Big 12: Eli Manning
Sooners unveil pre-spring depth chart
Oklahoma doesn't begin spring practice until next Monday, but Bob Stoops unveiled his pre-spring depth chart over the weekend, with plenty of changes.
The off-the-field shakeup in the secondary made the biggest impact. Jamell Fleming is not enrolled this semester, reportedly because of academic conduct. Sophomore Aaron Colvin, who impressed in spot duty last season, was expected to slide up to starting corner in Fleming's absence, but Colvin debuted on the depth chart as the starter at strong safety.
At corner, seldom-used sophomore Gabe Lynn is the starter across from last year's starter, Demontre Hurst. Lynn played in just seven games last year after redshirting in 2009, but he came to Oklahoma as the state's top prospect in the 2009 class and the No. 8 corner and No. 80 overall prospect in the 2009 class. He hadn't shown it in games, but coaches are infamous for lauding players who finally turn potential into production in valuable bowl practices. For Lynn, that might have been the case.
Now, at least until/if Fleming returns, Lynn will get his opportunity.
A stress fracture will keep running back Roy Finch off the field this spring, but check out who's at No. 2: Early-enrolling true freshman Brandon Williams, right behind Brennan Clay. The buzz around Williams when he signed is he could contribute right away, and it looks like that may end up being the case. He was the only early enroller to make the two-deep.
Fullback Trey Millard, who Bob Stoops couldn't find enough good things to say about as a freshman in 2010, is out for the spring for minor offseason surgery.
Gabbert says he scored 42 on Wonderlic
According to Bernie Miklasz at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Blaine Gabbert told Rich Eisen in an NFL.com podcast that he scored a 42 on the Wonderlic, a general aptitude test administered to draft prospects at the combine. A perfect score is 50, so Gabbert can take a little pride in the impressive mark. Gabbert recently moved to the No. 1 pick on Mel Kiper's mock draft, too. So he's got that going for him. A score of 26 is considering a passing grade.
A few notable Wonderlic scores, courtesy of Sports Illustrated:
- Peyton Manning: 28
- Eli Manning: 39
- Drew Brees: 28
- Ryan Leaf: 27
- Michael Vick: 20
- Vince Young: 16
- Sam Bradford: 36
- Colt McCoy: 25
- Tim Tebow: 22
So what's the test ultimately mean? There's not a lot of correlation in score and success. It's just one piece of the puzzle. And for Gabbert, when it comes to intelligence, it's a piece that he won't have any NFL teams doubting.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson prepared for his senior season in a unique manner.
Robinson spent part of his break serving as a camp coach at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., where he worked alongside some of the nation's top quarterbacks. Additionally, Robinson worked with the camp's namesakes, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and their father, retired NFL quarterback Archie Manning.
Robinson recently shared some of his thoughts with okstate.com about his experience.
Q: So what was a typical day like at the Manning Camp?
Zac Robinson: The first day, we got there in the morning and in the afternoon, the college guys threw with Peyton and Eli. The other days, we'd wake up at 7:30 and coach kids. My station was the deep ball. We would have lunch, then another afternoon session, then we'd have dinner and come back for a little seven-on-seven. My team was 4-0 and won. Manning Camp champs. Another night we did something called "Air it Out" where we'd throw to the receivers.
Q: Who were some of the other quarterbacks there?
ZR: Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Jevan Snead from Ole Miss. He was my roommate. T.J. Yates from North Carolina and Jonathan Crompton from Tennessee. There were more, but those were some of the guys that immediately jump out.
Q: Did you get any time to visit with any of the Mannings?
ZR: I did get to talk to Peyton and Eli. I spoke to Eli for about 45 minutes the first night. Those guys brought us in to answer any questions that we had. They talked about the NFL and what to expect when you get there. That whole session was a great part of the camp because they really want to help you as a college quarterback and teach you some things both on the field and off the field.
Q: What did you take from those sessions and from the camp in general?
ZR: They said the biggest thing is to just enjoy your senior year because it's the last time you are going to play college ball and have that camaraderie with your teammates. Don't even think about the NFL at this point. Just enjoy what you have because it's a great thing.
Q: What did they know about you as a quarterback going into the camp?
ZR: They watched a bunch of our games last season. Archie Manning in particular kept up with me because I worked their camp last summer too. He sent text messages to me before a few of the games last season wishing us well. They knew that I am an athletic quarterback who can throw it too.
Q: Describe what it was like to be around those other quarterbacks who worked camp, some of whom are on teams that you'll face this year:
ZR: It's good to be around those guys. Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and I actually hung out together out at the camp. It's fun to sit around and talk to those guys about their experiences and kind of compare notes because we are all in a similar situation and we all face the same teams in the Big 12. It's good to get their input.
The experience obviously has helped Robinson mature into a more experienced and seasoned quarterback. It will be interesting to see if he uses those lessons as he tries to boost the Cowboys into the Big 12 championship game for the first time in school history.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few pieces of correspondence I thought would be of interest to most readers. It starts off with the hottest topic in the conference for the last several days.
Steve from Des Moines writes: Tim, the Cyclone Nation is hurting over here after the way that Gene Chizik snuck out on us. Why did he do this and what kind of timetable does Jamie Pollard need to be working on as he tries to find a replacement?
Tim Griffin: Let's be truthful here. Iowa State is a historically challenged program no matter what conference it is in. Auburn probably ranks among the top 15-20 jobs in the nation. So it's not surprising that he willingly left like he did. I think most other coaches would have done the same thing.
Chizik probably didn't think he would have this kind of opportunity materialize so quickly when he made his celebrated remarks about wanting to remain in Iowa State for the next few years last month. And he decided he could be vilified in the Tall Corn State for his opportunity coaching at what he considers a dream job.
I've also got to think that Chizik will be much better prepared for his shot at Auburn after his two-year apprenticeship at Iowa State. He'll be a better coach after getting his on-the-job training in Ames where the scrutiny wasn't quite so intense.
And I've got to think that Pollard has to get on the business of finding a Chizik's replacement as soon as possible. I'm thinking that he really needs to have somebody in place by the end of the week to enable his new coach to be up and running around the holidays.
Korey in Midland, Texas, writes: Tim, how would Sam Bradford, or any other potential first pick, avoid getting drafted by the Detroit Lions? I know John Elway and Eli Manning have done it.
Tim Griffin: I think the secret is to hire a pushy agent who would be willing to make himself or his client look bad by demanding where they want to play. If you remember correctly, both Elway and Manning were perceived as bratty when they demanded they wouldn't play with the Baltimore Colts or San Diego Chargers -- the teams that originally drafted him.
Both of their early career decisions have been forgotten by fans after they became entrenched and successful for their new teams. But it isn't easy when a career starts off and you end up playing at a place where you don't want to play.
The scouts I'm talking to don't think that Bradford would necessarily picked that highly. Most tell me he likely will be a mid-first round draft pick if he should come out. So that likely means that he would end up on a team that would be a .500 or better squad.
Ryan from Waco writes: Hey Tim, love the blog. I just had a quick question. Why is Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek being snubbed by everyone for any kind of recognition? He was second in the Big 12 in tackles (10 behind Oklahoma's Travis Lewis, who had an extra game for the Big 12 Championship), but led the conference in tackles per game. He led the nation's linebackers in interceptions. He finished top-10 nationally in tackles and interceptions, regardless of position. Instead, he gets no consideration whatsoever for All-American, Bednarik, Butkus, or Nagurski honors, despite being the only player in the nation in 2008 to be top 10 in both tackles and interceptions. Where's the love, Tim?
Tim Griffin: I think that Pawelek suffers in national perception because of the Bears' lack of on-the-field success. If they would ever make a bowl trip or notch a big upset or two, I think the nation would start realizing how important he is to what they do. I know in our discussion on the Football Writers Association of America All-America team he received some prominent mention and just missed making the team.
If he has a big senior season next year and the Bears find some more success, it wouldn't surprise me if he starts making those All-America lists.
And as it is, Pawelek is reminding me more and more of one of my favorite players of my youth, old-school linebacker Jack Pardee. Like Pardee, Pawelek is a tough, determined defender with a knack for producing turnovers. If he keeps improving and his team wins, look for him to start getting some national exposure.
Thomas from Dallas writes: Tim, do you honestly think OU and Sam Bradford are better than Colt McCoy and Texas?
Tim Griffin: Thomas, to be truthful, no. I'd like to see the two schools play a rematch, but we weren't able to see that after Florida claimed the SEC championship.
So I guess it will just make the game in early October that much more meaningful, won't it? I can't wait for that game.
Jonathan from McKinney, Texas, writes: I'm a big fan of your blogging. Great job....except for one thing, which I will ask that you explain: You think Florida will beat OU in the championship game. How? Thanks for your insight.
Tim Griffin: I felt that Florida had an advantage when the game was first announced and today's announcement that DeMarco Murray will miss the game puts the Sooners at a little bit of a personnel disadvantage. I think that Oklahoma will miss him as much for his kick-return and receiving skills as his running, which will likely be filled by Mossis Madu.
While Florida doesn't have a featured back, I think the combination of Chris Rainey, Percy Harvin and Jeffrey Demps will pose some problems for the Sooners. And Tim Tebow's unique skills will be a difficult challenge for Brent Venables to cook up a defensive scheme to combat.
I still wonder if Oklahoma's struggles covering kickoffs will bite them in this game. And I have to give Florida senior kicker Jonathan Phillips an edge over Oklahoma freshman kicker Jimmy Stevens. The game might come down to that.
That all for today. I'll check back later this week with a few more missives.