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Michigan officially loses DL coach to Sooners

Jerry Montgomery

Earlier today we noted that Jackie Shipp, who “parted ways” with Oklahoma after nearly a decade and a half on Bob Stoops‘ staff, had officially landed on his feet at Arizona State.

A couple of hours later, the man rumored to be Shipp’s replacement is officially in place as well.

As expected, OU confirmed Tuesday that Jerry Montgomery has been added to the Sooners staff as defensive line coach.  Montgomery comes to Norman after spending the past two seasons as Michigan’s line coach.

“Jerry Montgomery is a talented coach who further strengthens our staff at the University of Oklahoma,” Stoops said in his statement. “I have closely followed Jerry’s progress as he has ascended through the coaching ranks. I have been impressed by his ability to recruit some of the nation’s top student-athletes and then develop their skills once they arrive on campus. We are excited to have Jerry and his family join the Sooners.”

Prior to his time with the Wolverines, Montgomery had spent time as the line coach at Wyoming (2009-20) and Northern Iowa (2007-08).  Montgomery was a four-year starter at defensive tackle for Iowa from 1998-2001.

“It’s truly a privilege to join the University of Oklahoma,” said Montgomery. “Coach Stoops and his staff have an unbelievable reputation in the coaching community, and I’m excited to get to work with them. I’m very appreciative that I was able to work with Coach Hoke and our student-athletes at the University of Michigan. There were very few situations that could have convinced me to leave Ann Arbor, but the opportunity to join Coach Stoops and a storied program like the University of Oklahoma was one of them.”

(Photo credit: Michigan athletics)

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Academic leaders question Oregon’s football budget

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State

We all have come to a pretty general understanding that sports drives revenue for universities, with football bringing the most money into the university. No athletic program generates as much income as Oregon (thanks Nike!), but academic leaders in Eugene would like to see more of that money be put to academic uses.

“Our administration needs to take more responsibility to fully exploit the opportunity that our athletic department provides — on behalf of our students, our faculty and our institution,”former business school dean Dennis Howard said Friday, per The Register-Guard. He was not alone in challenging Oregon officials to think hard about how the budget will be formed.

“It would be really good if we were all in this together and the athletic department was trying to help the rest of the university,”Oregon economics professor Bill Harbaugh said.

Oregon football really cashed in this past year with an appearance in the College Football Playoff championship game, not to mention the revenue share it receives from the Pac-12 and any money funneled in through its relationship with Phil Knight of Nike. The problem some have with all of the money coming in through Oregon athletics is every dime of it is spent on athletics.

“They have $98 million in revenue and, strangely, exactly $98 million in expenses,” Howard explained. “If you look back year after year, you will find that revenue and expenses match up almost to a penny. … When they get extra TV revenue, they do what they just did in February. They go to the president and the Board of Trustees and the coaches and the athletic director get raises, so expenses go up.”

There is something to be said for a football program that is capable of being self-sufficient in its operations, and it is far better than operating in the red on an annual basis. But how much should Oregon’s athletics department be contributing to the academic side of things? There may be no perfect answer to this question.

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LSU dismisses DT Trey Lealaimatafao following bar fight arrest

Les Miles

There will be no team vote when it comes to the status of defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao at LSU. Les Miles has sent him packing.

In a brief statement released Monday afternoon, LSU announced Lealaimatafao has been dismissed from the team by Miles. The statement confirmed the dismissal is a reaction to an off-field incident involving Lealaimatafao previously reported.

“Trey is no longer a member of our football team,” Miles said in his brief statement. “We have gathered information on this incident and we feel it’s best for us to part ways.”

Earlier this month Lealaimatafao was arrested and charged for simple battery and simple robbery. The incident allegedly occurred in the parking lot of a bar in Baton Rouge. According to the original reports, Lealaimatafao beat another man unconscious and punched that alleged victim’s girlfriend in the face. As if that was not enough, he also allegedly picked the male victim’s pockets before fleeing.

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With attendance plummeting, Akron president says he “would not have built that stadium”

Terry Bowden, Kyle Pohl

When Akron opened the doors on InfoCision Stadium in 2009, the university likely did not expect to see such a poor draw in home attendance just six years later. Now there is almost nowhere to go but up.

The NCAA football attendance records show Akron had a total of 55,019 fans come out to see an Akron home game. That would be really good for the Zips if it were just for one game. It wasn’t. That was the total home attendance for Akron for the entire 2014 season. As noted by The Akron Beacon Journal, that is roughly half of the total home attendance from the 2009 season for Akron, which also included six home games. And to show you the complete other end of the spectrum of college football in the state of Ohio, Ohio State set an all-time spring game record of 99,391 fans at this year’s spring game. The drop in attendance has caused Akron president Scott Scarborough to admit he may have gone a different way if he was involved in the past planning.

I would not have built that stadium,” Scarborough said to The Beacon Journal. InfoCision Stadium was built with a price tag of $61.6 million, part of an expansive $300 million project across the university. Make no mistake about it, Akron was in need of a new football stadium after playing years in the old Rubber Bowl, a venue that was off-campus and cost more to maintain than projected with an on-campus stadium. It should be noted Scarborough was not a member of the Akron community at the time the stadium plans were approved. He was the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration at The University of Toledo and Medical Center.

So what was to blame? It’s not really that hard to figure out when you go back and look at Akron’s record in previous seasons. After winning just three games in 2009, Akron had back-to-back-to-back 1-11 seasons, a stretch that included a coaching change to bring in Terry Bowden. The past two seasons have shown signs of improvement, with two straight 5-7 seasons heading into 2015.

It is also worth mentioning the MAC’s schedule includes a number of weekday games later in the season. That resulted in two Tuesday night games at Akron in November, which is a tough time slot to attract fans to games. The 2015 schedule should be better for Akron fans though, with five home games played on a Saturday, and that includes a home game against Pittsburgh.

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Ex-UCLA QB Asiantii Woulard on his way to USF

Nevada v UCLA

Weeks after announcing his intention to transfer from UCLA, quarterback Asiantii Woulard has reportedly found a  new place to call home. The Winter Park, Florida product will be heading a bit closer to home, as Woulard announced he will transfer to USF.

“Decided to come home and play at the University of South Florida,” Woulard said on Twitter. “No past regrets at all, but looking forward to a new beginning in Tampa!”

Woulard will be forced to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he will be eligible to compete for the starting job in Tampa starting in 2016.

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A quick review of this year’s realignment changes in college football

NCAA Football Navy Midshipmen vs Army Black Knights

In just two more days the latest round of college football realignment changes will become official. Don’t worry, the changes happening this season will barely move the Richter Scale compared to the seismic changes in past years. The realignment phase has died down in recent years, although we are keeping eyes on the Big 12 just in case. July 1 is the date on the NCAA calendar when any realignment changes become official, so it is worth reviewing just what changes are happening for this season so you are not confused later on.

There will be no changes in the power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC), but there are some minor modifications in the Group of Five. Here they are.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

The conference with Big East roots will welcome Navy to the brotherhood this fall. The Midshipmen will be setting course for conference membership for the first time in program history after over a century as a football independent. With Navy now on board, the American Athletic Conference will have 12 football-playing members, split into two separate divisions and begin playing a conference championship game. The conference championship game will be played at the campus of the division champion with the best conference record (don’t worry, there are tie breakers in place).

AAC East: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, South Florida, Temple

AAC West: Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa

CONFERENCE USA

Conference USA will officially put UNC Charlotte in the conference football schedule this season, but of course there will be no UAB in 2015. UAB’s short-term decision to shut down the football program has since been reversed, but the damage had already been done. The Blazers have no program to field in 2015, and they may not return until 2017. So in the meantime Conference USA will have 13 members on the football field. In a way, Charlotte will replace UAB for the 2015 season in the East Division. Everything else will pretty much be the same in Conference USA.C-USA East: FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UNC Charlotte, Western Kentucky

C-USA East: FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UNC Charlotte, Western Kentucky

C-USA West: Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Mississippi, UTEP, UTSA

MAC

No changes in the MAC this season, but this is the last season UMass will be scheduled to be an associate member in the conference. There has been no update on what the Minutemen will be doing in 2016 and beyond, so stay on the lookout for news on that front.

Sun Belt Conference

Again, no changes to mention for the Sun Belt Conference, but it is worth mentioning Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will be elihgible for postseaosn play this season should they meet the NCAA postseason win minimum during the regular season. Georgia Southern won the Sun Belt Conference championship last season but was prohibited from playing in the postseason due to the transition restrictions for programs moving up from FCS to FBS.

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SEC SIDs pick Auburn vs. Georgia for SEC title

NCAA Football - Aurburn vs Georgia - November 12, 2005

Alabama may be the defending SEC champions heading into the 215 season, but it is their Iron Bowl rival that is receiving the most praise and favorite label in the SEC in most college football circles this offseason. The addition of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator is one of the most noteworthy assistant coaching changes this year, and the Tigers return some good talent on the field in 2015. Now, according to their hard-working sports information directors that make the lives of college football media types so much easier on a daily basis, Auburn is the favorite to play for the SEC title in 2015. Their opponent? Georgia.

All 14 SIDs in the SEC were polled by Al.com, and Auburn received three first-place votes and three second-place votes from the seven ballots from SEC West representatives. Alabama received an equal number of first-place votes and one fewer second-place vote. Georgia was a more clear favorite in the other division, receiving six of seven first-place votes. Missouri was the lone program receiving the one first-place vote not awarded to the Bulldogs. Missouri has played in the SEC Championship Game each of the past two seasons representing the SEC East. As noted by Al.com, SIDs could not vote for their own school.

If these predictions hold true, we will get a preview of the SEC Championship Game in mid-November. Georgia will visit Auburn on November 14.

Auburn and Georgia have 10 combined appearances in the SEC Championship Game, but have never faced each other in Atlanta.

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Notre Dame RB Greg Bryant reportedly will be suspended for September

Greg Bryant, Brian Walker

With Everett Golson in Tallahassee and Malik Zaire the Captain Jack Sparrow of the offense, Notre Dame should be expected to run the ball quite a bit this fall. Rising junior running back Greg Bryant won’t be a part of that equation in September.

The former five-star recruit will be suspended likely for the first four games of the season, according to Irish Illustrated’s Pete Sampson. Irish247 first reported Bryant’s suspension and the four-game ban.

If Bryant’s suspension — which has not been announced by Notre Dame — is indeed for four games, he’d miss Sept. 5 vs. Texas, Sept. 12 at Virginia, Sept. 19 vs. Georgia Tech and Sept. 26 vs. UMass. The first game in which he’d be eligible to play would be a pivotal matchup against Clemson Oct. 3 in South Carolina.

While the optics of suspending a former big-time recruit aren’t good, there’s reason to think Notre Dame can absorb his absence with the backfield combination of Zaire, Tarean Folston and C.J. Prosise. In a 31-28 Music City Bowl win over LSU, those three players handled 46 of Notre Dame’s 51 carries and totaled 244 of its 263 yards.

Prosise began cross-training at running back during spring practice and possesses the big-play ability Notre Dame’s been trying to coax out of Bryant since he arrived on campus two summers ago. Folston is a steady, reliable back who doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses to his game. And Zaire is a read option whiz with a physical, downhill running style.

It’s also worth noting Notre Dame’s entire wide receiver corps returns from last year, headlined by Will Fuller and his 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Bryant rushed 54 times for 289 yards and three touchdowns in 2014 as he largely was stuck behind Folston and Cam McDaniel on the Irish depth chart.

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Utah State dismisses top WR/returner JoJo Natson

JoJo Natson

The news when it comes to the Utah State football program isn’t limited to an automobile accident.

The Aggies announced very early Monday morning in a press release that JoJo Natson has been dismissed from the football program.  Not surprisingly, the reason for the dismissal is your garden-variety violation of unspecified team rules.

“We are extremely disappointed anytime we have to make a decision regarding the future of one of our student-athletes,” head coach Matt Wells said in a statement. “We will continue to support JoJo as he moves forward in his career.”

Natson’s forced departure will serve as blow to both the Aggies’ offense and special teams.

Last season, Natson’s 51 receptions and 504 receiving yards were second on the team. For that, he was named honorable mention All-Mountain West.

Additionally, Natson earned first-team All-MWC honors as a punt returner as he ranked first in the conference and tied for third in the nation with two punt returns for touchdowns, and first in the MWC and 10th in the nation in punt returns (11.7 ypr).

Oh, and, for good measure, Natson carried the ball 50 times for 498 yards (10.0 ypc) with three touchdowns in 2014.

And then there’s this tidbit from the school: “Natson… was the only FBS player in the nation during both the 2013 and 2014 seasons to record multiple touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning as he had three rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and two punt return touchdowns as both a sophomore and junior.”

Suffice to say, he — and his production — will be missed.

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Two USU Aggies released from hospital following car wreck

Paul Piukala Taylor Graham

Thankfully, there’s some additional good news coming out of a potentially tragic situation.

In a press release, Utah State announced that two of its football players, senior defensive lineman John Taylor and redshirt defensive lineman Adewale Adeoye, were released from a hospital Sunday afternoon.  Adeoye and Taylor were two of five individuals injured in a car wreck late last week.

Two of the other three victims, defensive linemen Travis Seefeldt and redshirt junior Edmund Faimalo, are football players and remain hospitalized, as does former USU softball player Sara Vasquez.  The extent of the injuries sustained by anyone involved in the accident has yet to be released.

“First and foremost, thank you to everyone who has had these five Aggie student-athletes in their thoughts and prayers, including numerous representative from the Mountain West Conference and its member institutions,” said USU interim Athletics director Jana Doggett in a statement. “We also want to thank the first responders and all of the medical personnel who have worked so tirelessly to provide the best care possible to our family members. Everyone associated with Aggie Athletics, from its coaches, student-athletes, administrators, boosters and fans, are extremely thankful for the good news we have heard over the past two days on the condition of those involved in the accident. They are truly blessed.”

There remains no word on what impact the incident will have on the availability for the upcoming season of any of the players involved.

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Continuing Penn State series ‘a priority’ for new Pitt AD

Scott Barnes, Patrick Gallagher

While most, if not all, of the Pittsburgh fan base — and college football as a whole, really — would like to see the resumption of the Backyard Brawl, it’s an in-state rivalry that tops the to-do list of the new head of Pittsburgh’s athletic department.

Back in May, the head coaches at Pitt and Penn State, Pat Narduzzi and James Franklin, respectively, called for extending the Panther-Nittany Lion rivalry beyond the four-game series, which begins in 2016 and was announced back in 2011. The former’s boss agrees with that sentiment.

In wide-ranging interviews with both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Scott Barnes, who started as Pitt’s new athletic director earlier this month, stated that the first phone call he made in his new post was to his counterpart at Penn State, Sandy Barbour. The discussion? Ensuring that she knows he considers the football series between the two programs a priority.

“Penn State, for us, we want to play that game as long as we can, home-and-home,” Barnes said. “We’re working hard to try to move that forward.”

While resuming the rivalry with West Virginia “is an important factor,” Barnes said, “Penn State’s a priority.”

Pitt and Penn State have a pair of home-and series scheduled for 2016-2019. The series, first played in 1893, has been on hiatus since 2000, a 12-0 win for Pitt at Three Rivers Stadium. Penn State, however, leads the all-time series 50-42-4.

Pitt and WVU, meanwhile, have squared off 104 times on the gridiron, with the first coming 1895. That series went on hiatus after the 2011 season when WVU moved from the Big East to the Big 12 and, a year later, Pitt from the same conference to the ACC.

There has been talk of resuming that rivalry, although nothing yet has come to fruition on that front.

“We’ve talked to Pitt, but they’ve got a lot going on, because they’re trying to get Penn State back on their schedule…they’re trying to figure out when they can squeeze us in,” then-WVU AD Oliver Luck said in the summer of 2013. “Their AD and I just talked last week, so we’re trying to get that set up. It’s all about dates. I think it will get done, but it’s all a matter of when.”

Oddly enough, it was announced two months after Luck made that statement that WVU had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series (2023-24) with… Penn State, of course.

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Jim Harbaugh to throw out first pitch at Detroit Tigers game

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics

Hey, if it’s good enough for Penn State’s James Franklin (twice, actually) and Urban Meyer of bitter rival Ohio State (in the Big Apple after an appendectomy) this offseason, it’s good enough for the newest and most visible Michigan Man.

Sunday afternoon, mlive.com is reporting, the Detroit Tigers confirmed that Jim Harbaugh will throw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday’s game at Comerica Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The online newspaper writes that “[t]he first-year Michigan coach is an admitted fan, and has shown an interest in the game in his short tenure in Ann Arbor.”

That fandom of the sport of baseball was on full display back in March as Harbaugh served as the first-base coach of the Oakland A’s during a spring training game.  The interest in the stick-and-ball game shouldn’t be all that surprising.

In addition to his current sport, Harbaugh played baseball at Palo Alto High School before signing with the football Wolverines. “Harbaugh said he was [a] .400 hitter until he started following [the] teachings of Charlie Lau,” the San Francisco Chronicle‘s John Shea tweeted. “He stopped hitting, turned to football.”

And, on a completely unrelated note, the 2015 FBS season officially kicks off in exactly 67 days…

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J.T. Barrett’s dad thinks Braxton should be starter heading to camp

J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller AP

When it comes to Ohio State’s much-discussed and dissected three-headed quarterback competition, some in the media and most non-OSU fans view Braxton Miller almost as an afterthought.

Most of the attention as to who will guide the defending College Football Playoff champions has been centered on J.T. Barrett, who got the Buckeyes to the cusp of a Big Ten title and playoff berth, and Cardale Jones, who won all three of his postseason starts to help give his team the national championship, with the former being the betting favorite of one Vegas wagering insider.  That very same player’s dad, though, has a different view of who the starter should be, at least entering summer camp.

“Of course I would love to see my kid start, but for me it always goes back to who was first,” Joe Barrett, J.T’s father, told Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch. “If Braxton hadn’t gotten hurt, I would still be waiting for my baby to get the chance to play. I was thankful J.T. got that chance … and we were all blessed that he was ready to compete, but like I have told everybody, I don’t want to see my kid take a position because of the misfortune of someone else.

“In other words, Braxton should get that position back, then everybody else should go try to take it from him.”

Or put another way, Joe Barrett doesn’t believe anyone should be Wally Pipp’d, even if it would be advantageous for his son. The thing is, all three have the type of résumés that screams “starter!”

Miller was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons before reinjuring his throwing shoulder during summer camp last August and sidelining him for all of the 2014 season. Barrett, who took over the Buckeyes’ offense in Miller’s absence, accumulated a Big Ten-record 45 total touchdowns — 34 passing, 11 rushing — before a leg injury in the regular-season finale against Michigan prematurely ended his redshirt freshman season.  That opened the door for Jones, the redshirt sophomore with the NFL-ready rocket launcher for an arm who stunned the college football world by leading the Buckeyes to wins over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game; Alabama in the CFP semifinal; and Oregon in the CFP championship game.

Jones, though, was the only one healthy enough to fully participate in spring practice, the first sessions since offensive coordinator Tom Herman took the head-coaching job at Houston.  Both Barrett and Miller are expected to be 100-percent healthy for the start of fall camp.

Head coach Urban Meyer has declined to list a pecking order at the position heading into that camp, although the hope is that a starter will be named at some point in mid-August and allows the winner three weeks or so to fully prepare for the Labor Day night rematch with Virginia Tech.  Whether Barrett gets the opportunity to avenge OSU’s lone 2014 loss — and redeem himself for the 9-of-29 passing and three interceptions in the loss — remains to be seen, although it seems, at least right now, that player’s father feels he should have to earn the job back.  And that’s exactly how it should be as whoever goes under center for the Buckeyes in the opener against the Hokies should have to earn that right, not be handed the job because of past performances.

Here’s to guessing that’s exactly how Meyer and his coaching staff will allow the situation to play out.

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USU Aggies injured in car wreck upgraded to stable condition

Colorado State vs Utah State

A potentially tragic situation appears to have taken a turn for the better.

Saturday night, Utah State announced via a press release that four of its football players “are improving” and are currently listed in stable condition at a local hospital following a two-vehicle wreck. According to reports, the unnamed driver of the SUV in which the seatbelt-less football players were riding pulled out in front of a semi at an intersection and was broadsided by the tanker truck, which was hauling 52,000 pounds of milk at the time of the accident.

The five occupants of the SUV, which included a former female USU student-athlete as well as the football players, had initially been reported as being critically injured.

“The fact that they didn’t have seatbelts on, getting T-boned by a semi truck, they’re just lucky they’re alive,” a Utah Highway Patrol official told Salt Lake City’s FOX affiliate.

The injured football players were senior defensive lineman Travis Seefeldt (pictured, right), senior defensive lineman John Taylor, redshirt junior defensive lineman Edmund Faimalo and redshirt defensive lineman Adewale Adeoye. The fifth occupant was former USU softball player Sara Vasquez, whose eligibility expired this past spring.

“I’ve seen all four of our guys today and gotten reports back from Sarah that (she’s improving), but all of those guys are stable and trying to rest and recover,” head coach Matt Wells told the Logan Herald Journal. “Bottom line is they’re in a lot of pain and discomfort, but they’re very fortunate and we all are fortunate that they’re alive and they’re going to be OK eventually.

The school’s release states that none of those injured have been released from the hospital. There’s no word on what if any impact the injuries sustained in the wreck will have on the players’ availability for the 2015 season.

Seefeldt and Taylor exited spring practice as projected starters for the Aggies.

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Ex-Wake Forest QB Tyler Cameron on his way to FAU

Tyler Cameron, Julian Whigham

The Wake Forest quarterback pool is rather shallow in depth. Tyler Cameron, who was second on the Demon Deacons in passing last season, has left the program and is joining the Florida Atlantic Owls. He does so as a graduate transfer, which seems to be a rather trendy option this offseason. That will make him eligible to play at FAU this season.

“Tyler is intelligent and made use of his athletic ability to earn a degree from Wake Forest in just three years,” FAU coach Charlie Partridge said in a released statement (via Palm Beach Post). “It is that same drive that affords him the opportunity to return home and work toward a post-graduate degree. He will certainly add experience and depth in the quarterback meeting room.”

Cameron actually has two years of eligibility remaining at FAU, thanks to graduating from Wake Forest in just three years. FAU is returning three-year starter Jaquez Johnson, but Cameron will fill out some depth at the position and have time to get adjusted to his new surroundings.

The loss of Cameron also leaves Wake Forest pretty thin at quarterback. At this moment, the official team roster available on the team’s website lists just three quarterbacks; John WolfordKyle Driscoll, and Kendall Hinton. Wolford was Wake Forest’s leading passer last season, as a freshman. Wolford passed for 2,037 yards and 12 touchdowns, but was intercepted 14 times. He is the quarterback Dave Clawson will continue to mold his program around in 2015.

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Injured Utah State football players were not wearing seatbelts in auto accident

Colorado State vs Utah State

Yesterday, four Utah State football players –nose guard Travis Seefeldt, defensive ends John Taylor and Edmund Faimalo, and linebacker Adewale Adeoye — and a softball player (Sarah Vasquez) were injured in an automobile accident when a semi truck slammed into an SUV with all five inside. The impact alone would have been enough to cause some serious injuries, but the lack of seat belts being worn has not helped the situation. Early indications from Utah Highway Patrol are none of the five student-athletes were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.

Seefeldt has been reported to be the driver of the SUV. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital for treatment and was reported to be in critical condition. The Associated Press is reporting Vasquez was in the front passenger seat and was the other victim airlifted for medical treatment and in critical condition. Faimalo, Adeoye and Taylor were each taken for treatment by ambulance.

When you go on the road, please remember to buckle up.

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