Bama’s Mccar­ron to re­turn; Arkansas’ Davis to try NFL

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Wire ser­vices THENEWMAJOR? tim Brew­ster, Bur­ton Burns,alabama: thomasham­mock,wis­con­sin: claude mathis,desoto Hs: Der­rick nix, mis­sis­sippi: —

Alabama quar­ter­back AJ McCar­ron, who has led the Crim­son Tide to their sec­ond straight na­tional ti­tle game, said he will re­turn for his se­nior sea­son in­stead of en­ter­ing the NFL draft.

McCar­ron made the an­nounce­ment in a state­ment re­leased by the school on Wed­nes­day.

“I had many goals for my­self when I came to the Univer­sity of Alabama,” the ju­nior said. “I have been lucky enough to achieve some of those goals, but some are still ahead of me. There were many fac­tors in my de­ci­sion to re­turn to Alabama for my se­nior year but, af­ter talk­ing with my fam­ily and coaches, I knew it was the right choice for me.

“I love the Univer­sity of Alabama, my coaches, my team­mates and our fans. I am ex­cited to have the op­por­tu­nity to play with my brother (sopho­more tight end Corey McCar­ron), con­tinue to grow as a leader, con­tinue to help our team win foot­ball games and de­velop even fur­ther as a quar­ter­back. The NFL has long been a dream, but I think an­other year at Alabama can only help my chances of be­ing suc­cess­ful at the next level.”

McCar­ron leads the na­tion in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency headed into the BCS cham­pi­onship game against Notre Dame on Jan. 7 in Mi­ami, and he was MVP of the BCS cham­pi­onship game against LSU last sea­son. He is 24-2 as a starter.

McCar­ron has thrown for 2,669 yards and a school-record 26 touch­down passes against just three in­ter­cep­tions this sea­son. His 45 ca­reer TD passes is sec­ond in Alabama his­tory.

Arkansas: Run­ning back Knile Davis will en­ter the NFL draft and skip his se­nior year.

He led all South­east­ern Con­fer­ence run­ning backs in rush­ing in 2010 with 1,322 yards. He av­er­aged 147 yards rush­ing over his fi­nal seven games that sea­son, cap­ping off the break­out per­for­mance with a 139-yard rush­ing ef­fort in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State.

How­ever, he missed the 2011 sea­son while re­cov­er­ing from a bro­ken left an­kle. Davis re­turned this past sea­son and said he was 100 per­cent healthy, though he gained only 377 yards rush­ing — av­er­ag­ing 3.7 yards per carry.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve been very re­flec­tive in weigh­ing my op­tions,” Davis said in a state­ment. “How­ever, af­ter care­ful coun­sel with my fam­ily and sup­port sys­tem, I’ve made the de­ci­sion to forego my fi­nal year of el­i­gi­bil­ity and en­ter the 2013 NFL draft.“

Mis­sis­sippi State: Run­ning back Nick Grif­fin will miss the Ga­tor Bowl af­ter tear­ing the an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in his right knee.

Notre Dame: The fi­nal visit to Michi­gan for the fore­see­able fu­ture will be an­other prime-time af­fair for the Fight­ing Ir­ish.

The sec­ond night game in Michi­gan Sta­dium his­tory will fea­ture the same com­bat­ants as the first with the an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day that the Ir­ish and Wolver­ines will play un­der the lights Sept. 7.

The game time and broad­cast plat­form on ABC/ESPN will be set later, Michi­gan and ESPN said.

South Carolina: In­jured run­ning back Mar­cus Lat­ti­more is fin­ished with col­lege foot­ball. How long it takes the Game­cocks ju­nior to make his NFL de­but is any­one’s guess.

Lat­ti­more an­nounced he was giv­ing up his fi­nal sea­son to en­ter the NFL draft. He was con­sid­ered a can’t-miss, first-round tal­ent af­ter his first two sea­sons. How­ever, a hor­ri­fy­ing right knee in­jury in Oc­to­ber has dropped his draft stock and it is un­clear when Lat­ti­more might re­turn to ac­tion.

Doc­tors say surgery on his knee was suc­cess­ful and Lat­ti­more eas­ily walked into his first gath­er­ing with the me­dia since the in­jury.

Washington State: An in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions by a former player of abuse by coaches did not turn up any ev­i­dence of such abuse in the pro­gram headed by coach Mike Leach. Star re­ceiver Mar­quess Wil­son quit the team late in the sea­son and con­tended that play­ers were suf­fer­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal abuse. Five po­ten­tial can­di­dates to fill Ma­jorAp­ple­white’s run­ning backs coach slot: ■ He’s coach­ing re­ceivers at Mis­sis­sippi State, but the former Longhorns tight ends coach and re­cruit­ing co­or­di­na­tor knows the pro­gram and is a good re­cruiter — he led the re­cruit­ment ofVince Young.And he’s worked for Mack Brown twice (Texas, North Carolina). ■ Texas may be a lat­eral move forAlabama’s RB coach, but he’ll likely be con­sid­ered.Applewhite is said to hold Burns in high re­gard — they coached to­gether there — and Burns, who coached Mark In­gram,Trent Richard­son and C.J. Spiller, is a top po­si­tion coach and re­cruiter. ■ Ham­mock, con­sid­ered one of the coun­try’s best RB coaches, is avail­able — when Brett Bielema left Wis­con­sin forArkansas, he re­tained Ra­zor­backs RB coach Tim Hor­ton. Ham­mock,who coached Michael Turner and Mon­tee Ball, is con­sid­ered a strong re­cruiter. ■ The former South­west Texas State All-Amer­i­can run­ning back has been suc­cess­ful on the high school front — his DeSoto Ea­gles play Allen in a Class 5A Div. I state semi­fi­nal this week­end — and came close to be­ing an as­sis­tant coach at Hous­ton last year be­fore de­cid­ing to go back to DeSoto. ■ Nix has been Ole Miss’RB coach for four years, and is con­sid­ered one of the Rebels’top re­cruiters. He also spent one year in the NFL ranks, work­ing as Bobby Petrino’s qual­ity con­trol as­sis­tant with the At­lanta Fal­cons. now the head coach at Mis­sis­sippi.

In his fi­nal sea­son at Texas, Harsin di­rected an of­fense that ranked sixth in the Big 12 in three ma­jor cat­e­gories — rush­ing (176.0 yards per game), pass­ing (265.0) and to­tal of­fense (441.0). The Longhorns av­er­aged 36.1 points per game, sev­enth in the league.

“Brian has done a tremen­dous job for us, and we ap­pre­ci­ate all the en­ergy he’s poured into our pro­gram the past two sea­sons,” Longhorns head coach Mack Brown said in a state­ment. “We’re happy any time our coaches have the op­por­tu­nity to be a head coach. I think that is a great re­flec­tion of the types of coaches we are for­tu­nate enough to have in our pro­gram.”

Harsin might not be the only Texas as­sis­tant to wind up mov­ing on to a head-coach­ing job. De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Manny Diaz, un­der fire af­ter his unit went from first place in the Big 12 in to­tal yards al­lowed in 2011 to fifth place this sea­son, re­port­edly is a can­di­date for the open­ing at Florida In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity, in his home­town of Mi­ami.

Wed­nes­day’s de­vel­op­ments rep­re­sent the next step up the lad­der for Applewhite, who played quar­ter­back for the Longhorns from 1998-2001 and has served as a full-time as­sis­tant on Brown’s staff since 2008.

Applewhite, 34, who was not avail­able for com­ment Wed­nes­day be­cause he was out of town, held the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor’s ti­tle at Rice in 2006 and Alabama 2007 be­fore re­turn­ing to Texas.

Applewhite in­her­its a job that has ques­tions in need of an­swers on sev­eral fronts, in­clud­ing

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