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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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BYU finally confirms Jamaal Williams’ suspension

Jamaal Williams

BYU running back Jamaal Williams announced three week ago he was suspended for the team’s season opener against the Connecticut Huskies due to an honor code violation.

The school  finally acknowledged the suspension after Williams posted about it on twitter.

“We were caught off-guard a little bit by that,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe told The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Jay Drew Wednesday.

“This day and age, with social media and such, we don’t have rules against it. It just kinda surprised us. But these are big boys and girls, and they took it upon themselves to do that, and I am OK with it. I wish they would have communicated and collaborated with our staff. We have professionals that can help it go more smoothly. But they chose to do that, and took accountability for themselves. I am OK with that.”

The decision to suspend Williams is believed to stem from two incidents.  In February, Williams was suspected of underage drinking. The running back also admitted there was another incident in July.

Last season, Williams ran for 1,233 yards. But he may not have been ready for the start of the upcoming season.

The running back suffered a knee sprain during BYU’s scrimmage Wednesday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The injury was deemed “not serious”, but Williams will be evaluated on a daily basis.

With Williams out of the lineup, sophomore Algeron Brown will likely get the nod as the team’s starting running back against the Huskies.

The Cougars expect to have better communication the next time a situation like this arises.

“Yes, it is always smart communication-wise to talk about things [first],” Holmoe said. “We do it as a staff all the time, but when we don’t, something goes wrong. So, we are just trying to practice [that] and help them understand and practice good judgement.”

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Kent State will honor fallen teammate

Jason Bitsko

After the tragic loss of center Jason Bitsko, Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen said, “We are heartbroken by the news of Jason’s death. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and everyone whose lives he touched.”

Bitsko was found unresponsive and passed away Wednesday.

The senior will provide inspiration for his team this season, and the Golden Flashes will honor him every time they take the field.

Kent State head coach Paul Haynes spoke of Bitsko Thursday and what he meant to everyone.

“Jason Bitsko was not just a Golden Flash, he was a son, he was a brother, he was a mentor, he was a friend,” Haynes told the Akron Plain Dealer’s August Fagerstrom.

Despite the loss of their son, Bitsko’s family found a way to make someone else’s life better.

(Photo credit: Kent State athletics)

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OL Joe Manley leaves Louisville, lands at WKU

Joe Manly

Joe Manley began his collegiate playing career in his home state of Kentucky.  While continue it there, he’ll do so in a different football program.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Manly suited up and practiced for the first time at Western Kentucky.  Just this past Friday, the offensive lineman had been granted a release from his Louisville scholarship.

Manly, a three-star member of the UofL’s 2012 recruiting class, played in nine games as a redshirt freshman last season.

Manly is the second Cardinals player to transfer the past week or so.  This past weekend, defensive back Lyn Clark decided to leave the UofL and transfer to an FCS program.

(Photo credit: Louisville athletics)

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Mark Dantonio, on Braxton Miller injury: ‘I felt bad’

Big Ten Championship Getty Images

With Braxton Miller going down with a season-ending shoulder injury earlier this week, Michigan State immediately became the favorite to win the Big Ten East according to most observes as well as the degenerates in Las Vegas.

Just because of that, though, doesn’t mean the Spartans are jumping up and down and gloating over the Ohio State starting quarterback’s 2014 demise.

“I felt bad,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said according to the Lansing State Journal when asked what he thought when he first ehard the news. “Braxton Miller is a great football player. He is a senior, has meant a lot to their football team. He is a great leader, a great young man. You don’t want something like that to happen. It’s a tough deal.

“But I would say this — we played without Max Bullough in the Rose Bowl [because of a suspension]. Usually when those things happen, people rise up. Everybody becomes a little bit better. What was a negative becomes a strength later.”

Dantonio wasn’t alone in his feelings.

“Aw, I mean that’s sad,” senior safety Kurtis Drummond said of the injury. “I never want to see any player get injured or have to miss games. For him to have to go through that, it’s definitely a sad time. I’m definitely praying for him and hopefully he has a speedy recovery.”

In the game that put the Spartans in the Granddaddy of Them All, Miller was able to get his on the ground against the ferocious MSU defense to the tune of 142 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Through the air was a different case during the course of OSU’s 10-point loss as Miller was held to just 8-of-21 passing (38.1 percent) 101 yards.

OSU and MSU will square off in the regular season Nov. 8 in East Lansing in what could still be, despite Miller’s absence, for an early-December trip to Indianapolis and the Big Ten championship game.

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Pitt names Chad Voytik starting QB

Chad Voytik AP

As expected, Pittsburgh has turned to Chad Voytik under center.

In an announcement that should surprise absolutely no one, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst announced that Voytik has been named as his starting quarterback.  The redshirt sophomore had been in a competition with senior Trey Anderson throughout the spring and on into summer camp, although from the time he played the entire second half of the Panthers’ bowl game it has seemingly been Voytik’s job to lose.

Voytik will replace Tom Savage, last year’s starter whose eligibility expired after an 18-year collegiate career.  This will, incidentally, mark the third consecutive season that Pitt has a different starting quarterback at the beginning of the year.

Voytik played in four games as Savage’s backup last season, completing 6-of-11 passes for 116 yards along the way.  Nine of those attempts and 108 of those yards came in the Little Caesars Bowl win over Bowling Green.  While he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, he did rush for a score in the 30-27 win.

A four-star member of Pitt’s 2012 recruiting class, Voytik was rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee.

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Former four-star lineman leaving Texas

Rami Hammad

A promising young offensive lineman will see, as it turns out, said promise realized at somewhere other than Texas.

At a press conference Thursday, head coach Charlie Strong announced that Rami Hammad has become the latest player to leave the UT football program over the past few weeks.  Hammad, however, is not a forced departure as he has simply decided to transfer out.

No reason was given for the departure, although Hammad likely wouldn’t have appeared on the two-deep depth chart heading into the season.

Hammad was a four-star member of the Longhorns’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 10 guard in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Texas.  He didn’t play a s a true freshman, instead taking his redshirt.

(Photo credit: Texas athletics)

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Hoosier WR Caleb Cornett arrested, suspended

Football player head shots, 06/23/14_Mike Dickbernd

An arrest early Wednesday morning that resulted in no charges for an Indiana Hoosier has still ended with punitive measures for the player.

In a statement sent out Thursday afternoon, IU head coach Kevin Wilson announced that Caleb Cornett has been indefinitely suspended following the incident.

“We are aware of Caleb’s situation and take this matter very seriously,” Wilson said in the statement. “At this time, Caleb is suspended from all team activities. Once we gather all of the facts and information, we will move forward accordingly.”

The situation involving the wide receiver is actually a bizarre one.

Cornett was involved in a physical confrontation with another male in downtown Bloomington yesterday morning. Police officers witnessed Cornett throw a punch that result in the male being “knocked unconscious for several minutes” and was arrested for battery and disorderly conduct. The Indianapolis Star wrote that “[t]he other individual involved in the incident was transported to Bloomington Hospital.”

Because it was deemed to be a “mutual combat scenario,” though, prosecutors decided the player wouldn’t be charged.

However, Cornett remains jailed. Why? In a previously unreported incident, Cornett was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. While the charge was ultimately pleaded down to reckless operation, Cornett was still placed on probation. The arrest triggered a violation of his probation.

The previous legal issue likely also played a role in Cornett being suspended despite a lack of charges in the most recent incident.

Cornett played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman last season, mostly on special teams.  While he had as many catches as I did, Cornett was expected to see his playing time on offense increased.

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CFT 2013 Preseason Preview: Big 12 Predictions

WVU vs Marshall

As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the Big 12 Conference.

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

BIG 12

1. Oklahoma (Last year: 11-2; beat Alabama in Sugar Bowl)
Will the real Oklahoma Sooners please stand up? Questions surround one of the most talented teams in college football. Will Trevor Knight be the quarterback that shredded Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, or will he revert to the player that couldn’t initially beat out Blake Bell (who converted to tight end) to become the team’s starting quarterback? Will wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham receive a waiver from the NCAA to play this season? How will the Sooners overcome the losses of their top tackler, Frank Shannon, and five-star freshman Joe Mixon? And, historically, the Sooners have a penchant to disappoint after being named a preseason Top 5 team. The program will enter this season ranked fourth overall in the AP Poll and third in USA TODAY’s Coaches Poll. Despite these questions, the Sooners are still the favorites to win the Big 12. Oklahoma returns eight starters to a defensive unit that was the Big 12’s best last season. The group is led by outside linebacker Eric Striker, who is one of the most feared defenders in the country. Knight is the key on offense, but the quarterback will benefit from an experienced and talented offensive line. Both of the team’s starting offensive tackles as well as left guard Adam Shead return for another season. The Sooners’ ability to win up front on both sides of the ball will give them a decided advantage each week. Oklahoma will need it, because the team may have to go undefeated to be a part of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

2. Baylor (Last year: 11-2; lost to UCF in Fiesta Bowl) 
Despite Oklahoma’s status as the favorite to claim a Big 12 crown, it’s a wide-open race and the Bears have just as much chance to win a conference title. Whereas the Sooners will rely heavily on a strong defense and an improving offense, the Bears will continue to score points in bunches and hope they can stop opponents at least once or twice per game. The biggest advantage the Bears have among their conference rivals is the play of quarterback Bryce Petty. Petty threw for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions during his first full season as a starter. Petty should be even better during his second season as he continues to grow in all phases of the game. The Bears also lay claim to the most talented group of skill position players in the conference. Five of the team’s top six receivers from last year return, while running Shock Linwood will get an opportunity to show how explosive he is as the team’s new starting running back. The Bears will score points in bunches. It will fall on the defense to makes sure they don’t surrender more points than the team’s offense can score. College football is more offensive driven than its ever been, but we’ll give Oklahoma a very slight edge over Baylor due to the old adage, “Defense wins championships.”

3. Texas (Last year: 8-5; lost to Oregon in Alamo Bowl)
Everything Texas does this season will be under a microscope. New head coach Charlie Strong will be scrutinized at every turn. How the team responds to Strong, both on and off the field, will be compared to the program’s former coach, Mack Brown. Strong has already made a statement during the offseason by suspending or dismissing numerous players. Everyone will be anxious to see whether or not this new-found discipline in the locker room will eventually translate to the field. In four seasons with the Louisville Cardinals, Strong was 37-15 overall with an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over the Florida Gators in 2012. What Strong inherits in Texas is a far more talented roster than he ever had in Louisville, and his Cardinals finished No. 1 overall in total defense last season. Strong, a former defensive coordinator, should be giddy with the talent he now has on the defensive side of the football. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown and defensive end Cedric Reed are as good of an inside-outside defensive line tandem as can be found in college football. On offense, meanwhile, the team will will rely on quarterback David Ash again. Believe it or not, Ash is the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12. But this will be a run-first team with the talented Malcolm Brown and the recovering Jonathan Gray running behind a big and athletic offensive line. Texas has enough to compete for a Big 12 championship if it finally puts everything together on both sides of the football.

4. Texas Tech (Last year: 8-5; beat Arizona State in Holiday Bowl)
The Red Raiders did their best disappearing act a year ago. Kliff Kingsbury‘s squad started 7-0 and was ranked as high as 10th overall before the team faded down the stretch. Texas Tech lost five straight to end the team’s regular season but bounced back with a 37-23 victory against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl. The losing streak showed the Red Raiders weren’t ready to play against the big boys of the Big 12. However, the win in the bowl game showed the team’s resiliency and growth during the month the team had to regroup and grow with the extra practices. And the Red Raiders will continue to build their program under Kingsbury. The biggest growth should come on the offensive side of the ball. Texas Tech already had the best passing offense in the conference last year, and it should be even better in 2014. Davis Webb enters his first full season as starter. Webb threw for over 400 yards in four games and finished with 20-to-9 touchdown-interception ratio. Both of his offensive tackles and center return along the offensive line. And each of the wide receivers expected to start received plenty of playing time last season. The defense is another matter altogether, but this is a team built to win games with its passing game and offensive explosiveness. Kingsbury has made his mark in a very short time as a head coach, and his team should be expected to impress during his second season with the program.

5. Kansas State (Last year: 8-5; beat Michigan in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
Everyone will know whether or not the Wildcats are for real this season by Sept. 18. On that day, Kansas State will host the Auburn Tigers. The clash of styles will make for an highly intriguing game. The reason this game is so important for the Wildcats is because the teams they lost to last season either ran the ball very well or operated with tempo on offense. The Tigers do both, and they do both very well. The game is Manhattan, and Kansas State will be prepared very well by the ageless Bill Snyder. This is a program that is built around playing fundamental football and winning close games. Three top offensive linemen may have left the program after last season, but the team should still be very good up front with B.J. Finney at center and Cody Whitehair at left guard. They’ll be blocking for a quarterback, Jake Waters, who will be going into his second season as the team’s starter. And Tyler Lockett is one of the most dynamic wide receivers and return men in the nation. This is a team that could very well finish much higher or lower in the standings. It’s all dependent on whether or not the ball bounces in their favor, because they don’t have a player the caliber of Collin Klein to carry the team to the top of the conference.

6. TCU (Last year: 4-8)
It’s been a rough transition to the Big 12 for the Horned Frogs. The team is 11-14 since making the move. The program lost a combined 13 games the previous six seasons. However, this year’s squad is regarded as the most talented since it entered the league. Last season, the Horned Frogs’ defense played at a high level and finished second in the league. The biggest story line of the offseason, though, was the potential return and eventual dismissal of Devonte Fields. The defensive end was voted the Big 12’s preseason Defensive of the Year even after missing nine games last season due to injury. Fields, who was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2012, was a game-changing talent and his presence on the field will be missed greatly. The team also lost one of the best cornerbacks in school history when Jason Verrett graduated and went on to become a first-round selection in May’s NFL draft. Despite these losses, this unit is still talented, particularly at linebacker. Both Jonathan Anderson and Paul Dawson return. And head coach Gary Patterson always has that side of the football prepared to play at a high level. It’s on the offensive side of the football the Horned Frogs are expected to experience the most growth. While a starter has yet to be named at quarterback, Trevone Boykin should be more comfortable behind center after starting nine games last year and Matt Joeckel is a talented transfer from Texas A&M. The team can always lean heavily on its skill positions. Running backs Aaron Green and B.J. Catalon as well as the team’s top receiver, Josh Doctson, are back. TCU may not return to the level of winning it experienced prior to becoming a member of the Big 12, but the team should be much better than 4-8 during the upcoming season.

7. Oklahoma State (Last year: 10-3; lost to Missouri in Cotton Bowl)
It’s difficult to place the Cowboys this low in the standings. After all, the program has won at least 10 games three of the last four years. It’s been seven years since Oklahoma finished this low in the Big 12 standings. The biggest concern for this team is experience. Both sides of the ball will be overhauled after losing a total of 14 starters. It isn’t just how many starters the Cowboys lost, but who they lost. Justin Gilbert was an elite cornerback and returner. Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett could be dominant at times. The team’s top three tacklers from last season are gone. Three of the team’s top four receivers graduated. And the offensive line will have four new starters, while senior Daniel Koenig will transition from right to left tackle. Head coach Mike Gundy will still find ways to manufacture points due to his dynamic offensive scheme, but this is simply too much talent for a team to lose and still hope to be legitimate contenders.

8. Iowa State (Last year: 3-9)
Three years ago, Iowas State head coach Paul Rhoads was considered one of the top coaching candidates in college football. The Cyclones rewarded him with a 10-year contract worth $20 million. The Cyclones are 9-16 since then, and the team is coming off a 3-9 season. Two of those wins came at the end end of the season when quarterback Sam Richardson wasn’t in the starting lineup. Yet, Richardson won this summer’s quarterback competition. The rest of last year’s starting offense remains virtually intact. Plus, Richardson will now have a legitimate No. 1 target at wide receiver in freshman Allen Lazard. Despite the positives on the offensive side of the ball, the Cyclones’ defense was the worst in the Big 12 last season. The program simply doesn’t have the athletes on that side of the ball to compete against the explosive offenses they face this season.

9. West Virginia (Last year: 4-8)
It’s a make-or-break season for West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. The team has gotten progressively worse each season Holgorsen has been at the helm of the program and tensions are building in Morgantown. Holgorsen’s entire program is built around his offense. An offense which disappointed in 2013 and finished 62nd overall in yardage per game. That level of production simply isn’t good enough when the defense continues to be an issue for the Mountaineers. The defensive coordinator position has been a revolving door under Holgorsen’s supervision. Former Penn State coordinator Tom Bradley was hired as a senior associate head coach during the offseason. Bradley’s inclusion to the staff is a last-ditch attempt to get a woeful defense on track. If it doesn’t and Holgorsen can’t revive his offense — and it doesn’t seem likely — there will be major changes within the program.

10. Kansas (Last year: 3-9)
At this point, what is there to say about Charlie Weis‘ tenure at Kansas? It’s a failed experiment. Yes, the team improved by two wins during Weis’ second season and finally captured a conference victory for the first time in three years. But Weis’ plan to inject talent into the roster with a plethora of junior college additions and transfers didn’t do nearly enough to close the gap with the rest of the teams in the Big 12. All is not bleak, though. The Jayhawks return 17 starters. The team has officially given the reins to quarterback Montell Cozart, who decided to stay in-state to be the future of Jayhawks football. His growth at the position will play a major part in Kansas’ improvement this season. The team also has a solid edge-rushing duo in junior Ben Goodman and senior Michael Reynolds. Overall, It’s difficult to win at this basketball school. And it’s even more difficult to establish a long-term winning culture. After a quick peak at the schedule, it’s hard to project this team winning more than three or four games even in a best-case scenario.

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Clemson loses OT Shaq Anthony to transfer

Shaq Anthony

In early March it was announced that Shaq Anthony was one of four Clemson players suspended for the opener against Georgia.  Five months later, it’s now known that offensive tackle won’t be available for the game after that, or the game after that, or, well, any other game for that matter.

In a press release, Clemson announced that Anthony has decided to transfer out of the football program.  The decision comes just nine days before the opener.

“I appreciate the hard work Shaq has put into this program,” said head coach Dabo Swinney in a statement. “Sometimes a player needs a change. I support his decision and will help him any way I can. I wish him nothing but the best.”

The moves comes as a surprise as the redshirt junior had long projected to be the starting right tackle, although his suspension had, at least temporarily, handed that job to Joe Gore.

Anthony started five of the 17 games in which he played the past two seasons. He was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2011 recruiting class.

“I have enjoyed my time at Clemson and appreciate the opportunity I’ve had,” said Anthony. “This is an outstanding program, but I wish to make a clean start at a program where I can hopefully be a starter. I want to thank all the Clemson coaches, my teammates and the Clemson family for their support. I will always be a Tiger.”

If Anthony transfers to an FBS program, he’d more than likely be forced to sit out the 2014 season. He would then have one season of eligibility remaining.

This is the second significant loss for the Tigers the past two days. Wednesday, Clemson announced that Zac Brooks, the Tigers’ leading returning rusher, would miss the entire 2014 season with a foot injury.

(Photo credit: Clemson athletics)

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UTSA regents approve Larry Coker’s extension, raise.

Larry Coker

In late November it was reported that Larry Coker and UT-San Antonio were closing in on an approval for a contract extension for the head coach.

Nearly nine months later that “closing in on” has morphed into “finalized.”

According to the San Antonio Express-News, a contract extension for Coker has been signed off on by the University of Texas Systems’ Board of Regents. The regents gave their official approval during a meeting Thursday morning.

The school subsequently confirmed the contract in a press release.

“It’s good news to hear that the Board of Regents approved the new contract today,” Coker said in a statement. “I’m extremely grateful for the support from Lynn Hickey and Dr. (Ricardo) Romo. My family and I are very happy at UTSA and we love the San Antonio community. We are working very hard to build this program the right way and this new contract will help us continue to move forward toward accomplishing our goals.”

The contract extension, which extends Coker for three additional years through the 2018 season, had already been recommended to the regents and approved by the UT System’s vice chancellor for academic affairs. Coker would be 70 years old if he’s still the Roadrunners’ head coach at the end of the extension.

In addition to the extension, Coker also received a raise. It guarantees $2.25 million over the next five years, with $400,000 for the first year and calling for a $25,000 increase each subsequent year. That means the final year of Coker’s contract would be worth $500,000.

In 2013, Coker earned $350,000, the lowest of any head coach in Conference USA. Next lowest? FAU’s Carl Pelini and his $497,000. Pelini is no longer with the Owls, which means Coker is chasing UTEP’s Sean Kugler and FIU’s Ron Turner, who both made $500,000 last year.

The fact that UTSA would extend Coker is far from surprising as he’s taken a fledgling football program and, in short order, turned it into one of the “mid-majors” on the rise.

UTSA’s first season was in 2011 as a member of the FCS; the Roadrunners have spent the past two seasons as provisional FBS members.

The fact that UTSA is now a full-fledged FBS member, officially confirmed earlier this month, means that the Roadrunners will be bowl-eligible in 2014. In 2012 and 2013, during UTSA’s FBS transition phase, the Roadrunners went 8-4 and 7-5, respectively, which would’ve made the school eligible for the postseason.

The Roadrunners will compete in Conference USA — they were in that conference last year, in the now-defunct WAC the year before — and will be eligible for that league’s championship game as well.

As we wrote before and for the record, UTSA opens 2014 with games against Houston, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Nothing says “cannonballing into full FBS membership” more than that schedule.

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Want to throw a pie in Harvey Updyke’s face? Here’s your chance

Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr.

I don’t know who this’ll be more popular amongst, Alabama fans or Auburn fans. Or who’d more want to take a shot at him.

Regardless, Harvey Updyke, the Alabama fan who poisoned the famed oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner a couple of years ago, has agreed to appear at a charity function in Mobile, Ala., next month, ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach reported. At this charity event, which is being held to raise funds for a family whose young son died of cancer last month, “fans will be allowed to either dunk [Updyke] in a dunking booth or throw pies at his face,” Schlabach wrote.

Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and his mother are helping raise awareness to the event, but it’s Updyke’s (potential) presence that’ll trigger the most attention nationally. The event’s organizer, Alabama fan T.J. Hodges, stated the “Updyke idea came from me thinking outside the box to raise money for the family” and that “I thought I’d take a chance and see if Harvey was interested in helping, and he said he’d do whatever we wanted.”

It did, though, take Updyke a while to get to that point.

“He thought about it and thought about it,” Updyke’s wife, Elva, told Schlabach. “His daughter said he needed to do it because it will show that he’s not as big of a nut as some people believe. He told them they can do whatever they want to him if it will raise money for kids.”

Updyke, as “Al from Dadeville,” infamously called into the Paul Finebaum radio show in February of 2011 and claimed to have poisoned the Toomer’s oaks after Auburn beat Alabama in the 2010 Iron Bowl. He was subsequently arrested, charged and ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage of an agricultural facility, a Class-C felony. He was sentenced to three years in jailhe served 180 days of the sentence — and was placed on supervised probation for a period of five years. During that probationary period, he has a 7 p.m. curfew.

Additionally, Updyke, who now lives in Louisiana less than an hour from the LSU campus, was ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution and has been barred from the following: any Auburn University property, any collegiate sporting event and speaking to the media.

While there was initial hope that the oaks could be saved, they were ultimately taken down after one final roll. New trees are expected to be planted next year.

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Gamecocks RB Mike Davis’ status for A&M game up in the air

Florida v South Carolina Getty Images

This is certainly, at bare minimum, an interesting development that bears monitoring.

South Carolina’s Mike Davis has been unable to practice the past two days because of a rib injury. Both the running back and his position coach have told the media that, essentially, there’s nothing to worry about.

That’s not the tone his head coach took as Steve Spurrier, already dealing with the loss of a starting offensive lineman, intimated Wednesday that the star back could miss the opener against Texas A&M because of the injury.

“Mike Davis has been hurt, he hasn’t practiced all week,” Spurrier told the Sportstalk radio network by way of The State. “I don’t know if he’d even be able to start or not. But we got Brandon Wilds, he’s ready to go. Shon Carson, Dave Williams, so we’re in good shape there. …

“He hasn’t practiced much, so we’ll see how much he’s ready to play for the game.”

It could just be a case of the OBC playing mind games with his opponents a week ahead of their season-opening date with the Aggies that also doubles as the conference opener for both. Or, it could be very real concern.

Whatever the case, a healthy Davis is an all-important key for whatever success the Gamecocks have this season.

One of the more underrated players in not only the SEC but in college football as a whole, Davis led USC with 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s also a weapon out of the backfield as his 34 receptions for 352 yards were good for fourth on the team.

Carson’s 256 yards and Wilds’ 221 yards last season made them the second- and third-leading rushers among running backs.

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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 8 Auburn

2013 record: 12-2 overall, 7-1 in SEC (1st in West division)
2013 postseason: BCS title game vs. Florida State (34-31 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 2/No. 2
Head coach: Gus Malzahn (21-5 overall; 12-2 in one year at Auburn)
Offensive coordinator: Rhett Lashlee (second season); Dameyune Craig (second season as co-coordinator)
2013 offensive rankings: 1st rushing offense (328.3 ypg); 106th passing offense (173 ypg); 11th total offense (501.3 ypg); 12th scoring offense (39.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 7
Defensive coordinator: Ellis Johnson (second season); Charlie Harbison (second season as co-coordinator)
2013 defensive rankings: 62nd rushing defense (162.1 ypg); 100th passing defense (258.6 ypg); 86th total defense (420.7 ypg); 48th scoring defense (24.7 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 6
Location: Auburn, Ala.
Stadium: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451; grass)
Last conference title: 2013

THE GOOD
No one was able to control the Tigers’ powerful rushing attack and, even with the departure of its leading rusher, that’s expected to continue on into 2014 and the second season in Gus Malzahn‘s fast-paced, relentless offense.  Having Nick Marshall, expected to be much improved in the passing-game aspect, in his second season as a starter should help soften the blow that was running back Tre Mason‘s departure for the NFL.  As AU goes from the hunter to the hunted, it’ll be incumbent on Marshall to take that next step, one his head coach feels he’s ready to do.

THE BAD
When you have as magical ride as AU did last season there’s not a whole heck of a lot of bad going on, but the defense was, at the very least, suspect during that run to Pasadena.  They were in the bottom half of the country in yards allowed per game, although they were in the top half in the most important stat: points allowed.  That, though, was only good for eighth in the SEC.  In fairness, it was the Tigers’ first season under coordinator Ellis Johnson, so the expectation is that just based on familiarity with the scheme the defense will improve.  The good news is that there’s really nowhere for that group to go but up, especially as it relates to the rest of the SEC.  There’s also the little matter of the schedule as AU has conference road games scheduled for Mississippi State (Oct. 11), Ole Miss (Nov. 1), Georgia (Nov. 15) and Alabama (Nov. 29) to go along with a non-conference tilt at underrated Kansas State.  AU won’t sneak up on anyone this season, so they will get every team’s best, most concentrated shot, especially on the road.

THE UNKNOWN
(Writer’s note: pardon me while I repeat myself)
There’s no way around it, no way to tap-dance whilst whistling past the biggest question when it comes to AU football in 2014 — did the Tigers use a couple of years (decades?) worth of luck in their magical, unexpected, inexplicable ride to the BCS title game?  Even the biggest homer out on The Plains would have to admit that the Tigers were “fortunate” to end the season where they did.  Of their 12 wins, six were decided by eight points or less.  In four games — Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama — they were trailing with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.  The Georgia (“Prayer at Jordan-Hare“) and Alabama (“Kick-Six“) wins immediately earned nicknames for the sheer improbability of the endings.  There’s little doubt that Malzahn has, very quickly, turned AU around from the three-win embarrassment that was the final season of Gene Chizik in 2012.  How much was sheer luck, the kind of once-a-decade (or two) happenstance that simply can’t repeat itself?  Regardless of the answer — I’m guessing the talent is sufficient so as to make the question mostly moot — Malzahn’s Tigers will be one of the more fascinating squads to watch throughout the 2014 season.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: at Alabama Nov. 29
As Auburn and Alabama are expected to be the class of the SEC West, it only makes sense to put the season-ending Iron Bowl in this slot.  Last year’s dramatic, last-second win over the Tide that propelled the Tigers into the SEC championship game and, ultimately, the BCS title game was one of the most exhilarating and improbable in the storied history of the rivalry.  UA will have revenge on its mind as the Tide looks to get back on the national championship stage after its one-year sabbatical in 2013.  More than likely, the winner of this game will claim the West’s spot in the SEC championship game and, perhaps, a spot in the four-team playoff.  So, yes, this will be one of the more anticipated games of the year — provided both teams can make it to the game unscathed, of course.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: Quarterback Nick Marshall
Marshall’s first season as a starter wasn’t statistically overwhelming — less than 2,000 yards passing, just 14 touchdown passes — but it was deadly in its efficiency. Marijuana citation aside, Marshall is said to have had a very good offseason, improving his throwing mechanics and becoming more and more comfortable in Gus Malzahn‘s offense. If true, and if the passing aspect of his game improves — as evidenced by his 1,068 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns, he’ll continue to get his on the ground — that could prove to be bad news for the SEC in general and the West specifically. Thanks to the departure of their leading rusher, the Tigers will likely lean even more heavily on both Marshall’s arm and legs; as far as his Heisman chances go, that’s certainly good news.  Hell, one teammate has even already called his stiff-armed shot for Marshall, so he’s got that going for him.  Which is nice.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Must-read story: The ‘blueprint for a rebuild’

Bob Diaco AP

Over at SB Nation, Bill Connelly has a magnificent longform on the “blueprint for a rebuild,” which dives into how six coaches have built or plan to build their respective programs.

It’s well worth your time. Connelly talked in-depth to Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, UConn’s Bob Diaco, Memphis’ Justin Fuente, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. An excerpt from his conversation with Diaco, who left a gig as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator to take over a lagging program in Storrs:

“I think that the brand is strong, in part, based on those championships. Those are worldwide news events, and we’ve had unprecedented-in-sport type of success there. So the brand is strong. And then you just take a peek, just a quick Google search. You’ll see this is one of the top public universities in the country, one of the top research universities in terms of science and mathematics. It’s in an area that’s very close to a bunch of Fortune 500 companies. We’re pretty rich in resources. And it’s a resident life campus, not a commuter campus. This is a good place for the quintessential college experience.”

He’s selling me on the school, and he might not even realize he’s doing it. You can’t stop the salesman mid-pitch.

“Hopefully prospective student-athletes don’t make the decision based on football alone. You can’t hide behind [the information you mail a recruit]; there’s too much info at a finger’s touch. If your graduation rate is at 43 percent, you can’t hide from that. A lot of players want to go to institutions that they are going to graduate from, next to their teammates and classmates. If you’re in a metroplex, and you’re recruiting against other AAC teams, and if there’s a prospect that’s interested in you and another school, and he also wants to be an engineer, and your engineering department is strong, you’ve got more opportunity there.”

It’s a fascinating look at how these coaches have gone about building their programs — the K-State/Snyder stuff is certainly interesting — and is definitely worth your time with one week until kickoff.

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Pitt secondary takes another hit with transfer of Coles

Pitt Logo

Pittsburgh ranked fourth in the ACC in passing defense in 2013, but maintaining that level of play could be pretty difficult this season. The Panthers are starting to run dry on experience in the secondary as Trenton Coles has decided to leave the program. Head coach Paul Chryst announced the roster update on Wednesday, according to ESPN.com.

Coles was expected to be a starter for the Panthers this fall, so his late departure from the program comes at a complicated time. If he transfers to another FBS program, he will have to sit out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He would, however, be eligible to play right away this season if he transferred to a school at the FCS level or below.

The transfer of Coles comes in the same month Pittsburgh suspended another member of the secondary, Titus Howard. Howard was suspended for the entire season due to a violation of team rules. For now, Pittsburgh has just one cornerback with any playing experience heading into the 2014 season. Lafayette Pitts has started 25 games for the Panthers and will now be relied on for leadership even more on the field this fall. Wisconsin transfer Reggie Mitchell could be looking to slide into a bigger role now, and freshmen Avonte Maddox and Phillipie Motley could compete for playing time as well.

Pittsburgh opens the 2014 season at home on August 30 against Delaware.

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