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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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Would DGB stay, play for Sooners in 2015?

Dorial Green-Beckham AP

When the NCAA stunningly did the right thing and denied Dorial Green-Beckham‘s waiver appeal for immediate eligibility, most thought that the talented but troubled wide receiver would never play a down for Oklahoma and instead, eventually, make himself available for the 2015 NFL draft.

While that’s still a possibility, or even a likelihood, it’s not a certainty. At least, if DGB’s head coach’s words can be taken at face value it’s not.

Bob Stoops was asked Monday about the possibility of Green-Beckham sticking around and playing for the Sooners in 2015. Surprisingly, the coach said the player hadn’t closed the door on that football route, at least not yet.

That isn’t something that’s been decided,” Stoops said of Green-Beckham’s stay-or-go decision according to the Oklahoman. “Right now it seems that he wants to [play for OU next season] and is heading that way and we want to support him in every possible way.”

That said, most would view it as a monumental upset if Green-Beckham were playing college football in 2015.

Despite the myriad off-field issues that led to his dismissal from Missouri, Green-Beckham is still one of the most physically gifted and talented receivers in the country. Yes, some NFL teams might flag him on character issues, but more would likely drool over the prospect of adding the 6-6, 225-pound physical specimen that is Green-Beckham.

As is the case with all draft-eligible non-seniors, Green-Beckham will have until mid-January to file his paperwork and declare himself for the NFL draft if that’s the route he takes.

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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 2 Oregon

Marcus Mariota

2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-2 in Pac-12 Conference (2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Alamo Bowl vs. Texas (30-7 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 9/No. 9
Head coach: Mark Helfrich (11-2 overall; 11-2 in one year at Oregon)
Offensive coordinator: Scott Frost (5th year at Oregon)
2013 offensive rankings: 9th rushing offense (273.5 ypg); 21st passing offense (291.5 ypg); 2nd total offense (565 ypg); 4th scoring offense (45.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: eight
Defensive coordinator: Don Pellum (22nd year at Oregon)
2013 defensive rankings: 66th rushing defense (165.5 ypg); 21st passing defense (204.5 ypg);  37th total defense (370.1 ypg); 13th scoring defense (20.5 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: five
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Stadium: Autzen Stadium (58,000; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2011

THE GOOD
The most underrated aspect of Oregon’s football program is the commitment found within its coaching staff. It’s not to say there hasn’t been turnover in the program. Head coach Chip Kelly left the Ducks prior to last season. Defensive coordinator Nick Allioti retired during the offseason after spending 24 seasons with the program. Instead of rushing out to hire the hottest coach available on the market, the program simply promotes from within. Mark Helfrich is now entering his second season as the team’s head coach after serving as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator the previous four seasons. The team’s new defensive coordinator, Don Pellum, spent 22 years as a full-time assistant. During the last 16 years, Pellum was tasked with coaching the linebackers. While each promotion brings slight tweaks to the system, the influences of Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti during their tenures as head coach remains a part of the program. The Ducks have continued to build from the day Brooks was hired as their head coach in 1977  to today. As a result of the continuity built within program, Oregon has developed into one of the premier programs in the nation. A program that has the talent to win a national championship this season.

THE BAD
The tempo at which the Ducks operate on offense is always a double-edged sword. While the offense can be impossible to stop at times, the defense can also be gashed by opponents. When the Ducks went to the BCS National Championship Game in Jan. 2011, they surrendered 346 yards per game and the offensive’s time of possession was 27:54 minutes per game. During each of the past three seasons, the Ducks have given up more yards per game and operated at a faster pace. It’s not a good combination. The Ducks have had talent on the defensive side of the football during those years, but they simply didn’t play to the same level that finally led them to the title game. This season isn’t any different. Senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is arguably the best cornerback in college football. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a considered an early-round prospect for the 2015 NFL draft. Defensive end Tony Washington returns after leading the team with seven sacks last season. The team’s leading tackler, Derrick Malone, is also back in the middle of the defense. There is talent at all three levels of the Ducks defense. Oregon is more than just a flashy offense. The team’s defense has to play at a high level for the Ducks to be a part of the first College Football Playoff.

THE UNKNOWN
Kelly’s approach to offensive line play was there wasn’t much difference between playing guard and tackle in his system. The system hasn’t changed under Helfrich, but the importance of the tackle position is far more pertinent this season. The team’s senior left tackle, Tyler Johnstone, re-tore his ACL at the start of fall camp. It caused Helfrich to reshuffle his offensive line. Junior Andre Yruretagoyena will replace Johnstone on the blindside. There are two issues any time there are major changes along the offensive line. The first is building continuity within the unit to operate at a high level. Due to the team’s heavy zone-blocking scheme and its tempo on offense, this can be especially difficult to establish. The Ducks also lost the leadership and experience Johnstone brought to the lineup after starting 26 straight games. Furthermore, Yruretagoyena will be protecting the blindside of the one of the nations’ top quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota. The No. 1 goal for the Oregon’s offensive line this season is keep Mariota healthy. And that proposition may be a little more difficult with the veteran at left tackle.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Stanford
There is no other choice here. The Cardinal dashed the Ducks’ national championship aspirations the past two seasons. The two games were evenly matched with Stanford’s win margin at only nine points. But Stanford is as much a mental obstacle for Oregon as it is a physical one. Very few teams have slowed Oregon’s explosive offense in recent years. Yet, Stanford has seemed to find the secret recipe with their physical 3-4 defense. The Ducks simply haven’t been able to gash the Cardinal for big plays. And most of that has to do with a defensive front that consistently plays in the backfield. The Ducks averaged as least 537 yards per game the last two seasons. Stanford has held Oregon at least 120 yards below its average in each contest. Oregon simply hasn’t been able to get on track against Stanford. The Ducks can’t fail against Stanford again this year, or their season will be a major disappointment.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: QB Marcus Mariota
Let’s compare Mariota’s resume last season to Jameis Winston‘s, shall we? Mariota threw for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Mariota also ran for 715 yards and nine touchdowns. Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added 219 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. While Winston was the clear favorite to win the Heisman last season, Mariota wasn’t far behind the redshirt freshman. When last year’s play is considered and  two factors are added into the equation, Mariota could be the favorite to win the trophy this season. There are two reasons why Mariota’s numbers weren’t quite as spectacular as Winston’s in 2013. The Oregon quarterback suffered a slight knee injury during the second half of the season which limited his play, and he played one less game than Winston. A fully healthy Mariota is arguably the best NFL prospect in the entire country. While professional potential doesn’t translate to college football awards, it does exclude Mariota from any excuses if he doesn’t make a national title run with the Ducks this season and capture the school’s first Heisman Trophy.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Ty Montgomery cleared, expected to start Stanford’s opener

California v Stanford Getty Images

After it was first thought Stanford would be without its top offensive threat for the first half of the first month of the season — at least — said threat should be back for the first half of the first game.

Cardinal head coach David Shaw said Tuesday that Ty Montgomery has been medically cleared by team doctors and will play in the opener against UC-Davis.  Not only that, but the wide receiver was cleared with no limitations and is expected to start against the FCS team.

Montgomery underwent offseason shoulder surgery and missed spring practice.  It was initially feared that he would miss both the opener as well as the USC game, with the speculation being his absence could stretch deeper into the month of September and possibly bleed on into October.

However, in late July, it was reported that Montgomery was ahead of schedule in his rehab.

“It’s what he’s been waiting for, it’s what he’s been training for,” Shaw said. “He’s just attacked the rehab in such a way that it’s gotten him back a little earlier than we anticipated, and he’s ready to go.”

Having Montgomery from the get-go, even if it’s against a cupcake opponent, is significant.

Montgomery was easily the Cardinal’s top pass-catcher in 2013, leading the team with 61 catches for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns.  The next closest was Devon Cajuste‘s 28-642-5.

For good measure, Montgomery was third in the nation in kick return average (30.3) and was one of just seven players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown (New Mexico’s Carlos Wiggins returned three for scores).

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George O’Leary again refutes retirement report

Central Florida v Louisville

Earlier this month, FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, about as reliable as it gets when it comes to college football news, reported that George O’Leary was giving strong consideration to stepping down as UCF’s head coach this season, perhaps as soon as immediately after the Knights’ opener against Penn State in Ireland Saturday.

The 68-year-old O’Leary immediately and vehemently denied the report, saying “I don’t have any idea what that’s about.”

With the opener just three days away, O’Leary again addressed the speculation.  And again refuted it.

From the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi:

“You know me better than that. As good or bad as it gets, I’m going to finish what I started.”

“If you know my history, I’m not one to start something and not finish it,” O’Leary said then. “Unless somebody knows something I don’t, I don’t plan on (stepping down after the Penn State game). I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know who the sources are (for the Fox story) and I don’t really care. The only source I worry about is my source – me! I have every intention of coaching 13 games this year.”

O’Leary’s boss’s boss also forcefully refuted the report.  Well, at least the after-one-game aspect of the report.

“Coach O’Leary would never quit after one game in a season,” UCF president John Hitt told the Sentinel. “Whoever wrote that doesn’t know George O’Leary. George will retire when he retires. We hope his health stays great. He’s often said when he has two straight days when he goes to work and doesn’t have fun then he’ll retire. We think and hope it will be a good, long while before that happens.”

O’Leary has been at UCF since 2004, the first year which produced the worst season in the football program’s history: 0-11.  Since then, however, the Knights have won 10-plus games four times, the only times that’s happened in school history.

There have been rumors that Brent Key, promoted to assistant head coach earlier this offseason, is essentially the head-coach-in-waiting, with the offensive line coach set to take over the program when O’Leary hangs up his coaching whistle.

Whether that’s this weekend, after this season or a couple/few years down the road remains to be seen.

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Reports: A ‘Josh Shaw’ named in police report at time of USC CB’s heroics

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC Getty Images

A tale of heroics has quickly devolved into something bizarre — and potentially very sad.

According to both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, a police report names a “Josh Shaw” in connection to a possible break-in at an apartment just a few miles from USC’s campus at some point between 10 an 11 p.m. PDT Saturday night.  That’s around the same time that a USC cornerback, also named Josh Shaw, was reportedly in the process of saving a seven-year-old nephew from drowning by jumping from a second-floor balcony, sustaining a pair of high-ankle sprains in the process.

That claim, however, has subsequently come under intense scrutiny.

From the Times:

At 10 p.m. Saturday night, officers went to the Orsini Apartments on North Figueroa Street to check on a report of a woman’s screams from a third-floor unit, police said. No one answered the door, so the officers forced entry. No one was inside.

A neighbor reported seeing a man run across or scale a balcony, and gave a general description of the individual.

Later, as officers interviewed a woman resident of the complex, they told her what the one witness had seen. She responded, “Sounds like my boyfriend, Josh Shaw,” according to Lt. Andrew Neiman, an LAPD spokesman. The woman also told the officers Shaw was at dinner with friends, Neiman said.

A man at the front desk of the Orsini Apartments on Tuesday afternoon said Shaw was not a registered resident. The LAPD did not identify the woman in the incident report.

Witnesses described seeing “a ‘black male with dreadlocks’ leaving via a balcony,” the Register wrote. It has not been determined that USC’s Shaw, who is black and has dreadlocks, is the Shaw wanted for questioning in connection to the incident.

“No one has been arrested or named as a suspect,” a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told the Register. “Mr. Shaw’s name was listed in the report as the victim’s boyfriend only. This is an ongoing investigation.”

Shaw’s sister confirmed to USA Today Tuesday that Shaw had saved her son, the player’s nephew, but that she was not actually at the event the heroics were alleged to have happened.  USC is currently in the process of vetting Shaw’s claims.

“He came to us with what occurred Saturday night, and I have no reason, no history to not believe Josh and his story,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I think it’s important to know your team. I think it’s important to know your players.

“Josh Shaw has been a good leader for us; he’s given me no reason not to believe him. But you need to know.”

Regardless of how it happened, Shaw, a team captain, will be sidelined for a significant period of time because of the injuries to both ankles, which will have a significant impact on the Trojans’ defense on the field. And that’s not even mentioning the off-field distraction and/or circus that will come to town when he does return.

 

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Gamecocks’ leading tackler won’t start in opener vs. A&M

North Carolina v South Carolina

Mike Davis will be there for the opener, but one of South Carolina’s top players on the other side of the ball won’t be.  At least, not at the start.

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward confirmed Skai Moore will not start the opener against Texas A&M Thursday night.  Why?  It appears the coaching staff is looking to send a message to the linebacker and, by extension, the entire team.

“He’ll play. He’ll play early,” the coordinator said. “Just got to make sure he does what he’s supposed to do when you ask him to do something.”

With the sophomore Moore sidelined, fellow sophomore Jonathan Walton will get the starting nod against the Aggies.

Last season as a true freshman, Moore led the team in both tackles (56) and interceptions (four). For that, he was named by the coaches as a first-team Freshman All-SEC performer.

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Outland Trophy candidate won’t start at center for Beavers

Oregon State v Washington State

One of college football’s finest centers won’t be on the field during the first weekend of play when the Oregon State Beavers host the Portland State Vikings .

Junior Isaac Seumalo, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list, is still recovering from a broken foot he suffered during the Hawaii Bowl against the Boise State Broncos. Junior Josh Mitchell will start in Seumalo’s place, according to the Oregonian.

Oregon’s offensive line as a whole was in upheaval until recent weeks. Junior Gavin Andrews was moved from right to left tackle a little over two weeks ago. Sophomore Sean Harlow will start at right tackle.

“(It’s) pretty good, considering there’s been some juggling and movement and some late injuries that forced us into some decisions about where to put people,” Beavers coach Mike Riley told the Oregonian‘s Gina Mizell. “I think it’s still a group that will be good and has a chance to get better.”

A return date for Seumalo wasn’t provided. The Beavers play the Hawaii Warriors Sept. 6, and Seumalo could return to the field where he was originally injured. The coaching staff may even look at the schedule and realize it doesn’t need Seumalo in the lineup until the third game of the season. The Beavers enjoy an early bye week and then host the San Diego Aztecs Sept. 20.

Once Seumalo returns, he may not be reinserted at center. Riley has expressed an interest in Seumalo playing right guard this season. Mitchell’s play through first game or two will dictate exactly where Riley can eventually play his best offensive lineman.

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WVU QB admits first smooch was with Nick Saban’s daughter

Nick Saban

A first kiss is a special moment in a person’s life. If you’re West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, it’s a moment that can come back and haunt you during the Mountaineers’ season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Trickett revealed a little secret about himself during his Tuesday meeting with local media. His first kiss was with the daughter of Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Whether or not this was a smart choice to make this public just prior to playing one of the most inventive defensive coaches in college football history is certainly in question.

Saban’s reputation as one of the most intimidating coaches in college football is well known. He could use this as an opportunity to overwhelm the Mountaineers’ offense and crush Trickett with a variety of blitz packages.

Or, Saban can take this in stride and think nothing of it. His main concern will be defeating the Mountaineers. Nothing more, nothing less.

The latter situation is far more likely, but it’s fun to think about Saban defending the honor of his daughter in a gladiatorial game of chess in which the likely outcome is Alabama emerging victorious.

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UPDATE: Sister speaks on Josh Shaw’s behalf

USC v California Getty Images

Sometimes a story is too good to be true. Could this be the latest example of that adage at work?

USC is opening an internal investigation into the story of senior cornerback Josh Shaw saving his nephew from drowning. The story shared by USC’s athletics website was inspirational and a touching one. Shaw reportedly suffered a pair of high ankle sprains while allegedly leaping from a second floor balcony into a pool below to save his nephew, who cannot swim.

A day later, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian says there may be conflicting information regarding how the injury to Shaw’s ankles were suffered.

For now, USC is keeping Shaw from meeting with the media until the university can confirm the information regarding the injuries.

UPDATE (5:00 p.m. ET): According to information obtained by NBC News, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said they have no record of any calls to their Palmdale station for service involving Shaw or a family member due to a near drowning.

UPDATE (8:00 p.m. ET): Josh Shaw’s older sister, Asia Shawspoke with USA TODAY on behalf of her brother. She confirmed the initial report of the football player saving his nephew — her son — but wouldn’t comment on any “speculation” that Josh Shaw injured himself during a burglary.

“The one who was supposed to be watching him turned away for a second,” she said. “And Josh, who is on the balcony, saw the incident and reacted.”

Asia Shaw also confirmed no authorities were involved in the matter since her son didn’t experience any respiratory impairment.

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Brian Kelly: Everett Golson is ‘taking next step of leadership’

Brian Kelly, Everett Golson

When Everett Golson was readmitted to Notre Dame, the quarterback had to prove himself all over again.

Golson started 11 games in 2012, including the BCS National Championship Game, but he wasn’t handed the starting position upon his return. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly eventually named Golson the team’s starting quarterback Aug 13. Since then, Golson has grown into a legitimate leader within the program.

Kelly discussed Golson’s evolving status as a leader and updated the team’s injury situation during his Tuesday meeting with the media:

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Report: North Carolina investigates alleged hazing

Larry Fedora

It seems academic fraud, illicit benefits and NCAA sanctions weren’t embarrassing enough for the North Carolina Tar Heels football program.

Head coach Larry Fedora was eventually hired to replace the ousted Butch Davis and interim coach Everett Withers to give the program a fresh slate. Instead, Fedora is going to be  mired in yet another controversy within the program.

Allegations of hazing have been reported, according to Yahoo Sports.

“During the first week of August, redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Jackson Boyer was involved in an alleged physical altercation with multiple teammates in his room at the A-Loft hotel in Chapel Hill where the team was staying during fall camp. … The incident allegedly left Boyer with a concussion,” sources told Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson and Pat Forde.

The university addressed the report.

“We are aware of an incident involving members of the UNC football team that took place earlier this month. We take this allegation seriously and the University is conducting a thorough review,” Kevin Best, North Carolina’s assistant athletic director for communications, told Yahoo Sports.

If the university finds the allegations to be true, the players involved should expect to be disciplined.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to fostering organizations that provide a positive and safe environment for new and existing members,” the UNC Office of the Dean of Students stated. “To that end, UNC expressly prohibits hazing or any activity that puts a student’s physical, emotional or psychological health and safety at risk. The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance defines hazing as action, ‘that causes or permits an individual, with or without consent, to engage in activities that subject that individual or others to risks of physical injury, mental distress, or personal indignities of a highly offensive nature, in connection with recruitment, initiation, or continued membership in a society, fraternity or sorority, club, or similar organized group, whether or not recognized by the University.’ “

Since the school is still in the middle of the investigation, none of the names that allegedly committed the aforementioned act have been revealed.

The latest incident only adds to the concerns within North Carolina’s athletic department. The NCAA decided June 30 to reopen its investigation into academic irregularities after former UNC basketball player Rashad McCants confirmed the academic improprieties during ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

While these allegations hover over the athletic department, the football team must still prepare for its season opener against the Liberty Flames. The Tar Heels are considered a popular pick to win the ACC’s Coastal division. However, their season could eventually be interrupted by suspensions to multiple players due to foolish actions.

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SEC teams rush to schedule the Kansas Jayhawks

Charlie Weis AP

Kansas Jayhawks football is growing in popularity, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

As conferences attempt to improve their non-conference schedules in order to be more attractive options for the College Football Playoff, the Jayhawks are one of the few teams which play in a Power Five conference that are still classified as a potential “cupcake” on the schedule.

SEC teams, in particular, have been quite interested in scheduling the Jayhawks in recent weeks.

Kansas’ reputation precedes itself. The program can’t escape the fact its 9-39 the past four seasons. And the Jayhawks are expected to finish last in the Big 12 Conference again this season. The program is essentially seen as a loophole in the SEC’s mandate.

The Jayhawks aren’t eager to regularly play against teams from the best conference in college football. And it may be the first time the program can actually turn down requests from other programs.

Schedules are generally created years in advance. The Jayhawks have a full non-conference slate through 2017, and they’re not exactly playing against powerhouse programs. The one team that’s been highly successful the Jayhawks face during that period is the Duke Blue Devils this season.

Kansas does currently have one opening in its non-conference schedule in 2018. And the program has two openings for the 2019 and 2020 season. SEC teams may have to fight over those opportunities to actually play Kansas in the future. At that point, Kansas may be able to leverage a home-and-home series with an SEC program.

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Iowa converts frosh LB to FB due to depth issues

Aaron Mends

In an attempt to build depth in Iowa’s backfield, freshman linebacker Aaron Mends will get a look at fullback, according to The Gazette‘s Marc Morehouse.

The move was necessitated by a season-ending injury to Iowa’s starting fullback, Adam Cox. Mends will now be the team’s only depth at fullback behind junior Macon Plewa.

Mends was considered a three-star recruit as a linebacker, but he doubled as a starting running back in high school. Mends also held offers from Iowa State and North Dakota State.

While the Hawkeyes hope Mends can make the transition to the offensive side of the football, the team certainly doesn’t envision him as their starter this season. Mends is far from a traditional fullback at 200 pounds. The team’s starting tailback, Marc Weisman, is 240 pounds.

This was supposed to be a season for Mends to potentially redshirt and develop as a linebacker. Instead, he’s now one play away from accepting a critical role in the Hawkeyes’ running game.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Iowa athletic department)

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Finally, somebody asked Johnny Manziel for his take on Ohio State

Johnny Manziel

Because inquiring minds want to know, we now have Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel on the record about his state of Ohio State in the fallout of star quarterback Braxton Miller going down for the 2014 season with a right shoulder injury.

“I don’t wish that for anybody,” Manziel said of Miller’s injury, according to Cleveland.com. “So hopefully everything in that situation works out for him. I hope he’s able to get a medical redshirt and be able to play, because first and foremost, I’m a fan of Braxton.”

It should be noted Miller does not need a medical redshirt year. He still has a redshirt year to spare, which will be used this season. Miller underwent successful surgery Tuesday morning. Manziel was also willing to shed some light on what it takes for a redshirt freshman to step into a starting role under center, which is exactly what J.T. Barrett will be doing this fall in Miller’s absence. Manziel, of course, stepped into the spotlight at Texas A&M as a redshirt freshman under different circumstances, but he could still relate.

“Ohio State is obviously a very big deal but, I mean, a (redshirt) freshman coming in and taking over for a program like that, I think he’s got a good situation with Coach [Urban] Meyer being there and being able to put him in good situations to be successful,” Manziel said. “So I think more than anything he needs to depend on him, Coach Meyer, who’s been through it all.”

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UCLA center may be questionable for opener

Deandre Coleman, Jake Brendel

UCLA will start the 2014 season with one of the most hyped quarterbacks around the country with Brett Hundley. But who will be the player responsible for snapping the football into Hundley’s hands? That responsibility has been expected to belong to Jake Brendel, but with the season opener days away there could be some wait and see.

According to an Orange County Register report, Brendel suffered an MCL injury two weeks ago. The severity of the injury is said to be “pretty moderate,” according to the report and head coach Jim Mora has been noncommittal on his playing status for the season opener against Virginia.

Brendel has started 27 straight games for the Bruins and is on the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy. He was a team captain last fall and has been named a captain for 2014 as well. If he is unavailable, look to the Bruins to give guard Alex Redmond a shot at the job. He has been taking first team snaps in the middle of the line and Mora has said he has performed well.

“He looks good (at center),” Mora said, per Orange County Register. “Alex could play anywhere up front.”

UCLA gets the season started on Saturday at Virginia at noon eastern.

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