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Ohio State signs 24 to National Letters of Intent

Urban Meyer AP

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

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coach Urban Meyer announced Wednesday a class of 24 prospects, including five already enrolled in school, who have signed national letters of intent to attend The Ohio State University and play football for the Buckeyes. The class, heavy along the defensive line and with significant resources in the defensive backfield and at the offensive skill positions, is among the finest classes in the nation this year.

“Great day,” Meyer said. “I thought it would be a good day, but now I’ll put it in the great category.”

The recruiting class features individuals from 11 different states and includes 13 defensive players, eight offensive players and three “athletes.” A total of 14 recruits are from outside the state of Ohio, including:

— three top performers from Texas – five-star linebacker Mike Mitchell, running back/athlete Dontre Wilson and quarterback J.T. Barrett;
— seven from the southeastern United States, including five-star defensive lineman Joey Bosa from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and five-star safety Vonn Bell from Rossville, Ga.;
— a five-star cornerback from New Jersey (Eli Apple);
— the top player from Missouri (running back Ezekiel Elliott); and
— one of the top tight ends in the country – Marcus Baugh – from Riverside, Calif.

“I’m really pleased with this class,” Meyer said. “Joey Bosa, a big-time defensive lineman from Florida, got us started off when he was the first to FAX his letter of intent in, and then we capped it the way I had hoped we would: by getting a very, very talented and skilled running back out of St. Louis in Ezekiel Elliott.”

Ohio is well represented in this class. In fact, there are 11 outstanding Ohio players, a contingent that includes:

— five-star receiver prospect Jalin Marshall from Middletown;
— four of the top five Ohio prospects, according to ESPN – No. 1 athlete Gareon Conley, No. 2 Marshall, No. 3 cornerback Cam Burrows and No. 5 offensive lineman Evan Lisle; and
— six more players who are ranked between Nos. 12 and 28 in the state: SAF Jayme Thompson, DL Donovan Munger, DL Billy Price, SAF Christopher Worley, DL Tracy Sprinkle and ATH Darron Lee.

Offensive speed is prominent. Marshall, Elliott, Wilson, wide receiver James Clark, from New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and wide receiver Corey Smith, from East Mississippi Community College, are all blessed with true speed and all can find the end zone.

The Ohio State secondary returns three starters from the unbeaten, 2012 team – cornerback Bradley Roby and safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant – but it gets a tremendous infusion of freshmen talent as five of the top defensive back prospects in the country are now Buckeyes: Apple, Bell, Cam Burrows, Conley and Thompson.

Ohio State’s defensive line grew by six members today with Bosa, Munger, Price and Sprinkle joined by Michael Hill, from Pendleton, S.C., and who had scholarship offers from all the top Southeastern Conference schools, and Tarboro, N.C. end Tyquan Lewis.

Lawrenceville, Georgia prospect Trey Johnson, the No. 3 inside linebacker prospect in the nation according to two services, gives Ohio State an outstanding linebacker tandem (with Mitchell) in this class.

Indianapolis’ offensive lineman Tim Gardner joins Lisle as the only players at their position among the class.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 24 members of Ohio State’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Eli Apple
Cornerback / 6-0, 184
Voorhees, N.J./Eastern High School
Overview: Eli Apple, who enrolled into Ohio State in January, is a five-star prospect (ESPN 150) who is rated as high as the No. 11 prospect nationally on the ESPN 150 … the No. 1 prospect in New Jersey and No. 6 cornerback prospect (247Sports) … he played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl after helping his Eastern High School team, coached by Dan Spittal, to a 7-4 record in 2012 and to a regional semifinals berth … had 17 pass break-ups, two interceptions, 45 tackles, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick in 2012, plus 39 receptions for 770 yards and four touchdowns on offense … was the fourth in this class to commit (on Feb. 16, 2012) … the son of Annie and Tim Apple, Eli recently changed his last name from Woodard to Apple to honor Tim, his father since age 2 … “…I am the man I am today because of his tireless love, and commitment to our family,” Eli said in a statement. “So it is with great pride and honor to carry his last name. I am truly blessed to be Eli Apple.” … his family includes a younger sister, Jordan.

J.T. Barrett
Quarterback / 6-1, 225
Wichita Falls, Texas / Rider High School
Overview: John Thomas (J.T.) Barrett is considered one of the nation’s premier dual threat quarterbacks, although his senior season came to an early end with a knee injury in the fifth game of the season … rated as the No. 11 prospect in talent-rich Texas (247Sports) and a consensus four-star cornerback (ESPN, Rivals, Scout, 247Sports) … a top 150 player by both Scout and 247Sports and on the ESPN 300 … enrolled at Ohio State in January and is recovering from his 2012 knee surgery and taking part in winter conditioning drills, except for the running … coaches expect him to be throwing this spring but aren’t concerned that he won’t be running until later … Barrett can run, though: he had rushed for 569 yards with seven touchdowns and passed for 784 yards and five scores as a senior prior to the injury … he rushed for over 1,500 yards with nine touchdowns and passed for over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns for coach Jim Garfield’s Raiders as a junior … he is the son of Stacy and John Barrett and he has two brothers: Xavier and Stephen.

Marcus Baugh
Tight End / 6-4, 245
Riverside, Calif. / John W. North
Overview: Marcus Baugh is a consensus four-star prospect (ESPN, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports) and a Top 150 player overall, including a No. 73 ranking on the final Scout 100, a No. 102 ranking on the ESPN 150 and a 148 ranking on the final Rivals 250 … considered among the Top 3 tight ends in this recruiting class (Scout and 247Sports) … played in the 2013 Under Armour All-American game … Marcus caught a combined 68 passes for 1,138 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior and senior for John W. North High School and coach Mark Parades … his senior season included 38 receptions for 610 yards and he was named second-team Division II all-state … as a junior he caught 30 passes for 528 yards and seven touchdowns … was also used as a wide receiver, running back and linebacker by Parades in 2012 … has family in the Central Ohio area as an aunt lives in Reynoldsburg (Mom, Debbie Clausen’s, twin sister) and he has a cousin who already attends Ohio State.

Vonn Bell
Safety / 6-1, 190
Rossville, Ga. / Ridgeland
Overview: The exclamation point on this Class of 2013, Under Armour All-American Vonn Bell announced on National Letter of Intent signing day that he would be a Buckeye … a five-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and 247Sports, Bell is a one of the top 30 players in the nation with overall rankings of No. 25 by Scout, No. 29 by 247Sports and No. 32 by Rivals … is No. 50 on the ESPN 150 … the No. 4 player in the state of Georgia this season, Bell is also ranked as high as the No. 3 safety prospect nationally by Scout … helped his Ridgeland team, coached by Mark Mariakis, to a 13-2 record and a runner-up finish in the Georgia Class AAAA state championships … Bell had 146 tackles and three interceptions as a senior, and on offense he had over 1,700 all-purpose yards and scored 21 touchdowns … helped Ridgeland to the state Sweet 16 in 2011 as a junior with 119 tackles, five interceptions and three forced fumbles … is the son of Vanessa and Vencent Bell.

Joey Bosa
Defensive Lineman / 6-5, 270
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / St. Thomas Aquinas
Overview: Joey Bosa is one of the premier football prospects in the Class of 2013 with impressive national rankings of No. 38 (Scout), No. 47 (Rivals), No. 56 (ESPN) and No. 53 (247Sports) … a Scout five-start prospect, Bosa earned the No. 4 overall ranking at his position – strong side defensive end – by both Scout and Rivals … an Under Armour All-American and second-team all-USA Today pick … the leader of a St. Thomas Aquinas defense that allowed approximately 12 points a game … Aquinas defeated Tallahassee Lincoln, 41-25, to cap a 13-2 season and win the Florida Class 7A state championship in 2012, the school’s seventh state title and first for second-year coach Rocco Casullo … a two-time Associated Press first-team all-state selection, Bosa totaled 51 tackles-for-loss in his last two seasons and 19 quarterback sacks, including 27 TFLs and 9.5 sacks as a senior … father, John, was a first-round NFL Draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 1987 out of Boston College and played three years in the league … Mom, Cheryl, is an Ohio State graduate and an uncle, Eric Kumerow, was a star linebacker for the Buckeyes between 1984-87 and a 1987 co-captain.

Cam Burrows
Cornerback / 5-11, 200
Trotwood, Ohio / Trotwood Madison High School
Overview: Cameron Burrows was Ohio State’s first commitment to the 2013 class when he announced in January 2012 that he would be a Buckeye … he was also among the first to arrive at Ohio State, as he was one of five Class of 2013 recruits to enroll in school in January … a first-team Associated Press all-state selection as a junior and senior, Burrows helped lead Trotwood Madison to three consecutive Division II state championship games, including an unbeaten, 15-0 state-title winning season in 2011 … had 14 pass break-ups as a senior for coach Maurice Douglass’ 12-3 state finalist team and also had 39 tackles … a consensus four-star cornerback (ESPN, Rivals, Scout, 247Sports) who was the No. 38 prospect nationally (Rivals), an ESPN 150 performer (No. 62) and the No. 2 senior in Ohio (ESPN) … played in the 2013 Under Armour All-American game … a two-time state track finalist in the sprint relays … the first from his high school to sign with Ohio State since Will Allen (Class of 2000), who committed while at Trotwood Madison before transferring to Huber Heights Wayne for his senior year … Burrows is the son of Dionne and Andre Burrows … his brother, Chris, is a senior track and field performer for Arizona State University.

James Clark
Wide Receiver / 5-11, 170
New Smyrna Beach, Fla. / New Smyrna Beach
Overview: James Clark was one of the last in this class to commit and ultimately sign an NLI with Ohio State, doing so today – Feb. 6 – the first day for prospects to sign their national letters of intent … Clark was a first-team Florida 6A all-state pick by The Miami Herald as a senior when he led New Smyrna Beach into the state playoffs … he totaled 87 receptions for 1,954 yards and 29 total touchdowns for his career, playing for coach Lance Jenkins … had 49 receptions for 1,112 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior … had 28 catches for 576 yards as a junior … outstanding as well in track, Clark has a 100-meter dash best of 10.71 … he placed fifth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 at the 2012 Florida outdoor state track championships … the son of Jesse Clark.

Gareon Conley
Athlete / 6-2, 170
Massillon, Ohio / Washington
Overview: The No. 1 player in Ohio as a senior (ESPN 150) and a first-team Associated Press Division I all-state selection, Gareon Conley is an athlete with wide receiver-cornerback skills that earned him consensus four-star status (ESPN, Scout, 247Sports, Rivals) … the No. 43 overall prospect nationally by ESPN and the No. 14 cornerback prospect (247Sports) … played in the Under Armour All-American game … as a senior Conley, who was coached by Jason Hall at Washington, caught 50 passes, averaged 21.9 yards per catch and scored 16 touchdowns while on defense he had 13 pass break-ups, an interception and 25 tackles … Washington was 11-2 during Conley’s senior season and advanced to the regional finals … recorded four interceptions and 30 tackles as a junior … Washington is also the same school that produced current Buckeye receiver Devin Smith … Gareon is the son of Sherry Robinson and
Jameel & Angel Conley.

Ezekiel Elliott
Running Back / 6-0, 210
St. Louis, Mo. / John Burroughs High School
Overview: Ezekiel Elliott is a consensus four-star prospect (ESPN, Rivals, Scout, 247Sports) and one of the Top 100 prospects nationally with overall rankings of No. 47 by Scout, No. 70 by 247Sports, No. 84 by Rivals and No. 109 by ESPN … also ranked fourth, ninth, 11th and 12th among running backs by 247Sports, Scout, ESPN and Rivals, respectively … named to the U.S. Army All-American game … the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offensive player of the year in 2012, Elliott put up tremendous statistics with 3,061 all-purpose yards and 50 touchdowns, including 2,155 rush yards, and 40 rushing touchdowns for the 13-1 Class 3 state runner-up … also had 16 receptions for 383 yards … rushed for 1,802 yards and 34 touchdowns and caught 23 passes for 401 yards and six touchdowns as a junior … Burroughs, coached by Gus Frerotte, has been state runner-up three consecutive years … Ezekiel’s father, Stacy, and mother, Dawn, were each student-athletes at and are graduates of Missouri with Stacy a football player and Dawn a member of the track and field team.

Tim Gardner
Offensive Lineman / 6-5, 320
Indianapolis, Ind. / Lawrence Central High School Overview: Tim Gardner was a 2012 Associated Press first-team all-state performer for Lawrence Central, the Indiana Class 5A state champion, and he was also named to the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s Top 50 all-state team … he was considered the top offensive lineman in the state by the Indianapolis Star and he was also named to that publication’s “Super Team” … Gardner helped his undefeated (15-0) Bears team, coached by Jayson West, average 328.5 rushing yards and 38.5 points per game in 2012 … was rated as the No. 5 prospect in Indiana as a senior and the No. 24 offensive tackle prospect by 247Sports … a three-year starter, he also helped Central to the 2010 Class 5A state final before losing to Fishers … joins Centerville, Ohio’s Evan Lisle as the only offensive linemen in the Ohio State Class of 2013.

Michael Hill
Defensive Lineman / 6-2, 305
Pendleton, S.C. / Pendleton High School
Overview: U.S. Army All-America Bowl invitee Michael Hill announced in June 2012 that he was committing to Ohio State, the school that has been his favorite since he was a youngster … a consensus four-star prospect by (ESPN, 247Sports, Scout, Rivals) and one of the Top 20 defensive tackles in the nation by Scout (No. 16) … listed on the ESPN 300 (216) … named to the South Carolina Shrine Bowl this year and the No. 6 player in the state by 247Sports, Hill had an unfortunate end to his senior season, injuring a hand in the eighth game that caused him to miss the remainder of the season and all post-season all-star games … Pendleton finished 8-4 on the year … Hill was dominant as a junior playing in the middle of Pendleton’s line for coach Paul Sutherland … he recorded 25 tackles-for-losses and 81 total tackles despite persistent double-teams against him … he also had six sacks as a junior and had four as a senior before his injury … he is the son of Dianne Blount and Michael Hill, Sr.

Trey Johnson
LB / 6-2, 220
Lawrenceville, Ga. / Central Gwinnett
Overview: Trey Johnson committed to attend Ohio State Jan. 4 on national television while playing at the Under Armour All-American Bowl … a consensus four-star prospect (ESPN, Scout, Rivals and 247Sports) and one of the top senior prospects in the talent-rich state of Georgia, Johnson is rated as high as the No. 3 inside linebacker prospect in the nation (Rivals and 247Sports) and he is the No. 48 overall player on the ESPN 150 … Scout listed him as the No. 16 outside linebacker … Johnson recorded 456 career tackles for Central Gwinnett and was coached by Todd Wofford … as a senior he had 140 tackles and four sacks and as a junior he had 164 tackles, including 25 tackles-for-loss … named first-team allstate by the AtlantaJournal-Constitution as a senior and second-team 6A all-state by the Georgia Sportswriters Association … is the son of Wilbur and Shellie Johnson.

Darron Lee
Athlete / 6-2, 205
New Albany, Ohio / New Albany
Overview: Local prospect Darron Lee is fine athlete who played quarterback, wide receiver, safety and returned punts and kickoffs as a junior for the New Albany Eagles and he played primarily in the secondary and at quarterback as a senior … Lee was named a first-team Associated Press Division II allstate cornerback as a senior after recording five interceptions with three punt return touchdowns, and accounting for over 1,700 yards of offense and 21 touchdowns … he helped New Albany, coached by Mark Mueller, advance to the Division II state semifinals and to a 11-3 overall record as a senior … Lee did it all in a third-round win over Marion-Franklin, throwing for two touchdowns, rushing for a 36-yard score, returning a punt 82 yards for a touchdown and making the game-clinching interception in the final minute … team was 9-3 and a state qualifier in 2011 … Lee is considered a four-star prospect (Scout) and the No. 29 safety prospect by Scout … ESPN ranks him the No. 28 prospect overall in the state of Ohio … originally from Chattanooga, Tenn., Lee moved to Ohio as an eighth grader … Mom, Candice, is a news anchor for WCMH Ch. 4, the local NBC affiliate.

Tyquan Lewis
Defensive End / 6-3, 223
Tarboro, N.C. / Tarboro High School
Overview: Tyquan Lewis, one of five from this class who enrolled at Ohio State in January, is a four-star defensive end prospect (Rivals, Scout, 247Sports) from Tarboro, N.C., and Tarboro High School … a Top 25 defensive end who comes from a tremendous program at Tarboro … the Vikings, coached by Jeff Craddock, won three consecutive North Carolina Class 2A state championships and had won 21 consecutive games before falling in the 2012 state championship to East Lincoln … Lewis was injured in the title game but still played and earned defensive player of the game honors … he finished his senior season with 13 sacks and was named to the Associated Press all-state team … he had 12 sacks among his 63 tackles as a junior … is the son of Tyronda Whitaker, and a proud big brother to three younger brothers: Kenai, Tylie and Christian. Note: Tyquan is pronounced TIE-kwan)

Evan Lisle
Offensive Lineman / 6-6, 290
Centerville, Ohio / Centerville
Overview: Evan Lisle was one of the first five prospects to commit to this Ohio State class, doing so on Feb. 28, 2012 … he is a member of the ESPN 150 (No. 106) and is rated by ESPN as a Top 5 player in Ohio by ESPN, Scout and 247Sports … also regarded as the top offensive lineman in the state and a Top 10 prospect nationally by Scout, Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN … he is a consensus four-star player (ESPN, Rivals, Scout, 247Sports) and a special mention Associated Press Division I all-state honoree in 2012 … only Ohioan named to the 2012 USA Today All-America team … played for coach Ron Ullery at Centerville, which went 6-4 in 2012 … selected for the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, something he referred to as an honor for the family … father, Steve, went to West Point and brother, Nick, is in the Army … Mom’s name is Marcy … Centerville also produced former Buckeyes A.J. Hawk, Mike Nugent and Kirk Herbstreit. Note: Lisle is pronounced LYLE

Jalin Marshall
Wide Receiver / 6-0, 190
Middletown, Ohio / Middletown
Overview: Jalin Marshall was considered the No. 1 prospect in Ohio by 247Sports and the No. 2 prospect as a senior by ESPN and Rivals … he was the second to commit to Ohio State in this Class of 2013, announcing his decision in late January 2012 … a skilled quarterback who rushed for a school-record 4,759 yards during his career, including more than 1,400 yards as a senior with 14 touchdowns scored, Marshall is being looked at as a wide receiver for the Buckeyes … a five-star prospect by Scout, he played receiver in the 2013 Under Armour All-America game and had a 44-yard reception … as a quarterback, he passed for 2,240 yards as a senior … also totaled 4,929 all-purpose yards for coach Troy Everhart during his career and scored 52 rushing touchdowns and 54 total touchdowns (two receiving) … one of the Top 50 prospects in the nation (ESPN, Rivals, Scout) … had a 56-yard touchdown rush on his first varsity carry as a freshman, and rushed for a career-high 312 yards as a senior vs. state champion Cincinnati Moeller … led Middletown to its first Greater Miami Conference championship in more than 20 years in 2010 … 2012 state Division I long jump champ (23.00) … the son of Richard and Angel Marshall … has older brothers (Richard Jr. and DeAnte), an older sister (Monae) and a younger brother (Blake).

Mike Mitchell
Linebacker / 6-4, 225
Plano, Texas / Prestonwood Christian
Overview: Highly regarded Mike Mitchell is one of only two middle linebackers nationally to receive a five-star rating by Scout … also a five-star prospect by Rivals … Scout’s No. 2 middle linebacker announced Jan. 5 on national TV, and while playing in the U.S. Army All-American game, that he would be attending Ohio State … the No. 10 overall player in the state of Texas, Mitchell is rated as high as the No. 26 overall prospect (Rivals) and No. 28 by Scout … also a member of the ESPN 150 (No. 128) … grew up in Winter Park, Fla., but spent final three years in Texas … played for Prestonwood Christian as a sophomore and senior, and for Plano West as a junior … he recorded 151 tackles and 11 sacks as a junior and then totaled 186 tackles, 32 tackles-for-loss (11 of them sacks), seven forced fumbles and even returned a kickoff for a touchdown as a senior playing for coach Chris Cunningham … Mike is the son of Ken and Candy Mitchell … father played two seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.

Donovan Munger
Defensive Lineman / 6-4, 290
Shaker Heights, Ohio / Shaker Heights
Overview: Consensus four-star prospect (Rivals, Scout) Donovan Munger was a two-way lineman for coach Jarvis Gibson at Shaker Heights High School and was recruited by the Buckeye coaches to play along the defensive line … called “quick, fast, strong and a mammoth of a man” by Gibson, Munger is considered among the Top 25 tackles (Scout, 247Sports, ESPN) nationally with a No. 18 ranking by 247Sports his highest … he helped Shaker Heights to a six-win improvement from 2011 to 2012 – the team went 8-2 this season – by recording 70 tackles, including 14 tackles-for-loss with six quarterback sacks and 23 pressures … Munger also had 34 pancake blocks on offense … named second-team Associated Press Division I all-state in 2012 … …is the son of Deidra Sanders … Donovan joins Shaker Heights graduate and current junior offensive lineman Antonio Underwood on the Ohio State team.

Billy Price
Defensive Lineman / 6-4, 305
Austintown, Ohio / Fitch
Overview: Billy Price was the Associated Press’s 2012 Division I co-defensive player of the year in the state of Ohio (along with Gareon Conley and Tracy Sprinkle) and a first-team all-state pick … a consensus four-star prospect (ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports, Scout) … rated among the top 200 players in the Rivals 250 and a member of the ESPN 300, Price was the third Buckeye to commit to the Class of 2013 with his decision coming Feb. 13, 2012 … rated as the No. 17 defensive tackle nationally by 247Sports and No. 21 by Scout … helped Fitch to a 9-2 record in 2012 and to the state playoffs … also helped Fitch to the state playoffs in 2010 with a 10-2 record and again in 2011 … was named first-team all-state as a junior when he recorded 40 tackles with three sacks, 10 TFLs and an interception … coached by Phil Annarella … placed seventh in the discus at the 2012 Ohio outdoor state track and field meet after placing sixth in the shot and second in the weight throw indoors … is the son of Bill Price and Pam & Dave Lescsak.

Corey Smith
Wide Receiver / 6-1, 190
Akron, Ohio / East Mississippi C.C.
Overview: Corey Smith is the first junior college prospect to sign with Ohio State since Larry Grant (a member of the San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl team) signed out of Community College of San Francisco in 2006 … Smith, from Akron Buchtel High School, played on an unbeaten (10-0) Grand Rapids (Mich.) C.C. team in 2011 before the college discontinued the program after 80 years … Smith had 28 receptions for 438 yards and two touchdowns for Grand Rapids … played for Buddy Stephens at East Mississippi C.C., located in Scooba, Miss., in 2012 … he recorded 51 receptions for 733 yards and nine touchdowns for the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ north division champion … caught 11 passes for 113 yards vs. Northwest C.C. and seven passes for 158 yards vs. Southwest C.C. … his team won first eight games before dropping final two games of the season … named the No. 9 junior college prospect in the nation by 247Sports and the No. 3 receiver … Smith will have three seasons to complete two years of athletic eligibility at Ohio State … he is the son of Erika Smith.

Tracy Sprinkle
Defensive End / 6-2, 241
Elyria, Ohio / Elyria High School
Overview: The 2012 Associated Press first-team all-Ohio selection and Division I co-defensive player of the year, Tracy Sprinkle recorded 19 sacks and 30 total tackles-for-loss among his 103 tackles as a senior … dominant games included five sacks against Amherst Steele and four sacks (and 12 tackles) against Hudson … the first defensive player since Matt Wilhelm in 1999 to win the prestigious Lorain County Golden Helmet award as the best player in the county … also was named the Northeast Ohio All-Lake District Defensive Player of the Year as a senior … Elyria, coached by Kevin Fell, was 7-3 in both 2012 and 2011 … Sprinkle, a Top 30 strong side defensive end by 247Sports, had 27 sacks his final two seasons of play … he was a third-team all-state pick as a junior after making 94 tackles and eight sacks … Elyria High’s Chase Farris is a third-year sophomore offensive lineman at Ohio State … Sprinkle, who enrolled at Ohio State in January, is the son of Tracie Sprinkle and Percy Hicks.

Jayme Thompson
Safety / 6-2, 185
Toledo, Ohio / Central Catholic
Overview: Jayme Thompson is a consensus four-star prospect (ESPN, Rivals, Scout, 247Sports) and among the top 250 prospects in the nation (No. 204 on the Rivals 250 and No. 218 on the ESPN 300) … considered the top safety in Ohio (ESPN) and the No. 12 prospect in the state … played in the AllAmerican bowl Dec. 27 inHouston … helped lead his Central Catholic Fighting Irish, coached by Greg Dempsey, to the 2012 Division II state title and a 14-1 record … Central, also the high school of former Buckeye Dane Sanzenbacher, defeated defending state champion Trotwood-Madison, 16-14, in the title game for the second state title in school history (2005) … Thompson was an Associated Press all-state pick as a senior when he had 48 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries … he also helped Central to the state playoffs in 2011 and was a second-team AP all-Ohio pick … played at St. Francis DeSales in Toledo prior to attending Central Catholic as a junior and senior … moved to Toledo from Washington, D.C. … is the son of Deon Thompson … practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Dontre Wilson
Running Back / 5-10, 174
DeSoto, Texas / DeSoto
Overview: Dontre Wilson announced Feb. 4 live on Dallas’ KDFW TV4 that he would accept his Ohio State scholarship offer and become a Buckeye … his choice gives the Buckeyes three players – QB J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls) and LB Mike Mitchell (Plano) – from the state of Texas in this recruiting class … Wilson is the No. 5 player in Texas and considered one of the Top 100 players in the nation and a consensus four-star prospect (ESPN, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports) … rated as the No. 5 all-purpose back by Rivals … ranked overall as high as No. 50 and the nation’s No. 10 running back by Scout) … also rated No. 55 on the ESPN 150 and No. 100 on the Rivals 250 … led DeSoto, coached by Claude Mathis, to the Texas Class 5A Division I state semifinals as a senior by rushing for 1,895 yards and 37 touchdowns and catching 37 passes for 750 yards and nine scores … DeSoto finished 14-1 on the season … Wilson finished his high school career with over 3,200 rushing yards, 1,200 receiving yards and 81 touchdowns … the son of Don Wilson.

Christopher Worley
Safety / 6-3, 195
Cleveland, Ohio / Glenville
Overview: Christopher Worley was one of the final prospects in this Class of 2013 to commit to attending Ohio State, doing so on Jan. 11 … a special mention Associated Press all-state pick as a senior, Worley led Glenville, coached by Ted Ginn, to an 8-2 record this season by recording 89 tackles with nine sacks, five interception returns for touchdowns and five forced fumbles … for his career he had 161 tackles, 13 sacks, eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles … a Top 25 senior prospect in Ohio (No. 20 by 247Sports and No. 25 by ESPN) … Worley extends a streak of Glenville Tarblooders signing NLIs with Ohio State to 12 consecutive years … 19 Tarblooders have become Buckeyes since 2002, including four current members of the team – Marcus Hall, Christian Bryant, Cardale Jones and Devan Bogard – and past greats like Super Bowl players Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn (San Francisco 49ers) and 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith … Christopher is the son of Michelle Bandy and Chris Worley, Sr.

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Two Oregon reserves to transfer

Oregon v Washington State

Oregon offensive lineman Jamal Prater and wide receiver B.J. Kelley have elected to transfer, as reported by Andrew Greif of The Oregonian on Thursday evening. The Ducks are set to open spring ball on Tuesday.

Playing time seems to be the reason for both players seeking new opportunities elsewhere.

Prater saw action in nine career games, while Kelley caught six passes and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2011 and saw his playing time decrease from there.

“A lot of times I could have had an opportunity and I felt like I just didn’t get it,” Kelley told the paper. “I don’t regret being here at Oregon. There will never be another opportunity from what I’ve experienced. They can never take that back.”

The defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions have also lost offensive lineman Andre Yruretagoyena, wide receiver Chance Allen, defensive backs Stephen Amoako and Isaac Dixon and defensive lineman Sam Kamp to transfer since the end of last season.

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Want your SEC spring game schedule? Here’s your SEC spring game schedule

Jeremy Johnson

ESPN announced the 2015 SEC spring game schedule on Thursday. You are aware of the business relationship between the SEC and ESPN, aren’t you? Anyway, all 11 remainingSEC spring games (Kentucky and Texas A&M will not hold spring games, Vanderbilt’s was on Saturday) will be shown on SEC Network properties but, interestingly enough, none of them will actually be on SEC Network properties.

Instead, SEC Network+ – the digital home of SECN, basically the network’s version of ESPN3 – will show most games while SEC Network Alternate – the network’s overflow channel – will provide whip around coverage. All games will be shown on replay on SEC Network throughout the following week.

Here’s the schedule:

April 11
SEC Spring Whip Around (noon-4 p.m. ET) – SEC Network Alternate
South Carolina (noon ET) – SEC Network+
Florida (12:30 p.m. ET) – SEC Network+
Ole Miss (1 p.m. ET) – SEC Network+
Georgia (2 p.m. ET) – SEC Network+

April 18
Mississippi State (noon ET) – SEC Network Alternate/SEC Network+
SEC Spring Whip Around (2-5 p.m. ET) – SEC Network Alternate
Auburn (2 p.m. ET) – SEC Network+
LSU (2 p.m. ET) – SEC Network+
Alabama (3 p.m. ET) – SEC Network+
Missouri (5 p.m. ET) – SEC Network Alternate/SEC Network+

April 25
Arkansas (2 p.m. ET) – SEC Network Alternate/SEC Network+
Tennessee (4 p.m. ET) – SEC Network Alternate/SEC Network+

Ironically, the creation of the SEC’s own conference-specific network has actually decreased the coverage of SEC spring games. In the past Alabama, Auburn, Florida and a few others regularly had their spring games shown on ESPN The Mothership or ESPNU. Now they’ll all be on the digital step-brother of a niche network.

Whatever. I’m sure the paychecks will help the SEC get over it.

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Stanford beats Harbaugh, USC for nation’s No. 2 QB recruit

KJ Costello

Here’s a fun dynamic playing out now that Jim Harbaugh is back in college football: the former Stanford head coach recruiting against his old program. It’s especially fun when the tug-of-war is over a quarterback. The inaugural battle completed Thursday with Harbaugh coming out on the losing end.

Stanford beat out Michigan and USC for K.J. Costello, a pro-style quarterback out of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Costello is a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com, rated as the nation’s No. 2 pro-style signal caller and the nation’s 25th-best overall player.

“I had to pick the one that was best for my future and that was Stanford,” Costello said after making his decision. “Stanford always felt like home for me from the beginning and I think it’s the best overall fit for me on and off the field.”I’ve been there three times and the last time I was there, I was really blown away. I got to spend a lot of times with all the coaches and sit down and get to know Coach Shaw really well. Coach Bloomgren and Coach Pritchard are great guys and coaches as well and I met a lot of the players and just really fit in and bonded with everyone.”

The hope here is that a Costello-led Stanford club meets a Harbaugh-led Michigan team in a future Rose Bowl. That one wouldn’t be interesting at all.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Mizzou to shell out nearly $5 million for guarantee games over next six years

DeJuan Rogers, Jimmie Hunt

The Columbia Tribune recently obtained the contracts for Missouri’s upcoming guarantee games and found that, like in every other walk of life, the cost of business is going up.

Here’s how the payments break down:

– vs. Southeast Missouri State, Sept. 5, 2015: $385,000
– vs. Eastern Michigan, Sept. 10, 2016: $1.3 million
– vs. Missouri State, Sept. 2, 2017: $400,000
– vs. Idaho, Oct. 21, 2017: $1.3 million
– vs. Southeast Missouri State, Sept. 21, 2019: $425,000
– vs. Eastern Michigan, Sept. 26, 2020: $1.1 million

Add it all up and you get $4.91 million for a half-dozen games.

If that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider that Missouri paid $700,000 total to bring in Murray State, Toledo and Arkansas State in 2013 (though the Tigers did make a return trip to Toledo the following year, likely keeping costs down). They’ll shell out nearly twice that just to bring Eastern Michigan to Columbia next season.

What’s pushing these prices up? Costs are going up for mid-majors from the MAC and Sun Belt. Oh, and they’re just as aware of the SEC TV deals as the rest of us.

“It’s indicative of the fact that your midmajor programs have greater needs from a financial standpoint,” Missouri executive associate athletics director Bryan Maggard told the paper. “And with TV, the revenues generated by all these networks that everybody’s aware of, it’s just driven the price up. I do believe the midmajor programs are looking to support their programs in the various needs — whether it be cost of attendance, things like that — through guarantee monies.”

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Ex-A&M Aggie Sebastian LaRue dismissed by Wazzu

Sebastian LaRue

It appears Sebastian LaRue‘s winding, twisting football path has taken yet another detour.

Wednesday, Washington State head coach Mike Leach revealed that LaRue has been dismissed from the Cougars football program, Rivals.com reported.  Other than the standard violation of unspecified team rules, no reason was given for Leach’s boot being applied to Larue’s backside.

Originally a four-star member of Texas A&M’s 2013 recruiting class, LaRue was rated as the No. 24 wide receiver in the country.  After playing in one game as a true freshman, and stating that he wanted to be closer to his home in Santa Monica, Calf., LaRue announced in January of 2014 that he would be transferring from A&M to Wazzu.

(For those curious, Pullman is roughly 1,150 miles from Santa Monica, while College Station is approximately 1,500)

LaRue ended up never playing a down for Wazzu as he was forced to sit out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.  Entering the offseason, however, he was looked upon as a player who could’ve made a significant contribution to the Cougars’ defense after being moved to the secondary — perhaps even as a starter.

Wherever LaRue ends up next, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Washington State athletics)

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Vols OL Coleman Thomas arrested on felony theft charge

Florida v Tennessee Getty Images

After relative quiet on the legal front the past few days, a member of the Tennessee Volunteers has broken that calm.

According to Jimmy Hyams of Knoxville WNML radio, UT offensive lineman Coleman Thomas was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly attempted to sell stolen property on the university’s campus.  No details, including the items involved or the specific charge or charges Thomas is facing, were divulged.

UT has yet to comment on what if any impact this will have on the sophomore moving forward.

As a true freshman last season, Coleman started five of the 11 games in which he played.  All five of those starts came at right tackle.

Coleman was a three-star member of the Vols’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 10 center in the country coming out of high school in Virginia.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Wes Rucker)

UPDATED: 4:33 p.m. ET: According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Thomas was arrested on a felony theft charge after he allegedly stole an Xbox and three Xbox games from a fellow student.  The victim alleged that the theft occurred March 13.

From the News Sentinel:

Authorities discovered that the items had been sold later the same day to the Game Stop store at 6731 Clinton Highway. The cost to reimburse Game Stop was $176 according to the arrest report.

The stolen items were valued at $640 according to the report.

Coleman took part in UT’s first practice of the spring Tuesday, and even spoke to the media. It remains unclear if UT officials were aware of the incident prior to the reports surfacing.

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‘Jacked’ Hugh Freeze to serve as Talladega pace-car driver

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Once again, the biggest track in NASCAR is embracing the state’s love of college football, although this time with an individual outside of its boundaries.

According to Patrick Magee of the Sun Herald, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze will serve as the driver of the pace car for the May 3 race at Talladega Superspeedway. To say that Freeze, who is good friends with NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, is excited about the opportunity to lead the 43 stock cars to the green flag at 120 mph would be an understatement.

I am so jacked about that,” Freeze said according to Magee. “You have no idea, man. I love golf, fishing and NASCAR outside of my job and my family. That’s the three things I spend time doing.”

Freeze will be somewhat returning the favor to one driver in the field as Magee writes that “Stenhouse spoke to the Ole Miss football team prior to the 31-17 victory over Mississippi State on Nov. 29 in Oxford and helped Freeze lead the team onto the field.”  The photo in the upper right of the post shows Stenhouse, left in the white jacket, running alongside Freeze in leading the Rebels out prior to the Egg Bowl.

Freeze’s appearance in a couple of months continues a Talladega tradition that’s grown over the years.

In 2014, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn served in the same capacity as his SEC West counterpart will this year.  During the 2013 May race, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron served as the pace-car driver as well.  In 2012, Alabama legend Bear Bryant rode shotgun at the spring race.

And, while I’m here and given the subject matter, I’ll remind you that you can keep abreast of all of the latest racing news at both NASCARTalk and MotorSportsTalk. One other reminder? NASCAR will return to NBC Sports with the telecast of the race at the famed Daytona International Speedway Fourth of July weekend.

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NCAA ‘concerned’ over Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ bill

NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice Getty Images

When it comes to the state of Indiana, the NCAA and some of its membership have extensive ties to the area.  The Association is headquartered in the state, while the Big Ten annually holds its football championship game in Indianapolis.  This year, as it has in the past, the same city will host the men’s basketball Final Four.

How long those relationships with the state will continue, though, remains to be seen.

Thursday, CNN.com wrote, “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law… a measure that allows businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of ‘religious freedom.'” The website went on to write that “[i]n a statement explaining his decision, [Pence] pointed to President Barack Obama‘s health care law — which triggered a lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to ensure the company wasn’t required to cover birth control through its employees’ health insurance plans.”

Regardless of the motives behind the decision, the move to sign the bill has caught the attention of the NCAA, which in a statement attributed to president Mark Emmert suggested that its future dealings with the state could be in jeopardy.

The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.

The Big Ten has yet to issue a statement on the development, although one is expected in short order, perhaps as early as today.

The cry for sports at both the collegiate and professional levels to abandon the state has already started, however.  From Outsports.com:

The members of the LGBT Sports Coalition join a growing chorus for the NFL, NCAA, Big Ten, USA Diving, USA Gymnastics and others to move major sporting events away from Indiana after Gov. Mike Pence legalized discrimination.

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Harbaugh, UM staff to ‘guest coach’ at Alabama, Texas camps

Jim Harbaugh AP

If it’s good enough for James Franklin and Brian Kelly, it’s apparently good enough for Jim Harbaugh.

In an attempt last May to increase Penn State’s recruiting footprint, Franklin utilized a loophole that allowed he and his Nittany Lion staff to serve as “guest coaches” at high school football camps in Georgia and Florida.  The move, which sidesteps an NCAA rule that prohibits coaches from hosting camps outside of a 50-mile radius around their respective campuses, didn’t sit well with coaches in the SEC and was quickly emulated by the Notre Dame head coach.  Kelly also added the fertile Los Angeles recruiting grounds to his camping to-do list.

Fast-forward to today, with mlive.com reporting that Harbaugh and his Michigan staff will serve as “guest coaches” at a camp not only in SEC country, but they’re set to invade Big 12 territory as well.  In June, Harbaugh & Company will attend a camp in Prattville, Ala., on the 4th and then follow that up five days later by working one in Dallas, Tex.

As the population continues to trend away from the Midwest and toward the South and Southwest, it makes sense for the Harbaughs and Franklins and Kellys of the college football world to take every of advantage of the “loophole” to get their hooks into recruits from those talent-rich areas of the country — regardless of how many SEC and Big 12 coaches they piss off in the process.

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Gator RB Adam Lane comes clean, embraces bowl infamy

Birmingham Bowl - East Carolina v Florida Getty Images

Adam Lane‘s entire football future is ahead of him, but it’s what was behind him that has, thus far, landed him the most notoriety.

Entering Florida’s Birmingham Bowl appearance armed with 72 career rushing yards, Lane ripped off 109 yards and scored his first career touchdown in earning MVP honors.  It was around the time of that score where Lane, ummm, made his mark as he, well, pooped his drawers — and not in the metaphorically scared sense either.

Yes, the running back literally soiled himself at some point before/during/after the first-half score.

 

Instead of running away from the infamy of such a very public evacuation, Lane has chosen to embrace the rather odd way celebrity slammed into him.  I mean, he’s really embracing it.  And owning the shi… hell out of it.

It was the best thing that could have happened,” Lane said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It got a lot of attention and just put me in a place where I was out there publicly and people knew who I was. I really didn’t get a lot of grief from it. A lot of people were really more focused on how well I did in the game than anything. I feel like it was that way because I embraced it.”

Good for him. There’s no reason for him to feel like crap over something that was simply an accidental act of answering nature’s call.

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Arizona, FSU potential landing spots for transferring ex-Irish center

BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

After beginning his collegiate career in the Midwest, Matt  Hegarty could be headed back West.  Or down South.  One of the two, probably.

Earlier this month, Hegarty announced that he would be transferring from Notre Dame and playing his final season elsewhere.  Last week, Hegarty visited Florida State.  Wednesday, the Arizona Daily Star reported, the offensive lineman took an unofficial visit to Arizona.

Hegarty, a four-star 2011 recruit, held offers from both schools coming out of high school in New Mexico.

Hegarty is scheduled to graduate from Notre Dame in May.  Because of that, and provided he enters into a grad program not offered at his old school, he would be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Regardless of where Hegarty ultimately lands, that team would be getting an experienced player for the interior of their offensive line.

Last season, Hegarty started 11 games at both center and guard. The year before, and because of an injury to Nick Martin, he made his first career start in the regular-season finale against Stanford, then followed that up with another start in the Pinstripe Bowl.

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Photo: Michigan TE coach Jay Harbaugh’s recruiting letter to a prospect’s girlfriend

Jim Harbaugh

In our continued effort to chronicle every step the Jim Harbaugh regime takes while in Ann Arbor, we bring you the time tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh sent an enthusiastic recruiting letter to a prospect’s girlfriend.

First, the backstory. The Wolverines are chasing Nasier Upshur, a four-star 2016 tight end prospect out of Philadelphia. Since they are recruiting Upshur, they are also recruiting his girlfriend, Savannah.

To be clear, Michigan is far from the first program to “recruit” a recruit’s girlfriend. Every staff in America attempts to get close to the people whom hold sway in that prospect’s mind. But dadgumit if they aren’t the most entertaining doing it.

(Helmet sticker: MLive.com)

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USC responds – harshly – to latest Reggie Bush investigation drama

Pat Haden

On Tuesday, the NCAA released 500 pages of documents – including some damning internal dialogue – related to the Reggie Bush investigation as part of a defamation lawsuit involving former Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair. The documents revealed those involved stepping well beyond the bounds of normal investigation protocol – including value judgments on the program’s hiring of Lane Kiffin as head coach.

Said committee member Rodney Uphoff (via the Los Angeles Times):

“Paul Dee was brought in at Miami to clean up a program with serious problems. USC has responded to its problems by bringing in Lane Kiffin,” committee member Rodney Uphoff wrote in an undated memo to other members of the group. “They need a wake-up call that doing things the wrong way will have serious consequences.”

Mind you, Lane Kiffin was hired as USC’s head coach in 2010, a full five years after Bush last played for the Trojans. The Trojan community long argued that the school’s response to the allegations – and mainly the actions of former athletic director Mike Garrett - dictated the investigation, not whether or not Bush actually violated NCAA rules.

And it appears they may have been right.

USC released a statement Wednesday expressing disappointment in the NCAA’s handling of the investigation:

After an initial review of this first set of documents unsealed by the court in the McNair v. NCAA lawsuit, it is evident that the content confirms bias against McNair and USC by and on behalf of the NCAA and its Committee on Infractions. We are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process.  USC hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve. 

It seems likely that there are additional documents that will come to light.  Once USC has had the opportunity to review all of the documents unsealed by the court, we will determine what further action is appropriate. 

Added athletic director Pat Haden: “These recent documents confirm what we’ve believed all along, that we were treated unfairly in this investigation and its penalties. I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA’s own institutional controls. It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn’t appear to follow its own rules.”

We are now nearly a full decade removed from Bush’s Heisman Trophy exceptionally good 2005 season. Somehow, someway this case will still be in the news when Bush’s kids go to college.

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Iowa QB Jake Rudock permitted to transfer with “no strings attached”

Jake Rudock

Jake Rudock‘s future at Iowa – or, more accurately, lack thereof – became apparent in January when the Hawkeyes released a depth chart with C.J. Beathard in the all-important QB1 spot. On Wednesday, head coach Kirk Ferentz all but gave him his bus ticket out of town, allowing the senior-to-be to transfer with “no strings attached.”

“He’s exploring some other options at this point, with our support. Not our encouragement, but certainly our support. We’ll work through the process,” Ferentz told the Associated Press. “Until he decides what he’s going to do definitively, we’ll just keep him outside the program.”

Rudock was not listed on the Hawkeyes’ 2015 spring roster. His imminent transfer has been in the works for a week now.

Where will he end up? The smart money is on Michigan, where the quarterback-challenged Wolverine roster meets quarterback-friendly coach Jim Harbaugh, seemingly giving Rudock a nice opportunity to extend his career beyond college football. Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman reported last week Rudock was expected to visit the Wolverines.

In the meantime, Rudock is permitted to use Iowa’s facilities even if he’s not practicing with the team. “He’s not banned from the building by any stretch, yet,” Ferentz told HawkCentral.com. “I think right now he just kind of has to finalize what his plans are going to be, and we’ll move from there.”

Rudock has completed 417-of-691 passes (60.3 percent) for 4,819 yards (7.0 per attempt) with 34 touchdowns against 18 interceptions while adding 394 yards and eight scores on the ground.

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Carl Pelini files defamation suit against former assistant

Carl Pelini

Carl Pelini resigned as Florida Atlantic’s head coach on Oct. 30, 2013 after admitting illegal drug use, then rescinded that resignation a week later. No matter. Three weeks after that, Florida Atlantic repealed his resignation and fired its former head coach with cause, officially for failure to report a staff member for using illegal drugs. (Then-defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis also resigned for using illegal drugs.)

Now, Pelini is going after the former assistant that turned him in.

According to Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated, Pelini filed a defamation lawsuit against former FAU defensive line coach Matt Edwards, seeking damages in excess of $25,000. (Edwards is now the defensive coordinator at Tiffin University in Ohio; Pelini was hired earlier this month as Youngstown State’s defensive line coach.) Pelini alleges that Edwards turned his then-boss in for using cocaine and marijuana after Pelini confronted Edwards about an alleged inappropriate relationship with a woman close to the program named Allison Stewart.

“It’s been a very frustrating time,” Pelini told SI. “An embarrassing time. There’s a lot of false information and misinformation out there. Everybody seems to have a theory as to what happened. I feel like this is going to be an opportunity for me to go under oath and state the facts as they really happened.”

Stewart reiterated her claim in a phone conversation with SI that she witness Pelini using drugs.

Pelini said he waited until landing a job on his brother Bo’s staff to file the suit because he didn’t want it getting in the way of any potential job prospects.

“People wonder why I’ve stayed quiet and not been more aggressive, but ultimately, I wanted to be hirable again,” he said. “I wanted to allow Youngstown State or any perspective employer to have some input on how I went forward. Different employers may have looked at it differently. I wanted to make sure this was approved before I went forward.”

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