Heisman Watch: Meet Robert Griffin III


Heisman Watch: Meet Robert Griffin III

With four of the top seven teams in the country losing over the weekend, you better believe there was significant shakeup in both the BCS standings and Heisman Watch.

After his unbelievable performance against No. 5 Oklahoma, I couldn't resist the temptation anymore -- Robert Griffin III deserves to be in the top spot this week.

Can he legitimately win the award?

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats Remaining Games 1 Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor 21-34, 479 yards, 4 TD, 72 rush yards in 45-38 win over No. 5 Oklahoma 245-336 (73), 3572 yards, 33 TD, 5 INT, 550 rush yards, 5 rush TD Texas Tech, No. 25 Texas 2 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 32 rush, 175 yards, 2 TD, rec. TD in 45-21 win over Georgia Southern 236 rush, 1380 yards (5.8 YPC), 322 rec. yards, 2 rec. TD At No. 24 Auburn 3 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 20-30, 257 yards, 2 TD, INT in 31-28 win over California 241-343, 2937 yards, 31 TD, 8 INT, 2 rush TD No. 22 Notre Dame 4 Case Keenum, QB, Houston 30-45, 318 yards, TD, rush TD in 37-7 win over SMU 309-421 (73), 4269 yards, 38 TD, 3 INT At Tulsa, Conf. USA title game (if beat Tulsa) 5 Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State 28-40, 366 yards, 4 TD, INT in 52-35 win at San Diego State 248-336 (74), 2915 yards, 35 TD, 6 INT Wyoming, New Mexico
On the bubble: Brandon WeedenQBOklahoma State, Montee BallRBWisconsin, Matt BarkleyQBUSC


1) Robert Griffin III: He burst onto the scene after throwing for 359 yards and five touchdowns in Baylor's upset victory over TCU back in Week 1, but fell off the radar as the Bears lost three of four games in October. After his jaw-dropping performance on Saturday, he can't be ignored anymore. For those of you who don't know his life story: Griffin III graduated high school a semester early and enrolled at Baylor for the 2008 Semester. He came in 1st place in the 400-meter hurdles at the Big 12 Championships and 3rd in the NCAA. He then started 11 games at QB as a true freshman, tore his ACL in the team's third game as a sophomore (redshirted), but bounced back the following year by combining for over 4100 yards and 30 touchdowns, while leading Baylor to its first bowl game since 1994. Now, he has Baylor at No. 18 in the BCS, and would be a lock to win the trophy if the Bears could play any defense.
2) Trent Richardson: When Richardson was a freshman, he backed up the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram. In 14 games, Ingram carried the ball 271 times to Richardson's 145 (not bad for a backup, huh?). In 2010, Ingram received 158 carries, and Richardson 112. Now that Richardson is the No. 1 back, he already has more touchdowns (22) in 11 games, than Ingram had in 14 games in 2009. If Ingram won the Heisman with those numbers, than Richardson should follow suit, right? Not necessarily. The competition is better this year than it was in 2009, when Stanford's Toby Gerhart came in second (on a team that was 8-4 entering the Heisman ceremony), and Texas' Colt McCoy came in third (3,869 total yards, 30 total touchdowns, 12 INT -- he probably wouldn't even be in the top 10 this year). Richardson needs a monster performance against Auburn, and less than stellar performances from the competition to have a chance.

3) Andrew Luck: After he led Stanford to a come-from-behind win over USC on October 29, Luck was considered a lock to take home the hardware. Then came Phil Simms' comment that 'Luck doesn't make big-time NFL throws," followed by Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian's declaration that he would take USC's Matt Barkley over Luck if he had the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. In Stanford's last three games, Luck has completed 66 of his passes (72 first 8 games), averaged 240 passing yards per game (277 first 8 games) and thrown four interceptions (four in the first eight games combined). Are Simms and Sarkisian correct? Or could it be that the three games were played under wet and sloppy field conditions? Either way, Luck needs a 300-plus yard, four touchdowns, zero interceptions performance against Notre Dame on Saturday to regain the momentum he lost the past few weeks. If he delivers and Stanford wins, I think he will ultimately win.4) Case Keenum: Based on how he was playing in weeks prior, Keenum had a "down" game on Saturday with just one touchdown. However, he broke yet another NCAA record -- career completions. Texas Tech's Graham Harrell completed 1,403 passes from 2005-2008, but he now stands in second behind Keenum's 1,427. The sixth-year senior should have three more games to ensure nobody in the future can catch him, but the Cougars face a tough Tulsa team on the road this Saturday, with a birth in the Conference USA Championship Game on the line. A win and Houston will most likely face Southern Miss, and should they win that, an automatic birth in a BCS game. After coming this far, please don't fall short, Case.5) Kellen Moore: The southpaw from Prosser, Washington just won't go away. His efficiency is off the charts, but the loss to TCU derailed his chance of winning the trophy. He's a huge reason why Boise State has become one of the most successful programs in the country over the past five seasons, and he should be rewarded with a trip to New York City. I don't see Wyoming, or New Mexico preventing that from happening.

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


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.