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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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UPDATE: John Chavis files suit against LSU, still in good standing with A&M

Louisiana Monroe v LSU AP

I can’t say with 100-percent certainty, but this might be the first time a college coach has filed a lawsuit against both his former and current employer over a contractual issue.

The parties involved are John Chavis, Texas A&M and LSU.  That’s one of the few things that are clear in this case.

In November of last year, it was reported that Chavis and LSU had reached an agreement on a one-year contract extension that would keep the defensive coordinator with the Tigers through the 2015 season.  A month and a half later, the first reports surfaced that Texas A&M had reached out to gauge Chavis’ interest in its coordinator vacancy; a week later, Chavis-to-TAMU was a done deal according to media reports.  Feb. 13, Chavis’ hiring by A&M was made official.

What happened between Chavis’ LSU contract extension and Chavis’ official A&M hiring is at the heart of a lawsuit filed Friday by the coordinator regarding a $400,000 buyout LSU is pursuing, KBTX-TV is reporting.  In  the lawsuit, Chavis claims he doesn’t owe the six-figure buyout… but if he does, A&M is responsible for paying it.

As for the particulars of the lawsuit, here’s what the television station has gleaned:

Chavis claims under his contract, he was given a right to terminate his employment agreement with LSU without cause with 30 days notice. If there were between zero and 11 months left on the deal, Chavis claimed he would owe nothing to LSU, but if between 11 and 23 months were left, he would owe $400,000 to the university.

On January 2, 2015, Chavis claims LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva demanded that Chavis pay the university $400,000. On January 5, Chavis says he turned in this 30-day notice to terminate the contract without cause, making his last day February 4.

“Based on Chavis’ notice of termination on January 5, 2015, the ‘termination date’ according to the Amendment was effective thirty days after the written notice served to LSU or (sic) February 4, 2015, which falls within the 11th month remaining and Chavis’ Employment Agreement,” reads the suit. According to Chavis, he does not owe LSU $400,000 as a result.

On the A&M side, Chavis’ suit states that his current employer is “currently obligated to satisfy or cause to be satisfied the liquidated damages, if any, associated with Chavis’ previous Employment Agreement with LSU.” The problem with that? A&M is “unwilling to tender the liquidated damages demanded by LSU because it does [not] believe that liquidated damages are called for under the Employment Agreement as mentioned above,” the suit claims.

I don’t know how this will play out on either side, but I’m going to make a double batch of popcorn, just in case.

UPDATE [9:00 p.m. ET]: John Chavis remains in good standing with his current employer.

Texas A&M University denied any claim that a suit has been filed against it by Chavis, nor does the institution agree that their new defensive coordinator owes the LSU Tigers anything.

Texas A&M released a short statement Friday night, via The Advocate:

UPDATE [10:55 p.m. ET]: Texas A&M University released a short statement early Friday evening. LSU responded in kind later that night.

LSU expects John Chavis‘ lawsuit to be dropped over matters of proper jurisdiction, while the university counter-sued its former defensive coordinator in order to claim the $400,000 buyout stipulated in his previous contract:

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Texas Tech’s DC David Gibbs plans to use Justis Nelson at CB

Jhajuan Seales, Justis Nelson

Defensive back Justis Nelson experienced a breakthrough season as a sophomore. Nelson was named an honorable mention to the All-Big 12 team and a First-Team Academic All-Big 12 performer. However, he didn’t find a permanent home in the Red Raiders secondary.

Nelson played both safety and cornerback last season. But where will new defensive coordinator David Gibbs use this fall?

“We’re going to start him at corner and teach him the corner techniques, because at least the first two days — maybe more than that — we’re just going to be in base defense with three linebackers and teach him to play corner,” Gibbs told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams.

Nelson, who came to Lubbock as a three-star athlete, began his career at safety before switching to cornerback. Due to depth issues, he returned to safety. While the Red Raiders staff expects him to be a starting cornerback, Nelson will likely play some safety during the upcoming season.

“There are going to be times when he’s going to have to play safety, which I’ve done it (with starting cornerbacks),” Gibbs said. “I’ve had my starting corner in base be a safety in nickel and be the nickel in nickel.

“If he has the ability to go play safety and he’s better than my third safety, then I’ll move him to safety and bring those other corners in the game and let them play.”

Nelson’s length at 6’2″ and 179 pounds makes him an ideal cornerback, and he’s already shown the ability to close on the ball to make a play. The Mesquite, Texas, native led the team with 16 pass breakups, which was the school’s highest total since 2002.

However, his new coach hopes Nelson can turn those broken up passes into interceptions during his junior campaign.

“Justis could have had eight freakin’ interceptions last year,” Gibbs said. “He (then-defensive coordinator Mike Smith) put him in the right position. He could have. He didn’t. He’s got to catch those balls. If he catches those balls, it’s a whole different game.”

Whether or not Nelson makes those catches or not, he is still one of the team’s best defenders. The flexibility he provides in the secondary gives Gibbs plenty of options as he instills a new scheme to improve upon last year’s 95th-ranked pass defense.

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Kansas State schedules two home-and-home series against SEC programs

Kansas State v Iowa State

The Kansas State Wildcats apparently learned a lesson after the Big 12 Conference was shut out of the first College Football Playoff. The program is now beefing up its future non-conference schedules.

Bill Snyder‘s squad decided to invade the SEC — that is, if Coach Snyder is still coaching the team in 2017 (and I wouldn’t bet against it).

Kansas State scheduled a pair of home-of-home series with SEC programs, according to ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy:

The Wildcats’ non-conference schedule prior to 2017 includes the South Dakota Coyotes, UTSA Roadrunners, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Missouri State Bears and Florida Atlantic Owls. Not one opponent from a power conference counted among the lot.

Not only is it important for the Wildcats to improve the team’s non-conference schedule, but games against SEC teams will improve the team’s recruiting presence in the Southeast.

Snyder’s staff showed more of an emphasis on recruiting traditional SEC states this year with six commitments from Alabama, Florida and Georgia in the 2015 class. The trend should continue with the team’s agreements to play four games against SEC opponents from 2017-20.

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Bret Bielema explains approach to recruit new coaches to his staff

Bret Bielema

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema doesn’t want to do things like everyone else. That applies to his coaching hires, too.

First, Bielema made the surprise move to poach a sitting head coach from the MAC by hiring Dan Enos as the team’s new offensive coordinator.

He rounded out his coaching staff Wednesday with the hire of Jemal Singleton as the team’s new running backs coach.

Neither of these hires went through a traditional hiring process, though.

“To get to where we are today was kind of a unique process,” Bielema said, via CoachingSearch.com.. “I had a list of names. I was talking to [Air Force head coach] Troy Calhoun at the rules committee meeting, and Coach Calhoun would come watch us when we were at Wisconsin. I’d asked him about another coach that had previously worked for him, and he looked at me and said, ‘You need a running backs coach?’ ‘Yeah, I do, I’m losing my guy to the Saints.’ He goes, ‘I’ve got the guy for you.’ He mentioned Jemal.

“I was impressed the first time I read his bio. He hurdled past everybody else. I had a list of probably 23 coaches at one point. To finally get a chance to sit down with him Monday and visit was an easy decision.

“Whether that’s a normal process or not, I met with him, Coach Enos met with him, he had individual meeting time with every one of our offensive coaches. It’s just how I do it. I also have my secretaries sit down with him. I have my DFO sit down and have breakfast with him. I’ll have my recruiting staff take him to lunch. It’s a team atmosphere. You cultivate that in the way you recruit people.”

It can’t be too difficult to recruit a position coach when Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins form the best running back duo in college football. Singleton will simply be the beneficiary of the talent on the roster after impressing everyone around the Razorbacks program.

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Spurrier ‘letting legal system play out’ on 2015 signee

Shameik Blackshear

Arrested earlier this month, 2015 signee Shameik Blackshear remains a part of the plans for the South Carolina football program in 2015 and beyond.  Whether that will remain the case moving forward remains to be seen.

In his first public comments since Blackshear was charged, head coach Steve Spurrier said he and the program are essentially in wait-and-see mode, and that they’ll make a decision once the criminal proceedings have run their course.

We’ll let the legal system play out,” Spurrier told The State newspaper earlier today. “He’s claiming his innocence, so we’ll see what happens.”

Blackshear is alleged to have taken a purse and safe from a Mill Creek (SC) home Feb. 7. The total value of the items contained in the purse and safe totaled nearly $1,400. He was arrested at his high school and charged with one count of petit larceny.

If Blackshear is able to get past his legal hurdles, he has the type of potential to contribute to the Gamecocks’ defense immediately.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Blackshear was a rated as the No. 18 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.  Only two other Gamecock defensive signees in a class that ranked 19th nationally were higher-rated than Blackshear.

Blackshear, the first commitment to USC’s 2015 class when he verballed back in May of 2013, earned those lofty recruiting marks despite missing most of the past two seasons due to injuries, one of which was an ACL tear incurred last September.  Entering the 2015 season and prior to the significant knee injury, the 6-4, 245-pound lineman was the top-rated player in the state and was a Rivals.com five-star.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Rumors swirling that Daxx Garman is transferring from Okla. St.

Daxx Garman

If it were to come to fruition, this would certainly qualify as at least a mild surprise.

Speculation surfaced late Friday morning that Daxx Garman had called into the Oklahoma State football offices and quit the team.  SBNation followed that up by writing “[s]ources say that Garman skipped yesterday’s practice, called in and stated his intentions” to transfer from the football program.

Should Garman opt to transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at an FBS school as a graduate transfer as he’s set to receive his degree from OSU in May.

The only official word from OSU, though, is you’ll have to wait a week and a half for the official word on Garman’s status.

Garman replaced J.W. Walsh, who sustained a season-ending leg injury in Week 2, and started the next eight games at quarterback before going down with a concussion in a Nov. 15 loss to Texas. Freshman Mason Rudolph replaced Walsh against Baylor and, in three starts, led the Cowboys to at least 28 points in going 2-1, including a 30-21 win over Washington in the Cactus Bowl that saw him pass for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Because of that three-game stretch — and because a Garman-led offense failed to score more than 27 points in five of eight starts — Rudolph is widely viewed as the overwhelming favorite for the starting job heading into spring practice.

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Reporter covering Jameis Winston accusations details threats

Maryland Florida St Football AP

The allegations of sexual assault surrounding Jameis Winston affected any number of lives, including, as it turns out, one of the individuals charged with covering it.

In an absolutely riveting piece posted online Friday, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times details, among other things, the threats directed at not only himself but his wife as he played a significant role in covering the scandal from the very beginning.  From being accused of sleeping with Winston’s  accuser to accusations that he was tipped off by Alabama’s Nick Saban, the central theme from the Florida State community seems to be encapsulated in this message Baker received from an FSU student: “Why do you have to go around digging for s— (you) have no business in? The FSU nation is coming for u.”

And come after him they did as Baker writes “[f]ans bombarded my phone with more than 100 calls over a couple of weeks,” as well as having his phone number attached to “a gay personal ad on Craigslist next to a picture of a chiseled man wearing only boxer shorts and a Santa hat” and having “a photo of a stranger’s penis” sent to him. “Florida State fans wanted me to die of brain-eating cancer and in a car crash on my way home,” Baker added.

Unbelievably, it went downhill from there.

I was covering a high school football game one night when a Twitter post popped up on my phone:

You’re a marked man … Say goodbye.

My wife started worrying about me at home, so she reported it to the police and the FBI.

She spent that night combing through message boards, looking for other threats. Buried in the hundreds of vicious comments, she found a photo someone posted of the two of us. One of the trolls said our future children would be ugly.

When I called her on the drive home, she was in tears.

I didn’t know what to say.

Again, click HERE to read Baker’s entire account.

It should be said that the abuse and threats heaped on Baker and his wife likely came from a very small percentage of the FSU fan base. That said, it doesn’t make it any less sickening.

Speaking as someone who had death wished upon his then-three-year-old daughter… who had, and I quote, “ass cancer” wished upon his whole family… who, like Baker, it was hoped would exchange bodily fluids with an AIDS-infected monkey… whose home phone number had to be changed (twice) after “fans” found it and abused him and his family because he had the audacity to write something negative about Alabama or Ohio State or Penn State or whatever football program it was, I can say this with complete sincerity and utter authority: get a life, people. Seriously. It’s just football.

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Historic financial boon for SEC West coaches

Raining Money

Thanks to Dan Mullen and other developments this offseason, the SEC West has entered some rarefied financial air.

Late Thursday night, it was announced that Mullen and Mississippi State had, as expected, reached agreement on a new contract that includes both an extension and raise.  Financially, Mullen will be paid an average of $4.275 million annually over the next four years.

In December of last year, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze received a $1 million bump in pay that will push his total salary for the 2015 season to $4.3 million.  Earlier this month, Arkansas’ Bret Bielema was on the receiving end of a new contract that will pay him $4 million in 2015 and average $4.25 million over the next six years.

As part of a new contract announced in June of last year, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn will earn $4.1 million in 2015.  Add in the 2014 salaries of Alabama’s Nick Saban ($7.1 million), Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin ($5 million) and LSU’s Les Miles ($4.4 million), and all seven coaches in the SEC West will make at least $4 million in the same calendar year; that’s the first time in the history of college football such a thing has happened in the same division.

To put it into perspective, just eight non-SEC West coaches in 2014 surpassed the $4 million barrier: Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio ($5.6 million), Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops ($5.06 million), Texas’ Charlie Strong ($5 million), Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($4.5 million), Penn State’s James Franklin ($4.3 million), Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz ($4.07 million), South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier ($4.02 million) and TCU’s Gary Patterson ($4.01 million).

Spurrier and Georgia’s Mark Richt, armed with a new contract announced in January, are the only SEC East coaches in the same financial neighborhood as their West counterparts.  Next up on the East compensation food chain is Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, who, thanks to his new contract signed in March of last year, will make around $3.5 million in 2015 after earning $3.4 million in 2014.

All told, the seven coaches in the SEC West will make somewhere in the neighborhood of $33 million in 2015; according to the USA Today database, 11 coaches in the ACC — three (Boston College, Syracuse, Wake Forest) weren’t listed — made approximately $26.6 million combined in 2014.

For further perspective, the 11 coaches in the Sun Belt conference combined to earn a total of approximately $5.3 million in 2014.

And, while this coaching arms race is ongoing across not only the SEC West but all of college football — an arms race financed by the billions of dollars universities as a whole are making off of the sport — walk-ons are being ruled ineligible because they had the audacity to accept a place to live instead of going homeless.  Priorities, y’all.

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A&M distances itself from #WRTS hashtag connected to 2015 recruit

Daylon Mack

If you follow recruiting in general and Texas A&M specifically on Twitter, you know what #WRTS stands for.  If you don’t, it’s an acronym for “We Run This State,” an inference that the Aggies rule the recruiting roost in the talent-rich state of Texas.

Those connected to the football program have begun to distance themselves from that particular hashtag, and there’s a very specific reason why.

The father of 2015 A&M signee Daylon Mack, ESPN.com writes, “filed for the trademark to #WRTS with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June” while his son was a verbal commitment to the Aggies.  In fact, the photo in the upper right is of Daylon Mack and was posted to Twitter in late May (since deleted).

The same attorney who helped Johnny Manziel with his trademarks, Derek Gilliland, provided assistance to Coris Mack throughout this process.  The Mack family does not yet officially own the #WRTS trademark, but, when/if they acquire it, they could benefit financially by having the mark placed on clothing apparel or other goods that are sold.

Even as the Mack trademark situation was known back in December, there have been growing message board whispers that A&M was able to secure the services of Mack by, in part, allowing his father to attempt to trademark the hashtag and, thus, potentially profit from it. A&M jumped into proactive mode Thursday, ESPN again writes, as a statement from the Aggies “rendered the mark, at least at its school, virtually useless… in an attempt to disconnect from any appearance of impropriety.”  From the website’s accounting of the statement:

“Texas A&M has not had any plans — past or future — to trademark, purchase, or otherwise profit financially from #WRTS,” the school said in a statement Thursday. “Texas A&M was aware of Mr. Coris Mack’s trademark application but this trademark application had nothing to do with the recruitment of Mr. Daylon Mack as a student-athlete at Texas A&M.”

The school also said it has “disallowed licensees from using #WRTS in connection with Texas A&M trademarks, to include official logos, phrases and colors, in production of licensed goods. Texas A&M’s Office of Business Development, which oversees the university’s trademarks and licensing, is not a part of the athletics department, and is not involved in the recruitment of student-athletes.”

The AggieFBLife Twitter account, which ESPN explains “is run by a third party but connected to an athletic staff member with the Aggies,” still has the #WRTS hashtag in its profile as of this morning.

Mack had been committed to A&M before decommitting in mid-December of last year.  The four-star defensive end ultimately signed with the Aggies over Texas and TCU.

This Mack situation continues an odd relationship A&M and those connected to it have with trademarks, joining the likes of the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Johnny Football and the infamous Kenny Trill.

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Two Beaver O-linemen who have started games forced to retire

Grant Bays

At bare minimum, Oregon State’s depth along the offensive line has taken a bit of a hit.

According to the Corvallis Times-Gazette, offensive linemen Garrett Weinreich and Grant Bays (pictured) were two of the four players who have been forced into medical retirement from football. The other two are defensive end Glyeb Ewing and safety Zack Robinson.

Over the past two seasons, Bays had started 10 games for the Beavers, including seven at guard in 2014. The Oregonian writes that the lineman “was hobbled by a nagging back issue much of his career.”

A three-star member of OSU’s 2012 recruiting class, Weinreich has been hampered by a knee injury originally sustained during summer camp of his true freshman season. He started the opener in 2014, but aggravated the injury once again.

Robinson had played in 19 games the last two seasons while Ewing took a redshirt as a true freshman last season. The nature of the injuries that forced that pair to retire weren’t detailed.

(Photo credit: Oregon State athletics)

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Jon Gruden on Ohio State’s Urban Meyer: ‘Greatest coaching job of all time’

Jon Gruden

ESPN’s Jon Gruden is often criticized due to his bouts of hyperbole, but his stance on Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer may have redefined even his barometer.

What Ohio State accomplished last season was certainly astounding.

After the team lost to the hapless Virginia Tech Hokies 35-21 during the second week of the season, the Buckeyes changed gears and eventually ran roughshod through the Big Ten’s conference schedule and championship game, into the first ever College Football Playoff and grabbed the school’s eight national championship.

“Maybe the best coach in the SEC went to the Big Ten,” Gruden told Colin Cowherd during a radio interview, via CoachingSearch.com. “Urban Meyer did the greatest coaching job of all time. Winning a national championship with his third-string quarterback, I’ve never seen that before. … I’ve always respected him. Won two national titles at Florida.

“What he did at Ohio State, losing a Heisman Trophy candidate and then doing what he did with two different quarterbacks that were backups. Amazing to me.”

All of this came a year earlier than expected. Next year’s Ohio State squad was supposed to be the breakthrough team for Meyer in Columbus. Instead, the program is a year ahead of schedule and will almost certainly enter this coming season as the No. 1 team in the country.

However, none of that makes the most recent National Championship run the greatest in football history. Yes, the Buckeyes were forced to start three different quarterbacks. But all of them were more talented than…say…Craig Krenzel, who led the Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship.

In fact, Ohio State was considered a 12-point underdog to an absolutely loaded Miami Hurricanes squad that year. The difference in overall talent level from top to bottom was actually in Ohio State’s favor against the Oregon Ducks in January.

It was a tremendous run by Meyer and his Buckeyes, but this is another case where Gruden remains completely over the top with his comments.

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Dan Mullen signs a contract extension with Mississippi State

Dan Mullen

All of the discussions regarding whether or not Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen will eventually leave Starkville to take another job at a different university should die down now.

After being linked to multiple openings over the past two years, Mullen signed an extension with Mississippi State Thursday through the 2018 season.

“Dan has done a phenomenal job in leading our football team the past six years, and we’re happy to be in a position to reward his efforts while making sure he’ll be able to continue building a championship program for Mississippi State,” Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement.

“Under Dan’s guidance, Bulldog football has achieved a level of consistent success unparalleled in our history, during which time we’ve been ranked No. 1 in the nation and appeared in elite bowl games. We’re proud Dan is our coach.”

HailState.com’s Bob Carskadon provided some of the contract details:

With an average salary of $4.275 million, Mullen becomes the ninth-highest paid coach in college football. He still trails Alabama’s Nick Saban, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and LSU’s Les Miles among SEC coaches, according to USA TODAY Sports.

Mullen shouldn’t be too concerned about where he stands in the SEC pecking order, though. It’s clear the school is committed to retaining its head coach after a 46-31 overall record — including last season’s 10-3 campaign — during his six seasons with the program.

“It’s a privilege to represent our university, our program and our fans here at Mississippi State,” Mullen said. “I appreciate Scott Stricklin and our administration who have given us the tools and resources to be successful and develop Bulldog football into a national brand over the last six years.”

“We spent five weeks ranked No. 1 last season for the first time, but we have only scratched this surface on what we can accomplish here. We have created a winning culture both on and off the field and built a program that has sustained success in the nation’s toughest conference. I’ve always said we are going to win a championship here, and I firmly believe that.”

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Oklahoma State announces official changes to coaching staff

Mike Gundy

Spring practice begins Tuesday for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Before a new season gets underway, the program needed to clean up some loose ends.

The school officially announced the hiring of five new assistant coaches to Mike Gundy’s staff:

Titles weren’t bestowed on former Buffalo Bills tight ends coach Greg Adkins, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo or Montana State offensive line coach Jason McEndoo, but they’re expected to serve in similar roles to their previous stops.

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MSU’s Mark Dantonio believes best players should play, including freshmen

Mark Dantonio

Those within the Big Ten Conference aren’t presenting a united front on the topic of freshman ineligibility.

A week ago, the league was trying to drum up interest among its members to support a potential rule change. University of Maryland president Wallace Loh even came out publicly in support of the possibility.

The league has yet to officially propose any changes but it wants to continue the “national conversation.”

Apparently, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio didn’t get the memo.

Dantonio’s comment clearly isn’t just a chance to appeal to recruits. He doesn’t appear to be an advocate of the rule in any form or fashion.

The coach could have worded his answer differently in order to tow the party line. He didn’t. He stated freshmen should play if they’re good enough after being directly asked about the issue.

If the Big Ten Conference wants the possibility of freshman ineligibility to become more than a national conversation, the league needs to develop support from its coaches.

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Potential starter along Oregon’s O-line calls it a career

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State Getty Images

Unfortunately, one of the best names in college football retired Thursday.

Andre Yruretagoyena won’t return to the Oregon Ducks football program this year. An exact reason wasn’t provided, but the redshirt senior decided it was time to leave.

Yruretagoyena finally found his way into the Ducks’ starting lineup last year, but it was short-lived as he dealt with a lingering foot injury.

After the amount of injuries Oregon suffered along the offensive line a season ago, Yruretagoyena’s loss hurts the team’s depth at offensive tackle.

Tyler Johnstone is expected to return from a torn ACL he suffered last summer to start at left tackle, while sophomore Tyrell Crosby should prove to be the team’s bookend at right tackle.

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