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Mark Stoops pulls in 22 signees in first Kentucky class

Mark Stoops AP

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

Jeff Badet, Wide Receiver, 6-0, 170, Fr-HS, Orlando, Fla. (Freedom) – Possesses great quickness and a
sudden burst that help him project as an ideal receiver … Has displayed great hands, body control and the awareness
that make him great at making tough catches in traffic … Caught 63 passes for 881 yards, 10 receiving touchdowns and
six rushing scores as a senior … Played for Coach Andy Johnson, helping Freedom HS to a 7-4 record and state playoff
berth as a senior … Junior stats featured 46 catches for 718 yards and 11 TDs … Ranked No. 13 on the Orlando Sentinel
Central Florida “Super 60” … Finished fifth in the long jump at the Florida state track and field championships … Last name
pronounced “bah-DETT.”

Alvonte Bell, Defensive End, 6-5, 255, Fr-HS, Miramar, Fla. (Everglades) – Explosive defensive end at
Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla., where he was coached by Rodney Rumph … The nation’s No. 24 weakside
defensive end by Rivals.com … The No. 34 overall defensive end according to Scout.com … “Bell is a raw athlete with
speed, length, and quickness that attracts attention his way. He has long arms to get into passing lanes, he can move well
in space, and he really pursues the ball well,” according to Scout analyst Chad Simmons … Was timed at 4.88 in the 40
with a 27-inch vertical … Made 40 tackles as a junior, with his 18 total tackles for loss including 11 quarterback sacks …
Helped led the team to the Florida Class 6A regional quarterfinals his freshman and sophomore seasons … Missed much of
his senior season because of injury … Began high school career as a basketball star before making the move to football …
Name is pronounced “al-VON-tay.”

Javess Blue, Wide Receiver, 6-0, 190, Jr-JC, Babson Park, Fla. (Lake Wales/Butler Community College)
Second-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American during his sophomore season at Butler Community
College in El Dorado, Kansas … Also was named first-team all-conference … Ranked as the nation’s No. 14 junior college
player by ESPN.com … Led the Grizzlies in receptions with 65, receiving yards with 1,064 and receiving touchdowns with
12 … Ranked in the top-10 nationally in each category … Averaged 28.8 yards per kickoff return and 11.2 yards on punt
returns … Helped the team to a 11-1 record in 2012, winning the Region VI Championship before falling in the Graphic
Edge National Championship Bowl … Grizzlies were the Region VI Champions, KJCCC Champions and played in the
Citizen’s Bank Bowl his freshman season … Great freshman season with 27 receptions for 586 yards, a 21.7-yard average,
and three touchdowns … Coached by Troy Morrell at Butler Community College … Big-play receiver at Lake Wales (Fla.)
HS … Caught 88 passes for 1,774 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging 20.2 yards catch, during his final two seasons at
LWHS… Helped team advance to the Class AAA state semifinals his junior season with an 11-2 record … Clocked at 4.41
seconds in the 40-yard dash … Coached in high school by Rod Shafer … Name is pronounced “JAY-vess.”

Steven Borden, Tight End, 6-3, 250, Jr-JC, Waxahachie, Texas (Waxahachie/Kilgore College) – Enrolled at
UK in January … Second-team all-conference tight end at Kilgore (Texas) College … Caught 11 passes as a sophomore
for 181 yards, a 16.5-yard average, and four touchdowns … Versatile athlete who has the size to play tight end and the
athleticism to play as a slot receiver … Coached at Kilgore by J.J. Eckert … Played defensive end during the 2010 season
at Southwestern Assemblies of God, an NAIA school in Waxahachie, Texas … Made 35 tackles, featuring 7.5 tackles for
loss, including 3.5 quarterback sacks … Played his senior season as a defensive end at Waxahachie High School, helping
team to a 12-1 record and the quarterfinals of the state Class AAAA playoffs … Earned first-team all-district honors …
Coached at Waxahachie by David Ream … Played three seasons at Santa Clarita Christian High School in California as a
quarterback, receiver and linebacker … Coached at Santa Clarita by Garrick Moss … Also played basketball in high school.

Justin Day, Offensive Tackle, 6-8, 305, Fr-HS, Aiken, S.C. (South Aiken) – First-team all-state by SCVarsit.com
… Offensive tackle with a huge upside … Long arms and big frame give him the potential to be an outstanding pass blocker
… Has only played one year in the offensive line … Started his high school career playing defensive end before he moved
to the other side of the ball as a senior … Played at South Aiken High School, coached by Jeremy West … Also first-team
all-state and all-region … Was a standout at the Rivals.com South Carolina Elite 100 Camp in the spring of 2012 … “Day
was the biggest surprise of the week,” Rivals analyst Mike Farrell wrote. “(M)ore often than not his opponents ended up on
the ground with the big man lurking over them when the whistle blew.” … Played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, which
pits the best high school players from North Carolina and South Carolina against each other.

Jason Hatcher, Defensive End, 6-3, 250, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Trinity) – One of the nation’s top prospects
at defensive end … Rated No. 8 in the country by Rivals.com, #10 by Scout.com, #14 by ESPN.com and #16 by
247Sports.com … Helped lead Trinity High School to three-consecutive Class 6A state championships and a three-year
record of 41-2 … First-team all-state as a senior by the Louisville Courier-Journal and The Associated Press … Made 37
tackles as a senior, including 13.5 quarterback sacks and four additional tackles for loss … Played in the U.S. Army All-
American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas following senior campaign … One of the nation’s top-200 prospects by ESPN …
Scout.com’s Scott Kennedy says Hatcher “has the speed to play outside linebacker and the frame to grown into an every
down defense end. He is tremendously quick off the line and fast in pursuit. He relies on speed and quickness rather
than strength.” … Had 40 tackles his junior and sophomore seasons, including 12 sacks his junior year and 11.5 TFL his
sophomore season … Coached by Bob Beatty.

Nick Haynes, Offensive Lineman, 6-3, 305, Fr-HS, Niceville, Fla. (Niceville) – A great athlete with a high
upside after having played football only two years in high school … Ranked as the nation’s No. 40 guard by Rivals.com …
Extremely versatile player who has experience as a tight end, fullback and defensive lineman as a high school player …
Played predominantly as a tackle in high school, but could transition to guard or center at UK … Excels as a run blocker
as he compiled an impressive tally of pancake blocks in high school … Relies on great footwork as he also lettered in
basketball as a prepster … Attended Niceville (Fla.) High School, helping team to a winning record both seasons he played
… Coach by John Hicks.

Jacob Hyde, Defensive Lineman, 6-2, 330, Fr-HS, Manchester, Ky. (Clay County) – Was Kentucky’s first verbal
commitment of the 2013 signing class … One of the nation’s top-50 defensive tackles by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com …
First-team all-state as a senior as chosen by The Associated Press …Comes to Lexington from Clay County High School,
where he played for head coach Evan Napier … Played defensive tackle and offensive guard in high school, but is projected
on the defensive side for Kentucky … Helped Clay County finish 8-4 his sophomore season en route to an appearance in
the Class AAAAA state playoffs … Helped lead Kentucky all-stars to a 29-27 win over Tennessee in the National Guard
Border Bowl … Played for the USA national team in the International Bowl on Feb. 5 in Austin, Tex. … Named All-SEKC by
MaxPreps.com … Also chosen first team on the All-Mountain squad.

Jaleel Hytchye, Cornerback, 5-10, 175, Fr-HS, Cincinnati, Ohio (La Salle) – Talented athlete who also had a
successful track career at La Salle High School in Cincinnati … One of the nation’s top-25 cornerbacks as evaluated by
ESPN.com, which gives him a positive rating in man coverage, zone coverage, ballhandling and instincts … ESPN.com
ranks him as the 20th-best prospect in Ohio and wrote, “Hytchye has the coverage skills to see early playing time at the
BCS level of competition.” … Has been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash and is considering running track at
Kentucky … Finished the 2012 season with two interceptions – one for a touchdown – and a fumble recovery … Second-
team all-conference in the highly competitive Greater Catholic League …During his junior campaign in 2011, he posted four
interceptions and 14 pass breakups … Helped Lancers to third-place finish in the city in 2010 with a 9-2 record and a 7-3
record his junior season … Coached by Tom Grippa … Name is pronounced “jah-LEEL HI-chee.”

Jojo Kemp, Running Back, 5-10, 190, Fr-HS, DeLand, Fla. (DeLand) – Earned Associated Press all-state
first-team honors his senior season … Rushed 255 times as a senior for 1,469 yards and 23 touchdowns … Equally as
impressive his junior season when he rushed 178 times for 1,163 yards and 14 touchdowns … Had a great game on the
big stage, rushing for 210 yards and two touchdowns on a game televised by ESPN2, which featured several Division
I prospects on defense … Rated the nation’s No. 10 multipurpose back by Rivals.com … The No. 28 running back by
ESPN.com … Scout.com’s Mike Bakas says Kemp “has enough size to grow into a potential 210-plus pound running
back who will be able carry to carry the rock 20 times a game and get the tough yards inside.” … Bakas also says Kemp
is “a tremendous athlete who can make a lot of people miss in space … changes directions well … can catch the ball very
well out of the backfield … he’s just a good football player with plus athleticism.” … No. 10-ranked player in the Orlando
Sentinel’s 2013 Central Florida “Super60” prospects … Coached by Al Manning.

Austin MacGinnis, Kicker, 5-10, 175, Fr-HS, Prattville, Ala. (Prattville) – One of the nation’s top three kicker
prospects according to Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … Played his senior season at Prattville (Ala.) High School under
Coach Chad Anderson … Handled punts, field goals and kickoffs for the Lions, making seven of 10 field goals, including
a 50-yarder … 76 percent of kickoffs went for touchbacks … Named to the all-area team … Participated for the winning
National team in the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Houston following his senior campaign … Played at Randolph
County High School before moving to Prattville his senior season … Converted six of nine field goals and made all of his
extra points as a junior, with 81 percent touchbacks on kickoffs … Participated in the National Underclassmen Challenge
and performed well … According to ChrisSailerKicking.com, MacGinnis “is a tremendous kicker. He has a huge leg …
kickoffs are Division-I ready right now. A great competitor that kicks well under pressure.” … Spent time with One-on-One
Kicking.

Blake McClain, Defensive Back, 5-11, 190, Fr-HS, Winter Park, Fla. (Winter Park) – Versatile defensive back
could be either a cornerback or safety on the collegiate level … Considered the nation’s No. 66 safety by ESPN.com, which
says McClain’s strengths are zone coverage, ball skills and run support … The No. 61 cornerback by Rivals.com … Good
senior season at Winter Park (Fla.) HS, gathering 60 tackles and three interceptions, including one for a touchdown …
Ended his high school career with nine picks … Also played wide receiver, with two receiving touchdowns his senior season
… Ranked as the No. 25 prospect on the Orlando Sentinel’s 2013 Central Florida Super60 … The Orlando Sentinel wrote
that McClain “has top-notch footwork and an ability to keep his hips parallel to the line of scrimmage to keep quarterbacks
at bay.” … Named a Central Florida All-Star … Coached by Larry Gergley … Has been timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard
dash … All-around athlete who also played basketball.

Marcus McWilson, Safety, 6-0, 210, Fr-HS, Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney) – Physical, athletic safety
who is ranked as one of the nation’s top-20 safeties by Scout.com and Rivals.com … Ranked No. 18 nationally in the
athlete category by 247Sports.com … The No. 10 player in talent-rich Ohio by Rivals … Played at Cardinal Mooney HS
in Youngstown, Ohio, the alma mater of new UK head coach Mark Stoops and tight ends coach Vince Marrow … Helped
Cardinal Mooney to a Division III state championship his junior and freshman seasons … Team went 15-0 his freshman
season and 11-3 his junior year … First-team All-Ohio in 2012 … Had eight interceptions as a junior, two picks as a
sophomore … Also played running back in high school, including posting 124 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a
single game last fall … Coach P.J. Fecko told the Tribune-Chronicle before the 2012 season that, “Marcus is a tremendous
athlete. He does a lot of different things. He kicks the ball. He returns the ball. He’s a defensive guy. He’s a receiver. He’s a
running back. His ability to want to compete and to do so wherever he’s called upon helps. He’s been successful to do that.”

Kyle Meadows, Offensive Lineman, 6-5, 270, Fr-HS, West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West) — Combines great
footwork with tremendous length and playing strength … No. 38 overall offensive tackle according to Scout.com … The No.
31-ranked player in the 247Sports composite of the talent-rich state of Ohio … Ranked No. 5 among the top 50 players in
the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Greater Cincinnati to watch list of the 2013 … Played for Larry Cox at Lakota West High School
… Helped his team to an 8-2 record as a senior … A former basketball player who exhibits an all-around combination of
quickness, balance and strength … Went to the same high school as former UK fullback John Conner, now a member of the
Cincinnati Bengals.

Regie Meant, Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 275, Fr-HS, Cape Coral, Fla. (Baker) – A speedy defensive line prospect
with a huge frame to go along with quickness … Has been timed at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a remarkable time
for a defensive lineman … With his great combination of size and speed he could project as a defensive tackle or end …
Second-team all-state in Florida Class AAAAA as a senior … Did not begin playing football until high school … Attended Ida
Baker High School, where he played just three seasons for Coach Brian Conn … Totaled 68 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, two
sacks, a caused fumble and two quarterback hurries his senior season … Finished junior season with 23 tackles, four sacks
and three caused fumbles … Name pronounced same as “Reggie.”

Ramsey Meyers, Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 290, Fr-HS, Orange Park, Fla. (Ridgeview) – First-team all-state
senior season in Florida Class 6A … A big and athletic offensive line prospect with great run-blocking ability … Physical
attributes could help him project into multiple offensive line positions … The nation’s No. 60 guard prospect by 247Sports
and ranked No. 61 by Scout.com … Played for Coach Tom McPherson and the Ridgeview Panthers in Orange Park, Fla.
… Helped Ridgeview to a 9-2 mark and a spot in the state playoffs his senior year … Senior honors also included All-First
Coast, All-County and the Florida Times-Union “Super 24” … Played in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-
South All-Star Classic following senior campaign … Honorable-mention all-state as a junior … Named the top sleeper at the
Nike Elite Camp last spring … A first-team all-combine performer at the US Army combine in 2012 … The first Southeastern
Conference signee in school history.

Alex Montgomery, Wide Receiver, 6-2, 210, Fr-HS, Weston, Fla. (Cypress Bay) – First-team all-state wide
receiver from Cypress Bay High School, where he helped his team to the 8A state championship game his senior season,
regional semifinals his junior year and state semifinals his sophomore season … Ended his high school career in fine
fashion with a tremendous performance in the 8A state championship game … Had nine catches for 199 yards and three
touchdowns in the final, including a nifty one-handed touchdown catch … His 199 receiving yards was a state finals record
… Also played defensive back and had what appeared to be the game-winning interception in the state championship
game before a late penalty nullified the play … In the two playoff games before the state final, Montgomery returned an
interception for a touchdown in each, first for 34 yards and then 56 yards … Had 42 catches for 892 yards and seven
touchdowns his senior year en route to first-team all-state honors by the Miami Herald … Ended his junior campaign with 27
catches for 556 yards and 10 touchdowns … Coached by Mark Guandolo … ESPN.com lists key traits as good hands and
speed … Ranked as the nation’s No. 51 wide receiver by Rivals.com.

Reese Phillips, Quarterback, 6-2, 225, Fr-HS, Signal Mountain, Tenn. (Signal Mountain) – Two-year all-
state quarterback at Signal Mountain (Tenn.) High School … Led team to a 7-4 record as a senior and an appearance in the
Tennessee Class AAAA state playoffs … Completed 172 of 274 passes for 2,274 yards, 15 touchdowns and only three
interceptions to earn all-state honors from the Tennessee Sports Writers Association … District Player of the Year … Was
named the MVP of the Tennessee High School East/West All-Star Classic after going 10-for-10 for 95 yards and a
touchdown … Led the East to a 41-20 win, setting a record for most points in the all-star game … Solid junior season as a
first-year starting quarterback, throwing for 1,895 yards, 21 TDs and four interceptions while completing 71 percent of his
passes … Was named a first-team all-state performer in 2011 by Tennessee Sports Writers Association … Started at tightend and defensive back as a freshman and sophomore, including sophomore campaign which saw Signal Mountain win the Class AA state championship with a 14-0 record (SMHS competed in 4A during his junior and senior seasons) … Known for
a strong arm and consistent accuracy … Coached by Bill Price … “Reese is a very intelligent kid with a work ethic that is
tremendous,” Price said. “He has a very strong arm and his accuracy is a big plus.” … A two-year all-district performer in
baseball, playing shortstop and pitching …Junior year pitching stats featured a 7-1 record with an 0.85 earned run average,
striking out 60 in 49 innings of work … Honor-roll student and member of the Beta Club … Reese’s grandfather, Harry, and
great uncle, Dick, were members of the football team at Georgia.

Za’Darius Smith, Defensive End, 6-6, 260, Jr-JC, Greenville, Ala. (Greenville/East Mississippi Community
College) – The nation’s No. 1 junior college strongside defensive end prospect as ranked by JCGridiron.com … The
nation’s No. 10 overall juco prospect, and No. 2 defensive end, by ESPN … Listed No. 15 overall, and the No. 2 weakside
defensive end, by 24/7 Sports … Totaled 47 tackles, including 6.5 quarterback sacks and 11 total tackles for loss, as a
sophomore at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss. … Named second-team All-America by the National
Junior College Athletic Association … Also named to the juco all-region and all-state teams … Helped EMCC to an 8-2
record … Made 19 tackles, featuring 4.5 sacks and seven total TFL, as a freshman … EMCC won the 2011 NJCAA national
championship with a 12-0 mark … Head coach was Buddy Stephens and his defensive line coach was current UK assistant
Jimmy Brumbaugh … A relative latecomer to the game as he grew up playing basketball at Greenville (Ala.) High School
and didn’t begin playing football until his senior year …Coached at Greenville by Ben Blackmon …An older brother, Bob
Meeks, played center at Auburn from 1988-91 and for the NFL’s Denver Broncos … A cousin, Davern Williams, played at
Troy and for the NFL’s New York Giants … A niece, Kristi Mokube, currently plays basketball at Florida State.

Khalid Thomas, RB, 5-10, 170, Fr-HS, Tallahassee, Fla. (Godby) – Skilled athlete who was named
the 2012 Tallahassee Quarterback Club’s Most Valuable Player of the Year after helping Godby High School win the 2012
Class AAAAA state championship … Had 13 carries for 70 yards in the state championship game … Scored the game-
winning touchdown on a 28-yard run, breaking multiple tackles in the process, in Godby’s 21-20 title triumph … Team
posted a 14-1 record under Coach Ronnie Cottrell … Outstanding senior campaign, rushing 184 times for 1,471 yards and
15 touchdowns … Also had 23 receptions for 218 yards and a touchdown last fall … Led Godby in rushing and receiving
his junior season … Had 958 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns his junior season, while also posting 421 receiving yards
… Also played some defense in high school, making some interceptions … Named Class 1A-5A all-state second team his
senior season and was a Tallahassee Democrat All-Big Bend Co-Player of the Year … Brother of current UK linebacker
Kadeem “Pancho” Thomas … The nation’s No. 27 all-purpose back by 247Sports.com … 4quartersonline.com said Thomas
is “an elusive multi-purpose back that can give opposition teams nightmares.” … ESPN.com praises Thomas for versatility,
being a playmaker and his ball skills … Name is pronounced “kah-LEED.”

Ryan Timmons, Athlete, 5-10, 185, Fr-HS, Frankfort, Ky. (Franklin County) – Dynamic playmaker who was all
over the field offensively in high school … Played running back, wide receiver and returned kicks … Produced eye-popping
numbers … First-team all-state as a junior and senior by the Louisville Courier-Journal … Also all-state as a senior by
The Associated Press and a member of the Lexington Herald-Leader “Class of the Commonwealth” … Rushed for 1,306
yards and 25 touchdowns his senior season, averaging an amazing 15.7 yards per attempt … Caught 33 passes for 1,004
yards and 16 TDs, averaging more than 30 yards per reception … Opponents kicked off to him only three times and he
returned them all for touchdowns … Had equally incredible numbers his junior season … Rushed 62 times for 1,382 yards,
averaging 22.3 yards per carry, and 20 touchdowns … Also had 38 receptions for 1,100 yards, a 28.9 average, and 18
touchdowns his junior campaign … Versatility makes him difficult to define as he ranks as the nation’s No. 23 running back
by 247Sports.com, the No. 28 athlete by ESPN.com and the No. 46 wide receiver by Scout.com.

Nate Willis, Defensive Back, 6-0, 180, Jr-JC, Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee/Arizona Western College)
Rated as the No. 3 junior college cornerback in the nation by 247Sports.com … Helped Arizona Western College to an 8-
2 record last fall and a victory in the El Toro Bowl – the team’s first bowl game win in more than 40 years … Team finished
the 2011 regular season No. 1 in the nation and hosted the national championship game before suffering its first loss of the
season to finish 11-1 … Solid sophomore season at AWCC, earning 19 tackles, one interception and five pass breakups …
Had 31 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, one fumble forced and three interceptions his freshman season … Also returned kicks
in junior college … His freshman season, he return four kickoffs for 133 yards and two punts for 135 yards and a touchdown
… Had three kickoff returns last season for 65 yards … ESPN.com gives Willis praise for his man coverage, zone coverage,
instincts and ball skills … Helped his team win the 2B state championship his freshman and sophomore seasons …
Focused on basketball and did not play football his last two years at Pahokee (Fla.) HS … Did play one season at Glades
Central HS.

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‘No stars for you!’ when Sparty recruits hit campus

Ron Burton

Most position coaches like to trumpet his and his team’s successes on the recruiting trail.  Michigan State’s Ron Burton is just like that — until it gets to this time of the year.

Four-star defensive end Raequan Williams was part of a 2015 MSU recruiting class that ranked third in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally, the same ranking as last year and the best since the 2009 class ranked 17th. Rightly so, Burton, the Spartans’ defensive line coach, was proud of how the addition of Williams — as well as three-star ends Justice Alexander and Mufi Hunt — added to the luster of the Top 25 class.

With the recruits hitting the East Lansing area, though, all the star talk goes on the window.

The stars are gone when you hit our campus, and everyone starts from Square One, and that’s the way coach (Mark) Dantonio always wants it,” the third-year MSU assistant told mlive.com. “The kids we have coming in up front, we’ll give them the opportunity and time will tell.”

The Spartans return seven defensive starters, including three seniors along the line, from a squad that went 11-2 last season and beat baylor in the Cotton Bowl. Also returning to a line that helped the Spartans finish 22nd nationally in scoring defense (21.5 points per game) and first in run defense (88.5 yards per game) are a handful players who were a part of the 2014 rotation.

(Photo credit: Michigan State athletics)

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Ex-Texas DB Eryon Barnett passes away at age 24

Eryon Barnett

Unfortunately, there’s some sad news that has hit the Texas football program this holiday weekend.

Montana State head coach Rob Ash confirmed in a statement Saturday that one of his former players, Eryon Barnett, passed away Saturday afternoon at a Bozeman hospital.  Barnett was just 24 years old.

“We’re heartbroken by the loss of Eryon Barnett,” Ash said. “He fought through so much as a football player, and always showed a resilient spirit that everyone that knew him drew from and admired.”

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, no cause of death has been determined. An autopsy won’t be completed until Monday at the earliest.

However, the paper noted that Barnett dealt with health issues last year:

Barnett, a native of Euless, Texas, missed part of fall practice before the 2014 season because of complications from pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. He also missed two games in November, beginning with a road game against Cal-Poly, due to similar symptoms.

It also put Barnett in the hospital this spring.

Barnett began his career at Texas, where he was a four-star member of UT’s 2009 recruiting class. He transferred from UT in April of 2012 and ultimately landed at the FCS program, starting nine games last season.

The passing of the former Longhorn didn’t go unnoticed by either his former program or ex-coach.

(Photo credit: Montana State athletics)

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Injured in car wreck, fourth USU Aggie remains hospitalized

Colorado State vs Utah State

Three Utah State football players have been released from the hospital following a car accident nine days ago.  A fourth injured Aggie, however, is not as yet as fortunate.

In a press release announcing that one of the five individuals injured in the accident, former USU softball player Sarah Vasquez, had been released from the hospital, the school confirmed that football player Travis Seefeldt remains hospitalized at a local medical facility. The release did note that Seefeldt (pictured, right) continues to improve from unspecified injuries.

According to reports at the time of the wreck, the unnamed driver of the SUV in which the seatbelt-less football players were riding pulled out in front of a semi at an intersection and was broadsided by the tanker truck, which was hauling 52,000 pounds of milk at the time of the accident.

The five occupants of the SUV had initially been reported as being critically injured.

A week ago Sunday, USU announced that senior defensive lineman John Taylor and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Adewale Adeoye, were released from the hospital.  Two days later, the same announcement was made for redshirt junior defensive lineman Edmund Faimalo.

Seefeldt has played in 39 games during his USU career, starting two of those contests.  Last season, Seefeldt was credited with six tackles for loss, two sacks and two fumble recoveries.  His .14 fumble recoveries per game was good for sixth in the Mountain West and tied for 43rd at the FBS level.

Exiting spring, the nose guard was listed as a starter for the Aggies.

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16,200 athletes filed claim to receive NCAA video game payout

USC Trojans v Arizona State Sun Devils Getty Images

A little more than a year ago the various legal battles involving former college football and basketball players against the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company resulted in a pair of settlements valued at approximately $60 million. Two-thirds of that was to be paid by EA Sports and the CLC, and the NCAA was on the hook for the remaining $20 million. Earlier this week final proposals for splitting the money among those college athletes making a claim was submitted for approval by U.S. District Judge. Those expecting some sort of payment could be looking at receiving a check anywhere between $1,000 and at least $6,700.

Athletes had until Thursday to make their claim, but it will still take some time before those checks start being mailed. First it must be known how many claims were filed, which will affect the payouts. According to a report from USA Today, nearly 16,200 athletes ended up submitting a claim, but each claim must be reviewed and approved by the firm tasked with confirming  and approving the claims.

The NCAA has already made it known that no punishments will be handed down to any current student-athletes filing a claim if they end up receiving a check through this legal process.

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Texas A&M seat reassignment lawsuit tossed in Florida court

Missouri v Texas A&M

A class action lawsuit between Texas A&M and long-time season ticket holders has been thrown out by a district court in Florida. The case had previously been dismissed by a federal judge in Texas, so it looks like these fans are running out of options.

The family of Texas A&M fan and booster Warren Moore sued Texas A&M for an alleged breach of contract and misrepresentation regarding season tickets. The family claims the season tickets were part of a lifetime guarantee from the university following a $60,000 donation to fund a scholarship. Eight others joined the class-action lawsuit before U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas dismissed it.

In 1985 the Moore family donated $60,000 to Texas A&M to fund a scholarship. In exchange, the family was promised some of the best seats in Kyle Field for life. The family was also promised parking in addition to the tickets to the prime seats in Kyle Field. Since that 1985 donation, Texas A&M has undergone a massive stadium renovation, prompting Texas A&M to issue a letter to the Moore family and other season-ticket holders explaining they would have to become members of the Primary West Legacy Club at an additional cost of $15,000 per seat for the campaign gift as part of a seat reassignment process. On top of that, an annual $2,000 price for each seat over the next 15 years would be required. The Moores and at least eight other season ticket holders believe they should not have to pay such a price to keep their seats.

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UCLA coach Jim Mora goes to bat to help child with cancer

Jim Mora

Cancer sucks, and UCLA head coach Jim Mora is doing what he can to help raise money and awareness for one young child battling cancer.

Avery Huffman, the daughter of Scout.com‘s National Director of Recruiting Brandon Huffman, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her brain, and the location of the tumor made surgery impossible. No six-year old should have to go through that, and college football world has come together to support the Huffman family. A GoFundMe campaign has been started in support of Avery and her battle, and UCLA’s football offices took notice and responded.

Mora and UCLA are offered three fundraising options that will raise a good chunk of money while also giving the fan responsible for the donation a chance to get a look behind the curtain of UCLA football. For $10,000, UCLA will bring two adults on a road trip to the road game of their choice, complete with first class seats on the team plane and a room in the team hotel. Everywhere the team goes, so will the two fans and donors. A similar home package was also be available for a $5,000 donation. Both packages have already been claimed, raising $15,000 in quick order.

Five passes for a fall camp practice were available for $1,500 and 50 full game-day packages (tailgating, parking and game tickets) are available for a $1,200 donation. This is all money that will go toward a very worthy and noble cause, and it is good to see coaches like Mora stepping up in a time of need.

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Alabama self-reports multiple secondary violations

Nick Saban

Secondary violations rarely amount to much in the eyes of the NCAA, so do not expect Alabama to be handed a stiff punishment from the folks in Indianapolis after the university self-reported 13 secondary violations of NCAA rules. The violations occurred between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, according to a report from AL.com.

Names of players connected to various minor offenses have not been revealed, and the violations took place within multiple athletics programs at Alabama. Five of the violations stem from the football program under head coach Nick Saban.

One violation is for a player connected to a commercial endorsement through social media. The unnamed player was ruled ineligible before being reinstated by the NCAA and the football staff underwent rules education as a result. Another violation occurred when a player was accidentally awarded more scholarship money due to a computer entry error. This was discovered at the end of the semester during a routine audit, and the player was required to repay the excess payment.

The third reported violation was a player’s friend selling complimentary tickets to a football game. The friend was added to the player’s pass list and that player was ruled ineligible before being reinstated by the NCAA. No more free passes will be given to the player’s friend.

The fourth violation was for a player receiving aid and practicing with the team after being deemed a non-qualifier for such aid. The player’s scholarship has since been revoked and he must receive and reinstatement. It is unconfirmed but believed running back DeSherrius Flowers is the player connected to this violation. Flowers, a Class of 2015 early enrollee was ruled ineligible by Alabama in mid-June due to a “recently discovered initial eligibility issue.”

Last but not least, an assistant coach was found guilty of responding to a text message from a recruit. The coach was prohibited from contacting recruits for 30 days as a result.

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Report: Notre Dame, Navy to play in Jacksonville in 2016

Obi Uzoma, Tarean Folston

Navy and Notre Dame do not typically make too many trips to the state of Florida during the course of a football season, but each will be playing in the state in 2016. In fact, they’ll even be playing each other in the state in November 2016.

According to a report Friday by ND Insider, Notre Dame and Navy will play their 2016 game in Jacksonville, Florida on November 5, 2016. The game will be played in EverBank Field, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and recently undergoing upgrades to the stadium in hopes of keeping the Jaguars in town. Attracting some noteworthy college football game son the side is a nice perk too, and it seems to have worked.

Navy typically serves as host to Notre Dame in even-numbered years in the series, but tends to hold the game in a larger venue instead of its home stadium. The deal has not been officially announced, but ND Insider says the Jacksonville Sports Council has a press conference scheduled for this coming Wednesday, at which time it is expected to become official.

In the history of the Notre Dame-Navy rivalry, the game has been played in the state of Florida just once before. The 200 meeting was played in Orlando, with the Irish winning 45-14.

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NCAA now getting involved with Ole Miss and Laremy Tunsil

Memphis v Mississippi

What sounds like a messy situation at home is now getting the NCAA to come knocking in Oxford, Mississippi. The Clarion-Ledger reports the NCAA has sent officials to Ole Miss on Friday to interview the stepfather of Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and his alleged connection to agents, which would be violations of the NCAA rules.

Last week Tunsil turned himself into authorities after being charged for domestic violence following an incident in which Tunsil allegedly punched his stepfather in defense of his mother in a domestic dispute of some nature. Tunsil and his mother had filed a lawsuit against his stepfather, and his stepfather turned around and claimed Tunsil had been riding with football agents. It is the stepfather’s (Lindsey Miller) claim Tunsil riding with agents was the root of the argument.

“We are aware that Laremy and his family have met with potential agents, which is within his NCAA rights as a student-athlete,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger. “Regarding the altercation, we will continue to gather facts and cooperate with the proper authorities.”

What this means for Tunsil and Ole Miss are two different scenarios in play right now. The NCAA is not always the speediest when it comes to investigations, and projecting how long one investigation will take is difficult to estimate. If the NCAA does find Tunsil guilty of accepting any benefits from agents (and yes, a car ride would probably fall within that category), then he will face a light suspension at the most. If there is more to the claims of associations with agents, that could be a much different story that is best to refrain from speculating until more information is known. The severity of the punishment for Ole Miss is also impossible to speculate on at this point in time until more is known about the situation, and whether or not there is anything to even bother focusing on.

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PETA investigated two (Michigan) Wolverines and a wallaby

Bennetts Wallaby and Joey.

Some people have dogs as pets. Others have cats. Others have fish, and perhaps some have other animals like lizards or frogs or turtles or snakes. How many have a wallaby?

Recently, Michigan football players were seen around the Ann Arbor campus posing for photos with a young wallaby, which was allegedly trying to be sold by the Michigan student-athletes. The wallaby, originally purchased in Michigan, was discovered on the Instagram page of Michigan wide receiver Jack Wangler, which was shared by quarterback Shane Morris. Per MLive.com, Wangler said the animal was not living in the apartment shared by he and Morris, but the animal was merely visiting. However, it was Wangler who reportedly answered the phone when a call to the phone number attached to the listing for the wallaby was called.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, organized a deal with the Detroit Zoo to provide a safe home for the wallaby. Instead, the wallaby was returned to the breeder that originally sold the animal. The wallaby was reportedly returned in excellent condition, according to a PETA representative, and doing well. Still, it was PETA’s preference the wallaby be given a chance to live out its life in the zoo alongside its own kind.

Ultimately a wallaby doesn’t belong in a private home any more than a wolverine does,” PETA Foundation deputy director of captive animal law enforcement Brittany Peet said, per MLive.com. “These students and the University of Michigan had an opportunity to step up and set a great example by allowing the wallaby to spend the rest of its life with other wallabies in a natural habitat in an accredited facility. Unfortunately, they dropped the ball.”

Nice football puns there, Peet.

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Report: Baylor and Cal will (thankfully) not be playing in Australia in 2016

TCU vs. Baylor football

The dream of opening the college football season in Australia will just have to wait. Any plans to send Baylor and Cal abroad to play a 2016 season opener down under have been nixed. Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported such news Friday afternoon (via Twitter).

Last month it was reported Baylor was openly discussing the possibility to open the 2016 season in Australia against a Pac-12 opponent. That opponent turned out to be Cal, although both schools would have had to opt out of season openers at home against FCS opponents. Doing so comes at a price, not to mention the lost revenue in hosting a football game for either. Throw in the expensive travel costs to ship a football program across the Pacific Ocean, and it is not difficult to see why these talks may have dissolved. Whether or not Baylor will continue to seek an opponent for a season-opening game abroad remains to be seen.

As things stand right now, Baylor is scheduled to open the 2016 season at home against Northwestern State on September 3, 2016. Baylor’s two other non-conference games that season are scheduled against SMU and Rice. Baylor’s strength of schedule became a hot topic during last season’s College Football Playoff hunt, and is perceived to be one of the reasons Baylor fell behind the top four playoff contenders in the end, most notably Ohio State. There is no non-conference scheduling requirement in the Big 12 to schedule games against other power conference opponents like there is in the ACC or SEC, but the Big 12 would benefit from seeing more of its top programs schedule tougher games. Scheduling Cal may not sound like a huge upgrade, but it is still a power conference opponent with potential to do some things offensively.

With or without Baylor on the schedule, Cal will still be getting its dose of Big 12 opposition in 2016. The Bears are scheduled to host Texas on September 17, 2016 in the back-end of a home-and-home series that begins this fall in Austin (September 19, 2015). Cal is scheduled to open the season at home against South Dakota State and has a road game at San Diego State scheduled to fill out its 2016 schedule.

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Kirby Smart: Alabama didn’t value OSU QB Cardale Jones enough

Cardale Jones,Landon Collins

In defense of Wisconsin, not many expected Cardale Jones to be capable of stepping right in to lead Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game as effectively as he did. But Wisconsin’s misfortune should have been enough of a wake-up call for Alabama with a month to prepare for the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Sugar Bowl. According to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, he and the Alabama staff may not have done enough to keep the defense grounded and aware of what Jones could do.

“All three of them (referring to Landon Collins, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams)  said they did not respect the quarterback, and our job as the coaches was to make them respect the quarterback,” Smart said in an interview on 680 The Fan in Atlanta. “Well, they heard from the media, they heard from ESPN, they heard from everybody that he was a third-string quarterback. How can a third-string quarterback beat Alabama? We didn’t promote him enough and they didn’t value his talents enough, and he came in — we thought he was a really good passer. Well, he ran the ball well, too. Well, we had not seen him run the ball . . . and not a runner like (Bama QB) Blake (Sims) and not a runner like their other guy, just big.”

In the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal game against the Crimson Tide, Jones completed 18 of 35 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 43 yards in the Ohio State victory.

Smart went on to praise Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had a monster performance as well. Smart said he saw his defense was going to be in for a long night against Ohio State’s offense even though the Crimson Tide held an early lead.

“We had not slowed them down. We had two red area stops, which were six points (two field goals), could have been 14,” Smart said. “We had a turnover, we stripped a ball. We had not slowed them down, and I’m thinking this could be 21 but it’s six, 21-6, could be 21-21. And then they scored right before the half, which we thought was deadly. They had a good two-minute drive and scored, and I knew that we were in trouble.”

Smart also said Alabama reached out to Houston head coach Tom Herman, who was Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach last season. He and Nick Saban asked Herman to offer his take on what he saw in Alabama’s defense that Ohio State was able to crack.

Helmet sticker to The Sporting News.

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WVU announces fireworks and stripe-the-stadium plans for 2015

Getting fans to dress all in one color for a football game is so old-fashioned now. Today it is all about striping your stadium in school colors. That is West Virginia will be doing with the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State.

Fans attending the October 10 home game in Milan Puskar Stadium will be asked to wear blue or gold depending on their section. Fans sitting in even-numbered sections will be encouraged to wear gold. All other fans are being asked to wear blue. Oklahoma State fans making the trip to Morgantown are more than welcome to join in the fun, I’m sure, but odds are pretty good they will try adding as much orange as possible to the scene.

In addition to the stripe out game against the Sooners, West Virginia will also have two games with some color-coordination among the fans. Fans are being asked to wear gold to the September 26 game against Big Ten foe Maryland. West Virginia is calling it a “Gold Rush.” The Mountaineers won a thriller against the Terrapins last season, leaving College Park with a 40-37 victory over the newest Big Ten member. West Virginia will later ask fans to all come wearing blue for the November 14 game against Texas. It will be just the second time Texas has played in Morgantown.

Need another reason to head to a West Virginia game this season? The season opener against Georgia Southern will have a fireworks show after the game.

Tennessee still set the bar about as high as you can go last season with its checker-out in Neyland Stadium. Kansas State will also be striping out its stadium this fall.

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Ranking the 10 most patriotic college conferences

The July 4th weekend is for all intents and purposes here, which means things tend to be a little slow on the college football news front. Instead of taking the day off though, I decided to rank the top 10 most patriotic conferences. Here is my list. Feel free to disagree with it as you see fit. Sorry, the independents do not qualify, as they are not an official conference.

1. American Athletic Conference

When the Big East crumbled, up rose the American Athletic Conference. Giving itself such a name made it one of the most patriotic conferences be default, but just this week it cemented its place ahead of Conference USA when Navy officially became a football-playing member. The conference also includes Temple, from Philadelphia. In case you forgot, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philly, so that should count for something.

2. Conference USA

The OG of patriotic conferences, Conference USA was once the home to Army football (before the Black Knights struggled and decided to go back to being independent). Now it is a conference rooted in the future growth and development of some young or upcoming programs. Consider them college football’s equivalent to colonies at this stage.

3. Mid-American Conference

Another conference with a direct reference to America right in its name, the Mid-American Conference serves us all some #MACTION, because this is America.

4. Patriot League

Bet you didn’t see this one coming. The Patriot League would have been higher had it been in the FBS but it receives special recognition in this list because it is the home to Army and Navy in non-football sports. We’ll give it half-credit for that. It is also the home to American University, which does not play football.

5. Big Ten

Is there anything more American than greed and the idea that bigger is better? Doesn’t that sum up the Big Ten quite well? The conference that added Rutgers and Maryland for no other reason to add more viewers to its innovative Big Ten Network, the Big Ten also hands out plenty of cash to its members, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

6. Mountain West Conference

America was once an underdog looking to prove capable of holding its own against the dominant powers. Then one day, America became that dominant power. That reminds me of the Mountain West Conference, home to more BCS-busters and BCS bowl victories than any other non-power conference. Don’t tell the Mountain West Conference they don’t belong, because they dream big and have even seen some of their own go on to be members of power conferences along the way (Utah, TCU). Dream big MWC, it’s the American way. Also, the home to Air Force football.

7. Colonial Athletic Association

Before we were a nation, we were just 13 simple colonies. The Colonial Athletic Association has members in nine of them spanning from Maine all the way down to North Carolina. That includes Delaware (the first state), Villanova (close enough to Philadelphia and Valley Forge to count), and William & Mary (in Williamsburg).

8. Great American Standings

Sure, we may think we are all great Americans, but the 11 members that make up the Great American Conference in Division 2 have a conference labeling them as such.

9. Liberty League

If you have never heard of the Liberty League, do not be alarmed for you are likely not alone. This Division 3 conference is home to eight football schools, including the Union Dutchmen and the Merchant Marine Mariners.

10. Presidents’ Athletic Conference

Last, but certainly not least, is another one from the world of Division 3 football. The Presidents’ Athletics Conference, or the PAC, is home to Washington & Jefferson (appropriately nicknamed the Presidents). Perhaps this one should have been ranked a little higher.

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Report: RB Delton Williams could return to Spartans this month

Delton Williams, Ryan Russell

After being left off the spring roster, running back Delton Williams may be preparing to return to the Spartans football program in time for the 2015 season.

Per a story from MLive.com this morning, it is expected Williams will return to the Spartans as early as this month, although the school and head coach Mark Dantonio have not commented on the running back’s status since his initial suspension. Williams was not enrolled in classes as of the middle of June after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor firearms charge as a result of a road rage incident in March.  If Williams does rejoin the program within the month, he will be back in Eats Lansing in enough time to participate in fall camp, which could help him be ready for the start of the season.

Williams appeared in 13 games for Michigan State last season, in which he rushed for 316 yards and five touchdowns. Both of those numbers were good for third on the team behind Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill. With both having moved on, Williams is Michigan State’s leading rusher returning in 2015.

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