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Rutgers announces 2013 recruiting class

Rutgers Scarlet Knights v Arkansas Razorbacks

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

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 6, 2013) – Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood announced Wednesday that 17 student-athletes have signed to play football for the Scarlet Knights beginning in the fall of 2013. In addition, Rutgers already secured commitments from five mid-year enrollees, to bring the signing class total to 22.

The 2013 recruiting class features 11 players from New Jersey, four from Florida, two from Pennsylvania, two from New York and one from Maryland, Delaware and Michigan. In all total, 21 of the 22 student-athletes reside in the “State of Rutgers.”

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 22 members of Rutgers’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Nick Arcidiacono
Tight End • 6-5 • 230
Holland, Pa. • Archbishop Wood High School

Two-way standout who played for head coach Steve Devlin at Archbishop Wood High School … younger brother of current Scarlet Knight Brandon Arcidiacono … third Archbishop Wood standout in the Rutgers program along with Brandon and Desmon Peoples … led team to state championship game as a senior and part of the school’s first state title squad his junior season … three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com, ESPN.com and 247Sports … No. 60 defensive end nationally by Scout.com … rated the No. 33 tight end nationally and the No. 41 prospect in Pennsylvania by ESPN.com … No. 21 prospect in Pennsylvania by SuperPrep Magazine … rated the No. 37 weakside defensive end nationally and Pennsylvania’s No. 24 recruit by 247Sports … eight receptions for 137 yards as a senior … Philadelphia Inquirer All-City selection … selected to play in the prestigious Big 33 game … Second Team All-Southeastern Pennsylvania selection by the Philadelphia Inquirer … No. 20 prospect in Pennsylvania by PennLive.com … played on the offensive line as a junior for a team that scored a school-record 699 points, a single-season standard among Pennsylvania’s AAA and AAAA teams.

Dontea Ayres
Running Back • 5-9 • 205
Salisbury, Md. • Wicomico High School

Mid-year enrollee who will practice in the spring … suffered a knee injury as a senior at Middletown High School in Middletown, Del., and missed the entire season … began his high school career at Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Md., the same school as former RU defensive back Wayne Warren … totaled 3,370 yards and averaged 9.4 yards per carry in three seasons of high school football … rushed for 1,471 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior … averaged 11.9 yards per carry his junior season … versatile back who also caught 13 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns his junior year … rated the No. 26 prospect and No. 2 running back by SuperPrep in its Mid-Atlantic preseason preview … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and the nation’s No. 82 running back … three-star recruit and the No. 3 player in Delaware by Rivals.com … listed as the No. 48 running back nationally and a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … rushed for 1,196 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Indians … averaged 8.7 yards per carry and 119.6 yards per game … finished freshman season with 703 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Nadir Barnwell
Defensive Back • 5-11 • 190
Piscataway, N.J. • Piscataway High School

Mid-year enrollee who will practice in the spring … four-year standout at Piscataway High School for head coach Dan Higgins … started three seasons at quarterback and defensive back for the Chiefs … led squad to a 30-5 record over the last three years … recovered from a shoulder injury to lead Piscataway to the 2012 NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 championship … finished with 30 tackles as a senior … completed 61 of 111 passes for 913 yards and eight touchdowns … also rushed 50 times for 298 yards and four scores … ranks second all-time at Piscataway with 3,239 passing yards and 202 completions … 34 career touchdown passes are the most in school history … led the Chiefs to back-to-back group state titles as a sophomore and junior … threw for 1,364 yards, rushed for 452 yards and scored 18 combined touchdowns as a junior … 40 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions as a junior … Preseason All-America selection by SuperPrep … rated the No. 22 defensive back nationally by SuperPrep … No. 6 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep … four-star prospect according to Scout.com … rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 11 athlete in the nation … No. 7 Garden State recruit by Rivals.com … four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 21 athlete by ESPN.com … four-star recruit and the No. 9 athlete in the nation and the No. 10 prospect in New Jersey by 247Sports … named the MVP of the Semper Fi Bowl as he led the East squad to a 17-14 win over the West … Third Team All-State selection by the Star-Ledger … two-time Home News Tribune and Courier News All-Area selection.

Devan Carter
Running Back • 6-2 • 230
Rochester, N.Y. • Brighton High School

Two-way performer for head coach Steve Lian at Brighton High School … led Brighton to its best record in a decade … senior season was cut short by injury, but still managed to rush for 987 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games (7.4 yards per carry) … rushed for 1,440 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com … rated the No. 6 prospect in New York by ESPN.com … rated the No. 77 inside linebacker nationally and New York’s 17th-best player by 247Sports … SuperPrep’s No. 4 player in New York who totaled 35 tackles and five sacks as a junior in limited action on defense.

Anthony Cioffi
Defensive Back • 6-0 • 180
Springfield, N.J. • Jonathan Dayton High School

Versatile performer who excelled on both sides of the football for head coach Joseph Goerge at Jonathan Dayton High School … Star-Ledger Second Team All-State honoree … 80 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and two sacks on defense … outstanding returner who had seven kick/punt returns of 60 yards or more … rushed for 896 yards and five touchdowns (11.5 yards per carry) at quarterback … threw for 694 yards and five touchdowns … one of the top single-game performances in New Jersey against Pingry … passed for 94 yards and a touchdown, rushed 16 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown and recovered two fumbles and forced one fumble in the 34-20 victory … Star-Ledger All-Union County … rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … No. 31 safety prospect nationally and the No. 18 player in New Jersey by Rivals.com … three-star recruit by Scout.com and the No. 86 safety in the nation … ESPN.com three-star selection.

Justin Goodwin
Running Back • 6-0 • 180
Summit, N.J. • Madison High School

Running back for head coach Chris Kubik at Madison High School … Star-Ledger First Team All-State honoree … rushed for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior … averaged 10.6 yards per carry … caught 12 passes for 439 yards and six scores … returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to help guide the Dodgers to their third-straight section title … sixth in the state of New Jersey in scoring as a senior (174 points) … rushed for a season-high 292 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 carries in a 36-6 victory over Dover … Star-Ledger Morris County Player of the Year as a junior and a senior … finished his high school career by winning his last 37 games … ran for 124 yards and a touchdown and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass in a 13-0 victory over previously unbeaten Mountain Lakes in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 final … rushed for 1,789 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior … returned three kickoffs for touchdowns his junior season … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and Rivals.com … ESPN.com’s No. 17 player in New Jersey and a three-star recruit … rated the No. 72 athlete nationally by ESPN.com … three-star recruit by 247Sports.

Janarion Grant
Wide Receiver • 5-11 • 170
Trilby, Fla. • Pasco High School

All-purpose standout for head coach Tom McHugh at Pasco High School … missed the first six games of the season with a broken hand, but still managed to score 20 total touchdowns in seven games played … Class 5A First Team All-State selection on offense … racked up 591 yards rushing, 168 yards receiving, 104 total yards on interception returns … scored five touchdowns against Fivay as a senior (two rushing, one passing, one receiving and a 50-yard interception return for a score) … rated the No. 8 recruit by Bright House Sports Network … helped guide the Pirates to a combined 25-2 record over the past two seasons, including a trip to the 5A state final four in 2011 and a region final appearance in 2012 … set a Pasco County record with 77 career touchdowns … Tampa Tribune All-Pasco First Team selection on offense … lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punt/kickoff return and defensive back … accounted for more than 1,800 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior … totaled nearly 1,000 yards receiving and led the Tampa area with 18 touchdown receptions as a junior … scored four special teams touchdowns in 2011 … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and the nation’s No. 54 cornerback prospect … three-star Rivals.com recruit and the No. 69 wide receiver nationally … also tabbed by Rivals.com as the No. 90 prospect in Florida … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … a three-star recruit who was listed as the nation’s No. 43 athlete and rated as the 94th-best player in Florida by 247Sports.

Bryant Gross-Armiento
Defensive Back • 6-1 • 190
Sunrise, Fla. • American Heritage High School

Played safety and cornerback for coach Jeff Dellenbach at American Heritage High School … rated three stars by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … named the No. 54 safety prospect by Rivals.com … made 17 tackles, helping lead the Patriots to a 9-2 record as a senior … rated the No. 71 safety nationally by ESPN.com … team won their district and appeared in the Class 5A playoffs … picked up 25 tackles and one fumble recovery as a junior … has two brothers that play football at Colgate … recently added Armiento to his last name to honor his adopted family.

Nick Internicola
Defensive End • 6-3 • 230
Pembroke Pines, Fla. • University School

Played high school football for coach Roger Harriott at University School playing at linebacker and on the defensive line … rated three stars by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … picked as the No. 28 prospect at his position and No. 69 out of Florida by Rivals.com … named the 54th-best player out of Florida according to 247Sports … Class 3A Florida All-State selection … ranked No. 26 on the Sun-Sentinel’s 2013 Broward/Palm Beach Super60 list … led his team to a 13-0 record and Class 3A state championship as a senior … team presented the MaxPreps’ Minuteman Trophy after finishing the season as the website’s small-school national champion … totaled 62 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles-for-loss and two interceptions as the team’s top pass rusher … picked up six tackles and numerous quarterback pressures during the state title game, shutting out the opponent in the second half … totaled 33 tackles, four sacks and two pass deflections as a junior … born in Boston and moved to Florida at age of eight.

Sebastian Joseph
Defensive Tackle • 6-4 • 270
Stroudsburg, Pa. • Stroudsburg High School

Played high school football for Joe Bernard at Stroudsburg … rated as the No. 30 prospect out of the state of Pennsylvania by Rivals.com … ranked three stars by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … checks in as the No. 52 player on the East Coast and No. 39 at his position according to Scout.com … totaled 40 tackles – with 17 for loss – to go with two forced fumbles as a senior … helped lead the Mountaineers to back-to-back Mountain Valley Conference champions with a 10-2 record in his final season … accepted bid to play in the Chesapeake Bowl following the season … picked up 25 tackles and six sacks as a junior as part of a defensive unit that held opponents to an average of 13.4 points per game.

Josh Klecko
Defensive Tackle • 6-2 • 260
Colts Neck, N.J. • Red Bank Catholic High School

Played high school football at Red Bank Catholic for head coach Jim Portela … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com and the nation’s No. 67 defensive tackle recruit … All-Shore Defensive Player of the Year according to the Asbury Park Press after posting 48 tackles and 8.5 sacks as a senior … won honor despite missing four games with injury … 16 quarterback hurries and returned one interception 37 yards for a touchdown … Class A Central Defensive Player of the Year … helped lead the Caseys to three-straight divisional titles … recorded 69 tackles and five sacks as a junior … team finished with the No. 13 ranking in the final NJVarsity Top 25 … Star-Ledger All-Monmouth County selection … Asbury Park Press All-Shore First-Team performer … rated as a three-star recruit by Scout.com … son of New York Jet great Joe Klecko, who played 12 seasons in the NFL with four Pro Bowl appearances as a defensive tackle … brother Dan was a former BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year at Temple and played eight seasons in the NFL and won three Super Bowl rings.

Chris Laviano
Quarterback • 6-3 • 200
Glen Head, N.Y. • Holy Trinity High School

Four-year starter at quarterback for head coach Tony Mascia … joins former high school teammate Matt McBride at Rutgers … threw for 1,473 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior … junior season totals of 1,716 yards passing and 14 touchdowns … four-star prospect according to ESPN.com … listed as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com … rated the No. 8 prospect in New York by SuperPrep … three-star rated recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 3 player in New York … listed as the No. 34 pro-style quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com … three-star recruit by 247Sports and the No. 3 player in New York … also rated the No. 20 pro-style quarterback nationally by 247Sports … completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,716 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior … top game as a junior came against St. Joseph-by-the-Sea after finishing 13-of-15 passing for 205 yards and three touchdowns … also ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on four carries in the 49-7 victory.

Lester Liston
Linebacker • 6-2 • 235
Grand Blanc, Mich. • Grand Blanc High School (Hargrave Military Academy)

Prep school linebacker who played one season at Hargrave Military Academy … originally from Grand Blanc, Mich. and Grand Blanc High School … played for head coach Joe Delaney at Grand Blanc … second on the team as a senior with 98 tackles and led the Bobcats with 699 yards rushing and nine touchdowns … averaged 7.1 yards per carry as a senior … rated the No. 16 prep school player in the nation and the No. 3 prep school linebacker by Rivals.com … a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports … listed as the No. 3 prep school inside linebacker recruit nationally by 247Sports … totaled 87 tackles and two interceptions as a junior en route to KLAA all-conference honors … helped guide Grand Blanc to a 7-4 record and the district playoffs.

Taylor Marini
Tight End • 6-4 • 250
Oviedo, Fla. • Lake Mary Prep

Played high school football for coach Scott Perry at Lake Mary … three-star recruit according to Rivals.com and Scout.com … ranked as the No. 40 tight end prospect nationally by ESPN.com … rated No. 37 on the Orlando Sentinel’s 2013 Central Florida Super60 … helped the Rams to a 7-3 record as a senior … used primarily as a blocker and long snapper, adding 11 receptions for 143 yards receiving in his final prep season … father Tony played basketball for UCF in the 1980’s.

Dorian Miller
Offensive Line • 6-3 • 295
Metuchen, N.J. • Metuchen High School

Played high school football for Sal Mistretta at Metuchen … lined up on both sides of the ball as a guard … helped the Bulldogs rush for 3,941 yards and 48 touchdowns combined during his junior and senior seasons … more than 80 percent of Metuchen’s plays were rushes, running behind Miller approximately 90 percent of the time … made 122 tackles with 12 sacks on defensive in his final two prep seasons … four-star rating from ESPN.com and Scout.com … No. 21 prospect out of New Jersey with a three-star rating from Rivals.com … helped lead the North team to a 28-13 win at the Chesapeake Bowl … Star-Ledger First Team All-State selection … Miller never yielded a sack and Metuchen ran for over 7,000 yards during his four-year career … on defense vs. Spotswood, totaled 12 tackles, four for loss, three sacks, caused a fumble and stopped a two-point conversion in a 28-26 victory … brother Dejuan played 38 games at Oklahoma as a wide receiver with 75 receptions during his career.

Myles Nash
Linebacker • 6-5 • 205
Sicklerville, N.J. • Timber Creek High School

Part of back-to-back South Jersey Group 4 section championship teams for head coach Rob Hinson at Timber Creek High School … joins former Charger teammate Quanzell Lambert at Rutgers … led team to a 22-2 record over his junior and senior seasons … totaled 70 tackles, 14 sacks and eight tackles-for-loss his senior season … four-star recruit by ESPN.com … rated the No. 50 athlete nationally and the No. 16 prospect in New Jersey by ESPN.com … Star-Ledger All-Group 4 selection … one of several Rutgers commitments to play in the Chesapeake Bowl … 84 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior … rated a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 43 outside linebacker by Scout.com … three-star recruit, No. 15 player in New Jersey and the No. 46 athlete nationally by Rivals.com … listed as the nation’s No. 61 athlete and a three-star recruit by 247Sports.

Andre Patton
Wide Receiver • 6-4 • 195
Wilmington, Del. • St. Elizabeth High School

Two-way standout for head coach Joe Hemphill at St. Elizabeth High School … named the Delaware Defensive Player of the Year by voting media and the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association … finished the season with 68 tackles and three interceptions … will play wide receiver at Rutgers and totaled 48 receptions for 761 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior … rushed for 677 yards and another 14 touchdowns … also returned punts and kickoffs for the Vikings … his older brother Eric plays football at Delaware … junior season featured 28 receptions for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns … also totaled 37 tackles and three interceptions in 2011 … three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 67 wide receiver according to Scout.com … No. 1 prospect in Delaware by Rivals.com … a three-star Rivals.com recruit who was tabbed the country’s No. 81 wide receiver … three-star recruit by ESPN.com and 247Sports … rated the No. 1 player in Delaware by ESPN.com and 247Sports.

Delon Stephenson
Defensive Back • 5-11 • 190
Sayreville, N.J. • Sayreville High School (Milford Academy)

Spent the fall at Milford Academy and played for head coach Bill Chaplick … lined up at defensive back for Milford, finishing the season with 48 tackles, six pass breakups and a forced fumble … 2010 Home News Tribune Offensive Player of the Year … rated by Rivals.com the No. 21 prep player in the nation … three-year letterwinner for head coach George Najjar at Sayreville High School … younger brother of current Scarlet Knight defensive tackle Daryl Stephenson and also played with defensive end David Milewski at Sayreville … listed as the No. 12 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep in 2011 … combined 22 touchdowns as a senior, including 1,161 rushing yards and 370 yards receiving … game-winning 65-yard touchdown reception in the closing minute of the sectional semifinal … 59 tackles and six interceptions as a defensive back in 2011 … part of two state championship teams for the Bombers … registered 3,532 yards from scrimmage and 52 touchdowns for his career, including 15 interceptions on defense … scored 12 touchdowns in eight playoff games … Star-Ledger All-State First Team pick on defense … guided the Bombers to a 30-5 career record as a three-year starter … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

T.J. Taylor
Defensive Back • 6-3 • 190
Kendall Park, N.J. • South Brunswick High School

Played for head coach Joe George at South Brunswick High School … continues a strong tradition of Vikings to play at Rutgers, joining former high school teammate Jevon Tyree “On the Banks” and hails from the same high school of current Cincinnati Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu … Star-Ledger Second Team All-State on defense … finished senior season with 33 receptions for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns … led the Vikings to the Central Jersey Group 5 championship … recorded 48 tackles, 15 pass breakups and three interceptions at safety … finished year with 365 return yards … Star-Ledger All-Group 5 defensive selection … Home News Tribune All-Area as a junior and a senior … Star-Ledger All-Middlesex selection on defense … junior year featured 17 receptions for 468 yards and six touchdowns … three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 41 safety by Scout.com … No. 20 prospect in the Garden State, No. 47 athlete nationally and a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … rated the No. 77 athlete nationally, No. 20 recruit in New Jersey and a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … three-star prospect according to 247Sports.

John Tsimis
Wide Receiver • 6-0 • 175
Harrington Park, N.J. • Bergen Catholic High School

Played for coach Nunzio Campanile at Bergen Catholic … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com … ranked as the No. 5 wide receiver out of the Garden State by NJVarsity.com … missed senior season due to injury … caught 50 passes for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com … rated the No. 33 player in New Jersey by ESPN.com … rated No. 30 player in New Jersey and a three-star recruit by 247Sports … all-state honors his junior season … played in an offense that racked up more than 2,000 passing yards in 2011 … helped lead the Crusaders to an 8-3 record … leaves Bergen Catholic ranked in the top five in almost every receiving category … registered 10 catches, 152 yards and two touchdowns in win over Don Bosco Prep as a junior … totaled 15 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore … played high school basketball.

Kemoko Turay
Defensive End • 6-6 • 220
Newark, N.J. • Barringer High School

Played for coach Darnell Mangan at Barringer High School … Third-Team All-State selection by the Star-Ledger … led the state of New Jersey with 19 sacks as a senior … helped guide Barringer to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years … nine tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a safety in a 19-6 victory over Belleville … rated as a three-star recruit by Scout.com … recorded 105 tackles (28 for loss), 19 sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior … did not play football as a sophomore or junior … played the sport as a freshman at East Orange … … NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 spring track and field champion in the triple jump and long jump as a junior … noticed by coaches at Rutgers football camp … also played high school basketball.

Eric Wiafe
Defensive End • 6-5 • 260
Egg Harbor Township, N.J. • Egg Harbor Township High School

Played high school football for coach Tony DeRosa at Egg Harbor Township High School … former high school teammate of current Scarlet Knight defensive back Tejay Johnson … rated three stars by Scout.com … noted as the No. 79 defensive tackle nationally by Scout.com … played both defensive tackle and tight end in high school … recorded 44 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a senior … Press of Atlantic City All-Star selection … 10 tackles and one reception for 19 yards in limited action as a junior … rated as the No. 20 prospect in New Jersey according to SuperPrep Magazine.

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Dave Brandon officially out as Michigan’s AD

University of Michigan Introduces Brady Hoke Getty Images

The trigger has officially been pulled.

Following up on reports that surfaced late Friday morning, Michigan president Mark Schlissel announced this afternoon that Dave Brandon has (ahem) “resigned as UM’s athletic director.  The move comes after a month in which Brandon was assailed from numerous corners for various missteps, from the handling of the Shane Morris head injury to the corporate nature of home football games to go along with the pricing to an embarrassing string of emails from the AD to various fans.

Add in the football team’s 3-5 record to start the 2014 season, its worst since 2008, and it’s a recipe for what most will consider a forced resignation after four years on the job.

“Dave feels that it would be in the best interest of our student-athletes, our athletic department and our university community if he moved on,” the president said.  Schlissel stated during a press conference that he accepted Brandon’s resignation this morning and that he agreed with the now-former AD’s decision to step aside.

Former UM football player Jim Hackett will serve as interim athletic director until a permanent replacement is found. Mlive.com wrote that “Hackett, a 1977 Michigan graduate, comes to U-M after two decades as chief executive of Grand Rapids-based Steelcase Inc., one of the world’s largest office furniture makers based.”

Brandon’s departure almost certainly means Brady Hoke, already on one of the hottest coaching seats in America, will be out as the Wolverines’ head coach at season’s end, if not sooner.  And, just who will make the decision to kick the chair out from underneath Hoke’s noosed neck?

Speculation had heavily centered on Arkansas AD and College Football Playoff chairperson Jeff Long even before Brandon’s resignation was announced; expect that speculation to increase exponentially with today’s development.  UConn’s Warde Manuel and Boston College’s Brad Bates have been mentioned prominently as well.  There’s even one report that tosses the name of Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione into the mix, while another states UM has already reached out to current Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke.

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Kentucky again extends Mark Stoops’ contract

Mark Stoops AP

Back in May, Kentucky announced that it had extended the contract of Mark Stoops.

Nearly six months and eight games later, they’ve done it again.

UK announced Friday afternoon that it had reached an agreement on yet another contract extension for its head football coach.  The deal back in May would’ve kept Stoops with the Wildcats through June 30, 2019; this new agreement binds him to UK through the 2019 season, meaning that it’s a rare half-year extension.

“Mark is guiding our program in the direction we all want it to go and we are proud to reward that,” athletic director Mitch Barnhart wrote in the first of a series of tweets posted to his Twitter account. “I was confident Mark was right for this job when I hired him, but he has exceeded my expectations. From leading a group of young men to recruiting to fundraising, Mark has embraced and excelled in all facets of this job. I am excited about the progress our team has shown on the field, but this is as much about the next five years as it is the last 1.5.

“As I’ve said before, I believe we can compete at the highest level in the toughest conference. @UKCoachStoops is the coach to take us there.”

There was no word on what if any salary increases may be involved.

After going 2-10 in his first season last year, Stoops has his Wildcats sitting at 5-3 in 2014 and on the verge of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010.  While there’s certainly a greater on-field buzz when it comes to the Wildcats, it’s on the recruiting trail where it’s the loudest and most pronounced.

Kentucky currently has the No. 22 recruiting class for the 2015 cycle after Stoops and his coaching staff pulled in the No. 17 class this past February and the No. 29 class in 2013.  Prior to Stoops’ arrival, UK had just two recruiting classes — 2006 (No. 36) and 2009 (No. 41) — finish inside the Top 50 nationally since 2002.

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David Brandon will reportedly step down as Michigan’s AD

University of Michigan Introduces Brady Hoke Getty Images

It appears Michigan’s athletic department — and likely its football program as well — is about to embark on a new direction.

Late Friday morning, UM announced in a press release that university president Mark Schlissel will conduct a press conference at 1:30 ET this afternoon. The only reason given for the presser was that Schlissel would be making an unspecified announcement.

It’s been rumored for weeks that embattled athletic director Dave Brandon is on his way out. Based on one report, that’s indeed both the case and the subject of the this afternoon’s media event.

The Detroit News subsequently confirmed that Brandon will be stepping down.

In addition to the woeful performance of the football team under Brady Hoke, Brandon has come under fire for the handling of the Shane Morris head injury; the corporate nature of home football games to go along with the pricing; and an embarrassing string of emails from the AD to various fans.

Should Brandon be out as all signs indicate, it would likely serve as the second-to-last nail in Hoke’s coaching coffin, with the last being driven in by the new AD just before he brings in his own hand-picked head coach.

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Tulane loses WR to season-ending ACL injury

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Tulane AP

Unfortunately for both the player and the team, reality matched the speculation.

Tulane confirmed earlier this week that Xavier Rush suffered an undisclosed knee injury during practice and would undergo further evaluation.  There were rumblings that the injury was related to the wide receiver’s ACL.

While the school has yet to confirm it, both the Baton Rouge Advocate and New Orleans Times-Picayune are reporting that Rush has indeed torn an ACL.  The Green Wave is expected to confirm the news at some point today.

As the senior has already used his redshirt season and he will not be eligible for a medical waiver, Rush’s collegiate career has come to an end.

Rush is currently second on the Green Wave in receiving yards with 295 and leads the team with three receiving touchdowns and a 19.7 yards per catch average. His 15 catches are second among receivers and third among all players.

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Reports: Kyle Allen to start at QB for A&M

Kyle Allen AP

The 2014 season began with Kenny “Trill™” Hill being mentioned alongside other Heisman Trophy contenders.  It could, though, end with a performance-based benching.

Officially, Texas A&M will not name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe until shortly before kickoff.  Unofficially, a change is in the offing at the most important position on the football field as both the CBS affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth and Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com are reporting that Kyle Allen will get the start in the non-conference home game.

Hill tossed six interceptions in the last two losses to Alabama and Ole Miss, leading to the quarterback competition being opened up yet again during the Aggies’ bye week.  He had been named as Johnny Manziel‘s successor in mid-August after a fight with Allen that began in the spring and continued on into summer camp.

Should Allen start against ULM, he’d hit the field with as impressive an on-paper pedigree as any player in the country.  Allen came to College Station this season as a five-star member of the Aggies’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 7 player at any position.

Allen has thrown passes in four of eight games this season, going 23-38 for 264 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

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No. 2 Florida State still unconquered, rallies to beat Louisville 42-31

Dalvin Cook

Before we get to what Louisville didn’t do, first let’s discuss what Florida State did on Thursday night: overcome a 21-0 deficit on the road, score 42 points over the game’s last 30 minutes and 33 seconds, drop 580 yards of total offense (and 380 in the second half) against the nation’s top statistical defense, and held the Louisville without a third- or fourth-down conversion until the game was put away. And in the process, No. 2 Florida State extended its winning streak to 24 games with a rise-from-the-dead 42-31 victory over Louisville.

With that out of the way, here is the list of things Louisville did not do that could have pushed this game the other way:

  • Turn a 1st-and-goal at the four into points on the game’s opening possession.
  • Recover a fumble by Florida State’s Karlos Williams at the goal line in the waning moments of the first half.
  • Hold on to the ball after intercepting Jameis Winston to open the second half.
  • Corral what would have been a possible pick six, which would have pushed Louisville’s lead to 31-21.
  • Convert a third down while the game was still in doubt.
  • Catch a 4th-and-2 pass with room to run while trailing 35-31 deep into the fourth quarter.

In the end, Louisville did just enough to give its fans (and the FSU-hating masses) just enough to hope, but not enough to actually put the game away.

Florida State trailed 21-0 late in the second quarter, and got on the board 33 seconds before halftime after Nick O’Leary recovered Williams’ fumble in the end zone to pull within 21-7 at the half.

Cardinals defensive back Gerold Holliman intercepted Winston – the reigning Heisman winner’s third pick of the night, and second to Holliman – on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, but Winston then forced a fumble as Holliman fought for extra yardage, and wide receiver Travis Rudolph hopped on the loose pigskin.

Louisville forced a turn0ver on downs on the next possession and then pushed the lead to 24-7 a minute later, but the two 50/50 plays falling Florida State’s way gave the Seminoles life.

Normally a 17-point road deficit is overcome through the battle-hardened strength only veterans possess, but true freshman teamed with Winston to overcome and then put away Louisville over the last 25 minutes of the game. Winston hit freshman Rudolph for a 68-yard catch-and-run score to pull within 24-14, and then true freshman Dalvin Cook accounted for 76 yards in an 80-yard drive, including a 40-yard touchdown dash, to make the score 24-21.

Florida State took its first lead with 12:48 to go in the fourth quarter when Winston hit Ermon Lane, another freshman, for a 47-yard pass that somehow threaded through three Louisville defenders, and came one play after Holliman let a possible pick-six bounce off his knee and land incomplete.

Louisville then regained the lead with 9:20 to go on a one-yard Dyer plunge, but the Seminoles re-took it for good with a 38-yard rush by Cook. The Cardinals’ next possession ended when a Will Gardner pass bounced off tight end Charles Standberry‘s hands on 4th-and-2 at the Louisville 39 with a shade over 150 seconds to go. Florida State scored three plays later when Winston hit fullback Freddie Stevenson for a 35-yard play-action touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-6.

Winston posted his finest performance of the season, overcoming self-inflicted adversity and a bum ankle to complete 25-of-48 passes for 401 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions (and one very important forced fumble), while Cook came off the bench to account for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 13 touches.

Gardner threw for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but did not rise to the moment when Louisville needed it, missing every third down pass until the game was out of reach. DeVante Parker carried the Cardinals’ passing attack with eight grabs for 214 yards. Dyer rushed 28 times for 134 yards and three touchdowns, but tallied only 39 yards in the second half.

Louisville drops to a very painful 6-3 (4-3 ACC) on the season and heads to Boston College on Saturday.

Florida State improves to 8-0 on the year, and is now one win away from becoming the 11th team in the last 50 years to mount a 25-game winning streak.

After Clemson (17-10 deficit into a 23-17 win), N.C. State (24-7 deficit into a 56-41 win), Notre Dame (17-10 deficit into a 31-27 win) and tonight, this 2014 Florida State team has taught future opponents that they had best not bother even taking a lead; defeat is inevitable, and that’s just going to make it all the more painful.

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Georgia Southern drubs Troy 42-10, pushes winning streak to six

Willie Fritz, Kevin Ellison

One week after popping Georgia State to the tune of 69 points, 10 touchdowns in 11 possessions and 613 rushing yards, Georgia Southern kept the beat going with a 42-10 blowout of Troy on Thursday night.

Nine Georgia Southern rushers combined for 421 yards and six touchdowns on 63 carries. Quarterback Kevin Ellison led the way with 99 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries while also completing 5-of-9 passes for 31 yards, and Favian Upshaw added 96 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Tonight’s result means Georgia Southern, the top-ranked FBS rushing offense at a shade over 400 yards per game, has racked up 1,034 rushing yards in the past five days. They’ve punted twice in 22 combined possessions.

All that running limited Troy to just 44 offensive snaps. Five Trojans combined to rush 33 times for 141 yards, while two quarterbacks lifted only 11 passes with four completions for a combined 13 yards. The Trojans were held out of the end zone until the 1:18 mark of the fourth quarter, with the score already at 42-3.

In all, Georgia Southern outgained Troy 461-154 and held a 28-9 advantage in first downs.

The win pushes Georgia Southern to 7-2 and 6-0 in Sun Belt play with a trip to Texas State waiting next Saturday.

Troy (1-8, 1-4 Sun Belt) will host Georgia State next Saturday.

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NCAA upholds Todd Gurley suspension, won’t return until Nov. 15

Todd Gurley

The Todd Gurley saga has finally reached its final conclusion.

The NCAA announced Thursday night it had upheld Georgia’s appeal of his four-game suspension for accepting more than $3,000 in exchange for autographs.

Gurley has missed the last two games due to the investigation, and will miss the ninth-ranked Bulldogs’ dates with Georgia (Saturday) and Kentucky (Nov. 8).

“We are very disappointed in tonight’s decision by the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee regarding our appeal on Todd Gurley’s eligibility reinstatement,” Georgia said in a statement. “We believe our case to the NCAA for Todd’s immediate reinstatement was strong and compelling.  However, we now have exhausted all available options and look forward to Todd’s return to competition on November 15.  The full attention of the Bulldog Nation now needs to be focused on our team and Saturday’s important game against Florida.”

The silver lining here for Georgia is that the Bulldogs should beat the Gators and Wildcats without Gurley, and then get a rested and hacked off version of the nation’s best runner back for No. 4 Auburn on Nov. 15.

Despite missing the past two games, Gurley still leads Georgia in rushing with 773 carries and eight touchdowns on 94 carries while catching 11 passes for 53 yards and completing his only pass for 50 yards.

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Former Iowa State coach, FSU and Vandy AD Clay Stapleton dies at 93

Toledo v Iowa State Getty Images

Former Iowa State head coach and Florida State and Vanderbilt athletics director Clay Stapleton passed away Thursday in Missouri City, Mo. He was 93.

Stapleton is best known for coaching the Cyclones’ famed “Dirty Thirty” 1959 team, remembered for putting together a 7-3 season with only 30 players on the roster. It was Iowa State’s first winning season in a decade. Stapleton went 42-53-4 as head coach from 1958-67.

Stapleton left coaching for athletics administration, first serving as the athletics director at Iowa State, where he was instrumental in the construction of Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum and hired future College Football Hall of Fame coach Johnny Majors as his replacement.

He then moved on to serve as athletics director at Florida State (1971-72) and Vanderbilt (1973-78).

Stapleton played at Tennessee, and served as an assistant coach at Wofford College (S.C.), Wyoming and Oregon State.

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Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly, K-State WR Tyler Lockett headline list of Campbell Trophy finalists

Tyler Lockett, Keenon Ward

The National Football Foundation on Thursday released its list of 17 finalists for the Campbell Trophy, college football’s highest scholar-athlete honor. Now in its 25th season, the Campbell Trophy is considered the academic version of the Heisman.

“We are extremely proud to announce this year’s National Scholar-Athlete Class,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “These young men have an unrelenting commitment to excellence in all aspects of their lives, and they represent all that is right in college football. They serve as living examples of our mission of building leaders through football, and they create an exceptional pool of candidates for the Campbell Trophy.”

To be eligible for consideration, finalists much be in their final year of eligibility, carry a GPA of 3.2 or higher, be listed first team on their respective teams’ depth charts, and have an outstanding record as of leadership and community service.

As a group, the players average a 3.69 GPA, a dozen are team captains, 15 have earned all-conference honors, six have received All-America accolades, four have been named their conference’s player of the year, and nine hold school records of some sort.

The 17 finalists are:

  • Terry Baggett, Army running back
  • Austin Damaschke, Concordia (Wis.) quarterback
  • Austin Hasquet, Northern Arizona linebacker
  • David Helton, Duke linebacker
  • Taylor Kelly, Arizona State quarterback
  • Nate Leonard, UTSA center
  • Tyler Lockett, Kansas State wide receiver
  • Mike Mancini, Trinity (Conn.) safety
  • Charles Moore, Tarleton State (Texas) safety
  • Mark Murphy, Indiana safety
  • Jordan Richards, Stanford safety
  • Kevin Rodgers, Henderson State (Ark.) quarterback
  • Mike Sadler, Michigan State punter
  • Caleb Schafffitzel, Missouri State safety
  • Tyler Varga, Yale tailback
  • Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern center
  • Zach Zenner, South Dakota State running back

All 17 finalists will receive $16,000 post-graduate scholarships and will head to New York City for the Dec. 9 awards dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria. The Campbell Trophy winner, in addition to joining a group consisting of Danny Wuerffel,Peyton Manning, and Tim Tebow, receives a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship.

Penn State’s John Urschel won the honor in 2013.

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No. 2 FSU’s 23-game winning streak on the ropes, trails Louisville 21-7 at the half

Florida State v Louisville Getty Images

Thursday night in college football has a long history of seeing highly-ranked favorites see its dream season turn into ash in front of a raucous stadium, and it looks like another upset will get added to the lore tonight. Louisville has pounded No. 2 Florida State to the tune of a 21-7 first half lead in the ‘Ville.

After a scoreless first quarter, Michael Dyer put Louisville on top with a four-yard scoring dash at the 12:13 mark of the second quarter, and then pushed the lead to 14 with a 12-yard jaunt seven minutes later. The Cardinals then pushed the lead to 21 – and thereby put FSU’s 23-game winning streak on life support – with an 11-yard scoring strike from Will Gardner to Gerald Christian.

Florida State stole back momentum immediately after falling down by 21 by cooly marching 78 yards in six plays, saved by a third-and-goal rush at the 1 where a Karlos Williams fumble rolled into the end zone and was recovered by Seminoles tight end Nick O’Leary.

The 21-point deficit – brief as it was – is the largest Florida State has faced on its 23-game streak.

Todd Grantham‘s defense, ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense heading into tonight with seven touchdowns allowed and 15 interceptions, has lived up to its billing, intercepting Jameis Winston twice (on consecutive passes, no less) and turning both opportunities into touchdowns.

Florida State’s defense, on the other hand, has let Louisville get what it wanted on the ground and through the air. Gardner has thrown for 179 yards, and Dyer already has 95 yards and that pair of touchdowns on 14 carries.

The lead could actually be larger, as a 71-yard pass from Gardner to DeVante Parker on the first play from scrimmage gave the Cardinals a first-and-goal from the four inside the game’s first minute, but a fourth-and-goal pass from Gardner to Christian fell incomplete.

Florida State will get the ball to open the second half on the biggest possession of the season for both teams. A Florida State touchdown makes the score 21-14 and officially pulls the game back into toss-up territory. A stop keeps Louisville in control, and FSU’s status as the second-ranked team back on life support.

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Gamecocks’ leading tackler out vs. Vols

Missouri v South Carolina Getty Images

South Carolina’s defense has struggled throughout the 2014 season with Skai Moore on the field.  Saturday, we’ll see how that side of the ball performs without him.

According to defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, Moore will not play in Saturday night’s game against Tennessee as the Gamecocks look to get to within one win of bowl eligibility with a victory.  The linebacker injured his right ankle in the seven-point loss to Auburn last Saturday.

With Moore sidelined, sophomore Jonathan Walton will take his spot in the starting lineup.

Moore’s 51 tackles are currently tops on the team. He led the team in the same category as a true freshman last season.

The Gamecocks are currently 98th in the country and tied for dead last in the SEC (with Vanderbilt) giving up an average of 32.8 points per game, and 89th in the nation and 13th in the conference in total defense (437.5 yards per game).

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GaTech’s top two RBs ruled out vs. UVa.

Duke v Georgia Tech Getty Images

The depth of Georgia Tech’s Top-Five ground game will, once again, be put to the test.

The Yellow Jackets released their weekly injury report Thursday afternoon, with Zach Laskey and Charles Perkins listed as out for Saturday’s game against Virginia.  The former is dealing with  a shoulder issue, the latter a knee injury.

Laskey suffered his injury in the Oct. 18 loss to North Carolina and sat out last weekend’s win over Pittsburgh.  Perkins was injured very early on in the Panthers game.

This season, Laskey leads all Tech running backs in rushing yards with 595 (quarterback Justin Thomas has the team lead with 717).  Perkins is second to Lasky with 261.

Synjyn Days, starting in place of Laskey at B-back, led the Jackets with 110 yards on the ground against Pitt. Broderick Snoddy, who came into that game with 61 yards on the season, totaled 82 — on six carries — in the Week 9 win.

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Tulane’s second-leading WR suffers practice injury

Xavier Rush AP

Whether or not Tulane has one of its top offensive playmakers for this week’s conference matchup remains to be seen.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Xavier Rush suffered an injury during practice Wednesday.  While the school didn’t specify the nature of the injury, although the Times-Picayune reported that the wide receiver suffered what looked like a knee injury.

“He left practice with an injury and is still being evaluated” is all the school would say in addressing the situation.

Whether Rush plays in Friday’s AAC game against Cincinnati is unknown.

Rush is currently second on the Green Wave in receiving yards with 295 and leads the team with three receiving touchdowns and a 19.7 yards per catch average. His 15 catches are second among receivers and third among all players.

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Hoke ‘not at all’ worried about Peppers bolting Michigan

Appalachian v Michigan

Whether it be because of Brady Hoke‘s tenuous hold on his job or all of the tumult surrounding the football program or the injuries or the frustration borne out of everything, there have been some rumblings that highly-touted 2014 signee Jabril Peppers could — could — be thinking about a transfer from Michigan.

For what it’s worth, and at least publicly, the talent true freshman’s head coach isn’t the least bit concerned.

No, not all,” Hoke said during a radio interview Thursday when asked if he was concerned about Peppers’ transferring.

“He came here for a lot of different reasons, and one of them is, as a young kid, he’s always loved Michigan. That was his team growing up in New Jersey. He knows the value of an education. He’s doing great in school, and (knows the value of this) education and what it can do after football.”

Two separate leg injuries have cost Peppers significant playing time his first season in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have played eight games this season, with the cornerback missing five full contests. He’s missed parts of two others due to the health issues.

As had previously been reported, Hoke allowed that a medical redshirt is a possibility. Then again, so is a return.

Michigan’s coach has not ruled out a potential medical redshirt season for Peppers, and he also hasn’t ruled out a return for the former five-star recruit at some point over the next four games.

He indicated Michigan will know “in the near future” what the ultimate fate will be for Peppers this season, whether he sits the rest of the way or attempts to come back and play.

If Peppers doesn’t play any additional games this season, he will be eligible for a medical redshirt.

Peppers was a consensus five-star recruit in 2014, rated as the No. 1 corner and the No. 3 player at any position in the country. Peppers served as the highest-rated recruit UM has ever signed since the founding of Rivals‘ back in 2002. The previous high was Ryan Mallett as the No. 4 player in the Class of 2007.

He earned a starting job at both corner and on the punt return unit.

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