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Five-star FSU LB: mom wouldn’t sign NLI to go to USC

matthew thomas

Florida State landed one of the top recruits in the country on Signing Day when five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas signed his letter of intent to play for the Seminoles.

But in Thomas’ own words, he could have been sporting Cardinal and Gold instead of Garnet and Gold. In an interview with Josh Newberg of 247Sports, which you can read in its entirety HERE, Thomas explains that he was close to signing with USC. It wasn’t until his mom said she didn’t want to sign the NLI from the Trojans that Thomas went with FSU.

Here’s a portion of the interview:

JN: So if your mom would have signed the papers you’d be a Trojan right now? 
MT: Yeah, I would have been a Trojan.

JN: Are you upset about that? 
MT: No I think everything works out how it’s supposed to. I’m going to make the best of my situation. It’s not like I’m unhappy, I really like Florida State. It’s not a problem, I’m happy with my decision.

The situation brings to mind what happened with Arkansas running back Alex Collins and his mother — although it’s admittedly much less dramatic. Collins’ mom confiscated her son’s NLI from the Hogs on Signing Day to prevent him from signing it. Collins eventually signed with UA the next day with his dad.

It’s not completely uncommon for a parent to get involved in the recruiting process to the point of directly influencing where their son/daughter goes. Sometimes, they do have their kid’s best interest in mind. Sometimes they don’t.

Whatever the case may be in Thomas’ situation, Florida State isn’t going to complain.

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Outland Trophy candidate won’t start at center for Beavers

Oregon State v Washington State

One of college football’s finest centers won’t be on the field during the first weekend of play when the Oregon State Beavers host the Portland State Vikings .

Junior Isaac Seumalo, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list, is still recovering from a broken foot he suffered during the Hawaii Bowl against the Boise State Broncos. Junior Josh Mitchell will start in Seumalo’s place, according to the Oregonian.

Oregon’s offensive line as a whole was in upheaval until recent weeks. Junior Gavin Andrews was moved from right to left tackle a little over two weeks ago. Sophomore Sean Harlow will start at right tackle.

“(It’s) pretty good, considering there’s been some juggling and movement and some late injuries that forced us into some decisions about where to put people,” Beavers coach Mike Riley told the Oregonian‘s Gina Mizell. “I think it’s still a group that will be good and has a chance to get better.”

A return date for Seumalo wasn’t provided. The Beavers play the Hawaii Warriors Sept. 6, and Seumalo could return to the field where he was originally injured. The coaching staff may even look at the schedule and realize it doesn’t need Seumalo in the lineup until the third game of the season. The Beavers enjoy an early bye week and then host the San Diego Aztecs Sept. 20.

Once Seumalo returns, he may not be reinserted at center. Riley has expressed an interest in Seumalo playing right guard this season. Mitchell’s play through first game or two will dictate exactly where Riley can eventually play his best offensive lineman.

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WVU QB admits first smooch was with Nick Saban’s daughter

Nick Saban

A first kiss is a special moment in a person’s life. If you’re West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, it’s a moment that can come back and haunt you during the Mountaineers’ season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Trickett revealed a little secret about himself during his Tuesday meeting with local media. His first kiss was with the daughter of Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Whether or not this was a smart choice to make this public just prior to playing one of the most inventive defensive coaches in college football history is certainly in question.

Saban’s reputation as one of the most intimidating coaches in college football is well known. He could use this as an opportunity to overwhelm the Mountaineers’ offense and crush Trickett with a variety of blitz packages.

Or, Saban can take this in stride and think nothing of it. His main concern will be defeating the Mountaineers. Nothing more, nothing less.

The latter situation is far more likely, but it’s fun to think about Saban defending the honor of his daughter in a gladiatorial game of chess in which the likely outcome is Alabama emerging victorious.

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UPDATE: Sister speaks on Josh Shaw’s behalf

USC v California Getty Images

Sometimes a story is too good to be true. Could this be the latest example of that adage at work?

USC is opening an internal investigation into the story of senior cornerback Josh Shaw saving his nephew from drowning. The story shared by USC’s athletics website was inspirational and a touching one. Shaw reportedly suffered a pair of high ankle sprains while allegedly leaping from a second floor balcony into a pool below to save his nephew, who cannot swim.

A day later, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian says there may be conflicting information regarding how the injury to Shaw’s ankles were suffered.

For now, USC is keeping Shaw from meeting with the media until the university can confirm the information regarding the injuries.

UPDATE (5:00 p.m. ET): According to information obtained by NBC News, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said they have no record of any calls to their Palmdale station for service involving Shaw or a family member due to a near drowning.

UPDATE (8:00 p.m. ET): Josh Shaw’s older sister, Asia Shawspoke with USA TODAY on behalf of her brother. She confirmed the initial report of the football player saving his nephew — her son — but wouldn’t comment on any “speculation” that Josh Shaw injured himself during a burglary.

“The one who was supposed to be watching him turned away for a second,” she said. “And Josh, who is on the balcony, saw the incident and reacted.”

Asia Shaw also confirmed no authorities were involved in the matter since her son didn’t experience any respiratory impairment.

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Brian Kelly: Everett Golson is ‘taking next step of leadership’

Brian Kelly, Everett Golson

When Everett Golson was readmitted to Notre Dame, the quarterback had to prove himself all over again.

Golson started 11 games in 2012, including the BCS National Championship Game, but he wasn’t handed the starting position upon his return. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly eventually named Golson the team’s starting quarterback Aug 13. Since then, Golson has grown into a legitimate leader within the program.

Kelly discussed Golson’s evolving status as a leader and updated the team’s injury situation during his Tuesday meeting with the media:

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Report: North Carolina investigates alleged hazing

Larry Fedora

It seems academic fraud, illicit benefits and NCAA sanctions weren’t embarrassing enough for the North Carolina Tar Heels football program.

Head coach Larry Fedora was eventually hired to replace the ousted Butch Davis and interim coach Everett Withers to give the program a fresh slate. Instead, Fedora is going to be  mired in yet another controversy within the program.

Allegations of hazing have been reported, according to Yahoo Sports.

“During the first week of August, redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Jackson Boyer was involved in an alleged physical altercation with multiple teammates in his room at the A-Loft hotel in Chapel Hill where the team was staying during fall camp. … The incident allegedly left Boyer with a concussion,” sources told Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson and Pat Forde.

The university addressed the report.

“We are aware of an incident involving members of the UNC football team that took place earlier this month. We take this allegation seriously and the University is conducting a thorough review,” Kevin Best, North Carolina’s assistant athletic director for communications, told Yahoo Sports.

If the university finds the allegations to be true, the players involved should expect to be disciplined.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to fostering organizations that provide a positive and safe environment for new and existing members,” the UNC Office of the Dean of Students stated. “To that end, UNC expressly prohibits hazing or any activity that puts a student’s physical, emotional or psychological health and safety at risk. The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance defines hazing as action, ‘that causes or permits an individual, with or without consent, to engage in activities that subject that individual or others to risks of physical injury, mental distress, or personal indignities of a highly offensive nature, in connection with recruitment, initiation, or continued membership in a society, fraternity or sorority, club, or similar organized group, whether or not recognized by the University.’ “

Since the school is still in the middle of the investigation, none of the names that allegedly committed the aforementioned act have been revealed.

The latest incident only adds to the concerns within North Carolina’s athletic department. The NCAA decided June 30 to reopen its investigation into academic irregularities after former UNC basketball player Rashad McCants confirmed the academic improprieties during ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

While these allegations hover over the athletic department, the football team must still prepare for its season opener against the Liberty Flames. The Tar Heels are considered a popular pick to win the ACC’s Coastal division. However, their season could eventually be interrupted by suspensions to multiple players due to foolish actions.

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SEC teams rush to schedule the Kansas Jayhawks

Charlie Weis AP

Kansas Jayhawks football is growing in popularity, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

As conferences attempt to improve their non-conference schedules in order to be more attractive options for the College Football Playoff, the Jayhawks are one of the few teams which play in a Power Five conference that are still classified as a potential “cupcake” on the schedule.

SEC teams, in particular, have been quite interested in scheduling the Jayhawks in recent weeks.

Kansas’ reputation precedes itself. The program can’t escape the fact its 9-39 the past four seasons. And the Jayhawks are expected to finish last in the Big 12 Conference again this season. The program is essentially seen as a loophole in the SEC’s mandate.

The Jayhawks aren’t eager to regularly play against teams from the best conference in college football. And it may be the first time the program can actually turn down requests from other programs.

Schedules are generally created years in advance. The Jayhawks have a full non-conference slate through 2017, and they’re not exactly playing against powerhouse programs. The one team that’s been highly successful the Jayhawks face during that period is the Duke Blue Devils this season.

Kansas does currently have one opening in its non-conference schedule in 2018. And the program has two openings for the 2019 and 2020 season. SEC teams may have to fight over those opportunities to actually play Kansas in the future. At that point, Kansas may be able to leverage a home-and-home series with an SEC program.

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Iowa converts frosh LB to FB due to depth issues

Aaron Mends

In an attempt to build depth in Iowa’s backfield, freshman linebacker Aaron Mends will get a look at fullback, according to The Gazette‘s Marc Morehouse.

The move was necessitated by a season-ending injury to Iowa’s starting fullback, Adam Cox. Mends will now be the team’s only depth at fullback behind junior Macon Plewa.

Mends was considered a three-star recruit as a linebacker, but he doubled as a starting running back in high school. Mends also held offers from Iowa State and North Dakota State.

While the Hawkeyes hope Mends can make the transition to the offensive side of the football, the team certainly doesn’t envision him as their starter this season. Mends is far from a traditional fullback at 200 pounds. The team’s starting tailback, Marc Weisman, is 240 pounds.

This was supposed to be a season for Mends to potentially redshirt and develop as a linebacker. Instead, he’s now one play away from accepting a critical role in the Hawkeyes’ running game.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Iowa athletic department)

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Finally, somebody asked Johnny Manziel for his take on Ohio State

Johnny Manziel

Because inquiring minds want to know, we now have Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel on the record about his state of Ohio State in the fallout of star quarterback Braxton Miller going down for the 2014 season with a right shoulder injury.

“I don’t wish that for anybody,” Manziel said of Miller’s injury, according to Cleveland.com. “So hopefully everything in that situation works out for him. I hope he’s able to get a medical redshirt and be able to play, because first and foremost, I’m a fan of Braxton.”

It should be noted Miller does not need a medical redshirt year. He still has a redshirt year to spare, which will be used this season. Miller underwent successful surgery Tuesday morning. Manziel was also willing to shed some light on what it takes for a redshirt freshman to step into a starting role under center, which is exactly what J.T. Barrett will be doing this fall in Miller’s absence. Manziel, of course, stepped into the spotlight at Texas A&M as a redshirt freshman under different circumstances, but he could still relate.

“Ohio State is obviously a very big deal but, I mean, a (redshirt) freshman coming in and taking over for a program like that, I think he’s got a good situation with Coach [Urban] Meyer being there and being able to put him in good situations to be successful,” Manziel said. “So I think more than anything he needs to depend on him, Coach Meyer, who’s been through it all.”

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UCLA center may be questionable for opener

Deandre Coleman, Jake Brendel

UCLA will start the 2014 season with one of the most hyped quarterbacks around the country with Brett Hundley. But who will be the player responsible for snapping the football into Hundley’s hands? That responsibility has been expected to belong to Jake Brendel, but with the season opener days away there could be some wait and see.

According to an Orange County Register report, Brendel suffered an MCL injury two weeks ago. The severity of the injury is said to be “pretty moderate,” according to the report and head coach Jim Mora has been noncommittal on his playing status for the season opener against Virginia.

Brendel has started 27 straight games for the Bruins and is on the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy. He was a team captain last fall and has been named a captain for 2014 as well. If he is unavailable, look to the Bruins to give guard Alex Redmond a shot at the job. He has been taking first team snaps in the middle of the line and Mora has said he has performed well.

“He looks good (at center),” Mora said, per Orange County Register. “Alex could play anywhere up front.”

UCLA gets the season started on Saturday at Virginia at noon eastern.

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Braxton Miller’s surgery goes well

Braxton Miller

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller underwent surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday morning. All indications are the surgery went well.

Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was asked for his update on Miller during the weekly Big Ten conference call. Meyer said he had spoken with his quarterback in the morning and was pleased to share there were no surprises and that everything had gone as well as hoped for. Miller will still be out for the 2014 season while he undergoes rehab his shoulder, and he has stated he intends to return to Columbus in 2015. Time will tell if Miller follows through on that plan or decides it is time to take a chance in the NFL Draft rather than risk another season at the college level.

Miller took to his Instagram account to share a photo of him smiling in a cast with Dr. James Andrews hovering above him. Miller is all smiles, which is always a pleasant sight to see for anyone coming out of surgery.

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Tulane’s top running back faces charges over stolen bike

Last week Tulane suspended a top defensive leader for the first half of the first game of the season. Now another key player received a suspension, this time on offense. Running back Robert Kelley is facing criminal charges for simple robbery and simple battery following an incident over a stolen bicycle. Tulane has suspended Kelley indefinitely and his status with the team at this point is unconfirmed.

According to court documents obtained by WWLTV in New Orleans, Kelley was booked August 4 and freed after posting $10,000 bond. He confessed to police to beating another Tulane student and then stealing his bicycle on June 30. The story told by the victim in the incident claims a group of Tulane football players approached he and a friend, when somebody stole his bike and placed it in a portable toilet. Kelley later confessed to his role in attacking the victim and stealing the bike.

“Mr. Kelley became angry and punched (the victim) in his right abdomen area,” Detective Sgt. Scott Meunier reported in the police report, per WWLTV. “(The victim) advised that he fell to the ground in pain and Mr. Kelley jumped on top of him and began to beat him.”

Robert Kelley rushed for 420 yards and three touchdowns last season. With Orleans Darkwa graduating, Kelley is slated to be the Green Wave’s leading rusher back from last season. Kelley sat out most of the spring due to what was reported as an academic issue. He has yet to return to the team with the season kicking off this weekend. He remains on the Tulane roster on the team’s website.

Last week Tulane suspended Royce LaFrance for the first half of this weekend’s season opener against Tulsa.

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Dantonio says Spartans not falling victim to complacency

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State is coming off the best season in school history, at least since Richard Nixon was serving as President of the United States. After knocking off Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and taking down Pac-12 champion Stanford in the Rose Bowl, the Spartans are now embracing life on top of the Big Ten. This has been a process years in the making under head coach Mark Dantonio, and well deserved. In light of recent developments in Columbus, Michigan State is now entering a brand new season as one of the more popular favorites in the Big Ten.

So how does a program that has at times stumbled when things were going well continue to break that mold and prove they are worthy of the preseason hype? For Dantonio, the responsibility falls on his seniors on the roster.

“I think it is senior leadership, the culture you develop in your group,” Dantonio said Tuesday during the weekly Big Ten coaches conference call. Michigan State returns eight seniors in the starting line-up, along with 10 juniors. Michigan State returns 46 lettermen this fall.

“We’re going to find out how we handle the ultimate success of last year,” Dantonio said. “[At] the same time our enthusiasm has been good, our mindset has been good.”

Michigan State is starting the season with the highest preseason AP ranking since opening the 1967 season ranked third in the nation. The Spartans also have the highest preseason ranking in the coaches poll since 1991, when the poll was first administered. The Spartans open the 2014 season Friday night with the first game against an FCS opponent in school history, Jacksonville State.

Michigan State travels to Oregon in week two.

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Auburn depth chart lists Marshall, Mincy with first team

Nick Marshall

Auburn’s official depth chart for the first game of the 2014 season (vs. Arkansas) has been released, but there are only a few points worth raising an eyebrow over.

It is probably unwise to read too much into depth charts, but quarterback Nick Marshall and cornerback Jonathan Mincy are each listed with the first team. Neither player will get the start for the defending SEC champions though, following off-field troubles during the offseason. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has said Marshall will play in the season opener. The head coach is not showing his cards with that decision, and it will likely be publicly unknown how it is handled until the game is underway. Marshall was cited for marijuana possession and so was Mincy.

At quarterback, Jeremy Johnson is listed second on the depth chart and is expected to get the start for the Tigers. How long until he is removed from the game in favor of Marshall remains a question. Joshua Holeey is listed behind Mincy on the defensive depth chart as well. It is also unconfirmed how long Mincy will have to sit out until being sent onto the field for Auburn.

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Detroit bowl game gets a new title sponsor too

Quick Lane Bowl

The Bahamas Bowl was not the only bowl game to receive a new title sponsor today. The new bowl game in Detroit, not to be confused with the bowl game previously held in the Motor City, received a new title sponsor as well. Say hello to the Quick Lane Bowl.

The Detroit Lions are organizing the new bowl game in Detroit, which replaces the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Having a local industry partner was important for the Lions. Staying true to the roots of the old Motor City Bowl, a partner in the auto industry seemed like a logical choice from the start.

“With a national platform to showcase the city of Detroit as well as Southeast Michigan football tradition, it was important for us to partner with an organization like Quick Lane who has a strong local and national presence,” said Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand, per a press release. “We look forward to collaborating to institute a great bowl game tradition at Ford Field for years to come.”

The game, featuring teams from the ACC and Big Ten, will be played December 26.

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Bahamas Bowl orders fried chicken title sponsor

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

The brand new bowl game this college football season being played in the Bahamas will have a hint of southeastern seasoning in the air. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has been named the brand new title sponsor for the Bahamas Bowl.

“Popeyes is honored to partner with the Bahamas Bowl to bring this historic bowl game to college football fans everywhere,” said Hector Munoz, Vice President of Marketing for Popeyes via press release. “Like college football, Popeyes enjoys a rich tradition and passionate fans, and we look forward to a great game and a lot of fun in the Bahamas.”

This is the first time Popeyes has been a corporate title sponsor for a bowl game. The restaurant chain can be found in 27 countries including Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Costa Rica, but not in the Bahamas (yet).

The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl will be played on December 24 with conference tie-ins with Conference USA and the MAC. It is scheduled to be the first postseason bowl game played between two U.S. teams outside of North America since 1937.

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