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2013 Nebraska recruiting class

Bo Pelini AP

(Below is Nebraska’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

The Class Breakdown:
Total: 26; Freshmen: 23; Junior College Transfers: 3
By State: Texas (4): Johnson (Pearland), Kondolo (Carrollton), Mixon (Mesquite), Taylor (Katy); California (3): Martinez (Laguna Beach), T. Newby (West Hills), Stanton (Rancho Santa Margarita); Florida (3): Joseph (Weston), Maurice (Orlando), Suttles (Tampa); Ohio (3): Gladney (Akron), Hart (Dayton), Love (Youngstown); Indiana (2): Gregory (Fishers), Miller (Mishawaka); Louisiana (2): Carter (Metairie), Dixon (Baldwin); Missouri (2): Collins (Kansas City), Hannon (Kansas City); Illinois (1): Finnin (Crete); Maryland (1): M. Newby (North Potomac); Nebraska (1): Banderas (Lincoln); New Jersey (1): Singleton (Jersey City); South Dakota (1): Gerry (Sioux Falls); Wisconsin (1): Natter (Milton); Canada: Ontario (1): Knevel (Brantford)

By Position (First Position Listed):
Offense (12): QB-Stanton; RB-T. Newby, Taylor; WR-Dixon, Gladney; TE-Carter, Hart; OL-Finnin, Hannon, Johnson, Kondolo, Knevel
Defense (13): DL-Collins, Gregroy, Maurice, Mixon, Natter, Suttles; LB-Banderas, Love, M. Newby; DB-Gerry, Joseph, Martinez, Singleton
Long Snapper (1): Miller

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 26 members of Nebraska’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Josh Banderas
6-2, 220, LB, Lincoln, Neb. (Lincoln Southwest HS)
Josh Banderas is the lone in-state recruit in Nebraska’s 2013 signing class, coming to the Huskers after a decorated high school career at Lincoln Southwest. Banderas was a two-way standout for Coach Mark King’s Silverhawks, lining up at both linebacker and running back as a senior. Banderas was a workhorse at running back, carrying the ball 189 times for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns. On defense, he had 119 total tackles, including 44 unassisted tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Banderas rushed for better than 100 yards six times during his senior season and also made at least 10 tackles seven times last fall, including four games with 15 or more stops. Banderas’ play led Southwest to a 6-4 record and a trip to the Class A state playoffs. For his efforts, Banderas was named the honorary captain of both the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star all-state teams. Banderas focused on linebacker in the first two years of his prep career at Southwest. As a junior in 2011, Banderas racked up 127 tackles to help LSW to a 9-2 record and trip to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. Banderas earned first-team Super State honors from the Lincoln Journal Star and first-team All-Nebraska honors from the World-Herald for his play as a junior. In 2010, an injury limited Banderas to just five games of action, but he made his mark, accumulating 30 tackles. Banderas is also a standout on the track for the Silverhawks. Banderas won the Class A 110- meter hurdles as junior while finishing second in the 300-meter hurdles. As a sophomore, Banderas finished third in the 110-meter hurdles. Banderas committed to the Huskers in April of 2012, choosing Nebraska over a number of scholarship offers, including Oregon, Kansas State, Iowa, Iowa State and Vanderbilt. Banderas is regarded as the top prospect in the state of Nebraska by all of the major recruiting services. He is ranked among the nation’s top 20 linebackers and top 300 overall players by 247 Sports, Rivals.com and Fox Sports. Banderas participated in the Army All-American game in San Antonio in January. Banderas was born on Feb. 22, 1995, and is the son of Tom and Amy Banderas. Tom Banderas played tight end at Nebraska, lettering three years from 1985 to 1987.

Cethan Carter
6-4, 230, TE, Metairie, La. (Archbishop Rummel HS)
Cethan Carter (pronounced SEE-thun) is one of two players in Nebraska’s 2013 recruiting class expected to begin their careers at tight end. The 6-4, 230-pound Carter will join the Husker program after a standout prep career at Rummel High School in Metairie, La. Carter had a breakout season in 2012 for Coach Jay Roth. Carter was a versatile performer, lining up as a tight end, H-Back and fullback in the Raiders’ run-based offense. Carter finished the season with 23 receptions for 418 yards and five touchdowns. His play helped Rummel to a perfect 14-0 record and Louisiana Class 5A state championship. Carter shined in the state title game at the Superdome, catching five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown in a 35-14 victory over Barbe High. For his efforts as a senior, Carter was an all-district choice and a honorable-mention all-state selection. Carter also started for Rummel as a junior, and was again used in a variety of roles on offense. Carter chose Nebraska over offers from LSU, Miami, Memphis, Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida International. Carter was ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the state of Louisiana by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and is ranked among the top 50 tight ends in the country by several recruiting services. Fox Sports lists Carter as the No. 7 fullback prospect in the country. Carter is also one of the top players for the Rummel basketball team. Carter is the son of Shelly Carter and he was born on Sept. 5, 1993.

Maliek Collins
6-2, 285, DT, Kansas City, Mo. (Center HS)
Maliek Collins is one of two Kansas City products in Nebraska’s 2013 recruiting class, and one of six players in the class who are expected to play defensive line for the Huskers. Collins played both ways for Kansas City Center High School and posted huge numbers on defense as a senior. Collins recorded 102 tackles in 2012, including 43 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His play for Coach Bryan DeLong helped Center High to a 10-4 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the Missouri Class 3A state playoffs, its deepest playoff run since 2004. For his play as a senior, Collins was a first-team Class 3A all-state pick by the Missouri High School Coaches Association. He was also a member of the Kansas City Star’s All-Metro first-team defensive unit. Collins was also a standout performer for Center High as a junior in 2011, earning first-team all-conference honors as both an offensive and defensive lineman. Collins was also a standout performer during his junior season. Beyond the football field, Collins is also a standout wrestler for Center High School. Collins reached the quarterfinals at the state meet in the heavyweight class as a junior and posted a 48-5 record. This season, he is the top-ranked heavyweight in his class, and owned a perfect record through the first half of the season. Collins is ranked among the top 20 prospects in the state of Missouri and is regarded as one of the top 25 defensive tackles in the country according to Fox Sports Next. Collins also visited Kansas and Missouri, and had offers from numerous other schools, including Arkansas, Iowa and Iowa State. Collins was born on April 8, 1995, and is the son of Janice Davis and the late C.W. Collins.

Tre’vell Dixon
6-1, 185, WR, Baldwin, La. (West Saint Mary HS)
Talented two-way standout Tre’vell Dixon committed to Nebraska in the final weeks before signing day. The 6-1, 185 pound Dixon played on both sides of the ball during his career at West Saint Mary High School in Baldwin, La., and he is expected to begin his NU career at receiver. Dixon produced big numbers as a quarterback each of the past two seasons. Dixon’s senior season was cut short by injury, but before being sidelined he rushed for 700 yards and passed for another 700, while accounting for better than 20 touchdowns. Dixon also saw time in the defensive backfield. As a junior, Dixon posted big numbers as a quarterback. He rushed for 780 yards and eight touchdowns, while averaging better than 10 yards per carry. Through the air, Dixon completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns. His play helped West Saint Mary High to a 6-5 record and a trip to the Class 2A state playoffs. Dixon is also a standout on the track at West Saint Mary High where he competes in the 100 and 200 meters. Dixon’s versatility on the football field shows in his recruiting rankings. He is listed among the top 25 athlete prospects in the country by both Rivals and 247 Sports, while Fox Sports lists him among the nation’s top safety prospects. The recruiting services also list him among the top 20 overall prospects in Louisiana. Dixon also visited Houston before picking Nebraska, and had scholarship offers from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, Arizona State, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado and Minnesota among others. Dixon was born on Feb. 22, 1995, and is the son of Paula Ann Callery.

Matt Finnin
6-7, 305, OL, Crete, Ill. (Crete Monee HS/Western Michigan/College of DuPage)

Matt Finnin is one of five offensive line prospects in Nebraska’s 2013 signing class and joins the Huskers after spending the 2012 season at the College of DuPage in Illinois. The 6-7, 305-pound Finnin will have two seasons of eligibility with Nebraska. Finnin was a physical presence on the offensive line for Coach Gary Thomas’ team in 2012, helping DuPage to a 9-2 record and a victory over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the Citizen’s Bank Bowl. The 2012 season was Finnin’s only season at College of DuPage. Finnin graduated from high school in 2010, and signed with Western Michigan out of high school. He redshirted for the Broncos in 2010, but then returned home the following spring for family reasons. He enrolled at Eastern Illinois in August of 2011, but again left school to return home. At Monee High School in Crete, Ill., Finnin was a member of back-to-back Southland Athletic Conference championship teams in 2008 and 2009. He was named to the Southtown Star’s All-Area team as a junior, and to the NWI Times All-Area squad as a senior. Finnin was a member of the Chicago Sun Times’ Top 100 and was named to the EdgyTim.com all-state team. Finnin is regarded among the top 40 overall junior-college prospects by Rivals.com and among the top 10 junior-college offensive tackles. Finnin had a number of offers including Ohio State, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Maryland and Kansas before choosing Nebraska. Finnin was born on Aug. 19, 1991, and he is the son of Gary Finnin and Cathy Norton.

Nathan Gerry
6-2, 210, DB, Sioux Falls, S.D. (Washington HS)
Versatile athlete Nathan Gerry (pronounced Gary) joins the Nebraska program from Washington High School in Sioux Falls, S.D. Gerry is Nebraska’s first scholarship signee from South Dakota since 2003 and just the Huskers’ third signee from the state since 1997. Gerry’s play over the past four seasons helped Washington High and Coach Brian Hermanson to a 48-3 record and three state championships. In 2012, Sioux Falls Washington posted a perfect 12-0 record and outscored its opponents by a combined score of 549-81. Gerry rarely came off the field as a senior. As a safety on defense, he made 64 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and added eight pass breakups, five interceptions and also forced two fumbles. He played running back and receiver on offense and accounted for 1,216 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns. Gerry also handled the kicking and punting chores as a senior. Gerry was a first-team Class 11AA all-state selection as a receiver for his play in 2012. Gerry was also a two-way starter during his junior season when Washington posted a 10-3 record and was the state runner-up. Gerry made 73 tackles, with two sacks and three interceptions on defense, while adding 37 receptions for 647 yards and eight touchdowns as a receiver. Gerry was an All Greater Dakota Conference first-team choice in 2011, and was also selected by the high school coaches in South Dakota as one of the Elite 45 players in the state. In addition to his versatile football talents, Gerry is a top track athlete for Washington High. As a junior, Gerry won the 200-meter title at the state meet, while finishing second in the 100 meters. Gerry is widely regarded as the top prospect in South Dakota and one of the top 50 athlete prospects in the country. He did not take any other visits after committing to Nebraska last summer, but he also had offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota and Arizona State. Gerry was born on Feb. 23, 1995, and is the son of Brian and Kelli Gerry.

Kevin Gladney
6-1, 185, WR, Akron, Ohio (Firestone Senior HS)
Wide receiver Kevin Gladney is part of an impressive group of offensive skill position players in Nebraska’s 2013 class. The 6-1, 185-pound Gladney is also part of a strong group of signees from the state of Ohio, joining two other Ohio natives in the class. The three signees from Ohio gives Nebraska seven scholarship signees from the state in the past three years. Gladney has posted big receiving numbers each of the past two seasons for Firestone High in Akron, Ohio. As a senior for Coach Tim Flossie, Gladney had 32 receptions for 536 yards and seven touchdowns. He also accounted for 110 yards on three kickoff returns. Gladney’s play helped Firestone to a 5-5 record in the Ohio Division II ranks. For his play, Gladney was a second-team Division II All-Ohio choice. Gladney posted even bigger numbers as a junior for Firestone, when he grabbed 48 receptions for 768 yards and 12 touchdowns and earned all-city honors in Akron. Gladney first made a strong impression as a sophomore when he saw extensive action for Firestone. Gladney is also a standout on the basketball court. As a junior, he averaged 19 points per game to help his team to a 15-7 record, to earn all-city honors in basketball. Gladney committed to Nebraska last June, and did not take any other visits, but did have offers from Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati to name a few. Gladney is generally regarded as one of the top 50 players in the state of Ohio and as one of the top 60 receiver prospects in the nation. Gladney is the son of Dorryea Gladney and Kevin Barnett, and he was born on Feb. 13, 1995.

Randy Gregory
6-6, 230, DE, Fishers, Ind. (Hamilton Southeastern HS/Arizona Western CC)
Defensive end Randy Gregory is part of an impressive influx of talent on the Nebraska defensive line in the 2013 class. A product of Arizona Western Community College in Yuma, Ariz., Gregory is one of three junior-college players in the 2013 class. The 6-6, 230-pound Gregory is generally regarded as the nation’s top junior-college defensive end prospect and one of the top 10 JUCO prospects regardless of position. Gregory received extensive recruiting attention even though he missed the entire 2012 season because of a broken leg. As a freshman at Arizona Western in 2011, Gregory posted impressive numbers and was named a first-team all-conference defensive end. Gregory had 82 total tackles, including 21 tackles for loss and nine sacks to help Arizona Western to a trip to the NJCAA title game. He also forced three fumbles and recovered two others for Coach Tom Minnick’s team. In addition to Nebraska, Gregory also visited Iowa State, and received scholarship offers from dozens of schools including Iowa, UCLA, Missouri, Arkansas, Oregon State, Washington, Illinois and West Virginia. Gregory originally signed with Purdue after a standout prep career at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind. He was ranked as one of the top 15 players in Indiana following his senior season. Gregory also had big numbers as a junior in high school, posting 92 tackles, including 17 sacks. In addition to numerous scholarship offers in football, Gregory also attracted Division I basketball interest out of high school. Gregory was born on Nov. 23, 1992, and he is the son of Ken and Mary Gregory.

Zach Hannon
6-5, 295, OL, Kansas City, Mo. (Rockhurst HS)
Kansas City area product Zach Hannon is one of five players who are expected to begin their Husker careers on the offensive ine. The 6-5, 295-pound Hannon joins the NU program following a standout career at Rockhurst High School under Coach Tony Severino. Hannon is one of two Kansas City area recruits in the 2013 class, joining Maliek Collins of Kansas City Center High. Hannon was a dominant force on the offensive line as a senior, helping Rockhurst to a 9-3 record and a trip to the third round of the state playoffs. Hannon did not allow a sack on the season and recorded 34 pancake blocks. For his efforts as a senior, Hannon earned first-team Class 6A all-state honors in Missouri and he was a first-team All-Metro pick by the Kansas City Star. Hannon was also a standout on the line for Rockhurst during his junior season when his play helped the school to a 10-2 record and a trip to the Class 6A quarterfinals. Following his senior season, Hannon was chosen to participate in the Semper Fi All-Star Game in Arizona in January. Hannon is regarded as one of the top 10 prospects in the state of Missouri and among the top 50 offensive line prospects in the country. Hannon did not take any official visits beyond Nebraska, but had offers from Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas, Northwestern, Iowa State and Illinois to name a few. Hannon was born on Sept. 7, 1994, and he is the son of Timothy and Deborah Hannon.

Greg Hart
6-5, 225, TE, Dayton, Ohio (Archbishop Alter HS)
Ohio product Greg Hart comes to Nebraska after being a standout two-way player for Archbishop Alter High School in Dayton. Hart is one of three prospects from Ohio in Nebraska’s 2013 class, giving the Huskers seven signees from the state in the past three years. The 6-5, 225-pound Hart is expected to play tight end at Nebraska after excelling on both offense and defense for Coach Ed Domsitz. Archbishop Alter posted an 8-2-1 record in 2012 and reached the first round of the state playoffs. Hart finished his senior season with better than 20 receptions for approximately 300 yards and three touchdowns. From his defensive end spot, Hart racked up better than 60 tackles, including a league-leading 10 sacks and an interception. He earned conference defensive lineman-of-the-year honors and was an honorable-mention Division III All-Ohio choice. Hart was also a difference-maker on both sides of the ball during his junior season, when he helped Alter to a 10-1 record. The school completed the regular season with a perfect record in 2011, before losing in the first round of the state playoffs. Hart is regarded as one of the top 30 tight end prospects in the country and one of the top 40 overall prospects in the state of Ohio. Hart committed to Nebraska last May and did not take any other official visits. He had a several offers, including Northwestern, Indiana, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Louisville, Kentucky and North Carolina State. Hart is the son of Thomas and Linda Hart, and he was born on Oct. 12, 1994.

Dwayne Johnson
6-6, 275, OL, Pearland, Texas (Bellaire HS)
Offensive line prospect Dwayne Johnson was one of the final pieces in Nebraska’s 2013 signing class. The 6-6, 275-pound Johnson committed to Nebraska in early February and is one of five signees expected to begin their careers on the offensive line. Johnson is one of four Texas natives in the signing class, marking the sixth straight year Nebraska has had at least two signees from the Lone Star State. Johnson helped Bellaire and Coach Trey Sissom reach the Class 5A playoffs in 2012. Johnson’s play helped his team to a powerful running attack that averaged 197 yards per game. For his efforts, Johnson was a second-team All-Greater Houston selection on the offensive line, and he earned second-team all-district honors. As a junior, Johnson’s powerful blocking helped trigger an explosive Bellaire offense that gained nearly 375 yards per game, including 260 rushing yards per contest. Bellaire had three players rush for better than 700 yards and the team posted a 7-4 record and advanced to the state playoffs. Johnson is regarded as one of the top 60 offensive tackles in the 2013 class according to 247 Sports, and the service also ranks Johnson just outside the top 100 players in Texas. Johnson chose Nebraska over offers from Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington State and Purdue. He was born on March 24, 1995, and is the son of Dwayne Johnson Sr. and Fatima Brown.

Boaz Joseph
6-1, 190, DB, Weston, Fla. (Cypress Bay HS)
Cornerback Boaz Joseph (pronounced Bose) was one of the final pieces in the 2013 Nebraska signing class, committing to the Huskers in late January. The 6-1, 190-pound Joseph is a versatile defensive back and one of four players in the 2013 class expected to begin their NU careers in the secondary. Joseph is one of three signees from the Florida prep ranks, the most high school players from the Sunshine State to join the NU program in one season. Joseph joins Nebraska after a standout career at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla., one of the top prep programs in Florida. As a senior, Joseph had 52 tackles, 12 pass breakups and four fumble recoveries to help Cypress Bay to a 12-3 record. The school reached the finals of the Class 8A playoffs by winning four straight games by 20 points or more, before dropping a 53-50 decision to Apopka in the state finals. Joseph’s play earned him third-team Class 8A all-state honors in 2012, as well as first-team All-Broward County accolades. A physical presence in the defensive backfield, Joseph recorded five interceptions as a junior in 2011, helping Cypress Bay to an 8-4 record and the second round of the state playoffs. Joseph is ranked as one of the top 70 corners in the nation by 247 Sports and is listed among the top 150 prospects in the talent-rich state of Florida. Joseph chose Nebraska after also visiting Louisville, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Purdue, while also receiving offers from Missouri, Minnesota and Pittsburgh among others. Joseph is the son of Jonas and Lisiana Joseph, and he was born on Sept. 8, 1994.

David Knevel
6-9, 300, OL, Brantford, Ontario, Canada (Pauline Johnson Collegiate HS)
David Knevel is one of five offensive line prospects in Nebraska’s 2013 recruiting class. All five members of the offensive line group stand at least 6-4, with Knevel the tallest of the group at 6-9. A native of Brantford, Ontario, Canada, Knevel is the Huskers’ first signee from Canada since defensive tackle Patrick Kabongo joined Nebraska in the 1999 signing class. Knevel was also one of three members of the 2013 class to join the Huskers for the spring semester, joining Courtney Love and D.J. Singleton in enrolling at UNL in January. Knevel was a standout on the offensive line for Coach Ken Chisolm at Pauline Johnson Collegiate High School. Last July, Knevel helped Team Canada to a 23-17 win over Team USA at the International Federation of American Football under-19 tournament in Austin, Texas. Knevel was a member of the Team Ontario West all-star team in 2011 and attended an Under Armour Combine in 2011. Knevel began playing football just four years ago after spending the majority of his youth playing hockey. Knevel is regarded as the top overall prospect in Canada this year and is ranked in the top 250 overall prospects by 247 Sports, which ranks him among the top 20 offensive tackles in the 2013 class. Knevel chose Nebraska over Alabama and West Virginia, and also had scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Purdue, Baylor, Missouri and Vanderbilt to name a few. Knevel is the son of Michelle Knevel and Mark Miller, and he was born on Oct. 18, 1994.

Chongo Kondolo
6-4, 290, OL, Carrollton, Texas (Creekview HS/Fresno City College)
Chongo Kondolo is one of two junior college offensive line prospects in Nebraska’s 2013 recruiting class, along with Matt Finnin. The 6-4, 290-pound Kondolo has been a standout offensive tackle at Fresno City College over the past two seasons. Kondolo will have three years to complete two seasons of eligibility at Nebraska. Kondolo helped Coach Tony Caviglia’s team rank among the top squads in the California junior-college ranks each of the past two seasons. In 2012, Fresno City College posted an 8-3 record behind a strong offense that averaged more than 30 points per game. Kondolo was a first-team All-America choice by the California Community College Coaches Association, and earned first-team Valley all-conference honors. Kondolo was also a key performer in 2011, when Fresno went 10-0 in the regular season, before losing in the Northern California Football Association Championship Game. Kondolo went to Fresno City College after a standout prep career at Creekview High School in Carrollton, Texas, where he played for Coach Kyle Geller. He is ranked among the top 30 junior college players in California and is listed as the sixth-best offensive tackle prospect by 247 Sports. Kondolo also visited BYU, Illinois, Tennessee and Utah State, and had offers from Florida State and Texas Tech. He was born on Aug. 9, 1993 and is the son of Hazel Muntemba.

Courtney Love
6-1, 225, LB, Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney HS)
A two-time All-Ohio selection, linebacker Courtney Love is part of an impressive group of signees in the 2013 class from Ohio. Love is one of three scholarship recruits from Ohio, the most signees Nebraska has ever had from the state. The 6-1, 225-pound Love is also one of three talented linebackers in NU’s 2013 class. Love was one of the first players to commit to Nebraska’s 2013 class, announcing his intention in late April. Love posted impressive numbers for Coach P.J. Fecko as a senior, registering 110 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He also forced four fumbles and had two pass breakups, despite missing one game because of injury. Love was honored for his efforts as a first-team Division III All-Ohio selection for the second straight year. During his junior season, Love played a key role in Cardinal Mooney winning the Division III state title. Love recorded 130 tackles, including seven sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. In the state title game victory over Springfield Shawnee, Love was Mooney’s leading tackler. His play for the Cardinals in 2011 earned Love first-team All-Ohio honors and Division III co-defensive Player-of-the-Year recognition. Love is regarded as one of the nation’s top 30 linebackers by multiple recruiting services and is listed among the top 30 overall prospects in the state of Ohio. Love chose Nebraska over dozens of offers from around the country, including Florida State, Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana to name a few. Love was born on Sept. 28, 1994, and he is the son of Faye Madison and Cory Love.

Drake Martinez
6-2, 200, DB, Laguna Beach, Calif. (Laguna Beach HS)
Drake Martinez joins the class after starring as a versatile two-way performer at Laguna Beach High School in California. The younger brother of Nebraska senior quarterback Taylor Martinez, Drake is one of three Californians in the Huskers’ 2013 class, joining offensive standouts Johnny Stanton and Terrell Newby. During his senior season in 2012, Martinez rushed for 1,613 yards and 23 touchdowns, while averaging 9.4 yards per carry from his running back position. The 6-2, 200-pound Martinez counted a 95-yard touchdown run among his many rushing highlights. Martinez also caught six passes for 122 yards, with each of those catches resulting in a touchdown. On defense, he made 130 tackles and had four interceptions, returning those picks for 154 yards, including two touchdowns. Martinez also averaged 49.6 yards on kickoff returns and 57.0 yards on two punt returns. His play helped Coach Michael Churchill’s team to an 11-1-1 record, an Orange Coast League title and a trip to the CIF-SS semifinals for a second straight year. Martinez was named the MVP of the Orange Coast League and was also named to the Orange County Register’s All-County team. Martinez posted equally impressive numbers during his junior season, helping his team to a 10-3 record. He rushed for 1,889 yards and 27 touchdowns, while catching 12 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, he added five interceptions, including a 62-yard return for a score. Martinez also saw varsity action during his sophomore season in 2010. Martinez is ranked among the top 70 safety prospects in the nation by Fox Sports.com. He is also ranked as one of the top 100 outside linebacker prospects in the country by 247 Sports, who also lists him among the top 130 players in California. Martinez also visited Michigan State, and also had offers from Vanderbilt and San Diego State. He was born on Feb. 11, 1994, and is the son of Casey and Epifania Martinez.

Kevin Maurice
6-3, 270, DT, Orlando, Fla. (Freedom HS)
Defensive tackle prospect Kevin Maurice is one of six players in the Huskers’ 2013 recruiting class who are expected to begin their career on the defensive line. The 6-3, 270-pound Maurice is one of three players from the state of Florida in Nebraska’s 2013 signing class. The three signees from the Sunshine State ties for the most NU has signed from Florida and represents the largest number of signees from the Florida high school ranks in a single year. Maurice is regarded as one of the fastest-rising prospects in the state after a standout senior season at Freedom High School in Orlando. Maurice recorded approximately 70 tackles, including nine sacks and better than 20 tackles for loss, while also forcing two fumbles. His play helped Coach Andy Johnson’s team to a 7-4 season and a trip to the Class 8A state playoffs. Maurice earned first-team Class 8A all-state honors from the Orlando Sentinel and was an all-district and All-Metro selection. He was also selected to play in the Central Florida All-Star game. Maurice played on both sides of the ball as a junior for Freedom High. He had 50 pancake blocks as an offensive lineman, and totaled 50 tackles and six sacks on defense. Maurice also started as a sophomore in 2010, for a Freedom High team that finished with an 8-2 record. Maurice is regarded as one of the top 120 defensive tackles in the nation by several recruiting services. He also visited Boston College, and chose the Huskers over BC, Florida Atlantic, North Carolina State and Memphis. Maurice is the son of Hernise Maurice, and he was born on July 19, 1994.

Gabe Miller
6-0, 235, LS, Mishawaka, Ind. (Penn HS)
Gabe Miller joins the Nebraska program as a long snapper who is generally regarded as one of the top specialists in the country. The 6-0, 235-pound Miller has been a key contributor for Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind. for the past three seasons. In 2012, Miller helped Coach Cory Yeoman’s team to a 9-2 record and a trip to the second round of the Class 5A (largest class) playoffs in Indiana. Miller was the team’s starting center and handled the long snapping chores. For his role in Penn’s success, Miller was a first-team 5A all-state selection by the Indiana Football Coaches Association. Miller also earned Academic All-State honors in 2012. Miller was the starting center and long snapper as a junior in 2011, when Penn High went 14-1 and reached the Class 5A state finals. He served as the starting long snapper and the backup center during his sophomore season when Penn High reached the state playoffs and finished with an 8-5 record. Miller also competes in track for Penn High School. Miller graded out as one of the nation’s top three long snappers at the Rubio Long Snapping Camp. He is also regarded as one of the top three long snappers in the country by several recruiting outlets, and one of the top 40 overall prospects in Indiana. Miller was born on Sept. 27, 1994, and is the son of Douglas and Steffany Miller.

Dimarya Mixon
6-3, 265, DE, Mesquite, Texas (West Mesquite HS)
Dimarya Mixon (pronounced Duh-mar-EE-yay) is part of an impessive group of defensive line prospects in the Huskers’ 2013 recruiting class. Mixon joins the Nebraska program from the Texas high school ranks where he was a standout at West Mesquite High School. Mixon is one of four Texas natives in Nebraska’s signing class, marking the sixth straight year NU has signed at least two players from the Lone Star State. Mixon recorded 48 tackles during his senior season, including 12 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. He also added 11 quarterback hurries to help Coach Mike Overton’s team to an 8-3 record and a trip to the Class 4A state playoffs. For his play as a senior, Mixon was a first-team all-district selection. Mixon also had a productive junior season to help West Mesquite High to the state playoffs. He recorded 35 tackles, with three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery, while pressuring opposing quarterbacks 11 times. Mixon is regarded as one of the top 50 players in Texas by Rivals.com, who also ranks him as one of the nation’s top 20 strongside defensive ends. Mixon is listed among the top 40 defensive tackle prospects and as one of the top 70 players in Texas by 247 Sports. Mixon also had offers from Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Mississippi and West Virginia among others. He was born on March 10, 1995, and is the son of Tasha Mixon.

A.J. Natter
6-5, 240, DE, Milton, Wis. (Milton HS)
Wisconsin product A.J. Natter is one of six players in the 2013 signing class expected to begin their careers on the defensive line. Natter is NU’s first signee from the state of Wisconsin since 1997. Natter was a three-year standout on the defensive line for Jeff Bachinski at Milton High School. As a senior, Natter had 43 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, while also recording two fumbles in eight games. His play as a senior earned Natter first-team all-state honors from the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, while he was a second-team all-state pick by the Associated Press. In his junior season, Natter had 80 tackles, including 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks, while also blocking two kicks. His play in 2011 earned Natter honorable-mention all-state accolades from the WFCA, and Natter also picked up all-region and all-conference honors. In 2010, Natter started as a sophomore and helped Milton High to a 7-4 record and a trip to the state playoffs. Natter earned second-team all-conference honors after making 55 tackles and recording 10 sacks. Natter is ranked as the top prospect in Wisconsin according to the 247 Sports composite rankings, and is a consensus choice as one of the top three players in the state. Natter is also ranked among the nation’s top 25 defensive ends by 247, Rivals.com and Fox Sports.com. Natter was one of the first commitments in Nebraska’s 2013 class, pledging his intention last April. He did not take any other visits, but had offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue among others. Natter was born on Oct. 8, 1994, and is the son of David and Beth Natter.

Marcus Newby
6-1, 210, LB, North Potomac, Md. (Quince Orchard HS)
Marcus Newby is a key part of an impressive group of linebackers in Nebraska’s 2013 signing class, joining Josh Banderas and Courtney Love. Newby comes to Nebraska after being a dominant defensive presence for Coach Dave Mencarini at Quince Orchard (Md.) High School the past three seasons. Newby is the first NU signee from Maryland since fellow Quince Orchard product Jason Ankrah joined the NU program in the 2009 class. Overall, Newby is just the third Maryland product to sign with the Huskers since 1990. As a senior, the 6-1, 210-pound Newby recorded a team-high 132 tackles, while adding more than 15 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, an interception, two forced fumbles and a pair of blocked kicks. Newby’s play helped Quince Orchard to a 12-2 record and a second consecutive Class 4A state runner-up finish. For his work in 2012, Newby earned consensus all-state honors in Maryland for the second straight year. He was also a Washington Post All-Met first-team choice, and a Montgomery Gazette first-team pick. Newby was also a difference-maker for the Quince Orchard defense during a 13-1 campign in 2011. Newby racked up 107 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior, while also adding eight pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. In addition to being a first-team all-state choice in 2011, Newby was also named to the all-tournament team for his impressive play during the state playoffs. Newby broke into the varsity starting lineup as a sophomore in 2010 and earned first-team all-county honors after helping his team to a 9-3 record. Newby was selected to play in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl in Arizona in January. He is regarded as one of the top 150 overall prospects in the country by 247 Sports, which also ranks Newby among the top 10 players in Maryland and the top dozen outside linebackers in the country. Rivals.com also ranks Newby among the top 20 outside linebackers in the nation and the top 10 players in Maryland. Newby had offers from dozens of schools, including Oklahoma, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Arizona and Maryland. Newby is the son of Mary Lourdes and Kenneth Newby, and he was born on July 7, 1994.

Terrell Newby
5-10, 180, RB, West Hills, Calif. (Chaminade HS)
Running back Terrell Newby is regarded as one of the most explosive offensive playmakers in the nation in the 2013 class. The 5-10, 180-pound Newby posted back-to-back seasons with more than 2,000 yards rushing for Chaminade High in West Hills, Calif. Newby is one of three Californians in the class, marking the 15th straight year NU has had at least one signee from California. In his career, the 5-10, 180-pound Newby accounted for 105 total touchdowns for Coach Ed Croson’s team. As a senior in 2012, Newby ran for 2,305 yards and 45 touchdowns, and averaged 7.7 yards per carry. Newby also caught 18 passes for 176 yards and helped Chaminade to a 12-2 record and a trip to the finals of the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Newby’s top game in 2012 came against Harvard-Westlake, when he rushed for 360 yards and eight touchdowns in a 78-34 victory. For his efforts as a senior, Newby was a finalist for the Cal/Hi Sports Mr. Football Award and was named to the Los Angeles Times’ high school football All-Star team. He was also the Western Division Offensive Player of the Year and the Los Angeles Daily News Player of the Year. Newby also topped 2,000 yards as a junior in 2011, running for 2,117 yards and 34 rushing touchdowns on 303 attempts. He also caught 18 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, while returning punts for Chaminade, helping his team to a 10-3 record and a trip to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Newby first made a splash as a sophomore when he rushed for 1,372 yards and 18 touchdowns for Chaminade, helping his team to an 11-2 record and a playoff semifinal appearance. Newby is regarded as one of the top 75 overall prospects in the country by Rivals.com, which lists him as the top running back in California and one of the top 10 overall prospects in the Golden State. Newby is among the top 150 players in the country by 247 Sports which lists him among the top 20 players in California and as the No. 11 running back prospect in the nation. Newby was an honorable-mention Parade All-American and played in the International Bowl. He chose Nebraska over UCLA, Oregon, California and Washington, and had offers from dozens of other schools. He is the son of Terrell and Lorraine Newby and he was born on July 25, 1995.

D.J. Singleton
6-1, 195, DB, Jersey City, N.J. (St. Peter’s Prep HS)
New Jersey product D.J. Singleton is one of four players in Nebraska’s 2013 signing class who are expected to begin their careers in the secondary. The 6-1, 195-pound Singleton is also one of three recruits who enrolled at Nebraska in January, joining offensive lineman David Knevel and linebacker Courtney Love. Singleton originally signed with Wisconsin last February, but did not enroll at the school and re-opened his recruitment this winter. Singleton graduated from St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J., in 2012 and was one of the top defensive prospects in the Garden State. As a senior, Singleton posted 53 tackles, four sacks, 12 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles for Coach Rich Hansen. His play earned him second-team All-New Jersey selection by the Newark Star-Ledger, as well as all-metro and all-county honors. As a junior, Singleton made 40 tackles, including three sacks and forced three fumbles. His play earned him all-county honors in 2010. He first saw varsity action as a sophomore in 2009, and made 43 tackles. Following his senior season, Singleton was ranked as one of the top 30 safety prospects in the 2012 class by Rivals.com and 247 Sports. He was also regarded as one of the top 20 players in the state of New Jersey by several recruiting services. Singleton played in the Semper Fi All-Star game in January of 2012 and was selected to the USA Today International Bowl. Singlton was also a two-year letterwinner in track and field at St. Peter’s Prep. Singleton chose Nebraska over Wisconsin and Rutgers. A year ago, he had scholarship offers from dozens of schools, including Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois to name a few. Singleton was born on Jan. 7, 1994, and he is the son of Dwayne Sr. and Bernadette Singleton.

Johnny Stanton
6-2, 220, QB, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (Santa Margarita Catholic HS)
Talented dual-threat quarterback Johnny Stanton is one of three California prep standouts in NU’s 2013 signing class, joining running back Terrell Newby and defensive back Drake Martinez. The 6-2, 220-pound Stanton showed the ability to be a game-changing quarterback both as a passer and runner for Coach Harry Welch at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. Stanton’s senior season was cut short by a knee injury in week five, but before he was injured Stanton helped his team to a consensus ranking among the nation’s top five prep teams. In his shortened season, Stanton completed 59-of-88 passes for 949 yards and 12 touchdowns, while rushing for 386 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 47 carries. Santa Margarita was 5-0 at the time of Stanton’s injury and went on to finish with a 9-3 record. Stanton was one of California’s most dynamic offensive players in the 2011 season, helping Santa Margarita to a 13-2 record and the CIF Southern Section Division I state title. Stanton completed better than 60 percent of his passes for 2,439 yards and 13 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,428 yards and 21 touchdowns. Stanton was the first-team quarterback on the Los Angeles Times All-Area time and was the MVP of the SouthernCaliforniaPreps.com All-Pac 5 football team. As a sophomore in 2010, Stanton started at safety for the Santa Margarita defense and also logged time at quarterback. Stanton made 72 tackles on defense, while posting 375 passing yards and 223 rushing yards. Stanton showed his quarterback ability in leading a comeback win against St. John Bosco as a sophomore, throwing for 185 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Stanton is generally regarded as one of the nation’s top dual threat QB prospects, ranking among the top 15 overall dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation by both 247Sports and Rivals.com, while Fox Sports Next ranks him among the nation’s top 30 quarterbacks overall. He is also regarded as one of the top 40 players in California. Stanton was also a finalist at the prestigious Elite 11 Quarterback Camp last summer in California. Stanton committed to Nebraska last summer and did not take any other visits, but had offers from California, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin among others. Stanton is the son of John III and Lori Stanton, and he was born on Sept. 7, 1994.

Ernest Suttles
6-5, 240, DE, Tampa, Fla. (Gaither HS)
Florida product Ernest Suttles is one of six players in Nebraska’s 2013 signing class who are expected to start their careers on the defensive line. Suttles is also one of three signees from the Florida prep ranks, matching the largest group of scholarship signees Nebraska has ever had from the Sunshine State. The 6-5, 240-pound Suttles was a dominant defensive force for Gaither High School in Tampa over the past two seasons. As a senior for Coach Jason Stokes’ team, Suttles recorded 88 total tackles, including 55 solo stops. He made an impressive 31 tackles for loss, including 12 sacks and added four fumbles caused, a fumble recovery and two blocked field goals. His play helped Gaither High to the Class 7A district 7 title and an 8-3 record, before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Suttles earned third-team Class 7A all-state honors for his efforts in 2012. Suttles was also a dominant force on the defensive front during his junior year in helping Gaither to a 9-4 record and a trip to the regional final round of the 7A state playoffs. Suttles had 80 total tackles, including 37 solo stops, with five sacks, 12 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Suttles is regarded among the top 25 weakside defensive ends in the nation by 247 Sports, which also ranks him among the top 80 overall prospects in the state of Florida. Suttles chose Nebraska after also visiting Iowa State. He also had scholarship offers from Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, South Florida and West Virginia among others. Suttles was born on Feb. 14, 1994, and he is the son of Ernestine Brower and the late George Suttles.

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Stagg Bowl XLII: Wisconsin-Whitewater claims sixth DIII title in eight years

Lance Leipold

The Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks are champions once again.

Since Lance Leipold took over the the program in 2007, the Warhawks have done nothing but win football games.

The team’s sixth championship — all under Leipold’s watch — came Friday in Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl XLII when the Warhawks once again beat the Mount Union Purple Raiders 42-34 to claim the program’s second straight Division III national championship.

Leipold will leave the program in style.

As the fastest coach ever at any level of college football to reach 100 wins, Leipold was tabbed as the next head coach of the Buffalo Bulls. It’s a big jump in competition for a Division III head coach, but Leipold just must be the exception if his early success as a head coach is any indication.

The two teams combined for 1,168 total yards and seven turnovers.

Mount Union shot itself in the foot with five turnovers. Quarterback Kevin Burke — the only two-time winner of the Gagliardi Trophy as the top player at the Division III level — threw four interceptions. He only threw five the entire season before Friday’s effort.

Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback Matt Behrendt, meanwhile, received plenty of help as he completed 26 of 38 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns.

Warhawks wide receiver Jake Kumerow was the best player on the field. The 6-5 target was nearly unstoppable throughout the contest and finished the game with eight receptions for 130 yards. Dennis Moore added 108 yards only on two catches. Finally, running back Jordan Ratliffe proved to be a workhorse with 24 carries for 116 yards.

Wisconsin-Whitewater’s offensive production along with Mount Union’s turnovers were the recipe for yet another Warhawks championship.

After meeting each other in the Stagg Bowl nine out of the last 10 years, Wisconsin-Whitewater has now gotten the best of Mount Union six out of the last seven times.

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RB Deantre Lewis abruptly leaves Arizona State Sun Devils

Colorado v Arizona State

Senior running back Deantre Lewis will not finish his career as a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils.

After finishing the regular season with 298 total yards as both a running back and a wide receiver, Lewis will not play in the Sun Bowl against the Duke Blue Devils.

No reason was given for Lewis departure, but Arizona State head coach Todd Graham confirmed he is no longer part of the program.

Lewis career never blossomed after a promising freshman campaign. During his first year on campus, Lewis produced three straight 100-yard games against the Wisconsin Badgers, Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers. He never ran for more than 64 yards in any single game during the rest of his career.

The running back was a victim of a random shooting in 2012. Upon his return, he was stuck on the depth chart behind Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. Lewis was then shifted to the defensive side of the football for a short period. He suffered an MCL injury in 2014. He was even called out publicly by his coach.

After an average senior season, it appears Lewis finally had enough.

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Gus Malzahn uncertain of D’haquille Williams’ status for Outback Bowl

D'haquille Williams

Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams continues to be bothered by lingering injuries and illness.

The Outback Bowl is 13 days away, but Auburn’s leading receiver isn’t currently on track to play in the game.

When asked about whether Williams would definitely play against the Wisconsin Badgers, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t willing to commit one way or another.

“Not at this point,” Malzahn told Al.com’s Joel A. Erickson.

Williams missed two of Auburn’s final three games due to a sprained MCL and a bruised knee that he suffered Nov. 8 against the Texas A&M Aggies. The JUCO transfer returned for the Iron Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide and caught seven passes for 121 yards.

However, the talented wide receiver hasn’t been feeling well.

“He has not practiced,” Malzahn said. “He was sick and he’s got some treatment things to do from the last game.”

Despite missing those two games, Williams still leads the Tigers with 45 receptions for 730 yards. The 6-2, 216-pound receiver has proven to be the security blanket for quarterback Nick Marshall.

If Williams can’t play, the Badgers will roll coverage toward Auburn’s deep threat, Sammie Coates. The junior will be playing his last game as a member of the Tigers before he’s NFL bound.

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Former four-star TE transfers from Vanderbilt to Colorado State

team headshots(John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

The Colorado State Rams don’t have a head coach yet, but they’ve already landed a big commitment.

Tight end Mitchell Parsons was one of the crown jewels in the Vanderbilt Commodores’ 2013 recruiting class. The former four-star recruit was considered the nation’s seventh-best tight end prospect, according to Rivals.com.

After a redshirt season and no playing time this year, the native of Parker, Colorado, decided he wanted to play closer to home.

Parsons’ transfer shouldn’t come as a surprise. He originally committed to head coach James Franklin, who left to take the job at Penn State less than a year later. Vanderbilt’s offense will again transition this offseason after new head coach Derek Mason fired offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell.

The tight end might not know who he’ll be playing for at Colorado State, but at least his family will only be an hour or so down the road.

Parsons will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Once he is eligible to play, he’ll have an opportunity to replace Steven Walker, who will be a senior in 2015, as the team’s starting tight end.

(Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletic department)

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Missouri will be without its second-leading receiver for Citrus Bowl

Jimmie Hunt ,Jabriel Washington

The Missouri Tigers will be without their second-leading receiver, Jimmie Hunt, for the Citrus Bowl against the Minnesota Gophers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter reported Hunt underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday.

Hunt was second on the team in receptions (40), yardage (698) and receiving touchdowns (7) this season. The senior is also coming off the best game of his career against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game. Hunt amassed an impressive 169 yards after beating the Alabama secondary deep multiple times.

Without Hunt in the lineup, the Tigers’ spread offense will feature a new slot receiver.

The two receivers Missouri’s head coach mentioned have caught a total of five passes this season. Otte, a senior, is the experienced option, but Brown presents a matchup problem at 6-3 and 205 pounds. Both may be required to step up in Hunt’s absence.

Minnesota is yet another big and physical team in Missouri’s way. The Tigers’ spread offense needs to be firing on all cylinders to score quickly once the Gophers try to control the clock with their running game and sound defense.

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Big 12 would look ‘East not West’ if league decides to expand

Bob Bowlsby

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby provided the first hint of possible expansion during an interview on 740 AM the Game with the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi.

Expansion could be vital for the league as it moves forward after being left out of the first College Football Playoff.

Once the Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs weren’t included as one of the nation’s top four teams, the Big 12 Conference became the only Power Five league without representation in the inaugural playoff system.

Two reasons became evident why the Big 12 was left out of the mix.

First, the Big 12 only has 10 teams. The NCAA prevents a league from hosting a championship game if it has less than 12 teams. As a result, the champions of the Big 12 played one less game than those teams that won their championship game.

In an attempt to make both the Baylor and TCU enticing candidates — because the Horned Frogs were rated higher even though they lost to the Bears — the conference decided its “One True Champion” would include both teams and the College Playoff Committee could decide which team should be more highly ranked.

Instead, the league’s decision backfired since neither team was seen as a true champion of their conference.

The most likely solution to the Big 12’s problem is to acquire a waiver from the NCAA to hold a championship game. After all, the Big 12 places a higher value on monetary gain than true competitive balance.

“We divide the money 10 ways,” Bowlsby told Bianchi, via UCFSports.com. “Right now, we’re distributing the largest amount of money to each of our members in any league in college athletics. I don’t know that our members are prepared to take a reduction in that distributable revenue. It’s certainly about TV sets. It’s certainly about recruiting. It’s certainly about the possibility of competitive implications in all of our sports, but particularly our high-profile sports. At the present time we have no strategy. We haven’t had any discussions around expansion. Our CEOs have said they like 10. I expect that we’ll be at 10 for a while. Could that change down the road? Sure it could… I don’t think we’re going to take a kneejerk reaction and think immediately about expansion just because on this occasion we got left out of the playoff.”

While Bowlsby expects an answer for the league’s appeal within six months, expansion might quickly develop into a legitimate option if the NCAA doesn’t approve the waiver.

The commissioner provided an initial hint of what the league might do once league expansion is back on the table.

“We have one member in West Virginia that’s on the East Coast,” Bowlsby said. “We have to be mindful of their situation. If we took somebody in that was on the far West Coast it would certainly do a disservice to our member in West Virginia. As I mentioned earlier, it may be a different set of criteria to some of our members than it is to other members. As the commissioner, I certainly have to take all 10 institutions and their sensitivities into play.”

The two obvious candidates would be the Cincinnati Bearcats and the UCF Knights. Cincinnati would provide a travel partner and a rival for West Virginia. UCF, meanwhile, is an burgeoning program that would allow the Big 12 to get into the talent-rich state of Florida for recruiting purposes.

Bowlsby’s inclination to look at teams in the eastern half of the United State would exclude the BYU Cougars and Boise State Broncos, both of which would be strong candidates as football programs.

“We don’t have any schools on our radar at the present time,” Bowlsby said. “As you know, the Grant of Rights was noted earlier in the previous question. Our institutions all have granted their rights to the Big 12. Several other conferences have Grants of Rights. There are some institutions that are essentially off the table. We don’t have any expansion initiative. We don’t have any list of prospects. We don’t have any plans to expand. As our athletic directors, our CEOs, talk about what the model looks like, talk about the challenges of the future and talk about the immediate past experience we had with the playoff, you know, those are things that are going to get discussed. But we don’t have any list. We don’t have any initiative. I would say that the status quo is by far the most attractive status to most of our members.”

While the Big 12 doesn’t have any current plans to expand, Bowlby’s stance has slightly softened in the past 11 days.

The league’s future expansion now hinges on the NCAA’s decision to allow the Big 12 to hold a championship game with on 10 members. If the appeal is denied, the expansion conversation will intensify.

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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 20 Viewer’s Guide

Mark Hudspeth AP

Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 20 bowl menu, which on “opening weekend” features five bowl games as the 2014 postseason kicks off.

WHO: Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
WHAT: The 14th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
WHEN: 11 a.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Unless you were on Bourbon Street the night before, what better way to cap off your Saturday morning, and start the 2014 bowl season, than with a little Mountain West vs. Sun Belt action?  After never making a bowl in the first 38 years of the football program’s existence, Louisiana-Lafayette has now qualified for four straight under Mark Hudspeth.  Not only that, but they’ve won their first three appearances — all of which came in this very bowl.  Nevada, meanwhile, has lost its last two bowl games and six of its last eight.  The Ragin’ Cajuns are also playing very well as they head into the postseason, closing out the regular season with a 7-1 burst.  That burst came after a 1-3 start to the season that featured losses to nationally-ranked Ole Miss and Boise State as well as Conference USA runner-up Louisiana Tech. UL-L will prove to be a significant challenge to Nevada, one that Cody Fajardo and the Wolf Pack may not be able to overcome.
THE LINE: Louisiana-Lafayette, +1
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana-Lafayette 31, Nevada 27

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WHO: Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)
WHAT: The 9th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
WHEN: 2:20 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: If you’re a fan of old school football that features copious amounts of defense and pounding yards out on the ground, this game is for you.  Utah State is very stingy defensively, giving up just 20.8 points per game (21st nationally).  USU is also very good against the run (26th, giving up 129.2 ypg); that also happens to be UTEP’s strength offensively (35th, 213.8 ypg).  The Aggies, though, are coming off their worst performance of the season, giving up 50 points and nearly 500 yards in the regular-season finale against Boise State.  Something tells me that it’ll be the Miners who will end up paying the price for that debacle.
THE LINE: UTEP, +10½
THE PREDICTION: Utah State 48, UTEP 17

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WHO: Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)
WHAT: The 23rd Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.
WHEN: 3:30 ET on ABC
THE SKINNY: The first day of bowl action has landed what could be one of the best and most intriguing matchups of the postseason.  Colorado State is coming off its best regular season in over a decade, but will also be without its head coach as Jim McElwain took the Florida job and won’t coach in the bowl game.  Utah, the only Power Five team in action today, began the 2014 season 6-1, but stumbled to a 2-3 finish that eliminated it from contention for a significantly more important bowl berth.  The teams do have one 2014 opponent in common in Colorado, with CSU winning at home 31-17 in Week 1 and the U of U winning 38-34 in Week 14 on the road.  A significant focus for Utah’s defense, one of the best in the country, will be shutting down All-American wide receiver Rashard Higgins.  If the Utes can accomplish that feat — it won’t be easy as Higgins has at least 143 yards receiving in each of the last seven games — it would go a long way in securing their first bowl win since after the 2011 season.
THE LINE: Colorado State, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Utah 27, Colorado State 20

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WHO: Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)
WHAT: The 18th Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Id.
WHEN: 5:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: This game very easily could’ve been called the Turnaround Bowl.  The fact that either team, let alone both, are playing in the postseason somewhat constitutes a minor miracle as Air Force won a mere two games in 2013 while Western Michigan trumped even that with just a single win last season.  This game is also your classic immovable object vs. irresistible force matchup: WMU is 37th in the country in rushing yards given up per game (142.7) while AF, as service academies ofttimes are, is seventh in rushing offense at 272.2 yards per game.  Throw in how the Falcons gain those yards on the ground, and it could be a long day for the Broncos.
THE LINE: Western Michigan, +1
THE PREDICTION: Air Force 37, Western Michigan 24

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WHO: South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)
WHAT: The Inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
WHEN: 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: It’s appropriate that South Alabama is appearing in the first-ever Camellia Bowl as the Jaguars, who moved to the FBS level three years ago, are making their first-ever bowl appearance.  Their opponents, meanwhile, are playing in their seventh bowl game the past 12 years.  The Jaguars have struggled to score points all year long, with their 20.2 points per game ranking 113th out of 128 FBS teams.  The Falcons, meanwhile, have struggled to stop the opposition from scoring all season, as its 33.9 ppg (109th nationally) attests.  Whichever trend continues will play a significant role in determining the outcome.
THE LINE: Bowling Green, +3
THE PREDICTION: Bowling Green 38, South Alabama 24

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Danny Hope officially added to Willie Taggart’s USF staff

Danny Hope

After a two-season absence, Hope — and one of the best mustaches — has returned to college football.

Following up on a couple of days worth of speculation, USF announced Friday afternoon that Danny Hope has been added to Willie Taggart‘s coaching staff at USF.  The long-time college assistant will serve as the Bulls’ co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

The co-coordinator title is mildly surprising as all of the rumors had centered around Hope being the line coach. Instead, Hope will share coordinating duties with David Reaves, who was, the release stated, “promoted to co-offensive coordinator with oversight of the Bulls’ passing attack.”

Hope has spent the past two seasons on the coaching sidelines after his dismissal as Purdue’s head coach in November of 2012. Interestingly, this is the first time in a collegiate career that spans nearly three decades that Hope’s had the coordinator title in his job description. Previously, he had either been the assistant head coach (Louisville) or the offensive line coach (Oklahoma, Louisville, Wyoming) or both (Purdue).

“Danny is one of the best offensive line coaches in college football and a Florida native with strong ties to the Bay Area,” Taggart said in a statement. “He is a leader and a great recruiter who has helped to build and orchestrate some very successful offenses at several stops in major college football. I’m excited to welcome Danny and his family back to Florida and get to work.”

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Leukemia fighter, frosh DB to serve as captain in Chips’ bowl game

Derrick Nash

If you recall, last May we made mention of a heartwarming story coming out of Central Michigan.  Shortly after signing with CMU in February of 2013, Derrick Nash was diagnosed with leukemia and was told that he’d be forced to sit out that season.  Nash vowed to return to the playing field, while the university vowed to honor his scholarship.

The running back did return, playing in the spring game earlier this year.  Unfortunately, the leukemia returned as well, forcing the player to miss a second straight season as he underwent additional chemotherapy.  As the Chips prepare to play Western Kentucky in the Popeyes Bahama Bowl Christmas Eve, though, Nash will be a part of the team in the postseason.

According to the school, Nash will serve as the honorary captain for the Chips in their postseason game.  Head coach Dan Enos said in a statement that the NCAA, as well as his doctors, signed of recently on allowing Nash to perform the ceremonial duties.

And, it should be noted, get that free trip to the Bahamas he’s earned.

“We had to file a waiver with the NCAA to clear him just to invite him on the trip,” Enos said. “When we got the waiver that we could bring him that was a real blessing. Then we didn’t know if he was going to be able to go and to have his doctors clear him to go was another blessing.

“Our team loves him, he’s part of our family. He’s been through a lot obviously and I think our team loves to have one of our own as a captain, but a guy like Derrick who we draw so much strength from just watching how courageous he is every day and what an inspiration he is to our entire program.”

Both the player and the football program are hopeful he can return to the playing field in 2015 in something other than an honorary role.

(Photo credit: Central Michigan athletics)

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Report: Harbaugh’s family, friends encouraging him to take UM job

Jim Harbaugh AP

The will-he-or-won’t-he spinning of the Wheel of Harbaugh has taken yet another turn, perhaps the most interesting and dramatic one in this whole extended soap opera.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, and citing sources close to the situation, the family and friends of San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh “have been encouraging him to take the Michigan [head coaching] job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL.” Perhaps most importantly, and especially if the coach’s household hierarchy is anything like mine, “Harbaugh’s wife also is said to be open and on board to him going back to Ann Arbor if that’s what he wants.”

It’s previously been reported/speculated that Harbaugh’s wife would be against a move from California to Ann Arbor; if Schefter’s report is accurate, that would remove one potential obstacle.

Schefter’s report comes two days after a report surfaced that Michigan was prepared to over Harbaugh a contract in the neighborhood of $8 million annually over six years. Thursday, Harbaugh declined to answer when asked directly if his alma mater had offered him a contract.

Harbaugh’s father could also be a family member who’s nudging his son in the direction of the Wolverines.

There is an undisputed emotional connection for Harbaugh, who played at Michigan, is an iconic figure there, and has been hearing from family and friends about returning as the prodigal son. Harbaugh’s father, Jack, is influential with his son and he has made it known that he likes and admires Michigan’s interim athletic director, Jim Hackett, whom he got to know in the mid 1970s, when he was coaching the defensive backs at Michigan while Hackett was playing center at the school.

Harbaugh would like to make his decision after the NFL season ends, after what Schefter describes as “the players’ getaway day on Monday, Dec. 29.” Certainly if UM knew, with absolute certainty, Harbaugh will take the job, they would be more than willing to wait. Should there be any doubt — and apparently there is in the mind of the man who’s reportedly their top candidate — can the university really afford to put its search on hold awaiting an answer?

That’s the $8 million question… or $8 million-plus if you’re of the mindset that Harbaugh and/or his agent are merely using UM to drive up his NFL price.

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Report: starting DE among four Fresno St. players suspended for bowl

Ikaika Woolsey, Maurice Poyadue

Fresno State will head into the postseason with depleted strength at a couple of positions thanks to off-field issues.  Reportedly.

Citing sources within the program, the Sacramento Bee is reporting that defensive end Maurice Poyadue, wide receiver Myles Carr and linebackers Xavier Ulutu and Michael Lazarus have been suspended for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl against Rice. The suspensions stemmed from the catch-all “violation of athletic department policy.”

The most notable of the suspensions is that of Poyadue as he has started the past seven games of the 2014 season.  He’s played in all 13 games this season as well after playing in 12 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

Likewise, Ulutu has played in every game this season, although those appearances came as the No. 2 inside linebacker.  Lazarus, listed behind Ulutu on the depth chart, has played in seven games.

Carr, a redshirt sophomore, has not caught a pass this season after playing in five games in 2013.

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Kentucky makes hiring of WVU OC Shannon Dawson official

Photo credit: West Virginia Athletics

Two days after it was initially reported, and a day after Dana Holgorsen confirmed it, Kentucky has made it official.

In a press release, UK announced that Mark Stoops has hired Shannon Dawson as his new offensive coordinator.  In addition to coordinator, Dawson will serve as the Wildcats’ quarterbacks coach.

Dawson will replace Neal Brown, who was named as Troy’s head coach late last month.

“I’m very excited to bring Shannon Dawson to the University of Kentucky,” Stoops said. “He has done a great job in helping build programs to success on every level. I’ve been impressed with the balance of West Virginia’s offense and how difficult they are to defend. I love the continuity he will bring to what we’ve been doing as we build on the progress we’ve made so far.

“In learning more about Shannon, I’ve found out what a strong leader he is and heard nothing but good things about him throughout our profession.”

As he will with the Wildcats, Dawson served as the Mountaineers’ coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. He was named WVU’s coordinator in 2012, his second season in Morgantown. Unlike at WVU, however, Dawson will have play-calling responsibilities at UK.

WVU, incidentally, was Dawson’s first full-time job at the FBS level.

(Photo credit: West Virginia athletics)

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Ex-Wake QB Travis Smith transfers to EMU

Travis Smith

With John Wolford, a true freshman, seemingly entrenched as Wake Forest’s starting quarterback, Travis Smith took his leave of the football program in mid-September.  Three months later, the quarterback officially has a new home.

Friday afternoon, Eastern Michigan announced that Smith is one of eight players, mostly from the JUCO ranks, who have been added to the football program.  Smith is already enrolled in classes at EMU for the winter semester.

The rising sophomore will participate in spring practice and, because of when he left Wake, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Smith, who didn’t see the field during his very brief stint with the Demon Deacons, was a three-star member of Wake’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 24 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Following his senior season in high school, he was named the Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year.

(Photo credit: Wake Forest athletics)

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QB Tanner McEvoy to go both ways for Badgers in bowl game

Tanner McEvoy, John Lowdermilk, Desmond King AP

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Prior to transferring to Wisconsin from South Carolina via the JUCO ranks, Tanner McEvoy was a quarterback. In 2013, McEvoy was moved to safety, a position he played all season last year for the Badgers. In 2014, he moved back to quarterback and started five games under center to start the year and played in the last eight at that position to end the year.

With the postseason on the horizon, and the Badgers still licking their wounds from the defensive beatdown they received in the Big Ten championship game, McEvoy is headed back to the defensive side of the ball. As well as remaining on the offensive side.

I’ll be going both ways,” McEvoy said. “I just love playing. Wherever I can get on the field, that’s what I’m here to do and help this team win. So I’m excited to be able to get more reps out there and just help these guys get a bowl victory and send the seniors off the right way.

“As long as I get on the field and help the team win, that’s my goal.”

McEvoy began practicing again with the defense Tuesday. Thursday, he worked with the first-team defense at both safety and linebacker.

Despite the defensive work, there wil still be opportunities for McEvoy offensively.  Even after Joel Stave reclaimed the starting job, McEvoy saw extensive action as the running threat at the quarterback position, finishing the 2014 regular season with 574 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.  His 8.8 yards per carry was tops on the team.

UW will face Auburn in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

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Jimbo, on Jameis’ football future: ‘it would not shock me either way’

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston signs autographs

For two very basic and simple reasons, most people have assumed throughout the year that Jameis Winston‘s second season as Florida State’s starting quarterback will be his last.

One, he was viewed by many (most?) as a likely Top 10, if not Top Five, selection in the 2015 NFL draft… provided teams could get past the off-field noise.  Which, of course, brings us to the second reason, that being the deafening and voluminous amount of noise that has come with being Winston at the collegiate level.  Winston is under more of a focused microscope on a college campus — autographs, student code of conduct hearing — than he would be in an NFL city, the theory goes, so he’d better off taking his leave of the amateur ranks and heading to the pros, where he’d at least get paid for the media headaches.

On the flip side, Winston said as recently as July off this year that playing two more years at the collegiate level, 2014 and 2015, wasn’t out of the question.  And that came a month after Winston’s dad was quoted as saying his son would remain with the football Seminoles for two more seasons.

Fast-forward to today, and the NFL question when it comes to Winston still lingers.  As he’s preparing FSU for its semifinal showdown with Oregon New Year’s Day, Jimbo Fisher, he of a new contract (almost), was asked about Winston’s future.  As has been the case every other time the subject’s been broached, Fisher says no decision has been made.

“I understand if he wants to go, when a guy’s that high and you’re doing what you do,” the head coach said. “But remember, he’s a very, very good student. He’s very smart. He loves baseball. He loves his time in college. He loves all the interaction of this, believe it or not. So it would not shock me either way.”

While most view, or viewed, Winston’s jump to the NFL as a fait accompli, it may not be the lock that it once was.

Winston is coming off a regular season that, at least statistically, paled into comparison to a 2013 season that ended with him holding the Heisman Trophy.  His performance on the field has led some to question whether his stock is falling.  And then there’s the very off-field noise that most had as being the impetus for him leaving early.

In September, ProFootballTalk‘s Mike Florio opined that Winston is “running out of chances to convince the NFL he can come in and be that player who is the leader of your team both in the locker room and in the public eye.”  A month later, FOXSports.com‘s Jay Glazer reported that “general managers are moving Winston down their potential draft boards — or off them completely.”

Winston certainly has a big decision to make over the next month, although it may not be as clear either way as some thought a few months ago.

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