Skip to content

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.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: American Athletic Conference, Articles, UConn Huskies
yo

UCF adding a little (fake) beach-front property to Bright House Networks Stadium

UCF club section

With the game day atmosphere becoming more and more of an issue some schools are struggling to address, UCF is looking to bring a more casual, beach-like setting to fans on game day. Well, at least for club members.

UCF calls it the East Side Club, a newly renovated section of Bright House Network Stadium will take on the look and feel of a beach club, complete with a walk-out section to enjoy a beverage while watching the Knights take on their opponents or be able to socialize in a preferred area hooked up with more than 15 flat-screen TVs (do they even make non-flat TVs anymore?) and enhanced WiFi, because everybody needs more WiFi. The new area will also have private bathrooms and a preferred VIP entrance.

The open area will have a view of the field between the 30-yard lines, which should make for an excellent overview of the game being played that day. The walkout area will also have a sand-colored finish to attempt to mimic the idea of walking on the beach and watching football as best as possible. Keep in mind Orlando is not exactly all that close to the beaches in Florida, so UCF is trying to bring that scenery as close to home as possible. Plus, this is much less messy than actual sand.

UCF states the renovations should be completed in time for UCF’s 2015 season opener against Florida International on September 5, 2015. You can read more about the plans for the new club area and check out the specs and more artist renderings on UCF’s official website.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Pros and cons of conference foes scheduling non-conference games

Duke v Wake Forest

North Carolina and Wake Forest announced an unprecedented scheduling agreement earlier on Monday. The two ACC schools announced they will play a pair of non-conference games in 2019 and 2021. It is the first such scheduling agreement between power conference schools within the same conference, and it has been received to mixed reviews.

PRO: It creates a game fans will look forward to

North Carolina and Wake Forest each have a duty to satisfy their alums, students and fans. By scheduling a game against an in-state rival they rarely get to see, North Carolina and Wake Forest are each giving their fans something to look forward to. In a world where conference expansion has taken away some annual or near-annual rivalry games, North Carolina and Wake Forest have found a way to resume playing more often instead of waiting for the ACC schedule to pair them up on a rotating basis.

CON: It sets a somewhat sketchy precedent for the sport

With power conferences creating a larger divide between the haves and have-nots in college football, power conferences scheduling games against opponents from inside their own conference ultimately takes away not one, but potentially two opportunities for schools from the Group of Five to schedule at least a marginally attractive game on their respective schedules.

PRO: It can have a positive effect on each school’s overall body of work

Not that anyone is honestly ready to suggest North Carolina or Wake Forest will be competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff in four to six years, but in a hypothetical world both schools have added a power conference opponent to the schedule. In theory, this should result in a positive effect on the strength of schedule for either UNC or Wake Forets (or both).

CON: It neutralizes the conference’s overall strength of schedule

Rather than going out and competing against the SEC, Pac-12 Big Ten or Big 12, what North Carolina and Wake Forest are doing is dropping an anchor on the ACC’s overall strength of schedule. The College Football Playoff selection committee, however it is formed by 2019 or 2021 rolls around, may be unlikely to acknowledge the ACC if ACC schools are scheduling non-conference games against each other. The committee will be more impressed with victories over other power conferences, because they will be able to evaluate the strength of each conference better with true out-of-conference match-ups on the schedule.

PRO: In-state rivalries are a good thing

It is always good to see in-state rivalries thrive when possible, and North Carolina and Wake Forest managed to ensure there will be one more to pay attention to in the state. Because of this, it may not be a shock to eventually see Duke and N.C. State explore a similar arrangement, which would add more to the whole concept of a state championship in the state of North Carolina.

Sorry East Carolina.

If you have more pros or cons about this type of scheduling arrangement, feel free to add on in the comment section.

Permalink 3 Comments Back to top

Former Wake OL Cory Helms lands at South Carolina

Wake Forest v Vanderbilt

South Carolina head coach still has to wait until next week to see how his Class of 2015 comes together, but the Gamecocks added a talented offensive lineman to the roster a little early. Cory Helms, a two-year starter at Wake Forest, has decided to join the South Carolina program after weighing a few options.

Helms, a Freshman All-American center in 2013, will have to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, although Helms told GoGamecocks.com the Uuniversity will file an appeal to have him eligible immediately in the fall. Helms is moving closer to home to be near his sick grandmother, which will be the basis for the argument to allow him to avoid having to sit out a season. If approved, Helms will be able to slide right into the South Carolina offensive line mix and add some versatility after playing center and guard at Wake Forest. South Carolina lost two seniors on one side of the line to graduation, so there should be a spot waiting for Helms if eligible to play in 2015.

Helms ended up choosing South Carolina over offers from Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Penn State.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

UNC and Wake Forest schedule non-conference home-and-home

Miami of Ohio v UNC Getty Images

The evolution of college football scheduling reached a new low Monday, potentially. North Carolina and Wake Forest have agreed to a home-and-home series as non-conference opponents. UNC and Wake Forest are both ACC members, but play in opposite divisions. This is the first time two conference members have scheduled a home-and-home series for non-conference competition*, and it may not be the last.

Wake Forest will host North Carolina on September 19, 2019. UNC will host the second part of the home-and-home series on September 25, 2021. Because these are non-conference match-ups, neither game will count in the ACC standings.

“This is a unique opportunity to play a regional rival in years that fall outside the normal conference rotation,” said UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham.  “We have a long history with Wake Forest that has historical value and will generate interest within our fans.”

The ACC requires schools in the conference to schedule at least one power conference opponent each season. Yes, this scheduling arrangement will satisfy that non-conference scheduling requirement. The idea of the scheduling requirement was designed to increase the overall conference strength of schedule, but this move essentially drags it down by guaranteeing one extra loss for the conference, against power conference opposition no less.

This could be a trend that continues as power conferences flex more muscle over the rest of the college football landscape with new powers granted through autonomy. Keeping the money within the conference, and between power conferences, will lead to more scheduling developments like this. It may not be all bad though, as 14-team conferences have limits to how often some schools face each other on a rotating basis. Perhaps this could be something that solves those concerns and makes for marketable games on our schedule.

Mixed reviews are already coming in about this scheduling announcement now that the precedent has been set.

* California and Colorado played a 2011 game as non-conference opponents despite Colorado just joining the Pac-12. That game had been scheduled back in 2004, before Colorado had joined the conference, but both teams kept the game on the books to fill out the schedule.

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

Report: ESPN pushing CFB Playoff to move semifinal games to Jan. 2

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State Getty Images

Fresh off shattering ratings expectations and records for the first College Football Playoff, 2015’s semifinals are scheduled to be played on New Year’s Eve. That plan, upon seeing the interest in Oregon-FSU and Ohio State-Alabama, was met with plenty of head-scratching from fans and analysts.

Apparently, ESPN isn’t too happy about it either.

The Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and Michael Smith reported Monday ESPN is pushing the College Football Playoff to move 2015’s semifinals off New Year’s Eve and to Jan. 2, 2016, a Saturday. From the story:

Sources say that senior network executives as high up as ESPN President John Skipper are pushing for the change as a way to get better television ratings, but the CFP is unwilling to make such a move because it is committed to the original plan to hold tripleheader bowl games, including the semifinals, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now,” said Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director.

On one hand, this is the deal ESPN and the College Football Playoff agreed upon with the knowledge games would be scheduled on New Year’s Eve, going up against partiers and those who want to watch a Ryan Seacrest Type count down to midnight. Even if there’s a game as good as Alabama-Ohio State this year, if it kicks off during the evening of New Year’s Eve, it won’t come close to the ratings that game saw on New Year’s Day.

It’s hard to imagine many outside the College Football Playoff staff aren’t in favor of moving these games off New Year’s Eve. It was a curious-at-best decision to begin with, to expect casual sports fans — the ones who make or break ratings — to tune in to two major events on New Year’s Eve.

If the games do stay on Dec. 31 this year and the ratings inevitably drop, expect this topic to be raised again in a year. And the 2016 semifinals? Yeah, those are on New Year’s Eve, too.

Permalink 17 Comments Back to top

Louisville ‘in the lead’ to land ex-TCU DE Devonte Fields

Devonte Fields, Wes Lunt AP

TCU nearly made the College Football Playoff without arguably its best defensive player — and that player is now set to make his move back to the FBS level.

Defensive end Devonte Fields, who was booted from TCU last summer after allegedly pointing a gun at his ex-girlfriend, will visit Louisville this weekend and according to ESPN’s Max Olson, the Cardinals are in the lead to land him.

Fields spent last fall at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, but intended to move back to the FBS level before entering the NFL Draft. TCU blocked Fields’ attempt to transfer to FCS side Stephen F. Austin.

Fields racked up 10 sacks and won Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2012, but appeared in only three games in 2013 due to an injury. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Fort Worth native should be a difference-maker wherever he transfers to, provided he can stay out of legal trouble.

Louisville hasn’t shied away from recruiting players with a history of domestic violence — the Cardinals went after former Georgia defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor last year despite him being arrested and charged with aggravated assault and family violence. The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Jeff Greer has Bobby Petrino’s explanation of that here.

Permalink 3 Comments Back to top

Mizzou’s D-line guru could be headed for coordinator position at Illinois

South Dakota State v Missouri Getty Images

Craig Kuligowski has worked with Gary Pinkel for the last 23 seasons, heading up the longtime Mizzou coach’s defensive line for the last 19 seasons dating back to their days at Toledo. But it appears the successful partnership may be coming to an end.

FootballScoop.com reported Sunday night that Illinois has offered Kuligowski a co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach position, and that he’s expected to take the position under Tim Beckman. Nothing is finalized, but Rivals’ Gabe DeArmond seconded the notion that Kuligowski could be on his way to Champaign.

Losing Kuligowski nine days before signing day would be a major blow for Mizzou, which has branded itself “#DLineZou” for the number of successful defensive linemen it’s produced over the last decade and a half. Perhaps no position coach has been more important to Mizzou’s successful transition to the SEC, with the Tigers’ defensive line annually one of the meanest, most disruptive groups in the powerhouse conference.

The list of players Kuligowski’s developed is impressive, headlined by former first-round picks Ziggy Hood, Sheldon Richardson and Aldon Smith — and 2014 All-American Shane Ray is expected to become the fourth. 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam was another Kuligowski protege, while Markus Golden and Kony Ealy recently put together strong careers in Columbia as well.

When Dave Steckel left to take the head coaching gig at Missouri State, Kuligowski was the top internal option to replace him as defensive coordinator. Mizzou, though, hired Memphis defensive coordinator (and former Tigers player and safety coach) Barry Odom on Dec. 23.

While it’d be a promotion at Illinois, taking a job there does carry plenty of risk. Kuligowski would take over a group that hasn’t had much success in three years under Beckman, ranking 71st, 100th and 88th in defensive F/+ from 2012-2014. Despite reaching a bowl game last season, Beckman isn’t on firm ground yet in Champaign and a step backward could lead to a coaching change less than a year from now.

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter suggests, Kuligowski could be using Illinois’ offer as leverage to get a raise from his $299,500 salary. But with signing day fast approaching, expect a concrete resolution on this relatively soon.

Permalink 3 Comments Back to top

Coastal Carolina going with teal for new artificial turf

CCU Elon football

In the ranks of the Football Championship Subdivision, Coastal Carolina has been a program on the rise. Coming off a wildly successful, yet unfulfilling season on the field, the Chanticleers will have a new field to play on in 2015.

Yes, it will be teal.

“When the decision to install an artificial turf field was made, it only made sense that the turf be teal,” said Coastal Carolina interim director of athletics Matt Hogue in a released statement. “In addition to our winning tradition, we are known nationally for our distinctive color scheme. And it’s not just the color our teams wear, but a campus-wide identity. We felt this would be a great opportunity to further build that brand.”

To install this teal turf, Coastal Carolina likely had to get approval from Boise State to move forward with the installation of the teal-colored artificial turf. Boise State owns a trademark on non-green football fields, which means they control the licenses for any school wishing to install a non-traditionally colored football field. Boise State typically does not stand in the way of an alternate colored field, but will say no to any school looking to install a blue field.

Coastal Carolina’s official school colors include teal, which is far enough on the color spectrum from Boise State’s signature blue.

Coastal Carolina will be the seventh school to have a non-green playing field in 2015, unless any other school is installing a new playing surface this offseason. Other schools with a colored field are Boise State, Eastern Michigan, Central Arkansas, Eastern Washington, New Haven and Lindenwood.

Still waiting for Hawaii to go with this or Syracuse with an all-orange field.

Permalink 12 Comments Back to top

SEC schools still leading the way on the recruiting trail

Nick Saban

The SEC may have been served a little dose of reality this past college football bowl season with some bad losses in spotlight bowl games and Alabama being topped by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, but the demise of the SEC has greatly been exaggerated. In college football, recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, and schools in the SEC are doing just fine in this department with National Signing Day looming.

This goes much deeper than the annually impressive haul Alabama is piecing together. SEC schools are scattered throughout the recruiting rankings, a suggestion the conference is managing to lure plenty of good, quality talent as this recruiting cycle comes to a close.

According to the latest Rivals team recruiting rankings, 10 of the top 25 schools hail from the Southeastern Conference. That number includes all seven from the SEC West, with Alabama leading the way as the top-ranked team in the Rivals rankings. At No. 28, Missouri is a tad shy of the top 25. Kentucky (No. 33) is even ranked higher than programs like Michigan State (No. 35) and Arizona (No. 36) and Nebraska (No. 42).

One program from the SEC that has a much lower ranking than you might expect is Florida. At No. 100, the Gators have a long way to go to climb back atop the recruiting rankings, although odds are that can change in a hurry with Jim McElwain hoping to revive the Gators as a football power. While Florida is struggling, in-state rivals are not.

Florida State has consistently been one of the top destinations for high school talent, and this season is no exception to that rule. The Seminoles are ranked fourth in the Rivals rankings, just one spot behind another ACC program, Clemson. USC, from the Pac-12, is currently sitting in second place and likely to make a late surge over the next week and a half. Miami, the other power conference school in the state of Florida, has a top 25 class being put together by Al Golden as well (No. 22).

The reigning national champions from Ohio State should have a tremendous amount of depth next season. The Buckeyes did not see one underclassman declare early for the NFL Draft and Braxton Miller has now hinted at a possible return to Columbus. Throw that on top of what Rivals ranks the No. 7 recruiting class and Urban Meyer looks to have the Buckeyes situated in a very good position in the Big Ten for years to come. Only one other Big Ten program ranks in the top 25, according to Rivals.

Penn State, at No. 10, is now working with a full set of scholarships and is moving forward with a slightly more focus on quantity over quality. Penn State is without five-star talent but James Franklin is filling many roster spots with four and three-star talent that can have potential. No other Big Ten program cracks the top 25, although Wisconsin (No. 26) is right there and recently added a couple of solid players to the mix for 2015. Michigan has some work to do and will likely be a more solid threat in 2016, but Jim Harbaugh has managed to flip a four-star quarterback from Texas to Michigan, and there is plenty of hype surrounding the Wolverines moving forward.

You might be wondering about the Pac-12, especially given the rise of the conference as a whole on the playing field the last few seasons. Yes, the Pac-12 is doing just fine. USC has been a traditional force among Pac-12 schools and continues to bring in plenty of talent. But right now the Trojans are playing on a different playing field compared to the rest of the Pac-12. Oregon is the next highest-ranked team in the Rivals recruiting rankings, at No. 17. UCLA follows at No. 18, and Arizona State (No. 24) and Washington (No. 25) round out the top 25.

Everybody has a different philosophy when it comes to evaluating recruiting. Whether you believe in star rankings or not, the bottom line is coaches that tap the full potential of their players will be the ones that are successful and winning games. You do not necessarily need five-star players to win big. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Neither team playing in next week’s Super Bowl has a player that was rated five stars coming out of high school, according to this study from SB Nation.

Permalink 49 Comments Back to top

Senior Bowl was a Twitter winner ahead of UFC and college hoops

Reese's Senior Bowl

The week between the NFL’s conference championship Sunday and the Super Bowl tends to be a rough one for sports on TV. But even when things look bleak, football finds a way to come out a winner.

Saturday’s Senior Bowl was the number one sports program being tweeted about yesterday, according to the overnight numbers from Nielsen. The Senior Bowl, which aired on NFL Network, saw a larger unique audience on Twitter than UFC Fight Night on FOX and a men’s college basketball game between Michigan and Wisconsin airing on ESPN.

Per Nielsen’s numbers, over 2 million Twitter users keeping tabs on the Senior Bowl, which was won by the North. The college football all-star event stayed just ahead of the UFC fight, which had 1.976 million paying attention on Twitter. The UFC event did have more unique authors (31,000 different unique authors) than the Senior Bowl (19,000 unique authors on Twitter).

Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings: Unique Audience (1/24/2015)

1. Senior Bowl, NFL Network – 2,003,000

2. UFC Fight Night, FOX – 1,976,000

3. College Basketball (Michigan vs. Wisconsin), ESPN – 1,804,000

4. Spanish Primera Division Soccer (Cordoba CF vs. Real Madrid CF), beIN Sports – 1,775,000

5. NBA Basketball (Detroit vs. Milwaukee), NBA TV – 1,758,000

Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings: Unique Authors (1/24/2015)

1. UFC Fight Night, FOX – 31,000

2. Spanish Primera Division Soccer (Cordoba CF vs. Real Madrid CF), beIN Sports – 26,000

3. Senior Bowl, NFL Network – 19,000

4. NBA Basketball (Detroit vs. Milwaukee), NBA TV – 14,000

5. College Basketball (Michigan vs. Wisconsin), ESPN – 13,000

Permalink 3 Comments Back to top

Tennessee recruit pokes a stick at his new SEC rivals

Butch Jones

Tennessee football is looking to be improving with another year of Butch Jones at the helm. It has been a while since the Vols had the opportunity to do some smack talk in the SEC, or even just the SEC East. The pride in the program has been undergoing a restoration project brick by brick, as Jones likes to say, and it seems to be catching on. Even incoming Vols are buying into the mindset, and some are not afraid to start talking the talk before getting a chance to walk the walk.

Kahlil McKenzie is a big recruit for Jones at Tennessee, both literally and figuratively. The five-star defensive tackle from California measures in at 6’4″, 320 pounds and he could slide right into a starting job in Knoxville this fall. He also talks a big game on Twitter. This weekend he took to Twitter to lay down some zingers aimed at Tennessee rivals, like Vanderbilt and Alabama…

McKenzie has a point here. Dixieland Delight may be a classic, but many of us have had our fill of the song Alabama fans love. Of course, tweets like this make for some good bulletin board material, if nothing else. MCKenzie made sure to let everyone know he is just having some fun.

Permalink 17 Comments Back to top

LSU adds Leonard Fournette’s brother to latest recruiting class

If you thought LSU might be tough with one Fournette on the field, imagine what it could do with two. Lanard Fournette, the younger brother of LSU’s rising running back star Leonard Fournette (pictured) announced this weekend he is joining his brother at LSU.

Lanard Fournette is a two-star athlete according to Rivals, which is a much lower rating than his older brother, Leonard. He does, however, have a three-star composite rating according to the composite ratings compiled by 247 Sports. Leonard was a blue-chip five-star talent out of high school. Lanard seems to be a bit more of a work-in-progress with a smaller frame than his brother. LSU appeared to make some moves in recruiting the younger Fournette shortly after locking up his older brother. LSU has long been the favorite to land Lanard’s commitment, and his brother playing for the Tigers and Les Miles may be a big reason why. Despite offers from schools like Alabama and Miami, Lanard Fournette has long been on track to go to LSU after attending a pair of LSU football camps, attending LSU’s junior day in 2015 and making an official visit over the last year without visiting any other program.

Leonard Fournette will be one of the top running backs in what should be a very strong year across the country for running backs. Fournette was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and could be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy in the fall.

LSU has the No. 12 recruiting class for 2015 according to the most recent team rankings shared by Rivals, but the Tigers have the fourth-ranked class among SEC West schools. Alabama — on track for another recruiting national championship — has the top class in the nation. Texas A&M (No. 9) and Auburn (No. 10) are also in front of LSU among SEC West schools. Tennessee (No. 5) and Georgia (No. 6) are also representing the SEC among the top ten.

Permalink 8 Comments Back to top

Marcus Mariota admits to sprained AC joint injury vs Buckeyes

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota passed on an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. His absence could be explained away by his participation in the recent College Football Playoff national championship game. Now it appears Mariota is unsure if he will be able to participate in throwing drills at the NFL Scouting Combine next month. A right shoulder injury suffered in the championship game against Ohio State could be to blame.

“Right now we’re still making that decision, whether to throw at the Combine. I had to kinda rest about a week-and-a-half,” Mariota said, via the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “I sprained the AC joint. But now, I’m able to throw. Feels good.”

Mariota was forced to leave the championship game for a brief period of time as Oregon was attempting to chip away at Ohio State’s lead. Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa tackled Mariota to the ground, driving the Heisman Trophy winner to the ground on his right shoulder.

It is not uncommon for quarterbacks to withdraw from throwing drills at the combine, as some players prefer to do their throwing drills on their own campus during a pro day event. In Mariota’s case, the injury concerns are likely a legitimate excuse.

Permalink 9 Comments Back to top

UAB football may not be 100 percent dead just yet

UAB FOOTBALL PROGRAM SHUT DOWN 12-2-14

UAB may have cut the football program from life support, but there is a fighter’s chance the Blazers could return to a football field in 2016. A new task force organized by the school’s leaders will take another hard look at the financial numbers and do some number crunching to determine if there is enough to allow for the football program, along with the rifle and bowling programs, to continue.

The task force is being asked to find an independent third-party to review and assess the legitimacy of the now much-maligned Carr Report that led to the shutting down of the football program. It is too late for UAB to put plans together to play football in 2015. Opponents that had scheduled games against UAB have already taken steps to fill expected vacancies in the schedule created by the news UAB was shutting the football program down, players have transferred, and coaches previously employed by UAB have spread out to find new opportunities as well. A return in 2016 may not be completely out of reach, even if it is putting a program back together from scratch.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t think we could bring it back,” said Don Hire, a major donor to UAB, at an open house meeting on Thursday. “I was here when [former UAB men’s basketball coach] Gene Bartow had no jock straps, no basketballs and no gym to play in. I wouldn’t be involved in this if we weren’t going for sustainability.”

It is far from a given, but if the task force discovers there is enough money to keep a football program running without putting the school deep in the red, then the return of the program may become a reality. Maybe 2016 is a bit optimistic given the circumstances surrounding the current state of the university and the athletic department, not to mention the now non-existent state of the football program, but at least it might be something worth looking forward to if it can be done.

UAB President Dr. Ray Watts received a vote of no-confidence following the decision to shut the program down. The video of Watts informing the players of the decision was nothing short of gut-wrenching. What happened at UAB has also caused other programs to reassess the state of their programs as well.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

Harbaugh flips Texas Longhorn-bound QB to Michigan

Jim Harbaugh

National Signing Day is coming up next week, and Jim Harbaugh is looking to close in as big a way as possible to help save what had been a disappointing recruiting class in Ann Arbor. This weekend Harbaugh managed to flip the commitment of four-star quarterback Zach Gentry from Texas to Michigan.

Gentry is a 6′-6″, 230 pound pro-style quarterback, ranked fourth among pro-style passers according to Rivals. The top prospect out of the state of New Mexico, Gentry would have been a key recruit for Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns, but now he is the prize of Harbaugh and his newly assembled staff at Michigan. Gentry is the first commitment added to Michigan’s Class of 2015 since Harbaugh was hired. Gentry flipped his decision while on an official visit to Michigan this weekend.

Gentry is the second quarterback added to Michigan’s Class of 2015. Four-star talent Alex Malzone, an in-state recruit, was an early enrollee for the Wolverines. He will get a head start on the offense and a chance to compete for playing time under Harbaugh this spring, while Gentry will not be able to join the program until the summer. All of a sudden, Michigan is has some young quarterbacks with some good potential to work with.

Michigan also added three-star defensive end Reuben Jones, from Lakeland, Florida, to the Class of 2015. The Wolverines currently have eight players in the Class of 2015, including a pair of early enrollees.

Texas has a much fuller class even without Gentry. The Texas recruiting class also include three-star quarterback Matthew Merrick. Texas also added four-star quarterback Jerrod Heard to the program in last season’s recruiting class.

Permalink 21 Comments Back to top