Skip to content

Indiana signs 22 on National Signing Day

Kevin Wilson AP

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

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana head football coach Kevin Wilson announced Wednesday the signing of 22 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play for the Hoosiers in 2013.

“We executed our plan very well and are excited about this class,” Wilson said. “We are very fortunate to have a good amount of returning starters, but we backed that up with, what on paper, is a very, very strong class, which is critical in building our program. There is potential to help on the defensive side, up front, at linebacker and on the perimeter. Offensively, we have 14 returning linemen and three quarterbacks. With those returners, we were able to concentrate on some other positions, including running back, wide receiver, tight end and the defense.”

IU signed 13 defensive players, five offensive players and four athletes. The Hoosiers added six defensive linemen, four linebackers and three defensive backs on defense and two tight ends, two wide receivers and one running back on offense.

The class features players from eight different states, including five from Indiana, five from Florida, four from Georgia, four from Ohio, one from Illinois, one from Louisiana, one from Nebraska and one from New York.

“We recruit as a team,” Wilson said. “There was not one lead recruiter on any one student-athlete. We had multiple coaches going to schools over and over, whether it be the areacoach, the assistant coach, the position coach, the coordinator or me. We also had tremendous behind the scenes administrative help and support. It was a great team effort that put together what is a very strong class.”

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 22 members of Indiana’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Antonio Allen
DB – 5-10, 205
Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis H.S.
Prep/Personal: Safety for head coach Mike Kirschner at Ben Davis High School … played in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … first Indiana student-athlete to ever participate in the game … won the push-up contest with 76 in one minute … collected 74 tackles, two tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery as a senior … Indiana Associated Press Class 5A All-State as a junior and senior … Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 and All-State as a junior and senior … selected to the 2012 Indianapolis Star Super Team and named Position Award winner (defensive back) … two-time all-conference selection … finished his career with 241 tackles, three interceptions, eight pass breakups, four tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery… rated the No. 5 prospect in Indiana and the No. 231 prospect overall by Rivals.com … rated the No. 19 safety nationally by ESPN.com … high school teammate of IU redshirt freshman wide receiver Caleb Cornett … threeyear letterwinner … parents are Antonio and Althenia Allen … born on Nov. 19, 1994, Antonio Lee Allen, Jr., intends to study business.

Daryl Chestnut
RB – 5-10, 190
Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus H.S.
Prep/Personal: Running back for head coach Chris Merritt at Christopher Columbus High School … rushed 111 times for 1,208 yards (10.9 average) with 14 touchdowns as a senior … first team All-Dade County selection … team earned regional championship in 2011 and 2012 … collected 526 yards on 44 rushes with eight TDs as a junior … rated the No. 8 all-purpose back nationally by Rivals.com … three-year football letterwinner … parents are Daryl Chestnut and Alva Strachan … born on Dec. 31, 1994, Daryl Chestnut intends to study communications.

Christopher Cormier
DL – 6-2, 315
New Iberia, La./Arizona Western C.C.
2012 (Sophomore): Defensive tackle for head coach Tom Minnick at Arizona Western Community College … ranked third on the team with 44 tackles and added three tackles for loss … first team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference selection … second team All-Western States Football League honoree … team won the El Toro Bowl and conference championship. 2011 (Freshman): Defensive tackle at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas … played in three games and made seven tackles with two tackles for loss. Prep/Personal: Defensive tackle for head coach Greg Alexander at Alief Hastings High School in Houston … named Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year … fouryear football and two-year basketball letterwinner … uncle is Larry Johnson … Christopher H. Cormier was born on Sept. 6, 1991.

Patrick Dougherty
DL – 6-5, 260
Aurora, Ohio/Aurora H.S.
Prep/Personal: Defensive end and offensive tackle for head coach Bob Mihalik at Aurora High School … posted 120 tackles, 12 sacks, including one safety, 50 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and 15 pass breakups over his junior and senior seasons … first team all-state selection as a senior … two-time all-district and all-conference selection … team advanced to the state semifinals in 2011 and 2012 … also played basketball … averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds as a junior … parents are Frank and Lynn Dougherty … born on Sept. 3, 1994, Patrick Dougherty intends to study business.

Chase Dutra
ATH – 6-1, 205
Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg H.S.
Prep/Personal: Safety and wide receiver for head coach Brett Comer at Brownsburg High School … Indiana Associated Press Class 5A All-State and Indiana Football Coaches Association (IFCA) Top 50 and all-state as a senior … team captain was selected to the 2012 Indianapolis Star Super Team … runner-up to signee Antonio Allen for the Indianapolis Star Position Award (defensive back) … IFCA Top 50 and all-state and Associated Press honorable mention all-state as a junior … two-time all-conference selection … closed his career with 1,827 rushing yards on 183 carries (10.0 average) with 22 touchdowns … made 54 receptions for 1,033 yards and eight scores … added a school record 883 yards on 34 kick return yards (26.0) … also holds single-game record with 210 kick return yards … recorded 327 yards on 21 punt returns (15.6) with three TDs … collected 72 tackles with one interception, one forced fumble and 15 passes defended … rated the No. 9 prospect in Indiana and the No. 51 athlete nationally by Rivals.com … team captured conference championships in 2011 and 2012 and ranked in the top 10 all four years … four-year football and three-year basketball letterwinner … born in Turkey and grew up in Alaska … parents are Jim and Tammy Dutra … Chase Michael Dutra was born on Jan. 19, 1994.

Rashard Fant
DB – 5-10, 165
Atlanta, Ga./Our Lady of Mercy H.S.
Prep/Personal: Athlete for head coach Mike Earwood at Our Lady of Mercy High School … three-time all-state, all-region and all county selection … named the team’s offensive and special teams player of the year twice … played in the 2013 Offense-Defense All American Bowl … rushed for 614 yards on 33 rushes (18.6 average) with five touchdowns as a senior … recorded 303 yards on 21 receptions with five scores … added a pair of kick return and punt return TDs … made 36 tackles, four interceptions and nine pass breakups at cornerback … carried the ball 33 times for 543 yards (16.5 average) and nine touchdowns as a junior … brought in 21 balls for 361 yards and four scores … returned one kick and two punts for TDs … collected 41 tackles with one INT touchdown return … compiled 826 rushing yards and 11 scores to go along with 24 catches for 461 yards and six TDs as a sophomore … posted five kick return and six punt return touchdowns … rated the No. 14 athlete nationally, the No. 16 prospect in Georgia and the No. 147 prospect overall by ESPN.com … four-year football, three-year basketball and one-year track and field letterwinner … starting point guard since freshman season … holds school record for most career touchdowns (63) and all-purpose yards … posted a school record 4.37 40-yard dash time … parents are Randy Fant and Donna Wilson-Fant … born on Jan. 8, 1995, Rashard Ahmad Fant intends to study business.

Danny Friend
TE – 6-5, 240
Morris, Ill./Morris Community H.S.
Prep/Personal: Tight end and defensive end for head coach Alan Thorson at Morris Community High School … made 15 receptions for 283 yards and four touchdowns as a senior … added 56 tackles, 33 solo, seven sacks, three interceptions (one touchdown), one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and one blocked field goal … a 2012 Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 5A All State selection … named the 2012 Herald-News Defensive Player of the Year and the 2012 Northern Illinois Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year … two-time all-conference honoree … team went 12-2 and advanced to the state championship game … as a junior, recorded 18 catches for 262 yards and five TDs … posted 34 tackles, two sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles … rated the No. 24 player in Illinois by 247Sports.com and the No. 26 tight end nationally by Scout.com … three-year football, three-year basketball and two-year track and field letterwinner … recognized on the 2011 and 2012 Class 5A All-State Academic team … high honor roll student … parents are Patrick and Sherry Friend … David Patrick Friend was born on Jan. 15, 1995.

Steven Funderburk
LB – 6-3, 231
Port St. Lucie, Fla./Iowa Western C.C.
2012 (Sophomore): Linebacker for head coach Scott Strohmeier at Iowa Western Community College … tallied 49 tackles, a half-sack, 7.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions (88 yards), both returned for touchdowns, and one fumble recovery … first team all conference selection … team went 12-0 and won the 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association national championship … teammate and defensive lineman Jordan Heiderman also a member of the signing class.
2011 (Freshman): Played in 11 games and posted 13 tackles at Tulane University … tallied seven stops at Army. 2010: Redshirted the 2010 season at Tulane University.
Prep/Personal: Linebacker for head coach Will Kelley at Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie, Fla. … made 69 tackles, 52 solo, with nine tackles for loss, three interceptions, seven pass breakups and one fumble recovery as a senior … first team all district selection also named the team’s most valuable player … four-year football, basketball, baseball and track and field letterwinner … parents are Magdaline Funderburk and Charles Pauldo … born on July 5, 1991, Steven Funderburk intends to study education.

Myles Graham
ATH – 6-0, 215
Miami, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory
Prep/Personal: Running back for head coach Tim Tyrell at Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory … rushed for 852 yards on 75 carries (11.4 average) with 14 touchdowns in seven games as a junior … also added five receptions for 113 yards and one score … a second team All-Broward County selection … missed senior season with an injury … rated the No. 93 running back nationally by 247Sports.com … two-year football letterwinner … parents are Mario and Teresa Graham … born on Aug. 20, 1995, Myles Alexander Graham intends to study business or criminal justice.

Isaac Griffith
WR – 6-0, 180
Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead H.S.
Prep/Personal: Wide receiver for head coach Chad Zolman at Homestead High School … finished his career with school records in receptions (119), yardage (2,453) and touchdowns (37) … set school single-season marks in points scored (162) and receiving TDs (22) … owns school single-game records for most scores (six), most points (36) and most receiving touchdowns (five) … also has the longest punt return TD (80 yards) … Indiana Associated Press Class 5A All-State and Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 and all-state as a senior … honorable mention Associated Press All-State as a junior … two-time all-area and AllNortheast Conference selection … team won four conference championships … rated the No. 12 prospect in Indiana by ESPN.com … first commitment in the 2013 signing class … four-year football letterwinner … parents are Kim and Shannon and Kim Griffith … Shannon is the head football coach at Division III Manchester (Ind.) College … born on July 31, 1994, Isaac William Griffith intends to study sport marketing and management.

Jordan Heiderman
DL – 6-3, 280
Norfolk, Neb./Iowa Western C.C.
Junior College: Defensive tackle for head coach Scott Strohmeier at Iowa Western Community College … collected 43 tackles with 4.5 sacks (38 yards) and nine tackles for loss in 2012 … earned second team all-conference honors … team went 12-0 and won the 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association national championship … posted 42 tackles, three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss in
2011… team went 9-2 and won the Graphic Edge Bowl … redshirted in 2010 … teammate and linebacker Steven Funderburk also a member of the signing class.
Prep/Personal: Defensive tackle for head coach Tom Olson at Norfolk (Neb.) High School … two-year football and four-year wrestling letterwinner … parents are Rick and Ann Heiderman … born on Sept. 3, 1991, Jordan Heiderman intends to study sport marketing and management.

Evan Jansen
TE – 6-4, 245
Mason, Ohio/Moeller H.S.
Prep/Personal: Tight end for head coach John Rodenberg at Moeller High School … caught 14 passes for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a senior … team won the state championship for the first time in 27 years and the eighth time in school history … Moeller also has five national championships … rated the No. 41 tight end nationally by ESPN.com … three-year football letterwinner also played basketball … honors student … parents are Norbert and Karen Jansen … born on Dec. 22, 1994, Evan Jansen intends to study pre-medicine.

David Kenney
DL – 6-2, 250
Indianapolis, Ind./Pike H.S.
Prep/Personal: Defensive end for head coach Derek Moyers at Pike High School … selected to the 2012 Indianapolis Star Super Team and named Position Award winner (defensive line) … Indiana Associated Press Class 5A All-State and Indiana Football Coaches Association (IFCA) Top 50 as a senior … IFCA AllState selection as a junior and senior … played in the 2013 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … posted 76 tackles, nine sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, 29 quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and four pass breakups as a senior … two-time allconference selection and Pike defensive most valuable player … made 68 tackles, 11 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, nine quarterback hurries, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble as a junior … honorable mention all-state Associated Press in 2011… rated the No. 6 prospect in Indiana, the No. 11 weak-side defensive end nationally and the No. 244 prospect overall by Rivals.com … two-year football letterwinner … parents are David and Kristen Kenney … born on Feb. 6, 1995, David Khristopher Kenney intends to study biology.

Darius Latham
DL – 6-5, 291
Indianapolis, Ind./North Central H.S.
Prep/Personal: Defensive and offensive lineman for head coach Keith Shelton at North Central High School … Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 and all-state as a junior and senior … Indiana Associated Press Class 5A All-State as a senior and honorable mention as a junior … selected to the 2012 Indianapolis Star Super Team … runner-up to signee David Kenney for the Indianapolis Star Position Award (defensive line) … nominated for the 2013 U.S. Army AllAmerican Bowl … made 62 tackles with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2012 … two-time first team all-conference and All-Marion County selection … team captain as a senior and the defensive lineman of the year his final two seasons … posted 42 stops with 4.5 sacks and six TFLs as a junior … added 37 tackles with three sacks and four tackles for loss as a sophomore … rated the No. 3 prospect in Indiana and the No. 160 prospect nationally by 247Sports.com … rated the No. 14 defensive tackle nationally and the No. 239 prospect overall by Rivals.com … four year football and basketball letterwinner … teammate of IU redshirt sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson in youth football league … started all four seasons he has played basketball … currently averaging 16 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 assists … team’s most valuable player was selected to the Hoosier Basketball Magazine North/South All-Star team as a junior … North Central won the state championship his freshman season … parents are Cori Latham and David Turner … born on Nov. 9, 1994, Darius Kyree Latham intends to study sport marketing and management.

Clyde Newton
ATH – 6-1, 215
Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte H.S.
Prep/Personal: Linebacker and running back for head coach Binky Waldrop at Charlotte High School … made 108 tackles, 74 solo, with two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble as a senior … rushed for 1,938 yards with an 8.4 average and 23 touchdowns … named the 7A District Player of the Year … twotime all-district selection also recognized as the team’s most valuable player … holds school records for most 200-yard games (seven) and most yards in a game (299) … rushed for 1,033 yards and a 7.4 average as a junior … team won four district championships … four-year football letterwinner also earned letters in track, wrestling and weight lifting … mother is Barbara Ann Bryant … brother, Leonard Bryant, played defensive back and lettered at IU from 2002-04 … Clyde Newton was born on Sept. 20, 1993.

Marcus Oliver
LB – 6-1, 220
Hamilton, Ohio/Hamilton H.S.
Prep/Personal: Linebacker and running back for head coach Bob Jacoby at Hamilton High School … made 135 tackles, 92 solo, with one sack, 10 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one blocked kick and one defensive touchdown in 2012 … also rushed for 587 yards with six scores … all-state, all-district and Greater Miami Conference Player of the Year … two-time first team all-conference … posted 131 stops, 88 solo, four sacks, six TFLs, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, with one INT (TD), one blocked kick and one rushing touchdown … rated the No. 39 inside linebacker nationally by Rivals.com … named to the J. Kyle Braid and Wilks Leadership teams … threeyear football, two-year basketball and two-year baseball letterwinner … parents are Lonnie Oliver and Kimberly Gibson … born on Feb. 8, 1995, Javier Demarcus Oliver, intends to study athletic training.

Noel Padmore
DB – 5-11, 175
Flowery Branch, Ga./Flowery Branch H.S.
Prep/Personal: Cornerback for head coach Chris Griffin at Flowery Branch High School … teammate and linebacker Kris Smith also a member of the signing class … first team all-state, all-region and all-area selection as a senior … posted 101 tackles, five tackles for loss, four interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 17 pass breakups from 2011-12 … named the team’s outstanding defensive back as a junior and senior … played in the 2012 East-West Metro Atlanta All-Star Game … team captured the Region 8-AAAAA championship in 2011 and 2012 … rated the No. 48 cornerback nationally by ESPN.com … fouryear football letterwinner … also lettered in track and field … parents are George and Christine Padmore … Noel was born in Monrovia, Liberia … born on Nov. 2, 1994, Noel Padmore intends to study communications.

T.J. Simmons
LB – 6-0, 230
Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland H.S.
Prep/Personal: Linebacker for head coach Bill Castle at Lakeland High School … finished his career with 325 tackles … made 121 tackles, three sacks, 32 tackles for loss, two interceptions and one fumble recovery as a senior … first team allstate selection and two-time all-county selection … Top 16 player in Polk County and Bright House Top 30 player … rated the No. 53 inside linebacker nationally by ESPN.com … also lettered in weight lifting … mother is Pamala Willis … Timothy B Simmons was born on Oct. 24, 1994.

Kris Smith
LB – 6-2, 215
Flowery Branch, Ga./Flowery Branch H.S.
Prep/Personal: Linebacker for head coach Chris Griffin at Flowery Branch High School … teammate and cornerback Noel Padmore also a member of the signing class … made 103 tackles, 12 sacks, including one safety, and 21 tackles for loss as a senior … first team all-state and all-region selection … named the team’s most outstanding linebacker … played in the 2012 GACA North-South All-Star Game and the 2012 East-West Metro Atlanta All-Star Game … participated in the 2012 U.S. Army National Combine … team won the Region 8-AAAA championship in 2011 and 2012 … rated the No. 41 outside linebacker nationally by ESPN.com … played two years of football at Flowery Branch and also lettered in track and field … 2012 Flowery Branch Scholar-Athlete … parents are Sean Smith and Pam Smith … born on Nov. 18, 1994, Kristopher Bryce Smith intends to study law.

Laray Smith
ATH – 6-0, 185
Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian H.S.
Prep/Personal: Running back for head coach Joe DeSiena at Xaverian High School … rushed for 1,700 yards with 16 touchdowns and added four receiving scores over his junior and senior seasons … two-time all-borough, all-city and allconference honoree … a Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl selection … rated the No. 2 prospect in New York and the No. 12 all-purpose back nationally by 247Sports.com … three-year football letterwinner also runs track … currently owns the fastest indoor 300m time nationally and the second-fastest indoor 200m and 400m time nationally … two-time high school All-American sprinter on the track … placed third at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics in the 400m … two-time, top-five finisher at New York state championships … took eighth at the New Balance High School Indoor National meet in the 200 … has run 10.43 in the 100m, 21.4 in the 200m, 47.3 in the 400m and 6.55 in the 55m … parents are Lawrence Smith and Sandra Burnett … born on Oct. 31, 1994, Laray Smith intends to study communications.

Maurice Swain
DL – 6-5, 305
LaGrange, Ga./Troup H.S.
Prep/Personal: Defensive lineman for head coach Lynn Kendall at Troup High School … two-year all-state selection … made 65 tackles with seven sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 33 quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and one fumble return TD as a senior … all region honoree played in the Georgia vs. Florida Bowl … three-year captain named the team’s most valuable defensive lineman … 43 tackles, eight sacks and 16 tackles for loss as a junior … played in the 2011 Rising Senior Bowl … rated the No. 56 defensive tackle nationally by ESPN.com … fouryear football lettterwinner … parents are Maurice Swain and Shani Garrett … born on July 25, 1995, Maurice T. Swain intends to study business or graphic design.

Anthony Young
WR – 6-1, 175
Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward H.S.
Prep/Personal: Wide receiver for head coach Rick Finotti at St. Edward High School … made 35 catches for 520 yards (14.9) and 10 touchdowns as a senior … returned four kickoffs and one punt for scores … All-Ohio selection and special teams athlete of the year … holds school records for the most career receiving TDs (14), most receiving touchdowns in a game (three) and the longest kick return score (99 yards, twice) … three-year football and three-year track and field letterwinner … All-American sprinter in four events … won 10 state titles in Ohio … owns Ohio’s indoor state records in the 60 meters (6.80 seconds) and 200 meters (21.34) … led team to indoor and outdoor track and field state team titles in 2012 … three-year honor roll student … parents are Michael and Jackie Young … born on July 19, 1994, Anthony Young intends to study special education.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Articles, Big Ten Conference, Indiana Hoosiers
yo

Mizzou’s D-line guru could be headed for coordinator position at Illinois

South Dakota State v Missouri

Craig Kuligowski has worked with Gary Pinkel for the last 23 seasons, heading up the longtime Mizzou coach’s defensive line for the last 19 seasons dating back to their days at Toledo. But it appears the successful partnership may be coming to an end.

FootballScoop.com reported Sunday night that Illinois has offered Kuligowski a co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach position, and that he’s expected to take the position under Tim Beckman. Nothing is finalized, but Rivals’ Gabe DeArmond seconded the notion that Kuligowski could be on his way to Champaign.

Losing Kuligowski nine days before signing day would be a major blow for Mizzou, which has branded itself “#DLineZou” for the number of successful defensive linemen it’s produced over the last decade and a half. Perhaps no position coach has been more important to Mizzou’s successful transition to the SEC, with the Tigers’ defensive line annually one of the meanest, most disruptive groups in the powerhouse conference.

The list of players Kuligowski’s developed is impressive, headlined by former first-round picks Ziggy Hood, Sheldon Richardson and Aldon Smith — and 2014 All-American Shane Ray is expected to become the fourth. 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam was another Kuligowski protege, while Markus Golden and Kony Ealy recently put together strong careers in Columbia as well.

When Dave Steckel left to take the head coaching gig at Missouri State, Kuligowski was the top internal option to replace him as defensive coordinator. Mizzou, though, hired Memphis defensive coordinator (and former Tigers player and safety coach) Barry Odom on Dec. 23.

While it’d be a promotion at Illinois, taking a job there does carry plenty of risk. Kuligowski would take over a group that hasn’t had much success in three years under Beckman, ranking 71st, 100th and 88th in defensive F/+ from 2012-2014. Despite reaching a bowl game last season, Beckman isn’t on firm ground yet in Champaign and a step backward could lead to a coaching change less than a year from now.

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter suggests, Kuligowski could be using Illinois’ offer as leverage to get a raise from his $299,500 salary. But with signing day fast approaching, expect a concrete resolution on this relatively soon.

 

 

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Coastal Carolina going with teal for new artificial turf

CCU Elon football

In the ranks of the Football Championship Subdivision, Coastal Carolina has been a program on the rise. Coming off a wildly successful, yet unfulfilling season on the field, the Chanticleers will have a new field to play on in 2015.

Yes, it will be teal.

“When the decision to install an artificial turf field was made, it only made sense that the turf be teal,” said Coastal Carolina interim director of athletics Matt Hogue in a released statement. “In addition to our winning tradition, we are known nationally for our distinctive color scheme. And it’s not just the color our teams wear, but a campus-wide identity. We felt this would be a great opportunity to further build that brand.”

To install this teal turf, Coastal Carolina likely had to get approval from Boise State to move forward with the installation of the teal-colored artificial turf. Boise State owns a trademark on non-green football fields, which means they control the licenses for any school wishing to install a non-traditionally colored football field. Boise State typically does not stand in the way of an alternate colored field, but will say no to any school looking to install a blue field.

Coastal Carolina’s official school colors include teal, which is far enough on the color spectrum from Boise State’s signature blue.

Coastal Carolina will be the seventh school to have a non-green playing field in 2015, unless any other school is installing a new playing surface this offseason. Other schools with a colored field are Boise State, Eastern Michigan, Central Arkansas, Eastern Washington, New Haven and Lindenwood.

Still waiting for Hawaii to go with this or Syracuse with an all-orange field.

Permalink 11 Comments Back to top

SEC schools still leading the way on the recruiting trail

Nick Saban

The SEC may have been served a little dose of reality this past college football bowl season with some bad losses in spotlight bowl games and Alabama being topped by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, but the demise of the SEC has greatly been exaggerated. In college football, recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, and schools in the SEC are doing just fine in this department with National Signing Day looming.

This goes much deeper than the annually impressive haul Alabama is piecing together. SEC schools are scattered throughout the recruiting rankings, a suggestion the conference is managing to lure plenty of good, quality talent as this recruiting cycle comes to a close.

According to the latest Rivals team recruiting rankings, 10 of the top 25 schools hail from the Southeastern Conference. That number includes all seven from the SEC West, with Alabama leading the way as the top-ranked team in the Rivals rankings. At No. 28, Missouri is a tad shy of the top 25. Kentucky (No. 33) is even ranked higher than programs like Michigan State (No. 35) and Arizona (No. 36) and Nebraska (No. 42).

One program from the SEC that has a much lower ranking than you might expect is Florida. At No. 100, the Gators have a long way to go to climb back atop the recruiting rankings, although odds are that can change in a hurry with Jim McElwain hoping to revive the Gators as a football power. While Florida is struggling, in-state rivals are not.

Florida State has consistently been one of the top destinations for high school talent, and this season is no exception to that rule. The Seminoles are ranked fourth in the Rivals rankings, just one spot behind another ACC program, Clemson. USC, from the Pac-12, is currently sitting in second place and likely to make a late surge over the next week and a half. Miami, the other power conference school in the state of Florida, has a top 25 class being put together by Al Golden as well (No. 22).

The reigning national champions from Ohio State should have a tremendous amount of depth next season. The Buckeyes did not see one underclassman declare early for the NFL Draft and Braxton Miller has now hinted at a possible return to Columbus. Throw that on top of what Rivals ranks the No. 7 recruiting class and Urban Meyer looks to have the Buckeyes situated in a very good position in the Big Ten for years to come. Only one other Big Ten program ranks in the top 25, according to Rivals.

Penn State, at No. 10, is now working with a full set of scholarships and is moving forward with a slightly more focus on quantity over quality. Penn State is without five-star talent but James Franklin is filling many roster spots with four and three-star talent that can have potential. No other Big Ten program cracks the top 25, although Wisconsin (No. 26) is right there and recently added a couple of solid players to the mix for 2015. Michigan has some work to do and will likely be a more solid threat in 2016, but Jim Harbaugh has managed to flip a four-star quarterback from Texas to Michigan, and there is plenty of hype surrounding the Wolverines moving forward.

You might be wondering about the Pac-12, especially given the rise of the conference as a whole on the playing field the last few seasons. Yes, the Pac-12 is doing just fine. USC has been a traditional force among Pac-12 schools and continues to bring in plenty of talent. But right now the Trojans are playing on a different playing field compared to the rest of the Pac-12. Oregon is the next highest-ranked team in the Rivals recruiting rankings, at No. 17. UCLA follows at No. 18, and Arizona State (No. 24) and Washington (No. 25) round out the top 25.

Everybody has a different philosophy when it comes to evaluating recruiting. Whether you believe in star rankings or not, the bottom line is coaches that tap the full potential of their players will be the ones that are successful and winning games. You do not necessarily need five-star players to win big. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Neither team playing in next week’s Super Bowl has a player that was rated five stars coming out of high school, according to this study from SB Nation.

Permalink 42 Comments Back to top

Senior Bowl was a Twitter winner ahead of UFC and college hoops

Reese's Senior Bowl

The week between the NFL’s conference championship Sunday and the Super Bowl tends to be a rough one for sports on TV. But even when things look bleak, football finds a way to come out a winner.

Saturday’s Senior Bowl was the number one sports program being tweeted about yesterday, according to the overnight numbers from Nielsen. The Senior Bowl, which aired on NFL Network, saw a larger unique audience on Twitter than UFC Fight Night on FOX and a men’s college basketball game between Michigan and Wisconsin airing on ESPN.

Per Nielsen’s numbers, over 2 million Twitter users keeping tabs on the Senior Bowl, which was won by the North. The college football all-star event stayed just ahead of the UFC fight, which had 1.976 million paying attention on Twitter. The UFC event did have more unique authors (31,000 different unique authors) than the Senior Bowl (19,000 unique authors on Twitter).

Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings: Unique Audience (1/24/2015)

1. Senior Bowl, NFL Network – 2,003,000

2. UFC Fight Night, FOX – 1,976,000

3. College Basketball (Michigan vs. Wisconsin), ESPN – 1,804,000

4. Spanish Primera Division Soccer (Cordoba CF vs. Real Madrid CF), beIN Sports – 1,775,000

5. NBA Basketball (Detroit vs. Milwaukee), NBA TV – 1,758,000

Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings: Unique Authors (1/24/2015)

1. UFC Fight Night, FOX – 31,000

2. Spanish Primera Division Soccer (Cordoba CF vs. Real Madrid CF), beIN Sports – 26,000

3. Senior Bowl, NFL Network – 19,000

4. NBA Basketball (Detroit vs. Milwaukee), NBA TV – 14,000

5. College Basketball (Michigan vs. Wisconsin), ESPN – 13,000

Permalink 3 Comments Back to top

Tennessee recruit pokes a stick at his new SEC rivals

Butch Jones

Tennessee football is looking to be improving with another year of Butch Jones at the helm. It has been a while since the Vols had the opportunity to do some smack talk in the SEC, or even just the SEC East. The pride in the program has been undergoing a restoration project brick by brick, as Jones likes to say, and it seems to be catching on. Even incoming Vols are buying into the mindset, and some are not afraid to start talking the talk before getting a chance to walk the walk.

Kahlil McKenzie is a big recruit for Jones at Tennessee, both literally and figuratively. The five-star defensive tackle from California measures in at 6’4″, 320 pounds and he could slide right into a starting job in Knoxville this fall. He also talks a big game on Twitter. This weekend he took to Twitter to lay down some zingers aimed at Tennessee rivals, like Vanderbilt and Alabama…

McKenzie has a point here. Dixieland Delight may be a classic, but many of us have had our fill of the song Alabama fans love. Of course, tweets like this make for some good bulletin board material, if nothing else. MCKenzie made sure to let everyone know he is just having some fun.

Permalink 12 Comments Back to top

LSU adds Leonard Fournette’s brother to latest recruiting class

If you thought LSU might be tough with one Fournette on the field, imagine what it could do with two. Lanard Fournette, the younger brother of LSU’s rising running back star Leonard Fournette (pictured) announced this weekend he is joining his brother at LSU.

Lanard Fournette is a two-star athlete according to Rivals, which is a much lower rating than his older brother, Leonard. He does, however, have a three-star composite rating according to the composite ratings compiled by 247 Sports. Leonard was a blue-chip five-star talent out of high school. Lanard seems to be a bit more of a work-in-progress with a smaller frame than his brother. LSU appeared to make some moves in recruiting the younger Fournette shortly after locking up his older brother. LSU has long been the favorite to land Lanard’s commitment, and his brother playing for the Tigers and Les Miles may be a big reason why. Despite offers from schools like Alabama and Miami, Lanard Fournette has long been on track to go to LSU after attending a pair of LSU football camps, attending LSU’s junior day in 2015 and making an official visit over the last year without visiting any other program.

Leonard Fournette will be one of the top running backs in what should be a very strong year across the country for running backs. Fournette was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and could be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy in the fall.

LSU has the No. 12 recruiting class for 2015 according to the most recent team rankings shared by Rivals, but the Tigers have the fourth-ranked class among SEC West schools. Alabama — on track for another recruiting national championship — has the top class in the nation. Texas A&M (No. 9) and Auburn (No. 10) are also in front of LSU among SEC West schools. Tennessee (No. 5) and Georgia (No. 6) are also representing the SEC among the top ten.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

Marcus Mariota admits to sprained AC joint injury vs Buckeyes

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota passed on an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. His absence could be explained away by his participation in the recent College Football Playoff national championship game. Now it appears Mariota is unsure if he will be able to participate in throwing drills at the NFL Scouting Combine next month. A right shoulder injury suffered in the championship game against Ohio State could be to blame.

“Right now we’re still making that decision, whether to throw at the Combine. I had to kinda rest about a week-and-a-half,” Mariota said, via the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “I sprained the AC joint. But now, I’m able to throw. Feels good.”

Mariota was forced to leave the championship game for a brief period of time as Oregon was attempting to chip away at Ohio State’s lead. Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa tackled Mariota to the ground, driving the Heisman Trophy winner to the ground on his right shoulder.

It is not uncommon for quarterbacks to withdraw from throwing drills at the combine, as some players prefer to do their throwing drills on their own campus during a pro day event. In Mariota’s case, the injury concerns are likely a legitimate excuse.

Permalink 9 Comments Back to top

UAB football may not be 100 percent dead just yet

UAB FOOTBALL PROGRAM SHUT DOWN 12-2-14

UAB may have cut the football program from life support, but there is a fighter’s chance the Blazers could return to a football field in 2016. A new task force organized by the school’s leaders will take another hard look at the financial numbers and do some number crunching to determine if there is enough to allow for the football program, along with the rifle and bowling programs, to continue.

The task force is being asked to find an independent third-party to review and assess the legitimacy of the now much-maligned Carr Report that led to the shutting down of the football program. It is too late for UAB to put plans together to play football in 2015. Opponents that had scheduled games against UAB have already taken steps to fill expected vacancies in the schedule created by the news UAB was shutting the football program down, players have transferred, and coaches previously employed by UAB have spread out to find new opportunities as well. A return in 2016 may not be completely out of reach, even if it is putting a program back together from scratch.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t think we could bring it back,” said Don Hire, a major donor to UAB, at an open house meeting on Thursday. “I was here when [former UAB men’s basketball coach] Gene Bartow had no jock straps, no basketballs and no gym to play in. I wouldn’t be involved in this if we weren’t going for sustainability.”

It is far from a given, but if the task force discovers there is enough money to keep a football program running without putting the school deep in the red, then the return of the program may become a reality. Maybe 2016 is a bit optimistic given the circumstances surrounding the current state of the university and the athletic department, not to mention the now non-existent state of the football program, but at least it might be something worth looking forward to if it can be done.

UAB President Dr. Ray Watts received a vote of no-confidence following the decision to shut the program down. The video of Watts informing the players of the decision was nothing short of gut-wrenching. What happened at UAB has also caused other programs to reassess the state of their programs as well.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

Harbaugh flips Texas Longhorn-bound QB to Michigan

Jim Harbaugh

National Signing Day is coming up next week, and Jim Harbaugh is looking to close in as big a way as possible to help save what had been a disappointing recruiting class in Ann Arbor. This weekend Harbaugh managed to flip the commitment of four-star quarterback Zach Gentry from Texas to Michigan.

Gentry is a 6′-6″, 230 pound pro-style quarterback, ranked fourth among pro-style passers according to Rivals. The top prospect out of the state of New Mexico, Gentry would have been a key recruit for Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns, but now he is the prize of Harbaugh and his newly assembled staff at Michigan. Gentry is the first commitment added to Michigan’s Class of 2015 since Harbaugh was hired. Gentry flipped his decision while on an official visit to Michigan this weekend.

Gentry is the second quarterback added to Michigan’s Class of 2015. Four-star talent Alex Malzone, an in-state recruit, was an early enrollee for the Wolverines. He will get a head start on the offense and a chance to compete for playing time under Harbaugh this spring, while Gentry will not be able to join the program until the summer. All of a sudden, Michigan is has some young quarterbacks with some good potential to work with.

Michigan also added three-star defensive end Reuben Jones, from Lakeland, Florida, to the Class of 2015. The Wolverines currently have eight players in the Class of 2015, including a pair of early enrollees.

Texas has a much fuller class even without Gentry. The Texas recruiting class also include three-star quarterback Matthew Merrick. Texas also added four-star quarterback Jerrod Heard to the program in last season’s recruiting class.

Permalink 19 Comments Back to top

Ameer Abdullah earns Reese’s Senior Bowl MVP as North triumphs over South

Reese's Senior Bowl

The 2014 season was one for the ages for Big Ten running backs, so it was fitting to see Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Minnesota’s David Cobb help lead the North to a Reese’s Senior Bowl victory Saturday in Mobile, Alabama. Abdullah, the game’s MVP, rushed for 73 yards and added 40 receiving yards and Cobb rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown. The North pulled away from the South in the second half for a 34-13 victory.

For Abdullah, the chance to wrap up his collegiate career before a large group of family and friends from his home state of Alabama was a special opportunity

“Being down here was much more than putting on a good performance for me,” Abdullah said after the game. “Leaving this state was something that was hard for me to do. You could write a movie about it, really, just coming back and playing on Alabama soil for my last time as a collegiate athlete. I couldn’t paint a better picture.”

The Senior Bowl performance was especially good for Abdullah, who had battled some injuries in 2014 and had a somewhat discouraging week of practice leading up to the game according to some scouting reports.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty also had a tough time in practices this week, missing out on an opportunity to shine in the spotlight for a game without two of the top quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft (Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston). Petty completed nine of his 13 pass attempts for 123 yards and was intercepted once. It was not a banner week for any of the quarterbacks in the game, to be fair. Oregon State’s Sean Mannion tossed the only touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 10-yard pass to Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack in the second quarter. Auburn’s Nick Marshall made the move to cornerback and recorded five tackles in the game, tied for the most tackles on the South team.

The Pac-12 had two players stand out in the game on defense as well. Utah defensive end Nate Orchard and Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton were among the defensive standouts with five tackles. Orchard had 1.5 tackles for a loss in his stat line.

How much stock is placed on one performance in the Senior Bowl varies by team and scout, but there were some players that stood out above most of the others on Saturday. Yale fullback Tyler Varga was one of them. Varga had four rushing attempts resulting in 31 yards and he was the North’s second leading receiver behind Abdullah with 39 receiving yards.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

DB Mackenro Alexander leaving Auburn, looking at USF

Auburn Spring Game

A little-used Auburn defensive back is looking for a new football home where he’ll get utilized a little more, al.com‘s Brandon Marcello is reporting.

Citing a person familiar with the decision, Marcello reported that Mackenro Alexander (pictured, being dragged) has been granted a release from his AU scholarship and will transfer to another football program to continue his playing career. One of those places could be USF, where 247Sports.com reports the safety is visiting Saturday.

USF is located in Tampa, Fla., a little over a two-hour drive from Alexander’s home in Immokalee.

Alexander saw very little playing time after coming to Auburn as a three-star member of the Class of 2013.  He played in eight games as a true freshman, then none in 2014.

Originally verbally committed to Florida State, Alexander, rated as the No. 43 safety in the country, ultimately chose AU over his other finalists, Clemson and Mississippi State.  Alexander’s four-star cornerback brother, Mackensie Alexander, signed with Clemson in 2013 and, after redshirting, was named as a freshman All-American by several outlets coming off a season in which he started 13 games.

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

SMU, Baylor QBs transfer to Sacramento State

Texas A&M v SMU Getty Images

For the first time since Chad Morris took over as head coach last month, a player has left the SMU football program. And, as it turns out, another player from a fellow Texas FBS program is following.

In a press release Friday, Sacramento State announced that Kolney Cassel is one of three midyear transfers joining the team. Because the Hornets play at the FCS level, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately this coming season.

“We wanted to add a transfer at quarterback and after looking at film and talking to coaches, we were fortunate to get Kolney,” head coach Jody Sears said in a statement. “He brings some experience and veteran leadership to the program. He has good size (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) and a great arm and will increase the competition at the position.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2013, Cassel played in five games for a Mustang squad that saw four different quarterbacks start at least one contest. Cassel was one of those, starting one game.

The three-star member of SMU’s 2013 recruiting class completed 15-of-37 passes (40.5 percent) for 156 yards and a touchdown for the one-win Mustangs. He has three years of eligibility remaining.

Matt Davis, a Texas A&M transfer who started the majority of the games the last month of the season; Garrett Krstich, who started from mid-September until Davis essentially took over; and Neal Burcham, the starter at the beginning of the season until being sidelined by a season-ending injury, will head into spring practice as the three favorites for the job, with that logjam factoring into Cassel’s decision.  Of the three that remain, Davis would likely be considered the front-runner.

As for the other FBS transfer, the Hornets also announced the addition of Alexis Robinson. Robinson signed a track scholarship with Baylor last year and was also a preferred walk-on to the Bears football team, where he redshirted for the 2014 season.

“We didn’t sign a quarterback last season so Alexis will step in and fill that role for that class,” Sears said. “He is a world-class sprinter that is a football player. He’s a phenomenal athlete that we are lucky to have in our program.”

Robinson will have four years of eligibility remaining and, like Cassel, will be eligible immediately.

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

‘Cuse adds TEs coach, adjusts Bobby Acosta’s role

Jake Moreland

Scott Shafer has officially made a couple of tweaks to his Syracuse coaching staff, including filling the lone hole in his nine-man group.

In a press release, the Orange confirmed that Jake Moreland has been hired as Shafer’s tight ends coach.  Moreland will replace Bobby Acosta, who will slide outside from tight ends to wide receivers.

George McDonald, following his in-season demotion from offensive coordinator, had finished out the 2014 season as receivers coach and is now in the same position at North Carolina State.

“Jake is an outstanding leader of young men and a terrific football coach,” Shafer said in a statement. “The expertise he brings from his 12 years as a tight ends coach will greatly enhance that area for our program as he and Joe Adam work together to mold our offensive line into a productive and cohesive group.

“Adding Jake to our staff allows Bobby Acosta to resume coaching receivers, a position he has mentored at three other schools, and serve as our recruiting coordinator. Along with offensive coordinator Tim Lester and running backs coach DeAndre Smith, Jake, Bobby and Joe will lead a productive offense and develop the young men in our program. We are thrilled to welcome Jake, his wife, Anne, and their daughters, Courtney, Grace and Emma, to the Syracuse family.”

Moreland comes to the ‘Cuse after spending the past three seasons as the tight ends coach at Air Force. He also has a history with Shafer, serving on the same staff at Western Michigan in 2005-06.

“It is a unique opportunity to come to Syracuse after having been at Air Force because both programs focus on the development of the student-athlete, emphasizing academics and athletics, to build student-athletes of high character and mentor young people who will become leaders,” Moreland said. “All of the values Coach Shafer instills in this program parallel what I believe in. My relationships with this coaching staff began early in our careers and then we went our separate ways to continue to grow. It is special to be back together again.”

(Photo credit: Air Force athletics)

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Report: Saban expected to stay in-house to fill one staff vacancy

Tosh Lupoi AP

Alabama announced earlier Saturday that the Tide would be retaining their offensive coordinator, thus avoiding a third hole on Nick Saban‘s coaching staff.  Of the two remaining holes, one has reportedly been filled, and the head coach didn’t have to go outside the building to fill it.

According to Thayer Evans of SI.com, Saban is expected to promote Tosh Lupoi to outside linebackers coach.  Lupoi currently serves as what’s described as a “defensive analyst.”

If the move comes to fruition, Lupoi would replace Lance Thompson, who left for Auburn earlier this month in what amounted to a lateral move.

In December of 2013, it was reported that Lupoi, the defensive line coach under Steve Sarkisian at Washington, gave $4,500 in impermissible benefits to defensive lineman Andrew Basham, who signed with the Huskies the previous February but failed to qualify academically.  Lupoi, who was under consideration for a job on Sarkisian’s new staff at USC, subsequently and very vehemently denied the allegations.  Because of the NCAA investigation into the allegations, Lupoi did not reunite with Sarkisian at USC.

In mid-January, it was reported that Lupoi and the football program had reached an agreement on a separation deal as he was not retained by new Huskies head coach Chris Petersen.  The NCAA completed its probe into the issue in early February, announcing that no sanctions would be meted out against either Lupoi or the UW football program.

Less than two months later, Lupoi was hired by Saban.

Lupoi spent six seasons as a defensive line coach at Cal (2006-11) — he was named Rivals.com‘s Recruiter of the Year in 2010 — before leaving for the Huskies in January of 2012.  Shortly after joining the staff at UW, Lupoi was found to have committed a minor NCAA violation unrelated to the other incident, resulting in his being “limited” during the spring evaluation period for recruits.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Ex-Gamecock Shaq Roland to finish career at an FCS A&M

South Carolina v Florida Getty Images

A career that began with much promise at the FBS level will finish further down the collegiate ladder.

The mother of former South Carolina Gamecock Shaq Roland has confirmed to Josh Kendall of The State that her son has decided to move on to Prairie View A&M in Texas. As the Panthers are an FCS program, Roland, an SC native, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

“He was feeling kind of depressed (when he left the team), but he’s coming back to normal,” the wide receiver’s mother, Petina Etheredge, told the paper. “He said from the beginning that he wanted to get out of South Carolina. He felt like it would give him an opportunity for a fresh start and a second chance.”

A fresh start was certainly in order for what was an up-and-down career with the Gamecocks.

In 2013, the wide receiver was suspended for a total of three games for unspecified violations of team policies.

This season, Roland was third on the team in receiving yards (356) and receiving touchdowns (four), and he’s fourth in receptions (26). Even with that statistical success, Roland didn’t travel with the team for a game against Kentucky because he failed to attend a team meeting and a walkthrough.

A couple of days before Christmas, Roland quit the team.

A four-star member of USC’s 2012 recruiting class, Roland was rated as the No. 10 receiver in the country and the No. 1 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.

Despite all of that recruiting potential, Roland finished his Gamecock career with just 56 catches for 891 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top