Urban flips two four-star DL commits from Big Ten schools to OSU

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Just two weeks after his hiring was made official, Urban Meyer — and the recruiting cachet that comes with his name — is already paying significant dividends for Ohio State.

And, as a result, proving costly on the verbal front for a couple of Big Ten schools.

According to multiple media outlets, a pair of four-star defensive linemen in the Class of 2012 committed to the Buckeyes on Monday.  Tommy Schutt, the No. 5 defensive tackle in the country and the top-rated player in the state of Illinois, committed to OSU after being a firm Penn State verbal right up until the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in State College, while Se’Von Pittman, the No. 8 defensive end in the country and No. 3 player in the state of Ohio, had been decommitted from Michigan State to stay in his home state.

Both players visited Ohio State this past weekend, and spent extensive time with Meyer.  Suffice to say, the presence of the former Florida head coach made a significant impression on the two linemen and played a commitment-shifting role in their decisions.

“I had a great visit this weekend to Ohio State and got to know the coaches and the players better,” Schutt told Rivals.com. “I spent a lot of time talking to Urban Meyer.”

“My official visit was great,” Pittman told the same website. “I got to sit down with the guys and talk to coach Meyer. … For me to leave a coach like [MSU’s Mark Dantonio], [Meyer] had to be a great coach and a great person too and everything he told me was what I wanted to hear to be comfortable enough to [decommit from the Spartans].”

The news of Pittman’s decommit from MSU came as a surprise to the Canton (OH) high schooler’s coach.

“For 5 1/2 months, I didn’t think there was a chance in the world this would happen because Se’Von was sold on coach (Mark) Dantonio and Michigan State,” Canton McKinley’s Ron Johnson told the Columbus Dispatch. “Then some things happened recently that made him reconsider, and he flipped.”

Schutt’s high school coach, Chad Hetlet, told ESPN.com that OSU’s interim head coach also played a role in landing the lineman.  Luke Fickell, who will remain on Meyer’s staff after coaching the Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl vs. Florida, was Schutt’s recruiter, and Hetlet said the coach bridged the gap between the uncertainty in the post-Jim Tressel era and Meyer coming to Columbus.

“Ohio State did a nice job as a staff of hanging in there,” Hetlet told the website.

“And coach Fickell did a nice job of staying in communication with him. He told him everything will work out. When coach Meyer got the job, they got in contact with Tommy immediately. From that point he went on to take an official visit and was blown away by everything.”

Schutt, who had OSU squarely in his mix prior to the NCAA issues that hit the football program, becomes the third Nittany Lions verbal pledge to decommit since Sandusky, the former PSU defensive coordinator, was indicted on child sex-abuse charges.

It should be noted that verbal commitments are non-binding, and recruits — as shown in these two decommitments — can change their mind all the way up to putting their Herbie Hancocks on a Letter of Intent beginning in early February.  It also should be noted that the coaches in Meyer’s new conference are likely none too pleased with having their verbals poached by the new coach on the block.

Right or wrong, though, they’d better get used to these “new” recruiting ways — the SEC recruiting ways — or risk getting left behind.

Purdue QB David Blough cleared for spring practice

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In a stark change from most offseason news in the sport, Purdue has something positive personnel-wise to hang its hat on moving forward.

By way of the Indianapolis Star, head coach Jeff Brohm revealed Friday that David Blough is “way ahead of schedule” and has been cleared to participate in spring practice, which kicks off this coming Monday, for the Boilermakers.  Just how much of a participant the quarterback will be remains to be seen, though.

“He’s doing a great job and he will be out there at spring practice and will be participating,” Brohm said according to the Star. ‘Whether it will be fully that remains to be seen. He will be out there Day 1 and doing some portions of practice.

“We’ve got to make sure we protect him, especially in 11-on-11 settings. We’ll see how the first week goes if we can progress on that.”

Blough suffered a dislocated ankle in a November win over Illinois and missed the remainder of the 2017 season.  At the time of the injury, it was thought that it and the subsequent recovery process would keep the junior out of spring practice.

Blough had started the two games leading up to his season-ending injury, with Brohm confirming that the rising senior will be the starter as this offseason kicks off in earnest.  Elijah Sindelar, who reclaimed the starting job after Blough’s injury, will miss spring practice as he continues to recover from a torn ACL on which he played for the last month of the regular season plus the Boilermakers’ bowl game.

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.