Skip to content

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.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Articles, Big 12 Conference, TCU Horned Frogs

Tulane suspends leading returning sacker for first half of opener

Royce LaFrance

We’re fast approaching the season opener, so that can only mean one thing: suspensions!!!

The latest to whip out the temporary ban hammer is Tulane, which announced that Royce LaFrance has been suspended for the first half of the Green Wave’s opener against Tulsa.  Head coach Curtis Johnson would only say that the half-game suspension was violating an unspecified team policy.

However, the Baton Rouge Advocate wrote that, per sources, “LaFrance was involved in a fight before the start of preseason drills.”

LaFrance second on the Green Wave last season in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (six). He’s the leading returning player in each of those categories.

Phil Steele named LaFrance to his first-team All-AAC preseason squad earlier this year.

(Photo credit: Tulane athletics)

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Where’s the beef? Not at QB for Ole Miss

Jeremy Liggins AP

For those looking for the next big thing at the quarterback position, you’ll have to look somewhere other than Oxford.

Jeremy Liggins was a JUCO transfer who worked out at the quarterback position for Ole Miss this spring.  While a JUCO transfer is normally not too big of a deal, the fact that Liggins is listed at 6-3, 296 pounds (winkwink nudgenudge) made it a big deal.

Liggins had been working as part of a Wildcat package as Bo Wallace is firmly entrenched as the Rebels’ starter.  The Lorenzian experiment, however, appears to be over.

At the beginning of summer camp, Liggins was moved to tight end.  With the opener against Boise State less than a week away, head coach Hugh Freeze confirmed that there would be no Wildcat package involving Liggins.

“Jeremy is overwhelmed a bit with learning what he has,” coach Hugh Freeze said. “I just did not want to add on to that.”

Liggins will instead concentrate on the three packages that utilize him as a tight end, at least for now.  Also for now, 6-1, 212-pound defensive back Anthony Alford, a former high school quarterback, will work out of the Wildcat when called upon.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Texas Tech QB transfer stakes claim to Hokie starting job

Michael Brewer

After the conclusion of spring practice earlier this offseason, it appeared Mark Leal and Brenden Motley would be the two options to replace Logan Thomas at quarterback for Virginia Tech.  As it turns out, it’s the player with the least amount of experience as a Hokie who’ll get that honor.

This afternoon, Tech confirmed that Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer has won the competition for the starting job.  Because Motley, who exited spring as the starter, was hampered by a back issue, the competition had been whittled down to Brewer and Leal.

Brewer didn’t participate in spring practice — he arrived on campus in May — but made up significant ground on Leal since the start of summer camp.

“Both of the guys gave great effort and played very well in preseason, making it a very difficult choice,” head coach Frank Beamer said in a statement. “It was a very close race and we’re proud of both of them.”

Based solely on the timing of his arrival, the move is somewhat of a surprise.

In-mid January, Brewer announced that he would be transferring from Texas Tech after graduating this coming May.  Brewer wanted to transfer to either Texas or TCU but was denied a release to those Big 12 schools, leading to a very messy and public brouhaha between the two sides.

In March, Brewer announced his intention to transfer to the Hokies.

Brewer is a graduate transfer who will, counting this year, have two years of eligibility remaining.  In 2012 and 2013 with the Red Raiders, Brewer played in 13 games (no starts), threw for 440 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in 58 pass attempts.  He completed just over 70 percent of those attempts.

“Both guys are going to be needed in the season,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “You always need a good, solid starter and a good backup. Both of them need to be ready to go. Brenden Motley will be third on the depth chart and will continue to develop.”

Brewer and the Hokies open the season Aug. 30 at Lane Stadium against William & Mary.  Tech’s first real test of the season comes the following week against Ohio State in Columbus.

(Photo credit: Virginia Tech athletics)

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Jabrill Peppers, UM’s top 2014 signee, to be primary punt returner

Brady Hoke, Jabrill Peppers AP

One of the top freshmen in the Class of 2014 will be adding some additional responsibilities his first season at the collegiate level.  And, somewhere, Charles Woodson is smiling over the development.

While not really a surprise, and saying “we want improvement” in that phase of the game, Michigan’s Brady Hoke confirmed Friday that star 2014 signee Jabrill Peppers will be utilized as the Wolverines’ primary punt returner.  After averaging just over six yards a return last season, one of the fastest players in the most recent recruiting class certainly won’t do anything but help that unit.

That’ll be Jabrill,” the head coach said when asked about the job of returning punts. “I think, No. 1, we’re putting a lot of our best guys on the field. I think that’s a plus. I think we’ve had some (punt returners) in the last three years that have been decent, and sometimes maybe we haven’t fielded the ball as well as we should sometimes.”

In addition to his punt-return duties, Peppers will play an integral role in UM’s secondary this season, whether it be as a starter or a nickel cornerback. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said a couple of weeks ago that Peppers wouldn’t just be handed a job; with game day a week away, the defensive back has done just that.

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

Oh yeah, and as I said, he’s kind of a fast human being.

Permalink 4 Comments Back to top

Volcano continues to threaten Penn State-UCF game in Ireland

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano AP

Earlier this week it was reported that a volcano 900 miles away in Iceland could have an impact on the Penn State-UCF football game in Ireland.  Specifically, an eruption and the ensuing ash cloud could prevent the two teams from traveling to the Emerald Isle as air travel would be restricted or downright shutdown.

While the volcano has yet to full erupt, it’s threatening to.

In the latest development, it appears that sub-glacial eruptions have already taken place.  From the Associated Press:

Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano began erupting Saturday under the country’s largest glacier after a week of seismic activity rattled the area with thousands of earthquakes, the country’s Meteorological Office said.

The eruption prompted Iceland to raise its aviation alert level to red — the highest level on a five-point scale — indicating the threat of “significant emission of ash into the atmosphere.”

Seismic data indicates that magma from the volcano is melting ice beneath the Dyngjujokull icecap on the Vatnajokull glacier, Met Office vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer said.

As of right now, Iceland’s Civil Protection Department said, “[a]ll airports are open and flights are on schedule.” How long that remains the case depends on whether there’s a full-blown eruption. The AP wrote that “it could take up to a day for the ice to melt,” meaning a cloud of ash and steam could still be released into the atmosphere, “or the eruption might remain contained beneath Europe’s largest glacier.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, UCF is planning on sending its equipment to Ireland at some point today, while the team and accompanying personnel will travel to the island Tuesday. The school told the Sentinel that while it “is aware of the eruption in Iceland and is monitoring the situation… they are working with their travel agency and have no plans to alter their travel schedule.”

And, if you’re interested in a live look at the volcano in question, click HERE.

Permalink 9 Comments Back to top

Petersen suspends one, dismisses another from UW Huskies

Derrick Brown

The new sheriff in town isn’t screwing around, in case his players haven’t previously noticed.

In a press release early Saturday afternoon, Washington announced that tight end Derrick Brown (pictured) has been indefinitely suspended from the football team by head coach Chris Petersen for violating unspecified team rules.  Additionally, defensive back Devon Washington has been dismissed from the football program for the same vague reason.

UW did state in the release that, “[t]o be clear, the disciplinary measures issued to Brown and Washington are the result of two unrelated matters.”

Brown is the only one of the two who had played for the Huskies, and that was just four contests the past three seasons. A three-star member of UW’s 2011 recruiting class, Brown originally came to the Huskies as a dual-threat quarterback. After throwing five passes his first two seasons, he moved to H-back during the start of summer camp in 2013. Prior to his suspension, he wasn’t listed on any two-deep depth charts.

As for Washington, he was a three-star member of UW’s most recent recruiting class.

(Photo credit: Washington athletics)

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

UK WR to miss two games… after taking tennis ball to the eye

Kentucky v Vanderbilt

Well, this is one you don’t hear about every day when it comes to the game of football — a case of tennis eye costing a team a significant contributor.

Kentucky wide receiver Jeff Badet will miss at least the first two games of the 2014 season due to an eye injury he incurred recently. And, just how was the injury incurred? By, as previously reported here, an errant tennis ball.

Yep, the receiver took a tennis ball to the eye, with the aftereffects severe enough that it’ll cost him, at bare minimum, two games to start the season.

“We really believe catching tennis balls are great for eye-hand coordination,” said UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown. “It’s something (coach Hal) Mumme brought here when I was playing. Others have used it and I’ve used it and never had an issue. I’ve never heard of it being an issue for anybody else, either.”

Badet “has not practiced since I want to say the fourth or fifth day in camp,” Brown said, with the injury occurring two Tuesdays ago. The Wildcats’ first two games are against UT-Martin and Ohio University, at Commonwealth Stadium, so Badet’s availability isn’t critical.

Week 3, however, Kentucky travels to The Swamp to take on Florida. Head coach Mark Stoops intimated that Badet may not be available then, either.

“From what I understand, these injuries take some time, and we have to be very careful with that, that that type of injury,” Stoops said.

As a true freshman last season, Badet caught 22 passes for 285 yards.  During spring practice this year, Badet suffered a broken fibula, which had limited him during summer camp prior to the eye injury.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

SJSU suspends leading rusher for first two games

Jarrod Lawson AP

I’m not a head coach, nor have I ever slept at a Holiday Inn Express, but I wouldn’t think this would be the optimal way to head into the start of a new season.

San Jose State’s Ron Caragher announced Friday that Jarrod Lawson has been suspended for the first two games of the Spartans’ 2014 season. As a result, the running back will miss a home game against North Dakota and a road trip to Jordan-Hare to face Auburn. He’ll be eligible to return, following a bye weekend, for the game at Minnesota Sept. 20.

Other than “unspecified violations of team rules,” no reason was given for the rather significant punitive measures.

“He’s a great kid,” the head coach said. “He’s all into the ramifications and will do whatever to help the team. We look forward to his return.”

Lawson was easily the Spartans’ leading rusher last season, with his 788 yards easily outpacing Thomas Tuckers‘ 338. He’s also a threat out of the backfield, with 20 catches for another 223 yards in 2013.

The San Jose Mercury News does write, though, that Lawson “was expected to begin the year as a co-starter at running back along with… Thomas.”

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Venric Mark transfers to (West) Texas A&M

Vanderbilt v Northwestern Getty Images

A mere 10 days after he and Northwestern “parted ways,” Venric Mark has found a new college football home.

Speaking to ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, Mark confirmed that he will use his final season of eligibility at West Texas A&M.  That was one of two Div. II schools Mark had considered, along with Northwest Missouri State.  He had also considered walking on at Texas Tech.

However, the latter option would’ve required him to file an appeal for a waiver that would grant him immediate eligibility as he’s one class short of graduating.  There were FBS programs willing to file the waiver, “[b]ut I couldn’t gamble with my last year with no guarantees,” Mark told Schad.

Mark, who is already practicing with his new teammates, mentioned Baylor, Texas State, Houston, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, SMU and Kansas as programs he looked into. Whether the interest was reciprocated is unclear.

As for choosing the D-II A&M, Mark said the proximity to his mom and an ailing grandmother proved to be a significant factor.

“This is an hour and half from my Mom. It’s the best fit,” Mark said.

In the middle of last week, it was announced that Mark had abruptly and surprisingly decided to withdraw from classes and transfer from Northwestern for “personal reasons.” That decision came a handful of days after it was announced the running back had been suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Mark, a redshirt senior, missed all but three games in 2013 due to injury and received a medical hardship waiver for the 2014 season.  In 2012, he led the Wildcats in rushing with 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Bobby Bowden not a fan of the dadgum College Football Playoff

Bobby Bowden AP

A couple of years ago, prior to the formation of the College Football Playoff, Bobby Bowden enthusiastically stated that he would be willing to serve on a hypothetical committee that would hypothetically determine the hypothetical playoff participants.

I would be willing to serve on it,” the Florida State coaching legend said in June of 2012. “I think ex-coaches have a lot of wisdom. I watch the games. And I watch the game films on my iPad.”

Fast-forward 26 months. The CFP is entering its first season, replete with a 13-member committee that will select the four playoff teams at season’s end. Bowden, though, is not a part of it. In fact, there are just three former FBS head coaches (Barry Alvarez, Tom Osborne, Tyrone Whittingham) who will serve on the committee.

Coincidentally enough or not, Bowden is now voicing fear and trepidation over the playoff system as it’s currently constituted.

“I always thought they got one and two right. Really people don’t care about three and four,” Bowden said while attending the kickoff luncheon in Akron, where his son, Terry Bowden, is the Zips head coach. “It’s going to give more teams an opportunity to play for the national championship, but I like it the way it was. I’m not sure it’s going to work. Maybe it will turn out better. …

“Now No. 5 is really upset. No. 5 says we should have been in that dadgum top four. That’s what three said. You get the same debate going on down the line.”

(Writer’s note: I’ve said it before and I’ll continuing beating it into the ground for as long as it takes: it’s progress that we will be arguing over the Nos. 4 and 5 teams instead of the Nos. 2 and 3. Just like it’ll be progress when — not if — the field is expanded to eight teams and we’re arguing over Nos. 8 and 9 and not Nos. 4 and 5.)

Bowden also expressed concern over access for the Non-Power Five conferences — the AAC, Conference USA, MAC (his son’s current conference), MWC and Sun Belt.

“I don’t like that. I liked it where Boise State had a chance, where smaller schools have a chance.” Bowden said. “Now they’re just [favoring] the rich people, the schools that have it all.”

OK, two things Coach Bowden.

One, no Non-Power Five school ever played for the BCS championship, so there’ll be no difference under the new system if it never happens. Two, with the CFP, the highest-ranked Non-Power Five team is guaranteed a spot in a marquee — think old BCS — bowl game. That was not the case under the old system. In fact, during the 16 years of the old system, just seven Non-Power Five teams qualified for a BCS bowl berth. And those came in six seasons (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 (2), 2010, 2012). By the end of the 2021 season, more Non-Power Five teams will have played in CFP bowls in eight years than did in the entire 16-year history of the BCS.

Additionally, the Non-Power Five conferences will receive five times as much in revenue from the CFP than they did from the BCS.

In other words, the financial benefits and access are much greater and better, respectively, in a new vs. old comparison. Yes, it’s not a level playing field; thing is, it never was in the past, won’t be in the present and never will be in the future.

That said, a team like Boise State stands a better chance of winning a national championship now than under the BCS, if for nothing more than the fact that there are four slots open now on the road to a title instead of just two. Bump that field to eight and the little guys can once again be a yearly factor.

The CFP is far from perfect, but it’s a far piece better than the BCS.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 6 UCLA

Washington v UCLA Getty Images

2013 record: 10-3 overall, 6-3 in Pac-12 Conference (2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Sun Bowl vs. Virginia Tech (42-12 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 16/No. 16
Head coach: Jim Mora (19-8 overall; 19-8 in three years at UCLA)
Offensive coordinator: Noel Mazzone (3rd year at UCLA)
2013 offensive rankings: 35th rushing offense (196.6 ypg); 43rd passing offense (251.8 ypg); 38th total offense (448.5 ypg); 2oth scoring offense (36.9 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: nine
Defensive coordinator: Jeff Ulbrich (3rd year at UCLA)
2013 defensive rankings: 71st rushing defense (169.5 ypg); 40th passing defense (217.6 ypg);  54th total defense (387.1 ypg); 35th scoring defense (23.2 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: eight
Location: Los Angeles
Stadium: Rose Bowl (92,542; grass)
Last conference title: 1998

THE GOOD
The talent on UCLA’s roster makes the Bruins contenders in the Pac-12 Conference. The play of quarterback Brett Hundley can place the team in national title contention. Hundley is among the Top 3 quarterbacks in college football along with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Like Mariota, Hundley would have a first-round pick in May’s NFL draft if he decided to declare early. But he decided to stay in Westwood. The Bruins will gladly continue to build around their talented quarterback. Hundley is an impressive athlete at 6-3 and 226 pounds. Last season. Hundley threw for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also led the team with 748 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. One of the reasons Hundley returned to UCLA for his redshirt junior campaign is to become a better overall quarterback. Hundley did improve his decision making through the final six games of last season. He only threw one of his nine interceptions after Oct. 26. As Hundley continues to develop his overall game, the Bruins will be the biggest beneficiary. And top-notch quarterback play is a key ingredient for any program ready to make the jump from being good to great.

THE BAD
UCLA head coach Jim Mora is a defensive coach by nature. It had to drive him crazy to see the Bruins play as poorly on defense as they did last seson. The Bruins actually finished fifth overall in the Pac-12 in total defense, but that is more an indictment of the overall defensive play around the league. The country’s 71st overall rushing defense simply isn’t good enough. UCLA wants to be able to compete with any team in the country. And it has to be better on defense. The team relied heavily on two talented freshmen, Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark, along the defensive line last season. Both should naturally improve during their sophomore campaigns. While the team’s starting front is talented, the depth is questionable beyond Ellis McCarthy. Players such as junior Kevin McReynolds, need to provide quality reps as part of the team’s defensive line rotation for them to improve significantly against the run. Isaako Savaiinaea will also be inserted into the starting lineup to replace Jordan Zumwalt at inside linebacker. UCLA knows what to expect of senior linebacker Eric Kendricks, but Savaiinaea’s play could prove to be the difference in the Bruins’ defense as a whole. The Bruins’ progression on the defensive side of the football should be the primary indicator how far the team can go this season.

THE UNKNOWN
UCLA’s offense line was in constant flux in 2013. The team used four different offensive line combinations throughout the season. The team actually changed its starting lineup in six of its last seven games. A lack of continuity up front will have a drastic effect throughout the rest of the offense. While this shouldn’t be a concern which lingers between seasons, the Bruins have already started off on the wrong foot with at least one significant injury along this year’s offensive line. Left tackle Simon Goines will miss at least the first two games of the season after he had bone spurs removed in his ankle Aug. 9. Malcolm Bunche, a Miami transfer, has 13 career starts at left tackle, and he is expected to slide into the spot vacated by Goines. Once Goines returns, the coaching staff will have shuffle the starting lineup. How many times will they have to do so this season? Will Bunche slide inside to guard once Goines is healthy or he remain on the blindside? The fact of the matter is UCLA won’t have their top offensive line on the field until week three of the season with very little practice time as an entire unit. Goines is expected to return just in time for one of the Bruins’ biggest games of the season against Texas. However, he won’t have much time to build a rapport with the rest of the unit. The only ones who will suffer if the offensive can’t gel quickly are Hundley and the rest of UCLA’s skill positions.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Stanford
It’s been six years since UCLA defeated Stanford. To put that time frame into context, the 2008 season was Rick Neuheisel’s first at UCLA. It was Jim Harbaugh‘s second with the Cardinal. Stanford has gone on to become one of the most successful and intimidating teams in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins, meanwhile, have searched for an identity and found one under head coach Jim Mora. This game will be Mora’s opportunity to truly put his stamp on the program. It’s the last game of the regular season. Both UCLA and Stanford are expected to be battling for an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game. Since the game falls on a Friday, both teams will have short practice weeks. The Bruins want to prove they’re among the Pac-12’s elite and a potential national championship contender. Stanford is as tough a team as the Bruins will face all season.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: linebacker/running back Myles Jack
Hundley is the obvious choice here. There is, however, a natural curiosity that will draw college football fans and Heisman voters to Jack. On one hand, Jack is one of the best young linebackers in college football. On the other, he is a dynamic runner when the Bruins decide to hand him the football. Last season, Jack was third on the Bruins’ defense with 49 tackles. He also added seven tackles for loss and 13 deflected passes while dropping in coverage. On offense, Jack led the team with an average of 7.0 yards per carry. He only ran the ball 38 times, yet he was second on the team with seven rushing touchdowns. And Jack accomplished these numbers as a true freshman. The “runningbacker” simply brings a completely different dynamic to both sides of the football. He’ll be expected to make the big play on defense in crucial parts of the game. And the team clearly favors him when they’re around the goal line on offense. The novelty of Jack playing both ways will draw interest from fans around the country. It’s his talent and ability to play at a high level on both sides of the football that will make him a legitimate Heisman contender.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

USC’s Tre Madden a ‘game-time decision’

Tre Madden AP

The latest update on one of USC’s top options in the running game is not a positive one.

Tre Madden has been dealing with a lingering toe injury he suffered early on in summer camp.  Head coach Steve Sarkisian said after practice Thursday that “[w]e’re taking every precautionary action we can to make sure that Tre is great and ready to go when his time is called again.”

Madden’s time doesn’t appear to be the opener against Fresno State in a week as Sarkisian said the running back is “probably a game-time decision.”  The coach’s declaration came after Madden, who has been wearing a walking boot on his right foot, missed yet another practice session.

The player hasn’t practiced with his teammates since a scrimmage Monday night, and visited foot specialists Thursday and Friday in an attempt to speed up the recovery process..

“When you start messing with a running back and his feet or his toes, his ability to push off, they just don’t overnight, all of a sudden, get better,” Sarkisian said. “We’re trying to maximize his rest. We’re trying to keep him off his feet as best we can to get him as healthy as quickly as we can and hopefully have him ready to go for next Saturday.”

The injury bug has dogged Madden throughout his Trojans career.

During the first five games last season, Madden rushed for 583 yards and three touchdowns.  The last eight, three of which he didn’t record a carry as he battled a hamstring issue, Madden totaled just 120 yards and didn’t find the end zone.  His 703 yards were second on the team to the 785 yards for Javorius Allen, who figures to be the Trojans’ bell cow in the running game this year.

During spring practice in 2012, Madden tore an ACL and missed the entire season.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

‘Failure to monitor’ adds two years to GaTech’s probation

Paul Johnson AP

Thank goodness we still have the NCAA on the lookout for the well-being of the sport.

The latest example?  Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “Georgia Tech has been censured by the NCAA for… failure to monitor” because of “a failure to keep records of phone calls and the rogue actions of a former football assistant coach.” That rogue coach is Todd Spence, who left the Yellow Jackets in January of 2012 after serving a one-game suspension for making impermissible phone calls to recruits.

While there was a “rogue coach” involved, it appears an incompetent — and former — compliance director is at the root of the latest NCAA issue.  Well, that and a broken and busted system, but that’s another topic for another day.

The NCAA’s two-year investigation, conducted with Tech’s cooperation, found multiple Level II violations, which are defined as a significant breach of conduct, committed in 2011 and 2012. Many stemmed from coaches on the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams unknowingly making impermissible phone calls to prospects. Coaches told the NCAA that they were acting under the incorrect instruction from a former Tech compliance director that they did not need to do so. Calls were often rendered impermissible due to a failure to follow a call-logging protocol.

In July of 2011, Tech was placed on four year’s probation and forced to vacate its 2009 ACC title in connection to impermissible benefits given to former star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas — and the school’s failure to cooperate with the NCAA investigation. This latest “egregious” act will tack on two more years of probation for Yellow Jacket football, which means the program will be sitting in the corner until the summer of 2017.  The school self-imposed the additional two years of probation.

“That is not something that sits well with me or with any of us here,” GT athletic director Mike Bobinski told the Journal-Constitution regarding the “failure to monitor” reprimand. “That’s not a good-sounding or good-feeling term. It’s not one we want to wear beyond this. As I told you before, it is clearly our intention this the last time we ever go down this road.”

Permalink 7 Comments Back to top

UofL’s DeVante Parker injures foot, to see specialist; WR tweets ‘I’m fine’

DeVante Parker, Jordan Streeter AP

This one has the potential to be a very significant blow to one of the most talented players in the country.

Late Friday night, Louisville sent out a press release announcing that DeVante Parker had suffered an injury to his left foot earlier in the day.  The release stated that the star wide receiver was examined by UofL team physicians, but will be sent to Charlotte “in the next couple of days” for further evaluation by Dr. Bob Anderson.

Dr. Anderson is a renowned orthopedic surgeon who specializes in ankle and foot injuries.  According to SBNation.com, “Anderson has recently seen and/or operated on Derek Jeter, Matt Schaub, Cam Newton and Julio Jones for their serious ankle or foot injuries.”

For his part, Parker attempted to downplay the growing gloom and doom hovering over Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

That’s all well and good, but a football program doesn’t send their star receiver out of state to see a foot specialist for a stubbed toe or athlete’s foot.

Perhaps the only silver lining in all of the uncertainty swirling around Parker is that, if he is sidelined for any length of time, the receiving corps is arguably the deepest unit the Cardinals have.  Then again, none of them will answer if you call out the name “Devante Parker.”

Last season, the 6-3, 211-pound Parker ended the year with 55 receptions for 885 yards and a school-record-tying 12 touchdowns. The last three years, Parker’s led the UofL in touchdown receptions. The last two, he’s led the team in both receptions and yards as well.

He’s widely regarded as one of the top receivers in the country entering 2014 after eschewing early entry into the NFL draft and returning for his senior season.

Louisville opens the season against Miami on Labor Day.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

NCAA denies Dorial Green-Beckham’s appeal

Dorial Green-Beckham

The fate of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has been decided by the NCAA.

Green-Beckham transferred to Oklahoma in July after Missouri dismissed the talented receiver due to multiple off-the-field incidents. Oklahoma filed an appeal on Green-Beckham’s behalf last week. The NCAA officially denied the appeal Friday.

Oklahoma released a statement after the NCAA announced its decision:

“The University of Oklahoma has learned that the waiver request it entered on behalf of Dorial Green-Beckham has been denied by the NCAA. The University accepts that decision and will continue to provide the appropriate assistance to Dorial, just as it does with other students, in helping him grow personally from the many opportunities available to him at OU.”

Of course the University “accepts that decision.” It shouldn’t even be surprised by the outcome due to recent incidents with other members of its football team.

The tipping point for Green-Beckham at Missouri was an incident where he allegedly pushed a woman down a flight of stairs.

It’s the type of incident the University of Oklahoma publicly stated “takes very seriously its obligation in cases like this…”

The school suspended its leading tackler, Frank Shannon, for the season after sexual assault allegations.  The school did the same to running back Joe Mixon after he allegedly punched a woman in the face and caused four broken bones.

If the Sooners found a loophole — in this case, the run off rule — to allow Green-Beckham to play this season, the school’s actions would have been seen as highly hypocritical. Instead, all three players won’t be allowed to play during the upcoming campaign.

Make no mistake about it — the Sooners were hopeful Green-Beckham could play this season. He’s mega-talent at wide receiver. Instead, the team will have to rely heavily on Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and Derrick Woods.

Permalink 16 Comments Back to top