The Iron Bowl: it ain’t just for late November and in-state recruiting anymore.
Used to fighting it out for high school players in the state specifically and the SEC’s footprint in general, Alabama and Auburn have taken their recruiting rivalry much further to the west this spring. The Tide and Tigers, along with SEC rivals LSU and Florida as well as Washington, are the finalists for the services of Salt Lake City quarterback and Class of 2013 prospect Cooper Bateman.
Bateman has already visited UA and AU, and has another trip to Tuscaloosa scheduled for early June. Shortly after that visit, Bateman hopes to have a decision, although he did tell 247Sports.com that there is no front-runner in his mind right now.
“I want to decide pretty soon if possible,” Bateman said. “There is no clear school on top for me right now, but I’m looking at those five programs. I’m weighing the pros and cons of each school and evaluating the football aspect and comfort level of each program. …
“Coach (Scot) Loeffler at Auburn is great, Nuss (Doug Nussmeier, Alabama’s offensive coordinator) is someone I like a lot too.”
Neither of the Alabama schools has received a verbal commitment from a player at that position in the 2013 class — neither have the other three finalists, incidentally — so landing the non-binding verbal from Bateman would be considered a significant get for either school.
Bateman is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 6 pro-style QB in the country by the same service. 247Sports has Bateman as the No. 4 pro-style QB in the country, while Scout.com has him as the No. 4 QB of any kind.
(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)
In Auburn’s 113-year history, it’s never played a Big Ten opponent in a regular season game. That’ll change in five years.
Penn State and Auburn announced Monday morning a home-and-home series to take place in 2021 and 2022. The first game will be played in State College on Sept. 18, 2021 and the return will take place at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.
“This is another great opportunity for our players and fans to be part of something special,” Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. “Bringing together elite programs rich in tradition is what college football is all about. We look forward to this home-and-home series with Penn State.”
Making matters betters is the home-and-home nature of this series, instead of playing it as a neutral site one-off to begin a season. Those games are fun (and, far more importantly, generate a ton of revenue) but having Penn State travel to Alabama and Tigers fans going to State College is a far better experience for traveling fanbases.
Auburn and Penn State have met twice before in bowl games, with the most recent meeting a 13-9 Tigers win in the 2003 Capital One Bowl.
Penn State also added a 2021 home game against Ball State on Monday, per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.
Notre Dame rising redshirt junior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr.‘s status with Brian Kelly’s football team won’t change after he signed with the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend.
Hunter is Notre Dame’s leading returning receiver after catching 28 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns last year. But even though he now has a professional baseball contract, his focus will remain on football and the beginning of preseason camp in August.
Hunter, the son of former Minnesota Twins, Angels and Detroit Tigers All-Star/Gold Glover Torii Hunter Sr., was a 23rd-round pick in this year’s MLB Draft.
Hunter, an outfielder, was primarily used as a pinch runner and defensive replacement for Mik Aoki’s Irish baseball team this spring. He worked a crazy schedule (“what is sleep?” he asked) to split time between baseball, spring football and classwork in March and April and hit .182/.308/.182 in 11 at-bats.
Hunter’s baseball highlight came at Florida State, though, a few days after he made a spectacular catch reeling in a Malik Zaire deep ball in Notre Dame’s Blue and Gold Game.
Auburn could be the beneficiary of an offensive transfer in the not-too-distant future, but the football program has apparently sustained a loss on the other side of the ball.
In a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account Sunday, Justin Thomas-Thornton revealed that he will be “pursuing my collegiate football and academic endeavors elsewhere.” The defensive lineman gave no reason for his decision to leave The Plains.
Thomas-Thornton, a four-star 2014 signee, played in the 2015 opener against Louisville, but didn’t see any other action the remainder of the year.
If Thomas-Thornton opts for another FBS program, he will be forced to sit out the 2016 season. He’d then be left with two seasons of eligibility that he’d be able to use beginning in 2017.
Finally, a personnel attrition post on this late-June Sunday that doesn’t involve Baylor.
In mid-May, wide receiver Ryan Sousa announced via Twitter that he had decided to transfer out of the Florida football program, and ultimately landed at FCS Southern Illinois. A little over six weeks later, a fellow Gator receiver has apparently made a similar decision, with Scout.com reporting that Alvin Bailey will leave Jim McElwain‘s squad.
No reason was given for the receiver’s decision, although the recruiting website has an idea as to why.
The Gators added five receivers in the 2016 recruiting class, three of which were on campus in the spring. Junior college transfer Dre Massey seemed to pull ahead of Bailey in the month long practices held between March and April.
The school has declined to address Bailey’s status with the football program.
Bailey was a four-star member of UF’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 22 receiver in the country. The production never quite matched the recruiting pedigree, though, with Bailey catching three passes for 49 years in his career in Gainesville. All of those stats came during the 2015 season.