Even with the 2008 college football season concluded and the National Title game in the rear-view mirror the headlines continue to roll in from across the national landscape, with the most notable stories dealing with player transfers, coaching moves, and NFL draft declarations. Here are some of the more under-the-radar moves that you may have missed over the past month, plus a little commentary on the side from yours truly.
Notable Transfers Always a relevant issue between the fall and spring semesters of the university system, several high profile players have already made a transfer to another school or declared their intention to do so. One of the highest profile players who has already transfered has been former Cypress Fair running back Sam McGuffie, who after a year and at least one confirmed concussion in Rich Rodriguez's spread offense is now taking his services to his hometown of Houston and the Rice Owls.
Personally I think this is a good move for McGuffie, who should benefit from the NCAA-mandated year off to adjust to Rice's own spread system. It'll not only give him a chance to get his personal affairs in order and recover from the 2007 season, but should put him on track for being the Owls starting tailback come opening day 2010. It's also a great get by Rice, which despite a 10-3 finish this year will have to retool with the loss of quarterback Chase Clement and record setting wideouts Jarrett Dillard and James Casey.
Meanwhile two former starting quarterbacks will be looking to transfer schools, as Miami's Robert Marve and Iowa's Jake Christensen depart for (hopefully) greener pastures. Christensen, a redshirt junior who started every game in 2007 while throwing for 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, was beat out by Ricky Stanzi before the 2008 season began and saw little action for the Hawkeyes this season. He claims to have four offers already on the table, but his final destination remains up in the air.
Robert Marve meanwhile may soon find a school to call home, as one of the more ugly situations in college football seems to be slowly working itself out. Marve, who indicated an intent to transfer away from Miami last month but was not granted a release by head coach Randy Shannon, is now eligible to transfer to two instate schools in UCF and South Florida. The University of Miami is still barring Marve from transfering to in-state SEC or ACC schools however, as well as potential SEC destinations such as LSU or Tennessee. Marve and his family are still "evaluating" his potential options, but either UCF or south Florida would appear to be a good fit for the Tampa native.
Other notable players who have already transferred or indicated a desire to do so include former Gator transfer and Maryland backup quarterback Josh Portis (Division II California Pa.), former Penn State backup quarterback Pat Devlin (Delaware), and SouthCarolina quarterback Chris Smelley, who will make the biggest jump when he goes from holding a clipboard for Steve Spurrier to possibly catching on the Alabama baseball team. Such ends one of the greatest mascot-quarterback name T-Shirt relationships of all time, as who can forget this classis?
Coaching Moves While much of the attention this past week focused on Boston College's handling of the Jeff Jagodzinski situation, there have been a number of other comings and goings in the coaching scene. For starters Ben Miller - who was promoted to the position of defensive coordinator at Louisville last month with the resignation of Ron English - resigned to take the co-defensive coordinator position at Kansas. Look for former Utah State headman and current Kragthorpe assistant Brent Guy to possibly be named to the post as early as this week. Maryland, meanwhile, has found a solid replacement for defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, who moved on to join Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State last month.
The Terps have hired University of Massachusetts headman Don Brown to lead their defense. Brown was one of the more aggressive defensive coaches in the entire FCS, and his move to Maryland should give the Terps an instant lift. Not only did Brown's 4-3 defenses lead UMass deep into the playoffs in 2006 and 2007, but he engineered UMass' defense during their 1998 championship run while serving as defensive coordinator. Ironically, it was Paul Johnson's Georgia Southern team which lost to UMass in the Championship game that year, a dynamic which repeated again when Brown's team came within a point of upsetting Johnson's 9-4 Navy team early in 2006. Considering Brown's history against Johnson as well as Brown's familiarity with defending Rhode Island's triple option attack, Maryland's future games against Georgia Tech should figure to be a great battle of coaching minds. For more on this coaching change, check out our friend Frank over at the UMass Football Blog. Oh yea, and some old fart is apparently coming back for yet another season...
On to the NFL The list of underclassman declaring for the NFL draft continues to grow, with the latest wave bringing in a plethora of talented receivers to the 2009 draft class. Not only has two-time Biletnikoff trophy winner and altogether man-beast Michael Crabtree declared for the draft, but Missouri's do-it-all playmkaer Jeremy Maclin has as well. If that wasn't enough to keep NFL scouts drooling than the addition of Maryland's Darius Hayward-Bay pushes things over the top, as the 6-4 wide receiver has been widely reported by scouts to possess 4.3/40 speed. Whether or not that's true I'm not exactly sure, but all three of these playmakers should easily find themselves as first day -if not first round- draft picks. One player to possibly look out for as a sleeper in all of this is BYU's Austin Collie, who actually led the nation in receiving yards per game this year and set a MWC record with eleven consecutive 100-yard games. I was surprised when Collie declared for the draft, mostly because of the depth of this year's class and the sure fact that he could only elevate his stock going into 2009. Collie may drop to the 4th round or below because of his lack of notoriety or "measurable" success, but he's still as solid of an all around athlete and receiver as you will find at the college level.
There have also been a number of other high-profile names to commit to going pro this season, among them a number of running backs. While I certainly can't argue with the decisions of those like Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, or Shonn Green, the decision of Wisconsin's PJ Hill to take his talents out of Madison seem a bit perplexing. This is a deep class running back wise as it stands, and despite solid numbers as a true freshmen Hill has never really been the "wow" back that scouts gravitate towards. The fact that several other power-type backs who are presumed to have better speed "measurables" than Hill have declared for the draft (notably Chris Wells of Ohio State) does not do much for Hill's stock.
He may have been the Big 10's Freshmen of the Year in 2006, but injury concerns and declining production make him a mid-round selection at best in the draft. If he tests well at the combine I think he's a potential sleeper, but right now he's looking a lot like former Badger Ron Dayne in more ways than one. Oh yea, and just in case you've been encased in carbonate or something this past weekend, this dude is coming back for one more go around. Greatest ever? If you don't think so now, let's talk in a year.