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We Hardly Knew Ye: With All Due Haste

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Martin Luther King had a dream that one day glorified black athletes could leave school early to earn millions of dollars to play a game, and our national day of recreation in honor continued a busy weekend of early pro-hoppin'. But no school finds itself depleted by prematrure departures - not Ohio State, not Florida, mythical championship contestants who've lost seven players between them to early lucre - than Rice, which not only bid a stunned sayonara after one 7-6 resurgence, a New Orleans Bowl berth and a generous contract extension to Tulsa-bound Todd Graham, but also to six of his assistants, not including  offensive coordinator Major "Babyface" Applewhite, new quarterbacks coach at Alabama.

At least as intriguing a quick-jump addition for the Golden Hurricane could be Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, attracted after a year of insufficient influence in the Razorbacks' SEC West-winning turnaround by Graham's friendly solicitation ("Gus and I go way back with the spread offense and no-huddle...I said to Gus, 'You need to come on board here.'") and potentially accompanied by devoted protege Mitch Mustain. The latter development would seem a tad, um, hasty for a kid who managed to beat Alabama and Auburn in two of his first three SEC starts and has ample time yet to grow into a full-time star after one more season with the good fortune (yes, it is) of playing second fiddle to one of the three or four most dynamic offensive skill players in the nation and a lanky, barely coverable receiver returning to haul in lobs of all degrees of accuracy. Though this does not seem to be the consensus among all parties concerned.

Come, Mitchy! Before you hurt yourself with that. To a place we'll be appreciated, for a change.
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In highly relevant news involving actual players with actual collegiate accomplishments, the titanic talent that only occasionally had chance to exhibit itself via the chiseled, fragile frame of Adrian Peterson is moving up where it's probably always belonged after three too-injury-wrecked seasons. The Big XII cheers as Oklahoma mourns the final ledger on the most imposing tailback package of his brief era:

Carries Yards Per Carry TD Catches Yards Per Catch TD
2004 339 1,925 5.7 15 5 12 2.4 0
2005 220 1,108 5 14 9 50 5.6 0
2006 188 1,012 5.4 12 10 136 13.6 1
Career 747 4,045 5.4 41 24 198 8.25 1

To the extent a safety can have the impact of a tailback, Reggie Nelson ("out of nowhere" in the preseason to the 18th-rated prospect by Draft and a fast riser by NFL Draft Scout) was a dominator on approximately Peterson's level defensively, where he exits after a close second-place finish in Maxwell Pundit voting and, right, oh yeah, a near-flawless mythical championship performance by the Florida defense. Riding the same wave today - following another pair of defensive teammates last week - is Brandon Siler, completing a clean NFL sweep of the Gators' top four tacklers with remaining eligibility. Ditto the offensive skill at Ohio State, on the business end of Florida's big stick last week, where Ted Ginn and Antonio Pittman will nevertheless follow Tony Gonzalez to the dough without having contributed much in the desert massacre their own selves, though for very different reasons (Ginn hurt, Pittman neutralized by unprecedented scoreboard disadvantage). Career numbers on Pittman, then Ginn after the jump...

Carries Yards Per Carry TD Catches Yards Per Catch TD
2004 72 381 5.3 1 6 26 4.3 0
2005 243 1331 5.5 7 17 161 9.5 0
2006 242 1233 5.1 14 14 127 9.1 0
Career 557 2,945 5.2 22 37 314 6.4 0
Catches Yards Per Catch TD Carries Yards Per Carry TD Kick Returns Per Return TD Punt Returns Per Return TD
2004 25 359 14.4 2 13 113 8.7 2 2 20.0 0 15 25.6 4
2005 51 803 15.7 4 12 83 6.9 1 18 29.5 1 25 10.0 1
2006 59 781 13.2 9 3 17 5.7 0 18 24.4 1 24 11.1 1
Career 135 1,943 14.4 15 28 213 7.6 3 38 26.6 2 64 14.1 6

On the subject of numbers, we also have early-exitin' Colt Brennan...sort of. More or less. Encouraged by a potential rise in position facilitated by Brian Brohm's decision to risk his production under new coach AgroKrag, Brennan tossed his har into the NFL ring, but discouraged by being a 190-pound weakling from the WAC, the Maxwell Pundit Player of the Year is holding off on the final, eligibility-ceding step - hiring an  agent with approved fang depth - until the 72-hour window to pull out expires Thursday. Just viewing Brennan's stats cinges holes into the retinas, anyway, so his absurd career marks will wait until his sketchy decision (many recent draft reports don't even list Brennan as a prospect for April, which makes them outdated but also demonstrates limited enthusiasm about his ability compared to, say, JaMarcus Russell's, which is on a stratospheric rise to the top pick by some accounts) is confirmed.

Three other interesting departures: Texas College's Ramonce Taylor, former University of Texas party animal; Wake Forest's Jon Abbate, who SMQ would not guess to have the athleticism for a very high pick (though if you've been as productive as Abbate and you're not getting any faster, as with Darius Walker, perhaps it's best to take your shot while the iron's hot); and Marshall's Ahmad Bradshaw, who'se just excited to be able to afford as many PlayStation consoles as his formerly-thievin' heart desires.

Here is the full list of early departures as it stands tonight.

Colt Brennan is number one, unless he's more like number four, in which case, he's not going to play that game.
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