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TCU football announces 22 signings

Gary Patterson AP

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

TCU head coach Gary Patterson and the Horned Frog football program have announced the signing of 22 players.

All but three of the newcomers are three star and above recruits. Four-star signee Kyle Hicks from Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, is ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 3 running back in Texas and No. 21 in the nation. He rushed for 1,113 yards and totaled 1,571 in offense with 28 touchdowns in just nine games as a senior this season.

TCU has now signed 14 four-star recruits in the last five classes. The Horned Frogs had just five four-star signees in the previous eight years combined (2001-08). Thirteen signees in this year’s class are in the Midlands 150 which covers the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Seventeen of the 22 signees are in-state products, including 11 from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Linebacker Sammy Douglas (Arlington) and cornerback Ranthony Texada (Frisco) were named by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football as the best in the state in 2012 at their respective positions. Six signees are in the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25.

Twelve of the signees are on offense, nine on defense and one designated as an athlete. Offensive line was the most common position with four players, followed by cornerback, linebacker and wide receiver with three. Five states are represented in this year’s recruiting class.

The 22 signees include 20 high school products and junior college transfers Mike Tuaua (Rohnert Park, Calif.) and Lloyd Tunstill (Santa Clarita, Calif.).

Quarterback Zach Allen (Temple), tight end Bryson Burtnett (Springtown) and offensive tackle Eason  Fromayan (Alpharetta, Ga.) have already enrolled at TCU and will take part in spring practice.

Allen, the lone quarterback in the class, was the District 8-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player. Burtnett is ranked as the No. 5 tight end in the state and No. 40 in the nation. Fromayan was a first-team Class 6A all-state selection. He is the Horned Frogs’ third signee from Georgia in the last two seasons, joining Zach Jackson and Jordan Moore from last year’s class.

Joining Hicks at tailback is Trevorris Johnson (Houston), ranked as the No. 7 running back in Texas. He rushed for 2,115 yards as a senior, including a 342-yard game. He’s been tabbed by the Houston Chronicle as one of the top-100 recruits in the Houston area.

Jermaine Antoine (Loreauville, La.), Cameron Echols-Luper (Auburn, Ala.) and Ty Slanina (East Bernard) are TCU’s newcomers at wide receiver.

Antoine was the “Best All-Around Athlete” at the 2012 U.S. Army National Combine. He was first-team all-state as he rushed for 1,399 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 538 yards receiving and six scores.

Echols-Luper, the son of TCU wide receivers coach Curtis Luper, has been ranked as the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in Alabama and the 19th-best overall player in the state.

Slanina was a first-team selection on the MaxPreps Small Schools All-America Team. He was the Offensive Most Valuable Player in leading East Bernard to the 2A Division II state championship.

In addition to Fromayan, offensive line signees include Patrick Morris (Denton), Joseph Noteboom (Plano) and Tunstill.

Morris is ranked as the No. 2 center in Texas and No. 8 nationally at the position. He did not allow a sack as a senior. Noteboom was the 12th-rated offensive tackle in the state. Tunstill was an all-conference selection the last two seasons at College of the Canyons.

Local signee Charlie Reid (Fort Worth) from All Saints’ Episcopal was a MaxPreps Small Schools All-American. He is rated as the fourth-best tight end prospect in Texas and No. 35 nationally.

Bryson Henderson (Mansfield), from Summit High School, is the 10th-ranked defensive end in the state and 63rd in the country. Also joining the defensive end ranks is Tuaua, who is from the same Santa Rosa Junior College that produced current TCU All-America cornerback Jason Verrett. Tuaua recorded 68 tackles, including 16 1/2 for loss, and eight sacks in the 2012 campaign.

TCU’s three signees at linebacker are Douglas, Dac Shaw (Mineola) and Paul Whitmill (Bastrop). They are ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, for outside linebackers in Texas and in the top 40 nationally at their position.

Douglas, a first-team all-state selection and the Star-Telegram Super Team Defensive Player of the Year, totaled 168 tackles in leading Arlington High School to the regional semifinals. Shaw, also an All-District 7-3A selection at running back, ran for 319 yards and five touchdowns in the same game he totaled 12 tackles. Whitmill was also a fullback for Bastrop High School.

TCU signed the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-rated cornerbacks in the state in Texada, Steve Wesley (Arlington) and Cydney Calvin (Frisco), respectively. Texada and Calvin are from Centennial High School.

Texada, the District 9-4A Defensive Most Valuable Player, intercepted two passes to earn MVP honors at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. Texada and Calvin both excelled on special teams. Texada averaged 38 yards on kickoff returns and blocked five field goals as a senior, while Calvin was the school’s Special Teams MVP. Texada added three punt returns for touchdowns his junior year.

Wesley was a member of the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25.

George Baltimore (Mansfield), the No. 7 safety in Texas and No. 51 in the nation, returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns as a senior. He had seven picks, including two for scores, as a junior.

Denzel Johnson (Gainesville) comes to TCU as an athlete. He was the District 9-3A Most Valuable Player after passing for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 1,064 yards and 10 scores.

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

Zach Allen (QB, 6-3, 185, Temple, Texas; Temple HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 12 quarterback in Texas and No. 67 in the nation … District 8-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player and the Temple Daily Telegram Class 5A Co-Offensive Player of the Year as a senior … passed for 2,175 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 941 yards and nine scores despite playing just nine games due to injury … threw for 1,753 yards and ran for 766 as a junior … chose TCU over Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Minnesota and Syracuse.

Jermaine Antoine (WR, 5-11, 195, Loreauville, La.; Loreauville HS)
Named “Best All-Around Athlete” at the 2012 U.S. Army National Combine … a first-team Class 2A all-state selection by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association … was also first-team All-District 6-2A and its Offensive Most Valuable Player as a senior … a three-time first-team pick as an athlete on The Daily Iberian’s Best of the Teche team … was also first-team All-Acadiana at running back … rushed for 1,399 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 538 yards receiving and six scores as a senior … opened his senior season with 274 yards rushing and six touchdowns versus Central Catholic … ran for 691 yards and 11 touchdowns his junior year … added 568 yards and six scores receiving … had three kickoff returns and two punt returns for touchdowns … chose TCU over Texas A&M and North Texas.

George Baltimore (S, 6-0, 205, Mansfield, Texas; Mansfield HS)
The No. 7 safety in Texas and No. 51 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 116 overall in the Midlands 150 … selected to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … honorable-mention all-state his senior year … was first-team all-district as a junior and senior … totaled 81 tackles his senior year with four interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns … also picked off seven passes as a junior, two of which were taken back for scores … selected TCU over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas, Arkansas, Arizona State, Cal, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Purdue.

Bryson Burtnett (TE, 6-5, 225, Springtown, Texas; Springtown HS)

Rated by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 5 tight end in Texas and No. 40 in the nation … had 19 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns as a senior … totaled 37 tackles, including seven for loss, and two sacks on defense … was a unanimous All-District 6-3A selection at defensive end … All-Parker County … received second-team all-district honors as a junior when he totaled 51 tackles and five sacks … chose TCU over Rice and Texas State.

Cydney Calvin (CB, 6-1, 175, Frisco, Texas; Centennial HS)
The No. 7 cornerback in Texas and No. 78 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked No. 120 overall in the Midlands 150 … named Centennial’s Most Improved Player and Special Teams Most Valuable Player his senior year … had two interceptions for 71 yards and also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery … totaled 40 tackles … played alongside fellow TCU signee Ranthony Texada in high school … chose TCU over Wake Forest.

Sammy Douglas (LB, 6-3, 195, Arlington, Texas; Arlington HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 3 outside linebacker in Texas and No. 28 in the nation … No. 80 overall in the Midlands 150 … named the state’s Best Linebacker in 2012 by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football … selected as the Star-Telegram Super Team Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the Tarrant County Terrific 25 … also an Associated Press first-team all-state selection and first-team All-District 4-5A … totaled 168 tackles, including a career-high 29 against Bowie, in leading Arlington to the regional semifinals … first-team all-district as a junior when he recorded 148 stops, including six sacks, with four forced fumbles and five recoveries.

Cameron Echols-Luper (WR, 6-0, 190, Auburn, Ala.; Auburn HS)
Tabbed the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in Alabama and No. 131 at his position nationally by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked as the 19th-best overall player in Alabama … passed for 1,036 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior … also rushed for 898 yards and seven scores in leading Auburn to the Class 6A quarterfinals … totaled 2,339 yards of offense and 25 touchdowns his junior year … a three-year starter … his father, Curtis Luper, is TCU’s wide receivers coach … chose the Horned Frogs over Texas A&M, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland and Illinois.

Eason Fromayan (OT, 6-5, 285, Alpharetta, Ga.; Milton HS)
Rated by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 11 offensive tackle in Georgia and No. 90 nationally at his position … a first-team Class 6A all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … named to the Region 5-6A first team as a senior … honorable-mention all-district and all-region his junior year … his father, Edwin, was a four-year letterman (1988-91) in basketball at TCU … picked the Horned Frogs over Cincinnati, South Florida, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

Bryson Henderson (DE, 6-4, 245, Mansfield, Texas; Summit HS)
The No. 10 defensive end in Texas and No. 63 nationally by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked No. 127 overall in the Midlands 150 … selected to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … recorded 75 tackles and nine sacks as a junior … also earned District 7-4A Most Valuable Player honors that season … chose the Horned Frogs over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Colorado, Vanderbilt and Purdue.

Kyle Hicks (TB, 5-10, 190, Arlington, Texas; Martin HS)
A four-star recruit by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com and Rivals.com … ranked as the No. 3 running back in Texas and No. 21 in the nation … the No. 141 overall player nationally by Scout.com … No. 23 in the Midlands 150 … an Associated Press honorable-mention all-state selection as a senior … named to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … totaled 1,113 yards on the ground and 458 through the air as a senior … totaled 28 touchdowns in nine games … rushed for 1,667 yards and 26 touchdowns in earning first-team all-district honors as a junior … was a Martin High School teammate of current Horned Frogs Devonte Fields and Jaden Oberkrom … chose TCU over Texas, Baylor, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Michigan.

Denzel Johnson (ATH, 6-2, 205, Gainesville, Texas; Gainesville HS)
Earned District 9-3A Most Valuable Player honors at quarterback his senior year … passed for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 1,064 yards and 10 scores … named All-Cooke County … first-team all-district as a junior when he rushed for 580 yards and eight touchdowns … also started at free safety during his time at Gainesville … helped lead the school to the Texas Class 3A Division I quarterfinals in 2012 … was also all-district in basketball and baseball … chose TCU over UTSA.

Trevorris Johnson (TB, 5-11, 205, Houston, Texas; Alief Taylor HS)
Rated as the No. 7 running back in Texas and No. 45 nationally by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 71 overall in the Midlands 150 … named the District 18-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player … rushed for 2,115 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior … tabbed by the Houston Chronicle as one of the top 100 recruits in the Houston area … rushed for a single game school-record 342 yards en route to earning Houston Boys Athlete of the Week honors from the Houston Chronicle … ran for 744 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, averaging 6.5 per carry … selected TCU over Arkansas, Iowa State, Kansas, Utah, Cal and Wake Forest.

Patrick Morris (OL, 6-3, 288, Denton, Texas; Guyer HS)
The No. 2 center in Texas and No. 8 nationally at his position by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 69 overall in the Midlands 150 … an Associated Press Class 4A all-state selection … was also first-team District 5-4A and all-area as a senior … did not allow a sack … graded out at 87 percent with 27 knockdown blocks … helped lead Guyer to the Class 4A state championship game … Guyer rushed for 2,884 yards and 52 touchdowns … all-district as a junior and named to the all-state sophomore team in 2010 … a three-year letterman … also lettered one year in tennis … chose TCU over Texas Tech, Kansas, Northwestern and Washington State.

Joseph Noteboom (OT, 6-5, 260, Plano, Texas; Plano HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 12 offensive tackle in Texas and No. 99 nationally … a first-team District 10-5A selection as a senior … also made the Associated Press Class 5A honorable-mention all-state team … was honorable-mention all-district as a junior … chose TCU over Texas Tech, Iowa State, Wake Forest and Purdue.

Charlie Reid (TE, 6-4, 225, Fort Worth, Texas; All Saints’ Episcopal School)
Tabbed the No. 4 tight end in Texas and No. 35 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 115 overall in the Midlands 150 … a member of the 2012 MaxPreps’ Small Schools All-America Team … named to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … also selected to the Star-Telegram Super Team … recorded 49 catches for 1,220 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior  … All Saints’ Episcopal entered the 2012 campaign as the No. 1 small private school in the state … totaled 41 receptions for 637 yards and five touchdowns as a junior … chose TCU over Iowa State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, UCLA, Utah, Oregon State, Arizona and Colorado.

Dac Shaw (LB, 6-2, 200, Mineola, Texas; Mineola HS)

Rated as the No. 4 outside linebacker in Texas and No. 33 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 90 overall in the Midlands 150 … the No. 53 overall prospect in the state by Rivals.com … a three-time all-district selection at running back and linebacker … named the 3A Player of the Week as a senior when he rushed for 319 yards and five touchdowns while also recording 12 tackles in a game … rushed for 28 touchdowns as a senior and 26 his junior year … honorable-mention Class 2A all-state as a junior … selected as Mineola’s Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore … also lettered in basketball … chose TCU over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Ty Slanina (WR, 6-0, 182, East Bernard, Texas; East Bernard HS)
The No. 16 wide receiver in the state and No. 58 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 74 overall in the Midlands 150 … a first-team selection on defense to the MaxPreps Small Schools All-America Team … an honorable-mention Associated Press Class 2A all-state selection … led East Bernard to the 2A Division II state title as a senior, throwing four touchdown passes and earning Offensive Most Valuable Player honors in the championship game … earned District 15-2A academic first team and Offensive MVP honors as a junior … ran for 1,015 yards, threw for 561 and intercepted seven passes as a sophomore … the 2011 and 2012 Class 2A state long jump champion … picked TCU over Baylor, Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona, Utah and Mississippi State.

Ranthony Texada (CB, 5-10, 160, Frisco, Texas; Centennial HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 5 cornerback in Texas and No. 43 nationally … No. 84 overall in the Midlands 150 … named the state’s Best Defensive Back in 2012 by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football … a second-team Associated Press all-state selection as a senior … also named the District 9-4A Defensive Most Valuable Player … an all-region honoree and the Collin County Defensive Player of the Year … totaled 63 tackles, four interceptions and 22 pass breakups as a senior … also averaged 38 yards per kickoff return and blocked five field goals … intercepted two passes in being named Team Defensive MVP at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl at Reliant Stadium in Houston … scored three touchdowns on punt returns while also intercepting five passes, breaking up 11 and recording 45 tackles as a junior … selected TCU over Baylor, Iowa State, Illinois, Penn State and Indiana.

Mike Tuaua (DE, 6-3, 260, Rohnert Park, Calif.; Santa Rosa JC; Rancho Cotate HS)
Recorded 68 tackles, including 16 1/2 for loss, with eight sacks in 2012 … the North Bay League Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Rancho Cotate High School … was also All-Empire … totaled 81 tackles in earning all-league honors his junior year … will have three seasons of eligiblity at TCU.

Lloyd Tunstill (OL, 6-4, 305, Santa Clarita, Calif.; College of the Canyons; Heritage Christian HS)
An all-conference selection at left tackle the last two seasons at College of the Canyons … will have two seasons of eligibility at TCU … chose the Horned Frogs over Baylor, West Virginia and BYU.

Steve Wesley (CB, 6-0, 175, Arlington, Texas; Bowie HS)
Rated as the No. 6 cornerback in Texas and No. 52 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 108 overall in the Midlands 150 … selected to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … earned first-team All-District 3-5A honors as a senior and junior … picked TCU over Kansas, Illinois and Wake Forest.

Paul Whitmill (LB, 5-11, 200, Bastrop, Texas; Bastrop HS)
The No. 5 outside linebacker in Texas and No. 39 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked No. 123 overall in the Midlands 150 … appeared on the 2012 Butkus Award High School Watch List … a first-team District 17-4A selection as a senior and junior … totaled 49 tackles, including 11 for loss, with two sacks his senior year … recorded 95 stops with seven for loss and three sacks as a sophomore … chose TCU over Baylor, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Utah, Arizona and Wake Forest.

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Oregon State’s Gary Andersen says speed separates Pac-12 from Big Ten

Gary Andersen

Earlier in the day in Chicago new Nebraska head coach Mike Riley was asked about the difference between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, to which the nicest coach in the world shrugged off the notion of the two conferences being too different. His replacement at Oregon State, former Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen, has a different take on the subject.

“Well, the speed,” Andersen replied when asked the same question at the Pac-12 media day event Friday. “If you want to talk about something that is different. This is without question, and I’m looking from afar through a TV screen or a big jumbo screen we have in the offices that we watch film from and on the TV.

“[T]his league has what we like to call juice,” Andersen explained. “It is fast. There are a lot of guys that make one mistake and you’re going to pay the price quickly. On the defensive side it is the same way. There are elite pass rushers that are fast and quick. There are linebackers that can run on the back end that I believe can make up for a lot of problems that — it’s hard to solve with a pen in your hand, but genetics take over and make you some special plays.”

Prior to taking the Wisconsin head coaching job in 2013, Andersen was the head coach of Utah State. During his tenure at Utah State he coached against one Pac-12 team, in which he emerged victorious over Utah in 2012.  In his two seasons with the Badgers in Madison, Anderson lost on the road against Arizona State (in bizarre fashion). So he does have some first-hand experience coaching against the Pac-12 to compare with his brief experience in the Big Ten (which did not end well). Andersen also thinks the Pac-12 lacks credit as a tough conference, physically.

“I never hear people talking about this league is tough-minded. I know it’s not the class, flashy thing to talk about, right, anyway, with the offensive and defensive lines,” Andersen said. “But the fact of the matter is they’re well coached. They’re tough kids. They play with leverage and play with great technique. That is something that jumped out on me on film because I look for that stuff.”

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USC coach Sarkisian takes jab at Oregon’s uniforms

Steve Sarkisian

You have to imagine that being tabbed the preseason media favorite has USC head coach Steve Sarkisian feeling a little extra confident this week. On Friday he may have allowed his confidence to go slightly far in taking a mild-tempered shot at the Oregon Ducks. More specifically, Sarkisian took aim at Oregon’s multiple uniform combinations.

This is just a guess he is not referring to Appalachian State and their 21 new uniform combinations for the 2015 season. No, this was a direct shot at the Oregon Ducks, who have made suiting up ina  different uniform every week something any school looking to generate buzz or gain an edge in recruiting seeks to emulate.

Sarkisian has yet to defeat the Ducks since being named a head coach in 2009 at Washington. In fact, he has not really come close. Since 2009, Sarkisian has lost to Oregon all six times by an average of 25.8 points per defeat. USC seems to have things going in the right direction, and the preseason media poll in the conference certainly gives the Trojans a little extra boost. But until Oregon is dethroned, USC has something to prove on the field.

USC still must get out of a tough Pac-12 South, which saw Arizona State, Utah and UCLA all hand USC a loss in conference play last season. USC will visit Oregon on November 21 this season, in what could potentially be a PAc-12 Championship Game preview. That game will be played two weeks later.

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Pac-12 not looking to expand, if you were curious

Larry Scott

If you had any hopes the Pac-12 might be looking to expand in the future, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has some bad news.

“I do not see us expanding in the foreseeable future,” Scott said Thursday during Pac-12 media days. “We are delighted with 12 schools. It’s worked exceedingly well for us.”

There has not been much discussion about the conference contemplating expansion projects to grow beyond the current 12-school membership. Much of the hypothetical expansion conversation has centered on the Big 12, with 10 members. So forget about resurrecting those Pac-16 scenarios if you were holding out hope for such a thing. This may also be somewhat discouraging news for BYU fans as well, although getting the Cougars and Utah back in the same room would be entertaining.

The Pac-12 rebranded itself following the 2011 additions of Colorado and Utah. That was the same season Nebraska joined the Big Ten and BYU went independent. Texas A&M and Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC the following year as well. For now, the Pac-12 is just keeping the focus on improving from within, starting with conference scheduling.

“As a 12-team conference playing nine conference games, this is an interesting distinction between us and some other conferences,” Scott said. “This is why I’m confident standing up and saying no one has got a tougher schedule than the Pac-12, and the Pac-12 champion has got the toughest road, because there aren’t many misses that you can have within your conference.”

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Ohio State obtains trademark for Urban Meyer’s name

Urban Meyer

When Ohio State hired Urban Meyer to be the next head coach of the Buckeyes in the final stretch of the 2011 season, the Buckeyes knew expectations would be high. Meyer guided Ohio State to an undefeated season in his first fall in Columbus, led the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship game and Orange Bowl in year two and to a Big Ten title and national championship in year three. Naturally, Ohio State is out to assure Meyer’s contract is protected so he does not go anywhere, and now it is looking to protect his likeness.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Friday the university has obtained a trademark for the name “Urban Meyer” from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Per the report, half of the royalties in trademark cases will go to the university and the other half will go to Meyer. Life is good for Meyer, even if he did have to suspend a few players for the 2015 season opener this week.

“It’s not uncommon for celebrities and people in the public to seek protection of their name and likeness,” said Rick Van Brimmer, director of trademark and licensing services at Ohio State. It is, however, the first time n Ohio State coach has had his name trademarked.

“Based on his celebrity status, there are people who have used it on product without permission and (we) have had to approach them,” he said. “This just affords us another level of legal protection.”

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BYU, UNLV to finish off home-and-home agreement in 2017

Brandon Baker, Nate Carter

College football scheduling can be difficult to juggle at times, but it seems BYU and UNLV are managing to find a landing spot for a game in 2017. The two schools will reportedly play at UNLV on November 11, 2017 to complete a previously arranged home-and-home series.

The game at UNLV was originally scheduled to be played this upcoming season, but the two agreed to push the game back to either 2016 or 2017 so BYU could work in a game this fall against Missouri. BYU will face the Mizzou Tigers in Kansas City on November 14, the original date for the BYU contest at UNLV.

BYU hosted UNLV in the first half of the home-and-home scheduling agreement. BYU won last season’s match-up by a score of 42-23.

As noted by FBSchedules.com, BYU’s 2017 schedule is now up to 11 opponents locked in, leaving room for one more to complete the schedule. The 2017 BYU schedule includes a season opener against LSU in Houston, a home date against old rival Utah and other games against Boise State, Mississippi State and Hawaii. With the Hawaii game coming on the road, BYU will be allowed to schedule a 13th game if so desired. BYU has two open weeks in the middle of September. With news breaking this morning the Big Ten will now recognize BYU as a power conference opponent to satisfy a new power conference scheduling requirement, could there be a Big Ten team to help fill the void? If so, that would give BYU games against three different power conferences in 2017.

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New Big Ten scheduling mandates Power 5 opponents, no FCS foes

Jim Delany

Starting in 2016 the Big Ten will roll out a new scheduling outline for all conference members to follow. In addition to the new nine-game conference schedule, the Big Ten will now officially lock out FCS opponents and ask members to schedule one game against another power conference opponent.

The Big Ten’s move away from no longer scheduling FCS opponents has been discussed openly for a few years now, and now it will be the standard operating procedure. What is slightly new is the mandated concept that one game per year against another power conference opponent will be required. The Big Ten joins the ACC and SEC in requiring its members to schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent.

Asked to clarify, Delany confirmed the outline is a requirement that must be met by each member university. What was left unanswered is whether or not independents like Notre Dame, BYU and Army meet that requirement. It is expected Notre Dame would satisfy the requirement, and the ACC and SEC recognize BYU as a power conference opponent. The SEC also counts Army in that category. (UPDATE: Delany later confirmed Notre Dame and BYU will count toward meeting the requirement.)

Delany stressed the focus on improving overall strength of schedule for the Big Ten, and this philosophy would seem to address that in the years to come. While many Big Ten teams already have games scheduled against other power five conferences, having it be a requirement offers more attractive games for fans and the all more important television partners. With the Big Ten media rights set to expire coming up, rolling out this scheduling strategy is also a wise business decision.

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Report: Alabama and Louisville opening 2018 in Orlando

Since the 1930s, Big Al, the Alabama Crimson Tide football team mascot has cheered the team to victo

Alabama may never again open a season at home. The Crimson Tide will reportedly open the 2018 season in Orlando, with Louisville lined up as the opponent for the season-opening contest. Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com was first to report the 2018 game via Twitter.

Alabama now has the next three season openers booked for neutral site games, which means plenty of money coming Alabama’s way. The Crimson Tide open this season in Arlington, Texas against Wisconsin and open the 2016 season in Arlington once more against USC. In 2017 Alabama will face Florida State in Atlanta. Alabama opened the 2013 and 2014 seasons in Atlanta against Virginia Tech and West Virginia, respectively. This followed a season-opening game in Arlington in 2012 against Michigan. The last time Alabama opened a season at home was in 2011 against Kent State. The 2009 season opened in Atlanta against the Hokies as well. Alabama is also contractually obligated to play a game in Arlington in either 2019 or 2020.

Louisville is also getting used to this neutral site opener idea. The Cardinals will open the 2015 season in Atlanta against Auburn, and will face Purdue in Indianapolis to open the 2017 season.

It should also be noted the scheduling of this game in Orlando will also satisfy the non-conference scheduling requirement for both schools, with the ACC and SEC each requiring members to schedule one game against a power conference opponent. Of course, Louisville already satisfies its requirement by playing Kentucky.

Alabama and Louisville have faced each other just three times before, with the most recent game taking place in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl. Louisville won that game, 34-7, but Alabama had won the two previous meetings in 1976 and 1977 with blowout victories (winning by a combined score of 79-9).

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Nice guy Mike Riley says differences between Big Ten and Pac-12 not as drastic as before

Mike Riley

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley made his Big Ten media day debut in Chicago Friday morning, and he carried his nice guy persona as well as he ever has. When told he was one of the nicest coaches in the Pac-12, Riley shrugged aside as humble as he could. Riley was also asked about the differences between the Big Ten and Pac-12, to which he said the differences are not nearly as extreme as they used to be in decades past.

“Hard to blanket with one statement what a conference is today,” Riley said when asked about the difference between the styles of the Big Ten and Pac-12. “I think statistically the Big Ten is running the football more, but there is more diversity.”

Riley, of course, comes to Nebraska after coaching at Oregon State for the past 15 seasons. Riley took over the Beavers in 1997 and stayed with the program until taking a chance to take the Nebraska job. When asked about the timing of the new job, Riley said he and his wife agreed it was their last real chance to take a new challenge and adventure.

“We just love our life together, our life in football.”

Riley won over the Big Ten media, and it would appear the Cornhuskers are in good hands. Now we just have to see if he can win some games in Lincoln.

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Minnesota’s Jerry Kill says he’s been seizure-free for over a year

Jerry Kill

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill got the second day of Big Ten media days off and running Friday morning in Chicago, and he has plenty to be optimistic about in the coming season with a team ready to make a push for the Big Ten West division crown. Kill said his Gophers are getting faster and are closing in on being on par for giving Wisconsin a run for the division crown, and he is very high on his defensive secondary, which could be the best Minnesota has had since Kill’s arrival. But Kill will always be faced with a question about his health, and Friday morning was no different.

“I’m doing great,” Kill said when asked about his health. Kill said it has been over a year and a half since he has suffered a seizure.

Kill has a history of suffering seizures while coaching his team in recent years, although he has said time and time again it is nothing that is to be considered life-threatening or dangerous to his long-term health. In 2012 Kill suffered a seizure following a loss to Northwestern. The following season Kill was given medical treatment and did not return the second half of a game against Western Illinois. He would coach from the press box later in the 2013 season while spending time focusing on treatment and better manage his epilepsy but returned to the sideline during Minnesota’s bowl game and was on the sideline for the 2014 season.

Minnesota opens the 2014 season at home against TCU, the No. 2 team in the country according to the preseason coaches poll.

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No name games for Jim Harbaugh. Ohio State is “Ohio State” for Michigan coach

Jim Harbaugh

Perhaps the most anticipated media day press conference on this year’s media day calendar was the introduction of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media day in Chicago. Today, the second of the two-day Big Ten media event, Harbaugh met with the media. The first question lobbed his way by one of the members of the media was about how he will refer to Ohio State, given the previous history between the two schools refusing to acknowledge the other by name.

“Ohio State is just Ohio State,” Harbaugh responded, before saying how great it was to see everyone in the room.

Harbaugh is a bit of a no-nonsense guy when it comes to his coaching style, so his decision to not get caught up in gimmicks to ramp up the rivalry is no real surprise. His predecessor, Brady Hoke, referred to Ohio State as just Ohio and that never really proved to amount to much. Meanwhile, Harbaugh’s counterpart in Columbus (Urban Meyer), likes to refer to Michigan as “That team up north.” It works for some, does not work for others.

Harbaugh’s simple answer though suggests Harbaugh has other things to worry about in getting Michigan turned around. He will also have 11 games to focus on before setting sights on Ohio State. Harbaugh will buy into the rivalry more, and likely will treat it much differently behind closed doors with the team when the time comes. But for now, Harbaugh has work to do.

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Backup DE Melvin Keihn requests release from Hokies

Virginia v Virginia Tech Getty Images

Ohio State’s not the only half of the OSU-Virginia Tech opener going through personnel attrition Thursday, although Tech’s is a permanent type — albeit much less damaging, potentially.

According to the Roanoke Times, a school spokesperson confirmed that Melvin Keihn (pictured, No. 51) has requested a release from his Tech scholarship and will pursue a transfer.  The defensive end is no longer listed on the Hokies’ online roster.

Keihn was a four-star member of Tech’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 16 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Maryland; and the No. 226 player overall according to Rivals.com.  As a true freshman Keihn played in 13 games, with most of that action coming on special teams.

After spending most of spring practice as a No. 2 end, he had reps taking away and perhaps felt himself slipping down the depth chart, which perhaps triggered the decision to move on.

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‘Off-field issues’ lead to 2015 Vols signee leaving program

Kyle Oliver

While we had one 2015 signee (unofficially) joining a new Power Five football program Thursday, we have another (unofficially) departing one.

GoVols247.com is reporting that Kyle Oliver is leaving the Vols football team and will transfer to another, undetermined program. Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Oliver “is leaving… because of unspecified off-field issues.”

On what may or may not be a related note to those unspecified off-field issues, UT lineman Charles Mosley was arrested earlier this month and charged with first-offense driving under the influence and speeding.  From a member of the UT beat, via Twitter:

UT has yet to address Oliver’s status with the football team, which will open up its third summer camp under Butch Jones next week.

The 6-4, 226-pound Oliver was a three-star member of UT’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 tight end in the country and the No. 14 player at any position in the state of Tennessee.  He also becomes the second member of the Class of 2015 to leave Knoxville in less than a week, joining wide receiver Jocquez Bruce.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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How will Urban reveal starting QB? ‘1st guy that jogs out at Blacksburg’

Urban Meyer

Barring a leak of some sort in the days leading up to it, you’re going to have to wait more than a month to find up just who will line up under center as Ohio State begins its title defense.

While holding court at Big Ten Media Days, Urban Meyer spent a significant amount of time discussing the blockbuster news from earlier in the day that four contributors, including All-American Joey Bosa, had been suspended for the 2015 opener on the road against Virginia Tech.  There were also, understandably, copious amounts of questions regarding the situation at quarterback.

Braxton Miller cleared up some of the mystery earlier this month by announcing that he will be moving to wide receiver/H-back, with Meyer saying today that he will personally coach Miller at the receiver position in the early days of a summer camp that will in the coming days.  That move pared the quarterback competition down to two: regular season hero J.T. Barrett and postseason hero Cardale Jones.

As for the process in determining a starter between the redshirt sophomore Barrett and redshirt junior Jones, Meyer stated that he and his coaching staff will be “keeping score of everything” during practices that will begin next week and scrimmages and, well, pretty much anything and everything that can be tracked.  The process has actually already begun, the Columbus Dispatch writes, with “[c]oaches… grading Barrett and Jones all summer regarding leadership, academics and the weight room.”

As for when Meyer will reveal who his quarterback starter will be in the game against the only team to beat his title squad last season?

There you have it.  Secrecy and misdirection will rule the day when it comes to Meyer dealing with the media and his quarterback situation over the next 39 days.

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Via Twitter, ex-UCLA DB Priest Willis announces move to A&M

Priest Willis, D.J. Foster AP

Nearly two months to the day he was moving on from the program with which he signed coming out of high school, Priest Willis has apparently found a new landing spot in which to continue his collegiate playing career.

In a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account early Thursday evening, Willis announced that he will be continuing his education at Texas A&M and play football for the Aggies.  The playing part won’t happen in 2015 as the defensive back will have to sit out the upcoming season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Then, beginning in 2016, Willis will have two years of eligibility remaining.

It’s at this point in the program where we note A&M has yet to officially announce Willis’ addition to the roster.

A four-star member of UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class, Willis rated as the No. 6 safety in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Arizona; and the No. 56 player overall according to Rivals.com. Along with fellow defensive back Tahaan Goodman, Willis was the highest-rated recruit in the Bruins’ class that year.

After sitting out his true freshman season as a redshirt, Willis played in nine games last season for the Bruins.

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Indiana loses leading returning receiver to torn ACL

Indiana v Ohio State

The news on the personnel front was decidedly negative for Indiana at Big Ten Media Days Thursday.

The most noteworthy is that J-Shun Harris sustained a torn ACL at some point this offseason. As a result, the wide receiver will miss the entire 2015 season.

Head coach Kevin Wilson stated during his time at the podium that “we knew for a long time j-Shun would be out.”

Harris’ 18 receptions and 168 yards receiving as a true freshman last season were fourth and third, respectively, on the Hoosiers. His two receiving touchdowns, meanwhile, were second on the team.

Thanks to attrition, Harris would’ve served as IU’s leading returning receiver. Instead, that honor among wide receivers now falls to Simmie Cobbs Jr. (114 yards) and Dominique Booth (eight receptions).

Additionally, the school announced that fifth-year senior offensive lineman Ralston Evans has been granted a medical hardship, which will end his football career. Evans started eight of the nine games in which he played last season, although the injuries, for the most part, prevented him from being viewed as a potential starter throughout most of the offseason.

“Injuries ended Ralston’s final two seasons and limited him this spring,” the head coach said in a statement. “He was a great player and is an even better man. Fortunately, Ralston will serve as a student coach this year. His leadership will continue to be invaluable to our team.”

Finally, Wilson also confirmed that projected cornerback starter Donovan Clark will be limited during summer camp because of a back injury.

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