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Duke signs 20 to Class of 2013

FIU Duke Football

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

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University head football coach David Cutcliffe and his staff announced on Wednesday that 20 student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to join the Blue Devil gridiron program.

The class includes two quarterbacks, four linemen and 14 backs.  A total of eight states are represented in the group as Duke signed a class-high five student-athletes from Florida and four from North Carolina.  The group includes three student-athletes from Virginia, two each from California, Georgia and Texas and one apiece from Nevada and South Carolina.

The four in-state prospects include back Breon Borders (Statesville), quarterback Quay Chambers (Monroe), back Bryon Fields (Charlotte) and back Quay Mann (Rocky Mount).

Borders, who helped Statesville High School to 13 wins as a senior, was a first team all-state honoree in 2012 after recording 91 tackles and seven interceptions while Chambers, also an all-state selection, guided Monroe to 21 wins over his final two seasons including a pair of Rocky River Conference championships.

Fields helped Providence Day to a state championship as a junior and went on to receive MVP honors of the 2012 Oasis Shrine Bowl after guiding the North Carolina squad to a 27-6 victory over South Carolina while Mann, who was selected to the 76th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, earned all-state accolades out of Northern Nash High School following a senior season that included 30 tackles on defense in addition to 900 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns.

Florida is represented with back Terrence Alls (Miami Gardens), back Johnell Barnes (Lehigh Acres), quarterback Parker Boehme(Jacksonville Beach), back T.J. Douglas (Fort Myers) and back Dominic McDonald (Longwood).  Alls helped Dade Christian to 38 wins in four seasons while catching 108 career passes for 1,856 yards while Barnes guided Dunbar High School to three district championships while scoring 18 touchdowns over his final two seasons.  Boehme, listed as the No. 23 dual-threat quarterback in the nation by 247Sports.com, played for former Duke wide receiver Adam Geis at Sandalwood High School.  Douglas, who helped Fort Myers High School to 17 wins over his last two seasons, compiled 1,685 yards of total offense as a senior while McDonald garnered first team all-state honors following a 65-tackle, eight-sack campaign in 2012.

Joining Duke’s skilled position units are three Virginia products in Evrett Edwards (Woodbridge), Chris Holmes (Fredericksburg) and Jake Kite (Roanoke).  Edwards, who had 10 career interceptions as a prep, is charted as the No. 43 cornerback in the nation by ESPN.com while Holmes helped Chancellor High School to 21 wins over three seasons and carded 30 tackles along with 25 receptions for 330 yards as a senior.  Kite posted 120 tackles and four fumble recoveries as a senior en route to earning his second River Ridge District Defensive Player of the Year citation.

California natives Joseph Ajeigbe and Phillip Carter signed with the Blue Devils.  Ajeigbe, the No. 61 running back in the country according to ESPN.com, posted three seasons with 1,000-plus rushing yards at Norco High School while Carter helped Folsom High School to 25 wins over two seasons and set a state single-game record with 317 receiving yards against Roseville Woodcreek on August 24, 2012.  Duke’s pair of signees from Georgia are lineman Mike Ramsay (Smyrna) and back Deondre Singleton (Dacula).  Ramsay was a first team all-state choice by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after helping the Walker School to 11 wins in 2012 while Singleton was selected to play in the Georgia Coaches Athletic Association North-South All-Star Game after totaling 47 tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass break-ups as a senior.

Lineman prospects Austin Davis (Mansfield) and Sterling Korona (San Antonio) join the Duke program from Texas.  Davis, who is charted as the No. 6 center in the nation by ESPN.com, helped Mansfield High School to 26 wins and three state playoff berths while Korona, who led Ronald Reagan High School to 19 victories over his final two seasons, was a Texas Class 5A All-Super Team pick by the San Antonio News-Express following the 2012 campaign.  Gabe Brandner, a Blythewood, S.C., native, rounds out the group of four linemen after receiving first team all-state honors as well as South Carolina MVP accolades at the eighth annual Oasis Shrine Bowl.

Back Ryan Smith, a product of Las Vegas, Nev., signed with the Blue Devils after helping Bishop Gorman High School to 56 wins and four straight state titles from 2009-12.  Smith closed his prep career as Nevada’s all-time leader in receiving yardage (3,208).

Boehme, Edwards, Mann and McDonald enrolled at Duke last month.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 20 members of Duke’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Joseph Ajeigbe
5-9, 215
Riverside, Calif. (Norco)

• Three-year letterman at Norco under coach Todd Gerhart

• Helped Norco to three-year record of 23-13 with three state playoff berths

• Listed as the No. 61 running back in the nation by ESPN.com, the No. 81 running back in the country by Scout.com and the No. 82 running back in the nation by 247Sports.com

• Three-time all-league selection

• First team CIF Southern Section choice following senior season

• As a senior, rushed for 1,605 yards with 16 TDs

• Had 1,875 rushing yards with 20 TDs as a junior and 1,075 rushing yards with 12 TDs during sophomore campaign

• Also lettered in basketball

• High school teammate of current Blue Devil safety Corbin McCarthy

• Born January 30, 1995

• Son of David and Ruth Ajeigbe

Terrence Alls
6-1, 180
Miami Gardens, Fla. (Dade Christian)

• Lettered four seasons at Dade Christian under coach Mike Sonneborn

• Helped Dade Christian to a four-year ledger of 38-8 with three state playoff berths including a 13-1 record and appearance in the state championship game in 2012

• In the state title game, caught seven passes for 90 yards and one TD

• First team all-state selection by the Associated Press in 2012

• As a senior, caught 35 passes for 620 yards and three TDs, rushed 18 times for 211 yards and two TDs, returned nine punts for 93 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 236 yards including a 90-yard return for TD vs. North Broward Prep, and added 33 total tackles and two interceptions on defense

• As a junior, caught 21 passes for 366 yards while totaling six TDs

• Recorded 30 receptions for 639 yards and nine total TDs as a sophomore and 22 catches for 231 yards and three TDs during freshman campaign

• Finished career with 108 receptions for 1,856 yards and a 17.2 yards per catch average

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Placed eighth in the 100-meter dash at the 2012 Florida Class 1A state championship track and field meet

• Born September 29, 1994

• Son of Rosalyn and Terrence Alls, Sr.

Johnell Barnes
6-0, 175
Lehigh Acres, Fla. (Dunbar)

• Three-year letterman at Dunbar under coach Phil Vogt

• Helped Dunbar to a three-year ledger of 22-11 with three district championships and three state playoff appearances

• Listed as the No. 38 cornerback in the nation by Scout.com and the No. 79 wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com

• As a senior, caught 24 passes for 500 yards and eight TDs

• Had 38 receptions for 763 yards and 10 TDs during junior campaign

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Born August 21, 1995

• Son of Ana Rosario and Terell Barnes

Parker Boehme
6-2, 220
Jacksonville Beach, Fla. (Sandalwood)

• Four-year letterman at Fletcher High School (2009) and Sandalwood (2010-11-12) under coach Adam Geis

• Listed as the No. 23 dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports.com

• Charted as the No. 40 pocket-passing quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com

• Listed as the No. 62 overall quarterback in the country by Scout.com

• As a junior, accounted for 3,202 total yards (951 rushing & 2,251 passing) and 40 touchdowns en route to earning honorable mention all-state (8A) honors from the Associated Press

• Also lettered in track & field, earning all-conference honors in the shot put

• Born October 5, 1994

• Son of Nancy and Richard Boehme

• Brother, John, is a member of the golf team at Charlotte

• High school coach, Adam Geis, lettered four seasons (1994-95-96-97) as a wide receiver at Duke

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Breon Borders
6-0, 175
Statesville, N.C. (Statesville)

• Three-year letterman at Statesville under coach Randall Gusler

• Helped Statesville to a three-year record of 28-12 with three state playoff berths including a 13-2 ledger and state 3A semifinal appearance in 2012

• As a senior, earned first team all-state (3A) honors from CarolinaPreps.com after posting 91 tackles, 14 pass breakups, seven interceptions, three caused fumbles and two fumble returns for TDs

• During junior campaign, registered 48 tackles, five interceptions and six pass breakups

• Finished career with 15 interceptions and 25 pass breakups

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• At the 2012 track and field state championship meet, placed sixth in the 300-meter hurdles and fourth in the 4×200 relay

• Two-time all-conference and all-county selection

• Born July 22, 1995

• Son of Chaketa Borders and Kaseem Miller

Gabe Brandner
6-6, 255
Blythewood, S.C. (Heathwood Hall)

• Three-year letterman at Heathwood Hall under coach Jon Wheeler

• Helped Heathwood Hall to consecutive state playoff berths in 2011-12

• Charted as the No. 78 offensive tackle in the nation by 247Sports.com

• Listed as the No. 19 overall prospect in South Carolina by Rivals.com

• Earned first team SCISA AAA all-state honors from the High School Sports Report following senior campaign

• All-area selection in 2012 by The State

• As a senior, graded out at 92 percent on offense while recording 68 tackles and 12 tackles for loss

• Posted 70 tackles including 13 tackles for loss during junior season

• In sophomore campaign, carded 34 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three interceptions

• Earned South Carolina MVP honors at the eighth annual Oasis Shrine Bowl on November 24, 2012 in Mooresville, N.C.

• Also lettered in baseball, basketball and track and field, earning all-state honors on the diamond as a pitcher and first baseman

• Born February 15, 1995

• Son of Antara and Thomas Brandner

• Mother played tennis at the University of West Virginia

• Father lettered two seasons (1974-75) as an offensive tackle under Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Bowden at the University of West Virginia, helping the Mountaineers to a two-year ledger of 13-10 including a 13-10 win over N.C. State in the 1975 Peach Bowl

Phillip Carter
6-1, 200
El Dorado Hills, Calif. (Folsom)

• Two-year letterman at Folsom under coaches Troy Taylor and Kris Richardson

• Helped Folsom to a two-year ledger of 25-4 with two state playoff berths including the 2012 Delta River League and Sac-Joaquin Section championships

• Charted as the No. 72 safety in the nation by ESPN.com

• As a senior, served as team captain and totaled 91 tackles, two interceptions, 10 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries while catching 40 passes for 662 yards and 12 touchdowns

• Established California high school single-game record with 317 receiving yards on 10 receptions (5 TDs covering 20, 37, 60, 66 & 78 yards) against Roseville Woodcreek on August 24, 2012

• First team all-metro and all-league pick following senior season

• As a junior, posted 54 tackles, four pass breakups and two caused fumbles while adding 24 receptions for 292 yards and five touchdowns

• Born August 30, 1995

• Son of Lentice and Phillip Carter

• Cousin, Darnell Jackson, lettered four seasons (2005-06-07-08) in basketball at the University of Kansas, helped the Jayhawks to the 2008 NCAA championship and was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat and also played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings

• Cousin, Adam Jennings, lettered four seasons (2002-03-04-05) in football at Fresno State University, helped the Bulldogs to 35 wins and four bowl game appearances, was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons and also played with the Detroit Lions and New York Giants

Quay Chambers
6-3, 215
Monroe, N.C. (Monroe)

• Two-year letterman at Monroe under coach Johnny Sowell

• Helped Monroe to a two-year record of 21-9 with two state playoff berths and two (2011-12) Rocky River Conference championships

• Listed as the No. 39 dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports.com and the No. 40 dual-threat quarterback in the nation byESPN.com

• First team all-state (1A) pick as a senior by both NCPreps.com and CarolinaPreps.com

• Two-time all-conference pick

• Rocky River Conference Offensive Player of the Year choice in 2011

• As a senior, completed 93-of-155 (.600) passes for 1,520 yards and 19 TDs while rushing 143 times for 1,105 yards and seven TDs as Monroe went 11-4 and reached the state (I-AA) semifinals

• In junior campaign, completed 104-of-213 (.488) passes for 1,776 yards and 22 TDs while rushing 147 times for 1,221 yards and 16 TDs

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Helped Monroe to state class I-A championship in basketball and was a member of Monroe’s state championship 4×400 relay unit in 2012

• Born March 13, 1995

• Son of Natasha Melton and Tony Chambers

• High school teammate of current Blue Devil tight end Issac Blakeney and wide receiver Jamison Crowder

Austin Davis
6-4, 290
Mansfield, Texas (Mansfield)

• Three-year letterman at Mansfield High School under coach Jeff Hulme

• Nationally, listed as the No. 6 center by ESPN.com, No. 14 center by 247Sports.com, the No. 16 center by Rivals.com and the No. 23 center by Scout.com

• Helped Mansfield to a three-year record of 26-10 with three state playoff appearances

• As a senior, served as team captain and was a finalist for the Touchdown Club of Fort Worth’s offensive player of the year honor

• Three-time first team all-district pick

• Born February 25, 1995

• Son of Larry and Tracy Davis

T.J. Douglas
6-1, 190
Fort Myers, Fla. (Fort Myers)

• Three-year letterman at Fort Myers under coach Sammy Sirianni

• Helped Fort Myers to a three-year ledger of 22-10

• Second team all-state (6A) selection by the Associated Press in 2012

• Two-time first team all-conference and all-district choice

• As a senior, compiled 1,685 yards of total offense (1,053 rushing & 632 passing) with TD responsibility total of 22 (15 rush, 1 receive & 6 pass)

• During junior campaign, logged 1,888 yards of total offense (625 rushing & 1,263 passing) with 18 total touchdowns

• Also lettered in track and field and wrestling

• Born April 26, 1995

• Son of Shaynon DiNatale and Willie Douglas

• Cousin, Jammi German, lettered three seasons (1994-95-96) as a wide receiver at  the University of Miami (Fla.), was selected in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons and also played with the Cleveland Browns

• Cousin, Melvin German, is a member of the football program at Florida Atlantic University

• Cousin, Joel German, is a member of the football program at Western Kentucky University

Evrett Edwards
5-11, 175
Woodbridge, Va. (Woodbridge)

• Three-year letterman at Woodbridge under coach Kevin Smith

• Helped Woodbridge to state playoff appearances in 2010 and 2012

• Nationally, listed as the No. 43 cornerback by ESPN.com, the No. 59 cornerback by Rivals.com, the No. 67 cornerback by247Sports.com and the No. 79 cornerback by Scout.com

• Charted as the No. 4 cornerback and No. 22 overall prospect in Virginia by Rivals.com

• Two-time all-district and All-Met selection

• As a senior, posted 37 tackles, eight PBUs and one interception while catching 32 passes for 540 yards and two TDs

• In junior season, recorded 37 tackles, eight interceptions and five PBUs while catching 17 passes for 270 yards and two TDs

• Finished prep career with 107 tackles, 21 PBUs & 10 interceptions

• Born September 22, 1994

• Son of Beth and Charles Edwards

• Father played football at Southern University

• Uncle, Benny Guilbeaux, lettered four seasons (1995-96-97-98) as a safety at Notre Dame, leading the team in interceptions as both a sophomore and junior while helping the Fighting Irish to a four-year record of 33-15 with three bowl game appearances

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Bryon Fields
5-11, 185
Charlotte, N.C. (Providence Day)

• Four year letterman at Providence Day under coach Bruce Hardin

• Helped Providence Day to a four-year record of 29-18 with three state playoff berths including the 2011 NCISAA Division I state championship

• Two-time first team all-state selection by the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association

• Two-time All-Mecklenburg pick by the Charlotte Observer

• As a senior, posted 67 tackles and four interceptions, returned two punts for touchdowns, caught 49 passes for 851 yards and six TDs and rushed 44 times for 400 yards and four TDs

• In junior season, logged 47 tackles and five interceptions, caught 47 passes for 632 yards and four TDs and returned five punts for TDs

• Earned MVP honors as Providence Day defeated Charlotte Country Day, 20-14, in the 2011 NCISAA Division I state championship game

• Named the 2011 Special Teams Player of the Year by South Charlotte Weekly

• Finished career with 208 tackles, 14 interceptions and 10 punt returns for touchdowns

• Named the MVP of the eighth annual Oasis Shrine Bowl after helping North Carolina to a 27-6 win over South Carolina with a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown and an eight-yard touchdown run on November 24, 2012 in Mooresville, N.C.

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Captured the NCISAA 3A state championship in the 400 meters in 2012

• Born August 23, 1994

• Son of Bryon and Julie Fields

Chris Holmes
6-2, 200
Fredericksburg, Va. (Chancellor)

• Three-year letterman at Chancellor under coach Bob Oliver

• Helped Chancellor to three-year record of 21-12

• Charted as the No. 77 safety in the nation by Scout.com

• First team all-district selection following senior season

• As a senior, carded 30 tackles and one interception while catching 25 passes for 330 receiving yards and four TDs

• During junior season, had 20 tackles and two interceptions in addition to 17 receptions for 355 yards and five TDs

• Credited with 50 tackles and one interception as a sophomore

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Born August 14, 1995

• Son of Cecil Holmes and Antoinette Young

• Prep teammate of current Blue Devil lineman Sam Marshall

Jake Kite
6-0, 185
Roanoke, Va. (Hidden Valley)

• Four-year letterman at Hidden Valley under coach Scott Weaver

• Charted as the No. 39 safety in the nation by ESPN.com

• Two-time first team all-state (AA) selection by VirginiaPreps.com

• Two-time Timesland Defensive Player of the Year pick by the Roanoke Times

• Two-time Virginia Region IV Defensive Player of the Year choice

• Two-time River Ridge District Defensive Player of the Year honoree

• Earned first team all-district and all-region honors as a kick return specialist in 2012 after returning 14 kickoffs for 304 yards and 19 punts for 215 yards

• In senior season, carded 120 total tackles, six caused fumbles and four fumble recoveries along with 33 receptions for 392 yards and six TDs

• As a junior, posted 148 tackles and four interceptions on defense while catching 34 passes for 458 yards and four TDs

• Three-year letterman in wrestling and finished third in the state’s Group AA classification as a junior

• Born July 6, 1994

• Son of Christie and Christopher Kite

• Father was a member of the football team as a defensive back and wide receiver at the university of Virginia from 1984-87, helping the Cavaliers to a four-year record of 25-19-2 with Peach Bowl and All American Bowl victories following the 1984 and 1987 seasons, respectively

Sterling Korona
6-7, 260
San Antonio, Texas (Ronald Reagan)

• Two-year letterman at Ronald Reagan under coach David Wetzel

• Helped Ronald Reagan to a two-year record of 19-6 with a pair of state playoff appearances

• Charted as the No. 68 offensive tackle in the nation by both ESPN.com and 247Sports.com

• Texas Class 5A All-Super Team choice and all-area selection by the San Antonio Express-News following senior season

• Texas District 26-5A first team all-district pick and team offensive MVP in 2012

• Also participated in track and field

• Born November 8, 1994

• Son of Laura Korona-Ureste and Mark Ureste

Quay Mann
5-9, 185
Rocky Mount, N.C. (Northern Nash)

• Four-year letterman at Northern Nash under coach Mickey Crouch

• Listed as the No. 89 cornerback in the nation by ESPN.com

• First team all-state (3A) honors from CarolinaPreps.com as a senior

• Three-time all-conference selection

• First team all-area pick by the Rocky Mount Telegram in 2012

• As a senior, served as a team captain and posted 30 tackles and one interception while totaling 900 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns

• Had 43 tackles, five interceptions and two caused fumbles during junior season

• Selected to play in the 76th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on December 15, 2012 in Spartanburg, S.C.

• Also lettered in track and field

• Born January 22, 1995

• Son of Velva Mann-Hunter and Raymond Hunter

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Dominic McDonald
6-2, 240
Longwood, Fla. (Lake Brantley)

• Four-year letterman at Lake Brantley under coach George Clayton

• Helped Lake Brantley to three straight state playoff berths (2010-11-12)

• Listed as the No. 59 outside linebacker in the country by ESPN.com and the No. 71 outside linebacker in the nation by 247Sports.com

• Received first team all-state (8A) honors from the Associated Press after senior season

• As a senior, totaled 65 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks

• Recorded 50 tackles including 12 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior and 60 tackles with 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks during sophomore campaign

• Selected to play in the Florida North-South All-Star game on December 19, 2012 in Sebring, Fla.

• Also lettered in weightlifting

• Born December 26, 1994

• Son of Jill and Joey McDonald

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Mike Ramsay
6-2, 280
Smyrna, Ga. (Walker School)

• Four-year letterman at Walker School under coach John East

• Helped Walker School to an 11-1 ledger and state playoff appearance as a senior

• Georgia Class A first team all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution following senior campaign

• In senior season, served as team captain and posted 40 tackles and four quarterback sacks as the Walker School defense allowed just 8.4 points per game en route to a perfect 10-0 regular season

• As a junior, recorded 37 tackles and 12 quarterback sacks

• Selected to play in the Georgia Coaches Athletic Association North-South All-Star Game

• Also lettered in basketball, soccer and track and field

• Placed fourth in the shot put at the 2012 high school state championship meet

• Born March 16, 1995

• Son of Jean and Michael Ramsay, Sr.

Deondre Singleton
5-11, 175
Dacula, Ga. (Archer)

• Four-year letterman at Archer under coach Andy Dyer

• Charted as the No. 82 safety in the nation by ESPN.com

• Charted as the No. 91 cornerback in the nation by 247Sports.com

• First team all-county selection by the Daily Post and the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett following senior season

• As a senior, posted 47 tackles, two interceptions,14 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries while catching 21 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns

• Earned all-county and all-state accolades as a junior after carding 42 tackles, seven interceptions and 12 pass breakups

• Selected to play in the Georgia Coaches Athletic Association North-South All-Star Game

• Chosen to participate in the Gwinnett County All-Star Game

• Also lettered in baseball, earning all-county honors as an outfielder

• Born February 7, 1995

• Son of Cedric and Crystal Singleton

• Father lettered three seasons (1989-90-91) in football at Louisiana Tech, helping the Bulldogs to a three-year ledger of 21-8-4 including an appearance in the 1990 Independence Bowl

Ryan Smith
5-7, 165
Las Vegas, Nev. (Bishop Gorman)

• Lettered four seasons at Bishop Gorman under coach Tony Sanchez

• Helped Bishop Gorman to a four-year ledger of 56-4 with four state championships

• Charted as the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 3 overall prospect in Nevada by Rivals.com

• Three-time all-state selection

• In senior season, had 39 receptions for 856 yards and 14 TDs as Bishop Gorman captured its fourth straight state title and earned a ranking of No. 9 in the final USA Today national poll

• As a junior, caught 37 passes for 1,041 yards and 17 TDs as Bishop Gorman closed the season at 15-1 and ranked No. 5 in the final USA Today national poll

• Had 38 receptions for 935 yards and 16 TDs as a sophomore and 18 catches for 376 yards and four TDs during freshman campaign

• Career prep totals include 132 receptions for 3,208 yards and 51 touchdowns along with four returns for TDs (3 punt & 1 kickoff)

• Finished high school career as Nevada’s all-time leader in pass receiving yardage

• High school teammate of current Blue Devil running back Shaquille Powell

• Born June 25, 1995

• Son of DeAndre and Lori Smith

• Father is an assistant football coach at Syracuse University

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Tide makes Mel Tucker hiring official

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears

Three days after it was first reported, the lone hole on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has been filled.

In a press release, UA announced that Mel Tucker has been hired as Saban’s defensive backs coach.  Tucker will also hold the title of assistant head coach.

Tucker has a history with Saban, who hired him as a grad assistant at Michigan State nearly two decades ago.

“He is an outstanding coach all the way around and really does an excellent job in terms of teaching the players,” Saban said in a statement. “When you look at his college and NFL experience, his resume is very impressive, and he’ll be a positive addition to our defensive staff. Mel’s experience with the secondary will allow us to move Kirby back to coaching the inside linebackers, which has been most effective for our defensive coordinator. We’re pleased and happy to welcome Mel and his family to Tuscaloosa.”

Tucker has been away from the college game for the last decade, having spent time on NFL staffs with the Cleveland Browns (2005-07, defensive backs; 2008, defensive coordinator), Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-12, defensive coordinator) and Chicago Bears (2013-14, defensive coordinator).  His last job at the collegiate level came in 2004 as the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State.

Prior to that, the Cleveland, Oh., native coached the secondary at OSU (2001-03), LSU (2000) and Miami of Ohio (1999).

“I’ve known Coach Saban since I was 17 years old and he recruited me when he was the head coach at Toledo,” said Tucker. “He gave me my first job at Michigan State and most of what I learned as a defensive backs coach came from him. He has always been extremely loyal to me and my family, and is a trusted friend and mentor.

“We’ve become big Crimson Tide fans through the years and our family actually went to the bowl games against Michigan State and Notre Dame. When I was invited to speak here at one of the coaching clinics, I really got to see first-hand how special the University of Alabama is and I’m honored to join Coach Saban’s staff. I have the utmost respect this program and what Coach Saban stands for as a man and as a coach.”

In addition to Tucker, UA also announce the hiring of former UAB assistant Jody Wright.  This is a return for Wright as he spent 201 as a graduate assistant with the Tide and 2011-12 as an offensive analyst.

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About-face: ACC to count BYU as Power Five opponent

BYU Stadium

Just last May, it was reported that the ACC would not consider BYU an option for its membership to satisfy the mandatory scheduling of at least one Power Five opponent per season.

Eight months later?  Never mind, apparently.

The same day that the ACC released its complete 2015 schedule, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy reports that games against BYU will now count toward the Power Five non-league requirement for the conference. The league has yet to announce the reversal, for whatever that’s worth.

As it stands now, Virginia is the only ACC school with BYU on its future schedules, with games slated for 2019 in Charlottesville, 2020 in Provo. Whether this reported decision to allow BYU to meet the P5 scheduling requirement means future games between the football independent and ACC schools will start popping up remains to be seen.

Unless a change hasn’t been made public yet, the SEC still does not consider BYU meeting a scheduling requirement similar to that of the ACC’s. Of course, the Cougars have played just five games total against teams that were members of the SEC at the time the game was played, so it’s not as if there’s an extensive history between that institution and that conference.

Regardless, the ACC’s decision is a huge one for BYU as it will allow the football program to further bolster its schedule — and any potential playoff résumé — with quality Power Five opponents.  Short of landing a spot in one of those conferences — you have their digits, Big 12 — this is about as good as it gets for the Cougars.

(Photo credit: BYU athletics)

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Brandon Harris’ HS coach advised QB to ‘please get out of’ LSU

Brandon Harris

Here’s to guessing David Feaster‘s brutal honesty won’t ingratiate him too much to the LSU coaching staff.

Feaster is the head coach at Bossier City Parkway High School in Louisiana, the high school of LSU quarterback Brandon Harris.  After Harris’ true freshman season devolved into one of (mostly) sideline inactivity even as the quality of play at the quarterback position was suspect to say the least, Feaster encouraged his former player to leave the situation.

And by “leave the situation” I mean “get the hell out of Dodge before you do permanent damage to your collegiate career.” From the New Orleans Times-Picayune‘s transcription of Feaster’s radio interview Wednesday.

“Please get out of there,” Feaster said he told Harris. “I wanted him to go to junior college. Go to a junior college, and because he’s a qualifier, he can just be there one year, leave at the midterm and restart the recruiting process all over again.”

“You’ve got the worst passing game in the country, and the best quarterback in the country sitting on the bench,” Feaster said. “Why don’t we even try him against Arkansas? He almost saved you against Mississippi State, did save you against New Mexico State. Why don’t we even give him a shot in some of these other games we can’t get a first down?”

There was speculation floating around that part of the reason for Harris’ inactivity over the last half of the season stemmed from what the Times-Picayune described as a lack of “dedication to studying tape and the playbook.”  On that front, Feaster lays the onus for the leak that cast his former player in an unfavorable light squarely on the LSU coaching staff.

“The stuff they’ve been saying has been lies,” Feaster said. “That he has trouble learning plays or checks, reading defenses, all that is bogus. He got there in January. They had plenty of time to go over the plays. I’ll just say that on his behalf, all that stuff is lies.

“He’s (Les Miles) the head coach, and he plays who he wants to. I don’t want people telling me who to play at QB either. But I don’t think they should be putting out false information about Brandon to make him look bad.”

Harris, of course, eschewed a transfer from LSU — “I couldn’t talk him into it,” Feaster said — and will, along with 2014 starter Anthony Jennings, compete for the starting job again beginning this spring. To Feaster’s credit, he did allow later in the interview that Harris is “right and I’m wrong” about wanting the quarterback to bolt after being on campus for less than a year.

In his first season in Baton Rouge, Harris played in eight games and started one. That lone start was, to say the least, a rough one, with Harris completing just 3-of-14 passes for 58 yards in a 41-7 loss on the road to Auburn. Harris attempted just one pass the remaining seven games, although that hasn’t seemed to dampen the former four-star recruit’s enthusiasm for the Tigers.

“Brandon is really enjoying LSU,” Feaster said. “He’s all in for it. He’s just going to try and compete. Maybe there’ll be a different set of criteria this year on how they choose their quarterback, and maybe he’ll get a shot.”

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ACC releases complete 2015 schedule

ACC Logo

With the start of the 2015 season less than eight months away — damn, that seems a long, long, long ways away — the ACC has gotten around to releasing its full schedule for the upcoming campaign.

The conference will have several high-profile games opening weekend, beginning with North Carolina-South Carolina Sept. 3 in Charlotte; continuing with Louisville-Auburn in the Georgia Dome for the Sept. 5 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game; and concluding with Virginia Tech-Ohio State Labor Day night, Sept. 7, in Blacksburg.  The Hokies were the only team to knock off the Buckeyes en route to OSU’s national championship.

Notre Dame will also be in the second year of its scheduling arrangement with the conference, with six games on the slate versus league foes. Clemson (Oct. 3), Virginia (Sept. 12) and Pitt (Nov. 7) will host the Irish, while Georgia Tech (Sept. 19) and (Wake Forest (Nov. 14) will travel to Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Additionally, the Notre Dame-Boston College game will be played in Boston’s Fenway Park, and will be considered a home game for the Irish.

In the release announcing the 2015 slate, the ACC touted its schedule as one of the toughest in the country, at least on paper. Let us count the reasons why:

  • ACC teams will play more games against teams that are ranked in ESPN’s Too Early Top 25 rankings for 2015 (12) than any of the other Top Five Conferences. The ACC’s total is also more than double the number of games played by the next closest Power Five league.
  • ACC teams also are playing a higher percentage of Power Five Conference teams (38%) than any other Power Five Conference.
  • ACC teams are also playing games against opponents who had a higher FBS (.536) and overall (.536) winning percentage in 2014 than any other Power Five Conference.
  • ACC teams will also play 24 games against non-conference opponents that played in bowl games in 2014. That total is the second-highest total of any Power Five Conference.

“This year’s ACC Football schedule once again showcases that collectively our league is arguably playing the toughest nonconference schedule in the country,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “In addition to the nonconference games, we have a tremendously competitive league schedule which provides our teams and fans with great games each week of the season.”

For the complete 2015 ACC schedule, click HERE.  For the complete helmet or logo versions, click HERE or HERE, respectively.

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Grantham confirms Raider interview, but will stay at Louisville

Miami v Louisville

As it turns out, Louisville won’t need to embark on a search for a new defensive coordinator after all.

Late Wednesday afternoon, it was reported that the Oakland Raiders, which had previously targeted Todd Grantham, had offered their coordinator job to the current UofL coordinator.  In a statement subsequently released by the school, Grantham confirmed that he did interview for the NFL post.

He also confirmed, though, that he would be returning to the Cardinals for the 2015 season.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have interviewed for the defensive coordinator position with the Oakland Raiders, but I’m committed to the University of Louisville,” Grantham said in a statement. “I said when I came to Louisville that I thought we could win a national championship, and we are building toward that goal with the success we had this season.

“Coach Petrino and Tom Jurich have given me a great opportunity and I’m grateful for their commitment. My family loves it in Louisville, and I think we are establishing something special here with head coach Bobby Petrino and our staff. Our main objective over the next week is to finish strong in recruiting and continue to bolster this signing class.”

In his first season at Louisville in 2014, Grantham’s $975,000 salary was sixth amongst assistant coaches nationally and third in the ACC. It’s unknown at the moment if he’ll receive a bump in pay to repay his commitment to the university.

Under Grantham in 2014, the Cardinals were tied for 24th in the country in scoring defense at 21.8 points per game. The year prior to Grantham’s arrival, they were second at 12.2 ppg.

“We’re very pleased and happy that Todd is going to be staying at the University of Louisville,” Petrino said in his statement. “He’s done a fabulous job with our defense that ranked in the top 10. He’s one of the finest assistant coaches in the country, and you expect excellent coaches like Todd to get opportunities in the NFL. I’ve always had respect for the job that Todd has done throughout his career, especially this past year at Louisville, and we’re happy that he has and family will continue to be members of the Cardinals’ family.”

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Lincoln Riley to make $1 million over two years as Oklahoma’s OC

Lincoln Riley

In a fairly news-y day for the Sooners from Oklahoma, it was revealed Wednesday that new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has inked a two-year contract that will pay him $500,000 annually. His contract was approved during an OU Board of Regents meeting.

Thanks to Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World, we know Riley will be the Big 12’s second-highest paid offensive coordinator in the Big 12. Texas’ Shawn Watson made $650,000 in 2014 to lead the league. Departed Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery made $504,645 this fall.

Riley’s half-a-million dollar salary would have tied him for 66th nationally among all college football assistants last fall according to the USA Today coaching salary database. He ranked 244th at just north of $278,000 at East Carolina in 2014.

Riley will be Oklahoma’s second-highest paid assistant, trailing defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. Previous offensive coordinator Josh Heupel earned $605,000 in 2014.

 

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Jimbo Fisher’s new contract includes a mighty large buyout

Jimbo Fisher

We’ve known of Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s new eight-year contract for more than a month now, but on Wednesday we learned the details of the head Seminole’s new deal.

Thanks to an open records request by the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida State revealed that Fisher will earn $5 million a year in 2015, and the coach will receive a $100,000 a year bump through the 2022 season. Fisher, who earned $3.6 million in 2014 according to the USA Today coaching salary database, joins Alabama’s Nick Saban, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Texas’ Charlie Strong and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh in college football’s $5 million club.

Of course, the most important figure in any coaching contract is the buyout. And there is a significant one here. Fisher would owe a cool $5 million should he leave before Dec. 31, 2016, a more manageable $3 million if he left between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2018, and a minuscule $1 million thereafter.

Fisher is eligible for bonuses ranging from $50,000 for reaching a non-College Football Playoff bowl game to $250,000 for reaching certain team GPA or other off-the-field benchmarks. He’ll make $200,000 if the ‘Noles win a national championship. Fisher will also receive a $1.2 million longevity bonus should he remain in Tallahassee through the life of the contract.

The new deal also provides an extra $750,000 for Fisher’s assistants. The group earned nearly $3.4 million in 2014, good for 12th nationally and third in the ACC. The new pool would rank them just behind Auburn for fifth nationally.

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Report: OU to delay Memorial Stadium expansion, school president denies it

Oklahoma State v Oklahoma Getty Images

Oklahoma is planning on postponing the major renovation project to Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium announced last summer. Or, they’re not. One or the other.

A report from SoonerScoop.com released Wednesday stated Oklahoma had informed contractors and architects that it is placing the $370 million project on hold due to “market related” factors. More specifically, the price of oil has dropped precipitously, directly impacting many of the Sooners’ big money donors. The report outlined that OU’s fundraising arm has struggled to secure sales of new suites, which would underwrite a large portion of the renovations.

The Sooners’ limp finish to the 2014 season certainly didn’t help, but SoonerScoop writes that competitive factors aren’t holding up the project. “The football outlook has barely entered into the discussion at all,” a source told the site. “It seems everyone knows upgrades like this are important in keeping us competitive.”

Another reason, the report states, that the project will go on hold has been Oklahoma president David Boren‘s drive to secure funding for OU’s Residential College, a sort of academic utopia mimicking schools back east and across the pond. “The new housing facilities will be designed as living/learning communities that would, by their nature, build strong communities and identities and become the cornerstone of the undergraduate experience,” said a university press release. “They will be patterned on those at Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge.”

As fate would have it, the report went live as Boren spoke to reporters at an OU Board of Regents meeting.

Well, then.

To its credit, SoonerScoop is standing by its reporting.

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Boren said that Oklahoma is “shovel ready,” and that he is slated to discuss the project with the Regents at their March meeting.

One thing is certain with stories like this: either the renovations will happen, or they won’t. We’ll find out soon enough.

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Central Florida, Florida Atlantic schedule home-and-home

George O'Leary

Central Florida and Florida Atlantic each have short histories as FBS programs. FAU played its first season in 2001, and UCF joined FBS way back in the ancient days of 1996. As such, two programs one would think tussle on a semi-annual basis have only played once, a 33-29 Knights win back in 2003.

That is about to change.

The schools announced a home-and-home series for 2018 and 2019 on Wednesday. Florida Atlantic will visit Orlando on Sept. 22, 2018, and Central Florida will return the favor on Sept. 7, 2019.

A home-and-home with Florida Atlantic means Central Florida will have played a Sunshine State opponent in non-conference play every year from 2005-19, save for a one-year break in 2010.

Each program has played Florida twice. Central Florida has played Florida State once and Miami twice, while Florida Atlantic has faced FAU once and never played Florida State.

Here’s hoping UCF’s sideline cabana is still around in 2018.

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Reports: Joker Phillips to coach WRs for NFL’s Browns

Joker Phillips

It appears that the Joker is back in the coaching game.

Following up on reports that began surfacing a couple of days ago, ESPN.com is reporting that Joker Phillips has agreed to become the wide receivers coach of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.  The organization has not yet announced his hiring, although that’s something that could happen this week and perhaps as early as today.

Phillips had spent the 2013 season as Florida’s receivers coach before abruptly resigning his position in June of last year.  Other than “personal reasons,” no reason was given for the unexpected departure.  It was subsequently reported that Phillips was photographed eating in a restaurant with a football prospect during a recruiting dead period, which would be an NCAA violation.  He sat out the 2014 season, at least as far as coaching goes.

Phillips, whose main mark while at UF was as a recruiter and Twitter genius, has never held a job at the NFL level as his entire 26-year coaching career has come in the college game.

A receivers coach on six different occasions at five schools, Phillips has, in addition to his time at UF, held that role on staffs at Kentucky (199-96), Cincinnati (1997), Minnesota (1999-2000) and South Carolina (2002).  He spent another stint at UK from 2003-09 before becoming the Wildcats’ head coach in 2010-12.

A 13-24 record in the three seasons led to his dismissal in 2012.

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Report: Raiders offer Todd Grantham their DC job

It appears Louisville could indeed be forced to search for a new defensive coordinator.

Monday, reports surfaced that the Oakland Raiders had targeted UofL coordinator Todd Grantham for the same position with the NFL club.  Two days later, the courtship between the two sides has reportedly gotten very serious.

It’s not, though, a done deal that Grantham will accept the Raiders offer.

While Grantham has coached at the collegiate level since 2010, he spent the previous 11 years in the NFL.  In February of 2013, Grantham, then the coordinator at Georgia, interviewed for the same job with the New Orleans Saints before deciding to remain with the Bulldogs.  Less than a year later, however, he left UGA for the UofL.

In mid-August of last year, it was reported that significant friction existed between Grantham and head coach Bobby Petrino.  Both coaches subsequently downplayed the speculation.

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Star FCS QB Vernon Adams will reportedly visit Oregon

Vernon Adams Jr.

It’s not often that an FCS player transfers up to the FBS.  It appears, though, that at least one star at the Level Formerly Known as Div. I-A is at least contemplating such a move.

According to Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian via Twitter, Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams will be visiting Oregon this weekend. While not stated specifically in the tweet, the assumption is that the quarterback is considering a transfer to the Ducks.

247Sports.com is reporting that Adams has already been granted his transfer release, which seems to make a move to the Ducks imminent.

With Heisman winner Marcus Mariota leaving his remaining eligibility on the table and moving on to the NFL, UO will conduct a quarterback competition beginning this spring. The way it stands now, Jeff Lockie will enter spring as the front-runner, with competition being provided by redshirt freshmen Taylor Alie and California product Ty Griffin, true freshman Morgan Mahalak and 2015 early signee and four-star recruit Travis Waller.  There have also been rumors that Braxton Miller has an interest in transferring to the Ducks, although that talk has waned of late.

Adams certainly has the credentials to come in and compete immediately with the group that will be there as he would be a grad transfer.

In a 49-46 win over Oregon State in 2013, Adams accounted for 518 yards of offense and six total touchdowns — 411 and four passing, 107 and two rushing.  A year later, Adams passed for 475 yards in a 59-52 loss to Washington.

Over the past two seasons, Adams has thrown for 90 touchdowns and ran for another 10.  In 2013, he was runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in the FCS.

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Four-star WR says he wore Vols gear during Auburn visit, denies pot rumors

Preston Williams

Don’t you just love the wonderful world of college football recruiting, especially when it comes to the SEC (or the Big Ten)?

Four-star 2015 wide receiver Preston Williams has been a verbal commit to Tennessee for the last four months but has still taken visits to, among other places, Georgia and, most recently, Auburn.  It was on that latter trip this past weekend that the darker side of the recruiting game reared its head yet again.

In the wake of that visit to The Plains, one in which he was reportedly adorned in UT clothing, rumors surfaced that the Georgia high schooler was caught smoking marijuana in a hotel.  During a radio interview Tuesday night, Williams, who claimed he was “forced into the visit” by the AU coaching staff, denied the weed accusations.

Not at all,” Williams told WNML when asked if what in part began as message board rumors were accurate. “That’s how people get when you don’t want to do something, they try to put bad words out on you, rumors and stuff. I just let them put rumors out on me. People are going to believe what they want to believe because they have their own opinion.”

Williams also copped to wearing Vols gear during his visit to The Plains, which could explain why or how the pot speculation surfaced in the first place. Not only was he (allegedly) wearing an SEC rival’s colors, he was (allegedly) actively recruiting other prospects who were visiting in an attempt to get them to flip to UT.

Suffice to say, and per the player, it didn’t sit well with his hosts.

“A lot of schools, they don’t like it,” Williams, who left his AU visit earlier than originally planned (or was forced to leave early), said. “They told me to take it off, this and that. They were getting mad. When they were getting mad, I was like, ‘Do I believe them or not? Are they playing with me or what?’ So I was just laughing.”

Of course, now there’s a report out that Williams wasn’t wearing UT apparel at all, that his visit was in fact cut short because of a combination of disinterest on the part of the prospect and the “incident in the hotel room.” The radio station that did the interview with Williams, citing a source in Auburn’s program with direct knowledge of the situation, reported Tuesday evening that Williams was sent home early after he was caught smoking marijuana.

As for Williams’ comments that he was forced into the AU visit and that it was a last-minute kind of thing, the player confirmed Dec. 31 that he would be taking a January visit to the Tigers. “I want to check Auburn out,” Williams said at the time. “Coach (Dameyune) Craig is recruiting me. I’ve talked to him a lot and I told him I’d come visit.”

So, who’s embellishing what?  Who knows.  Or, as some would say when it comes to the seedy side of recruiting, who cares just make it stop.

Williams, incidentally, is rated as the No. 19 receiver in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Georgia by Rivals.com.  Oh, and, call it a hunch as I’m no recruiting guru, but don’t look for him to flip to Auburn.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Michigan’s 2015 recruiting trail setting up 2016 inroads

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh may or may not pull in one of the Big Ten’s top recruiting classes — it’ll more than likely the latter — when it’s all said and done, but what he and his staff are doing now is setting the football program up for the next year’s class.

Exactly one week away from National Signing Day, UM’s 2015 class ranks 75th nationally and dead last in the Big Ten (Purdue is the closest at 60th).  That’s quite an improvement from two weeks ago when, two weeks into his tenure, Harbaugh’s Wolverines were 97th in the country.  That bump was triggered by a trio of flips, including a four-star quarterback who had been a Texas commit.

UM, along with UCLA, is also in play for the No. 1 tight end in the country, Chris Clark, a target that could push the class ranking closer to midpack. Five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the No. 3 player in the nation according to Rivals.com, took an official visit to Ann Arbor earlier this month and came away giving UM serious consideration, although USC is still widely considered the favorite (maybe).  A handful of three- and four-star recruits are still in play as well.

The program hopes to add 15 players from this year’s class, and are currently sitting at nine commitments with signing day seven days away.

Given the tight time frame in which Harbaugh’s been forced to operate, and despite attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind, the 2015 recruiting cycle is essentially serving as a gateway to next year’s class.

“You may not see a huge bump in 2015, in part because of the timing of Jim Harbaugh’s hire,” Brandon Huffman, the national director of recruiting for Scout.com, told the Toledo Blade recently. “But you’ll see that momentum carry into the spring when coaches go on the road to begin evaluating the 2016 class.”

Harbaugh & Company could still make a late push this year, but circle 2016 as the year they begin to challenger Urban Meyer and Ohio State, currently seventh nationally, for Big Ten recruiting supremacy.

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Michael Irvin tells Miami fans to ‘calm their asses down’

North Carolina v Miami Getty Images

Right or wrong, Miami’s Al Golden will likely head into the 2015 season on arguably the hottest coaching seat in America.

After improving to 7-5 in 2012 and 9-4 in 2013 after a first season of 6-6, Golden’s Hurricanes dipped back to 6-6 in the 2014 regular season before dropping its bowl game and tumbling to 6-7.  UM lost its last four games this past season, the second straight year they’ve stumbled to the finish; in 2013, they lost four of their last six after starting out 7-0.

The fan base, former players — including very outspoken former players — and even boosters are restless for The U to return to its glory days, with most not shy of making their displeasure known for a man who helped guide the program through the choppy waters of NCAA sanctions.  Most, not all, though, as Golden has his supporters, most notably former Miami great Michael Irvin.

As transcribed by the Miami Herald, Irvin very vociferously defended the current head coach during a radio interview while also defending athletic director Blake James decision to bring Golden back.

“I thought it was the right move, and guys, I’ve said this over and over again and I’ll say it here again: Al Golden — Coach Al Golden — has earned this opportunity, has earned the right to see this through. With what he’s done, to jump there and fight, that was not his fight, and he stayed through the fight. He recruited well and he kept us in the fight.

“We started a freshman quarterback. Where’s the smarts? Tell me this: Where’s the smarts in saying, ‘Hey freshman, we know we started you. We know you learned a lot. But right now we’re going to snatch all of that from under you and make you start all over again next year.’

“It would be absolutely stupid, absolutely ignorant to do it to him, so it would be absolutely the right thing to let this man get one more year to finish and make it right. Building a championship takes time and there’s a process to it. And we’re in the midst, I think, of a very good process.

“And I surely hope that people, in Miami, can calm their asses down and let the process see itself through.”

Irvin’s support notwithstanding, most observers agree that Golden faces a make-or-break 2015 campaign.  Another late-season collapse, or another season that hovers around .500 — or both — portends doom for Golden’s tenure at the school.

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