Texas Tech running back/receiver Eric Stephens, a Mansfield Timberview graduate, committed today to play in next week’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif. The contest, set for Jan. 19 (6 p.m., ESPN2), features draft-eligible seniors and is run by the NFL Players Association. Stephens rushed for 489 yards and five touchdowns for the Red Raiders last season.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin appears poised to add another up-and-coming young offensive coach to his staff. Based on reports from CBSSports and WVMetro News, West Virginia quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital will become the Aggies’ next quarterbacks coach, replacing Kliff Kingsbury _ the new head coach at Texas Tech _ and working with Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.
The reports say Spavital, 27, will hold the title of co-offensive coordinator along with running backs coach Clarence McKinney, who handled play-calling duties for A&M in its 41-13 victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Spavital previously worked as a graduate assistant on Sumlin’s staff at Houston.
He also has worked on staffs at Tulsa, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Spavital has learned from some of college football’s most successful practitioners of the spread offense in recent seasons, including Sumlin, Kingsbury, Dana Holgorsen and Gus Malzahn. Among the list of productive college quarterbacks he has tutored area Houston’s Case Keenum, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.
A&M has yet to announce the hire but Spavital confirmed the move to CBSSports in its report.
For those wondering about the availability of Monte Kiffin, the leading candidate to become the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator after spending the past four seasons coaching in the college ranks, here’s the skinny about his former boss _ son Lane Kiffin, Southern California’s head football coach.
The younger Kiffin, who led the Trojans from a pre-season No. 1 ranking in the college football polls to a 7-6 record in 2012, is now No. 1 in another ranking: the one put together by editors at Coaches Hot Seat, who rank college football’s most embattled coaches.
In its updated post-bowl rankings, Lane Kiffin stands at No. 1 heading into the 2013 season, one spot ahead of Maryland coach Randy Edsall. Kansas coach Charlie Weis, after only one season with the Jayhawks (1-11, 0-9 in Big 12), is No. 3.
Texas coach Mack Brown checks in at No. 9 despite his team’s Alamo Bowl victory over Oregon State, which allowed the Longhorns (9-4) to climb to No. 19 in the final AP poll and 18th in the coaches poll. But Brown’s team has compiled only a 22-16 record over the last three seasons, with the 9-4 mark being Texas’ best in that stretch.
For a full breakdown of the website’s post-bowl rankings, hit this link:
Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, an All-America performer and three-year starter, will return for his senior season and will spend it playing left tackle, Matthews and school officials announced today.
Matthews (6-foot-5, 305 pounds), projected as a first-round selection in the NFL Draft, cited the opportunity to play with his younger brother, Mike, and contend for a 2013 national championship as primary reasons behind his decision. Mike Matthews, a fellow offensive lineman, will be a sophomore next season, when Texas A&M (11-2) seeks to build on its No. 5 finish in the post-season polls and contend for the school’s first national championship since 1939.
“With our team coming back next season, I think we have the chance to be very special,” Jake Matthews said in a statement released by school officials. “I am happy to announce that I am returning … to play with my younger brother, Mike. That opportunity doesn’t come around very often.”
Matthews’ decision means A&M will return three of its five starting offensive linemen who protected quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. A&M also will return two of its four All-American players (Matthews, Manziel), with left tackle Luke Joeckel and defensive end Damontre Moore heading to the 2013 NFL Draft.
During a Thursday conference call to announce Manziel as winner of the 2012 Manning Award, Manziel said Matthews’ return represents “a great piece of the puzzle” for a possible national title run in 2013.
A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said: “I am excited that Jake has decided to come back for his senior season. Not only because he is one of the top offensive lineman in the country, but because of his approach and his leadership in our locker room. We will move him from right tackle to the left side and I think he will have a great senior season.”
Joeckel, an Arlington High School graduate and the 2012 Outland Trophy winner, has been the Aggies’ starting left tackle the past three seasons and is projected as a top-5 pick _ possibly the first overall selection _ in April’s NFL Draft.
Baylor men’s basketball senior Pierre Jackson has been selected as one of 20 watch list finalists for the 2013 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. JThis is Jackson’s second year on the list as he was one of 11 finalists for the award in his debut season in Waco last year.
The annual honor, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men’s college basketball. According to the award’s website, “The selection criteria emphasize leadership, team work, success, and fundamentals as being critical parts for the game of basketball as a point guard.”
Jackson, one of two Big 12 Conference players on the final watch list of 20 players, leads the Big 12 and ranks 21st nationally with 19.8 points per game, and he ranks second in the Big 12 and 19th nationally with 6.3 assists per game. He is the nation’s only player ranked in the top 25 in both scoring and assists per game.
The watch list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 10 in early February, and the final five will be selected in March. The winners of the 2013 Bob Cousy Award will be presented at the Hall of Fame’s Class Announcement on Championship Monday in Atlanta as part of NCAA Final Four weekend. -- Savannah Pullin
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was selected today as recipient of the 2012-13 Manning Award, becoming the first freshman winner and first unanimous selection in the award’s history.
The award is given annually to the top quarterback in college football but is the only quarterback honor that also accounts for performances in bowl games. Manziel, a redshirt freshman who won the 2012 Heisman Trophy and the 2012 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, set a Southeastern Conference record with an FBS-high 5,116 yards of total offense in his first season in college. He accounted for 47 touchdowns (21 rushing, 26 passing).
Manziel finished with 516 yards of total offense (229 rushing, 287 passing) in A&M’s 41-13 victory over Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, which catapulted the Aggies (11-2) to No. 5 in both post-season polls, the school’s best finish since 1956. Manziel is one of only four players in FBS history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in the same season, joining current NFL quarterbacks Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Collin Kaepernick on the elite list.
Texas A&M announced nine signees for its football program today, with all players enrolling in January to take part in spring drills. Included among the Aggies’ latest additions are four junior-college transfers, one prep school signee and four players who graduated early from high school.
Among the early graduates is Kennedale linebacker Brett Wade, a 2012 Star-Telegram Super Team honoree who finished his senior season with 152 tackles (15 TFLs) and four sacks.
A&M’s four junior-college additions all play positions of immediate need: tight end Cameron Clear, linebacker Kenny Flowers, linebacker Tommy Sanders and offensive lineman Jeremiah Stuckey. So does receiver JaQuay Williams, who played last season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.
In addition to Wade, A&M’s signees from the high school ranks include linebacker Reggie Chevis, defensive end Jordan Points and defensive back Alex Sezer.
After Baylor’s victory over then No.13 Oklahoma State last week, the Lady Bears earned back their No. 1 ranking that was lost to Stanford in November, marking the Lady Bears’ 29th week in the top spot.
“We will embrace it like we always do and go play the next ball game,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “It’s not going to change our approach any, but it’ll bring some good recognition to Baylor.”
After the change in the rankings, Baylor’s next opponent, Iowa State, jumped into the AP Poll at No. 25 meaning Baylor will be facing its second consecutive ranked opponent tonight. And although Oklahoma State didn’t present much of a problem, the legacy of Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly and his history against Baylor does draw Mulkey’s attention.
“Bill Fennelly’s one of the best coaches in the business, and you know the score here last year at halftime was tied, and you know how difficult it is to beat his teams,” Mulkey said.
The last time the Lady Bears and the Cyclones met, the scored was tied at 32 at the half. Baylor ran away with the second half winning the contest 77-53, but not before allowing one of Iowa State’s biggest threats, 6’7” current senior center Anna Prins, to score 17 points off Baylor.
“Prins is a big 6’7” kid,” Mulkey said. “I think every time she plays Baylor she has her best game.”
And this may be true, particularly from the three-point line where she has hit 11 of 22 in her career against the Lady Bears. Prins has also averaged 15.5 points per game in the four meetings between the two schools.
In addition to Prins being an offensive powerhouse, it is not often that Baylor’s own 6’8” Brittney Griner sees an opponent comparable to her in size. Prins’ size benefits her defensively allowing her to pull Griner away from the basket and force her to shoot from the perimeter while adding pressure to other players like posts Destiny Williams and Brooklyn Pope.
“[Prins] is every bit as tall and has good thickness about her, and I would imagine if they did get down there in the block area, that’s going to be a lot of bodies moving down there – strong bodies,” Mulkey said about the Prins-Griner matchup.
The matchup tonight will be interesting with Baylor ranked at the top of the national field goal percentage charts while Iowa State sits at second in the nation in field goal percentage defense. And while Baylor hasn’t shown much struggle against ranked opponents lately, every game presents a new challenge.
“They execute constantly,” Baylor guard Odyssey Sims said. “They crash boards well, that’s the main thing. Whatever set they run, they run it very well, and like I said, they execute it very good.” -- Savannah Pullin
The 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl drew the largest television audience in the game’s 10-year history, based on figures released today. The ESPN telecast from Fort Worth drew a 2.6 rating and reached an average of 2,584,000 households, most in the history of the game.
The numbers marked a 59 percent ratings increase over the 2011 contest, which drew a 1.6 rating. The 2012 rating has been surpassed only once in the bowl’s history, when the inaugural game between No. 18 Boise State and No. 19 TCU drew a 2.8 rating in 2003.
In this year’s contest, Rice defeated Air Force, 33-14, in front of 40,754 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“We are thrilled with the success of our 10th anniversary game,” said Brant Ringler, the bowl’s executive director. “Not only did we have a great crowd … but we saw success with our TV numbers as well.”
Auburn (Ala.) High wide receiver Cameron Echols-Luper decommitted from Texas A&M on Wednesday and plans to visit TCU this weekend.
He said via text that too many players at committed to A&M at wide receiver and he did want to fall in the depth chart or get switched to defense. Texas A&M has at least five commitments who can play wide receiver, according to Rivals.com.
Echols-Luper also plans to visit Texas Tech. He had originally picked A&M over TCU. His father, Curtis Luper, is a running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Auburn.
The standout recruit visited TCU in July before he committed to A&M.