Mon Jan 10 06:57am EST
Making the morning rounds, non-championship edition.
• We hardly knew ye. All-American cornerback/punt returner Patrick Peterson plans to officially announce his departure from LSU today at a noon press conference, on the heels of a junior season that fulfilled all of the five-star recruiting hype in 2008, and then some: Peterson was a first-team All-SEC pick as a corner and a return man, a unanimous All-American by every major selector and winner of both the Jim Thorpe and Chuck Bednarik awards as the nation's best defensive back and best overall defensive player, respectively. With his exceptional size (6'1", 225 pounds) and accolades, Peterson is a lock for the top 10, and with certain No. 1 pick Andrew Luck's decision to return to Stanford last week, has a decent chance of replacing Luck as the first player off the board to the Carolina Panthers. [Baton Rouge Advocate]
Peterson leads a parade of notable early exits over the weekend, which also saw official draft notices from:
• Wisconsin running back John Clay, the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year in 2009, who churned out his second consecutive 1,000-yard season as a junior despite watching the Badger offense explode in his absence down the stretch. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
• Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams, whose production plummeted from more than 1,600 yards rushing as a redshirt freshman in 2009 to just 481 yards as a sophomore, thanks to an early injury that cost him four games and allowed '09 injury casualty Darren Evans to regain the feature role. With Tyrod Taylor's graduation and Evans also leaving school early, the Hokies lose more than 6,400 career rushing yards and 75 touchdowns in one swoop. [Associated Press]
• Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, another breakout redshirst freshman in 2009 whose star faded a bit as a sophomore thanks to an early injury. Smith presence was still felt sharply enough for Big 12 coaches to make him a first-team all-conference pick. [Kansas City Star]
• West Virginia safety Robert Sands, a first-team All-Big East pick on one of the nation's top defenses who has to intrigue scouts with his 6'5", 220-pound frame. [Associated Press]
• Aw, that plane could be here for anybody. LSU fans hoping the "Les Miles to Michigan" buzz might die down over the weekend woke up instead today to photos of a certain Maize 'n Blue Learjet parked at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport:
The plane reportedly belongs to Michigan booster Richard Rogel, and arrived in Baton Rouge Sunday from Savannah, Ga. The same plane was also in town Friday, when LSU was in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl. Meanwhile, Michigan athletic director David Brandon was rumored to be in Dallas Sunday on a private jet owned by his former company, Domino's Pizza, either talking to Miles, Miles' agent or any one of thousands of coaches in town for a giant coaching convention. Still, the only word from Miles comes via two LSU players, quarterback Jordan Jefferson and receiver Russell Shepard, who both said after the Tigers' win over Texas A&M on Friday night that Miles has assured the team he's coming back. [Baton Rouge Advocate, MGoBlog]
• Make him turn you down. Stanford is the latest "Big Six" outfit in need of a head coach to make a run at Boise State's Chris Petersen, whose name has been initially linked to every major job opening over the last four years without so much as an interview on Petersen's part to suggest he can be lured from Boise. (In this case, the prospect of coaching Andrew Luck might be enticing, if Petersen didn't have a returning Heisman finalist of his own under center, Kellen Moore.) At any rate, the Cardinal's search will begin at home: Stanford plans to interview three holdovers from Jim Harbaugh's staff, including running backs coach/assistant head coach David Shaw, who has the support of Cardinal players. [ESPN, San Jose Mercury News]
• Raiders walk themselves down the plank. The NCAA accepted several self-imposed penalties by Texas Tech, which reported 234 impermissible text messages to 45 recruits under former coach Mike Leach between August 2007 and February 2009. The men's golf and softball programs got it worse (unlike football, they were both cited for a "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance"), but the Raiders were still hit with two years probation, one lost scholarship and a host of minor recruiting restrictions, all self-imposed. [NCAA.org, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal]
Quickly... Robert Bolden's high school coach says Bolden may be staying at Penn State, after all. ... Florida has eight early-enrolling freshmen already on campus. ... Terrelle Pryor has foot surgery. ... And Michigan may regret firing Rich Rodriguez yet.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.