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Wisconsin football Class of 2013

Wisconsin Coach Football AP

(Below are the bios released by Wisconsin on the new members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

Hayden Biegel

Freshman
Offensive Line
6-7 / 275
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. (Wisconsin Rapids)

High School: Three-star recruit according to ESPN, Rivals and Scout … ranked as the No. 82 offensive tackle by Scout, No. 105 by ESPN … rated as the No. 6 recruit in the state of Wisconsin by ESPN, No. 12 by Rivals … won the 2012 Joe Thomas Award as the most outstanding senior offensive lineman in Wisconsin … first-team all-state by Wisconsin Football Coaches Association as a junior and senior … two-time first-team all-conference selection as a junior and senior … conference offensive lineman of the year as a senior … team captain as a senior … also lettered in track and field … three-year honor roll student … head coach was Tony Biolo

Personal: Parents are Jamie and Rocky Biegel … brother of Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel … father played linebacker at BYU from 1988-92 and also wrestled at BYU … uncle, T.D. Biegel, played fullback at BYU from 1989-93 … grandfather, Ken Biegel, played linebacker and offensive line at UW-Eau Claire … enjoys skiing, hunting and fishing

Keelon Brookins

Freshman
Defensive Back
5-11 / 185
St. Paul, Minn. (Tartan)

High School: Four-star recruit by Rivals … rated as three-star recruit by ESPN and Scout … ranked No. 32 cornerback in the nation by Rivals, No. 58 by Scout and No. 74 by ESPN … rated the No. 2 recruit in state of Minnesota by Rivals … despite playing in only 12 games due to injury, finished career with nine interceptions as a defensive back and scored seven touchdowns as a wide receiver… as a senior, tallied two interceptions and a forced fumble in three games before missing rest of season with knee injury … had an interception, blocked punt and eight solo tackles in lone game of junior season … as a sophomore, recorded six interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown … also returned a kickoff for a touchdown and scored four offensive TDs on way to All-Classic Suburban Conference honors … claimed 2012 Minnesota Class AA state title in 200 meters as a junior, running a wind-aided 21.90 … Tartan High School’s recipient of 2012 Wendy’s High School Heisman Athletic Award … three-time All-Academic selection … three-year honor roll member … head coach was Tim Murtha

Personal: Parents are Tyrone and Dorene Brookins… active in DECA and Link Crew leadership program … volunteered as elementary school mentor and in children’s ministries at church

Corey Clement

Freshman
Running Back
5-11 / 210
Glassboro, N.J. (Glassboro)

High School: Four-star recruit according to ESPN, Rivals and Scout … rated as the No. 14 running back according to ESPN, No. 17 by Rivals, and No. 31 by Scout … ESPN Top 150 recruit … ranked as the No. 5 prospect from state of New Jersey according to ESPN, No. 8 by Rivals … selected for Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl … finished career with 6,245 rushing yards, 34 rushing touchdowns and 90 total TDs … rushed for 2,323 yards and 33 touchdowns while also recording 47 tackles and eight sacks as a senior … set New Jersey state record with 479 rushing yards in game vs. Gloucester City … first-team all-state, first-team All-South Jersey, first-team All-Group 1 and South Jersey Times All-Star team and offensive player of the year as a senior… ran for 2,510 yards and 36 total touchdowns as a junior … third-team all-state, first-team All-South Jersey, first-team All-Group 1 and South Jersey Times All-Star team and offensive player of the year as a junior … had 1,205 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore … head coach was Mark Maccarone

Personal: Parents are Latanya and Stephen Clement

Garret Dooley

Freshman
Linebacker
6-2 / 215
Rochester, Ill. (Rochester)

High School: Four-star recruit according to ESPN … rated three stars by Rivals and Scout … rated as the No. 18 inside linebacker according to ESPN, No. 22 by Scouts and No. 25 by Rivals … ranked as the No. 11 recruit in the state of Illinois by ESPN, No. 17 by Rivals … made 132 tackles, including 18.0 for loss and 14.5 sacks, at middle linebacker … on offense, ran for 1,456 yards and 32 touchdowns, adding 34 catches for 474 yards and five more touchdowns as a senior … Class 4A first-team all-state, ILB Lemming Award Recipient, Chicago Tribune All-State selection … first-team all-conference and Central State Eight Conference Player of the Year as a senior … as a junior, recorded 1,209 rushing yards, 598 receiving yards and 31 total touchdowns to go along with 146 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, six sacks … all-state honorable mention, first-team all-conference as a junior … two-time academic all-state pick … six-time academic all-conference selection between football and baseball … Spanish National Honor Society … head coach was Derek Leonard

Personal: Parents are Barbie and Greg Dooley … cousin, Buck Casson, played football at Rice University (2003-06) … cousin, Adam Casson, plays baseball at Parkland College (2011-present) … volunteers with the Big Buddy program, Homes for Troops, Community Service Sundays … enjoys golfing and playing the guitar

Matt Hubley

Freshman
Defensive Back
6-2 / 205
Waukesha, Wis. (Catholic Memorial)

High School: Three-star recruit according to Scout … ranked as the No. 97 safety by Scout, No. 172 by ESPN … rated the No. 12 recruit in the state of Wisconsin by ESPN … as a senior, named 2012 Associated Press Wisconsin Player of the Year … first-team all-state, first-team all-region and first-team All-Classic 8 Conference as a running back … also named second-team all-conference at defensive end … first-team all-county selection by Waukesha Freeman and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel … rushed for 1,671 yards and scored 21 touchdowns as a senior … on defense, finished with 75 total tackles, including 17 TFLs and 15 sacks to go along with three forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown … also a four-year letterwinner in track … head coach was Bill Young

Personal: Parents are Jenny and Greg Hubley … volunteers with the Rotary Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and local elementary schools … enjoys weight training and basketball

Leon Jacobs

Freshman
Linebacker
6-4 / 220
Santa Clarita, Calif. (Golden Valley)

High School: Three-star recruit according to ESPN … rated as the No. 77 outside linebacker according to ESPN, No. 119 by Scout … ranked as the No. 89 recruit in the state of California by ESPN … first-team all-conference as a senior … rushed for 847 yards and six touchdowns as a senior … also recorded 19 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown … four-year letterwinner in basketball … three-time second-team All-Del Rey League selection in basketball … honor roll student … head coach was Robert Fisher

Personal: Parents are Tony and Theresa Jacobs … volunteered as math and science tutor … enjoys listening to music and playing basketball

Alec James

Freshman
Defensive End
6-4 / 220
Brookfield, Wis. (East)

High School: Four-star recruit according to ESPN … rated three stars by Rivals and Scout … No. 29 defensive end as rated by ESPN, No. 64 by Scout … ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the state of Wisconsin according to ESPN, No. 2 according to Rivals … had 97 tackles, 25.0 for loss, 12 sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior … 2012 Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year … unanimous first-team all-state, first-team all-conference, first-team all-area and all-area Player of the Year according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel … Greater Metro Conference defensive lineman of the year … Tim Krumrie Award winner as the most outstanding senior defensive lineman in Wisconsin … first- team all-state, first-team all-conference, Greater Metro Conference defensive lineman of the year, second-team all-area according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as a junior … all-conference honorable mention as a sophomore … three-year letterwinner in track, qualifying for state meet in 4×100 and 4×200 relays … head coach was Tom Swittel

Personal: Parents are Heidi and Jimmy James … father played football at Minnesota … enjoys working out and playing video games

Jackson Keeler

Freshman
Offensive Line
6-7 / 290
Barrington, Ill. (Barrington)

High School: Four-star recruit according to ESPN … rated three stars by Rivals and Scout … ranked as the No. 29 offensive tackle by ESPN, No. 39 by Rivals, No. 49 by Scout … rated as the No. 10 recruit in the state of Illinois by ESPN, No. 11 by Rivals … received 28 total scholarship offers … named to the 2013 Senior Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … named All-Area by the Chicago Sun Times … head coach was Joey Sanchez

Personal: Parents are Katherine Keeler and Paul Keeler … high school teammate of fellow Badgers offensive lineman Dan Voltz … volunteered with the Barrington Crop Walk for Hunger and Relay for Life … senior physical education leader and was member of choir … hobbies are fishing and playing basketball

Tanner McEvoy

Sophomore
Quarterback
6-6 / 215
Hillsdale, N.J. (Bergen Catholic)
Arizona Western College

Junior College: Passed for 1,943 yards and 25 touchdowns, while throwing just six interceptions … ran for 414 yards and scored six touchdowns … named first-team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference and ACCAC Offensive Player of the Year … first-team All-Western States Football League

High School: Enrolled and spent one season at South Carolina before transferring to Arizona Western College after spring practice in 2011 … three-star prospect according to Rivals … threw for 2,264 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 1,196 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior … 2010 New Jersey Offensive Player of the Year … named to MSG Metro All-Star Team for the tri-state area … first-team all-state as a senior … three-time first-team all-county selection … as a junior, caught 35 passes for 550 yards and three touchdowns at wide receiver and recorded 49 tackles and three interceptions at defensive back … also lettered in basketball … honor roll student … head coaches were Fred Stengel and Nunzio Campanile

Personal: Parents are Tina and Steve McEvoy… brother, Colin, played football at Rutgers from 2007-10 … volunteered with American Red Cross Disaster Services and with Guiding Eyes of New York program, helping to train seeing-eye dogs

Matt Miller

Freshman
Offensive Line
6-5 / 265
Maumee, Ohio (St. Johns Jesuit)

High School: Three-star recruit according to ESPN, Rivals and Scout … rated as the No. 35 guard by Scout, No. 39 by Rivals and No. 55 by ESPN … ranked as the No. 50 recruit in the state of Ohio according to ESPN, No. 55 according to Rivals … 48 pancake blocks as a senior … first-team all-state, first-team all-district, first-team all-league and team captain … selected to play for the under-19 U.S. national team in the 2013 International Bowl … 40 tackles, including 11.0 for loss and four sacks, 28 pancake blocks as a junior … first-team all-district, first-team all-league … 25 tackles, including five for loss and one sack as a sophomore … head coach was Doug Pearson

Personal: Parents are Jane and P.J. Miller … brother, Jack, currently plays football at Michigan … father played football from 1986-90 at St. Joseph’s College in Indiana … uncle is Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers since 2006 … volunteers at Sunshine Children’s Home, Cherry St. Mission, and through St. John’s Jesuit Christian Service … enjoys hunting, fishing, and working out

Chikwe Obasih

Freshman
Defensive End
6-2 / 235
Brookfield, Wis. (Central)

High School: Four-star recruit according to Rivals … rated three stars by ESPN and Scout … ranked as the No. 45 defensive end by Scout, No. 46 by ESPN … rated the No. 1 recruit in the state of Wisconsin by Rivals, No. 2 by ESPN … selected to 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl … finished three-year varsity career with 223 tackles, 49 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries and an interception … first-team all-state by Associated Press and WFCA … first-team all-conference, first-team all-area according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as a senior … finished senior season with 101 tackles, 24 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries … first-team all-conference, honorable mention all-area as a junior … had 83 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 6 sacks and 2 forced fumbles during junior season … honorable mention all-conference as a sophomore … head coach was Jamie Meulemans

Personal: Father is Kemakolam Obasih … sister, Chidera Obasih, competes in track and field at Minnesota … volunteered on Boy Scout service projects and as coach at youth football camps and with various church projects

Jazz Peavy

Freshman
Wide Receiver
6-0 / 175
Kenosha, Wis. (Tremper)

High School: Three-star recruit according to ESPN and Rivals … rated as the No. 177 wide receiver by ESPN … rated as the No. 9 recruit in the state of Wisconsin by ESPN, No. 11 by Rivals … had 38 catches for 535 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior … first-team all-state, first-team all-conference, all-region … team MVP and captain … Kenosha Alan Ameche Award finalist … caught 26 passes for 425 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior … first-team all-state, first-team all-conference, all-region … career totals of 115 catches for 1774 yards and 37 touchdowns … head coach was Frank Matrise

Personal: Parents are Linda and Jeff Peavy … volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club youth football camp … helped distribute gifts to less fortunate kids at the Holiday House … enjoys weight lifting, basketball and video games

Sojourn Shelton

Freshman
Defensive Back
5-9 / 175
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Plantation)

High School: Four-star recruit according to ESPN … rated as three-star recruit by Rivals and Scout … ranked No. 26 cornerback in the nation by ESPN, No. 47 by Rivals and No. 76 by Scout … named to Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 camp in July 2012 … selected for Nike’s “The Opening” all-star camp … named MVP of Miami-area Nike Football Training Camp in April 2012 … as a senior, returned three punts for touchdowns and recorded an interception, 16 pass breakups and 22 tackles … named first-team all-county by South Florida Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald … as a junior, recorded three interceptions at cornerback and was named to the Broward County Super 11 by the Sun Sentinel … started at cornerback as a sophomore and grabbed four interceptions … head coach was Steve Davis

Personal: Parents are Rachel Victor and Sojourn Shelton, Sr. … active in 100 Black Men of Greater Ft. Lauderdale and Junior Achievement … served as motivational speaker for Plantation area Little Leaguers

Donnell Vercher

Junior
Safety
6-2 / 200
Clovis, Calif. (Clovis)
Fresno City College

Junior College: Finished sophomore season at Fresno City College with 23 tackles and eight interceptions, earning junior college All-America honors … had 41 tackles, three interceptions and four pass breakups as a freshman

High School: Three-star recruit by Rivals and ESPN … as a senior, named 2010 Tri-River Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year … finished senior season with 112 tackles, three interceptions, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks … also rushed for 258 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior … also competed in basketball, track and volleyball … coach was Rich Hammond

Personal: Parents are Betty and Eric Vercher … cousin, Roshon Vercher, played football at Fresno State … volunteered with Amazing Grace Ministries … enjoys spending time with family

Jakkarie Washington

Freshman
Cornerback
5-10 / 170
Everett, Mass. (Everett)

High School: Three-star recruit according to Scout … ranked as the No. 56 cornerback by Scout, No. 110 by ESPN … rated as the No. 8 recruit in the state of Massachusetts by ESPN … caught 33 passes for 439 yards and nine touchdowns, ran for 697 yards on just 75 carries and scored 15 touchdowns, recorded two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown as a senior … ESPN Boston first-team all-state as a senior … two-time all-state selection … head coach was John Dibiaso

Personal: Mother is Keisha Washington

T.J. Watt

Freshman
Tight End
6-4 / 215
Pewaukee, Wis. (Pewaukee)

High School: Three-star recruit according to ESPN, Rivals and Scout … rated as the No. 28 tight end by ESPN, No. 44 by Scout … ranked as the No. 9 recruit from the state of Wisconsin by Rivals, No. 11 by ESPN … threw for 527 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 554 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior … also recorded 42 tackles and five sacks as a senior … honorable mention all-state … first-team all-conference quarterback, linebacker and punter … honorable mention all-area at linebacker according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel … made 27 catches for 505 yards and three touchdowns as a junior … first-team all-conference as a tight end … also lettered in track and field … head coach was Justin Friske

Personal: Parents are Connie and John Watt … brother of former Badgers defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who was named 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the Houston Texans, and current Badgers fullback Derek Watt

Robert Wheelwright

Freshman
Wide Receiver
6-1 / 179
Columbus, Ohio (Walnut Ridge)

High School: Four-star recruit according to Scout … rated three stars by ESPN and Rivals … ranked as the No. 28 wide receiver according to Scout, No. 49 by Rivals, No. 70 by ESPN … rated as the No. 21 recruit in the state of Ohio by Scout, No. 30 by ESPN … finished career with 26 touchdown receptions … recorded 48 receptions for 903 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior …. had 45 catches for 528 yards, 11 touchdowns as a junior … first-team all-city, all-district and all-state as a senior … advanced honor roll student … head coach was Byron Mattox

Personal: Parents are Debra and Ernest Wheelwright … grandfather, Ernie Wheelwright, played football at Southern Illinois and went on to nine-year NFL career with New York Giants, Atlanta and New Orleans … uncle, Eric Wheelwright, played football at Utah … brother, Michael Bell, played at Ohio Dominican University … brother, Ernest Wheelwright III, played football at Minnesota from 2004-07 and went on to pro career with Baltimore Ravens and Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL … high school teammate of current Badgers tight end Austin Traylor

Jack Cichy

Freshman
Linebacker
6-3 / 195
Somerset, Wis. (Hill Murray)

High School: Recorded 107 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four sacks, six forced fumbles and four fumbles recovered, as well as one interception , four pass breakups and two blocked kicks as a senior … all-conference selection as a senior … honorable mention all-state … team MVP as a senior … finished with 111 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered, plus three interceptions, seven pass breakups and four blocked punts as a junior … all-conference selection … two-time team captain … 58 tackles and one pass broken up as a sophomore

Personal: Parents are Lisa and Steve Cichy … father played football at Notre Dame and in the Canadian Football League … mother played basketball at Marquette … sister, Tessa, plays basketball for the Badgers … volunteers with Amnesty International and as a camp counselor with local football and basketball youth … participated in food preparation at a local homeless shelter and volunteered at Ronald McDonald House … enjoys golfing, boating and playing with his three dogs

D.J. Spurling

Freshman
Athlete
5-11 / 215
Slinger, Wis. (Slinger)

High School: Ran for 1,084 yards and nine touchdowns, threw one touchdown, and made 76 tackles, including six for loss, as a senior … all-county offensive player of the year, second team all-conference, team MVP and team captain as a senior … recorded 104 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as a junior

Personal: Parents are Lisa and Duane Spurling … uncle, Brian Fulton, played football and basketball at Carroll College (1986-91) … participated in powerlifting in high school, placing fifth in the state and eighth nationally as a junior … volunteers with Future Christian Athletes, Skills US, Habitat for Humanity and local youth football programs … enjoys working out, mountain biking and playing paintball

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Bo Pelini suggests foul play by Ole Miss

Bo Pelini

There is an old football cliche that goes something like this: “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.”

And Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini stopped just short of accusing the Ole Miss Rebels of cheating during a recent recruiting battle.

Wide receiver transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow, who originally chose the Washington Huskies as part of the 2013 class, verbally committed to Nebraska during a visit this summer. After visits to Alabama and Ole Miss, Stringfellow, a four-star recruit, decided to flip his commitment and he will attend Ole Miss in the fall.

What happened in between?

“Read between the lines,” Pelini told Huskers Illustrated’s Michael Bruntz. “I think we all know what happened in that situation.”

Since Coach Pelini suggested it, let’s read between the lines about what could have possibly happened.

OK — I’m reading between the lines now — what could Ole Miss have done to flip Stringfellow’s commitment?

  • They paid him.
  • They gave him a car.
  • They offered his parents a job.
  • They told him he would start right away.
  • Young ladies were used as “campus aides” to woo him.

There really is an untold amount of possibilities we can think of based on Pelini’s simple suggestion.

Or — and this is far more likely — a teenager with plenty of options available to him changed his mind. Too bad the coach on the wrong side of the decision simply couldn’t accept that fact.

Pelini didn’t give much of an explanation for his outburst, but he seemed to lay the blame at the feet of Stringfellow’s parents.

“Especially when it’s a clueless parent,” Pelini said.

Pelini may think he knows what’s best for every kid Nebraska recruits, but he is not in any position to tell Stringfellow and his family what’s best for them.

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A deluge descends upon UCLA’s campus

Terrence Bowman #12

A water main break near UCLA’s campus has completely flooded large areas of the university.

The football team was forced to quickly move its gear from the onrushing water. The football field is almost completely submerged, and the weight room is reportedly in “bad shape.”

Here are other images from around UCLA’s athletic complex:

If you want to follow the NBC 4’s coverage of the water break, click the video below:

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Report: Three more Longhorns could face a suspension

Daje Johnson

When four players were dismissed from the Texas Longhorns program last week, there was speculation more players would follow. Three more players have been identified by HornsDigest.com’s Chip Brown as being at risk.

Wide receiver Daje Johnson and offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle all face suspension, according to Brown. The trio are apparently down to their “last strike” with the program.

It should be pointed out that Texas has not announced anything and these three players may simply be facing internal pressure to conform with head coach Charlie Strong’s new approach.

If we do take a moment to consider the possibility of any of these players being suspended, it would be a major blow to the Longhorns’ offense.

Harrison and Estelle are projected to the team’s starting bookends at offensive tackle. The Longhorns lack experience behind their starters and protecting quarterback David Ash with a pair of neophyte offensive tackles could prove to be disastrous. Kent Perkins, who is projected to start at guard, would likely be asked to move back to right tackle, while sophomore Camrhon Hughes would be thrust into the starting lineup.

At wide receiver, Johnson has shown the potential to be a dynamic play maker. While it may be difficult to replicate what Johnson can do within the offense, it could eventually prove to be an opportunity for a young receiver — whether it’s Jacorey Warrick, Jake Oliver or one of five incoming freshmen — to earn playing time and possibly produce.

It wouldn’t be surprising with Strong’s recent track record to find out that one or all of these players are eventually suspended, but we wanted to stress the fact that it hasn’t happened or hasn’t been announced at this time.

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Mizzou WR suspended due to a banned substance

Missouri v Vanderbilt

The Missouri Tigers’ war of attrition at wide receiver continues.

Sophomore Levi Copelin has been suspended for the 2014 campaign due to taking a banned substance.

“The reason I am suspended is that I recently bought an over-the-counter nutritional supplement from a local store, and used it as part of my workout routine,” Copelin said in a statement released by the schoool. “Unfortunately, I used it without clearing it with my strength coaches or trainers.  This supplement is legal and available to the public, but it isn’t approved by the NCAA, and as a result of using it, I failed an NCAA drug test.  This was a stupid mistake on my part, and I’m very sorry that I put myself and my team in this situation.  This is a hard lesson to learn, as I never had the wrong intentions. I also understand there aren’t any shortcuts to success.  There’s nothing I can do except dedicate myself to representing me, my family, my team, and Mizzou the right way going forward.  I’m very grateful to my coaches and my teammates for giving me a chance to overcome this.”

Last season, the Tigers had one of the most explosive wide receiver corps in college football. L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas were lost to the NFL, and budding superstar Dorial Green-Beckham was dismissed from the team in April.

The team will now rely heavily on seniors Bud Sasser, Darius White and Jimmie Hunt. Copelin was projected to be the team’s fourth starter at wide receiver in its spread system. Instead, Copelin’s absence will provide an opportunity for a pair of true freshmen, Nate Brown and DeSean Blair, to make an early impact for the Tigers. The coaching staff could also turn to tight end Sean Culkin to provide a big presence — all 6-6 and 245 pounds of him — in the slot.

“This is a very unfortunate situation, but one that Levi created for himself,” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said in the statement. “He’s paying the price for this mistake, and I commend him for owning up to it and taking responsibility.  Our strength coaches and trainers rely on our players to be careful of what they do on their own, and to always get approval from them first.  We’re disappointed that Levi didn’t follow this guideline, but we will support him during this time, and have high expectations that he will handle all of his responsibilities in the classroom, in the community and on the field in a first-class manner.”

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WVU’s Wendell Smallwood cleared of charges in murder case

Wendell Smallwood

Sometimes, as is the case with West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, it’s far more prudent to allow the justice system to play itself out before a student-athlete’s future is determined.

Smallwood was arrested July 14 on charges of intimidating a witness involved in a murder case.

Wilmington (Delaware) police claimed at the time that Smallwood “tried to get a witness to recant statements implicating a friend (Zakee Lloyd) of his charged with first-degree murder.”

Lloyd, however, admitted to the crime, while Smallwood was a vital part of the investigation. The Wilmington Police Department issued a statement regarding Smallwood’s role in the matter:

Since his arrest, Wendell Smallwood has been fully cooperative with the Department of Justice and Wilmington Police Department including giving a full statement regarding his involvement in witness intimidation. He was fully prepared to testify truthfully in the upcoming trial, and his cooperation was instrumental to the State in securing today’s conviction of Zakee Lloyd.

There is no evidence of Smallwood’s involvement in the murder of Manuel Oliveras.  Moreover, despite the recorded phone call between Smallwood and Lloyd, there is no evidence that it resulted in a threat being conveyed to that witness.  In consideration of all of the facts and circumstances, including Smallwood’s full cooperation with authorities and the conviction of Zakee Lloyd, the State today entered a nolle prosequi on the witness intimidation charge against Wendell Smallwood.

Upon news of Smallwood’s involvement in the case, West Virginia University didn’t comment on the situation, and Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen wouldn’t discuss it during Big 12 media days. Instead, Smallwood remained on the roster, and he’ll now be able to return to the team without fear of suspension or dismissal.

Smallwood finished third on the team with 221 rushing yards in 2013, and he was second with 894 all-purpose yards.

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Jake Heaps expects to start at QB for the Hurricanes

Jake Heaps

Quarterback Jake Heaps hopes the third time is the charm.

Heaps is on his third team in four years. After unsuccessful stints with the BYU Cougars and the Kansas Jayhawks, Heaps has one year of eligibility left to make his mark with the Miami Hurricanes. And Heaps plans to make the most of it as the team’s starting quarterback.

“I didn’t come here to be the backup,” Heaps told the Miami Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan. “I made this decision for a reason. I came here to play, but you have to earn that. No one is going to give that to you, and that’s what I knew coming into this situation and that’s what I wanted.

“… That’s the only way you’re going to earn your teammates’ respect and gain their confidence. So for me, I’m very excited about this opportunity. This is my last year. I’ve given everything I have at this thing, and it’s extremely important for me to perform well — not only to win the job but for my goals and aspirations down the line as well.”

Heaps’ experience speaks for itself and provides him with an advantage in the Hurricanes’ upcoming quarterback competition. During his time with the other two institutions, Heaps played in 33 games and threw for 5,181 yards, 32 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.

The starting job, however, won’t be handed to the upperclassman. Although, the trek will be much easier to navigate without projected starter Ryan Williams in the running. Williams suffered a torn ACL during spring ball, which allowed Heaps to transfer to the University of Miami.

Heaps will compete with three young but very talented quarterbacks. Kevin Olsen is a redshirt freshman and former four-star recruit. Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier are a pair of highly touted true freshmen that could work their way into the mix with strong showings during fall camp.

“Many times you’re in a situation with quarterback battles, [and] it’s very easy to find a team that has a divided locker room, that in a lot of situations don’t handle this situation very well,” Heaps said. “It’s a testament to the group of guys in this quarterback room that there hasn’t been any division.

“I’ve tried to come in and be nobody but myself and show these guys how much I love the game of football. It has gone extremely well. These guys are great.”

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Disciplinary actions at Texas are helping recruiting

Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong had many challenges facing him when he took over as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. The biggest of which was relating to high school coaches in the state of Texas after they became accustomed to the ways of Mack Brown over the past 16 years.

Strong’s recent disciplinary action — he suspended or dismissed six players last week, including two potential starters — wasn’t seen as a negative around the state. Strong is establishing a new culture in Texas, and high school coaches are taking notice.

“The high school coaches I’ve spoken with say they want to send players to a place where is sound discipline,” Daron Roberts, a Texas graduate who will coach at the high school level this season, told Bleacher Report’s Ben Kercheval. “Everyone knows that Strong means what he says.”

The high school coaches don’t just want their athletes to play for the University of Texas. They want them to become better men under the supervision of Strong.

“We’re in the development business,” Todd Moebes, the head football coach at Abilene Cooper High School, told Kercheval. “We want to make our players better citizens in society, but you also have to look at how that affects the program. I admire him.”

Strong is quickly setting the tone within his program and changing expectations around the state. And it’s working.

Texas currently ranks 20th overall in Rivals.com’s 2015 class rankings. The program didn’t rank in the Top 20 during Brown’s last full recruiting cycle. The team finished 24th. And the Longhorns received a pair of verbal commitments from wide receiver John Burt (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) and defensive lineman Du’Vonta Lampkin (Houston/Cypress Falls) since the suspensions.

It will take time for Strong and his staff to fully ingratiate themselves into recruiting the state of Texas, but the coach has certainly set the right tone early in his tenure.

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NCAA rescinds Oklahoma State’s practice penalty

Mike Gundy

The NCAA reversed its course, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys won’t be docked practice time this season.

Two months ago, the NCAA ruled the Cowboys’ football team fell below the minimum standard required as it pertains to program’s Academic Progress Rate.

A mistake in calculating the APR was brought to the NCAA’s attention by Oklahoma State, which brought the school’s APR score above the minimum threshold.

“Throughout this process the NCAA has been committed to having complete and accurate data,” OSU’s senior associate athletic director for compliance Kevin Fite said in a release. “We were provided a great deal of assistance in ensuring the information we were evaluated on accurately reflected our football team’s academic performance, based on APR standards. When the additional point was discovered earlier this summer, the NCAA staff promptly re-evaluated our situation and added the point, which took us out of the penalty range.”

The mistake apparently came when the school “discovered the recent graduation of a player from the 1990s which counted toward the APR score”, according to FOX Sports Southwest’s David Ubben.

The change in policy won’t have a drastic effect on how Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy approaches practice during fall camp or during the season.

“We haven’t used the 20 hours in a number of years,” Gundy said during Big 12 media days. “And when you put it down on paper, we end up being about 45 minutes short. We’ll incorporate a few new things in two-a-days prior to school starting, when we don’t have any limitations, and we’ll move forward. I’ve challenged the players with accepting responsibility to make up for that time during the week.”

Oklahoma State has shown marked academic improvement over the past two years, which lessened the original penalty, but the program will have to continue on its upward trend to avoid this situation in the future. Next time they might not be able to find a player from two decades ago that will able to help their cause.

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Urban Meyer wants LeBron James at OSU games

Wisconsin v Ohio State Getty Images

Basketball megastar LeBron James described his time with the Miami Heat as his “college experience.” Now that “The King” is “coming home” to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, The Ohio State University would like to expand on his so-called college experience this fall by making James a permanent fixture on the football team’s sidelines.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was asked about James’ return to Ohio during the Big Ten’s media days. Meyer made sure to point out he has an open door policy with James.

James is one of the world’s most famous athletes, and the reason to have him around is obvious. James is a living and breathing recruiting tool, and coaches love to use every tool at their disposal.

Unfortunately, NBA training camps open at the start of October, and James will likely miss the bulk of Ohio State’s conference games, unless he has an off day or two from practice and games.

If Meyer really wanted James around more, he could have done exactly what the basketball program did and bequeath a permanent locker to James somewhere in the football facilities.

After all, there appears to be more than enough room in the team’s new extravagant new locker room to grant “The King” a throne…

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Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes have national title expectations

Urban Meyer

On The Dan Patrick Show, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer addressed multiple issues he deals with on a daily basis as the leader of one of the nation’s premier programs.

Expectations for the Buckeyes may the most difficult issue to handle. Ohio State doesn’t just compete for Big Ten Championships. The program is trying to compete for national titles each and every year.

“I think it’s real,” Meyer told Patrick. “I felt it on our team last year during our win streak. I try to watch that. I been through it now for quite a while. I try to give some experience to it and focus on that task at hand. No one forced these players to come to Ohio State. No one forced these coaches. You get these top five, six, seven programs and that’s the way it is. You have to win every game you play, embrace it and try to do it. If you can’t, you rebound and try to win the next one. We have a good handle on that here.”

The Buckeyes are a consensus Top 10 pick entering the season, and they were chosen by the media to win the Big Ten Conference. If the Buckeyes hold true to form, they will have a legitimate shot to be one of four participants in the the new College Football Playoff.

To listen to the entire interview, click the video below:

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Media picks Cincinnati to win the American Athletic Conference

Tommy Tuberville

The Cincinnati Bearcats are the favorites to claw their way out of American Athletic Conference and potentially play in a major bowl game.

Cincinnati received 17 first-place votes from the media members currently covering the American’s media days.

“First time in my 19 years that I’ve ever been picked to win the conference,” Bearcats head coach Tommy Tuberville told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t think I have, but I can’t remember. But remember, Louisville was picked to win last year, and they didn’t win.

“We’ll have a target on our back every week. It’s something we can take and run with or we can hide from it. Obviously you want to take it and run with it.”

Two other teams, the UCF Knights and Houston Cougars, received first-place votes. The Knights received seven first-place votes and were chosen to finish second, while the Cougars had six first-place votes and were picked to finish third.

The Knights are coming off a BCS bowl berth and a Fiesta Bowl championship, but the losses of quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson to the NFL may be too much to overcome to repeat as league champions.

The Cougars, meanwhile, are highly talented on offense and have one of the nation’s best young quarterbacks in John O’Korn. The Cougars travel to Cincinnati on Dec. 6 with the conference championship likely on the line.

The conference’s newest addition, the East Carolina Pirates, were picked to finish fourth. The Pirates have arguably the best quarterback-wide receiver tandem in the AAC with Shane Carden and Justin Hardy, but the team plays a brutal non-conference schedule against the South Carolina Gamecocks, Virginia Tech Hokies or North Carolina Tar Heels.

The SMU Mustangs, South Florida Bulls, Memphis Tigers and Temple Owls were finished to finish fifth through eighth, respectively. The Connecticut Huskies and Tulane Green Wave received the same numbers of votes and tied for ninth place. Another new addition to the conference, the Tulsa Hurricane, was picked to finish last.

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NCAA settles concussion lawsuit

NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice Getty Images

The NCAA’s headache over concussions and their treatment in multiple sports has been addressed for now.

The Associated Press obtained a court filing which states the NCAA will “create a $70 million fund to test current and former college athletes for brain injuries. Players can use the results later as grounds for suing for damages.

The NCAA agreed to settle the class-action lawsuit, which was comprised of ten individual lawsuits, but it denied “each and every allegation of liability, wrongdoing and damages and further denies that the MDL Action may be maintained as a class action except for settlement purposes.”

As part of the settlement agreement:

  • The NCAA agreed to pay $70 million in total.
  • The amount paid by the NCAA will go towards costs to fund the Medical Monitoring Program, Notice and Administrative Costs, the costs of the Medical Science Committee, Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses, and Service Awards.
  • The Medical Science Committee, which will be made up of four medical experts in the field, will establish a baseline screening questionnaire for the NCAA.
  • The allocation of the resources will be determined by a third-party professional service company.
  • Every student-athlete from each sport will receive preseason baseline testing.
  • If a student-athlete is diagnosed with a concussion, he or she is prohibited from returning to the game or practice that same day.
  • A student-athlete must be cleared by medical personnel before they can return to competition.
  • During all contact sports games, the institution is required to have trained medical personnel present. This applies to all three levels of the NCAA athletics.
  • The NCAA will create reporting process for institutions to report diagnosed concussions.
  • The NCAA will contribute $5 million to concussion research.

The NCAA is obligated to provide $30 million into the settlement account within the first 30 days of the ruling. If the full amount of the settlement is not used within a court appointed date, the money will be returned to the NCAA.

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Oklahoma recruit Joe Mixon claims innocence in statement

Mixon

In a statement released by his lawyer, Oklahoma’s five-star running back recruit, Joe Mixon, claims he was merely defending himself during an altercation Friday morning with University of Oklahoma student Amelia Molitor.

The statement, provided by The Oklahoman, reads:

This past Friday morning Joe Mixon found himself in a situation where he was subjected to both verbal and physical attacks from a very intoxicated and troubled young woman.  As a result of these physical attacks, Joe instinctually defended himself against further harm.

As promised, Joe met with investigators from the Norman Police Department this afternoon. Throughout the meeting, Joe continued to be forthcoming and cooperative with their investigation.

We are looking forward to a thorough investigation and are very much looking forward to the truth coming out.  As we have always maintained, Joe has done nothing wrong.

Molitor alleged Mixon punched her in the face, which caused a broken bone.

The Norman Police Department is still reviewing the case, and no charges have been filed against Mixon or Molitor at this time.

The University of Oklahoma is aware of the situation and will likely withhold further comment until the findings of the case are divulged.

Photo credit: Rivals

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Michigan AD says Brady Hoke isn’t on hot seat

University of Michigan Introduces Brady Hoke Getty Images

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke isn’t worried about being on the hot season this season, and he shouldn’t be.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon stated Hoke’s job isn’t on the line as the Wolverines prepare for the 2014 campaign.

“It’s not,” Brandon told The Detroit News’ Bob Wojnowski. “Every football coach in America lives under enormous pressure, so I don’t need to apply any more. We’re the winningest program in the history of college football, we know what the expectations of our fan base is. Nobody has to tell Brady that. And I have all the confidence in the world that he’s bringing in the right kids, that he continues to do the right thing in terms of getting his staff lined up. I’m convinced we’re heading to a very, very good place.”

It’s certainly different to make such a claim in July than it will be a few months from now, particularly if the Wolverines struggle through another season.

Brandon expects the Wolverines to improve from last year’s 7-6 record. But he wasn’t willing to provide a benchmark for Hoke to remain off the hot seat. Brandon simply expects to see continued improvement.

“I have a high level of confidence that the pieces are being put together for this program to be what we all want it to be,” Brandon said. “I have to be patient because I know what’s involved. I know what was here when coach Hoke arrived, in terms of how we needed to change.

“We needed to get bigger, we went from one style (the spread offense under Rich Rodriguez) to a different style. You’d like to think you can snap your fingers and make that happen, but it takes time. So on the one hand, I have to be patient because I realistically know it takes some time, but on the other hand, I’m as impatient as anybody.

“I want to win, and my expectations haven’t changed one iota. We want to be in that game in Indianapolis, we want to be competing for that championship. We have unfinished business and that’s to get this program back where we want it. I’m confident that’s going to happen.”

Unfortunately for Michigan, the road to Indianapolis and the Big Ten Championship doesn’t go through Ann Arbor. It goes through Columbus or East Lansing. And a third place finish — or worse — in the Big Ten’s eastern division could finally land Hoke on the hot seat.

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Georgia adds brother of Alabama recruit

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

Recruiting is all about relationships, and the Georgia Bulldogs may have pulled a trump card to eventually flip a current Alabama Crimson Tide commit.

The Bulldogs received a commitment from tight end Joseph Ledbetter, according to The Macon Telegraph.

“I’ll be at camp on Friday … and I will be on a full scholarship,” Ledbetter confirmed to Dawgs247.com.

Ledbetter, who played basketball for two years before deciding to transfer from Pfeiffer University, is the older brother of four-star recruit Jonathan Ledbetter.

Rivals.com ranks Johnathan Ledbetter as the third-best defensive end recruit in the nation. The defensive lineman committed to Alabama in January.

Despite his brother’s decision, Jonathan Ledbetter isn’t prepared to change his verbal commitment.

“It doesn’t really affect me,” Jonathan Ledbetter said. “I’m just glad he’s in school and has the opportunity, but we aren’t a package deal or anything.”

There could be some family pressure for Jonathan to eventually join Joseph at UGA, though.

“I would love to have two Georgia Bulldogs as sons, or three – because I have a third son as well,” the mother of Joseph and Jonathan Ledbetter, Teresa Belcher, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I try to stay out of it. I try to let them decide what is best for them. Of course, I give my opinion. But Jonathan will make his decision on what is best for him, as far as the type of team that fits his personality. I try not to overwhelm him with questions about that.

“Jonathan is very happy for Joseph. He is very excited for his brother. But I really don’t think it’s going to influence his college decision on way or the other.”

Georgia, meanwhile, will still benefit even if the younger Ledbetter doesn’t change his mind. Joseph Ledbetter will add depth and athleticism to the Bulldogs’ tight end position after Hunter Atkinson decided to leave the program.

The trend at the tight end position is get highly athletic former basketball players and convert them. Georgia now has two with Joseph Ledbetter and starter Jay Rome on the roster.

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