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UConn welcomes 24 newcomers on signing day

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(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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Devlyn Cousin takes to social media to announce Cyclones departure

Devlyn Cousin

A little more than a week before Iowa State opens its season, the Cyclones’ depth along the defensive line has taken a bit of a hit.

On social media, Devlyn Cousin announced that he has decided to transfer out of the ISU football program and continue his playing career elsewhere. No reason was given for the abrupt departure.

Paul Rhoads subsequently confirmed the lineman’s departure.

“Devlyn and I met last night and he informed me of his decision to leave the football team and his intention to transfer to a school that is a better fit for him,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is going to stay in school at Iowa State for the rest of the fall semester and we will help him in the transfer process. We wish him success in his future.”

Cousin played in 16 games the past two seasons after redshirting as a true freshman in 2012.  He started two of those contests, with both starts coming in 2014.

In December of last year, Cousin was arrested and charged with simple serious domestic assault and obstruction of emergency communication after a verbal altercation with his girlfriend turned physical.  While he was indefinitely suspended, he ultimately was reinstated and entered summer camp No. 2 on the depth chart at tackle.

(Photo credit: Iowa State athletics)

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If rehab goes well, Hogs will lose Jonathan Williams to NFL

Jonathan Williams AP

At the rate things are going, Jonathan Williams may have played his final down as a member of the Arkansas football program.

Initially diagnosed with a foot injury that was expected to sideline him for an extended period of time, the Arkansas running back was subsequently ruled out for the entire season.  Williams, who sustained the injury during a scrimmage a couple of weeks ago, had two screws surgically inserted into his left foot to help promote growth and healing in a torn ligament.

If his rehab goes as expected, Williams said, he won’t be returning to the Razorbacks for the 2016 season.  Instead, he’ll make his way to the NFL as an early entrant in the draft.

Last season, Williams led the Hogs in rushing with 1,190 yards. His 12 rushing touchdowns were tied for the team lead with Alex Collins, who was second on the team with 1,100 yards.  The backs were the only FBS teammates to rush for more than a thousand yards last season.

Williams is Arkansas’ No. 10 all-time leading rusher with 2,321 career rushing yards. His 5.72 career yards per rush average ranks sixth all-time at Arkansas and his rushing total in 2014 was the eighth-best single-season mark in Razorback history.

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Andre Carter returning to Cal as student assistant coach

Andre Carter

A decade and a half after leaving Cal, Andre Carter is returning to the Bears football program.

The school announced in a press release that Carter has joined Sonny Dykes‘ staff in the capacity of student assistant coach.  Carter will assist Fred Tate in coaching the Bears’ defensive line.

Carter enrolled as an undergraduate at Cal earlier this year to pursue his bachelor’s degree in American studies.

“We are thrilled that Andre has returned to Cal to get his degree,” head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “We are also looking forward to Andre being able to impart the knowledge he gained both on and off the field during a standout collegiate and NFL career to our players. He knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level of football and will certainly be a positive influence on everyone in our program.”

Carter was a consensus All-American in his final season at Cal in 2000.  His final two seasons, he was a unanimous first-team All-Pac-10 selection as a defensive end.

The 13-year NFL veteran hopes this position will help launch a coaching career at either the collegiate or professional level.

“Returning to Cal to earn my degree has been a life-changing experience,” Carter said. “I have already accomplished what I wanted to in football by playing at the highest level but there will be no greater feeling than earning my degree from one of the nation’s top universities. That’s why I’m back. …

“I feel I can impart the current players with the right way to play the game and the desire you need to have to be successful. There’s no greater satisfaction than becoming a coach.”

(Photo credit: Cal athletics)

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After leaving Irish for WMU, Anthony Rabasa leaves Broncos too

Wake Forest v Notre Dame Getty Images

As it turns out, Anthony Rabasa‘s stay in Kalamazoo was an extremely brief one.

Rabasa had transferred into the Western Michigan football program July 30, P.J. Fleck announced at the time.  Less than four weeks later, Fleck confirmed that Rabasa has decided to leave the Broncos and head back to his home in Miami.

From the sounds of it, the defensive lineman is giving up football entirely.

“He got here and he realized he wanted to move on with his life,” Fleck said. “We support him 100 percent. He’s a great kid. It’s just that football here wasn’t meant to be for him. He wants to head back down to Miami and start a career, which I don’t blame him for. He was in a battle here against some guys that are playing well.”

As a graduate transfer from Notre Dame, Rabasa would’ve been eligible to play immediately in 2015.

A three-star member of the Irish’s 2011 recruiting class, Rivals.com rated him as the No. 11 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 54 player at any position in the state of Florida. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in two games in 2012 and five in 2013.

He didn’t see the field at all for the Irish in 2014.

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Wolverine DT Bryan Mone likely lost for season with broken leg

Michigan v Indiana Getty Images

In the run-up to Jim Harbaugh‘s first game as head coach at his alma mater, Michigan has forced to deal with a significant health issue along its defensive line.

Harbaugh confirmed during a press conference earlier in the day that Bryan Mone sustained a broken bone in his lower leg during a recent practice session.  Harbaugh labeled the injury as “long-term,” intimating that the defensive tackle will likely be sidelined for the entire 2015 season.

It was a freak play,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve never seen it before in a practice or games.”

And just how did the freakish occurrence transpire? From mlive.com:

After Michigan’s defense blocked a field goal, Mone rolled out and attempted to block for Jabrill Peppers on a return attempt when his leg was rolled up, resulting in a broken bone in his leg.

Mone appeared in 12 games as a true freshman last season, making one start. He was projected to rotate at nose tackle this season.

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Five-star signee, Gators’ likely starting LT set to undergo surgery

Martez Ivey

On the same day Florida revealed that, as expected, they will go with two quarterbacks in the opener, they also revealed that one of the players who would’ve been charged with protecting them very well might not be available.

Prized 2015 recruit Martez Ivey has been dealing with an unspecified leg injury that dates back to his high school days.  The injury progressed to the point where medical intervention was necessary, with head coach Jim McElwain confirming that the offensive lineman will undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday.

With the season opener against New Mexico State nine days away, there’s no timetable for a return.

“This morning, Martez came in with a sore leg and we went and had it looked at,” McElwain said. “There was something existing there. We’ll get him in there and scope that tomorrow morning. Found a preexisting thing that was kind of bothering him. We’ll get that cleaned up.

“I have no idea exactly when his return will be. … He’ll be back. I don’t know how quickly or anything yet. But it’s not. … it doesn’t appear to be a season-ending thing or anything like that.”

The good news for UF is that, after the opener, they have games against East Carolina and Kentucky before its first “real” test of the season against Tennessee Sept. 26.  That game begins a stretch of five straight games against teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

The 6-5, 302-pound Ivey was one of the highest-rated recruits in the country last season, with Rivals.com rating the five-star lineman as the No. 1 tackle in the country; the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 4 player overall.  He’s been working with the first-team offense and had been widely expected to be the starting left tackle when the season opened.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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NCAA denies Ishaq Williams’ appeal, won’t play for Irish in 2015

Ishaq Williams AP

As it turns out, Notre Dame won’t have Ishaq Williams on the field this season after all.

That much was confirmed by Brian Kelly, with the Irish head coach announcing Thursday that Williams’ appeal to the NCAA that would’ve allowed him to play in 2015 has been denied.  Williams did not attend classes at ND or any other institution during the spring semester, leading in part to the NCAA issue.

That’s how Williams’ situation differed from KeiVarae Russell‘s.  Russell attended classes during that same period, and, after re-enrolling in school in late May, was cleared by the NCAA earlier this month to play in 2015.

Williams had been formally readmitted to Notre Dame around the same time as Russell, and Kelly seemed mildly optimistic the player would be back on the field this year.

Williams and Russell were suspended for the entire 2014 season because of the findings rendered in an academic fraud investigation. Five players were initially suspended, with only safety Eilar Hardy playing at all in 2014. Bowling Green announced late last month that Hardy had transferred into its football program.

The defensive lineman had played in 24 games the two seasons prior to his suspension and was expected to be a starter in 2014.  Had he been cleared by the NCAA, he would’ve been a significant contributor in the Irish’s line rotation.

As for Williams’ immediate future…

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‘Neck instability’ sidelines starting Vols S LaDarrell McNeil indefinitely

Alabama v Tennessee Getty Images

A suspension to one of Tennessee’s most productive offensive players wasn’t the only negative news coming out of Knoxville Thursday.

On the same day Pig Howard‘s one-game suspension was announced, head coach Butch Jones also revealed that LaDarrell McNeil will be sidelined indefinitely for what’s being described as ‘neck instability.”  Jones acknowledged that the safety could miss an extended period of time because of the issue.

“LaDarrell McNeil, this one came kind of out of nowhere,” Jones said. “Very, very unfortunate. I feel for him. He’s had some neck instability there, so he’s undergoing further examination. But he will be out an extended period of time, and it could be a lengthy period of time.”

247Sports.com‘s Wes Rucker writes that “Jones said McNeil’s ‘life after football’ was going to be the program’s priority,” adding that “[c]oaches using phrases like that can be an ominous sign for a player’s future on the field.”

Whether the senior defensive back will be sidelined temporarily or permanently, it will serve as a huge blow to the Vols’ defense.

The past three seasons, McNeil has played in 36 games. He started 31 of those contests, including 24 the past two seasons.

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Pitt loses RB Rachid Ibrahim to season-ending Achilles injury

Rachid Ibrahim, Kendall Fuller AP

An experienced member of Pittsburgh’s backfield has been put on the shelf courtesy of a non-contact injury.

First-year head coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed Wednesday that Rachid Ibrahim sustained an injury to his Achilles tendon in “one of those freak accidents that happens.” The injury, which occurred earlier this week, will sideline the running back for the entire 2015 season.

While he won’t have a concrete impact on the field this season, Ibrahim is already doing what he can to have an impact off of it.

He was choked up shortly after they told him what it was and what the recovery time was,” running backs coach Andre Powell said. “That afternoon, he was in meetings and he was talking in meetings and communicating with the young kids. He’s tough, he’s a leader, and he’ll fight through it.”

Used mainly as a third-down, change-of-pace back behind reigning ACC Player of the Year James Connor, Ibrahim was fifth on the team with 263 yards rushing last season, although his 8.0 yards per carry were tops on the team.  He also had 11 receptions for 73 yards coming out of the backfield.

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Erstwhile Irish RB Greg Bryant says he’s reopening recruitiment

Purdue v Notre Dame AP

It appears that Greg Bryant has all but closed the door on a return to South Bend next year.  Or any year after that, for that matter.

Earlier this month, and after he was suspended for the first four games, it was confirmed that Bryant had been declared academically ineligible and wouldn’t play at all in 2015.  While head coach Brian Kelly stated Bryant would be , the running back’s father stated that, even as he would be returning to classes at the school, he wouldn’t be reporting for summer camp.

However, the school part won’t come to fruition as Bryant posted on Instagram that he participated in his first practice Thursday at ASA Miami, a junior college in Florida and is coached by a former Notre Dame staffer.

Additionally, Bryant stated that he has decided to reopen his recruitment.  While that doesn’t necessarily preclude a return to the Irish, it appears he will be looking in other directions to restart his FBS career in 2016.

Below is his complete social media missive.

Had my first practice with my new team ASA Miami today and it went great! They gave me a opportunity to wear #1 this season! I’ll be keeping everyone updated with highlights and games. Opening up my recruitment so my next move will be my best move. Kinda feel like HIGHSCHOOL again getting offers and everything hahah. Highlights coming soon.

Last season as a true sophomore, Bryant’s 289 yards rushing were good for second on the team. Bryant was a five-star member of the Irish’s 2013 recruiting class and was rated as the No. 3 back in the country.

If he returns to the FBS level next year, Bryant would have two years of eligibility remaining.

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Dismissed by UNLV, ex-‘Bama RB Altee Tenpenny heads to FCS

Virginia Tech v Alabama Getty Images

Altee Tenpennyparted ways” with Alabama this past January, ultimately moving on to UNLV four months later.  Now, the running back is working on his third football program in the last eight months.

Earlier this month, Tenpenny was dismissed from the Rebels for violating unspecified team rules. Tenpenny would’ve been forced to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but now he won’t even get the chance to restart his collegiate career with UNLV in 2016.

“It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got plenty of guys,” first-year Rebels head coach Tony Sanchez said at the time of the dismissal. “The young guys look fantastic. That had nothing to do with (the dismissal). At the end of the day, rules are the rules.”

Where he will get his chance to start over is at Nicholls State, which al.com is reporting is Tenpenny’s new college football home. Because the Colonels play at the FCS level, Tenpenny would be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Tenpenny was a four-star member of the Tide’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 8 back in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Arkansas; and the No. 53 player overall by Rivals.com. Despite that impressive recruiting profile, Tenpenny didn’t contribute more than a couple of cents during his brief stay in Tuscaloosa.

In two seasons with the Tide, Tenpenny totaled 218 yards on 48 carries in a backfield that’s loaded with more four- and five-star talent than any in the country.

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Shad Thornton, NCSU’s leading rusher, hit with two-game suspension

Tyler Hunter, Shadrach Thornton AP

In what’s become an annual tradition in Raleigh, North Carolina State’s top running back has once again found himself in his coach’s doghouse.

Dave Doeren announced Thursday that Shadrach Thornton has been suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season.  The head coach declined to go into detail, allowing only that the issue responsible for the situation occurred six months ago.  The Raleigh News & Observer writes that “[t]he only outstanding legal charges against Thornton are minor traffic infractions.”

Because of the suspension, the senior back will miss the opener against Troy and the Week 2 matchup with Eastern Kentucky. He’ll return for the following week’s game at Old Dominion.

Thornton has led the Wolfpack in rushing each of the last three seasons, with his totals increasing from 694 yards to 798 to 907 last season. Earlier this month, he was named first-team All-ACC.

However, he’s had a hard time staying in the coaching staff’s good graces. In 2013, he was suspended for the opener after being charged with violence against a female. He was indefinitely suspended in December of that year for another run-in with the law, and reinstated in August of last year.

UPDATED 1:26 pm. ET: And now we have the alleged reason behind Thornton’s suspension.

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Vols suspend top receiver Pig Howard for opener vs. Bowling Green

Alton Howard, Cody Riggs AP

Tennessee’s lifting of the curtain on the 2015 season just got a little more interesting, at least offensively.

Thursday afternoon, head coach Butch Jones revealed that Alton “Pig” Howard has been suspended for the opener against Bowling Green.  The only reason given was unspecified violations of team rules, although Jones did allow that the issue that triggered the suspension dates back several months.

The wide receiver will be eligible to return for the Week two matchup with No. 19 Oklahoma.

The past two seasons, Howard has led the Vols in receiving with 54 and 44 receptions in 2014 and 2013, respectively.  He accounted for 1,006 receiving yards in that span, and has also scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Howard’s suspension isn’t the only situation UT is being forced to deal with at the position, either.

Croom caught 21 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns last season, the latter total tied for second on the team.  Perry was a three-star member of the 2015 recruiting class.

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Ohio the new home for ex-Iowa RB C.J. Hilliard

Advocare V100 Independence Bowl AP

When it was announced this past weekend that Cincinnati native C.J. Hilliard would be transferring from Iowa, the stated reason for the departure was a desire by the player to move closer to home.

In the end, that’s exactly what the running back did.

Earlier this week, head coach Frank Solich confirmed that Hilliard had transferred into his Ohio football program.  To satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Hilliard will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

Hilliard will have three years to use three years of eligibility beginning in 2016.

“He’s with us now, and will be on our football team,” Solich said. “It’s good to have him aboard.”

A three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class, Hilliard was rated as the No. 55 player at any position in the state of Ohio. He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

(Photo credit: Iowa athletics)

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CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: ACC Predictions

Clemson at Florida State

The ACC is starting to gain some confidence as a conference based on success in recent seasons. Florida State won a BCS title and Clemson defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl two postseasons ago. Last year the Seminoles were invited to the College Football Playoff and Georgia Tech topped the SEC’s Cinderella team from Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, and Clemson smacked Oklahoma up and down the field in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The ACC will work the numbers to their liking to prove they are among the elite power conferences right now, but the numbers can just as easily tell a different story as well. Regardless, things look to be lining up for a fun season in the ACC with Clemson a preseason favorite of many, Florida State likely to remain in the hunt and Louisville proving to be a tough out. And then there is the ACC Coastal Division, where mediocrity across the division makes for another wide-open division race this fall.

Let’s put my money where my mouth is and go on the record with some predictions for the ACC this season. Feel free to hold me accountable at the end of the season when these surely go wrong.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

1. Florida State (Last year: 13-1, lost to Oregon in College Football Playoff semifinal)
Florida State has entered the stage of program development where it is appropriate to suggest the program is reloading, rather than rebuilding. The Florida State offense returns just three starters from last year’s squad, but it does add Notre Dame transfer quarterback Everett Golson. With Dalvin Cook recently being found not guilty of battery charges, he should remain a featured asset in Florida State’s offense . Getting at Louisville in Tallahassee will be key, but the road game at Clemson could prove difficult. I have Florida State, Clemson and Louisville all ending the season with identical division records and splitting game sin the three-way head-to-head. This one comes down to the 27th ACC division tiebreaker, which may end up in Florida State’s favor when all is said and done.

2. Clemson (Last year: 10-3, beat Oklahoma in Russell Athletic Bowl)
The Clemson Tigers are returning perhaps the top quarterback in the conference with Deshaun Watson. Many are already pegging him as a strong Heisman Trophy contender, and having one of the top wide receiving units in the ACC will certainly help his case. The offensive line returns just two starters from last season though, and the entire offense has just four returning starters. The defense is in even more of a shaky ground with a pair of starters back in 2015. But place some trust in Brent Venables to have the defense up to speed enough to work things out along the way. An early Thursday night game at Louisville could be tricky, and the final game of the regular season at South Carolina is rarely easy. But Clemson gets Florida State at home in Week 10, by which most of Clemson’s concerns could very well have been put to rest.

3. Louisville (Last year: 9-4, lost to Georgia in Belk Bowl)
Another team that has a bunch of starters to replace, Louisville returns just seven starters from last season’s team. And things could very well get off to a bumpy start with Auburn in the season opener and Clemson just a couple of weeks later. But I think they manage to split those games, winning the important ACC Atlantic Division match-up on Thursday night in Week 3. The addition of defensive end Devonte Fields should be a really good addition to the defensive line. Louisville’s defense should be very good, and perhaps one of the best in the ACC, but the secondary will have to step up and make some plays if Louisville is going to make the kind of noise I expect from them this season.

4. Boston College (Last year: 7-6, lost to Penn State in Pinstripe Bowl)
Boston College is going to be one of those teams that gives opponents a tough game, but ultimately will not have enough offense to make the Eagles any serious threat in the ACC. The defense can hold its own, but Steve Addazio has just three returning starters this season. None of them are on the offensive line. I suspect Boston College will try trusting the running game with Jon Hilliman capable of going for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Things may very well improve at Boston College as the season progresses, but there is a brutal stretch that includes back-to-back road games at Clemson and Louisville and that is followed by a home game against Virginia Tech. Playing Notre Dame in Fenway Park late in the year should be interesting as well. Boston College should have what it takes to go bowling, and a return trip to the Pinstripe Bowl may not be unlikely.

5. North Carolina State (Last year: 8-5, beat UCF in St. Petersburg Bowl)
North Carolina State is a team many people think is capable of making some noise in the ACC this season, and they very well could. The reason is the Wolfpack return seven starters on offense and seven more on defense. If experience is the key, no team in the ACC Atlantic Division has more of it heading into the 2015 season. There is not one thing NC State does exceptionally well, but they are pretty well-rounded in all areas of the game. Jacoby Brisset is back to start at quarterback, after helping the team improve dramatically last season. Now we will see if he is capable of taking NC State to the next step forward. The Wolfpack should get off to a good start with a favorable schedule, but I’m seeing some bumps in the road once they get into ACC play. NC State gets Louisville and Clemson at home, which is good and easily a recipe for potential upset alerts. I still will go with the favorites for now.

6. Syracuse (Last year: 3-9)
It looks to be a long season at Syracuse. The move to the ACC has not shown much improvement in the recruiting game under Scott Shafer, who could very well be coaching for his job this season. Syracuse could get off to a quick 3-0 start this season, but even that might be difficult. Then LSU comes to the dome in Week 4. Syracuse will get a bye after the big game with the LSU Tigers, and a road trip to USF comes after that, but then ACC play resumes and Syracuse’s next win may not come until 2016 at that point.

7. Wake Forest (Last year: 3-9)
If you thought Syracuse had it rough, take a look at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will be a young team in 2015, giving head coach Dave Clawson some more expected growing pains this fall. Wake Forest could get off to a 2-1 start with wins over Elon and Army (losing to Syracuse), but it will be a long stretch of demoralization after that. If Wake Forest manages to get to four wins to improve on last season’s win total, that should be considered a solid victory for Clawson and company.

COASTAL DIVISION

1. Virginia Tech (Last year: 7-6, beat Cincinnati in Military Bowl – they also beat Ohio State, in case you forgot)
Virginia Tech has the best defense in the ACC this season, and that should be enough to push the Hokies ahead fo the rest of the seemingly always up-for-grabs Coastal Division. The biggest question for Virginia Tech is whether or not the offense can avoid giving it away. Having Marshawn Williams back and healthy at running back should help. I look for the Hokies to give Ohio State a respectable fight in the Labor Day season opener, bu the Buckeyes leave with revenge after last season’s meeting in Columbus. From there, things look good for Virginia Tech with no Clemson, Florida State or Louisville on the schedule. Pittsburgh and UNC are both at home too. The schedule and defense should come in handy this season in Blacksburg.

2. North Carolina (Last year: 6-7, lost to Rutgers in Quick Lane Bowl)
No offense in the ACC returns as many starters this season than the North Carolina Tar Heels. A total of 10 starters are back for UNC, including a healthy Marquise Williams at quarterback, but how much will he have to carry the offense this season? In addition to being the leading passer, Williams is also UNC’s leading returning rusher from a year ago (788 yards, 13 touchdowns). I’d like to see others take some of the pressure off Williams to do everything if UNC is going to make a serious run to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. Looking at the schedule, I see real potential for a possible 7-0 start, but I also see the possibility of a rough finish to the season. That would seem to be the opposite of what happened last season after UNC closed on a hot streak to overcome a dismal start to the season.

3. Pittsburgh (Last year: 6-7, lost to Houston in Armed Forces Bowl)
I seem to have said this the past couple of years and I will do so once more; Why not Pitt? Pat Narduzzi takes over the Pittsburgh program and that should help lock things down on defense, with seven returning starters. The former Michigan State defensive coordinator also inherits some of the top offensive players in the ACC with wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner, but it will be up to quarterback Chad Voytik to keep things moving consistently for the Panthers. If the Panthers can get off to better than a 2-2 start (as I predict), they could make a run in the wide open division.

4. Miami (Last year: 6-7, lost to South Carolina in Independence Bowl)
Another year, another season of wondering if this could possibly be the year Miami finally plays in the ACC Championship Game. They have yet to do so since leaving the Big East to provide the ACC with more football balance, and it looks as though this could be another season that sees early promise and hype ultimately fizzle out in an up-and-down second half of the season. They have the quarterback in Brad Kaaya, but do they have the ability to pull it together everywhere else? I have Miami getting out to a nice little 4-0 start before visiting Florida State in Week 6. From there it should be on-off-on-off for the Hurricanes. That could put head coach Al Golden on as hot a seat as possible at the end of the season.

5. Georgia Tech (Last year: 11-3, beat Mississippi State in Orange Bowl)
The formula for Georgia Tech’s success never seems to change, although the effectiveness of it seems to have mixed results. Paul Johnson‘s offensive style picked up 11 wins last season and gave Florida State one of many close calls last season in the ACC Championship Game. Playing in this wide open division, you can easily make a case for Georgia Tech to make a return trip to Charlotte at the end of the season, and a steady defense helps support that argument. I just think there are some tough battles ahead this season with a road trip to Notre Dame followed by ACC contests against Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Pittsburgh and Florida State all in a row. That can be a tough stretch for the Yellow Jackets, as could the final two games of the season, at Miami and home against Georgia. Georgia Tech will still be a decent team, but they may skate on thin ice en route to the postseason.

6. Virginia (Last year: 5-7)
Virginia has had a rough stretch under Mike London, and this might be the final straw for the head coach if things do not show potential moving forward. Unfortunately for London, there may not be much progress shown with a three-win season. Yet, I have them somehow managing to avoid last place and staying ahead of Duke? Strange, I admit, but I think Virginia manages to win a pair of home games in ACC play, against Syracuse and Duke, and that is good enough to sneak just ahead of the Blue Devils in the standings. It may not, however, be enough to assure London a job in Charlottesville next season. Early games against UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State (and William & Mary) might be rough to watch at times.

7. Duke (Last year: 9-4, lost to Arizona State in Sun Bowl)
Do not be fooled by a last-place finish in the ACC Coastal. As you no doubt have learned by now, I view this division as a wide-open race, and I still predict Duke will be bowl-eligible this year. That will be because Duke has a very favorable schedule this season with likely wins in non-conference play and no Clemson, Florida State or Louisville on the conference schedule. Yet I still see Duke struggling to find much consistency in conference play. David Cutcliffe has done a remarkable job in Durham, but this year’s team may be lacking in enough playmakers outside of safety Jeremy Cash to find enough wins to make a run at the division.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Florida State over Virginia Tech
After coming out on top of a clouded three-team tie in the ACC Atlantic Division, Florida State once again manages to win the ACC championship game for a fourth straight season. As will be the story all season, the Hokies defense keeps them in the game but the offense simply will not have enough firepower to get by a team with as much talent as Florida State. But will this Florida State team have done enough to convince the College Football Playoff selection committee it deserves a second straight invite to the postseason party?

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