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South Carolina unveils 21-player signing class

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

LARENZ BRYANT
Linebacker
6-0 215
Charlotte, N.C. (Vance)
Played both running back and linebacker for the Vance Cougars in Charlotte, N.C… coached by Keith Wilkes… named to the 2012 Associated Press all-state team… helped his squad to a 9-4 record as a senior… logged 1,694 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns on offense and notched 84 tackles with nine sacks on defense… played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas game and in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl following his senior season… rushed for 1,423 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior while recording 154 tackles with 23 tackles for loss… returned three of his four interceptions for touchdowns… notched 56 tackles as a sophomore as his team reached the state finals… a four-star prospect, the fourth-best player in the state, the fourth-best inside linebacker in the country and the 112th-best prospect in the nation according to Rivals… a four-star prospect and the nation’s seventh-best outside linebacker by Scout… a four-star prospect, the top player in North Carolina, the sixth-best outside linebacker in the country and the 50th-best player overall according to 247Sports… rated a four-star prospect and No. 237 on the ESPN300… a four-star prospect, the nation’s 44th-best player overall and the fifth-best “Big Back” by MaxPreps… a five-star prospect, the fourth-best outside linebacker in the country and No. 45 overall by PrepStar… selected South Carolina over a host of schools with Clemson, Florida, Virginia and Wake Forest also making his final list of five… born November 1, 1994.

MOHAMED CAMARA
SafetY
6-1 191
Cumming, Ga. (West Forsyth)
Prep linebacker who figures to play the Spur position at South Carolina… helped West Forsyth (Cumming, Ga.) to a 10-2 record, a region title and to the second round of the state playoffs as a senior… logged 102 tackles, three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), 12 tackles for loss and seven pass breakups on his way to Region 6 6A Defensive Player of the Year honors… named honorable mention all-state by the Atlanta Journal Constitution… added 300 yards rushing on 35 attempts with seven touchdowns on offense… coached by Frank Hepler… notched 110 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions as a junior… regarded as a threestar prospect, the 69th-best player in Georgia, and the 54th-best outside linebacker in the country by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 107th-best outside linebacker by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 85th-best player in the state, and the 85th-best outside linebacker in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect, the 49th-best outside linebacker and an AllSoutheast Region pick by PrepStar… turned down offers from Southern Miss, East Carolina, UCF and Western Kentucky… born May 30, 1994.

PHAROH COOPER
Cornerback
5-11 194
HaveLock, N.C. (Havelock)
Versatile performer who could player either receiver or defensive back at South Carolina… helped Havelock (N.C.) to back-to-back 3A state titles… Rams went 15-1 during his senior season and a perfect 16-0 during his junior campaign… coached by Jim Bob Bryant… played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas game after his senior season… used at quarterback, running back, receiver and was the primary return man on punts and kickoffs in the Shrine game… finished with 253 total yards including a 45-yard TD run, earning offensive MVP honors for the North Carolina squad… also played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl… as a junior, rushed for 300 yards and caught 65 passes for 1,285 yards and 14 scores… registered 58 tackles with six interceptions… a four-star prospect and the state’s ninth-best player by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 120th-best wide receiver by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 15th-best player in the state, and the 24th-best “athlete” in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect, the 62nd-best wide receiver and an All-Atlantic Region pick by PrepStar… also had offers from East Carolina and NC State… same high school that produced current Gamecock Corey Robinson… born March 7, 1995.

DEVAN’TE COVINGTON
Defensive end
6-4 220
Rockingham, N.C. (Richmond County)
Defensive end who helped Richmond County (Rockingham, N.C.) to an 11-2 record and the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs as a senior… coached by Paul Hoggard… named to the 2012 Associated Press all-state team… participated in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas following his senior season… as a junior, recorded 34 tackles and eight sacks… three-star prospect who was ranked as the 28th-best player in the state of North Carolina by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 42nd-best defensive end by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 17th-best player in the state, and the 20th-best weakside defensive end in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect and an All-Atlantic Region pick according to PrepStar… also had offers from Clemson, East Carolina, NC State and Tennessee… hails from the same high school that produced former Gamecock All-American Melvin Ingram… born March 6, 1994.

Kelsey Griffin
Defensive tackle
6-2 292
Buford, Ga. (Mill Creek)
Defensive tackle who recorded 108 total tackles including 10 sacks as a senior at Mill Creek High School (Hoschton, Ga.)… helped the Hawks to a 9-4 record and the third round of the 6A state playoffs as a senior… coached by Shannon Jarvis… named to the Atlanta Journal Constitution Class AAAAAA all-state team… named second-team all-state by the Georgia Sportswriters Association… played in the Under Armour All-American game following his senior season… recorded 44 tackles with six tackles for loss as a junior, earning all-state and All-Gwinnett County accolades… four-star prospect who was regarded as the 10th-best player in Georgia, the seventh-best defensive tackle in the country and the 120th-best player overall on the Rivals250… a four-star prospect and the nation’s 13th-best defensive tackle according to Scout… a fourstar prospect, the eighth-best player in Georgia, the seventh-best defensive tackle in the country, the 78thbest player overall and a second-team All-American according to 247Sports… a four-star prospect, the 12thbest defensive tackle in the country and the 123rd-best player overall by PrepStar… considered the nation’s 12th-best defensive tackle by MaxPreps… rated a fourstar prospect and No. 100 on the ESPN150… named honorable mention on PARADE magazine’s All-America team… had numerous offers including Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee… born September 19, 1994.

Ali Groves
Cornerback
5-10 184
Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson)
Two-way standout who figures to be a cornerback at South Carolina… played wide receiver and defensive back for the Stephenson Jaguars in Stone Mountain, Ga… coached by Ronald Gartrell… team went 9-3 in his senior season… played just four games as a junior due to injury, finishing with 23 tackles, one interception and two forced fumbles… also ran in the sprint events and competed in the long jump in track & field… threestar prospect who was the state’s 78th-best player and the 74th-best “athlete” in the country according to Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 110th-best cornerback by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 45thbest player in the state, and the 39th-best cornerback in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect, the 55th-best cornerback in the country and an All-Southeast Region pick according to PrepStar… numerous offers included Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Missouri, Vanderbilt and NC State… mother went to T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, S.C… prepped with current Gamecocks Kyle Fleetwood, Kadetrix Marcus and Mike Davis… born September 16, 1994.

David Johnson
Linebacker
6-1 268
Lithonia, Ga. (Lithonia)
Linebacker who recorded 109 tackles including 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a senior in 2012 at Lithonia (Ga.) High School… Bulldogs posted a 3-7 record… coached by Marcus Jelks… named firstteam Class AAAA all-state by the Atlanta Journal Constitution… played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl following his senior campaign… had 94 tackles including 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks with three forced fumbles as a junior… notched 105 tackles with 10 sacks as a sophomore… earned All-DeKalb County honors… a three-star prospect who was considered the 30th-best player in the state and the 29th-best outside linebacker in the country, according to Rivals… a three-star prospect and the 62nd-best defensive end in the country by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 37thbest player in the state, and the 17th-best weakside defensive end in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect, the 24th-best outside linebacker and an AllSoutheast Region pick by PrepStar… had numerous offers including Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, NC State, Pitt and Vanderbilt… prepped with current Gamecock Cedrick Cooper… born January 20, 1995.

Bryce King
Offensive lineman
6-3 281
Dillon, S.C. (Dillon)
Started on the offensive line for Class AA I state champion Dillon (S.C.) High School… the Wildcats went 14-1 during his senior season… coached by Jackie Hayes… played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas following his senior season… also played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif… three-star prospect who was considered the sixth-best player in the state and the third-best center in the country by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 12th-best center by Scout… a three-star prospect, the eighthbest player in the state, and the eighth-best center in the country by 247Sports… a four-star prospect and the second-best center in the country by PrepStar… also had offers from Clemson, LSU, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee and Virginia Tech… hails from the same high school that produced current Gamecock Kwinton Smith… born October 4, 1994.

Alan Knott
Offensive lineman
6-4 272
Tyrone, Ga. (Sandy Creek)
Helped the Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.) Patriots to a pair of state titles, including a perfect 15-0 mark in 2012… coached by Chip Walker… named first-team Class AAAA all-state by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and by the Georgia Sportswriters Association… played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif. following his senior season… regarded as a threestar prospect, the 61st-best player in Georgia and the 53rd-best offensive tackle in the country according to Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 30th-best offensive guard by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 43rd-best player in the state, and the 27th-best offensive guard in the country by 247Sports… a threestar prospect, the 43rd-best offensive guard and an All-Southeast Region pick by PrepStar… had many offers including Kentucky, Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina… David Alan Knott was born December 16, 1994.

Ronnie Martin
Cornerback
5-11 173
Spartanburg, S.C. (Spartanburg/Georgia Military)
Cornerback who enrolled at Carolina in January
2013… originally signed with South Carolina in February 2011… attended Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Ga., for the 2011-12 academic year and the fall of 2012… coached by Bert Williams… saw limited playing time in 2012 after being sidelined early in the season with a hamstring injury… in three games, logged 10 tackles and three interceptions while forcing a pair of fumbles… in 2011, had 11 tackles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and six pass breakups… considered a three-star prospect and the nation’s 31st-best junior college prospect by Rivals… regarded as a three-star prospect, the fifth-best junior college player in Georgia, the sixth-best JUCO cornerback in the nation, and the 88th-best JUCO player in the country according to 247Sports… a three-star prospect by Scout… played cornerback for Freddy Brown Sr. at Spartanburg (S.C.) High School graduating in 2011… participated in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas following his senior season… was a first-team all-state selection as a junior for the Vikings when he totaled 44 tackles, eight pass breakups, six blocked kicks, 930 total return yards including four touchdown returns… also ran track where he recorded times of 10.6 in the 100m and 21.7 in the 200m… regarded as a threestar prospect, the 16th-best player in South Carolina and the 46th-best cornerback in the country by Rivals coming out of high school… regarded as a three-star prospect and the 60th-best cornerback by Scout… was a three-star prospect according to 247Sports… named to PrepStar’s All-Atlantic Region class… offers included Illinois, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska and Wake Forest.

Connor Mitch
Quarterback
6-3 219
Raleigh, N.C. (WakefieLd)
Quarterback who enrolled at Carolina in January 2013 after graduating from Wakefield High School in Raleigh, N.C in December 2012… a four-year starter… coached by Rod Sink… ranks second in four career categories in North Carolina high school history, passing for 12,078 yards with 1,384 attempts, 807 completions and 153 touchdowns… threw for 4,661 yards and 63 touchdowns while completing 62 percent of his passes as a senior, leading the Wolverines to an 11-2 record… set the state record with nine touchdown passes in a win over Broughton, one shy of the national record… as a junior, threw for 3,832 yards and 48 touchdowns as the team went 9-3… earned all-state and all-region honors… threw for 3,300 yards and 33 scores as a sophomore, leading Wakefield to a 9-3 mark… fourstar prospect who was regarded as the seventh-best player in the state, the 13th-best pro-style quarterback in the country and ranked No. 248 on the Rivals250… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 44th-best quarterback by Scout… a four-star prospect, the seventh-best player in the state, the 13th-best pro-style quarterback and ranked No. 243 overall by 247Sports… rated a four-star prospect and No. 226 on the ESPN300… considered the 10th-best pro-style quarterback in the country by MaxPreps… a three-star prospect, the 15thbest pro-style quarterback in the country and the 167thbest player overall by PrepStar… named honorable mention on PARADE magazine’s All-America team… chose the Gamecocks over Alabama, LSU, Auburn and North Carolina… father, Bob Mitch, played quarterback and safety at Syracuse in the early 1970s and had a brief stint in the NFL…. brother, Ryan, played quarterback at Maryland… sister, Brittany, played basketball at Duke.

Skai Moore
Linebacker
6-2 205
Cooper City, FLa. (University)
Linebacker who helped Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School to an undefeated season and the 3A state title as a senior… coached by Roger Harriott… racked up 14 tackles and a sack in the championship game for the Suns… totaled 103 tackles with six sacks and four interceptions during his final season… the Suns posted five shutouts and limited seven of their opponents to three points or less… credited with 70 tackles including 18 tackles for loss during his junior campaign… a four-star prospect and the 43rd-best player in the state and the No. 19 outside linebacker in the nation according to Rivals… a three-star recruit and the No. 29 outside linebacker prospect in the country per Scout… considered a four-star prospect the 45th-best player in Florida and the 22nd-best outside linebacker in the country by 247Sports… named All-Southeast Region by PrepStar… originally committed to Rutgers… also considered Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.

D.J. Park
Offensive lineman
6-4 335
Dillon, S.C. (Dillon)
Offensive lineman who enrolled at Carolina in January 2013 after graduating from Dillon (S.C.) High School in December 2012… started at left tackle for the Class AA I state champions… the Wildcats went 14-1 during his senior season… coached by Jackie Hayes… participated in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif… named to the MaxPreps 2012 Small Schools All-American Football team…earned all-region and all-state honors as a junior… four-star prospect who was the state’s third-best player, the 19th-best offensive tackle in the land and the nation’s 220th-best prospect according to Rivals… a four-star prospect and the nation’s 23rd-best offensive tackle, and No. 294 on the Scout300 list… a four-star prospect, the fifth-best player in the state, and the 16th-best offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports… considered a four-star prospect, the nation’s second-best offensive tackle and the 52nd-best player overall by MaxPreps… a four-star prospect, the 20th-best offensive tackle in the country and the 178th-best player overall by PrepStar… had offers from numerous other schools throughout the Southeast, including Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU and Tennessee… hails from the same high school that produced current Gamecock Kwinton Smith.

Na’ty Rodgers
Offensive lineman
6-5 296
Waldorf, Md. (McDonough)
Offensive lineman who helped McDonough High Rams (Pomfret, Md.) to a 9-2 record as a senior… coached by Luke Ethington… played in the Chesapeake Bowl all-star game and in the Under Armour All-America Game following the season… rated as a four-star prospect, the sixth-best player in the state, the 15th-best offensive tackle in the country and No. 181 overall by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the 22nd-best offensive guard in the nation according to Scout… considered a four-star prospect, the seventh-best player in the state and the 20th-best offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports… ranked as the nation’s 15th-best offensive tackle by MaxPreps… a PrepStar All-American…had a slew of offers from all over the country ultimately chose South Carolina over Maryland, with Florida State, Washington and Oklahoma also in the mix… father first placed at Oklahoma then transferred to Washington…
born February 3, 1995.

Jasper Sasser
Safety
6-0 192
Jacksonville, FLa. (Wolfson)
Played running back, quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back at Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Fla… likely will begin his Carolina career at safety but could also play receiver… coached by Walter Williams… Wolfpack went 3-7 in his senior season… fractured his foot during his senior season and underwent surgery… missed most of the football season but returned to the basketball hardwood… in four games on the gridiron he passed for over 300 yards, had 298 yards receiving and five touchdowns on offense… also had 15 tackles and returned two kickoffs for scores… rushed for 2,000 yards and 17 scores as a junior… earned all-district honors as both a sophomore and junior… three-star prospect who was ranked as the 59th-best “athlete” in the nation and 96th on the Florida top-100 by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 84th-best safety by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 156th-best player in the state, and the 79th-best “athlete” in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect, the 47th-best safety and an All-Southeast Region pick by PrepStar… turned down offers from Clemson, Ole Miss, NC State, South Florida and Stanford among others… born November 30, 1993.

Jamari Smith
Running back
5-10 183
Jacksonville, Fla. (Fletcher)
Running back who prepped at Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Fla… team went 12-3 in his senior season under head coach Josh Corey… tallied 2,178 yards on the ground with 24 touchdowns earning firstteam Class 8A all-state honors as a junior… did not have a fumble in 295 carries as a junior while garnering Florida Times-Union Offensive Player of the Year accolades… three-star prospect, the 43rd-best running back in the nation and ranked 82nd on the Florida top 100 according to Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 61st-best running back by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 64th-best player in the state, and the 14th-best all-purpose back in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect, the 33rd-best running back and an All-Southeast Region pick by PrepStar… selected South Carolina over Wake Forest but drew scholarship offers from multiple programs including Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, West Virginia, and others… born October 19, 1994.

Gerald Turner
Defensive end
6-2 256
Goose Creek, S.C. (Goose Creek)
Defensive end who finished his senior season with 93 tackles and eight sacks for Goose Creek (S.C.) High School… coached by Chuck Reedy… team went undefeated during his senior season… participated in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas following his senior season… recorded six tackles, including 1.5 for loss, an interception and two pass breakups in that contest… also played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl… tallied 42 tackles, 11 tackles for loss with nine sacks, six forced fumbles, five pass breakups and five blocked punts during his junior season, helping his team to the 4A Division II state title, all-state honors and Defensive Player of the Year accolades… also returned an interception 80 yards for a score and recovered a blocked punt for a TD… notched 40 tackles and six sacks as a sophomore… regarded as a three-star prospect, the eighth-best player in the state and the 23rd-best inside linebacker in the country according to Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 56th-best middle linebacker by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 10th-best player in the state, and the 34th-best inside linebacker in the country by 247Sports… was the nation’s 16th-best inside linebacker by MaxPreps… a four-star prospect, the ninth-best inside linebacker in the country and the 156th-best player overall by PrepStar… also had offers from Clemson and North Carolina… prepped with current Gamecock Brandon Shell… born December 28, 1994.

J.P. Vonashek
Offensive lineman
6-6 283
Saint MaryS, Ga. (Camden County)
Offensive lineman who played at Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.)… coached by Jeff Herron… the Wildcats went 11-2 in his senior season… previously attended Glynn Academy… played in the Rising Seniors Georgia Junior Bowl following his junior campaign… three-star prospect who was regarded as the 62nd-best player in the state and the 54th-best offensive tackle in the country by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 60th-best offensive tackle by Scout… a three-star prospect, the 56th-best player in the state, and the 44th-best offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports… a three-star prospect, the 51th-best offensive tackle and an All-Southeast Region pick by PrepStar… also had offers from Florida State, Georgia, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State and Tennessee among others… James P. Vonashek was born October 10, 1994.

Jonathan Walton
Linebacker
6-0 234
Daphne, Ala. (Bayside Academy)
Played linebacker at Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala… helped the Admirals to a 7-5 record as a senior… logged 122 tackles and three blocked punts during his final season… coached by Phil Lazenby… regarded as a three-star prospect, the No. 20 player in the state of Alabama and the 21st-best inside linebacker in the nation by Rivals… a three-star recruit and the No. 46 middle linebacker in the country according to Scout… considered a three-star prospect, the 21st-best player in the state and the 39th-best inside linebacker in the country by 247Sports… named All-Southeast Region by PrepStar… originally committed to Penn State… also officially visited Auburn, Tennessee and Minnesota… born September 20, 1994.

Devin Washington
Defensive end
6-3 225
Orlando, Fla. (Jones)
Played defensive end for Jones High School in Orlando… coached by Jerry Howard… helped the Fightin’ Tigers to a 7-5 record as a senior… member of the Orlando Sentinel’s 2013 Super 60… played at East River before transferring to Jones before his junior season… logged 55 tackles with 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as a junior and 43 tackles with 9.5 sacks as a sophomore… rated a three-star prospect, the state’s 58th-best player and the nation’s No. 20 weakside defensive end by Rivals… a three-star prospect and the nation’s 57th-best defensive end by Scout… a four-star prospect, the 48th-best player in the state, and the 14th-best weakside defensive end in the country according to 247Sports… considered the 25th-best defensive end in the nation by MaxPreps… a three-star prospect, the 16th-best defensive end in the country and an All-Southeast Region pick according to PrepStar… also had offers from Boston College, Cincinnati and Clemson among others… born March 24, 1995.

David Williams
Running back
6-1 200
Philadelphia, Pa. (Imhotep Charter)
Rushed for 1,904 yards on 195 carries (9.8 per rush) with 23 touchdowns as a senior at Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia… led the Panthers to a 14-1 record… coached by Albie Crosby… played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif… following his senior season… earned first-team All-City honors as a junior when he fell just short of 2,000 yards rushing… a four-star recruit, the eighth-best player in the state and the 21st-best running back in the country according to Rivals… a four-star prospect and the nation’s 23rd-best running back by Scout… a four-star prospect, the seventh-best player in the state, the eighth-best running back in the country and the 146th-best player overall according to 247Sports… rated a four-star prospect and No. 131 on the ESPN150… considered the nation’s 11th-best running back by MaxPreps… turned down offers from Ohio State, Arizona State, Tennessee, Miami, Arizona, Auburn and Boston College among others… born June 17, 1994.

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Quick offseason schedule thoughts: The games the Big 12 cannot afford to lose in 2015

Bob Stoops

The Big 12 was left out of the first College Football Playoff. Depending upon whom you ask, the Big 12 was left out because Baylor didn’t play anybody (they didn’t), TCU lost to Baylor (they did) or the Big 12 just was not that good overall (plausible). You will also get some tell you Baylor and TCU just did not have the brand recognition a program like Ohio State or Florida State carried with it (again, true).Whatever the case

Whatever the case maybe, the Big 12 is in need of ensuring a Big 12 champion will be battle tested and respected by the College Football Playoff selection committee at the end of the season. With the margin for error possibly very small for the Big 12 (two one-loss teams getting left out of the four-team playoff may be a rarity in all honesty), the Big 12 needs to impress in non-conference action. This season there are a handful of notable games worth paying attention to, especially with the Big 12’s reputation riding on the results.

Here are five games the Big 12 must win this season in order to boost the Big 12 profile in November and December.

Texas at Notre Dame (September 5): The Texas Longhorns get the season underway in South Bend under the stadium lights in primetime. It is a perfect opportunity to represent the Big 12 on national television (NBC, of course) in the opening weekend. Feel free to throw in a home date a couple of weeks later against California of the Pac-12. It may not be a huge game, but adding a win against the Pac-12 would certainly help the Big 12’s overall profile.

West Virginia vs. Georgia Southern (September 5): Don’t laugh, because Georgia Southern is not a joke. The Eagles won the Sun Belt Conference in their first year at the FBS level and just won at Florida two seasons ago. West Virginia being upset at home in the season opener would not be a good look for the Big 12.

Oklahoma at Tennessee (September 12): Oklahoma sent Tennessee home with a loss last season, but now the Sooners make a visit to Neyland Stadium against a Tennessee program budding with potential and momentum. Getting out of the SEC with a win would be big for the Sooners and the entire Big 12.

Texas Tech at Arkansas (September 19): This one might be a reach, but it is worthy of consideration. Arkansas is another team those following the SEC may feel optimistic about moving forward, and Texas Tech’s defense could be in for a long game. If the Red Raiders could manage to get out of the state with a win against a team from the SEC West, the Big 12 would be smiling in a big way.

West Virginia vs. Maryland (September 26): The Big 12 was passed over by the Big Ten, so the best course of action is to strike back at the conference up north. TCU (at Minnesota), Iowa State (vs. Iowa) and West Virginia each get a chance to do that, but the Mountaineers may have the most pivotal of the three. Minnesota may be good this year, but TCU will have plenty of time to recover should they be upset on the road in the season opener. West Virginia could be in position to give the Big 12 a winning record against the Big Ten, which did not come in handy last season but could come back this season.

Last season was  a bit of a reality check for the Big 12. the conference was hyped to be a deep conference, but the production on the field failed to live up to the hype when it counted (TCU’s blasting of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl not included). Would the Big 12 have been shut out of the playoff had it been Texas or Oklahoma standing at the end of the season with just one loss? Probably not, but the Big 12 does not need a big brand to carry the Big 12 banner if the entire conference can rise to the occasion in non-conference contests early and often.

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Quick offseason schedule thoughts: American’s West can help shape conference image too

UH Coach Tom Herman

The task of changing the way the American Athletic Conference is perceived does not fall just on the shoulders of the American’s East Division. The West has some chances to help give the conference a boost as well. And with Navy joining the division, the door to some more opportunities has been opened moving forward.

The schedules among the AAC’s West teams is littered with big road tests against power conference foes and even some home games. All provide a chance for the West to rise and defend the conference’s image. Last season saw Boise State of the Mountain West Conference come away with the guaranteed New Years Six bowl spot, thanks in large part to the perception of the Boise State program and relative strength of schedule of the Mountain West Conference as a whole. The American has an opportunity to climb to the top, but it will have to work to get there. With some bright new head coaches in place at Houston (Tom Herman), SMU (Chad Morris) and Tulsa (Philip Montgomery), the bar is being raised in the West.

After already going through some of the key games in the American Athletic Conference’s East Division, here is a look at some of the more notable opportunities to come for the schools in the West this season.

Tulane vs. Duke (September 5); Tulane at Georgia Tech (September 12): Tulane may be coming off a miserable debut season in the American Athletic Conference, but it can more than make up for it by getting the conference off to a great start against the past two ACC Coastal Division champions. It may be a tall order for Tulane at this point in time, but it has a better chance of resulting in some wins than SMU’s early-season match-ups with Baylor and TCU.

Houston at Louisville (September 12): Louisville looks to be an interesting team out of the ACC Atlantic Division this season. Could a home game against Houston sandwiched between Auburn and Clemson be a trap game? Oh yes, it certainly could.

Memphis at Kansas (September 12); Memphis at Bowling Green (September 19): Pairing these two games together for one reason. First, Memphis winning at Kansas may not score major points for the conference given the perception of the Jayhawks, but it would still go down as a road win against a Big 12 opponent. But Memphis then needs to avoid a loss to MAC threat Bowling Green. Remember, we are not only looking for victories against power conference opponents, but also against the best threats from other Group of Five conferences. Knocking off Kansas and Bowling Green, the defending MAC champions, would end up giving Memphis and the AAC a nice little boost in September.

Navy vs. Air Force (October 3); Navy at Notre Dame (October 10): Following similar logic as just above with Memphis, Navy has an excellent opportunity to score some big wins in back-to-back weeks. First Navy hosts Air Force, coming off a successful season and representing the Mountain West Conference. Again, victories against other Group of Five opponents can be huge in the end. And beating Notre Dame obviously carries some weight.

Memphis vs. Ole Miss (October 17): Oh, you thought we were done with Memphis? Think again. The Tigers host the SEC’s Ole Miss in mid-October. If Memphis can defend its home turf against a power conference opponent from the hyped SEC West, their work will largely be done representing the conference in 2015.

Like the East Division, if the West can somehow come away with a .500 mark out of this slate of games, that would be a tremendous victory for the conference and would bode well for the conference’s champion. Keep in mind the AAC will hold a conference championship game this season as well, giving it one more game to showcase the best it has to offer.

One thing that should also be noted is Navy will actually play one more game after the College Football Playoff selection committee is set to make its big bowl pairings. The Army-Navy Game is scheduled for the Saturday after the release of the CFB Playoff and New Years Six bowl pairings. The expectation is this can be worked around to avoid any controversial hassles, but after seeing Baylor and/or TCU get shortchanged in part because of playing one fewer game than everyone else, it is worth keeping in mind.

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Quick offseason schedule thoughts: American’s East contenders can change way we think about AAC

Tommy Tuberville

The American Athletic Conference just missed out on the College Football Playoff selection committee’s guaranteed reservation to a Group of Five conference champion. Memphis ended up needed just a little more help out of the Mountain West Conference, which was represented by Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl this past postseason. If the American Athletic Conference is going to shake off the perception it still carries from the days of the crumbling Big East, then it should hope to win some pivotal games in non-conference play this season. It just so happens the American Athletic Conference will have plenty of opportunities to score some eye-opening victories, although they will not come easily.

Here are some of the more notable games on the AAC schedule for the contenders in the East Division that could actually boost the perception of the conference and its champion.

Temple vs. Penn State (September 5): The Temple Owls open the season in Lincoln Financial Field, but it will feel like a Penn State home game with the Nittany Lions back in the city of brotherly love. Temple’s defense can pose some problems for Penn State’s offense early, but may need a flawless performance on offense for the upset.

East Carolina at Florida (September 12): East Carolina gets Florida at a decent time with the Gators still looking to rebound and in the first year under Jim McElwain. Winning in Gainesville is not easy, although Georgia Southern managed to do it. So why not the Pirates?

UCF at Stanford (September 12): The Knights head to the west coast to take on perennial Pac-12 contender Stanford. The Cardinal got off to a slow start last season. If they do once again this season then UCF could return home with a big win for the conference.

UCF at South Carolina (September 26): The Knights are not satisfied playing just one power conference opponent on the road. A couple weeks after visiting Stanford they will head to South Carolina. The Knights nearly pulled off the upset of the Gamecocks the last time they played. Could UCF win on the road in Pac-12 and SEC territory?

East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech (September 26): A year ago it was the Pirates who stormed to the front of the pack in the Group of Five race after knocking off Virginia Tech. The Hokies had just topped Ohio State in Columbus, which helped boost East Carolina’s profile as a result. The way things shape out we could see that happen all over again. Or not. Who knows?

Cincinnati vs. Miami (October 1): The Bearcats figure to be a regular threat in the American Athletic Conference, and a home victory over the Miami Hurricanes can help push them to the top of the pecking order among Group of Five contenders. Cincinnati hosts Miami on a Thursday night, with Miami coming off a bye week following a home date with Nebraska.

Temple vs. Notre Dame (October 31): It is a big year for Temple season ticket holder. Not only does Penn State come to town, but so does Notre Dame. If Temple can pull the upset of the Irish, it would be a huge victory for the conference as a whole. What if Temple beats both Penn State and Notre Dame…

Coming out of these games with a 3-4 mark should be considered a success (4-3 obviously an even bigger success), and it would likely help change the way the AAC’s champion is compared alongside whichever team comes out of the Mountain West Conference, MAC, Conference USA or Sun Belt Conference. The games in September can carry huge weight in December.

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Quick offseason schedule thoughts: ACC Coastal Division

Cincinnati v Miami Getty Images

Once again, it looks as though the ACC Coastal Division is going to be a wide-open race just waiting for someone to jump up and grab control of the division. After looking over just the schedules of the ACC Coastal Division, you can see why.

Take Pittsburgh for example. The Panthers, now with Pat Narduzzi making his head coaching debut, may have some of the top offensive players in the ACC with wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner, but the Panthers must overcome a lot of travel in the first half of the season. Pittsburgh will go all the way to Week 9 before getting its second ACC game at home. Pittsburgh has just two home games before Halloween. If they can stay above water before November, the Panthers will have some huge games at home down the stretch (UNC, Louisville and Miami in ACC play and Notre Dame). The Panthers also avoid Clemson and Florida State.

Duke may have the best schedule in the ACC with no Clemson, no Florida State and no Louisville. The Blue Devils also get Georgia Tech, Boston College, Miami and Pittsburgh at home. Duke has to travel to Virginia Tech, but they get a bye week to prepare for it. The UNC Tar Heels also miss on the top three Atlantic Division threats, and they get Duke at home after a Thursday night road trip at Pittsburgh. Georgia Tech, the defending division champions get both Clemson and Florida State in crossover match-ups.

I’m still left wondering when Miami is going to take control of this division, which was supposed to happen as soon as the Hurricanes joined the conference and a division split was put into play. If nothing else, Miami has a decent chance to generate the annual “Is Miami back” conversation with a couple of easy games in the first two weeks followed by a revenge situation at home against Nebraska. They then get a bye week to prepare for a Thursday night game at American contender Cincinnati before a road game at Florida State and home dates with Virginia Tech and Clemson. In other words, Al Golden has his work cut out for him before heading down the home stretch against Coastal competition.

Virginia Tech has the biggest non-conference game on the ACC schedule with a Labor Day night season opener against defending champion, and most likely preseason No. 1, Ohio State. We all know what happened last year. If Virginia Tech can do it again in Blacksburg, will they avoid a letdown a few weeks later at East Carolina? Or at home against Pittsburgh?

Oh, I also had some thoughts on the ACC Atlantic Division schedules if you are interested.

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Quick offseason schedule thoughts: ACC Atlantic Division

150523_SwinneyClemson Getty Images

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means things can probably get a little slow here around the virtual desk in the home office of this college football writer. It also can be a good time to begin to start looking a little more at the upcoming college football season. After all, the first FBS game is only 103 days, five hours and 25 minutes away and counting. TO pass the time I started loading up individual season schedules into Excel, which will later be used to keep track of predicted wins and losses and you don’t really care about this level of college football data archiving.

I started with the ACC schedules, going through each conference in alphabetical order I know, I know, technically the American Athletic Conference comes first) and figured I would share some thoughts about the schedules. Why not make them into some quick posts? SO here are some quick thoughts.

I am pretty optimistic about Clemson this season. The Tigers get a couple of easy games (against Wofford and Appalachian State) before a huge road test on a Thursday night at Louisville. They then get a bye before hosting Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Boston College the next three weeks. They also get Florida State at home. As far as the ACC is concerned, advantage Tigers.

We are going to get a good idea of what Louisville is early on. The Cardinals take on Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta in week one and two weeks later host Clemson on a Thursday night. If Louisville scratches together two wins there, then watch out. Cardinals have a bye week to prepare for Florida State, who will be coming off a game against Miami the previous week. Florida State will play its first two ACC games on the road and must also play on the road against Georgia Tech and Clemson. The Noles take on FCS Chattanooga the week before visiting Gainesville.

Boston College opens the year with back-to-back home games against FCS opponents, Maine and Howard. This will mean Boston College will have to win seven games in order to be bowl eligible this season. The Eagles have won seven games in each of the first two seasons since the arrival of Steve Addazio.

NC State is one of the rare power five conference schools to take to the road to play Group of Five schools twice in a season, and they will do so in back-to-back weeks against Old Dominion and South Alabama.  Still, we could be talking about a 4-0 Wolfpack when Louisville comes to town in Week 5.

The schedule does no favors to Syracuse. The Orange host LSU in non-conference play in Week 4. But that is not the ACC’s fault. Syracuse has what could be a brutal ACC stretch as October flips over to November. At Florida State on Halloween, at Louisville the following week and at home against Clemson. Good luck with all that.

Wake Forest will have an uphill battle from start to finish. The Demon Deacons get Florida State and Louisville at home and travel to Notre Dame and Clemson at the end of the season. The ceiling is very low for Wake Forest no matter how the schedule shapes out though.

After looking through the schedules in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, I still think Clemson has the best path to a trip to Charlotte at the end of the year, although Everett Golson keeps Florida State’s path somewhat clear as well if they can get by Clemson in Week 10. And if Louisville gets hot early, things could get interesting real fast.

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LSU AD says Tigers would play Texas A&M on Black Friday, hopes SEC never goes to 9 games

LSU v Texas A&M Getty Images

LSU athletics director Joe Alleva has said pretty sternly there is not a chance LSU will play a game on Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving? Well that sounds liek a different story.

Appearing as a guest on the Paul Finebaum Show on ESPN Radio Friday afternoon, with Tony Barnhart sitting in as a guest host, Alleva said LSU would be willing to play Texas A&M the day after Thanksgiving.

“The reason I said that is not necessarily because it’s a Thursday night game, but it’s Thanksgiving Thursday night and I’m opposed to playing a game on Thanksgiving Day inside the stadium. In my opinion it’s a time when our families need to be with their families and give thanks for all the blessings they have, take a day off and get ready for Friday or Saturday night inside the stadium.”

Asked if that meant LSU would play Texas A&M on a Friday in Tiger Stadium, Alleva said “Yeah, we would play on a Friday, hopefully at night.” Alleva went on to say LSU prefers to play games at night, which he had previously gone on record saying. Alleva also

Alleva, who said this week non-conference opponents from power conferences are scared to schedule a road game in Tiger Stadium, also suggested the chances the SEC would ever move to a nine-game conference schedule are still slim.

“I hope we don’t get to that, but we’ll see,” Alleva said to Barnhart. “We may get to that at some point. My personal opinion is this league is very tough and we don’t need to make it tougher by playing another family member in the league and beating each other up more than we already do.”

The SEC has stuck with an eight-game conference schedule despite having 14 members. Each school has a locked in crossover opponent (LSU is paired with Florida), and the SEC will begin requiring each member to schedule one non-conference game against an opponent from a power conference. Notre Dame, BYU and Army will count toward satisfying that non-conference scheduling requirement. Alleva has been vocal with his thoughts against the current SEC scheduling model.

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Wisconsin QB leaves Badgers after one spring

Paul Chryst

Despite graduating high school early to join the Wisconsin Badgers, true freshman quarterback Austin Kafentzis is already on his way out of Madison.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Kafentzis saw a limited number of snaps in the spring in Madison at a time when freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook seemed to have a more productive spring. Another report from 247 Sports says new Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst was not viewing Kafentzis as a quarterback option, but another position instead.

Kafentzis was a three-star recruit according to Rivals, and the fifth-best recruit in the state of Utah. He had committed to Wisconsin in June 2013. He had reportedly had strong ties with former Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen, and once Andersen packed his bags for Oregon State the quarterback reaffirmed his commitment to the program following the hiring of Chryst.

Kafentzis did reportedly take interest in Oregon State after Andersen left Wisconsin for the Pac-12 program, but it is unknown at this time if Kafentzis has any specific interest in another program. However, if he transfers to another FBS program he will now have to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules since he has already enrolled.

Wisconsin’s quarterback situation should still be good enough when it comes to depth. Joel Stave will be the team’s starter under center in the fall and redshirt junior Bart Houston is back in Madison this season. Wisconsin will also have redshirt freshman D.J. Gillins and Hornibrook.

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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh defends satellite camp practice

150523_Harbaugh Getty Images

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff have quite a busy June on tap with nine stops as guests at nine different football camps. Harbaugh’s group will be making appearances at camps in California, Florida, Texas, and Alabama in addition to various stops within the Big Ten’s traditional footprint. Harbaugh has also extended an open invitation to coaches around the country to come be a part of Michigan’s football camp. Harbaugh’s national summer tour of football camps has been one of the storylines this offseason as he and his staff have taken advantage of NCAA rules to work at camps, and he is not about to apologize for it.

“Our staff has been invited to help work at the camp(s) and it’s a great way for us to spread football, you know — the joy and love of football,” Harbaugh said on the “Jim Rome Show” on Friday. “There’s also a recruiting element. You get to meet folks in different areas of the country. So I think it’s all good.”

Per NCAA rules, coaches at a school are restricted to running camps on campus, within its state boundaries or within a 50-mile radius of its campus if out-of-state. However, NCAA rules also allow coaches to work at any other camp — dubbed satellite camps — so long as they do not take part in organizing the camp or advertising their appearance at the specific camp. The school hosting the camp may advertise their appearance though.

The NCAA may allow this practice, but the ACC and SEC each have conference-specific rules prohibiting their coaches from taking advantage of the same freedom, and each conference has made a push to some degree to have the NCAA clamp down on the practice. The SEC even prohibited its coaches from attending Michigan’s camp.

Harbaugh, of course, is not alone in the act of working at satellite camps. Penn State’s James Franklin generated buzz last year by working camps in Georgia and Florida and Penn State’s coaches are once again going on the road to work camps this summer. Ohio State is getting in on the act. So is Nebraska and Notre Dame and more.

As for Michigan’s football camp, Harbaugh says the reception to the open invite has been well-received.

“I love it that Ivy League coaches are coming to our camp and Big Ten coaches are coming to our camp,” Harbaugh said. “South Florida is coming. We’ve got about 70 schools that are coming to our camp.”

Helmet sticker to MLive.com.

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Nearly two decades later, Priest Holmes graduates from Texas

BYU v Texas Getty Images

Twenty-three years after he arrived from San Antonio, 19 years after he helped his Longhorns to a stunning upset of Nebraska in the inaugural Big 12 championship game, 14 years after he led the NFL in rushing, 13 years after winning the AP Offensive Player of the Year award and eight years after leaving the NFL, Priest Holmes has graduated from the University of Texas.

The obvious question: what in the world was Holmes doing in the eight years between leaving the NFL and earning his degree? Doing philanthropic work in his native San Antonio while serving as the NFLPA’s Alamo City chapter.

As part of his NFLPA duties, Holmes told TexasSports.com, was setting up a quarterly conference that emphasized professional development and the value of earning a college degree. The message sank home with him.

“I got fired up to finish that degree,” he said. “It really motivated me and gave me that passion.”

Holmes spent his Wednesdays and Thursdays driving to and from San Antonio to finish his degree in applied learning and development.

Diploma in hand, Holmes will use his education to enhance his current work with the Priest Holmes Foundation, which works to empower young people.”I was taking courses and able to turn around and immediately implement them in our programs,” Holmes said. “That made the transition easier.”

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PHOTO: Drake stops by Houston football offices

Rapper Drake

Started from the bottom now he’s…. at Houston’s football offices.

In no doubt purely coincidental timing (wink wink) just hours after landing the most highly-touted recruit in program history Drake stopped by Tom Herman and the gang to show some love.

No word on if Drake will abandon Kentucky – or Texas A&M – for the Coogs.

As Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger columnist Hugh Kellenberger put it, Drake is the hip-hop version of Kenny Chesney.

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Former Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase rejoins program as assistant DFO

Nathan Scheelhaase

It’s becoming something of a tradition in the Illinois football program. Start at quarterback, then come back a few years down the road and get your feet wet in the coaching business.

Earlier this week, Illinois announced the hiring of former quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase as the program’s assistant director of football operations. The man he replaces? None other than former Illinois quarterback Juice Williams.

Williams, who also preceded Scheelhaase as the Illini’s signal-caller, left for a job on the athletic development staff at Georgetown.

“I am honored to be working for the university I call home,” Scheelhaase said in a statement. “The memories I made as a player were special, and I can’t wait to be a part of creating more memories for the players and fans. As the Assistant Director of Football Operations I am excited about supporting the coaching staff and players in every way possible. I am confident that my experience as a student-athlete and as a leader both domestically and internationally will be a valuable source in helping the football program achieve greater success. I can’t wait to get to home and get to work.”

Scheelhaase started at quarterback from 2010-13 and remains the program’s all-time total offense leader with 10,634 yards. He stands as one of just two players in Big Ten history with 8,000 career passing yards and 2,000 career rushing yards, and is the only quarterback in school history to lead the club to bowl wins in back-to-back seasons.

Elsehwere in the program, Patrick Embleton has been hired as director of student-athlete development.

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Former Syracuse player to receive Medal of Honor for World War I heroics

Maryland v Syracuse

William Shemin played football and lacrosse at Syracuse before graduating in 1924. Prior to that, though, he was a war hero. Shemin joined the the Army in 1917, and by August of the next year he was near the Velse River in France, where his actions saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers, exposing himself to artillery fire while dragging the wounded to safety.

Shemin passed away in 1973. A week and a half from now, he will receive the Presidential Medal of Honor.

Shemin’s daughter, Elsie Shemin-Roth, will receive the medal from President Barack Obama at a ceremony at the White House, according to a press release from the White House (via Syracuse.com).

This won’t be the first time Shemin is honored for his efforts. He has previously been bestowed a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Service Cross.

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Army and Navy stand ground against College Football Playoff scheduling

Army v Navy Getty Images

One of college football’s best traditions will not budge for one of its newest traditions. Army and Navy stand united against adjusting its traditional scheduling of the Army-Navy Game to satisfy the College Football Playoff schedule for rankings and bowl pairings.

“We have no intention of moving it. None,” Navy athletics director Chet Gladchuk told Paul Myerberg of USA Today. “It would show that we’ve realigned our priorities in a way that doesn’t complement our mission. We can’t do it. It’s something that’s that special.”

The Army-Navy Game has found a permanent place on the college football calendar the Saturday after championship Saturday, which puts the annual rivalry in the national spotlight all by itself without competition from other conferences, aside from lower division playoff match-ups. With Navy joining the American Athletic Conference, the possibility Navy could be in the mix for one of the guaranteed spots in the New Years Six posed a slight problem to the College Football Playoff process. The College Football Playoff announced the final rankings and bowl pairings for associated bowls on the Sunday after championship Saturday. Navy playing one more game after the scheduled selection process poses a hypothetical problem.

What if Navy is 12-0? What if Navy is the highest ranked Group of Five conference champion but loses to Army? We may not be discussing Navy in its prime with national title contenders on a regular basis, but the new postseason format does make it easier or more realistic for Navy to play a key role in the big game bowl picture than it has in decades. Judging by another quote from Gladchuck to USA Today, Navy may be willing to pass on the whole playoff as long as it means it can play Army.

“If it means that we’ve got to sacrifice the opportunity to participate in the playoff system, then that’s something we’ll have to deal with,” Gladchuk said. “We’ll have to work on that.”

I don’t know if Navy will win the American Athletic Conference or not, but they will know if they have by the time the Army-Navy Game is played. IF Navy wins the conference, then the Midshipmen would be stacked up against conference champs from the Mountain West Conference, Sun Belt Conference, MAC and Conference USA, and they would also have played just 11 games. This would be similar to Baylor and TCU each playing 12 games compared to the other power conference champions that played 13 games last season. Should Navy be warned of the dangers of having one fewer game on the record when the selection committee goes to work to put the final pieces together?

I’d love to see how that is handled by the selection committee.

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Tom Herman lands Houston’s highest-rated recruit in over a decade, possibly ever

Photo credit: Rivals

Houston’s new head coach has yet to coach a game, but he’s already making things happen. As best we can tell right now, new Houston head coach Tom Herman has broken down a wall that Houston has yet to climb since as far back as 2002.

Class of 2016 defensive tackle Ed Oliver, rated four stars and the seventh-best defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals, has given Herman and Houston his verbal commitment. This, of course, is a long way from becoming officially official with National Signing Day not until next February. It is, however, a sign that Herman is already having an impact on the recruiting trail at his new gig. While Oliver receives four out of five stars from Rivals, other recruiting services are a tad higher on him (he has a five-star composite ranking according to 247 Sports).

As it stands now, Oliver is choosing Houston over offers from programs like Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and more.

Per Rivals, Wide receiver Deontay Greenberry was Houston’s most recent four-star recruit in the Class of 2012. Since 2002, Houston has signed a total of five four-star players.

Go to work, Herman.

Helmet sticker to The Student Section.

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Former Wolverine Blake Countess checking out Auburn

Utah v Michigan Getty Images

Cornerback Blake Countess has now graduated from Michigan, which means he can now take advantage of a graduate transfer to play one more season anywhere he chooses if given a spot on a roster. Auburn appears to be one team of interest.

After previously visiting former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez and Arizona, Countess will reportedly spend this weekend at Auburn. Al.com also reports Countess intends to visit Oklahoma and Oklahoma State later this month. Should Countess wind up at Auburn, he will likely step into a key role on what could be a revamped defense under new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Muschamp has been helping to increase the intensity on defense, something Gus Malzahn spoke about earlier this spring. Countess would have a good chance to grab a starting job in the secondary after the Tigers have lost five players in the defensive backfield since January.

Countess announced earlier this month his intention to play the 2015 season somewhere else instead of Michigan. His announcement came a day after Jim Harbaugh welcomed another graduate transfer to Ann Arbor, defensive back Wayne Lyons from Stanford.

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