VAN JEFFERSON STANDS OUT AT SENIOR BOWL PRACTICES It has been a great week in Mobile for Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson, who has had some very impressive Senior Bowl practices with every NFL team represented. Prior to the Senior Bowl practices, Jefferson was projected as a mid-round draft pick. His ability to run clean routes that gain separation from defenders has caught the eye of the scouts and could help to significantly improve Jefferson’s draft status.
Jefferson caught 49 passes for 657 yards and six touchdowns in 2019 and for his two-year Florida career had 84 catches for 1,160 yards and 12 touchdowns. Counting his two years at Ole Miss, Jefferson had 175 career catches for 2,159 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Here is what some of the observers have to say:
(1) Draft expert Dan Brugler of The Athletic writes, “Florida’s Van Jefferson (6-2, 197) was known as a route technician entering the week, and he didn’t disappoint. He is very skilled at accelerating into the breakpoint, forcing the cornerback to react, which allows Jefferson to snap off his route in the opposite direction. Although he is very thin-muscled and doesn’t have the play strength to consistently win crowded catch points, Jefferson doesn’t have to worry about that when he consistently separates.”
(2) Yahoo Sports draft expert Eric Edholm writes, “The son of former NFL receiver and current New York Jets wideout coach Shawn Jefferson looked polished and fast, even if Jefferson likely won’t be among the best 40-yard dash runners at the position when we get to the NFL scouting combine. What matters more is how fast a player plays, and Jefferson checks that box. He ran clean routes and made several smooth grabs on Tuesday and reads like a prospect who will be a better pro than his college production would suggest.”
(3) Writes Todd McShay of ESPN, “Jefferson doesn’t have elite speed or quickness, and his 6-foot-1 frame doesn’t stand out. But his route running is extremely impressive. He found his way open a lot on Wednesday.”
(4) Sports Illustrated draft reporter Ed Kracz writes that Jefferson “Was one of the fastest players on Tuesday’s first day of practice according to some who were there.”
Also drawing favorable reviews at Senior Bowl practices was Florida edge rusher Jonathan Greenard. Brugler has been so impressed with Greenard that he’s moved him into the second round of his mock draft, going with the 49th pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brugler also has UF corner back CJ Henderson going to the Seattle Seahawks with the 27th pick in the first round.
#16 Auburn (16-2, 4-2 SEC) 80, South Carolina (10-8, 2-3 SEC) 67 Mississippi State (12-6, 3-3 SEC) 77, Arkansas (14-4, 3-3 SEC) 70 Alabama (11-7, 4-2 SEC) 77, Vanderbilt (8-10, 0-5 SEC) 62
Saturday’s games (SEC-Big 12 Challenge) #1 Baylor (16-1) at FLORIDA (12-6), ESPN Missouri (9-9) at #14 West Virginia (15-3), ESPN Iowa State (9-9) at #16 Auburn (16-2), ESPNU LSU (14-4) at Texas (12-6), ESPN Mississippi State (12-6) at Oklahoma (12-6), ESPN2 Tennessee (12-6) at #3 Kansas (15-3), ESPN Oklahoma State (9-9) at Texas A&M (9-8), ESPNU TCU (13-5) at Arkansas (14-4), ESPN2 #15 Kentucky (14-4) at #18 Texas Tech (12-6), ESPN Kansas State (8-10) at Alabama (11-7), ESPNU Also:
Ole Miss (9-9, 0-5 SEC) at Georgia (11-7, 1-4 SEC), SEC Network Vanderbilt (8-10, 0-5 SEC) at South Carolina (10-8, 2-3 SEC), SEC Network
THINKING OUT LOUD ON THURSDAY
(1) Having watched the replay of the massive end of the game brawl between Kansas and Kansas State, I’m absolutely appalled. The Big 12 Conference announced Wednesday that brawl instigator Silvio De Sousa of Kansas will receive a 12-game suspension that will make him eligible for the Jayhawks final regular season game with Texas Tech. It also means he will play in the postseason because unless the NCAA smacks down Kansas (they have received a Notice of Allegations) and prohibits the Jayhawks from playing in the postseason, Kansas will be in the hunt for the national championship. During the brawl, De Sousa picked up a stool and was ready to strike someone when a Kansas assistant grabbed it away from him. I hate to think how that brawl would have escalated and the lasting implications if De Sousa had actually struck someone with that stool.”
(2) Legendary DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten died Wednesday. He won five mythical national championships and had a 1,274-192 record in 46 seasons. He put DeMatha on the map in 1965 when the Stags beat Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor and Power Memorial of New York to end Power’s 71-game winning streak. Probably the greatest tribute to Wootten came from UCLA coach John Wooden, who said, “People say Morgan Wootten is the best high school basketball coach in the country. I disagree. I know of no finer coach at any level – high school, college, or pro. I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here: I stand in awe of him.” There was a more than 30-year stretch when every single senior who played for Wootten got a scholarship to play college basketball.
(3) When Lane Kiffin was named as the new HBC at Ole Miss, he immediately started hiring people with direct connections to Nick Saban and Alabama. Wednesday was Saban’s day to strike back when he hired Freddie Roach as his defensive line coach. Roach was slated to be the D-line/assistant head coach for Kiffin.
(4) Rather than go play for another team, Eli Manning is retiring as a New York Giant. In his 16 years with the Giants, Eli threw for 57,023 yards and 366 touchdowns while leading the Giants to two Super Bowl championships. It’s a safe bet that there will never be two brothers who throw for more combined yards (128,963) and touchdowns (905) than Eli and Peyton. Throw Archie into the mix and the Manning family was good for 152,874 passing yards, 1,030 TDPs and four Super Bowl titles. File those as records that aren’t going to be broken anytime soon. Once Eli is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that will make three Mannings in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(6) The analytics firm of Joyce Julius and Associates from Ann Arbor, Michigan estimates that LSU’s seven week run from December 1, 2019 through January 21, 2020 was worth $200 million in free advertising for the school. In addition to the free plugs on TV, radio, social media, newspapers and the internet, LSU also picked up $1 million in royalty money from merchandise sales during that same period. And people wonder why Alabama, for example, is willing to pay Nick Saban $9 million a year. When you win championships the money spent on coaches’ salaries turns out to be a rather small investment.
(7) Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday during an appearance of Fox Business Channel that he has no intention of vacating the World Series titles of the Houston Astros (2017) and Boston Red Sox (2018). That’s a prudent thing to do since all indications are the sign-stealing wasn’t just confined to the Astros and Red Sox. Manfred does, however, need to come up with harsh punishment to both teams that condone cheating and to players who participate.
GOOD QUOTES ON THURSDAY
Dick Vitale of ESPN on the post game brawl between Kansas and Kansas State, instigated by Silvio De Sousa of Kansas: “In the 40 years I have been on TV I have never seen anything like it unless you go to the NBA and the Pistons brawl that took place at the Palace. There is no doubt in my mind that De Sousa never ever should put a uniform on again in college basketball. None. He is holding a chair. I mean, that is criminal.”
From Stewart Mandel of The Athletic on the Mountain West Conference’s new television deal for football: “The Mountain West recently excitedly announced the details of its new TV deals with FOX and CBS. It is worth nearly $4 million per school per year, up from $1.1 million in the last deal. That’s nice but it’s still a fraction of the $31.3 million distribution (which includes TV and postseason revenue) that Pac-12 schools received last year. And that’s for the poorest of the Power 5 leagues.”
From Matt Zenitz of Al.com, Alabama coach Nick Saban on how he sees the NFL future of former Crimson Tide/Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts: “Well, there’s a lot of guys playing in the NFL now that are having a lot of success that are similar style players to Jalen, guys that can make plays with their feet. I think you know who they are. So I think that success of those players has kind of broken the stereotype of you got to be a dropback passer or this is the only way you can win in the NFL. You see Majones, the guy at Baltimore. All these guys are athletic guys who can make plays with their feet, create a lot of problems for the old stereotype NFL defense.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Auburn gave defensive coordinator Kevin Steele a new three-year deal. He made $1.9 million last year so he likely goes way past the $2 million mark for the next three years … Kentucky got good news that the NCAA has granted a sixth year of eligibility to D-lineman Phil Hoskins. Hoskins missed the first two games of 2019 due to academic suspension, then hurt his knee in game three … Mike Leach has hired Zach Arnett away from Syracuse to be his defensive coordinator. Arnett, who was the DC at San Diego State the last two years, had recently taken the Syracuse job, but he’s heading to the SEC before ever coaching a game at Syracuse. San Diego State finished top ten in nearly every defensive statistical category in 2019 including third in scoring defense (12.9 points per game) and sixth in total defense (287.8 yards per game) … Tennessee got a grad transfer in former Southern Cal wide receiver Velus Jones, who caught 36 passes for 347 yards while averaging 24 yards per kickoff return … Miami Dolphins owner Steven Ross wants to draft LSU Heisman Trophy QB Joe Burrow. Good luck on that pipedream. The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t about to let a kid who grew up two hours down the road from Cincinnati slip through their fingers ... UCLA redshirt freshman forward Shareef O’Neal, son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, announced that he is transferring. In 13 games, O’Neal was averaging 2.2 points and 2.9 rebounds … Not only has Carlos Beltran been fired before ever managing a game for the New York Mets as a result of his role with the Houston Astros in the Major League Baseball cheating scandal, but he can all but kiss the Hall of Fame good-bye, too. Do you think for even a nanosecond that baseball will allow Beltran in when Pete Rose is banned for life and Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro can’t get in even though they have HOF credentials?