Less than two years after signing on to be a Florida Gator, De’Ante Saunders is now an ex-Florida Gator.
While UF has yet to confirm the move, Saunders told the Gainesville Sun that he was granted a release from his scholarship a couple of days ago. “It’s been a long time coming,” Saunders told the paper.
The safety was a member of Will Muschamp‘s first Gators recruiting class.
Said Saunders, “Nothing against Florida or coach Muschamp, but I just needed a fresh start.”
Saunders started 16 games in his two seasons in Gainesville, including nine as a true freshman last season and seven this season. He was suspended for unspecified violations of team rules in November of this year, sending him to the sidelines for the final two games of the regular season. The sophomore had previously been ruled out of the Gators’ Sugar Bowl matchup with Louisville as well.
Oddly enough, Saunders also confirmed to the Sun that Louisville is “[t]he top school I’m considering right now” as a transfer destination. The Cardinals’ head coach, Charlie Strong, was UF’s defensive coordinator during a sizable portion of Saunders’ recruitment.
Coming out of high school in Deland, Fla., Saunders was a three-star member of UF’s 2011 recruiting class. He was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 27 safety in the country.
The NCAA’s Board of Directors is expected to approve a proposal that will allow college football programs to add a 10th assistant to the coaching staff. The proposal has received the support of the Division 1 Council in this week’s NCAA meetings, which was to be expected. There appears to be nothing else to stand in the way of passing the proposal and expanding the coaching staff at football programs across the country.
There appears to be a widespread show of support for the addition of a coach to the staff from head coaches, which makes sense. With many programs adding on special assistants as analysts, some programs would benefit from being able to promote an analyst to a coaching role and get them more involved in the program. Just within the last week, Alabama hired Mike Locksley to a full-time coaching role after he had been helping the program out as an analyst. Alabama also picked up Steve Sarkisian as an analyst and promoted him to offensive coordinator following the awkwardly timed decision to push Lane Kiffin on his way out the door to take the FAU head coaching job.
The concern is this would lead to a greater divide between the haves and the have-nots in college football, as the addition of an extra coach will increase the payroll. This is hardly a concern for programs like Alabama and Ohio State, but perhaps more of a concern for a program like UMass or UAB (yes, UAB is back this year), for example.
Regardless, Donald Trump will happily take credit for the creation of potentially 128 new jobs in college football.
The Division 1 Council did scrap the idea of having an early signing period in the summer but there does still appear to be momentum for an early signing period in December. Another proposal receiving support from the council include the option for high school seniors to make official visits starting April 1 until the end of June (official visits currently cannot take place until September 1). The Council has also discussed organizing a 14-week season to play 12 games, thus providing two bye weeks for each team and push the start of the season into August.
Colorado has a new defensive coordinator, but that means Kentucky is now shopping the market. DJ Eliot will leave his job as defensive coordinator at Kentucky to take on the same role at Colorado. The news was first reported by FootballScoop.com and The Courier-Journal has followed that initial report with confirmation.
Eliot has ben Kentucky’s defensive cooridnator for the past four seasons and leaves Mark Stoops in need of hiring a new coordinator after years having Eliot working with him. It remains to be seen where Kentucky will look for their new defensive coordinator, but it is worth noting that two current assistants — defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale and linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Matt House — have prior defensive coordinator experience.
Colorado had a vacancy to fill at defensive coordinator after losing Jim Leavitt after two seasons to Oregon to be a part of the new staff working under Willie Taggart.
As Auburn looks to fill its vacancy on the football staff at offensive coordinator (previously filled by UConn-bound Rhett Lashlee), it appears that search will no longer include Oklahoma State’s Mike Yurcich. Yurcich, according to reports out of Stillwater, has pulled his name off the table for the Auburn job.
Yurcich reportedly interviewed with Auburn this week. Other candidates supposedly in the mix for the job include former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich and Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.
If Yurcich is to be the guy, Auburn will hope he can bring some of the same offensive production he ha shad at Oklahoma State with him. Oklahoma State had the nation’s 14th-best total offensive production in 2016 with an average of 494.8 yards per game (Auburn was 42nd with 440.8 ypg) and the 17th-best scoring average with 38.6 points per game (Auburn averaged 31.2 ppg). Of course, the Big 12 is not exactly known for playing solid defense, at least that is how the narrative goes, but the Tigers could benefit from a spark on the offensive side of the football in 2017.
The fight for an early signing period will continue, but a proposed rule to open up a signing period in the month of June has been rejected by the NCAA’s Division 1 Council.
According to the Associated Press, the council modified the proposal for flexibility of the recruiting calendar. The June signing day proposal was removed after a recommendation from the NCAA’s football oversight committee. The stripping of the June signing period proposal was not to be unexpected, and the overall push for an early signing day continues with the focus shifting more to a period after the regular season but still before the typical February signing period.
While the proposed summer signing day may have been eliminated, the council will continue to leave the option of a possible December signing period on the table. A final vote on the December signing period is scheduled for April. The Collegiate Commissioners Association must approve the change before it can go into action. If the April vote allows for an early signing period, it could potentially be put in place for the Class of 2018, meaning high school players could begin signing with their desired college programs this December.
As a reminder, national signing day is the first Wednesday of each February, with this year’s signing day falling on February 1.