NCF Nation: Kellen Heard
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some stories for your lunchtime perusal from across the Big 12.
- More than 60,000 tickets have already been sold for the Nebraska's spring game on April 18, according to Daily Nebraskan reporter Ryan Boetel.
- Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle catches up with 6-foot-6, 345-pound Kellen Heard, who won't be playing for Texas A&M this fall during his senior season. Instead, Heard says he plans to graduate this year and then follow his mother into a career as a train engineer.
- Matt Hayes of the Sporting News reports that one element of the feud between Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and athletic director Gerald Myers has been simmering for several years -- ever since Myers gave his close friend, former Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight, Leach's parking spot near the school's athletic department.
- Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman writes that by switching Texas' game against Texas Tech to Sept. 19, there won't be many late style points available for the Longhorns if they sustain an early-season loss.
- Keith Whitmire of the Dallas Morning News examines the 10 early commitments in Texas' 2010 recruiting class.
- Former Nebraska cornerback Andre Jones is being sought on allegations that he stole a 50-inch plasma screen television. The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Jones originally was arrested in August, but the case was dismissed to pretrial diversion. But Lincoln prosecutors have reworked the case and have sought a warrant for Jones' arrest after the diversion didn't work out.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The breathless hype is already starting around Austin. Early Longhorns practices have shown that backup QB John Chiles can pump some excitement into a Texas offense that appeared stale at times last season.
Veteran Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls was salivating at the prospects of what formations with Colt McCoy and Chiles playing at the same time could bring, evoking memories of Tim Tebow's early use in the Florida offense or Arkansas' "Wild Hog" formation with Darren McFadden.
As Bohls correctly states, all of the talk about trick plays doesn't mean much if they are being used against teams like Rice and Florida International where Texas seemingly has a huge competitive advantage. These plays and formations need to be employed against Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri.
Chiles threw a couple of interceptions during a Thursday workout. And he told Bohls that his 1-for-9 passing struggles last season -- similar to some of Tebow's early passing missteps as a freshman with the Gators -- weren't unexpected because of his inexperience.
"It wasn't too embarrassing," Chiles told Bohls. "I might should have redshirted, looking back. Quarterback is a tough position."
The use of two quarterbacks would be a "walk on the wild side" for Texas coach Mack Brown -- and a refreshing one at that.
Much like these Big 12 links this morning. Take a deep breath and enjoy.
- It's hard for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops not to get excited this summer. He told the Oklahoman's Berry Tramel that he's seeing flashes in DeMarco Murray that makes him think he could develop into his most talented tailback ever. Didn't he coach that guy named Peterson once upon a time?
- Texas Tech DE McKinner Dixon will likely be ineligible for the upcoming season, Tech coach Mike Leach told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. But heralded junior-college transfer DE Brandon Sesay appears to have made his grades and will be able to play.
- Returning Colorado players are noticeably bigger and stronger than previous seasons, the Boulder Daily Camera's Neill Woelk says. One of the most striking transformations was QB Cody Hawkins, who showed up with noticeably bigger biceps and about five pounds heavier, the Denver Post's Tom Kensler says.
- It will take three or four players to replace the contributions of leading Colorado tackler Jordon Dizon, Buffaloes linebackers coach Brian Cabral told B.G. Brooks of the Rocky Mountain News.
- Iowa State returns all four starters in the secondary this season. Despite that experience, the group is bracing for heat as every Big 12 team it will face returns its starting quarterback.
- NFL Hall of Famer Mike McCormack will be the next former Kansas player to be included in the school's Ring of Honor at Memorial Stadium. School officials better save room up there for Todd Reesing one of these days.
- Missouri wide receivers coach Andy Hill has a quaint way of describing how he teaches young players to "drink from the fire hose" in their early preparation. The Columbia Daily Tribune's Dave Matter says that Tigers are learning to open wide, because here comes a big mouthful of football preparations.
- Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon isn't worried about a Sports Illustrated cover jinx after he, QB Chase Daniel and WR Jeremy Maclin will be pictured on one of the regional covers highlighting the upcoming season. "Nobody else from my hometown (Jasper, Texas) can say they've ever been on the cover of Sports Illustrated," Weatherspoon told Matter. "Even though it's just a regional cover ... it's a great accomplishment. It just shows what type of things are going on at Mizzou."
- Forget about all the talk about the competition between Marlon Lucky and Roy Helu Jr. Slimmer TB Quentin Castille also is in the mix for playing time at Nebraska, Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal-Star writes.
- Bo Pelini likes his team's progress after its first four days of practice this summer. But then again, I've never heard a coach speak otherwise at this time of year.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is toying with the idea of giving backup QBs Alex Cate and Brandon Weedon most of the snaps at Saturday's scrimmage. If Gundy is as concerned about finding a backup for Zac Robinson as he has continually maintained, it's a great idea.
- Birthday candles for esteemed Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel, who writes of turning 50 today. I have a lot of admiration for Shatel in more ways than one. He's got me beat in this late dad thing. He's got three little ones and I only have one.
- Sooner practices are closed, but OU coach Bob Stoops told fans at the Sooner Caravan Thursday night that competition has been spirited at his team's early practices. "You can't believe the battles we've had at practice," Stoops said. "That's really fun for me as a coach." But with no chance to watch his team scrimmage, we'll all have to wait until the Aug. 30 opener against Chattanooga. The scrimmages sound more competitive to me.
- The San Antonio Express-News' Brent Zwerneman's "Aggie Insider" highlights Hunter Goodwin, a former Texas A&M lineman who helped roust his school's lethargic performances in other sports with some colorful comments a few years back. Zwerneman also had a couple of other A&M camp nuggets about A&M TB Mike Goodson's slight groin injury and DT Kellen Heard's dramatic weight loss over the offseason.
- The Austin American-Statesman reports that LB Sergio Kimble and DE Brian Orakpo were reversing roles at Thursday's practice. Kimble was experimenting with rush from a three-point stance and Orakpo was being used as a stand-up defender.
- Rocky Balboa in shoulder pads? The Tulsa World's Jimmie Tramel has a great story about Oklahoma junior college transfer LB Mike Balogun, who didn'
t play high school football his last two seasons and became a construction worker after high school to support his family. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said Balogun could be in the mix to challenge for a starting job.
- Stoops told the Tulsa World's Dave Sittler that he has dropped out of voting in the USA Today coaches' poll this season. "I have my reasons," Stoops told Sittler. But he was guarded about his rationale as much as his scrimmage plans.