An area scout indicated to MMQB that Oklahoma senior WR Dede Westbrook has been receiving excellent coaching with the Sooners.
"They’ve done a great job coaching him. He’s pretty good in all areas now—hands, he’s more confident, he’s catching the ball better," the scout said, "and there’s a little something about him." Westbrook has compiled a 70-1354-15 receiving line through 11 games while averaging a sweet 19.3 yards per reception. "The rise that he's made [from a 46-743-4 2015 season], it's unbelievable," the scout said. He believes Westbrook could be high-climber in this spring's draft.
Penn State HC James Franklin said that sophomore RB Saquon Barkley (foot) will play in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin on Saturday.
All systems go. Barkley dinged up his right foot in this past weekend's victory over Michigan State, but said at the beginning of the practice week that he was "feeling fine." Nothing has changed in the interim. On Friday, Franklin indicated that the 5-foot-11, 222-pounder has not missed a practice since that game against Sparty and that he "looks great."
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reports that Texas (5-7) will decline a bowl bid if offered.
Should South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette lose to New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe, respectively, on Saturday, that would leave five bowl slots still to be filled by 5-7 squads. APR (Academic Progress Rate) will determine which straggling squads make it to a bowl. Texas ranks fourth among 5-7 squads in APR. While it is rare for teams to turn down bowl games, even teams holding sub-par records, this is not without precedent. Just last season, Missouri respectfully declined a 5-7 berth due to a variety of circumstances.
TFY Draft Insider's Tony Pauline writes that Kansas State redshirt senior S Dante Barnett "has displayed himself as a forceful run defender."
"Pre-draft workouts are important," Pauline notes, "but [outwardly] Barnett has the skill set to line-up as a strong safety/special teams player." The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder missed the 2015 season due to a shoulder injury, making his triumphant return in 2016 that much more critical to his draft stock. He has played in all 11 of Kansas State's games to date, recording 58 tackles (3.5 for loss), a sack and an interception.
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg relays that Eastern Washington HC Beau Baldwin and Vanderbilt OC Andy Ludwig are candidates to fill the open head-coaching position at Nevada.
While Rittenberg singled out Baldwin and Ludwig, he notes that other candidates are also possibilities to replace the ousted Brian Polian. Polian and the Wolfpack had a mutual parting of ways following this past weekend's regular-season wrap-up against UNLV. They won that one 45-10 to finish with a 5-7 record. Nevada held a 23-27 record over the past four seasons with Polian at the helm. Rittenberg writes that the program would like to have settled upon its new head coach by next Friday.
An AFC college scouting director told MMQB that Alabama senior DL Jonathan Allen is "just the type of guy you win with."
"Tough, great hands, instinctive, a really good athlete, motor, balance, bend, everything. The only thing he lacks is size," the scouting director said, adding that the 6-foot-3, 291-pound Allen is "a first-rounder all the way." In late October, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. forwarded the belief that Allen could potentially rise as high as the No. 1 overall selection in this spring's draft. In 12 games this season, he has recorded 52 tackles (11.5 for loss), seven sacks and a touchdown off a fumble recovery which he notched against Texas A&M on October 22.
SB Nation's Steven Godfrey reports that Alabama OC Lane Kiffin will interview for Houston's vacant head-coaching position after Saturday's SEC Championship Game against Florida.
Kiffin's Alabama rebirth over the last three seasons has made him a hot commodity in the rumor mill this week. It was earlier reported that LSU HC Ed Orgeron wanted to bring Kiffin on-board as the Tigers' offensive coordinator. With head gigs open at Oregon and Houston, though, LSU looks like they are going to face stiff competition here. Perhaps the most interesting note in Godfrey's report is that Crimson Tide HC Nick Saban is actively pushing for Kiffin to take the job at Houston because it would move him out of the SEC and thus keep Saban's dark-voodoo coaching secrets out of enemy hands. In addition to Kiffin, Godfrey relays that Todd Orlando (currently Houston's interim head coach), Major Applewhite, Les Miles and Lincoln Riley are also under "heavy consideration."
Ohio State received a verbal commitment from five-star 2017 LB Baron Browning.
To say that the Buckeyes are destroying the recruiting universe right now is an understatement. Browning stands as Ohio State's 15th commitment from the ESPN 300. Eight of those 15 rank among the outlet's top 50 recruits for the 2017 cycle. Browning, himself, ranks as their No. 29 overall prospect in the class. The 6-foot-3, 227-pounder chose Ohio State over expected big dogs such as Alabama, Florida State and Michigan. Rivals recruiting director Mike Farrell has called him "what every coach wants in a linebacker."