Big 12: E.J. Shankle

Big 12 lunch links: ISU reels in juco All-America LB

April, 3, 2009
4/03/09
1:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's a beautiful day in San Antonio this afternoon.

So nice, in fact, that I'm taking care of these links on my back porch thanks to the marvels of a strong wireless signal.

I can't send the sunshine, so how about some news to wrap up this week?

  • Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads picked up his biggest recruit yet as College of San Mateo (Calif.) junior college All-American linebacker Matt Taufoou announced he will join the Cyclones. Ames Tribune beat writer Bobby La Gesse reports that Taufoou canceled a trip to Tennessee to sign with the Cyclones.
  • College Football News reporter Pete Fiutak wonders if the Big 12 really was overrated last season.
  • De'Vion Moore's groin injury left Missouri shuffling walk-on running backs in the 11-on-11 part of the Tigers' workouts Thursday afternoon, Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune reports.
  • Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News opines about the departures of defensive lineman Kellen Heard, receiver E.J. Shankle and running back Keondra Smith from the Texas A&M program over the past two months.
  • Among the interested spectators at Baylor's scrimmage Thursday afternoon was San Francisco 49ers coach and former Baylor All-American linebacker Mike Singletary, the Waco Tribune-Herald's Brice Cherry reports. Singletary's son, Matt, is a sophomore receiver for the Bears.
  • Richetti Jones is one of the emerging defensive linemen at Oklahoma State as new coordinator Bill Young attempts to retool his defense, the Oklahoman's Scott Wright reports.
  • Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls writes about Texas punter Justin Tucker, who is attempting to become game-proficient at kicking both left-footed and right-footed.
  • Colorado linebacker Michael Sipili has got his academics in order and dropped weight in his bid to claim a starting position with the Buffaloes, Boulder Daily Camera beat writer Kyle Ringo reports.

Big 12 lunch links: Can Leach's contract be worked out?

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
12:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Mike Leach's quest for a new contract spilled into the public when e-mail records between Leach's agents and Texas Tech athletic department and school officials were released Friday afternoon. And it's provided ready fodder for comments from both sides at several Texas newspapers.

Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writes about the simmering disagreement between Leach's representatives and his employers. And e-mail records show that the chasm has widened over the last several months -- despite the Red Raiders' 11-2 record in 2008 that matched a school single-season record for victories. The Dallas Morning News' Brandon George provides an extensive timeline detailing the key dates in the dispute between the two sides.

Here are some other stories from across the Big 12 for your edification.

  • Five Texas A&M players have left the program and are no longer on the Aggies' roster, Lori Dann of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. They include defensive tackle Kellen Heard, wide receiver E.J. Shankle, tight end Harold Turnage, linebacker Aaron Buckley and running back Mike Goodson.
  • John Hoover of the Tulsa World writes about intangibles that college coaches consider when they are recruiting.
  • Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press weighs in on recruiting -- using one-time Texas A&M recruit Craig Loston and current Texas A&M signee Colton Valencia as examples for a system he thinks is flawed
  • The unprecedented financial climate has resulted in stark cuts being considered at Missouri for all sports. After generating a record $7.7 million for the Tigers Scholarship Fund after the school's breakout 2007 football season, David Briggs of the Columbia Daily Tribune writes that school is bracing for a significantly reduced amount this year.
  • Top 2010 quarterback recruit Connor Wood of Houston is considering Texas and Oklahoma and will likely make his call within two weeks. Wood could be attracted to Oklahoma because he wants to major in petroleum engineering and has been intrigued with the school's Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, the Oklahoman's Jake Trotter writes.
  • Eric Peterson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette writes why Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads seldom leaves his house without wearing a ball cap.

Five burning questions for Texas A&M

August, 22, 2008
8/22/08
2:47
PM ET
John Albright/Icon SMI
Mike Sherman returned to Texas A&M after spending time in the NFL.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman returned to Texas A&M where he had served as an assistant coach on R.C. Slocum's power-packed teams of the early 1990s. Whether he can return the Aggies to that lofty position remains to be seen. It might be a challenge for Sherman to crack the expected Oklahoma/Texas Tech/Texas logjam at the top of the South Division.

With eight days before the Aggies' Aug. 30 opener against Arkansas State, here are five major questions that have to be settled for the Aggies to have a successful season:

1. Can the offensive line develop?

Only one starter returns and the Aggies will be green in the trenches. Whether this group can open enough holes to accentuate the talents of Mike Goodson and Co. remains to be seen. It will be A&M's biggest question this season.

2. Are there any playmaking linebackers on the roster?

Losing Misi Tupe and Mark Dodge will hurt. But A&M coaches look for some of the young talent to surprise people. Keep an eye on converted DE Von Miller, converted DB Garrick Williams and Matt Featherston.

3. Will Jerrod Johnson see much action this season?

The Aggies' backup has been compared to Vince Young and Randall Cunningham because of his athleticism. Interestingly, he showed more at the Aggies' recent scrimmage as a tight end. But don't be surprised if he gets some playing time during the season at quarterback, particularly if Stephen McGee struggles against some opponents. But it wouldn't also surprise me if he got a chance to work at tight end as well.

4. Can Sherman find any consistency at wide receiver?

Don't be surprised if freshman Jeff Fuller becomes an immediate playmaker after arriving at school for the spring semester. The Aggies also need some consistency from players like E.J. Shankle, Howard Morrow and Pierre Brown. All have received extensive previous playing time but need to show more in order to be featured. Somebody has to step up.

5. How will Jorvorskie Lane handle the move to fullback?

Lane has been battling his weight throughout his college career and has missed several recent practices with a neck injury. But don't look for him to get many carries with a deep tailback rotation that includes Goodson, Cyrus Gray and Bradley Stephens. Lane will be more of a receiver and short-yardage threat. And if he pouts about his role, he won't play.

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