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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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RB Deantre Lewis abruptly leaves Arizona State Sun Devils

Colorado v Arizona State

Senior running back Deantre Lewis will not finish his career as a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils.

After finishing the regular season with 298 total yards as both a running back and a wide receiver, Lewis will not play in the Sun Bowl against the Duke Blue Devils.

No reason was given for Lewis departure, but Arizona State head coach Todd Graham confirmed he is no longer part of the program.

Lewis career never blossomed after a promising freshman campaign. During his first year on campus, Lewis produced three straight 100-yard games against the Wisconsin Badgers, Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers. He never ran for more than 64 yards in any single game during the rest of his career.

The running back was a victim of a random shooting in 2012. Upon his return, he was stuck on the depth chart behind Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. Lewis was then shifted to the defensive side of the football for a short period. He suffered an MCL injury in 2014. He was even called out publicly by his coach.

After an average senior season, it appears Lewis finally had enough.

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Gus Malzahn uncertain of D’haquille Williams’ status for Outback Bowl

D'haquille Williams

Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams continues to be bothered by lingering injuries and illness.

The Outback Bowl is 13 days away, but Auburn’s leading receiver isn’t currently on track to play in the game.

When asked about whether Williams would definitely play against the Wisconsin Badgers, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t willing to commit one way or another.

“Not at this point,” Malzahn told Al.com’s Joel A. Erickson.

Williams missed two of Auburn’s final three games due to a sprained MCL and a bruised knee that he suffered Nov. 8 against the Texas A&M Aggies. The JUCO transfer returned for the Iron Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide and caught seven passes for 121 yards.

However, the talented wide receiver hasn’t been feeling well.

“He has not practiced,” Malzahn said. “He was sick and he’s got some treatment things to do from the last game.”

Despite missing those two games, Williams still leads the Tigers with 45 receptions for 730 yards. The 6-2, 216-pound receiver has proven to be the security blanket for quarterback Nick Marshall.

If Williams can’t play, the Badgers will roll coverage toward Auburn’s deep threat, Sammie Coates. The junior will be playing his last game as a member of the Tigers before he’s NFL bound.

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Former four-star TE transfers from Vanderbilt to Colorado State

team headshots(John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

The Colorado State Rams don’t have a head coach yet, but they’ve already landed a big commitment.

Tight end Mitchell Parsons was one of the crown jewels in the Vanderbilt Commodores’ 2013 recruiting class. The former four-star recruit was considered the nation’s seventh-best tight end prospect, according to Rivals.com.

After a redshirt season and no playing time this year, the native of Parker, Colorado, decided he wanted to play closer to home.

Parsons’ transfer shouldn’t come as a surprise. He originally committed to head coach James Franklin, who left to take the job at Penn State less than a year later. Vanderbilt’s offense will again transition this offseason after new head coach Derek Mason fired offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell.

The tight end might not know who he’ll be playing for at Colorado State, but at least his family will only be an hour or so down the road.

Parsons will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Once he is eligible to play, he’ll have an opportunity to replace Steven Walker, who will be a senior in 2015, as the team’s starting tight end.

(Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletic department)

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Missouri will be without its second-leading receiver for Citrus Bowl

Jimmie Hunt ,Jabriel Washington

The Missouri Tigers will be without their second-leading receiver, Jimmie Hunt, for the Citrus Bowl against the Minnesota Gophers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter reported Hunt underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday.

Hunt was second on the team in receptions (40), yardage (698) and receiving touchdowns (7) this season. The senior is also coming off the best game of his career against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game. Hunt amassed an impressive 169 yards after beating the Alabama secondary deep multiple times.

Without Hunt in the lineup, the Tigers’ spread offense will feature a new slot receiver.

The two receivers Missouri’s head coach mentioned have caught a total of five passes this season. Otte, a senior, is the experienced option, but Brown presents a matchup problem at 6-3 and 205 pounds. Both may be required to step up in Hunt’s absence.

Minnesota is yet another big and physical team in Missouri’s way. The Tigers’ spread offense needs to be firing on all cylinders to score quickly once the Gophers try to control the clock with their running game and sound defense.

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Big 12 would look ‘East not West’ if league decides to expand

Bob Bowlsby

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby provided the first hint of possible expansion during an interview on 740 AM the Game with the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi.

Expansion could be vital for the league as it moves forward after being left out of the first College Football Playoff.

Once the Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs weren’t included as one of the nation’s top four teams, the Big 12 Conference became the only Power Five league without representation in the inaugural playoff system.

Two reasons became evident why the Big 12 was left out of the mix.

First, the Big 12 only has 10 teams. The NCAA prevents a league from hosting a championship game if it has less than 12 teams. As a result, the champions of the Big 12 played one less game than those teams that won their championship game.

In an attempt to make both the Baylor and TCU enticing candidates — because the Horned Frogs were rated higher even though they lost to the Bears — the conference decided its “One True Champion” would include both teams and the College Playoff Committee could decide which team should be more highly ranked.

Instead, the league’s decision backfired since neither team was seen as a true champion of their conference.

The most likely solution to the Big 12’s problem is to acquire a waiver from the NCAA to hold a championship game. After all, the Big 12 places a higher value on monetary gain than true competitive balance.

“We divide the money 10 ways,” Bowlsby told Bianchi, via UCFSports.com. “Right now, we’re distributing the largest amount of money to each of our members in any league in college athletics. I don’t know that our members are prepared to take a reduction in that distributable revenue. It’s certainly about TV sets. It’s certainly about recruiting. It’s certainly about the possibility of competitive implications in all of our sports, but particularly our high-profile sports. At the present time we have no strategy. We haven’t had any discussions around expansion. Our CEOs have said they like 10. I expect that we’ll be at 10 for a while. Could that change down the road? Sure it could… I don’t think we’re going to take a kneejerk reaction and think immediately about expansion just because on this occasion we got left out of the playoff.”

While Bowlsby expects an answer for the league’s appeal within six months, expansion might quickly develop into a legitimate option if the NCAA doesn’t approve the waiver.

The commissioner provided an initial hint of what the league might do once league expansion is back on the table.

“We have one member in West Virginia that’s on the East Coast,” Bowlsby said. “We have to be mindful of their situation. If we took somebody in that was on the far West Coast it would certainly do a disservice to our member in West Virginia. As I mentioned earlier, it may be a different set of criteria to some of our members than it is to other members. As the commissioner, I certainly have to take all 10 institutions and their sensitivities into play.”

The two obvious candidates would be the Cincinnati Bearcats and the UCF Knights. Cincinnati would provide a travel partner and a rival for West Virginia. UCF, meanwhile, is an burgeoning program that would allow the Big 12 to get into the talent-rich state of Florida for recruiting purposes.

Bowlsby’s inclination to look at teams in the eastern half of the United State would exclude the BYU Cougars and Boise State Broncos, both of which would be strong candidates as football programs.

“We don’t have any schools on our radar at the present time,” Bowlsby said. “As you know, the Grant of Rights was noted earlier in the previous question. Our institutions all have granted their rights to the Big 12. Several other conferences have Grants of Rights. There are some institutions that are essentially off the table. We don’t have any expansion initiative. We don’t have any list of prospects. We don’t have any plans to expand. As our athletic directors, our CEOs, talk about what the model looks like, talk about the challenges of the future and talk about the immediate past experience we had with the playoff, you know, those are things that are going to get discussed. But we don’t have any list. We don’t have any initiative. I would say that the status quo is by far the most attractive status to most of our members.”

While the Big 12 doesn’t have any current plans to expand, Bowlby’s stance has slightly softened in the past 11 days.

The league’s future expansion now hinges on the NCAA’s decision to allow the Big 12 to hold a championship game with on 10 members. If the appeal is denied, the expansion conversation will intensify.

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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 20 Viewer’s Guide

Mark Hudspeth AP

Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 20 bowl menu, which on “opening weekend” features five bowl games as the 2014 postseason kicks off.

WHO: Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
WHAT: The 14th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
WHEN: 11 a.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Unless you were on Bourbon Street the night before, what better way to cap off your Saturday morning, and start the 2014 bowl season, than with a little Mountain West vs. Sun Belt action?  After never making a bowl in the first 38 years of the football program’s existence, Louisiana-Lafayette has now qualified for four straight under Mark Hudspeth.  Not only that, but they’ve won their first three appearances — all of which came in this very bowl.  Nevada, meanwhile, has lost its last two bowl games and six of its last eight.  The Ragin’ Cajuns are also playing very well as they head into the postseason, closing out the regular season with a 7-1 burst.  That burst came after a 1-3 start to the season that featured losses to nationally-ranked Ole Miss and Boise State as well as Conference USA runner-up Louisiana Tech. UL-L will prove to be a significant challenge to Nevada, one that Cody Fajardo and the Wolf Pack may not be able to overcome.
THE LINE: Louisiana-Lafayette, +1
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana-Lafayette 31, Nevada 27

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WHO: Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)
WHAT: The 9th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
WHEN: 2:20 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: If you’re a fan of old school football that features copious amounts of defense and pounding yards out on the ground, this game is for you.  Utah State is very stingy defensively, giving up just 20.8 points per game (21st nationally).  USU is also very good against the run (26th, giving up 129.2 ypg); that also happens to be UTEP’s strength offensively (35th, 213.8 ypg).  The Aggies, though, are coming off their worst performance of the season, giving up 50 points and nearly 500 yards in the regular-season finale against Boise State.  Something tells me that it’ll be the Miners who will end up paying the price for that debacle.
THE LINE: UTEP, +10½
THE PREDICTION: Utah State 48, UTEP 17

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WHO: Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)
WHAT: The 23rd Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.
WHEN: 3:30 ET on ABC
THE SKINNY: The first day of bowl action has landed what could be one of the best and most intriguing matchups of the postseason.  Colorado State is coming off its best regular season in over a decade, but will also be without its head coach as Jim McElwain took the Florida job and won’t coach in the bowl game.  Utah, the only Power Five team in action today, began the 2014 season 6-1, but stumbled to a 2-3 finish that eliminated it from contention for a significantly more important bowl berth.  The teams do have one 2014 opponent in common in Colorado, with CSU winning at home 31-17 in Week 1 and the U of U winning 38-34 in Week 14 on the road.  A significant focus for Utah’s defense, one of the best in the country, will be shutting down All-American wide receiver Rashard Higgins.  If the Utes can accomplish that feat — it won’t be easy as Higgins has at least 143 yards receiving in each of the last seven games — it would go a long way in securing their first bowl win since after the 2011 season.
THE LINE: Colorado State, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Utah 27, Colorado State 20

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WHO: Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)
WHAT: The 18th Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Id.
WHEN: 5:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: This game very easily could’ve been called the Turnaround Bowl.  The fact that either team, let alone both, are playing in the postseason somewhat constitutes a minor miracle as Air Force won a mere two games in 2013 while Western Michigan trumped even that with just a single win last season.  This game is also your classic immovable object vs. irresistible force matchup: WMU is 37th in the country in rushing yards given up per game (142.7) while AF, as service academies ofttimes are, is seventh in rushing offense at 272.2 yards per game.  Throw in how the Falcons gain those yards on the ground, and it could be a long day for the Broncos.
THE LINE: Western Michigan, +1
THE PREDICTION: Air Force 37, Western Michigan 24

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WHO: South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)
WHAT: The Inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
WHEN: 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: It’s appropriate that South Alabama is appearing in the first-ever Camellia Bowl as the Jaguars, who moved to the FBS level three years ago, are making their first-ever bowl appearance.  Their opponents, meanwhile, are playing in their seventh bowl game the past 12 years.  The Jaguars have struggled to score points all year long, with their 20.2 points per game ranking 113th out of 128 FBS teams.  The Falcons, meanwhile, have struggled to stop the opposition from scoring all season, as its 33.9 ppg (109th nationally) attests.  Whichever trend continues will play a significant role in determining the outcome.
THE LINE: Bowling Green, +3
THE PREDICTION: Bowling Green 38, South Alabama 24

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Danny Hope officially added to Willie Taggart’s USF staff

Danny Hope

After a two-season absence, Hope — and one of the best mustaches — has returned to college football.

Following up on a couple of days worth of speculation, USF announced Friday afternoon that Danny Hope has been added to Willie Taggart‘s coaching staff at USF.  The long-time college assistant will serve as the Bulls’ co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

The co-coordinator title is mildly surprising as all of the rumors had centered around Hope being the line coach. Instead, Hope will share coordinating duties with David Reaves, who was, the release stated, “promoted to co-offensive coordinator with oversight of the Bulls’ passing attack.”

Hope has spent the past two seasons on the coaching sidelines after his dismissal as Purdue’s head coach in November of 2012. Interestingly, this is the first time in a collegiate career that spans nearly three decades that Hope’s had the coordinator title in his job description. Previously, he had either been the assistant head coach (Louisville) or the offensive line coach (Oklahoma, Louisville, Wyoming) or both (Purdue).

“Danny is one of the best offensive line coaches in college football and a Florida native with strong ties to the Bay Area,” Taggart said in a statement. “He is a leader and a great recruiter who has helped to build and orchestrate some very successful offenses at several stops in major college football. I’m excited to welcome Danny and his family back to Florida and get to work.”

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Leukemia fighter, frosh DB to serve as captain in Chips’ bowl game

Derrick Nash

If you recall, last May we made mention of a heartwarming story coming out of Central Michigan.  Shortly after signing with CMU in February of 2013, Derrick Nash was diagnosed with leukemia and was told that he’d be forced to sit out that season.  Nash vowed to return to the playing field, while the university vowed to honor his scholarship.

The running back did return, playing in the spring game earlier this year.  Unfortunately, the leukemia returned as well, forcing the player to miss a second straight season as he underwent additional chemotherapy.  As the Chips prepare to play Western Kentucky in the Popeyes Bahama Bowl Christmas Eve, though, Nash will be a part of the team in the postseason.

According to the school, Nash will serve as the honorary captain for the Chips in their postseason game.  Head coach Dan Enos said in a statement that the NCAA, as well as his doctors, signed of recently on allowing Nash to perform the ceremonial duties.

And, it should be noted, get that free trip to the Bahamas he’s earned.

“We had to file a waiver with the NCAA to clear him just to invite him on the trip,” Enos said. “When we got the waiver that we could bring him that was a real blessing. Then we didn’t know if he was going to be able to go and to have his doctors clear him to go was another blessing.

“Our team loves him, he’s part of our family. He’s been through a lot obviously and I think our team loves to have one of our own as a captain, but a guy like Derrick who we draw so much strength from just watching how courageous he is every day and what an inspiration he is to our entire program.”

Both the player and the football program are hopeful he can return to the playing field in 2015 in something other than an honorary role.

(Photo credit: Central Michigan athletics)

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Report: Harbaugh’s family, friends encouraging him to take UM job

Jim Harbaugh AP

The will-he-or-won’t-he spinning of the Wheel of Harbaugh has taken yet another turn, perhaps the most interesting and dramatic one in this whole extended soap opera.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, and citing sources close to the situation, the family and friends of San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh “have been encouraging him to take the Michigan [head coaching] job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL.” Perhaps most importantly, and especially if the coach’s household hierarchy is anything like mine, “Harbaugh’s wife also is said to be open and on board to him going back to Ann Arbor if that’s what he wants.”

It’s previously been reported/speculated that Harbaugh’s wife would be against a move from California to Ann Arbor; if Schefter’s report is accurate, that would remove one potential obstacle.

Schefter’s report comes two days after a report surfaced that Michigan was prepared to over Harbaugh a contract in the neighborhood of $8 million annually over six years. Thursday, Harbaugh declined to answer when asked directly if his alma mater had offered him a contract.

Harbaugh’s father could also be a family member who’s nudging his son in the direction of the Wolverines.

There is an undisputed emotional connection for Harbaugh, who played at Michigan, is an iconic figure there, and has been hearing from family and friends about returning as the prodigal son. Harbaugh’s father, Jack, is influential with his son and he has made it known that he likes and admires Michigan’s interim athletic director, Jim Hackett, whom he got to know in the mid 1970s, when he was coaching the defensive backs at Michigan while Hackett was playing center at the school.

Harbaugh would like to make his decision after the NFL season ends, after what Schefter describes as “the players’ getaway day on Monday, Dec. 29.” Certainly if UM knew, with absolute certainty, Harbaugh will take the job, they would be more than willing to wait. Should there be any doubt — and apparently there is in the mind of the man who’s reportedly their top candidate — can the university really afford to put its search on hold awaiting an answer?

That’s the $8 million question… or $8 million-plus if you’re of the mindset that Harbaugh and/or his agent are merely using UM to drive up his NFL price.

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Report: starting DE among four Fresno St. players suspended for bowl

Ikaika Woolsey, Maurice Poyadue

Fresno State will head into the postseason with depleted strength at a couple of positions thanks to off-field issues.  Reportedly.

Citing sources within the program, the Sacramento Bee is reporting that defensive end Maurice Poyadue, wide receiver Myles Carr and linebackers Xavier Ulutu and Michael Lazarus have been suspended for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl against Rice. The suspensions stemmed from the catch-all “violation of athletic department policy.”

The most notable of the suspensions is that of Poyadue as he has started the past seven games of the 2014 season.  He’s played in all 13 games this season as well after playing in 12 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

Likewise, Ulutu has played in every game this season, although those appearances came as the No. 2 inside linebacker.  Lazarus, listed behind Ulutu on the depth chart, has played in seven games.

Carr, a redshirt sophomore, has not caught a pass this season after playing in five games in 2013.

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Kentucky makes hiring of WVU OC Shannon Dawson official

Photo credit: West Virginia Athletics

Two days after it was initially reported, and a day after Dana Holgorsen confirmed it, Kentucky has made it official.

In a press release, UK announced that Mark Stoops has hired Shannon Dawson as his new offensive coordinator.  In addition to coordinator, Dawson will serve as the Wildcats’ quarterbacks coach.

Dawson will replace Neal Brown, who was named as Troy’s head coach late last month.

“I’m very excited to bring Shannon Dawson to the University of Kentucky,” Stoops said. “He has done a great job in helping build programs to success on every level. I’ve been impressed with the balance of West Virginia’s offense and how difficult they are to defend. I love the continuity he will bring to what we’ve been doing as we build on the progress we’ve made so far.

“In learning more about Shannon, I’ve found out what a strong leader he is and heard nothing but good things about him throughout our profession.”

As he will with the Wildcats, Dawson served as the Mountaineers’ coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. He was named WVU’s coordinator in 2012, his second season in Morgantown. Unlike at WVU, however, Dawson will have play-calling responsibilities at UK.

WVU, incidentally, was Dawson’s first full-time job at the FBS level.

(Photo credit: West Virginia athletics)

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Ex-Wake QB Travis Smith transfers to EMU

Travis Smith

With John Wolford, a true freshman, seemingly entrenched as Wake Forest’s starting quarterback, Travis Smith took his leave of the football program in mid-September.  Three months later, the quarterback officially has a new home.

Friday afternoon, Eastern Michigan announced that Smith is one of eight players, mostly from the JUCO ranks, who have been added to the football program.  Smith is already enrolled in classes at EMU for the winter semester.

The rising sophomore will participate in spring practice and, because of when he left Wake, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Smith, who didn’t see the field during his very brief stint with the Demon Deacons, was a three-star member of Wake’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 24 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Following his senior season in high school, he was named the Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year.

(Photo credit: Wake Forest athletics)

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QB Tanner McEvoy to go both ways for Badgers in bowl game

Tanner McEvoy, John Lowdermilk, Desmond King AP

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Prior to transferring to Wisconsin from South Carolina via the JUCO ranks, Tanner McEvoy was a quarterback. In 2013, McEvoy was moved to safety, a position he played all season last year for the Badgers. In 2014, he moved back to quarterback and started five games under center to start the year and played in the last eight at that position to end the year.

With the postseason on the horizon, and the Badgers still licking their wounds from the defensive beatdown they received in the Big Ten championship game, McEvoy is headed back to the defensive side of the ball. As well as remaining on the offensive side.

I’ll be going both ways,” McEvoy said. “I just love playing. Wherever I can get on the field, that’s what I’m here to do and help this team win. So I’m excited to be able to get more reps out there and just help these guys get a bowl victory and send the seniors off the right way.

“As long as I get on the field and help the team win, that’s my goal.”

McEvoy began practicing again with the defense Tuesday. Thursday, he worked with the first-team defense at both safety and linebacker.

Despite the defensive work, there wil still be opportunities for McEvoy offensively.  Even after Joel Stave reclaimed the starting job, McEvoy saw extensive action as the running threat at the quarterback position, finishing the 2014 regular season with 574 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.  His 8.8 yards per carry was tops on the team.

UW will face Auburn in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

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Jimbo, on Jameis’ football future: ‘it would not shock me either way’

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston signs autographs

For two very basic and simple reasons, most people have assumed throughout the year that Jameis Winston‘s second season as Florida State’s starting quarterback will be his last.

One, he was viewed by many (most?) as a likely Top 10, if not Top Five, selection in the 2015 NFL draft… provided teams could get past the off-field noise.  Which, of course, brings us to the second reason, that being the deafening and voluminous amount of noise that has come with being Winston at the collegiate level.  Winston is under more of a focused microscope on a college campus — autographs, student code of conduct hearing — than he would be in an NFL city, the theory goes, so he’d better off taking his leave of the amateur ranks and heading to the pros, where he’d at least get paid for the media headaches.

On the flip side, Winston said as recently as July off this year that playing two more years at the collegiate level, 2014 and 2015, wasn’t out of the question.  And that came a month after Winston’s dad was quoted as saying his son would remain with the football Seminoles for two more seasons.

Fast-forward to today, and the NFL question when it comes to Winston still lingers.  As he’s preparing FSU for its semifinal showdown with Oregon New Year’s Day, Jimbo Fisher, he of a new contract (almost), was asked about Winston’s future.  As has been the case every other time the subject’s been broached, Fisher says no decision has been made.

“I understand if he wants to go, when a guy’s that high and you’re doing what you do,” the head coach said. “But remember, he’s a very, very good student. He’s very smart. He loves baseball. He loves his time in college. He loves all the interaction of this, believe it or not. So it would not shock me either way.”

While most view, or viewed, Winston’s jump to the NFL as a fait accompli, it may not be the lock that it once was.

Winston is coming off a regular season that, at least statistically, paled into comparison to a 2013 season that ended with him holding the Heisman Trophy.  His performance on the field has led some to question whether his stock is falling.  And then there’s the very off-field noise that most had as being the impetus for him leaving early.

In September, ProFootballTalk‘s Mike Florio opined that Winston is “running out of chances to convince the NFL he can come in and be that player who is the leader of your team both in the locker room and in the public eye.”  A month later, FOXSports.com‘s Jay Glazer reported that “general managers are moving Winston down their potential draft boards — or off them completely.”

Winston certainly has a big decision to make over the next month, although it may not be as clear either way as some thought a few months ago.

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Gator QB Treon Harris charged for not having driver’s license

Florida v Florida State Getty Images

New Florida head coach Jim McElwain has his first off-field “incident” with which to deal, and it just so happens to involve his starting quarterback.  According to the Gainesville Sun, Treon Harris was charged with operating a motor vehicle without a valid license.

Not only that, the Sun reports, the true freshman has never had a driver’s license. Harris’ attorney, Huntley Johnson, tells the paper that his client is in the process of getting his license and he expects the charge to be dropped once that occurs.

“That’s the way it’s usually handled in a case like this for a citizen, and he’s a citizen,” Johnson said.

There’s also this:

It’s believed this charge will have zero impact on Harris’ postseason availability, and he’s still expected to start in the Birmingham Bowl against East Carolina.  That, though, is far from official as the university will look into the incident.

Harris started the last five games of the 2014 season after taking over for Jeff Driskel following a late-October loss to Missouri.

In early October, Harris was suspended indefinitely after he was accused of sexual assault.  Less than a week later, he was reinstated after the accuser dropped the complaint.

UPDATED 2:12 p.m. ET: As it stands right now, UF confirmed this afternoon, there has been no change to Harris’ status for the Gators’ upcoming bowl game.

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