Jackie Simmons in Raleigh, N.C., writes: I hoping you can help me with some answers. My son Brian Simmons played for OU last season as a OG beside Trent Williams and in front of Sam Bradford. He was not invited to the combine but scored top numbers at OU pro-day. We were thinking he would go in the 5 to 7 rounds which didn't happen. He hasn't received any free agent calls either. He has spent the last 10 years of his life preparing for this moment. This week he was told that he had been put on the NFL reject list because of his clubfoot. It has never been a problem for him so why would it be a problem for the NFL?
David Ubben: Jackie, I’m sorry to hear that, and to be honest, I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as an NFL reject list. I was aware of his clubfoot, but when I watched him last year, I never thought it had a huge effect on his gait and didn’t really seem to be a factor. He, Brody Eldridge, and of course, Trent, were by far the three best blockers on the team when they were healthy, and Brian absolutely has NFL size at 6-foot-4 and 318 pounds. I’m not a doctor, but my guess is teams see it as a higher risk for future injuries and don’t want to invest in him.
I was actually wondering myself what happened to him; I was a little surprised he hadn’t at least gotten a tryout somewhere.
I don’t know a lot about the medical specifics of the condition, but I do know that I spoke with Brian a ton during the last season, and he was easily one of the most intelligent and genuine players I've ever covered in any sport. It was pretty easy to see how much he enjoyed playing the game, too. Whatever he decides to do in the future, I don’t doubt he’ll succeed.
Michael in College Station, Texas, writes: If you had to pick a game outside of the Red River Rivalry as the most important in deciding the winner of the south, which one would it be?
DU: Thanksgiving Day in Austin, Texas, could have big implications for the South winner. It’s going to be tough for the Aggies to win there, but they could be playing for a chance at the South title, or they could be playing to knock Texas out of the championship and put Oklahoma in. That game always seems to be a good one, and that should be the case again this year.
Will in Nebraska writes: Hey David great bolg last few weeks. Now that spring ball is over how do you rate the team are they all the same as before or who moved up or down?
DU: Probably about the same, Will. Nebraska didn’t do much to change their position in my mind. They’re the solid favorites in the North, a borderline top 10 team nationally to start the season and should have a great defense. If the quarterback play improves, they could have a great season and win 11-12 games, or maybe more. If the offense plays the way it did last season, the defense is going to need more big efforts like they got in games against Texas and Oklahoma and if they don’t play as well as people think, the Huskers could slip down to eight or nine games.
Chad in Parkville, Mo., writes: Hey David, I'm just confused about the expansions that might be happening. Mizzou to Big 10 and Colorado to the PAC 10? What will happen to the rivalries that Nebraska has with them?
DU: Missouri and Nebraska might be able to continue their rivalry in the Big Ten, but when conferences shift like they did in the 90s, rivalries get lost. It’s an unfortunate side effect of moves that universities feel are best for them in the big picture. Nebraska might try to continue some of them in the nonconference, but sometimes these rivalries go the way of JNCO jeans.
Ryan Patrick in Houston asks: Assuming Griffin stays healthy, or even if Florence has a good Sophomore year, is Baylor's defense going to be up to the task of competing with anyone this year?
DU: That’s really the big question for the Bears. Nobody questions Robert Griffin's talent, and he’s got great receivers. But replacing guys like Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake is a lot more difficult for Baylor than it would be for other teams in the conference. They’re bringing in a lot of talent in the secondary, but sometimes when great recruits go to schools with less tradition, they face more pressure than they would at schools that get them all the time. We won’t know how Baylor’s defense looks until the season starts, but if they can somehow win or stay close against TCU in Fort Worth, that would be a huge win for the program, and give them a great shot at starting the season 4-0. Even if they don’t, 3-1 is still a nice start for the Bears, and they play Kansas and Colorado in two of their first three conference games, two games they’ll have great chances to win.
Guruprasad in Paris writes: There is always more than one way of interpreting the statistics. Here are the two possible scenarios, which will prove that the team that tops the 'Diversification Quotient' list is actually the least diverse team: (a) Having a 1000yrd receiver and rusher in your team means there are two skilled players how are more dominant than others in the team and hence a team runs its offense through them always (thus they end up with 1000+yrds). (b) On the contrary, having none might (not necessarily true but nevertheless a possibility) mean there are more than two skilled position players in the team who have to share the load and hence none of them individually probably reach the 1000 yds. Of the two scenarios listed above, one can argue that the (b) is more diverse because more players and possibly with different strengths are involved in the game. If 'diverse' is meant to mean the balance in receiving and rushing yards off a team's total offense then the 'diverse quotient' is probably not the best way to go about determining it.
DU: It’s definitely a flawed statistic, and I don’t know what you can really infer from it, but it’s mostly just cool to see it displayed like that. I don’t recall ever seeing anything like that anywhere. I don’t think you can tell much by the total number, or the “Diversification Quotient,” but if (excuse one of the four mathematical terms I know) you have a consistent mode in there, or something close, you’re clearly moving the ball in a lot of different ways. If a team has 5, 5 and 5, that’s a diverse offense. Texas Tech has 10 and 10, and they haven’t run the ball a lot, but they’ve still fielded one of the best offenses in college football over the past decade. No one is saying that “diverse” is necessarily “best,” but I think this was just an interesting way to look at offense and see stats displayed in a way we hadn’t seen them before.