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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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Ozzie Mann, one-time starting QB, transferring from Ball State

Ball State v Iowa

A player who began the 2014 season as Ball State’s starting quarterback will begin the 2015 season at a different football program entirely.

Monday, Ball State announced that Ozzie Mann has decided to transfer from the university and pursue other opportunities.  Where those other opportunities may be for the Indiana native is uncertain, although, if he ends up at another FBS program, he’ll be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

The fact that Mason lost out in this spring’s quarterback competition — Jack Miles, who took the starting job from Mann last year, took most of the first-team reps — seems to be the impetus for his decision.

“We want to thank Ozzie for his hard work and for representing our program in a first class manner,” head coach Pete Lembo said in a statement. “Depth chart decisions are never easy, but they need to be made. Ozzie has our full support and we will do whatever we can to help him with this next step in his career.”

Mason started six of the seven games in which he played last season, including the opener against Colgate.  For the season, he completed 116-of-197 passes for 1,281 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.

A two-star member of the Cardinals’ 2012 recruiting class, Mason played in six games in 2013 after redshirting as a true freshman.

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UNC celebrates ‘May the Fourth be with you’ with ‘Tar Wars’ poster

Princess Leia

This time last week, North Carolina was celebrating “National Superheros Day” by tweeting out a photoshopped movie poster featuring Larry Fedora as X-Men’s Wolverine.

Seven days later, it’s Star Wars Day across the vast expanses of the Internet — “May the Fourth be with you,” “may the force be with you;” get it? — and all kinds of celebrities and sports teams are getting in on the fun a few months ahead of the seventh installment of the mega-successful space saga being released.  UNC, of course, has gotten in on the social media craze, and decided to add a couple of buddies to their latest creation involving their head football coach.

Fedora, of course, plays Luke Skywalker in the poster.  The other three are athletic director Bubba Cunningham as Obi Wan Kenobi; new defensive coordinator and former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik as Han Solo; and wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer as Yoda.

And, hopefully, you’ll sleep a little better tonight being informed of this development…

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Ex-Gamecock one of two FBS players transferring to Kennesaw St.

Mason Harris, Maty Mauk

When the 2015 season rolls around, one FCS program will have a decidedly FBS flavor to it.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kennesaw State has added defensive end Mason Harris and cornerback Dante Blackmon to its roster. The former comes to the Owls from South Carolina, the latter from Appalachian State.

Harris will have one year of eligibility remaining, Blackmon two. Both players will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Back in mid-January, Harris joined the mass exodus of players leaving the Gamecocks this offseason, He started one game in 2014, and played in 31 the past three seasons.

Blackmon started the first three games in 2014 before losing his starting job.  He started nine of the 22 games in which he played for the Mountaineers.

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Rosters from two 2011 Bama-LSU games littered with NFL draftees

Allstate BCS National Championship Game - LSU v Alabama Getty Images

When the two Alabama-LSU “Games of the Century” were played back in the 2011 season, we knew there was a tremendous amount of potential NFL talent on the field.  Now, with the 2015 NFL draft officially in the books, we can put a number on that potential.

And, actually, it’s a rather significant number as Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com reports that a whopping total of 45 players who played in the two Tide-Tigers games during that 2011 season — LSU won the regular season matchup, ‘Bama won the rematch in the BCS championship game — have been drafted by an NFL team.  Perhaps the most impressive number inside the number?  16 of the 22 defensive starters in those games were ultimately selected in the draft.

Given the fact that just one touchdown versus 10 field goals were scored in those two contests, though, it shouldn’t be surprising that the two defenses have littered recent drafts with players.

Another number?  Nine of the 44 offensive/defensive starters ended up becoming first-round picks.

Tide-Tiger players were picked in all seven rounds the past four years, and not surprisingly the top round was the opening one as 14 went on to become first-round picks.  The fifth round was next with 10, followed by the second (six), fourth (five), third (four), seventh (four) and sixth (two) rounds.

While 45 is a remarkable number, it still falls well short of the all-time record in this particular category: 52 of the players in the Miami-Ohio State title game following the 2002 season went on to be drafted.  Even more insane is that 37 of the starters in the Buckeyes’ upset of the Hurricanes ended up being selected in the next handful of drafts, with 18 taken in the first round.

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Belk named title sponsor of Tar Heel-Gamecock opener

South Carolina v North Carolina Getty Images

Because of course an already over-commercialized sport needs additional commercialization.

In a press release Monday, the Charlotte Sports Foundation announced that department store chain Belk has been named as the title sponsor of the 2015 North Carolina-South Carolina opener.  The game will kick-off at 6 p.m. ET Sept. 3 and will be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

The game will officially be promoted as “The 2015 Belk College Kickoff.”

“College football is at the heart of Southern lifestyle and Belk is excited to partner with the Charlotte Sports Foundation as the title sponsor of the Belk College Kickoff Game,” said Jon Pollack, Belk executive vice president, sales promotion, marketing and eCommerce. “The Belk College Kickoff Game is a great opportunity to engage fans and customers in the Southeast, as well as celebrate and support the Charlotte community.”

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Belk to bring top level college football games to Charlotte,” said Will Webb, executive director of the CSF. “We can’t wait for the Tar Heels and Gamecocks to take the field, and their fans to experience our great city.”

Belk is also the title sponsor of the appropriately named Belk Bowl, which is played in Charlotte and features, as this opener will, one team each from the ACC and SEC.

The Tar Heels and Gamecocks, former conference rivals in the Southern then the ACC, have faced each other 54 times, with the first coming meeting in 1903 and the last in 2013.  UNC owns a 32-18-4 edge in the series, although USC has won five of the last six dating back to 1988.

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WVU’s Russell Haughton-James arrested on felony burglary charge

Russell Haughton-James

With another weekend in the books, it’s time to, once again, reset the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

The latest to trigger a double-zero reset is Russell Haughton-James, the West Virginia offensive lineman who WV Metro News is reporting was arrested on one count of burglary Sunday night.  No specifics as to what led up to Haughton-James’ arrest have been released.

According to the North Central Regional Jail’s website, Haughton-James’ incarceration status is listed as “pre-trial felon.”

What if any impact this incident will have on Houghton-James’ status with the team is uncertain, although the team is aware of the arrest.

After playing in just two games as a redshirt freshman in 2012, Haughton-James has played in 24 the past two seasons.  In the 12 games he played in 2014, he was mainly a backup tackle.

(Photo credit: North Central Regional Jail)

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Cactus Bowl will be played at Chase Field for next three years

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reports the Cactus Bowl will be played in Chase Field — home of the Arizona Diamondbacks — for the next three seasons, making it the fourth bowl game to take place in an MLB stadium.

The annual Big 12 vs. Pac-12 game will join the Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium), St. Pete Bowl (Tropicana Field) and Miami Beach Bowl (Marlins Park) as being played in a baseball stadium. The Emerald Bowl, now known as the Foster Farms Bowl, was played at AT&T Park in San Francisco from 2002-2013 before moving to Levi’s Stadium last year.

We’ve also seen regular season games take place at Wrigley Field (Northwestern-Illinois) and Busch Stadium (SIU-Carbondale-Southeastern Missouri State) in recent years. Notre Dame will face Boston College at Fenway Park this November as well.

Hopefully, whichever team wins this year’s Cactus Bowl will celebrate the way the Dodgers did after winning the NL West at Chase Field in 2013:

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Some good news for Tennessee: Peyton Manning sees more ‘Sunday bodies’

Butch Jones AP

Tennessee was shut out of last weekend’s NFL Draft, which on the surface can be viewed as a problem and/or indictment of the program.

But that’d be missing the larger point. A tidal wave of players will make the sophomore-junior leap while Butch Jones has pulled in a ton of top recruits since taking over in Knoxville. And perhaps the most famous Tennessee alum is seeing the improvements:

Per 247 Sports, Tennessee projects to have 14 upperclassmen starters in 2015, many of whom have been through plenty of close games over the last two years. Pairing that experience with their natural talent should begin to pay off for guys like Josh Dobbs and an offensive line made up of four upperclassmen and a very good sophomore right guard in Jashon Robertson.

But here’s the other thing about Tennessee: As of now, they don’t have any players projected as 2016 first-round picks in the way-too-early mock drafts that are out there (like CBS Sports, Walter Football and Bleacher Report). So perhaps there won’t be a mass exodus of talent out of Knoxville after this coming season, even if Manning sees the potential for plenty of these guys to make it in the NFL.

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‘Disappointed’ Dykes had no choice but to can Cal assistant

California v Northwestern Getty Images

A week or so after being forced to push one assistant off his Cal coaching staff, Sonny Dykes spoke publicly about the situation.

The Bears head coach acknowledged that he was “disappointed and surprised” after learning that Pierre Ingram was arrested April 16 and charged with solicitation of a lewd act in the midst of a prostitution sting.  Eight days after his arrest, Ingram, who served as Cal’s wide receivers coach as well as the football program’s recruiting coordinator, was dismissed by Dykes.

Dykes stated that, in essence, he had no choice but to can his assistant, even as it was a hard situation to go through on both sides.

“It’s hard when somebody you know goes through a hard time in their life, especially somebody that you know well,” Dykes said.

“Obviously, it’s not anything you ever want to hear. I was disappointed and surprised. I think everybody was surprised that knew Pierre, but we had to move on.”

Ingram had spent the past two seasons as the Bears’ running backs coach before moving over to receivers this offseason.

As far as a replacement goes, Dykes stated that the search is ongoing but is headed in the right direction. There is no timeline for a hire.

Dykes added he’s unsure if the title of recruiting coordinator will go to the new assistant or to someone already on his staff.

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Spinal condition forces Oregon State’s Dashon Hunt to retire

Colorado Buffaloes vs Oregon State Beavers

For the second time in less than a month, a spinal condition has prompted a Power Five player to call it quits.

In a midweek Instagram posting, Oregon State’s Dashon Hunt announced that he is being forced to retire from the sport because of a medical condition.  According to Hunt, and which was subsequently confirmed by OSU, he was born with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spine.  It’s a condition similar to what prompted Florida’s Rod Johnson to step away from the game three weeks ago.

Below is Hunt’s social media missive.

“It was truly a blessing to have been apart of the #OregonStateFootball team but sadly my days of playing is over due to a condition that I was born with called #SpinalStenosis. This team will forever be my team and I will always support every single brother of mine on it through their football careers and life. And a message to all my teammates “just because I can’t play on the field with yall, best believe I’ma be on the sideline helping and watching yall strive towards greatness because our team is bound for great accomplishments in these upcoming years. I love all yall as my own brothers and I’ll always be here for every last one of yall” And to everyone else who has supported me throughout my career thank you very much from the bottom of my heart and God Bless you all!”

Hunt was a four-star member of the Beavers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 corner in the country by Rivals.com.  He was the highest-rated recruit in an OSU class that was rated 39th in the country and eight in the Pac-12.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Hunt played in seven games in 2014.  He was expected to compete for a starting job in 2015.

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Nearly 30 percent of early entries weren’t selected in NFL draft

B.J. Catalon, Darrion Richardson AP

Not surprisingly, some of the players who left eligibility on the table for an early shot at the pros were left without a chair when the draft music stopped Saturday.

By the deadline in mid-January, a total of 84 players with eligibility remaining filled out their paperwork to make themselves available for the 2015 NFL draft.  As noted by Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com, 24 of those 84 players went undrafted as the seven-round event concluded yesterday evening.

While that’s 28.6 percent, it’s actually a better rate than a year ago.  In 2014, 36.7 percent (36 of 98) of the early entrants went undrafted.  That total of 98 last year was a record number of draft-eligible players who left with eligibility remaining, which prompted the NFL to change its protocol in an attempt to roll back the number of players leaving early.

Getting back to this year, 16 of the 24 who weren’t selected came from Power Five football programs.  TCU was the only school with two early entrants who weren’t picked (running back B.J. Catalon, safety Chris Hackett), while two of the players came from non-FCS levels.

It should be noted that most if not all of the players in this group will sign as an undrafted free agent.

Below is the complete list of those who went undrafted.

SS Durell Eskridge, Syracuse
CB Jacoby Glenn, UCF
FS Chris Hackett, TCU
WR DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame
RB Trey Williams, Texas A&M
DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
TE Jean Sifrin, Massachusetts
DT David Irving, Iowa State
WR Deontay Greenberry, Houston
DT Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
RB B.J. Catalon, TCU
WR Chris Harper, California
LB Max Flores, Northern Colorado
RB Dee Hart, Colorado State
RB Braylon Heard, Kentucky
WR George Farmer, USC
WR Nigel King, Kansas
OT Patrick Miller, Auburn
WR Zach D’Orazio, Akron
WR Tacoi Sumler, Appalachian State
OG Tyler Moore, Florida
WR Jaquel Pitts, Trinity International
LS Easton Wahlstrom, Arizona State
OLB Darien Rankin, North Carolina

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Ex-Gopher, Rutgers QB Philip Nelson to start over at S. Alabama

Philip Nelson AP

Whether or not you are of the belief that he deserves it, Philip Nelson is getting a second chance at an FBS playing career.

According to a Minneapolis Star Tribune report from late this past week, Nelson’s father has confirmed that his son has moved on to South Alabama and will play for the Sun Belt program in 2015.  For what it’s worth, USA has yet to confirm the quarterback’s addition to its roster.

When it does, though, it may have some explaining and/or spinning to do.

In May of last year, Nelson, then a Rutgers Scarlet Knight, was arrested in connection to a vicious assault outside of a Mankato, Minn., bar. Nelson was ultimately charged with first- and third-degree assault, both felonies, in an incident that left the victim, former Div. II football player Isaac Kolstad, hospitalized and fighting for his life.

The Kolstad family had released a statement at one point a year ago confirming that the 24-year-old Kolstad, who is married and has a young daughter, was on life support and had a portion of his brain removed after allegedly being kicked in the head by Nelson and punched by another male who is facing charges as well.  Kolstad, who Nelson’s attorney had accused of throwing a sucker punch that triggered the fight, is making steady progress from his injuries.

Nelson ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser charges earlier this year and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and credited for serving two days in jail.  It was concluded by a prosecution witness that the other male charged had caused Kolstad’s brain injury, which led to a plea agreement that also included a $300 fine.

In January of last year, Nelson transferred from Minnesota to Rutgers.  He was dismissed by the Scarlet Knights shortly after being charged in connection to the beating.

In 2012 and 2013, Nelson, who was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2012 recruiting class, started 16 games.  Nine of those starts came as a true sophomore in a 2013 season in which he led the run-heavy Gophers in passing yards (1,306) and passing touchdowns (nine).  He was also third in rushing yards (364) and rushing touchdowns (six).

Prior to moving on to USA, Fresno State, Georgia and Ole Miss were in the mix for his services.  Nj.com wrote that “the SEC schools moved on as the legal process dragged.”

Nelson will now have two years of eligibility remaining.

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Auburn dismisses Elijah Daniel following theft arrest

South Carolina v Auburn

Just days after being arrested for suspected theft, Elijah Daniel has been asked to leave the Auburn football program. Auburn announced the latest roster decision Saturday.

As previously reported, Daniel was one of three suspects in a theft investigation on campus. Daniel and two other former Auburn athletes — DeNorris James and Khalil Sellers — were the primary suspects in an on-campus theft investigation following various incidents over Auburn’s spring break. Daniel was charged with four counts of theft of property and four counts of burglary. Between the eight charges, six are considered felonies.

Daniel played in 13 games for the Tigers last fall, and he started in two of them.

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UAB gets two players drafted by NFL teams

2015 NFL Scouting Combine

For just the third time in program history, UAB has sent two players through the NFL Draft. It might end up being the last time UAB hears the school’s name mentioned during the NFL Draft.

UAB wide receiver J.J. Nelson was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the draft. In the sixth round, tight end Kennard Backman was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. The only other years UAB has had multiple draft picks in the same year are 2002 (Eddie Freeman and Bryan Thomas) and 1998 (Dainon Sidney and Izell Reese).

UAB made the decision to shut down the football program at the conclusion of last football season. The football program, despite being eligible for postseason play, did not play in any postseason bowl game. In the meantime, criticism of the handling of the shutdown and questions about why the program was shut down or if it had to be shutdown have continued. One report has suggested the program was financially viable.

We do not know whether or not UAB football will make a return. The earliest it was believed to be possible was 2016, and Conference USA has decided to close the door on UAB’s membership moving forward. Things look bleak, which is why moments like the NFL Draft should be cherished by those closely associated to the UAB football family.

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NFL Draft sees SEC take conference crown, FSU & L’Ville go 1-2

Florida State v Louisville

If there was one thing to be learned from this year’s NFL Draft, it is that the schools in the south are loaded with NFL talent. Big surprise, right?

After a bit fo a slow start, the SEC finished strong and sent more players to the NFL Draft than any other conference. By the time the last pick was made, the SEC had sent 54 players to NFL franchises, seven more than the ACC’s 47 players, even though Tennessee was blanked.

Here is how the power conferences stacked up:

The ACC was carried in a big way by Florida State, which set a new three-year record for most cumulative draft picks in the later rounds. Florida State had 11 players go to NFL teams in this year’s draft, including Jameis Winston as the number one overall player. While Florida State flexed plenty of draft muscle, Louisville had a big final day of the draft and ended just one pick shy of Florida State’s 11 players. Clearly Charlie Strong was able to transform the Louisville football program with plenty of talent before leaving for Texas. Hopefully he remembers their names.

Here is a look at the top draft factories this year:

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