Willie Taggart

USF welcomes 23 newcomers to the football program

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

TAMPA – The University of South Florida is entering the first year of the Willie Taggart era, and will do so with a group of 23 newcomers that cover virtually every position on the field. The Bulls finished off their 2013 recruiting class with 20 signees on Wednesday to go along with two junior college transfers, and one early enrollee, who have been on campus since the start of the spring semester in January.

Of the 23 newest members of the South Florida family, nine reside on the offensive side of the ball, while 14 are project to play defense. In addition, 18 of the newcomers earned all-state honors during their prep careers.

USF quickly utilized the state’s deep talent pool with 18 of the 23 signees hailing from Florida. The Bulls also received signatures from four Georgia players and one from Kansas.

The Bulls class includes six players at the defensive back position and three linebackers. Coach Taggart adds Hassan Childs of Osceola, Nate Godwin of Freedom, Lamar Robbins of Southridge, Torrel Saffold of Butler Community College, Johnny Ward of Colquitt County, and Darius Whitty of First Coast to the DB position. In the linebacker slot, the position will welcome Rahmon Swain of Butler Community College and local standouts Nigel Harris of Hillsborough and Mitchell Wright of Plant High School.

The defensive line will add three Florida natives in defensive tackles Derrick Calloway (Bradenton), Bruce Hector (Tampa) and Deadrin Senat (Immokalee). All three were all-state selctions by The Associated Press as seniors.

Additionally on the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls add defensive ends Mike Love of Clearwater (Countryside) and Eric Mayes of Sarasota (Booker).

Offensively, USF welcomes a pair of running backs in Sta’fon McCray (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola) and Darius Tice (Miami, Fla./Northwestern) along with fullback Auggie Sanchez (St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeast). McCray rushed for 3,248 yards and 42 TDS over his final two seasons while earning first-team 7A all-state honors. Tice posted 1,587 yards during his junior and senior years and picked up all-state honors. Sanchez, whose brother Armando played for the Bulls, saw most of his action on the defensive side of the ball, tallying 298 tackles and 39 sacks.

Wide receiver Zach Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Catholic) also joins the Bulls and will be working with quarterback signee Mike White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School). White was named the 3A Florida Player of the Year as a senior.

USF welcomes a pair of offensive linemen from Altanta, Ga., in Jeremi Hall and Dominique Threatt, who both played at Tri-Cities High School. Joining the pair on the o-line is Tampa native Cameron Ruff (Jesuit).

Emilio Nadelman, a place-kicker out of Miami, Fla. (Central), has already enrolled at USF and rounds out the Bulls’ 2013 signing class.

Baylor QB Seth Russell responds to Briles firing in Instagram post

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Baylor quarterback Seth Russell has been on a mission trip with other Bears athletes to Brazil, and he returns from his South American voyage to a much different program than he left behind.

Head coach Art Briles is gone. So, too, are two of Baylor’s top incoming freshmen. More coaches and players may follow.

As QB1, Russell had to address the goings on in Waco one way or another, and did so Saturday in an Instagram post that speaks to the Bears’ crisis without really speaking to it while quoting — who else? — Robert Griffin III.

What an amazing experience these past few weeks have been. I, and 33 other Baylor student-athletes, have spent the last two weeks in Brazil sharing God’s love and pouring into children from Maceio and Rio de Janeiro. Through our sports, we were able to share our faith in hopes of changing lives, not just others, but our own as well. I can’t thank all who helped make this mission trip possible enough. I am forever grateful for my time spent growing with others, and ultimately growing with the Lord.

As we head back to Waco, I can’t help but think of all that has changed since we first left for South America. Although I was in a different hemisphere, the heartache was still immensely present. However, being in the environment I was, the Lord was easily able to remind me of how great He is.
We are broken. We are hurting.
But at the end of the day, we are His. With that gift alone, there is no reason to not overcome through these hard times.

My prayers for Baylor University are that we never forget that we need God as desperately on our best days as we do on our worst. We will overcome. We will become stronger. We will be who God has allowed us to be.

Baylor we are and Baylor we’ll always be, but it’s up to us to define what that means-RGIII

What an amazing experience these past few weeks have been. I, and 33 other Baylor student-athletes, have spent the last two weeks in Brazil sharing God’s love and pouring into children from Maceio and Rio de Janeiro. Through our sports, we were able to share our faith in hopes of changing lives, not just others, but our own as well. I can’t thank all who helped make this mission trip possible enough. I am forever grateful for my time spent growing with others, and ultimately growing with the Lord. As we head back to Waco, I can’t help but think of all that has changed since we first left for South America. Although I was in a different hemisphere, the heartache was still immensely present. However, being in the environment I was, the Lord was easily able to remind me of how great He is. We are broken. We are hurting. But at the end of the day, we are His. With that gift alone, there is no reason to not overcome through these hard times. My prayers for Baylor University are that we never forget that we need God as desperately on our best days as we do on our worst. We will overcome. We will become stronger. We will be who God has allowed us to be. Baylor we are and Baylor we’ll always be, but it’s up to us to define what that means-RGIII

A photo posted by Seth Russell (@sethrussell17) on May 28, 2016 at 7:16am PDT

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Russell started Baylor’s first seven games — all wins — before a broken neck bone suffered in a collision against Iowa State ended his season. He completed 119-of-200 passes for 2,104 yards (10.5 yards per attempt) with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing 49 times for 402 yards and six scores.

Houston Nutt steps out of the shadows following Ole Miss Notice of Allegations

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Ole Miss dropped its long-awaited Notice of Allegations, which revealed the spin of the majority of the 28 allegations being against non-football sports and former head coach Houston Nutt‘s staff to be technically true but also just that — spin.

Of the 13 allegations against the Rebels’ football program, nine came against current head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff. However, the majority of those were relatively minor in nature (free rental cars, comped hotel rooms), and the largest did come against two former assistants. Former defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn and former operations staffer David Saunders were accused of setting up a fraudulent ACT system to get players into school.

“We usually know about who is going to make it in by May,” Nutt said of the players whom those ACTs got into school. “We were gonna place them in junior college.”

Still, Nutt told Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports he felt a twinge of validation from Friday’s release.

“It’s the most frustrating thing there is,” Nutt said, “to be on the sidelines and hear your name keep getting mentioned and mentioned. It’s hurtful. It makes you mad.

“I don’t have a major violation in 30 years of coaching.”

Nutt won 75 games at Arkansas and led Ole Miss to a 19-8 mark and back-to-back Cotton Bowl victories in his first two seasons in Oxford — read: with Ed Orgeron‘s players — and fell to 6-18 (1-15 SEC) in his final two seasons. That, plus the sting of these violations falling on his record, is likely to continue to keep Nutt out of coaching — at least at the highest levels of FBS.

Still, he remains optimistic.

“I’m going on five years without a team,” he said. “There were a few opportunities I went after. I’d love to coach again. I feel like I’ve got 10 more seasons in me.”

Former Texas Tech OL Robert Castaneda arrested on burglary charge

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 25:   The Texas Tech Red Raiders flag flies outside the stadium before the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys September 25, 2014 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Red Raiders 45-35.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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Former Texas Tech offensive lineman Robert Castaneda was arrested Friday in Lubbock, Texas, jail for burglary of a habitation.

Bond was set at $5,000 but he was out of jail within four hours of booking according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

A three-star prospect out of Round Rock, Texas, Casteneda redshirted in 2014 and appeared in all 13 games as a reserve last fall before being kicked off the team May 5 for “failure to uphold student-athlete expectations.”

Sophomore linebacker Dakota Allen and redshirt freshman offensive tackle Trace Ellison were also dismissed at that time.

Sun Belt adds affiliation with Arizona Bowl

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The Sun Belt is consolidating its membership to the south and east, but its postseason profile has struck far out west.

The conference has announced an affiliation with the Arizona Bowl, bringing the New Orleans-based league’s bowl roster to five.

The inaugural Arizona Bowl infamously could not find two conferences to pit against each other, so Nevada and Colorado State faced off in an all-Mountain West affair. That embarrassing scenario will be avoided moving forward as the Sun Belt will play opposite the Mountain West from 2016-19.

The 2016 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl will be played on Dec. 30. Time is still to be determined, but organizers think an afternoon kick will lead to a better experience. “If you were at the game last year, the suites were packed,” bowl organizer Ali J. Farhang told the Tucson Citizen. “It was warm and comfortable. If we can get that kind of environment in the stadium too …”

The 2015 game kicked at 5:30 p.m. local time, with a temperature of 44 degrees. This year’s game will kick off between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.