NCAA Football News
While the Indianapolis Colts may not have had the most exciting draft this year, they did get a very intriguing wide receiver out of Ole Miss in Donte Moncrief.
Moncrief was taken by the Colts with the No. 90 overall pick in the third round and was the second player taken by Indianapolis over the weekend after Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort. Wide receiver wasn't a pressing need right now, but with how many talented prospects there were in this year's draft at the position, general manager Ryan Grigson couldn't pass up on Moncrief.
Some fans may have been upset the Colts didn't draft a player at a position where they needed more help, but Moncrief presents a long-term option at the position. Hakeem Nicks was signed this offseason, but he's on a one-year deal and could be gone after 2014. Meanwhile, Reggie Wayne is 35 years old, coming off a torn ACL and on the final year of his contract.
While he may not make an immediate impact, Moncrief could be a major asset down the road.
Unlike so many receivers Colts fans have seen over the years, Moncrief actually has great size at the position at 6'2'' and 221 pounds. He's used that size to his advantage over the past few years at Ole Miss, putting up 2,371 yards and 20 touchdowns on 156 receptions over the past three years.
Size isn't the only thing that makes Moncrief such an interesting prospect at the next level. The former Ole Miss receiver also does a nice job accelerating to top speed off the line while using body control to position himself to make the catch.
One of the things that stands out when watching Moncrief that will make offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton very happy is the receiver's willingness to block. Whether it was during run plays or bubble screens, Moncrief never seemed afraid to get chippy with opposing defensive backs, and that helped open up running lanes on a consistent basis.
Moncrief wasn't perfect at Ole Miss, rounding out routes and struggling at times with 50-50 balls despite his size. His production wasn't as impressive as it could have been, but a lot of that was on his quarterback, Bo Wallace, who struggled throwing with consistent accuracy.
Fortunately for Moncrief, he won't have to worry as much about that with Andrew Luck throwing him passes.
With his skill set and size, Moncrief is the ultimate vertical threat, and he showed that multiple times last season. Let's take a look at one of those explosive plays against the Auburn Tigers.
In the third quarter, the Rebels were using "jet" personnel, or four wide receivers with one running back in the backfield. Moncrief was lined up on the outside in the Spread 31 Right formation (three receivers on the left, one on the right and the running back to the right of the quarterback).
On this play, Moncrief is running a deep post towards the end zone. The route isn't the sharpest one, but he's able to adjust once the ball is in the air and makes the impressive catch for the touchdown. You can see the video of the play below at the 3:15 mark.
That wasn't the only big play Moncrief made in the game. He finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions against the SEC champions, and that was one of five games this past season where he had at least 100 receiving yards.
Overall, Moncrief has a unique set of skills that should help him stand out from the other receivers on the depth chart, and while he may not see the field a ton in his rookie season if everyone stays healthy, Colts fans should prepare to hear his name called quite often down the road.
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The dreaded hot seat is one of the worst positions in all sports because with it comes added media scrutiny, potential loss of a job and sometimes just plain old negative vibes. In Pac-12 country, the hot seat is locked away under most stadiums and probably out of commission for the next year.
But at three schools, there are athletic directors who may just want to keep an eye on the keys to the dusty rooms storing the hot seat, because it's not impossible that we could see some coaching changes following the 2014 season.
At the Arizona schools, both Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham are safer than ever after coming off solid seasons and with programs on the rise. Jim Mora can do no wrong at UCLA, and unless Steve Sarkisian just forgets to show up to work, he'll be fine for the foreseeable future.
The same can be said for the Washington schools, where Chris Petersen brings with him a solid reputation to the Huskies' program and Mike Leach is working wonders in Pullman for the Cougars. Finally, there's a fellow in Palo Alto named David Shaw who seems to be doing okay.
That leaves us with five other coaches who stand on varying degrees of less-than-solid ground. Which three could find themselves on the hot seat in 2014?
Kyle Whittingham, Utah
When Utah first made the jump over to the Pac-12, it appeared as though Kyle Whittingham would be the perfect man to lead the program into the future.
For one, he had already established a positive reputation after leading the Utes to a dominant Sugar Bowl win over Alabama at the conclusion of the 2009 season. That same Alabama team, we should add, was polishing a national championship trophy one year later.
But since the move to the power conference, things haven't worked out very well. In year one, the team went 8-5 and had a chance to reach the conference title game before losing the regular-season finale against Colorado, 17-14.
That loss would be the start of a long, downward spiral that has left the program coming off back-to-back five-win campaigns. Of course the Utes don't have the talent of the rest of the league, but part of the challenge as a coach is bringing in better talent and finding a way to level the playing field.
Whittingham is a proven coach, and he performed magnificently in the wake of Urban Meyer's departure. But the Pac-12 is on the rise and in much better shape than when his squad first entered the league.
The Arizona schools are on the rise, as are UCLA, USC and potentially Colorado. Getting back to eight- or nine-win seasons isn't going to just happen, and Utah is the only team in its division trending downward.
In 2014, the Utes will have proven quarterback Travis Wilson back (assuming he can stay healthy) to provide stability to the offense. The defense, under Whittingham's guidance, should be tough as usual. But if he can't lead his team to at least six wins, the recent trend will be unmistakable.
Even with another bad season, the school may choose to give their long-time coach another year. But make no mistake: If the Utes start out poorly and are struggling to capture wins, Whittingham's seat will heat up rather quickly.
Sonny Dykes, California
Before you point out that Sonny Dykes only has one season under his belt as the head coach at Cal, please note that it's been taken into consideration. And yes, he still makes this list as potentially having a hot seat in 2014.
To address that first part, we'll point out the former Colorado coach Jon Embree lasted a mere two seasons before getting the ax. The Buffaloes had hoped he would be the man to restore order to a program with a proud tradition, but the team was awful under his guidance.
And awful only scratches the surface of definitions that could apply to Cal football at the moment. The Bears won just one game in 2013, a nail-biter over Portland State. One win for a team that had been consistently challenging for conference titles just five years earlier is not okay, even for a first-year coach.
Going even further with that point, consider that former coach Jeff Tedford was fired after a three-win campaign, and that was with the unpredictable (to put it nicely) Zach Maynard at quarterback, not the steady Jared Goff of 2014.
Speaking of Goff, he remains a bright spot on the team. He has a big arm and a big future and is the perfect player to head up Dykes' "Bear Raid" offense. But one win doesn't cut it at a BCS conference program, especially one that knows what success is like.
Given that Dykes was a new coach and he has an unorthodox offensive philosophy, giving him a second year was a no-brainer. But he needs to at least show signs of forward momentum next season.
That means at least three or four wins, competing hard within the conference and making sure the team stays together even amidst the rough patches that are bound to occur. If he does that, he should be fine. But if he fails to get Cal off the ground for a second year in a row, his job may be in jeopardy.
Mark Helfrich, Oregon
A funny thing happened at the University of Oregon between the time Chip Kelly was hired and when he left for the NFL: Ducks fans raised their expectations of success to unparalleled heights.
That, in turn, has led to doubters of second-year head coach Mark Helfrich despite the fact that the Ducks won 11 games in 2013 and thrashed Texas by a score of 30-7 in the Alamo Bowl. Most schools in the country would be thrilled with that kind of year.
And there are still quite a few Ducks fans very aware of where the program once was and just happy to be competing at such a high level each year. But there's a feeling that with Marcus Mariota at quarterback, the team has a window to win a national championship. And while that window won't close completely with hoards of talent arriving each year, it could become smaller once Mariota leaves.
Is Helfrich the man to keep Oregon in the realm of dominant football programs? For eight games last year, that answer appeared to be a resounding yes. But a 3-2 finish filled with poor play and a blowout loss at Arizona raised questions.
Alabama lost two games as well, for those of you wondering why the same scrutiny isn't on Nick Saban after his team lost two straight to end the year. The difference, of course, is that Saban has a handful of titles stowed away while Helfrich is at his first head-coaching gig at the major college football level.
Is it fair to even consider the possibility that he'll be on the hot seat at some point in 2014? Maybe not. A slew of injuries hampered the Ducks' stretch run in 2013, and it was still just his first season. But a monster matchup with Michigan State looms large in September. Later there will be a difficult test at UCLA, a pivotal home game against Stanford and a trip to Reser where the Beavers will surely be out for revenge.
With all the talent on Oregon, the Ducks must win nine or ten games next season. If they take down the Spartans and fail to show the signs of disarray that cropped up last November, Helfrich will be fine. But if those were warnings of what's on the horizon, Helfrich's seat could warm up, and the pressure from a fanbase that wants to win now will become tough to ignore.
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Terry Beckner Jr. is a 5-star defensive end from East St. Louis who is a monster in the trenches. The 6'4", 293-pounder has heavy hands at the point of attack, plus he sheds with power.
Beckner is also a solid athlete who can shoot upfield with quickness at the snap. His size and strength will let him rush over guards as a defensive tackle on passing downs in college.
Beckner has a lot of schools after him, but 247Sports has Missouri as his leader. There's several reasons why the Tigers will indeed sign Beckner.
In an unfortunate turn of events for BYU, only one former Cougar was selected in the 2014 NFL draft. On the other hand, four other players signed free-agent contracts on Saturday and will attempt to build a future as a pro.
Any time a player leaves a program for the professional ranks, whether they are drafted or not, it leaves a mark. When players with that caliber of talent move on to the next level, there are gaps that need to be filled.
So who will replace the former Cougars who made headlines over the weekend?
The UCLA football team will have to replace five NFL draft picks from this year's draft. Plugging in players to the vacant spots will not be an easy proposition.
Outside of Cassius Marsh's replacement, the general theme for the group will be one of inexperience. The talent level should be decent across the board; however, it will be a giant step up in actual playing time for the majority of the new starters.
Let's take a look at the five new starters replacing NFL draft picks for the UCLA Bruins.
The 2015 college football recruiting class features several uncommitted 5-star offensive recruits. Elite programs from all over the country are fiercely recruiting these prospects, as they are the best in the nation at their positions.
A 5-star offensive tackle is still up for grabs, while a 5-star quarterback seems to be loving the attention he is receiving from schools. Plus, a 5-star running back has a pair of Big Ten rivals fighting over him.All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.com, Rivals and 247Sports.
Every college football program wants to sign players who have great athleticism. Quarterbacks need to be athletic enough to elude rushers and threaten defenses with their legs. Offensive linemen have to be good athletes to execute various types of blocks.
No matter what position a player lines up at, he needs to be a good athlete. However, several recruits in the 2015 class appear to have exceptional athleticism.
A 4-star prospect in Louisiana has no athletic limitations, while a 5-star cornerback in Texas can run like the wind in coverage. Plus, a 5-star defensive end has tested and timed well.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston may be the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, but he continues to hurt his 2015 NFL draft stock with his actions off the field.
A strong 2013 season in which Winston threw for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions while leading the Seminoles to a national championship was under enough scrutiny during when the QB was accused of allegedly raping a woman in December of 2012. Now, Winston finds himself in the spotlight for the wrong reasons once again.
According to ESPN.com, Winston was issued a civil citation at the end of April for walking out of a supermarket without paying for crab legs and crawfish worth $32. As a result, Winston was suspended indefinitely from the baseball team. The closer was reinstated to the team a few days later.
Now, Winston is receiving even more attention for the latest comments from his father, Antonor Winston, who thinks that someone should be with his son at all times to keep him out of trouble.
"He's supposed to have somebody around him 24/7," Antonor Winston told Rachel Axon of USA Today. "He a Heisman Trophy winner so (he's) definitely not supposed to be by (himself)."
With so much negative attention surrounding Winston right now, he is hurting his draft stock significantly.
Bleacher Report's own Mike Freeman talked to a number of NFL personnel about Winston after the shoplifting incident, and they had some choice words on the FSU quarterback:
This from an NFL scout: "When I heard about this, I was stunned. He was the top overall pick next year. Was. Not anymore. This latest thing shows a continuation of bad judgment. I don't trust him, and I can tell you very few teams in the NFL will trust him."
This from a front-office executive: "He's on his way to falling out of the first round."
This from another scout: "We're talent whores. But we're not total whores. It's almost impossible, at this point, to trust Winston."
There isn't a position in professional sports that's under more scrutiny than the NFL quarterback, and franchises expect their starting QBs to represent their teams in a positive light. While Winston displayed the skills on the field to be an NFL-caliber quarterback, his actions off the field may keep a number of teams from drafting him if he decides to declare for the 2015 NFL draft.
While this has been a rough offseason for Winston, that doesn't mean that there's no way he can recover from it. If Winston can stay out of trouble for the next year and prove that he can be a leader both on and off the field, he could recover and still be a first-round pick.
This isn't the first time a college quarterback has had troubles during the offseason. Johnny Manziel went through much of the same scrutiny after winning the Heisman due to frequent pictures of him partying, hanging with celebrities and even an NCAA investigation involving signed sports memorabilia. The issue was eventually dropped, but led to Manziel being suspended for half of a game.
Once the season began, however, Manziel let his play do that talking. The pictures of Manziel partying with celebrities stopped and he did his best to avoid controversy, even though the media was constantly watching him. Still, it seemed to pay off for Manziel, as he was able to prove to NFL teams that he had matured and was still drafted in the first round this past weekend by the Cleveland Browns.
If Winston is able to follow a path similar to Manziel's and avoid getting in trouble or shedding a negative light on his image, he may be able to survive these latest incidents and be a first-round pick.
As of right now, Winston's draft stock has taken a pretty big hit.
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