SJSU players react to MacIntyre's departure

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SJSU players react to MacIntyre's departure

The man who captained the SJSU football team to its best season in 25 years and in doing so turned the program a complete 180 degrees in a three-year span has vacated the vessel.

He took the program from a record of 1-11 in his first year to 5-7 in his second and ultimately 10-2 in his third season, but Mike MacIntyre is now the head coach at Colorado University. What’s done is done for Sparty.

And while MacIntyre said he plans on bringing many of his assistants with him to Colorado, they must remain with the team for the time being because there is a task at hand for those who still call themselves Spartans.

The undertaking: Capture the school’s first bowl victory since 2006 after bouncing back from losing a head coach.

“When you deal with a loss at that moment you may be down for a little bit but at the same time we understand we still have work to do,” said junior wide receiver Noel Grisgby, the only of four team captains who will return next season. “At the end of the day we have to come out here and work. Us throwing a pity party out here is not going to help us win come Dec. 27 so we put that aside and use it as fuel to be even better.

At the same, life goes on. We have to work. We’re still working on being the best team in San Jose State history and that’s all that’s on our minds right now. As a family when you lose somebody you have to come close. We’re going to bond closer, we’re going to work even harder to reach the goals we have.”

The decision was made with logical reasoning many of us would have used given the same predicament — MacIntyre’s salary will more than quadruple after signing a five-year, $10 million contract with the Buffaloes.

Grigsby said he did not expect MacIntyre to leave but added that he fully understood the financial implications of the decision and how the dollars as well as MacIntyre’s future coaching dreams may have affected his resolution.

“I didn’t think he was going to leave but at the same time I don’t know,” Grisgby said. “I knew it was tough on him. He talked to us yesterday and he was emotional so I know it was tough on him. At the end of the day he has to provide for his family. He’s married, he has kids and that comes first so you can’t be mad be at him for doing what’s best for his family.”

Fellow team captain, tight end Ryan Otten, mirrored similar comments and added that there are “no hard feelings here.”

“I think we’re doing alright,” Otten said. “Obviously we all wanted Coach Mac to stay here, he was part of the family but at the end of the day I understand it’s still business and when opportunities pop up it’s hard to say no to and I don’t think any of us blame him for pursuing that and it’s a big deal for him and his family.”

As noted earlier, MacIntyre will bring some of his assistants with him to Boulder. Defensive line coach Jim Leffcoat and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren are set to make the jump with MacIntyre, according to FootballScoop.com.

Leffcoat, Lindgren and other assistants will coach the team through its Military Bowl appearance then carry on with their coaching careers, wherever they may lead.

“We’ve been with these guys for two three years ... It’s always tough when you develop a relationship with these guys,” Grigsby said about the team’s coaching staff. “These guys are like father figures to a lot of our guys so it’s tough but all we can do it focus on right now. Coach (Terry) Malley taught us that as receivers we have to cherish the moment right now. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Should Leffcoat and Lindgren leave SJSU, their absences will be missed almost as greatly as MacIntyre’s next season.

Lindgren revitalized the SJSU offense around quarterback David Fales, who broke single-season school record for completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, total offense and eventually will break marks in passer rating and completion percentage. Lindgren earned himself finalist honors for the FootballScoop Quarterbacks Coach of the Year in 2012.

Leffcoat, who was a finalist for the FootballScoop Defensive Line Coach of the Year, made huge improvements on the Spartan defensive line in his second season with the team in 2012. He increased the team’s total of 16 sacks last year to 40 by this regular season’s end.

“Like Coach Mac used to tell us, ‘You never know when your last play is’ and we never know when a coach might leave so we want to cherish that moment and we’re going to continue to work,” Grigsby said.

Otten, a graduating senior, said the program will remain in good shape within the careful hands of Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier and the quality players returning next season.

“At the end of the day it’s the players that win the games not the coaches,” Otten said. “Mr. Bleymaier is going to hire someone that’s going to do a good job and come in here. But it’s up to the players to conintue to play well, stay focused and do the right things and now that we understand what it takes to win and be a good program we just need to stay the course and keep doing what we’ve learned.”

Bleymaier released a statement yesterday saying: "We will work to find a new coach as quickly as possible. We will look for the best person who can pick up where Coach MacIntyre left off.”

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

INDIANAPOLIS -- More and more college coaches are putting their starters and even their stars on special teams as they seek to pile up every possible point in an era of pedal-to-the-metal shootouts and never-safe leads.

Fading fast are the days when superstars would catch their breath on the sideline when the kicker or punter trotted onto the field with the scrubs.

NFL teams love it.

Watching how players handle themselves as a blocker, gunner or returner provides a glimpse into a prospect's range, selflessness and versatility. It also delivers a sneak peek into how coachable he'll be, says Phil Savage, the SiriusXM NFL Radio host who spent two decades as an NFL coach, scout and executive and now oversees the Senior Bowl.

"I think because of the landscape of college football where scoring is at a premium, you've got to figure out a way to put points on the board not only on offense but through your special teams and defensively, as well," Savage says. "These coaches want to get these young players on the field as soon as possible, and a way to do that is utilize them on special teams."

These tapes provide a bonus to pro scouts.

"Now you have a vision of what that player might forecast to in the NFL as a young player and, specifically, as a rookie," Savage said.

Offensive and defensive coaches have a better idea of the types of players they're integrating into their schemes, and special teams coaches no longer get blank stares and blank canvases from the rookie class.

"Not only do you like the fact that they come in and have experience doing it, but you love the mentality if you're a coach and a decision maker that this guy isn't a diva, he's got no ego about it, he understands the team and puts team before self," says ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.

"And he comes in with the mindset of 'What can I do to help the team and how can I contribute?' Those are the guys that seem to make it and last longer in the league because they're just willing to do different things and whatever it takes."

The prime example in this year's draft class is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey , a "dynamic player than can do it all," according to Broncos GM John Elway.

McCaffrey gained more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage in his college career and added almost 2,000 more as a returner.

"There's just a lot of big plays open in the return game," McCaffrey says. "You see special teams have such an impact on the game today. Any time I can have the ball in my hands, I feel like I can do something dangerous, and that's really why I love the return game."

Other highly touted draft prospects who polished their resumes on special teams include Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Washington wide receiver John Ross, and USC cornerback Adroee' Jackson, all of whom are projected as high selections.

McShay says "we're seeing more and more programs put an emphasis on special teams and having their key players contribute in one or more areas on special teams."

He pointed to Ohio State, where Urban Myers coaches special teams himself.

"It's a major emphasis there, and so you'll see some more guys typically lined up and contributing that are starters and stars," McShay says. "It's an honor to be on special teams."

Not a burden.

"It is not uncommon now to see people that are going to be picked in the first round having 100-plus special teams plays," suggests NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.

He pointed to the University of Florida, where Gators defensive backs cover kickoffs as well as they do receivers.

"Everyone's always trying to get their best guys on the field," Brandt says.

That's a change from years past when coaches feared exposing their star players to the extra hits.

The added value benefits the players, whose multiple talents allow NFL general managers to address many needs.

"We're seeing more emphasis on it in college, and I think NFL teams love to see it because if just means you're getting a bit more for your buck," McShay says.

Top talents who bolstered their value by playing special teams:

CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY , RB, STANFORD: He shined at the combine working out with the running backs and was as impressive running routes. Asked if there was anything he couldn't do, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey said then: "I can't sing."

JABRILL PEPPERS , S, MICHIGAN: He worked out with safeties and linebackers at the combine, where teams talked of him playing RB and WR in addition to returning kicks. "The bottom line is I'm a ballplayer and I'm a hell of a ballplayer," Peppers said.

JOHN ROSS , WR, WASHINGTON: He caught 81 passes with 17 TDs last season but actually posted more return yards (2,069) than scrimmage yards (1,924) in his college career.

ADOREE' JACKSON , CB, USC: One of the best special teams coverage players in the NCAA, Jackson also scored eight TDs on punt and kick returns in college. His punt return averages rose from 6.0 yards to 10.5 and 15.8.

JAMAL ADAMS , S, LSU: Another star in coverage, Adams' defensive mentality extends to special teams. "I love being on the field and just playing football," said Adams, whose father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985.

ALVIN KAMARA , RB, TENNESSEE: In a deep running back group, Kamara separates himself with his special teams acumen. "A lot of teams have been bringing up special teams," Kamara said.

DESMOND KING , CB, IOWA: He had eight interceptions as a junior and three as a senior. "I had a really good special teams season," King said. "Not being targeted as much, I still went out there and competed the best I could and was still making plays."

CHRIS WORMLEY , DE, MICHIGAN: Wormley touts playing for Jim Harbaugh as one of his attributes. "Coach Harbaugh came in and ran our program like an NFL program, like he had with the 49ers," said Wormley, who blocked three kicks his senior season.

ZAY JONES , WR, EAST CAROLINA: Like McCaffrey, he has good NFL bloodlines (son of Robert Jones, brother of Cayleb Jones). He caught 158 passes as a senior, but spent his first two seasons in college also making his mark as a returner.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.