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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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‘Personal reasons’ cost Wyoming another player

Nico Brown

With spring practices across the country ending, so too are the careers of some players at those particular schools as transfer season is once again in full swing.

One of the latest to suffer a bit of a personnel hit is Wyoming, which announced Tuesday that Nico Brown – not to be confused with New Jack City‘s Nino Brown — has decided to leave the Cowboys football program.  The ubiquitous “personal reasons” was given for the departure.

The 6-3, 212-pound Brown was listed No. 3 on a mid-April depth chart released by new head coach Craig Bohl, which could be a significant part of the “personal reasons” given by the school.

After redshirting as a two-star true freshman in 2012, Brown played in eight games in 2013.  He did not catch any passes last season, although he appeared in line for additional playing time in 2014 before his abrupt decision to leave.

Brown becomes the fourth Cowboy to leave the program the past month, joining a pair of offensive tackles — senior Walker Madden and redshirt freshman Connor Riese — and junior linebacker Devin McKenna. The departures of Madden and McKenna were announced earlier this month.

(Photo credit: Wyoming athletics)

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Wake losing likely D-line starter to transfer

Jacob Coker, James Looney AP

Yep, another transfer.

While this one’s not yet officially official, West Virginia radio personality Dave Weekley tweeted Tuesday afternoon that defensive lineman James Looney has decided to leave Wake Forest.  ACCSports.com is reporting the same, although it’s behind the dreaded paywall HERE.

Even as Wake has yet to publicly address Looney’s status, his name is no longer listed on the team’s official online roster.

Last season as a true freshman, Looney, the younger brother of former Wake and current San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney, played in seven games.  Because of the departures of three starters, Looney was viewed as a likely starter along the Demon Deacons’ defensive line.

However, SBNation.com wrote that Looney “had not been at practices or scrimmages as of late.”

Coming out of high school in Lake Worth, Fla., Looney was a three-star member of Wake’s 2013 recruiting class.  According to Weekley, Looney had offers from, among others, Marshall, Minnesota, USF and West Virginia before signing with the Demon Deacons.

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LaTech QB Scotty Young puts an end to playing career

Louisiana Tech v North Carolina State

On Louisiana Tech’s post-spring depth chart, Scotty Young was listed as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Ryan Higgins.  Less than two weeks later, the Bulldogs will officially have a new backup quarterback when summer camp commences in August.

In a surprising press release sent out Tuesday evening, Young announced in a statement that he has decided to bring his playing career to an end.  Young, who would’ve been a redshirt senior in 2014 will graduate in the coming months and has decided it’s time to begin the next phase his life.

In mid-March, quarterback Cody Sokol transferred from Iowa to Tech and has immediate eligibility; it’s unclear if Sokol’s addition to the roster hastened Young’s life decision.

“I am graduating this summer and am ready to move on to the next chapter of my life,” Young said of his decision. “Football has been a really good journey but sometimes you have to know when to end it. I have loved the experience and will cherish these memories forever. I want to thank the old staff for allowing me the opportunity to come to Louisiana Tech and I want to thank Coach Holtz and his staff for giving me the opportunity to stay here and earn my degree. It has been a great experience for me, one in which I have enjoyed every moment of.”

Last season, Young started six games for the Bulldogs. He completed 87-of-165 passes for 733 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Young transferred to Tech in June of 2012 after spending the previous two seasons at Texas Tech but not playing. He was forced to sit out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

A four-star member of the Red Raiders’ 2010 recruiting class, Young was the No. 10 pro-style QB coming out of high school in Denton, Tex.

“I want to thank Scotty for his time here,” Bulldogs head coach Skip Holtz said in a statement. “He was a selfless player during his tenure and I am happy he will be able to obtain his degree from Louisiana Tech in only four years in college. He was a model student-athlete and representative of our program and I wish him the best of luck. Scotty will be another one of our great alumni, adding to the thousands of great alumni this University has produced.”

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Louisville to pay Todd Grantham nearly $1 million in 2014

Todd Grantham

Prying a defensive coordinator away from an SEC football program didn’t come cheap for Louisville.

By way of a public records request, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Monday that new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will earn $975,000 in 2014.  As Georgia’s coordinator in 2013, Grantham pulled in$850,000.

In mid-January, it was officially announced that Grantham would be a part of Bobby Petrino’s second first staff with the Cardinals.

Last season, Grantham was fifth among all FBS assistant coaches in total pay; his UofL salary would’ve put him fourth.  This year, however, he will be the sixth-highest paid, at best.  After earning $600,000 in 2013, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron‘s pay jumps to $1.3 million in 2014 and then $1.5 million in 2015.  Additionally, new Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is expected to exceed $1 million in annual pay when the details of his three-year contract are released later this offseason.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, for those interested, was the highest-paid assistant last season at $1.3 million.  Alabama’s Kirby Smart at just a shade over $1.15 million was the highest-paid defensive coordinator.

One final note from the Courier-Journal: Petrino’s two coordinators — Grantham and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee  – will make $1.625 million; Charlie Strong‘s coordinators made just over $1 million in his last season with the Cardinals before leaving for the Texas job.

(Tip O the Cap: the Athens Banner-Herald’s Marc Weiszer)

(Photo credit: Louisville athletics)

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2014 Tulane early enrollee Teddy Veal charged with rape

Niguel Veal

For the second time today, a player at an FBS program has been charged with sexually assaulting a female.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Tulane wide receiver Teddy Veal was arrested early this morning and charged with one count of simple rape.  The 17-year-old Veal — he will be 18 next month — is being held in the Orleans Parish Prison in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

The alleged sexual assault occurred April 14, with the police account below of what led to the arrest and charge:

According to New Orleans police, the alleged victim was introduced by a female she knew to Veal and another man. The alleged victim began drinking and then went back to the men’s dorm room in the 6800 block of St. Charles Avenue to watch a movie.

The victim told police that while at the dorm, she had consensual sex with one of the men and then went to sleep. When she woke up she was sexually assaulted by Veal, police said.

Veal was a member of Tulane’s most recent signing class and was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.  Not so unexpectedly, the school announced this evening that Neal has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“Federal law prohibits the university from disclosing any disciplinary action taken against a student regarding his or her enrollment in the university,” a portion of a statement from the school read.

Veal was the highest-rated player in the Green Wave’s 2014 recruiting class, and was expected to see significant playing time immediately. He is the younger brother of Alabama wide receiver Raheem Falkins, and his Tulane bio lists his legal guardian as “former LSU football standout Shrone Carey.”

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Greg McElroy taps Auburn as SEC favorite

Greg McElroy Nick Saban AP

When it was announced that Greg McElroy would be taking on the role of analyst on the fledgling SEC Network, there were some — including Auburn fans — wondering how unbiased (or biased) the former Alabama quarterback could and would be.

At first blush, it doesn’t appear bias will be an issue for McElroy.

During a radio interview Tuesday, McElroy was asked about the SEC West race in 2014.  Not so surprisingly, McElroy went with one of the teams that played for the final BCS title — and is the most bitter of his alma mater’s rivals — as his favorite to come out of the West.

“Once quarterback situations are established at LSU, at Alabama — and Ole Miss is also kind of a scary team out in the West as well,” McElroy said. “Bo Wallace comes back and some of the things they were able to do. The West is wide open and it’s difficult, but I definitely think the Auburn Tigers are the favorite.”

McElroy makes solid points when it comes to the quarterback situations at the two schools that should serve as the Tigers’ chief competition in 2014 and, yes, I’m dismissing Ole Miss. Both Alabama and LSU are replacing veteran starters, three-year starter AJ McCarron for the former and two-year starter Zach Mettenberger for the latter. On the flip side, Auburn returns its starter, Nick Marshall — the first time, incidentally, Gus Malzahn has returned the same starter from the season before during his nine years as a coordinator or head coach at the FBS level.

In fact, Malzahn being on The Plains factors significantly in McElroy’s pick for SEC West frontrunner.

“I think he’s the most innovative play-caller in college football,” McElroy said of Malzahn. “I think he’s a tremendous football coach and he’s had a lot of success over the course of his career and what they did last year was really special, so I think they are the frontrunners without question at this point.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)

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Report: ex-Tide lineman expected to join Buckeyes

Alabama v Auburn Getty Images

It appears that, the way it have on the field the past decade, Ohio State is going to get over on bitter rival Michigan on the transfer front as well.

Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com tweeted Tuesday afternoon that offensive lineman Chad Lindsay has decided to transfer to Ohio State and continue his playing career with the Buckeyes.  OSU, obviously, has yet to officially confirm Lindsay’s addition to the roster, although that could happen by week’s end.

In mid-March, it was announced that Lindsay would be leaving the Tide and playing his final season of college ball elsewhere.  As Lindsay will be a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.

Michigan was reportedly the favorite to land Lindsay from the get-go — UA’s offensive coordinator a year ago, Doug Nussmeier, left for the same job with the Wolverines — although both Louisville and Oklahoma were a part of the transfer discussion as well.

Lindsay’s addition would give the Buckeyes an experienced option in the middle of a revamped offensive line that will see four new starters in 2014. In place of injured starter Ryan Kelly, Lindsay started four games at center in 2013 for Nick Saban‘s Tide. A three-star member of the Tide’s 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in The Woodlands, Tex., Lindsay was rated as the No. 30 guard in the country that year.

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Charlie Strong: Texas ‘will not be in the national championship game’ this season

Charlie Strong AP

Memo to Longhorn Nation: do not book flights to Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or reserve hotel rooms in that area for the time around Jan. 12, 2015; you’re head coach says your team won’t be there.

While not exactly a statement that goes against conventional wisdom when it comes to the 2014 college football season, Charlie Strong surprised some observers Monday when he talked about expectations for his first season at Texas.  Or, more to the point, he significantly lowered the first-year expectations of the media and fans alike.

We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful,” Strong said while speaking to fans on his tour of Fort Worth. “There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me to that. Don’t say, ‘Ooh, coach said next year we’ll be in the national…’ We will not be in the national championship game.”

While some will criticize Strong for a defeatist attitude, others — myself included — will applaud the first-year UT coach for injecting some reality into a fan base that ofttimes suffers delusions of grandeur.

The Longhorns haven’t been a factor nationally since the 2009 season.  The past four years, they’ve sported a 30-21 record and earned three postseason berths — two to the Alamo Bowl, one to the Holiday Bowl.  While they played for a Big 12 title the final day of the regular season, that had more to do with other conference teams stumbling.

In other words, UT has a tough row to hoe to get back to where they belong nationally — especially with an unsettled quarterback position heading into his inaugural season in Austin.  Good on Strong — not an overwhelmingly popular hire to begin with — for shooting straight with his new fan base and not blowing the kind of rectal sunshine for which most coaches are infamous.

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Lobo RB Crusoe Gongbay facing rape, kidnapping charges

Crusoe Gongbay AP

As you can tell from the headline, a prominent member of the New mexico football program is facing some very serious charges, the Albuquerque Journal is reporting.

According to the paper, running back Crusoe Gongbay and another 21-year-old suspect — a non-UNM student —  have been charged with two counts each of second-degree criminal sexual penetration and one count each of kidnapping.  The 20-year-old Gongbay turned himself in to campus police on the charges.

A third suspect is being sought in connection to the incident.  Gongbay is currently jailed in lieu a $50, 000, while the second suspect is being held on a $100,000 bond.

The incident that led to the charges allegedly occurred the weekend before last.  From KOB-TV:

According to investigators, during the early hours of Sunday April 13, a female student reported to a Community Assistant at her dorm that she was the victim of a criminal sexual penetration. UNM Police transported the student to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Unit, where evidence was collected.

Because of the serious nature of the charges Gongbay is facing, the junior has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“We are aware of the allegations involving Crusoe Gongbay” head coach Bob Davie said in a statement released by the school. “Once this process is complete and all the details have emerged, we will handle the outcome appropriately. As this is an ongoing situation, we will not be able to comment any further at this time.”

Last season, Gongbay was third on the team in rushing yards (592) and rushing touchdowns (six).  Gongbay is — or at least was — expected to be the Lobos’ starting running back.

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Big Ten Network to kick off prime-time slate at Rutgers

Big Ten Logo

The Big Ten Network will televise six prime-time games this season, beginning on Sept. 13 with Penn State at Rutgers — the Scarlet Knights’ Big Ten opener. And that’s not the only prime-time slot Rutgers will have on the Big Ten Network in 2014: They’ll kick off a home game against Michigan at 7 EST on Oct. 4, too.

Fellow newcomer Maryland gets a prime-time Big Ten Network game, too, hosting defending conference champions Michigan State on Nov. 15.

The full Big Ten Network prime-time slate:

Sept. 13, 8 ET: Penn State at Rutgers

Sept. 26, 6 ET: Cincinnati at Ohio State

Sept. 26, 9 ET: Illinois at Nebraska

Oct. 4, 7 ET: Michigan at Rutgers

Oct. 18, 7:30 ET: Nebraska at Northwestern

Nov, 15, 8 ET: Michigan State at Rutgers

 

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Indiana pays $750,000 to swap USF for FIU in 2015, 2016

Minnesota v Indiana Getty Images

Indiana, looking to make its 2015 non-conference schedule easier, paid $750,000 to cancel a home-and-home with USF and replace that series with a home-and-home against Florida International (via the Indianapolis Star).

The main goal for Indiana was to get seven home games in 2015 — the Hoosiers already have a game scheduled at Wake Forest that year, and draw Penn State and Michigan State away as part of their Big Ten schedule. Indiana will travel to Miami to play FIU in 2016.

The move came at a cost — Indiana paid the AAC $500,000 ($250,000 for each game) to cancel the USF series, and will send $1 million to FIU for the 2015 game. Indiana AD Fred Glass told the Star he expects about $550,000 in additional revenue from a seventh home game in 2015, and the Hoosiers will get $200,000 from FIU for the 2016 game, thus calculating out to that $750,000 net price tag.

That’s a lot of money, it would seem to, to trade a bad team for a really bad team on the schedule. USF finished 99 in 2013′s F/+ rankings, while FIU finished dead last at 125.

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ESPN debuts ads for SEC Network that’ll make you miss college football

SEC Network Logo

We’re about to enter the four-month barren wasteland for college football known as summer, so the timing of these 30-second spots by ESPN promoting the SEC Network is a little cruel. But these “Take It All In” ads should help you get through the warm, football-less landscape of the next few months.

(For whatever reason, these aren’t embeddable.)

Alabama

Arkansas

Auburn

Florida

Georgia

Kentucky (Surprise! It’s the only one that involves college basketball. Though Alabama’s had a kid playing basketball in it.)

LSU

Mississippi State (Baseball! I’m partial to this one.)

Mizzou

Ole Miss

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas A&M

Vanderbilt (Another basketball one.)

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Mike Slive: College players shouldn’t be employees, but…

Mike Slive AP

SEC commissioner Mike Slive continues to push for greater autonomy for the “big five” conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — and while he doesn’t agree with the unionization efforts at Northwestern he ultimately does see changes coming in the near future.

Slive spoke at an APSE regional meeting in Alabama on Tuesday and had this to say, among other topics:

“Student-athletes shouldn’t be employees. If you put that aside, what’s being asked for (by union backers) are the same things the five of us put forward last fall. What’s the substance of the issue, not the nature. What we are trying to accomplish are these issues.”

With the five power conference having the autonomy to compensate players in a way that non-power conferences cannot (since the money’s not there), perhaps it would mitigate the most common complaint from current and former players. That complaint: With all the money that’s being thrown around, why aren’t we seeing any of it?

Slive emphasized whatever compensation plan is drawn up would be “in the context of higher education” — so if it passes, “student-athlete” will still be a thing going forward. Slive said expects something to materialize here by August.

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Former four-star lineman likely leaving Ole Miss

2013 Football Freshman Headshots

In a positional grouping that can ill afford it, Ole Miss has seen its depth along the offensive line take yet another hit.

Austin Golson, Rivals.com first reported Monday morning, has decided to leave the Rebels football program.  While initially stating that the player “is going to look into his options. Nothing has been decided,” head coach Hugh Freeze subsequently confirmed that Golson is leaving the Rebels.

There appears to be some miscommunication between the two parties as Golson later told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger he hasn’t decided one way or the other.

“My family comes before football,” Golson said. “There hasn’t been a definite decision.”

Golson has two grandparents with health concerns, the coach said, and is looking at a transfer closer to his home in Prattville, Ala.

As a true freshman last season, Golson, a four-star 2013 recruit rated as the No. 9 tackle in the country, played in 12 games, mainly at the guard position.  He was viewed as the likely starter at right tackle exiting spring.

Auburn and Alabama were considerations for Golson before signing with Ole Miss in February of last year.

With Golson’s departure, if it comes to fruition, the Rebels have now seen seven linemen, including three starters, from a year ago leave the program for various reasons.

(Photo credit: Ole Miss athletics)

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QB Trent Hosick transferring out of Mizzou

Mizzou Football Media Day

With Maty Mauk firmly entrenched as Missouri’s starting quarterback, Trent Hosick was hoping to be in a position to claim the backup job.  With Mizzou done with spring practice, and Hosick not even in position for the No. 2 job, the player has decided to cut his losses at the school.

A school spokesperson confirmed to both the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Hosick has left the team and will look to transfer to another football program.

While no reason for the transfer was explicitly stated, Hosick exited the 15 spring sessions No. 4 in Mizzou’s quarterback pecking order.  During the Tigers’ spring game over the weekend, junior Corbin Berkstresser and redshirt freshman Eddie Printz split the reps with the No. 2 offense while Hosick remained on the sidelines until after halftime.

Hosick was a three-star member of Mizzou’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 19 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Missouri.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

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