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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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Three Texas A&M Aggies were arrested last week

Howard Matthews, Charles Ross

It has been a whole ten days since the last time we wrote about a Texas A&M player being arrested, so let’s do some catching up. Three Texas A&M players – defensive back Howard Matthews, wide receiver Edward Pope and defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury — were arrested last Thursday according to multiple reports citing police records. All three were suspended by the university from team activities, although Stansbury has since returned.

“We are continuing to gather information,” a Texas A&M statement reads. “Gavin Stansbury was initially suspended from all athletic activities, but has since been reinstated to the team. Howard Matthews and Ed Pope were not suspended and are still members of the football team.”

Matthews was arrested and charged for speeding and failure to provide a driver’s licence after being pulled over for an expired registration. Pope and Stansbury were in the car at the time. Matthews and Pope both face a charge for failure to appear, although Pope’s charge stemmed from an earlier failure to comply on an unrelated incident. Warrants for all three players were discovered once the police officer pulling the car over ran the licenses of the players.

Stansbury is facing a misdemeanor charge for assault after being accused of pouring a can of beer on a person and then struck the person with a closed fist at Rice University.

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Is Chad Kelly’s apology to Clemson too little, too late?

South Carolina State v Clemson

Former Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly shared his apology to his coaches, teammates and family after being dismissed by the program earlier this week. The nephew of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly said he let his family down.

”I let down not only my coaches, and teammates, but also Clemson University and all of our fans,” Kelly said. ”Most importantly, I’ve let down myself and my family.”

Kelly was booted from the team following an apparent meltdown during the spring game last weekend, but it was a pattern of poor behavior that ultimately cost him his spot on the Clemson roster. Head coach Dabo Swinney stated a pattern of behavior as the reasoning behind the roster cut after it was reported Kelly was arguing with coaches over play calling in the spring game.

”He has had a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program,” Swinney said earlier this week. ”I hope he will mature and grow from this and become the man and player I know he can be. I wish him nothing but the best in the future academically and athletically.”

Kelly understands and agrees with that thought as well.

”I let my emotions get the best of me, culminating in this unfortunate situation with coach Swinney and the Clemson Tigers,” Kelly said. ”What’s most important now is that I use this experience to grow as a student, as an athlete and most importantly, as a man.”

The apology may be too little, too late as far as his position with Clemson is concerned. Clemson named Cole Stoudt as the starting quarterback to replace Tajh Boyd this upcoming season soon after the dismissal of Kelly. But if Swinney is truly a Christian man, which apparently he is, maybe there will be a time for forgiveness and a second chance at Clemson.

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James Madison will pass on Sun Belt and FBS move

Stony Brook James Madison Football

With a number of programs making the move from the FCS to the FBS in recent years, James Madison will hold firm with their place in the Colonial Athletic Association at the FCS level.

“Consistent with these values and principles and the ongoing issue of conference alignment, JMU will not pursue or accept an invitation from a conference that does not meet our criteria,” James Madison president Jonthan Alger said in a statement released on the school’s athletics website this week. “If we do receive an offer consistent with our established values, we are prepared to review it and make a recommendation to the Board of Visitors. This process is ongoing and will require continued support on the part of the university, students, faculty, staff, coaches, alumni, and fans.”

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson told reporters the powerhouse FCS program was under consideration for an invite to join the conference, which will add Appalachian State and Georgia Southern this season.

“We never offered an invitation,“ Benson said, but “[t]hey were under consideration.”

If James Madison was to move up, Conference USA would look to be the most attractive and realistic option for the Dukes. Conference USA has added Old Dominion, another school from Virginia, and is adding Charlotte in football in 2015. There is no indication Conference USA is looking to add any other future members after Charlotte, which makes for a rough spot for James Madison and any FBS plans. As Massachusetts can prove, making the move for the sake of making the move can sometimes backfire on a school. If Conference USA is not coming to James Madison, the best situation for the Dukes may be to sit still, because it is not likely the ACC or SEC will come calling anytime soon.

The Sun Belt has been exploring expansion possibilities for a while now. James Madison may have been removed from the conversation, but that will not stop the conference from looking at all possibilities for future consideration. Liberty appears to be one of the consistent names in the mix to be the next FCS school to make the move up to the FBS ranks, and the Sun Belt Conference would appear to be a good fit with the latest additions to the conference (Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State). The Sun Belt will have 12 football members including the additions of Idaho and New Mexico this season, so the football membership is even without any further expansions.

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NCAA approves new roughing the passer penalty for hits below knees

Tennessee v Florida

Hitting a quarterback below the knees in passing situations will result in a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer according to a new rule approved by the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel. The new rule will go into effect this fall around the country.

One of the first questions that may come to mind is just what qualifies as a passing situation in a game where passing has become more and more frequent? Will every pass play by considered a passing situation, or just plays that come on third and long or perhaps even second and long? Fortunately the NCAA laid out the basics for when this penalty will come into play.

According to the NCAA, “the rule specifically covers a scenario in which a quarterback is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground.” When in this situation, no defensive player rushing unabated can hit the quarterback at the knees or below the knees. In addition, a defensive player may not roll or lunge and forcibly hit the quarterback in the knee or below. So a defender already on the ground may not roll into the quarterback.

There are exceptions to the rule though. A quarterback who takes off to run, no matter where located on the field, is no longer considered in a passing situation so he would be vulnerable. If a defender is already engaging in wrapping up the quarterback for a tackle, the passing situation is considered over. Any defender blocked into a passer is also in the clear as far as a penalty is concerned, but this means officials will have to keep a close eye on the entire play to determine if a player hitting below the knee was pushed into the passer or if the dive or lunge was initiated by the defender.

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Florida State expresses disappointment in New York Times story

Florida State Spring Game

Florida State University issued a statement in response to a story published by the New York Times on Wednesday. The university expressed disappointment in the story that profiles the timeline of the response taken by the university and Tallahassee police in an investigation for an alleged sexual assault committed by quarterback Jameis Winston.

According to the statement released by Florida State, many of the responses provided during the process of writing the story were not included in the final copy that was released. Among the many points made by the university in an outline of issues with the story include is a statement that Florida State does not tolerate sexual assault, state and federal privacy laws restrict what the university can do on certain student matters, and the university must balance the duty to investigate with the general welfare of the alleged victim. By leaving out information Florida State feels were justified to include in telling what it believes to be the full story, the New York Times has done a disservice to its readers and the Florida State community, the statement says.

“Like all other colleges and universities, FSU is faced with a balancing act when following the “Dear Colleague” letter,” the statement by Florida State opens.

“Given the inherent tension within the “Dear Colleague” letter, FSU seeks to empower victims by giving great weight to their wishes when it comes to counseling, academic accommodations and supporting them through criminal or university proceedings,” the statement continues. “In a great number of cases, the victims make it quite clear that they don’t want to file a police report or pursue a Code of Conduct process.”

You can read the full statement released by Florida State as well as the full outline of points the university feels were missing from the New York Times story.

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‘Cuse confirms Terrel Hunt will remain QB starter

Terrel Hunt AP

Not that there was much mystery involved to begin with, but the question marks surrounding the quarterback position at Syracuse have been answered.

As expected, offensive coordinator George McDonald has confirmed to ESPN.com that Terrell Hunt will remain the Orange’s man under center.  While Hunt ended last season in that position, the competition was open once again this spring.

McDonald said Hunt’s growth throughout the spring locked down the job once again for the player.

“He’s had a really good spring,” McDonald said of the incumbent. “He’s doing a lot of things he wasn’t able to do last spring. For him, the game that made him a lot more comfortable was the Minnesota game. He’s really built off that game. He’s playing at a different level this spring.”

Hunt ultimately started the final 10 games of the 2013 season after Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen, who started the first three, was benched for poor performance.  In addition to throwing for over 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns, Hunt was also second on the team with 500 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground.

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LSU, ‘Cuse officially set future home-and-home

1965 Sugar Bowl

After a month or more of speculation, the long wait for official word on a future series between programs from the ACC and SEC is finally, thankfully over.

Syracuse confirmed via a release Wednesday that it will play a future home-and-home series against LSU.  The Orange will host the Tigers Sept. 26, 2015, in the Carrier Dome, while ‘Cuse gets the “pleasure” of traveling to Death Valley to face the Bayou Bengals Sept. 9, 2017.

“We are thrilled to enter into this home-and-home agreement with a premiere program like LSU. Student-athletes come to Syracuse to play on the biggest stage possible, and this gives our coaches and young men the chance to battle one of the standard-bearers of the SEC on our home turf,” said athletic director Dr. Daryl Gross in a statement. “It is a complicated process to arrange games of this magnitude, and I couldn’t be happier for our fans and for all who will be involved in this upcoming series.”

The two football programs have never met during the regular season, but have squared off twice in the postseason. The first meeting came in the 1965 Sugar Bowl (LSU, 13-10) and the second and last came in the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl (Syracuse, 23-10).

And, while I’m here, Syracuse introduced some new uniforms this afternoon as well.  So, instead of wasting any additional space on uniform news, here they are. Enjoy:

Syracuse Unis

(Program photo credit: Allstate Sugar Bowl)

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SMU’s two-way threat, Kevin Pope, granted medical waiver

Central Florida v SMU

After going both ways for the latter portion of the 2013 season, Kevin Pope will get the opportunity for a repeat in 2014.

SMU announced in a press release that the running back/linebacker “has been granted a medical hardship waiver by the American Athletic Conference and will return to the field in 2014.”  Pope played in just one game in 2010 before an injury that originated in high school not only sidelined him for the remainder of that season but for all of 2011 as well.

That one game Pope played in 2010 came as a running back.  He was shifted to linebacker and played in 24 games at the position the past two seasons, including 11 starts in 2013.  The final two games of last season, however, Pope saw action as both a linebacker and running back, carrying the ball 11 times for 89 yards.  He also caught five passes for 61 yards out of the backfield.

Exiting spring practice this year, Pope was listed as the Mustangs’ No. 1 running back.

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Report: four-star 2013 DB bolts Buckeyes

Jayme Thompson

Kentucky was on the wrong end of a transfer earlier today, but the Wildcats could become the beneficiaries of another school’s loss at some point in the not-too-distant future.

While the school has yet to officially announce the move, defensive back Jayme Thompson is expected to transfer out of the Buckeyes football program.  No reason for the impending departure was given.

According to Rivals.com, Thompson will visit the UK spring game, which will be played Sat., April 26.  In addition to the Wildcats, Louisville, Penn State, Rutgers and West Virginia — Thompson verbally committed to WVU before flipping to OSU — are reportedly potential destinations as well.

The Toledo, OH, high schooler was a four-star member of OSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 29 safety in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  He missed all of the 2013 season due to a broken ankle, but had participated in spring practice this year.

(Photo credit: Ohio State athletics)

UPDATED 2:46 p.m. ET: Tidying up a couple of loose ends, Ohio State has confirmed that Thompson has been granted a released from his scholarship.  Additionally, in a statement to Rivals.com, Thompson’s father acknowledged his son’s departure.

“We would like to thank The Ohio State University for the opportunities they have given my son, Jayme, and our family,” the statement from Deon Thompson began. “Jayme is leaving the program in good academic standing, and we look forward to the next chapter of Jayme’s education and football playing career.”

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Tweet leaves TCU as latest to see QB transfer

TCU Football Media Day head shots

Quarterbacks across the country are taking cabin fever to the extreme and fleeing their football homes in relatively large numbers this Wednesday afternoon.

The latest to be hit by attrition at the position is apparently TCU, with Tyler Matthews seeming to confirm via a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account that he has decided to pack up leave the Horned Frogs football program.  It should be noted, though, that the school has not yet addressed, at least publicly, Matthews’ status for the upcoming season and beyond.

It’s unknown why Matthews would decide to leave the program as the sophomore was engaged in a competitive spring battle with last year’s part-time starter, Trevone Boykin, for the starting job.

Despite Boykin’s struggles — when he was the starter — last season that led to the competition this spring, Matthews rarely saw the field in 2013 as a redshirt freshman and did not attempt a pass.  Prior to redshirting as a true freshman in 2012, Matthews was a four-star member of that year’s class and was the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.  He was the No. 1 prospect at any position in the state of Kansas that year, and heading back to his home state is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Interestingly, TCU is already a rumored landing spot for Matt Joeckel, who it was announced earlier today was transferring from Texas A&M.

(Tip O’ the Cap: frogsowar.com)

(Photo credit: TCU athletics)

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Losing USC QB battle won’t lead to Max Browne transfer

Max Browne AP

(Writer’s note: For now at least.)

Late last night, Steve Sarkisian did what’s long been expected and officially tapped the incumbent, Cody Kessler, as USC’s starting quarterback.

Because his prime competition for the job, Max Browne was a high-profile recruit — he was Rivals.com’s No. 1 quarterback in the Class of 2013 — who could be in for a second consecutive season of inactivity, the “T” word came front and center when it came to Browne’s future with the Trojans.  According to the player, however, that’s not an option for him — ever.

I’m staying put,” Browne said when asked about a potential transfer. “I’m here for good.”

Sarkisian attempted to soften the sting of losing the battle, telling the media “I think Max is going to be a star.”

That’s all well and good in the here and now, but the future doesn’t look very promising for Browne at USC, at least as far as seeing the playing field goes.  Including 2014, Kessler still has two years of eligibility remaining.  As a redshirt sophomore last season and tasked with the responsibility of replacing longtime starter Matt Barkley, Kessler performed exceptionally well as he completed just over 65 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

Another factor that could lead to an about-face from Browne?  Ricky Town, the top quarterback in the Class of 2014, verbally committed to play for the Trojans this past January and is expected to be a part of USC’s recruiting class next year.

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Another SEC QB transfer as Jalen Whitlow leaves Kentucky

Jalen Whitlow AP

‘Tis the season for quarterbacks fleeing SEC football programs en masse, apparently.

Shortly after Texas A&M confirmed that Matt Joeckel, a potential starter in 2014, was leaving the Aggies, Kentucky announced that Jalen Whitlow, a bonafide starter in 2013, has decided to do the same when it comes to the Wildcats.  Whitlow started 15 games the past two seasons, including eight in 2013, and entered spring practice, at least as far as the media and the fans were concerned, as UK’s unquestioned starter under center.

However, at a press conference shortly after the surprising announcement of Whitlow’s impending departure, head coach Mark Stoops confirmed that the decision was made after the player was talked to about changing positions.  Specifically, the coaching staff asked Whitlow to move to wide receiver.  The quarterback declined, instead opting to move on elsewhere for his remaining two seasons of eligibility.

We respect Jalen and his decision as we want the best for him,” Stoops said in a statement released prior to his talk with the media. “I thank Jalen for his contributions to the team. I want everyone to understand how hard he has worked and the effort he has given since our staff has been here.”

The past two seasons, Whitlow has thrown for 1,831 yards and 10 touchdowns.  He also contributed nine touchdowns on the ground.

Coming out of high school in Prattville, Ala., Whitlow was rated as a three-star recruit and listed as an “athlete” by Rivals.com.

I appreciate the University of Kentucky and what the coaching staff and administration have done for me,” the player said in his statement. “I also thank the community and the fan support I have received here. I wish the coaches and my teammates the best of luck.”

With Whitlow no longer a part of the equation, UK’s group at the position will include the veteran but oft-injured Maxwell Smith; Patrick Towles and Drew Barker, four-star members of UK’s 2012 and 2014 recruiting classes, respectively; and redshirt freshman Reece Phillips.

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QB Matt Joeckel transferring from A&M

UTEP v Texas A&M

And then there were two.

What started as a three-man competition to replace Johnny Manziel has officially been whittled by one, with Texas A&M announcing Wednesday morning that Matt Joeckel has decided to transfer from the Aggies.  The school stated via Twitter that head coach Kevin Sumlinand A&M Football wish Matt Joeckel all the best next season, Joeckel graduated & will pursue his final season at another school.”

Matt is a great Aggie and he has decided to transfer,” Sumlin said in a statement subsequently released by the school. “We wish him all the best.”

As Joeckel has already graduated from A&M — earned a business degree last December — he’ll be permitted to play immediately at an FBS program in 2014 if that’s the path he chooses for his final year of collegiate eligibility.

Joeckel, the brother of former A&M All-American and 2013 No.2 overall NFL draft pick Luke Joeckel, served as Manziel’s primary backup in 2013 and entered spring practice with a significant edge in experience over his two competitors.  A three-star member of the Aggies’ 2010 recruiting class, Joeckel was the No. 29 pro-style quarterback in that class coming out of high school in Arlington, Tex.

“I  have loved my four and a half years at Texas A&M,” Joeckel said. “I am glad I had the opportunity to play for Coach Sumlin, Coach (Jake) Spavital and the rest of the coaches. I am proud to have my degree from the Mays Business School and I’ll always consider myself a member of the Aggie family.”

With Joeckel out of the mix, the onus for replacing Manziel falls squarely on the shoulders of Kenny Hill and/or Kyle Allen.

Hill showed flashes last season that lead some to believe he could, like Manziel two years ago, surprise observers as spring practice commenced.  Also like pre-Heisman Manziel, unfortunately, Hill has an off-field legal issue with which to deal.  Late last month, Hill was arrested and charged with public intoxication, resulting in an indefinite suspension from the football program.

Allen comes into the battle with the high-profile pedigree, a five-star member of the Aggies’ 2014 recruiting class rated as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 7 player at any position.  An early enrollee who is participating in spring practice, Allen has been impressive in his own right.  Add in Joeckel’s transfer and Hill’s arrest, and Allen could be in position to take over the A&M offense as a true freshman in 2014.

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40th postseason game, Orlando’s Cure Bowl, officially announced

Cure Bowl Logo

Yippie!?!?

Following up on the reports from Tuesday, the American Athletic Conference and the Orlando Sports Foundation announced the creation of what’s being called the Cure Bowl.  The AAC will face a member of the Sun Belt Conference in December 2015 at the newly-renovated Citrus Bowl.

One of the few redeeming qualities for yet another game added to an already bloated postseason slate is that this one will have strong ties to charitable organizations working to find a cure for breast cancer.

We are pleased to partner with the Cure Bowl and commend the organizers for their dedication and commitment to such a worthy cause while also supporting youth organizations in Central Florida,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “By adding the Cure Bowl to our already strong bowl lineup, we continue to meet our goal of providing a competitive game and a desirable destination for our student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

Barring any contraction between now and then — highly unlikely, unfortunately — the Cure Bowl will bring the total number of FBS bowl games to a whopping 40.  In 1995, just 18 bowl games were played after that season.  Or, to put it into even more perspective, there’s this little historical nugget from al.com:

The number of bowl games increased from six to 11 between 1955 and 1975. Then they went from 11 to 18 from 1975 to 1995. During the 16-year Bowl Championship Series era, the amount of bowls increased from 20 to 35.

There were 35 bowls played in the 2013-2014 postseason cycle, with 79 teams reaching the requisite six wins for bowl eligibility.  There will be four additional bowl games added for the 2014 season, bringing the total to 39 the year prior to the Cure Bowl’s arrival.

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Prosecutor decries police handling of Winston rape probe

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Getty Images

William Meggs, the Florida state’s attorney charged with handling the investigation into the allegations of rape made against Jameis Winston last year, did not hide the fact that, in his opinion, the initial investigation was not handled properly by the Tallahassee Police Department.

In a New York Times “expose” published Wednesday morning, Meggs was on the offensive yet again.  Meggs assailed the TPD probe on multiple fronts, from failing to readily identify a witness — who also happened to be one of Winston’s teammates — to apparent nonchalance when it came to a crucial tip involving a taxi cab to its handling of Winston in the early stages of the investigation.

On the night in question, in December of 2012, Winston and at least two of his teammates, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, were at a Tallahassee bar named Potbelly’s.  It was there that the three met up with the alleged victim, had a few drinks and then took off in a taxi with the woman.  At some point a few hours, a 911 call was made, alleging she was raped.

It was the investigation — or lack thereof — that has Meggs speaking out more than four months after his office decided against filing charges against Winston.  And, in somewhat of an unexpected turn, Meggs made his strongest comments to date on the case:

– On the TPD failing to find Casher, who allegedly videotaped a portion of the encounter, in a timely manner, possibly leading to the loss of key evidence:

In the recent interview, Mr. Meggs said he was surprised that the police had not quickly found Mr. Casher. “How long does it take to identify a freshman football player — about 10, 15, 16 seconds?” he asked, adding, “Anybody that looked at this case would say you get a report at 2 in the morning, by noon you could have had the defendant identified and talked to.”

Casher allegedly deleted the video “a couple of days” after Winston’s encounter with the alleged victim, well before he was ever contacted and interviewed by police.

– One of the three football players used an FSU ID to get a discounted fare for the taxi.  TPD investigators failed to find the driver of the cab, as well as failed to secure videotape from myriad security cameras positioned in and around the Tallahassee bar that could have shed some light on the incident:

“I am convinced that we would have identified the cabdriver that night and had an interview with him,” Mr. Meggs said. “Don’t know what we would have learned, but we would have learned the truth. I am also convinced that had it been done properly, we would have had the video from Potbelly’s.

By the time the prosecutor [Meggs] asked for that video, the tape had long since been recycled.

– The TPD’s initial encounter with Winston regarding the allegations came via the telephone, which allowed the player the opportunity to “lawyer up” before he could be questioned:

Mr. Meggs said he was shocked that the police investigator’s first attempt to contact Mr. Winston was by telephone. “He says, ‘I have baseball practice, I’ll get with you later,’” Mr. Meggs said. That call allowed Mr. Winston to hire a lawyer who told him not to talk.

“It’s insane to call a suspect on the phone,” Mr. Meggs said. “First off, you don’t know who you are talking to.” He said he would have gone straight to the baseball field. “If you walked up to Jameis Winston in the middle of baseball practice and said, ‘Come here, son, I need to talk to you,’ he would have said, ‘Yes, sir.’”

In summation, Meggs stated that the TPD “just missed all the basic stuff that you are supposed to do” during the course of an investigation of this type, although he stopped well short of accusing the department in general and the investigating officer specifically of willful misconduct because of Winston’s status as a Seminoles football player. Meggs was also quick to caution, as the Times wrote, that “a better investigation might have yielded the same result,” which was no charges being filed against Winston.

In mid-November, after reports of the probe had surfaced publicly, Meggs vowed that his office would get to the bottom of the allegations, a report of which had only recently been forwarded to him by the TPD — 11 months after the alleged rape and only after an open records request from news organizations seemingly forced the department’s hand.  Three weeks later in a press conference announcing no charges would be filed against Winston, Meggs said his investigation didn’t find enough evidence to prove that the sexual encounter between the player and the alleged victim was not consensual.

A short time later, the attorney for Winston’s accuser called for an investigation into the TPD’s handling of the case.  The feds have also reportedly gotten involved on the university side of the situation, with reports coming to light earlier this month that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.

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