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Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 3:36 PM
SPRINGFIELD — Thursday afternoon was a time for the celebration of education — and football, of course — at Springfield High School.
Thirteen senior football players announced or confirmed where they will be playing next season, all getting a round of applause from a large group assembled in the library.
The last to take the microphone was Leonard Taylor, the four-star tight end prospect who announced Wednesday he is going to the University of Cincinnati to play for coach Luke Fickell.
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“I think Cincinnati is a good fit for me,” Taylor said. “It’s a good school, good academics, good program. They’re on the come up. I think Coach Fickell is a good coach and his coaching staff is great. It’s good to stay home.”
He ended up picking the Bearcats over Texas A&M.
“Texas A&M has all the big-time stuff, but that really don’t mean nothing. So I just broke it down to the little things that are more important instead of (being in the) SEC and stuff like that.”
Taylor was far from the only Wildcat to sign with a college this week.
Five Springfield seniors signed to play at Urbana: defensive back JahErinn Echols, athlete William Finch, defensive back Tayshawn Heatly, receiver/defensive back Zion Rogers and receiver Niko Jones.
Defensive lineman Brennan Hess and running back Todd King are headed to Mount Union, while offensive lineman Darnell Ishman is going to Cincinnati Christian, offensive lineman Austin Garza is headed to West Virginia State, defensive back Dyier Smith signed with Malone and fullback/linebacker Ja’Sha-Meik Button signed with Marietta College.
Also present was linebacker Cameron Hoelscher, who signed with Army West Point in December.
“I was just a little kid from a county school, but coming here changed everything for me,” Hoelscher, who started his high school career at Shawnee, told the crowd.
Next year’s signing days figure to be pretty busy, too.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:24 AM
The Trae Young hype train has lost a bit of momentum as of late.
Just weeks ago, Young’s NBA comparison was to two-time MVP Stephen Curry, and those discussions were largely rooted in reality. The college landscape quite simply hasn’t seen a flashy sharpshooter like Young since Curry’s junior season in 2008-09, and Young is just a freshman.
February, however, hasn’t been kind to the Sooners star.
Beginning with an underwhelming effort on Feb. 3 against Texas, in which Young shot a porous 2-of-14 from the perimeter, Young has shot just 11-of-56 from deep throughout February. Consequently, Oklahoma is 0-6 in its last six appearances, and such a personal and team-wide slump has many jumping off the Trae Young bandwagon.
Don’t include ESPN analyst Jay Bilas in that bunch.
“The Trae Young bandwagon has people jumping off of it, left and right. Well, not me,” Bilas said in his ‘full guide to march.’ “That kid is a great young talent, and I am a believer. He is getting the best shot of every defense, and he has not handled it well of late, but he is the real thing.”
“Young is learning how to be a superstar, which is an incredible burden,” Bilas added. “It is one thing to be consistent; it is quite another to be consistently excellent. Young is compared favorably to Stephen Curry, but the comparison is made with Curry’s junior year numbers. What we forget is that Young is playing against far better competition that Curry did in his freshman season at Davidson. Struggles and all, Young has been incredible to watch all season long.”
Despite Young’s recent struggles, the expected one-and-done still leads the nation in scoring and assists with 28.3 points and 9.2 assists per game, respectively. His 101 made 3-pointers already stands as a Big 12 freshman record, and is currently tied for the fourth-best mark in college basketball this season.
Those efforts signify that Young’s overall body of work is still tremendously impressive, and after generating mind-boggling hype for what he accomplished throughout the first three months of the season, his struggles down the stretch have some cooling on that hype.
Others, such as Bilas, are still all aboard the Trae Young Express.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:22 AM
Texas Tech star guard Keenan Evans will be a game-time decision at Oklahoma State on Wednesday night, according to Red Raiders coach Chris Beard.
Beard told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that he didn’t know if Evans would play against the Cowboys. Earlier this week, Beard classified Evans as day-to-day after leaving the game against Baylor on Saturday with a toe injury.
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard told ESPN that Keenan Evans' status still up in the air for tonight's game against Oklahoma State. "Game time decision. I don't know yet," Beard said.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 21, 2018
Evans is Texas Tech’s leading scorer this season at 18.2 points per game.
This story will be updated.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:17 AM
Saquon Barkley is not going to have to wait long to hear his name in April’s NFL Draft. The former Penn State star might be the second player to walk across the stage, according to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.
Barkley was the No. 2 overall pick in Kiper’s mock draft 2.0, which came out Wednesday. Kiper has the New York Giants selecting Barkley to pair him in the backfield alongside Eli Manning.
Barkley was behind only Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who went first overall to the Cleveland Browns in Kiper’s projection. Here is Kiper’s full mock draft.
Mock Draft 2.0: Sticking with Josh Allen to Cleveland at No. 1, and Baker Mayfield makes a move up. https://t.co/3rIWDMFIWM
— Mel Kiper Jr. (@MelKiperESPN) February 21, 2018
Kiper and fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay spoke about why teams would take a running back so high in the draft. They pointed to the recent success of Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette, who both were top-5 picks.
“The people I talked to in the league, they were echoing the success of those running backs,” Kiper said. “Now (the thinking is) we’re not going to wait for these guys. We’re going to go get him, especially backs who are versatile and can catch the ball. …Saquon Barkley is a complete runner, receiver, blocker.”
Barkley is considered by many analysts to be the best all-around player in the 2018 draft class. He’ll showcase his athleticism at the NFL Combine in March.
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:20 AM
Any negativity targeted at Baker Mayfield posted online typically finds its way to the former Sooners quarterback.
One column, in particular, that predicted the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner would end up as a “future NFL bust” captured his attention.
The reporter who wrote the column, Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel, owned up to it when he met Mayfield in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday.
Mayfield handled it the way you’d expect he would.
… I asked him if he is numb to such headlines and commentary from people. People like me.
“I wouldn’t say I’m numb to it, but I don’t harp on it. I see it and I’ll use that as motivation,” he said. “You’re going to make your money off writing a story like that because you’re going to get a reaction off of athletes, that’s just how it works. At the same time, I’m going to make more money off what I’m going to do in the future and I’m going to be happy doing that.”
Mayfield was in Fort Worth to accept the Davey O’Brien Award, which is annually presented to college football’s top quarterback.
The quarterback is currently preparing for the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, which begins Tuesday, Feb. 27, in Indianapolis.
It’ll be a long time before anyone knows if Mayfield’s NFL career is successful. But using negativity to fuel his play on the field seems to be working out for the former walk-on quarterback so far.
The 2018 NFL Draft is set for April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Mayfield reportedly won’t be in attendance, however, so he can be with his family in Austin, Texas, during the draft.