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Updated: Statements issued after Petrino fired from Arkansas

Bobby Petrino AP

UPDATED 10:34 p.m. ET: Here are Jeff Long’s opening remarks transcribed in their entirety, courtesy of The Times-Record:

“Last Thursday night, I met with you to share information that I had learned just hours earlier that Coach Petrino had not been forthcoming with me and with you about the circumstances of this motorcycle accident.

As you know, I placed Coach Petrino on administrative leave while I reviewed his contract related to the accident. I assured him and all of you that I would approach this task fairly and thoroughly. Since that time, I have spoken with key individuals that were involved in the accident and in what occurred afterwards, his passenger on the motorcycle, the individuals who transported him to Fayetteville and to the hospital, and several people who spoke with Coach Petrino before and after the accident.

I reviewed the manner, timing, and extend to which Coach Petrino shared information about the accident, both with men and with others, and to whom he was accountable. That includes among others, the members of the football program, our supporters, student-athletes, faculty, staff, and alumni of the university, and the public at large.

My review raised several concerns which led me to look beyond the accident itself. That included the professional and personal relationship he had with his passenger, Jessica Dorrell, the process and circumstances that influenced his decision to hire her as a direct report member of his staff and his candor and behavior of my staff.

Here are the key findings of my review:

Coach Petrino knowingly misled the athletics department and university about the circumstance related to this accident. He had multiple opportunities over a four day period to be forthcoming with me. He chose not to. He treated the news media and the general public in a similar manner. Coach Petrino’s relationship with Ms. Dorrell gave her an unfair and undisclosed advantage for a position on Coach Petrino’s football staff. She was one of 159 applicants for the job and Coach Petrino himself participated in the review and selection process without disclosing his relationship with her and that constitutes a conflict of interest under university policy.

During my review of this matter, Coach Petrino informed me that he give a large sum of cash, some $20,000 to Ms. Dorrell. Coach Petrino, however, failed to disclose this information to me prior to his recommendation to hire her into the football program.

Coach Petrino’s conduct regarding his account of the accident jeopardized the integrity of the football program. He made a choice to return to practice on Tuesday, to hold a press conference, and to demonstrate his physical resiliency and command of his program, all the time failing to correct his initial report that he was the only person involved in the accident. He made a conscious decision to speak and mislead the public on Tuesday. In doing so, he negatively and adversely affected the reputation of the University of Arkansas and our football program.

By itself, Coach Petrino’s consensual relationship with Ms. Dorrell prior to her joining the football staff was not against university policy. By itself, it is a matter between individuals and their families. However, in this case, Coach Petrino abused his authority when over the past few weeks, he made a staff decision and personal choices that benefited himself and jeopardized the integrity of the football program. In short, Coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members or the athletics’ staff both before and after the motorcycle accident.

He used athletic department funds to hire for his staff a person whom he had an inappropriate relationship. He engaged in reckless and unacceptable behavior and put his relationship in the national spotlight. Coach Petrino’s conduct was contrary to character and responsibilities we demand of our head football coach. In fact, that is the very language that is included in his contract that he signed as the University of Arkansas

Consequently, this afternoon, I informed Coach Petrino that his employment with the university was being terminated immediately.”

—————–

UPDATED 10:05 p.m. ET: Bobby Petrino has released the following statement through his agent:

I was informed in writing today at 5:45 p.m. that I was being terminated as head football coach at the University of Arkansas.

The simplest response I have is: I’m sorry. These two words seem very inadequate. But that is my heart. All I have been able to think about is the number of people I’ve let down by making selfish decisions. I’ve taken a lot of criticism in the past. Some deserved, some not deserved. This time, I have no one to blame but myself.

I chose to engage in an improper relationship. I also made several poor decisions following the end of that relationship and in the aftermath of the accident. I accept full responsibility for what has happened.

I’m sure you heard Jeff Long’s reasons for termination. There was a lot of information shared. Given the decision that has been made, this is not the place to debate Jeff’s view of what happened. In the end, I put him in the position of having to sort through my mistakes and that is my fault.

I have hurt my wife Becky and our four children. I’ve let down the University of Arkansas, my team, coaching staff and everyone associated with the Razorback football program. As a result of my personal mistakes, we will not get to finish our goal of building a championship program. I wish that I had been given the opportunity to meet with the players and staff prior to this evening’s press conference and hope that I will be given the opportunity to give my apologies and say my goodbyes in person. We have left the program in better shape than we found it and I want the Razorback Nation to know that it is my hope that the program achieves the success it deserves.

My sole focus at this point is trying to repair the damage I’ve done to my family. They did not ask for any of this and deserve better. I am committed to being a better husband, father and human being as a result of this and will work each and every day to prove that to my family, friends and others.

I love football. I love coaching. I of course hope I can find my way back to the profession I love. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to heal the wounds I have created.

I want to thank Chancellor Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, the University administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni and fans for the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at the University of Arkansas for the past 4 years. I was not given an opportunity to continue in that position. I wish that had been the case, but that was not my decision. I wish nothing but the best for the Razorback football program, the University and the entire Razorback Nation.

——————————-

After nearly a week of debating, we have our answer.

Multiple reports broke the news earlier this evening, but athletic director Jeff Long confirmed in a press conference that Bobby Petrino would no longer be the head coach of Arkansas effective immediately. Long cited a long and deliberate review in which he discovered coach Petrino had “knowingly misled the athletic department about the circumstances of the [motorcycle] accident.”

Additionally, Long said Petrino gave football employee Jessica Dorrell an “unfair and undisclosed advantage” for her new job. According to Long, nearly 160 people applied for Ms. Dorrell’s position, and only three were interviewed. Long said Petrino failed to disclose his relationship with Dorrell, which apparently was going on for a “significant period of time.”

Petrino and Dorrell also confirmed to Long that Dorrell received $20,000 in cash from Petrino. Long later told a local news outlet that the payment was not made with university money.

“Coach Petrino abused his authority and made choices that benefited him while hurting the program,” Long said. “No single individual is bigger than the team.”

Long added that he made the decision to fire Petrino on his own. He denied reports that Petrino was offered an opportunity to stay, and insisted Petrino was not given the chance to plead his case.

Long said Petrino was terminated with cause.

Petrino was in what was initially reported to be a one-man motorcycle accident last Sunday. However, a police report last Thursday confirmed that Dorrell was on the motorcycle with Petrino when it crashed. Dorrell works in the football offices at Arkansas as the student-athlete development coordinator and began her current job on March 28, just days before the accident.

Petrino had a 34-17 record in four seasons with the Razorbacks. A search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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VIDEO: Former Ohio State walk-on creates Heisman hype video for Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott rushed 273 times for 1,878 yards with 18 touchdowns last season. Emeka Onyejekwe did not. Elliott was the MVP of Ohio State’s national championship run last winter. Onyejekwe was not. Elliott is the anointed Heisman Trophy front-runner heading into the fall. Onyejekwe is… not.

But there is one way the former Buckeyes walk-on has contributed to the cause. He gave Elliott his own hype video.

“I loved what he stood for, loved his family,” Onyejekwe, known as Mekka Don, told ESPN.com Tuesday. “The Heisman odds came out from one of the Vegas sports books and he was No. 1, so I wanted to do something for him. With him being named the front-runner after the season he had, that’s a big deal.”

Mekka Don cleared his plans to surprise Elliott with a hype video with the running back’s parents and then went to work.

The end result is what you see below, titled “Zeke.”

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Reports: Early enrollee Florida TE already planning a transfer

Florida v Tennessee

Daniel Imatorbhebhe hasn’t played a college down yet. Heck, he shouldn’t even be out of high school. But the three-star prospect is already planning to transfer.

Florida’s Scout site first reported the news Tuesday, which was then corroborated by InAllKindsOfWeather.com and AlligatorArmy.com.

The return of injured starter Jake McGee plus a glut of depth at the position are the listed reasons for the Suwanee, Ga., native’s departure.

Imatorbhebhe is the second player to transfer this spring, following quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg.

Imatorbhebhe’s younger brother, Josh, was also pledged to join Daniel at Florida but recently decommitted for USC.

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Incoming SEC commish: Ban satellite camps… or else

Florida v Alabama

The SEC has descended upon Destin, Fla., for its annual spring meetings, and day one of the beach-side festivities have centered primarily around one topic: satellite camps.

The practice of holding a camp outside one’s campus has been around for a few years now, but the debate has metastasized this spring, thanks in large part to new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 are for them, while the ACC and SEC ban the practice within their conferences. Naturally, they’d like other conferences to do the same… even though the other three have no practical reason to do so.

Well, here’s a reason. As incoming SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Tuesday evening: if the satellite camp rule isn’t banned, the SEC will be forced to jump in.

The reason the SEC enacted a ban in the first place, of course, is to protect its coaching staffs from themselves. Otherwise LSU, for example, would hold camps in Tuscaloosa, Oxford, College Station, etc. Depending on how the legislation Mike Slive promised Tuesday to present turns out, the SEC may now be forced to jump in.

Elsewhere in league governance, the SEC will require its members to have a conference-supplied independent medical observer at all games on its campuses this fall.

One step backward, one step forward.

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LSU OL Jevonte Domond arrested on felony domestic abuse charges

Jevonte Domond

LSU offensive lineman Jevonte Domond was arrested Monday for felony domestic abuse, according to police records obtained by Ross Dellenger of the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate.

Domond is accused of attacking his fiancee – unnamed in the report – and strangling her. According to Domond’s fiancee, the 22-year-old approached the woman while she stood above the crib of their newborn and promptly “grabbed her behind the neck” and lifted her off the ground. From there the report includes phrases such as “almost blacked out” and “slammed her on the couch.”

The woman says she pepper sprayed Domond twice, but that did not stop him from following her to the police department.

Domond denies the charges, and claims his fiancee pulled a knife on him earlier in the day. The woman admitted to pulling a knife on him, but claimed it to be in self-defense.

Domond remains in East Baton Rouge Parish Jail, and bail has not been set as of the report.

An LSU spokesperson said the program is aware of the incident but has not commented further.

A transfer from Glendale (Ariz.) Community College, Domond saw action in one game last fall.

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)
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Michigan RB Justice Hayes heading to Southern Miss

Appalachian v Michigan

Former Michigan running back Justice Hayes is heading south. Hayes took to Twitter Tuesday to confirm his decision to transfer to Southern Mississippi for this upcoming season. As a graduate transfer, Hayes will be eligible to play right away for the Conference USA program in need of all the help it can get.

Hayes was fifth on the Michigan roster in rushing last season with 213 yards on 48 rushing attempts. The Michigan backfield is a crowded bunch heading into the 2015 season, but Hayes may have a chance to have a bit more of an impact at Southern Miss. The Eagles return their top two rushers from 2014 with Ito Smith (536 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns) and George Paynes (271 yards, 6 touchdowns), but Hayes and his veteran presence could be a benefit on and off the field.

Southern Miss won just three games last year, but that was an increase from the one win it recorded the previous season. Southern Miss has fallen hard since Larry Fedora coached the program to a 12-2 record in 2011, but Todd Monken is still putting the pieces together and building something that can compete for a Conference USA title once again.

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Oregon adds starting OL transfer from Notre Dame

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Getty Images

The Oregon offensive line may have been a slight concern for the Ducks this upcoming season, but some of those concerns should be reduced today. The Ducks announced Tuesday the addition of Matt Hegarty, who started 11 games for the Irish at center or offensive guard.

Hegarty announced his decision to transfer out of South Bend in early March in an interview with ESPN.com. As he said before, the push from the Notre Dame coaching staff to have him switch positions was not something he appeared to be comfortable doing in his final year of eligibility. At Oregon Hegarty could slide right into a starting role at center or left guard, two positions Oregon loses starters from last season.

This would be a tremendous addition for Oregon, which will also be breaking in a new starting quarterback. Vernon Adams from Eastern Washington could take over in the post-Marcus Mariota era, and having a veteran starting offensive lineman plug one position of need should be comforting for head coach Mark Helfrich.

Hegarty is a former four-star recruit in Notre Dame’s Class of 2011. He originally chose Notre Dame over offers from Oregon and a good handful of other top programs. Because he is a graduate transfer, Hegarty will be ruled eligible to play right away in Eugene.

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Clemson’s Dabo Swinney in the middle of LGBT issue

Dabo Swinney

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is a man committed to his religious beliefs, and those beliefs have created some off-field drama in the past. It appears it may we have another chapter to write in this tale.

As reported by Outsports.com, Swinney is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for the Palmetto Family Council on June 2. The organization is dedicated to fighting against equality for the LGBT community and same-sex couples. Swinney’s role in the fundraising event is drawing plenty of attention and leading many to publicly request Swinney withdraw from the event entirely.

“Coach Swinney has an obligation to the players he leads and all students that attend Clemson to use his considerable profile to promote causes that bring us together, not tear us apart,” GLAAD vice president Zeke Stokes said in response. “The Palmetto Family Council’s values are out of line with the values of love and acceptance for all people, and I hope the Coach will reconsider the message that his [alignment] with them sends.”

Nobody has a right to step in and tell Swinney he is wrong to support his beliefs, no matter how backwards you think they may be on this subject, but it might be wise for Swinney to think about what his actions are saying. Swinney may promote a bit of a religious setting around his program, but what would his decision be if he knew he had a gay player on his roster?

Whatever the case may be, it is clear we still have some work to do to provide the same human rights to those in the LGBT community. Swinney would be a great example and leader for that effort if he backed out of this event, but that is his call to make.

Helmet sticker to Outsports.com.

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Dates set for Belk Bowl and Military Bowl

Belk Bowl - Georgia v Louisville Getty Images

College football is only 100 days away from kicking off, so that means we better get the postseason calendar in order. Today the Military Bowl and Belk Bowl each confirmed dates and start times for their respective postseason festivities.

The Military Bowl will be played on December 28, 2015 in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The game will be given a mid-afternoon kickoff time of 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast by ESPN. The Belk Bowl will be played a couple of days later, on December 30 in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. It will also be given a mid-afternoon time, with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

This season will mark the eighth year the Military Bowl has been played, and third straight year the game has been played in Navy’s home stadium. The game has bowl tie-ins with the ACC and American Athletic Conference through the 2019 season. Last year’s game was won by Virginia Tech, defeating Cincinnati 33-17. The ACC is 3-1 in the bowl game.

The Belk Bowl was first played in 2002, meaning this year will be the 14th edition of the postseason bowl game. The game has tie-ins with the ACC and SEC through 2019. Last year’s game saw Georgia put away Louisville, 37-14. Georgia was the first SEC school to play in the game, but an ACC team has made an appearance each year since 2002.

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TCU and West Virginia to receive 85% of Big 12 revenue share

TCU West Virginia Football

Another year as a Big 12 member is in the books for TCU and West Virginia, and that means a slightly higher percentage of the Big 12 revenue shares are coming. David Ubben of FOX Sports reported the revenue share the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers will be receiving this year will jump to 85 percent as per the arrangements made when accepting membership in the conference.

Last year Big 12 schools received a revenue share valued at $23 million per school. TCU and West Virginia only received $14 million of that as first-year members in the new conference. This is generally the standard operating procedure for new schools in a conference. Next year at this time West Virginia and TCU will receive a full Big 12 revenue split.

Last year the Big 12 divided $213 million between its members, which was up from $198 million the previous fiscal year. How much will be in the pot for the Big 12 is expected to be announced later this week as the Big 12 spring meetings play out. Of all the power conferences, the Big 12’s $198 million in 2012-2013 was the lowest total revenue to share. Having two teams (Baylor and TCU) participate in the College Football Playoff bowl structure (although not actually in the playoff) figures to help the Big 12 revenue number jump to some extent this year.

On a related note, with the SEC meetings also going on this week, it will be interesting to see what kind of revenue numbers the SEC will have to share. With the introduction and success of the new SEC Network, the numbers figure to be pretty high.

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Get ready for more talk about satellite camps at SEC meetings

SEC Media

The SEC meetings are getting underway this week in Destin, which means another round of satellite camp talk. With the month of June now just days away, coaches from outside the SEC (and ACC) will begin taking part in football camps around the country. Some of those camps, as you may have heard by now, will be taking place in states with SEC schools, and SEC coaches and athletic directors and more are not pleased about it.

This week, expect to see more of a push from the SEC to try and convince the NCAA to adopt their conference rule as a national rule. That rule, of course, is to prohibit coaches from participating in any capacity at a football camp outside the normal regulations outlined by the NCAA rule book. Those NCAA allows coaches to work in camps within their own state or 50 miles from their campus if traveling across state borders. The NCAA rules also allow for coaches to work at another camp outside those boundaries so long as the coach or coaches are not advertising their appearance at another camp. The hosting school may go all out in advertising their special guests though.

The SEC and ACC each have conference rules prohibiting their coaches from working at camps in this manner. Fearing they may lose a couple of recruits to the Big Ten from their home soil, the conferences each have figureheads and coaches stumping for the NCAA to close the supposed loophole in the rule.

“We’re in an evolutionary period and the end result is that everything isn’t necessarily going to be the same for everybody,” outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Associated Press last week. “That’s a difficult concept for them and it flies in the face of the experience of our coaches and our institutions for decades. The days of everything and every rule being grounded in a level playing field are gone.”

Of course, satellite camps is just one issue sure to be discussed this week. The SEC will also be reviewing cost-of-attendance issues, as well as the graduate transfer rules and more as the conference prepares for the upcoming year.

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Syracuse getting new HD carpet in Carrier Dome

Florida State v Syracuse

While the hope remains for a new football-only facility or a new roof option at Syracuse, the best it can do now is give the Carrier Dome some minor upgrades. This year the dome will have a brand new playing surface.

Syracuse has decided to install a new playing surface from FieldTurf. According to the press release from FieldTurf, Syracuse will install a FieldTurf Classic HD turf system. What makes it 3D is beyond me and perhaps best left to the turf managers out there, but the press release states Syracuse’s new turf will feature a 3-layer infill which should allow for an “elite-level artificial turf surface.” Sure, that sounds good.

“When we were looking to replace our synthetic field, I wanted to continue our relationship with FieldTurf,” said Pete Sala, Interim Director of Athletics/Carrier Dome Managing Director. “We like the quality and we are very excited about using the Classic HD product. The Carrier Dome is used year round for a multitude of events ranging from football to Monster Truck events and even ice skating shows. For this reason, it was important that we select a very durable product without compromising on quality. And that’s why we selected FieldTurf.”

It’s true. The Carrier Dome is used for much more than football, so having a dependable and low-maintenance field turf is key for Syracuse. And the Orange have already installed field truf from FieldTurf in other facilities. The company has also installed playing or practice fields for Ohio State, UCF, Arizona State, Louisville and more.

Syracuse looks to be going with a traditional field color as well, so if you were expecting or hoping Syracuse would install an orange playing field sure to burn your retinas, you will have to keep dreaming.

Now if we could just do something about those hideous uniforms.

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After making weekend visit, Blake Countess decides on Auburn

Blake Countess, William Fuller

So much for making trips to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Blake Countess has apparently decided he saw enough this weekend to be sold on Auburn. Countess announced on his Twitter account Tuesday morning he will transfer to Auburn, where he will step immediately into an opportunity to perform under defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

Countess visited Auburn this weekend and was reportedly planning on visiting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State before coming to a final decision. Before checking out Auburn, Countess previously visited Arizona and former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. At Auburn, Countess will compete for a starting job right away after the Tigers have lost five defensive backs from the roster this offseason.

Countess is a graduate transfer from Michigan. As such, he will be eligible to play right away this fall. He announced earlier this month his intention to play the 2015 season somewhere else instead of Michigan. His announcement came a day after Jim Harbaugh welcomed another graduate transfer to Ann Arbor, defensive backWayne Lyons from Stanford.

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Today’s one-handed catch video comes from Class of 2016 recruit

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.42.05 PM

It was just a few summers ago we were being flooded with college football-themed parody videos to the tunes of “Call Me Maybe” or “Gangnam Style” or the “Harlem Shake.” Thank goodness the best way to go viral these days seems to be by performing extraordinary feats of athleticism in short video form.

We have seen backflips while catching footballs be a rather big thing this offseason. Baylor’s Shawn Oakman’s vertical jump while holding 70-pound weights was impressive as well.  Well, today we take a look at three-star recruit Khaleke Hudson. Hudson, from McKeeseport, Pennsylvania, has a good number of schools on his offer sheet right now. Among the schools with interest include Tennessee, Michigan State, UCLA, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State. After seeing this video he shared on Twitter, it is easy to see why coaches from around the country are fascinated by his athleticism.

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Petrino putting together deep QB position with another 4-star commit

Getty Images

Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino is starting to fill up his quarterback depth with some good quality. The Cardinals added a verbal commitment from four-star quarterback recruit Tylin Oden on Monday. Oden is now the top-rated player in Louisville’s growing Class of 2016. He announced his commitment the way all kids make their announcements these days; on Twitter.

“I would like to thank my family, friends, school, and teammates for being with me every step of the way,” Oden said in a miniaturized statement on Twitter. “I’m honored to announce that I’ve officially committed to the University of Louisville. L’s up.”

Oden, a dual-threat quarterback from Tennessee, is the seventh-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country and the sixth-bets recruit from the state of Tennessee according to Rivals. The 6-foot-5, 175-pound recruit is Louisville’s 10th in the Class of 2016, and second four-star quarterback recruited by Petrino since his return to the program. Louisville’s Class of 2015 added Lamar Jackson from Florida.

Per The Courier-Journal, Oden chose Louisville over offers from Mississippi State and West Virginia. Louisville had been considered the favorite.

Louisville will bring back Will Gardner in the fall, as well as Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin. Former junior college and Penn State quarterback Tyler Ferguson will also be eligible to play at Louisville this season.

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Troy adds former Auburn defensive back via transfer

Auburn Spring Game

It was not so long ago we learned Auburn would be losing defensive back Kamryn Melton to a transfer. Now we know where he is heading.

Melton announced on his Twitter account Monday he is moving from Auburn to Troy, of the Sun Belt Conference. The former three-star recruit of Auburn in 2013 did not play in 2014. His freshman season had been cut short due to a knee injury, limiting him to just three games played Troy has a habit of adding transfers at defensive back. Melton will be the fourth transfer defensive back on the roster, joining junior college transfers Tray Hall and Jalen Rountree as well as former UAB Blazer LaMarcus Farmer.

Despite not playing in 2014, Melton will still have to sit out the 2015 season at Troy due to NCAA transfer rules unless he files for a waiver and has it approved.

On a related note, can we talk about how sexy that Troy football helmet is? Because it is pretty darn sexy.

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