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Potential Bengals draft picks playing in today’s bowl games

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 10:16 AM

            COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 7: Sam Hubbard #6 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after making a tackle for a loss in the second quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 7: Sam Hubbard #6 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after making a tackle for a loss in the second quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals currently are positioned to pick 10th in the 2018 NFL Draft, but they could wind up anywhere between sixth and 12th depending on the outcome of the Week 17 games.

Through Jan. 1 we’ll take a look at the top draft prospects who are playing in that day’s bowl games, players the Bengals could target in the first three rounds.

Today’s slate of bowl games includes:

Belk Bowl, Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5), 1 p.m.

Sun Bowl, N.C. State (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5), 3 p.m.

Music City Bowl, Kentucky (7-5) vs. Northwestern (9-3), 4:30 p.m.

Arizona Bowl, New Mexico State (6-6) vs. Utah State (6-6), 5:30 p.m.

Cotton Bowl, USC (10-2) vs. Ohio State (11-2), 8:30 p.m.

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Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky, 6-5, 230 (junior)

Terrific edge rusher in college, but he’ll need to improve size, technique.

Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State, 6-2, 227

Size is deceiving as he’s more of a quick-footed back than a bruiser.

Jerome Baker, ILB, Ohio State, 6-1, 225

The defensive coordinator who lands Baker will have lots of choices on how to use him.

›› Predicting Bengals-Ravens and all Week 17 games

Dante Booker, OLB, Ohio State, 6-3, 233

He’s never played a full season for the Buckeyes but could be a second-day pick.

Deontay Burnett, WR, USC, 6-0, 170 (junior)

Locked behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree Jackson earlier in this career, Burnett has emerged as a star in 2017.

Bradley Chubb, OLB, N.C. State, 6-3, 273

Likely to be a Top 10 pick and immediate starter in the NFL.

›› Bengals players throw support behind Marvin Lewis

Sam Darnold, QB, USC, 6-4, 225 (sophomore)

Could be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft … if he elects to come out.

Duke Ejiofor, DL, Wake Forest, 6-4, 270

Might be a better fit at linebacker due to his lack of size.

Ryan Finley, QB, N.C. State, 6-4, 205 (junior)

He doesn’t get the attention of some of the other quarterbacks available, but there is a lot to like about the 23-year-old.

›› Bengals sign kicker Brown

Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State, 6-5, 266

Could the Bengals take him on the second day and keep the Cincinnati native (Moeller) in Ohio?

Godwin Igwebulke, S, Northwestern, 6-0, 200

A solid tackler but still needs work in the pass game and could slide to Day 3.

Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State, 6-3, 295 (sophomore)

A bit unsung on the impressive OSU defensive line, but Jones has a lot of upside.

›› Looking at the other games the Bengals have played on New Year’s Eve

Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State, 6-5, 310

With impressive athleticism for his size, Jones could slide into the first round with a solid Combine performance.

Ronald Jones, RB, USC, 6-1, 195 (junior)

Tough and quick, Jones projects as a mid-first rounder, which probably doesn’t make him a fit for the Bengals.

Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M, 5-11, 201 (junior)

Elite speed should make him a first-round pick, along with his dynamic ability as a returner.

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Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State, 6-3, 260

A little stiff for an end, Lewis still collected 6.5 sacks in his rotation with Hubbard and Nick Bosa.

Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC, 6-3, 235

He can rush off the edge (7.5 sacks) or drop into coverage (one interception, 13 passes defended).

Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State, 6-3, 315

Unclear if he’ll play center or guard, but he should go in the first round and be ready to start right away.

›› Bengals name Giovani Bernard their Ed Block Courage Award winner

Will Richardson, OT, N.C. State, 6-6, 332 (junior)

He’s a top-20 tackle but could be a top-20 pick in 2019 if he stays for his senior year.

Jaylen Samuels, TE, N.C., State, 5-11, 236

A more athletic version of another H-back/tight end from Stanford, the Bengals’ Ryan Hewitt.

Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State, 6-6, 215

An under-the-radar prospect who can really boost his stock with strong performances in his bowl game and the Senior Bowl.

›› Bengals cornerback excelling after lost rookie season

Cameron Smith, ILB, USC, 6-2, 246 (junior)

Gifted with instincts, intelligence and athleticism, he should go somewhere in the middle of the first round.

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State, 5-11, 184

Another in the long-list of first-round corners for the Buckeyes, and the Bengals.

Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M, 5-11, 2000

A ball hawk who makes up for a lack of speed with great instincts.

Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Playoff 2017 National Champions Pride T-Shirt

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 5:12 AM

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Remember an incredible season for years to come when you grab this Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Playoff 2017 National Champions Pride T-Shirt. Each time you don this awesome gear, you’ll remember how hard you cheered your team to a victory.

The post Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Playoff 2017 National Champions Pride T-Shirt appeared first on SEC Country.

Sports Today: Ohio State shows growth in gutty home win

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 10:13 AM

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 16:  Jae'Sean Tate #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes shoots the ball after slipping past the defense of Jaylen Key #15 of the Northern Illinois Huskies during the second half at Value City Arena on December 16, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Northern Illinois 67-54. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 16: Jae'Sean Tate #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes shoots the ball after slipping past the defense of Jaylen Key #15 of the Northern Illinois Huskies during the second half at Value City Arena on December 16, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Northern Illinois 67-54. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)(Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Dayton basketball is back in action tonight, so Ohio State was the center of attention Monday. 

A Buckeye basketball double feature included a big hit and a big dud. 

The men’s team improved to 9-0 in the Big Ten with a gutty 64-59 win over Nebraska

GAME STORY: Buckeyes survive trap game against Cornhuskers

It was the kind of game where having veterans really paid off, especially since one of them was Keita Bates-Diop. 

The senior forward scored 20 points, including several key baskets in the second half, while fellow senior Jae’Sean Tate had 17 and junior C.J. Jackson added 12. 

RELATED: 7 things to know about Ohio State’s new coach

This was the type of game Ohio State would have lost last season — or in November — but these Buckeyes have shown some mental toughness and taken care of the ball far better than they did while losing three of four games late in the first game of the season. 

Only 10,918 fans were said to be there to see it, which caused some concerned tweets and came up in coach Chris Holtmann’s post-game press conference. 

He handled the question well, but here’s the thing: There probably just aren’t that many hard-core Ohio State basketball fans. 

It’s a soft market. That’s the way it has been for a long time, perhaps forever. 

And in a vacuum 10,000 fans probably is at least a solid number of people for a random Monday night in January, especially when the season is so long now.

(For perspective, 33 teams drew more than 11,000 per game last season, and there are multiple power programs — most notably Duke — that play in arenas don’t even hold 11,000 fans.) 

That figure is lower than what Ohio State was announcing a few years ago, but I bet it is closer to accurate because I know in the past the numbers were inflated by season-ticket holders who weren’t actually there. 

(Full disclosure: I was not at the game last night to see for myself how many seats were filled, but I can pretty much guarantee they never announce an attendance figure smaller than the actual number of butts in the seats.) 


I’m assuming the team’s recent struggles eroded that base, which is quite understandable given the frequent listlessness Thad Matta’s last few teams played with and the lack of expectations for this squad. 

In terms of people actually going to games, Ohio State has had a problem for a long time. Now they can’t announce as many tickets sold as they could during Matta’s best runs, but even then the official average attendance was well short of Value City Arena capacity. 

Add that to the list of reasons replacing the historic St. John Arena (capacity of more than 13,000) with a 19,500-seat multi-use venue was a massive mistake. It might have seemed like a good idea at time, but in reality VCA is too big, leaving it with bad acoustics and terrible sight-lines for both sporting events and concerts. The seats are surprisingly uncomfortable for being less than 50 years old, too. 

RELATED: Holtmann brings upsideOhio State coaches have varied backgrounds, origins

Unfortunately, VCA is just not a great place to watch much of anything — and as a former usher there, I’ve seen a lot of things from a lot of angles and levels. 

I would imagine there being no consistent pattern to what night of the week or what time games start doesn’t help, either, but that’s not Oho State’s fault. 

As Holtmann said, it did sound like a pretty energetic bunch when things were tight late. So there’s that.

Perhaps there was a higher than usual percentage of people who actually wanted to be there rather than just bought a ticket (or used a friend’s) because it was a thing to do…

Earlier in the evening, the Ohio State women’s team traveled to Maryland and turned in one of the worst performances of the Kevin McGuff era. 

The Terrapins took advantage of porous Ohio State defense pretty much immediately and never looked back en route to a Big Ten-race defining 99-69 win over the Buckeyes, who have lost two in a row. 

Ohio State was bad in the first half and worse in the second while falling out of first place in the conference. 

The Buckeyes must right the ship quickly if they want to have any shot at defending their Big Ten regular season crown. They have to go to Iowa on Thursday night and play at Michigan State at noon Saturday. 

On the bright side, Kelsey Mitchell scored 15 points and passed Maya Moore and Elena Della Donne while moving to eighth on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list… 

The football team also made some news with the announcement Ryan Day has been promoted to offensive coordinator. 

This is mostly semantics as he was quarterbacks coach and “co-offensive coordinator” last year, his first in Columbus. 

That comes after Adam Schefter reported Day had turned down an opportunity to be the offensive coordinator for Mike Vrabel, who was just hired as head coach of the Tennessee Titans. 

Day had a positive impact on J.T. Barrett and the passing game in general, though both still left a little to be desired, and it looks like likely 2018 starter Dwayne Haskins Jr. approves of his decision to stay... 

Also in college football news this week: The Miami RedHawks. 

Coach Chuck Martin is adding another quarterback to the fold with the announcement Alex Malzone is transferring to Oxford from Michigan

He was a four-star recruit three years ago but never threw a pass in a game for the Wolverines, who brought in Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson this offseason and have part-time starter Brandon Peters and redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey back from last season. 

As a graduate transfer, Malzone will be eligible immediately at Miami, where two-year starter Gus Ragland has a year of eligiblity remaining... 

As mentioned, the Flyers are back in action tonight when Davidson comes to town. 

The Wildcats, including former Dayton and Ohio State assistant Kevin Kuwik, are a game below .500. 

Will Anthony Grant’s team end its two-game losing streak? doesn’t think so, but this squad has been nothing if not unpredictable. 

Ole Miss has reportedly set date for annual ‘Grove Bowl’ spring game

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 5:03 AM

Mark your calendars, Ole Miss fans. We have football to watch.

According to a report from David Johnson of the Ole Miss Spirit, the Rebels’ annual “Grove Bowl” spring game has been scheduled for Saturday, April 7 at 1 p.m. local time. The game, which has not yet been confirmed by Ole Miss athletics, is likely to be aired on the SEC Network.

Johnson reports that Ole Miss plans to start spring practice activities near the end of February.

It will be Ole Miss’ first spring workouts under the direction of new head coach Matt Luke, who earned the full-time job as Hugh Freeze’s replacement after leading the Rebels to a 6-6 season as the Rebels’ interim coach.

As always, the Grove Bowl festivities are always sweeter in Oxford when the Egg Bowl is on campus. Luke endeared himself to the fan base with his genuine love and care for his alma mater, but he may have won their hearts when he brought that trophy home from Starkville with a 31-28 victory over the Bulldogs to cap a stressful season for the Rebels.

Ole Miss will open the 2018 regular season against Texas Tech in a neutral-site showdown with Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders in Houston.

Florida recruiting: 4-star LB Caleb Tannor high on Gators after visiting UF

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 4:57 AM

Caleb Tannor-Florida recruiting

Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest Florida recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.

Caleb Tannor checks out Gators

Florida may not be done landing recruits from the Peach State for the Class of 2018.

The Gators signed three Georgia players during the early signing period and Caleb Tannor could join that group on National Signing Day.

The 4-star linebacker from Miller Grove High School (Lithonia, Ga.) took an official visit to Florida last weekend and came away impressed.

“This visit helped,” Tannor said of his trip. “I’ll take my next official visit and after that it should be decision time. I’m going to do it on signing day, but I’m going to know (the decision) in about a week. Nobody else is going to know, but I’m going to know.”

One thing Tannor does know is that he’s a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, Tannor wants to play outside linebacker in college despite being rated by recruiting services as a defensive end.

Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Nebraska are the other schools in the mix for Tannor. Gators linebacker coach Christian Robinson offered him on Jan. 8 at his preferred position.

“I like him,” Tannor said of Robinson. “He’s young, so he’s real cool with it. A real chill person. … He’s recruiting me at outside linebacker. That’s what I want to play. They showed me film and I liked it. I’m going to be running around a lot.”

Speaking of running, Tannor had a chance to check out the team’s offseason strength program during his trip to Florida. He watched the players complete the rope challenge in The Swamp (see below).

“It’s the whole team, and the whole team splits into different groups,” Tannor said. “Each group got one long rope, and they’re running up the stadium stairs. Nobody can drop the rope. If you drop the rope, it’s over. They’re going up and down the stairs, all around the stadium.”

Tannor indicated that the workout was extremely difficult, but it didn’t scare him away from Florida.

“No,” Tannor said. “I’m ready to work.”

The former Georgia commit said the Florida staff would like him to reach 240 pounds, but in due time. If he chooses the Gators, at first they want Tannor to do what he does best.

“They told me, ‘You can stay how you are (weight-wise). Just run around.’ ” Tannor said. “I’m really fast, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

Miss a previous Gator Chomps notebook? Find every daily recap of Florida Gators recruiting right here.

The post Florida recruiting: 4-star LB Caleb Tannor high on Gators after visiting UF appeared first on SEC Country.