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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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Struggling Hawaii athletics department asks for $6 million from state

UNLV v Hawaii

The struggles to keep the athletics department afloat at Hawaii have led the university to ask for help from the state. The asking price? Six million dollars.

Hawaii News Now reports university athletics department officials are predicting a deficit of $3.5 million this year. That would put Hawaii in the red for the 12th time out of the last 15 years. Part of the reason for the budget issue is a failure to meet football ticket sales goals as well as falling shy of fundraising goals. At a time when UAB made the decision to cut the football program from the university’s expenses, the concern is high for those at Hawaii.

“We do need additional support for athletics,” UH Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman told the State House Higher Education Committee Thursday, according to the Hawaii News Now report.

Earlier this month it was reported Hawaii athletics director Ben Jay was stepping down from his position. The inability to turn the budget around and slow down the deficit is part of the reason for the need to change leadership. While there are no indications Hawaii is ready to take any steps to drop its football program or any other programs, the thought and discussion has been floating around in some capacity for some time now, especially in light of the situation at UAB and with conferences bracing for changes in spending under new parameters in place.

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Maryland’s Stefon Diggs testing NFL waters

Jhavon Williams, Stefon Diggs

Maryland’s star wide receiver and special teams return man Stefon Diggs is deciding whether or not to leave for the NFL or come back for his senior season in College Park for one more year with the Terrapins. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has started to reach out to some NFL contacts to get some feedback to help Diggs get some information to help him with that decision.

“I’ve called around to GMs and college scouting directors and personnel people and gathered information for him,” Edsall said in a report by CSN Baltimore. “And then once we get back the information from the NFL, I’m going to sit down with his mom and him and go over all the information that I have and present it to them.”

Diggs was Maryland’s leading wide receiver in 2014 with 654 yards and five touchdowns despite missing playing time in Maryland’s final three games due to a suspension and kidney injury. He also was a key contributor on special teams returns with 20 kickoff returns for 478 yards and the ability to make a big play happen any time he got his hands on the football.

Diggs is being scouted as a mid-round prospect right now, which could lead Diggs to come back for one more year at Maryland. Josh Norris of Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft analyst recently told CSN Baltimore Diggs would likely be drafted anywhere between rounds three and five if he came out for the 2015 NFL Draft.

Last year saw a record number of underclassmen declare for the NFL Draft, which led to increasing concern about poor advice and decisions being made by players opting to leave behind an extra year of eligibility.

Maryland is optimistic Diggs will be available for the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California against Stanford. The Foster Farms Bowl is scheduled for December 30 at 10 p.m. eastern.

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Wisconsin assistants must reapply to keep jobs in Madison

New Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst says he is willing to talk with any current Badgers assistant coach interested in returning to the coaching staff in 2015, but any coach who has a desire to continue coaching in Madison will have to reapply for the job.

Due to university policies regarding the hiring of employees, Chryst is prevented from making any offers to assistant coaching candidates until those looking for the job submit a formal job application. Applications are due by December 29, so you still have some time to apply for a job on Chryst’s staff.

Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez has confirmed offensive line coach T.J. Woods and defensive counterpart Chad Kauha’aha’a will leave Wisconsin to join Gary Andersen at Oregon State. Both assistant coaches will coach for Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl. Alvarez will be the interim head coach for the Badgers in the Outback Bowl against Auburn.

Wisconsin is not expected to make a formal announcement about the new coaching staff until after the Outback Bowl.

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Pitt and Colorado State interviewed MSU’s Pat Narduzzi

Pat Narduzzi

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has been mentioned as a potential candidate for various head coaching opportunities over the last couple of years now after establishing one of the top defensive programs in the country in East Lansing. It now appears Narduzzi is flirting with the opportunity to take on the role of head coach more seriously than ever before.

Narduzzi has interviewed for the head coaching openings at Colorado State and Pittsburgh, according to a report by MLive.com. Narduzzi reportedly interviewed with Colorado State earlier in the week and with Pittsburgh on Friday. Both coaches lost head coaches to other power-conference programs this offseason. Colorado State’s Jim McElwain took a job offer at Florida and Pittsburgh most recently lost Paul Chryst to Wisconsin.

It seems as though Michigan State has already been preparing Narduzzi for the chance to be a head coach, as well as a plan to replace their defensive coordinator if and when the time comes. Narduzzi has been given extra responsibilities to prepare him for being a head coach, which has benefits for Michigan State as well, and MLive.com says Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio is supportive of his assistant and ready to

“When that point in time happens, we’ve had this happen enough for us that we’ll be prepared,” Dantonio said previously. “Up until that time it’s status quo. It’s a good situation.”

Narduzzi checking out his options is nothing new. Just a year ago Narduzzi interviewed with UConn and he had been connected as a candidate to a few other jobs as well.

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Stagg Bowl XLII: Wisconsin-Whitewater claims sixth DIII title in eight years

Lance Leipold

The Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks are champions once again.

Since Lance Leipold took over the the program in 2007, the Warhawks have done nothing but win football games.

The team’s sixth championship — all under Leipold’s watch — came Friday in Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl XLII when the Warhawks once again beat the Mount Union Purple Raiders 42-34 to claim the program’s second straight Division III national championship.

Leipold will leave the program in style.

As the fastest coach ever at any level of college football to reach 100 wins, Leipold was tabbed as the next head coach of the Buffalo Bulls. It’s a big jump in competition for a Division III head coach, but Leipold just must be the exception if his early success as a head coach is any indication.

The two teams combined for 1,168 total yards and seven turnovers.

Mount Union shot itself in the foot with five turnovers. Quarterback Kevin Burke — the only two-time winner of the Gagliardi Trophy as the top player at the Division III level — threw four interceptions. He only threw five the entire season before Friday’s effort.

Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback Matt Behrendt, meanwhile, received plenty of help as he completed 26 of 38 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns.

Warhawks wide receiver Jake Kumerow was the best player on the field. The 6-5 target was nearly unstoppable throughout the contest and finished the game with eight receptions for 130 yards. Dennis Moore added 108 yards only on two catches. Finally, running back Jordan Ratliffe proved to be a workhorse with 24 carries for 116 yards.

Wisconsin-Whitewater’s offensive production along with Mount Union’s turnovers were the recipe for yet another Warhawks championship.

After meeting each other in the Stagg Bowl nine out of the last 10 years, Wisconsin-Whitewater has now gotten the best of Mount Union six out of the last seven times.

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RB Deantre Lewis abruptly leaves Arizona State Sun Devils

Colorado v Arizona State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D'haquille Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Former four-star TE transfers from Vanderbilt to Colorado State

team headshots(John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletic department)

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

Jimmie Hunt ,Jabriel Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Bowlsby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CFT Previews: Your Dec. 20 Viewer’s Guide

Mark Hudspeth AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Danny Hope officially added to Willie Taggart’s USF staff

Danny Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derrick Nash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo credit: Central Michigan athletics)

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

Jim Harbaugh AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ikaika Woolsey, Maurice Poyadue

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

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

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

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

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

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