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Florida announces full 2013 recruiting class

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Louisville v Florida Getty Images

(Below are the bios released by Florida on the new members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

ENROLLED IN JANUARY

Alex Anzalone, Linebacker
6-3/ 220
Wyomissing, PA/Wyomissing Area
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Helped Wyomissing High to its first Class AA state championship in 2012, finishing 16-0, a school single-season record for wins…Selected to the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game…Finished his senior year with over 1,000 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns from the fullback position and registered more than 100 tackles…Earned a spot on the 247Sports Class of 2013 All-America team…Named senior Class AA Player of the Year as part of the 2012 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Team…As a junior, was named first team all-state, all-region and all-county…In 2011, ran for over 900 yards and scored 13 touchdowns and was named to the all-state team…Invited to “The Opening”, an all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus…Chose Florida over Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, USC, UCLA, Miami, Tennessee, Pitt, Stanford, Georgia and Florida State…Coached by Bob Wolfrum.

Darious Cummings, Defensive Line
6-1/310
Titusville, FL/Astronaut HS/Florida State/East Mississippi CC
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Played in all 10 games during the 2012 season at EMCC, tallying 26 tackles (12 unassisted) with 4.0 TFL (12 yards), 3.0 sacks, two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble…EMCC finished 8-2 on the year and ranked 15th in the final NJCAA poll…Anchored a defense that allowed just 74.2 rushing yards per game…Notched a season-high four tackles twice during the season, against Pearl River CC and Itawamba CC…Played under head coach Buddy Stephens at EMCC…Spent two years at Florida State before transferring to EMCC…Played in three games as a true freshman and two games as a sophomore before suffering an injury that caused him to miss most of the 2011 season…Totaled seven tackles in five career games at FSU…Missed the spring of 2012 at FSU after arthroscopic knee surgery and then transferred to EMCC in the summer of 2012…Entered his senior year of high school with 159 tackles, including 22 for loss and 15 sacks…Was the first commit in FSU’s 2010 signing class…Was a Florida Super 75 selection by the Times-Union…Named to SunStateFootball.com all-state first team in 2009…Attended the same high school as former Gator football players LB Wilber Marshall, WR Cris Collinsworth and TE Aaron Walker…Chose Florida over offers from Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Arkansas.

Joey Ivie, Defensive Line
6-4/ 270
Dade City, FL/Pasco
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Could play both end and tackle…Named the 12th best defensive lineman at the Rivals/VTO camp in May…Had eight sacks and forced two fumbles as a junior for the Pirates…He earned first-team honors from the Sunshine Athletic Conference…Chose UF over offers from 23 other schools, including Florida State, Miami and Tennessee. Coached by Tom McHugh.

Daniel McMillian, Linebacker
6-3/220
Jacksonville, FL/ First Coast
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Led First Coast to a 10-1 record in 2012…According to MaxPreps, totaled 97 tackles (67 solo), 2.0 sacks, 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries as a senior…Recorded 12 sacks, nine forced fumbles during his junior year…Led First Coast to a 13-1 season and berth in the Class 7A state championship game in 2011…Participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl… Chose Florida over Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and many others…Coached by Marty Lee.

Tyler Moore, Offensive Line
6-5/312
Clearwater, FL/Countryside HS/Nebraska/St. Petersburg CC
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Spent a year at Nebraska beginning in the fall of 2011 before attending St. Petersburg Community College for the fall of 2012…While at Nebraska, Moore started the first four games of the 2011 season and played in nine games overall…With him in the lineup, Nebraska totaled more than 200 yards rushing in all four games that he started, including 300-plus yard outputs against Washington and Wyoming…Was just the 10th true freshman offensive lineman to see action for Nebraska since 1973…His four starts for the Cornhuskers was the most by a true freshman offensive lineman in school history and made him the first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener…Named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team by ESPN.com in 2011…While at Countryside HS, Moore was regarded as one of the top offensive line prospects in the country after helping his team to a 12-1 record in 2010, and a trip to the regional finals…Helped a Cougar offense rush for better than 2,900 yards and 45 rushing touchdowns in his senior campaign…As a junior, helped Countryside to an 11-2 record and the offense to a 225 rushing yards per game average…Chosen as a Class 5A all-state pick during junior season…Was a three-year starter for Countryside…Following senior year of high school, Moore played for the East team in the U.S. Army All-Star Game in San Antonio…Father, Brian, played tight end for Nebraska in the mid-1980s…Cousin, Jay Moore, was a three-year letterman (2004-06) playing defensive end at Nebraska…From the same high school as former Gator offensive lineman Jeff Mitchell and defensive lineman Clint Mitchell.

Demarcus Robinson, Wide Receiver
6-2/200
Fort Valley, GA/Peach County
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Led his team to the quarterfinals of the 2012 GHSA Class AAA State Football Championship…Named the 2012 Class AAA All-State Team…Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl…Had more than 1,000 yards receiving on 53 receptions as a senior…Scored 15 touchdowns in his final high school season…Named the top wide receiver at the Atlanta MVP Camp…Grew up rooting for the Gators…Nephew of former NFL wide receiver Marcus Robinson, who played for the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings…Chose Florida over Clemson and South Carolina…Also played basketball in high school…Coached by Chad Campbell.

Matt Rolin, Linebacker
6-4/205
Ashburn, VA/Briar Woods
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Selected to the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game…Was a first-team all-state selection by the Associated Press as a junior and first-team all-region as well as first-team all-district…Selected to the all-metro team by the Washington Post during his junior year and given the defensive MVP of his team in the same season…Invited to “The Opening”, all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus…Was part of a Briar Woods team that went 15-0 during senior year and claimed the state title…Notched 43 tackles (23 solo stops), with one sack in 2012 before suffering a season-ending injury…Chose Florida over South Carolina, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Duke, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame…Coached by Charlie Pierce.

Kelvin Taylor, Running Back
5-11/216
Belle Glade, FL/Glades Day
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Ran for 2,423 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior…Surpassed NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith as the state of Florida’s all-time leading rusher as a junior…In his high school career, totaled 12,121 yards and 191 touchdowns…Ended his junior campaign with 3,152 yards and 42 TDs…Was voted Player of the Year and received the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 2A Player of the Year Award…Named to the Florida Class 2A All-State First Team as a junior and senior…Under Armour All American…Was named the 2012 Lou Groza High School Player of the Year…Earned a spot on the 247Sports Class of 2013 All-America team…His father also won the award, making them the first father-son duo to do so…Invited to “The Opening”, an all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus…Played on the varsity team as an 8th grader and had over 1,500 yards and scored 28 touchdowns…Son of former NFL and Florida running back Fred Taylor…His father played with the father of fellow signee, Marcell Harris, at the University of Florida…Coached by Pete Walker.

2013 SIGNEES

Alvin Bailey, Wide Receiver
6-0/170
Seffner, FL/Armwood
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Caught 40 passes for 658 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior…In the state championship game against Central, Bailey threw two touchdown passes and caught one in the 40-31 victory…All-State selection as a junior…Invited to “The Opening”, an all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus…Playing in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game at Tropiciana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla….Went to the same high school as current Gator running back Matt Jones…Coached by Sean Callahan.

Jay-nard Bostwick, Defensive Line
6-4/291
Port Saint Lucie, FL/West Centennial
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Two-time all area and all-state selection…Had 73 tackles and seven tackles for loss in his final high school season…Totaled 74 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and two sacks as a junior…In his high school career, totaled 176 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, 3 sacks and one fumble recovery…Was just the second player in West Centennial school history to play varsity football as a freshman…Coached by Rob Parker.

Caleb Brantley, Defensive Line
6-3/304
Crescent City, FL/Crescent City
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Named the top 2013 defensive tackle at the Rivals 100 Five-Star Challenge…Competed in the Orlando Nike Football Training Camp and The Opening…Played in the Under Armour All-American Game in January…Recorded 94 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries as a senior…Named to the Florida Class 1A All-State First Team in 2012…Chose Florida over Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Florida, Tennessee, and Southern Cal…Coached by Alvin Carter.

Trenton Brown, Offensive Line
6-8/363
Albany, GA/Westover HS/Georgia Military College
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Spent two years at Georgia Military College after graduating high school from Westover in 2011…Was named a second-team NJCAA Football All-American in 2012…At GMC in 2012, Brown was part of a team that went 7-4 and averaged 188 yards rushing per game…Played under head coach Bert Williams at GMC…Brother, Reggie Brown, Jr., plays basketball at Fresno Pacific…Chose Florida over offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia, Houston, Kansas, LSU, Middle Tennessee State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, USF, Texas A&M, Texas Tech.

Jarrad Davis, Linebacker
6-2/225
Kingsland, GA/Camden County
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Helped Camden County to an 11-2 record and the quarterfinals of the Georgia Class AAAAAA state playoffs during his senior season…Finished his final year of high school with 114 tackles, 69 being solo stops, to lead the team (5.0 TFL) with three forced fumbles…In 2011, finished the year with 61 tackles, 15 for loss with two sacks and two forced fumbles…Chose Florida over Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Clemson…Coached by Jeff Herron

Cameron Dillard, Offensive Line
6-3/285
Canton, MI/Canton
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Named to the AP Michigan Division 1-2 All-State Prep Team in 2012…Selected to the 2011 Michigan AP Division 1 All-State First Team, The Detroit Free Press All-State Dream Team, The Detroit News All-Metro West First Team, The Detroit Free Press All-West First Team, All Observer First Team, and KLAA All League in 2011…No. 259 prospect in the nation…Coached by Tim Baechler.

Ahmad Fulwood, Wide Receiver
6-4/ 200
Jacksonville, FL/ Bishop Kenny
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Totaled 42 catches for 680 yards (16.2 avg) and 12 touchdowns as a senior…Participated in the U.S. Army Combine and The Opening…Big-size receiver who had 46 catches, 22 TDs, 1,141 yards as a junior…Chose Gators over Alabama, Clemson and Georgia…Coached by Mark Thorson.

Vernon Hargreaves III, Defensive Back
5-11/185
Tampa, FL/Wharton
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Totaled 110 tackles, 5 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles and 5 pass breakups as a senior…Also scored five touchdowns and five two-point conversions and averaged 34 yards per kickoff return…Named All-Western Conference, All-Hillsborough, All-Suncoast, All-State, Class 8A Defensive Player of the Year and the Guy Toph Award winner as Hillsborough County’s top senior football player…Finalist for the 2012 Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Football Award…Named the Tampa Bay Times All-Hillsborough Defensive Player of the Year and a USA Today First Team All-American…Named the MVP of the Under Armour All-America game after a team-high 5 tackles, one interception and a pass breakup…Competed on the Southeast team at Champion Gridiron Kings where he had six interceptions and earned Defensive MVP honors…Earned a spot on the 247Sports Class of 2013 All-America team…Named the Tampa Bay Times Blue Chipper of the Year…Competed in the Sling-n-Shoot 7-on-7 tournament at USF…Defensive MVP from the IMG Madden 7-on-7 National Championship…As a junior in 2011, had 49 tackles and 2 interceptions, along with 11 offensive touchdowns…As a sophomore in 2010, had 44 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions…Chose Gators over an estimated 50 offers including Clemson, Vanderbilt, Miami and Notre Dame…His father, Vernon Hargreaves Jr., is the defensive ends and special teams coach at USF and his older sister, Carina, is on the club competitive cheerleading squad at UF…Vernon Jr. was named a member of UConn’s 100th Anniversary Team, commemorating the best football players in the programs first 100 years…Coached by David Mitchell.

Marcell Harris, Defensive Back
6-2/220
Orlando, FL/Dr. Phillips
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Selected to the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game…In just eight games during his senior season, tallied 52 tackles and eight pass breakups…Participated in “The Opening”, an all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus, as well as Gridiron Kings…His father, Mike Harris, was a Florida defensive back between 1994 and 1997…Chose Florida over Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Miami, South Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame and LSU…Coached by Rodney Wells.

Marqui Hawkins, Wide Receiver
6-2/190
Columbus, GA/Carver
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Attended MVP Camp in Hampton, Ga…Recorded a 4.53-second 40-yard dash…Had 31 catches, 635 yards and five touchdowns as a junior…Picked Florida over Clemson among 15 offers, which also included Tennessee, Southern Cal, and North Carolina.

Octavius Jackson, Offensive Line
6-4/285
Moultrie, GA/Colquitt County
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Has recorded a 31-inch vertical jump, he has a 9-foot, 4-inch broad jump and he runs a 4.95 forty-yard dash…Ranked as the No. 30 OG in the country by ESPN…Chose Florida over Vanderbilt and South Florida…Also played basketball in high school…Coached by Rush Propst.

Roderick Johnson, Offensive Line
6-6/316
Delray Beach, FL/American Heritage
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Played in the Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla….Selected Florida over Florida State and West Virginia…Coached by Stacy Sizemore.

Adam Lane, Running Back
5-7/216
Winter Haven, FL/Winter Haven
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Attended the Tampa Combine…Ran for 1,000 yards on just 80 carries (12.5 yards per carry) as a sophomore…Missed his junior season because of an ankle injury… Nicknamed “Night Time”…Chose Florida over Alabama, South Florida, Rutgers, South Carolina and Florida State…Coached by Charlie Tate.

Keanu Neal, Defensive Back
6-1/203
Bushnell, FL/South Sumter
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: All-State selection as a junior…Invited to “The Opening”, an all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus…As a junior, Neal had 151 tackles (68 solo, 83 assists), four interceptions, one of which he returned 20 yards for a touchdown, as well as four forced fumbles, five pass deflections and one offensive touchdown as a goal-line fullback… Picked the Gators over offers from UCF, USF, Duke, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and South Carolina…Coached by Inman Sherman.

Jarran Reed, Defensive Line
6-4/305
Goldsboro, NC/Goldsboro/East Mississippi CC
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Recorded 34 tackles, four tackles for loss, and one sack in 2012 at East Mississippi Community College…EMCC finished 8-2 on the year and ranked 15th in the final NJCAA poll…Part of a defense that allowed just 74.2 rushing yards per game…Played with fellow signee Darious Cummings and the same school as current Gator Damien Jacobs…Coached by Buddy Stephens.

Antonio Riles, Defensive Line
6-4/262
Lawrenceville, GA/Archer
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: As a junior, he had 53 tackles and 6 sacks…Chose Florida over offers from Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Louisville and Michigan State among others… Coached by Andy Dyer.

Jordan Sherit, Defensive Line
6-5/234
Tampa, FL/Hillsborough
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Invited to The Opening, an all-star summer prospect camp held on the Nike Campus…Invited to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game…Chose Gators over FSU, Notre Dame, Stanford among others…Close friends with Gator commit Vernon Hargreaves III…Coached by Earl Garcia.

Max Staver, Quarterback
6-5/235
Brentwood, TN/Brentwood Academy
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: In 2012, passed for 1,715 yards with four touchdowns and rushed for 265 yards with 6 touchdowns…Threw for 1,872 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior…Placed 3rd during competition drills at the Tulsa Power Camp…Selected UF over Memphis and Louisville…Coached by Cody White.

Chris Thompson, Wide Receiver
6-0/170
Gainesville, FL/Gainesville
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Has recorded a 4.37 40-yard dash…First Team All-Area WR by The Gainesville Sun…Helped Gainesville to a 14-1 record and berth in the Class 6A state title game in 2012…Reached the Regional Finals in 2011 after a 12-3 record…GHS had a 47-9 record in his four years…Had 26 catches for 489 yards and 4 TDs as a sophomore…Was a Gainesville Sun first-team all-area selection in track & field…Coached by James Thomson.

Nick Washington, Defensive Back
6-0/183
Jacksonville, FL/Trinity Christian
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Has recorded a 4.48 40-yard dash…He was named a Times-Union All-First Coast first-team selection after scoring 11 touchdowns and intercepting two passes last season for the Conquerors…Has been starting at safety for the Conquerors since he was in the 8th grade…He chose UF over Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and Clemson…Coached by Verlon Dorminey.

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Former four-star TE transfers from Vanderbilt to Colorado State

team headshots(John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

The Colorado State Rams don’t have a head coach yet, but they’ve already landed a big commitment.

Tight end Mitchell Parsons was one of the crown jewels in the Vanderbilt Commodores’ 2013 recruiting class. The former four-star recruit was considered the nation’s seventh-best tight end prospect, according to Rivals.com.

After a redshirt season and no playing time this year, the native of Parker, Colorado, decided he wanted to play closer to home.

Parsons’ transfer shouldn’t come as a surprise. He originally committed to head coach James Franklin, who left to take the job at Penn State less than a year later. Vanderbilt’s offense will again transition this offseason after new head coach Derek Mason fired offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell.

The tight end might not know who he’ll be playing for at Colorado State, but at least his family will only be an hour or so down the road.

Parsons will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Once he is eligible to play, he’ll have an opportunity to replace Steven Walker, who will be a senior in 2015, as the team’s starting tight end.

(Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletic department)

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Missouri will be without its second-leading receiver for Citrus Bowl

Jimmie Hunt ,Jabriel Washington

The Missouri Tigers will be without their second-leading receiver, Jimmie Hunt, for the Citrus Bowl against the Minnesota Gophers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter reported Hunt underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday.

Hunt was second on the team in receptions (40), yardage (698) and receiving touchdowns (7) this season. The senior is also coming off the best game of his career against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game. Hunt amassed an impressive 169 yards after beating the Alabama secondary deep multiple times.

Without Hunt in the lineup, the Tigers’ spread offense will feature a new slot receiver.

The two receivers Missouri’s head coach mentioned have caught a total of five passes this season. Otte, a senior, is the experienced option, but Brown presents a matchup problem at 6-3 and 205 pounds. Both may be required to step up in Hunt’s absence.

Minnesota is yet another big and physical team in Missouri’s way. The Tigers’ spread offense needs to be firing on all cylinders to score quickly once the Gophers try to control the clock with their running game and sound defense.

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Big 12 would look ‘East not West’ if league decides to expand

Bob Bowlsby

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby provided the first hint of possible expansion during an interview on 740 AM the Game with the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi.

Expansion could be vital for the league as it moves forward after being left out of the first College Football Playoff.

Once the Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs weren’t included as one of the nation’s top four teams, the Big 12 Conference became the only Power Five league without representation in the inaugural playoff system.

Two reasons became evident why the Big 12 was left out of the mix.

First, the Big 12 only has 10 teams. The NCAA prevents a league from hosting a championship game if it has less than 12 teams. As a result, the champions of the Big 12 played one less game than those teams that won their championship game.

In an attempt to make both the Baylor and TCU enticing candidates — because the Horned Frogs were rated higher even though they lost to the Bears — the conference decided its “One True Champion” would include both teams and the College Playoff Committee could decide which team should be more highly ranked.

Instead, the league’s decision backfired since neither team was seen as a true champion of their conference.

The most likely solution to the Big 12’s problem is to acquire a waiver from the NCAA to hold a championship game. After all, the Big 12 places a higher value on monetary gain than true competitive balance.

“We divide the money 10 ways,” Bowlsby told Bianchi, via UCFSports.com. “Right now, we’re distributing the largest amount of money to each of our members in any league in college athletics. I don’t know that our members are prepared to take a reduction in that distributable revenue. It’s certainly about TV sets. It’s certainly about recruiting. It’s certainly about the possibility of competitive implications in all of our sports, but particularly our high-profile sports. At the present time we have no strategy. We haven’t had any discussions around expansion. Our CEOs have said they like 10. I expect that we’ll be at 10 for a while. Could that change down the road? Sure it could… I don’t think we’re going to take a kneejerk reaction and think immediately about expansion just because on this occasion we got left out of the playoff.”

While Bowlsby expects an answer for the league’s appeal within six months, expansion might quickly develop into a legitimate option if the NCAA doesn’t approve the waiver.

The commissioner provided an initial hint of what the league might do once league expansion is back on the table.

“We have one member in West Virginia that’s on the East Coast,” Bowlsby said. “We have to be mindful of their situation. If we took somebody in that was on the far West Coast it would certainly do a disservice to our member in West Virginia. As I mentioned earlier, it may be a different set of criteria to some of our members than it is to other members. As the commissioner, I certainly have to take all 10 institutions and their sensitivities into play.”

The two obvious candidates would be the Cincinnati Bearcats and the UCF Knights. Cincinnati would provide a travel partner and a rival for West Virginia. UCF, meanwhile, is an burgeoning program that would allow the Big 12 to get into the talent-rich state of Florida for recruiting purposes.

Bowlsby’s inclination to look at teams in the eastern half of the United State would exclude the BYU Cougars and Boise State Broncos, both of which would be strong candidates as football programs.

“We don’t have any schools on our radar at the present time,” Bowlsby said. “As you know, the Grant of Rights was noted earlier in the previous question. Our institutions all have granted their rights to the Big 12. Several other conferences have Grants of Rights. There are some institutions that are essentially off the table. We don’t have any expansion initiative. We don’t have any list of prospects. We don’t have any plans to expand. As our athletic directors, our CEOs, talk about what the model looks like, talk about the challenges of the future and talk about the immediate past experience we had with the playoff, you know, those are things that are going to get discussed. But we don’t have any list. We don’t have any initiative. I would say that the status quo is by far the most attractive status to most of our members.”

While the Big 12 doesn’t have any current plans to expand, Bowlby’s stance has slightly softened in the past 11 days.

The league’s future expansion now hinges on the NCAA’s decision to allow the Big 12 to hold a championship game with on 10 members. If the appeal is denied, the expansion conversation will intensify.

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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 20 Viewer’s Guide

Mark Hudspeth AP

Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 20 bowl menu, which on “opening weekend” features five bowl games as the 2014 postseason kicks off.

WHO: Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
WHAT: The 14th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
WHEN: 11 a.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Unless you were on Bourbon Street the night before, what better way to cap off your Saturday morning, and start the 2014 bowl season, than with a little Mountain West vs. Sun Belt action?  After never making a bowl in the first 38 years of the football program’s existence, Louisiana-Lafayette has now qualified for four straight under Mark Hudspeth.  Not only that, but they’ve won their first three appearances — all of which came in this very bowl.  Nevada, meanwhile, has lost its last two bowl games and six of its last eight.  The Ragin’ Cajuns are also playing very well as they head into the postseason, closing out the regular season with a 7-1 burst.  That burst came after a 1-3 start to the season that featured losses to nationally-ranked Ole Miss and Boise State as well as Conference USA runner-up Louisiana Tech. UL-L will prove to be a significant challenge to Nevada, one that Cody Fajardo and the Wolf Pack may not be able to overcome.
THE LINE: Louisiana-Lafayette, +1
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana-Lafayette 31, Nevada 27

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WHO: Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)
WHAT: The 9th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
WHEN: 2:20 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: If you’re a fan of old school football that features copious amounts of defense and pounding yards out on the ground, this game is for you.  Utah State is very stingy defensively, giving up just 20.8 points per game (21st nationally).  USU is also very good against the run (26th, giving up 129.2 ypg); that also happens to be UTEP’s strength offensively (35th, 213.8 ypg).  The Aggies, though, are coming off their worst performance of the season, giving up 50 points and nearly 500 yards in the regular-season finale against Boise State.  Something tells me that it’ll be the Miners who will end up paying the price for that debacle.
THE LINE: UTEP, +10½
THE PREDICTION: Utah State 48, UTEP 17

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WHO: Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)
WHAT: The 23rd Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.
WHEN: 3:30 ET on ABC
THE SKINNY: The first day of bowl action has landed what could be one of the best and most intriguing matchups of the postseason.  Colorado State is coming off its best regular season in over a decade, but will also be without its head coach as Jim McElwain took the Florida job and won’t coach in the bowl game.  Utah, the only Power Five team in action today, began the 2014 season 6-1, but stumbled to a 2-3 finish that eliminated it from contention for a significantly more important bowl berth.  The teams do have one 2014 opponent in common in Colorado, with CSU winning at home 31-17 in Week 1 and the U of U winning 38-34 in Week 14 on the road.  A significant focus for Utah’s defense, one of the best in the country, will be shutting down All-American wide receiver Rashard Higgins.  If the Utes can accomplish that feat — it won’t be easy as Higgins has at least 143 yards receiving in each of the last seven games — it would go a long way in securing their first bowl win since after the 2011 season.
THE LINE: Colorado State, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Utah 27, Colorado State 20

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WHO: Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)
WHAT: The 18th Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Id.
WHEN: 5:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: This game very easily could’ve been called the Turnaround Bowl.  The fact that either team, let alone both, are playing in the postseason somewhat constitutes a minor miracle as Air Force won a mere two games in 2013 while Western Michigan trumped even that with just a single win last season.  This game is also your classic immovable object vs. irresistible force matchup: WMU is 37th in the country in rushing yards given up per game (142.7) while AF, as service academies ofttimes are, is seventh in rushing offense at 272.2 yards per game.  Throw in how the Falcons gain those yards on the ground, and it could be a long day for the Broncos.
THE LINE: Western Michigan, +1
THE PREDICTION: Air Force 37, Western Michigan 24

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WHO: South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)
WHAT: The Inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
WHEN: 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: It’s appropriate that South Alabama is appearing in the first-ever Camellia Bowl as the Jaguars, who moved to the FBS level three years ago, are making their first-ever bowl appearance.  Their opponents, meanwhile, are playing in their seventh bowl game the past 12 years.  The Jaguars have struggled to score points all year long, with their 20.2 points per game ranking 113th out of 128 FBS teams.  The Falcons, meanwhile, have struggled to stop the opposition from scoring all season, as its 33.9 ppg (109th nationally) attests.  Whichever trend continues will play a significant role in determining the outcome.
THE LINE: Bowling Green, +3
THE PREDICTION: Bowling Green 38, South Alabama 24

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Danny Hope officially added to Willie Taggart’s USF staff

Danny Hope

After a two-season absence, Hope — and one of the best mustaches — has returned to college football.

Following up on a couple of days worth of speculation, USF announced Friday afternoon that Danny Hope has been added to Willie Taggart‘s coaching staff at USF.  The long-time college assistant will serve as the Bulls’ co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

The co-coordinator title is mildly surprising as all of the rumors had centered around Hope being the line coach. Instead, Hope will share coordinating duties with David Reaves, who was, the release stated, “promoted to co-offensive coordinator with oversight of the Bulls’ passing attack.”

Hope has spent the past two seasons on the coaching sidelines after his dismissal as Purdue’s head coach in November of 2012. Interestingly, this is the first time in a collegiate career that spans nearly three decades that Hope’s had the coordinator title in his job description. Previously, he had either been the assistant head coach (Louisville) or the offensive line coach (Oklahoma, Louisville, Wyoming) or both (Purdue).

“Danny is one of the best offensive line coaches in college football and a Florida native with strong ties to the Bay Area,” Taggart said in a statement. “He is a leader and a great recruiter who has helped to build and orchestrate some very successful offenses at several stops in major college football. I’m excited to welcome Danny and his family back to Florida and get to work.”

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Leukemia fighter, frosh DB to serve as captain in Chips’ bowl game

Derrick Nash

If you recall, last May we made mention of a heartwarming story coming out of Central Michigan.  Shortly after signing with CMU in February of 2013, Derrick Nash was diagnosed with leukemia and was told that he’d be forced to sit out that season.  Nash vowed to return to the playing field, while the university vowed to honor his scholarship.

The running back did return, playing in the spring game earlier this year.  Unfortunately, the leukemia returned as well, forcing the player to miss a second straight season as he underwent additional chemotherapy.  As the Chips prepare to play Western Kentucky in the Popeyes Bahama Bowl Christmas Eve, though, Nash will be a part of the team in the postseason.

According to the school, Nash will serve as the honorary captain for the Chips in their postseason game.  Head coach Dan Enos said in a statement that the NCAA, as well as his doctors, signed of recently on allowing Nash to perform the ceremonial duties.

And, it should be noted, get that free trip to the Bahamas he’s earned.

“We had to file a waiver with the NCAA to clear him just to invite him on the trip,” Enos said. “When we got the waiver that we could bring him that was a real blessing. Then we didn’t know if he was going to be able to go and to have his doctors clear him to go was another blessing.

“Our team loves him, he’s part of our family. He’s been through a lot obviously and I think our team loves to have one of our own as a captain, but a guy like Derrick who we draw so much strength from just watching how courageous he is every day and what an inspiration he is to our entire program.”

Both the player and the football program are hopeful he can return to the playing field in 2015 in something other than an honorary role.

(Photo credit: Central Michigan athletics)

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Report: Harbaugh’s family, friends encouraging him to take UM job

Jim Harbaugh AP

The will-he-or-won’t-he spinning of the Wheel of Harbaugh has taken yet another turn, perhaps the most interesting and dramatic one in this whole extended soap opera.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, and citing sources close to the situation, the family and friends of San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh “have been encouraging him to take the Michigan [head coaching] job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL.” Perhaps most importantly, and especially if the coach’s household hierarchy is anything like mine, “Harbaugh’s wife also is said to be open and on board to him going back to Ann Arbor if that’s what he wants.”

It’s previously been reported/speculated that Harbaugh’s wife would be against a move from California to Ann Arbor; if Schefter’s report is accurate, that would remove one potential obstacle.

Schefter’s report comes two days after a report surfaced that Michigan was prepared to over Harbaugh a contract in the neighborhood of $8 million annually over six years. Thursday, Harbaugh declined to answer when asked directly if his alma mater had offered him a contract.

Harbaugh’s father could also be a family member who’s nudging his son in the direction of the Wolverines.

There is an undisputed emotional connection for Harbaugh, who played at Michigan, is an iconic figure there, and has been hearing from family and friends about returning as the prodigal son. Harbaugh’s father, Jack, is influential with his son and he has made it known that he likes and admires Michigan’s interim athletic director, Jim Hackett, whom he got to know in the mid 1970s, when he was coaching the defensive backs at Michigan while Hackett was playing center at the school.

Harbaugh would like to make his decision after the NFL season ends, after what Schefter describes as “the players’ getaway day on Monday, Dec. 29.” Certainly if UM knew, with absolute certainty, Harbaugh will take the job, they would be more than willing to wait. Should there be any doubt — and apparently there is in the mind of the man who’s reportedly their top candidate — can the university really afford to put its search on hold awaiting an answer?

That’s the $8 million question… or $8 million-plus if you’re of the mindset that Harbaugh and/or his agent are merely using UM to drive up his NFL price.

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Report: starting DE among four Fresno St. players suspended for bowl

Ikaika Woolsey, Maurice Poyadue

Fresno State will head into the postseason with depleted strength at a couple of positions thanks to off-field issues.  Reportedly.

Citing sources within the program, the Sacramento Bee is reporting that defensive end Maurice Poyadue, wide receiver Myles Carr and linebackers Xavier Ulutu and Michael Lazarus have been suspended for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl against Rice. The suspensions stemmed from the catch-all “violation of athletic department policy.”

The most notable of the suspensions is that of Poyadue as he has started the past seven games of the 2014 season.  He’s played in all 13 games this season as well after playing in 12 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

Likewise, Ulutu has played in every game this season, although those appearances came as the No. 2 inside linebacker.  Lazarus, listed behind Ulutu on the depth chart, has played in seven games.

Carr, a redshirt sophomore, has not caught a pass this season after playing in five games in 2013.

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Kentucky makes hiring of WVU OC Shannon Dawson official

Photo credit: West Virginia Athletics

Two days after it was initially reported, and a day after Dana Holgorsen confirmed it, Kentucky has made it official.

In a press release, UK announced that Mark Stoops has hired Shannon Dawson as his new offensive coordinator.  In addition to coordinator, Dawson will serve as the Wildcats’ quarterbacks coach.

Dawson will replace Neal Brown, who was named as Troy’s head coach late last month.

“I’m very excited to bring Shannon Dawson to the University of Kentucky,” Stoops said. “He has done a great job in helping build programs to success on every level. I’ve been impressed with the balance of West Virginia’s offense and how difficult they are to defend. I love the continuity he will bring to what we’ve been doing as we build on the progress we’ve made so far.

“In learning more about Shannon, I’ve found out what a strong leader he is and heard nothing but good things about him throughout our profession.”

As he will with the Wildcats, Dawson served as the Mountaineers’ coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. He was named WVU’s coordinator in 2012, his second season in Morgantown. Unlike at WVU, however, Dawson will have play-calling responsibilities at UK.

WVU, incidentally, was Dawson’s first full-time job at the FBS level.

(Photo credit: West Virginia athletics)

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Ex-Wake QB Travis Smith transfers to EMU

Travis Smith

With John Wolford, a true freshman, seemingly entrenched as Wake Forest’s starting quarterback, Travis Smith took his leave of the football program in mid-September.  Three months later, the quarterback officially has a new home.

Friday afternoon, Eastern Michigan announced that Smith is one of eight players, mostly from the JUCO ranks, who have been added to the football program.  Smith is already enrolled in classes at EMU for the winter semester.

The rising sophomore will participate in spring practice and, because of when he left Wake, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Smith, who didn’t see the field during his very brief stint with the Demon Deacons, was a three-star member of Wake’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 24 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Following his senior season in high school, he was named the Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year.

(Photo credit: Wake Forest athletics)

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QB Tanner McEvoy to go both ways for Badgers in bowl game

Tanner McEvoy, John Lowdermilk, Desmond King AP

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Prior to transferring to Wisconsin from South Carolina via the JUCO ranks, Tanner McEvoy was a quarterback. In 2013, McEvoy was moved to safety, a position he played all season last year for the Badgers. In 2014, he moved back to quarterback and started five games under center to start the year and played in the last eight at that position to end the year.

With the postseason on the horizon, and the Badgers still licking their wounds from the defensive beatdown they received in the Big Ten championship game, McEvoy is headed back to the defensive side of the ball. As well as remaining on the offensive side.

I’ll be going both ways,” McEvoy said. “I just love playing. Wherever I can get on the field, that’s what I’m here to do and help this team win. So I’m excited to be able to get more reps out there and just help these guys get a bowl victory and send the seniors off the right way.

“As long as I get on the field and help the team win, that’s my goal.”

McEvoy began practicing again with the defense Tuesday. Thursday, he worked with the first-team defense at both safety and linebacker.

Despite the defensive work, there wil still be opportunities for McEvoy offensively.  Even after Joel Stave reclaimed the starting job, McEvoy saw extensive action as the running threat at the quarterback position, finishing the 2014 regular season with 574 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.  His 8.8 yards per carry was tops on the team.

UW will face Auburn in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

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Jimbo, on Jameis’ football future: ‘it would not shock me either way’

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston signs autographs

For two very basic and simple reasons, most people have assumed throughout the year that Jameis Winston‘s second season as Florida State’s starting quarterback will be his last.

One, he was viewed by many (most?) as a likely Top 10, if not Top Five, selection in the 2015 NFL draft… provided teams could get past the off-field noise.  Which, of course, brings us to the second reason, that being the deafening and voluminous amount of noise that has come with being Winston at the collegiate level.  Winston is under more of a focused microscope on a college campus — autographs, student code of conduct hearing — than he would be in an NFL city, the theory goes, so he’d better off taking his leave of the amateur ranks and heading to the pros, where he’d at least get paid for the media headaches.

On the flip side, Winston said as recently as July off this year that playing two more years at the collegiate level, 2014 and 2015, wasn’t out of the question.  And that came a month after Winston’s dad was quoted as saying his son would remain with the football Seminoles for two more seasons.

Fast-forward to today, and the NFL question when it comes to Winston still lingers.  As he’s preparing FSU for its semifinal showdown with Oregon New Year’s Day, Jimbo Fisher, he of a new contract (almost), was asked about Winston’s future.  As has been the case every other time the subject’s been broached, Fisher says no decision has been made.

“I understand if he wants to go, when a guy’s that high and you’re doing what you do,” the head coach said. “But remember, he’s a very, very good student. He’s very smart. He loves baseball. He loves his time in college. He loves all the interaction of this, believe it or not. So it would not shock me either way.”

While most view, or viewed, Winston’s jump to the NFL as a fait accompli, it may not be the lock that it once was.

Winston is coming off a regular season that, at least statistically, paled into comparison to a 2013 season that ended with him holding the Heisman Trophy.  His performance on the field has led some to question whether his stock is falling.  And then there’s the very off-field noise that most had as being the impetus for him leaving early.

In September, ProFootballTalk‘s Mike Florio opined that Winston is “running out of chances to convince the NFL he can come in and be that player who is the leader of your team both in the locker room and in the public eye.”  A month later, FOXSports.com‘s Jay Glazer reported that “general managers are moving Winston down their potential draft boards — or off them completely.”

Winston certainly has a big decision to make over the next month, although it may not be as clear either way as some thought a few months ago.

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Gator QB Treon Harris charged for not having driver’s license

Florida v Florida State Getty Images

New Florida head coach Jim McElwain has his first off-field “incident” with which to deal, and it just so happens to involve his starting quarterback.  According to the Gainesville Sun, Treon Harris was charged with operating a motor vehicle without a valid license.

Not only that, the Sun reports, the true freshman has never had a driver’s license. Harris’ attorney, Huntley Johnson, tells the paper that his client is in the process of getting his license and he expects the charge to be dropped once that occurs.

“That’s the way it’s usually handled in a case like this for a citizen, and he’s a citizen,” Johnson said.

There’s also this:

It’s believed this charge will have zero impact on Harris’ postseason availability, and he’s still expected to start in the Birmingham Bowl against East Carolina.  That, though, is far from official as the university will look into the incident.

Harris started the last five games of the 2014 season after taking over for Jeff Driskel following a late-October loss to Missouri.

In early October, Harris was suspended indefinitely after he was accused of sexual assault.  Less than a week later, he was reinstated after the accuser dropped the complaint.

UPDATED 2:12 p.m. ET: As it stands right now, UF confirmed this afternoon, there has been no change to Harris’ status for the Gators’ upcoming bowl game.

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Georgia lands UAB’s leading tackler

UAB v Ohio State Getty Images

For once, it’s not South Alabama that’s the beneficiary of a UAB transfer.

While Georgia has yet to confirm the addition, Jake Ganus took to Twitter Friday to announce that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulldogs.  The linebacker has one year of eligibility remaining, plus he has yet to use his redshirt season.

He will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Ganus started every game for the Blazers in 2014, leading the team in tackles with 70.  He was also tops in tackles for loss with 16.5 and second in sacks with six.

Over three seasons, Ganus started 33 of 36 games.

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Strong, ‘Horns have Texas-sized recruiting day

Charlie Strong AP

We don’t normally do much on the recruiting front here at CFT, but this is something that caused us to perk our heads up and take notice.

One of the reasons Charlie Strong was hired by Texas was for his recruiting chops as well as his coaching ability.  Friday morning, those chops were on full display.

Within minutes of each other, Mesquite (Tex.) Poteet High school teammates Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal announced in a ceremony at their school that they have verbally committed to play their college football for Strong at Texas. And, at least as far as UT is concerned, it’s a very big deal, especially as it pertains to Jefferson.

A five-star recruit in the Class of 2015, Jefferson is rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 22 player overall in the country. Perhaps even bigger for Strong and UT is the fact that they beat out, among other finalists, Texas A&M.

Amidst the #WRTS hashtags and “swagcopters” from their in-state recruiting rivals, this was a significant development for Strong.

That, though, is not to downplay the addition of McNeal.  A three-star recruit according to Rivals.com but a four-star by others, McNeal is rated as the No. 24 athlete in the country.  McNeal also held an offer from A&M, and visited College Station in late October.

While not allowed to address specific recruits, Strong took to Twitter acknowledge a moment that may — or may not — signal a turnaround in Austin.

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