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Bill O’Brien announces 2013 Penn State signees

Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien addresses a news conference before his first spring practice as Penn State's head football coach, in Pennsylvania Reuters

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

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; February 6, 2013 – Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien announced the Nittany Lions’ 2013 recruiting class on Wednesday. In all, the Nittany Lions welcome 17 new student-athletes who signed National Letters of Intent to join the football program.

“Recruiting is about a fit and relationships,” O’Brien said. “We started working early on this class and they visited us multiple times. This is a group of high character kids who are tough, go to class and do things the right way. Our coaches deserve a lot of credit. They worked hard to develop relationships with the families and the prospects and it turned out well for us.”

Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class features nine defensive signees and eight offensive signees from seven different states and one from the District of Columbia. Breaking down the class by position, the signees include four defensive backs, three defensive linemen, three offensive linemen, two linebackers, two quarterbacks, one running back, one tight end and one wide receiver.

The list includes four high school players who graduated early to enroll at Penn State, and one junior-college signee, who began classes in January and are participating in winter conditioning with the team.

O’Brien led Penn State to an 8-4 record (6-2 Big Ten) during his first season as the Nittany Lions’ head coach and was selected the 2012 Bear Bryant, Maxwell Football Club and ESPN Coach of the Year and the Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year. The Nittany Lions begin spring practice March 18 and the Blue-White Game is April 20 in Beaver Stadium.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 17 members of Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Richy Anderson
RB | Frederick, Md. | Governor Thomas Johnson High School | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 171
The son of former Nittany Lion great and NFL running back Richie Anderson, Richy Anderson is a 5-11, 171-pound versatile all-purpose back. The Frederick, Md., native produced more than 1,700 yards of offense and 15 touchdowns as a junior at Governor Thomas Johnson High School. Rated a three-star prospect on Scout.com, Rivals.com, ESPN.com and 247Sports, Anderson helped lead Thomas Johnson High School to the Class 3A state title game in 2011. Anderson’s father lettered at Penn State from 1991-92, rushing for 1,756 yards and 31 touchdowns before embarking on a 12-year NFL career with the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys. Anderson is one of five signees already enrolled in classes and participating in winter workouts.

Brandon Bell
LB | Mays Landing, N.J. | Oakcrest High School | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 222
Brandon Bell will bring depth to the Nittany Lion linebacker corps and could help contribute very early on special teams. Bell is a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker, who was also very productive at running back at Oakcrest High School in New Jersey. Bell was tabbed a three-star recruit and is ranked among the top 20 linebackers in the 2013 class nationally. The Mays Landing, N.J. native recorded 124 total tackles during his senior season, along with one sack, three forced fumbles, and one interception. Bell was a First Team Cape Atlantic League Linebacker, First Team All-Atlantic City Press Linebacker, and Second Team All-South Jersey Linebacker. Bell along with three other Penn State commits played in the Chesapeake Bowl. During his junior year, Bell had 117 tackles and six sacks. Bell recorded 22 tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries while also rushing for 429 yards and five touchdowns on offense.

Adam Breneman
TE | Camp Hill, Pa. | Cedar Cliff High School | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 230
Rated among the nation’s top tight ends, Camp Hill, Pa., native Adam Breneman brings a versatile skill set to the Nittany Lion program. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Breneman possesses great speed and quickness for a player his size. A crisp route runner with good hands, the Cedar Cliff High School standout has the tools to line up in a variety of locations on offense. Breneman’s traits will fit nicely into the Bill O’Brien tight end-friendly offensive scheme. Rated a five-star prospect by Rivals, Breneman caught 72 passes for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. As a sophomore, Breneman made 60 receptions for 863 yards and eight touchdowns. Off the field, Breneman played an instrumental role in a fundraising effort, “Catch the Cure”, which helped raise more than $80,000 for Project A.L.S. Breneman is one of five Nittany Lions already enrolled in classes. He was elected an officer of Penn State’s Uplifting Athletes chapter last month.

Curtis Cothran
DE | Newtown, Pa. | Council Rock High School North | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 235
Curtis Conthran, a 6-5, 230-pound defensive end brings great size and upside to the defensive line of the Nittany Lions. The Newtown, Pa. native made 35 tackles and eight sacks as a senior at Council Rock North High School. Cothran, who was rated a three-star recruit according to Scout.com, Rivals.com, and 247sports.com, was rated AP Class AAAA First Team All-State, Pennsylvania Football News First Team All-State and First Team All-Bucks County Courier Times ALL Golden
Team. Cothran is one of four Penn State signees who played in the Chesapeake Bowl.

Parker Cothren
DT | Hazel Green, Ala. | Hazel Green High School | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 265
Parker Cothren will look to add depth to the interior of the defensive line following the departures of seniors Jordan Hill and James Terry. Hailing from Hazel Green, Ala., Cothren has good size at 6-5, 265-pounds to evolve into a contributor for defensive line coach Larry Johnson. A three-star prospect according to Rivals.com and Scout.com, Cothren is a skilled athlete with the tools to add depth to the Nittany Lion offensive line. During his senior season, Cothren recorded 22 tackles with six and a half tackles for loss. Cothren was also a very versatile player, playing defensive end, defensive tackle and offensive tackle for Hazel Green High School.

Tyler Ferguson
QB | Bakersfield, Calif. | College of the Sequoias | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 199
A standout quarterback at The College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., quarterback Tyler Ferguson enters the spring semester with three years of eligibility at Penn State. Ferguson, who threw for 2,614 yards and 22 touchdowns in 10 games during 2012, is a 6-3, 199-pound signal-caller. He completed better than 55 percent of his passes and was the second-leading passer in the CCCAA’s Central Valley Conference. The Bakersfield, Calif., product threw for 1,275 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Ridgeview High School. He fueled a 6-0 start during his senior season in 2011 before suffering a broken collarbone. Ferguson is an accurate passer with good pocket awareness and the ability to tuck the ball and run when he needs to. Ferguson is one of five Nittany Lions already enrolled in classes.

Kasey Gaines
DB | Loganville, Ga. | Grayson High School | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 160
Loganville, Ga. native Kasey Gaines will look to add some depth to the secondary and special teams unit when he arrives on campus. During his junior year at Grayson High School, Gaines had 93 tackles along with five interceptions during a season where he helped lead Grayson to the Georgia 5A state title. The defensive back earned First Team All-State honors during the 2011 campaign. Gaines was also named 2011 All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year. Gaines brings a high football IQ and good ball skills to the Nittany Lion program.

Christian Hackenberg
QB | Palmyra, Va. | Fork Union Military Academy | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 215
Rated among the nation’s top incoming quarterbacks, Christian Hackenberg brings outstanding size and a superb skill set to the Bill O’Brien-led offense. A 2013 Under Armour All-American Game selection, Hackenberg has superb arm strength and mobility to play an instrumental role in leading the Penn State offense. A standout at Fork Union Military Academy, Hackenberg led his prep school to a state title as a sophomore. The Division 1 first-team VISAA All-State quarterback, threw for 2,144 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2012. Additionally, Hackenberg rushed for 436 yards and three scores on the ground. He was invited to “The Opening”, an all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus. Additionally, Hackenberg was a 2012 Elite 11 Finalist. The Virginia native is a skilled athlete with a high football IQ. Hackenberg has a quick release and all the tools necessary to be a prototypical passing quarterback for the Nittany Lions.

DaeSean Hamilton
WR | Fredericksburg, Va. | Mountain View High | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 182
Receiver DaeSean Hamilton will add depth to the talented Nittany Lion receiver corps. The 6-foot-1, 182 pound Hamilton is known for his quickness and consistent hands. As a senior at Mountain View High, Hamilton caught 64 passes for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a junior, he caught 73 passes for 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. The versatile Hamilton also contributed as a safety in high school. Hamilton was rated a three-star prospect by both Scout and Rivals.

Tanner Hartman
G | Lynchburg, Va. | Lynchburg Christian Academy | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 255
Guard Tanner Hartman brings good size and tenacity to the Nittany Lion offensive line. The 6-foot- 5, 255-pound Hartman played on both sides of the line at Liberty Christian Academy, but will look to contribute and provide depth on the Bill O’Brien-led offense. Hartman, who participated in the Chesapeake Bowl, played prep ball for former Penn State quarterback Frank Rocco. He earned first- team All-State (VISAA) honors as an offensive lineman during his senior season. Hartman is the son of Tom Hartman, a standout lineman at Virginia Tech. The Lynchburg, Va., native played against fellow signee Christian Hackenberg in a game during his senior season.

Zayd Issah
LB | Harrisburg, Pa. | Central Dauphin Senior High School | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 215
Linebacker Zayd Issah will provide depth to the linebacking corps and will likely have an opportunity to contribute on special teams. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Issah is a versatile player, who contributed at multiple positions across the offense at Central Dauphin. Issah is a three-time all-state selection, and he earned Pennsylvania Class AAAA Co-Player of the Year as a junior. He registered 123 tackles and 14 sacks as a junior. Issah also had a big impact on the offensive end, rushing for 1,345 yards and 21 touchdowns while also catching 29 passes for 672 yards and 10 touchdowns. Issah also rushed for 1,653 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore. A talented athlete with good size and speed, Issah will make an impact on the Penn State defense.

Brendan Mahon
G | Randolph, N.J. | Randolph High School | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 315
Offensive guard Brendan Mahon will provide immediate depth to the offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound lineman brings terrific size to the Nittany Lion offense and is regarded for his sound technique. Mahon joined Garrett Sickels as one of two future Nittany Lions that participated in the U.S. Army All-American game, and he was a captain on the East squad. The Randolph, N.J. native was named second team all-state as a lineman. Mahon was rated a four-star prospect and the third- best guard in the nation by Rivals. The New Jersey Star-Ledger tabbed Mahon as the top offensive lineman in New Jersey.

Andrew Nelson
OT | Hershey, Pa. | Hershey High School | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 295
A true offensive tackle, Andrew Nelson is highly regarded for his aggressiveness and quickness on the offensive line. The 6-foot-5, 263 pound lineman from Hershey High School will have an opportunity to add depth on a Nittany Lion offensive line that graduated two senior starters. Nelson competed in the Chesapeake Bowl and earned an invitation to the Big 33 Classic. The Hershey native was also named a third-team all-state selection for his efforts during his senior season. Nelson was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.

Neiko Robinson
DB | Flomaton, Ala. | Northview High School | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 170
Defensive back Neiko Robinson will look to have an impact in the Penn State secondary and on special teams when camp opens in the fall. The Flomaton, Ala. native is a smart and aggressive player. He is also versatile in the secondary, being able to play both cornerback and safety. As a junior at Flomaton High School, he was a first-team all-state selection. He transferred to Northview High School in Florida for his senior year. He finished his senior campaign with 95 tackles and seven interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. Robinson was named first-team all-state after leading Northview to its first state championship in school history (Class A Florida state title). The three-star prospect is one of two signees in the class from Alabama, joining defensive tackle Parker Cothren.

Garrett Sickels
DE | Little Silver, N.J. | Red Bank Regional High School | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 238
Defensive end Garrett Sickels has the tools to potential join a long list of successful Penn State defensive ends. The U.S. Army All-American comes to Penn State from Little Silver, N.J. Standing at 6-foot-4, 238-pounds, Sickels racked up 25 career sacks at Red Bank Regional High School. With Sean Stanley and Pete Massaro graduating, Sickels will look to provide some needed depth at the end position. Rated a four-star prospect by both Scout and Rivals, Sickels picked up nine sacks in his senior season. As a junior, Sickels recorded 76 tackles, nine hits for loss, 10 sacks, and forced three fumbles. Sickels is a talented player who will bring speed and power to the defensive line.

Anthony Smith
DB | Randolph, N.J. | Valley Forge Military Academy | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 184
Defensive back Anthony Smith will likely have an opportunity to make an early impact during spring drills in the Penn State secondary and on special teams. A 6-foot, 184-pound defensive back hailing from Randolph, N.J., Smith spent last season at Valley Forge Military Academy. In addition to playing in the defensive backfield, Smith spent time at quarterback and was the long snapper for Valley Forge in 2012. He earned second-team All-West Jersey honors during his final season at Pope John XXIII High School (Sussex County, N.J.) in 2011. Smith is an aggressive player with the size and speed to add depth in the Penn State secondary and special teams unit when spring drills begin in March. Smith is one of five Nittany Lions already enrolled in classes.

Jordan Smith
DB | Washington, D.C. | H.D. Woodson High School | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 178
Penn State has had a long line of talented players from suburban Washington, D.C., and 5-foot- 11, 178-pound defensive back Jordan Smith will look to join that list for the Nittany Lions. Smith is an aggressive athlete with the skill set to play in a number of different spots in the secondary. Like Anthony Smith, Jordan Smith will likely have an opportunity to add depth and make an early impact in the secondary and on special teams during spring drills. Smith tallied two-straight 60-plus tackle seasons at Archbishop Carroll High School before moving to H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C. Smith has known former Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris since they were young children. Smith’s older brother, Stephen, played high school football with former Nittany Lion great Derrick Williams at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland. Smith is one of five Nittany Lions already enrolled in classes.

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Gators’ J.C. Jackson arrested in connection to armed home invasion

J.C. Jackson

This past December, J.C. Jackson was the alleged victim of a crime.  Four months later, he’s one of the perpetrators of a crime — allegedly.

WJXT-TV in Jacksonville is reporting Sunday morning that Jackson was arrested Saturday in connection to an armed home invasion robbery.  According to the television station, Jackson turned himself in to face the charge, the specific nature of which was not specified in the report.

The incident that led to the cornerback’s arrest occurred shortly after 4 p.m. ET yesterday.  Essentially, Jackson (allegedly) setup an acquaintance and his home to be robbed by two armed individuals, and then very quickly exited stage left.

The other two suspects are still at large.  UF officials have yet to comment on what impact the arrest will have on Jackson’s status with the football program moving forward.

In the December incident, Jackson and West Virginia wide receiver Jacky Marcellus were both grazed by bullets in a shooting that happened outside of an Immokalee, Fla., apartment building. A third individual, the brother of Marcellus, was shot in the face but survived.

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, Jackson was rated as the No. 21 corner in the country; the No. 37 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 243 recruit overall by Rivals.com.  He played in the 2014 opener, but missed the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.  Exiting the spring, Jackson was expected to take a starting job into summer camp.

(Photo credit: Vic Micolucci‘s Twitter account)

UPDATED 11:42 a.m. ET: According to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Edgar Thompson, Jackson was charged with suspicion of armed robbery and is being held in Alachua County Jail on a $150,000 bond.

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Travonte Valentine suspended; future at LSU up in the air

Travonte Valentine

Travonte Valentine didn’t suit up for LSU last season because of academic issues.  Depending on how the current situation plays out, he may never play a down for the Tigers because of similar issues.

Saturday, head coach Les Miles confirmed that the defensive tackle has been suspended from the football program because of academics.  Valentine has not participated at all during spring practice this year, so the suspension was an open secret that was finally acknowledged by the coach.

As for a return?  That’s up to Valentine and his work in the classroom.

“We’ve instructed him to go to this school, go to class, take care your business, Miles said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If he does that and handles behavior then there will be a future for him here. Otherwise, we’re not certain.”

Last year, Valentine dealt with NCAA Clearinghouse issues — the player said another SEC program was the root cause — that forced him to miss the start of summer camp his true freshman season. While he was ultimately cleared to practice, he was not permitted to play in any games because of the lingering academic issues.

A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, Valentine was rated as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Florida. He had been expected to be an immediate contributor to LSU’s line rotation.

If he can get his academic house in order, he could make an impact as a redshirt freshman in 2015.

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)

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Big Ten close to clinching top three spring attendance crowds in 2015

Ohio State Spring Game Getty Images

Coming off a successful postseason, the Big Ten now has something else to be proud of. When the spring football attendance numbers are finalized in the coming weeks, the odds are pretty good the top three spring attendance crowds will all come from the Big Ten.

Ohio State set the bar as high as possible by setting a spring game record with 99,391 Buckeye fans packing Ohio Stadium for the annual spring game on Saturday. That is not just an Ohio State record either. That is the national spring game record. That number surpassed the previous high this spring by Nebraska (76,881 fans). Before the day was done Penn State reported an estimated crowd of 68,000 in Beaver Stadium for the Blue White Game. Those numbers are good for the three highest spring crowds this year, and it might be enough to hold up for one more week..

The biggest threat to cracking the top three before the month is over might be Tennessee. The Vols had 68,500 fans at the spring game in 2014, which would be good enough to pass Penn State for third overall this year. Given the excitement surrounding the upward trend in Knoxville, there might be enough orange in Neyland Stadium to do just that.

Other schools still to play spring games from power conferences include Arkansas, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa, UCLA, Utah Washington and Washington State, but the odds are none of those programs will manage to pull a crowd quite large enough. Wisconsin is also still on the schedule for next week, but the Badgers had just over 8,000 fans come to the final spring practice last spring.

Alabama (65,175) and Auburn (62,143) each had huge crowds but threats of inclement weather may have kept a few fans away from each respective spring game. Either way, the two Iron Bowl rivals round out the current top five in spring attendance. Michigan (60,000) follows for another Big Ten attendance mark.

No other school has reported a crowd over 49,000 this spring.

Here is the current numbers…

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Muschamp already has Auburn’s defense leading the way

Will Muschamp

Ask anyone who watched Auburn the biggest need of improvement from 214, and the answer might be the defense. Auburn’s defense is on the right track in a hurry with Will Muschamp taking over as defensive coordinator. The spring game was the latest example of that defense turning a corner.

Since Gus Malzahn has been named head coach at Auburn a couple of years ago, this was the lowest scoring spring game for the Tigers. Credit that to Muschamp getting to work early with the Tigers defense and making some changes. He also brings some energy to the defense, something he has been noted for throughout his coaching career.

“They’re flying around,” Malzahn said. “They’re playing hard.”

Everybody loves Coach Muschamp,” defensive tackle Montravius Adams said after the game, per Al.com. “He’s bringing that energy and changing the question to the whole defense, so we’re going to be a top contender.”

It was just a spring game, but Auburn is feeling more comfortable on defense. They have a defensive coordinator who can cook up some good schemes and have his players buy in. It’s working, and that could be huge if Auburn is going to make some things happen in 2015.

The other side of the Auburn conversation is who replaces Nick Marshall at quarterback? After the spring game it looks as though the answer is more and more likely to be Jeremy Johnson. In fact, let’s put him atop the depth chart for the summer now. Johnson completed 14-of-22 passes for 252 yards with a pair of long touchdowns to Duke Williams and Myron Burton.

“I thought Jeremy did some good things,” Malzahn said. “He has really good command of our offense. He probably held the ball a little too long a couple of throws, but, overall, I thought he did a good job.”

Auburn opens the 2015 season in Atlanta against Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on September 5.

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Alabama’s offense doesn’t pass Saban’s mid-term exam

Alabama Spring Game Getty Images

This spring Alabama’s offense, more specifically the quarterbacks, have been focusing on avoiding turnovers. If the spring game is to serve as a litmus test for the progress being made, Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin have some work to do if the Crimson Tide are going to be SEC and College Football Playoff contenders in 2015.

Alabama’s offense had six turnovers in the spring game Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Jake Coker, who some pumped up as Alabama’s likely starter a season ago, went just 14 for 28 with one touchdown (a long pass to ArDarius Stewart) and an interception. Redshirt freshman David Cornwell was not all tat much better, going 12 for 24 with 110 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. So it looks as though Alabama is heading into the summer with a quarterback situation to sort through. This is not totally unexpected, although it would have been nice if either Coker or Cornwell could have elevated themselves and created some separation in the spring game.

It was not all bad of course. Receivers Stewart (6 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD) and Robert Foster (8 receptions, 118 yards, 2 TDs) had solid outings even if the quarterbacks were not particularly sharp. Alabama’s defense seemed to be in good form, and more than capable of taking advantage of an unsteady quarterback situation on the other side of the ball. Reuben Foster was playing nickel, which Saban has said he’s been doing all spring. Foster also played with some more maturity, according to Saban. Five different players in Alabama’s secondary recorded an interception.

Fortunately, the season does not start tomorrow, or next week. Saban referred to the spring game as a mid-term exam, which leaves plenty of time for the Alabama offense to bring its grade up before opening the new season of what will surely be high with expectations after a second straight season ending in a postseason loss.

Alabama saw a crowd of 65,175 fans come to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Weather may have kept some away from the game. Regardless, the Crimson Tide will likely lock in with the fourth-highest spring attendance this year. Ohio State smashed the competition with a new spring game record, Nebraska is holding firm with the second highest crowd and Penn State edged Alabama’s crowd on Saturday.

Alabama opens the 2015 season against Wisconsin in the Cowboy Classic in Arlington, Texas on September 5.

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Charlie Strong says Swoopes is No. 1 QB at Texas

Tyrone Swoopes

If there is one thing Texas head coach Charlie Strong needs at Texas, it is probably Teddy Bridgewater. Unfortunately for Strong, that is not an option. Strong is looking to find the next best thing at Texas. Whether or not that turns out to be Tyrone Swoopes remains to be seen, but he is currently the number one quarterback for Strong heading out of the spring.

Ty is still the No. 1 guy at this moment,” Strong said after the Texas spring game Saturday afternoon in Austin. Swoopes is in a quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. If Strong’s comments carry weight, the thought of opening the season on the road at Notre Dame for a primetime game with Heard is not something that will allow him to feel comfortable.

“I hope I don’t have to go into that game starting a redshirt freshman,” Strong said. So there you have it. This is where the Texas quarterback situation stands as spring comes to a close.

Swoopes was the top passer for Texas last season, but the consistency was always a bit of a concern. While passing for 2,409 yards and 13 touchdowns, Swoopes did so while completing just 58.3 percent of his passes and being picked off 11 times. Heard could eventually take over the offense if things start slowly for Swoopes and Texas in the fall, but it sure seems as though Strong is not ready to hand the offense over to him at this point in time.

At one point during the spring game Saturday afternoon Swoopes got a little too much air under a pass that went out of play. The football hit a kid, which led Strong to send Swoopes over to apologize. It should also be noted that Strong does feel Heard has started to give Swoopes a run for the job.

“It’s going to be fun going into the summer with those two guys battling it out.”

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Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott ends spring on a high note

Dak Prescott

You could not have asked for much more from Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the spring game in Starkville Saturday afternoon. The potential Heisman Trophy contender capped the spring with 231 passing yards, three touchdowns while completing 20 of 29 pass attempts before being given a break by head coach Dan Mullen.

A handful of schools going through spring games on Saturday have quarterback competitions and debates brewing, but that is far from the case at Mississippi State. There it is clearly Prescott’s job and nobody is aiming to take it away. Prescott emerged as a top player in the SEC while leading Mississippi State to a number one ranking at one point en route to an appearance in the Orange Bowl. The season may not have ended the way Prescott and Mississippi State would have liked, but he brings plenty of promise for the Bulldogs in the fall, and his spring performance should boost the confidence just a bit more.

As good as Prescott was Saturday afternoon for the Maroon team, it was not enough to lead the squad to victory over the White team. With Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback, the White scored the only touchdown of the second half to take a 28-24 victory. Fitzgerald will be Prescott’s backup in the fall, and his performance was not too bad. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air and he rushed for 31 yards and another score, but he was picked off twice. The highlight of the afternoon from Fitzgerald came in the second quarter with a 59-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Dixon.  Dontavian Lee led all players with 53 rushing yards and a touchdown for the White team.

Mississippi State opens the 2015 season on the road on September 5 against Southern Mississippi.

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Nobody will have a higher spring attendance than Ohio State

Cardale Jones

Close it down now. Nobody will have a higher spring game attendance than Ohio State this year. The Buckeyes, fresh off a national championship in January, welcomed 99,391 fans to Ohio Stadium to watch the annual spring game in Columbus.

That easily puts Ohio State on top of the spring game attendance numbers this year, and nobody will have a chance to catch them.

Nebraska entered the weekend as the leader in spring game attendance with 76,881 fans attending last weekend’s spring game in Lincoln. Until the numbers from some other games come in today, the Big Ten is currently holding the top three spots in the spring game attendance numbers. Michigan’s 60,000 was second most in the nation coming into the weekend.

The Big Ten could have another top five spring game attendance figure coming in later today with Penn State’s spring game getting started later this afternoon.

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Notre Dame QB battle just getting started; ND-USC set for primetime

Everett Golson

Spring has come and gone, and Brian Kelly still has a quarterback decision to make before the start of the fall. Notre Dame’s spring game was not likely to solve the equation under center on Saturday, and it certainly left the variable in play. Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will continue to battle for the starting job heading into the summer and leading up to the start of the new season in the fall.

Playing on a practice field while Notre Dame Stadium undergoes renovation, both Golson and Zaire showed some improvement and confidence for much of the afternoon. Golson seemed to have an edge with execution at times, but Zaire also had some respectable moments as well.

Zaire may have had the highlight of the day as well. His 68-yard pass to Will Fuller for a touchdown was one of the top plays on the afternoon in South Bend, showing off Zaire’s arm strength.

The other came on a pass from Golson to end the first half, although for a different reason. Golson’s final pass of the first half was a 12-yard pass to offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, who had been begging for a pass all spring. He made it count and lowered a shoulder into Cole Luke at the end of the play.

From here, the quarterback competition is pretty even. There was no runaway winner in the race on Saturday, and one likely was not expected. Now we will just have to wait and see what happens in the summer. Kelly has confidence in his options, and there is no timetable for when a final decision might be announced.

Notre Dame opens the 2015 season at home on September 5 against Texas. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. eastern. Notre Dame also announced a home game against USC on October 17 will also kick off at 7:30 p.m. Both games will air on NBC.

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Russell Wilson says Tom O’Brien “kinda kicked me out of NC State”

South Carolina v North Carolina State Getty Images

The drama between Russell Wilson and former NC State head coach Tom O’Brien is pretty much ancient history at this point, but that did not prevent Wilson from dropping the suggestion he was forced out at NC State.

“You know, he was my head coach, you know, NC State,” Wilson said when asked about his time at NC State for an upcoming episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. “Kinda kicked me out of NC State a little bit.”

Wilson has typically taken the high road any time this topic of conversation has come up over the years, which is why it is a bit surprising to hear him explain the situation with these words.

We pretty much know the story at this point with the parting between O’Brien and Wilson. Wilson wanted to continue being able to play minor league baseball in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system, but O’Brien wanted the quarterback to stay committed to football. As we know by now, Wilson moved on to Wisconsin, led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and later went on to lead the Seattle Seahawks to one Super Bowl victory and return trip coming up just short of a second. Football has worked out well for Wilson, but the desire to continue playing baseball has not evaporated.

The significance of this quote and its relevance can be better explained now by our pals over at Pro Football Talk, as Wilson is reaching a point where he is ready to get a new contract in Seattle. The last thing Seattle probably wants to do is pull the same power play O’Brien did with Wilson in college.

Wilson will be featured in an interview with next week’s airing of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be featured as well.

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Ohio State’s Cardale Jones feels sorry for Notre Dame

Cardale Jones

No school has quite the intriguing quarterback situation this spring and heading into the fall as Ohio State. Take your pick of Ohio State quarterbacks — Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones —  and odds are your offense will be in good hands. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week he would take his quarterbacks any day over Ohio State’s, which did not fall on idle ears in Columbus.

Leading up to Ohio State’s spring game, ESPN ran an interview with Barrett and Jones conducted by Tom Rinaldi that did not require anyone to shed a tear. It actually yielded a laugh. With the quarterback question in mind, Rinaldi referenced the old cliche about having two quarterbacks meaning you don’t have one. The response from Jones?

“I feel sorry for Notre Dame,” Jones replied before quickly laughing it off and saying he was joking.

😂😂😂😂

A video posted by Land-Grant Holy Land (@landgrantholyland) on Apr 18, 2015 at 9:29am PDT

Going back to Kelly’s comments, what else is he supposed to say? He is a coach pumping up his own players, as any coach would do. His comments may have raised some eyebrows and been shrugged aside as a ridiculous comment — how many coaches this spring would commit NCAA violations for the quarterback situation Urban Meyer has on his hands this year — but he was just a coach saying things a coach would say and nothing more.

Notre Dame’s spring game opened up with Everett Golson leading the offense down the field for a touchdown, with the veteran quarterback running in for a short touchdown run after a decent opening drive. Malik Zaire is also being given a chance to win the starting job in South Bend after showing some promise at the end of last season.

But was Jones really just joking? Probably not too much.

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Louisville backfield shows promise in Friday spring game

The reviews are coming in from Louisville’s Friday night spring scrimmage, and it seems to paint a familiar picture. The offense has players to make some good things happen. The defense should be pretty solid. The offensive line seems to be a bit of a question mark Bobby Petrino will have to either hope comes together or sees some development in the summer before the season kicks off.

Quarterback Reggie Bonnafon completed 15 of 19 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown and rushed 10 times for 37 yards and another touchdown while playing the entire first half. While reading too much into spring games can be unwise, this seemed to be a strong suggestion which direction the quarterback position is heading at Louisville. It will be Bonnafon’s job to lose according to the experts following the Cardinals.

The running game should be in for a good season as well, and Brandon Radcliff will once again be leading the charge on the ground. On Friday night the leading Louisville rusher carried the football seven times for 57 yards and three TDs. No worries in the Louisville backfield. It is the offensive line that seems to be the most questionable spot for the Cardinals.

Quarterbacks were sacked nine times in the spring scrimmage, with 23,187 fans in attendance. It should be noted only nine offensive linemen dressed for the spring scrimmage, but reinforcements are on the way through Louisville’s Class of 2015 and some junior college transfers. There will be more bodies to plug in, but how quickly Louisville finds some cohesiveness up front will ultimately determine what kind of season the Cardinals could have in the fall.

There are far fewer reasons for concern on the defensive side of the football. Louisville played very well on defense last season, and it looks as though it should be a strength of the team once again in Petrino’s second season back with the program.

“I really think we’ll have a dominant defense,” Petrino said. “That defensive front and linebacking corps is very physical and very strong. They made it real hard on our second offense.”

Louisville’s season will kick off on September 5 against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta.

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Paul Johnson happy Georgia Tech survived its spring game

Capital One Orange Bowl - Mississippi State v Georgia Tech Getty Images

Nobody got hurt. Well, nobody got hurt Friday night. That is exactly what Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson wanted from the spring game in Atlanta Friday night. Rain held the attendance to just about 4,000 fans (most of them looking for cover from the elements), but Johnson will take it with no additional players having injury concerns as spring draws to a close.

“You know, it was a typical spring game — at least we got it in and the weather cooperated,” Johnson said. “Nobody got hurt that I know of — or at least seriously — which is what you hope for.”

Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets took some hits leading up to the game. C.J. Leggett, believed to be a potential starter for Georgia Tech’s B-back position, may lose the entire 2015 season due to a torn knee ligament revealed by an MRI this week.

”He’d been working hard,” Johnson said. ”I feel bad for him, but you’ve got to go with the next-man-up mentality.”

Leggett’s injury comes after another possible B-back option, Quaide Weimerskirch, has undergone foot surgery. The good news is Georgia Tech saw Marcus Allen have a good outing, running 14 times for 77 yards.

“I was proud of Marcus Allen,” Johnson said after the game. “I thought he played hard, did some good things, and made some plays. So (it was a) good (night) for Marcus.”

Justin Thomas will  be Georgia Tech’s quarterback in the fall, so Johnson took drastic measures to ensure he left the spring scrimmage in one piece. He played in just three series Friday night, and he attempted and completed one pass for 21 yards. He was also off limits from contact, just as he has been all spring.

Georgia Tech, the defending ACC Coastal Division champions, opens the 2015 season at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, September 3 against Alcorn State.

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Clemson and Duke baseball teams played football during rain delay

Clemson v Duke baseball (football)

Clemson and Duke football teams have wrapped up their respective spring practice schedules already, but on Friday the school’s baseball teams served up some spring football action of their own.

With a rain delay forcing the baseball field at Clemson to be covered by a tarp for an extended period of time, players from Clemson’s and Duke’s baseball teams decided to kill the idle time by playing some football. After all, rain does not stop football from being played.

There were even a couple of nice plays to witness too!

Clemson and Duke do not meet on the football field this fall, unless the two match-up against each other in the ACC Football Championship Game.

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Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame (& so many more) spring football on tap for Saturday

Ardarius Stewart, Nick Perry

Get ready for a jam-packed day of spring football from coast to coast. If you have nothing better to do than sit inside and get a college football fix — and who would blame you — then you have plenty of options working for you on Saturday.

Defending national champion Ohio State will be among many big names in action on Saturday. Others include Alabama, Notre Dame (on NBC Sports Network), Auburn, LSU Penn State, Texas, Missouri and Mississippi State. And that’s just a fraction of the total teams wrapping up spring practices on Saturday.

Those with the services available will be able to watch college football, in a somewhat scaled down fashion, from noon through the whole afternoon and into the night with the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 having network coverage. Same goes for Texas and Notre Dame. Some of you might even get to see North Texas, if you are really hardcore about your spring football fix.

If you are looking to see how to plan your day, here are the TV listings for spring games on April 18, as well as a list of schools playing spring football games without listed TV coverage.

ON TV

Games carried by SEC Network will be carried on alternate channels where available. Games appearing on Big Ten Network will also be available on the mobile network, BTN2Go. Pac-12 Network coverage will also be available through Pac-12.com.

Mississippi Sate, 12 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Ohio State, 1:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Auburn, 2 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

California, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network

LSU 2 p.m., SEC Network+

Texas, 2 p.m., Longhorn Network

Alabama, 3 p.m. SEC Network (Alternate)

North Texas, 3 p.m., CS Live

Oregon State, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Penn State, 4 p.m., Big Ten Network

Missouri, 5 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

Illinois, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network

YOU HAVE TO BE THERE TO SEE IT

Southern Miss, 2 p.m.

Tulane, 10:00 a.m.

Army, 11 a.m.

Akron, 1 p.m.

Colorado State, 1 p.m.

Georgia Southern, 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Purdue, 1 p.m.

Western Michigan, 1 p.m.

Buffalo, 2 p.m.

Indiana, 2 p.m.

Louisiana Tech, 2 p.m.

Middle Tennessee, 2 p.m.

Oklahoma State, 2 p.m.

SMU, 2 p.m.

Tulsa, 2 p.m.

UCF, 2 p.m.

UTSA, 2 p.m.

Western Kentucky, 2 p.m.

Ball State, 3 p.m.

Houston, 3 p.m.

East Carolina, 2:30 p.m.

UNLV, 3 p.m.

Virginia, 6 p.m.

On a related note, keep in mind Nebraska and Michigan are leading the way in spring game attendance so far. The top 10 should change given some of the powerhouse names in action this weekend.

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