Idaho, NMSU next up as Sun Belt additions

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Yesterday brought multiple reports that Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will be shedding their FCS labels for Sun Belt membership, with speculation shifting to when a pair of erstwhile WAC members would jump to the same conference.

Rest easy, America.  That question has been answered.

First reported by CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd and confirmed by ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy, Idaho and New Mexico State will join the Sun Belt Conference as football-only members beginning in 2014.  An official announcement from the schools and their new league is expected to be made as early as Thursday.

An announcement on Appalachian State and Georgia Southern is expected Wednesday.

Idaho and New Mexico State were left without a conference home as the WAC disbanded as a league football-wise following the 2012 season and thanks to myriad departures.  Both programs will play as football independents in 2013 before joining forces with the Sun Belt the following season.

The four additions will give the Sun Belt 12 football-playing members (for now) beginning in 2014, with just six of those — Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky — being current members.  Along with the four previously-mentioned schools in 2014, Georgia State and Texas State will join in 2013.  UT-Arlington will join as a non-football member this year as well.

FIU, FAU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas are officially leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA in July.

Once all of the expansion dust settles — if it actually settles — the Sun Belt is expected to conduct a conference championship game.  Dodd reported that the game will be an on-campus affair.

(Photo credit: Idaho athletics)

Shea Patterson announces transfer to Michigan, helping Wolverines solve QB riddle

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One of the continued frustrations of Michigan’s offense since the hiring of Jim Harbaugh has been the lack of play at the quarterback position. In 2018, that may not be quite the uphill climb it was this season. Shea Patterson is heading to Ann Arbor.

Patterson announced his decision to leave Ole Miss for Michigan with a released statement, via Twitter. Patterson thanked Ole Miss coaches, teammates and more in his brief statement.

Patterson may be eligible to play right away for Michigan. Because Ole Miss is under sanctions from the NCAA, seniors on the team were granted a free transfer without having to sit out a season. Patterson, a sophomore, would be required to have a waiver approved in order to be ruled eligible right away in 2018. Winning that immediate eligibility may just be a mere formality as players look to challenge their transfer restrictions from Ole Miss.

Regardless of the transfer eligibility for 2018, Michigan is landing a solid quarterback recruit one way or the other. Patterson passed for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns this season with nine interceptions in seven games. His 2017 season was cut short due to a knee injury.

Iowa safety Brandon Snyder arrested for drunk driving

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Iowa safety Brandon Snyder spent the early Sunday hours in a jail cell after being arrested for drunk driving. After being pulled over just after 3:00 a.m. in the morning on Sunday, Snyder admitted to drinking and failed a breathalyzer test.

“We are aware of the incident involving Brandon,” a statement from Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “While we are currently gathering additional facts, we are very disappointed to learn of Brandon’s involvement. Brandon is subject to the rules and regulations of the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, and the rules and regulations of our football program.”

Snyder was not expected to play in Iowa’s appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl this season due to injury, but it remains to be seen just what his official status will be in light of this weekend’s legal trouble.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, the 22-year old was pulled over near Kinnick Stadium. The police report notes Snyder was wearing multiple wristbands, suggesting he made a couple of stops to consume alcohol during the course of the night. He was released from a county jail at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

AP All-American Team highlighted by Mayfield and Sooners on First Team

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The Oklahoma Sooners will bring three AP First Team All-Americans into the College Football Playoff this year, including Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press on Monday, and he is joined by fellow Sooners offensive tackle Orlando Brown and tight end Mark Andrews.

Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell were also named to the AP’s First Team to combine to match Oklahoma’s First Team total. Other First Team All-Americans included Heisman finalist and Doak Walker Award winner Bryce Love of Stanford, Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington. Lombardi Award winner Saquon Barkley of Penn State was named to the First Team as an all-purpose player, and the nation’s leading rusher, Rashaad Penny of San Diego State joined Love as a First Team running back.

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Baker Mayfield, senior, Oklahoma.

Running backs — Bryce Love, junior, Stanford; Rashaad Penny, senior, San Diego State.

Tackles — Orlando Brown, junior, Oklahoma; Mike McGlinchey, senior, Notre Dame.

Guards — Quenton Nelson, senior, Notre Dame; Braden Smith, senior, Auburn.

Center — Billy Price, senior, Ohio State.

Tight end — Mark Andrews, junior, Oklahoma.

Receivers — James Washington, senior, Oklahoma State; Anthony Miller, senior, Memphis.

All-purpose player — Saquon Barkley, junior, Penn State.

Kicker — Matt Gay, junior, Utah.

DEFENSE

Ends — Bradley Chubb, senior, North Carolina State; Clelin Ferrell, sophomore, Clemson.

Tackles — Hercules Mata’afa, junior, Washington State; Maurice Hurst, senior, Michigan.

Linebackers — Roquan Smith, junior, Georgia; Josey Jewell, senior, Iowa; T.J. Edwards, junior, Wisconsin.

Cornerbacks — Josh Jackson, junior, Iowa; Denzel Ward, junior, Ohio State.

Safeties — Minkah Fitzpatrick, junior, Alabama; DeShon Elliott, junior, Texas.

Punter — Michael Dickson, junior, Texas.

———————-

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Lamar Jackson, junior, Louisville.

Running backs — Jonathan Taylor, freshman, Wisconsin; Kerryon Johnson, junior, Auburn.

Tackles — Mitch Hyatt, junior, Clemson; Isaiah Wynn, senior, Georgia.

Guards — Cody O’Connell, senior, Washington State; Will Hernandez, senior, UTEP.

Center — Bradley Bozeman, senior, Alabama.

Tight end — Troy Fumagalli, senior, Wisconsin.

Receivers — David Sills V, junior, West Virginia; Michael Gallup, senior, Colorado State.

All-purpose player — Dante Pettis, senior, Washington.

Kicker — Daniel Carlson, senior, Auburn.

DEFENSE

Ends — Sutton Smith, sophomore, Northern Illinois; Nick Bosa, sophomore, Ohio State.

Tackles — Ed Oliver, sophomore, Houston; Christian Wilkins, junior, Clemson.

Linebackers — Malik Jefferson, junior, Texas; Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, senior, Oklahoma; Dorian O’Daniel, senior, Clemson.

Cornerbacks — Jalen Davis, senior, Utah State; Carlton Davis, junior, Auburn.

Safeties — Derwin James, junior, Florida State; Justin Reid, junior, Stanford.

Punter — Johnny Townsend, senior, Florida.

———————-

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Mason Rudolph, senior, Oklahoma State.

Running backs — Ronald Jones II, junior, Southern California; Devin Singletary, sophomore, Florida Atlantic.

Tackles — David Edwards, sophomore, Wisconsin; Jonah Williams, sophomore, Alabama.

Guards — Beau Benzschawel, junior, Wisconsin; Tyrone Crowder, senior, Clemson.

Center — Frank Ragnow, senior, Arkansas.

Tight end — Jaylen Samuels, senior, North Carolina State.

Receivers — Steve Ishmael, senior, Syracuse; A.J. Brown, sophomore, Mississippi.

All-purpose player — D.J. Reed, junior, Kansas State.

Kicker — Eddy Piniero, junior, Florida.

DEFENSE

Ends — Austin Bryant, junior, Clemson; Mat Boesen, senior, TCU.

Tackles — Vita Vea, junior, Washington; Harrison Phillips, senior, Stanford.

Linebackers — Micah Kiser, senior, Virginia; Tremaine Edmunds, junior, Virginia Tech; Devin Bush, sophomore, Michigan.

Cornerbacks — Andraez Williams, redshirt freshman, LSU; Jack Jones, sophomore, Southern California.

Safeties — Armani Watts, senior, Texas A&M; Quin Blanding, senior, Virginia.

Punter — Mitch Wisnowsky, junior, Utah.

Pitt safety Jordan Whitehead declares for NFL Draft

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After three seasons in a Pitt football uniform, safety Jordan Whitehead is ready to turn pro. Whitehead announced his intention to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft on Monday morning with a brief statement.

“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to begin preparing for the next step in my career and enter the 2018 NFL Draft,” Whitehead said in a released statement, via Twitter. “It has been an honor and a privilege to play for this university, Coach [Pat Narduzzi], and this coaching staff for the past three years. I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, but feel I am ready to take the next step in achieving my dreams.”

The former ACC Rookie of the Year and three-time All-ACC player will be one of the top underclassmen at the safety position on the NFL Draft board in the spring. He is the second Pitt player to declare for the NFL a year early, joining wide receiver Quadree Henderson in doing so.

Whitehead had one interception and 60 tackles in nine games this season. Whitehead also picked up some assignments in the running game and special teams, showcasing his ability to contribute in a variety of ways for the Panthers, and that could be used to improve his draft outlook moving forward.