February 8, 2010

Monday with Mike: Missing cut for Combine

Some news and notes as we patiently (or maybe it should be impatiently) wait for Sept. 2, the first day of the 2010 college football season:

The NFL Scouting Combine is Feb. 24-March 2, and 329 players received invitations last week. LSU had the most players invited, with 12. USC was second with 11, while Alabama and Florida each had 10. Every Big Six program except Iowa State, Texas A&M and Washington State had a player invited. (The complete list, courtesy of nflcombine.net, can be found here) Among the notables who were not extended invitations were Clemson G/C Thomas Austin, Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes, UCLA LB Reggie Carter, East Carolina FS Van Eskridge, Boston College WR Rich Gunnell, USC SS Will Harris, Penn State OT Dennis Landolt, Stanford OT Chris Marinelli, Tennessee LB Rico McCoy, Baylor LB Joe Pawelek, TCU CB Rafael Priest, Virginia Tech G Sergio Render, Texas Tech DE Brandon Sharpe and Pittsburgh DT Mick Williams. The only one of the 53 underclassmen who declared for the draft who wasn't invited was Arkansas CB Jerell Norton. The largest number of invitations by position went to defensive linemen, with 66; second-most was 58 defensive backs. There were just 29 running backs and 19 quarterbacks.

Not enough mention was made of Tennessee hiring Justin Wilcox as defensive coordinator. Wilcox, 33, had been Boise State's defensive coordinator for the past four seasons and was given a lot of credit for making the undersized Broncos strong on defense. Wilcox's Boise defenses were aggressive, and you figure he will bring that mindset with him to Knoxville. The WAC has some of the most diversified offenses in the nation -- Hawaii's pass-happy attack, Nevada's "Pistol," Fresno State's pro-style scheme -- so the offensive styles he sees in the SEC shouldn't bother Wilcox. The offenses he sees now obviously will have more talent -- but he'll have more talent to work with, too. All in all, an interesting hire for new coach Derek Dooley.

Staying with the "defensive coordinators in the SEC" theme, Florida is looking for another one. George Edwards, who had been hired off the Miami Dolphins' staff in January, left Florida on Thursday to become coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. Edwards had replaced Charlie Strong, who became coach at Louisville. The timing obviously is bad for Florida, what with Edwards' departure coming one day after National Signing Day. While some reports had Florida being caught by surprise by Edwards' departure, the Buffalo News reported that "it's believed an agreement with Edwards [and the Bills] has been in place for a while." It's the second time in three seasons that Florida lost a defensive coach on the day after NSD. In 2007, co-coordinator Greg Mattison left for the Baltimore Ravens, where he now is coordinator. The difference: Mattison actually had coached for the Gators before he left.

And more about defensive coordinators in the SEC: Four of them -- John Chavis at LSU, the newly hired Todd Grantham at Georgia, Ellis Johnson at South Carolina and Kirby Smart at Alabama -- will be making at least $700,000 this fall. Smart's salary more than doubled, from $360,000 to $750,000, last week. Johnson's also doubled, from $350,000 to $700,000, while Chavis' went from $450,000 to $700,000. Grantham is to be paid $750,000 in his first season with the Bulldogs.

The Boise State-Virginia Tech game has been moved from mid-October to Labor Day night. It will be televised by ESPN from FedEx Field in Landover, Md., which is the home of the NFL's Washington Redskins.

An interesting sidelight to Doc Holliday's move from West Virginia assistant to Marshall head coach will be how well the Herd recruits in Florida. Holliday was considered to be one of the best assistants in the nation when it came to signing Florida talent. He took over at Marshall in late December, and his first Herd class featured 13 Floridians among the 25 signees; the Mountaineers signed just three Floridians. If Holliday is able to continue to sign second-tier prospects for Marshall from Florida, schools such as WVU, Pittsburgh and Connecticut could see their numbers drop a bit. Pitt signed no Floridians in 2010.

Former Nebraska fullback/linebacker Curtis Tomasevicz is a member of the United States' two- and four-man bobsled teams, both of which are expected to do well at this month's Winter Olympics. Tomasevicz was a walk-on and played for the Huskers from 2000-03, making his mark as a special teams performer as a senior. He played in 17 games in his career.

The Louisville Sports Commission announced last week that it would start the Paul Hornung Award this fall; the award will go to the nation's most versatile player. Hornung is a Louisville native who won the Heisman at Notre Dame in 1956. The award will be selected by a committee of between 12 and 16 media members and former players.

Florida is looking into building life-size statues of the school's three Heisman winners and putting them outside Florida Field. After renderings are done, a decision will be made as to whether to go forward with the plan.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.


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