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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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Paul Johnson was on fire talking Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame and SEC

Paul Johnson

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was not the only ACC coach sharing some hot takes today while going through the annual ESPN carwash in Bristol. Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson also made some heads turn with his comments about Ohio State getting in the College Football Playoff and rival Georgia. Well, they were not so much boiling hot takes, but still bringing enough sizzle to make it worth sharing and reacting.

Johnson’s Georgia Tech team put Florida State to the test in last season’s ACC Championship Game. With the win in the conference title game, Florida State locked down a perfect regular season to help grab a firm hold on one of the four playoff spots in the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, Ohio State made one last case to get in ahead of Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU. As has been suggested by some, including TCU’s Gary Patterson, Ohio State may have gotten in due to being a more recognizable brand in the college football landscape compared to either Big 12 co-champ. Johnson seems to agree.

Asked if brand names come into play with the playoff, Johnson said “It already came into play with TCU and Ohio State. It’s the world we live in.”

Johnson also sees little difference between Georgia and top ACC programs like Florida State and Clemson.

“I can assure you Georgia isn’t any different than Clemson or Florida State or some other teams we play,” Johnson said at one point during his carwash experience. Johnson has some merits to back up his statement, having coached Georgia Tech to victories over both Georgia and Mississippi State last season.

Johnson was also asked whether or not the SEC champion should automatically be rewarded a spot in the College Football Playoff (why this question was posed to Johnson is beyond comprehension).

Why so? I don’t get it,” Johnson said.

Just for good measure, Johnson joined Swinney in commenting on Notre Dame’s independence, saying the Irish should be in the ACC. “It’s another brand program to strengthen the conference,” Johnson said.

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Mark Dantonio says RB Delton Williams will return for fall camp after firearms charge

Delton Williams, Ryan Russell

Michigan State running back Delton Williams is expected to return to the team in time for fall camp. The school announced the timeline through a released statement early Monday evening. This was suspected to eventually be the case earlier this month.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said Williams “has satisfied the University’s, court’s and football program’s expectations.” Michigan State confirmed Williams violated a university ordinance by possessing a weapon on campus last March. He has been away from the program since that time after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor firearms charge stemming from a road rage incident.

“Delton comprehends the severity of the situation and understands that decisions have consequences,” Dantonio went on to say in his statement. “He also appreciates the fact that wearing the Michigan State uniform is a privilege and not his right.”

Dantonio is spot on with that last statement, and it holds true in every football program around the country. What is unknown at this time though is whether or not Williams will miss any playing time as well. No information regarding any potential suspensions to be served during the season was revealed, although Dantonio could very well be asked about that later this week at Big Ten media days.

Williams appeared in 13 games for Michigan State last season, in which he rushed for 316 yards and five touchdowns. Both of those numbers were good for third on the team behind Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill. With both having moved on, Williams is Michigan State’s leading rusher returning in 2015.

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Dabo Swinney calls for Notre Dame to join a conference

Dabo Swinney

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel made it clear what he thought of Notre Dame and the playoff discussion. They need to join a conference to be in consideration. Apparently Pinkel is not alone on this stance.

Enter Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, who echoed the belief Pinkel shared that suggested it is time for Notre Dame to join a conference. Swinney said if Notre Dame is to remain independent, then they should be playing a 13th game on the schedule.

Notre Dame is a partial member of the ACC, competing in the league in all sports except football and ice hockey. The Irish retain their football independence as part of the ACC agreement, but set aside a handful of games against ACC opponents every season on a rotating basis. Among Notre Dame’s rotating ACC opponents this season is Clemson, with the Fighting Irish traveling to Death Valley on October 3.

The importance of a 13th game was put on display last season with Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU each being left out of the College Football Playoff in favor of four conference champions that played a 13th game. Most notably, perhaps, was Ohio State jumping into the fourth and final spot after demolishing Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes, of course, went on to win the national championship, while Baylor and TCU were left to wonder “What if?”

The only way to play a 13th game in college football without having the luxury of a conference championship game is to schedule a road game at Hawaii. Teams that do that are allowed to schedule one additional home game on top of a traditional 12-game schedule to make up for travel expenses.

I’m getting to the point where I just want Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly to start dropping names of programs and saying they need to go independent, just to mix things up.

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Uniform round-up: Air Force, Bowling Green and USF show off new looks for 2015

Navy at Air Force

While we hit an off day on the college football media day calendar on Monday, some athletics programs were busy pumping out some photos and video of new uniforms to be worn this upcoming season. While the tease continues for the new brand look of Arizona State presented by Adidas, Air Force, Bowling Green and USF gave fans a glimpse of what is to come this fall with their programs.

AIR FORCE

This is the kind of look you want to see from a service academy program. It is clean, sharp and nowhere close to being an embarrassment gone overboard just to attract some buzz. Air Force’s new uniforms are the latest in the line of Nike’s Pro Combat series (appropriate name of course). The Mach Speed line features lightweight fabric and allows for maximum ventilation for the players. Let’s stick to the basics though, because that is what Air Force did here. The signature white helmet with the blue lightning bolt is untouched. The uniforms for home and away are either blue with gray numbers and letters reading “Air Force” across the chest or white with numbers and lettering in blue. Nothing out of the ordinary, and Air Force even looks good with switching up the pants at home. When it comes to uniforms, Army, Navy and Air Force just seem to get it right every time by sticking to their individual programs and characteristics. It’s nice to see.

BOWLING GREEN

So here’s the thing I never understood with Bowling Green. The color green is right there in the name of the school, yet the school continues to emulate the look of the Cleveland Browns with orange and brown. This isn’t like the Netherlands adopting orange as the nation’s color either. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Cleveland Browns uniform is actually rather good, but why does Bowling Green have to use the same basic look? Whatever the case may be, if these are the colors Bowling green is going to rock, then at least they seem to do it well. I am not a fan of the all-brown attire, but the orange jersey seems to look pretty good. The helmet, both orange and white, are pretty solid as well.

USF

OK, there is a lot to digest here, and there are actually more combos that were shared that I left out. First off, kudos to the folks at Under Armour for giving USF so many decent uniforms. Is it too much? Yeah, it may be. A program attempting to establish an identity can get a little distracted along the way to trying to be Florida’s version of Oregon, but hey, whatever works. As far as the uniforms go, we see a home uniform with a white helmet that looks legit. I have been a big fan of USF’s white helmet and it seems to pair well with the uniform shown here, even if the side of the uniform seems to be getting a little busy. We also see a home uniform paired with the green matte helmet with reflective chrome logo that has been blown up in size. I was never a huge fan of that helmet, but it is far from the most offensive helmet out there. That chrome helmet though, is a thing of beauty. It seems hard to mess up a chrome helmet.

The uniform that may catch your eye the most may be the retro-style USF uniform. Mind you, this is not a throwback, but more of an attempt to give the USF uniform a 1970s vibe on the shoulder pads. That’s my reaction to it at least. You know what? I kind of dig it. The photos pair it with the white USF helmet, but I would love to see USF throw together a 1970s style logo on a matte-finish helmet to complete the look.

What do you think about these new uniforms for Air Force, Bowling Green or USF?

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UNC QB Marquise Williams, WR Quinshad Davis cleared for fall practices

Marquise Williams

North Carolina’s dual-threat quarterback has been cleared to go for fall practices. That is a very good sign for UNC head coach Larry Fedora and his offense.

Fedora confirmed quarterback Marquise Williams and wide receiver Quinshad Davis have each been 100 percent cleared by medical staff to participate in fall camp. That gives the Tar Heels two key players on the offense that is expected by some to have a strong season in the ACC Coastal Division, perhaps even helping North Carolina to make a run to the ACC Championship Game.

Williams suffered a hip injury that kept him out of spring practices. Williams is coming off a 3,000-yard passing season, going for 3,073 passing yards with 21 touchdowns to nine interceptions. In addition to his passing production last fall, Williams also rushed for a team-high 783 yards and 13 touchdowns to give opposing defensive coordinators a little more to think about.

Davis, rebounding form a leg injury, was UNC’s third-leading receiver last fall, accounting for 470 receiving yards and six touchdowns (good for second on the team). The senior is expected to be another contributor on offense this season along with Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins, UNC’s two leading receivers in 2014.

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Boise State carries Group of 5 banner with it to Mountain West media days

Mountain West Championship

Boise State has gone from perennial BCS busting candidate to the new team to beat in the Group of Five conversation. The postseason format may have evolved to open a door for the non-power conference schools, but Boise State remains the program the rest are chasing in pursuit of a spot in the New Years Six line-up. As the Mountain West Conference gets ready to begin its annual media day event in Las Vegas, Boise State will be under a familiar spotlight.

The preseason Mountain West Conference poll will be released tomorrow. When it is, expect Boise State to be on top. We won’t hear from Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin and the Bronco player representatives until Wednesday, but questions about being the favorites and the New Years Six figure to be fired in their direction when they do meet the press. This has become the norm for Boise State. While dreams of receiving an invitation to the Big 12 will be left unfilled, Boise State has established itself as a program  in a terrific spot to be in the big money bowls at the end of the season under the new postseason format with the College Football Playoff. The strength of the Mountain West Conference plays in Boise State’s favor, as the champion out of the conference figures to have a healthier profile than a conference champion from Conference USA or the Sun Belt Conference, and more often than not the champion out of the MAC.

Who will be the biggest threat to Boise State this season? Outside of a healthy Chuckie Keeton and Utah State and perhaps San Diego State out of the West Division, Boise State fans should be paying close attention to the developments in the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati and Houston could be the biggest challengers competing indirectly with the Broncos. As Boise State fans are well aware, there is no time to waste comparing what Boise State does with what happens in other conferences if Boise State does not take care of its own business.

Boise State coudl make for a very interesting conversation as the season plays out if it gets off to a strong start. Ironically, that begins with a home game against Washington, coached by former Boise State coach Chris Petersen. If Boise State can send its old coach back home with a loss, and follows that with road wins at BYU and Virginia, the thought of a 12-0 Boise State making for a heated College Football Playoff debate will become all the more likely. Forget about locking up a spot in the New Years Six. Boise State fans will be thinking about the playoff itself, and they will even have a conference championship game to help boost them into the field.

There will be much to watch in Boise this season, and the mentality of the potential favorites will be shown this week.

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Football writers and National Football Foundation continue weekly poll in 2015

Urban Meyer, Eva Parziale

In case you thought there were not enough polls in the world of college football, the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation will once again cook up another weekly poll this season. The two organizations announced today the continuation of the Super 16 Poll, which will rank the top 16 teams in the country as determined by a poll of selected sportswriters, College Football Hall of Famers and NFF board members. The first poll will come your way on Tuesday, September 8 and will be released on a weekly basis every Sunday morning during the course of the regular season.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with the FWAA on the Super 16 Poll,” said NFF President & CEO <Steve Hatchell. “We received lots of positive feedback during the 2014 season from fans on how much they enjoyed the poll’s release each week, and we’re looking to expand upon that momentum. We believe that our voters offer an extremely credible set of opinions, and we hope that the combined respect of both our organizations will continue to provide a compelling reference point for fans to follow during the season.”

The cast of characters voting in this year’s weekly poll have not been announced yet, but should be released prior to the start of the season.

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Big Ten has momentum leading into media days, but will it last?

Jim Delany

For the first time in what seems like a generation, the Big Ten seems to be sitting high and mighty in the world of college football as it prepares for its annual media day event in Chicago later this week. After hearing coaches and players and more from similar media day events in the SEC, ACC and Big 12, the Big Ten will finally get a chance to respond and address some of the larger discussions regarding college football in 2015. The Big Ten has plenty of reason to be proud this season, but the big question should be how the Big Ten can follow up the success of a season ago.

Ohio State will roll into Chicago as the defending conference and national champions, and high expectations for Urban Meyer, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Eliott, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett (and position-changing Braxton Miller) and company in the playoff hunt with a target on their backs in 2015. Michigan will introduce new head coach Jim Harbaugh to the Big Ten world. Wisconsin and Nebraska will once again be top threats out of the Big Ten West, although with new head coaches leading the charge. The conference’s newest additions, Rutgers and Maryland, are entering year two and looking to prove last season’s bowl trips were no fluke. Yes, commissioner Jim Delany has much to brag about following the Big Ten’s most successful bowl season in years, headlined by Ohio State’s championship run with Michigan State’s Cotton Bowl victory (not to mention a winning bowl record against the ACC and Big 12 and breaking even with the SEC (the Big Ten went 1-2 against the Pac-12, but that one was pretty noteworthy).

Delany will once again sit in front of a microphone before the media to present his annual state of the Big Ten address, at which time he has been known to delve into some American history as a tangent to his overall points about the NCAA and the Big Ten. Delany will be expected to offer his latest comments on the College Football Playoff (bank on him being fine with things the way they are), the dreaded satellite camp issue and defend the stature of the Big Ten after the conference was the target of some SEC folks in recent weeks. In other words, expect the usual. Even with a national title and a second New Years Six bowl victory, the Big Ten will have to defend its image to some. But media days will not be the place to do it properly. That test must be taken int he early going of the 2015 college football season.

bigtenlogoMany were quick to write the Big Ten off last season just two weeks into the year after a dreadful Week 2 showing by the conference in its biggest spotlight games. Ohio State lost at home to Virginia Tech. Michigan State let one get away at Oregon. Michigan was taken down by Notre Dame. It was a rough week, but the conference rebounded along the way and flew under the radar until the bowl season. Now the Big Ten must look to avoid a slow start this fall in order to keep the momentum going forward, instead of taking a step back.

Wisconsin faces Alabama in Arlington in the Cowboy Classic. Michigan opens at Utah. Ohio State begins at Virginia Tech. Minnesota hosts TCU in the season opener. Nebraska will welcome BYU to Lincoln. These are the noteworthy tests for the Big Ten early on. Going 4-1 in these games alone would be a respectable start to the new year. A 3-2 mark would still be a step in the right direction. Anything less would not be so kind in the eyes of some critics. There will be  other notable games as well (Illinois at North Carolina, Iowa vs. Pittsburgh, Nebraska at Miami, Maryland at West Virginia, Michigan vs. BYU) well worth paying attention to, as the reputation of the Big Ten will be put to the test by more than just Ohio State and Michigan State (who hosts Oregon in Week 2).

Will the Big Ten jump ahead of the rest of the power conferences in the opening weeks, or will some be quick to cast the Big Ten aside once more? That should be the message Delany sends to the conference this week. The work is just beginning.

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North Dakota State picked to win MVFC, Bo Pelini’s Youngstown St picked 4th

John Crockett

Ohio State was not the only defending national champion to be picked by members of the media to win its conference this season. North Dakota State, entering the 2015 season as four-time defending national champions, have been tabbed the preseason favorite in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The Bison are coming off a rare four-peat and look to stretch their streak of dominance to five this fall. North Dakota State received 32 of 40 possible first-place votes in the preseason MVFC poll, with the other eight going to Illinois State. These two conference foes did not play each other in the regular season last season, but did clash in the FCS national championship game. The two programs were named co-champions of the conference last year. Both should be strong forces again this season.

For those more interested in the big time programs of the FBS or with only limited interest in the world of the FCS, here is another reason to be interested in this poll. Former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is now coaching in the conference, at Youngstown State. Pelini’s Penguins have been picked fourth in the preseason poll of members of the media, sports information directors and coaches.

2015 Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason Poll

1. North Dakota State (32)

2. Illinois State (8)

3. Northern Iowa

4. Youngstown State

5. South Dakota State

6. Indiana State

7. Southern Illinois

8. Western Illinois

9. Missouri State

10. South Dakota

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Report: Five Big 12 schools pondered Big Ten switch during 2010 realignment

Texas A&M quarterback Manziel carries the ball as University of Oklahoma linebacker Wort and defensive end Ndulue pursue during the first half of the Cotton Bowl Classic NCAA football game in Arlington, Texas AP

Omaha.com’s Lee Barfknecht has this juicy nugget five years after Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten kicked off a whirlwind cycle of conference realignment: What if the Cornhuskers had been one of five Big 12 programs to join the Big Ten?

Barfknecht reported Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Iowa State all had interest in making a regional leap to the Big Ten as Texas’ eyed a move west to the Pac-10:

A Big 12 athletic director, who spoke to The World-Herald on condition of anonymity, said he contacted Big Ten athletic directors and presidents with whom he was familiar in June 2010.

The topic: Was the Big Ten, which had 11 members at the time, interested in adding five Big 12 schools?

The feedback from Big Ten school officials was positive, both sources said. The sticking point was devising a revenue-sharing plan to satisfy all. It would have taken at least three to four years for that many incoming schools to hit the financial payoffs sought for moving.

Of course, this didn’t happen, and Nebraska joined the Big Ten on its own. Colorado went to the Pac-12, Mizzou and Texas A&M went to the SEC and the Big 12 added TCU and West Virginia. And buried at the bottom of Barfknecht’s story is this line:

If the predictions come true that the clock is ticking on the Big 12 sticking together, remember what we previously reported from two sources at Nebraska — the Big Ten has done its “homework’’ to evaluate Oklahoma and Kansas as potential members.

It’d seem unlikely Oklahoma would break up with Oklahoma State and join the Big Ten without its in-state rival, but then again, conference realignment took a flamethrower to rivalries like Texas-Texas A&M and Mizzou-Kansas, so nothing should be a surprise anymore. But since the Big 12 isn’t in in the process of dissolving just yet, let’s consider the repercussions of the Big Ten going to 16 teams in 2010. A few thoughts:

— Would it have been the first step toward four 16-team super-conferences forming? That was the hot rumor five years ago, with those 64 teams possibly breaking off from the NCAA and playing by their own rules and regulations.

— If that were the case, does Texas go to the Pac-10 with Colorado, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and…? This all happened right before Baylor’s ascendency, but would the Pac-10 have looked to the Mountain West and pulled Utah and TCU instead, leaving Baylor (and Kansas State) behind?

— Mizzou’s exclusion from the Big Ten rumor is interesting, and without Texas A&M, who else could join Mizzou in the SEC? Would Mike Slive & Co. been forced to look inside their current footprint to add other teams like Clemson, Florida State and Miami?

— If the ACC did lose three programs, it’d be down to nine members and would have to add seven to get up to 16. In this scenario, Maryland is still in the ACC and West Virginia and Rutgers still need homes, so perhaps those two schools join Louisville, Pitt and Syracuse. But who else? Do UCF and USF get a call to keep the ACC in Florida?

— This is more just thinking out loud for a scenario that didn’t (and never will, obviously) happen. But it’s always fascinating to think how different the college football landscape could be if just one thing changed during the realignment fracas — let alone a massive shift like the one reported here.

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Ohio State the Big Ten media’s unanimous pick to win conference

Cardale Jones

In the least surprising thing you’ll see this Monday morning, the Big Ten media unanimously picked the defending national champions to win another conference title.

All 40 voters in Cleveland.com’s media poll — the Big Ten does not conduct its own preseason media poll — picked Ohio State Buckeyes to repeat as conference champions. With arguably college football’s best coach in Urban Meyer and stars like QBs J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, RB Ezekiel Elliott, QB/WR/TBD Braxton Miller and DE Joey Bosa returning, plus a ton of young talent moving up the ranks, there are plenty of reasons to think the Buckeyes will cruise through the Big Ten and back into the College Football Playoff.

Wisconsin was picked to win the West division, garnering 32 first-place votes and 272 points. Nebraska and Minnesota received five and three first-place votes, respectively.

The full voting breakdown:

EAST

1. Ohio State 280 (40)

2. Michigan State 240

3. Penn State 186.5

4. Michigan 163.5

5. Maryland 95.5

6. Rutgers 78

7. Indiana 76.5

WEST

1. Wisconsin 272 (32)

2. Nebraska 231.5 (5)

3. Minnesota 197 (3)

4. Iowa 158.5

5. Northwestern 125

6. Illinois 77

7. Purdue 59

Big Ten Championship 

Ohio State over Wisconsin (32)

Ohio State over Nebraska (5)

Ohio State over Minnesota (3)

Big Ten Champion

Ohio State (40)

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‘Personal reasons’ lead CB Ryon’e Winters to transfer from Wyoming

Craig Bohl will head into his second summer camp at Wyoming a little lighter in the defensive secondary, the school announced late this past week.

In a press release, UW confirmed that Ryon’e Winters has decided to leave the Wyoming football program for what was described only as “personal reasons.”  In a tweet posted to his Twitter account, a similar theme emerged as the cornerback revealed that he will be transferring to another, undetermined program to continue his playing career.

“I have made the decision that I will no longer play football at the University of Wyoming for personal reasons, and I will be taking my talents elsewhere!” the Missouri native wrote. “I appreciate all the support and the relationships that I have gained with my fellow teammates and others along this journey!”

As a true freshman last season, Winters played in nine games, with that action coming primarily on special teams.  He was credited with four tackles.

The sophomore exited spring practice earlier this year No. 2 at one of the corner positions.

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Taking a Chance: three-star WMU QB signee heads to D-II

Chance Stewart

In 2014, Chance Stewart was thought to be the next big thing at the quarterback position for Western Michigan.  In 2015, Stewart will ply his football wares a couple of rungs down the collegiate football ladder.

On its official Twitter page a few days ago, Hillsdale College in Michigan officially welcomed Stewart to its football program.  As the Chargers play at the Div. II level, Stewart can compete immediately in 2015.

He will also have four years of eligibility remaining beginning with this upcoming season.

Chance was a three-star member of WMU’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 21 pro-style quarterback in the country.  He was just the fourth quarterback rated more than a two-star prospect signed by the Broncos since Rivals.com began releasing rankings for the 2002 cycle, joining Anthony Maddie (2012), Mike Perish (2010) and Tim Hiller (2005), all of whom were three-star signees.

Only Hiller, the most prolific passer in Broncos history, ever started a game under center for the Broncos amongst that quartet.

For the 2016 class, P.J. Fleck has also landed a verbal commitment from another three-star quarterback prospect: Illinois prep star Matt Little.  That dual-threat signal-caller is part of a class that’s currently ranked 52nd in the country;  that’s the best current class in the MAC, easily ahead of No. 74 Toledo, No. 80 Miami of Ohio, No. 92 Central Michigan and on down that conference line.

(Photo credit: Western Michigan athletics)

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Another ex-UAB player ‘returning’ home to play for Blazers

Late this past week it was reported that kicker Nick Vogel was transferring from Southern Miss back to UAB, the first former Blazer to return to the previously-disbanded football program since the university announced it would resume the sport in 2017.  This weekend, Vogel got a little company at what has the makings of a burgeoning reunion.

Saturday, al.com reported that the UAB football team will be bringing back Bryant Novick and adding him to its roster. Novick had considered transferring to Hawaii, James Madison or Tennessee-Chattanooga before opting to remain with the Blazers, telling the website that “staying here was the right thing to do.”

Novick was a redshirt freshman for the Blazers in 2014. How he, along with Vogel and any others that return, will be classified is still something that needs to be decided by the NCAA.

Regardless of class standing, Novick sees it as a positive that the program will take a couple of seasons to get back on its feet as it rebuilds.

“I think [it’s] a good thing,” the lineman said of a 2017 return. “That way we aren’t rushed into a season right away, and it allows for coach [Bill] Clark and UAB to do it the right way.”

The Hoover, Ala., native took a redshirt as a true freshman, then saw action in three games in 2014.

In addition to Novick and Vogel, it was also reported earlier this month that Tyler Jones, a transfer from Memphis, had joined the UAB team as well.

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Mich. St. yanks offer after 2016 Sparty commit attends Ohio St. camp

Michigan State and Ohio State are Big Ten East rivals on the field, and they also tangle on quite a few occasions off the field on the recruiting trail.  One such entanglement on the latter front has led to a rather interesting development when it comes to next year’s recruiting cycle.

Gavin Cupp is a three-star offensive tackle in the Class of 2016 who committed to Michigan State in May of this year. Cupp, the No. 31 tackle in next year’s class according to Rivals.com, decided that he was going to attend Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp this past weekend.

That decision — or the decision to keep the camp visit from them — apparently didn’t sit well with the MSU coaching staff. From 247Sports.com:

Cupp never informed the Michigan State staff that he would attend Ohio State’s FNL camp. A source close to the situation has informed Spartan Tailgate that the Michigan State coaches have pulled Cupp’s scholarship. It’s very unlikely Cupp will sign with Michigan State.

It’s at this point in the program where we inform readers that Cupp doesn’t currently hold a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes. Whoops?

As this situation proves, loyalty and transparency, especially on the recruiting trail, is a very big deal to Mark Dantonio and his football program.  Cupp, regardless of whatever and wherever his future holds, learned that lesson first-hand.

Of course, he still holds offers from, among others, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Virginia and West Virginia, so it’s not like the teenager’s out of options.  It’s just that, apparently, East Lansing won’t be one of them.

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