NCAA Football News

Mississippi State Sets Horrible Example by Admitting Jeffery Simmons

DESTIN, Fla. — In a day and age in which player discipline, domestic violence and violence toward women is at the forefront of the national conversation due to the situation at Baylor, Mississippi State could have made a statement.

It could have made a statement that violence toward women is wrong in all instances. 

It could have prevented 5-star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons from enrolling in the school after he was charged in March for simple assault and disturbing the peace after video surfaced on WCBI (via the Clarion-Ledger) of Simmons hitting a woman who was on the ground. 

It didn't. 

The school announced Thursday it will allow Simmons to enroll as a student in the summer semester, but it will suspend him for his first collegiate game. He will also "be evaluated by the licensed professionals at the university’s [on-campus] Student Counseling Services."

"We took our time and vetted this thing as best we could," athletics director Scott Stricklin told reporters at SEC spring meetings at the Sandestin Hilton. "The second thing is that we wanted to make sure that we weren't making our campus unsafe. We weren't introducing something on campus that would create an issue, which is why we spent a lot of time in his hometown talking to a lot of people.

"We looked at his police background, and there was nothing in there other than this situation. We got his student conduct records from Noxubee County [Mississippi] High School. There was nothing in there to make you think that this is a kid who's a troublemaker—that's going to be someone who causes violence on campus."

One instance of hitting a woman shouldn't be acceptable, especially when Mississippi State was in a position to prove it.

The counseling Mississippi State mentioned in its press release and Stricklin acknowledged to reporters in Destin hasn't happened yet.

So why admit him now? Because classes started Thursday? Because it was, as Stricklin described, "a parking lot fight that got out of control?"

Give me a break.

Yes, Stricklin pointed out that just because it was a parking lot fight doesn't make it OK. Yes, by admitting Simmons, Mississippi St. gives him access to the student opportunity fund and other on-campus treatment programs that he wouldn't have access to otherwise. 

Can't that wait? 

The SEC made a bold move last season by passing the "serious conduct rule," which prevents players with a history of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual violence from transferring to programs in the conference. It doesn't (and likely won't) pertain to incoming freshmen, due in part to the fact that legal records of minors are sometimes difficult to access.

Simmons' legal records, at least in this instance, are not.

The two misdemeanor charges are out there, with video of the incident, for everybody to see. Isn't that enough to apply the same rule to an incoming freshman?

Evidently not.

"I was on the student misconduct committee, and I think it would be a question mark," Stricklin said. "If you look at the triggers that are in the due diligence, he has two misdemeanors. ... It's questionable if he were a transfer. Greg [Sankey] pointed out, there's a different expectation for somebody who's been out on their own in a college environment versus somebody who's never left home."

The expectation should be to not hit women. 

The expectation should be that if you have a clear path to let the legal system play out without welcoming a danger to your campus, take it.

The expectation should be to use common sense and recognize that, while Simmons might have a background that's as crystal clear as the water in the Gulf of Mexico—a mere 100 yards from where Stricklin was sitting when he met with reporters—one instance of violence toward a woman creates a history that should be addressed more harshly.

The expectation should be that a one-game suspension—the rough equivalent of a targeting penalty that occurs early in the first quarter of a contest—isn't enough when it involves violence toward a woman.

Those expectations don't rush the quarterback, though.

Simmons does, and he'll likely be doing it by mid-September for a Mississippi State program that chose to take the low road Thursday. 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Jeffery Simmons, 5-Star DL, Admitted to Mississippi State: Details, Reaction

Five-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons has been admitted to Mississippi State University, with conditions, after he was charged with misdemeanor assault in March, the school announced Thursday. 

"After careful assessment, the MSU athletics department has determined Simmons may be a part of the football team, but he will be evaluated by the licensed professionals at the university’s Student Counseling Services and be required to complete any program prescribed by that office," the school wrote in a statement. "Additionally, he will be suspended for the first game of his college career."

According to the Clarion-Ledger's Sarah Fowler, Simmons was formally charged with simple assault and disturbing the peace after a video emerged that showed him striking a woman. 

The school's official statement says Simmons "used physical force against one of those involved in the altercation" after he attempted to break up a fight between his sister and another woman. 

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin explained why the school moved forward and admitted Simmons before the charges were resolved: 

Based on conversations our staff has had with school, community and church leaders in Noxubee County, this incident appears to be uncharacteristic of Jeffery. It’s a highly unique circumstance to administer discipline to a student for an incident that occurred prior to that individual joining our university. However, it’s important that Jeffery and other potential MSU students understand that these type of actions and poor decisions are not acceptable. 

We expect the structure and discipline Jeffery will be a part of in our football program to benefit him. Jeffery will be held accountable for his actions while at MSU, and there will be consequences for any future incidents.

Citing a source, Tony Barnhart of the SEC Network reported "Simmons has been told he has no margin for error and will be 'monitored closely.'"

Simmons ranks No. 19 overall among all recruits in 247 Sports' class of 2016. He's also the top-ranked player in the state of Mississippi and the third-ranked strong-side defensive end in his class. 

 

Star rankings courtesy of 247Sports.  

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Michigan Football: Wolverines' 2016 Offseason Summer Checklist

If everything goes as planned for Michigan during the offseason, Jim Harbaugh will make noise everywhere while the rest of the Wolverines quietly prepare for the 2016 campaign.

Harbaugh and the coaching staff are quite literally traveling the world to participate in satellite camps—39, to be exact, according to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. In addition to stops in SEC Country, Michigan is headed to American Samoa and Australia.

While that effort should reap success on the recruiting trail, a top priority for the Wolverines is immersing summer-arriving freshmen in the next level of football.

The newcomers will join an established group of players with a few objectives to work toward before fall camp.

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Corey Malone-Hatcher to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star DE Prospect

Corey Malone-Hatcher announced Thursday that he's planning to play college football at Michigan, providing a boost to the Wolverines' 2017 recruiting class.

Tyler James of NDInsider.com provided video of Malone-Hatcher's announcement:

Malone-Hatcher also provided his thoughts on joining the Wolverines, per Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports:

I take a tremendous amount of pride. The message Coach (Jim) Harbaugh gave me the last time I talked to him sums it up. He said when you wake up the next morning and you realize you’re going to be a Wolverine, that Go Blue takes on a different meaning. You start to say it differently. It becomes a symbol for you. You’re part of something bigger. You’re part of something that represents academic excellent success and tradition on the football field.

It’s an honor to carry on that tradition.

Malone-Hatcher is a 4-star prospect and the No. 247 overall recruit in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He also rates as the No. 16 weak-side defensive end and the sixth-best incoming player from the state of Michigan.

The St. Joseph High School star features a frame that should allow him to play defensive end or linebacker. He combines intriguing power with a growing understanding of how to attack the passer on a consistent basis.

His junior campaign did come to an early end because of a leg injury. Josh Helmholdt of Rivals noted the lineman could have just tried to let it heal, but he opted to fix the problem with the hope of putting it in his rearview mirror for good.

"I had two options: either put it in a boot and let it heal, or just go get it fixed and make sure it is not a reoccurring issue," Malone-Hatcher said. "We opted to just get it taken care of right now and not have to worry about it anymore."

Before that, Eric Rutter of Today's U Sports liked the progress he witnessed:

Malone-Hatcher's improved play also led to increased interest from around the nation as he prepared for his senior campaign, as he illustrated on social media:

Of course, it didn't come as much surprise that several top programs made contact with him, given his long-term upside. It's still going to take some development time before he becomes an every-down contributor on defense, though.

Keeping Malone-Hatcher in Michigan is a major recruiting victory for Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff. He generated interest from other high-profile programs such as Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame, so it's a strong get for the Wolverines.

While it's always tricky to gauge how quickly a prospect might make an impact this far out, Michigan has several upperclassmen among its defensive line. So by the time he arrives on campus, there should be an opportunity to earn at least a place in the rotation.

Malone-Hatcher is probably going to take a full season or two before he really starts to make his presence felt for the Wolverines. He has the skill set to become a star, though.

 

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Big 12 Reportedly Reconsidering Transfer Rule for Walk-Ons: Details and Reaction

The Big 12 is reportedly rethinking a transfer rule for walk-ons that would allow them to change schools within the conference and not lose a year of eligibility.

Citing sources, ESPN.com's Jake Trotter reported Thursday the proposal is being re-examined "with different language" after a 5-5 vote Wednesday failed to produce the majority necessary to pass new rules. 

"Sources said part of the new language being discussed would allow a walk-on's school to offer a scholarship to keep him," Trotter added. "If the walk-on then still elected to transfer within the conference, the player would face the league's transfer eligibility restrictions."

On Wednesday, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Trotter "opposition to the walk-on rule change didn’t want Big 12 teams luring other team’s walk-ons with the promise of scholarships."

While the passage of a new rule with that language would have major implications, there would be none more significant in the short term than the altered playing status of Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield. 

The reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year transferred to Oklahoma from Texas Tech following his freshman season and is slated to enter his final year of eligibility after being forced to sit out the 2014 season. But under the new rules, Mayfield would reportedly be able to recoup that season since he walked on at Texas Tech before latching on with the Sooners. 

Trotter also noted that even if the Big 12 doesn't change its rules regarding walk-on transfer eligibility, Mayfield could still snag a fourth year of eligibility if he becomes a graduate transfer and moves to another Power Five school. 

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College Football Uniform Trends to Watch for in 2016

New York City's renowned Fashion Week extravaganza came and went back in February without a single mention of some of the hottest fads sweeping the world. The college football world, that is.

Uniform changes and updates remain all the rage in college football, and each year when these tweaks happen, we look for new trends.

In the past, this has included the move toward thinner, tighter and more breathable materials as well as the push to include black or gray into the color palette regardless of whether it was part of a school's colors.

One of the most anticipated changes won't happen until August. That's when Michigan shifts from Adidas to Jordan Brand, the first football team to do so. We have no idea what the Wolverines' uniforms will look like—though assistant coach Jay Harbaugh previewed a possible look last summer in a since-deleted tweet—but they could usher in a new era of football gear from a line previously known for only basketball.

Until the official unveiling happens, though, we can only speculate. But several other teams have released new uniforms for 2016, so take a stroll with us down the runway for the latest styles and trends.

 

Past and Present

The millennial generation gets picked on for its overall sense of entitlement and narcissism, so it makes sense that college football teams want to stay as relevant as possible on the uniform front. But there are also the fans to consider, particularly those who have been around for quite some time and fondly remember a program's past glories.

Now more teams are looking to combine past and present with their gear in hopes of pleasing all factions.

Clemson is coming off one of its best seasons in school history, winning its first 14 games and reaching the national championship. Had the Tigers managed to beat Alabama, it would have marked their first title since 1981.

Now their quest to win it all in 2016 will be in gear that harkens back to that championship squad of 35 years ago.

"Who says you can't go back?" the above video's narrator asks. "Who says you can't recreate history?"

Instead of a major overhaul, Clemson tweaked its threads to look more like the ones it wore in 1981, with bigger numbers on the front and back, and a return of the tiger paw logo to the top of the shoulders.

That frees up the side of the shoulder for smaller numbers, just like Clemson wore when it beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl 35 years ago.

The last of Pittsburgh's nine national titles came in 1976, when coach Johnny Majors and Heisman Trophy-winning running back Tony Dorsett led the Panthers to a 12-0 mark. That team's helmets had “Pitt” written in script on the sides, a style that lasted until 1996, when the school switched to a Panthers logo.

What's old is new again, though, and the Pitt script is back. According to coach Pat Narduzzi, today's college football players like donning vintage designs as much as new ones.

"I think it’s very attractive to recruits," he told ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson. "You’ve got to have a little swag to you. I think our kids got some swag, and we’ll continue to add to the swag."

Also looking to the past for a “new” look is Virginia Tech, which under first-year coach Justin Fuente will have new uniforms that include a change in font.

According to the school's website, the lettering pays homage to Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr., a Hokies alum from the 1940s who went on to become a NASA engineer. This also ties in well with the school's tradition as a polytechnic research institution.

 

Fringe Benefits

At this rate, it shouldn't be long before the jerseys start getting bedazzled or include epaulets on the shoulders.

A continuing trend with college football uniforms of late has been the inclusion of different patterns that stand out alongside the solid color of the rest of the material. Last year saw Michigan State add an alternate kit with a Greek "key pattern" on the shoulders, and Florida State added some flair to both the sleeves and neck line in 2014.

Not willing to be left behind, schools like Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Purdue are joining the fringe party for 2016.

Oklahoma State, a past pioneer in the world of chrome lids and oversized mascot logos, is jumping on the pattern bandwagon by including a "custom paisley print" around the neck and sleeve edges.

Purdue, which previously harkened back to the glory days of the locomotive with train tracks running down the center of its helmet, now has added a "cowcatcher" design on both shoulders. For those not well versed in train history, that's the pointed guard on the front of engines that are meant to clear away any debris—cows, included—that might be scattered on the tracks.

And Kentucky has thrown a checkerboard design onto its sleeves, though that's managed to draw as much praise from fans of one of the Wildcats' rivals as from its own supporters.

 

Numbers Never Lie

Uniform updates have been going on for quite some time, but one area that tended to stay the same was the jersey numbers.

Go back as recently as a decade ago, and almost every college football team had the same basic block font for its numbers—both on the chest and back as well as the shoulders—and any uniform tweaks were to the colors or helmet designs.

Now it's getting to where every FBS team seems to have its own unique set of stylized digits, and most of the updated uniforms for 2016 are following suit with this.

Oklahoma State's latest set of changes also includes a "barbed wire typeface" to further drive home that program's cowboy culture, while Central Florida's update features numbers that all have tiny notches carved into them. It falls in line with the school's UCF logo and works well with new coach Scott Frost's push of the #UCFast motto he introduced after being hired.

Rutgers's fresh uniforms are meant to "go back to a traditional Rutgers look," new coach Chris Ash said, per Ryan Dunleavy of APP.com. They scrap the the odd medieval/gunmetal motif the Scarlet Knights had been using for a few years. "I wanted a nice, clean, professional look that is traditional and identifiable with Rutgers."

Apparently, that also includes having a special serif-style font for the uniform numbers instead of old-style block numbers.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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10 Under-the-Radar College Football Quarterbacks to Watch in 2016

Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield are household names, but the 2016 campaign is spotted with lesser-known college football quarterbacks worth watching.

Some may be underrated when it comes to NFL draft prospects, while others are flat-out fun to track in the fall.

In most cases, the team isn't a national or even conference championship contender. However, a select group of signal-callers will be under center for a program prepared for a breakout year.

Although the list—organized alphabetically—is subjective, an under-the-radar quarterback is different for almost every fan, largely depending on allegiances and location.

The following players are among the most entertaining talents the average fan doesn't know much—if anything—about. And that's OK! We're here to help.

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Schools to Watch for After 4-Star QB Kellen Mond Decommitted from Baylor

Consider the proverbial hammer dropped in Waco, Texas.

With everything that's gone on with Baylor in the past week—the dismissal of Art Briles, the removal of Kenneth Starr as president (and then Starr's resignation as chancellor, per ESPN's Joe Schad), the multiple players from the 2017 class decommitting and the 2016 signees reportedly requesting releases (per ESPN.com's Jeremy Crabtree) from their national letters of intent—things hit rock bottom from a recruiting perspective right around 6:11 p.m. CT.

IMG Academy's Kellen Mond, a 4-star quarterback and arguably Baylor's most important recruit of the 2017 class, announced his decommitment via Twitter and once again became a free agent among a pool of schools looking to land that prize target at the quarterback position.

Mond is the nation's No. 4-ranked dual-threat quarterback. Of the nation's top 10 dual-threat options, only two are uncommitted: Mond and Tate Martell.

Mond, who will participate in this weekend's Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles, was on WOAI-TV in his hometown of San Antonio explaining his decision and thanking the coaches for recruiting him. He also announced that his top three schools are Auburn, Ohio State and Texas A&M, with Auburn currently in the lead.

The race for Mond becomes a very intriguing one for Auburn. Of the three schools Mond mentioned, Auburn is the only one without a quarterback commit in its class. The Tigers have five pledges in their 2017 class, including 5-star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley and 4-star running back/athlete Alaric Williams.

From an offensive standpoint, Auburn has solid pieces to build its class around. A quarterback commit like Mond would help solidify the needs of the class without question.

Texas A&M's 2017 class is nine deep and includes 3-star quarterback pledge Connor Blumrick, a big prospect at 6'6" and 203 pounds who announced his verbal two weeks ago.

Ohio State's 2017 class, currently ranked No. 1 in the country, has 13 pledges, including 4-star quarterback commit Danny Clark, a Buckeyes commit since December 2013.

The idea of Mond choosing Auburn would make a lot of sense, and his 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions are trending that way. With him admitting Auburn is his front-runner, he's basically the Tigers' to lose.

The one thing about recruiting that never changes, however, is that the process is a marathon and never a sprint. There are still eight months remaining until national signing day, and you can bet those three teams—and others—will be fighting passionately for Mond, a classic dual-threat option.

Per the San Antonio Express-News' Ben Baby, Mond threw for 1,991 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 898 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior at Reagan High School in San Antonio. He transferred to IMG at the beginning of the spring semester.

Those talents will be warranted at the school of his choice. Auburn is hoping to close the deal and land its quarterback of the class. Ohio State and Texas A&M are hoping to make moves to add depth to the position.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Damon via Twitter @DamonSayles.

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Art Briles Issues Statement Regarding Firing from Baylor

In the wake of his firing as Baylor's head football coach, Art Briles issued his first statement Thursday, expressing regret and a desire to tell his side of the story eventually.

Here is the statement, first sent to Julie Hays of KWTX News 10:

Baylor Nation,

My heart goes out to the victims for the pain that they have endured. Sexual assault has no place on our campus or in our society. As a father of two daughters, a grandfather, and a husband, my prayers are with the victims of this type of abuse, wherever they are. After 38 years of coaching, I have certainly made mistakes and, in hindsight, I would have done certain things differently. I always strive to be a better coach, a better father and husband, and a better person.

Keep in mind, the complete scope of what happened here has not been disclosed and unfortunately at this time I am contractually obligated to remain silent on the matter. The report prepared by Pepper Hamilton, the law firm hired and paid for by Baylor's Board of Regents, has not been shared with me directly, despite my full cooperation with the investigation. I can only assume that the report, which is not independent, supports the conclusions that the Board has already drawn. I hope to share with you what I was aware of as soon as I can so Baylor Nation can begin the healing process.

I have the utmost admiration for Baylor University, its community, and its important mission. I am truly grateful for having had the chance to coach hundreds of young student-athletes at this University. I am deeply humbled for having had the opportunity to be a part of Baylor Nation.

Coach Art Briles

Baylor fired Briles last week amid a sexual assault scandal that allegedly involved multiple football players.

According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, law firm Pepper Hamilton determined Baylor "failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players. The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University."

Along with Briles' firing, Kenneth Starr announced his decision to resign as Baylor's chancellor. The school named former Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe as the Bears' interim head coach.

The 60-year-old Briles served as Baylor's head coach from 2008 through 2015 after five seasons at Houston. He went 65-37 with the Bears, including a 32-7 mark over the past three campaigns.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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SEC Extra Points: Expanding Player Discipline Standards Easier Said Than Done

DESTIN, Fla. — While the war of words between Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh dominated headlines early during SEC spring meetings, the increased focus on player discipline has been the one constant through the first two days of the four-day event. 

The conference stepped out and began to lead the charge in reforming player discipline at this event last year, when it passed the "Jonathan Taylor rule" that prevents potential transfer players who have a history of sexual assault, sexual violence and domestic violence from being admitted to a school.

Since that time, the SEC established a working group to broaden the definition of what "serious misconduct" actually is. The hope is that, in conjunction with the information received from that group, the conference will continue to lead the national charge to improve player behavior.

"What's come back is two pieces. One, a little bit of a broader definition of serious misconduct that picks up stalking," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. "It's really about interpersonal violence beyond only sexual assault. It's still pretty focused. It's not a wholesale list of felonies or anything like that. It's pretty focused on interpersonal violence.

"The other addition is the expectation of certain due diligence work. That expectation predated what I read as an outcome of the report of Baylor University's circumstances. I think at the very end, it mentioned that. What we will do is create a set of questions that will be expected to be asked for information sought from a potential transfer student."

What likely won't be included in the new legislation—which should be announced at the conclusion of spring meetings on Friday—is the expansion of the rule to include incoming freshmen in addition to potential transfers.

There's a good reason for that.

"If you're transferring from a university, you're generally of age," Sankey said. "You're generally 18 years of age or older. You're in a higher-education setting. You're in an environment that could be very different from the one you lived in as a child...a minor. Generally speaking, before enrollment, they are minors, so you might have different access to legal records and information."

Make no mistake, though, the push to build on the momentum that the "Jonathan Taylor rule" created last year is another sign that the SEC is taking player behavior issues as seriously as possible, while remaining realistic on what hurdles exist from a legal standpoint that could delay implementation.

After what's gone on at Baylor and Alabama's signing of Taylor—who was at junior college after being dismissed from Georgia for domestic violence, and subsequently dismissed for similar reasons at Alabama—a much-needed bright light has been cast on making sure that college campuses are safe.

The SEC is trying to make theirs even safer, but it's easier said than done.

 

Status Is Pending

Mississippi State shocked the recruiting world on national signing day when it inked former 5-star defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons over several higher-profile suitors.

But his admission into the school remains uncertain after video surfaced on WCBI (via the Jackson Clarion-Ledger), of Simmons hitting a woman in March. He was later charged with misdemeanor simple assault and disturbing the peace.

"I think the University and the athletic department are going to comment on that later in the week," head coach Dan Mullen said.

Mississippi State starts class on Thursday, so it won't be long before the future of the Noxubee County (Mississippi) native is determined—if he's even admitted at all.

"I think we want to be as fair as we can to student-athletes in making sure we're not taking opportunities away from people who deserve opportunities in people's minds," Mullen said. "But also not making decisions without other students' safety or bringing people that might not be great for the university on the campus."

Could the SEC's push to tighten up which players with history of interpersonal violence are allowed into the conference come into play? That remains to be seen.

It was clear that the SEC is again taking steps forward to ensure the safety of students on all 14 campuses. But it would only be a small step forward if it comes out of Destin with increased measures on player discipline while also allowing a player with said issue to enroll at a member institution during the same week.

 

No News Is Bad News for Gators

While headlines involving legislative issues like satellite camps, player discipline rules and underclassmen who could return to school have dominated talk at spring meetings, Florida head coach Jim McElwain dropped a nugget on Tuesday that might have been lost in the noise.

Star Gator wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who hasn't been with the team since January, remains suspended, and it doesn't appear that much progress has been made toward a potential reinstatement.

"Same deal," McElwain said.

When pressed on whether Callaway—who caught 35 passes for 678 yards and four touchdowns, and returned two more punts for scores—is enrolled in the "Summer A" session, McElwain dropped some news that should concern Gator fans.

"No...no, not right now," he said. "It's being handled."

We're now going on six months in which Callaway—a rising sophomore who's being counted on to be the top weapon in a Gator passing game that desperately needs a boost—has been away from his teammates.

That means no work with quarterbacks Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby this spring, none planned during "optional" summer workouts and no development as a player with Florida's coaching staff.

For some teams that have multiple downfield threats to rely on, it wouldn't be a big deal. For Florida, it's huge, because Callaway is the threat. 

The longer this drags on, the more concerned Florida fans should be that the offense won't reach its potential in 2016.

 

A Devastating Loss

The one constant on a South Carolina defense that has struggled lately has been the play of ultraversatile linebacker Skai Moore.

The 6'2", 218-pounder from Cooper City, Florida, has led the Gamecocks in tackles in each of his first three seasons with the program, but will miss the season and undergo neck fusion surgery on Friday in Charlotte.

"He’ll be fine. This is not a career-threatening situation," head coach Will Muschamp said on Tuesday. "This is a very common procedure for a herniated disc. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t heal on its own."

The surgery will prevent Moore from taking contact for six months, but he will take his redshirt, and Muschamp expects him to return to school in 2017.

For South Carolina, it's an enormous injury.

Moore's speed and versatility would have allowed Muschamp to use him at linebacker and at more of a hybrid safety spot in certain situations. Because of that, he was going to be the centerpiece of the defense despite missing spring practice with the same injury. 

Without him, it's going to be a struggle for South Carolina to win games without scoring 30 points. With potentially a true freshman quarterback in Brandon McIlwain, a vastly inexperienced wide receiving corps and a running back group that isn't exactly the SEC's best, do you see that happening?

I don't. 

 

Alcohol In Stadiums?

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva is pushing for the SEC's ban on alcohol sales in general seating areas of stadiums to be lifted, and hopes that it happens sooner rather than later.

"Personally, I would entertain it. I think it's a good idea," he said. "I think it's good for the fan experience and I think it's good for the safety, because people overload before they come into the game. If they knew they could buy a beer in the stadium, they might not get as intoxicated before the game."

The SEC's ban on alcohol sales in areas except luxury seating has been in existence for more than three decades. The idea of allowing limited sales of beer and wine has proved Alleva's theory to be true on other campuses.

Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman reported last year that alcohol-related arrests before, during and after West Virginia home games dropped 35 percent when it allowed sales in 2011.

As Bleacher Report reported last year, the subject of lifting the conferencewide ban hasn't been broached at spring meetings in a few years. Alleva said that he "hopes" it gets brought up this year. It hasn't yet, according to Sankey, but that could change over the next couple of days. 

"Most likely, yes, in some form or fashion," Sankey said when asked if he anticipated discussion on the topic prior to the close of SEC spring meetings.

There's no time like the present. After all, isn't that what spring meetings is for?

It's unrealistic that, if the ban is lifted, it could go into effect in 2016. But it appears that there could be at least some movement on the topic.

 

Quick Outs

  • Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley said that talk of division realignment hasn't been brought up, and Sankey said that the most he's heard about it is in the media and in the press conference room at the Hilton in Destin. "We have a long history of divisions," Sankey said. "It’s worked incredibly well. The chance to be in Atlanta means something to both teams."
  • The SEC's decision to use a collaborative replay system with an official on-site and a replay center in Birmingham, Alabama, was a smash hit with coaches. "I think it's great," Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "With everything that goes on, everybody—coaches, players, fans—want to get it right. The more eyes that are more on it and the more people who are able to review something, the better chance you have to get it right."
  • Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops confirmed that running back Stanley "Boom" Williams is good to go for fall camp following offseason elbow surgery.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Ranking Best Big Ten Football Head Coaching Matchups for 2016 Season

With the calendar turning to June, satellite camps have officially started, which means the start of the college football season is merely three months away.

And when it comes to the mounting anticipation for the 2016 campaign, the Big Ten finds itself with no shortage of intriguing matchups to look forward to, as the conference looks to build on the recent momentum it's found in the past few seasons.

But while the Big Ten can certainly claim some of the nation's top talent, the coaches are the ones who have truly made the conference what it's become of late.

Between a three-time national champion, a two-time league champion, the most talked-about coach in the country and the reigning National Coach of the Year, to name a few, you'd be hard-pressed to find a conference with a deeper roster of prominent coaches than what currently exists in the Big Ten.

And in just a matter of months, those coaches will be squaring off against each other in an effort to capture this year's conference crown.

Let's rank this year's best Big Ten head coaching matchups, based on the intrigue that each respective battle will bring.

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7 Baylor Recruits Reportedly Request Release from NLI's After Art Briles' Firing

The Baylor Bears are already hemorrhaging recruits in 2017, and a mass exodus from their 2016 class may be on the horizon with Art Briles' imminent departure

ESPN.com's Jeremy Crabtree reported Wednesday that seven members of the Bears' 2016 class are asking the school to release them from their national letters of intent.

Offensive tackle JP Urquidez is one of the seven, according to his father:

According to Crabtree, Devin Duvernay, Patrick Hudson, Jared Atkinson, Kameron Martin, Parrish Cobb and Donovan Duvernay are also looking to get out of their letters of intent. Below is where each of the seven, including Urquidez, ranks overall and at his position, per 247Sports' composite rankings:

Baylor hired former Wake Forest and Ohio head coach Jim Grobe to take over for Briles on an interim basis, but that has done little to quell the uncertainty around the team's future. The uncertainty is extending to next year as well. According to 247Sports, the Bears have recently lost five commits from their 2017 class, including dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond.

Mond announced his decommitment Wednesday:

Crabtree noted the seven players who signed letters of intent with Baylor are obligated to the school "unless he doesn't meet admissions or eligibility requirements; he doesn't attend any institution for at least one academic year; the school has been charged with breaking NCAA recruiting rules; or he is released by the university."

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Kellen Mond Decommits from Baylor: Latest Comments and Reaction

Kellen Mond, a 4-star quarterback prospect from IMG Academy, announced Wednesday on Twitter that he decommitted from Baylor.

He released the following statement:

After further discussion with my family, I have made the decision to decommit from Baylor University. When I committed last summer, the primary basis was due to having the leadership of Art Briles and Kendall Briles as a great football foundation. Although this decision has been difficult, I would sincerely like to thank the tremendous Baylor fans and community for their support during this recruitment process.

Mond is considered the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback, the No. 21 player from the state of the Florida and the No. 103 prospect overall in the class of 2017, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

Mond's decommitment is the latest in what has been a mass exodus from the school after its announcement of the plan to fire head football coach Art Briles. Kenneth Starr resigned as Baylor's chancellor on Wednesday, via ESPN.com, with the school embroiled in a sexual assault scandal.

An independent study by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton found that the school institutionally failed to properly handle a number of sexual assault cases, many of which involved football players.

Richard Willis, the chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents, said the following in a statement after the school received the Pepper Hamilton report (via Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com): 

We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students.

The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.

Under this context, Mond's decommitment—and any decommitments to come—doesn't come as a surprise.

Citing sources, Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN reported Wednesday that six other players—Patrick Hudson, J.P. Urquidez, Jared Atkinson, Kameron Martin, Parrish Cobb and Donovan Duvernay—had already requested to be released from their letters of intent and that another player, Devin Duvernay, planned to do the same.

Mond, meanwhile, will instantly be a popular target for prospective schools, as he threw for 1,991 yards, 26 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2015 while also rushing for 898 yards and another seven scores.

Scout.com offered the following analysis on Mond:

Mond is a high-major QB prospect who's equally dangerous with his arm and legs. Possesses great size, frame potential for young QB. Light on his feet while setting in the pocket. Ball jumps from his hand with quick release. Senses pressure well. Plus arm strength. Throws well on the run. Dangerous runner. Especially elusive for long-striding galloper. Release isn't fully overhead, but close and has plenty of time to tweak mechanics.

His ability to run with the ball—he also rushed for 1,142 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2014—makes him a fascinating prospect, especially for zone-read and spread offenses. Mond is likely to have a long list of suitors for his services, along with the rest of the high-profile Baylor commits who are backing away from the school. 

 

Star rankings courtesy of 247Sports. You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.    

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Devin Chafin Dismissed by Baylor: Latest Comments, Reaction

The Baylor Bears announced Wednesday they dismissed running back Devin Chafin, per Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News.

On May 19, ESPN's Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach wrote in an Outside the Lines report about past assault allegations made against Chafin:

In the April 2014 case, a woman told Waco police that Bears running back Devin Chafin grabbed her arm and slammed it against a car, in front of teammates and another witness. She provided photos of bruises on her arm to police. She told police that, weeks earlier, Chafin had grabbed her by the throat and slammed her against a wall, then threw her to the floor and kicked her, according to a police report.

In the police report, the officer wrote that the woman was uncertain about pressing charges, and no legal action was taken. Chafin played in nine of 13 games the following season, including the season opener.

Authorities in Oklahoma also arrested Chafin and a female companion on marijuana charges on March 11. Then-head coach Art Briles suspended Chafin immediately after the arrest, but Briles told reporters on March 16 that the player would likely return for the 2016 season, per John Werner of the Waco Tribune:

He'll be back. It's his first offense in over a four-year period, and he had some bad judgment, just like a lot of us do. He picked a bad time to do it. … It's about representing yourself, your family, the Baylor community and making wise decisions. He's remorseful, but there will also be some punishment phases that go along with the remorse.

A lot has changed since then, though. The level of scrutiny around the Bears football program has increased following an investigation by law firm Pepper Hamilton into Baylor's handling of sexual assault allegations. In the aftermath, the school suspended Briles with "intent to terminate" his contract.

The Bears hired former Wake Forest and Ohio head coach Jim Grobe to serve as the interim football coach for the 2016 season.

Briles' imminent departure has caused a major ripple effect for Baylor on the recruiting trail.

According to 247Sports, four players from the Bears' 2017 recruiting class had decommitted from the school before dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond announced Wednesday he's no longer committed to the Bears. ESPN.com's Jeremy Crabtree also reported seven members of Baylor's 2016 class are asking to be released from their national letters of intent.

No current players on the team have voluntarily left since the school suspended Briles.

The San Antonio Express-News' Tim Griffin sees Chafin's dismissal leaving a hole in the Baylor running game:

Chafin rushed for 578 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games as a junior for Baylor in 2015.

Both Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson, who rushed for a combined 2,329 yards, will be back for Baylor in 2016. Linwood missed spring practice, though, after having foot surgery last December.

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Position-by-Position Preview of Tennessee's 2016 Roster

From skill-position players to potential forces of nature along both the offensive and defensive fronts, Tennessee's 2016 football roster is loaded with reasons for Volunteers fans to poke their chests out just a little farther this offseason.

Of course, UT must prove it on the field in a season riddled with expectations, but if the game was played on paper, Tennessee would jump off the page.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara may have their names on the marquee, but defensive back Cameron Sutton, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, defensive end Derek Barnett and others will do plenty more than play a supporting role.

It's a roster filled with top-shelf talent, young players brimming with potential and role players who are more than capable of being difference-makers. Guys like defensive end Corey Vereen, safety Rashaan Gaulden and center Coleman Thomas may not see their name much in previews, but they are great players.

Vols coach Butch Jones has recruited plenty more like them, too. But just because the college world is buzzing about UT doesn't mean folks around the program are forgetting about the sting. 

"The expectations are always very high internally," Jones said on a recent teleconference, per Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter David Paschall, "but the expectations placed on this team—Team 120—are a direct correlation to the success at the end of the year of Team 119. This year’s team has not accomplished anything. To me, it's all noise."

There sure is a lot of it. You can't read any college football preview without seeing mentions of the Vols. So, what's all the chatter about? Let's take a look at the position-by-position breakdown of the roster to see why folks on Rocky Top are excited.

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Position-by-Position Preview of Notre Dame's 2016 Roster

While the 2016 edition of Notre Dame football is built to compete for a national championship, the Fighting Irish will need to overcome a couple of weaknesses along the way.

The defense's performance will determine how long Brian Kelly's team will stay in contention, because scoring shouldn't be a problem for the offense.

Notre Dame needs to pick a quarterback, but it's hard to say there's a wrong choice. Granted, the receiving corps is almost entirely new compared to 2015, so the Irish must overcome a transition period.

However, the most important changes on the roster are in the front seven. Notre Dame needs an adequate defense to complement the scoring attack. If that happens, the program could challenge for its ultimate goal: a national title.

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Mike Singletary Tells TMZ That He's Interested in Baylor Head Coaching Job

Hall of Fame linebacker and Chicago Bears great Mike Singletary is reportedly intrigued by the idea of filling the Baylor Bears' head football coaching vacancy.

On Wednesday, Singletary told TMZ Sports he's "absolutely" interested in coaching at the school where he thrived as a collegiate standout. 

"I believe in Baylor," Singletary said, per TMZ. "I believe in the school. Right now, they just have to put the right leadership in place. Baylor can do great things."

TMZ also reported Singletary has entertained "very casual conversations" with the school about the opening, but there has yet to be any sort of formal interview. 

Singletary last served as a head coach in 2010, when the San Francisco 49ers went 5-10 before he was fired after Week 16. He then spent three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings as a linebackers coach. All told, Singletary went 18-22 and failed to make the playoffs during three seasons in the Bay Area. 

On May 26, Baylor's Board of Regents announced sweeping leadership changes that included the indefinite suspension of head coach Art Briles "with intent to terminate according to contractual procedures" after a comprehensive investigation by Pepper Hamilton, LLP "found specific failings within both the football program and Athletics department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence."

In his last order of business before stepping down as athletic director Monday, Ian McCaw named former Wake Forest Demon Deacons boss Jim Grobe the team's interim head coach, according to ESPN.com

Wednesday, school chancellor Kenneth Starr told Outside the Lines (via ESPN's Joe Schad) he was also resigning "as a matter of conscience." However, Starr will continue to teach at the law school, per Schad. 

Given the high rate of turnover in leadership positions at Baylor over the past week, and the fact that Grobe has already signed on as the interim head coach, Singletary's candidacy may need to be put on the back burner for the time being. 

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Bruce Judson Discusses Top 10: 4-Star ATH Looking to 'Play for a Starting Job'

When Cocoa, Florida, athlete Bruce Judson talked about decommitting from Ohio State in October, he made a vow to take his time with the recruiting process and make a well-informed decision to benefit his future athletically and academically.

Nearly eight months later, the 4-star athlete announced via social media that he's ready to trim an offer list that features 30 schools.

Judson posted his top 10 on Wednesday afternoon—a list that includes four SEC schools (Florida, Auburn, South Carolina and Alabama), two ACC teams in Pitt and Virginia Tech, and solo representatives from the Big 12 (TCU), Pac-12 (Arizona), Big Ten (Michigan State) and American Athletic Conference (UCF).

Judson added that Maryland and Kentucky are two schools that could work their way into his final decision.

"They always stay in touch with me," Judson said of his finalists. "They have great tradition, and I can come in and compete to play for a starting job. I can make my own legacy there and make a name for myself if I come in with the right mindset and just work out hard."

At 5'9" and 203 pounds, Judson is versatile enough to play running back, slot receiver, cornerback or safety at the next level.

Per MaxPreps, Judson put up respectable offensive statistics for Cocoa High School during his junior season. He rushed for 1,425 yards and 17 touchdowns and threw for an additional 679 yards and 11 touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback.

Judson's elusiveness and speed—he's been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.41 seconds—could be best utilized as a slot receiver and special teams returner in college. Judson is ranked as the No. 14 athlete and No. 245 overall player in the 2017 class.

Since decommitting from Ohio State, Judson has made reported unofficial visits to Alabama, Florida State, Central Florida, Florida, Miami, Arizona, Georgia, Auburn and Pitt. He said he's built strong relationships with the coaches in his top 10, and he's looking to continue building those relationships as he prepares for a verbal commitment.

Last month, Judson told SEC Country's Zach Abolverdi that lack of communication with head coach Urban Meyer led to his decommitment. Things went further south when Judson said Meyer mistook him for another commit during a visit to the Ohio State campus.

Judson's decommitment has worked out to other schools' advantages. His 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions point to Florida as the current front-runner. Pitt, however, has been trending upward.

The date of Judson's verbal is still to be determined, but he said he'll look into a few X-factors to help narrow the choices.

"I'm looking at the head coach and the coaching staff's relationships with me and my parents," Judson said. "I want a great education for what I can major in and early playing time where I can come make an impact now."

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Damon via Twitter @DamonSayles.

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Ken Starr to Resign as Baylor Chancellor: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

The fallout at Baylor continues, with Ken Starr telling ESPN's Joe Schad that he is resigning as university chancellor, via ESPN.com news services.  

Per Schad on Twitter, Starr noted that his resignation was "a matter of conscience" following numerous allegations of sexual assault involving Baylor football players. The school reportedly failed to investigate some claims for more than two years. 

Per the ESPN.com report, Starr told Schad he will still teach at Baylor's law school. The university previously removed him from his role as president for mishandling the assault allegations.

Starr issued a statement after an independent investigation into the allegations of sexual assault at Baylor concluded, expressing his sorrow for how things happened, per the Waco-Tribune Herald:

To be sure, this has been an exceedingly difficult time for the University family, especially so for the victims of sexual violence and their loved ones. I join the Board of Regents and the Senior Administration of the University in expressing heartfelt contrition for the tragedy and sadness that has unfolded. To those victims who were not treated with the care, concern, and support they deserve, I am profoundly sorry.

Starr's resignation as Baylor's chancellor is just the latest in a string of personnel changes over the last week.

According to Baylor's official website, the school suspended Art Briles and plans to fire him as head football coach. Baylor hired former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe as the interim head football coach, and athletic director Ian McCaw resigned on the same day. 

Dr. David Garland is serving as Baylor's interim president. The football program has been one of the nation's best over the last five years, but allegations off the field necessitated great change to the infrastructure.

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Tim Williams Could Be Alabama's Best Sack Artist Since Derrick Thomas

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When it comes to University of Alabama senior linebacker Tim Williams, the question isn’t if he can be good; it’s if he can be great.

Williams has that kind of potential. Maybe not quite Derrick Thomas potential when it comes to sacks but possibly the best at Alabama since the Hall of Fame linebacker last played for the Crimson Tide in 1988.

Did you see Williams come off the edge in the SEC title game and drop Florida quarterback Treon Harris in the fourth quarter? How about in the Cotton Bowl, when he blew past Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin, who went on to be the eighth overall selection in the NFL draft?

Perhaps you saw Alabama’s spring game when Williams was essentially unblockable. As with some other things about him, however, a disclaimer has to be given. The Alabama offensive line was without Cam Robinson, as the left tackle sat out A-Day after having shoulder surgery, and a true freshman played at right tackle.

It was almost unfair. Williams was so disruptive that he earned the Dwight Stephenson Award as the game’s most valuable lineman, in addition to a Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award from the coaches for spring practices.

“I treated everything like it was a game situation,” Williams said. “I really don’t care too much who it is. I care about going at the ball and the quarterback.”

You hear all the time about players who have so much going for them that the sky is the limit, yet with Williams it’s not an exaggeration. He has played in 34 games without having made a single start. As a pass-rushing specialist last season, he made just 19 tackles, but 12.5 were for loss, including 10.5 sacks.

Williams didn’t lead the Crimson Tide in sacks—Jonathan Allen did with 12—but the defensive end was on the field more. How well Williams makes the transition to every-down player, as he has taken over Denzel Devall’s former spot at strong-side linebacker, will define not only his legacy but possibly his career.

"He's always had good pass rush ability," head coach Nick Saban said.

"Tim's worked very hard, made a lot of sacrifices to try to get where he is right now, and we certainly appreciate it. A lot of people in our organization have tried to help and he's been very, very productive. It has nothing to do with ability. He's not pass rushing any better than what he did before, he's just more dependable doing his job. We've been able count on him to do this point. I'd say that's the biggest difference."

Although Alabama probably would have recruited Williams regardless, his addition in 2013 corresponded with the program's emphasis on getting faster defensively, especially at linebacker, to counter all the no-huddle, uptempo offenses that were suddenly popular in the Southeastern Conference.

The real shock, though, was where running backs coach Burton Burns lured him from: Louisiana State University Laboratory School in Baton Rouge, which is just like it sounds: a small lab school in the LSU system.

As a junior playing defensive end, he registered 115 tackles, including 45 for loss and 16 sacks, which drew offers from far and wide. The 247Sports composite rankings rated Williams as the third-best prospect in the state and 82nd overall.

As a true freshman, Williams played in seven games, mostly on special teams, and was credited with three tackles, including one for loss, but was suspended for the entire 2014 training camp and had to work his way back up the depth chart.

Following a slow start, he made five tackles and 1.5 sacks in 12 games. The beginning of the 2015 season saw something similar, when Williams had just one tackle and no sacks through three games, only he turned a corner.

“He’s added speed, power, acceleration,” former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said during the playoffs. “I don’t really know when it clicked. I would say somewhere in fall camp. He started to pick things up on third down, kind of became a specialist.

“Very sharp kid that’s picked it up as we’ve gone along. A lot of our calls and stuff are conducive for him to go fast, come off the edge, create havoc. He’s gotten better and better under coach Tosh [Lupoi]’s tutelage. He’s done a great job, getting better.”

Williams was named one of the coaching staff’s defensive players of the game against Louisiana-Monroe, and Lupoi started calling him “Razor” because he was so sharp coming off the edge.

Statistically, it didn’t show, but Williams was a real menace against LSU. A week later against Mississippi State, he notched five tackles, including two for loss and 1.5 sacks, all career highs as Alabama recorded nine sacks.

From the Auburn game on, Alabama was better on third downs than every opponent, which combined to convert just 13 of 56 opportunities (23.2 percent). In comparison, the Crimson Tide offense was 25 of 63 (40 percent) en route to the national championship.

“He has good size, but he’s not one of those guys that’s huge,” Robinson said about Williams after practicing against him last season. “He has good speed and explosiveness, and he uses those two things to get to the quarterback a lot. I think that’s what kind of sets him apart.”

Williams is a rare player who has the kind of burst that when a quarterback sees he’s coming, it’s often already too late. It’s the rest of his game that he’s working on now—reading defenses, developing pass-coverage skills and holding up against the run, especially when teams such as Arkansas and LSU run right at him.

Consequently, the 6'4" Williams gained seven pounds before the spring, up to 237, and started working regularly with some of his bigger teammates, such as defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson.

“Because he’s a speed guy, a lot of players are just going to want him to go straight speed around the corner, but he’s been practicing on his power moves, too, like an inside defensive lineman,” Tomlinson said.

Williams explained further: “When he says speed to power, it’s when I get down on third down and take a hard 10 yards, and [the tackle] thinks you do a move to the outside, but you set him up to do straight full-on power. Because he’s on his heels, when you do that, he’s going to topple over.”

“He taught me a lot about it, and said he’ll get me more sacks this year.”

Teammates also say that Williams has hit the film room in an effort to make the most of his opportunity. But a factor that can’t be overstated is that he’ll be playing with some extremely talented players, sort of like Thomas did when he notched an incredible 27 sacks in 1988 and 52 over his Crimson Tide career.

Thomas played alongside Cornelius Bennett, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and then Keith McCants, the fourth pick in the 1990 NFL draft.

Williams has Allen on the line, along with linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson, who could also be poised for a big season. Alabama led the nation with 53 sacks last season and returns its top four players in that statistical category.

Going back to A-Day, the first time a quarterback went back to pass, Anderson quickly dropped him. It was the first of 16 sacks for the defense that afternoon. Williams had two, along with three hurries.

“I thought Williams would have been a first-round pick,” ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said during a teleconference with reporters shortly after the 2016 draft was completed.

"I was surprised frankly that Nick Saban was able to convince Williams [to stay] or somehow Williams and Allen felt the need to go back. We saw a lot of players come out that shouldn't have. I thought Williams, the momentum he built up at the end of the year, and the way this league is for pass-rushers, he would have gone really high.”

On his too-early 2017 Big Board, Kiper has Williams second overall, between Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller rates him 11th, but with the same kind of upside.  

"Now, next year, if he can duplicate or build on what he did, Tim Williams is a top-five pick," Kiper said. "He's like a Khalil Mack, that kind of player."

Mack was the fifth overall pick in 2014 out of Buffalo. That’s one spot behind when Kansas City selected Thomas in 1989.

  

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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