Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bradford, too

Sam Bradford confirmed Wednesday that he will return to Oklahoma for his junior year, meaning all three Heisman Trophy finalists will be back in school next year. In case you were wondering, this is only the second time in history (the other being 1945) that the top three Heisman vote-getters will all return for the following season.

Bradford was widely projected as the No. 1 pick in the draft if he he chose to leave early, but what was equally surprising was that tight end Jermaine Gresham and offensive lineman Trent Williams also decided to return, meaning a Sooners offense that looked like it'd be decimated by graudations and defections will actually be in pretty good shape.

Can Bradford improve on last year's numbers? Probably not, especially with the loss of his starting wide receivers and four offensive linemen. But I have to believe that the title game loss to Florida compelled a majority of the underclassmen to return, and along with DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown and sophomore-to-be receiver Ryan Broyles, as well as a defense that returns almost everybody, Oklahoma will still be pretty damn good.

About 1,000 miles to the west, Mark Sanchez saw the opportunity created by Bradford's return and jumped at it. Sanchez decided to pass up his senior season and enter the draft, meaning the USC quarterback position will likely be decided by a battle between former Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain (who went 8-0 as a freshman with the Razorbacks in 2007) and top incoming recruit Matt Barkley.

As usual, USC will once again have two (or more) five-star recruits fighting for a playing time, a problem the other 119 FBS schools only dream about. With the stable of running backs returning (Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable), as well as emerging receiver Damian Williams and the entire offensive line, the Trojans offense won't exactly be hurting, either.

And then there's Florida. While Percy Harvin is apparently set to enter the draft, linebacker Brandon Spikes announced Thursday that he will return to school, meaning the Gators will have all 11 starters back on defense. Good Lord ...

LeSean McCoy, on the other hand, is leaving Pitt and taking pretty much the entire offense with him. I suppose it's possible that junior-to-be Pat Bostick could have a breakout year, but his results so far haven't been pretty: Nine touchdowns, 17 interceptions in parts of two seasons. Eek.

It sounds like there was a legitimate debate going on within McCoy's family, but he'll be a first-round pick and, at least in my opinion, is just as talented as Chris Wells and Knowshon Moreno.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare is midnight Thursday, so I'll try to get up a late post with a complete summary of everyone who's leaving.

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