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Crimson Tide signs 25 for 2013

ALABAMA BCS CELEBRATION AP

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

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban announced that 18 student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to play football with the Crimson Tide, joining seven players who enrolled at the Capstone in January and will compete in spring practice later this semester.

The 25 total players, including seven mid-year enrollees, come from 13 states – Alabama (7), Georgia (3), Florida (2), Louisiana (2), Tennessee (2), Texas (2), Arkansas (1), California (1), Maryland (1), Pennsylvania (1), New Jersey (1), Utah (1) and Virginia (1).

As of 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Alabama’s 2013 signing class ranked first nationally by 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals.com and MaxPreps. The Crimson Tide is ranked fourth in the Scout.com team rankings.

As listed by position, the Crimson Tide add to their roster four running backs, three defensive linemen, three linebackers, three defensive backs, three offensive linemen, two quarterbacks, two wide receivers, two athletes, one tight end, one long snapper and one defensive lineman/linebacker.

Seven players – Cooper Bateman (QB), Leon Brown (OL), Raheem Falkins (WR), Derrick Henry (RB), Brandon Hill (OL), O.J. Howard (TE) and Parker McLeod (QB) – are already attending classes at the University. They all enrolled in January, began taking classes for the spring 2013 semester and will be able to participate in Alabama’s spring football practices. The other 18 players signed national letters of intent today. The Crimson Tide had eight players in enroll in the spring of 2012, nine in 2011, 11 in 2010 and four in 2009.

Among the 25 players are:

· Class Rankings as of 3:45 p.m.: No. 1 247Sports, No. 1 Rivals, No. 1 ESPN, No. 1 MaxPreps (CBSSports.com) and No. 4 Scout.com
· 6 Five-Star Prospects (247Sports, Rivals, ESPN & Scout): Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Robert Foster, Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard, A’Shawn Robinson)
· 14 Four-Star Prospects (247Sports, Rivals, ESPN & Scout): Anthony Averett, Cooper Bateman, Leon Brown, Jonathan Cook, Raheem Falkins, Grant Hill, Eddie Jackson, Tyren Jones, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams,
· 9 players participated in the Under Armour All-America Game – Cooper Bateman, O.J. Howard, Robert Foster, Reuben Foster, Grant Hill, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Maurice Smith, Tim Williams
· 5 players participated in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl game – Jonathan Allen, Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, A’Shawn Robinson, Altee Tenpenny,
· 3 members of the Parade Magazine prep All-America team – Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry
· 8 members of the USA Today’s 2011 All-USA High School Football Team – Jonathan Allen (2nd), Robert Foster (1st), Reuben Foster (1st), Derrick Henry (1st), Grant Hill (1st), Dee Liner (1st), A’Shawn Robinson (2nd), Tim Williams (2nd)
· 14 players in the ESPNU150 – Jonathan Allen, Cooper Bateman, Robert Foster, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams
· 13 players on the PrepStar 150 Dream Team – Jonathan Allen, Robert Foster, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Dee Liner, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams
· 11 players named to the Rivals.com 100 – Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, A’Shawn Robinson, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny
· 16 players in the Rivals 250 – Jonathan Allen, Cooper Bateman, Reuben Foster, Robert Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams
· 18 players in the 247sports.com Top 247 – Jonathan Allen, Anthony Averett, Cooper Bateman, Jonathan Cook, Reuben Foster, Robert Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Eddie Jackson, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Tim Williams.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 25 members of Alabama’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Jonathan Allen
LB/DL, 6-3, 264, Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge
Jonathan Allen is one of the premier defensive prospects in the 2013 signing class … a defensive end in high school that could also project at outside linebacker … a five-star player by 247Sports, Rivals.com and Scout.com … played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … 2012 Gatorade Virginia Football Player of the Year … first-team Parade Magazine All-American … second-team USA Today All-American in 2012 … the No. 11 player in the Top247 and the No. 2 outside linebacker nationally by 247Sports while ranking second among player from Virginia … listed 17th in the 247Sports Composite listing and the No. 3 OLB …. also the No. 11 player nationally and the No. 2 weakside defensive end by Rivals.com, but ranks as the No. 1 player in Virginia … Scout.com ranks Allen as the No. 2 defensive end and 34th in the Scout300 … 28th in the ESPN150 and outlet’s No. 3 defensive end … ranked 36th in the Tom Lemming MaxPrep rankings and the outlet’s No. 4 defensive end nationally … first-team All-American as a defensive lineman by MaxPreps … a five-star defensive end by PrepStar that ranks third at his position and 18th nationally … member of the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team and a PrepStar All-American … posted 119 tackles with nine sacks, six fumble recoveries, eight pass breakups, six blocked kicks and had seven pass breakups as a senior in 2012 … totaled 102 stops with 15 sacks and seven blocked kicks as a junior … finished with 87 tackles, 20 sacks and eight forced fumbles as a sophomore in 2010 … two-time first-team All-State performer in Virginia and Washington Post All-Metro selection … coached by Mickey Thompson at Stone Bridge High School … chose Alabama over Florida, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Stanford, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.

Anthony Averett
ATH, 6-0, 170, Woodbury, N.J./Woodbury
Anthony Averett joins the Crimson Tide out of Woodbury High School in New Jersey … a talented athlete, who also boasts a distinguished career in track and field … ranks 115th in the Top247 and is the site’s No.14 safety and No. 5 player in New Jersey … ranks 274 in the 247Composite … No. 22 athlete by ESPN and No. 211 in the ESPN300 … Scout.com ranks him as the No. 23 cornerback nationally while Rivals.com lists him as the No. 23 corner … a PrepStar All-East Region choice … ranked 193rd nationally by PrepStar … No. 10 athlete in Tom Lemming’s MaxPreps … second-team small school All-American as a defensive back by MaxPreps … played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Game … clocked at 10.6 in the 100-meters, 6.46 in the 55 meters and high jumped 6-feet, 4-inches … maybe the top prep long jumper in the nation with a jump of 25-feet, two-inches, which was the longest jump in the nation this year and the second longest in state history … finished second in the 2012 Penn Relays in the long jump … posted 106 tackles, 12 pass breakups and five interceptions as a senior in 2012, which earned him first-team All-State honors … had 52 stops and three picks as a junior in 2011 and 40 tackles and three interceptions in 2010 … also ran for 1,278 yards (15 touchdowns) and passed for 836 yards (14 scores) as a senior … coached by Zac Valentine … nephew of former Miami (Fla.) All-American and Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie … chose Alabama over Penn State, Iowa, South Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Cooper Bateman
QB, 6-3, 215, Murray, Utah/Cottonwood
Cooper Bateman comes to the Capstone as one of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2013 … a consensus four-star prospect that is ranked as the No. 3 pocket passer by ESPN and the No. 5 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports and Scout.com … 44th in the ESPN150 … rated 87th in the Top247 and 79th in the 247Sports composite rankings … ESPN Elite 11 quarterback … No. 11 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com and No. 189 in the Rivals250 … the consensus No. 1 player in the state of Utah … led the Black Team to a win in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … No. 4 pro-style quarterback by MaxPreps … ranked 59th overall nationally by PrepStar … Sporting News’ No. 14 quarterback nationally … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … coached by Greg Croshaw at Cottonwood High School in 2012 … threw for 2,384 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior while running 82 times for 277 yards and 12 touchdowns … threw for 2,484 yards as a junior with 26 touchdowns … connected for 27 touchdowns and just five interceptions as a sophomore while connecting on 68 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards … in his final three seasons at Cottonwood, passed for 7,654 yards and 68 touchdowns … chose Alabama over LSU, Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn and Washington.

Leon Brown
OL, 6-6, 300, Riverdale, Md. (Parkdale/ASA College
Leon Brown arrives at Alabama from junior college looking to compete for one of the open positions along the Crimson Tide offensive line … enrolled at the Capstone in January of 2013 to get an early start in spring drills … out of ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., Brown was a second-team All-Northeast Football Conference selection at tackle in 2012 … a four-star prospect by ESPN, 247Sports and Scout.com … Scout.com ranks Brown as the No. 2 offensive tackle and the No. 8 overall junior college prospect … No. 50 in the Rivals.com JUCO Top 50 … a PrepStar JUCO All-American … played at Parkdale High School where he was a first-team All-County selection in 2010 … chose Alabama over Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Jonathan Cook
DB, 6-0, 186, Daphne, Ala./Spanish Fort
Jonathan Cook is a fast-rising four-start prospect at cornerback according to 247Sports … the nation’s No. 13 cornerback according to 247Sports and ranked 145th in the Top247 … a PrepStar All-Southeast Region selection … rated as the No. 33 cornerback nationally by Scout.com … ranked as the nation’s No. 37 cornerback by Rivals.com … No. 73 defensive back according to ESPN … made 81 tackles as a senior in 2012 with seven interceptions and 21 pass breakups … made 65 tackles with six interceptions as a junior … first-team 2012 All-State selection by the Alabama Sports Writers Association … also named to the 2012 ASWA Super 12 team and was selected as the 5A Back of the Year … played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … played for Mark Freeman at Spanish Fort High School … chose Alabama over Nebraska, Louisville, Mississippi State and Mississippi.

Raheem Falkins
WR, 6-4, 195, New Orleans, La. /G.W. Carver
Raheem Falkins is a four-star prospect that boasts outstanding measurables for the wide receiver position … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … ranks as the No. 38 wide receiver nationally and the No. 13 player in Louisiana by Rivals.com … the No. 41 wide receiver by ESPN and 247Sports … is 268th nationally in the ESPN300 while ranking 12 in the state and 128th in the Southeast Region … 247Sports also has Falkins as the No. 50 wide out in its composite rankings … No. 67 wide receiver by Scout.com … caught 47 passes for 1,058 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior while averaging 22.5 yards per reception … earned first-team 2A All-State honors from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association in 2012 … as a junior hauled in 51 catches for 800 yards and 14 scores … No. 23 in the Times-Picayune’s Nifty 50 … coached by Bryon Addison at G.W. Caver High School … chose the Crimson Tide over LSU, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Southern California, Illinois and Mississippi.

Robert Foster
WR, 6-3, 187, Monaca, Pa./Central Valley
One of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation, Robert Foster will give the Crimson Tide an explosive passing-catching option … participated in the Under Armour All-America Game … a first-team USA Today All-American … a five-star prospect by 247Sports and Scout.com … the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver according to 247Sports … No. 18 in the Top247 and he No. 2 player in the state of Pennsylvania … ranked 23rd nationally in the 247Composite and the No. 2 wide out … Scout.com lists him as the No. 4 wide receiver and No. 23 in the Scout300 … ESPN ranks Foster as the No. 2 wide receiver nationally and No. 25 in the ESPN150 … ESPN also has him as the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania and the No. 25 player in the East Region … Rivals.com rates him as the No. 4 wide receiver and the No. 4 player in the state … No. 32 nationally according to Tom Lemming with MaxPreps and is the site’s No. 1 wingback … Sporting News’ No. 49 player in the nation … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team and the publication’s No. 10 receiver and No. 80 player nationally… caught 45 passes for 756 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior, while rushing for 549 yards and 12 scores in 2012 … earned Pennsylvania Sportswriters Class AAA All-State honors in 2012 and was a 2011 PSWA All-State selection as a specialist … also intercepted four passes on defense with 67 tackles and eight pass breakups in his senior year … hauled in 37 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns as a junior while rushing for 419 yards and two touchdowns in 2011 … as a sophomore in 2010, caught 25 passes for 520 yards and seven scores while rushing for 406 yards and three TDs … coached by Mark Lyons at Central Valley High School … chose Alabama over Pittsburgh, Penn State, Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame.

Reuben Foster
LB, 6-1, 244, Auburn, Ala./Auburn
Reuben Foster comes to the Capstone as the nation’s consensus No. 1 inside linebacker … member of the 2012 first-team All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … named the defensive MVP of the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … a five-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals.com, Scout.com, MaxPreps and PrepStar … the nation’s No. 2 overall player according to Scout.com and PrepStar while ranking third nationally by MaxPreps … rated 13th nationally in the Rivals100 … No. 15 in the Top247 and No. 16 in the ESPN100 … the top-ranked player in the state of Alabama by all national services … ESPN also ranks him 11th in the Southeast Region … the 247Composite has Foster ranked seventh nationally, the No. 1 inside linebacker and the top player in the state … member of the PrepStar Dream Team … recorded 102 tackles with 22 tackles for loss and six sacks as a senior at Auburn in 2012 … earned first-team All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association and was named the 6A Lineman of the Year … … invited to “The Opening” in the summer of 2012 on the Nike campus in Oregon … played in the 2013 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic … was the Georgia AAA Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-State selection as a junior at Troup County High School in 2011 … made 185 tackles with 144 solo stops, 34 tackles for loss and 18 sacks … had 112 tackles as a sophomore in 2010 at Troup County … coached by Charles Flowers at Troup County in 2010 and 2011 … played for Auburn High School head coach time Carter in 2012 … chose the Crimson Tide over Auburn and Georgia.

Derrick Henry
RB, 6-3, 242, Yulee, Fla. /Yulee
Derrick Henry is a five-star prospect that is listed as the nation’s No. 1 athlete and No. 4 running back prospect … member of the 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … 2012 Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year … broke Ken Hall’s 51-year-old national high school rushing record with 12,124 yards after rushing for 4,261 yards as a senior in 2012 … Parade Magazine All-American and the publication’s National Player of the Year … played for the East squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, rushing for 53 yards with a touchdown and a two-point conversion … MaxPreps National Player of the Year and first-team All-American … finished his high school career with 153 rushing touchdowns, which ranks fifth all time, including 55 in 2012 … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … five-star prospect by ESPN, 247sports and Scout.com … No. 9 in the ESPN150 and the outlets No. 1 athlete … ranks sixth by ESPN in Florida and eighth in the southeast region … the No. 3 player in Florida by 247Sports and the No. 1 athlete nationally while ranking 12th in its Top247 … the No. 4 athlete by Rivals.com and the No. 70 player in the Rivals100 … MaxPrep’s (Tom Lemming) No. 2 running back and No. 13 player nationally … Sporting News’ No. 2-ranked running back and No. 5 player overall … PrepStar All-American and member of the PrepStar Dream Team … set the Florida high school record with a 510-yard performance against Jacksonville Jackson and averaged 9.2 yards per carry and 327.8 yards per game as a senior … 2012 first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press and was the Player of the Year on the All-First Coast team … named the 2012 Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club National High School Player of the Year … rushed for 2,610 yards and 34 scores as a junior in 2011 to earn first-team All-Coast honors from the Florida Times-Union … also a first-team All-Coast running back in 2010 after rushing for 2,788 yards and 38 touchdowns while averaging 8.9 yards per attempt … went for 2,465 yards and 26 scores as a freshman in 2009 … coached by Bobby Ramsay at Yulee High School … chose the Crimson Tide over a myriad of schools, including Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame, Southern California and Florida State.

Brandon Hill
OL, 6-7, 390, Collierville, Tenn. (St. George’s/Hargrave Military Academy
Brandon Hill arrives at Alabama after a season at Hargrave Military Academy with a lot of potential along the offensive line … enrollee in January of 2013 … No. 13 in the Rivals.com 2013 Prep Top 50 … a massive prospect who has good athleticism and quickness for his size … MaxPrep 2011 U.S. Air Force Medium Schools All-American … Scout.com rates him as the nation’s No. 25 offensive guard prospect … the No. 9 player in Tennessee by 247sports.com and the site’s No. 46 offensive tackle prospect … SuperPrep ranks him 11th in the state of Tennessee … earned All-State honors in Tennessee at the Division 2A level … Rivals.com has Hill as the No. 57 offensive tackle and the No. 18 player in Tennessee … ESPNU lists him as the No. 77 tackle nationally and the No. 19 player in Tennessee … PrepStar All-Southeast Region selection … a three-star recruit … helped St. George capture the Class A Division II Tennessee State Championship … coached by Brent Hill … chose Alabama over Mississippi coming out of Hargrave Military Academy … also recruited by Georgia, Mississippi State and Kentucky coming out of high school.

Grant Hill
OL, 6-6, 301, Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville
Grant Hill arrives at the Capstone as one of the top offensive guard prospects in the nation … member of the 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … a consensus four-star prospect that is rated as the nation’s No. 1 offensive guard by ESPN … 86th in the ESPN150 while being listed as the No. 5 player in the state of Alabama and the No. 47 player in the southeast region … participated in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game … No. 2 guard in the nation according to 247Sports and the 247Composite while ranking third and fourth in the state respectively … ranked 54th nationally in the Top247 and 60th nationally in the 247Composite … Scout.com ranks Hill as the No. 3 offensive guard and 67th in its Scout300 … PrepStar lists Hill as the No. 1 guard nationally … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the No. 71 player in the country … second-team All-American as an offensive lineman by MaxPreps … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps ranked him 40th overall nationally and the No. 5 offensive tackle prospect … Rivals.com rates Hill as the No. 5 offensive guard nationally and the No. 77 player in the Rivals100 … first-team All-State selection by the Alabama Sports Writer Association … finalist for the ASWA 6A Lineman of the Year … played for head coach Scott Sharp at Huntsville High School … chose Alabama over Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Clemson and Mississippi State.

O.J. Howard
TE, 6-6, 235, Prattville, Ala. (Autauga Academy
O.J. Howard comes to Alabama the top tight end prospect in the class of 2013 … participated in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … a five-star prospect is the No. 7 prospect nationally in the Rivals100 … is the outlet’s top-ranked tight end and No. 2 player in Alabama … 247Sports ranks Howard 20th in its Top247 with five stars while listing him as the No. 1 tight in and the No. 2 player in the state … the 247Composite lists him 14th nationally … No. 14 in the Scout300 and Scout.com’s top-ranked tight end … is ranked 45th in the ESPN150, the No. 2 tight end and No. 24 in the southeast region by ESPN … Sporting News’ No. 32 player in the nation … rated eighth nationally by MaxPreps (Tom Lemming) and is the No. 1 tight end … is the No. 13 player nationally by PrepStar, the publication’s No. 1 tight end and a member of the PrepStar Dream Team… three-time was first-team AISA All-State selection … missed part of his senior year due to injury, but amassed 854 of total offense and 12 touchdowns … accounted for 57 tackles on the defensive side of the ball in 2012 … named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Super 12 team … AISA 2012 Lineman of the Year … as a junior in 2011 had 11 receiving touchdowns, eight rushing scores and also threw for three TDs … caught 41 passes for 926 yards while rushing for 487 yards … had 89 tackles with eight sacks and three forced fumbles on defense … as a sophomore in 2010, set the school record with 31 total touchdowns while also breaking the school’s receiving records … named the team’s defensive MVP after making 89 tackles with six interceptions and four sacks … coached by Chris Honeycutt at Autauga Academy … chose Alabama over Florida, USC and Auburn.

Eddie Jackson
DB, 6-0, 175, Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson
Eddie Jackson was key addition for the Crimson Tide in the secondary for the 2013 class … a four-star prospect by ESPN and 247Sports … ranks 157th in the Top247 and is the outlet’s No. 5 athlete … ranked as the No. 14 athlete in the 247Composite … also ranked 21st in the state of Florida by 247Sports … ESPN lists him as No. 54 wide receiver … also rated as a wide out by Rivals.com where he was listed 48th … the No. 48 wide receiver by Scout.com … caught 37 passes for 792 yards and touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball as a senior in 2012 … also contributed five interceptions, 66 tackles and one forced fumble on defense … returned two interceptions for touchdowns … coached by Wayne Blair at Boyd Anderson High School … chose Alabama over LSU, Florida State, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Tyren Jones
RB, 5-9, 215, Marietta, Ga./Walton
Tyren Jones is one of the more productive running backs in the class of 2013 … participated in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … consensus four-star prospect … ranked 63rd in the ESPN150 and the network’s No. eight running back … rated as the No. 9 player in Georgia and the No. 34 player in the southeast by ESPN … 64th in the Top247 and the site’s No. 6 running back nationally … in the 247Composite ranks 66th nationally, eighth at running back and sixth in Georgia … Rivals.com rates Jones as the No. 11 running back and 79th in the Rivals 100 … Rivals.com also lists him as the No. 5 player in the state of Georgia … the No. 91 player nationally by Scout.com and the No. 15 running back … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the No. 62 player nationally and the No. 9 running back … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps ranks Jones as the No. 5 running back nationally and the No. 79 overall recruit … rushed for 1,845 yards (6.46 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns as a senior in 2012 … was a second-team All-State selection in Class AAAAAA by the Georgia Sports Writers Association … earned first-team GSWA All-State honors and was named the AAAAA Offensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2011 … rushed for 2,375 yards and 33 touchdowns while catching 15 passes for 205 yards and two more scores … also scored twice on returns while totaling over 400-return yards … coached by Rocky Hildalgo at Walton High School … chose Alabama over Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Walker Jones
LB, 6-2, 234, Germantown, Tenn./Evangelical Christian
Walker Jones continues a family tradition, inking his scholarship papers with the Crimson Tide, joining Barrett and Harrison as members of the Alabama football team … a middle linebacker and running back in high school that projects to the defensive side of the football at Alabama … ESPN rates him as the No. 26 inside linebacker nationally and No. 11 in the state of Tennessee … the No. 8 prospect in the state by CBSSports.com … Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 22 linebacker and 11th in Tennessee … ranked 40th at his position by Scout.com … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps rates him as the nation’s No. 25 inside linebacker … invited to play in both the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl and the Semper Fidelis All-American bowl (unable to play due to basketball) … earned All-State honors from both the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and TNVarsity.com in both 2011 and 2012 … PrepStart All-Southeast Region selection and the publication’s No. 18 outside linebacker … Memphis Commercial Appeal Best of Preps in 2010, 2011 and 2012 … a finalist for Tennessee Mr. Football in 2012 when he captained Evangelical Christian to a state runner-up finish … All-Region selection in his final three seasons and the Region Defensive MVP in 2011 … set the school record for most tackles in a season and most tackles in a career … led team in tackles as a sophomore, junior and senior … scored 15 rushing touchdowns in 2011 and 10 in 2012 … Southern Prep Stars top linebacker in 2012 … helped lead his team to the State Championship on the basketball court in 2010 … … father, Rex, played basketball for Alabama … will join brother, Harrison, at the Capstone … oldest brother, Barrett, started on three Crimson Tide National Championship teams (2009, 2011 and 2012) … coached by Geoff Walters at Evangelical Christian School … chose Alabama over Tennessee, Arkansas, Nebraska, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.

Alvin Kamara
RB, 5-10, 195, Norcross, Ga./Norcross
Alvin Kamara represents one of the nation’s top running backs with excellent versatility … the nation’s No. 2 all-purpose by Rivals.com and the No. 45 player in the Rivals100 … also ranked as the No. 6 player in Georgia by Rivals … selected to participate in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game … No. 32 in the ESPN150 and the No. 4 running back … ESPN ranks Kamara as the No. 4 player in Georgia and No. 17 in the Southeast Region … 247Sports lists him as the No. 3 all-purpose back and the No. 7 player in Georgia, while ranking him 66th in the Top247 … is the No. 1 all-purpose back in the 247Composite, the No. 5 player in Georgia and the No. 42 player nationally … invited to “The Opening” in the summer of 2012 on the Nike campus in Oregon … the No. 69 player in the Scout300 and Scout.com’s No. 12 running back prospect … No. Sporting News’ No. 47 player in the nation … rushed for 2,264 yards and 26 touchdowns while averaging 7.5 yards per carry as a senior in 2012 … added 22 receptions for 286 yards and five scores … … second-team All-American as a running back by MaxPreps … earned Georgia Mr. Football honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … was the Class AAAAAA Player of the Year and garnered first-team All-State honors from the Georgia Sports Writers Association … added 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 2011 … played for head coach Keith Maloof at Norcross High School … chose the Crimson Tide over Georgia, but also considered Florida State, Georgia Tech, Florida, Southern California, Clemson and Tennessee.

Dee Liner
DL, 6-3, 281, Muscle Shoals, Ala./Muscle Shoals
Dee Liner is one of the elite defensive line prospects in the 2013 signing class … a member of the first-team 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … participated in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … ESPN rates Liner as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the nation and ranks him 26th on in the ESPN150 … also second in the state by ESPN and 14th in the southeast region … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps lists Liner as the nation’s No. 21 overall player, a five-star prospect and the No. 3 defensive tackle … No. 7 strongside defensive end by Rivals.com and ranked 61st in the Rivals100 … the No. 3 player in the state of Alabama by Rivals … listed as the No. 8 defensive tackle by Scout.com and No. 48 in the Scout300 … Sporting News’ No. 55 player in the nation … ranked 112th in the Top247, the site’s No. 10 defensive tackle and No. 7 player in the state … No. 46 nationally and the No. 4 defensive tackle in the 247Composite … first-team medium school All-American as a defensive lineman by MaxPreps and a second-team selection on the overall All-American team … was a 5A All-State selection by the Alabama Sports Writer Association … recorded 76 tackles with 18 tackles for loss as a senior at Muscle Shoals High School where he was coached by Scott Basden … made 83 tackles with 17 sacks as a junior in 2011 while also breaking up two passes, forcing five fumbles and recovering two fumbles – one for a touchdown … registered 81 stops with six sacks in 2010 … finished his high school career with over 200 tackles, 68 tackles for loss and 32 sacks … Alabama over Auburn, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Southern California, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Cole Mazza
LS, 6-1, 246, Bakersfield, Calif./Liberty
Cole Mazza proved to be one of the best long snappers in the country and that was a priority for the Crimson Tide faced with the departure of three-year starter Carson Tinker … earned a five-star ranking as a sophomore in high school at the Rubio Long Snapping Camp … the nation’s No. 1 long snapper by 247Sports and the No. 1 long snapper nationally in the 247Composite … ESPN ranks Mazza as the No. 3 long snapper in the country … three-star prospect by Rivals.com and the No. 11 snapper … three-star prospect by PrepStar and the No. 8 long snapper nationally … also served as the starting center for head coach Tony Mills at Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif. … chose Alabama over UCLA, Washington State and Utah.

Parker McLeod
QB, 6-3, 190, Marietta, Ga. /Walton
Park McLeod comes to the Capstone as the nation’s No. 31 pocket passer according to ESPN … ranks 58th in Georgia by ESPN and 278th in the southeast region … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … the No. 35 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com … 247Sports lists McLeod as the No. 59 pro-style quarterback nationally in 2013 and No. 41 in its 247Composite rankings … Scout.com has him as the No. 63 QB nationally … as a senior in 2012 played in six games due to injury and threw for 541 yards with four touchdowns … threw for 1,619 yards as a junior in 2011, while completing 63.9 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions … earned All-League and All-Metro honors as a junior … coached by Rocky Hildalgo … chose Alabama over Oklahoma State, Louisville, Maryland and Boston College.

Darius Paige
DL, 6-4, 314, Foley, Ala./Foley
Darius Paige a consensus four-star defensive line prospect out of Foley High School … the fourth-ranked defensive tackle by 247Sports and No. 55 in the Top247 … rated the No. 4 player in Alabama by 247Sports … No. 14 tackle in the 247Composite and 175th nationally … Rivals.com rates him as the No. 15 defensive tackle, No. 240 in the Rivals250 and No. 10 in the state of Alabama … ESPN ranks him 21st among defensive tackles and No. 239 in the ESPN300 … 10th in the Alabama by ESPN and 115th in the southeast region … Scout.com lists him as the No. 23 tackle and No. 221 in the Scout300 … played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl for the East squad … PrepStar ranks him as the No. 18 defensive tackle and No. 176 nationally … earned honorable mention 6A All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2012 at Foley … made 97 tackles with 32 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior at Washington High School in Pensacola, Fla. … played for Todd Watson at Foley High School … chose Alabama over Florida State, Tennessee, LSU, Tennessee, and Louisville.

A’Shawn Robinson
DL, 6-4, 320, Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights
A’Shawn Robinson is one of the elite defensive linemen in the 2013 signing class … member of the second-team 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … played for the West squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … a five-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals.com and Scout.com … Scout.com ranks him as the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle and the fifth-best player in the nation at any position … 247Sports lists Robinson as the country’s No. 3 offensive tackle, the 26th overall prospect in the Top247 and the No. 3 player in the state of Texas … the 247Composite has him as the No. 2 offensive tackle, the No. 33 overall player and the No. 4 athlete in Texas … Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 2 prospect in Texas, the No. 4 defensive tackle in the nation and was 33rd in the final Rivals100 … Sporting News’ No. 32 player in the nation … ranked 11th by ESPN at defensive tackle and 13th in the state of Texas … ESPN also listed him as the No. 13 player in the Midlands Region and 105th in the ESPN150 … rated 70th nationally by Tom Lemming at MaxPreps and the No. 4 defensive tackle … No. 30 on the 2013 PrepStar Dream Team … invited to the 2012 “The Opening” all-star event on the Nike campus in Oregon … recorded over 60 tackles with seven sacks and six forced fumbles as a junior in 2011 and graded out at over 85 percent on his blocking assignments at offensive tackle … coached by Todd Whitten at Arlington Heights High School … chose the Crimson Tide over Texas while also considering Southern California, LSU, Arkansas and Florida State.

Maurice Smith
DB, 6-0, 180, Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Dulles
Maurice Smith is a consensus four-star cornerback … played in the Under Armour All-American Game … ranked as the No. 5 cornerback in the class of 2013 by Scout.com and listed 55th in the Scout300 … 247Sports ranks him as the No. 11 corner, rates him No. 121 in the Top247 and 14th in Texas while the 247Composite has him 84th nationally, the No. 9 cornerback and No. 111 in Texas … ranked 12th among corners by Rivals.com and 143 in the Rivals250 … ESPN has him as the No. 8 player in the state of Texas and No. 8 in the Midlands Region … No. 84 in the ESPN100 and the outlet’s No. 12 cornerback … PrepStar ranks him as the No. 7 corner and the nation’s No. 89 player … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team … the No. 15 cornerback by Tom Lemming of MaxPreps … recorded one interception as a senior in 2012 with 21 receptions for 389 yards and seven touchdowns … had 63 tackles and three interceptions as a junior in 2011 … played for head coach Jim Creech at Fort Bend Dulles High School … chose Alabama over Florida, Arkansas, Arizona State, Texas, LSU, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Michigan.

ArDarius Stewart
ATH, 6-0, 190, Fultondale, Ala./Fultondale
ArDarius Stewart was one of the top football players in the state of Alabama as a junior and senior … a consensus four-star athlete … ranked as the No. 3 athlete nationally by Rivals.com and No. 66 in the Rivals100 while being listed as the No. 4 player in Alabama … No. 67 in the Top247, the No. 3 athlete nationally and the No. 5 player in the state by 247Sports … No. 86 nationally in the 247Composite, No. 3 athlete and No. 5 in Alabama … ESPN rates him the No. 18 athlete and 181st in the ESPN300 … Scout.com lists him as the No. 10 wide receiver and 94th-best prospect in the nation … No. 59 in Tom Lemming’s MaxPreps Top 100 and the No. 1 athlete … a five-star prospect by PrepStar, which ranked Stewart as the No. 49 player in the nation and No. 3 athlete … first-team small school All-American as an all-purpose player by MaxPreps and a second-team selection on the overall All-American team at defensive back … The Birmingham News Player of the Year … a 2A All-State selection and Back of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2012 after scoring 52 touchdowns on passes, runs and returns in 2012 … had 1,923 yards rushing in 2012 after totaling 2,188 on the ground in 2011 … had 55 tackles with two interceptions in 2012 … also earned 2011 ASWA first-team 2A All-State honors … finished his career at Fultondale High School with 138 total touchdowns … coached by Keith Register at Fultondale High School … chose Alabama over Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and Utah.

Altee Tenpenny
RB, 6-0, 207, North Little Rock, Ark./North Little Rock
Altee Tenpenny comes to the Capstone as one of the best running backs in the nation and the consensus No. 1 player in the state of Arkansas … consensus four-star recruit … selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … 247Sports ranks him as the No. 5 running back in the nation and the top player in Arkansas … 51st in the Top247 … Rivals.com rates him as the No. eight running back and No. 53 in the Rivals100 as well as the No. 1 player in the state … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps No. 3 running back and No. 46 recruit nationally … Sporting News’ No. 47 player in the nation … Scout.com lists Tenpenny 84th in the Scout300 and as the nation’s No. 14 running back … a five-star player and member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the publication’s No. 33 player nationally and No. 7 running back … Sporting News’ No. 8 running back … first-team 7A All-State by the Arkansas High School Activities Association … rushed for 1,379 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior in 2012 with seven receptions for 135 yards and two more scores … missed the 2011 season with a broken ankle … averaged 7.63 yards per carry as a sophomore with 15 touchdowns and 1,121 rushing yards … invited to “The Opening” in the summer of 2012 at the Nike campus in Oregon … coached by Brad Bolding at North Little Rock High School … chose Alabama over the in-state Razorbacks as well as Auburn, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Tim Williams
LB, 6-3, 235, Baton Rouge, La./University Lab
Tim Williams gives Alabama another top player out of the state of Louisiana … a consensus four-star prospect … selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game … 36th in the ESPN150 and the No. five defensive end in the nation by ESPN … also ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of Louisiana and the No. 18 player in the Southeast Region by ESPN … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps rates Williams as the nation’s No. 35 player and the No. 4 outside linebacker … 247Sports lists him as the No. 2 weakside defensive end nationally, No. 73 in the Top247 and the No. 3 player in Louisiana … 82nd in the 247Composite … Scout.com has Williams as the nation’s No. 20 defensive end and No. 167 in the Scout300 … Sporting News’ No. 48 player in the nation … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the nation’s No. 85 prospect and the sixth-ranked defensive end … registered 115 tackles with 45 tackles for loss and 16 sacks as a junior in 2011 … a 2011 and 2012 first-team Louisiana Sports Writers Association All-State selection … second-team small school All-American as a defensive lineman by MaxPreps … named to the Baton Rouge All-Area team and was a Louisiana 2A All-State selection … coached by Chad Mahaffey at University Lab High School … chose Alabama over Miami, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Southern California and Texas A&M.

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It cost $8.78 million for Auburn to buyout Gene Chizik and staff

Auburn v Georgia

Auburn wanted to buyout the contract of former head coach Gene Chizik so badly the school was willing to carve out $8.78 million just to move on. According to a report from Al.com, Auburn set aside nearly that much to buyout the contracts of Chizik and the assistant coaching staff before bringing Gus Malzahn back to Auburn.

As reported, Auburn was originally prepared to spend $11.09 million to buyout the various contracts but the total was reduced as coaches found jobs elsewhere. Chizik, who led Auburn to a national championship just four seasons ago, received a buyout of $7.5 million to account for the remainder of his money owed on his contract. Auburn will pay Chizik a little more than $200,000 per month through the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The remainder of the $8.78 million in buyout money was reserved for former assistant coaches Scot Loeffler, Brian VanGorder and Trooper Taylor. All three coaches have received their final buyout payments.

Auburn worked in the red last year, but with the buyout costs starting to trim down and with a nice boost from revenue sharing through the addition of the SEC Network, Auburn should be in decent shape a year from now.

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Southern Miss CB caught in horribly executed armed robbery

Southern Miss v Nebraska

Police say a Southern Mississippi football player has admitted he had a role in planning an armed robbery. Defensive back Ed Wilkins was one of two men involved in the criminal planning, and now he has been indefinitely suspended by the school while the legal process plays out. The university is also investigating the situation. The Sun Herald was first to report the story.

Wilkins and his alleged accomplice, Michael Bailey, were booked in a county jail Friday evening, according to The Sun Herald. A bail was set for each at $75,000.

“This is a serious matter,” Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken said in a statement. “Ed has been removed from the program while we gather additional information.”

The details from a police report state Wilkins and Bailey had a plan to go to a residence in search of money and drugs. Police responded Friday morning to an armed robbery in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and discovered Bailey, who told officers he was just visiting some former roommates to smoke marijuana. Wilkins had reportedly entered the residence with a handgun equipped with a laser and wearing a ski mask while demanding money. When police arrive don the scene, Wilkins was found hiding in a car across the street.

What a masterful plan at work.

Wilkins started nine games for Southern Miss last season, recording 39 tackles and one interception.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

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Pete Carroll’s contract double-standard logic with Marshawn Lynch

USC v California

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is having a bit of a stand-off with management off the defending Super Bowl champions. Lynch has two years remaining on his contract with the Seahawks but is holding out from training camp to deliver his message to the team. Head coach Pete Carroll got involved by making a statement that comes off a little hollow considering the source.

“It’s a contract for a reason. We made a decision and it was signed, by us and by them,” Carroll said, via USA Today. “We expect them to honor their contract just as we will. We’re going to honor it and we expect them to do the same.”

Oh, that’s rich.

While coaching at USC, Carroll signed a contract extension in December 2005. The new contract would have kept Carroll in charge of the USC Trojans through the end of the 2010 season. The only problem is Carroll saw an opportunity to return to the NFL with the Seahawks. Oh and by the way, that return to the NFL came with a healthier paycheck as a result.

Is this the pot calling the kettle black? Maybe to an extent, although the situations really are a bit different.

In his defense, Carroll had done just about everything he could at USC, winning a BCS championship and another AP national championship while building one of the top programs of the BCS Era by bringing it back to life, even if for a short period of time. Sure, it was slapped with NCAA sanctions for violations that occurred under his watch, and that is fair to mention as well. Carroll has been outspoken about his belief that USC was punished too harshly by the NCAA, but the top level of a football coach’s profession is in the NFL, and Carroll was ready to take another crack at it. The situation and timing were right to move to the NFL when Carroll did.

Even if it meant not honoring the contract he had signed.

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AP: TCU’s Devonte Fields surrenders to warrant

Texas Tech v TCU

The future of TCU defensive end Devonte Fields appears to be a bit sketchy at best. The former Big 12 defensive player of the year surrendered himself to authorities after a misdemeanor warrant was issued.

The Associated Press reported Fields surrendered to Tarrant County authorities Thursday afternoon and was released shortly after posting bond of $3,5000. Fields has not been formally charged but could be facing up to one year in jail for a Class A misdemeanor assault. As previously reported, Fields was being investigated for allegedly threatening a woman with a gun.

TCU announced a separation from Fields while the investigation was ongoing earlier this week. Fields allegedly pointed a gun at an ex-girlfriend and threatened to “blast” her during a shouting match after punching in a window.

Nothing about this sounds good, especially in light of a number of stories floating around the football world this week regarding violence aimed at women. It has not been a good week for football players and women, that’s for sure.

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Report: Oklahoma’s 5-star RB Mixon “involved in serious altercation”

Photo credit: Rivals

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, a five-star member of the Class of 2014, was out celebrating his 18th birthday, when something went horribly wrong. According to information reported by SoonerScoop.com, Mixon was involved in a serious altercation that required Norman police to respond early Friday morning.

Charges have not been issued by police at this time. Police reportedly want to review security camera footage that may have caught the incident before making any decisions. As of now, details of the incident are a bit limited due to the fact that one or more of the people tied to the police report are juveniles.

Here are some of the early details reported by SoonerScoop.com, the Oklahoma affiliate for Rivals;

Norman police responded to an incident at Pickleman’s Gourmet Café in Norman at 2:39 a.m. on Friday. A spokesman for Pickleman’s gave no comment on the situation.

A synopsis of the report suggests aggravated assault and battery.
​ ​
Sources indicated Mixon was not arrested at the scene as officers wanted to study security footage of the incident before filing any charges.

The incident report obtained by SoonerScoop contains limited information, as one or more juveniles is involved. A spokesman for OU is aware of the incident and issued the following statement:

“We are aware of the matter and it is under internal review.”

Oklahoma is aware of the situation and allowing the legal investigation and process to play out before commenting any further. Mixon was rated a five-star running back by Rivals in the Class of 2014. Rivals also ranked Mixon as the number one overall running back in the country.

Photo credit: Rivals

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Report: Clemson WR Peake undergoes knee surgery

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

The 2014 season may get off to a late start for one Clemson wide receiver. Charone Peake underwent what Clemson is calling minor knee surgery Friday, and the rehab could mean he will have to miss the first week of camp before the 2014 season.

“Charone was having a great summer, but tweaked a knee on Wednesday making a reception,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney in a release, obtained by CBSSports.com. “The surgery was successful and his ACL is fine. He will probably miss the first week of practice and then we will go from there. We expect him to play against Georgia in the season opener.”

Peake saw his 2013 season end prematurely with a torn ACL in the second game of the season. Fortunately, the NCAA granted Peake an extra year of eligibility as a result. Peake was to be competing for a starting job at wide receiver for the Tigers this season.

Helmet sticker to CBSSports.com.

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Quick updates on CFB Playoff contender win totals

BCS National Championship - Florida State v Auburn Getty Images

How comfortable are you that Florida State will win 12 games this season? What about Alabama winning 11 games? Some new win total betting lines have been posted in Las Vegas by Wynn Las Vegas, and betting expert David Purdum made note of the schools most often discussed as a contender for the College Football Playoff this season.

Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State have been tied to various favorite-labels as College Football Playoff contenders. Oklahoma is also in that conversation. Purdum added the Sooners are set at 10.5 for the win total…

Are any of these numbers worth taking a shot on with your money?

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All Steve Addazio wants is the next Tim Tebow at BC

Steve Addazio

If there is one college football player that is most responsible for the elevation of Boston College head coach Steve Addazio, it has to be Tim Tebow. Now, as Addazio looks to build off a decent start at Boston College, the former Florida assistant coach is keeping a watchful eye out for the next Tim Tebow. Is that too much to ask?

“When I saw Tim Tebow, I watched him play in high school and will never forget it,” Addazio said to Jared Shanker of ESPN.com. “To me your quarterback has to have the ‘it factor,’ and I’ve never seen a guy with the ‘it factor’ more in my life. It was oozing off his uniform. I saw him put his whole team on his back and win. He was going to lead and win championships.”

There is little to dispute just how motivational and influential Tebow was to the BCS championship teams at Florida. The Heisman Trophy winner may not have been the best quarterback, but he found ways to help his team win some big games along the way. No matter what you might think about Tebow’s overall football legacy, his time at the college level will leave him as one of the all-time greats. Finding a player of that caliber is a rarity, but if Addazio and his staff can keep working and convince a player of that caliber to come to Boston College to be the next Tebow or Matt Ryan or Doug Flutie it could go a long way. Coincidentally, Flutie’s nephew, Troy, is a quarterback on the Eagles roster.

“I talk to our staff all the time about this,” Addazio said. “We got to be right about this. One of those young guys needs to be a guy that can win a championship for you. If you don’t do that, you struggle.”

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Penn State may have a new AD ready to introduce

Nebraska v Penn State

Now that we have reached into Friday afternoon, it seems as though news is starting to slow down. That is not quite the case in State College, Pennsylvania, where it appears Penn State is ready to introduce to the world its new athletics director. A media memo sent out Friday afternoon confirmed there will be a press conference scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the media room at Beaver Stadium. The memo says the purpose is to “make an announcement on a personnel decision within Intercollegiate Athletics.”

Penn State president Eric Barron will open the press conference, but given the timing of the press conference just days before Big Ten media days in Chicago and Penn State’s current athletics director set to step down next week, it just makes too much sense.

It was just over a month ago when it was announced Penn State athletics director David Joyner would be stepping down from his position. Joyner will be resigning from the position effective August 1. The next AD will be taking over a program that sees two more years remaining on a football postseason ban, unless the NCAA amends the sanction terms. As far as football is concerned, the worst may be behind Penn State at this point. The NCAA has already turned over some lost scholarships and a new head coach, James Franklin, is in place and doing terrific work in recruiting.

The Big Ten football media day will get underway on Monday in Chicago.

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Strong message at Texas; RB Bergeron is gone

Marqueston Huff, Joe Bergeron

If there was one thing the Texas football program needed, it was a focus on discipline and getting a toughness back. That is what makes head coach Charlie Strong a terrific hire for the program after cutting ties with Mack Brown. Strong’s message to the team was put on display once more Friday morning with news of senior running back Joe Bergeron being dismissed from the roster.

Bergeron is the seventh player to be booted from the Texas football program since Strong arrived on his saddle in Austin. That number has skyrocketed in the past week with four others being dismissed this week. Running back Jalen Overstreet and defensive end Chevoski Collins were also dismissed by the program on Thursday for various violations, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrell Meander were also suspended by Strong on Thursday as a legal situation stemming from an alleged sexual assault.

Bergeron had been sent home from spring practice earlier this year, so seeing Strong come to this decision may not be quite a shock, although the head coach did sing the praises of the running back during a spring tour. Strong has said from day one as the Texas head coach he needed to make some changes to overhaul what could be a sleeping giant of a program at this point. Strong has always been focused on discipline and he does not waste time coddling players, which is a little bit of the dose of reality seemingly needed in Austin.

Bergeron was third on the team in rushing in 2013, accumulating 362 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 13 games.

Don’t mess with Texas? Don’t mess with Strong, that much is for sure.

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Media covering Big Ten picks Ohio State as the favorite, Wisconsin in west

Urban Meyer

The Big Ten is late in the media day circuit, getting started on Monday in Chicago, but we already have a favorite from the media; Ohio State.

The Buckeyes were named the media favorite in a media poll organized by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, with members of various organizations spread across the Big Ten’s footprint casting their votes and predictions for each Big Ten division and conference champion. There is no formal media poll organized by the Big Ten, so the Cleveland-based newspaper has taken on the responsibility of giving Big Ten fans a preseason poll that swung and missed on the outcome a year ago (nobody picked Michigan State, but that happens). Ohio State received 23 first-place votes to win the Big Ten’s new east division. Defending Big Ten champion Michigan State received the other 10 first-place votes in the east and finished second in the preseason poll. Michigan and Penn State followed, respectively. Big Ten newcomer Maryland was picked to finish fifth in the east, followed by Indiana and the other Big Ten rookie, Rutgers.

The Big Ten’s west division was a bit more open according to the poll voters. Wisconsin came out on top with 15 first-place votes, but Iowa comes in a somewhat surprising second place with 11 first-place votes. Nebraska finished third with five first-place votes and one voter gave Northwestern (fourth in the preseason poll) a first-place vote. Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue round out the west division.

Ohio State received 19 out of 29 votes to win the Big Ten. Michigan State received nine votes and Nebraska received one vote. Wisconsin received no votes to win the Big Ten despite being picked to win the west division.

You can see the full unofficial preseason media poll for more voting results.

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Baylor’s Art Briles admits to interest in Texas vacancy

Art Briles

When a dream job comes along, few reasonable people would likely fault anyone for exploring the possibility of leaving all that you have built behind to take the new opportunity. Fortunately for Baylor, their head coach shrugged aside the idea of coaching at Texas this past offseason.

Baylor head coach Art Briles took over the desolate and often hopeless program prior to the 2008 season after a successful stint as a head coach at Houston. Briles was asked to do what seemed to be impossible; turn Baylor football into something worth respecting in the Big 12. After starting out his career in Waco with identical 4-8 seasons, the building blocks were starting to form a foundation and Baylor broke through with a 7-6 record in 2010, the first winning season for the Bears since 1995 in the old Southwest Conference. The next season Robert Griffin III exploded on the scene to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Baylor to a 10-win season, a top 25 finish and the first bowl win for the school since the 1992 season. Last year Baylor won the Big 12 championship and played in the Fiesta Bowl. As far as stock is concerned, Briles may have peaked and could have cashed in.

This is why it only makes sense that Briles would not only be one of the top candidates for the vacancy in Austin, once Texas found a way to move on from Mack Brown, but Briles also had an interest in the job. Was Briles interested? You bet. Yesterday while moving through the ESPN car wash with a stop on the Paul Finebaum radio show, Briles admitted as much.

Briles, of course, chose to stay where he is at Baylor at a big time for the program. The Bears are coming off the first Big 12 championship in school history, appear to be a threat once again in the conference and move into a brand new football stadium this season. Times are good for Baylor. Briles is a big reason why, and it is nice to see someone choose to stay put to see through it all, especially when it is very likely Texas could have made Briles a wealthier man for years to come.

Texas may not have nabbed Nick Saban from Alabama, but the Longhorns ended up with a pretty good coach anyway by hiring Charlie Strong away from Louisville.

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SEC Network’s Time Warner deal increases launch viewership to 60 million

A cable truck returns to a Time Warner Cable office in San Diego, California

Things continue to be developing smoothly for the SEC Network, just weeks away from going live on the air. After successfully putting together deals with Comcast and COX Networks, the new network has added another big name to the cable distribution line-up; Time Warner. Just for good measure, the SEC Network has added Bright House Networks to the mix as well. The total potential reach for the launch of the SEC Network is now expected to total an estimated 60 million homes.

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily broke the news about the agreement, which was later confirmed by a release from the SEC Network on Thursday.

“We know we have customers who want the SEC-ESPN Network, and are pleased to bring it to them,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition for Time Warner Cable. “This deal will help ensure that fans and alumni of SEC universities won’t miss any important games.”

“By delivering the SEC Network across Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ nationwide footprint, including key markets within SEC territory, we are meeting the demands of fans while also adding value to customers’ video subscriptions in advance of the network’s launch next month,” said Sean Breen, Disney and ESPN Media Networks senior vice president of affiliate sales.

There is still one giant hurdle remaining for what is already being praised as a masterful launch for the network; DirecTV. There is also some growing concern about ESPN’s involvement with the SEC Network and the College Football Playoff, as expressed by Bart Doan on The Student Section, but as far as preparing for a grand debut, ESPN has been hard at work at the negotiating table to make sure everything is lined up for the launch of the new network. It may just be a matter of time before there is a deal with DirecTV signed by all parties. At this point, DirecTV would be wise to not be labeled as the one provider without the network.

The SEC Network will launch on August 14.

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Four Cincy players forced to retire, QB Legaux working his way back

Cincinnati v Louisville Getty Images

The playing careers for a pair of Cincinnati players have come to an end as a result of a car crash last September. Wide receivers Mark Barr and Javon Harrison will no longer play football due to injuries suffered in a tragic auto accident that claimed the life of offensive lineman Ben Flick.

In addition to Barr and Harrison, Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville confirmed to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer that safety Marcus Foster and defensive back Drake Burns will also no longer be able to play football. All four players will remain on scholarship.

Harrison was listed in stable condition once taken to a hospital following the accident, but Barr was placed in critical condition. Barr was released from a hospital nearly a month later.

In more positive injury news out of Cincinnati, quarterback Munchie Legaux is making some good progress on his return to football. After suffering a devastating knee injury early last season, Legaux was granted an extra year of eligibility and he is looking to make it count. Tuberville expects Legaux to be in uniform and available to practice once the Bearcats open training camp. With Gunner Kiel stating his case for the starting job in the spring, Legaux may have to be at 100 percent and work to win the job back once he is.

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Larry Scott already stumping for Pac-12 champ in playoff

Larry Scott

As to be expected, the past couple weeks of conference media days has brought a number of tired debates back to the surface. Among them has been the debate over eight-game conference schedules or nine-game schedules. For the Pac-12, the answer is simple. Commissioner Larry Scott addressed the benefits of having a nine-game conference schedule as college football moves into the College Football Playoff era this fall.

“We know that there will be continued controversy and debate, but the clear statement has been made that strength of schedule is going to be a determining factor in figuring out which of the four teams ought to be competing in that playoff,” Scott said during his state of the Pac-12 press conference this week at the Pac-12 media day event in California. The College Football Playoff selection committee will be placing an emphasis on strength of schedule when determining its rankings and choosing which four teams will be selected to participate in the College Football Playoff. the Pac-12 has opted to go with a nine-game conference schedule in part to raise the overall strength of schedule for the conference. Of course, it also makes it easier to schedule for all Pac-12 schools when they only have to fill three non-conference spots as opposed to four. The Pac-12 also backed out of a conference-wide scheduling agreement with the Big Ten that would have raised the strength of schedule for both conferences.

Scott chose to focus on the depth of the Pac-12 in 2014, a wise strategy considering the national respect for Oregon, Stanford and UCLA along with the rising expectations for programs like USC, Washington and Washington State. With some quality depth, the Pac-12 could be the most entertaining conference to watch this fall, so folks on the east coast may have to prepare for some late nights. The Pac-12 also has a chance to impress on a national level with some key non-conference match-ups.

“This year the Pac‑12, again, has scheduled a very tough non‑conference slate that includes 13 games against bowl teams from a year ago,” Scott said. “Highlights of our non‑conference match‑ups this year include five games against Big Ten opponents – Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Rutgers and Illinois. We’ve got three games against Notre Dame this year – Stanford, USC, Arizona State all playing against Notre Dame, and of course UCLA’s match‑up in Dallas against Texas early in the season.”

But Scott’s final remark about the schedule was one with a slight aim at the ACC and SEC. Both the ACC and SEC will play eight-game conference schedules. Whoever comes out on top of the Pac-12 is likely to have a decent shot at playing in the College Football Playoff, which Scott is already stumping for as best he can.

“Here it is with the most competitive nine‑game conference schedule in the nation, our champion will be incredibly well‑positioned in this first-ever historic College Football Playoff.”

Some power conference is going to get left out of the four-team playoff, if not more. Scott clearly believes his conference should not be on the outside looking in.

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