B.J. Coleman shines in East-West Shrine Game

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With college football season over, all-star/draft evaluation games are underway and draft-eligible players from around the country, as well as Canada, took part in the East-West Shrine Game today.

The West ended up beating the East by a final score of 24-17, but obviously, that hardly matters; it was about who shined in their game reps.

One of the best performances of the day came from UT-Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman, who went 10-of-15 for 168 yards and a touchdown. Coleman originally signed with Tennessee in 2007 before transferring down to the 1-AA program. The highlight of his day was a nice pass right down the seam to well-covered Chase Ford from Miami (FL) that went for 64 yards.

Coleman’s name has been picking up some momentum over the past week in practices and it was easy to see why today. Analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper projected Coleman as a mid-to-late round selection, but he might have helped his stock today.

The other East quarterbacks, Southern Miss’ Austin Davis and Florida’s John Brantley, had good and bad days, respectively. Davis went 7-for-10 and a TD, but Brantly completed just one pass.

It was a rough day for the Gators quarterback.

On the other side, Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey showed his explosiveness (six carries, 33 yards) on the ground and had four receptions. Rainey isn’t the biggest running back, but it’s hard to argue his back-to-back 1,600-yard rushing seasons.

Additionally, Arkansas receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs combined for five catches for 76 yards.

Other players who stood out:

  • Louisiana Tech running back Lennon Creer led all rushers with 80 yards on 15 carries and a late score.
  • Tennessee RB Tauren Poole was all the buzz this week in practice, but ended up with 6 carries for 19 yards — 15 of those came on one run.
  • Fresno State’s Devon Wylie had four punt returns for 45 yards.
  • Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham had a touchdown catch off a comeback route. The receiver broke a tackle and waltzed right into the end zone.
  • West Virginia’s defense wasn’t as strong statistically as it was last year, but three Mountaineers had good games today. Defensive end Julian Miller had a pass deflection (and near interception) and made a lot of open-field plays. Miller projects more as a pass rusher in a 3-4 defense than a true 4-3 DE. Linebacker Najee Goode and cornerback Keith Tandy also had their numbers called a couple times. Tandy almost intercepted a pass.
  • As expected, TCU linebacker Tank Carder was just about everywhere too. The Horned Frogs are really going to miss his presence next season.
  • Penn State’s  Nick Sukay won defensive MVP.

UNC and Minnesota line up future home-and-home deal

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While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.

North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.

The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.

Pitt leaves renewal of football series in Penn State’s hands

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Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.

“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”

The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.

Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).

It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.

QB Blake Barnett reportedly transferring from Arizona State

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Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.

Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.

A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.

“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”

As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.

Transferring BYU QB Kody Wilstead finds new home at Kansas JUCO

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With eight quarterbacks on the roster, Kody Wilstead opted to leave the Cougars in mid-March.  A little over a month later, Wilstead has found a new home, albeit a little further down on the college football ladder.

According to the Deseret News, Wilstead has signed to play at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.  As Coffeyville is a junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

It’s expected that Wilstead will spend at least one season at the JUCO level before looking at making a move back up to the FBS.

Wilstead, a three-star 2015 signee, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after serving an LDS mission the previous two years.

After Wilstead’s departure, the seven remaining Cougar signal-callers are, in alphabetical order, Stacy ConnerJoe CritchlowHayden GriffittsBeau HogeTanner MangumBaylor Romney and Zach Wilson. Mangum, last year’s starter, is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in November of last year but remains on track to return for the start of summer camp in August.