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North Carolina announces 17 new football signees

Larry Fedora AP

(Below are the bios released by North Carolina on the 17 new members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

Mikey Bart
Defensive End
6-3, 245
Buford, Ga. (Buford)

Pronounced MIKE-ee • Prepstar All-Southeast Region • Finished second in the county with 12.5 sacks • Earned first-team all-state as a defensive end and tight end • Played in the state championship game four times and won three of those • Was named the county player of the year • Ranked the No. 24 tight end in the country by ESPN.com, No. 33 by Scout.com and No. 81 by 247sports.com • Considered the No. 114 player in Georgia by ESPN.com • Team captain • Gwinnett County TD Club Player of the Year • Played at the same high school as current Tar Heel Nathan Staub • Coached by Jess Simpson • Helped lead his team to the state championship in baseball • Born Michael Joseph Bart on March 26, 1995 • Son of Karen and Tom Bart.

Lucas Crowley
Offensive Line
6-3, 270
Ponte Vedra, Fla. (Nease)

Rated the No. 5 center in the country by ESPN.com • Considered the No. 12 center in the country and one of Florida’s top 100 prospects by Rivals.com • Listed as the No. 20 center in the nation by Scout.com • Ranked the No. 50 offensive guard in the nation by 247sports.com • Named first-team All-First Coast • Member of the Jacksonville Times-Union Super 24 team • First-team all-state • MaxPreps Second-Team Medium Schools All-America selection • Prepstar All-Southeast Region selection • Coached by Shane Matthews • Born Lucas Wisham Crowley on Sept. 7, 1994 • Son of Dan and Laurie Crowley.

Dajaun Drennon
Defensive End
6-4, 230
Clementon, N.J. (Timber Creek)

Pronounced duh-WAN • Listed as the No. 4 weakside defensive end in the country by 247sports.com • Considered the No. 10 player in New Jersey and the No. 19 weakside defensive end in the nation by Rivals.com • Ranked the No. 29 defensive end in the country by Scout.com • Ranked the No. 20 outside linebacker by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming • Played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Houston • Played for Team USA at the 2012 IFAF World Championships • Helped lead Timber Creek Regional to the South Jersey Group IV state championship • Considered the No. 49 defensive end in the nation by ESPN.com • Racked up 60 tackles and had 14 quarterback sacks as a senior • Participated in the US Army Combine • Coached by Rob Hinson • Born Dajaun Raleigh Drennon on Oct. 18, 1994 • Son of Ann and Raleigh Drennon.

Jordan Fieulleteau
Wide Receiver
6-3, 200
Raleigh, N.C. (Wakefield)

Pronounced fee-ALL-toe • Enrolled at UNC in January • Honorable-mention Parade All-America • Named to the North Carolina Associated Press All-State team and the NCPreps.com All-State team • Received the most votes on the AP all-state team • Prepstar All-Atlantic Region • Member of the ESPN 300 team • Ranked the No. 9 player in North Carolina by ESPN.com and the No. 43 receiver in the nation • Made 111 catches for 1,669 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior • Led the team in scoring • Wakefield was 11-2 and advanced to the state playoffs • As a junior, posted 86 receptions for 1,200 yards and 24 touchdowns • Third-most touchdown receptions in state history and second-highest reception total in a season • Has the most touchdown catches in the nation in past two seasons • Coached by Rod Sink • Son of Kendra Clarke • Born June 10, 1995.

Khris Francis
Running Back
5-9, 195
Durham, N.C. (Hillside)

Enrolled at UNC in January • Member of North Carolina’s Shrine Bowl team • Considered the No. 29 running back in the country by ESPN.com • Ranked the No. 95 running back in the country by Scout.com • Listed as the No. 18 running back in the country by 247sports.com • Prepstar All-Atlantic Region • Ran 251 times for 2,100 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior • Also had 328 yards and five touchdowns receiving • Was twice named the conference offensive back of the year • Rushed for 2,251 yards with 31 touchdowns as a junior • Also added 90 yards in receptions with one touchdown • Coached by Antonio King • Son of Chris and Bobbi Hadersbeck • Born December 25, 1993.

Marquis Haynes
Bandit
6-3, 220
Jacksonville, Fla. (University Christian)

Pronounced mar-KEECE • Member of the Jacksonville Times-Union Super 24 team • Prepstar All-Southeast Region • Considered the No. 32 weakside defensive end in the nation by 247sports.com, No. 43 by Rivals.com and the No. 44 overall defensive end by ESPN.com • Ranked among the top 175 defensive ends in the country by Scout.com • Helped lead University Christian to a come-from-behind victory over Dade Christian in the 2-A state championship game • Named first-team All-First Coast on defense with 73 tackles and 25 sacks as a senior • Also had 219 yards receiving and two touchdowns as a tight end and served as the team’s kicker • Registered 21 sacks as a junior • Coached by David Penland • Also plays basketball • Born Marquis Jacori Haynes on Dec. 16, 1993 • Son of Maurice and Kim Haynes.

Brad Henson
Offensive Line
6-5, 295
Surf City, N.J. (Monsignor Donovan)

Named the No. 13 guard in the nation by CBSSports.com • Listed the No. 25 guard in the country by Scout.com • Rated the No. 11 player in New Jersey and the No. 26 offensive guard in the country by Rivals.com • Four-year starter • Named first-team all-state • Ranked among the top 25 offensive guards in the nation by ESPN.com • Coached by Dan Duddy • Born Bradley Winn Henson on Nov. 28, 1993 • Son of Bradley and Elizabeth Henson.

Johnathan Howard
Wide Receiver
6-4, 195
Rochelle, Ga. (Wilcox County)

2012 MaxPreps Small School All-America selection • Named to the ESPN 300 list of the nation’s top recruits • Listed as the nation’s No. 24 wide receiver and No. 22 player in Georgia by ESPN.com • Class A all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution • Named the AJC’s Offensive Class A Player of the Year • Invited to the Macon Touchdown Club as one of the Super Seven athletes in middle Georgia • Had the second-highest single-season receiving total in Georgia history with 1,630 receiving yards as a senior • Also scored 19 total touchdowns and finished the season with 115 catches • Ranked the nation’s No. 75 wide receiver by Scout.com • Considered among the top 100 players in Georgia and the No. 92 wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com • Coached by Mark Ledford • Born Johnathan Jamaul Howard on Nov. 28, 1994 • Son of Lonnie and Veronica Howard.

Nazair Jones
Defensive Lineman
6-5, 250
Roanoke Rapids, N.C. (Roanoke Rapids)

Pronounced nah-ZEER • Member of North Carolina’s Shrine Bowl team • Prepstar All-Atlantic Region • Competed in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Houston • Considered the No. 10 player in North Carolina and the nation’s No. 26 strongside defensive end by Rivals.com • Listed as the No. 9 player in North Carolina and the No. 17 strongside defensive end by 247sports.com • Ranked the No. 11 player in North Carolina and the No. 40 defensive end in the country by Scout.com • Also played at defensive tackle and on the offensive line • Born Nazair Tyrron Jones on Dec. 13, 1994 • Son of Tammy Jones.

Desmond Lawrence
Defensive Back
6-1, 175
Charlotte, N.C. (Charlotte Christian)

Prepstar All-Atlantic Region • Ranked the No. 8 player in North Carolina and the 28 safety in the country by Scout.com • Considered the No. 20 player in North Carolina and the nation’s No. 39 safety by Rivals.com • Played in the Oasis Shrine Bowl Game, an all-star game for players from private schools in North and South Carolina • Named 2012 All-Observer Team • Two-time all-conference and all-state performer • Received the Gridiron Great award for South Charlotte • Was a nominee for the US Army Bowl • Played on both sides of the ball and was an accomplished tailback as well as a standout defensive back • Rushed 139 times for 1,299 yards and 11 touchdowns to lead his team to the NCISAA 3-A championship • Also had 14 catches and a touchdown • Coached by Jason Estep • Born Desmond Lanell Lawrence on Nov. 30, 1994 • Son of Val Watters and Frank Lawrence.

T.J. Logan
Running Back
5-10, 180
Greensboro, N.C. (Northern Guilford)

Prepstar All-America • Honorable-mention Parade All-America • Rated a top-100 player in the country by CBSSports.com’s Tom Lemming • Member of Prepstar’s Dream Team (top 150 players in the country) • Ranked the No. 4 all-purpose back in the country by Rivals.com and the No. 2 overall player in North Carolina • Considered the No. 13 running back in the country by Prepstar • Listed as the No. 10 all-purpose back in the country and a top five player in North Carolina by 247sports.com • Earned AP all-state honors and was named North Carolina’s AP player of the year for 2012 • MaxPreps Medium Schools First-Team All-America selection • Rushed for 3,146 yards and 47 touchdowns as a senior, averaging more than 10.7 yards per carry, despite playing I the fourth quarter only twice • Had 25 receptions for 344 yards and six touchdowns • Also completed all eight pass attempts for 144 yards and had 12 punt returns for 241 yards (20.1 avg.) • Rushed for 5,614 yards and 85 scores his last two seasons in at Northern Guilford • Set NCHSAA records with 510 yards and eight touchdowns in the state championship game as Northern Guilford completed an undefeated season and won the 3AA title • Coached by Johnny Roscoe • Born Tyrone Courtney Logan on Sept. 3, 1994 • Son of Tyrone and Sheila Logan.

Donnie Miles
Defensive Back
5-11, 200
Lawrenceville, Ga. (North Gwinnett)

Prepstar All-Southeast Region • Ranked among the top 100 players in Georgia by Rivals.com and ESPN.com • Considered the nation’s No. 38 safety by Scout.com • Is the No. 66 rated safety in the country by Rivals.com • Played defensive back and running back • Posted more than 50 tackles as a junior and rushed for 674 yards and nine touchdowns splitting time at tailback • Also made 24 catches for 269 yards • Team finished 11-2 and was ranked the No. 4 team in Georgia • Team won back-to-back 7-AAAAA championships • Coached by Bob Sphire • Grew up in Carol City, Fla., outside of Miami • Born Donnie Ray Miles on Aug. 3, 1994 • Son of Donnie Miles Sr. & Diane Turner.

R.J. Prince
Offensive Lineman
6-6, 300
Albemarle, N.C. (Albemarle)

Enrolled at UNC in January • Prepstar All-America • Named to the North Carolina Associated Press All-State team and the NCPreps.com All-State team • Named to the Charlotte Observers’ All-Observer First Team • Member of North Carolina’s Shrine Bowl team • Competed in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl • Ranked the No. 33 offensive tackle in the nation by 247sports.com • Listed as the No. 41 tackle by Rivals.com • Considered the No. 36 offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com and one of the top 10 in the South • Listed as the No. 34 offensive tackle by ESPN.com • Coached by Danny Akins • Son of Valerie and Roger Prince Sr. • Born April 19, 1995.

Ryan Switzer
Athlete
5-10, 175
Charleston, W.Va. (George Washington)

First-team Parade All-America selection • Named to the East team roster at the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl • Rated the No. 7 wingback by Tom Lemming • Two-time winner of the Kennedy Award, given to the West Virginia state player of the year • Only the sixth two-time winner in the award’s 66 years • Twice named the West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year • Twice named the Kanawha Valley Football Player of the Year by The Charleston Daily Mail • Class AAA all-state selection • Twice named the conference player of the year • Three-time first-team all-state • Two-time first-team all-state captain • Finished his senior season with 206 carries for 2,379 yards and 32 touchdowns • Also caught 20 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns and returned three interceptions for scores • Had another 40 rushing touchdowns as a junior • Scored 103 touchdowns in his prep career and finished in the top five in West Virginia history in touchdowns and points • Had more than 8,100 all-purpose yards • Is George Washington’s all-time leader in rushing, scoring total yards • 2012 Under Armour National Combine champion • 2011 SI.com honorable-mention All-America • Prepstar All-Atlantic Region selection • Coached by Steve Edwards • Helped lead George Washington to the 2011 AAA state basketball title • Was the AAA state track champion in the 4x100m and 4x200m relays • Son of Michael and Ashley Switzer • Born Nov. 4, 1994.

Mitch Trubisky
Quarterback
6-3, 205
Mentor, Ohio (Mentor)

Pronounced truh-BISS-kee • Enrolled at UNC in January • Named Mr. Football in the state of Ohio by the Associated Press, an annual award given to the top high school player regardless of division • Ranked the No. 19 quarterback in the country by Scout.com • Prepstar All-Midwest Region • Honorable-mention Parade All-America • Member of the ESPN 300 team • Is the most prolific passer in the Greater Cleveland area, becoming the first to pass for more than 9,000 career yards and more than 4,000 yards as a senior • Rated the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback by 247sports.com and the No. 3 player in Ohio • Passed for 4,063 yards as a senior, including 1,593 in four playoff games • Also rushed for 899 yards • Scored 108 points and was responsible for 51 touchdowns • Threw for 42 touchdowns and rushed for 18 • Team finished 12-2 and advanced to the state semifinals • Mentor was 30-8 during his three-years the quarterback • Among the top 10 passers in Ohio history with 9,126 yards and 92 touchdowns • Also rushed for 1,559 career yards and 33 touchdowns, averaging 4.1 per carry • Also served as Mentor’s punter in 2012 and had a 40.8 average • Coached by Steve Trivisonno • Son of Jeanne and Dave Trubisky • Born August 20, 1994.

Brian Walker
Defensive Back
5-11, 175
Charlotte, N.C. (Mallard Creek)

Member of the ESPN 150 team (top 150 players in the country regardless of position) • Considered the No. 14 cornerback in the country by ESPN.com • Member of the Rivals 250 team • Prepstar All-America and All-Atlantic Region • Member of North Carolina’s Shrine Bowl team • Named to the NCPreps.com All-State team • Named to the Charlotte Observers’ All-Observer First Team • Considered the No. 12 player in North Carolina and the No. 39 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com • Listed as the No. 12 player in the state by 247sports.com • Ranked the No. 20 player in North Carolina and No. 59 cornerback in the country by Scout.com • Twice named I-Meck 4A all-conference • Picked off six passes as a senior and added 13 pass breakups • Team finished 13-1 and advanced to the state semifinals • As a junior, he had 30 tackles, 12 pass breakups and three interceptions • Coached by Mike Palmeiri • Born Brian Keith Walker on Nov. 7, 1995 • Son of Kelvin and Latonia Walker.

Greg Webb
Defensive Tackle
6-2, 310
Erial, N.J. (Timber Creek)

Prepstar All-America • Member of Prepstar’s Dream Team (top 150 players in the country) • Considered the No. 10 defensive tackle in the nation by Scout.com and one of the top 100 players regardless of position • Considered the nation’s No. 12 defensive tackle by 247sports.com composite rankings • Ranked the No. 14 defensive tackle in the country by Prepstar • Member of the ESPN 300 • Listed as the No. 6 player in New Jersey, the No. 15 defensive tackle and the No. 159 player regardless of position by ESPN.com • Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl following his senior season • Considered New Jersey’s No. 5 player and is ranked the No. 20 defensive tackle in the country by Rivals.com • Had a dominant junior campaign with 94 tackles, 24 tackles for losses, 13 sacks and three fumble recoveries • Missed the first two months of his senior season with a torn ACL • Returned for the NJSIAA South Jersey IV final and helped lead his team to a 57-27 victory in the championship game • Was a high school teammate of Dajaun Drennon at Timber Creek Regional High School • Posted 57 tackles, 24 tackles for losses and six sacks as a sophomore • Coached by Rob Hinson • Born Greg Jerome Webb III on Jan. 16, 1995 • Son of Virginia and Greg Webb Jr.

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LSU plans to pursue John Chavis’ buyout

John Chavis

When John Chavis left the LSU Tigers to become the defensive coordinator of the Texas A&M Aggies, he walked away from a $1.3 million contract.

Chavis reportedly wanted his annual salary increased to $1.7 million to make him, along with Auburn’s Will Muschamp, the nation’s highest paid defensive coordinator.

When LSU brass decided that wasn’t going to happen, Chavis refused to sign a new contract. Instead, Texas A&M stepped up to the plate and lured him away to College Station.

Whether or not Texas A&M matched Chavis’ asking price, the assistant coach won’t see the full amount of his contract next season due to a buyout in his previous contract with LSU.

Chavis owes LSU $400,00 as part of the provision, according to The Shreveport Times‘ Glenn Guilbeau. The school intends to pursue the money it is owed.

“I’m not sure if we’ll get it, but we’re going to try to get it,” LSU board member Ronald Anderson told Guilbeau. “That was part of his contract. It’s his obligation.”

Whether or not LSU receives the payment may determine the future of former defensive line coach Brick Haley. Haley is currently on staff, but he was replaced by Ed Orgeron. Unlike Chavis, Haley signed a new contract offered after the season. However, his status along with the $450,000 contract remain uncertain until Chavis’ situation is finalized.

Haley is currently serving as a staff “intern.”

“I’m told that by June, if he decides to stay, they’ll decide what he’ll be doing and that title would change,” Anderson said.

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Former Crimson Tide safety takes shot at LSU’s new defensive coordinator

HaHa Clinton-Dix

You can take the football player out of Alabama, but you can’t take the Crimson Tide out of the football player.

Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix left Alabama as a highly decorated safety before becoming the 21st pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 NFL draft.

The safety didn’t take to Twitter Friday to rip the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions or even the Minnesota Vikings, though.

Clinton-Dix’s contempt for the rival LSU Tigers remains strong, and he made sure to point out what type of hire the program made when Kevin Steele was named its new offensive coordinator.

The game Clinton-Dix referred to was the 2012 Orange Bowl. Steele was the defensive coordinator of the Clemson Tigers at the time. His defense surrendered 595 total yards to the West Virginia Mountaineers on their way to scoring 70 points.

The embarrassing performance eventually cost Steele his job.

Despite the pitiful performance and being a few years removed from defensive coordinator duties, LSU head coach Les Miles was excited about Steele’s inclusion to his coaching staff.

“He has a great defensive mind and he’s an outstanding recruiter,” Miles said when the hire was officially announced, per ESPN. “He knows our players and our system and his knowledge of the SEC and the SEC Western Division makes him a great fit. We are very excited the Kevin will be joining our staff.”

Miles and LSU might be excited about the hire, but Clinton-Dix obviously thinks it’s a joke.

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Texas Tech cancels spring game, caters schedule to QB Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes

The spring game is an annual tradition in college football.

However, Kliff Kingsbury and his Texas Tech Red Raiders were forced to change up their spring schedule due to a couple of factors.

First, the Red Raiders won’t hold a spring game this year, according to the team’s official site.

“Due to the replacement of seating inside Jones AT&T Stadium, the annual Spring Game has been cancelled and there will be no other open practice opportunities for fans in Lubbock,” the statement read.

Also, the team will accommodate its projected starter at quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, who is also a member of the baseball team.

“Individual practices dates will be determined on a week-by-week basis in order to accommodate sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ baseball schedule, the school announced. “Mahomes will pitch and play in the outfield for the preseason No. 5 Texas Tech Baseball team this spring.”

Mahomes started the final four games of the 2014 campaign, and the freshman’s performance was impressive. The two-sport star passed for 1,428 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions during that stretch.

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Iowa WR breaks Odell Beckham’s Guinness world record

Iowa v Minnesota

Iowa’s Tevaun Smith didn’t just one-up New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. a day after he set a world record. The junior from Toronto, Canada easily surpassed Beckham’s mark and caught nearly as many one-handed passes in a minute than he did all season.

Beckham originally set the record Thursday by making 33 catches without a drop in 60 seconds. Smith, who caught 43 passes for 596 yards last season, decided he was up to the task with 41 one-handed snags.

The Iowa Hawkeyes athletic department recorded the record-breaking event, via ESPN:

After being challenged, Beckham will surely attempt to break the new record.

“The type of person I am, I love breaking records, no matter what it is,” Beckham said Thursday in an interview with CBS New York. “I look forward to breaking and going above and beyond what somebody else has done.”

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FCS coaches not sure Vernon Adams can transition from EWU to Oregon

Eastern Washington v Washington

There is very little Vernon Adams can prove with another year at Eastern Washington.

During his time as a member of the Eagles, the quarterback has proved he’s one of the elite players at the FCS level of play, and he helped lead his team to three straight playoff appearances.

In 37 career games, Adams threw for 10,438 yards, 110 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. Plus, the quarterback ran for 1,232 yards and 11 more touchdowns.

However, none of this means he’s ready to make the leap from the FCS level to play for the Oregon Ducks, who just played in a national championship game.

Adams is still entertaining the idea of transferring, though, as he prepares to visit Eugene this weekend.

“I’m not saying I’m leaving Eastern, but I’m just going to check it out and see what they have to say,” Adams told The Spokesman-Review‘s Jim Allen.

FCS coaches believe Adams can play at the level, but it may not be the right time for the quarterback to make the move.

“If I was advising him, I’d say he should stay,” Sam Houston State’s K.C. Keeler told The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

Keeler once coached Joe Flacco at Delaware before eventually becoming the Bearkats’ head coach. Sam Houston State even faced Eastern Washington to open its 2014 campaign.

“I walked out of that saying I don’t think I’ll see a better quarterback in the country and in my time coaching, I can’t list a whole lot better than I just saw,” Keeler said. “I have no reservation saying he’ll go into the Oregon locker room and that he’ll be as talented as anybody. It’s just there are a lot of things that go into being a starting quarterback.

“I’m disappointed he’s leaving because I think what players have to understand is bigger is not better, better is better. He’s developed an unbelievable following at Eastern Washington and I’d be disappointed he’s leaving our level. I’m not excited that he’s trying to bump up to a higher level. The more he plays, the better he’s going to get, and I don’t know if that’s the situation at Oregon.”

One obstacle Adams will face if he does decide to transfer is waiting to become part of the Ducks program until this summer. The quarterback is on track to graduate in June, which means he wouldn’t be able to participate in Oregon’s spring ball.

“I think there’s a real risk for Vernon Adams to do that,” former Oregon receivers coach and current Montana coach Robin Pflugrad said. “Can Vernon Adams do it? I’m a firm believer he can having seen him and having watched him from afar. It’s just going to be a totally different challenge for him and some of that is mental.”

The coaches were in agreement on one thing. If Adams does transfer to Oregon, they’ll be rooting for him to succeed.

“We’d cheer for him and a lot more than when he was playing against us, too,” Montana State’s Rob Ash said.

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Touted 2014 JUCO transfer leaving K-State for EKU

With National Signing Day five days away, here’s your daily reminder that recruiting hype doesn’t necessarily translate into on-field success.

D’Vonta Derricott was a four-star JUCO member of Kansas State’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 3 outside linebacker prospect coming from that level of football. Derricott never saw the field in 2014, taking a redshirt for his first season in Manhattan.

As it turns out, Derricott won’t ever see the field for K-State as he has decided to transfer, announcing via Twitter Thursday that he’s moving on to Eastern Kentucky.  According to the Manhattan Mercury, Derricott had been removed from K-State’s Alamo Bowl roster, although head coach Bill Snyder seemed to indicate that the door was at least slightly open for a return.

Because EKU plays at the FCS level, the linebacker will be eligible to play immediately in 2015. Counting this season, he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Kansas State athletics)

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Two more opt to transfer from Michigan

Michigan v Nebraska Getty Images

The work week began with word that a Michigan player has decided to leave Ann Arbor.  As it turns out, it’ll end the same way.  Times two.

First off, on Instagram Friday, Russell Bellomy announced that he will transfer out of the UM football program. In a very heartfelt statement, the quarterback asked that “you respect my decision and support me in whatever I do.”

Below is the statement, in its entirety.

“To those of you that know me well, I always try my hardest never to get emotional; however, I write this with a heavy heart. My heart is packed full of experiences, acquaintances and irreplaceable memories that I will reminisce on for the rest of my life. I love each and every one of my teammates, both former and present, and I hope y’all know that every day I busted my butt for you and the benefit of UM.

“I will receive my degree at the end of this semester and have decided to sign my release that enables me to play my 5th year as a graduate student at another university. I pray that you respect my decision and support me in whatever I do, because this was not an easy process. I am forever grateful to have attended and played for UM and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. “For I know the plans I have for you…” #GoBlueAlways”

As noted in the statement, Bellomy will be a graduate transfer, which means he would be eligible to play in 2015 if he decides to move on to an FBS program. The release granted by Michigan, which Bellomy showed on his social media post, allows him to transfer to any school not on the Wolverines’ schedule.

Russell Bellomy Release

Bellomy, a three-star member of the Wolverines’ 2011 recruiting class, played in six games during his time at UM, completing 4-of-23 passes for 46 yards and four interceptions.  Three of those interceptions came in a 23-9 loss to Nebraska in October of 2012, a game in which he was forced into action because of an elbow injury to starter Denard Robinson.

A short time later, teammate and defensive end-turned-tight end Keith Heitzman did the same thing as Bellomy, and on the same website to boot.

“The past few years have been an unforgettable journey full of ever lasting memories, both exciting and saddening. I have experienced the spoils of winning and the heartbreak of losing. I have always blamed my struggles on external factors and never realized that all of this was part of the process of becoming a Michigan man. It has been the most challenging yet rewarding 4 years of my life and for that I will be forever grateful.

“However, this moment right now has manifested itself into the toughest experience as of yet. I have signed my release form allowing me to talk with other schools for the potential to transfer. As of right now I will leave this great institution in the spring with a degree in hand and friendships that will last a lifetime. I have to make the best possible decision for me, therefore, I feel like I need to explore my options. I have to thank all the fans for their continued support through the turbulent times over these past few years and promise that Michigan is destined for greatness in the future. #forevergoblue”

Last season, Heitzman caught two passes for 32 yards and a touchdown in playing in all 12 games.  Heitzman was a three-star member of UM’s 2011 recruiting class, and will be eligible to play immediately at an FBS school because he will be a grad transfer.

Monday, it was reported that running back Justice Hayes would be leaving as a graduate transfer. Prior to that, and between the firing of Brady Hoke and the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, linebacker Michael Ferns and offensive lineman Kyle Bosch left the program as well. Both of those players ultimately landed at West Virginia.

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Report: Clancy Pendergast is front-runner for Utah DC job

California v Washington State Getty Images

After a year away from the game, it appears Clancy Pendergast could be back in it if he so desires.  Reportedly.

Accord to Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News*, Pendergast has emerged as the front-runner for the defensive coordinator job at Utah.  The Utes have been without a coordinator on that side of the ball for well over a month after Kalani Sitake left for the same post at Oregon State.

Pendergast was last on the sidelines as the coordinator at USC in 2013, his lone season with the Trojans.  He wasn’t retained as part of Steve Sarkisian‘s new coaching staff.  For the three years before that, he served in the same position at Cal.

Prior to that, Pendergast had spent 15 seasons as an assistant at the NFL level.  During his stint as coordinator with Arizona (2004-08), the Cardinals earned the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl berth following the 2008 season.

As LSU searched for its new coordinator, Pendergast was interviewed as a potential replacement for John Chavis before hiring Kevin Steele away from Alabama.

(*Yes, I’m well aware of all y’all’s feelings toward Mr. Wolf.  Please, save yourself the breath and keystrokes.  Thanks in advance.)

 

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Brady Hoke reportedly not in the mix for CMU job

Brady Hoke AP

We still don’t know who will be Central Michigan’s next head football coach.  We can, though, apparently cross off one of the rumored candidates for the job of the school’s coaching to-do list.

Citing an individual with knowledge of the discussions, Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Brady Hoke is not in the mix for the CMU job.  Snyder writes “[t]hough CMU considered Hoke… it was not a fit* between the two sides.”

Hoke, of course, was fired as Michigan’s head coach in early December. Prior to his time at UM (2011-14) and San Diego State (2009-10), Hoke served as the head coach at Ball State of the MAC from 2004-08.

The CMU job came open Jan. 22 when Dan Enos abruptly stepped down to become the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. The Chips are currently the only FBS team without a head coach.

Athletic director Dave Heeke stated that he would employ a search firm to aid in the search and would like a replacement in place by signing day Feb. 4; that seems highly unlikely, although not impossible.

Aside from Hoke, other rumored candidates have included Detroit Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego, Tennessee wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, Ferris State head coach Tony Annese, Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal and Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks among many, many others.

(*Allow me to get ahead of this: In the comments section, feel free, if it makes you feel better, to let the hefty jokes rain down like beads at Mardi Gras.)

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Title run to net OSU $3 million bump in merchandise royalties

American Money AP

Ohio State’s run to the College Football Playoff championship will have a trickle-down effect economically for the university as a whole.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, OSU officials expect to see an increase of $3 million over last year’s figures when it comes to the sale of licensed merchandise. While the paper writes that “[t]he percentage gain isn’t close to what OSU saw in 2002 when the Buckeyes beat Miami for the national crown, when royalties doubled to $5 million that year over the year before,” it is a figure that will benefit many.

Oddly enough, the greatest financial benefit won’t end up in the athletic department coffers. From the Dispatch:

For every dollar that goes into the licensing office, 55 cents goes to academic affairs, which handles scholarships, libraries, ongoing programs and the university’s 14 college units; 15 cents goes to the athletics department; 15 cents goes to the alumni association; and 15 cents goes to the student life program and its 1,000 student organizations.

That means that just $450,000 or so will go to the athletic department, while the remaining $2.55 million will be directed toward entities that benefit the present and past student populations.

The title run will also continue benefiting small businesses that sell Buckeye gear.

“People were energized long before the game, and people are still coming through the door,” Lori Leavitt Watson, vice president of one such business, told the Dispatch. “This has legs for us.

“What that (championship) does is people are willing to spend money. We had two people call and say they had planned on restringing their flag poles in the spring, but now? Nope. ‘We’re going to do it now, and we want that flag right now.'”

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Arian Foster says he accepted ’40, 50 grand’ from Vols boosters

Tennessee v South Carolina Getty Images

It’s not exactly a shock that Arian Foster stated during an interview Friday that he had accepted money from boosters during his time playing running back at Tennessee; in a documentary that aired in 2013, Foster acknowledged as much.

This time around, though, Foster got into specific dollar amounts, which always piques the interest of some.

During the radio interview with Dan LeBatard Thursday, the current Houston Texans running back was asked about receiving what would be impermissible cash benefits from UT boosters while he was a player.  From the Knoxville News:

“You have people help you out here and there,” Foster said Thursday on the Dan LeBatard show. “Boosters and alumni and ex-players, they all know how it is, man. It’s hard living check to check when you don’t have enough money to go out to the movies or any kind of leisure activity. And you’re not allowed to get a job. Especially when I was in college, they were a lot more stringent on those rules, so at any given chance I got the opportunity, I took a free handout. Absolutely.”

LeBatard pushed Foster for an exact dollar figure. Foster guessed that it was “40, 50 grand throughout my entire career.”

Foster was in Knoxville from 2004-08. His coach during that time was Phillip Fulmer, who released a statement after Foster’s comments in the 2013 documentary became public.

“As the head coach at Tennessee for 17 years, I took great pride in having a program that was NCAA compliant, as did our staff and administration,” Fulmer said at the time. “If we knew of a violation, big or small, we reported it.”

Foster’s comments come amidst a push, especially amongst the Power Five conferences, to put some of the billions of dollars the sports makes back into the pockets of the players in the form of bridging the cost-of-attendance gap. They also come one day after Seattle Seahawk defensive end Michael Bennett called the NCAA “one of the biggest scams in America.”

UPDATED 3:04 p.m. ET: That certainly didn’t take long.

Shortly after we posted the above, UT fans took to Twitter to blast Foster for his admissions during the radio interview yesterday.  At first Foster took this tack…

… and then, as the rhetoric from the other side began to ratchet up, he changed course…

… and ultimately landed here:

Grab your popcorn and head on over to Foster’s Twitter feed HERE.  This could be fun for an hour or two.

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Ezekiel Elliott tops, OSU QB trio among early Heisman favorites

If you thought the third-string quarterback who helped propel Ohio State to a three-win postseason run that culminated in a national championship, and who eschewed early entry into the NFL draft, would be the current Heisman front-runner, you’d be wrong.

Instead, it’s his backfield mate Ezekiel Elliott, who Bovada.lv has installed as a 6/1 favorite to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy.  Considering Elliott’s late-season run, his placement as the front-runner is hardly a surprise.

Over the last three games, which included wins in the Big Ten championship game and the College Football Playoff semifinal and championship games, Elliott, just a sophomore, carried the ball 76 times for 696 yards and eight touchdowns.  That’s more rushing yardage than Wake Forest (479) and Washington State (478) totaled the entire season.  His eight rushing touchdowns in that three-game span were more than Wake (four), Wazzu (five) and Kent State (six) had in 12 games in 2014.

The last running back to win the Heisman was Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009.

As for the player alluded to in the lede?  Cardale Jones is at 14/1, tied with a pair of running backs — Alabama’s Derrick Henry, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine — and behind seven other players.  Right behind Jones are the other parts to OSU’s upcoming three-headed quarterback battle: J.T. Barrett at 16/1, Braxton Miller at 18/1.

Getting back toward the top, a pair of SEC players are right on Elliott’s heels, with Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, a midseason Heisman favorite last year before fading, and LSU freshman running back sensation Leonard Fournette at 7/1.  TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is not far behind the top three at 15/2.

There are no finalists for the 2014 version of the award on the initial 2015 odds list as all three — Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper — all left early for the NFL.

Below are the complete set of 2015 Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

2015 Initial Bovada Heisman Odds

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Awaiting a UAB resurrection, Bill Clark won’t coach in 2015

UAB Blazers v Arkansas Razorbacks

After killing off the program late last year, there’s a growing sense of hope that football will be reinstated at UAB.  Maybe.

In that vein, the man who led the Blazers to a mini-renaissance, only to see it mercilessly executed, is lying in wait for what many are projecting to be a resurrection.

Speaking to Kevin Scarbinsky of al.com, Bill Clark stated that he’s had several opportunities to coach elsewhere since the sport was controversially axed in early December. Clark wouldn’t divulge any particular programs, but did allow that there were head-coaching as well as assistant offers on the table.

He turned them all down, in part because he wants to see how the situation at UAB plays out — “My heart is still at UAB. I love those people” — and in part because he’ll be fully vested in the state’s retirement system within a year.

Despite the program going on the chopping block, the 46-year-old Clark will still be paid the final two years of his contract, which will allow him to hit the 25-year mark of the state’s vesting threshold later in 2015.

Football-wise, Clark labeled it a “definite possibility” he’d return to the Blazers if the program was reinstated. There was, though, one potentially significant qualifier when it comes to a return.

“There’s a glimmer of hope for me and a lot of folks,” he said. “I love Birmingham and I love the state of Alabama, but a lot of things would have to happen, and it would have to be done correctly.”

The intimation from Clark is that the financial commitment from the school would need to be very tangible as the Blazers would essentially be a start-up program again as nearly every player of merit has fled the university to continue their playing careers elsewhere. Commitment outside of the financial from the administration would also seem to be paramount, although the program would seemingly have the backing of some well-heeled boosters who were ready to step in and save the sport in the first place. Even the faculty at the school would be behind a revival.

The situation’s gotten to the point where a state lawmaker is “seeking a ‘full, thorough, independent’ review of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees to investigate accusations of board interference involving UAB athletics,” which serves as yet another suggestion that an about-face may be in order — and Clark may be the man to lead it.

In 2014, Clark’s first season at the school, the Blazers posted a 6-6 mark, the first time the team had finished a season with at least a .500 record since 2004. That’s the last time UAB was bowl-eligible, although the Blazers weren’t invited to play in a bowl game at the conclusion of this past season.

Last year was just the fourth time in the program’s 19-year history that the Blazers finished .500 or better, with the other two coming in 2000 and 2001.

Based on his lone season, and his loyalty to the school, Clark deserves the first crack at making it five. That’s the least the university could do if the sport’s reinstated.

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Hacked off: Mora Twitter issues continue

UCLA v Washington State Getty Images

Either Jim Mora or the person responsible for the UCLA head coach’s Twitter account needs to pick up a copy or of “Twitter for Dummies.”

Mora’s Twitter account was originally abandoned earlier this month after a tweet war erupted in the wake of the post-bowl handshake imbroglio with kindly Bill Snyder.  Mora then moved to a private Twitter account before resurrecting the old one, as BruinsNation.com explained.

The account then posted the following photo late last night, one in a series of screen snaps astutely compiled and saved by the same SBNation.com website:

Mora Tweetgate I

That would be a Bruins uniform photoshopped onto the body of Maea Teuhema, a five-star 2015 recruit Mora and the Bruins are trying to flip away from LSU. That would also be an NCAA no-no as coaches are not permitted to acknowledged unsigned prospects in such a manner.

In a gallant attempt to cram the toothpaste back into the tube, one in which we harken back to the golden age of “the dog ate my homework” excuses, the account went here with its explanation:

Mora Tweetgate II

As of now, if you attempt to access Mora’s Twitter account, you get the following

Mora Tweetgate III

When it comes to social media in general and Twitter specifically, Mora might want to take to heart the (paraphrased) sage advice Brian Fantana gently offered Champ Kind: “Take it easy, Champ. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop tweeting for a while.”

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Tweet reaffirms top QB Kyler Murray’s commitment to A&M

Kyler Murray

Things seemingly got a little dicey on the quarterback recruiting front for Texas A&M and its faithful over the last week.

Kyler Murray, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the Class of 2015, has been a long-time verbal commitment to Texas A&M, his father’s alma mater. Then came a tweet from Murray’s personal Twitter account in which he showed a picture of a Texas Longhorn jersey while on a surprise visit to Austin.

Just as quickly as the recruit caused a rise in Aggie Nation’s collective blood pressure via Twitter, Murray, following an in-home visit from A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, brought it back down on the same social media website Thursday night with a short and simple missive less than a week before National Signing Day.

In an interview with ESPN.com a short time later, Murray explained that the face-to-face with Sumlin yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to the Aggies.

Texas A&M is where my heart is at,” Murray said late Thursday night. “Coach [Charlie] Strong and Texas is a great opportunity, but I felt that A&M was the place for me. Not because of my dad having played there, but just the right place for me. …

“It went well. All my questions were answered. I just can’t wait to get this all over with and get back to playing ball.”

To further buttress Murray’s commitment, an in-home visit from Strong that had been expected Friday won’t take place after all.

Murray would/will be a four-star member of A&M’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Texas by Rivals.com.  It’s at this point in the program where we note that verbal commitments are non-binding and nothing is official until the Herbie Hancock is put on paper next Wednesday, but it doesn’t appear as if Murray will be flipping at any point in the near future.

A&M, though, is not completely out of the woods when it comes to procuring Murray’s talents for at least the next three years, although the competition could come from another sport.

Meanwhile, baseball is a threat to A&M… when it comes to Murray. As an infielder with power at the plate, he projects as a potential first-round selection in the June amateur draft, and he’ll likely have to decide between signing a pro baseball contract or playing college football.

If he does play football, he has said he intends to play baseball as well at the college of his choosing.

It’s highly likely Murray will opt for football with baseball as a secondary collegiate option ala Jameis Winston, especially given the new MLB restrictions on amateur spending, but it’s a situation that bears keeping at least one eye on when June rolls around.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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