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2013 Pittsburgh football recruiting class

Paul Chryst AP

(Below are the bios released by Pittsburgh on the 27 members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

Carson Baker, OL, 6-5, 280, Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn
A three-year, two-way starter at tackle for Ohio Division I (largest classification) program…Southwest Ohio All-District…Dayton Daily News All-Area…first team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC)…two-time first team All-GWOC South Division…selected to play in the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic…named Fairborn’s Most Valuable Player, Power Award (top lineman) recipient and team captain…rated one of the top 90 prospects in Ohio by Scout…played under Coach Roy Thobe.

Chris Blewitt, PK, 5-9, 165, Alexandria, Va./West Potomac
Rated one of the nation’s top six placekickers by Scout…received his scholarship offer from Pitt after a standout performance at the Panthers’ specialist camp in June 2012…won the camp’s kickoff competition and a single-elimination field-goal contest, kicking a hurry-up 55-yarder…selected VirginiaPreps.com All-State Class AAA…first team All-Northern Region…first team All-Patriot District…kicked 18 field goals and 72 extra points over his final two seasons…his senior year, kicked eight field goals with a long of 51 yards and also averaged 43 yards on punts…rated one of the top 40 overall prospects in Virginia by Scout…played under Coach Jeremiah Davis.

Tyler Boyd, WR, 6-2, 185, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
One of the state’s most highly recruited players…finished his career ranking among the most productive performers in Western Pennsylvania history…set a WPIAL record with 117 career touchdowns…finished as the fifth-leading rusher in WPIAL annals with 5,755 yards…played diverse roles (running back, receiver, quarterback, defensive back and punt returner) for perennial power Clairton, which went 48-0 in his three years as a starter and 63-1 (.984) in his four varsity seasons under Coach Tom Nola…the Bears won four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles during his career…as a senior, rushed for 2,584 yards and 43 touchdowns, had 295 yards receiving on just 13 catches and led the WPIAL in scoring with 51 total TDs and 345 points…selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio’s Alamodome, where he announced his decision to attend Pitt during NBC’s live telecast…first team MaxPreps Small School All-American…two-time selection as the Class A Player of the Year by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pennsylvania Football News 2011 Class A Offensive Player of the Year…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2012 Player of the Year…named to the Rivals 250 (No. 103) and ESPN 300 (No. 165) national prospect lists…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 8 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 12 wide receiver by Rivals and the No. 12 safety by Scout…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Zach Challingsworth, WR, 6-2, 185, McDonald, Pa./South Fayette
Was a standout for South Fayette in all three phases of the game…was a starting wide receiver and defensive back, while also serving as the team’s punter and top kick returner…selected All-State Class AA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…rated one of the top 35 prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout…averaged 20.5 yards per catch as a senior, compiling 58 receptions for 1,190 yards and 15 touchdowns…also averaged 7.0 yards per rush (147 yards on 21 carries) with two TDs as a Wildcat quarterback…on defense had 29 tackles and four interceptions…averaged 18.7 yards per INT return, taking two back for touchdowns…averaged 33.3 yards per kick return and 15.4 yards per punt return…compiled career receiving totals of 147 catches for 2,759 yards (18.8 avg.) and 38 touchdowns…led team to a three-year record of 33-6 (.846) and berths in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs each season…his sophomore year, South Fayette went 15-1, winning the WPIAL championship and finishing as the PIAA Class AA runner-up…played under Coach Joe Rossi.

Tra’Von Chapman, QB, 6-2, 200, Kent, Ohio/Theodore Roosevelt
Enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation from Theodore Roosevelt…will participate in spring drills…rated the No. 2 quarterback and No. 15 overall prospect in Ohio by Rivals…rated the nation’s No. 12 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals and No. 20 overall QB by Scout…selected first team All-Ohio Division II by The Associated Press…Northeast Inland All-District…Portage Trail Conference Metro Division Offensive Player of the Year…threw for 5,736 yards and 62 touchdowns and rushed for 1,506 yards and 19 TDs over his junior and senior seasons…as a senior, set single-season school records for passing yards (2,901), touchdown passes (33) and total offense (3,650)…set school career records for passing yards (5,736) and total offense (7,246)…other records include single-game passing yards (454 vs. Hoban), passing touchdowns (seven vs. Springfield) and total offense (562 vs. Hoban)…led Theodore Roosevelt to back-to-back 10-2 seasons and consecutive trips to the Ohio Division II state playoffs…played under Coach John Nemec.

James Conner, RB, 6-2, 230, Erie, Pa./McDowell
Highly productive runner and pass rusher at McDowell, earning accolades for both roles…selected All-State Class AAAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers as a senior running back…named Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA at running back his senior year and as a defensive lineman his junior year…Erie Times-News All-District 10…led McDowell to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs as a senior after rushing for 1,680 yards and 21 touchdowns on 155 carries, an impressive average of 10.8 yards per rush…set a McDowell single-season record with 164 points, including 26 touchdowns (tied for the most in school history), three 2-point conversions and a safety…also set school records for sacks in a season (12) and career (17)…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…Conner averaged 7.1 yards per rush in the Chesapeake Bowl (71 yards on 10 carries) and scored a five-yard TD to help the North to a 38-13 win over the South…rated the No. 13 prospect in Pennsylvania and the nation’s No. 26 weakside defensive end by Rivals…rated one of the top 40 prospects in in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Mark Soboleski.

Devon Edwards, TE, 6-4, 255, Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Eastmoor Academy
Columbus City League product who was a three-year starter at tight end and defensive end for Eastmoor Academy…first team All-Central District…Special Mention All-Ohio Division III…The Columbus Dispatch All-Metro Team…helped Eastmoor to three Ohio Division III playoff berths in his four varsity seasons…rated one of the top 90 prospects in Ohio by Scout…played under Coach Jim Miranda…also a three-year starter in basketball.

Matt Galambos, LB, 6-2, 215, Collingdale, Pa./The Haverford School
One of the top defensive prospects in the Philadelphia area…selected All-State Class AAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAA….named the No. 1 linebacker in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Inquirer…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…a two-way first-team All-Inter-Academic League selection at running back and linebacker…first team All-Delaware County…first team All-Mainline…compiled 104 tackles and five sacks his senior year…also rushed for 818 yards and six touchdowns on 156 carries (5.2 avg.) and had 11 receptions for 152 yards (13.8 avg.)…moved from tight end to running back early in his senior season due to injuries and made his backfield debut with a 206-yard rushing effort on just 19 carries (10.8 avg.) in a victory over The Lawrenceville School…led team to a 7-4 record and runner-up finish in the Inter-Ac League…first player in Haverford School history to be selected for the Big 33 Football Classic…rated the No. 18 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 29 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 34 middle linebacker by Scout…played under Coach Mike Murphy.

Reggie Green, ATH, 6-2, 200, Cranford, N.J./Cranford
Considered one of the top “athletes” in New Jersey after starring at quarterback and defensive back for Cranford…first team New Jersey All-Group 3…first team All-Union County…rushed for 3,185 yards over his final two seasons…averaged 171.2 rushing yards per game as a senior, compiling 1,712 yards and 19 touchdowns on 234 attempts (7.3 yards per carry)…also threw for 681 yards and four TDs…had 22 tackles and three interceptions at defensive back…as a junior, rushed for 1,473 yards and passed for 804 in leading his team to a 10-1 record and the North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 championship, the first postseason title in school history…led Cranford to a 17-4 (.810) record his final two years…rated the No. 32 prospect in New Jersey by Scout…played under Coach Erik Rosenmeier.

Tony Harper, TE, 6-4, 200, Toledo, Ohio/St. John’s Jesuit
Two-year starter for St. John’s Jesuit, playing tight end and safety for the Ohio Division I (largest classification) program…Northwest All-District…All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC)… limited to only six games as a senior due to injury but still had 15 receptions for more than 200 yards…primarily a defensive player his junior year and compiled 64 tackles, four tackles for loss and two interceptions…a three-year letterman who helped St. John’s to a 22-11 record (.667) during his varsity career…played under Coach Doug Pearson.

Titus Howard, DB, 6-1, 180, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
A shutdown corner and big-play receiver for perennial Pennsylvania power Clairton…named the Class A Defensive Player of the Year by Pennsylvania Football News…All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…averaged 25.5 yards per catch with 20 receptions for 510 yards…member of a Clairton senior class that helped the Bears to a state-record 63 consecutive victories in addition to four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland)…also played in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 23 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Rachid Ibrahim (rah-sheed e-brah-heem), DB, 6-1, 185, Rockville, Md./Avalon
First-team Maryland Small School All-State performer…three-time Capital Area Football Conference (CAFC) Offensive Player of the Year…averaged 9.1 yards per carry for his three-year varsity career en route to a school-record 4,835 rushing yards…had seven career games with more than 200 rushing yards, including a school-record 370-yard effort his senior year against Riverdale Baptist…broke the Maryland single-game scoring record with 50 points (eight touchdowns and one 2-point conversion) in a 64-55 victory over Model…his eight TDs in the game tied the state mark as he rushed for 298 yards on just 29 carries (10.3 avg.)…led Avalon to three consecutive CAFC championships with a combined record of 25-8 (.758)…rated the No. 22 overall prospect in Maryland by Scout…selected to play in the Maryland Crab Bowl, a senior all-star game showcasing top players from Baltimore and Washington D.C.…speaks fluent French…played under Coach Tad Shields.

Tyrique Jarrett, DL, 6-3, 320, Pittsburgh, Pa./Taylor Allderdice/Milford Academy (N.Y.)
Enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 and will participate in spring drills…prepped during the 2012 season at Milford Academy and helped the Falcons to a 7-4 record against a schedule comprised largely of collegiate competition…totaled 26 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception (returned for a touchdown) and one blocked field goal under Milford coach Bill Chaplick…rated one of the country’s top 20 prep school prospects by Rivals…prior to Milford, earned status as the Pittsburgh City League’s top lineman in 2011 at Taylor Allderdice…was a two-way standout who led the Dragons to the City League title game as a senior…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…two-time first team All-City League…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…rated Pennsylvania’s No. 16 overall prospect and top defensive tackle by Scout as a senior…played under Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett.

Dorian Johnson, OL, 6-5, 290, Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon Area
Widely considered one of the nation’s top offensive linemen…rated a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle by Rivals….named to the Rivals 100 (No. 31) and ESPN 150 (No. 29) national prospect lists…greatly impressed at the Under Armour All-America Game, which showcased 90 of the top high school senior players at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla….first team MaxPreps Medium School All-American…selected All-State Class AAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AAA…rated the No. 2 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 7 by Scout…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…two-time first team All-Big Nine Conference…had 74 pancake blocks as a senior…had 25 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks on defense…was a four-year varsity player at Belle Vernon and three-year starter under Coach Aaron Krepps…helped BVA to four WPIAL Class AAA playoff berths…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Jaryd Jones-Smith, OL, 6-7, 295, Voorhees, N.J./West Catholic (Pa.)
Massive offensive line prospect who was selected All-State Class AA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…All-Southeastern Pennsylvania…All-Catholic League…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…two-way lineman who led West Catholic to a 7-4 record, the Catholic League Class AA championship and the PIAA playoffs as a senior…played under Coach Brian Fluck…rated the No. 27 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…also selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Luke Maclean, DL, 6-3, 235, Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc
Rated the top defensive end prospect in the state of Michigan by Rivals…collected nearly 190 tackles over his final two seasons at Grand Blanc…two-time Flint Journal “Dream Team”…two-time first-team All-Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) selection…had 79 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery as a senior…his junior year, compiled a team-best 107 tackles, six TFLs, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception…a three-year starter, Grand Blanc advanced to the district playoffs three times, won one KLAA championship and compiled a 22-12 record (.647) during his varsity career…rated the No. 14 overall prospect in Michigan by Rivals and No. 17 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 27 weakside defensive end by Rivals…played under Coach Joe Delaney…also a standout discus thrower and set the school record with a throw of 163 feet, 8 inches.

Justin Moody, DL, 6-3, 265, Philadelphia, Pa./George Washington
Starred for Philadelphia Public League power George Washington on both sides of the ball…rated the No. 1 defensive end in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Inquirer…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the nation’s premier players at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles…first team All-Southeastern Pennsylvania…two-time Philadelphia All-Public League…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…in addition to defensive end, was a starter at offensive guard…compiled 65 tackles, 20.5 TFLs, 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries as a senior…led George Washington to two Public League championships…rated the No. 20 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 30 by Scout…rated the No. 34 strongside defensive end by Rivals…played under Coach Ron Cohen.

Alex Officer, OL, 6-4, 290, Rochester, N.Y./Eastridge
The top-rated offensive line prospect in New York according to Scout…was a force on both sides of the ball at Eastridge, collecting 40 tackles on the defensive line while paving the way for two 1,000-yard rushers on offense…New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) first team Class A All-State as an offensive lineman…his junior year, was an NYSSWA All-State pick on the defensive line…three-time All-Monroe County…two-time All-Greater Rochester…led Eastridge to a 17-2 record (.895) his final two seasons, including a 10-1 mark and the Section V Class A championship his senior year…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in New York by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Chad Green.

Scott Orndoff, TE, 6-5, 245, Waynesburg, Pa./Seton-LaSalle
Considered one of the nation’s top 20 tight end prospects by Rivals and Scout…enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation from Seton-LaSalle…will participate in spring drills…two-time All-State Class AA selection by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South “Fabulous 22”…averaged 17.9 yards per catch (35 receptions for 625 yards) over his junior and senior seasons…led Seton-LaSalle to a combined 20-3 record (.870) his final two years, including a pair of berths in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs…rated the No. 12 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 17 by Scout…played under Coach Greg Perry.

Jaymar Parrish, FB, 6-2, 230, Monroeville, Pa./Gateway
Rated one of the top four fullback prospects in the country by Scout…starred at tight end and linebacker for Gateway…team’s leading tackler as a senior with 83 stops…added nine TFLs, five sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown…averaged 19.2 yards per catch at tight end with 17 receptions for 326 yards and a TD…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AAAA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette East “Fabulous 22”…first team All-Foothills Conference…led Gateway to a 9-2 overall record, the Foothills Conference title with an 8-0 league mark and the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs as a senior…the Gators went 18-5 (.783) his final two seasons…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 25 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 33 by Scout…played under Coach Terry Smith.

Zach Poker, LB, 6-4, 220, Oconomowoc, Wis./Oconomowoc
Rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Wisconsin by Scout…caught 50 passes for 753 yards (15.1 avg.) and eight touchdowns as a senior tight end…over his final two seasons had 80 receptions for 1,106 yards (13.8 avg.) and 10 TDs…compiled 22 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery at outside linebacker…also contributed as a punter, kicker and return man…first team Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-State…two-time All-Wisconsin Little Ten selection…two-time WFCA All-South Central Region and all-district…named the top tight end at the National Underclassmen Combine in Chicago…played under Coach Ryan McMillen.

Aaron Reese, OL, 6-5, 300, Fayetteville, Pa./Chambersburg Area
One of the top offensive line prospects in Pennsylvania…three-year starter at offensive tackle for Chambersburg Area…also started at defensive tackle his final two seasons…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…All-Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division…Chambersburg Public Opinion All-Star…helped lead Chambersburg to the District 3 playoffs as a junior and senior…rated the No. 5 offensive lineman and 22 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Mark Saunders.

Shakir Soto, DL, 6-3, 230, Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial
Decorated defensive lineman who compiled an astonishing 52 sacks during his career at G.A.R. Memorial…enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation and will participate in spring drills…two-time All-State Class AA selection by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AA…Wyoming Valley Conference Football Coaches Association Small School Defensive Player of the Year (Class AA-Class A)…compiled 109 tackles, 13.5 sacks and six fumble recoveries as a senior…had 114 tackles and nine sacks as a junior…led team to an 18-6 record (.750), two district playoff berths and one PIAA Class AA playoff berth over his final two seasons…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 24 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 28 by Scout…played under Coach Paul Wiedlich.

Jeremiah Taleni, DL, 6-2, 300, Kaneohe, Hawaii/Kailua
The first Pitt football scholarship signee out of Hawaii in memory…recruitment originated with defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield’s relationship with the staff at Kailua High School, located on the island‘s east coast…a two-way standout who was selected O’ahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) All-Red East Division on both sides of the ball (defensive tackle and offensive guard)…also an All-Hawaii defensive selection…played under Coach Gary Rosolowich.

Jester Weah, WR, 6-3, 190, Madison, Wis./Madison Memorial
Rated the No. 2 wide receiver in Wisconsin by Rivals and Scout after averaging 20 yards per catch over his final two seasons at Madison Memorial…compiled 71 receptions for 1,436 yards (20.2 avg.) and 13 touchdowns over his junior and senior years…enjoyed a prolific and decorated prep career despite not playing organized football until his sophomore season…selected all-state by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) and Associated Press as a senior after catching 38 passes for 799 yards (21.0 avg.) and eight TDs…first team All-Big Eight Conference…also a standout in basketball and track…helped basketball team to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 (largest classification) state title his sophomore year…rated the No. 13 overall prospect in Wisconsin by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Mike Galindo.

Terrish Webb, DB, 5-11, 170, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
As a cornerback and wide receiver, Webb was instrumental in Pennsylvania power Clairton’s run to a fourth consecutive state championship…averaged an impressive 21.4 yards per catch as a senior, totaling 45 receptions for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns…was equally impactful in the secondary with eight interceptions…had a 102-yard interception return against Bishop Canevin…selected All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South “Fabulous 22”…member of a Clairton senior class that helped the Bears to a state-record 63 consecutive victories in addition to four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles…rated the No. 19 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Ryan Winslow, P, 6-5, 205, Ambler, Pa./La Salle College H.S.
Rated one of the country’s top four punters by Scout…first team All-EasternPAFootball.com Big School Team (Class AAAA-Class AAA)…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…All-Catholic League…in addition to his punting duties, also served as a placekicker and kickoff specialist for La Salle…averaged 40 yards per punt as a senior…also converted 15 of 16 placements (2-of-2 on field goals and 13-of-14 on PATs)…helped the Explorers to consecutive 12-2 seasons and a pair of trips to PIAA Class AAAA semifinals as a junior and senior…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland)…also was invited to play in the Chesapeake Bowl all-star game but declined the offer as the game overlapped with basketball season…rated one of the top 40 overall prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Drew Gordon…father, George Winslow, was the first scholarship punter at Wisconsin…George finished his collegiate career at Villanova and went on to punt in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns (1987) and New Orleans Saints (1989)…George and Ryan were both named to the Philadelphia Daily News 35-Year All-City Team (George was the first-team punter, while Ryan was a third-team pick).

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Mountain West Conference moves to 8-man officiating crews in 2015

Catherine Conti

There will be one more body on the field when you watch a Mountain West Conference game this season, and neither team will be flagged for too many men on the field. This week the Mountain West Conference confirmed the officiating crew will now consist of eight officials instead of seven. The conference experimented with the 8-man crew at times last season, and apparently it was deemed a successful trial run.

Love it. Absolutely love it,” Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said, per The Denver Post. “I think there are certain expenditures you carry out that are prudent, that make sense, that make for a more quality game. That’s one of them. That’s a good investment.”

Coaches are not the only one applauded having more eyes on the field to monitor the game. The officials are on board as well.

“The last two years I was on a crew of eight officials and what it allowed me to do as a referee is as soon as the play ended go right to the offense and look for substitutions,” Greg Burks, an active official and Mountain West Conference coordinator of officials said this week (via The Herald Journal) said. “And what we found out — without naming the schools — is some of them every time they would go to the sidelines, they were substituting and gaining an advantage because the (opposing) defense wasn’t able to match up.”

It will be the job of the center judge to spot the football. The umpire will retrieve the football from the sideline. Meanwhile, the referee will be able to look at the offensive sideline to monitor substitutions. It should make for a smoother process for officials, with less scrambling around and juggling multiple procedures at once. Refs still need to work on getting everything to run smoothly though, but at least the Mountain West Conference will have a potentially seamless process.

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Penn State, Pitt ADs will discuss potential future of in-state series

Pitt Panthers Bill Fralic

New leadership and conference scheduling requirements and commitments may leave the door wide open for a long-term future for a Keystone State rivalry. Penn State and Pittsburgh have not played since 2000, but a four-game series will begin next season. Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour said this week at Big Ten media days she is scheduled to discuss the future of the series with her counterpart at Pittsburgh, Scott Barnes, in the coming months.

“Scott Barnes, [Pitt’s] new AD, I’ve known for a long time,” Barbour said Friday, according to Audrey Snyder of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’ve had a brief conversation. I think we’re scheduled here in the next month or so to talk about it. We’ve got a big puzzle in looking at our non-conference schedule, so we’ll see where that fits in.”

The Big Ten will be moving to a new conference-wide scheduling philosophy that will see all 14 members committed to scheduling one game per season against a power conference opponent. While not technically a requirement, it is one aspect of the new scheduling direction the Big Ten is taking a firm stance. The ACC requires all conference members to schedule one game against a power conference opponent each season as well. This would seem to make Penn State and Pittsburgh ideal and logical scheduling partners for years to come. But college football scheduling is not always so easy.

Pittsburgh will host Penn State in the 2016 season to open up a four-game series between the in-state power programs. The original deal in place was for a brief home-and-home series with each side getting a home game. That was later expanded to a four-game deal, and it is likely to remain that way for the time being. With future schedules arranged years in advance, it may not be likely to see Penn State and Pittsburgh put together any long-term or even brief series for a number of years down the road, as it is not likely either school will be overenthusiastic to schedule multiple power conference opponents in any given year if possible, at least on a regular basis.

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Jim Mora prefers using one QB, but not ready to anoint starter

Jim Mora

UCLA head coach Jim Mora faced plenty of questions about his quarterback situation at UCLA during Pac-12 media days, but he is far from prepared to settle on a starting quarterback for the start of the 2015 season. He must have been prepared for that given Brett Hundley left the Bruins a year early to enter the NFL Draft and Asiantii Woulard is hoping to be ruled eligible to play elsewhere this fall. The spring game yielded far too little confidence in any candidate to grab the starting nod months ahead of the season, so Mora is going to hold off on making any concrete decisions until he can get a better sense of who is ready to lead UCLA’s offense. One thing Mora does not plan to do is use multiple quarterbacks.

“I’d rather use one. I think that is the most beneficial way to build your team and consistency is to use one,” Mora said Friday during Pac-12 media day. “But we’ll see. My gut instinct is to name a guy and support the hell out of him. That’s what I’ve tried to do.”

So, who will that be? The three quarterback race is down to Jerry Neuheisel, Mike Fafaul and freshman Josh Rosen. Despite the high expectations for Rosen, Mora is not getting caught up in the hype just yet.

“He hasn’t taken a snap at this level. So I don’t want to put too many expectations,” Mora suggested. “I’ll let others put expectations on them. I think if Josh reaches his potential every day at the end of his time at UCLA we’ll look back and say he was a success.”

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LSU reinstates three players, including QB Anthony Jennings

Anthony Jennings

LSU has reinstated three players just days before fall practices are scheduled to open in Baton Rouge. Quarterback Anthony Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dwayne Thomas will all be available to practice after being indefinitely suspended from the program.

LSU head coach Les Miles made the decision Friday afternoon with the indication the three players will undergo further in-house discipline. All three were suspended in response to an incident involving alleged unauthorized entry of an inhabited building. The alleged victim in that incident has since asked for the charges against the LSU football players to be dropped. That is exactly what has happened, allowing the door for Miles to welcome back all three, which he suspected might be the case.

No formal charges were filed against the three LSU players.

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Fitzgerald: Big Ten coaches voted unanimously against 9-game conference schedule

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In 2016 the Big Ten will expand its conference schedule from eight games to nine in a league-wide effort to enhance the overall strength of schedule for the conference. Apparently this is being done without approval from the 14 Big Ten head coaches.

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald says, per Stewart Mandel of FOX Sports, the coaches in the Big Ten were unanimous in voting for an eight-game conference schedule.

This is certainly a reminder just who makes the big decisions in the Big Ten, and it sure is not the head coaches.

A nine-game conference schedule does help improve the conference’s overall schedule, but it also has its drawbacks as well. For starters, it allows for one fewer non-conference game on the schedule, which means less flexibility for scheduling options. On another hand, it also leads the Big Ten beating up on itself just a little more, potentially keeping a Big Ten member from reaching bowl eligibility.

The Big 12 and Pac-12 also use a nine-game conference schedule. The ACC and SEC remain firm on an eight-game conference schedule. The ACC, SEC and now the Big Ten all have a scheduling requirement to include a power conference opponent each season in addition to the conference schedule. The Big 12 and Pac-12 do not have such a scheduling requirement. The Big Ten will also eliminate FCS opponents from the non-conference schedule across the conference.

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Oregon State’s Gary Andersen says speed separates Pac-12 from Big Ten

Gary Andersen

Earlier in the day in Chicago new Nebraska head coach Mike Riley was asked about the difference between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, to which the nicest coach in the world shrugged off the notion of the two conferences being too different. His replacement at Oregon State, former Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen, has a different take on the subject.

“Well, the speed,” Andersen replied when asked the same question at the Pac-12 media day event Friday. “If you want to talk about something that is different. This is without question, and I’m looking from afar through a TV screen or a big jumbo screen we have in the offices that we watch film from and on the TV.

“[T]his league has what we like to call juice,” Andersen explained. “It is fast. There are a lot of guys that make one mistake and you’re going to pay the price quickly. On the defensive side it is the same way. There are elite pass rushers that are fast and quick. There are linebackers that can run on the back end that I believe can make up for a lot of problems that — it’s hard to solve with a pen in your hand, but genetics take over and make you some special plays.”

Prior to taking the Wisconsin head coaching job in 2013, Andersen was the head coach of Utah State. During his tenure at Utah State he coached against one Pac-12 team, in which he emerged victorious over Utah in 2012.  In his two seasons with the Badgers in Madison, Anderson lost on the road against Arizona State (in bizarre fashion). So he does have some first-hand experience coaching against the Pac-12 to compare with his brief experience in the Big Ten (which did not end well). Andersen also thinks the Pac-12 lacks credit as a tough conference, physically.

“I never hear people talking about this league is tough-minded. I know it’s not the class, flashy thing to talk about, right, anyway, with the offensive and defensive lines,” Andersen said. “But the fact of the matter is they’re well coached. They’re tough kids. They play with leverage and play with great technique. That is something that jumped out on me on film because I look for that stuff.”

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USC coach Sarkisian takes jab at Oregon’s uniforms

Steve Sarkisian

You have to imagine that being tabbed the preseason media favorite has USC head coach Steve Sarkisian feeling a little extra confident this week. On Friday he may have allowed his confidence to go slightly far in taking a mild-tempered shot at the Oregon Ducks. More specifically, Sarkisian took aim at Oregon’s multiple uniform combinations.

This is just a guess he is not referring to Appalachian State and their 21 new uniform combinations for the 2015 season. No, this was a direct shot at the Oregon Ducks, who have made suiting up ina  different uniform every week something any school looking to generate buzz or gain an edge in recruiting seeks to emulate.

Sarkisian has yet to defeat the Ducks since being named a head coach in 2009 at Washington. In fact, he has not really come close. Since 2009, Sarkisian has lost to Oregon all six times by an average of 25.8 points per defeat. USC seems to have things going in the right direction, and the preseason media poll in the conference certainly gives the Trojans a little extra boost. But until Oregon is dethroned, USC has something to prove on the field.

USC still must get out of a tough Pac-12 South, which saw Arizona State, Utah and UCLA all hand USC a loss in conference play last season. USC will visit Oregon on November 21 this season, in what could potentially be a PAc-12 Championship Game preview. That game will be played two weeks later.

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Pac-12 not looking to expand, if you were curious

Larry Scott

If you had any hopes the Pac-12 might be looking to expand in the future, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has some bad news.

“I do not see us expanding in the foreseeable future,” Scott said Thursday during Pac-12 media days. “We are delighted with 12 schools. It’s worked exceedingly well for us.”

There has not been much discussion about the conference contemplating expansion projects to grow beyond the current 12-school membership. Much of the hypothetical expansion conversation has centered on the Big 12, with 10 members. So forget about resurrecting those Pac-16 scenarios if you were holding out hope for such a thing. This may also be somewhat discouraging news for BYU fans as well, although getting the Cougars and Utah back in the same room would be entertaining.

The Pac-12 rebranded itself following the 2011 additions of Colorado and Utah. That was the same season Nebraska joined the Big Ten and BYU went independent. Texas A&M and Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC the following year as well. For now, the Pac-12 is just keeping the focus on improving from within, starting with conference scheduling.

“As a 12-team conference playing nine conference games, this is an interesting distinction between us and some other conferences,” Scott said. “This is why I’m confident standing up and saying no one has got a tougher schedule than the Pac-12, and the Pac-12 champion has got the toughest road, because there aren’t many misses that you can have within your conference.”

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Ohio State obtains trademark for Urban Meyer’s name

Urban Meyer

When Ohio State hired Urban Meyer to be the next head coach of the Buckeyes in the final stretch of the 2011 season, the Buckeyes knew expectations would be high. Meyer guided Ohio State to an undefeated season in his first fall in Columbus, led the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship game and Orange Bowl in year two and to a Big Ten title and national championship in year three. Naturally, Ohio State is out to assure Meyer’s contract is protected so he does not go anywhere, and now it is looking to protect his likeness.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Friday the university has obtained a trademark for the name “Urban Meyer” from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Per the report, half of the royalties in trademark cases will go to the university and the other half will go to Meyer. Life is good for Meyer, even if he did have to suspend a few players for the 2015 season opener this week.

“It’s not uncommon for celebrities and people in the public to seek protection of their name and likeness,” said Rick Van Brimmer, director of trademark and licensing services at Ohio State. It is, however, the first time n Ohio State coach has had his name trademarked.

“Based on his celebrity status, there are people who have used it on product without permission and (we) have had to approach them,” he said. “This just affords us another level of legal protection.”

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BYU, UNLV to finish off home-and-home agreement in 2017

Brandon Baker, Nate Carter

College football scheduling can be difficult to juggle at times, but it seems BYU and UNLV are managing to find a landing spot for a game in 2017. The two schools will reportedly play at UNLV on November 11, 2017 to complete a previously arranged home-and-home series.

The game at UNLV was originally scheduled to be played this upcoming season, but the two agreed to push the game back to either 2016 or 2017 so BYU could work in a game this fall against Missouri. BYU will face the Mizzou Tigers in Kansas City on November 14, the original date for the BYU contest at UNLV.

BYU hosted UNLV in the first half of the home-and-home scheduling agreement. BYU won last season’s match-up by a score of 42-23.

As noted by FBSchedules.com, BYU’s 2017 schedule is now up to 11 opponents locked in, leaving room for one more to complete the schedule. The 2017 BYU schedule includes a season opener against LSU in Houston, a home date against old rival Utah and other games against Boise State, Mississippi State and Hawaii. With the Hawaii game coming on the road, BYU will be allowed to schedule a 13th game if so desired. BYU has two open weeks in the middle of September. With news breaking this morning the Big Ten will now recognize BYU as a power conference opponent to satisfy a new power conference scheduling requirement, could there be a Big Ten team to help fill the void? If so, that would give BYU games against three different power conferences in 2017.

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New Big Ten scheduling mandates Power 5 opponents, no FCS foes

Jim Delany

Starting in 2016 the Big Ten will roll out a new scheduling outline for all conference members to follow. In addition to the new nine-game conference schedule, the Big Ten will now officially lock out FCS opponents and ask members to schedule one game against another power conference opponent.

The Big Ten’s move away from no longer scheduling FCS opponents has been discussed openly for a few years now, and now it will be the standard operating procedure. What is slightly new is the mandated concept that one game per year against another power conference opponent will be required. The Big Ten joins the ACC and SEC in requiring its members to schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent.

Asked to clarify, Delany confirmed the outline is a requirement that must be met by each member university. What was left unanswered is whether or not independents like Notre Dame, BYU and Army meet that requirement. It is expected Notre Dame would satisfy the requirement, and the ACC and SEC recognize BYU as a power conference opponent. The SEC also counts Army in that category. (UPDATE: Delany later confirmed Notre Dame and BYU will count toward meeting the requirement.)

Delany stressed the focus on improving overall strength of schedule for the Big Ten, and this philosophy would seem to address that in the years to come. While many Big Ten teams already have games scheduled against other power five conferences, having it be a requirement offers more attractive games for fans and the all more important television partners. With the Big Ten media rights set to expire coming up, rolling out this scheduling strategy is also a wise business decision.

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Report: Alabama and Louisville opening 2018 in Orlando

Since the 1930s, Big Al, the Alabama Crimson Tide football team mascot has cheered the team to victo

Alabama may never again open a season at home. The Crimson Tide will reportedly open the 2018 season in Orlando, with Louisville lined up as the opponent for the season-opening contest. Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com was first to report the 2018 game via Twitter.

Alabama now has the next three season openers booked for neutral site games, which means plenty of money coming Alabama’s way. The Crimson Tide open this season in Arlington, Texas against Wisconsin and open the 2016 season in Arlington once more against USC. In 2017 Alabama will face Florida State in Atlanta. Alabama opened the 2013 and 2014 seasons in Atlanta against Virginia Tech and West Virginia, respectively. This followed a season-opening game in Arlington in 2012 against Michigan. The last time Alabama opened a season at home was in 2011 against Kent State. The 2009 season opened in Atlanta against the Hokies as well. Alabama is also contractually obligated to play a game in Arlington in either 2019 or 2020.

Louisville is also getting used to this neutral site opener idea. The Cardinals will open the 2015 season in Atlanta against Auburn, and will face Purdue in Indianapolis to open the 2017 season.

It should also be noted the scheduling of this game in Orlando will also satisfy the non-conference scheduling requirement for both schools, with the ACC and SEC each requiring members to schedule one game against a power conference opponent. Of course, Louisville already satisfies its requirement by playing Kentucky.

Alabama and Louisville have faced each other just three times before, with the most recent game taking place in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl. Louisville won that game, 34-7, but Alabama had won the two previous meetings in 1976 and 1977 with blowout victories (winning by a combined score of 79-9).

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Nice guy Mike Riley says differences between Big Ten and Pac-12 not as drastic as before

Mike Riley

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley made his Big Ten media day debut in Chicago Friday morning, and he carried his nice guy persona as well as he ever has. When told he was one of the nicest coaches in the Pac-12, Riley shrugged aside as humble as he could. Riley was also asked about the differences between the Big Ten and Pac-12, to which he said the differences are not nearly as extreme as they used to be in decades past.

“Hard to blanket with one statement what a conference is today,” Riley said when asked about the difference between the styles of the Big Ten and Pac-12. “I think statistically the Big Ten is running the football more, but there is more diversity.”

Riley, of course, comes to Nebraska after coaching at Oregon State for the past 15 seasons. Riley took over the Beavers in 1997 and stayed with the program until taking a chance to take the Nebraska job. When asked about the timing of the new job, Riley said he and his wife agreed it was their last real chance to take a new challenge and adventure.

“We just love our life together, our life in football.”

Riley won over the Big Ten media, and it would appear the Cornhuskers are in good hands. Now we just have to see if he can win some games in Lincoln.

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Minnesota’s Jerry Kill says he’s been seizure-free for over a year

Jerry Kill

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill got the second day of Big Ten media days off and running Friday morning in Chicago, and he has plenty to be optimistic about in the coming season with a team ready to make a push for the Big Ten West division crown. Kill said his Gophers are getting faster and are closing in on being on par for giving Wisconsin a run for the division crown, and he is very high on his defensive secondary, which could be the best Minnesota has had since Kill’s arrival. But Kill will always be faced with a question about his health, and Friday morning was no different.

“I’m doing great,” Kill said when asked about his health. Kill said it has been over a year and a half since he has suffered a seizure.

Kill has a history of suffering seizures while coaching his team in recent years, although he has said time and time again it is nothing that is to be considered life-threatening or dangerous to his long-term health. In 2012 Kill suffered a seizure following a loss to Northwestern. The following season Kill was given medical treatment and did not return the second half of a game against Western Illinois. He would coach from the press box later in the 2013 season while spending time focusing on treatment and better manage his epilepsy but returned to the sideline during Minnesota’s bowl game and was on the sideline for the 2014 season.

Minnesota opens the 2014 season at home against TCU, the No. 2 team in the country according to the preseason coaches poll.

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No name games for Jim Harbaugh. Ohio State is “Ohio State” for Michigan coach

Jim Harbaugh

Perhaps the most anticipated media day press conference on this year’s media day calendar was the introduction of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media day in Chicago. Today, the second of the two-day Big Ten media event, Harbaugh met with the media. The first question lobbed his way by one of the members of the media was about how he will refer to Ohio State, given the previous history between the two schools refusing to acknowledge the other by name.

“Ohio State is just Ohio State,” Harbaugh responded, before saying how great it was to see everyone in the room.

Harbaugh is a bit of a no-nonsense guy when it comes to his coaching style, so his decision to not get caught up in gimmicks to ramp up the rivalry is no real surprise. His predecessor, Brady Hoke, referred to Ohio State as just Ohio and that never really proved to amount to much. Meanwhile, Harbaugh’s counterpart in Columbus (Urban Meyer), likes to refer to Michigan as “That team up north.” It works for some, does not work for others.

Harbaugh’s simple answer though suggests Harbaugh has other things to worry about in getting Michigan turned around. He will also have 11 games to focus on before setting sights on Ohio State. Harbaugh will buy into the rivalry more, and likely will treat it much differently behind closed doors with the team when the time comes. But for now, Harbaugh has work to do.

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