRs Chase Claypool of Notre Dame and Penn State’s Juwan Johnson (who will transfer); Vanderbilt TE Jared Pinckeny; and Cal ILB Evan Weaver. GBN Investigative College Football Analyst Larry Parker contributed to this report. 

Stanford RB Love recovering from torn ACL … Stanford RB Bryce Love, one of the top RB prospects for the upcoming draft, confirmed earlier today that he is currently recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Cardinal’s final regular season game this fall. Love underwent surgery in mid December and is currently rehabbing at the Andrews Institute and training in Florida. Love will still attend the scouting combine in Indianapolis at the end of February, but won’t be able to work out; he also will not be able to participate in the Cardinals’ pro day in March. Given the usual recovery period of 6-9 months for this kind of injury, Love is hopeful that he could be ready for the start of training camp or at least the start of the regular season. Love looked all the part of a potential first rounder after he ran for over 2,000 yards two years ago, but surprisingly returned to school and then saw his stock dip as he struggled through an injury-plagued senior season in 2018. And that was before he tore the ACL, which could very well push him deep into the second day of the 2019 draft.

Four ‘Bama juniors enter draft … Four Alabama juniors announced jointly this morning that they will be entering the 2019 draft including DT Quinnen Williams, OT Jonah Williams, RB Josh Jacobs and TE Irv Smith. “Q” is a top 5 prospect who could get some consideration to get first overall, while LT Jonah Williams is a top 10-15 candidate who figures to be the first offensive lineman off the board this coming April. Meanwhile, RB Jacobs and TE Smith are second-day prospects.

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