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UConn welcomes 24 newcomers on signing day

Cincinnati v Connecticut Getty Images

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

STORRS, Conn. (February 6, 2013) – UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni has announced that 22 high school senior signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday to attend the University of Connecticut. The 22 seniors from 10 states with the following breakdown: Connecticut 5, Pennsylvania 5, New York 4, Florida 2, Virginia 2, Georgia 1, Maryland 1, Massachusetts 1 and South Carolina 1.

In addition, the Huskies had a pair of student-athletes enroll for the spring 2013 semester, including wide receivers Dhameer Bradley and Noel Thomas. Thomas is from Norwalk, Conn., for a total of six Connecticut players in this class.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 24 members of UConn’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Michael Boland: Projected to be a defensive lineman at Connecticut…as a senior, won both the offensive and defensive Hookey Reap award for the top lineman in Lackawanna (Pa.) County…was also all-region and all-state as an offensive lineman…blocked for two 1,000-yard rushers on team…had 67 tackles, 14 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in senior year…was all-region in junior year as an offensive lineman…team went 14-2 in senior season…advanced to championship game of Class A of PIAA tournament…was also team’s kicker and scored 32 points…born August 18, 1994.

Tim Boyle: Was named Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association Player of the Year…named first team All-State by the New Haven Register and All-Hartford Courant…named All-Southern Connecticut Conference as a senior…threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior as team won state Class LL championship for the third-straight season…also rushed for 295 yards on 60 carries for five TDs…was one of three finalists for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Connecticut Player of the Year Award along with fellow UConn signee Matt Walsh…as a junior, shared starting duties and threw for 850 yards and 15 TDs in six games…born October 3, 1994.

Chris Britton: Had more than 125 tackles in senior season…team went 11-3 in senior season and advanced to quarterfinals of Pennsylvania Class AAAA playoffs… named to the Pennsylvania roster for the Big 33 All-Star Game on June 15 in Hershey, Pa…missed most of junior year with an injury…also plays basketball…born December 16, 1994.

Dhameer Bradley: Enrolled at UConn for spring 2013 semester…attended Red Lion Christian Academy (Bear, Del.) for three years and then Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) for senior year…had 13 receptions for 156 yards and one TD as team played a limited schedule…also played basketball at Red Lion…honor roll student…born March 3, 1995.

Foley Fatukasi: Had 78 tackles as a senior with ten sacks…named Second Team All-Queens/Long Island by the New York Daily News as a senior… will play in Empire Challenge All-Star Game in June…team reached PSAL Bowl Division finals in sophomore year and was 6-3 in junior year…was limited to just two games in junior year because of injury…first player from Beach Channel High School to go directly to a FBS school…born March 4, 1995.

Jordan Fuchs: Had 27 receptions for 374 yards as a senior…did not play football until the start of his junior year of high school…was named second team All-City by MSG Varsity…as a junior had 25 receptions for 492 yards and nine TDs…also an outstanding basketball player who plays at some high school as current Husky men’s basketball player Omar Calhoun…Former UConn women’s basketball All-American Sue Bird also attended same high school…born October 26, 1994.

Javon Hadley: Earned All-Dade County Honorable Mention…was invited to three different postseason all-star games…two-time Florida Prep Player of the Week as a senior…born September 19, 1994.

Sha’ki Holines: Was named to the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association “Super 26″ All-State Team…had 50 tackles as a senior with one interception and a fumble recovery…was named Springfield Republican Division II All-Scholastic first team as a junior and senior…had 80 tackles in 2013, with 29 for a loss…made 13 receptions for 262 yards…as a junior, had 122 tackles and was team’s defensive MVP with six sacks…as a tight end, made 27 receptions for 287 yards and three TD …team went 8-5 in junior year and played in Division II Super Bowl…as a senior, team advanced to semifinals of Division II…born November 18, 1994.

Tommy Hopkins: Named to the New York State Sportswriters Association Class B First Team…also played defense and made 61 tackles with 5.5 sacks…was named to the 2012 Journal-News Super 11 team…school advanced to Class B state semifinals in sophomore year and was a starter…born July 15, 1994.

Cory Jasudowich: Was named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class B All-New England team…was a four-year starter on both offense and defense…projected to be a college linebacker…team went 7-2 in senior year and played in the Tom Flaherty Bowl…his class had an overall record of 29-6 and won two bowls games…played for Team USA in International Bowl on February 5 in Austin, Texas…born September 20, 1994.

Junior Joseph: Projected to be a linebacker at UConn after playing both LB and tight end in high school….was named PIAA Class AAA First Team All-State as a senior by Pennsylvania Football News and the Pennsylvania Sports Writers… had 79 tackles as a senior with 17 tackles for a loss…also had five receptions for 63 yards as a senior…team was 13-2 in senior season and advanced to semifinals of PIAA Class AAAA semifinals…as a junior had 59 tackles with 9.0 for a loss and also two touchdown receptions…team was 12-2 and advanced to state semifinals…had 19 tackles as a sophomore…born September 7, 1994.

Brian Lemelle: Named Parade Magazine All-America Honorable Mention…Pennsylvania career record holder in receptions (269) and receiving yardage (4,529) while his career TDs (38) is second…was named the Pennsylvania Sports News Class AAA Offensive Player of the Year…had 91 receptions as a senior for 1,546 yards and 11 TDs…also returned punts and kickoffs and was team’s punter…team went 14-1 in senior season and advanced to PIAA Class AAA tournament…as a junior, had 93 receptions for 1,630 yards and 13 TDs…team was 13-3 and played in championship game of AAA bracket…had 70 receptions for 1,223 yards and 11 TDs as a sophomore and team was 13-3 and played in AAA championship game, losing by one point…named to the Pennsylvania roster for the Big 33 All-Star Game on June 15 in Hershey, Pa. …played for the winning North team in the Chesapeake Bowl…had three receptions for 98 yards in that contest…born March 31, 1994.

Thomas Lucas: Played in Maryland Crab Bowl game on Dec. 21…was named second team All-Montgomery County 4-A as a senior… had 57 tackles and two interceptions as a junior…team went 9-2 in junior season and earned a Maryland 4A North playoff berth…born November 21, 1994.

Josh Marriner: Was named First Team All-Tidewater by the Virginian Pilot…rushed for 2,168 yards as a senior on 253 carries with 24 rushing touchdowns and 26 total touchdowns…had two receptions – both for touchdowns…also made 27 tackles on defense with eight for a loss…had 298 yards of kickoff return yardage…team was 9-3 in senior year and advanced to second round of Virginia Division Six tournament…gained 417 yards in single game on 20 carries against Great Bridge in late October…the game was ten yards short of the South Hampton Roads single-game record..1,898 regular season yards in 2012 is fourth in South Hampton Roads’ all-time list…Southeastern District and Eastern Region Offensive Player of the Year…born April 25, 1995.

Tommy Myers: Four-year letterman, three-year starter and team captain…was starting tight end, defensive end/safety and punter/kicker…had 27 receptions for 529 yards and seven TDs as a senior… earned First Team All-Hartford Courant as a senior and second team all-state honors from the New Haven Register…had 15 receptions for team that earned a spot in the Class L playoffs as a junior… was honorable mention All-Hartford Courant in junior year…three-time all-conference pick…also plays basketball and track and field…two-time Class S state champion in the javelin and won New England title in 2011…also four-year starter in basketball and averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds a game as a junior earning second team all-state honors…honor roll student…father Norm played football at UConn from 1981-84 while his mother Peggy (Walsh) was a women’s basketball player from 1982-86 at UConn with 1,413 career points and 937 rebounds, which still ranks fifth in school history…born June 26, 1995.

Kyle Schafenacker: Starting left tackle on team that won Florida 7A state championship as a senior…was named Florida High School Athletic Association 7A First Team All-State…team had 604 yards of total offense in 41-25 win over Tallahassee Lincoln for title…team went 13-2 in senior season and ended with a ten-game winning streak…team won district title in 2010 and 2012 and also state title in 2010…born July 4, 1995.

Jalen Stevens: Had 126 tackles in senior year with six sacks…team advanced to state semifinals in senior year…earned all-county honors from the (Goose Creek/Hanahan) Gazette and was second team as a junior…team went 14-1 in junior year and won South Carolina Class AAA-Division II championship…born October 17, 1994.

Cole Ormsby: Had 85 tackles in his senior season and led the state with 17 sacks…in senior year, team advanced to Class L championship game…had nine tackles and two sacks in two different games…made two sacks in Class L semifinals victory…named All-Central Connecticut Conference and Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-Defense…named Hartford Courant Defensive Player-of-the-Year and all-state by the New Haven Register and the Walter Camp Football Foundation…also played offense at the end position…as a junior, made 64 tackles with 13 sacks…team advanced to semifinals of Class L playoffs…born October 20, 1995.

Cameron Stapleton: Was team captain as a senior…was team Defensive MVP in both junior and senior seasons…had 39 tackles as a senior with nine sacks and had 33 tackles with six sacks in junior year…as a sophomore in 2010, had 28 tackles with five sacks…will play in Empire Challenge All-Star Game in June…born August 11, 1994.

Kivon Taylor: Team captain as a senior and quarterback at Grady High School in Atlanta…selected to play in the 2012 Georgia All-Star Game…honored as a USA Academic All-America Team…named to the 2013 FBU International All-Star Game…led team to a 2012 GHSA AAAA Playoff appearance and a 9-4 record.

Noel Thomas: Was named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class C All-New England team…named by MSG Varsity as its Connecticut Player of the Year… was team captain and MVP at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Conn.….team was 8-1 in senior year and advanced to Fairfield Athletic Association championship game…also won NEPSAC Class C championship with a victory in the Dan Rorke Bowl… wide receiver, running back and quarterback in senior year….had 2,000 yards of offense with 25 touchdowns in senior year…for his career, had 4,888 yards of offense with 53 TDs…head coach at St. Luke’s is his father, Noel Thomas, Sr. …born September 18, 1994.

Quinn Thompson: Will play tight end at Connecticut…named First Team Class AAA All-State by Pennsylvania Football News…was a quarterback and defensive lineman as a senior with 226 passing yards for two TDs…rushed for 721 yards with seven TDs…had four games with 100 yards of rushing or more…made 21 tackles on defense with a sack…team had a 9-3 record as a senior and earned a spot in the Pennsylvania Class AAA playoffs…had nine catches for 250 yards and six TDs as a junior with 80 carries for 292 yards and five TDs..on defense had 80 tackles for seven sacks…attended same high school as ’11 and ’12 UConn captain Blidi Wreh-Wilson…also plays basketball…born August 9, 1994.

Matt Walsh: Named the New Haven Register All-State Most Valuable Player and All-Hartford Courant…named to the Walter Camp Football Foundation and Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association all-state teams…was one of three finalists for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Connecticut Player of the Year Award along with fellow UConn signee Tim Boyle…projected to play fullback at UConn…scored five rushing TDs in win over Xavier and had a total of ten for the season…had 182 tackles in senior year with three sacks…had 15 tackles, 10 solo, and forced two fumbles in state Class L championship game in 2012…team went 13-0 in junior and senior years and won state Class L title both seasons…as a junior had 100 tackles as a linebacker and two sacks…earned New Haven Register All-Area honors as a junior…born April 4, 1995.

Chasz Wright: Projected to play offensive tackle at Connecticut…had 55 tackles as a senior with seven sacks and two caused fumbles…team went 11-3 in senior season and advanced to semifinals of state playoffs in Class 6…as a junior made 29 tackles with a sack…team went 11-1 and advanced to state quarterfinals…also plays basketball…born March 18, 1995.

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LSU’s Mike the Tiger ate Texas A&M (logo) for breakfast

Mike the Tiger

Many of us will be feasting on turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie and perhaps a green bean casserole or cranberry sauce if you prefer. But tigers need to eat too, right?

LSU is playing Texas A&M Thursday night to add to your football enjoyment. In honor of the occasion, LSU made sure to prepare an appropriate Thanksgiving Eve feast for Mike The Tiger. Today, Mike was fed raw meat in the form of Texas A&M’s logo, with a question on social media asking how many tigers it takes to devour the Aggies.

The answer? Just one.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 9.35.15 PM

It should be noted, this is a fairly common treat for Mike the Tiger. He has also devoured the logos of Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss this season.

Image via Mike the Tiger’s Instagram.

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Clemson QB Watson might have shot to snap losing streak to Gamecocks

Deshaun Watson

When Clemson lost starting quarterback Deshaun Watson to a sprained LCL in mid-November, there was a chance he could be expected to return this season. With just days to go leading up to The Palmetto Bowl against South Carolina, it appears there is a chance Watson will play for Clemson. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had some good things to say about Watson’s healthy and mobility in practice this week.

“I thought he was better today than he was yesterday,” Swinney said, according to TigerNet. “It’s just like I have been saying it gets better each day. I know he was more confident today than he was yesterday.”

Cole Stoudt has been leading the offense and will be Clemson’s starter this week unless Watson is deemed ready to step back into the starting job. Watson replaced Stoudt earlier in the season against Florida State and held onto the job until getting injured. Swinney will play it safe and wait until he sees more before throwing Watson back under center.

“Tomorrow is another important day for us from a preparation standpoint. I think he has a good chance,” Swinney added. “How much or when? We haven’t decided that yet. But I think he definitely has a chance to play.”

Clemson has lost five straight games to their in-state rivals from the SEC. The last time Clemson defeated South Carolina at home was in 2008.

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Status of UCLA starting WR unknown following practice injury

Thomas Duarte, Adoree' Jackson

UCLA needs one more win to clinch the Pac-12 South Division, but the Bruins may have to do so without the services of one of their top wide receivers. Thomas Duarte had to leave practice on Tuesday after injuring his left leg, putting his status for Saturday’s contest with Stanford in some question.

“He is so important to us,” UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said according to The Los Angeles Times. “He has excellent ball skills, and that’s big for us. He is an inside guy that causes matchup problems.”

Duarte is UCLA’s second-leading receiver this season with 458 yards and three touchdowns. Tyler Scott has been listed behind Duarte on the UCLA depth chart and could be in line for a spot start if needed. Freshman Mossi Johnson could be another possible option if it comes to needing to replace Duarte.

If UCLA defeats Stanford, the Bruins will win the Pac-12 South and face Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game. A UCLA loss to Stanford will hand the division championship to the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game.

Stanford will be playing UCLA without its top wide receiver. Ty Montgomery has been ruled out due to a right shoulder injury.

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Is it better for Ohio State to play Wisconsin or Minnesota (again)?

Ohio State v Minnesota Getty Images

Regardless of what unfolds Saturday in Columbus, Ohio we know the Ohio State Buckeyes will be heading to the Big Ten Championship Game as the Big Ten East Division champions. The Buckeyes will learn whom they will face on Saturday as Wisconsin and Minnesota play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the Big Ten West Division championship. With Ohio State looking to make a push up the College Football Playoff rankings in the next two weeks, does it matter more if Ohio State plays Wisconsin or Minnesota?

Here is the situation for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are currently ranked sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings. TCU is ranked just ahead of Ohio State and Mississippi State owns the fourth spot in the rankings. Baylor is in the conversation as well, sitting at seventh place just behind Ohio State.

Ohio State has already played Minnesota this season, winning a competitive game on the road in the snow just a couple of weeks ago. Ohio State did not have Wisconsin on the regular season schedule. If the committee compares results against similar opponents, then TCU seems to hold an edge on Ohio State with a wider margin of victory against Minnesota from a game in September. As it turns out, the Minnesota game is helping keep TCU ahead of Baylor, despite the Horned Frogs losing a head-to-head result against Baylor and having an identical record.

For Ohio State, winning the final two games of the season will be an absolute must in order to have a shot at one of the four playoff spots, especially if Alabama, Florida State and Oregon win their remaining games and conference championship games. Ohio State will have to hope the selection committee sticks to the idea of conference championships carrying a little extra weight when it comes time to selecting the four playoff teams. That overall body of work would likely look more impressive with a Big Ten championship game victory over a surging Wisconsin, with a potential Heisman Trophy running back in Melvin Gordon leading the Badgers offense.

There is no guarantee Ohio State can leapfrog TCU and Mississippi State. If ending the season on a high note holds any significance, then Ohio State may have the best argument to make with a win against Wisconsin. Would playing Minnesota a second time have the same importance?

Well, actually…

If Minnesota beats Wisconsin, it is possible the Gophers could climb as many as five spots in the next playoff ranking. This happens easier if Auburn loses to Alabama, Georgia Tech loses to Georgia and Missouri loses to Arkansas. The loser of the Arizona-Arizona State game should also fall behind a victorious Minnesota. Then we would be talking about a top 13 Minnesota, and this is assuming UCLA is not upset by Stanford or Michigan State upset by Penn State.

But Ohio State has already proven it can beat Minnesota, doing so on the road. Doing it again on a neutral field does not add much to the overall body of work for Ohio State. Adding another team to the list of opponents would likely be more beneficial to the Buckeyes. Wisconsin beating Minnesota would diminish the attractiveness of one of Ohio State’s wins, but it would do the same for TCU as well. The more Minnesota wins, the better things could play out for TCU, and not Ohio State.

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Georgia Southern has bowl waiver denied

Georgia Southern has already clinched a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship in its first season at the FBS level, but it does not look as though the Eagles will be going to a bowl game. The university reportedly filed for a waiver to be eligible to participate in a postseason bowl game, but that waiver has been denied. Georgia Southern can still file an appeal and hope for the best.

Any appeal decision at this point is likely to uphold the original ruling on the waiver. If bowl spots start to become harder to fill, then the chances Georgia Southern could receive a positive response could increase.

Programs moving up from the FCS to the FBS ranks are ineligible for postseason play in their first year in FBS. Exceptions may be made to allow these schools play in a bowl game, but this has rarely been a legitimate concern. Georgia Southern’s case is just about as strong as it could have been with a share of the Sun Belt title and a chance to win the conference’s outright title.

Georgia Southern can win the outright Sun Belt title with a win against ULM or a Louisiana-Lafayette loss to Troy this weekend. The Sun Belt’s champion typically plays in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

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Todd Gurley begins rehab after ACL surgery

Todd Gurley

Georgia running back Todd Gurley underwent surgery on Tuesday to address a torn ACL, and he started his rehab on Wednesday.

It used to be a torn ACL would keep a player out of action for a year, but sometimes players can come back earlier than they used to thanks to improved medical treatment and rehab practices. Regardless, Gurley should not be expected to play again this season and he will likely be limited at best in the spring. The other question is whether or not Gurley will be working to return for one more season at Georgia or if he will risk taking a shot at the NFL while coming off a torn ACL.

Returning for one more year at Georgia would appear to be the most logical situation for Gurley. Before the injury Gurley would have likely been the first running back off the big board in the 2015 NFL Draft, but considering the diminished running back stock in the NFL Draft and the injury, heading to the NFL would be an unwise move for Gurley right now.

Gurley recently had his anticipated return to the field cut short. After sitting out four games due to a suspension, Gurley returned to action in a home game against Auburn. It was a fine return, but a torn ACL in the final minutes of the game put a damper on the entire game despite the win.

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Broyles Award nominees include Kiffin, Venables, 38 others

Lane Kiffin

With the next round fo the coaching carousel about to get underway at full speed, some programs may want to pay attention to the list of names nominated for the Broyles Award. The Broyles Award is presented annually to the top assistant coach in college football, and the list of 40 nominees for this year’s award includes some names with previous head coaching experience and others about to be in line for a head coaching gig somewhere around the country.

Current head coaches who previously won the Broyles Award include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, UConn’s Bob Diaco and Duke’s David Cutcliffe. Last year’s Broyles Award winner was Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who many feel could be ready for a head coaching offer in the next round of the coaching carousel.  This year Narduzzi is not a finalist for the award, but Spartans co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner is.

“This will be one of the most challenging years ever for our selection committee to choose the top 5 finalists and winner, so many assistant coaches did outstanding work this year,” David Bazzel, Broyles Award executive director.

This year’s Broyles Award winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 9 by The Rotary Club of Little Rock and sponsor Delta Dental. The award is named after former Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles, who had a solid track record of pumping out quality assistant coaches. Some of the assistants who coaches under Broyles include Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Hayden Fry, Joe Gibbs, and Jackie Sherrill.

Broyles Award Nominees

Alabama – Lane Kiffin, Offensive Coordinator
Appalachian State – Dwayne Ledford, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Arizona – Jeff Casteel, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas – Robb Smith, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas State University – Walt Bell, Offensive Coordinator
Boise State University – Mike Sanford, Offensive Coordinator
Boston College – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator
Brigham Young University – Nick Howell, Defensive coordinator
Clemson – Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator
Colorado State – Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator
Duke University – John Latina, Run Game Coordinator/OL
East Carolina University – Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator
FIU – Josh Conklin, Defensive Coordinator
Georgia Southern University – Doug Ruse, Offensive Coordinator
Louisiana – Marquase Lovings, Running Backs
Louisiana Tech – Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator
Louisville – Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator
Memphis – James Shibest, Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
Miami – Mark D’Onofrio, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan – Greg Mattison, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan State University – Dave Warner, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Minnesota – Tracy Claeys, Defensive Coordinator
Mississippi State – Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator
Missouri – Dave Steckel, Defensive Coordinator
NC State – Desmond Kitchings, Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator
Ohio State University – Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator
Ole Miss – Dave Wommack, Defensive Coordinator
Oregon – Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator
Penn State University – Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator
Stanford – Lance Anderson, Defensive Coordinator
TCU – Doug Meacham, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Temple – Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator
UCF – Brent Key, Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
UCLA – Noel Mazzone, Offensive Coordinator
Utah – Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator
Utah State University – Todd Orlando, Defensive Coordinator
UTSA – Neal Neathery, Defensive Coordinator
West Virginia University – Tony Gibson, Defensive Coordinator
Western Michigan University – Kirk Ciarrocca, Offensive Coordinator
Wisconsin – Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator

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Freeze, on Bo Wallace: ‘have to chain him down to keep him from’ Egg Bowl

Mississippi v Arkansas Getty Images

While it’s not yet officially official, it appears Ole Miss’ triggerman will indeed be under center for the Egg Bowl Saturday.

Bo Wallace missed a substantial chunk of the Arkansas loss last week after injuring his ankle.  During practice leading up to the rivalry game against Mississippi State, Wallace has been somewhat limited.

On the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday, however, Wallace’s head coach seemed decidedly optimistic that the quarterback will be on the field when the Rebels take on the Bulldogs.

You would have to chain him down to keep him from going,” Hugh Freeze said. “He’s looking better every day. We anticipate him being ready to go.”

If Wallace were to suffer a setback, the Rebels would turn to either Devante Kincaid and Ryan Buchanan. The backup duo, both redshirt freshmen, has attempted 39 passes this season, with Kincaid completing 15 of his 17 attempts.

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Hoos your coach in 2015? For Virginia, it’s Mike London

Mike London AP

There will be many head coaches dragged to the chopping block over the next month or so.  One of those who won’t be, somewhat surprisingly, is Mike London.

With speculation swirling, Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage confirmed in a press release Wednesday afternoon that London will be returning as the Cavaliers’ head coach in 2015.  A two-win team in London’s fourth season last year, the Cavaliers stand at five wins in 2014 and on the cusp of bowl eligibility.

It’s that improvement that led Littlepage to take his finger off the trigger and give London what most would consider a one-year reprieve.

“It was important to see improvement in our football program this season,” Littlepage’s statement began. “I’ve seen signs of progress in many areas. Through the staff changes made over the last two years, we are better at teaching the game and in the overall development of the student-athletes. We also continue to notice the commitment by this group of coaches and student-athletes to their academic and community responsibilities.

“The staff has re-focused its recruiting efforts to emphasize the need to attract student-athletes capable of helping the program compete at a high level in the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference. We are seeing many of these student-athletes on the field right now and the staff continues to have success on the recruiting trail. We will continue to support the program in their efforts to maximize their recruiting success.

“It’s important for each of our sports programs to continue to show progress and follow a plan to compete for conference championships and in postseason competition to support the department’s goals. I trust the plan Mike has in place and believe his leadership provides the best opportunity for Virginia football to be successful in the future.”

In London’s five-plus seasons, UVa is 23-37 overall and 11-28 in ACC play.  An 8-5 season in 2011 led to speculation that he would replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.  London instead remained in Charlottesville, and the Cavaliers finished sixth and seventh in the Coastal division in 2012 and 2013, respectively; they’re tied for fourth this year.

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Report: no contact between Braxton Miller, Oregon

Braxton Miller AP

It’s not just the coaching rumor mill that’s churning the day before Turkey Day.

Because of J.T. Barrett‘s eyebrow-raising success this season, success that has put the redshirt freshman squarely in the Heisman mix, speculation has been growing that the window on Braxton Miller‘s days at Ohio State is closing.  As the speculation goes, Miller will look to transfer from the Buckeyes — as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately — and move on to a situation that would afford him the opportunity to be the starter for his final collegiate season, which may or may not be the case at OSU.

Miller’s name, despite no hints from the player himself, mind you, has been connected to schools such as Auburn, Boston College and, most notably, Oregon.  The Ducks would make sense on numerous levels, as both the offensive system utilized would seem to match Miller’s skillset and UO’s triggerman, Marcus Mariota, is expected to leave early for the NFL.  The dot-connecting is reasonable, although that doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

According to The Oregonian, and citing a source with knowledge of the situation, “[t]here has been no contact between Oregon and either Miller or anyone acting on his behalf.” Leading up to the paper knocking down the talk, there was a rumor making the rounds that Miller had let it be known to the UO football program that he had an interest in the school and offensive coordinator Scott Frost followed up on that interest during a recruiting trek a couple of weeks ago. One of the problems with that, the paper notes, is that Frost wasn’t on the recruiting trail at that time.

A little over a week ago, NFL.com reported that “the quarterback’s plan for now is to remain at Ohio State and lead the Buckeyes in 2015.” Two months ago, Urban Meyer stated emphatically that Miller is his guy.

Braxton is our quarterback,” Meyer said Sept. 30. “To be fair to Braxton, Big Ten Player of the Year. But it’s good to know we’ve got both of them.”

A month and a half later, Meyer’s tune had changed slightly as he heavily intimated Miller will have to earn the job back… if he even stays, which the head coach seemed to hint at as well.

Competition brings out the best, and I’m really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year, if that’s the plan,” the coach hedged.

If it’s made clear to Miller that he will have to earn back a job that he held for three years prior to re-injuring his shoulder during summer camp, it will be interesting to see if he accepts the challenge or moves on.  And, if there is a true competition, is it something Miller can even win?  Barrett, in 11 games, has already proven to be the better passer of the two — as the competition has already pointed out — and his running ability, while not at Miller’s level, is a significant weapon as well.

It’s hard to see how Meyer could send Barrett back to the bench after the season he’s had, one that could see a mid-December trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.  It’s also hard to see how Meyer could keep Miller, the 2012 and 2013 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, off the field.  One way or the other, whether it’s by transfer attrition or competition, something has got to give.

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Clemson-South Carolina officially dubbed ‘The Palmetto Bowl’

Clemson v South Carolina Getty Images

After years of fans and media alike ofttimes and unofficially referring to it as “The Palmetto Bowl,” the in-state rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina has officially taken on that moniker, both schools announced Wednesday.

Seeing as both teams hail from “The Palmetto State,” the name makes perfect sense.  The announcement also comes just a couple of days before the 112th meeting between the two football programs.

“This is one of the premier games every year in college football, and it’s a great opportunity for our institutions to increase exposure to the State of South Carolina and all the great people here,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. “To name this game ‘The Palmetto Bowl’ hopefully adds to the identity of this great rivalry.”

“From ‘Big Thursday’ to ‘The Palmetto Bowl,’ there is so much history and tradition to showcase about this rivalry,” said Radakovich’s South Carolina counterpart, Ray Tanner. “The Palmetto Bowl gives this rivalry an identity that highlights the State of South Carolina and the accomplishments of these outstanding institutions.”

In addition to the name, the schools also announced a trophy and logo will be developed and unveiled prior to the 2015 game.

Behind only Minnesota-Wisconsin (108 this weekend), Clemson-South Carolina is the second-longest, consecutively-played rivalry in the country at 106 straight (as of Saturday).  The Tigers currently lead the series 65-42-4, although the Gamecocks have won five straight and six of the last eight.

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Sun Devils’ leading receiver to play in Territorial Cup

Jaelen Strong, Dominique Hatfield

A head injury kept the most productive piece of Arizona State’s passing game out of last week’s game.  That, though, won’t be the case on rivalry weekend.

Tuesday, Todd Graham confirmed that Jaelen Strong will play in this Saturday’s Territorial Cup battle with Arizona.  Graham allowed that the wide receiver was “close to playing last week” against Washington State, but the team decided to take the precautionary route because of the concussion.

That won’t be the case this week as the symptoms have subsided, giving the offense back one of its most potent weapons.

It’s going to be great to have him back,” quarterback Taylor Kelly said. “It’s going to open up D.J. (Foster) and our running game and also get Cam Smith the ball more.”

Strong is tops on the Sun Devils in receptions (71), receiving yards (982) and receiving touchdowns (nine). Those totals are good for 12th, 16th and T-11th in the nation, respectively, and fourth among Pac-12 receivers in all three categories.

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TCU with good news, no news on skill-player front

B.J. Catalon, Orion Stewart

TCU’s skill-position players are getting healthier. Whether they are getting really healthy as the push toward a potential spot in the College Football Playoff remains to be seen.

Gary Patterson confirmed Tuesday that wide receiver Deante’ Gray will play in the Thanksgiving Day game against Texas. Gray has missed the past two games with a foot injury.

Despite being sidelined for a pair of games, Gray is still tied for the lead in touchdown receptions with seven, while he’s third in receiving yards (486) and fourth in receptions (29).

On the not-so-good injury front is B.J. Catalon.

The running back sustained what’s only been described as an upper-torso injury — the speculation is that it’s a concussion — in the Nov. 1 win over West Virginia. Catalon did not play in the last two games, wins over Kansas State and Kansas, because of the injury. Whether it’s a third straight sidelining is unclear, although it’s not sounding promising.

I don’t know whether B.J. will be with us or not,” the head coach said when asked about Catalon’s availability for the holiday road trip to Austin.

This season, Catalon has accounted for 910 all-purpose yards — 493 rushing, 163 receiving, 254 on returns. That versatility led the junior to be named as one of the five finalists for the Hornung Award.

Despite those two missed games, he still leads the Horned Frogs with 10 rushing touchdowns. He’s returned a punt for a touchdown this year as well.

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Wazzu to induct Steve Gleason into its Hall of Fame

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

If you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up, we have you covered.

During Saturday’s Apple Cup game with Washington, Washington State will induct its Class of 2014 into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. That class will consist of one person: Steve Gleason.

Gleason played both football and baseball for the Cougars from 1995-99. On the gridiron, he was a two-time captain; he was a captain on the baseball team his senior year as well. Three times he earned All-Pac-10 honors in football, and four times he was a Pac-10 All-Academic selection.

In 2011, a handful of years after a seven-year NFL career came to an end, Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Since then, Gleason established “Team Gleason,” a foundation that looks to raise money and awareness for ALS.

Gleason raising awareness will serve as his lasting and most impactful legacy; his collegiate athletic prowess, though, will now have an official legacy as well.

“Steve is a tremendous Cougar and his induction Saturday night into the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame is well deserved,” said athletic director Bill Moos in a statement. “With a sold-out Martin Stadium for the Apple Cup, I can think of no better setting to highlight Steve’s accomplishments than in front of a fan base that has admired him for so many years.”

Gleason’s induction will take place between the first and second quarters of the rivalry game. It will mark the first time in the school’s history that just one former student-athlete has been inducted in that year’s class.

Based on how Gleason lived his life before and after his diagnosis, the honor is well-deserved.

 

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Guy, Mackey, O’Brien, Outland, Thorpe awards announce finalists

Melbourne Cup Day Getty Images

It was a busy Tuesday night for major awards announcing its finalists, as evidenced by the fact that CFT is now just getting to the other half of them.

The finalists for the Maxwell (most outstanding player at any position), Nagurski (defensive player), Biletnikoff (wide receiver), Groza (kicker) and Walker (running back) awards we’ve already covered; now we’ll get to the other five. In announcements Tuesday night, the Guy (punter), Mackey (tight end), O’Brien (quarterback), Outland (interior lineman) and Thorpe (defensive back) finalists were revealed.

Below are the three distinguished finalists for each award:

RAY GUY AWARD
Tom Hackett, Utah (Jr.)
JK Scott, Alabama (Fr.)
Austin Rehkow, Idaho (Soph.)

DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD
Trevone Boykin, TCU (Jr.)
Marcus Mariota, Oregon (RS Jr.)
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (Jr.)

JOHN MACKEY AWARD
Nick O’Leary, Florida State (Sr.)
Clive Walford, Miami (Sr.)
Maxx Williams, Minnesota (RS Soph.)

OUTLAND TROPHY
Malcom Brown, Texas (Jr.)
Reese Dismukes, Auburn (Sr.)
Brandon Scherff, Iowa (Sr.)

JIM THORPE AWARD
Landon Collins, Alabama (Jr.)
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon (Sr.)
Gerod Holliman, Louisville (RS So.)

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