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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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Tressel says recruiting is key to keeping Michigan and Harbaugh in OSU’s rearview mirror

Michigan v Ohio State

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel knows a thing or two about the rivalry between the Buckeyes and Michigan, and he knows just how valuable having an edge in the series can be to a coach. With Jim Harbaugh taking over at Michigan this year the expectations are high for the Wolverines to start clawing back in the Big Ten, and perhaps lead Michigan to a more level playing field against their rivals across the state line.

“I think Jim Harbaugh will bring something to the Ohio State-Michigan storied rivalry,” Tressel said at a Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club event, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “He’s been successful wherever he’s been. He’s extremely hard-working. He has great pride in his alma mater.”

While the future may be bright for Michigan with Harbaugh leading the way, Tressel says Michigan should not be expected to catch up to Ohio State right away.

“Personally, I think they’re a ways away from being at the level where there’s going to be a Ten Year War. I think they’ve got some work to do to get to that. But if anyone can do it, Jim Harbaugh can. He’ll do a great job.”

Tressel also said the key to Ohio State maintaining an edge over the Wolverines (and anybody else in the Big Ten for that matter) is to lock down the top high school talent from within the state borders. Ohio is a state rich with football talent, and Ohio State tends to have the upper hand in those recruiting battles. That was the case when Tressel was head coach of the Buckeyes, and is the area Tressel thinks Ohio State needs to focus on to keep Michigan in the rearview mirror.

“How far behind (is Michigan)? It (depends) on how long that door stays closed,” Tressel said. “That’s the key. [Urban Meyer] will do a great job, they know how to win, they’ve got a great staff. But you’ve still got to keep it closed.”

Can Meyer lock the doors to Ohio’s recruits, or will Harbaugh have a key?

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Jim McElwain wants to turn Georgia into Gator Country

University of Florida Introduces Jim McElwain

You just have to love when a new coach takes over at a program and starts to try redrawing the recruiting borders. Of course, there are no boundaries when it comes to college football recruiting, but once a program crosses state lines things can get pretty tense, especially between rival schools.

As you might suspect, Florida head coach Jim McElwain is looking to win some more recruiting battles in the state of Georgia, and he and his staff have the connections to do just that. Florida added five players from the state of Georgia in the Class of 2015. Given how fertile the recruiting soil is in the state of Georgia, it only makes sense for Florida to try to tap the state whenever possible to add to the haul in can bring in from the sunshine state. In recruiting, it is all about having the connections in place.

“I think (it was due to a) couple of things,” McElwain told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week. “There were pre-existing relationships with some guys on our staff who recruited that area in the past. That obviously helps.”

McElwain is focused on setting up shop around Gainesville, and the net is fairly wide. Is it wide enough to turn Georgia into Florida territory? McElwain hopes that is the case.

“But for us, our thought is a five-hour radius of Gainesville,” McElwain said. “And with that being said, that (radius) goes up into Georgia, and that will be something that we’ll try to continue to make Gator Country.”

That should add some spice to the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

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Seven cities ready to bid for future College Football Playoff championship, seven more interested

College Football Playoff Announces The College Football Playoff Selection Committee - News Conference

Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, South Florida, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Santa Clara are among the cities expressing a desire to host a future College Football Playoff national championship game, but they may not be alone. According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, Arlington, Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Orlando and Pasadena are other cities currently undecided but evaluating whether or not to place a formal bid. New Jersey has also expressed an interest.

The current games that are available for host bids are the 2018, 2019 and 2020 national championship games. Rather than designate the hosting duties to one specific host bowl game, as was the case under the BCS system, cities place bids for the title game similar to NFL Super Bowl bids. Cities have until late May to submit a bid proposal to the College Football Playoff. The cities winning the bid for one of the three championship games will be announced in October.

Cities can bid for a specific year’s championship game. South Florida reportedly will place a bid for the 2018 and 2020 games. The Orange Bowl in Miami is the host bowl for one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games in 2019. Minneapolis intends to apply for the 2019 and 2020 national championship games.

Last season’s national championship game was played in Arlington, Texas. This season’s championship game will be played in Glendale, Arizona. The 2017 championship game will move to Tampa, Florida.

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Toddler’s text among Ohio State’s 47 self-reported violations

Cute kid playing with cell phone

Many schools self-report numerous minor infractions to the NCAA on a regular basis. Ohio State has reported a total of 47 rules violations to the NCAA over the last year, and one of them may show just why parental controls on cell phones is a good idea.

Among the 47 violations reported by Ohio State to the NCAA is a text message to a recruit sent from the phone of wide receivers coach Zach Smith. But Smith says it was not he who sent the text, but his four-year old son. As the claim goes, Smith’s son picked up his phone when a recruit allegedly called the receivers coach. Upon picking up the phone, Smith’s son allegedly sent an automatic text reply.

Fortunately, the NCAA actually showed a good sense of humor about the whole incident and decided not to bother reviewing the case. But perhaps this should serve as a lesson about the importance of locking your phone and enabling any child-proof features on a phone for college football coaches.

The violations reported by Ohio State span all sports. According to The Lantern, just two are tied to the football program. In addition to the toddler text message, Ohio State reported a violation of impermissible on-campus contact in late September. Head coach Urban Meyer reportedly had contact with a junior college athlete on campus.

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Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska could gain advantage with Big Ten stipends

businessman with a burlap money bag

A new age in collegiate athletics is upon us with power conferences making a power play to provide more for student-athletes. That means power conference members handing out stipends to college athletes on top of a full scholarship to take care of other financial needs and obligations. How much each school will be able to provide to players will vary by school, and it is believed the divide within power conferences could widen between the top programs and the rest of the pack.

David Jones of The Patriot News dug into the numbers to see what the expected stipends for each Big Ten member could total. Based on the information made available by CollegeData.com, Penn State came out on top with a stipend of $4,788. Wisconsin’s stipend amount came out to $4,265 and Nebraska’s total added up to $3,544. Indiana ($3,036) and Maryland ($3,024) were the only other schools to have stipends over $3,000. By comparison, Ohio State’s stipend total is calculated to be $2,454. Michigan’s is $2,054 and Michigan State is at the bottom of the Big Ten with a stipend total of $1,872.

These numbers are subject to change and, as noted by Jones in his column, you should probably expect people like Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio to push internally for some adjustments in order to allow more stipend funds where possible. Otherwise, programs like Penn State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and even Indiana and Maryland are going to have a nice recruiting chip up their sleeves that could have an impact with certain recruits.

Of course, Texas Athletics Director Steve Patterson previously went on record suggesting the Texas Longhorns could potentially hand out $10,000 stipends if it came to that point.

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BYU to discipline “10-ish” players for role in Miami Beach Brawl

Latanoa Pikula

The last we heard out of BYU regarding the ugly incident at the end of the Miami Beach Bowl against Memphis, BYU was not expected to release names of players serving suspensions or facing discipline for their role in a postgame melee in Miami. That has not changed, although BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall has suggested the number of players facing some form of discipline will be in the double digits.

According to a report by Desert News, Mendenhall opened BYU’s spring practice by writing the word “discipline” on the whiteboard. The head coach of the Cougars later told reporters “10-ish” players will be disciplined for their actions following a bowl loss to Memphis. Specific suspensions may not be announced until the week of BYU’s season opener at Nebraska.

“We’ll try to maintain a competitive advantage as long as we can, and protect the kids as much as we can,” Mendenhall said in the report by Desert News. “I think everyone knows I thrive on accountability and don’t back away from it, especially at BYU. So I’m comfortable with who we’re disciplining and how. I’d like to protect our players as much as we can.”

For what it is worth, Memphis has suspended 12 players for their part in the brawl although names and length of suspension terms have not been disclosed to the public at this time. The disciplinary actions taking by Memphis have been endorsed by the American Athletic Conference as well.

BYU opens the 2015 season on September 5 at Nebraska of the Big Ten. It will be the first meeting between the two programs.

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Oregon State has fresh new helmets for spring practice

Oregon State v Hawaii

When Oregon State opens up spring practice tomorrow they will do so wearing a brand new helmet. Could this be a preview of a new look in 2015? If so, it’s not bad at all.

Oregon State will have black helmets with the word “Beavers” scripted across the side. The look is reminiscent to a helmet design previously worn by the program in 1979 (with an orange helmet) and again from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s (with a white helmet). The same basic design elements were used on a black helmet since 1999, although with the Beaver logo on top of the script. Oregon State has also mixed and matched different helmets with uniforms the past few seasons. Now the beaver logo is gone, at least with this helmet.

I’m giving this one two thumbs up. What about you?

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Kennesaw State opened program’s first spring practice today

A total of 91 players went through the first spring football practice of the year on Monday. Ordinarily this would not be of much significance, but this was no ordinary spring football practice. This was spring football practice at Kennesaw State, the first in program history.

“It was a good day. It’s our first time back on the field and it was the first-ever spring ball practice,” Kennesaw State head coach Brian Bohannon said. “The great thing about it is our kids are in pretty good shape. They had a really good offseason.  We had a group of guys who actually knew what to do versus the last time we came out.”

This was the first spring football practice for Kennesaw State, but the program was able to practice in the fall as they go through the motions of operating a football program in season.

“It was a great start and I think the big thing for this group right now is that in the fall we had three segments of 15 days apiece and now we have one,” Bohannon explained. “Now we’re down to 14 and they are going to have to maximize every minute of these opportunities before we get ready to play.”

As noted by Kevin Causey of The Student Section, Kennesaw State will be joining the Big South Conference this season in the FCS and the offensive identity will likely be based on the option that has become the norm at places like Georgia Tech and Navy. The Owls have 52 players on scholarship right now as it builds up to the FCS maximum of 63.

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Alabama and Minnesota add former players to coaching staff

USC v Minnesota

College football programs around the country continue to fill spaces on coaching staffs, and often that means bringing back former players to fill the final pieces. Alabama and Minnesota each added a former player from each respective program to fill a role in 2015.

Alabama has added former walk-on wide receiver Rob Ezell to the program’s support staff. Ezell was a part of Nick Saban’s program from 2007 through 2010. He comes to Alabama after serving the past two seasons as a graduate assistant at Colorado State, where he worked under former Alabama assistant Jim McElwain. Ezell is also known for a pretty spot-on impression of Saban.

At Minnesota, the all-time passing leader for the Gophers is joining the staff as a graduate assistant. Adam Weber will fill the vacancy as grad assistant, and it is expected he will work closely with the quarterbacks. Given his history with the program, that is not a bad strategy. Weber set school records for passing attempts (1,594), completions (909), passing yards (10,917) and touchdown passes (72).

“I really am excited to join such a great staff under Coach [Jerry Kill],” Weber said. “I’m just looking to be a sponge. It just seems like a great fit.”

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UNC hires Huskers DB coach Warren to fill vacancy

North Carolina has hired away Nebraska defensive backs coach Charlton Warren to the same job in Chapel Hill. UNC announced the staff hiring Monday.

Warren was Nebraska’s defensive backs coach in 2014, but he had served on the coaching staff at Air Force prior to that. Warren is an Air Force graduate. Warren has a connection to Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora. Fedora was an assistant with Air Force when Warren was playing for Air Force in 1997 and 1998.

Warren’s departure from Nebraska is not exactly to be unexpected given coaching turnover in Lincoln, although Warren was the only coach retained from the Bo Pelini regime by new Nebraska head coach Mike Riley.

North Carolina is in need of improving its defense, and the additions to the coaching staff this offseason appear to be addressing that need. The Tar Heels hired former Auburn national championship head coach Gene Chizik to be the team’s new defensive coordinator in one of the more notable assistant coaching hires of the year.

North Carolina finished last in the 14-team ACC in passing defense in 2014, allowing 257.4 yards per game and 31 passing touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 150.35, which is 10 points higher than the next worst opponent passer rating allowed in the ACC (Syracuse, 140.08).

Stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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SEC’s Mike Slive cautious on freshman eligibility conversation

Mike Slive

The two most powerful men in college athletics continue to be on opposite sides of a divisive topic, like Republicans and Democrats on just about anything. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and SEC commissioner Mike Slive are not seeing eye-to-eye on te topic of freshman eligibility. Not yet at least. Delany has spearheaded the recent conversation, but Slive is advises to be patient on the topic until the NCAA rules take effect in 2016.

“We have to remember that each college student has his or her own academic challenges,” Slive said in a statement Monday. Slive was responding to the idea presented by Delany and the Big Ten to prevent student-athletes in certain sports from competing as freshmen in order to provide a more stable introduction to academic life.

“To put a blanket over these student-athletes with a year on the bench doesn’t address those individual needs to incentivize academic progress,” Slive continued.

The Big Ten may be fighting a losing battle here, or Delany may be drawing his line in the sand to back up the idea the Big Ten really is focused more on academics than other conferences. Delany and the Big Ten are currently seeking opinions about freshman eligibility rules.

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Former Rutgers & Minnesota QB Philip Nelson dodges prison

Philip Nelson

Former Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson will not have to serve any prison time for his involvement in a brutal attack that led to the injury of a Minnesota State football player. Nelson was instead sentenced to 100 hours of community service and was credited for serving two days in jail.

Isaac Kolstad was left in coma after being allegedly being attacked by Nelson and kicked in the head. Following the incident, Nelson was booted from the Rutgers team shortly after he had transferred from Minnesota. Kolstad has since made progress in his recovery in his rehab from his brain injury.

Nelson agreed to a plea that would result in a misdemeanor fifth-degree assault for pleading guilty.

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Boise State has tough slate in 2015 as MWC releases schedule

Jay Ajayi, Bryan Harsin

Defending Mountain West Conference champion Boise State has quite the challenging schedule ahead of it in 2015. In addition to opening the season on a Friday night at home against former head coach Chris Petersen and Washington, the Broncos visit BYU and Virginia before getting to the Mountain West Conference schedule in October. The MWC conference schedule, released today, will send Boise State to Colorado State and Utah State on consecutive weeks in October. If the Broncos can manage to get to Halloween without a loss, or perhaps just one, then Boise State could be set up well for a return run to the College Football Playoff’s New Years Six line-up.

The Mountain West Conference features 22 games against bowl teams from 2014 including 11 from the Pac-12, 6 from the Big Ten, 3 from the SEC and 2 from the ACC. There are no games scheduled against Big 12 schools this season, but the MWC will go toe-to-toe with other Group of 5 conferences; the MAC, American and Conference USA. There are also five games against independent programs including BYU, a former MWC member.

The 12-team conference will continue to use an eight-game conference schedule format, with each team in the conference getting four home games and four away. Each member of the conference will play five division games and three cross-division games. The conference is in the midst of a four-year scheduling cycle that guarantees each school gets to play every member of the conference home and away.

As has been the case the last two seasons, the highest-ranked division champion will be given home-field advantage for the Mountain West Conference Championship Game. The conference title game will be played on Saturday, December 5. Boise State hosted Fresno State in last season’s conference championship game and won. Fresno State hosted the title game the previous season and defeated Utah State. This makes home teams 2-0 in the MWC conference championship game.

While the conference has set aside games for Thursday night and Friday night dates, the Mountain West will release broadcast details that could move certain games away from the tentatively scheduled Saturday dates. The MWC has broadcast rights deals with both ESPN and CBS Sports Network for national coverage and ROOT Sports and the Mountain West Network for regional broadcast options.

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Bret Bielema takes driving privileges from Razorback busted for DWI

Bret Bielema

Arkansas defensive lineman Tevin Beanum was recently arrested for suspicion of DWI. In response, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema took a page out of the old parenting handbook and took Beanum’s car away from him.

Bielema refrained from removing Beanum, a sophomore in 2015, from the roster but did need to find a way to respond. This led Bielema to consult with Beanum’s mother, and the two decided to take the keys and the car from the Razorback in addition to other requirements before being reinstated by Bielema.

“It sounds simple. I think a lot of today’s problems can be solved by an old school way of thinking,” Bielema said in a report by Arkansas News. “So I picked up the phone and called his mom. We talked about different things. He has to go through the court system and obviously he’ll have ramifications. But I’ve basically banned the use of his car for any time other than when he’s coming over here or going to academics. His car is to remain parked.”If he gets pulled over for running through a stoplight at 10:30 at night then he’s violated my rules and there’s going to be an even bigger consequence.”

What happens if Beanum is found driving his car outside of those proposed limitations laid out by Bielema?

“If he gets pulled over for running through a stoplight at 10:30 at night then he’s violated my rules and there’s going to be an even bigger consequence.”

Driving is a privilege, not a right. Here’s hoping Bielema’s old-school way of discipline lets that message sink in for Beanum and the rest of the team.

Arkansas News also reports Bielema has suspended wide receiver JoJo Robinson, but the reason beyond violating team rules is unknown. Robinson could return to the team as early as Sunday.

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SEC fills your calendar with dates for spring practices, spring games and NFL pro days

Alabama Spring Game

Vanderbilt is already midway through its spring football schedule, but the rest of the SEC is just getting ready for spring football. On Monday, as Texas A&M opened up spring camp and a day before Ole Miss gets underway, the SEC released the notable dates for your spring football fix in the southeast.

Each team in the SEC currently has a spring game scheduled, except for Kentucky and Texas A&M. Stadium renovations at Kyle Field will prevent Texas A&M from hosting a spring game for a second straight season. Many of the spring games throughout the SEC will draw large crowds, and the conference should once again lead the way in spring game attendance.

Here are your spring practice start dates, along with dates for spring games and pro days for those looking forward to the NFL Draft. Plan accordingly.

SEC Spring Football

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