Vols zeroing in on a Strong hire?

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With three of the four coaching vacancies in the SEC already filled, the lone remaining coach-less school in that conference could be on the verge of a hire that would trump them all.

According to ESPN.com SEC blogger Chris Low, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong “has emerged as the front-runner to be the next head coach at Tennessee.”  Low stressed in his report that nothing has been finalized, and Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has already gone on record publicly as stating that he would do whatever it takes to retain Strong, up to and including making him the highest-paid head coach at the FBS level.

That honor currently belongs to Alabama’s Nick Saban at nearly $5.5 million in 2012.

Strong has been connect to numerous vacancies in the past month, including the one at Auburn that will be filled by Gus Malzahn.  In the wake of that speculation in late November, what was described as an angry Strong vehemently denied the rumors to several media out lets.

“I didn’t interview with Auburn, I have a job,” the coach said at the time.

Less than a week later, Strong was asked Monday about the speculation still surrounding him and his coaching future.

“I will say that at the right time,” Strong said in answering the question of whether he will be the coach at Louisville next season.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy has also been connected to the UT job.

Western Kentucky’s Joel Iyiegbuniwe declares early for draft

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There’s a new leader in the clubhouse for “Early Entrant With the Most Vowels in his Surname.”

On his personal Twitter account over the weekend, Joel Iyiegbuniwe announced that he is leaving Western Kentucky early and making himself available for the April NFL draft. The linebacker, a native of Bowling Green, Kent., stated that he came to his decision “[a]fter much thought, prayer and discussion with my family, coaches and advisors.”

This past season, Iyiegbuniwe led the Hilltoppers in tackles with 117, tackles for loss with 11.5 and forced fumbles with three. He was named first-team All-Conference USA following the regular season.

Including last season, Iyiegbuniwe had started 27 straight games at outside linebacker for the Hilltoppers.

Today is the deadline for draft-eligible players to inform the NFL of their intentions.

Kent State announces signing of ex-Auburn QB Woody Barrett

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One day after Woody Barrett announced that he has found a new college football home, the school has confirmed as much.

Kent State sent out a press release Monday evening acknowledging that Barrett has signed with the football program. After spending the 2017 season at a Mississippi junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

Counting this coming season, Barrett will have three years of eligibility remaining.

“We’re excited about Woody’s potential, his ability and his raw tools both throwing and running the football,” new Golden Flashes head coach Sean Lewis said in a statement. “And we’re excited to have him on campus to be training with our team as we get ready for spring ball.”

A four-star member of Auburn’s 2016 recruiting class, Barrett was rated as the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the country that cycle. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then opted to transfer from the Tigers in May of last year, ultimately ending up at the JUCO level.

At Copiah-Lincoln Community College this past season, Barrett passed for 1,294 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games, adding another 485 and six on the ground.

Michigan confirms hiring of Sherrone Moore as TEs coach

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One hole on Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff has been filled.

The football program confirmed Monday that Sherrone Moore has been hired and will serve as Harbaugh’s tight ends coach. Moore will replace Greg Frey, who moved on to a job on Willie Taggart‘s staff at Florida State.

The 31-year-old Moore — he’ll turn 32 in early February — spent the past four seasons coaching tight ends at Central Michigan. This past season, he added the title of assistant head coach as well as taking over as the MAC program’s recruiting coordinator.

Moore began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Louisville from 2009-12. He was promoted to tight ends coach in 2012, spending that season as well as 2013 in that role.

NC State QB Jalan McClendon puts his name on graduate transfer market

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Ryan Finley announced earlier this month he will return to NC State for his senior season, which means his backup is leaving. Jalan McClendon revealed Monday he will pursue his options elsewhere for his final season of college football as a graduate transfer.

“I’ve enjoyed every bit of this university,” McClendon said in a statement. “My teammates and coaches, the fans, the atmosphere, even the food! I appreciate everything that NC State has done for me and I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”

McClendon appeared in 20 games as a member of the Wolfpack, completing 26-of-47 passes for 262 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions while adding 46 carries for 223 yards.

“Jalan has been phenomenal throughout his career,” head coach Dave Doeren said in a statement.  “He’s been a great leader and a great teammate and has done everything we could’ve asked a young man to do. We wish him the best and will always consider him an important part of the Wolfpack family.”

McClendon was a 3-star recruit out of West Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte.