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Texas Tech announces Kliff Kingsbury’s first signing class

Texas Tech Kingsbury Football AP

(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.”

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Nick Saban ‘shocked’ at Manning-Gase imbroglio

Nick Saban Peyton Manning AP

In the course of a post yesterday on Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase having their brains picked on the no-huddle offense by Nick Saban during a recent visit to Tuscaloosa, we mentioned in passing, as noted by our redheaded stepmothers over at PFT, that the confab may have been in violation of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For its part, the NFL is looking into whether or not Manning and Gase violated the portion of the CBA which prohibits coaches from meeting with players prior to the start of their team’s offseason workouts (the Broncos began their offseason program Monday, after the visits took place).  For his part, Saban is stunned that an NFL issue may have arisen out of what’s sounding like an impromptu get-together, ensuring that he stressed that Manning and his coach were never in the same room discussing football during their overlapping time in Tuscaloosa.

From an interview Saban did with the Denver Post after the situation blew up:

“I’m like shocked that anybody would think someone did anything wrong on their part,” Saban said by phone Friday night. “I never met with Adam. When I talked with him I talked about his family. Peyton, we talked an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Adam had been talking to our assistant coaches. I never talked with Adam about football.”

Asked specifically if Manning and Gase were in a meeting at the same time, Saban said, “Only to say hello and b.s. with each other. Adam came Monday and talked to the offensive coaches and some of the defensive coaches. I know he talked with Kirby (Smart, the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator). He and I just visited casually. We didn’t talk football. Adam was with me through two different college programs (at Michigan State and LSU).”

Saban firmly stated that Manning and Gase did not arrive together; in fact, the coach had been then there “for a couple days” prior to the player’s arrival.

Because of Manning’s proficiency in operating the no-huddle offense, the Alabama head coach and Denver Broncos quarterbacks spent a couple of hours one day — without Gase present — going over what defenses are problematic for that type of offense.

“And Peyton,” Saban said, “we were just talking ball. We talked about particular defenses that give us trouble with the no-huddle. Things like that.”

Given how the situation exploded, Saban took the opportunity to intimate an “ass out of you and me” joke when explaining the cause of the explosion.

“I was asked about their visit at my coach’s clinic press conference but I never said we sat down together. Because we didn’t. That’s what happens when people assume.”

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Hoke: Shane Morris narrowed gap on Devin Gardner after ‘good spring’

Shane Morris, Devin Gardner AP

While Devin Gardner said “it was amazing how much better (the quarterback competition this spring) made me,” the incumbent at the position –despite his pre-spring proclamation — exited the 15 practice sessions without a firm grasp on the starting job.

How tenuous Gardner’s hold on the job was further demonstrated by head coach Brady Hoke, who stated Friday “he might” when asked if Gardner would be his starter when the 2014 regular season commenced.  Gardner and Shane Morris have been engaged in what appeared to be a  neck-and-neck battle to lead the Wolverines offense throughout the spring.

When asked about Morris, Hoke was damn-near effusive, relative to his tepid comments Morris’ competition, in his praise.

“I thought Shane had a good spring,” Hoke said according to mlive.com. “Was it flawless? No. But I think he learned more about the urgency that he has to have to be the quarterback at Michigan.

“I thought he had a good spring.”

Gardner started every game last season before a foot injury he suffered in the loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale sidelined him for the Wolverines’ bowl game.  In his first career start, and as a true freshman no less, Morris completed 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards and interception as UM dropped a 31-14 decision to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

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UGA expects Keith Marshall, pair of WRs back for summer workouts

Tennessee v Georgia

A high-profile running back and a pair of experienced and productive wide receivers missed all or part of Georgia’s spring practice due to injury and/or rehabilitation from injury, but that shouldn’t be the case when the Bulldogs takes its next big step in preparing for the upcoming season.

According to head coach Mark Richt, running back Keith Marshall (pictured) and wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley are expected to be healthy enough to participate in the football program’s “voluntary” summer workouts.  Those structured workouts will commence in June.

All three of the players are coming off of torn ACLs suffered last season that forced them to miss various amounts of games.  Marshall and Scott-Wesley both incurred their knee injuries during the Tennessee game last October, while Mitchell’s knee was injured in late August.

Mitchell had been participating — in non-contact fashion — in UGA’s spring practice earlier this year before another leg injury knocked him out for the remainder of the spring.

In addition to those three, Richt said he expects tight end Jay Rome, who suffered a foot injury last year and underwent surgery in the offseason, to be at full speed for the workouts as well.

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Washington latest to unveil new uniforms for 2014

View of Mascot

Another day, another FBS program has itself some new football duds.  Hooray?

This time around, it’s the Washington football players who will wear new uniform combinations for the 2014 season.  From the release:

The new stadium and athletic facilities are filled with Husky references, echoing the team’s ethos that “no dog runs alone.” A graphic symbol and unique coded sequence embroidered into the back inside neckline of the jerseys reinforces this mantra. Representing the quickest/most agile sled dog formation, the focal point of this special graphic is the area representing the “team dogs,” who are the heart and soul of the squad. The symbol is formed by lines that, when turned sideways, make an 11 to honor the 11 players on the field. Like a sled team, the Husky football team competes as a pack through innovative formations on field.

Our players can’t wait to take the field in these new uniforms. The design tells the story of our program and provides modern innovations in materials and design while embracing the rich tradition that has made Husky football so special,” said first-year UW head coach Chris Petersen in a statement.

Below are the three uniform combinations the Huskies will wear this season as well as a video tied to the release:

Washington Uniforms

 

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BYU lands Nebraska DB transfer Harvey Jackson

Monte Ball Harvey Jackson AP

The BYU Cougars are on the receiving end of some B1G transfer help in the secondary for the 2014 season.

The football program announced in a release Thursday that defensive back Harvey Jackson has signed with the football program and will continue his playing career with the Cougars.  As Jackson has already received his degree from NU, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.

“Harvey is an experienced player and a mature individual with excellent character,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a statement. “He will join our program after graduating in construction management with a business minor. He is a great fit for BYU on and off the field.”

Jackson played in 35 games the past three years, starting four of those contests.  He started the first three games of the 2013 season before losing that job.

In 2011, Jackson, a three-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2010 recruiting class, was an Academic All-Big Ten selection

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Saban picks Peyton Manning’s no-huddle brain during visit

Nick Saban Peyton Manning AP

In mid-December last year, Lane Kiffin was brought to Alabama by head coach Nick Saban to help evaluate the Tide’s offense ahead of its BCS bowl matchup with Oklahoma.  Less than a month later, the former USC head coach was hired as Saban’s offensive coordinator.

While another hire likely won’t come out of another high-profile visit, Saban has again decided to pick the brain of some offensive-centric football types in his never-ending quest to improve his football program.

Saban confirmed to the media that current Denver Broncos and former Tennessee Vols quarterback Peyton Manning, along with Manning’s coordinator Adam Gase, visited Tuscaloosa for two days last week for a meeting that may have violated the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Saban said Manning has “been a friend and very well-respected for a long time,” and the visit came about as the player and coach were taking a football tour to select cities across the country.

Given the proliferation of no-huddle, spread offenses in the college game — and the Tide’s notorious struggles in stopping them — and Manning’s expertise in running such a system, Saban jumped at the opportunity to pick the brain of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

“Since they’re a no-huddle team, we had a lot of questions for them, in terms of what gives them problems and what defensive teams do that give them problems,” Saban said. “That was a mutual benefit. I know it was a benefit to us. I hope it was a benefit to them as well.”

Saban’s attempts to decipher the no-huddle riddle from a defensive standpoint has become almost legendary; earlier this month, a football clinic hosted by Saban featured, among others, the head coach of the fast-paced, high-octane Baylor Bears, Art Briles.

“The goals that you have for next year are basically the things that you struggled with last year,” Saban said in explaining the proliferation of high-profile visitors of late. “You make a list of those things through your quality control, and then you go out and look for people who might be able to help you develop a little more expertise, a better way to teach, a better way to coach some situation.

“Sometimes we bring somebody in here to visit with us. Sometimes we have people call us and ask us if they can come and visit us and try to learn from us, which we share with quite a few people. I think we usually learn from them as well when that happens.”

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Clemson responds to group’s ‘too religious’ complaint

Dabo Swinney AP

It was reported earlier this week that a group of individuals with too much time on its hands and not nearly enough of a life had filed a formal complaint to Clemson alleging that Dabo Swinney‘s football program blurs the line between the separation of church and state as mandated in the U.S. Constitution.

An attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation stated that “the football coaching staff is doing a number of things to promote Christianity to their student-athletes” such as conducting Bible studies with their players.  A school spokesperson subsequently fired back that “no one is required to participate in any religious activities related to the football program” and that any participation is strictly voluntary.

Thursday, the university released a lengthier rebuttal to the group’s accusations, stating that “the FFRF is mistaken in its assessment” of the religious atmosphere in and around the Tigers football program.  Below is the school’s statement, in its entirety:

“We believe the practices of the football staff regarding religion are compliant with the Constitution and appropriately accommodate differing religious views. Participation in religious activities is purely voluntary, and there are no repercussions for students who decline to do so. We are not aware of any complaints from current or former student-athletes about feeling pressured or forced to participate in religious activities.

“Clemson takes very seriously its obligation to provide a comprehensive program for the development and welfare of our student-athletes ¬ which encompasses academic, athletic and personal support, including support for their spiritual needs.

“We will evaluate the complaints raised in the letter and will respond directly to the organization, but we believe FFRF is mistaken in its assessment. The Supreme Court has expressly upheld the right of public bodies to employ chaplains and has noted that the use of prayer is not in conflict with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: OrangeAndWhite.com)

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Attorney wants halted FSU probe in Jameis Winston case to continue

Florida State Spring Game Getty Images

A story that both Jameis Winston and Florida State would prefer to quickly fade away simply won’t.

The attorney for the alleged victim who claimed she was raped by the Florida State quarterback in December of 2012 told USA Today that the university has halted its Title IX investigation into the case.  The reason the probe is allegedly at a standstill?  The attorney, Blaine Kerr, says it’s because Winston refuses to cooperate with the university.

The university took the position that since he refused to respond to questions, they could not make any Title IX findings,” Kerr said according to the paper. “We have objected to that as impermissible reason to delay or terminate a Title IX sexual assault investigation because that would permit any charged party to thwart an investigation simply by refusing to answer questions.”

The paper went on to write that Kerr “wrote a letter to FSU earlier this month stating his objections to their investigation and calling for Winston to be charged under the school’s code of conduct policy.”

One law expert was baffled that the university would drop what’s a federally-mandated investigation simply because the accused refused to cooperate.

“The law is not supposed to operate in a way to reward people who don’t cooperate with either criminal or civil investigations,” said Erin Buzuvis, a professor of law at Western New England University and a Title IX expert. “It’s just bizarre to think that would result in, ‘Oh, I guess we just can’t do anything.’ Who would ever cooperate with anything?”

In early December of last year, following a three-week investigation, the Florida State’s Attorney office announced that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the sexual encounter between Winston and the alleged victim was not consensual, and that no charges would be filed against the player.  The state’s attorney in charge of that investigation, William Meggs, was highly critical of the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation into the alleged rape in a New York Times report earlier this week, a report in which the university subsequently expressed its disappointment.

Earlier this month it was reported that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.

While Winston will not face criminal charges in connection to the incident, the alleged victim is expected to pursue civil action against him as well as, potentially, FSU and the TPD.

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Sooners’ leading tackler won’t face charges, but OU future ‘in limbo’

Oklahoma v Notre Dame Getty Images

At least from a legal perspective, a prominent member of Oklahoma’s defense has dodged a serious bullet.  Whether he remaisn part of the program, however, remains to be seen.

The office of the Cleveland County (Ok.) District Attorney confirmed to both the Daily Oklahoman and the Norman Transcript that  it has decided to not pursue charges against OU linebacker Frank Shannon related to an alleged incident of sexual assault Jan. 20.  The decision to decline prosecution, DA Greg Mashburn told the Oklahoman, was made weeks ago.

It was reported Thursday that Nelson’s was named in a Title IX sexual misconduct allegation report filed with the university in which it was alleged he sexually assaulted a female student in his apartment.  Conflicting statements from the two involved prompted the DA’s office to drop the matter and the Norman Police Department to drop its investigation.

In the report, a woman alleges that early on the morning of Jan. 20 after a party, Shannon offered her a ride home but stopped by his off-campus apartment. The two went into Shannon’s bedroom, where the woman claims he pulled her pants down and tried to forcibly have sex with her.

The woman and Shannon both say they knew each other before the incident. Shannon denied the allegations in the report, saying that the woman laid on top of him, kissed him and removed her own clothes, but that after an argument over whether or not she was menstruating, he went to the bathroom and she left the apartment.

The Oklahoman does write that “Shannon’s future at the University of Oklahoma, however, remains very much in limbo while an independent OU investigation runs its course, a legal requirement under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.”  OU’s student conduct office could impose sanctions on Shannon, up to and including a dismissal from the university.

As a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Shannon started all 13 games and led the Sooners in tackles with 92. He neither practiced last Thursday nor played in Saturday’s spring game due to what head coach Bob Stoops described as personal reasons.

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Matt Joeckel tweets he’s transferring to TCU

Vanderbilt v Texas A&M Getty Images

Well that certainly didn’t take long.

Just two days after confirming he was transferring out of the Texas A&M football program, Matt Joeckel confirmed that he would be transferring into TCU’s.  And, in making his announcement, the quarterback did it the way all the cool kids are doing it these days: via Twitter.

It should be noted that the Horned Frogs have yet to announce Joeckel’s addition to the roster, although such an announcement is expected in short order.

Joeckel, the brother of former A&M All-American and 2013 No.2 overall NFL draft pick Luke Joeckel, served as Johnny Manziel’s primary backup with the Aggies in 2013 and entered spring practice with a significant edge in experience over his two competitors.  A three-star member of the Aggies’ 2010 recruiting class, Joeckel was the No. 29 pro-style quarterback in that class coming out of high school in Arlington, Tex.

Coincidentally or not, Tyler Matthews tweeted on the same day of Joeckel’s departure from A&M that he was transferring from TCU.  Matthews had been competing for the Horned Frogs starting job; now Joeckel, who as a graduate transfer will be eligible to play immediately, will join the TCU QB fray.

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Chick-Fil-A Bowl adds history, prestige to its name

Peach_Bowl_2

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl will return to its roots and become the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl beginning with this year’s game.

The Atlanta-based bowl was known as the Peach Bowl from its inception in 1968 through 1997, when it became the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. In 2006, the game dropped “Peach” from its name and became just the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Per the Journal-Constitution’s report, the name change had to do with the bowl becoming part of the College Football Playoff’s rotation. The other five bowls in the rotation all have traditional names plus corporate sponsors: The Allstate Sugar Bowl, AT&T Cotton Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl Presented by Vizio and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

A press conference is expected Monday to officially announce the name change.

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Maty Mauk, Mizzou adapting to life without DGB

Dorial Green-Beckham, Maty Mauk AP

The shock of Dorial Green-Beckham’s dismissal from the team probably hasn’t completely worn off at Mizzou just yet, even if quarterback Maty Mauk insisted “it’s behind us and we can’t do anything about it.” (via ESPN.com)

Mizzou’s spring game on Saturday, then, serves as an early look at who Mauk and the Tigers turn to in the absence of the team’s best returning receiver. It doesn’t help that Mizzou lost the 167 combined catches L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas had in last season’s run to the SEC Championship, either.

The good news is that Mizzou’s receivers still have good size and athleticism. Mauk, in the ESPN story, raved about 6-foot-3 Texas transfer Darius White, who only has 13 career catches to his name. Bud Sasser, who’s listed at 6-foot-2, caught 26 passes for Mizzou last year (and also threw a 40-yard touchdown to Washington at Georgia). Veteran Jimmie Hunt (22 catches in 2013) will also see an increased role in the Tigers’ offense.

Mauk lays out a few other players he’s been encouraged by in spring practice, and noted that Mizzou is being picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC East (not exactly an unfair assessment — in addition to the receivers, Mizzou lost QB James Franklin, RB Henry Josey, OL Justin Britt, OL Max Copeland, DE Michael Sam, LB Andrew Wilson and CB E.J. Gaines, among others).

But Mauk is somewhere between being diplomatic and confident in the guys around him with DGB no longer on the team. There’s still talent in Mizzou’s receiving unit; though we won’t find out if it’s good enough to compete in the SEC until the fall.

 

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Mark Emmert made some not-so-smart comments this morning

NFL Enlists GE, Under Armour in $60 Million Brain-Injury Study Getty Images

You’re the president of an organization under siege for a multitude of reasons. Maybe it wouldn’t be best to make some flippant comments on a popular national radio show.

But NCAA President Mark Emmert, on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Friday morning:

There are real, significant problems with the NCAA model that need to be fixed, and I’m sure current college athletes don’t appreciate the head of their organization saying stuff like this. To illustrate how deeply unpopular Emmert is, just look at the #AskEmmert hashtag on Twitter. An example, via our own John Taylor, sums things up:

It’s not exactly a been a great day for Emmert, and it’s not even 10 a.m. on the East Coast yet.

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Study says football players need more time between seasons to recover from head impacts

Penn State football spring practice number 11

Football players need more than six months of no-contact to properly recover from various forms of head trauma, a study by PLOS-ONE recently determined. At a time when we are learning more and more about the long-lasting effects of head trauma in football, could this one day change the approach at the college level when it comes to spring practices?

The Verge describes the procedure for conducting the study on head trauma and football players, which determine six out of 10 players showed signs of needing more time to recover from head trauma;

To study the effect of non-concussive, repetitive head impacts, researchers put accelerometers in the helmets of 10 University of Rochester football players. The scientists used these sensors to monitor the quantity and severity of the blows that the players suffered over the course of the 2011 season. They found that each player received between 431 and 1,850 impacts to the head during the regular season. And although none of these blows resulted in a concussion, they still caused mild brain injury. Moreover, six out of the 10 players continued to exhibit these signs at the end of a six month-long resting period.

Spring football games have gone into retirement at some schools, in part because of the fear of injuries and because of the added value placed on one more practice session. This study may not lead to the removal of spring football just yet, but it could help open the door for a conversation about potentially pushing spring practices back or to restructure how some are organized. The NCAA and schools tend to take head injury precautions seriously and there are already rules in place to reduce the risks associated with contact drills, but this study may be used as a reason for future changes to spring football.

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Mark Dantonio wants more than 300 spartan fans at spring game

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State is coming off one of the most successful football seasons in quite some time, and head coach Mark Dantonio wants to see that enthusiasm continue with the upcoming spring game. Danotnio has said before he wants to see a big crowd for the Spartans’ spring game next week, and he has high hopes for a big turnout.

“I want to see 50,000 at the Green and White game,” Dantonio said according to MLive.com. “I think that’s where this program needs to go.”

Of course, weather can always be an issue. Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis is hoping for a good turnout as well, but as with most spring games the weather can always be a concern.

“I know the enthusiasm’s there, I think that was reflected out in Pasadena,” Hollis said. “But if it’s pouring rain, I don’t think we’ll have 50,000, but we might. If it’s sunny, I think we have the potential to exceed a number like that.”

Getting 50,000 fans would be a very respectable crowd, and would more than double the crowd that turned out for last year’s spring game in East Lansing and the Michigan spring game earlier this month. If Dantonio gets the crowd he desires, Michigan State would have one of the larger spring crowds this season and would very likely finish the spring with at least the fourth largest spring crowd in the Big Ten.

Penn State currently leads the nation in spring game attendance with an estimated 72,000 last weekend. Nebraska recorded a crowd of 61,772 and Ohio State was just behind the Huskers with 61,058. The only other school to record at least 50,000 for the spring game has been Tennessee (68,500). That is expected to change once Alabama and Auburn hold their spring games this weekend. Both SEC West schools tend to draw very well for the spring game.

This is a relatively up-to-date record of spring game attendance this year. Some schools have not provided spring attendance numbers so there are some missing figures, but it is mostly accurate.

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