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Arizona State adds 27 on signing day

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

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State University has signed 27 student-athletes to national letters of intent Wednesday to study and participate in football, head coach Todd Graham announced.

Coach Graham’s second signing class at ASU provides the Sun Devils with excellent talent on offense, defense and special teams and includes players from multiple states across the country.

The class consists of 16 freshmen, five sophomores and six juniors. Four of the student-athletes are midyear transfers already on campus that will participate in spring practice.

ASU’S 2013 Signing Class Includes:

• Student-athletes from nine different home states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio,

Pennsylvania, Texas).

• Nine players rated in the top-40 at their position as high school recruits: Chans Cox, No. 1 Fullback, Scout.com; Christian Westerman, No. 2 Offensive Tackle, ESPN (2011); Viliami Latu, No. 13 Inside Linebacker, Rivals.com; Matt Haack, No. 15 Kicker, Rivals.com; Marcus Ball, No. 24 Athlete, Rivals.com; James Johnson, No. 24 Safety, ESPN; Corey Smith, No. 33 Weakside Defensive End, Rivals.com; Jayme Otomewo, No. 34 Safety, ESPN; William Earley, No. 37 Cornerback, Scout.com.

• Six transfers rated in the nation’s top-100 overall junior college prospects: DL Marcus Hardison (No. 5, ESPN), WR Jaelen Strong (No. 17, ESPN), LB Antonio Longino (No. 32, Rivals.com), WR Joseph Morris (No. 61, ESPN), TE De’Marieya Nelson (No. 78, ESPN), OL Nick Kelly (No. 95, Rivals.com).

• Four Arizona natives: Cox, DL Kisima Jagne, TE Grant Martinez, Westerman; including the most highly-rated offensive recruit from Arizona in over a decade (Westerman, Scout.com).

• Four junior college transfers with three years of playing eligibility: Kelly, Longino, DB Solomon Means, Strong.

• Sixteen defensive players, 10 offensive players and one specialist.

• Six defensive backs, five defensive linemen, five linebackers, five wide receivers, three offensive linemen, two tight ends and one punter.

• Four midyear transfers: Cox, Jagne, Kelly, Westerman.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 27 members of Arizona State’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Marcus Ball • S • Freshman • 6-3, 205 lb. • Westerville, Ohio • Westerville-South HS

One of the nation’s most versatile athletes…played quarterback and safety in high school and can also play linebacker or receiver/tight end…will start his Sun Devil career at safety…is a dangerous mismatch on offense and a rangy, fearless tackler on defense…earned All-Midwest Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…rated the No. 24 all-purpose athlete in the country by Rivals.com…listed as the No. 46 safety prospect in the nation by Scout.com…ranked by ESPN as the No. 67 all-purpose athlete prospect in the nation…an excellent basketball player in high school as well…scored a school-record 43 points the night before signing with ASU…his older brother, Ray, is an offensive lineman for Wisconsin…passed for 1,600 yards with 16 touchdowns, ran for 500 yards and intercepted seven passes as a junior in 2011…chose ASU over Wisconsin and added reported scholarship offers from Boston College, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kent State, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Tennessee, Toledo and West Virginia…coached by Rocky Pentello at Westerville-South High… “I really was impressed the most by the academic support,” Ball said after his visit to ASU. “[Senior Associate Athletic Director] Jean Boyd is an amazing guy with high character that is going to be there for many years. Everyone I met there, coaches, players, seems very genuine… Their graduation rate, especially with African-American student-athletes is very high.”…committed to ASU on Feb. 6, 2013, National Letter of Intent Signing Day.

Nick Begg • DE • Freshman • 6-5, 250 lb. • Santa Margarita, Calif. • Rancho Santa Margarita HS

Athletic lineman with tremendous upside…earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…rated by Scout.com as the No. 95 defensive end prospect in the country…listed as the No. 96 defensive end recruit in the nation by ESPN…Rancho Santa Margarita High also produced Sun Devils Sil Ajawara, Evan Finkenberg and Sean O’Grady…chose ASU over a reported scholarship offer from San Diego State…verbally committed to ASU on July 23, 2012… “I just fell in love with the coaching staff and the entire program at ASU,” Begg said. “The whole visit left a big impact on not just me but my family as well. I like the program a lot and the direction things are going there and I fit in really well.”…coached by Harry Welch at Rancho Santa Margarita High…verbally committed to ASU on July 23, 2012.

Demetrius Cherry • DL • Junior • 6-6, 275 lb • Frostproof, Fla. • Contra Costa College

Versatile defensive lineman with the ability to add immediate value to the Sun Devil defense…is praised for having excellent speed, athleticism and quick feet for his size…uses his size, strength and explosiveness to create pressure…has the size and ability to play any defensive line position…earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…originally signed with Washington State in 2011 before spending two years at the junior college level…totaled 26 tackles including 8.5 for loss with 4.5 sacks, one pass breakup and one blocked kick as a junior college freshman in 2011… played at Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy in 2010…collected 92 tackles, 4.0 sacks and four forced fumbles in 10 games as a high school senior in 2009…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from California, Fresno State, Illinois, Iowa State, Maryland, North Carolina State, Purdue, San Diego State, San Jose State and Washington State…coached by Brad Metheny at Frostproof and by Alonzo Carter at Contra Costa…verbally committed to ASU on Dec. 17, 2012.

Chans Cox • LB • Freshman • 6-3, 230 lb • Lakeside, Ariz. • Blue Ridge HS

One of Arizona’s most versatile football players, he excelled at linebacker, running back and also punted in high school…Will play linebacker at ASU…Graduated early from Blue Ridge to enroll at ASU for the spring semester…Will participate in spring drills…Listed as a PrepStar All-American in 2012…One of the top overall prospects in the state of Arizona this year…Rated by Rivals.com as the nation’s 150 overall prospect, the No. 13 outside linebacker recruit and the No. 3 overall prospect in the state of Arizona…Evaluated by Scout.com as a fullback and was rated the top national recruit at the position as well as the No. 148 overall prospect…Regarded as a four-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com…Included in the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune Western 100 List…Blue Ridge compiled a 40-2 during the 2010-12 seasons with three state championship game appearances and a state title in 2011…Helped lead Blue Ridge to a 14-1 record and a state championship game appearance in 2012… earned Honorable Mention All-Division IV All-State recognition by the Arizona Republic as a senior Was an All-State recipient as a junior in 2011 after posting 61 tackles while also rushing for 682 yards and 16 total touchdowns…Helped guide Blue Ridge to a 14-0 record and the state championship in 2011…Earned All-State and All-Region honors as a sophomore in 2010 after recording 86 tackles and 8.0 sacks…Blue Ridge posted a 12-1 record his sophomore season…Chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from schools including Arizona, Arkansas, Boise State, California, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State, USC, Utah, Washington and Washington State…Verbally committed to ASU on June 13, 2012… “[ASU’s coaches] are really instilling discipline and character in the program and that is something that means a whole lot to me. I really love the coaching staff as well and they always impress me when I visit with them. I’m proud to be an in-state guy committing to ASU and I’m happy that I get to play close to my family and friends and have a great fan base that will always be behind me. It’s going to be a great journey and I’m excited to take part of it.”…Verbally committed to ASU on June 13, 2012…Coached by Paul Moro at Blue Ridge High. “Chans had an opportunity to go anywhere in the country and he came here,” coach Graham said. “I think that has a lot to do with what our program is about. He’s big, fast, strong and versatile, and he’s going to be a guy that will be impactful to our program in a hurry. We signed DJ (Foster) and Jaxon (Hood), who were two of the best players in the state last year, and then to add Chans, who is one of the top guys in Arizona this season, is something we’re very proud of. His size, his speed and his character are things that really separate him, but it is the leadership that we think he can provide that really gets us excited.”

William Earley • CB • Freshman • 6-1, 200 lb • Mesquite, Texas • West Mesquite HS

Tall defensive back with great size…evaluators consider him to have quick feet, good hips and a physical style in addition to his excellent size…from the same hometown as ASU head coach Todd Graham…earned All-Midlands Region honors by SuperPrep in 2012…listed by Scout.com as the No. 37 cornerback prospect in the nation…rated by Rivals.com as the No. 55 cornerback prospect in the country and the No. 85 overall recruit in the state of Texas…totaled 26 tackles, six passes defended and two interceptions as a senior in 2012…posted 20 tackles, two passes defended and one fumble recovery as a junior in 2011…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Texas, SMU, TCU and UNLV…coached by Mike Overton at West Mesquite…verbally committed to ASU on Sept. 23, 2012.

Eriquel Florence • LB • Junior • 6-1, 235 lb • Valley, Ala. • Contra Costa College

Physical defender with the ability to play multiple linebacker positions…has great instincts, size and speed…runs a 4.6 40-yard dash…will have three years to play two starting in the fall…was a junior college teammate of fellow ASU signee Demetrius Cherry…his brother, Erique, completed his sophomore season playing at Auburn in 2012…was named the 2012 Bay Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year after posting 91 tackles and 6.0 sacks as a sophomore…totaled 30 tackles including 7.0 tackles-for-loss with 1.0 sack and one interception as a freshman in 2011…earned All-Bay Valley Conference honors…chose ASU over a reported scholarship offers from Houston and Western Kentucky…a 2011 graduate of Valley (Ala.) High School…” “I love the family atmosphere [at ASU],” said Florence. “They have a great campus and a great coaching staff that can help me take my game to the next level. I know that they can make me successful on and off the field.”…verbally committed to ASU on Dec. 24, 2012…coached by Mike Dean at Valley High School and by Alonzo Carter at Contra Costa College.

Matt Haack • P • Freshman 6-1, 185 lb. • West Des Moines, Iowa • Dowling HS

Special teams player expected to compete to replace All-Pac-12 punter Josh Hubner…rated by Rivals.com as the No. 15 kicker in the nation and the state of Iowa’s No. 10 overall prospect…runs a 4.6 40-yard dash…the first signee for ASU from the state of Iowa since 2001…also played running back in high school…chose ASU over a reported scholarship offer from Iowa State…coached by Tom Wilson at Dowling High…verbally committed to ASU on July 31, 2012.

Marcus Hardison • DL • Junior 6-5, 290 lb • Punta Gorda, Fla. • Dodge City CC

One of the most heavily recruited junior college prospects in the country…has three years to play two starting in 2013…has incredible versatility and can play multiple defensive line positions…figures to boost an already prominent Sun Devil defensive line guided by returning Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton and Freshman All-American Jaxon Hood…runs a 4.7 40-yard dash…ranked by ESPN as the No. 5 overall junior college prospect in the country…rated by Rivals.com as the No. 14 overall junior college prospect and the third-best junior college defensive end in the nation…rated as a four-star prospect by both ESPN and Rivals…posted 50 tackles and four sacks as a sophomore in 2012…recorded 46 tackles and three sacks as a freshman in 2011…earned Second-Team All-Jayhawk Conference honors as a sophomore…graduated from Punta Gorda (Fla.) Charlotte High School in 2011…played quarterback early in his high school career before moving to the defensive line…also played tight end…chose ASU over approximately two dozen reported scholarship offers from schools including Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Kansas State, Miami, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Washington and West Virginia…verbally committed to ASU on Jan. 18, 2013… “All the coaches at Arizona State are straight up good guys,” said Hardison. “They told me that I can accomplish anything I want on and off the field over there (at ASU) if I’m willing to work hard at it. I don’t like when stuff is just given to me so that’s fine by me.”…coached by Binky Waldrop at Charlotte High and by Bob Majeski at Dodge City Community College.

Kisima Jagne • DL • Freshman 6-5, 265 lb • Chandler, Ariz. • Chandler HS

A 2012 graduate of Chandler (Ariz.) High School…Signed with Colorado in February 2012 but opted to delay his enrollment…Began classes at ASU in January and will participate in spring drills…Is eligible to play in 2013 and will have five years to play four…Has an excellent frame to compete for time in ASU’s defensive line rotation…As a senior in 2011 he was ranked one of the top players in Arizona by most of the recruiting sites, including No. 6 by ESPN.com, No. 9 by Rivals and No. 13 by SuperPrep…Rivals also had him as the No. 28 strong side defensive end nationally, while ESPN.com ranked him as the No. 52 defensive end and Scout.com at No. 54….A second-team All-Arizona Division I selection both his junior and senior years along with being named first-team All-Division I Section II both seasons…Averaged over 10 tackles per game as a senior and finished the season with 10 quarterback sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries (he also blocked two punts on special teams)…Top two prep games came against rival Hamilton, as he combined for 33 tackles and five sacks…as a junior, he finished the season with 71 tackles and 17 sacks to go along with two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries…Along with the punt and field goal block teams, he also played on the kickoff return team that season…Played his freshman and sophomore years at Chavez High School, earning two letters and starting as a sophomore…Also lettered in basketball, averaging 14.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game as a senior, when he had 74 blocked shots in 27 games; he shot 55.7 percent from the field and had a season-high 28 points against Casa Grande…Earned second-team All-Arizona honors as a junior at Chandler and was fourth-team All-Arizona as a sophomore at Chavez, where he helped his team to two regional championships as a freshman and sophomore; Chandler advanced to the conference playoffs his junior year….Born October 30, 1993 in Phoenix…His cousin, Kenny Wheaton, played football at Oregon and was a third round draft pick by Dallas in the 1997 NFL Draft and played three seasons with the Cowboys (he also played Arena Football and in the Canadian Football League, including a brief stint with the Colorado Crush in the AFL)…Another cousin, Derrek Wheaton, signed to play football at Oregon, but was killed in a drive-by shooting prior to attending the school; the Arizona Junior High Basketball Tournament MVP honors are named in his honor…Another cousin, Marquese Wheaton, recently finished his college career as a defensive back at Southern Mississippi while another cousin, Markus Wheaton, was a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection in 2012 as a senior for Oregon State…Name pronounced “Kiz-ma Jag-knee”…As a high school senior he also had reported scholarship offers from Arizona, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State…Coached by Shaun Aguano at Chandler High School….”Kisima, who is another local product, is a guy that fits our hybrid system because, among other things, his great ability to rush the passer,” coach Graham said. “It’s all about getting the right fit and we think he has great promise. He’s played in a system that had him blitzing from inside and outside, and he’s big enough to play defensive end. Getting him in the spring is important and we think he can really develop into something special.”

Ellis Jefferson • WR • Freshman 6-4, 200 lb • Denton, Texas • Guyer HS

Tall, physical wide receiver target…rated by Scout.com as the No. 82 wide receiver prospect in the nation…fearless route runner and tough receiver with the ability to gain yards after contact…earned All-Midlands Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…listed as the No. 136 wide receiver recruit in the country by ESPN…led Guyer to the Class 4A Division I state championship in 2012…starred in the state championship game, hauling in 176 receiving yards with two touchdowns…caught 38 passes for 676 yards with five touchdowns as a junior in 2011…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Colorado, Michigan State, Mississippi State, North Texas, Purdue, San Diego State, Tulsa, Utah State and Vanderbilt…coached by John Walsh at Guyer…”My mom and I loved the school,” said Jefferson. “She loved the education center and liked the way they played football.”…verbally committed to ASU on July 14, 2012…coached by John Walsh at Guyer High.

James Johnson • S • Freshman 6-2, 200 lb • Upland, Calif. • Upland HS

Excellent athlete with outstanding ball skills…played wide receiver and defensive back at Upland… earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…ranked by ESPN as the No. 24 safety prospect in the country…listed by Scout.com as the No. 60 safety recruit in the nation…listed by Scout.com as the No. 10 safety in the West region following the 2012 season…has the ability to play any of ASU’s safety positions…was a three-year varsity starter in the secondary for Upland…Upland High also produced Sun Devil cornerback Osahon Irabor…totaled 45 tackles, seven interceptions and one fumble recover in 2012…added 33 receptions for 599 yards (18.2 avg.) with one touchdown as a senior…also returned punts and kickoffs…totaled 62 tackles and two interceptions as a junior in 2011 and also saw time at wide receiver…helped lead Upland to a 12-1 record in 2011…registered 39 tackles, two forced fumbles and one interception as a sophomore in 2010…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Arizona, Colorado, Fresno State, Houston, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon State, San Jose State and Wyoming…coached by Tim Salter at Upland High…verbally committed to ASU on Oct. 6, 2012.

Nick Kelly • OL • Sophomore 6-3, 280 lb • Orangevale, Calif. • American River College

A 2012 graduate of American River College in Sacramento, Calif….Rated by Rivals.com as the No. 95 overall junior college prospect in the country and the nation’s No. 12 junior college offensive line recruit…Graduated from Orangevale (Calif.) Casa Roble High School…Brings a year of junior college playing experience to Tempe but maintains four years to play three for the Sun Devils…began classes at ASU in January and will participate in spring drills…Joins American River teammate Josh Tremblay among ASU’s Class of 2013 midyear signees …Adds a valuable presence at center which also allows ASU’s coaches to rotate other linemen throughout the interior line positions…Combines power, athleticism and versatility to give ASU a promising offensive line contributor…Chose ASU over offers from Nevada and Wyoming…Verbally committed to ASU on Dec. 16, 2012…”I loved my trip to Arizona State so it was an easy decision. The facilities really impressed me on the visit and I had a good time hanging out with the players there. They were great guys. The Arizona State coaches like my leadership and my athleticism. They also like how I can call the protection and call the keys. They feel that I can really help the team.”…Coached by Norman Ryan at Casa Roble and by Jerry Haflich at American River…. “Adding both Nick not only gives us more depth at offensive line, but it allows us to be more flexible and creative in how we utilize our guys up front,” coach Graham said. “Nick is a true center and is someone who understands the game very well and can come in right away and compete.”

Alani Latu • LB • Freshman 6’2, 230 lb • Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. • Rancho Cucamonga HS

Key figure in one of California’s better high school defenses…very physical player with great coverage skills for a linebacker…likely to compete for time at ASU’s “Spur” linebacker position… earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…included in the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune Western 100 List…rated by Scout.com as the No. 41 outside linebacker recruit in the nation…listed by Rivals.com as the No. 49 outside linebacker prospect in the country and the No. 78 overall recruit in the state of California…joins twin brother Viliami as members of ASU’s 2013 signing class… earned Third-Team Cal-Hi Sports All-State as a senior…also a standout basketball player for Rancho Cucamonga…listed by Scout.com as the No. 8 outside linebacker in the West region after the 2012 season…recorded 94 tackles, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble as a senior in 2012…posted a season-high 12 tackles on two occasions and recorded 10 total stops twice as well…totaled 70 tackles as a junior in 2011…had a season-high 10 tackles against Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School on Dec. 2, 2011…saw limited action on the varsity squad as a sophomore in 2010…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Arizona, Colorado, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Houston, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oregon State, San Diego State, Utah State and Washington State… verbally committed to ASU on Oct. 5, 2012…coached by Nick Baiz at Rancho Cucamonga High.

Viliami Latu • LB • Freshman 6’2, 230 lb • Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. • Rancho Cucamonga HS

One of the most prominent linebackers in the state of California and generally regarded as one of the top-20 linebacker prospects in the nation…considered by recruiting evaluators to be the prototype inside linebacker…physical run-stuffing linebacker who is also talented at dropping into coverage…earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…joins twin brother Alani as members of ASU’s 2013 signing class…selected to the CalState Game and West Coast Bowl…included in the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune Western 100 List…Regarded as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com…also rated by Rivals as the nation’s No. 13 inside linebacker recruit and the No. 37 overall prospect in the state of California…rated by Scout.com as the No. 18 middle linebacker recruit in the nation…earned First-Team Cal-Hi Sports All-State as a senior…listed by ESPN as the No. 27 inside linebacker prospect in the nation…registered 107 tackles with 4.0 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012…exploded for a season-high 18 tackles against Anaheim (Calif.) Servite on Sept. 1, 2012…tallied 13 tackles against Upland (Calif.) High School on Oct. 5, 2012 and registered 12 tackles against Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos High on Oct. 26, 2012…recorded 70 tackles and two interceptions as a junior…earned all-state underclass honors as a junior in 2011…saw limited action on the varsity squad as a sophomore in 2010…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Arizona, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Diego State and Utah State…verbally committed to ASU on Oct. 5, 2012…coached by Nick Baiz at Rancho Cucamonga High.

Ronald Lewis • WR • Freshman 6’0, 185 lb • Harvey, La. • West Jefferson HS

Dynamic threat on offense and special teams…played wide receiver as a senior after spending time at quarterback during his junior season…unselfish athlete who switched positions during his high school career because of team needs…excels on kick and punt returns…earned All-Southeast Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 65 wide receiver prospect in the nation and the state of Louisiana’s No. 25 overall recruit…regarded by ESPN as the No. 127 wide receiver prospect in the nation…listed by Scout.com as the No. 171 wide receiver recruit in the nation…runs a 4.45 40-yard dash…caught 30 passes for 552 yards with three touchdowns and added four touchdowns on kick returns as only a sophomore in 2010…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Baylor, Colorado, Florida International, Illinois, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nebraska, TCU, Texas A&M and Tulane…coached by Marcus Scott at West Jefferson…verbally committed to ASU on Sept. 5, 2012.

Antonio Longino • LB • RS Sophomore

6-3, 225 lb • East Cleveland, Ohio • Shaw HS • Hutchinson Community College

Physically gifted linebacker who will add a valuable presence at linebacker…has instant-impact potential and likely will battle to replace Second-Team All-Pac-12 member Brandon Magee at linebacker…comes to ASU with three years to play three starting in the fall…rated by Rivals.com as the No. 32 overall junior college prospect in the country and the nation’s third-best junior college linebacker recruit…appeared in seven games in 2012, registering 56 tackles including 6.0 for loss with 1.5 sacks…redshirted in 2011…made an immediate impact at the high school level, ranking second on the varsity squad with 99 tackles as a sophomore in 2008, adding 9.0 sacks…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Toledo and West Virginia…”I got along with all the coaches and players [at ASU],” Longino said after his official visit to Tempe. “Everybody I met was really cool. It felt like family and that was good being far from home. So I’m going to a school where I already know what the people are like. I was really surprised how beautiful the school was.”…verbally committed to ASU on Jan. 12, 2013…coached by Rodney Brown at Shaw High and by Rion Rhoades at Hutchinson Community College.

Grant Martinez • TE • Freshman 6-5, 210 lb • Scottsdale, Ariz. • Notre Dame Prep

Unanimously regarded as the top senior tight end prospect in the state of Arizona…combines excellent height, athleticism and hands…earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…rated by Scout.com as the No. 51 tight end prospect in the nation…earned First-Team Division II All-State honors by the Arizona Republic as a senior…played offense and defense in high school…key three-year varsity contributor…caught 43 passes for 561 yards with nine touchdowns in 2012…topped 100 receiving yards on two occasions…posted career-bests of 115 yards and eight receptions with a touchdown against Scottsdale Desert Mountain High on Sept. 21, 2012…hauled in seven receptions for 110 yards with a touchdown against Scottsdale Horizon High on Oct. 26, 2012…caught at least four passes in six games as a senior…totaled 36 receptions for 411 yards and six scores as a junior in 2011…had a season-best 76 receiving yards on five catches with a touchdown against Tempe McClintock on Oct. 21, 2011…posted five receptions for 59 yards with a touchdown against Rio Rancho (N.M) High School on Sept. 2, 2011…registered 23 receptions for 359 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore on varsity in 2010…helped lead Notre Dame to a state championship game appearance at the end of the 2010 season…also started at center for Notre Dame’s basketball team…ranked second on the team in blocked shots and rebounds and fourth in scoring as a junior in 2011-12…coached in basketball by Chris Stark…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Air Force, Army, California, Colorado State, Colorado State, Duke, Iowa State, Nevada, Oregon State, Rice, San Diego State and Utah…coached by the late Scot Bemis and also Gary Gregory at Notre Dame Prep….verbally committed to ASU on June 25, 2012.

Solomon Means • DB • RS Sophomore 6-1, 170 lb • Stockton, Calif. • Lincoln HS • Butte College

Tall defensive back with a year of college playing experience as well as three additional years of eligibility…has three to play three at ASU starting in the fall…very disruptive in pass coverage, he totaled double-digit pass deflections both as a high school senior and as a junior college redshirt freshman…played in 2012 at the same college that gave ASU recently departed senior receiver Rashad Ross…recorded 38 tackles, a team-high 12 passes defended including one interception…runs a 4.53 40-yard dash…initially signed with Weber State out of high school before attending Butte College…played wide receiver and defensive back in high school…caught 20 passes for 172 yards with one touchdown…finished second on the team in receptions behind eventual All-Pac-12 receiver Brandin Cooks…added 18 tackles, 12 passes defended, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries…chose ASU over reported offers from Houston and Idaho… “It was beautiful,” Means said of his visit to ASU. “It was really different for me being a California boy. I didn’t know want to expect with the Desert and the cactus trees but everything was really nice. I loved the college atmosphere and you can tell the whole college is into the team. Everywhere we went people recognized the players.”…committed to ASU on Feb. 6, 2013, National Letter of Intent Signing Day…coached by Brian Gray at Lincoln High and by Jeff Jordan at Butte College.

Joseph Morris • WR • Junior 6-4, 200 lb • West Palm Beach, Fla. • American Heritage HS • Pierce College

Big receiver with two years of junior college experience…the first junior college prospect of the 2013 class to provide a verbal commitment to ASU…joined fellow ASU signee Jaelen Strong as Pierce College’s two primary wide receiver targets in 2012…listed as ESPN’s No. 61 overall junior college prospect in the country and the nation’s No. 16 junior college wide receiver recruit…caught 29 passes for 529 yards with six touchdowns as a freshman in 2011…had a long reception of 80 yards and averaged 18.2 yards per reception…led Pierce in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Louisiana Tech, LSU and Middle Tennessee State…coached by Efrain Martinez at Pierce College…verbally committed to ASU on July 23, 2012.

De’Marieya Nelson • TE • RS Junior 6-3, 230 lb • Stockton, Calif. • Chavez Senior HS • San Joaquin Delta College

Excellent athlete with experience at multiple positions between his high school and junior college careers…a perfect fit for the three-back role in ASU’s offense, currently occupied by record-setting receiver Chris Coyle…rated by ESPN as the No. 78 overall junior college prospect in the country and the nation’s No. 7 junior college tight end recruit…caught 26 passes for 218 yards with two touchdowns in nine games in 2012…was named First-Team All-Valley Conference as a sophomore…earned All-State honors in 2011…helped lead Delta to a victory in the Silicon Valley Bowl…was regarded as the No. 19 overall prospect in central California by Scout.com as a senior in 2009…ranked by Scout.com as the No. 158 running back prospect in the nation as high school senior…carried 106 times for 824 yards with six touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 294 yards with three scores as a senior in 2008…added 16 tackles and two pass deflections…played running back and free safety…also played basketball in high school…rushed 88 times for 602 yards with seven touchdowns and added 24 tackles with 3.5 sacks as a sophomore in 2006 at Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln High, playing fullback and linebacker…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Fresno State, Memphis, Nevada, San Diego State, Texas Tech, Utah State and Western Michigan…coached by Eric Duncon at Chavez Senior HS and by Gary Barlow at San Joaquin Delta College…verbally committed to ASU on Jan. 20, 2013.

Jayme Otomewo • S • Freshman • 6-2, 190 lb

One of the premier safeties in the West region…an incredible student-athlete, he reportedly carries a 4.0 GPA…participated in the Semper Fi All-American game after his senior season… earned All-West Region honors by PrepStar in 2012…rated the No. 34 safety recruit in the country by ESPN…listed by Scout.com as the No. 45 safety prospect in the nation…listed by Scout.com as the No. 7 safety prospect in the West region after the 2012 season…regarded by Rivals.com as the No. 56 safety recruit in the nation and the No. 79 overall prospect in the state of California…also participated in track and field in high school…was a team captain as a senior…posted 67 tackles, four interceptions and one fumble recovery as a junior in 2011…tallied a season-high 19 tackles against Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw High on Nov. 3, 2011…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Colorado, Fresno State, Hawaii, Ohio and San Jose State…was also recruited by Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington…coached by Paul Knox at Dorsey High…verbally committed to ASU on Dec. 3, 2012.

Jack Powers • OL • Freshman 6-6, 260 lb • Salinas, Calif. • Palma HS

Tall, athletically gifted lineman…listed by Scout.com as the No. 61 offensive tackle prospect in the nation…was also evaluated by recruiting services as a defensive lineman…regarded by Scout.com as the No. 10 defensive end in the West region prior to the 2012 season…earned Third-Team Cal-Hi Sports All-State as a senior…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Air Force, Fresno State, Utah, Utah State and Washington State…was also recruited by Nebraska, Notre Dame and UCLA…“On my visit I really liked the coaches, all the players and just everything that is going on with the program,” said Powers. “They have so much discipline and that can’t help but be successful and I really like that.”…coached by Jeff Carnazzo at Palma High…verbally committed to ASU on Jan. 16, 2013.

Damarious Randall • DB • RS Junior 6-0, 185 lb • Pensacola, Fla. • Pensacola HS • Mesa (Ariz.) CC

One of the premier junior college defensive backs in the nation…enjoyed a sensational sophomore season at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College as both a ball-hawking defensive back and game-breaking return specialist…can play either cornerback or safety and is very dangerous on returns…has two years to play two at ASU starting in the fall…following his stellar sophomore season in 2012, he was named an NJCAA First-Team All-American, the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-Conference member at cornerback and on returns and a First-Team All-Western States Football League (WSFL) pick at both cornerback and on returns…is the second straight ACCAC Defensive Player of the Year to sign with ASU, following Chris Young from last year…totaled 69 tackles (50 solo) with nine interceptions and averaged 18.4 yards on punt returns with five total touchdowns (two receiving, two punt returns, one interception return) in 2012…averaged 28.2 yards on 19 kickoff returns…added 17 total passes defended (nine interceptions, eight pass breakups), 3.0 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery…led MCC with 1,078 all-purpose yards, averaging 98.0 per game…also played wide receiver at MCC, catching eight passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns…averaged a team-high 19.0 yards per reception…helped turn MCC from a 1-10 team in 2011 to a 6-5 record in 2012 and an appearance in the Valley of the Sun Bowl…redshirted in 2011…played baseball at Butler Community College during the 2010-11 school year…a 2010 graduate of Pensacola (Fla.) High School…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Akron, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Kansas, Louisiana, Louisville, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, San Diego State, South Alabama, South Florida, Southern Miss, TCU, Washington State and Western Michigan…coached by Ryan Felker at Mesa Community College…verbally committed to ASU on Jan. 25, 2013.

Cameron Smith • WR • Freshman • 6-0, 185 lb • Coppell, Texas • Coppell HS

Speedy athlete with great receiving skills…runs a 4.4 40-yard dash…enjoyed a stellar senior season after being limited due to injury as a junior…rated the No. 123 wide receiver prospect in the nation by Scout.com…caught 59 passes for 1,071 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior…helped lead Coppell to a 11-1 record…caught seven passes for 131 yards on a state playoff game played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas…played in only five games due to injury as a junior in 2011…coached by Joe McBride at Coppell High… “He’s a tremendous player who’s extremely fast,” McBride said of Smith. “He’s a smart kid with great character who is a great route runner and has great hands. He’s a very humble and quiet kid off the field, but on the field he is a fierce competitor and always plays hard.”…chose ASU over Iowa….also earned reported scholarship offers from Houston, Illinois, North Texas and Wisconsin…was also heavily recruited by Nebraska, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech… “Cameron really likes the new coaching staff at Arizona State,” McBride remarked. “He also likes the explosive vertical offense that uses multiple wide receivers. He like the warm and beautiful climate and all that had something to with it. I think he made a great decision. He’s going to a very exciting place to be at.”…verbally committed to ASU on Feb. 1, 2013.

Corey Smith • DL • Freshman 6-7, 260 lb • New Orleans, La. • O.Perry Walker School

Brings outstanding size and physical potential to ASU…starred on defense at O.Perry Walker School…uses his hands well and has the frame to be a prominent lineman at ASU…played multiple defensive line positions in high school…listed by Rivals.com as the No. 33 weak side defensive end recruit in the country…rated by Scout.com as the No. 109 defensive end prospect in the nation…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida International, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Miami (Fla.), Purdue, SMU, Southern Miss and Tulane…committed to ASU on Feb. 6, 2013, National Letter of Intent Signing Day…coached by Emanuel Powell at O.Perry Walker School.

Jaelen Strong • WR • RS Sophomore 6-4, 205 lb • Philadelphia, Pa. • West Philadelphia Catholic HS • Pierce College

One of the nation’s most productive junior college wide receivers…regarded as a four-star prospect by ESPN…rated by ESPN as the No. 15 overall junior college prospect in the country and the nation’s No. 5 junior college wide receiver recruit…listed by Rivals.com as the No. 49 overall junior college prospect in the country and the nation’s No. 8 wide receiver recruit…caught 67 passes for 1,263 yards with 15 touchdowns in 10 games in 2012…joins junior college teammate Joseph Morris as members of ASU’s 2013 class…sat out in 2011 and will have four years to play three at ASU starting in 2013…graduated from West Philadelphia (Pa.) Catholic High School in 2011 and had scholarship offers from Eastern Michigan, Villanova and VMI before opting to attend Pierce College…had team highs of 17 receptions for 318 yards and four touchdowns as a senior…had a season-high 109 yards on three receptions with two touchdowns against Philadelphia (Pa.) Archbishop Ryan on Oct. 2, 2010…caught 24 passes for 385 yards with four touchdowns as a junior in 2009…posted season-bests of five receptions for 92 yards with a touchdown against Wyndmoor (Pa.) La Salle College High School on Sept. 18, 2009…chose ASU over reported scholarship offers from Arizona, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kansas, Miami, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Oregon State, Purdue, South Carolina and Texas Tech….coached by Brian Fluck at West Catholic and by Efrain Martinez at Pierce College…verbally committed to ASU on Christmas Day 2012.

Christian Westerman • OL • RS Sophomore 6-4, 303 lb. • Chandler, Ariz. Hamilton HS • Auburn

Enrolled at ASU for the spring semester and will participate in spring football drills…Originally signed with Auburn out of Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton High School in 2011…Redshirted in 2011…Was limited due to an injury in 2012 but appeared in two games with one start at left guard…Has the ability to play either guard or tackle…Can bench press over 500 pounds…One of the most sought after high school football recruits in Arizona history…widely regarded as a five-star prospect as a high school senior and is one of the most highly rated recruits ever to join the Sun Devil football program…Was the top recruit in the state of Arizona his senior year …Named the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle and the No. 6 player nationally by ESPN.com/Scouts, Inc….Ranked as the nation’s No. 1 offensive guard and the No. 17 player in the nation by Scout.com…Remains the top rated offensive high school prospect from Arizona since Scout.com began its ratings in 2002…Rated as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the nation, the No. 1 recruit from Arizona and the No. 26 player overall nationally by 247Sports…Listed as the nation’s No. 3 offensive tackle, the No. 1 player in the state of Arizona and the No. 27 player in the nation overall by Rivals.com.. Ranked as the nation’s No. 5 offensive tackle and the No. 16 overall prospect in the MaxPreps Top 100…Named to the PrepStar Dream Team as the No. 8-ranked player in the nation … Named an All-American, the nation’s No. 2 offensive lineman and the No. 2 recruit from Arizona by SuperPrep, and the No. 21 overall player nationally in the SuperPrep Elite 50…Selected to play in the 2011 Under Armour All-American game following his senior season…Named to USA Today’s All-USA first team offense…Listed on Associated Press’ Top 25 best players in the West Helped lead his team to back to back undefeated junior and senior year seasons with an overall record of 29-0… Earned All-Arizona honors by the Arizona Republic in 2009 and 2010…Was a teammate of Sun Devils Jaxon Hood and Anthony Jones at Hamilton High…Was a starter on three consecutive state champion teams for the Huskies …had a multitude of scholarship offers as a senior at Hamilton High including ones from schools such as Alabama, California, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, UCLA and USC in addition to ASU and Auburn…born Feb. 23, 1993…Son of Christian Westerman, Sr. and Jodie Westerman…”We’re excited to be back home and be part of the Sun Devil nation,” Westerman’s father said. “The momentum of this program is unbelievable. I like everything that [Coach Graham is] about which is hard work and accountability, stuff that Christian is used to.”…Coached by Steve Belles at Hamilton High School…”We’re excited to add Christian, who is one of the best players to have come out of this state in a while,” coach Graham said. “When it comes to recruiting, the one thing that you cannot replace is family and what it means. What our program stands for now – character and class – you can stay right here at home and do everything you want to do. That’s compete for a Pac-12 championship, as well as nationally, and also be proud of the team you’re apart of. I think Christian said that he’s gotten more love in the past two days than he got two years somewhere else. That right there tells you a lot about the importance of the community our student-athletes compete in. We’re thrilled to bring one of the best in the state back home.”

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Nebraska uses Pelini’s heated comments to support decision to move on

Bo Pelini may be the head coach at Youngstown State now, but his final interaction with his previous players at Nebraska has certainly raised more than a few eyebrows. Pelini, rarely one to hold back his feelings, ripped into Nebraska Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst in a meeting with players held after he was relieved of his duties in Lincoln. He let loose, as the audio recording acquired by The Omaha World-Herald makes perfectly clear.

“A guy like (Eichorst) who has no integrity, he doesn’t even understand what a core value is,” Pelini told players, according to The Omaha World-Herald. “And he hasn’t understood it from the day he got here. I saw it when I first met with the guy.”

Pelini was just getting started.

“To have core values means you have to be about something, you have to represent something, you have to have something that is important to you,” Pelini added. “He is a f—— lawyer who makes policies. That’s all he’s done since he’s been here is hire people and make policies to cover his own ass.”

Pelini’s comments went on to become more vulgar and inappropriate for a family audience. Coaches are going to use some language you may not choose to use in front of children or your mother (you can listen to it here), but according to a follow-up statement from Nebraska this all put on display reasons why the university’s leadership felt it was time to move in a new direction.

Nebraska has not been able to officially confirm the recording is authentic or not, but a statement released following the original report expressed disappointment in Pelini’s choice of words and feelings and committed to the decision to remove him as head coach.

“If these comments were, indeed, spoken by Mr. Pelini, we are extremely disappointed, but it only reaffirms the decision that he should no longer be a leader of young men at Nebraska,” a statement from Nebraska reads.”His behavior is consistent with a pattern of unprofessional, disrespectful behavior directed by Mr. Pelini toward the passionate fans of Nebraska, employees of the university and, most concerning, our student-athletes. This behavior is not tolerated at the University of Nebraska and, among many other concerns, played a role in his dismissal.

“His behavior is consistent with a pattern of unprofessional, disrespectful behavior directed by Mr. Pelini toward the passionate fans of Nebraska, employees of the university and, most concerning, our student-athletes. This behavior is not tolerated at the University of Nebraska and, among many other concerns, played a role in his dismissal.”

Pelini’s tenure at Nebraska may be best known for the ability to win games but hitting a plateau without a conference championship. It will also be infamous for secret audio recordings that paint a negative picture getting out to the public.

But you can say this about Pelini. He’s an honest man and spits fire from his belly without hesitation. There is a certain level of respect that this trait may command.

Pelini now continues his head coaching career under a much dimmer spotlight at Youngstown State. Will comments like these prevent Pelini from returning to coach a program in the FBS again in the future? It is possible no AD will want to get mixed up with a hot head like Pelini, but he is a good coach and sometimes that is worth the risk. Just don’t upset him.

UPDATE (11:23 p.m.) - The Omaha World-Herald has released the full audio of Pelini’s meeting with Nebraska players. The audio does not come across nearly as hot-tempered as iniailyy suggested, but Pelini does not hold back in the state of Nebraska.

Listen to the audio here.

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Reports: WVU OC Shannon Dawson takes same job at Kentucky

Photo credit: West Virginia Athletics

West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is taking his coaching game to Kentucky. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Mountaineers will take on the role of offensive coordinator at Kentucky on the staff led by head coach Mark Stoops.

Football Scoop was among the first to report the coaching transition via Twitter. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports followed up with a similar report shortly after via Twitter.

Dawson will have a chance to take on an increased role on the coaching staff at Kentucky. Instead of taking the lead of head coach Dana Holgorsen, Dawson will look to take charge with the offensive playcalling for the more defensive-minded Stoops in Lexington.

Dawson will have quarterback Patrick Towles to work with, and that should be a promising combination for the Wildcats. West Virginia was one of the top offensive teams in the Big 12 in the few years Dawson was the offensive coordinator. This season West Virginia averaged just over 500 yards per game and 33.2 points per game.

Kentucky’s offense showed some improvement this season, but the Wildcats need to improve on a SEC-worst red zone touchdown percentage and a poor third-down conversion success rate.

Dawson will reportedly continue in his role as offensive coordinator for West Virginia’s bowl game before moving to Lexington for his new job.

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Michigan raises stakes and goes all in on Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes

At this point in the coaching carousel one thing seems to be pretty clear. Michigan is waiting for a certain someone to become available, and they are willing to wait for the moment to be just right.There may be no other way to explain how Michigan would part ways with Brady Hoke a few days after the end of the regular season (a delay that seemed to confuse more fans than it calmed), when it was widely suspected another down season would spell the end of Hoke’s time in Ann arbor as early as last season, if not September or October.

So here we are, more than two weeks after Hoke was relieved of his duties, and the one top target on the dream list of many Michigan fans is now, reportedly, has received an offer from the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, now has an offer valued at $8 million per year for six years according to Pro Football Talk. That is a lot of money. That is Nick Saban money, and then some.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was one of the first to report news of the contract offer from Michigan to Harbaugh, via Twitter.

If these reports are accurate, Michigan is all in on the Harbaugh sweepstakes. At least Michigan is starting to show some signs of progress on the coaching search.

As Mike Florio writes on Pro Football Talk, if Michigan is willing to shell out that kind of money, the university is challenging other potential NFL opportunities to pony up to woo Harbaugh. Michigan certainly has the money, there is no doubt about that, although that seems like an awfully high amount of money to throw around. It suggests Michigan is both serious about luring Harbaugh back to school, and they are perhaps a little desperate to get this taken care of.

If Michigan does et Harbaugh at the price that is being reported, the Wolverines better hope it works out. And do not forget about the money being paid to a search firm for helping out with this process.

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Wisconsin makes hiring of Pitt’s Chryst officially official

Paul Chryst

The worst kept secret in this year’s coaching carousel is now out of the bag. Wisconsin has hired Paul Chryst, who had been the head coach at Pittsburgh. Wisconsin was expected to name Chryst the new head coach as soon as the vacancy opened up, but state law in Wisconsin prevented the school from extending any formal offers until Wednesday.

Chryst replaces Gary Andersen, who left Wisconsin for a lateral move to Oregon State after two years in Madison and one trip to the Big Ten championship game. Chryst may not have the accolades of a great coaching hire, he was .500 in his time at Pittsburgh, but there is much more to like about this coaching move at Wisconsin than the numbers would suggest.

Chryst is a Madison native, he played at Wisconsin for athletics director Barry Alvarez and he left Pittsburgh after a well-respected run as offensive coordinator under Bret Bielema. Now that he has a few years of head coaching experience under his belt, he arrives in Madison a more experienced option than he would have been immediately after Bielema left to coach Arkansas. His Wisconsin roots should play well with the fans and the Wisconsin program as well.

As for Pittsburgh, the search is now officially ongoing for its next head coach. Pittsburgh previously was reported to have reached out to former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Whether Pittsburgh has any options out there that could come home in similar fashion as Chryst to Wisconsin remains to be seen, although it certainly would be nice to see Pittsburgh find its own stability at the position one of these years.

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Five-year old boy sent UAB his $1 allowance to try and help save UAB football

UAB FOOTBALL PROGRAM SHUT DOWN 12-2-14

When I was young I saved my allowance to buy baseball cards and Nintendo games. One five-year old in Ohio decided to spend his hard-earned allowance to try to save UAB football.

Bennett Williams, from Dublin, Ohio, is an Ohio State fan but adopted UAB as his second favorite team after thinking the logo for the Blazers was pretty cool. When word of UAB shutting down its football program made its way to the young boy, a will to do all he can to save the program led him to write a letter to the school, accompanied by his allowance money (one dollar). Every little bit helps, right?

The letter, as transcribed by Al.com, reads as follows;

“DEAR UAB. I LOVE OHIO STATE, BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE FOOTBALL, TOO. HERE IS ONE DOLLAR TO HELP! – BENNETT”

The letter did not go unread. UAB athletics department, Reid Adair, replied with thanks to Bennett for his letter and followed up by sending a nice little care package of UAB merchandise.

Bennett’s allowance may not have been enough to save the UAB football program, but it should do plenty to restore your faith in humanity.

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Neck condition ends career for Ohio State offensive tackle

Sometimes you just have to step away from football in order to ensure your own health and safety. Sometimes that decision is made for you by doctors. That is the case for Ohio Sate offensive tackle Kyle Dodson, who has been ruled medically ineligible to play for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State has announced that Dodson has a neck condition that will medically disqualify him from continuing to play football. Dodson was hoping to make a crack at the starting offensive line this season, but injury concerns took priority this season.

Dodson appeared in one game this season after backing up Jack Mewhort for the past two seasons. Dodson’s injury history started in high school with a back injury and shoulder surgery before arriving at Ohio State. The shoulder surgery held him back as a freshman once he arrived in Columbus. Unfortunately, that may have been a sign of things to come.

There is no word on whether or not Dodson will stick around with the team in some capacity, although in times and situations like these it is common to see players find some way to remain involved in some capacity. Here’s to hoping Dodson can remain a part of the Buckeyes program in some capacity, if he so desires.

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Key offensive Sooners should be ready for Russell Athletic Bowl

Samaje Perine

With the bowl season about the get started, Oklahoma is optimistic about the status of three key players on offense. Quarterback Trevor Knight, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard are all expected to be available to play for the Sooners when they face Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Head coach Bob Stoops provided the optimistic update of his three main offensive ingredients on Wednesday. Knight was cleared to play in the bowl game last week. That has been the plan for a while, since Knight was knocked out of a game against Baylor in early November. Knight has missed playing time due to a neck injury, but a return for the bowl game was always the goal. Nothing appears to have changed on that front, and that is good news for Oklahoma.

Perine has been working through a sprained ankle that was suffered in Oklahoma’s regular season finale loss to Oklahoma State. The star freshman running back led the Sooners with 1,579 rushing ards and 21 touchdowns this season.

Shepard is one of Oklahoma’s top wide receivers. He has been out of action since suffering a groin injury on November 1. Shepard leads Oklahoma with 957 receiving yards and five touchdowns despite the injury slowing him down at times.

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Former winners Swinney, Patterson two of 12 finalists for Dodd Trophy

David Cutcliffe, Bill Curry

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and TCU’s Gary Patterson claimed the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Trophy in 2011 and 2009, respectively.  In 2014, both coaches are up for the same honor yet again.

Tuesday evening, the Dodd Trophy released its list of 12 finalists for this season’s version of the trophy.  Five of the dozen finalists coach in the SEC, with the ACC and the Big 12, with two apiece, the only other conferences with more than one finalist.

Three of the four coaches whose teams earned a spot in the College Football Playoff made the cut: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban.  The only playoff coach left out”  Oregon’s Mark Helfrich.

Of the 12 finalists, 11 hail from Power Five conferences.  The lone exception was Boise State’s Bryan Harsin.

Last year’s winner was Duke’s David Cutcliffe.  The winner of the 2014 Dodd Trophy will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl week.

2014 Dodd Trophy Finalists

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Report: Oregon fears Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sustained serious knee injury

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

When it comes to the first-ever College Football Playoff, this could turn into a significant development.

According to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sustained what’s believed to be a serious knee injury during practice Tuesday. Getlin writes that the “[c]oncern [is] it’s a torn ACL.”  Aaron Fentress of CSNNW.com subsequently confirmed the original report, adding that the player is “done for the playoffs.”

UO officials have yet to address Ekpre-Olomu’s status moving forward. The fear is, though, is that the senior will miss the CFP semifinal matchup in the Rose Bowl with Florida State.

If that were to happen, it’d serve as a significant blow to the Ducks.

Ekpre-Olomu was recently named first-team All-Pac-12, the third consecutive year its been accorded that honor, as well as a first-team Associated Press All-American. He’s started 40 straight games for the Ducks, and is viewed as a likely first- or second-round selection in next year’s NFL draft.

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Former ‘Bama RB Alvin Kamara officially a Vol

Alvin Kamara

In June, Alvin Kamara verbally committed to continue his collegiate career at Tennessee.  Six months later, the running back followed through on that verbal pledge.

Wednesday, UT confirmed that Kamara has signed with the Vols.  Today is the first day junior college players can sign with FBS programs; Kamara spent the 2014 season at the JUCO level.

It was confirmed in January of this year that Kamara would be transferring from Alabama after just one season.  During that one year in Tuscaloosa, Kamara racked up more suspensions (two) than carries (zero).  In February, Kamara was arrested on multiple misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Coming out of Norcross, Ga., as a four-star recruit, Kamara was rated as the No. 2 all-purpose back in the country in the Class of 2013.  He’s rated as a four-star prospect this go-around too.

Prior to settling on Tennessee, Kamara had also shown interest in Clemson and Georgia.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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USC will go bowling without starting DT Antwaun Woods

Colorado v USC Getty Images

An injury will leave USC’s defensive line at less than 100-percent for the postseason.

According to the Orange County Register, Antwaun Woods sustained what was originally described as a strained pec during practice this past Saturday.  However, the injury was more than a simple strain as Woods posted a picture of himself on Instagram laying in a hospital bed.

“Fresh outta surgery, I told Coach I’m ready to play, I got too much heart for this s***! I promise I’ll be back even stronger than before!” Woods wrote on the social media website.

Woods surgery

Despite saying he’s “ready to play,” the redshirt junior nose tackle is expected to miss the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska.

This season, Woods started 10 of the Trojans’ 12 games after starting six in 2013 and four in 2012.  He’s currently third among USC lineman in tackles with 37.

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North Texas hires Chris Cosh as DC

Chris Cosh

Lil’ Ben, this post’s for you.

At the end of the 2014 season, John Skladany retired as North Texas’ defensive coordinator.  A couple of weeks later, Dan McCarney has his replacement as UNT announced that Chris Cosh has been hire to take over the Mean Green defense.

Cosh spent the 2014 season as the University of Buffalo’s defensive line coach.

“Chris has a tremendous blend of experience and success and comes highly recommended by some of the most respected football coaches at both the collegiate and professional levels,” the head coach said in a statement. “He has a proven track record as a coordinator and linebacker coach in the Big Ten Conference, the SEC and the Big 12 and his reputation as a tireless recruiter precedes him. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Chris to the Mean Green family.”

Cosh has served as a coordinator for 16 of his 30 seasons in coaching, including time at Kansas State, Maryland, South Carolina, Michigan State, Illinois and USF.

(Photo credit: Buffalo athletics)

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Travin Dural puts off NFL, will return to LSU

Travin Dural, Brian Poole

More so than any other football program of late, LSU has been hit hard by early departures to the NFL.  At least on one front this year, however, the Tigers were spared such a hit.

In a conversation with Baton Rouge television sports reporter Michael Cauble Tuesday, Travin Dural confirmed that he will forego early entry into the NFL draft and return to LSU for another season.  A redshirt sophomore, Dural would be eligible for early entry into the NFL draft as he’s three years removed from high school.

LSU has lost 16 players to early entry the last two years, but, as noted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the NFL has somewhat tweaked its procedures for this year’s class.

A maximum of five players from each school will receive a draft grade [from the NFL’s advisory panel] and the grades will be of three types: first round, second round or to return to school.

Regardless of the why, Dural’s return is a significant one.

In 2014, Dural was far and away the Tigers’ leader in receptions (37) receiving yards (758) and receiving touchdowns (seven).  The next closest was Trey Quinn‘s 17 catches and Malachi Dupre‘s 318 yards.

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Colorado State to interview UGA OC Mike Bobo for vacancy

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When it comes to Mike Bobo, the Georgia faithful has a love-hate relationship — a sizable chunk of them love to hate him.  Depending on how things go over the next few days, though, they might not have the offensive coordinator to kick around anymore.

Tuesday, speculation began bubbling just below the surface that Bobo was potentially a candidate to fill the head-coaching vacancy at Colorado State.  That speculation surfaced again Wednesday, with UGA athletic director Greg McGarity confirming that Bobo will interview for the CSU job.

Bobo informed head coach Mark Richt of the impending interview Tuesday, with Richt informing McGarity later that day.  Per 247Sports.com, “Bobo’s contract requires him to make higher-ups aware of legitimate interest from other employers.”

For those excited about a potential Bobo departure, you might want to tap the brakes on the excitement.

Bobo, a former Bulldog quarterback, has been a part of Richt’s staff since 2001.  At first solely the quarterbacks coach, Bobo was promoted to coordinator in 2007.

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Oliver Luck stepping down as WVU AD, taking job at NCAA

Colorado Rapids v Houston Dynamo Getty Images

In October of 2013, Oliver Luck was reportedly the top target for Texas in its search for a new athletic director.  While West Virginia held onto its athletic director then, it appears there’s no such luck, so to speak, this time around.

According to Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail, Luck will step down as WVU’s athletic director to take a position with the NCAA.  In confirming Casazza’s report, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy tweeted that “Luck’s new position at NCAA will be second in command behind NCAA President Mark Emmert.”

An official announcement is expected at some point today.

Luck was hired by WVU in June of 2012, coming back to his alma mater from the private sector.  In the late seventies and on into the early eighties, Luck played quarterback for the Mountaineers.

Andrew Luck, Oliver’s son, is the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.  As luck would have it, the NCAA’s offices are located in the city of Indianapolis.  Whether that had any impact on the elder Luck’s decision is unknown.

The impact of Luck’s departure won’t be limited solely to WVU. This year, Luck was one of the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.  Each of the Power Five conferences have one current athletic director on the committee; because of Luck’s new position, the Big 12 will be forced to find a replacement for 2015.

Look for Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione‘s name to be mentioned heavily in that capacity.

UPDATED 11:01 a.m. ET: The NCAA confirmed in a press release that Oliver Luck has been named as the executive vice president of regulatory affairs. The newly-created position is described as bringing “the national office regulatory functions – academic and membership affairs, the Eligibility Center and enforcement – under one umbrella.” “In particular,” the release stated, Luck “will be charged with developing stronger integration among regulatory staffs, improving efficiency and strengthening relationships with NCAA colleges and universities.”

“I am very pleased to have Oliver joining our team in the national office,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “He brings to us wide ranging, hands-on experience from across athletic, academic, and business worlds. Most important, his commitment to the success and well-being of our student-athletes is unquestionable. He has demonstrated that commitment on the ground and throughout his life. I’m anxious for him to get started with us.”

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