SEC Cover PROOF 043012

Phil Steele releases 2012 preseason All-American teams

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You know what those words mean, right?  Yep, a new college football season is right around the corner.

Annually the most anticipated preview magazine thanks to both its in-depth analysis and accuracy, the release date for Phil Steele’s preseason dead-tree offering is viewed in most corners of the college football world as Christmas in June.

Ahead of its release June 7, however, Steele has released his annual All-American teams that are, as always, four teams deep.

The list contains the expected cast of characters on the first team, from USC quarterback and preseason Heisman favorite Matt Barkley to his teammate and wide receiver Robert Woods to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore — coming off a torn ACL — to linebackers Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Manti Te’o (Notre Dame).

As is ofttimes the case, even for Nostrsteelemus, there are at least a couple of head-scratchers.

Chief among them, at least from this vantage point, is the absence of Marquise Lee — on any of the four teams.  As a true freshman at USC last season, Lee caught 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns, all second on the Trojans to first-team Steele All-American Woods.  Granted, there are a ton of talented players at his position in the country, but there’s no way you can justify Lee not being one of the top 12 receivers — Steele placed three receivers on each of the four teams — in the collegiate game.

Also, somewhat surprisingly, Steele placed Oklahoma’s Landry Jones as his second-team QB, ahead of Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson (third-team) and West Virginia’s Geno Smith (fourth-team).  Not only did Jones see his production dip drastically following the emergence of true freshman Blake Bell — Jones had just one touchdown pass the last four games, while Bell rushed for 10 touchdowns in that same span — but there’s also the little issue of what receiver will be available, at least for the early part of the season.

A total of 51 schools are represented, with last year’s title game contestants, with Alabama and LSU*, pacing the four teams with eight and seven players, respectively.  The Tide had the most players (three) named to the first team, with all three of those being offensive linemen.

Two other SEC or soon-to-be SEC schools had five apiece — Texas A&M and Arkansas — as did USC.  Wisconsin, Florida State, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Oklahoma State all placed four players each on Steele’s teams.

Conference-wise, seven of the 11 conferences in Div. 1-A (FBS) are represented — The Big Six, plus Conference USA.  As expected, the SEC far and away leads all conferences with 38 selections; no other league had more than 18.  Of the 14 teams that will play in the conference this season, 11 had at least one player on one of Steele’s four teams, the lone exceptions being Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

The Big 12 (including WVU) and Pac-12 were next with 18 players each, followed by the ACC with 18, the Big Ten with 14 and the Big East and Conference USA tied at two apiece.

Independent football programs Notre Dame and BYU had two and one players selected, respectively.

Below is a screen snap of Steele’s four All-American teams:

(*Tyrann Mathieu was named to the first-team as both a cornerback and punt returner.)

ECU transfer Kurt Benkert wins Virginia’s starting QB job

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina.  Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.

First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond.  Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

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Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.

Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.

In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth.  His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.

Cassius Peat granted release by Mich. St., appears headed to JUCO

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  A Michigan State Spartans helmet on the bench during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on November 15, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 37-15.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”

A week or so later?  He gone.

MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans.  And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.

Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.

However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.

Ex-Oregon St. DB goes home to LaTech as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Justin Davis #22 of the USC Trojans is defended by safety Cyril Noland-Lewis #17 of the Oregon State Beavers in the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Oregon State 35-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.

The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program.  As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.

Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season.  Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner.  OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.

The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.

Tyler Rodgers, NMSU’s starting QB, arrested on battery charge

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tyler Rogers #18 of the New Mexico State Aggies drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14.  The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.

The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”

The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.

“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”

Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.

Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.