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Purdue announce 2013 recruiting class

Darrell Hazell AP

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

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue head football coach Darrell Hazell announced the signing of 23 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play for the Boilermakers.

The class features three early enrollees in quarterback Danny Etling, defensive end John Strauser and running back David Yancey.

The group hails from seven different states, with five each from Georgia, Florida and Ohio, three each from Illinois and Indiana and one each from Kentucky and Texas.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 23 members of Purdue’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Matt Burke
TE
6-6 / 220
West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman

• Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com.

• Caught 29 passes for 343 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.

• 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant.

• Ranked as the No. 10 area prospect (out of 60) by the Palm Beach Post.

• Caught 23 passes for 242 yards and six touchdowns as a junior.

Keith Byars III
RB
5-10 / 200
Boca Raton, Fla./Milford Academy/Boca

• Played one season at Milford Academy in New York.

• Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com coming out of Boca Raton High School.

• Rushed for 655 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior at Boca Raton in 2011.

• Finished with 484 and seven scores as a junior.

• Son of former Ohio State standout and 13-year NFL veteran Keith Byars.

Leroy Clark
DB
5-10 / 175
Miami, Fla./Archbishop Carroll

• Rated as a four-star recruit and the No. 37 athlete in the nation by ESPN.com.

• Three-star prospect and the No. 64 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com.

• Had 80 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown as a senior.

• Participated in the 2013 Private vs. Public Game in Miami in January.

Johnny Daniels
DT
6-5 / 255
Chicago, Ill./Foreman

• Amassed 43 tackles (10.8 per game) in merely four games as a senior, finishing with eight tackles for loss with one sack

• Had with 43 tackles, including seven for losses with three sacks, and three fumbles forced as junior.

• Preseason Top 100 player in the Chicago area.

• Two-year team captain.

• All-City Team “Chicago Big Shoulders” as a junior and senior.

• 2012 Defensive Player of the Year.

Dalyn Dawkins
RB
5-9 / 175
Louisville, Ky./Trinity

• Four-star recruit and the No. 36 running back nationally by Scout.com.

• Three-star prospect and the No. 9 player in Kentucky by Rivals.com.

• 2012 Louisville Courier-Journal second-team All-State selection.

• As a senior, ran for 1,479 yards and 18 touchdowns, while catching five touchdowns on 38 receptions for 367 yards.

Danny Etling
QB
6-3 / 218
Terre Haute, Ind./Terre Haute South Vigo

• Mid-year enrollee.

• Rated as a four-star prospect and listed as the No. 9 “Pro-Style Quarterback” by Rivals.com.

• Four-star prospect, ranked No. 175 on the Top 300 and the No. 12-ranked “Pro-Style Quarterback” by ESPN.com.

• Listed by MaxSports.com’s Tom Lemming as the No. 20 “Pro-Style Quarterback” in the nation among the 2013 class.

• Participated at the 2013 Offense-Defense All-America Bowl Game in Houston.

• Selected as one of 25 prep quarterbacks nationally to compete at the Elite 11 finals in Redondo Beach, Calif., last summer.

• As a senior, threw for 1,505 yards and 11 touchdowns for South Vigo

• Cousin, Joe Holland, was a four-year starter at linebacker for the Boilermakers from 2008-11.

Danny Ezechukwu
LB
6-3 / 240
Lithonia, Ga./Arabia Mountain

• Listed as a three-star prospect by ESPN.com.

• Named 6-AAAAA All-Region first team.

Keyante Green
RB
5-9 / 205
McDonough, Ga./Eagle’s Landing Christian

• Four-star prospect, No. 266-rated overall player in the nation and No. 23-ranked running back by ESPN.com.

• Three-star recruit by Rivals.com.

• Three-star prospect by 247sports.com.

• The-star recruit by Scout.com.

• Rushed for over 1,200 and 17 touchdowns as a senior.

Ra’Zahn Howard
DT
6-4 / 315
Dawsonville, Ga./Atlanta Sports Academy

• Third team All-State selection at defensive tackle and helped lead Asbury Park High School (New Jersey) to NJSIAA state championship in 2011.

• Keyed Asbury Park defense which allowed just 464 rushing yards all season.

• Named as the Class B Central Defensive Player of the Year.

• Had 68 tackles with 12 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries.

• Also three fumbles forced and 31 tackles for loss.

• Named first team All-Shore Conference.

• Finished with 57 tackles and had 10 sacks as a junior at Winslow Township High School.

Da’Wan Hunte
CB
5-10 / 180
Miami, Fla./Miami Central

• Rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN.com.

• Three-star recruit by Rivals.com

• Helped lead Miami Central High School to back-to-back Class 6A state titles his junior and senior seasons.

• Finished with 68 total tackles, a fumble forced, a fumble recovered and two interceptions as a senior.

• Recorded 87 tackles with two fumbles recovered and two interceptions as a junior.

Tyvel Jemison
CB
5-11 / 175
Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers

• Three-star prospect, the No. 10-ranked player in Indiana and No. 52 cornerback nationally by Rivals.com.

• Three-star prospect and No. 94 cornerback nationally by Scout.com.

• High School, Bishop Luers, won four consecutive Class 2A state titles during prep playing career.

• Had five interceptions and 81 tackles as a senior.

• Registered 67 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three forced fumbles as a junior.

Austin Logan
S
6-0 / 190
Tallahassee, Fla./Florida

• Three-star recruit and the No. 26 safety in the nation by ESPN.com.

• Three-star prospect by Rivals.com.

• Finished with 50 tackles, 38 solo, with six tackles for loss with a sack as a senior.

• As a junior, had 38 total tackles, including 29 solo stops, two interceptions, including one for a score, had five pass breakups, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.

Antoine Miles
DE
6-3 / 250
Canton, Ohio/McKinley

• Three-star prospect and the No. 68 player in Ohio by Rivals.com.

• Three-star recruit and No. 55 defensive end nationally by ESPN.com.

• Three-star recruit and the No. 70 defensive tackle in the nation by Scout.com.

• Had 73 tackles, including 17 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, during senior season.

• Played in the Semper Fidelis Bowl in Carson, Calif., in Jan.

Dan Monteroso
WR
6-3 / 185
Saint Clairsville, Ohio/Saint Clairsville

• Three-star prospect and the No. 72 player in Ohio by Rivals.com.

• Three-star recruit and No. 128 wide receiver nationally by Scout.com.

• Three-star prospect and No. 133 wide receiver nationally by ESPN.com.

• Named first team Division IV All-Ohio after a state runner-up finish.

• Had 68 catches for 1,483 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior in 2012.

• Also an accomplished basketball player, ranks among the top 25 scorers in Ohio.

Myles Norwood
WR
6-0 / 185
Arlington, Texas/Grace Prep

• Three-star prospect by ESPN.com.

• First team all-district on both offense and defense in 2012 and offense only in 2011.

• Second team all-state on defense as a senior in 2012.

• First team all-state on offense as a junior in 2011.

• Had 47 receptions for 1,010 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011.

• Honorable mention all-state on offense as a sophomore in 2010.

Evan Panfil
DE
6-5 / 240
New Lennox, Ill./Lincoln Way Central

• Three-star prospect and the No. 33-ranked player in Illinois by Rivals.com.

• Three-star recruit by ESPN.com.

• Had 55 tackles and nine sacks as a senior

• Three-year varsity starter.

• Grandfather, Ken, uncle, Vince, and cousin, Jeff, all played football at Purdue.

• Uncle, Barry Panfil, played for the Miami Hurricanes and won national championships in 1987 and 1989.

Dezwan Polk-Campbell
LB
6-4 / 215
Columbus, Ohio/Whetstone

• Three-year starter in football.

• Two-time all-city selection.

• Had 93 tackles, including 34 for losses with nine sacks, an interception, five fumbles forced and three touchdowns as a senior.

• Finished with 63 tackles, including five for losses with four sacks as a junior. Also had an interception and two fumbles recovered.

• Had 60 tackles, including three sacks, with a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery as a sophomore.

• Also competes in track and field, running as part of the 4×100 and 4x400m relay teams and in the high jump.

Jake Replogle
DE
6-4 / 240
Centerville, Ohio/Centerville

• Three-star prospect by Rivals.com.

• Three-star recruit by Scout.com.

• Three-star prospect by ESPN.com.

• Brothers, Tyler, Mike and Adam, all played football at Indiana.

• Finished with 46 tackles, with 8.5 sacks, a fumble forced and a fumble recovered as a senior in 2012.

• Had 42 tackles, including 13 for losses with six sacks, as a junior in 2011.

John Strauser
DE
6-4 / 235
Champaign, Ill./Saint Thomas More

• Mid-year enrollee.

• Three-star prospect and 35th-ranked player in Illinois by Rivals.com.

• Named an all-area player at St. Thomas More by the News-Gazette following the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

• Two-way all-conference selection in 2012, setting a school record for tackles as a junior (146) and following up with 142 as a senior.

• Had eight tackles for loss in 2012 and 24 in his career.

• Uncle, Paul Chryst, is the head football coach at Pitt.

Johnny Thompson
LB
6-3 / 200
Winder, Ga./Apalachee

• Three-star recruit by Rivals.com.

• Three-star prospect by Scout.com.

• First team all-region tight end as a senior. Due to injuries, started three games at right tackle and seven at tight end. Finished with seven tackles for loss with two sacks on defense.

• 2012 Athens Banner Herald preseason “Terrific 10” selection.

• Second team all-region as a junior after finishing with 52 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble.

• Honorable mention all-region as a sophomore with 42 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks, a fumble forced, a fumble recovered and an interception in 2010.

Jason Tretter
OL
6-6 / 300
Richfield, Ohio/Revere

• Three-star prospect by ESPN.com.

• Associated Press Division II second-team All-Ohio selection as a senior and first-team All-Suburban League.

• Will play in the All-Ohio North-South game in April.

David Yancey
RB
5-10 / 205
Saint John, Ind./Lake Central

• Mid-year enrollee.

• Three-star prospect and the No. 22 player in Indiana by Rivals.com.

• Three-star recruit and No. 92 running back in the nation by Scout.com.

• Three-star prospect by ESPN.com.

• Rushed for 1,345 yards and 16 touchdowns while helping to lead Lake Central High School to a Duneland Conference championship as a junior in 2011.

• Finished with 1,168 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2012 before injury derailed senior season.

Deangelo Yancey
WR
6-2 / 200
Atlanta, Ga./Mays

• Three-star prospect by ESPN.com.

• Three-star prospect by Rivals.com.

• Three-star recruit by Scout.com.

• Had 29 catches for over 600 yards and eight touchdowns his senior season.

• Finished with 28 receptions for 561 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.

• Named 6-AAAAA All-Region first team, as well as second team All-State.

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LSU’s Mike the Tiger ate Texas A&M (logo) for breakfast

Mike the Tiger

Many of us will be feasting on turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie and perhaps a green bean casserole or cranberry sauce if you prefer. But tigers need to eat too, right?

LSU is playing Texas A&M Thursday night to add to your football enjoyment. In honor of the occasion, LSU made sure to prepare an appropriate Thanksgiving Eve feast for Mike The Tiger. Today, Mike was fed raw meat in the form of Texas A&M’s logo, with a question on social media asking how many tigers it takes to devour the Aggies.

The answer? Just one.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 9.35.15 PM

It should be noted, this is a fairly common treat for Mike the Tiger. He has also devoured the logos of Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss this season.

Image via Mike the Tiger’s Instagram.

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Clemson QB Watson might have shot to snap losing streak to Gamecocks

Deshaun Watson

When Clemson lost starting quarterback Deshaun Watson to a sprained LCL in mid-November, there was a chance he could be expected to return this season. With just days to go leading up to The Palmetto Bowl against South Carolina, it appears there is a chance Watson will play for Clemson. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had some good things to say about Watson’s healthy and mobility in practice this week.

“I thought he was better today than he was yesterday,” Swinney said, according to TigerNet. “It’s just like I have been saying it gets better each day. I know he was more confident today than he was yesterday.”

Cole Stoudt has been leading the offense and will be Clemson’s starter this week unless Watson is deemed ready to step back into the starting job. Watson replaced Stoudt earlier in the season against Florida State and held onto the job until getting injured. Swinney will play it safe and wait until he sees more before throwing Watson back under center.

“Tomorrow is another important day for us from a preparation standpoint. I think he has a good chance,” Swinney added. “How much or when? We haven’t decided that yet. But I think he definitely has a chance to play.”

Clemson has lost five straight games to their in-state rivals from the SEC. The last time Clemson defeated South Carolina at home was in 2008.

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Status of UCLA starting WR unknown following practice injury

Thomas Duarte, Adoree' Jackson

UCLA needs one more win to clinch the Pac-12 South Division, but the Bruins may have to do so without the services of one of their top wide receivers. Thomas Duarte had to leave practice on Tuesday after injuring his left leg, putting his status for Saturday’s contest with Stanford in some question.

“He is so important to us,” UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said according to The Los Angeles Times. “He has excellent ball skills, and that’s big for us. He is an inside guy that causes matchup problems.”

Duarte is UCLA’s second-leading receiver this season with 458 yards and three touchdowns. Tyler Scott has been listed behind Duarte on the UCLA depth chart and could be in line for a spot start if needed. Freshman Mossi Johnson could be another possible option if it comes to needing to replace Duarte.

If UCLA defeats Stanford, the Bruins will win the Pac-12 South and face Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game. A UCLA loss to Stanford will hand the division championship to the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game.

Stanford will be playing UCLA without its top wide receiver. Ty Montgomery has been ruled out due to a right shoulder injury.

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Is it better for Ohio State to play Wisconsin or Minnesota (again)?

Ohio State v Minnesota Getty Images

Regardless of what unfolds Saturday in Columbus, Ohio we know the Ohio State Buckeyes will be heading to the Big Ten Championship Game as the Big Ten East Division champions. The Buckeyes will learn whom they will face on Saturday as Wisconsin and Minnesota play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the Big Ten West Division championship. With Ohio State looking to make a push up the College Football Playoff rankings in the next two weeks, does it matter more if Ohio State plays Wisconsin or Minnesota?

Here is the situation for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are currently ranked sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings. TCU is ranked just ahead of Ohio State and Mississippi State owns the fourth spot in the rankings. Baylor is in the conversation as well, sitting at seventh place just behind Ohio State.

Ohio State has already played Minnesota this season, winning a competitive game on the road in the snow just a couple of weeks ago. Ohio State did not have Wisconsin on the regular season schedule. If the committee compares results against similar opponents, then TCU seems to hold an edge on Ohio State with a wider margin of victory against Minnesota from a game in September. As it turns out, the Minnesota game is helping keep TCU ahead of Baylor, despite the Horned Frogs losing a head-to-head result against Baylor and having an identical record.

For Ohio State, winning the final two games of the season will be an absolute must in order to have a shot at one of the four playoff spots, especially if Alabama, Florida State and Oregon win their remaining games and conference championship games. Ohio State will have to hope the selection committee sticks to the idea of conference championships carrying a little extra weight when it comes time to selecting the four playoff teams. That overall body of work would likely look more impressive with a Big Ten championship game victory over a surging Wisconsin, with a potential Heisman Trophy running back in Melvin Gordon leading the Badgers offense.

There is no guarantee Ohio State can leapfrog TCU and Mississippi State. If ending the season on a high note holds any significance, then Ohio State may have the best argument to make with a win against Wisconsin. Would playing Minnesota a second time have the same importance?

Well, actually…

If Minnesota beats Wisconsin, it is possible the Gophers could climb as many as five spots in the next playoff ranking. This happens easier if Auburn loses to Alabama, Georgia Tech loses to Georgia and Missouri loses to Arkansas. The loser of the Arizona-Arizona State game should also fall behind a victorious Minnesota. Then we would be talking about a top 13 Minnesota, and this is assuming UCLA is not upset by Stanford or Michigan State upset by Penn State.

But Ohio State has already proven it can beat Minnesota, doing so on the road. Doing it again on a neutral field does not add much to the overall body of work for Ohio State. Adding another team to the list of opponents would likely be more beneficial to the Buckeyes. Wisconsin beating Minnesota would diminish the attractiveness of one of Ohio State’s wins, but it would do the same for TCU as well. The more Minnesota wins, the better things could play out for TCU, and not Ohio State.

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Georgia Southern has bowl waiver denied

Georgia Southern has already clinched a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship in its first season at the FBS level, but it does not look as though the Eagles will be going to a bowl game. The university reportedly filed for a waiver to be eligible to participate in a postseason bowl game, but that waiver has been denied. Georgia Southern can still file an appeal and hope for the best.

Any appeal decision at this point is likely to uphold the original ruling on the waiver. If bowl spots start to become harder to fill, then the chances Georgia Southern could receive a positive response could increase.

Programs moving up from the FCS to the FBS ranks are ineligible for postseason play in their first year in FBS. Exceptions may be made to allow these schools play in a bowl game, but this has rarely been a legitimate concern. Georgia Southern’s case is just about as strong as it could have been with a share of the Sun Belt title and a chance to win the conference’s outright title.

Georgia Southern can win the outright Sun Belt title with a win against ULM or a Louisiana-Lafayette loss to Troy this weekend. The Sun Belt’s champion typically plays in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

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Todd Gurley begins rehab after ACL surgery

Todd Gurley

Georgia running back Todd Gurley underwent surgery on Tuesday to address a torn ACL, and he started his rehab on Wednesday.

It used to be a torn ACL would keep a player out of action for a year, but sometimes players can come back earlier than they used to thanks to improved medical treatment and rehab practices. Regardless, Gurley should not be expected to play again this season and he will likely be limited at best in the spring. The other question is whether or not Gurley will be working to return for one more season at Georgia or if he will risk taking a shot at the NFL while coming off a torn ACL.

Returning for one more year at Georgia would appear to be the most logical situation for Gurley. Before the injury Gurley would have likely been the first running back off the big board in the 2015 NFL Draft, but considering the diminished running back stock in the NFL Draft and the injury, heading to the NFL would be an unwise move for Gurley right now.

Gurley recently had his anticipated return to the field cut short. After sitting out four games due to a suspension, Gurley returned to action in a home game against Auburn. It was a fine return, but a torn ACL in the final minutes of the game put a damper on the entire game despite the win.

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Broyles Award nominees include Kiffin, Venables, 38 others

Lane Kiffin

With the next round fo the coaching carousel about to get underway at full speed, some programs may want to pay attention to the list of names nominated for the Broyles Award. The Broyles Award is presented annually to the top assistant coach in college football, and the list of 40 nominees for this year’s award includes some names with previous head coaching experience and others about to be in line for a head coaching gig somewhere around the country.

Current head coaches who previously won the Broyles Award include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, UConn’s Bob Diaco and Duke’s David Cutcliffe. Last year’s Broyles Award winner was Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who many feel could be ready for a head coaching offer in the next round of the coaching carousel.  This year Narduzzi is not a finalist for the award, but Spartans co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner is.

“This will be one of the most challenging years ever for our selection committee to choose the top 5 finalists and winner, so many assistant coaches did outstanding work this year,” David Bazzel, Broyles Award executive director.

This year’s Broyles Award winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 9 by The Rotary Club of Little Rock and sponsor Delta Dental. The award is named after former Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles, who had a solid track record of pumping out quality assistant coaches. Some of the assistants who coaches under Broyles include Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Hayden Fry, Joe Gibbs, and Jackie Sherrill.

Broyles Award Nominees

Alabama – Lane Kiffin, Offensive Coordinator
Appalachian State – Dwayne Ledford, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Arizona – Jeff Casteel, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas – Robb Smith, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas State University – Walt Bell, Offensive Coordinator
Boise State University – Mike Sanford, Offensive Coordinator
Boston College – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator
Brigham Young University – Nick Howell, Defensive coordinator
Clemson – Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator
Colorado State – Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator
Duke University – John Latina, Run Game Coordinator/OL
East Carolina University – Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator
FIU – Josh Conklin, Defensive Coordinator
Georgia Southern University – Doug Ruse, Offensive Coordinator
Louisiana – Marquase Lovings, Running Backs
Louisiana Tech – Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator
Louisville – Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator
Memphis – James Shibest, Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
Miami – Mark D’Onofrio, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan – Greg Mattison, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan State University – Dave Warner, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Minnesota – Tracy Claeys, Defensive Coordinator
Mississippi State – Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator
Missouri – Dave Steckel, Defensive Coordinator
NC State – Desmond Kitchings, Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator
Ohio State University – Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator
Ole Miss – Dave Wommack, Defensive Coordinator
Oregon – Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator
Penn State University – Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator
Stanford – Lance Anderson, Defensive Coordinator
TCU – Doug Meacham, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Temple – Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator
UCF – Brent Key, Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
UCLA – Noel Mazzone, Offensive Coordinator
Utah – Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator
Utah State University – Todd Orlando, Defensive Coordinator
UTSA – Neal Neathery, Defensive Coordinator
West Virginia University – Tony Gibson, Defensive Coordinator
Western Michigan University – Kirk Ciarrocca, Offensive Coordinator
Wisconsin – Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator

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Freeze, on Bo Wallace: ‘have to chain him down to keep him from’ Egg Bowl

Mississippi v Arkansas Getty Images

While it’s not yet officially official, it appears Ole Miss’ triggerman will indeed be under center for the Egg Bowl Saturday.

Bo Wallace missed a substantial chunk of the Arkansas loss last week after injuring his ankle.  During practice leading up to the rivalry game against Mississippi State, Wallace has been somewhat limited.

On the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday, however, Wallace’s head coach seemed decidedly optimistic that the quarterback will be on the field when the Rebels take on the Bulldogs.

You would have to chain him down to keep him from going,” Hugh Freeze said. “He’s looking better every day. We anticipate him being ready to go.”

If Wallace were to suffer a setback, the Rebels would turn to either Devante Kincaid and Ryan Buchanan. The backup duo, both redshirt freshmen, has attempted 39 passes this season, with Kincaid completing 15 of his 17 attempts.

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Hoos your coach in 2015? For Virginia, it’s Mike London

Mike London AP

There will be many head coaches dragged to the chopping block over the next month or so.  One of those who won’t be, somewhat surprisingly, is Mike London.

With speculation swirling, Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage confirmed in a press release Wednesday afternoon that London will be returning as the Cavaliers’ head coach in 2015.  A two-win team in London’s fourth season last year, the Cavaliers stand at five wins in 2014 and on the cusp of bowl eligibility.

It’s that improvement that led Littlepage to take his finger off the trigger and give London what most would consider a one-year reprieve.

“It was important to see improvement in our football program this season,” Littlepage’s statement began. “I’ve seen signs of progress in many areas. Through the staff changes made over the last two years, we are better at teaching the game and in the overall development of the student-athletes. We also continue to notice the commitment by this group of coaches and student-athletes to their academic and community responsibilities.

“The staff has re-focused its recruiting efforts to emphasize the need to attract student-athletes capable of helping the program compete at a high level in the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference. We are seeing many of these student-athletes on the field right now and the staff continues to have success on the recruiting trail. We will continue to support the program in their efforts to maximize their recruiting success.

“It’s important for each of our sports programs to continue to show progress and follow a plan to compete for conference championships and in postseason competition to support the department’s goals. I trust the plan Mike has in place and believe his leadership provides the best opportunity for Virginia football to be successful in the future.”

In London’s five-plus seasons, UVa is 23-37 overall and 11-28 in ACC play.  An 8-5 season in 2011 led to speculation that he would replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.  London instead remained in Charlottesville, and the Cavaliers finished sixth and seventh in the Coastal division in 2012 and 2013, respectively; they’re tied for fourth this year.

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Report: no contact between Braxton Miller, Oregon

Braxton Miller AP

It’s not just the coaching rumor mill that’s churning the day before Turkey Day.

Because of J.T. Barrett‘s eyebrow-raising success this season, success that has put the redshirt freshman squarely in the Heisman mix, speculation has been growing that the window on Braxton Miller‘s days at Ohio State is closing.  As the speculation goes, Miller will look to transfer from the Buckeyes — as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately — and move on to a situation that would afford him the opportunity to be the starter for his final collegiate season, which may or may not be the case at OSU.

Miller’s name, despite no hints from the player himself, mind you, has been connected to schools such as Auburn, Boston College and, most notably, Oregon.  The Ducks would make sense on numerous levels, as both the offensive system utilized would seem to match Miller’s skillset and UO’s triggerman, Marcus Mariota, is expected to leave early for the NFL.  The dot-connecting is reasonable, although that doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

According to The Oregonian, and citing a source with knowledge of the situation, “[t]here has been no contact between Oregon and either Miller or anyone acting on his behalf.” Leading up to the paper knocking down the talk, there was a rumor making the rounds that Miller had let it be known to the UO football program that he had an interest in the school and offensive coordinator Scott Frost followed up on that interest during a recruiting trek a couple of weeks ago. One of the problems with that, the paper notes, is that Frost wasn’t on the recruiting trail at that time.

A little over a week ago, NFL.com reported that “the quarterback’s plan for now is to remain at Ohio State and lead the Buckeyes in 2015.” Two months ago, Urban Meyer stated emphatically that Miller is his guy.

Braxton is our quarterback,” Meyer said Sept. 30. “To be fair to Braxton, Big Ten Player of the Year. But it’s good to know we’ve got both of them.”

A month and a half later, Meyer’s tune had changed slightly as he heavily intimated Miller will have to earn the job back… if he even stays, which the head coach seemed to hint at as well.

Competition brings out the best, and I’m really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year, if that’s the plan,” the coach hedged.

If it’s made clear to Miller that he will have to earn back a job that he held for three years prior to re-injuring his shoulder during summer camp, it will be interesting to see if he accepts the challenge or moves on.  And, if there is a true competition, is it something Miller can even win?  Barrett, in 11 games, has already proven to be the better passer of the two — as the competition has already pointed out — and his running ability, while not at Miller’s level, is a significant weapon as well.

It’s hard to see how Meyer could send Barrett back to the bench after the season he’s had, one that could see a mid-December trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.  It’s also hard to see how Meyer could keep Miller, the 2012 and 2013 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, off the field.  One way or the other, whether it’s by transfer attrition or competition, something has got to give.

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Clemson-South Carolina officially dubbed ‘The Palmetto Bowl’

Clemson v South Carolina Getty Images

After years of fans and media alike ofttimes and unofficially referring to it as “The Palmetto Bowl,” the in-state rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina has officially taken on that moniker, both schools announced Wednesday.

Seeing as both teams hail from “The Palmetto State,” the name makes perfect sense.  The announcement also comes just a couple of days before the 112th meeting between the two football programs.

“This is one of the premier games every year in college football, and it’s a great opportunity for our institutions to increase exposure to the State of South Carolina and all the great people here,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. “To name this game ‘The Palmetto Bowl’ hopefully adds to the identity of this great rivalry.”

“From ‘Big Thursday’ to ‘The Palmetto Bowl,’ there is so much history and tradition to showcase about this rivalry,” said Radakovich’s South Carolina counterpart, Ray Tanner. “The Palmetto Bowl gives this rivalry an identity that highlights the State of South Carolina and the accomplishments of these outstanding institutions.”

In addition to the name, the schools also announced a trophy and logo will be developed and unveiled prior to the 2015 game.

Behind only Minnesota-Wisconsin (108 this weekend), Clemson-South Carolina is the second-longest, consecutively-played rivalry in the country at 106 straight (as of Saturday).  The Tigers currently lead the series 65-42-4, although the Gamecocks have won five straight and six of the last eight.

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Sun Devils’ leading receiver to play in Territorial Cup

Jaelen Strong, Dominique Hatfield

A head injury kept the most productive piece of Arizona State’s passing game out of last week’s game.  That, though, won’t be the case on rivalry weekend.

Tuesday, Todd Graham confirmed that Jaelen Strong will play in this Saturday’s Territorial Cup battle with Arizona.  Graham allowed that the wide receiver was “close to playing last week” against Washington State, but the team decided to take the precautionary route because of the concussion.

That won’t be the case this week as the symptoms have subsided, giving the offense back one of its most potent weapons.

It’s going to be great to have him back,” quarterback Taylor Kelly said. “It’s going to open up D.J. (Foster) and our running game and also get Cam Smith the ball more.”

Strong is tops on the Sun Devils in receptions (71), receiving yards (982) and receiving touchdowns (nine). Those totals are good for 12th, 16th and T-11th in the nation, respectively, and fourth among Pac-12 receivers in all three categories.

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TCU with good news, no news on skill-player front

B.J. Catalon, Orion Stewart

TCU’s skill-position players are getting healthier. Whether they are getting really healthy as the push toward a potential spot in the College Football Playoff remains to be seen.

Gary Patterson confirmed Tuesday that wide receiver Deante’ Gray will play in the Thanksgiving Day game against Texas. Gray has missed the past two games with a foot injury.

Despite being sidelined for a pair of games, Gray is still tied for the lead in touchdown receptions with seven, while he’s third in receiving yards (486) and fourth in receptions (29).

On the not-so-good injury front is B.J. Catalon.

The running back sustained what’s only been described as an upper-torso injury — the speculation is that it’s a concussion — in the Nov. 1 win over West Virginia. Catalon did not play in the last two games, wins over Kansas State and Kansas, because of the injury. Whether it’s a third straight sidelining is unclear, although it’s not sounding promising.

I don’t know whether B.J. will be with us or not,” the head coach said when asked about Catalon’s availability for the holiday road trip to Austin.

This season, Catalon has accounted for 910 all-purpose yards — 493 rushing, 163 receiving, 254 on returns. That versatility led the junior to be named as one of the five finalists for the Hornung Award.

Despite those two missed games, he still leads the Horned Frogs with 10 rushing touchdowns. He’s returned a punt for a touchdown this year as well.

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Wazzu to induct Steve Gleason into its Hall of Fame

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

If you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up, we have you covered.

During Saturday’s Apple Cup game with Washington, Washington State will induct its Class of 2014 into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. That class will consist of one person: Steve Gleason.

Gleason played both football and baseball for the Cougars from 1995-99. On the gridiron, he was a two-time captain; he was a captain on the baseball team his senior year as well. Three times he earned All-Pac-10 honors in football, and four times he was a Pac-10 All-Academic selection.

In 2011, a handful of years after a seven-year NFL career came to an end, Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Since then, Gleason established “Team Gleason,” a foundation that looks to raise money and awareness for ALS.

Gleason raising awareness will serve as his lasting and most impactful legacy; his collegiate athletic prowess, though, will now have an official legacy as well.

“Steve is a tremendous Cougar and his induction Saturday night into the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame is well deserved,” said athletic director Bill Moos in a statement. “With a sold-out Martin Stadium for the Apple Cup, I can think of no better setting to highlight Steve’s accomplishments than in front of a fan base that has admired him for so many years.”

Gleason’s induction will take place between the first and second quarters of the rivalry game. It will mark the first time in the school’s history that just one former student-athlete has been inducted in that year’s class.

Based on how Gleason lived his life before and after his diagnosis, the honor is well-deserved.

 

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Guy, Mackey, O’Brien, Outland, Thorpe awards announce finalists

Melbourne Cup Day Getty Images

It was a busy Tuesday night for major awards announcing its finalists, as evidenced by the fact that CFT is now just getting to the other half of them.

The finalists for the Maxwell (most outstanding player at any position), Nagurski (defensive player), Biletnikoff (wide receiver), Groza (kicker) and Walker (running back) awards we’ve already covered; now we’ll get to the other five. In announcements Tuesday night, the Guy (punter), Mackey (tight end), O’Brien (quarterback), Outland (interior lineman) and Thorpe (defensive back) finalists were revealed.

Below are the three distinguished finalists for each award:

RAY GUY AWARD
Tom Hackett, Utah (Jr.)
JK Scott, Alabama (Fr.)
Austin Rehkow, Idaho (Soph.)

DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD
Trevone Boykin, TCU (Jr.)
Marcus Mariota, Oregon (RS Jr.)
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (Jr.)

JOHN MACKEY AWARD
Nick O’Leary, Florida State (Sr.)
Clive Walford, Miami (Sr.)
Maxx Williams, Minnesota (RS Soph.)

OUTLAND TROPHY
Malcom Brown, Texas (Jr.)
Reese Dismukes, Auburn (Sr.)
Brandon Scherff, Iowa (Sr.)

JIM THORPE AWARD
Landon Collins, Alabama (Jr.)
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon (Sr.)
Gerod Holliman, Louisville (RS So.)

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