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23 players make up Malzahn’s first Auburn recruiting class

Gus Malzahn AP

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

Montravius Adams (DT; Dooly County HS; Vienna, Ga.): Strong, agile defensive line prospect … Under Armour All-America Game … 247Sports All-America … No. 2 defensive lineman, No. 14 overall by PrepStar … ranked as No. 25 overall, No. 3 DL by Rivals … No. 3 DT by Scout … No. 10 overall, No. 2 DT, No. 2 in Georgia by 247Sports … five-time player of the game his senior season for Coach Jimmy Hughes … recorded 127 tackles, 34 TFL, 7.5 sacks leading Dooly County to the Class A state title game … ESPN 150 … son of Debbie Young

Mackenro Alexander (DB; Immokalee HS; Immokalee, Fla.): Hard-hitting defender with versatile skills … totaled 154 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles as a senior playing outside linebacker for Coach Jerrod Ackley … picked off five interceptions as a senior, returning four for touchdowns, an Immokalee record … his 350+ career tackles set another Immokalee record … ranked No. 43 DB by Rivals … No. 50 DB, No. 96 prospect from Florida by 247Sports … No. 91 by Scout … Naples Daily News defensive player of the year … son of Marie and Jean Alexander

Cameron Artis-Payne (RB; Allan Hancock (Calif.) College; Milford (N.Y.) Academy; Harrisburg HS; Harrisburg, Pa.): Rated as the nation’s top junior college running back … enrolled at Auburn in January … rushed for 2,048 yards, 25 touchdowns in 2012 at Allan Hancock for Coach Kris Dutra, leading California Community College Athletic Association in rushing yards, yards per game, yards per rush and touchdowns … JC Athletic Bureau first team All-America offensive player of year … conference player of the week five times … rushed for 1,364 yards, 18 touchdowns as a freshman … all-California First Team Offense in Region IV by the California Community College Football Coaches Association … attended Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y. after high school … graduate of Harrisburg (Pa.) High … enrolled as a philosophy major at Auburn … son of Victoria Artis and David Payne

Peyton Barber (RB; Milton HS; Alpharetta, Ga.): Running back prospect with strong upside … rushed for more than 1,700 yards, 22 touchdowns as a senior playing for Coach Howie DeCristofaro … No. 32 RB, No. 48 prospect in Georgia by 247Sports … PrepStar all-Southeast … ranked No. 52 by Scout … son of Lori Barber … former NFL players Marion and Dominique Barber are his second cousins

Ben Bradley (DT; Hutchinson (Kan.) CC; HS; Norcross, Ga.): Outstanding junior college defensive lineman who enrolled at Auburn in January … recorded 43 tackles, 9.5 TFL and five sacks during the 2012 season, helping the Hutchinson Blue Dragons and Coach Rion Rhoades to a 9-3 record, a No. 12 national ranking and the Salt City Bowl championship … earned an associate’s degree in December … 91 tackles, 26 TFL, 5.5 sacks and a fumble recovery as a senior at Norcross High for Coach Keith Maloof … Gwinnett Rivalries and GACA North/South all-star games … No. 9 DL prospect by 247Sports … Scout Top 100 … enrolled as a public administration major at Auburn … son of Keischa Bradley

Daniel Carlson (K; Classical Academy; Colorado Springs, Colo.): Versatile kicking specialist with tremendous leg strength … 10 field goals and 54 kickoffs for touchbacks as a senior for Coach David Bervig at The Classical Academy … top-ranked kicker nationally at Kohl’s Kicking Academy Underclassmen Challenge … ranked No. 4 nationally among kickers by Scout and Rivals … MaxPreps small school All-America … No. 8 ranking from 247Sports … U.S. Army All-American Bowl … Denver Post No. 6 in-state prospect and all-state Class 3A as a junior and senior … as a soccer player, helped TCA advance to state finals as a sophomore and junior … son of Jodie Carlson and Hans Carlson

Elijah Daniel (DE; Avon HS; Avon, Ind.): Talented two-way performer on the defensive line … Indiana first team all-state … team defensive MVP recording 85 tackles, 16 TFL, five sacks as a senior for Coach Mark Bless … Under Armour All-America Game … ranked No. 9 by Scout … No. 2 in state of Indiana and No. 8 DE by Rivals … PrepStar All-America … No. 2 in Indiana, No. 3 DE, No. 27 overall by 247Sports … MaxPreps Top 100 … ESPN 150 … his aunt Donna Fisher is his guardian

Devonte Danzey (OG; Hutchinson (Kan.) CC; HS; Tampa, Fla.): Experienced offensive guard who enrolled at Auburn in January … ranked as the nation’s top junior college prospect at offensive guard … first-team All-Jayhawk Conference for Coach Rion Rhoades as a redshirt freshman in 2012 after helping Hutchinson to a 9-3 record and a No. 12 national ranking … first team All-America … starting offensive tackle for a Hutchinson offense that scored the second-most points in team history and three times broke the 700-yard mark for total offense … ranked among Top 85 JUCO players by 247Sports … played high school football at Tampa Bay (Fla.) Tech for Coach Jayson Roberts, where he was team MVP and Tampa Tribune all-Hillsborough County … enrolled as a public administration major at Auburn … guardian is Patsy Ross

Marcus Davis (WR; American Heritage Boca-Delray HS; Delray Beach, Fla.): Dual-threat quarterback who could play receiver at Auburn … team had 12-1 record his junior year and advanced to state semifinals with an 11-1 mark as a senior … threw for 1,019 yards, 15 touchdowns and two interceptions in 2012 for Coach Stacy Sizemore; he also ran for 846 yards and eight touchdowns … Florida Class 3A all-state … Rivals.com ranks him No. 41 nationally … No. 95 by Scout … No. 90 DB by 247Sports … Prep and Sports Florida-Georgia all-star game … son of Craig Davis

Kenny Flowers (LB; Hutchinson (Kan.) CC; Parkview HS; Lilburn, Ga.): Highly sought linebacker from the junior college ranks … contributed 95 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 4 PBU for Coach Rion Rhoades as a redshirt freshman in 2012 after helping Hutchinson to a 9-3 record and a No. 12 national ranking … rated No. 2 junior college ILB by 247Sports … Georgia all-state at Parkview High for Coach Cecil Flowe … son of Onethia Flowers and Kenny Flowers Sr. … father played at Clemson and in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons

Johnathan Ford (RB; New Hope HS; New Hope, Ala.): Capable in-state contributor at running back … gained 1,669 yards, 27 touchdowns as a senior for Coach Randall Taylor … Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Class 3A first team all-state … ranked No. 35 by Scout … Rivals ranks him top running back prospect in Alabama … PrepStar all-Southeast … son of Hernandez and Terrie Ford

Khari Harding (DB; Edmond Santa Fe HS; Edmond, Okla.): Physical hard-hitter at safety … 109 tackles, three interceptions as a senior for Coach Lance Manning’s district champions … member of silver medalist Team USA in 2012 IFAF U-19 world championships … No. 3 player in Oklahoma, No. 31 DB by 247Sports … No. 43 by Scout … PrepStar all-Midwest … MaxPreps all-Oklahoma … Oklahoman all-state, all-district, all-Edmond … son of Corie Harding

Jeremy Johnson (QB; Carver HS; Montgomery, Ala.): Talented hard-working signalcaller who was named Alabama Mr. Football for 2012 … 3,193 yards, 31 TD passing as a senior and also rushed for 705 yards, 7 scores for Coach Billy Gresham at Carver High … more than 8,200 career passing yards … U.S. Army All-American Bowl … Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic … ranked No. 12 in Alabama, No. 14 QB by 247Sports … Rivals No. 5 QB, No. 93 overall prospect … Scout No. 24 … PrepStar No. 90 overall, No. 7-ranked quarterback … Montgomery Advertiser all-metro player of the year … key part of Carver’s 2012 state championship basketball team earning first team all-state honors … son of LaTasha Johnson and Ojedita Johnson

Brandon King (DB; Highland (Kan.) CC; Thompson HS; Alabaster, Ala.): Outstanding safety from the junior college ranks … 118 tackles, 6 TFL last season at Highland CC … first team all-Jayhawk Conference playing for coaches Mike Beagle and Ryan Held … No. 5 junior college DB by 247Sports … all-Shelby County pick as a senior at Thompson High for Coach Bruce Hill, recording 116 tackles, 21 TFL, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries … son of Angelia King and Chris King

Carl Lawson (DE; Milton HS; Alpharetta, Ga.): Top-ranked defensive end with exceptional pass rush ability … 78 tackles, 44 TFL, 27 sacks as a senior for Coach Howie DeCristofaro … 87 tackles, 31 TFL, 15 sacks as a junior … 247Sports, Under Armour All-America first team … ranked No. 1 DE, No. 24 overall by 247Sports … top ranked DE, No. 4 player overall by Rivals … Under Armour All-America Game … PrepStar No. 6 player nationally, No. 2 defensive end … Scout ranks him No. 7 … son of Carl Lawson and Mignon Gregory … father played fullback for Georgia Tech

Nick Marshall (QB; Garden City (Kan.) CC; Wilcox County HS; Rochelle, Ga.): Talented dual-threat quarterback from the junior college ranks … passed for 3,142 yards, 18 TD and rushed for 1,095 yards, 19 TD for Coach Jeff Tatum at Garden City in 2012 … No. 4 junior college QB by 247Sports … played in 13 games at corner for Georgia in 2011 … 2010 Georgia Sports Writers Association Class A Offensive Player of the Year for Coach Mark Ledford at Wilcox County … Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Super 11″ selection, Class A Offensive Player of the Year … two-time Macon Telegraph Middle Georgia Offensive Player of the Year… led Wilcox County to the Class A title as a junior … set GHSA career record with 103 TD passes … son of Shalina Cliett

Kamryn Melton (DB; Dothan HS; Dothan, Ala.): Tremendous in-state cornerback prospect … recorded 64 tackles, two interceptions, eight PBU as a senior for Coach Kelvin White … 63 tackles, seven PBU as a junior … forced two turnovers in Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … AL.com Top 15 A-List … No. 35-ranked corner by Rivals … No. 47 by Scout … No. 20 prospect in Alabama, No. 48 DB by 247Sports … Dothan Eagle Super 12 … son of Zann Melton and James Melton

Deon Mix (OL; South Panola HS; Batesville, Miss.): Versatile, physical offensive guard prospect … first team all-state for Coach Lance Pogue … U.S. Army All-American Bowl … PrepStar All-America … ranked No. 39 by Scout … No. 5 player in Mississippi, No. 15 OL by Rivals … No. 10 in Mississippi, No. 35 OG by 247Sports … Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen … MaxPreps Mississippi Fab Five … son of Shonda Hervey

Earnest Robinson (WR; Pinson Valley HS; Pinson, Ala.): Potential-packed prospect at wide receiver … tallied more than 100 receptions, 1,900 yards during his high school career for Coach Matt Glover … Under Armour All-America Game … PrepStar No. 48 overall, No. 7 ranked receiver … ESPN 150 … Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … ranked No. 14 receiver overall, No. 1 WR in Alabama by Rivals … No. 91 overall by Scout … No. 18 in Alabama, No. 59 WR by 247Sports … AL.com Top 15 A-List … son of Ramona Robinson and Earnest Robinson Sr.

Jason Smith (QB; McGill-Toolen HS; Mobile, Ala.): Versatile offensive threat who can contribute in a number of ways … 110-169 passing for 1,566 yards, 19 touchdowns as a senior for Coach Bart Sessions … also rushed for 849 yards, 16 TD helping McGill-Toolen to an 11-1 record … MVP of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game playing receiver, with six catches for 134 yards … Mobile Press-Register Offensive Player of the Year … ranked No. 15 by Rivals … No. 32 by Scout … No. 6 in Alabama, No. 10 WR, No. 104 overall by 247Sports … PrepStar all-Southeast … also a basketball standout … son of Yolanda Smith and Jason Smith

Tony Stevens (WR; Evans HS; Orlando, Fla.): Speedy wideout who excels at the deep ball … 29 receptions, 516 yards, seven touchdowns as a senior for Coach Chip Gierke … U.S. Army All-American Bowl … No. 5 in Orlando Sentinel Central Florida Super60 … PrepStar All-America … ranked No. 95 overall, No. 11 receiver by Rivals … No. 21 by Scout … No. 23 in Florida, No. 24 WR by 247Sports … ESPN 300 … son of Keon Martin

Cameron Toney (LB; Huntsville HS; Huntsville, Ala.): Athletic linebacker with plenty of skills … recorded 107 tackles as a senior for Coach Scott Sharp … tallied 122 tackles as a junior … AL.com Top 15 A-List … ranked No. 23 by Scout … No. 14 in Alabama, No. 21 LB by 247Sports … Huntsville Times Elite Team … Class 6A Alabama honorable mention all-state … PrepStar all-Southeast … son of Taryn Toney

Dominic Walker (WR; Evans HS; Orlando, FL): Physical prospect at wide receiver … 36 receptions for 628 yards with seven touchdowns as a senior … played both receiver and safety for Coach Chip Gierke, helping the Trojans to consecutive district titles … No. 16 in Orlando Sentinel Central Florida Super60 … 247Sports Top 150 WR, Top 160 in Florida … PrepStar all-Southeast … ranked No. 95 receiver by Rivals … No. 77 by Scout … Offense/Defense All-America Bowl … son of Angela Collett

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Former BYU QB Christian Stewart rejoins team for spring ball

Christian Stewart

Christian Stewart played in 11 games in 2014, starting the final eight after Taysom Hill was lost for the season in October. The senior completed 199-of-348 passes for 2,621 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. After throwing only two passes in 2013, Stewart stepped up and shined when needed, throwing for 408 yards and four touchdowns against Nevada and 433 yards with five touchdowns in a shootout win over California to close the regular season.

He had a rough day in the Miami Beach Bowl loss to Memphis, hitting only 23-of-48 passes for 348 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, and that, supposedly, was that.

But Hill is not yet ready to return from injury and sophomore McCoy Hill injured his foot to open spring drills on Monday. Tanner Mangum is still on his church mission, and signee Beau Hoge has yet arrive on campus. Sophomore Hunter Moore is also on the roster, but not capable of properly testing the Cougars’ defense in an 11-on-11 setting, so BYU brought Stewart back for spring ball.

“I said, ‘You’re like gum on my shoe,'” head coach Bronco Mendenhall told the Associated Press. “‘I can’t get rid of you. No matter if I pull it, I stretch it, it just snaps back.’ So we laughed. Talk about a loyal alumni. I think he was maybe more excited than I was that he gets to play football again. Our team, they already loved him before, now he’s like idol status.”

BYU compliance cleared Stewart to practice in the spring, the AP noted, without penalizing the club. And it didn’t take much convincing to give Stewart one last shot at college football.

“I don’t necessarily feel any pressure, especially because what are the coaches going to do? Yell at me?” Stewart said. “They can’t really get on me because I’m the one doing them a favor. But myself, I demand a lot out of myself.”

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Michigan State WR Macgarrett Kings Jr. arrested over the weekend

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Michigan State v Baylor

Nearly 11 months to the day after his first arrest, Michigan State wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. was again in handcuffs. The rising senior was arrested over the weekend for drunken and disorderly conduct and obstructing, resisting, hindering or assaulting a police officer, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press.

He was taken into custody at 2:36 on Saturday morning and released on $200 bail.

Kings missed spring ball last year for a violation of team rules. It was later revealed that a DUI arrest was the cause for the suspension.

A similar punishment could be in line here.

“We’re aware of the incident,” head coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “All of our student-athletes are held to a high standard, and individuals will be held accountable for their actions. We will manage this situation internally.”

The Free Press notes that Kings was sentenced to 13 months of probation last summer, but it was cut short in December. Part of that suspension he would still otherwise be subject to included avoiding alcohol and establishments where alcohol is served.

In 35 games, Kings has caught 76 career passes for 942 yards. With Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery lost for graduation, Kings’ 29 grabs for 404 yards and a touchdown qualifies him as the Spartans’ leading returning receiver. He was also the team’s punt returner in 2014.

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Gus Malzahn on downfield rule: “That’s part of the creativity of the game.”

Gus Malzahn

If you can’t beat ‘em, legislate ‘em.

That’s the way Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn sees it. One year after conference foes Nick Saban and Bret Bielema led the charge to institute a 10-second delay before snapping the ball, the NCAA is now considering reducing the space offensive linemen are permitted to roam downfield on pass plays from three yards to one.

“That’s part of the creativity of the game,” Malzahn told AL.com on Wednesday. “I’m not into anything that takes the creativity out of the game. You know, you see a lot of coaches around the country, specifically high school coaches that are coaching in college, that’s very important to them.”

Malzahn, like many of his offensive-minded peers, would rather see the existing rule enforced before creating a new one.

“You know, that’s been a rule that’s been in place for a while, and you see a lot of offenses utilizing that,” Malzahn said. “My whole deal is just make it a point of emphasis to start calling it if guys are downfield.”

The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel is slated to meet Thursday and decide on whether or not to implement the change.

The good news for Malzahn, though: if the rule does pass, there’s no one in college football better suited to find a new, creative way to drive his peers crazy.

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‘Incidents’ lead Syracuse DT Ryan Sloan to leave team

Ryan Sloan, L.J. Scott, Robert Welsh, Durell Eskridge AP

A player who would’ve been competing for playing time along Syracuse’s defensive line has instead decided to call it quits.

The Syracuse Post-Standard reported Tuesday that Ryan Sloan (pictured, top right) has decided to take his leave of the Orange football team.  The fifth-year senior lineman will not transfer, rather finish out his academic career at the ‘Cuse and earn his degree in child and family studies in May.

Sloan’s decision to quit the team came against the advice of his family.

“After multiple long conversations with my step parents (who strongly suggested that I stay a fifth year), I came to the decision that I didn’t want to come back,” Sloan said. “I didn’t feel like it was the right place for me anymore. There were a couple of incidents that happened over the past two years that made me realize ‘Cuse wasn’t the right place for me.”

The Post-Standard described those incidents, as relayed by the player it should be noted, thusly:

Sloan said he felt pressured to transfer by the Syracuse staff in 2013, was held out of summer workouts due to a weight requirement the following offseason and wasn’t guaranteed a fifth year of eligibility until late in his redshirt junior year.

Sloan played 14 games the past two seasons, including a career-high 10 in 2014.

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Ruptured Achilles sidelines UK QB Reese Phillips

Tennessee v. Kentucky AP

It hasn’t been a very good last couple of months for Kentucky at the quarterback position.

In early January, Maxwell Smith announced he was transferring from UK, ultimately ending up at San Diego State.  Three weeks later, Drew Barker, along with two Wildcat teammates, was allegedly involved in a bar dispute that ended with an Eastern Kentucky football player suffering from multiple facial fractures.

Now the football program has an injury at the position with which to deal.  The mother of Reese Phillips announced on Facebook Wednesday that her son had ruptured his Achilles tendon and she was on her way to Lexington to be with him.  The university subsequently confirmed that Phillips sustained the injury during team workouts earlier today.

Phillips will undergo surgery Thursday and won’t participate in spring practice, although there’s a chance he could be back for summer camp.

The injury and Smith’s transfer leaves the Wildcats painfully thin at quarterback, with just two scholarship players available this spring: Barker and last year’s starter, Patrick Towles.  As for Barker’s potential legal predicament that could potentially sideline him for at least part of the spring?

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410-pound Baylor lineman getting spring looks at TE

LaQuan McGowan, Bryce Petty AP

Somewhat lost amidst Baylor’s come-from-ahead loss to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl was, literally, the largest of all fat guy touchdowns.

Late in the third quarter of that postseason matchup, Laquan McGowan caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Petty to extend the Bears’ lead to 41-21 in what would ultimately be a 42-41 loss to the Spartans.  What made the play utterly unique and positively fabulous and spectacularly breathtaking is the fact that McGowan was — the key word there being “was” — a 390-pound offensive lineman who shifted from his normal guard position and was lined up as an eligible receiver on the play.

Fast-forward two months, and the 6-7 McGowan is now listed as 410 pounds on the team’s official website.  He’s also getting significant and meaningful looks at the tight end position during spring practice, with Art Briles stating that the experiment, such as it is, will likely continue through the non-conference portion of BU’s 2015 slate before the staff decides whether to use him at that position during Big 12 play.

“We’re looking at him as kind of a slot and tight end type of guy,” the head coach said according to the Waco Tribune. “He can certainly help us in the run game in those situations. The way we’re looking at it is we’ve got three games in nonconference to kind of feel it out and see what he can do and teach him what to do in live action.”

The pass-catching ability of McGowan, who is currently sporting a very receiver-ish No. 80 on his spring jersey, has certainly caught the attention of the man who will likely be the Bears’ new starting quarterback.

“His hands are about as big as my leg, so I can pretty much put it wherever, and he can snag it out of the air,” Seth Russell said.

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VT’s Shai McKenzie suspended following charges involving a minor

Western Michigan v Virginia Tech Getty Images

After a rather passive incident led to us resetting the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker, an incident a little more serious in nature added to the legal roll.

The Roanoke Times is reporting that running back Shai McKenzie was charged with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of  a minor following an incident that occurred last month.  Both of those charges are misdemeanors.

An 18-year-old Tech student, Devin Gavion, was charged with a felony after both he and McKenzie were investigated for carnal knowledge of a child between the ages of 13 and 15, an investigation that remains ongoing. From the Times’ account of the warrants filed against both McKenzie and Gavion:

Police obtained a warrant for McKenzie and Gavion’s DNA on Feb. 27 after two girls, one 15 years old and another 14, met two adult males using social media, who they later identified as McKenzie and Gavion.

The warrant states that an investigation included information that the group met at a home in Christiansburg “and it was revealed” they “had sexual intercourse” between Feb. 11 and Feb. 15. Four condoms were also recovered from the residence, according to the warrant.

As a result of the charges, McKenzie has been indefinitely suspended from the football program by head coach Frank Beamer.

“We are aware of the situation and misdemeanor arrest. We take these matters seriously,” Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a statement to the paper. “Coach Beamer has suspended Shai indefinitely from all team related activities as of yesterday. It’s in the hands of the proper authorities and we will respect the process.”

McKenzie, a four-star member of Tech’s 2014 recruiting class, was second on the team in rushing with 269 yards  when he tore an ACL in late September.  He was expected to be a limited participant during spring practice but return healthy for the start of summer camp.

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Crash victim had no clue who Jim Harbaugh was

Jim Harbaugh AP

Tuesday afternoon, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, along with his director of football operations, Jim Minick, witnessed a car accident on an icy stretch of I-94 and went to the aid of the two victims until emergency personnel arrived.

Both the women, 53-year-old Christine Mowrer and her 73-year-old mother Katherine Brinkley, survived, and one of them was contacted by mlive.com to relive her brush with a famous figure in the world of sports. The thing is, the woman needed to be made aware that she had just had a brush with a famous figure in the world of sports.

“They took care of me until the ambulance got there,” Mowrer said of Harbaugh and Minick. “I didn’t even know who he was until the state police told me later. …

“I would like to tell them thank you but I really don’t know how to get a hold of them. I really appreciate what they did for me and my mother.”

From the sounds of it, it was a rather serious accident to which the Michigan Men responded. The vehicle Mowrer was driving flipped over several times after hitting an icy spot in the highway, ultimately ending up going over the concrete median. Despite wearing her seat belt, Mowrer stated that she was partially ejected from the vehicle.

Mowrer, who remains hospitalized with a ruptured disc in her spine, credited Harbaugh with keeping her from going into shock.

“I had blood dripping out of my nose and he helped me out and got me onto the ground,” she said. “He got coats and blankets on us and put up an umbrella to block the wind. He probably kept me from going into shock.

“He was very, very nice.”

While one of the victims was lauding Harbaugh, Harbaugh was deflecting the credit to Minick.

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Starting lineman Matt Hegarty transferring from Irish

BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

When Ronnie Stanley announced in mid-January that he would be eschewing early entry into the NFL draft to return to Notre Dame, it looked as if the Irish would return all five starting offensive linemen for the 2015 season.  That, though, won’t be the case.

In a surprising turn of events, Matt Hegarty confirmed to ESPN.com in a statement that he has decided to transfer from the Irish and play his final season of college football elsewhere.  Hegarty attributed his decision to transfer to  the coaching staff recently informing him that they wanted him to change positions.

“They also explained that with many younger players in the wings, they wanted to develop them more heavily in the rotation– a need that I understand and appreciate,” Hegarty wrote in a portion of his statement.

“Unfortunately, I have already had to miss a precious amount of football battling back from my stroke [in 2012], and I value every rep and opportunity going into my final year of college ball that much more. My goal is to contribute this season, continue to develop my skills and pursue my dream of playing in the NFL. Because of this goal, I have asked for a transfer to play at another school where I can contribute more on the field. Notre Dame has amassed formidable depth on the O-line and have many very talented players to fill all positions.”

Last season, Hegarty started 11 games at both center and guard. The year before, and because of an injury to Nick Martin, he made his first career start in the regular-season finale against Stanford, then followed that up with another start in the Pinstripe Bowl.

A four-star member of the Irish’s 2011 recruiting class, Hegarty was rated as the No. 6 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Mexico. Hegarty signed with ND over offers from, among others, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and USC.

As he will graduate from Notre Dame in May, Hegarty would be eligible to play immediately in 2015 at another FBS school if he enters into a grad program not offered at his previous school.

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WKU’s Evan Sayner arrested on alcohol-related charges

Evan Sayner

Just as the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker was about to hit the rarefied air of double digits, a member of the Western Kentucky football program has swooped in and saved the day.

In a shocking turn of events, a college student, Evan Sayner, was arrested over the weekend and charged with multiple alcohol-related offenses.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the WKU defensive lineman was charged with alcohol intoxication in a public place, displaying or possession of a canceled or fictitious license and being a person age 18-20 possessing/purchasing/attempting to purchase/having another purchase alcohol.

Other than the arrest taking place late Friday night, no details of what led to the charges have been made available.

A school spokesperson stated “[w]e are aware of the incident” and that “[t]he football program is currently handling the situation internally.”

Sayner, a two-star member of the Hilltoppers’ 2014 recruiting class, played in one game as a true freshman. That appearance came in the season opener.

(Photo credit: Western Kentucky athletics)

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Brother of five-star Ole Miss QB commit starts job with Rebels

Shea Patterson

Earlier this month it was reported that Sean Patterson, the brother of five-star 2016 Ole Miss quarterback commit Shea Patterson (pictured), had quit his job as an offensive quality control assistant at LSU.  At the time, his father stated that Sean Patterson had several job opportunities, one of which just so happened to be in Oxford.

Not surprisingly, that Rebel job has come to fruition.

According to Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Sean Patterson is now listed in the Ole Miss online directory as the football program’s associate director of recruiting operations.  Kellenberger noted that Patterson’s name was added to the directory Monday, although it’s unknown when he actually began the job.

Shea Patterson, a five-star quarterback rated as the No. 3 player in the country in next year’s class by Rivals.com, announced Feb. 17 that he had verbally committed to play his college football at Ole Miss.  Patterson, a Louisiana native, committed to Ole Miss over LSU.

The same day of Patterson’s commitment, reports surfaced that his brother was leaving his job at LSU.

Despite what some would label as “shady shenanigans” on the part of Ole Miss, Kellenberger explains that the elder Patterson actually meets the qualifications for the job he now holds.

Associate director for recruiting operations is a new position at Ole Miss, but would be classified as an off-field, staff position. Typically these jobs are held by either young people that are seen as having a bright future in the industry, or those with connections to schools and/or prospects.

Sean would qualify as both: he was previously employed by Arizona as well, and is a former college quarterback. Patterson was a three-year starting quarterback at Duquesne, twice winning all-conference honors for the FCS-level school with more than 6,700 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing. He graduated in 2012, and soon after coached in Europe. He has served as a quarterback coach in the pass for Shea, who is expected to enroll at Ole Miss in January 2016.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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‘Student-conduct issue’ again sidelines USC TE Bryce Dixon

Bryce Dixon AP

Already waif thin at the tight end position, USC has seen that group take yet another, potentially significant blow.

While the initial reports that Bryce Dixon had been dismissed proved incorrect, head coach Steve Sarkisian did confirm that the true sophomore was not a participant in the first day of spring practice Tuesday because of what was only described as an unspecified student-conduct issue.  The Los Angeles Times wrote that “Sarkisian declined to say more about it, citing privacy laws and instruction from the university’s general counsel.”

The Orange County Register, meanwhile, drew a connection to the Fabrication Heard ‘Round the World of a year ago, which doesn’t exactly bode well for the tight end moving forward.

A source close to the situation told me not to draw any conclusions just yet, that it’s a fluid situation and that Dixon has to go through a process. (The latter sounded an awful lot like the Josh Shaw deal from last year.) That same source could not estimate how long Dixon would be away from the team.

Thanks to the expired eligibility of starter Randall Telfer, Dixon, who was suspended for the Cal game last year because of an unspecified student-conduct issue, is one of two scholarship tight ends currently on the Trojans roster. The other, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, was academically ineligible for the entire 2014 season and his status for the upcoming season has yet to be determined, even though he is currently participating in spring practice.

Walk-on Connor Spears is also available this spring, while four-star 2015 signee Tyler Petite will join the Trojans in time for summer camp.

The 6-4, 240-pound Dixon, though, is easily USC’s most talented returning tight end. Last season as a true freshman, Dixon caught 14 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns, the latter total of which was tied for second on the team.  He ended the year on a high as he grabbed a season-high four receptions for 44 yards in the Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska.

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Four football players earn Big 12’s highest academic honor

Fifty-seven athletes were honored with the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award on Tuesday, the conference’s highest honor for work in the classroom. Of those 57, four were football players.

Now in its fifth year, the award was named in honor of Dr. Gerald Lage, who served as Oklahoma State’s faculty athletic representative to the NCAA and Big 8/Big 12 from 1983 until his death in 2007.

From the conference release: “In order to be eligible for the accolade, student-athletes must have lettered at least once in their career while maintaining residence at their institution for at least one academic year. The honoree, which can only be recognized once, should have 100 hours of earned credit with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.80 at the time of the nomination.”

And the gridiron winners are….

Jared Weaver, Iowa State – Aerospace Engineering
Stanton Weber, Kansas State – Accounting
Ty Darlington, Oklahoma – A&S Planned Program
Ryan Lester, Oklahoma State – University Studies

A senior in 2014, Weaver saw action in eight games but did not record any statistics. Weber played in all 13 games at wide receiver and caught one pass for 21 yards while also recording eight tackles on special teams.

The only returning member of the group, Darlington started all 13 games at center and was named a Capital One All-Academic First Team member. Lester did not record any statistics at linebacker for the Cowboys.

The group will be honored at the Big 12 basketball tournament next week in Kansas City.

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Ole Miss QB hopeful Chad Kelly to join Hugh Freeze on Haiti trip

Chad Kelly, Dabo Swinney

Ole Miss opened spring practice on Tuesday looking to find a replacement for two-year starter Bo Wallace at quarterback. Among the three signal callers vying for the job is Chad Kelly, a Clemson transfer by way of East Mississippi Community College with a – to put it lightly – a checkered past.

Kelly’s temper is the only reason he’s at Ole Miss in the first place, and that trait nearly cost him his scholarship before he even arrived in Oxford. Arrested in December after a standard-issue bar fight morphed into a scuffle with police, head coach Hugh Freeze hasn’t taken action on his new quarterback.

But Freeze revealed Tuesday he’s bringing Kelly along for the now-annual Ole Miss football Haiti trip, which departs later this month. A group of 30 people with ties to the Rebels program work to provide access to fresh water in the third-world Caribbean nation, and Freeze has used it as a mentoring opportunity of sorts. Former linebacker Serderius Bryant joined the excursion last year under similar circumstances.

“The responsibility that comes with that position, it never stops. It’s 24 hours a day,” Freeze told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “He knows that. I share with him every single day insight that I see and how he can improve himself in that regard. … I look forward to spending time with him there (in Haiti later this month), in an environment that challenges leadership skills and even helps develop them.”

Hey Coach, whose idea was this?

Ok, then.

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Jim Harbaugh, U-M staffer aid crash victims in Ann Arbor

Jim Harbaugh

When he’s not sitting in the audience of a “Judge Judy” taping, Jim Harbaugh just can’t help but keep making news.

According to Michigan State Police, a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee hit the median on Interstate 94, slid up a snow embankment and landed on the eastbound side of the highway on Tuesday afternoon. Waiting for emergency crews to respond, the 53-year-old driver and her 73-year-old passenger were aided by none other than the new head football coach at the University of Michigan and his director of operations Jim Minick.

Wolverines spokesman Dave Ablauf told MLive.com that the pair administered first aids and provided coats to the two women until the professionals arrived.

The highway was closed for more than an hour to care for the victims and clear the debris. The victims were transported to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.

Harbaugh, presumably, went back to the office to catch the 4 p.m. taping of “Judge Judy.”

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