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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

College Football

Miami among possible transfer destinations for Tate Martell

Tate Martell

Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell is exploring the idea of transferring after he entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal this week, and there has already been speculation about where he might end up.

Miami would be one program to watch, for one obvious reason and some that are less obvious. The Hurricanes have seemingly been a quarterback away from title contention for a few years now, and new head coach Manny Diaz surely must think they can do better than N’Kosi Perry. Plus, as Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors notes, two of Martell’s former high school teammates will be at Miami in 2019 after another announced he is transferring there this week.

West Virginia has been mentioned as another possible landing spot for Martell, as Mountaineers starting quarterback Will Grier is heading for the NFL Draft.

Eligibility will likely play a big factor in where Martell ends up — both his own and that of Justin Fields. Fields, who is transferring to Ohio State from Georgia, is looking for an eligibility waiver to be able to play right away. If he can’t get it, Martell would be the favorite to start for the Buckeyes.

Martell, who just finished his redshirt freshman season, may have to sit out next year if he transfers. His only real hope would be to somehow obtain a waiver based on Urban Meyer retiring, but that seems unlikely to happen. There have been indications that Miami and another top quarterback who can play right away have mutual interest, but perhaps the Hurricanes could make a huge splash by landing both QBs if Martell is going to sit out 2019 anyway.

Jalen Hurts, Miami appear to have mutual interest

Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts and the Miami Hurricanes appear to have mutual interest.

Hurts has entered his name in the NCAA’s transfer portal. Since he graduated in December as a junior, Hurts still has one year of eligibility remaining and could play immediately upon transferring.

With Hurts expected to leave the Alabama program, he should have no shortage of potential suitors. Among them could be Miami. Hurts has followed Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz and tight ends coach Brevin Jordan on Twitter.

Hurts was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman and went 26-2 as a starter at Alabama. He helped the Crimson Tide to two appearances in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Hurts was replaced during last year’s title game in favor of Tua Tagovailoa, who was named the starter for the 2018 season.

Miami landing Hurts would be a huge get for Diaz and his coaching staff. However, Diaz will have to make quite the recruiting pitch because Hurts will be a wanted man, as reports say Oklahoma and Florida State are also on Hurts’ list.

Report: Kyler Murray expected to enter NFL Draft

Kyler Murray

Baseball looks like it will be losing a top athlete to the NFL.

The Oakland A’s expect Kyler Murray to enter the NFL Draft, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. Moreover, when it comes time in February for him to decide whether he will attend big league camp with the Oakland A’s or prepare for the draft at the NFL Combine, Murray is expected to choose football.

Murray was drafted No. 9 overall by the A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft following his spectacular spring season at Oklahoma. The Texas native batted .296 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs, a .954 OPS and 10 stolen bases for the Sooners baseball team, which led to him becoming a top-10 pick. At that point, Murray had only played college football sporadically as a freshman at Texas A&M and as Baker Mayfield’s backup at Oklahoma as a sophomore.

The A’s let Murray play college football in the fall, and he exploded with a season that culminated in him winning the Heisman Trophy. Given his abilities as both a passer and runner, combined with the success Mayfield had as a rookie, the expectation is Murray would be a first-round pick and have success in the NFL.

Murray’s chances of success seem higher in football than baseball, where he would have to work his way up through the minor leagues. Unless choosing the less dangerous sport were his priority, picking football makes more sense. He would be highly-paid as a quarterback and have a better chance at immediate success than baseball.

Murray would have to pay back his bonus with the A’s, who would not receive a compensatory draft pick if they do not sign the outfielder.

Arkansas QB Ty Storey listed in NCAA transfer portal

Arkansas Razorbacks

Now that the college football season has ended, the transfer season has officially begun.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has entered his name into the transfer portal, as has Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush. You can add another QB to that list — Arkansas’ Ty Storey.

Storey passed for 1,584 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the Razorbacks during the season. He took over early in the seaso for Cole Kelley, who is also transferring. Freshman Connor Noland also saw some action at quarterback this season for Arkansas. Arkansas went 2-10 and 0-8 in conference this season, their first under new head coach Chad Morris.

Report: Matt Rhule staying at Baylor, not leaving for Jets

Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule does not appear to have landed the New York Jets’ head coaching job.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Rhule sent a message to his staff to indicate he would be staying at Baylor.

Rhule was a figure of interest for the Jets and reportedly interviewed with them on Sunday.

Rhule led an impressive turnaround at Temple and went 28-23 over four seasons there, finishing with consecutive 10-win seasons. He also went 7-6 at Baylor this season after winning one game the season before.

Coaches propose changes to college football’s targeting rule

Tony Brown targeting

The targeting rule in college football is viewed as one that has helped cut down on the amount of dangerous hits to the heads of players, but coaches think a change is necessary in order to make it more fair.

As it stands, targeting occurs when a player “makes forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder.” Targeting results in a 15-yard penalty and an ejection, and all targeting calls are reviewed. Intent does not matter, and that is the part coaches want to see changed.

According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association Todd Berry said Wednesday that FBS coaches unanimously supported a rule change at their annual meeting that would assign targeting into two categories — Targeting 1 and Targeting 2. The system would be similar to what we see with Flagrant 1 and Flagrant 2 fouls in basketball. Targeting 1 would be a 15-yard penalty, while Targeting 2 would be a penalty and an ejection.

“Targeting 1 would carry a 15-yard penalty, meaning that there was no malicious intent here,” Berry explained. “We recognize this was not something where they’re trying to hurt or maim someone else. Targeting 2 would be that of malicious intent, the one we’re all trying to get rid of.”

Berry said coaches also agreed that any player who is found to have multiple Targeting 2 violations over the course of a season should face harsher penalties than a one-game suspension. There are still questions over whether multiple Targeting 1 violations in the same game could equal a Targeting 2.

That seems fair, as we have seen several instances where players clearly did not intend to make forcible contact to an opponent’s head and neck area. Football is a fast game, and sometimes it simply cannot be avoided. Perhaps a tweak in the rule would help the NCAA avoid embarrassing controversies like the ones we have seen in the past.

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Jalen Hurts reportedly enters name in NCAA transfer portal

Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts remained loyal to Nick Saban and Alabama even after he lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa last season, but we may see him playing for a different program in 2019.

According to multiple reports, Hurts has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. While that does not necessarily mean the quarterback is leaving Alabama, it gives other schools permission to contact him.

Hurts has one year of eligibility remaining, but he would be eligible to play immediately at a new school as a graduate transfer. He graduated from Alabama in December, which was remarkably only midway through his junior year. Hurts received a standing ovation while walking across the stage to get his diploma.

There was speculation that Hurts could take a redshirt year this past season to preserve an additional year of eligibility, but he did not end up doing that. In fact, he played a big role in Alabama’s win over Georgia in the SEC Championship after Tagovailoa got hurt, and many felt the Tide could have used him during their blowout loss to Clemson in the National Championship Game.

Hurts was critical of Alabama’s coaching staff for the way they handled the team’s quarterback situation this past year, so it is not a surprise that he is exploring other possibilities. With Tagovailoa returning in 2019, Hurts’ best shot at playing in the NFL is to start for another school next season.