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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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Ole Miss QB signee Chad Kelly arrested after scuffle with police

Chad Kelly

Chad Kelly was dismissed at Clemson this April for what Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney deemed “conduct detrimental to our program” but, after a season spent leading East Mississippi Community College to a national title, reclaimed his major college football destiny by signing with Ole Miss earlier this month.

For now.

Back home in his native Buffalo, Kelly was arrested early Sunday morning after fighting with bouncers at a local watering hole and later scuffling with police, reports the Buffalo News. According to Buffalo police, Kelly refused to leave an establishment known as Encore and punched a bouncer in the face. He then took on two bouncers and, according to the police report, said, “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place.”

Police officers later stopped a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup, where Kelly was a passenger.

“Kelly was forcibly removed from the vehicle, officers said,” writes the Buffalo News. “Police said Kelly kicked and tried to swing at officers as they removed him from the vehicle. They said he resisted getting into a patrol vehicle and struggled with staff at central booking.”

Kelly has been charged with third-degree assault, second-degree harassment, second-degree menacing, resisting arrest, fourth-degree criminal mischief, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and, along with a friend involved in the melee, third-degree criminal trespass. All charges are misdemeanors or violations, and Kelly has been released without bail.

“It remains to be seen who was the aggressor and thankfully it was a scuffle where no one was hurt,” Kelly’s attorney Thomas J. Eoannou said.

Kelly is the nephew of former Buffalo Bills great and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. He was named the New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA Player of the Year in 2011 and was regarded as the nation’s top junior college quarterback after throwing for 3,905 yards and 47 touchdowns this fall.

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Mark Richt raids Nick Saban’s staff for strength coach

Mark Richt

They say the strength coach is the most important hire a head coach will make. Between the end of spring ball and the beginning of fall camp, the strength coach is the main point of contact players have with their football program on a daily basis. With longtime strength coach Joe Tereshinski stepping down late last month, Mark Richt has raided Nick Saban‘s strength staff at Alabama to fill his all-important head strength coach role, as Georgia announced the hiring of Mark Hocke on Sunday evening.

“Mark received some outstanding recommendations from those in the industry and is known for his high energy, ability to motivate and relate to his athletes, as well as develop them mentally, physically, spiritually and socially,” Richt said in a statement.

Hocke served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach since 2009. At Georgia, he’ll join a growing roster of Bulldog coaches with Crimson ties (get it?), including defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt (a former Alabama assistant), linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer (formerly Alabama’s director of player development) and offensive line coach Will Friend (a former Alabama player).

Hocke replaces Tereshinksi, the Bulldogs’ head strength coach since 2011 and a member of the Georgia program since 1982.

Prior to his arrival in Tuscaloosa, Hocke worked as an assistant coach and the head strength and conditioning coach at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

Hocke will join the program in Charlotte before its date with No. 20 Louisville in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 30. “This will allow him to be better prepared as we begin our training program in January,” Richt said.

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Gus Malzahn, new Auburn DC Will Muschamp haven’t discussed staff changes yet

In addition to the reported $1.6 million salary, one of the things that drew Will Muschamp to Auburn’s open defensive coordinator slot was the freedom granted by head coach Will Muschamp to select his own staff to work under him.

And while staff changes are likely coming for a defense that ranked 74th in yards per play allowed and 61st in scoring, they won’t happen before the Outback Bowl.

“We have not talked about it,” Malzahn told AL.com. “We’re just trying to give these guys the best plan to win the bowl game. We’ll talk about that at a later date.”

It has been widely speculated within the industry that Muschamp would like to bring Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson with him to The Plains, but a spot is not open for him at this time. Safeties coach Charlie Harbison is set to serve as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator in the Outback Bowl. And it’s possible that a few Gators assistants could look to follow their former boss to Auburn after new Florida head coach plucked Geoff Collins away from Mississippi State to coordinate his defense.

In the meantime, though, rival recruiters are pouncing as the Auburn defensive staff remains in flux. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College safety Tony Bridges chose Ole Miss over Auburn in part because of the uncertainty around the Tigers’ staff.

“(Muschamp) looked at tape of me and said ‘I really need you,’ this and that. I have love for them because they showed me love, so I can’t say nothing bad about them,” Bridges told the Sun Herald before inking with the Rebels on Wednesday. “That being said, it was too late. I didn’t know which way the defensive coaches, like (cornerbacks coach) Melvin Smith, was he going to be there or not?”

No. 19 Auburn will meet No. 18 Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl at noon ET on New Year’s Day (ESPN2).

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Report: Jim Harbaugh not the only NFL coach Michigan is chasing

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

With the NFL’s own coaching carousel ready to start spinning in the next seven-to-10 days, we’re beginning to find out which college coaches that have caught the NFL’s eye and, apparently, the other way around. Michigan’s interest in San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is widely known, but he’s apparently not the only NFL coach that the Wolverines have an interest in.

According to a report from CBS NFL reporter Jason La Canfora, Michigan is aware that the former Wolverines quarterback is likely to remain in the NFL for the 2015 season, so interim AD Jim Hackett and company have shown interest in John HarbaughSean PaytonJason Garrett and Doug Marrone.

Of course, just because Michigan is interested in those coaches doesn’t mean those coaches are interested in Michigan.

Harbaugh has expressed no desire in leaving Baltimore, Payton already reportedly earns more than the $8 million the Wolverines are dangling in front of Jim Harbaugh, and Garrett is expected to sign an extension with the Dallas Cowboys after the season.

So it’s clear why those coaches wouldn’t be interested in Michigan, but it’s unclear why Michigan would even be interested in them. None have any recent experience coaching the college game. The only coach in that group that does have college experience is Buffalo’s Marrone, who went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse.

A .500 mark at Syracuse isn’t typically a stepping stone to Michigan, even if there is an NFL stop in between.

With Harbaugh reportedly using Michigan’s interest for leverage against other NFL suitors, it appears likely at this point that the Wolverines will find their next coach within the college ranks.

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Jameis Winston cleared in FSU Code of Conduct hearing

Jameis Winston; David Cornwell

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been cleared of wrongdoing in his Code of Conduct hearing with the university, his attorney David Cornwell tweeted Sunday.

“In sum, the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for ANY of the charged violations of the Code,” he wrote.

The hearing was held Dec. 3, and a decision was not expected until next month.

Former Florida state supreme court justice Major Harding presided over the case.

“This was a complex case, and I worked hard to make sure both parties had a full and fair opportunity to present information. In sum, the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for any of the charge violations of the Code. Namely, I find that the evidence before me is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof,” Harding wrote in a letter obtained by USA Today.

“As summarized in the preceding paragraphs, the evidence regarding the events that unfolded between you and (the woman) once in your room is irreconcilable. In light of all the circumstances, I do not find the credibility of one story substantially stronger than that of the other. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses. I cannot find with any confidence that the events as set forth by you, (the woman), or a particular combination thereof is more probable than not as required to find you responsible for a violation of the Code.”

While the alleged 2012 sexual assault will likely follow Winston through the civil courts and the NFL Draft process, it will not bar him from completing this season – and likely his college career.

Florida State’s Code of Conduct says that his accuser can pursue an appeal, but it would not be heard before the Jan. 12 College Football Playoff Championship. Moreover, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner is widely expected to declare for the NFL Draft by the Jan. 15 deadline.

Winston and the ‘Noles will meet Oregon in the CFP semifinals at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

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How many FBS programs are still looking for their first bowl win?

A chance at history was missed on Saturday. Western Michigan and South Alabama had respective shots at winning their first bowl games in program history, but each fell short. Western Michigan saw a comeback effort squandered by a catastrophic scoop ‘n’ score in a 38-24 loss to Air Force in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and South Alabama blew a late lead in its first ever bowl appearance, falling to Bowling Green 33-28 in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.

The losses meant the Broncos remained on and the Jaguars joined the ignominious list of eight FBS programs that are 0-fer in their only bowl trips. Warning, this list is #MACtion heavy (via Winsipedia.com):

Akron – 0-1
Ball State – 0-7
Buffalo – 0-2
Kent State – 0-2
Louisiana-Monroe – 0-1
South Alabama – 0-1
Western Kentucky – 0-1
Western Michigan – 0-6

If you want to look at the bright side, those programs are fortunate. Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Texas State and UTSA have never enjoyed the fortune of even appearing in a bowl game, and poor UAB was axed with an 0-1 bowl record.

Western Kentucky has a chance to get off this list on Wednesday as the Hilltoppers will face Central Michigan (3-4 all-time in bowl games) in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (12 p.m. ET, ESPN).

 

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Boise State running back Jay Ajayi declares for NFL Draft

Jay Ajayi

Boise State running back Jay Ajayi will play his final game as a Bronco in the upcoming Fiesta Bowl against Arizona. Ajayi announced Sunday he will enter himself into the 2015 NFL Draft, passing on his final year of eligibility at Boise State.

Ajayi informed his teammates while in the huddle for the final rep in practice on Sunday. He reportedly made his decision to enter the NFL Draft without hearing from the NFL advisory group in place to assist with the decision-making for underclassmen thinking about leaving for the NFL Draft.

Ajayi was the second-leading rusher in the Mountain West Conference in 2014 with 1,689 rushing yards, but he was the conference’s leader with 25 rushing touchdowns. His 25 rushing touchdowns are second in the nation only to Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.

The NFL Draft has not been particularly kind to running backs in recent seasons. Last year there was not a single running back chosen in the first round of the draft. There was also a record number of underclassmen declared for the NFL Draft, which left many without a football home in 2014. Ajayi will be likely to be drafted somewhere between the second and fifth round of the draft, although exactly when he may go is difficult to predict.

Boise State has had six running backs drafted in NFL Draft history. Doug Martin to the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 2012 is the most recent Broncos running back to be picked.

Boise State will face Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl on December 31.

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Oklahoma State AD wants to schedule Oregon and UNC

Mike Holder

Oklahoma State athletics director Mike Holder took note of the way the College Football Playoff selection committee seemed to punish Big 12 champion Baylor for its non-conference scheduling this fall. He wants to make sure that does not affect his Cowboys program in the future, and he is already talking about the possibility of scheduling future games with Oregon.

“I’ve never seen a game in Autzen (Stadium),” Holder said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “I’d love to see that. There’s a lot of those opportunities out there. Need to see some places that are different, rather than Austin, or Norman, or Manhattan, Kansas.”

Holder’s overall point is the entire Big 12 has to schedule tougher non-conference competition. More importantly, the Big 12 needs to win games against other power conference opponents on the schedule. This year the Big 12 failed to score a signature victory. the biggest win in non-conference play may have been TCU’s victory at home against Minnesota. While it may be tough for Holder to ensure Oklahoma State (who opened the season against Florida State) to improve on the non-conference slate in 2015, he knows it will be important for the Big 12 to step things up as a whole in the future.

Holder and his head coach, Mike Gundy, do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to non-conference scheduling.

“My football coach doesn’t want to play anybody any good, definitely, but jiminy Christmas, we looked pretty good against Florida State,” Holder said. “Until we beat OU, that was the highlight of our season.”

It seems everybody would love to take a crack at Oregon, but Holder has a wider scope as well.

“I’d really love to play North Carolina home and home,” Holder mentioned. “Find somebody from the Big Ten or Pac-12 to play us. Maybe even the SEC.”

The Big 12 plays nine conference games and does not currently require its members to schedule another power conference opponent the way the ACC and SEC will be regulating. The lack of a conference championship game may hurt a Big 12 champion in the playoff picture, as seemed to be the case this season, but it is far too early to suggest it is a make-or-break factor. One thing that is somewhat clear is the strength of a team’s non-conference schedule is a factor.

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UCLA’s Mora and Auburn’s Malzahn potential NFL targets?

Jim Mora

The college football world may be on Jim Harbaugh watch to see what happens with his coaching future (NFL or Michigan?), but two other college coaches could be ready to receive some NFL overtures as well.

UCLA head coach Jim Mora and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn are two names of interest according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Rapoport suggests the San Francisco 49ers would be a team expected to have an interest in Mora, where he would replace Harbaugh. The 49ers have a knack for plucking coaches from the Pac-12, so perhaps that makes sense. Mora also has NFL coaching experience with the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. Mora’s time in the NFL did not end well, but sometimes a return can ay off. Just ask current Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.

Malzahn would be a potential target for the Miami Dolphins, per Rapoport, if the team makes a coaching change. Malzahn has no NFL coaching experience, which can be of some mild concern. But if offensive innovation is the key to winning in the NFL, then perhaps Malzahn would be a good fit if he was interested.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports the 49ers could be expected to let Harbaugh go between 24 and 48 hours following the conclusion of the NFL’s regular season. So the wait may drag on for Michigan fans. If Michigan does not lure Harbaugh to Ann arbor, the coaching carousel in the college ranks could get into fifth gear one last time. Pittsburgh and Colorado State still have to find a head coach too.

Stanford head coach David Shaw will reportedly turn down any NFL offers that may come his way.

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Report: Stanford’s David Shaw will not entertain potential NFL offers

David Shaw

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has remained mostly silent on his potential coaching future despite reports saying his alma mater, Michigan, have gone all in on luring him to Ann Arbor. No matter what happens in the coaching carousel in the NFL, Harbaugh’s successor at Stanford plans on staying put at Stanford.

David Shaw will not listen to any potential NFL coaching offers that may come his way, according to a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN. Schefter says Shaw is committed to coaching in college despite having many tendencies that appear attractive to NFL franchises in need of a new head coach. Shaw is every bit a Stanford guy at this stage in his career, and his desire to stay put has been put on display in recent seasons since taking over for Harbaugh as head coach of the Cardinal.

We should never say “never” when it comes to coaching possibilities, although Shaw’s history with Stanford would suggest he really is loyal to the program. Born in San Diego, Shaw grew up in Michigan before his family moved back to California. Shaw went on to play wide receiver for Dennis Green and Bill Walsh at Stanford. After a few different coaching stops in his coaching career, Shaw returned to Stanford as an assistant coach and later was named the head coach of the program after Harbaugh accepted a job offer from the San Francisco 49ers in 2011.

Michigan would be wise to give a call to Shaw in the event Harbaugh leaves the Wolverines hanging, if they have not already, although Shaw seems very comfortable right where he is with the Cardinal.

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Jimbo Fisher once again asked about Jameis Winston’s NFL future

Jimbo Fisher, Jimbo Fisher

With Florida State’s College Football Playoff semifinal match-up with Oregon looming, Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher continues to be faced with questions regarding the playing status of his star quarterback, Jameis Winston. A ruling in Winston’s recent code of conduct hearing is expected before Florida State faces Oregon in the Rose Bowl on January 1, but at this point it appears very likely Winston will be available and eligible to play. even if the ruling from the university serves a punishment to Winston that would prevent him from playing, Winston would be entitled to appeal the decision and remain eligible until the appeal process plays out. The process, if enacted, could take another two to three months.

Bottom line, expect Winston to play against Oregon.

With that said, Fisher is also hounded by questions regarding Winston’s future. Will Winston head to the NFL or return to Florida State for the 2015 season? Depending on whom you ask, Winston is better off in the NFL or another year in Tallahassee. There is no real clear answer to what is best for Winston. Fisher suggests there is much more to the decision to turn pro that needs to be evaluated. Is it an easy decision? Not likely.

“Yeah, was it for Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck? See, everybody assumes you go, but Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning stayed,” Fisher said, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “It’s not just being a top-two pick. It’s about what you want out of life, to me. Is it to get to the NFL and be a top pick or be at the Hall of Fame, or to be a college graduate.”

There have multiple reports in the past suggesting Winston has the intention to return to Florida State to complete his degree before turning pro.

“We all assume that money drives everything, and it’s a very important factor, but at the same time, other people have a lot of value and things that we may not always see that they can do it.”

So, what does Winston value? That’s the big question that only Winston can truly answer.

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Johnny Majors, who once left Pitt for Vols, says Pitt is still a destination job

Johnny Majors

The University of Pittsburgh is in the midst of its fourth head coach search in five years, leaving the question of whether or not Pitt is still home to a destination job in college football to be answered. At least one coaching legend believes it is; Johnny Majors.

“It’s definitely a destination job, and I think it’s a job you can win the championship at, without question,” Majors while being interviewed by MLive.com. “If you have a strong, supportive, loyal president that wants to win at football as well as academics, and a strong A.D. that’s loyal and will support you, you can win championships at a place like Pitt.”

Majors, of course, coached at Pittsburgh two separate times. The first stint came from 1973 through 1976. His second tour of Pittsburgh came two decades later from 1993 through 1996. Majors won a national championship at Pittsburgh in 1976 (Pitt’s last claimed national title), after which he left the program to go closer to home to coach at Tennessee. So you can understand why his comments about Pitt being a destination job may come off a tad ironic.

Majors is not off-target with that last part of the comment though. Any job has the ability to be a long-standing destination job with the proper and supportive leadership in place on multiple levels. Right now Pittsburgh is looking for a permanent athletics director in addition to a head football coach, so there is undoubtedly some stability issues for the program to address. The same holds true at Michigan, with the Wolverines looking for a new AD and reportedly going all in on San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh .

In a way, every coaching job can be a destination job for the right candidate, and Pittsburgh is no different. Simply being in a power conference does not make any job a destination job for most, but it can be the right job for the right guy if the pair can be matched up.

Pittsburgh is looking to replace Paul Chryst, who accepted a head coaching offer from Wisconsin. Whoever becomes Pittsburgh’s next head coach will be the third coach hired to be head coach since the school parted ways with Dave Wannstedt, not including two interim head coaches.

What do you think? Is Pitt a destination job or not?

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Texas A&M brings down west end of Kyle Field

LSU v Texas A&M

Texas A&M took the next step in a massive renovation project on Kyle Field. The entire project is aimed to improve the facilities at Kyle Field and expand seating beyond 100,000 fans. The $450 million project is a two-year process and is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2015 season after getting started last year. Work began immediately following the conclusion of Texas A&M’s 2013 home schedule.

Today called for the tearing down of the west end of the football stadium, which took place this morning.

Texas A&M tore down part of the east side last year as the renovation project got underway. Texas A&M has already installed a new video scoreboard, the largest in college football. The school also approved a $16 million budget to improve other football facilities including locker rooms and training rooms.

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Colorado State University-Pueblo wins first D2 national title

Jarrod Lacey

Saturday may not have been a great day for Colorado State, but another Colorado program achieved the ultimate glory on the field. Colorado State University-Pueblo shutout offensive juggernaut Minnesota State to win the Division 2 national championship. The ThunderWolves scored a 13-0 victory in Kansas City to win the first national championship in program history.

Colorado State-Pueblo scored 10 points in the second quarter, which proved to be more than enough with the way the defense played. Chris Bonner completed a touchdown pass of 18 yards to Paul Browning in the final minute of the first half to put the ThunderWolves up 10-0. Kicker Greg O’Donnell kicked two field goals. The story was the defense though, with Colorado State-Pueblo holding Minnesota State to just four third down conversions out of 16. Defensive end Darius Allen was all over the field to lead the defense. He ended the season with 15.5 sacks

The last time the Division 2 national championship was a shutout was in 1997 when Northern Colorado blew away New Haven, 51-0. Perhaps it is something in the water in Colorado. This was the first time since 1997 played for the Division 2 title. This was also the first appearance in the championship game for Minnesota State. The game was the lowest scoring Division 2 championship game since Brian Kelly‘s Grand Valley State team defeated North Dakota 10-3 in the 2003 championship game. The CSU-Pueblo program was relaunched in 2008 after a period of inactivity from 1985 through 2007. It did not take long to rebuild the program from scratch into a national title program.

Will Colorado State-Pueblo head coach John Wristen be the next coach to make a move up in competition? Wristen is now 68-16 in seven years as head coach with four straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships and playoff appearances. Now with a national championship on his résumé, perhaps Wristen will begin to gain some traction in some coaching carousel news.

Remember that another Division 2 coach from Colorado just got a new opportunity. Colorado School of Mines head coach Bob Stitt was recently named the head coach at Montana. Maybe the state of Colorado is becoming the next fertile ground for rising coaches.

As for that other Colorado State? The Rams went down in flames against Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.

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As BGSU, S. Alabama trade late bowl punches, Falcons left standing

If you like your after-dark football a little dangerous and a lot wild, the Camellia Bowl was served it up just right.

Seemingly in control at halftime, Bowling Green (8-6) watched as South Alabama (6-7), playing in its first-ever bowl game, whittled away at the deficit and actually took the lead late.  However, the Falcons matched the Jaguars’ late-game magic with some of its own, claiming a wild 33-28 win in the inaugural Camellia Bowl.

With 1:20 remaining in the game, a three-yard Terrance Timmons run gave USA its first lead of the game at 27-26.  However, on BGSU’s first play from scrimmage after that go-ahead score, James Knapke hit Roger Lewis on a 78-yard touchdown pass that, after a failed two-point conversion, gave the Falcons a five-point lead with 1:04 remaining.

On the very next play from scrimmage for USA, any hopes of another comeback were immediately thwarted as quarterback Brandon Bridge threw his second interception of the game.  All told, the Jaguars committed four turnovers.

Knapke finished the game with 368 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner.  Suffice to say, he was named as the Camellia Bowl’s most outstanding player.

BGSU and Knapke, though, would’ve saved themselves some angst at the end if they hadn’t botched a possession midway through the fourth quarter.

Up 27-21, BGSU moved the ball to the USA one-yard line thanks to a pass interference penalty in the end zone.  Three straight running plays up the middle gained exactly zero yards.  Instead of going for it on fourth down to essentially put the game out of reach, the Falcons attempted an 18-yard field goal… and promptly missed it.

Another source of angst for the winning squad?  Ronnie Moore, one of BGSU’s starting wide receivers, was ejected for targeting on a punt return early in the third quarter.  At the time of his ejection, Moore had five receptions for 61 yards and his team led 20-7; after that, the Falcons were outscored 21-13 and nearly coughed up the victory.

The game wasn’t without its bizarre moments on the sidelines, either.

Very early in the third quarter, an official was injured by something thrown from the stands as he was running down the sidelines.  In the fourth quarter, USA head coach Joey Jones, a former Alabama football player, sustained an injury to the nose after he was inadvertently kicked by one of his own players who had been tackled out of bounds.  Jones was shown during the broadcast bleeding rather profusely and being tended to by team medical personnel as he continued his coaching duties, with the speculation being that it was broken.

After midnight, and at least as far as college football goes, it doesn’t get much better than MACtion vs. Funbelt.

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