For first time readers of this column, please understand that by NCAA rule, each Division One program is allowed a maximum of 85 football scholarships. There is also a rule about only awarding 25 per year but our roster is now so full that this rule has no application for us this year.
In my spring Scholarship Math column I commented that we had promised more than 85 scholarships for the fall of 2006 and therefore some roster adjustments would be required. Before fall camp, we added David Buehler [FB-PK] and compounded the issue. Roster adjustments would have to be made I concluded. We now know that those adjustments were: 1) Kenny Ashley did not meet academic requirements; 2&3) Brandon Ting and Ryan Ting gave up their scholarships in order to pursue academic goals; 4) Whitney Lewis transferred; and 5) Rashaad Goodrum became medically inactive [usually this is a status that allows the school to honor the scholarship but, because the student can no longer participate for medical reasons, he is not counted against the 85 limit].
Here are the scholarship players with additional eligibility to return next year.
CB-6 T. Thomas; C. Harris, K. Thomas, McCurtis; Wright; Joseph.
S-7 Pinkard; Ellison, W. Harris; Mays; Perez; Green; Rowe
LB-9 Rivers, T. Williams; Maiava; Maualuga; Matthews; Cushing; L. Brown; Morgan; Tatum
DE-6 Jackson; Morrow; Schweiger; Moore; Miles; Simmons
DT-6 Ellis; Barrett; Moala; Ashley; Parsons; Spicer
QB-3 Booty; McDonald; Sanchez
TB-6 Reed; C. Washington; Bradford; Gable; Moody; Johnson
FB-3 Coleman (TB?); Adewale; Havili
WR-6 Jarrett; Turner; Hazelton; Patterson; Ausberry; Holland
TE-5 F. Davis; Thompson; Miller; G. Washington; McCoy
OT-4 Baker; C. Brown; Herring; Lewis
OG-5 Malu; Radovich; Spanos; Rachal; Heberer
C-3 Byers; Draper; Howell
PK-3 Danelo; Van Blarcom; Buehler [FB]
Total: 73 eligible to return
So here is the dilemma: if all 73 return next fall, we only have 12 scholarships to award in February. If they all returned and the NCAA granted a 6th year to Powdrell and Dennis we would only have 10. So why are our coaches reportedly saying we will probably have around 17 scholarships to award in February. The answer lies in roster adjustments like we saw this year.
Here's a list of variables that make roster management such a guessing game:
1. 6th year: Who knows when it comes to NCAA decision-making, but I doubt that Powdrell and Dennis are granted a 6th year.
2. These junior players could declare early for the NFL draft:
Jarrett: probable, IMO
Baker: says he will not, but he may be such a high draft choice that he changes his mind
Davis: needs a good second half of the season to be a top draft choice
C. Washington: needs a good second half of the season to be a top draft choice
Booty: I think it makes more sense for him to stay another year, but he is eligible
Ellis: he might be one of the top DL's in the draft if he continues to do so well
Jackson: needs a good second half of the season to be a top draft choice
Rivers: he might be a high draft choice if he continues to do well
Pinkard: he would have been a "probable" but the injury makes coming back the best choice for Josh
T. Thomas: he might be a high draft choice if he continues to do well
3. Graduation: It was reported that Michael McDonald will graduate next spring. He might move on to graduate school and not play his final year.
4. Medical inactivation: There are reports that Lawrence Miles is not an active member of the team at this time, and that he is injured. He seems like a candidate for medical inactivation.
5. Something is going on with the status of Michael Coleman. It looks like he is redshirting this year, but there were several reports of conflicts with the coaches during the fall camp. He has great potential and I would hate to lose him.
6. On the basis of performance and tradition, Greg Woidneck, IMO deserves a scholarship. He is our first string punter and doing very well. My guess is that he will receive the first open scholarship next January. That, of course, means one less available to give to someone else.
7. Between now and next September, when the 85 limit is counted again for real, how many of the current players will have transferred, become academic causalities, been expelled from school, or taken medical inactivation? No one knows and that's why so many of us stay interested in this process all year.
I'm sticking with a projection of 17 Letters of Intent for next February 7th. This guess is based on the experience of watching the system closely for several years. One thing is for sure; Pete will continue to push the envelope of roster management. By that I mean that I expect him to crowd as many new talented players onto our roster as feasible. I like that strategy.