Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catching up enrolls at City State University

Tate Forcier is a Spartan (not that kind): His seven-month search for a school that's willing to take a talented QB and failing student is over, and Tate Forcier is set to enroll at San Jose State. This is good news for both parties -- Forcier was literally down to his last realistic D-I option, and San Jose State ... uh, it's San Jose State. The four-star QB recruits are few and far between.

As a D-I transfer, Forcier will have to sit out the 2011 season but should be ready to rock as the starter in 2012. Hopefully he'll have his academics in order by then -- maybe being closer to his San Diego home (as he said he wanted when he ditched Miami following a weird flirtation in February) will help.

I wish him nothing but good fortune from here on out; we'll always have Notre Dame.

Gunner Kiel commits to Indiana (?!?): Speaking of quarterbacks going weird places, the spectacularly named Gunner Kiel (the consensus top pro-style quarterback in the country in the 2012 class) committed to Indiana on Tuesday. He was known to be interested in Alabama and Oklahoma, and while he included Indiana on his list throughout the entire process, most people thought that was just a hometown-respect thing (he's from Columbus, Indiana) and not a meaningful indicator that he might actually consider going there. Fooled us.

As superficially insane as it seems to pass up Alabama, Oklahoma and other interested parties like Notre Dame and Michigan to get beat up for four years at the bottom of the Big Ten, there are at least two things (beyond staying close to home) that could make this a very wise decision:
  1. Kevin Wilson, Indiana's new coach after spending the previous nine years as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. The offense that produced Sam Bradford, Jason White (he won a Heisman, remember?) and now Landry Jones has to be fairly enticing for a big-time quarterback recruit.
  2. Playing time/exposure. With the underrated Ben Chappell out of eligibility and nobody of Kiel's caliber waiting in line (obviously), he has a clear path to four years of BMOC status and massive numbers in the aforementioned QB-friendly offense.
The downside -- other than probably losing a lot -- is that winning the starting job as a freshman in 2012 would mean beating out his brother Dusty, the probable starter this year as a redshirt sophomore. Family tension FTW.

Maybe I'm unreasonably optimistic about the Kevin Wilson era turning Indiana into the new Purdue, but signing up to throw the ball 40 times a game for an elite offensive coach at an in-state BCS school is far from the worst decision in the world. Remember Tim Couch (the college version)?

Terrelle Pryor either is or isn't eligible for the supplemental draft: FOX Sports reported last week that since the supplemental draft requires an "unanticipated change" in someone's eligibility, either academic or otherwise, Terrelle Pryor giving up his senior year in order to avoid a five-game suspension wasn't sufficient to make him eligible for a draft this summer (if one is held at all). In other words, he'd be relegated to undrafted-free-agent status and have to earn himself a roster spot in the wildly condensed training-camp period with a team that'd placed no significant investment in him. This would probably not end well for Mr. Pryor.

While I find this dilemma hilarious, Drew Rosenhaus apparently wasn't as amused and started seeking an answer from the NCAA on whether Pryor would have been eligible at all for the 2011 season; that status hasn't yet been decided but will be the determining factor in whether he'll be approved for draft entry.

In the meantime, Ohio State released this very convenient memo:
In a letter from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith dated Tuesday, Smith said that Pryor was ineligible because he failed to cooperate with NCAA and Ohio State investigators. He then added, "The university must also dissociate you from its athletic program for a period of five years."

Pryor's Columbus lawyer, Larry James, said he sought the letter from Smith to rule out any chance of Pryor playing again in college.
Talk about a quid pro quo. "Hey big guy, thanks again for not cooperating at all with the NCAA and covering our asses. In exchange, here's an NFL roster spot -- enjoy."

Just like Tressel had his fine rescinded, his suspension lifted and his retirement benefits reinstated, Pryor gets a handshake and a lovely parting gift as Ohio State wraps everything up into a neat little package for everybody involved. Remarkably, nobody will end up getting punished at all but the NCAA will continue to nod approvingly and pat Gene Smith on the back for no particular reason.

As for Pryor, the interesting thing will be whether the NCAA -- which isn't exactly known for its investigate timeliness -- decides in the next month whether he had any eligibility left. If he did, the supplemental draft is a no-go. If he didn't, that means his violations went beyond the tattoo stuff (for which he got a five-game suspension) and there must be something new to add to OSU's original notice of allegations, which would contradict the statement that came out last week.

My curiosity level: 7 out of 10. It would be a little higher if I thought Pryor had any chance at doing anything of note in the NFL.

Jeff Demps isn't done with football just yet: Florida running back Jeff Demps, the undisputed fastest player in college football, told the coaching staff this week that he'll be coming back for his senior year rather than quitting to focus on track.

He didn't participate in spring ball since he was busy winning his second straight NCAA indoor 60-meter title (just like my typical spring break), so it's pretty much an unknown exactly how he fits into Charlie Weis' hypothetically pro-style offense, but he'll be on the field somewhere. He led Florida in rushing last year with 591 yards even though he was practically useless for the second half of the season because of a foot problem, which says a lot about Florida's shocking offensive ineptitude but also says something about Demps' mind-bending explosiveness. Averaging 7.1 yards per carry over a three-year period in the SEC isn't meaningless.

The guess here is that he ends up as the nominal starter in some sort of large-scale platoon, with Chris Rainey, Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown splitting the half (or five-eighths or two-thirds or whatever) of the carries that don't go to Demps.

UCLA freshman Brett Hundley to undergo knee surgery: Brett Hundley might eventually be the savior of UCLA football and Rick Neuheisel's job, but his chances of opening the season as the starting QB are looking pretty slim:
Hundley is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a torn meniscus, Neuheisel announced. Hundley suffered the injury playing basketball and is expected to miss three to four weeks. Neuheisel expects to have him back for the second half of camp.
Hundley was OK but not exactly dominant in spring practice, and it looked like he had some ground to make up to take the starting spot away from a suddenly competent Kevin Prince. A spectacular fall camp might have been sufficient, but half a camp? Probably not -- it's hard to envision Neuheisel giving the job to a freshman with two or three weeks of meaningful practice under his belt and saying, "Win me eight games so I don't get fired plzkthx."

Prince will probably be the guy for the first couple weeks (at Houston, San Jose State, at Texas). If/when he struggles, Hundley will get some snaps and probably ample opportunities to look good enough that Neuheisel can justify putting him atop the depth chart. If he doesn't, Neuheisel's got a decision to make about whether it's worth burning a redshirt year to get his QB of the future some mop-up-duty snaps in preparation for 2012 and beyond (assuming Neuheisel's around to see 2012 and beyond).


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