Oklahoma football fans saw six former Sooners participate in the 2013 NFL combine in Indianapolis.
One Sooner turned in a memorable (but not impressive) 40-yard dash. Another showed blazing speed, and a third player dazzled with his overall display of athleticism.
Sure, some of the four-day spectacle seems trivial. Why, for example, do we care about how high Landry Jones can jump?
But the event can have considerable ramifications for the NFL Draft. A seemingly trivial difference in 40-yard dash times, for example, can have substantial financial implications for top prospects.
For some, a solid performance at the combine is their only chance of getting attention from NFL scouts and coaches.
Now that the four-day media spectacle is over, let's take a look at how these OU alums fared at the combine.
(Note: results are taken from NFL.com).
The Michigan Wolverines will officially put an underwhelming 2012 season behind them with the start of spring practices in mid-March. The month-long camp will culminate with the annual spring game on Apr. 13.
11 starters are returning from last year's squad, which finished with an 8-5 overall record and were one game behind the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Legends Division of the Big Ten Conference.
Expectations are going to be high for the Wolverines, though, with more of head coach Brady Hoke's highly-touted recruits playing prominent roles on both sides of the ball.
The spring game does not have an official time or television provider at the moment, but below are all of the details for Michigan's upcoming camp.
Spring Practice Start Date: Thursday, March 16
Spring Game Date: Saturday, April 13
Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
TV and Time: TBA
Position Battle to Watch: Offensive Guard
The biggest position of concern for the Wolverines right now is center, however, the depth chart battle Michigan fans should pay attention to during the spring game will be at offensive guard.
Both the left and right guard spots are vacant and could be filled by a number of current Wolverines. The headliner on the left side is former 5-star recruit Kyle Kalis, who redshirted as a true freshman in 2012.
Redshirt junior Joey Burzynski will be Kalis' main competition and should get plenty of reps in the exhibition contest. Early enrollee Kyle Bosch could also make a push for playing time with a strong performance in the mid-April scrimmage.
On the other half of the offensive line, redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant and redshirt freshman Blake Bars are the top candidates to become the starting right guard.
The wild card competitor at the position is redshirt freshman Ben Braden. The Michigan coaches are trying to get Braden on the field as soon as possible and with both tackle spots filled by veterans, the 6'6", 308-pounder's best bet to do that is by sliding inside.
Do not be surprised to see Braden log some time next to returning starters Taylor Lewan or Michael Schofield.
Area in Need of Most Improvement: Running Back
The departure of Michigan's leading rusher for the past three seasons, former dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson, creates a need for significant improvement at running back.
Last season, the Wolverines only managed to get 946 rushing yards out of their backs. The Maize and Blue will need more production from their backfield if they hope to contend for a Big Ten title in 2013.
Fans will not get to see incoming freshman Derrick Green until Michigan's season-opener at the Big House on Aug. 31. Instead, junior Thomas Rawls and redshirt freshman Drake Johnson will be garnering plenty of attention in the offseason tune-up game.
Fellow returnees Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet could also spend some time taking hand offs from the Wolverines' quarterbacks on game day.
What to Expect in 2013
Expectations for Michigan will never change under head coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines will be playing to win a Big Ten title in 2013, and the Maize and Blue have enough talent and experience to do exactly that.
The return of All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan should help Michigan's interior offensive line come together quicker than expected.
Derrick Green is built to play at the college level already and will be a threat to rack up 1,000 yards on the ground if the new linemen perform well.
Rising senior quarterback Devin Gardner is going to carry the load offensively for the Wolverines, but one of Michigan's young wide receivers will need to emerge as a consistent deep threat for this team to reach its full potential.
Defensively, Greg Mattison will have Michigan among the nation's leaders in yards and points allowed for all of the upcoming campaign.
Six starters are returning and plenty of the players who saw time as true freshmen could step in to starting roles without too much of an issue.
Generating a pass rush is the top priority for the Wolverines heading into next season, and sophomore Mario Ojemudia could be the answer Michigan has been looking for on the edge.
The schedule also sets up well for the Wolverines with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Ohio State Buckeyes all visiting Ann Arbor. Michigan's toughest game away from home will be against the Michigan State Spartans.
All that being said, the Wolverines should be able to finish either 9-3 or 10-2 this season. Michigan will likely need to beat Nebraska and Michigan State to win the Legends Division.
Fans should expect the Wolverines to win their half of the league and make a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game, but national title contention is still a year or two away.
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Former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis should be feeling vindicated after this past week.
Eight members of his 2009 recruiting class received invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine over the weekend, allowing each an opportunity to enhance his draft stock.
The event included a variety of workouts—the 40-yard dash and the 225-pound bench press among them—as well as meetings with the management group of prospective teams.
How did the eight former Notre Dame stars fare?
All prospects were graded on a scale of 1-100, which breaks down like this:
- 96-100: Future Hall of Famer
- 85-95: Immediate Starter
- 70-84: Eventual Starter
- 50-69: Draftable Player
- 20-49: Free Agent
There are few honors greater than being named a team captain.
A team captain is entrusted by the coaching staff to be the leader that the coaching staff can’t be; the leader outside of practice, the leader in the locker room, the leader who motivates and leads the team when needed.
As we get closer and closer to spring practices, you can expect the Oregon coaching staff to name team captains in the near future.
Predicting who will be Oregon’s team captains this season is a bit tricky, because to make the list doesn’t always mean you’re the best player on the team.
In 2010, Bryson Littlejohn, an extremely hard worker in practice, rarely saw the field in situations outside of special teams, yet he was still named a team captain.
Nebraska football fans, your turkey leftover eating plans are secure. According to Omaha.com, the Big Ten has approved the request from both Nebraska and Iowa to play on the day after Thanksgiving, at least for 2013 and 2014. Gary Barda, Iowa’s athletic director, had suggested that the Hawkeyes might not want to continue the Friday games, citing difficulties for fans to attend.
Thankfully, wiser minds have prevailed, and the Friday contests will continue. Nebraska has played on the day after Thanksgiving every year since 1990, and it would be a huge loss to the Children of the Corn if those Friday games went away.
The creation of the Big 12 chipped away at some of Nebraska’s history, with NU’s series against Oklahoma moving from an annual affair to twice every four years. With Nebraska’s departure to the Big Ten, many of Nebraska’s historical ties were severed.
Gone were the games against Oklahoma, against Texas (no more need be said), against Missouri (a nascent rivalry nipped in the bud), against Colorado (not a rivalry according to Nebraska fans, but a series with amazing history) and against Kansas (breaking a streak of consecutive games played that was the longest in the nation).
But one piece of that tradition remained—the day after Thanksgiving, where the entire nation could wake up from a tryptophan-induced coma and watch Nebraska, calling forth memories of Johnny Rodgers, Buster Rhymes and Chris Brown.
So it’s clear why Nebraska would want to retain the day-after-Thanksgiving slot. But what’s in it for Iowa?
Well, for starters, television exposure. Playing on the day after Thanksgiving, Nebraska and Iowa will both be guaranteed a spot on ABC with no competition. The entire college football world will be watching the Hawkeyes, something that can’t be a bad thing for recruiting.
The unfortunate fact is, Iowa is 19-19 over the last three years. Absent a quick turnaround, the Hawkeyes are not likely to get the kind of national exposure that the Friday series against Nebraska should provide. To avoid having the No. 55 recruiting class nationally, 10th in the Big Ten (according to 247Sports.com), Iowa needs all the national attention it can get.
But there’s more to it than just the recruiting angle. The Nebraska-Iowa series has the chance to be something really special, a point made by one particularly smart and handsome analyst. Yes, there’s already a shiny Heroes Game trophy to exchange, and that’s a great start. But Nebraska is already starting to develop some natural rivalries within the conference.
The Nebraska-Wisconsin series is already building some venom and could pick up steam if the Badgers are moved into the same conference as NU. The Nebraska-Michigan State and Nebraska-Northwestern series are also becoming interesting.
If Nebraska-Iowa were moved to a Saturday, quite honestly, it would become just another conference game on the schedule. I would hate for the series, which has so much rivalry potential, to be reduced to that level.
But if the importance of the game on the field isn’t at that fever-pitch intensity level—which, based on Iowa’s recent struggles, it is not—then putting the game on the day after Thanksgiving keeps the chance of a rivalry alive until the Hawkeyes get back on their feet.
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