One thing that might have escaped your notice Monday is that both of the other tight ends who were finalists for the John Mackey Award this season — Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert — declared for the NFL Draft.
While each was listed as a senior by their schools, each had a year of eligibility left — Stanford and Notre Dame each list their players by academic year. Eifert said after the national title game he will declare. Ertz was actually one of two Stanford tight ends — Levine Toilolo being the other — to announce Monday they are leaving the NFL. (And as the linked story indicates, receiver will be Stanford’s one big question mark next year with the team losing the playeres who caught 18 of the team’s 19 touchdown passes this year).
The obvious implication of the departures of Ertz and Eifert is that it leaves Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins as the only one of the three Mackey finalists who will return in 2013. And that obviously clears the way for ASJ to earn all kinds of pre-season kudos and enter the season as the leader in the clubhouse for the Mackey. It also, though, makes the draft class of tight ends for 2013 potentially a little thinner, which might make factor in when decision time comes for Seferian-Jenkins a year from now.
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— It was obviously a big night for former UW offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, now calling the plays for Alabama — you can watch some video here of him talking after the win over Notre Dame. Here also is a good overview of his first season at Alabama from a few days ago.
I’ve been asked often what impact the loss of Nussmeier had on UW’s offense this season. My answer has been an unequivocal “it’s hard to tell.” Nussmeier didn’t call plays at UW, and while he was the offensive coordinator, UW coach Steve Sarkisian oversees the offense (same as it was this year with Eric Kiesau) and has a heavy say in what happens with the quarterbacks. Also, the personnel differences were so great from 2011 to 2012 and my feeling is that it’s the change in players that was a much bigger factor in what happened to UW’s offense than the change in coaches.
And it’s worth noting that while everyone cites the downturn in last season’s production to this year’s, this year’s really wasn’t a lot different than 2009 or 2010 — years when Nussmeier was the OC here. UW scored 312 points in 13 games this year, and 284 in 13 games in 2010 and 313 in 12 games in 2009. So it’s 2011, when UW had the deepest receiving corps it’s hard in years, a veteran RB from the beginning in Chris Polk with able backups, and a much-more proven line, that’s the outlier in the group. None of that is to try to take away from Nussmeier. It’s just to say that I think what happened with UW is a lot more complicated, and more player-driven, than the change in assistant coaches. We’ve seen, though, Sarkisian already make a move with the quarterback position spot, moving Kiesau to receivers — a position where he has more experience — and bringing in Marques Tuiasosopo to coach QBs. So the dynamic changes again.
— ESPN.com’s Ted Miller has UW No. 3 in his first Pac-12 power rankings for 2013.
— UW alum and ESPN.com writer Jim Caple makes a case for the Huskies as national champs.
— Former UW LB Mark Stewart is the new head coach at Garfield.
— The Huskies are in the 31-35 grouping in the National Football Post’s way-too-early Top 25 for next season.
— The Big Lead has Oregon No. 2 and Stanford No. 3 in its early 2013 Top 20.
— And Oregon and Stanford are 3-4 in this projection from CBSSports.com.
— Colorado offensive tackle David Bahktiari is also declaring for the draft.
— The Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game is this weekend, and while it does not feature any Huskies, it does have one player with UW ties in linebacker Kurt Mangum, who signed with UW in 2008 and spent two years at UW before transferring to Howard and then Akron.