Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Libby Lawyers Seize on Miller Hesitation

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller acknowledged Wednesday that she had conversations with other government officials and could not be "absolutely, absolutely certain" that she first heard about an outed CIA official from I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby's attorneys seized on the hesitation and tried to portray Miller as someone who selectively remembers some conversations and not others.

Miller is a crucial witness against Libby in his perjury and obstruction trial. She says she had two conversations about CIA operative Valerie Plame in mid-2003 with Libby, who was Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Those conversations are at the heart of the trial because they allegedly occurred well before Libby says he learned Plame's identity from another reporter.

Libby's defense strategy revolves around showing jurors that he didn't lie about his conversations with Miller and others, but simply forgot them. If defense attorneys can cast doubt on Miller's memory and her story, it would bolster Libby's case.

During a sometimes heated cross-examination Wednesday, defense attorneys pressed Miller to acknowledge that she might have heard about Plame elsewhere. In mid-2003, Miller was investigating allegations by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, that the Bush administration ignored certain prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Attorney William Jeffress asked Miller to recall the other government officials she spoke to and explain how Wilson's name and phone number got into her notebook prior to the conversation with Libby.

"I don't remember their names. I don't know what you want me to say beyond that," Miller said, adding moments later, "I know I had several conversations but there is no reference to them in my notebook and I have no independent recollection."

Jeffress persisted, showing Miller excerpts from her grand jury testimony in which she said her conversation with Libby was "among the first times" she heard about Plame but couldn't be certain it was the first.

"You're not absolutely certain you first heard that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the CIA from Mr. Libby?" Jeffress asked.

"I can't be absolutely, absolutely certain, but I have no recollection of an earlier conversation with anyone else," Miller replied.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's case began as an investigation into who leaked Plame's name to reporters at a time when her husband was criticizing the administration. Three years later, nobody has been charged with the leak. Libby is accused of obstructing the case and lying to investigators.

Former Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper followed Miller on the stand and testified briefly before the court's lunch break Wednesday. Cooper said that during a July 12, 2003 conversation, he asked Libby whether Wilson's wife was involved in sending Wilson on a fact-finding trip to Niger.

Cooper said Libby responded, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or "Yeah, I've heard something like that, too."

Cooper said he first learned about Plame from White House aide Karl Rove and said Libby's confirmation was off the record. Libby's attorneys say he was simply repeating what he had learned from another reporter, NBC's Tim Russert. Cooper was to continue testifying Wednesday afternoon.

Libby's attorneys also said Wednesday that they want to know more about another Fitzgerald case involving Miller. Fitzgerald has sought to get Miller's phone records in an investigation into who leaked the details about an investigation into an Islamic charity.

Theodore Wells, another of Libby's attorneys, said he wants to know more about conversations between Miller and Fitzgerald in that case. If Miller feared prosecution in that case, Wells said, it could motivate her to cooperate in Libby's case and thus cast doubt on her testimony.

Journalism organizations have decried this trial, which could see 10 reporters become witnesses. Jeffress has said that up to seven reporters are on his witness list.

Iranian Agents

NBC NEWS confirms a secret U.S. military report that says 'Iranian Agents' may be behind a deadly ambush in Karbala, Iraq that left five American soldiers dead. The report also claims the Iranian revolutionary guard is providing intelligence on U.S. and Iraqi military to Shiite extremists, in addition to sophisticated weaponry.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


By Jennifer Harper
Published January 30, 2007

Air America Radio was rescued from bankruptcy yesterday, but still faces the impending loss of Al Franken, its most popular talker.
The liberal network will be sold to Stephen Green, a Manhattan real estate investment mogul with heavy Democratic ties, including his brother Mark Green, who ran for mayor against Michael R. Bloomberg in 2001. The sale of the network -- deemed a "personal investment" by the two brothers -- will be completed in mid-February for an undisclosed sum.
Mr. Green is intent on bringing solvency to Air America, which has been troubled by flagging ratings, cash deficits and management turmoil since it was founded almost three years ago as a foil to popular conservative talk radio.
The network was often called "Err America" by critics.
"In the long run, content is king," said Mr. Green, vowing to stabilize the network's finances, beef up the talent roster and extend the Air America "brand" into other marketing or broadcast opportunities. The network's weekly audience has been stuck at just under 2 million since the beginning -- about one-tenth the number of listeners who tune in each week to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.
"The current idea in radio is that you have to think outside the box, and find other ways to get content across," said Joe Howard, editor of Radio Ink, an industry publication. "With Air America, you have to wonder if there is enough audience for it to thrive, or if the network is a niche product."
Niche or not, the on-air lineup will suffer when Mr. Franken leaves. He told his listeners he would depart Feb. 14 but was coy about whether he would run against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008 for the U.S. Senate seat in his home state of Minnesota.
"I'm definitely giving it some serious consideration, and I'll make my decision soon," Mr. Franken said yesterday.
He has regarded Air America as a political platform since the beginning.
"Today is both an ending and a beginning -- an end to the right-wing dominance of talk radio, a beginning of a battle for truth, a battle for justice, a battle indeed for America," Mr. Franken said on his first broadcast when the network signed on with five affiliates on March 31, 2004.
He founded the Midwest Values PAC two years ago to provide support to "progressive candidates, activists and causes" around the country, according to his personal Web site. Mr. Franken will be replaced in his noon-3 p.m. time slot by Thom Hartmann.
Meanwhile, Sheldon Drobny, Air America's original founder, left the company and is busy with a Nova M Radio, a national progressive talk-radio network in partnership Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager. The fledgling network broadcasts in 12 cities, funded by "grass-roots membership," according to publicity materials.
"Air America at best will be another content company with a name tarnished by bad-management bankruptcy. And the prospective rescuers have no experience in radio," Mr. Drobny wrote at the online Huffington Post yesterday, later concluding, "Relying on mega-millionaire liberals to put ego aside for the common good is almost impossible."

Sunday, January 21, 2007





Friday Update: Starting WR Joe Horn (questionable-groin), again, ran but didn't participate in the team part of practice. Officially the team is calling his status a game-decision but because he hasn't tested his partially torn groin in the normal part of practice since he originally got hurt, he probably won't play. Look for backup WR Devery Henderson to take up most of his role again.

Starting TE Mark Campbell (knee-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start although backup TE Billy Miller, who played well last week, could share time with him.

Starting SS Omar Stoutmire (hip-questionable) practiced again Friday and could be available but backup SS Jay Bellamy will probably start again for him.

Thursday Update: Heading into Sunday's NFC Championship Game in Chicago, New Orleans only lists three players on their injury report, foremost among them only starting WR Joe Horn (groin-questionable).

He hasn't played since a failed attempt to work into action Dec. 3. He practiced late during the bye week for the first time in several weeks but wasn't able to practice last week and didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday of this week, diminishing his chances of being available Sunday. Horn also missed the first two games of November but he started in the next three contests after that span. Horn has been running and has participated in limited drills but hasn't done any team work.

#3 WR Devery Henderson started opposite the other starting WR, rookie Marques Colston, vs. the Eagles last Saturday. If Horn is out again, the personnel the Saints use this week will depend on down, distance and formation, with rookie RB Reggie Bush also splitting out wide on occasion and #4 WR Terrence Copper also seeing extensive time.

Also listed are starting SS Omar Stoutmire (hip-questionable) and starting TE Mark Campbell (knee-probable/upgraded from questionable).

Stoutmire, who had been bothered previously with a knee injury, missed the last three games of the season and was inactive last week as well but he practiced both Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Veteran S Steve Gleason started in his place Dec. 17, and then backup SS Jay Bellamy has filled in the last three games.

Campbell rested Wednesday but returned fully on Thursday and should start Sunday.


Friday Update: Backup WR Mark Bradley (questionable-ankle) missed practice again Friday and isn't expected to play with backup WR Justin Gage filling in.

Starting WR Muhsin Muhammad (illness) returned to practice Friday and was removed from the injury report and will start.

Thursday Update: The only player in danger of not playing in Sunday's NFC Championship Game is #4 WR Mark Bradley (questionable). He injured his right ankle last Sunday and didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. If Bradley isn't available, backup WR Justin Gage would likely be active. He was inactive last week.

Starting WR Muhsin Muhammad (illness-probable) was added to the injury report Thursday when he sat out of practice with the flu. He's expected back on the practice field Friday and will start vs. the Saints.

The only other player to miss practice this week is starting DE Adewale Ogunleye, who rested Wednesday with a quadriceps contusion suffered vs. the Seahawks. He returned for a full day of work Thursday and will start Sunday and was removed from the injury report.

Starting FB Jason McKie (ankle) and starting LCB Charles Tillman (back) both made it through the Divisional playoff win no worse for the wear, returning from multi-week absences to end the regular season. Neither player is listed on the injury report and will start.



Friday Update: Starting QB Tom Brady (right shoulder-probable) practiced fully again Friday and will start.

Backup DE Mike Wright (illness-flu/questionable), backup OT Ryan O'Callaghan (illness-flu/questionable), and veteran WR Troy Brown (illness-flu/questionable) all did limited practicing again Friday and are expected to be available for the game in their usual roles.

Starting SS Rodney Harrison (sprained knee-doubtful) saw limited practice time again Friday but is not expected to play with backup S James Sanders starting again for him.

Thursday Update: Starting QB Tom Brady (right shoulder-probable) practiced fully again Thursday and will start.

A flu bug has hit has backup DE Mike Wright (illness-flu/questionable), backup OT Ryan O'Callaghan (illness-flu/questionable), and veteran WR Troy Brown (illness-flu/questionable). All practiced Thursday and are expected to be available for the game in their usual roles. Brown came off the bench last week with WR Jabar Gaffney starting.

Starting SS Rodney Harrison (sprained knee-doubtful) saw limited practice time Thursday but is not expected to play. If the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl, there’s an excellent chance that Harrison would be ready to play.

Backup S James Sanders is expected to start in Harrison’s place this week and he’s played well in recent weeks.


Friday Update: #3 WR Ricky Proehl (hamstring-questionable) practiced again Friday and if he gets through pre-game warmups well on Sunday, he should be able to play.

Starting ORT Ryan Diem (shoulder-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting G Ryan Lilja (sprained knee-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting WLB Cato June (concussion-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting SLB Rob Morris (knee) was added to the injury report as questionable and his status will be decided closer to game time. If he can't play, former starting SLB Gilbert Gardner would likely start for him. Morris was held out of Friday's practice as a precaution.

Starting CB Nick Harper (ankle-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting FS Bob Sanders (knee-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

The team could upgrade several of those players listed as questionable as they have done on many Saturday's this season.

Thursday Update: Rookie RB Joseph Addai (shoulder) was injured in last week's game but is practicing and isn't listed on the injury report and is expected to start his third straight game.

Starting WR Marvin Harrison continues to deal with a lingering sore wrist but is practicing fully and will start and isn't listed on the injury report. #3 WR Ricky Proehl (hamstring-questionable) practiced again Thursday. Proehl signed with the team for the final five games of the regular season and playoffs. He has only been active for two games and has missed the last four games including both playoff games. If he can practice again Friday, he should be able to play. If he's unable to play again, backup WR Aaron Moorehead fills in.

Starting ORT Ryan Diem (shoulder-questionable) practiced again Thursday and is expected to start.

Starting G Ryan Lilja (sprained knee-questionable) practiced again Thursday and is expected to start. He suffered the injury in their next to last game of the regular season at the Texans and missed the next two games but returned to the field last week.

Starting WLB Cato June (concussion-questionable) was cleared to practice and play Sunday. He's practiced the last two days and is expected to start.

Starting CB Nick Harper (ankle-questionable) practiced again Thursday and is expected to start. He's been dealing with a sore ankle for about three weeks but has been able to play through it.

Starting FS Bob Sanders (knee-questionable) practiced again Thursday and is expected to start. Sanders missed 12 regular season games due to knee problems. He had a scope on his injured right knee back in late September. Sanders could be rested tomorrow as the team did with him last Friday.

It's looking like all of their injured players will be available for the game.

“Yesterday was a pretty good day for us. I think we got the work done that we needed to do. Most of our guys were able to work and practice. We rested a couple of guys routinely. That’s what we’ve done the last four or five weeks. Bob Sanders practiced and did well. Joseph Addai practiced and did well. It was a good start to the week," head coach Tony Dungy said Thursday.

Russ Grimm has been offered and has accepted the Steelers' head coaching position, a source in Pittsburgh confirmed late Saturday... ESPN and, Sports Illustrated's Web site, reported yesterday that Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin had been chosen to replace Cowher.....

In the same week the Bengals gave Carolina permission to interview quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese for its offensive coordinator job, they denied the Browns the same opportunity. The Bengals wouldn't let a talent like Zampese, whose knowledge of their offense probably is second only to coordinator Bob Bratkowski's, leave for a division rival. Panthers coach John Fox is believed to have completed outside and in-house interviews and is expected to let candidates know by Tuesday.....

Saturday, January 20, 2007

40 players granted special eligibility for draft

The National Football League announced the names of 40 players who have been granted special eligibility for the 2007 NFL Draft on April 28-29.

The East-West Shrine all-star game will be played in Houston later this evening at 7 PM. The Shrine game will be televised on ESPN. The Shrine game is the second most important all-star game after next week’s Senior Bowl game with rosters that include a number of interesting prospects for the 2007 draft including QB Chris Leak of national champion Florida. Leaf, for the record, will also be in Mobile next week for the Senior Bowl. Other players to watch in tonight’s game include WR Dallas Baker, also of Florida, Paul Williams of Fresno State and Jarrett Hicks of Texas Tech; Nebraska TE Matt Herian; Northern Illinois OT Doug Free; DEs Mkristo Bruce of Washington State and Dan Bazuin of Central Michigan and Wyoming safety John Wendling. And while the Senior Bowl is pretty much the preserve of major Division 1A schools, the Shrine game has a number of small school stars including a trio from Hampton including CB Travarous Bain, LB Justin Durant and RB Alonzo Coleman. The Shrine game also features a top sleeper prospect in TE Michael Allan of Whitworth. Also, as it has done for years, each Shrine team has a player from a Canadian university. This year’s Canadian duo is Waterloo OT Chris Best, who originally played at Duke, and Saskatchewan OT Jordan Rempel. In fact, the Shrine game has a distinct Canadian flavor as there is actually a third player from north of the border in Kansas RB Jon Cornish.....

Louisville QB Brian Brohm, who is expected to be one of the very top prospects at the 2008 draft after opting to pass on theis year’s draft and return to school, has undergone what is being described as minor surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. Brohm is expected to be ready when Louisville begins spring practice.....

Friday, January 19, 2007


Good job KSGF.

Underclassmen who filed paperwork with the NFL to be included in the 2007 draft have until 4 PM ET later this afternoon to rescind their applications as long as they have not yet signed with an agent or received any benefits.....

Star junior-to-be West Virginia RB Steve Slaton had surgery on his right wrist and will miss spring practice. A pin was inserted in the wrist during surgery this week. Despite missing some playing time this fall, the explosive Slaton still set a school record with 1,744 rushing yards was named a first team All-American.....

There does not appear to have been any official announcement to date, but we have received several reports that Texas A&M junior defensive lineman Jason Jack has applied to the NFL for early entry to the 2007 draft. The 6-3, 275-pound Jack had 21 tackles including three for loss as a 3-4 DE this fall.....

One of the occupational hazards of playing in the various post-season all-star games around the country is the possibility of injury. That’s what happened to Hawaii DE Ikaika Alama-Francis who tore a pectoral muscle in the first half of Sunday's Hula Bowl. Alama-Francis was examined in Honolulu after the game, and is getting a second opinion in San Francisco. Depending on the severity of the injury, the options range from non-surgical rehabilitation to several months of post-surgery recovery. And that means Alama-Francis that may not be able to participate in next month's Scouting Combine.....

The list of underclassmen declaring for the 2007 NFL draft got bigger, both literally and figuratively, when it was revealed that 310-pound Virginia junior DT Keenan Carter has applied to the league for early entry to the pros. While Carter has NFL size, he got limited playing time last fall for the Cavaliers posting just 12 tackles in ten games.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Confirm Draft Entry

For those holding their breaths in anticipation, both LSU junior QB Jamarcus Russell and Southern California WR Dwayne Jarrett did in fact confirm this afternoon that they would indeed be applying for admission to the 2007 NFL draft. Russell is expected to be a top 5 who could figure in the mix for the #1 player selected overall, while Jarrett is expected to carry at least a top 10-15 grade into next April's draft.....

Notre Dame doesn’t lose many underclassmen to the NFL draft, however, sources close to Irish junior RB Darius Walker are reporting that he will likely enter April's draft. Walker rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past couple of seasons.....

Oklahoma junior RB Adrian Peterson is expected to announce his intention to enter the NFL draft within the next 24 hours or so. Peterson has reportedly been interviewing prospective agents for several weeks including Jimmy Sexton, Drew Rosenhaus and Tom Condon. If he does enter the draft, Peterson is expected to be at least a top 5-10 prospect.....

Clemson junior CB C.J. Gaddis is the latest player to announce that he will be passing up his senior year and entering the 2007 NFL draft. The 6-0, 205-pound Gaddis had a total of 5 interceptions over the past couple of seasons.....

Sources at Florida are reporting that junior DE Jarvis Moss may have played his last game with the national champion Gators. After Florida's 41-14 win over Ohio State in the BCS title game Monday night, Moss indicated he was leaning toward entering this year's NFL Draft. He was quoted in the Gainesville Sun saying “I've got a pretty good idea what I'm going to do. It's really attractive to move on." The 6-5, 255-pound Moss likely improved his stock after he harassed Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith. Moss recorded two sacks and forced a fumble in the Florida win. Moss, in fact, is one of several Gators leaning toward leaving a year early as FS Reggie Nelson, WR Andre Caldwell and LB Brandon Siler are all considering entering the draft with Caldwell also indicating that he may also be gone. Nelson and Silar, on the othe hand, have still to decide. Nelson, for example, who could be among the first 4-5 defensive players off the board has enrolled in classes for current semester.....

Purdue junior WR Kyle Ingraham has reportedly left the team and is no longer enrolled at the university. No specific reason was given, but the 6-8 Ingraham has had some well-publicized classroom issues and was academically ineligible this season. Ingraham would have been a senior had he returned next season.....

Arizona State junior TE Zach Miller announced that he would be entering this year's NFL draft where he is expected to be the first player off the board at the position. This fall, Miller broke Arizona State’s career tight end receiving records set by Todd Heap, who also left for the NFL after his junior season; Heap was subsequently drafted by Baltimore in the first round of the 2001 draft.....

Louisville RB Michael Bush reportedly will announce later this morning that he will be entering the 2007 NFL draft. Bush, who broke his right leg in Louisville’s season-opener back in September, had the option of seeking a medical redshirt from the NCAA. The 6-2, 250-pound Bush ran for 1,100 yards and an NCAA-leading 23 touchdowns as a junior in 2005 and is expected to be a late-first, early second round prospect this coming April if his leg checks out. Meanwhile, there is still no word from Louisville junior QB Brian Brohm, a potential top 10 pick if he enters this year’s draft, on what his plans are.....

Meanwhile, record-setting Hawaii junior QB Colt Brennan says he is '50-50' on whether he enters this year's draft or returns to school for his senior season. In fact, Brennan may be waiting at least in part to see what Louisville's Brian Brohm does. If Brohm opts to return to school for his senior season, Brennan could very well move in to the #3 QB slot behind Brady Quinn of Notre Dame and LSU junior Jamarcus Russell, however, if Brohm does ultimately decide to go pro, Brennan could be pushed deeper into the draft. Underclassmen have until next Monday, January 15th to file papers with the NFL to be included in this year's draft class.....

Ohio State junior WR Ted Ginn, a potential top pick at the 2007 draft, returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in the BCS national championship game against Florida on Monday night, but injured his left leg soon after and did not return. There was no immediate word on the extent of Ginn's injury, he spent the second half on the sidelines on crutches with a big black boot on his left foot. Ginn is one of several top underclassmen the NFL is awaiting to hear from whether they intend to enter this year’s draft. Underclassmen have until next Monday afternoon to file paper work with the league to be eligible for this April’s draft.....

Pittsburgh junior CB Darrelle Revis, regarded as one of the nation's premier players at his position, has reportedly submitted the pertinent paperwork to the NFL to petition for entry into the 2007 draft.....

Michigan junior DT Alan Branch has confirmed that he is entering the upcoming NFL draft; Branch is expected to be one of the top 2-3 defensive players off the board this coming April.....

Georgia Tech junior WR Calvin Johnson announced earlier today that he will be giving up his final college season for the chance to be one of the top players selected at the 2007 draft.

Monday, January 08, 2007


We aren’t big fans of the BCS, however, the tonight’s national championship game between #1 Ohio State and #2 Florida should be a good one with the best from the Big 10 battling the top team from the SEC. Both teams also have plenty of stars for pro scouts to be checking over in anticipation of the 2007 draft.....

January 8

BCS Championship Bowl, Phoenix; 8 PM ET; FOX

Florida (12-1) vs Ohio State (12-0)
Short of a real playoff, it probably doesn’t get much better than the best in the Big 10 versus the best in the SEC for the national championship. And both teams should also be well represented in the early rounds of the 2007 draft. The best draft storyline of tonight’s game, though, may involve veteran QBs Troy Smith (#10, 6-1, 215) of Ohio State and Florida’s Chris Leak (#12, 6-0, 212), who have both been terrific college QBs, but have yet to convince pro scouts that they can translate their skills to the next level. Smith, for example, ran away with this year’s Heisman Trophy, but still isn’t necessarily considered to be a top draft prospect, although he is close; same story for the Gators’ Leak, a four-year starter who doesn’t grade out all that well as a pro prospect because he lacks prototype pocket size and arm strength.

In fact, both teams probably have better pro prospects at other positions. Ohio State DT Quinn Pitcock (#90, 6-3, 295), for example, is a solid mid- to late first-round prospect for the upcoming draft, while explosive junior WR Ted Ginn (#7, 6-0, 180) could go even higher though he has had an up-and-down year to date. Indeed, Ginn was outproduced at times this fall by fellow junior WR Anthony Gonzalez (#11, 5-11, 195), although he lacks Ginns’ overall athleticism. Meanwhile, LB John Kerr (#52, 6-0, 235); DEs Jay Richardson (#99, 6-6, 275) and DE David Patterson (#97, 6-2, 285), FS Brandon Mitchell (#32, 6-3, 205); WR Roy Hall (#8, 6-2, 240); C Doug Datish (#50, 6-4, 295) and OG TJ Downing (#72, 6-4, 305) will all get some late-round consideration. As well, many of Ohio State’s better prospects though are underclassmen including juniors RB Antonio Pittman (#25, 5-10, 200) and OT Kirk Barton (#74, 6-5, 310) and sophomores like LB James Laurinaitis (#33, 6-3, 245), OT Alex Boone (#75, 6-8, 325), DE Vernon Gholston (#50, 6-4, 250), CB Malcom Jenkins (#2, 6-1, 200) and LB Marcus Freeman (#1, 6-2, 245)

Florida also has a potential top 10-15 prospect for this year’s draft in FS Reggie Nelson (#1, 6-0, 200), who should be one of the first defensive players off the borad this coming April if as expected he enters this year’s draft. Meanwhile, several other Gators including OLB Earl Everett (#30, 6-1, 235), junior MLB Brandon Siler (#40, 6-2, 235), DEs Ray McDonald (#95, 6-2, 285) and junior Jarvis Moss (#94, 6-6, 255), CB Reggie Lewis (#22, 5-9, 185) and WRs Dallas Baker (#81, 6-2, 205) and Andre Caldwell (#5, 6-0, 200), all have later first-day potential for the upcoming draft, while junior RB DeShawn Wynn (#21, 5-10, 232) had something of a breakout year after underachieving much of his career. The Gators also have one of the better punters in the country in Eric Wilbur (#0, 6-1, 205) who gets great air time. And for good measure, the Gators also have two of this year’s biggest impact freshman in college football in backup QB Ted Tebow (#15, 6-3, 230) and speedy WR Percy Harvin (#8, 5-10, 185).

As of today, underclassmen have just over a week to apply for admission to the 2007 draft as papers must be filed with the NFL by Monday, January 15th. And while a number of underclassmen announced yesterday, including juniors Jamarcus Russell of LSU and Arkansas DE Jamaal Anderson and South Carolina sophomore WR Sidney Rice, several top name juniors who are expected to have a big impact at this year’s draft are still to be heard from including QBs Brian Brohm of Louisville and Hawaii’s Colt Brennan; WRs Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech and Southern Cal’s Dwayne Jarrett; Arizona State TE Zach Miller; DTs Alan Branch of Michigan and Glenn Dorsey of LSU; and CBs Darrelle Revis of Pitt and Arizona’s Antoine Cason. There are also several underclassmen in tonight’s BCS title game who won’t announce until after this evening’s game including Ohio State junior WRs Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez and FS Reggie Nelson and LB Brandon Silar of Florida....

The mother of LSU junior QB JaMarcus Russell is denying published reports that her son has decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2007 NFL draft. At the same time, though, the school has reportedly scheduled a press conference for Wednesday afternoon for the formal announcement that Russell will indeed be headed to the draft where he could be in the mix to be the #1 player selected after leading the Tigers to a 41-14 victory against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. As well, Russell has also reportedly already signed with agent an agent, although Eric Metz, the agent in question, has reportedly not confirmed that arrangement. Mreanwhile, there still is no indication whether Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino’s move to Atlanta of the NFL will have any impact one way or another on the decision of Cardinals’ QB Brian Brohm, yet another junior who could be a very high pick at the upcoming draft, whether to return to school next fall or enter the 2007 draft. It certainly has given Brohm a little something extra to think about however. Brohm’s father, for example, is being quoted as saying that the move by Petrino complicates the decision for his son. “It’s a variable that we weren’t really counting on” says Oscar Brohm. “It’s something we weren’t anticipating, but obviously something that will need to be taken into consideration. We have been talking about it this weekend, but no decision was made. We were hoping to make a decision early this week. But I’m just not sure now. I don’t know really what to expect about anything any more.” Indeed, reading between the lines it sounds like Brohm was at least leaning toward returning to school but now is rethinking. Stay tuned!

Oklahoma State junior WR Adarius Bowman, who had reportedly been considering entering the 2007 NFL draft, reportedly has joined the Cowboys’ basketball squad. The 6-4, 220 pound Bowman was named All-Big 12 first team on the football field last season after racking up 1,181 yards and 12 touchdowns.....

Miami junior LB Jon Beason has opted to enter the 2007 draft as has Arkansas junior CB Chris Houston. The 6-0, 225-pound Beason who has good speed could figure into the late opening day mix at this year's draft, while Houston is more a later round prospect.....

Atlanta has reportedly signed Louisville coach Bobby Petrino to a five-year, $24 million deal to coach the Falcons. Pertino replaces Jim Mora who was fired last week. What isn’t clear at this time is what, if any, will be the impact Petrino’s leaving on the decision several Cardinals’ underclassmen, including QB Brian Brohm, RB Michael Bush and WR Mario Urritia, are contemplating regarding entering the upcoming draft. Underclassmen have until next Monday to file paperwork with the NFL to be included in this year’s draft class.....

We incorrectly reported in an earlier story that former Texas RB Ramonce Taylor, who announced this weekend that he would be foregoing his final two years of college eligibility to enter the 2007 draft, had to serve some jail time prior to the draft after pleading guilty to a marijuana possession charge. In fact, Taylor is on a work release program and will not have to serve any jail time.....

South Carolina sophomore WR Sidney Rice reportedly is giving up his final two seasons to enter the NFL draft. In two seasons, Rice caught 23 TDs to set the school's career mark.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


As a result of last night’s thrilling wild card playoff win over Dallas, the 22nd thru 24th picks in the opening round of the 2007 were reshuffled. The Cowboys, which lost a heart-breaker 21-20 to Seattle, drops down a spot to #22, while Kansas City, which was knocked out of the playoffs earlier in the day in Indianapolis moves up a spot to #23. Meanwhile, the Patriots moved down two spots to #24 with a pick they obtained from Seattle. In the Chiefs loss to Indianapolis, Colts’ rookie RB, the team’s #1 pick at the 2006 draft, had almost 150 yards from scrimmage to propel Indianapolis into the next round. Addai, the 30th player taken this year, had 122 rushing yards on 25 carries and added another 26 yards on 7 receptions. In that game, rookie DBs Antoine Bethea of the Colts and the Chiefs Jarrad Page both had interceptions. In Seattle, Dallas undrafted rookie free agent WR Miles Austen returned a KO 93-yards for a TD but it was all for naught as Dallas botched a last minute chip-shot FG that would have given the Cowboys the lead.....

Just hours before players were supposed to show up for practice, the Las Vegas All-American all-star game has reportedly been cancelled. The game had been scheduled for next Saturday.....

Texas junior DT Frank Okam announced Friday he was staying for his senior season with the Longhorns. Okam entered the season rated as a potential top 10-15 prospect, however, did not have a particularly productive year with the Longhorns.....

Clemson junior OT Barry Richardson has confirmed his decision to stay in school for his senior season. Meanwhile, Tigers’ junior CB C.J. Gaddis reportedly is still thinking about whether he will stay in school or enter the 2007 draft. Gaddis reportedly has been told he grades out as a fourth-round pick by the NFL’s draft advisory committee.....

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden and his San Francisco counterpart Mike Nolan and their staffs will coach at this year’s Senior Bowl week. Gruden and the Buccaneers’ staff will direct the North team, while Nolan and his assistants will lead the South for the second straight year. Meanwhile, Gruden and the Bucs will be back in Mobile for the second time in three years. Prior to the 2005 draft, Gruden coached the South which included former RB Carnell Williams, whom the Buccaneers ended up taking with the 5th pick overall later in the opening round of the 2005 draft.....

Floyd Reese reportedly has resigned as general manager of the Tennessee Titans after 21 years with the organization dating back to its days in Houston.....

For those who can't wait until Monday Night's BCS title, the 'other' Ohio school, the Ohio Bobcats will make their first bowl appearance in decades when they hook up with Southern Miss in the GMAC Bowl later tonight. While its not exactly the richest game of the bowl season in terms of 2007 draft talent there are several players worth a second look....

January 7

GMAC Bowl, Mobile; 8 PM ET; ESPN

Southern Mississippi (7-5) vs Ohio (8-4)

Can Ohio make it a ‘two-fer’ this year. The emerging Bobcats will be playing in a bowl game for the first time since 1968 when they take on Southern Miss in this year’s GMAC Bowl the final tune-up before Monday’s national title game between Florida and that ‘other’ team from Ohio. Now the question is whether Ohio will have its first positional player selected at an NFL draft since 1973. In fact, the Bobcats have a couple of players with at least next-level physical skills. MLB Matt Muncy (#50, 6-1, 235), for example, is one of the better all-around backers in college football; Muncy teams with steady fellow MLB Tyler Russ (#26, 6-0, 225) to give Ohio a very productive pair of mike backers. Meanwhile CB T.J. Wright (#3, 5-10, 175) is a ball-hawking cover corner with 13 career interceptions, although he lacks the physical skills of former star Bobcat CB Dion Byrum who wasn’t drafted this past April. The Bobcats also have a potential big-play WR Scott Mayle (#82, 6-0, 175) who has sub-4.3 speed, but he’s never had anyone at Ohio who could consistently get him the ball. Indeed, the Bobcats could be doomed this evening by one of the country’s most inefficient passing attacks, although the ground game makes up for a lot of that deficiency with star junior RB Kalvin McRae (#5, 5-10, 210), who has run for 1,200 each of the past couple of years, running behind an improved offensive line led by LT Matt Coppage (#78, 6-4, 295).

In fact, the GMAC Bowl could come down to a battle between a pair of young runners as Southern Miss’ go-to guy is freshman RB Damion Fletcher (#25, 5-10, 180), a scatback who scampered for 1,200 yards of his own this fall. And Fletcher will look to run behind veteran OGs George Batiste (#70, 6-5, 310) and Travis Cooley (#55, 6-3, 285); Batiste, in particular is a four-year starter who is this game’s best overall prospect for the 2007 draft. Meanwhile, USM also has a pretty good cover corner in Caleb Hendrix (#14, 5-9, 185), while sophomore TE Shawn Nelson (#89, 6-5, 235) is another emerging star.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Georgia juniors DE Charles Johnson and RB Danny Ware are both reportedly entering the 2007 draft. The 6-2, 265 Johnson led Georgia with 9.5 sacks, including two in Saturday's bowl game, and in fact often outplayed teammate DE Quentin Moses who is expected to be one of the first defensive players off the board at the upcoming draft. Ware, meanwhile, was a reserve with the Bulldogs. Georgia is also awaiting word from junior CB Paul Oliver as to whether he will be following Johnson and Ware into this year’s draft.....

California junior RB Marshawn Lynch has announced he will be skipping his senior season and entering the 2007 NFL draft. The 5-10, 223-pound Lynch was the Pac-10's offensive player of the year after rushing for a conference-best 1,356 yards and 11 touchdowns. Lynch is expected to be the second back drafted this coming April after Oklahoma junior Adrian Peterson. Whether he goes in the top ten or slips in to the middle of the first round though will be determined by how Lynch tests at pre-draft workouts this winter. While explosive Lynch hasn’t always been that durable. Plus, there have also been rumblings that he may not be the hardest worker out there.....

Tennessee junior WR Robert Meachem has reportedly his coaches, teammates and others at the school that he plans to declare for early entry into the NFL draft and will not return for his senior season. Meachem set the Vols’ single-season record with 1,298 receiving yards last season when he caught 71 passes, including 11 touchdowns. Meacham applied to the NFL draft advisory board for a projection of where he might go in the draft and reportedly received a grade ranging from late first round to early second round.....

Michigan junior DT Alan Branch has not said publicly yet whether he will be entering the 2007 draft however speculation continues to grow that he will indeed be in this year’s draft class where he is expected to be a top 5-10 pick. The latest evidence reported is that Branch has not enrolled for this semester's classes which began this week. Underclassmen have until January 15th to formally apply to the NFL for early entry to this year’s draft.....

Art Shell's second stint as coach of the Oakland Raiders has reportedly ended after just one season. Shell reportedly met with owner Al Davis on Thursday to discuss the future of the team following a 2-14 season that was the worst for Oakland since 1962. The team issued a statement after the meeting saying Shell would not return as coach for the final season of his contract, although Shell may remain with the team in another capacity. With that record the Raiders earned the #1 pick at this year’s draft, however, the change in coaches is not expected to have a huge impact on the direction the team takes with that pick as owner Davis makes most of the key decisions himself.....

Pittsburgh is expected to announce later today that long-time Steelers head coach Bill Cowher will be stepping down after 15 years on the job.....

Detroit Lions fans are no doubt dancing in the streets as we speak with word that team president Matt Millen will stay on in that capacity with the team. That means that Millen will once again be overseeing the Lions’ draft preparations as they prepare to make the 2nd pick overall at the 2007 draft. Just so the Lions’ faithful don’t get too giddy though, the team did announce that it was parting company with three assistants including defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, offensive line coach Larry Beightol and special teams coach Chuck Priefer. In fact, This is a crucial period for many teams with high picks as front offices get reshuffled in the wake of disappointing seasons.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


The Oakland Raiders will have the top pick at the 2007 draft which for the record is just 118 days away. The Raiders finished a miserable season losing 23-3 to the Jets this afternoon to drop to 2-14. That combined with a stunning win by Detroit gives the Raiders the #1 pick at this April's draft. Detroit would have ended up with #1 pick had they lost but stunned the Cowboys 39-31 right in Dallas. Meanwhile, Cleveland and Tampa Bay, both of whom had 4-12 records, will have the 3rd and 4th picks. The two teams' opponents actually had the same winning record, however, it is our understanding in such a case that any head-to-head games are used to decide the tie-break and the Buccaneers and Browns did play earlier in the year with Tampa Bay winning 22-7. As such we believe that should give the Browns the 3rd pick and the Buccaneers but we will try and confirm ASAP. Otherwise the two picks would be decided by a coin flip. No question though that Arizona will pick 5th, Washington 6th, Minnesota 7th with Houston, Miami and Atlanta rounding out the top 10.

* to be decided by coin flip
P final position to be determined by playoffs

1 Oakland
2 Detroit
*3 Cleveland
*4 Tampa Bay
5 Arizona
6 Washington
7 Minnesota
8 Houston
9 Miami
10 Atlanta
11 San Francisco
12 Buffalo
13 St. Louis
14 Carolina
15 Pittsburgh
16 Green Bay
17 Jacksonville
18 Cincinnati
19 Tennessee
P20 New York Giants
21 Denver
P22 New England (from Seattle)
P23 Dallas
P24 Kansas City
P25 New Orleans
P26 New York Jets
P27 Philadelphia
P28 New England
P29 Indianapolis
P30 Baltimore
P31 Chicago
P32 San Diego

While the New Year's Day bowls games are in the books, there are still a couple of games to go before we get to next week's BCS title game. Tonight its David versus Goliath as Wake Forest plays Louisville in the Orange Bowl.....

January 2

Orange Bowl, Miami; 8 PM ET; Fox

Louisville (11-1) vs Wake Forest (11-2)

The big question at the Orange Bow, other than whether Wake Forest can hang with one of the nation’s elite programs, is whether this is the final college game for Louisville junior QB Brian Brohm (#12, 6-4, 225), a potential top 5-10 pick if he opts to leave school early and enter the 2007 draft. And Brohm hopes to put a ‘number’ on the board against Wake Forest as a challenge for QBs Brady Quinn of Notre Dame and LSU junior Jamarcus Russell, the other top two QB prospects for the upcoming draft, when they battle against each other in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday. Brohm is a prototype pro passer with good size, a strong arm and great pocket awareness. Brohm has an intriguing target in rangy sophomore WR Mario Urrittia (#7, 6-6, 230) who is draft eligible after redshirting as a true freshman. And even without star RB Michael Bush who is out for the year with a broken leg, Louisville has a pretty good running game featuring underrated RB Kolby Smith (#33, 5-10, 235) and sophomore RB George Stripling (#30, 5-11, 195). They run behind a huge offensive linemen anchored by veteran OG Kurt Quarteman (#76, 6-5, 335) and OT Renardo Foster (#79, 6-6, 325). The Louisville defense doesn’t get the press that the offensive but is very good in its own right, but stumpy NT Amobi Okoye (#91, 6-0, 315) is an emerging draft star in his own right; Okoye anchors a unit which also includes active LBs Nate Harris (#10, 6-0, 235) and Abe Brown (#43, 6-3, 235) and DBs William Gay (#21, 5-11, 185), a speedy cover corner, and safety Brandon Sharp (#35, 5-11, 200).

Wake Forest, of course, has been the best story in college football as the Demon Deacons, not known as anything close to a national power, has rolled to a 11 win season and a spot in the BCS while traditional ACC powers Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson watch from home. And Wake Forest has at least one top prospect for the upcoming draft in safety Josh Gattis (#22, 6-0, 215), while fellow safety Patrick Ghee (#30, 6-0, 210) and veteran OT Steve Vallos (#6-3, 295) are also solid. The Demon Deacons best prospect, though, may be junior MLB Jon Abbate (#40, 5-11, 245), who is a little on the short, but is a good athlete who can find the ball and deliver a pop when he gets there.....

Miami junior TE Greg Olsen will be entering the 2007 draft. Agent Drew Rosenhaus announced Olsen's decision one day after the Hurricanes completed their season by beating Nevada 21-20 in the MPC Computers Bowl. Olsen is rated as one of the top 1-2 TE prospects in this year's draft and is a possible late first- or early second-round pick this April.....

Gerogia juniors DE Charles Johnson and RB Danny Ware are both reportedly entering the 2007 draft. The 6-2, 265 Johnson led Georgia with 9.5 sacks, including two in Saturday's bowl game, and in fact often outplayed teammate DE Quentin Moses who is expected to be one of the first defensive players off the board at the upcoming drfat. Ware, meanwhile, was a reserve with the Bulldogs. Georgia is also awaiting word from junior CB Paul Oliver as to whether he will be following Johnson and Ware into this year’s draft.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Its New Year's Day and that means a heavy dose of college football games featuring many top prospects for the upcoming draft.....

January 1

Outback Bowl, Boise; 11 AM ET; ESPN

Tennessee (9-3) vs Penn State (8-4)

Star your New Year’s Day on the right foot with a great match-up between traditional powers Tennessee and Penn State in the Outback Bowl. If nothing else, the game offers a chance to compare of two of the top OTs in the 2007 draft class in the Volunteers’ Arron Sears (#76, 6-4, 335) and Levi Brown (#67, 6-5, 330) of Penn State both of whom are solid first-round prospects for the upcoming draft. Indeed, the burly Brown could go as high as the top 10-15 picks with a solid series of workouts this winter. Tennessee has a second first-round candidate in junior WR Robert Meacham (#3, 6-2, 205), an outstanding athlete who finally played up to his physical potential this fall and appears headed for this year’s draft. In fact, Meacham heads a talented Volunteers’ receiver corps which also includes WR Jayson Swain (#1, 6-0, 205), while FB Cory Anderson (#45, 6-2, 255) is one of the better lead-blockers in the country. Then there is junior QB Eril Ainge (#10, 6-5, 220) who had a breakout year and should figure among the top prospects at the position in 2008. On the other side of the ball DE Turk McBride (#90, 6-4, 275) is one of the rising stars along the defensive front while the Volunteers also have plenty of speed in the secondary including CB Jonathan Wade (#4, 6-0, 195) and DB Antwan Stewart (#24, 6-0, 195), both of whom have track speed.

There is a similar story over at Penn State where LB Paul Poluszny (#31, 6-1, 240) could join teammate Brown in this year’s opening round. Poluszny started the year slowly after undergoing off-season surgery to repair a knee injured last year’s bowl. If healthy, Poluszny is an instinctive, aggressive backer although he lacks explosive pure speed. And in what seems fitting at ‘LB’ Poluszny heads a strong LB corps which also includes star junior Dan Connor (#40, 6-3, 225) and Tim Shaw (#20, 6-1, 235). They all work behind a defensive line anchored by steady all-around DT Jay Alford (#13, 6-2, 290). Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions’ offense has something of a rising star in RB Tony Hunt (#26, 6-0, 230).

Cotton Bowl, Dallas; 11:30 AM ET; Fox

Nebraska (9-4) vs Auburn (10-2)

The only thing missing from this year’s Cotton Bowl is a team from Texas. There certainly will be no shortage of talent on the field, though, when Nebraska battles Auburn. The Tigers, for example, will be lead by explosive RB Kenny Irons (#23, 5-11, 205), arguably the top senior back in the country who could be a top 20-25 pick at the 2007 draft. Irons will run behind a huge offensive line anchored by emerging star OGs Ben Grubbs (#69, 6-3, 305) and emerging junior Tim Duckworth (#76, 6-2, 310), while WR Courtney Taylor (#86, 6-1, 205) is a solid second-tier receiver prospect. On the other side of the ball, physical DB Will Herring (#35, 6-2, 225), who could actually play a lot at OLB this fall, heads a very aggressive defense which also include DEs Marquies Gunn (#48, 6-3, 255) and junior Quentin Groves (#54, 6-3, 250), along with speedy CB David Irons (#4, 6-0, 190), the RB's brother. The Tigers will also feature one of the better punters in the country in Kody Bliss (#30, 5-11, 180) who averaged almost 45 yards per boot last fall.

While Auburn has been a bowl fixture in recent years, Nebraska marks its return to college football’s elite with today’s Cotton Bowl appearance. These aren’t your grandfather’s Huskers, though, who traditionally ran the ball down everybodies throats. Under former Oakland head coach Bill Callaghan, Nebraska has been re-invented as a wide-open passing program, this year led by QB Zac Taylor (#13, 6-1, 210) who threw for 24 TDs this fall against only 4 picks. Taylor also has a top target in TE Matt Herian (#11, 6-5, 245) who has made a nice recovery from a devastating leg injury, while C Kurt Mann (#50, 6-3, 290) anchors a steady offensive line and FB Dane Todd (#41, 5-11, 235) is a typical Nebraska lead blocker. The Huskers best prospects for 2007, though, are on the defensive side of the ball starting with two-way DE Adam Carriker (#90, 6-5, 295), a first day prospect for the upcoming draft. Carriker combines with DE Jay Moore (#44, 6-4, 280) to give Nebraska a solid set of bookends on the defensive front, while OLB Stewart Bradley (#34, 6-3, 245) is also a good one.

Gator Bowl, Tampa; 1 PM ET; CBS

Georgia Tech (9-4) vs West Virginia (10-2)

Get those clickers handy because both of today’s 1 PM games feature a player with the potential to be the #1 pick at the 2007 draft. Georgia Tech junior WR Calvin Johnson (#21, 6-4, 235), whose Ramblin’ Wrecksters tangle with West Virginia in the Gator Bowl, for example, combines freakish size and speed and is a lock to be a top 5 pick this year if he opts to enter the upcoming draft; that is if he doesn’t go first overall. Johnson, though, will have to face the Mountaineers without QB Reggie Ball who is academically ineligible. Meanwhile, other Georgia Tech players to watch on a very young team include OT Mansfield Wrotto (#68, 6-3, 310), a converted defensive lineman, DT Joe Anoai (#96, 6-2, 285), LB KaMichael Hall (#35, 6-0, 235), and DB Joe Gaston (#37, 5-11, 195).

West Virginia likely won’t have anywhere near as big an impact at the 2007 draft as Georgia Tech but give the Mountaineers time as the team’s stars are QB Pat White (#5, 6-1, 195) and RB Steve Slaton (#10, 5-9, 195), a pair of explosive sophomores each of whom could contend for the Heisman Trophy next fall. The Mountaineers, though, do have one of the better interior offensive lineman in the upcoming draft class in C Dan Mozes (#76, 6-3, 295), who is one of the most accomplished pivots in the country, although he isn’t very big. Meanwhile LB Ken “Boo” McLee (#43, 6-1, 255) is a good-sized weakside backer who can make plays in both directions. The Mountaineers also have a number of solid second-tier prospects, especially on defense including LB Jay Henry (#42, 6-2, 225), DE Craig Wilson (#66, 6-1, 290), and SS Eric Weeks (#41, 6-1, 210), while OG Jeremy Sheffey (#65, 6-3, 295) and WR Brandon Myles (#7, 6-3, 190) are solid collegiate players on the other side of the ball.

Capitol One, Orlando; 1 PM ET; ABC

Wisconsin (11-1) vs Arkansas (10-3)

Draft watchers will have a tough time choosing between the Gator Bowl and the Capitol One match-up at the same time between Wisconsin and Arkansas which features the Badgers All-American OT Joe Thomas (#72, 6-7, 310), who appears headed to a top 2-3 selection at the 2007 draft. At the same time, though, this game should also feature a pretty good battle between two of the very best young backs in the country in Arkansas super sophomore RB Darren McFadden (#5, 6-1, 210), arguably the best player in the country period this season, and Wisconsin freshman sensation P.J. Hill (#39, 5-10, 242). In fact, both of these teams are relatively young, but the Badgers do have a number of solid second-tier prospects including veteran QB John Stocco (#7, 6-2, 210), along with MLB Mark Zalewski (#41, 6-1, 235), DE Joe Monty (#95, 6-1, 260) and DBs Rod Rogers (#22, 6-1, 190) and Joe Stellmacher (#16, 6-1, 220). Meanwhile, OLB Sam Olajabutu (#24, 5-9, 225) is probably the Razorbacks best senior prospect; he's certainly the most interesting . Olajabutu is very short but can run to the ball. Other Hogs to watch include seniors OTs Tony Ugoh (#66, 6-5, 305) and Zac Tubbs (#69, 6-5, 340), OG Stephen Parker (#74, 6-3, 310), stumpy NT Keith Jackson (#99, 6-0, 300), MLB Desmond Sims (#23, 6-2, 225), SS Randy Kelly (#6-0, 5-11, 195), and P Jacob Skinner (#14, 6-2, 210), while DE Jamaal Anderson (#92, 6-5, 270) is another top junior to keep an eye on.

Rose Bowl, Pasadena; 5 PM ET; ABC

Southern California (10-2) vs Michigan (11-1)

It did indeed turn out to be something of a rebuilding year at Southern California where the Trojans stumbled a couple of times on the way to what would have been a third straight national title game. Still, the Trojans should have a major impact on the upcoming draft if star junior WR Dwayne Jarrett (#8, 6-4, 210), who appears to be a lock to be a top 15 pick this year, leaves school early. The good news for the Trojans though is that just about all their other outstanding juniors including OT Sam Baker (#79, 6-5, 305), DE Lawrence Jackson (#96, 6-5, 265), LB Keith Rivers (#55, 6-3, 220) and DT Sedrick Ellis (#49, 6-1, 290) have all indicated they will be returning for their senior seasons. So will junior QB John David Booty (#10, 6-3, 195) who has done a nice job after taking over from Matt Leinart but still needs more seasoning. Another junior, RB Chauncey Washington (#23, 6-0, 205), could be a bit of a sleeper at the 2007 draft if he leaves school early which he very well might after struggling with the books the past several years. Meanwhile, USC will also send several seniors to this year’s draft including veteran WR Steve Smith (#2, 6-2, 195), C Ryan Kalil (#67, 6-3, 286), and LBs Dallas Sartz (#44, 6-5, 220) and LB Oscar Lua (#45, 6-1, 240).

As talented as is Southern California, Michigan could actually have a bigger impact at the 2007 draft. Indeed, the Wolverines have a couple of top ten prospects in CB Leon Hall (#29, 5-10, 195), who could be the first corner off the board this year, and massive run-stuffing junior DT Alan Branch (#80, 6-5, 330), who is inching closer to a top 5-10 pick. Like the Trojans, though, most of Michigan’s other top juniors including junior OT Jake Long (#77, 6-6, 320), QB Chad Henne (#7, 6-2, 225), and RB Mike Hart (#20, 5-9, 200) will be back in maize next fall. Meanwhile, DE LaMarr Woodley (#56, 6-2, 270), LBs Prescott Burgess (#6, 6-3, 245) and David Harris (#45, 6-2, 242), and KR Steve Breaston (#15, 6-0, 85) are solid late first-day candidates. And there’s plenty of depth in the Michigan draft class which includes veterans like MLB, DBs Willis Barringer (#19, 6-0, 205) and Brandent Englemon (#31, 5-11, 205), TE Tyler Ecker (#89, 6-5, 250), and PK Garrett Rivas (#38, 5-9, 215) who are rated as possible second-day prospects.

Fiesta Bowl, Phoenix; 8 PM ET; Fox

Oklahoma (11-2) vs Boise State (12-0)

New Year’s Day wraps up with a really fascinating match-up in the Fiesta Bowl where traditional power Oklahoma takes on traditional pygmy Boise State. And both the Sooners and the Broncos are happy enough to be in Phoenix, however, both feel they have a claim to be in that other Arizona BCS game, next Monday’s national title contest. The Sooners, for example, lost twice but one of those was a disputed loss at Oregon after which officials admit they blew a late call that would have given Oklahoma that win. Meanwhile, the unheralded Broncos were Division 1A’s only unbeaten team other than Ohio State, but as a WAC team don’t much national respect, although they did beat Oregon State, the same Oregon State that ended Southern Cal’s unbeaten run earlier this fall.

The other big story at this year’s Fiesta Bowl will be the return to action of Oklahoma junior RB Adrian Peterson (#28, 6-0, 220). Peterson, who is expected to be a top 5 pick at the 2007 draft, hasn’t played since October after breaking his collarbone. The Fiesta Bowl, in fact, could evolve into a battle between two of the best young backs in college football as Boise State sophomore Ian Johnson (#41, 5-10, 195) emerged as rising superstar this fall as he ran for over 1,600 yards and scored 24 times.

Both teams, though, also have some very good seniors. The Sooners best senior pro prospect, for example, is OLB Rufus Alexander (#42, 6-0, 230), who could sneak into the late-first round this coming April. The Sooners also have a top trio of excellent edge rushers in DEs C.J. Ah You (#99, 6-4, 275), Calvin Thibodeux (#58, 6-1, 255) and Larry Birdine (#92, 6-2, 260). The Sooners also have a very athletic LT in Chris Messner (#79, 6-5, 280) although he isn't very big.

Boise State has quietly emerged as one of the better programs in the country in the past decade winning an average of over 10 games per year in the last seven seasons. However, that success hasn’t translated to a lot of success on draft day. Indeed, when Green Bay selected former Broncos’ OT Darren Colledge in the middle of the second round this past April, it represented the first time in twenty years that Boise State had a player taken on the first day of the draft. Unfortunately, the Broncos aren’t likely to dramatically reverse that trend this fall, but will be busy enough this coming April with a deep draft class that includes QB Jared Zabransky (#5, 6-2, 2050), WR Legedu Naanee (#4, 6-2, 230), TE Derel Schouman (#91, 6-2, 235), FB Brad Lau (#34, 5-11, 245), MLB Korey Hall (#25, 6-1, 230), DB Gerald Alexander (#2, 6-0, 205), DT Andrew Browning (#57, 6-0, 280), and PK Anthony Montgomery (#47, 6-1, 210). Zabransky, for example, has been one of the more productive passers in the country the past couple of seasons, but still throws far too interceptions, while Hall is a prototype tackling machine, but isn’t overly big or fast. Meanwhile, while the afore-mentioned Colledge had pro scouts excited, they positively drool when checking out talented Boise State sophomore offensive linemen Ryan Clady (#79, 6-6, 320), a very athletic LT prospect, and road-grading Canadian OG Andrew Woodruff (#67, 6-3, 330).....

Underclassmen still have a couple of weeks to formally apply to the NFL for entry to this year's draft, however, it does not appear that Kentucky junior QB Andre Woodson is going anywhere at least this winter. The 6-5 Woodson, who led the Wildcats to an upset over Clemson at the Music City Bowl over the weekend stated after the game that he would be back at school next fall.....

Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in downtown Denver early Monday morning, police said. Williams, a second-round pick in the 2005 draft out of Oklahoma State, started nine games as a rookie due to injuries. This season, he took over as the starter for Lenny Walls alongside Champ Bailey, and was second on the team with four interceptions and tied for third with 86 tackles. We met Darrent at the Senior Bowl prior to the 2005 draft and found him to be a thoughtful young man with a bright future. Our condolences go his family.