Texas Tech announces Kliff Kingsbury’s first signing class

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

LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech Football Coach Kliff Kingsbury announced the signing of 23 student- athletes as part of his first signing class as head coach of the Red Raiders.

“We are really excited about this 2013 class,” Kingsbury said. “I thought the assistant coaches did an outstanding job on the recruiting trail by helping us fill some immediate needs here. I can’t wait to get these guys in and get going.”

Texas Tech’s 2013 signing class breaks down with 14 players hailing from Texas, five from Georgia, two from California and one from both Michigan and Missouri.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 23 members of Texas Tech’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Demetrius Alston, Defensive Line, Hutchinson C.C., Norcross High School, Norcross, Ga. Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by ESPN … totaled seven tackles and one sack in the first game of the 2012 season before suffering a broken leg that sidelined him for the remainder of the year … signed with Cincinnati out of high school … Chose Texas Tech over: Cincinnati, Kansas State and Tennessee

Defensive Line Coach John Scott Jr. on Alston: “Demetrius is a great pass rusher and is very good with his hands. He plays with a high motor along with good pad level and leverage.”

Jalen Barnes, Safety, Memorial High School, Port Arthur, Texas Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by ESPN and 24/7 Sports … ranked in the Top 100 nationally at his position by ESPN … Port Arthur News Super Team selection … First Team All-District 21- 5A … ended his senior season with 54 tackles, one interception and five pass break-ups … as a junior, he compiled 46 tackles, one sack, four interceptions and two forced fumbles … Chose Texas Tech over: Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, North Texas, Oklahoma State, San Jose State, Tulsa and Utah.

Safeties Coach Trey Haverty on Barnes: “An explosive athlete. He is a hard hitter, very athletic and has a nose for the football. Jalen plays extremely well in space and has a very good change of direction.”

Zach Barnes, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Grayson High School, Loganville, Ga.
Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by ESPN and 24/7 Sports … helped guide his team to a state championship in 2011 and a Region 8 6A Championship in 2012 … plays with a high motor which led to nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss his senior season … Chose Texas Tech over: Tennessee, BYU and Cincinnati

Co-Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers Coach Mike Smith on Barnes: “Barnes is athletic, very explosive and has good hips. He has a very high motor and always chases the ball. He is a great kid with very good grades and has been very active in FCA.”

Aaron Bennett, Offensive Line, Riverside C.C., Redlands High School, Redlands, Calif. Signed National Letter of Intent … will be reunited with past teammates Will Smith and Sadale Foster who are beginning their second seasons at Texas Tech … helped pace his team to a 9-2 record in 2012 and a victory over LA Harbor in the Golden State Bowl … graded out at 94 percent with 48 pancakes and 68 knockdowns.

Offensive Line Coach Lee Hays on Bennett: “Aaron has great size and length along with great feet. He has the ability to redirect exceptionally well and has a ton of potential.”

Baylen Brown, Offensive Line, O’Connor High School, San Antonio, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … ranked as the No. 27 offensive guard in the 2013 class by Rivals … member of the Rivals Texas Postseason Top 100 … Lone Star Recruiting Top 100 … the No. 19 offensive guard in the nation by 24/7 Sports … selected to play in the O-D All-American Bowl … Honorable Mention All-State … First Team All-District selection three consecutive years … physically imposing player who always wanted to be a Red Raider … graded out at 96 percent with 53 pancakes and 78 knockdowns … Chose Texas Tech over: Baylor, Houston, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Tulsa

Offensive Line Coach Lee Hays on Brown: “Baylen has been a lifelong Red Raider fan and Texas Tech was his dream school. He is a hard-nosed, physical player that moves really well for his size. He has a great work ethic and is very intelligent.”

Dylan Cantrell, Wide Receiver, Whitehouse High School, Whitehouse, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … four-star prospect by Scout, three-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … ranked as the No. 36 wide receiver in the 2013 class by Scout … member of the Rivals Texas Postseason Top 100 and Lone Star Recruiting’s Top 100 … No. 87 on the ESPN Top 100 Midlands … First Team All-State by the Texas AP Sports Editors … Second Team All-State by OldCoach.com … unanimous First Team All-District 14-4A selection … big and physical receiver that will play the “Y” position at Texas Tech … hauled in 66 catches his senior year for 1,396 yards … averaged 21 yards per catch and scored 15 touchdowns … Chose Texas Tech over: Arkansas, West Virginia, Washington State, Minnesota, Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Mississippi State

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Inside Receivers Coach Eric Morris on Cantrell: “Dylan has great ball skills and is a hard-working, big and physical receiver. He loves everything about playing football from working out, studying and the competition.”

Dorian Crawford, Defensive Back, Mt. San Antonio College, Scripps Ranch High School, San Diego, Calif. Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by ESPN and 24/7 Sports … all-conference selection in 2012 … lockdown corner who will play corner or safety at Texas Tech … registered 35 tackles, two interceptions and four pass breakups … Chose Texas Tech over: Cal, Utah and Utah State

Safeties Coach Trey Haverty on Crawford: “Crawford has NFL size, great length, exceptional feet and can play both corner or safety. He is very fluid with good ball skills.”

Cody Hayes, Offensive Line, Eastern Hills High School, Fort Worth, Texas Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by Scout, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … Second Team All-State … First Team All-District 6-4A … extremely competitive and has demonstrated great leadership and work ethic … graded out at 94 percent with 51 pancakes and 79 knockdowns in 2012 … Chose Texas Tech over: Oklahoma, New Mexico and UTEP.

Offensive Line Coach Lee Hays on Hayes: “His best football is definitely ahead of him. Cody is extremely athletic, plays varsity basketball, has great feet and is very strong. He’s always the first one in the line for drills and is extremely competitive.”

Martin Hill, Safety, Lutheran Worth High School, Pierce College, St. Louis, Mo. Signed a Financial Aid Agreement…played cornerback at Pierce Community College …three-star prospect by 24/7Sports… rated as the No. 20 cornerback of the 2013 Class by 24/7Sports…totaled 26 tackles, one interception and one tackle-for-loss during the 2012 season…CHOSE TEXAS TECH OVER: Hawaii, Fresno State, Middle Tennessee State and Murray State.

Safeties Coach Trey Haverty on Martin: “Martin brings a level of physicality to our secondary that we’re very excited about. He was a great running back and wide receiver in high school and you can really see that level of athleticism in his game. He’ll have a great opportunity to come in and compete right away for playing time.”

Malik Jenkins, Linebacker, Ennis High School, Ennis, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by ESPN and 24/7 Sports … First Team All-District … lifelong dream to play for Texas Tech and comes from the same high school as Tech great Graham Harrell … logged 116 tackles in his senior season … Chose Texas Tech over: Washington State, Houston and Rice Defensive Coordinator Matt Wallerstedt on Jenkins: “An explosive player that drives his hips through the tackle. Malik is instinctive and a great all-around football player with an impressive academic resume.”

Devin Lauderdale, Wide Receiver, Bellaire High School, Houston, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … four-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … member of the Rivals250 … ranked by Rivals as the No. 26 wide receiver in the 2013 class … Rivals Texas Postseason Top 100 … Lone Star Recruiting Rankings Top 100 … No. 54 on the ESPN Top 100 Midlands … No. 42 overall prospect in the state by 24/7 Sports … named the Offensive Most Valuable Player for District 20-5A … explosive receiver that compiled 27 catches for 583 yards along with nine touchdowns …rushed for 127 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns … Chose Texas Tech over: offers from 33 schools including, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, West Virginia and UCLA

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Outside Receivers Coach Sonny Cumbie on Lauderdale: “Devin is absolutely electric with the ball in his hands. He is one of the fastest players in the state of Texas and a great athlete that is dynamic in the return game.”

Jacarthy Mack, Linebacker, Martin Luther King High School, Lithonia, Ga.
Signed National Letter of Intent … a consensus three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … ranked as the No. 57 outside linebacker in the 2013 class by Rivals … member of the Rivals Georgia Postseason Top 80 … First Team All-District in 2011 and 2012 … logged 65 tackles, six tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2012 … Chose Texas Tech over: West Virginia, Kansas State and Louisville.

Co-Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers Coach Mike Smith on Mack: “An exceptional blitzer that can play multiple positions. He can run, is a great tackler and is explosive and sudden.”

Tyler Middleton, Running Back, Navarro Junior College, Midland High School, Midland, Texas Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by ESPN and 24/7 Sports … ranked as the No. 3 junior college all-purpose back the 2013 class by 24/7 Sports … was named MVP of the 12 th Annual Heart of Texas Bowl after rushing for 119 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns … his performance in the bowl game helped give No. 5 Navarro College a 30-23 win over No. 20 Georgia Military … a home run threat any time he touches the ball … compiled 71 carries and 898 rushing yards (12.6 yards per rush) in 2012 along with 11 touchdowns … ran a 10.38 100M while at Midland High School … Chose Texas Tech over: Louisiana Tech

Running backs coach Mike Jinks on Middleton: “Tyler has home run hitting speed and the ability to take every handoff to the house. He has very good vision and once he sees a hole, he hits it.”

Gary Moore, Athlete, Clarksville High School, Clarksville, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … four-star prospect by 24/7 Sports … three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and ESPN … rated as the No. 80 wide receiver in the 2013 class by Rivals … member of the Rivals Texas Posteason Top 100 … Lone Star Recruiting Top 100 … Defensive MVP District 8-2A … First Team All-District 8-2A in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 … First-Team All-State in both football and basketball by the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors … caught 30 passes for 580 yards (19 yards per-reception) along with 10 touchdowns … recorded 76 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 20 sacks and five forced fumbles … Chose Texas Tech over: TCU and Missouri

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Outside Receivers Coach Sonny Cumbie on Moore: “Moore is one of the best athletes in all of Texas in any classification. He has great size, huge hands, plays with a high motor and is a very dedicated worker.”

Justis Nelson, Athlete, Dallas Christian, Mesquite, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … First Team All-District on both offense and defense … Academic All-State selection … First Team All-State on both offense and defense … two-way athlete that will play corner or safety at Texas Tech … hauled in 35 catches his senior season for 783 yards (23 yards per-catch) and nine touchdowns … Chose Texas Tech over: Air Force and Harvard.

Cornerbacks Coach Kevin Curtis on Nelson: “Nelson has exceptional length and plays the ball well in the air. He’s like having another coach on the field and is a great student of the game.”

Josh Outlaw, Offensive Line, Martin Luther King High School, Lithonia, Ga. Signed National Letter of Intent … consensus three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … rated as the No. 24 offensive guard in the 2013 class by Rivals … the No. 32 rated prospect in Georgia by Rivals … played in the Semper Fi All-American Game … Chose Texas Tech over: Oklahoma, Florida, West Virginia, TCU, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina.

Offensive Line Coach Lee Hays on Outlaw: “Josh is one of the best offensive linemen in the country. He’s very athletic, has great feet and is everything you want in a left tackle.”

Dee Paul, Defensive Back, Munday High School, Munday, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … consensus three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … member of the Rivals Texas Postseason Top 100 … 2012 Dave Campbell’s Texas High School Football Magazine Offensive Player of the Year (all classifications) … First Team All-State … Defensive Player of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors … District 8-1A Most Valuable Player … helped guide the Moguls to a state championship in 2012 … tremendous two-way athlete that played quarterback and safety in high school … will switch to cornerback at Texas Tech … as a senior, he threw for 1,168 yards (42-of-82) and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 1,959 yards on 129 carries and scoring 32 touchdowns … in the 2012 state title game against Tenaha, he rushed for 267 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-14 win … Chose Texas Tech over: Baylor, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and SMU.

Cornerbacks Coach Kevin Curtis on Paul: “A two-sport standout athlete that is dynamic with the ball in his hands. Dee is a great leader, great student and a hard worker.”

D.J. Polite-Bray, Wide Receiver, Martin Luther King High School, Lithonia, Georgia Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and Scout … No. 75 wide receiver in the 2013 class according to Rivals … First Team All-State selection … explosive playmaker … hauled in 53 catches for 1,063 yards (20 yards per-catch) and 17 touchdowns … Chose Texas Tech over: Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah and Louisville.

Co-Offensive Coordinator Sonny Cumbie on Polite-Bray: “A very fast, big-time playmaker that has very good ball skills and hands. He uses his vision really well after the catch to make big plays and can make something out of nothing.”

Poet Thomas, Offensive Line, Country Day High School, Beverly Hills, Mich. Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by Scout and ESPN … a two time All-Oakland County selection … played defensive line in high school but will convert to the offensive line at Texas Tech … Chose Texas Tech over: Colorado, Florida, Kansas, SMU and Syracuse.

Offensive Line Coach Lee Hays on Thomas: “Played both offensive line and defensive line in high school. Very athletic with great hands. Thomas is very strong right now but will get even stronger after a year with Coach Dennis.”

Carlos Thompson, Wide Receiver, Manvel High School, Manvel, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by 24/7 Sports … First Team All Greater Houston by the Houston Chronicle … District 22-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player … helped guide his team to a district championship and a run to the state playoffs … compiled 67 catches for 1,452 yards (22 yards per catch) along with 21 touchdowns … Chose Texas Tech over: Louisiana-Lafayette and Old Dominion

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Inside Receivers Coach Eric Morris on Thompson: “Carlos had one of the best seasons of any wide receiver in the state. His quickness and speed and ability to change directions without having to slow down make him very elusive. He has reliable hands and is dedicated to being the best at his position.”

Davis Webb, Quarterback, Prosper High School, Prosper, Texas
Signed a financial aid agreement … graduated from High School in December 2012 and enrolled at Texas Tech in January 2013 … four-star prospect by ESPN, three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout … ranked as the No. 21 quarterback in the nation by Rivals and the No. 3 quarterback in Texas … the No. 54 prospect in the Rivals Texas Postseason Top 100 … No. 76 on the ESPN Top 100 Midlands … guided his team to a District 9-4A Championship and a run to the Class 4A Division II Regional Semifinal against Lancaster … First-Team All-District … Honorable Mention All-State … dual threat quarterback that threw for 2,658 yards his senior season (210 completions, 359 attempts) along with 23 touchdowns … logged 120 rushing attempts for 589 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns … as a junior, he threw for 2,682 yards (200 completions, 378 attempts) along with 26 touchdowns … First Team All-District. … Chose Texas Tech over: Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, TCU, Utah State and UTSA.

Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury on Webb: “Davis is a natural born leader with a big-time arm. He can make all the throws and is a true student of the game. Davis is always wanting to watch more film, throw on his own and gets other guys to run routes for him. He is a great student in the classroom, a very good communicator and is able to get the best out of the people around him.”

Kahlee Woods, Linebacker, Sherman High School, Sherman, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … four-star prospect by ESPN … three-star prospect by Rivals and 24/7 Sports … No. 69 on the ESPN Top 100 Midlands … First Team All-District 13-4A in 2010, 2011, 2012 … Honorable Mention All-State in 2011, 2012 … posted 139 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles as a senior … in his three-year career as a varsity starter, he accumulated 431 tackles … Chose Texas Tech over: New Mexico, SMU, Louisiana Tech and North Texas.

Defensive Coordinator Matt Wallerstedt on Woods: “Great leadership skills and has a knack for finding the football. He explodes through impact on tackle and is a great student from a wonderful family.”

Caleb Woodward, Athlete, Leander High School, Leander, Texas
Signed National Letter of Intent … three-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 24/7 Sports … All-District selection … played both quarterback and wide receiver and will convert to safety at Texas Tech … rushed for 1,654 yards his senior season on 272 carries (six yards per-rush) and scored 24 touchdowns … caught three passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

Safeties Coach Trey Haverty on Woodward: “Woodward is a great student and is able to get people around him lined up and help with their assignments. He is a hard worker and has good feet.”

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson frowns upon Group of Five playoff idea

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The chances a team from the Group of Five ever gets selected to play in the College Football Playoff range from slim to none. As such, talk from within the Group of Five has kicked up from time to time, especially over the last year, about a possible Group of Five-only version of the College Football Playoff. The reactions to that idea has been mixed, but add Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson to the group of people who thinks that idea should be tossed aside.

While attending meetings for the College Football Playoff, Benson told reporters he would prefer to see conference champions from the Group of Five (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) receive better bowl bids instead of playing in a minor version of the College Football Playoff.

It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told Brett McMurphy, then of ESPN.com, back in December. “Why not?”

Well, there are a number of reasons. First, not everybody seems to be on board with playing the college football version equivalent of the NIT. Sure, it would be on TV and would get ratings, but the reward at the end of the JV playoff would mean little. Nobody would consider it a national championship. That’s what the FCS is for.

Benson is not alone in his anti-Group of Five playoff stance. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also has been on record saying he is not interested in such a plan, and he oversaw a member from his conference go undefeated last season and play in the Cotton Bowl (Western Michigan).

My initial reaction is that’s not something I’m interested in,” Steinbrecher said, according to MLive.com in December. “We’re part of the (College Football Playoff) system, and it’s done a lot of very good things for the Mid-American Conference.”

Without the support from two of the Group of Five commissioners (and you can almost be guaranteed you can add Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference to the list given the conference’s push to be considered a power conference), this idea is pretty much dead on arrival.

LSU’s Arden Key: I am not sitting out my junior year

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After taking a little time off from the LSU football program this spring, Arden Key calmed the nerves of Tigers fans on Wednesday with a simple message on his Twitter account.

Key announced to his Twitter followers he will be on the field for the Tigers this fall. Back in February, LSU released a statement saying Key would be stepping away from the program “for personal reasons.” What those personal reasons were is unknown, but he did so with the support of head coach Ed Orgeron and the entire football program at the time.

Key earned second-team All-SEC honors last season after leading LSU with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, a school record. With news, he would be stepping away from the program and the age of top NFL Draft prospects opting out of bowl games, the mere thought that Key might become the first potential NFL Draft pick the following season sitting out the entire football season was difficult to completely ignore. Fortunately, especially for LSU and not so much for LSU’s opponents, Key is choosing not to break that barrier at this time.

Texas A&M removes WR Kirk Merritt from roster

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After being charged for allegedly exposing himself to tutors at Texas A&M, wide receiver Kirk Merritt is no longer an Aggie. Merritt has been removed from the Texas A&M football program, according to a report from The Eagle. Though there has been no official statement confirming such news, Merritt’s name has been wiped off the team’s online roster.

Merritt pleaded not guilty to a pair of indecent exposure charges against him stemming from an incident last October. Merritt allegedly exposed himself to female academic tutors. Merritt was suspended by Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin a few days after the alleged incidents. The suspension was expanded to indefinite status following Merritt’s arrest on November 8. The suspension has since been lifted after the university’s conduct process wrapped up in January.

It has been a bit of a bumpy year for Merritt. Merritt left Oregon for Texas A&M last summer due to family reasons. He participated in Texas A&M’s spring practices but did not play in the spring game.

Big 12 revenue eclipses $300 million mark

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When it comes to revenues, the SEC and Big Ten continue to set the pace and leave the rest of the competition in the dust. That said, the Big 12 saw a second straight sizable revenue bump, according to recent tax returns.

As reported by USA Today, the Big 12 recorded a revenue of $313 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 on its tax return. The figure is up roughly $40 million from last year’s revenue, and the conference has now doubled its revenue since the 2012 fiscal year amid conference realignment changes. As for the revenue shares for each Big 12 program, the numbers ranged from $28 million to West Virginia to $28.9 million for Oklahoma. This marked the first time West Virginia and TCU were eligible to receive their full conference revenue shares as Big 12 members.

The biggest reason for the big jump in revenue came from increased bowl revenue. The Big 12 pulled in $114.5 million in bowl revenue in 2016, which was just $74.5 million in 2015. The 2015 season, which was included in the fiscal year outlined by this tax return, saw Oklahoma advance to the College Football Playoff and Oklahoma State be selected to play in a New Years Six bowl game (Sugar Bowl), which led to a larger bowl game distribution for the Big 12. The previous year saw no Big 12 team in the College Football Playoff (TCU, Baylor).

The Big 12 still lags well behind the SEC. Most will, of course. The SEC announced a revenue of $584.2 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, with each SEC member receiving a revenue share of $40.4 million. The SEC and Big 12 are the only conference revenue numbers currently on record for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but expect the Big Ten to be a solid second in the pecking order, with the ACC likely to come in front of the Big 12 and the Pac-12 to be toward the bottom of the pack.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a pay increase as well. Bowlsby reportedly earned a little more than $2.6 million in 2015, earning more than $70,000 than the previous year.