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Arkansas announces 2013 signing class

University of Arkansas Introduces Bret Bielema Getty Images

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 22 members of Arkansas’ 2013 recruiting class.)

Austin Allen
QB, 6-2, 210, Fayetteville, Ark. (Fayetteville HS)
Allen led Fayetteville to back-to-back 7A state championships and was named MVP of both championship games. After his senior season, he was selected as Arkansas’ 2012 Gatorade Player of the Year. He was the 17th-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country and No. 3 player in Arkansas by 247Sports.com, and Rivals.com also tabbed him as the No. 3 player in the state. He was an all-state player in his senior season, when he was 233-of-366 passing for 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns and added 200 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing to lead Fayetteville to a 10-3 mark and the state title. Following his senior year, he was selected for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and started for the East Team. As a junior, he completed 270-of-420 passes, a 64.3 percent completion rate, for 4,150 yards and 46 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions. Allen also rushed for 300 yards and six touchdowns while leading the Bulldogs to a 12-2 record and the state crown. He was an active member of FCA and in his local youth group and also worked with local Boys & Girls Clubs. He was coached at Fayetteville by Daryl Patton. Austin’s brother, Brandon, is a quarterback at UA and his father, Bobby, is the Razorbacks’ director of high school relations. Allen had multiple scholarship offers before choosing Arkansas.

Tevin Beanum
DE, 6-3, 235, Forrest City, Ark. (Forrest City HS)
Beanum was ranked as the No. 8 player in Arkansas by Rivals.com and the No. 9 player in the state by 247Sports.com. He finished his senior season with 76 tackles, 7.5 for loss with 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble while helping Forrest City advance to the 5A state playoffs and finish with a winning record for the first time since 2009. His first season of high school football was his junior year, and he recorded 50 tackles, including 5.0 sacks, and recovered three fumbles for the Mustangs. He volunteered at his local animal shelter while in high school. He was coached at Forrest City by Rich Trail.

Alex Brignoni
S, 6-1, 200, Fayetteville, Ark. (Fayetteville HS)
Brignoni helped lead Fayetteville to back-to-back 7A state championships in his last two seasons. He was ranked as the No. 5 player in Arkansas by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com. As a senior, he was named to the all-state team after recording 89 tackles, six pass breakups and five interceptions on the way to the state title. Fayetteville’s defense allowed an average of 16.0 points per game over the final 11 games of 2012 after Brignoni returned from missing the first two games due to an injury. His junior year, he recorded 126 tackles and 10 interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, as the Bulldogs finished 12-2 and won the state title. He helped Fayetteville advance to the state championship game as a sophomore. He was a member of FCA while in high school. He was coached at Fayetteville by Daryl Patton and selected Arkansas over multiple offers, including Illinois.

De’Andre Coley
S, 6-1, 178, Miami, Fla. (Northwestern HS)
Coley was ranked as the No. 52 safety in the country by ESPN. As a senior, he helped Northwestern advance to the second round of the 6A state playoffs where the Bulls fell to the eventual state champions and ended their season with a 9-3 record. He recorded 68 tackles, including six sacks, one interception and 12 pass breakups as the defense held opponents to an average of 12.3 points per game and allowed seven points or less in seven games, including two shutouts. In his junior season, Northwestern’s defense allowed 20 points per game in an 8-2 campaign. He also ran track, where he was a member of the state runner-up team in 2012 boasting a 10.6 100-meter dash time and took the baton for the second leg of the 4×100 relay. He was coached at Northwestern by Stephen Field. Coley selected the Razorbacks over TCU.

D.J. Dean
CB, 5-10, 180, Newton, Texas (Newton HS)
Dean was an impact player on both sides of the ball at Newton, playing cornerback and quarterback. As a senior, he was named district MVP after leading the Eagles to the semifinal round of the state playoffs and a 13-1 final record. He recorded 34 tackles, four interceptions and one forced fumble and also passed for 1,062 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 1,014 yards and 20 touchdowns. In his junior season, he made 46 tackles and five interceptions while passing for 1,280 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for 672 yards and eight touchdowns. He was coached at Newton by W.T. Johnston. Dean received several offers and chose Arkansas over Baylor and Utah.

Brooks Ellis
LB, 6-2, 215, Fayetteville, Ark. (Fayetteville HS)
Ellis helped lead Fayetteville to back-to-back 7A state championships in his last two years and was named the state’s Defensive Player of the Year in each. He was ranked as the No. 4 player in Arkansas by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com, and was rated 24th in the country at his position by 247Sports and 42nd by Rivals. As a senior, he was named to the all-state team despite missing the first two games after he registered 114 tackles, 16.0 for loss with 4.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery on the way to the state title. Following his junior season, he was also named the Little Rock Touchdown Club’s 7A Player of the Year. He recorded 86 tackles, 22.5 for loss with 13.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups at linebacker as the Bulldogs finished 12-2 and won the state title. As a sophomore, he started at safety and recorded 87 tackles, five for loss, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He was named the 2010 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year and helped Fayetteville advance to the state championship game after recording 130 tackles, five pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He served as student body treasurer at Fayetteville and also was a member of FCA and the National Honor Society. He was coached at Fayetteville by Daryl Patton and chose Arkansas over multiple other offers.

Denzell Evans
RB, 6-0, 205, Houston, Texas (Bellaire HS)
Evans was a three-year starter at Bellaire, rushing for 2,350 yards and 26 touchdowns in his career. He was named first-team all-district after his senior season when he rushed for 1,147 yards and 16 touchdowns to lead Bellaire into the 5A Division I state playoffs. As a junior, he averaged 7.4 yards per carry, totaling 997 yards on 135 rushes and scored 11 touchdowns while the Cardinals won seven games and qualified for the state playoffs. He gained 711 yards and scored eight touchdowns as a sophomore, when Bellaire played in the first round of the state playoffs. He was coached at Bellaire by Trey Hermann and Trey Sissom. Evans selected Arkansas over offers from Arizona State, Kansas State, Michigan State and Houston, among others.

Melvinson Hartfield
WR, 5-11, 183, Dallas, Texas (South Oak Cliff HS)
Hartfield played both sides of the ball for South Oak Cliff. In his senior year, he led a defense that allowed an average of 10.4 points per game while helping the Bears to nine wins and a spot in the 4A Division 2 state playoffs. On offense, he added 12 receptions for 324 yards and four touchdowns. As a junior, he recorded 46 tackles and one interception as the defense held opponents to 13.9 points per game and South Oak Cliff put together an undefeated regular season and advanced to the state playoffs. He was active in his local church and was coached at South Oak Cliff by Emmett Jones. Hartfield selected Arkansas over Kansas State and Texas Tech.

Hunter Henry
TE, 6-5, 238, Little Rock, Ark. (Pulaski Academy)
Henry was rated as the No. 1 tight end prospect in the nation by Tom Lemming. He was named to the PARADE All-America Team, named a first-team All-American by 247Sports.com and a second-team All-American by Max Preps. Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 2 tight end in the country, and 247Sports and Scout.com tabbed him as the nation’s No. 4 tight end. ESPN ranked him as the No. 1 player in Arkansas, and Rivals and 247Sports had him as the No. 2 player in the state. As a senior, he caught 107 passes for 1,449 yards and 15 touchdowns while helping lead Pulaski Academy to the semifinal round of the 5A state playoffs. Following his senior year, he was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game, where he was voted a team captain and started for the White Team. He caught 64 passes for 1,093 yards and 16 touchdowns in his junior season as the Bruins claimed the 4A state championship and finished 14-0. He played on both sides of the ball as a sophomore, hauling in 45 passes for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns and registering 30 tackles, three for loss, and one fumble recovery while P.A. advanced to the state title game and finished 13-2. He was involved in his church’s youth group and an FCA leader at P.A., where he helped lead a food drive for the homeless. He was coached at Pulaski Academy by Kevin Kelley. Henry chose Arkansas over Alabama after receiving numerous offers.

Sam Irwin-Hill
P, 6-3, 215, Bendingo, Australia (City College of San Francisco)
Irwin-Hill is an ambidextrous punter, possessing the ability to punt with either leg, and ranked as the No. 1 junior college punter in America by 247Sports.com. He was named a first-team All-American as a sophomore after punting 44 times for an average of 41.7 yards per punt, including a long of 77 yards, and also dropped 15 punts inside the 20-yard line while helping City College advance to the California Community College Athletic Association championship game and finish the season 10-2. In his freshman year, he averaged 40.6 yards per punt with a long of 62 as the Rams won the CCCAA state title and ended the season with a perfect 12-0 mark. He was coached at City College by George Rush. Irwin-Hill selected Arkansas over Miami.

Denver Kirkland
OG, 6-5, 320, Miami, Fla. (Booker T. Washington HS)
Kirkland is a versatile lineman who was ranked as the No. 5 offensive guard in the country by Scout.com and 13th at the position by 247Sports.com, while ESPN tabbed him as the No. 12 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 overall prospect in Florida and Rivals.com pegged him 13th in the country at tackle and 19th overall in the state. His senior season, he was named first-team all-state after anchoring an offensive line that allowed Booker T. Washington to average 53.5 points and 431.2 yards of total offense per game and win the 4A state championship with a 13-1 final record. He was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game following the state championship. As a junior, he was named first-team all-state after the Tornadoes won 13 games and advanced to the state championship game behind an offense that averaged 41.7 points and 404.9 total yards per game. He was coached at Booker T. Washington by Tim Harris. Kirkland chose Arkansas over Ole Miss, Miami, Florida State and South Florida.

Reeve Koehler
OG, 6-3, 325, Honolulu, Hawai’i (Saint Louis School)
Koehler was ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in Hawai’i by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com, with Rivals tabbing him as the No. 8 offensive guard in the country and 247Sports ranking him 14th at his position. Following a senior season in which he blocked for an offense that averaged 32.5 points per game, he was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. In his junior year, the Crusaders topped 30 points in five of 10 games and averaged 31.8 points per game. Saint Louis won the Division I state title his sophomore season, when the offense averaged 40.8 points per game, including 39.0 points per game in the playoffs. He was actively involved in community service, including coaching youth league basketball and contributing to Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, MDA and beach cleanup. He was coached at Saint Louis by John Hao and Matt Wright. Koehler received numerous offers and selected Arkansas over Tennessee, Oregon, Cal and Kansas.

Ke’Tyrus Marks
DT, 6-1, 288, West Palm Beach, Fla. (Suncoast HS)
Marks was a three-year contributor at Suncoast who was selected to play in the Florida-Georgia All-Star Game and the Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast All-Star Game following his senior season. He was an all-district honoree after breaking Suncoast’s single-season sacks record with 19 as a senior as part of a 60-tackle season. In his junior year, he made 38 tackles, recovered two fumbles and forced one fumble for the Chargers. His sophomore season, he made 47 tackles, including seven sacks, and forced three fumbles. He has been involved in several community service outreach projects for the less fortunate, including cooking for the elderly and helping his church provide the homeless a place to shower. He was coached at Suncoast by Jim Clark. Marks chose Arkansas over multiple offers, including Wake Forest.

Korliss Marshall
S, 6-0, 200, Osceola, Ark. (Osceola HS)
Marshall started at running back for Osceola for three seasons and rushed for more than 4,100 yards and nearly 60 touchdowns. He was rated as the No. 6 overall prospect in Arkansas by Rivals.com and as the state’s 10th-best prospect by 247Sports.com. His senior season, he rushed for 1,711 yards and scored 24 touchdowns to earn all-state recognition and help lead Osceola to the second round of the 3A state playoffs. As a junior, he accumulated 1,421 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground as the Seminoles advanced to the second round of the 4A state playoff bracket. His sophomore season, he gained 973 yards and scored 12 touchdowns rushing. He was an active member of FCA and was coached at Osceola by Russell Leggett. Marshall selected Arkansas after receiving multiple offers.

Damon Mitchell
QB, 6-2, 200, Egg Harbor City, N.J. (Cedar Creek HS)
Mitchell was ranked as the No. 11 dual-threat quarterback in the nation and the No. 12 overall prospect in New Jersey by 247Sports.com, and Rivals.com pegged him 15th in the nation at his position and 20th in New Jersey. In his senior season, he passed for 2,025 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 1,027 yards and 21 touchdowns to lead Cedar Creek to 11 wins and an appearance in the NJSIAA South Group 2 championship game. As a junior, he played quarterback and safety, passing for 859 yards and nine touchdowns and rushing for 937 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 43 tackles, three interceptions and 12 pass breakups on defense. He was coached at Cedar Creek by Tim Watson. Mitchell selected Arkansas over Georgia Tech and Rutgers.

Drew Morgan
WR, 6-0, 190, Greenwood, Ark. (Greenwood HS)
Morgan helped lead Greenwood to two undefeated seasons, two state championships in different classifications, and was named MVP of both championship games. He was ranked as the No. 7 player in Arkansas by Rivals.com and as the No. 13 prospect in the state by 247Sports.com. He won the Landers Award as the state’s best high school player following his senior season in which he contributed on offense and defense to Greenwood’s 6A state championship and 15-0 record. He also was named the state’s Offensive Player of the Year after making 83 receptions for 1,122 yards and 14 touchdowns and 82 rushes for 764 yards and 19 touchdowns. He recorded 73 tackles, 20.5 for loss with 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two pass breakups on defense in 2012. As a junior, he caught 85 passes for 1,400 yards and 25 touchdowns while adding 89 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns for the 14-0 5A state champions. He was involved in FCA, assisted with Special Olympics and was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America. He was coached at Greenwood by Rick Jones. Morgan selected Arkansas over multiple offers, including Auburn.

Dan Skipper
OT, 6-10, 295, Arvada, Colo. (Ralston Valley HS)
Skipper was rated as the No. 32 offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com, the No. 4 prospect in Colorado and the No. 46 offensive tackle in the country by Rivals.com, and the state’s No. 5 prospect and the country’s 47th offensive tackle by 247Sports.com. He earned 5A all-state recognition as a senior, helping Ralston Valley average 35.8 points per game while advancing to the semifinal round of the state playoffs, and after the season was selected to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. His junior season, the Mustangs put together a 10-2 record and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs. He was a member of student government all four years in high school, where he contributed more than 100 hours of community service and served his senior year as student body president. He also was a member of the National Honor Society and volunteered for a program to mentor incoming freshmen. His coach at Ralston Valley was Matt Loyd. Skipper received numerous scholarship offers and chose Arkansas over Ole Miss, Tennessee, Ohio State and Michigan.

Tiquention Coleman
S, 5-10, 195, Mauldin, S.C. (Georgia Military College /Mauldin HS)
Coleman comes to Arkansas ranked as the No. 10 junior college safety in the country by 247Sports.com after starting every game in his two seasons at Georgia Military College. In 2012, he recorded 44 tackles, four interceptions, two pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble to help the Bulldogs advance to the Heart of Texas Bowl. As a freshman, he made 30 tackles and forced two fumbles as Georgia Military earned six wins with four shutouts. In his senior season at Mauldin, he helped lead the Mavericks to a berth the 4A state playoffs and as a junior he led a defense that held six opponents to 14 points or less on the way to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs. He was coached at Georgia Military by Bert Williams and at Mauldin by Doug Shaw. Coleman selected Arkansas over Wisconsin and Arizona.

Johnathan McClure
OL, 6-4, 310, Wichita, Kan. (Butler CC/Wichita Heights HS)
McClure was an All-American in both of his seasons at Butler, earning first-team honors in 2012 and second-team recognition as a freshman. He was ranked as the No. 5 junior college offense guard in the country by 247Sports.com. He started all 12 games in his sophomore season, helping lead the Grizzlies to a No. 2 national ranking and the NJCCA Football Championship Game with an offense that averaged 45.2 points and 487.8 yards of total offense per game. In 2011, he anchored a line that allowed the offense to average 48.6 points and 499.3 yards of total offense per game as Butler finished the year 11-1 with a victory in the Citizen’s Bank Bowl. As a senior at Wichita Heights, he was named a first-team all-state performer by the Kansas Football Coaches Association after helping lead the Falcons to the 6A state championship game. He was coached at Butler by Troy Morrell and at Wichita Heights by Rick Wheeler.

Martrell Spaight
LB, 6-0, 220, North Little Rock, Ark. (Coffeyville [Kan.] CC/North Little Rock HS)
Spaight was a two-time junior college All-American at Coffeyville Community College. He was ranked as the No. 8 junior college outside linebacker in the nation by 247Sports.com and was 82nd in ESPN’s Junior College 100 ranking. He was a first-team NJCAA All-American and the Jayhawk Community College Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 after collecting more than 100 tackles for the second consecutive season. As a sophomore, he recorded 130 tackles, 13.5 for loss with 1.5 sacks, three pass breakups, one forced fumble and one blocked kick. His tackles total was fourth on Coffeyville’s single-season list. In his freshman year, he earned NJCAA All-America honors after making 101 tackles, 9.0 for loss with 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. As a senior at North Little Rock, he was a 7A Central all-state selection. He was coached at Coffeyville by Aaron Flores and at North Little Rock by Brad Bolding. Spaight selected Arkansas over Kansas State.

Myke Tavarres
LB, 6-2, 215, Lake Oswego, Ore. (College of the Siskiyous/Lakeridge HS)
Tavarres comes to Arkansas as a two-time all-conference selection at College of the Siskiyous in California. He was ranked as the No. 7 junior college outside linebacker in the country by 247Sports.com and 63rd in ESPN’s Junior College 100 ranking. He recorded 85 tackles, 12.5 for loss with 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, five pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 2012, helping lead the Eagles to a 10-1 record, the most wins in school history, and the CCCAA Central Division championship. As a freshman, he made 51 tackles, 12.5 for loss with 4.5 sacks, one interception and four pass breakups. As a senior at Lakeridge, he collected 135 tackles, including 20 in one game and 17 the next week, and 5.0 sacks with one interception, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. He was coached at Siskiyous by Charlie Roche and at Lakeridge by Tom Smythe. Tavarres chose the Razorbacks over offers from Boise State and Arizona, among others.

Carroll Washington
CB, 6-0, 175, Baltimore, Md. (Hartnell [Calif.] CC/Edmondson-Westside HS)
Washington was ranked as the No. 1 junior college cornerback and the No. 10 overall junior college player in the nation by 247Sports.com. He was an all-conference performer and collected 25 tackles as a sophomore in 2012 while adding three interceptions, six pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In his freshman season for Hartnell, he recorded 27 tackles, four interceptions, six pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery while earning all-conference recognition and helping the Panthers to Coast Conference and Southern Division titles. He played on both sides of the ball in high school and made 38 tackles, two interceptions, three pass breakups and one forced fumble on defense while catching 35 passes for 653 yards and one touchdown and rushing 21 times for 204 yards and two scores as a senior. In his junior season, he quarterbacked the Red Storm into the second round of the state playoffs, finishing the year 60-of-110 passing for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing 53 times for 437 yards and seven touchdowns. On defense, he collected 11 tackles, two pass breakups and one forced fumble. He has volunteered at the Baltimore Boys & Girls Club, assisting with after-school programs. He was coached at Hartnell by Matt Collins and at Edmondson-Westside by Dante Jones. Washington chose Arkansas over Mississippi State, among others.

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Ark. St.’s ‘Coach for a Day’ claims spring game win

Nick Bhardwaj

How much does a win at the FBS level cost?  For Nick Bhardwaj, it was $11,700 of well-spent funds.

Earlier this month, Arkansas State and head coach Blake Anderson announced that it was auctioning off the opportunity for a fan to coach one of the Red Wolves’ squads in the annual spring game.  The winning bid went to Bhardwaj, who is the 25-year-old CEO of a California-based tech company.

Friday, Bhardwaj put his football mettle to the test… and came out on the winning side as his Black team dropped a 48-17 decision on the Red squad.  Bhardwaj, a release from the school stated, “gave the team’s pregame and halftime speeches and communicated with the coaching staff on headset throughout the entire game while making play-calling and fourth-down decisions.”  That decision-making came after an extensive film session with offensive coordinator Walt Bell.

Also as part of the promotion, Bhardwaj received a Powerade bath (pictured)following the lopsided win.

The truth was I was just a fan of the sport, a fan of the game, and just happy to be a part of this opportunity,” Bhardwaj, who had never been to the state of Arkansas prior to the spring game, said during a press conference. Even a day after the game, Bhardwaj was still basking in the glow of the unique experience while Anderson was praising the man with the unblemished coaching mark.

In addition to Bhardwaj, ASU had another surprise up its spring sleeves as beloved former Red Wolves head coach Larry Lacewell was on the Red team sidelines as coach.  Lacewell stills holds the school record for career wins.

“[Athletic director] Terry [Mohajir] kept this a big secret that I was going to coach because he didn’t want the crowd to get so big, or he was scared that when everybody finds out I’m going to coach again that nobody’s coming,” Lacewell said.

Well done and very classy on all fronts by Anderson and the football program.

(Photo credit: Arkansas State athletics)

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VIDEO: Navy football takes near-annual trip to White House

Navy White House 1

Navy’s trips to the White House in celebration of its gridiron success are becoming such a yearly tradition that we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Midshipmen had their own monogrammed towels in one of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’s myriad bathrooms.

Friday afternoon, Navy players and coaches were honored yet again by President Barack Obama at the White House for claiming the 2013 edition of the Commander-In-Chief trophy.  It’s the ninth time in the past 11 years the Midshipmen have staked its claim to the prestigious trophy.

Navy defeated both Air Force (28-10, after it looked like the game wouldn’t be played) and bitter rival (sometimes) Army (34-7) to earn its 14th CIC honor since the trophy was first handed out in 1972.  Despite the recent run of football success, the Midshipmen still trail the Falcons’ 18 trophies.  The Black Knights, the inaugural winner of the award, are well behind both service academies with six, with the last coming in 1996.

The trophy has been shared on four different occasions: 1974, 1976, 1980 and 1986.

Navy White House 2“When you sign up to play at Annapolis, you know you’re in for a different experience,” the President said. “So, yes, it’s about learning to be a good football player, but more importantly, it’s about learning how to be a good leader and to be a good man. And that’s what these outstanding Americans are and will continue to be.”

The President also acknowledged the tragedy with which the program has been forced to deal.  Last month, running back Will McKamey passed away after falling unconscious and into a coma during a spring practice session.

“I understand your motto for this season is ‘I Will’ in memory of him. And that’s what camaraderie is all about: Honor. Courage. Commitment. That’s what makes the Midshipmen so strong,” the POTUS said. “And that’s why I’m so proud to serve as your commander-in-chief. Not primarily because of what you’ve done on the football field, but because of your dedication to each other and your service to America.”

 

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Nick Saban ‘shocked’ at Manning-Gase imbroglio

Nick Saban Peyton Manning AP

In the course of a post yesterday on Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase having their brains picked on the no-huddle offense by Nick Saban during a recent visit to Tuscaloosa, we mentioned in passing, as noted by our redheaded stepmothers over at PFT, that the confab may have been in violation of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For its part, the NFL is looking into whether or not Manning and Gase violated the portion of the CBA which prohibits coaches from meeting with players prior to the start of their team’s offseason workouts (the Broncos began their offseason program Monday, after the visits took place).  For his part, Saban is stunned that an NFL issue may have arisen out of what’s sounding like an impromptu get-together, ensuring that he stressed that Manning and his coach were never in the same room discussing football during their overlapping time in Tuscaloosa.

From an interview Saban did with the Denver Post after the situation blew up:

“I’m like shocked that anybody would think someone did anything wrong on their part,” Saban said by phone Friday night. “I never met with Adam. When I talked with him I talked about his family. Peyton, we talked an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Adam had been talking to our assistant coaches. I never talked with Adam about football.”

Asked specifically if Manning and Gase were in a meeting at the same time, Saban said, “Only to say hello and b.s. with each other. Adam came Monday and talked to the offensive coaches and some of the defensive coaches. I know he talked with Kirby (Smart, the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator). He and I just visited casually. We didn’t talk football. Adam was with me through two different college programs (at Michigan State and LSU).”

Saban firmly stated that Manning and Gase did not arrive together; in fact, the coach had been then there “for a couple days” prior to the player’s arrival.

Because of Manning’s proficiency in operating the no-huddle offense, the Alabama head coach and Denver Broncos quarterbacks spent a couple of hours one day — without Gase present — going over what defenses are problematic for that type of offense.

“And Peyton,” Saban said, “we were just talking ball. We talked about particular defenses that give us trouble with the no-huddle. Things like that.”

Given how the situation exploded, Saban took the opportunity to intimate an “ass out of you and me” joke when explaining the cause of the explosion.

“I was asked about their visit at my coach’s clinic press conference but I never said we sat down together. Because we didn’t. That’s what happens when people assume.”

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Hoke: Shane Morris narrowed gap on Devin Gardner after ‘good spring’

Shane Morris, Devin Gardner AP

While Devin Gardner said “it was amazing how much better (the quarterback competition this spring) made me,” the incumbent at the position –despite his pre-spring proclamation — exited the 15 practice sessions without a firm grasp on the starting job.

How tenuous Gardner’s hold on the job was further demonstrated by head coach Brady Hoke, who stated Friday “he might” when asked if Gardner would be his starter when the 2014 regular season commenced.  Gardner and Shane Morris have been engaged in what appeared to be a  neck-and-neck battle to lead the Wolverines offense throughout the spring.

When asked about Morris, Hoke was damn-near effusive, relative to his tepid comments Morris’ competition, in his praise.

“I thought Shane had a good spring,” Hoke said according to mlive.com. “Was it flawless? No. But I think he learned more about the urgency that he has to have to be the quarterback at Michigan.

“I thought he had a good spring.”

Gardner started every game last season before a foot injury he suffered in the loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale sidelined him for the Wolverines’ bowl game.  In his first career start, and as a true freshman no less, Morris completed 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards and interception as UM dropped a 31-14 decision to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

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UGA expects Keith Marshall, pair of WRs back for summer workouts

Tennessee v Georgia

A high-profile running back and a pair of experienced and productive wide receivers missed all or part of Georgia’s spring practice due to injury and/or rehabilitation from injury, but that shouldn’t be the case when the Bulldogs takes its next big step in preparing for the upcoming season.

According to head coach Mark Richt, running back Keith Marshall (pictured) and wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley are expected to be healthy enough to participate in the football program’s “voluntary” summer workouts.  Those structured workouts will commence in June.

All three of the players are coming off of torn ACLs suffered last season that forced them to miss various amounts of games.  Marshall and Scott-Wesley both incurred their knee injuries during the Tennessee game last October, while Mitchell’s knee was injured in late August.

Mitchell had been participating — in non-contact fashion — in UGA’s spring practice earlier this year before another leg injury knocked him out for the remainder of the spring.

In addition to those three, Richt said he expects tight end Jay Rome, who suffered a foot injury last year and underwent surgery in the offseason, to be at full speed for the workouts as well.

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Washington latest to unveil new uniforms for 2014

View of Mascot

Another day, another FBS program has itself some new football duds.  Hooray?

This time around, it’s the Washington football players who will wear new uniform combinations for the 2014 season.  From the release:

The new stadium and athletic facilities are filled with Husky references, echoing the team’s ethos that “no dog runs alone.” A graphic symbol and unique coded sequence embroidered into the back inside neckline of the jerseys reinforces this mantra. Representing the quickest/most agile sled dog formation, the focal point of this special graphic is the area representing the “team dogs,” who are the heart and soul of the squad. The symbol is formed by lines that, when turned sideways, make an 11 to honor the 11 players on the field. Like a sled team, the Husky football team competes as a pack through innovative formations on field.

Our players can’t wait to take the field in these new uniforms. The design tells the story of our program and provides modern innovations in materials and design while embracing the rich tradition that has made Husky football so special,” said first-year UW head coach Chris Petersen in a statement.

Below are the three uniform combinations the Huskies will wear this season as well as a video tied to the release:

Washington Uniforms

 

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BYU lands Nebraska DB transfer Harvey Jackson

Monte Ball Harvey Jackson AP

The BYU Cougars are on the receiving end of some B1G transfer help in the secondary for the 2014 season.

The football program announced in a release Thursday that defensive back Harvey Jackson has signed with the football program and will continue his playing career with the Cougars.  As Jackson has already received his degree from NU, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.

“Harvey is an experienced player and a mature individual with excellent character,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a statement. “He will join our program after graduating in construction management with a business minor. He is a great fit for BYU on and off the field.”

Jackson played in 35 games the past three years, starting four of those contests.  He started the first three games of the 2013 season before losing that job.

In 2011, Jackson, a three-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2010 recruiting class, was an Academic All-Big Ten selection

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Saban picks Peyton Manning’s no-huddle brain during visit

Nick Saban Peyton Manning AP

In mid-December last year, Lane Kiffin was brought to Alabama by head coach Nick Saban to help evaluate the Tide’s offense ahead of its BCS bowl matchup with Oklahoma.  Less than a month later, the former USC head coach was hired as Saban’s offensive coordinator.

While another hire likely won’t come out of another high-profile visit, Saban has again decided to pick the brain of some offensive-centric football types in his never-ending quest to improve his football program.

Saban confirmed to the media that current Denver Broncos and former Tennessee Vols quarterback Peyton Manning, along with Manning’s coordinator Adam Gase, visited Tuscaloosa for two days last week for a meeting that may have violated the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Saban said Manning has “been a friend and very well-respected for a long time,” and the visit came about as the player and coach were taking a football tour to select cities across the country.

Given the proliferation of no-huddle, spread offenses in the college game — and the Tide’s notorious struggles in stopping them — and Manning’s expertise in running such a system, Saban jumped at the opportunity to pick the brain of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

“Since they’re a no-huddle team, we had a lot of questions for them, in terms of what gives them problems and what defensive teams do that give them problems,” Saban said. “That was a mutual benefit. I know it was a benefit to us. I hope it was a benefit to them as well.”

Saban’s attempts to decipher the no-huddle riddle from a defensive standpoint has become almost legendary; earlier this month, a football clinic hosted by Saban featured, among others, the head coach of the fast-paced, high-octane Baylor Bears, Art Briles.

“The goals that you have for next year are basically the things that you struggled with last year,” Saban said in explaining the proliferation of high-profile visitors of late. “You make a list of those things through your quality control, and then you go out and look for people who might be able to help you develop a little more expertise, a better way to teach, a better way to coach some situation.

“Sometimes we bring somebody in here to visit with us. Sometimes we have people call us and ask us if they can come and visit us and try to learn from us, which we share with quite a few people. I think we usually learn from them as well when that happens.”

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Clemson responds to group’s ‘too religious’ complaint

Dabo Swinney AP

It was reported earlier this week that a group of individuals with too much time on its hands and not nearly enough of a life had filed a formal complaint to Clemson alleging that Dabo Swinney‘s football program blurs the line between the separation of church and state as mandated in the U.S. Constitution.

An attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation stated that “the football coaching staff is doing a number of things to promote Christianity to their student-athletes” such as conducting Bible studies with their players.  A school spokesperson subsequently fired back that “no one is required to participate in any religious activities related to the football program” and that any participation is strictly voluntary.

Thursday, the university released a lengthier rebuttal to the group’s accusations, stating that “the FFRF is mistaken in its assessment” of the religious atmosphere in and around the Tigers football program.  Below is the school’s statement, in its entirety:

“We believe the practices of the football staff regarding religion are compliant with the Constitution and appropriately accommodate differing religious views. Participation in religious activities is purely voluntary, and there are no repercussions for students who decline to do so. We are not aware of any complaints from current or former student-athletes about feeling pressured or forced to participate in religious activities.

“Clemson takes very seriously its obligation to provide a comprehensive program for the development and welfare of our student-athletes ¬ which encompasses academic, athletic and personal support, including support for their spiritual needs.

“We will evaluate the complaints raised in the letter and will respond directly to the organization, but we believe FFRF is mistaken in its assessment. The Supreme Court has expressly upheld the right of public bodies to employ chaplains and has noted that the use of prayer is not in conflict with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: OrangeAndWhite.com)

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Attorney wants halted FSU probe in Jameis Winston case to continue

Florida State Spring Game Getty Images

A story that both Jameis Winston and Florida State would prefer to quickly fade away simply won’t.

The attorney for the alleged victim who claimed she was raped by the Florida State quarterback in December of 2012 told USA Today that the university has halted its Title IX investigation into the case.  The reason the probe is allegedly at a standstill?  The attorney, Blaine Kerr, says it’s because Winston refuses to cooperate with the university.

The university took the position that since he refused to respond to questions, they could not make any Title IX findings,” Kerr said according to the paper. “We have objected to that as impermissible reason to delay or terminate a Title IX sexual assault investigation because that would permit any charged party to thwart an investigation simply by refusing to answer questions.”

The paper went on to write that Kerr “wrote a letter to FSU earlier this month stating his objections to their investigation and calling for Winston to be charged under the school’s code of conduct policy.”

One law expert was baffled that the university would drop what’s a federally-mandated investigation simply because the accused refused to cooperate.

“The law is not supposed to operate in a way to reward people who don’t cooperate with either criminal or civil investigations,” said Erin Buzuvis, a professor of law at Western New England University and a Title IX expert. “It’s just bizarre to think that would result in, ‘Oh, I guess we just can’t do anything.’ Who would ever cooperate with anything?”

In early December of last year, following a three-week investigation, the Florida State’s Attorney office announced that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the sexual encounter between Winston and the alleged victim was not consensual, and that no charges would be filed against the player.  The state’s attorney in charge of that investigation, William Meggs, was highly critical of the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation into the alleged rape in a New York Times report earlier this week, a report in which the university subsequently expressed its disappointment.

Earlier this month it was reported that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.

While Winston will not face criminal charges in connection to the incident, the alleged victim is expected to pursue civil action against him as well as, potentially, FSU and the TPD.

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Sooners’ leading tackler won’t face charges, but OU future ‘in limbo’

Oklahoma v Notre Dame Getty Images

At least from a legal perspective, a prominent member of Oklahoma’s defense has dodged a serious bullet.  Whether he remaisn part of the program, however, remains to be seen.

The office of the Cleveland County (Ok.) District Attorney confirmed to both the Daily Oklahoman and the Norman Transcript that  it has decided to not pursue charges against OU linebacker Frank Shannon related to an alleged incident of sexual assault Jan. 20.  The decision to decline prosecution, DA Greg Mashburn told the Oklahoman, was made weeks ago.

It was reported Thursday that Nelson’s was named in a Title IX sexual misconduct allegation report filed with the university in which it was alleged he sexually assaulted a female student in his apartment.  Conflicting statements from the two involved prompted the DA’s office to drop the matter and the Norman Police Department to drop its investigation.

In the report, a woman alleges that early on the morning of Jan. 20 after a party, Shannon offered her a ride home but stopped by his off-campus apartment. The two went into Shannon’s bedroom, where the woman claims he pulled her pants down and tried to forcibly have sex with her.

The woman and Shannon both say they knew each other before the incident. Shannon denied the allegations in the report, saying that the woman laid on top of him, kissed him and removed her own clothes, but that after an argument over whether or not she was menstruating, he went to the bathroom and she left the apartment.

The Oklahoman does write that “Shannon’s future at the University of Oklahoma, however, remains very much in limbo while an independent OU investigation runs its course, a legal requirement under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.”  OU’s student conduct office could impose sanctions on Shannon, up to and including a dismissal from the university.

As a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Shannon started all 13 games and led the Sooners in tackles with 92. He neither practiced last Thursday nor played in Saturday’s spring game due to what head coach Bob Stoops described as personal reasons.

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Matt Joeckel tweets he’s transferring to TCU

Vanderbilt v Texas A&M Getty Images

Well that certainly didn’t take long.

Just two days after confirming he was transferring out of the Texas A&M football program, Matt Joeckel confirmed that he would be transferring into TCU’s.  And, in making his announcement, the quarterback did it the way all the cool kids are doing it these days: via Twitter.

It should be noted that the Horned Frogs have yet to announce Joeckel’s addition to the roster, although such an announcement is expected in short order.

Joeckel, the brother of former A&M All-American and 2013 No.2 overall NFL draft pick Luke Joeckel, served as Johnny Manziel’s primary backup with the Aggies 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.

Coincidentally or not, Tyler Matthews tweeted on the same day of Joeckel’s departure from A&M that he was transferring from TCU.  Matthews had been competing for the Horned Frogs starting job; now Joeckel, who as a graduate transfer will be eligible to play immediately, will join the TCU QB fray.

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Chick-Fil-A Bowl adds history, prestige to its name

Peach_Bowl_2

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl will return to its roots and become the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl beginning with this year’s game.

The Atlanta-based bowl was known as the Peach Bowl from its inception in 1968 through 1997, when it became the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. In 2006, the game dropped “Peach” from its name and became just the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Per the Journal-Constitution’s report, the name change had to do with the bowl becoming part of the College Football Playoff’s rotation. The other five bowls in the rotation all have traditional names plus corporate sponsors: The Allstate Sugar Bowl, AT&T Cotton Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl Presented by Vizio and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

A press conference is expected Monday to officially announce the name change.

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Maty Mauk, Mizzou adapting to life without DGB

Dorial Green-Beckham, Maty Mauk AP

The shock of Dorial Green-Beckham’s dismissal from the team probably hasn’t completely worn off at Mizzou just yet, even if quarterback Maty Mauk insisted “it’s behind us and we can’t do anything about it.” (via ESPN.com)

Mizzou’s spring game on Saturday, then, serves as an early look at who Mauk and the Tigers turn to in the absence of the team’s best returning receiver. It doesn’t help that Mizzou lost the 167 combined catches L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas had in last season’s run to the SEC Championship, either.

The good news is that Mizzou’s receivers still have good size and athleticism. Mauk, in the ESPN story, raved about 6-foot-3 Texas transfer Darius White, who only has 13 career catches to his name. Bud Sasser, who’s listed at 6-foot-2, caught 26 passes for Mizzou last year (and also threw a 40-yard touchdown to Washington at Georgia). Veteran Jimmie Hunt (22 catches in 2013) will also see an increased role in the Tigers’ offense.

Mauk lays out a few other players he’s been encouraged by in spring practice, and noted that Mizzou is being picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC East (not exactly an unfair assessment — in addition to the receivers, Mizzou lost QB James Franklin, RB Henry Josey, OL Justin Britt, OL Max Copeland, DE Michael Sam, LB Andrew Wilson and CB E.J. Gaines, among others).

But Mauk is somewhere between being diplomatic and confident in the guys around him with DGB no longer on the team. There’s still talent in Mizzou’s receiving unit; though we won’t find out if it’s good enough to compete in the SEC until the fall.

 

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Mark Emmert made some not-so-smart comments this morning

NFL Enlists GE, Under Armour in $60 Million Brain-Injury Study Getty Images

You’re the president of an organization under siege for a multitude of reasons. Maybe it wouldn’t be best to make some flippant comments on a popular national radio show.

But NCAA President Mark Emmert, on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Friday morning:

There are real, significant problems with the NCAA model that need to be fixed, and I’m sure current college athletes don’t appreciate the head of their organization saying stuff like this. To illustrate how deeply unpopular Emmert is, just look at the #AskEmmert hashtag on Twitter. An example, via our own John Taylor, sums things up:

It’s not exactly a been a great day for Emmert, and it’s not even 10 a.m. on the East Coast yet.

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