SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah football staff finished its recruiting for 2012 with 28 signed commitments. The list includes two mid-year junior college players who signed National Letters of Intent in December.
The biggest beneficiaries were the offensive and defensive lines, which claimed 16 of the 28 scholarships and landed three four-star recruits: freshman Hiva Lutui (Euless, Texas/Trinity HS), freshman Jeremiah Poutasi (Las Vegas, Nev./Desert Pines HS) and junior Junior Salt(Glendale, Utah/Mt. San Antonio College).
While the Utes continued their tradition under coach Kyle Whittingham of recruiting primarily freshmen—adding 21 underclassmen—their seven junior college transfers included six linemen.
“Football starts at the line of scrimmage. If you’re strong up front, the other positions will usually thrive,” said Whittingham. “We needed immediate help up front after losing three all-conference linemen to graduation (offensive linemen Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen and defensive lineman Derrick Shelby) and because of the physicality of Pac-12 football. We believe the junior college linemen we signed will provide immediate help.”
Another priority position was quarterback, where the Utes looked to the future by signing two highly-rated freshmen: Parade All-AmericanChase Hansen from Utah’s Lone Peak High School and California prep star Travis Wilson (San Clemente HS).
“The Pac-12 conference is loaded at the quarterback position and the two we signed are very talented and should fit right in that mold,” said Whittingham.
In addition to the 15 linemen and two quarterbacks, the Utes added three defensive backs—including four-star freshman Justin Thomas (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark HS) —two linebackers and two receivers.
The coaching staff mined seven states for the 2012 class, signing 11 players from Utah, nine from California, three from Texas, two from Louisiana and one each from Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.
One of the most important games on the holiday docket this weekend is Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, with the Sooners looking to maintain their No. 3 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings and the Cowboys looking to get back into the playoff mix following their first loss of the season.
As it’s late November, though, Mother Nature may be looking to have a say in the outcome.
With Bedlam scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET in Stillwater on Saturday, the weather forecast bears watching. “There is 40-percent chance for precipitation Saturday night and a low temperature around 30 degrees with the potential for rain or freezing rain,” the Oklahoman‘s Kyle Fredrickson wrote, citing National Weather Service data.
In the old days when playing surfaces were mainly grass, wet weather wreaked havoc on field. With the advent of advanced fake turf, that concern has been somewhat mitigated. At least, that’s what OSU’s offensive boss is telling himself.
“I think you have to have contingency plans based on the weather,” coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “But nowadays, you’re playing on the turf so it can’t be that bad. Back in the day when we were playing on grass, it would affect you because there would be mud on the ball and you would only use two balls in the game.”
OU, OSU and Baylor all currently have one Big 12 loss, with the latter having two regular season games remaining while Bedlam is the last for the in-state rivals. The Sooners would be declared the conference champion with a win this weekend — they would’ve beaten both the Bears and Cowboys — while the Bears stake their claim as the league champ with wins in the last two games (TCU, Texas) combined with a Sooners loss. Because of its loss to the Bears last weekend, the Cowboys can be Big 12 champs only if they beat the Sooners and the Bears lose at least one of their last two.
If OU can win Bedlam and hold the crown of Big 12 champ, they’ll have to wait another week to see if the playoff committee will keep them in the top four or, as was the case with TCU last year, they get bumped out in favor of teams that played in and won conference championship games while they sat at home.
Looking to put an embarrassing overtime win over two-win FAU in the rearview mirror, Florida is look at some significant defensive line issues heading into its annual in-state showdown with Florida State.
First and foremost on the injury report is Jon Bullard, who is listed as doubtful for Saturday night’s game against the Seminoles. Bullard, who has been dealing with an arm issue the past couple of weeks, suffered a knee injury on the first possession of the FAU game. While the defensive tackle returned to that game, he’s been limited in practice this week leading to his doubtful designation.
Bullard’s 13.5 tackles for loss are tops on the team and fourth in the SEC. He has started 33 games during his Gator career, including a streak of 23 straight.
In addition to Bullard’s injury issue, defensive ends Alex McCalister (foot) and defensive tackle Taven Bryan (ankle) are also listed as doubtful as well. McCalister currently leads the Gators in sacks with 6.5, one more than Bullard’s 5.5.
But wait, there’s more: three other defensive linemen are listed as questionable — Joey Ivie (knee), Jordan Sherit (hamstring) and Thomas Holley (hip).
Still needing another win to secure bowl eligibility, Chris Petersen has been rewarded by his Washington bosses for the work he’s done with the Huskies thus far.
First reported by SI.com‘s Pete Thamel and subsequently confirmed by ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, Petersen has signed a two-year contract extension with UW. The new deal would keep Petersen with the Huskies through the 2020 season.
Thamel adds that Petersen will earn $4 million in the extension years of 2019 and 2020; in 2015, Petersen earned $3.4 million. Petersen had already been scheduled to earn $4 million in 2018 under the terms of his original five-year deal.
Following an eight-year tenure at Boise State in which the Broncos won 88 percent of their games, Petersen left to take over the Huskies for the 2014 season after Steve Sarkisian exited for the USC job. In his first season, Petersen went 8-5 and ended the year with a Cactus Bowl loss. This season, the Huskies are 5-6 and need a win over No. 20 Washington State this weekend to extend their bowl streak to six straight seasons.
In Petersen’s first seven seasons as a head coach, he went 84-8; in his last three seasons, he’s gone a combined 21-16 — 8-4 in his last season in Boise, 13-12 in his first two years at UW.
UPDATED 12:04 p.m. ET: Within a minute of this being posted, UW sent out a press release confirming that Petersen has indeed agreed to a contract extension.
“Coach Petersen has demonstrated tremendous integrity and is building a program that Husky fans can be proud of, both on and off the field,” athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “This extension is well-deserved and we hope Coach Petersen is a Husky for a long time to come.”
In a deposition this past summer, the woman charged with running the office that deals with victims of, among other things, sexual violence on the Florida State campus claimed that 20 women were sexually assaulted by members of the Seminole football team over the past nine years. The former director of FSU’s victim advocate program, Melissa Ashton, went on to claim that the accused football players received special treatment and that most of the alleged victims chose not to pursue student-conduct charges “a lot of times based on fear” of reprisals.
The June deposition is part of the ongoing lawsuit filed by Erica Kinsman, who had accused star quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her in December of 2012. The first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft was neither charged criminally nor found guilty in a student-conduct hearing.
The testimony of Ashton, who left her post in August of this year, was part of what was described as the release of heavily-redacted documents related to Kinsman’s lawsuit. It’s argued in the Title IX suit that FSU did not properly investigate Kinsman’s claims against Winston as required by federal law.
Speaking of others who said they had been sexually assaulted at the school over the past nine years by football players, Ashton said the majority “chose not to go through a process, a lot of times based on fear.” Ashton said victims had “a fear of retaliation, seeing what has happened in other cases and not wanting that to be them.”
But in her statements she said she was concerned that athletes get preferential treatment during investigations of misconduct, including access to an athletic department official who helps them get access to outside lawyers.
In addition to the unnamed football players allegedly involved in an estimated 20 sexual assaults the past decade, “Ashton stated that… ‘easily double‘ that number have been involved in interpersonal violence.”
FSU officials had sought to block the release of the depositions, but were ordered by the judge in the case to hand them over in a ruling this past October. The document release was prompted by a public records request from various news organizations, including the Associated Press.