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Penn State DE to miss the season with ruptured Achilles tendon

Bill O'Brien AP

Penn State is, unfortunately, dealing with an offseason injury as well.

Per a release from the school, redshirt junior defensive end Brad Bars will miss the 2013 season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon in his right ankle. Bars is scheduled for surgery in the coming weeks and his recovery time is expected to be somewhere between four and six months. Bars will have one season of eligibility remaining when beginning in 2014 unless he receives a sixth year from the NCAA.

Bars played in eight games for the Nittany Lions last year, recording just two tackles. He was listed as a backup defensive end heading into fall camp.

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SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow to sign with NFL’s Eagles

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Florida v Cincinnati Getty Images

In honor of CFT’s all-time comments record being shattered, and because it’s one of those offseason slooowww Sunday news cycle, I’ll just go ahead and offer up an update on the playing career of the subject of the previous record-holder.

FOXSportsJay Glazier and ESPN’s Adam Schefter are both reporting Sunday evening that Tim Tebow has essentially finalized a contract that will make him a member of the Philadelphia Eagles — coached by former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, if you’ve forgotten.  Tebow had worked out for the NFL organization last month, but most observers of that league felt that there was a slim-to-none chance he’d be signed by the version of Kelly who wears the personnel-boss cap.

As has ofttimes been the case at this level and at the collegiate one, though, most underestimate Chip and how capable he truly is of not giving a spit or a duck (get it?) about your conventional wisdom.

Aside from Tebow winning a Heisman Trophy (2007) and helping to lead the Florida Gators to a pair of national championships (2006, 2008), how this relates to college football is that he is currently an analyst on the ESPN-owned SEC Network.  Tebow was hired for that role in December of 2013 and, to be honest, he’s actually good at it.  Surprisingly good, from my vantage point.

Tebow hasn’t played at any level since an “interesting” season with the New York Jets in 2012, so he certainly faces a difficult row to hoe just to grab a roster spot.  One thing is certain: there won’t be anyone on that roster who outworks him.

Speaking of which, joining Tebow on the Eagles’ quarterback depth chart (at the moment) is a veritable who’s who of recently successful college players: Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman winner who was the No. 1-overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft; USC’s Matt Barkley, a four-year starter who holds most of the school’s all-time passing records; and USC’s Mark Sanchez, who left the Trojans early for the 2009 NFL draft after one season as the Rose Bowl-winning starter, opening the door for Barkley to emerge as the starter as a true freshman.  Not only that, there remains the possibility that Kelly could decide to trade up and nab 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, who Kelly recruited to Oregon and served as his head coach during the All-American’s first season as the Ducks’ starter in 2012.

As an aside, it’s at this point in the program where I remind readers that I really miss Kelly at the collegiate level…

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Pair of Terps transferring from Maryland

Albert Reid

Late this past week, a pair of Maryland football players decided they would finish their respective playing careers elsewhere.

The school confirmed Friday that safety Zach Dancel and running back Albert Reid (pictured) have decided to transfer out of Randy Edsall‘s football program. No reason for the parting of ways was given, although depth-chart positioning may have played a role in the twin decisions.

As both players will be graduate transfers, they would be eligible to play immediately in 2015 if another FBS team is their landing spot. Reid had been granted a medical hardship waiver earlier this month.

A four-star member of the Terrapins’ 2012 recruiting class, Reid was third on the team in rushing in 2013 with 294 yards. He ran for just 61 yards in 2014, and was having trouble moving up the depth chart in a crowded backfield this spring.

Dancel began his collegiate career at New Mexico before transferring to Maryland following the 2011 season. After sitting out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Dancel played in 22 games the past two years. He started one game, in 2014, for the Terps.

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Ezekiel Elliott named winner of prestigious Sullivan Award

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State Getty Images

Three months after their title-winning season came to an end, the honors continue to roll in for Ohio State football.

Sunday afternoon, running back Ezekiel Elliott was named as the winner of the AAU James E. Sullivan Award, one of the most prestigious honors in amateur sports.  Elliott was one of 16 semifinalists for the 85th edition of the award, with former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota serving as the only other college football player up for the honor.

Here is the description of the award from the award itself:

Known as the “Oscar” of sports awards, and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.

Elliott is the second consecutive college football player to win the award as Penn State’s John Urschel claimed last year’s trophy.  Elliott becomes the eighth college football player to claim the Sullivan, joining Urschel, joining Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011)

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Other former winners include golfing great Bobby Jones (1930, first year of the award), track legend Wilma Rudolph (1960), swimmer Mark Spitz (1971), decathlete Bruce Jenner (1976) and swimmer Michael Phelps (2003).

UPDATED 4:54 p.m. ET: Below is a quote from Elliott sent out by OSU’s sports information department.

“First and foremost I’d like to thank the AAU Sullivan Award for representing the outstanding amateur athlete for the past 85 years, and secondly I want to congratulate all the finalists. I feel somewhat undeserving of this award with all these great athletes up here and all their tremendous accomplishments. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to win an Olympic gold medal so I want to congratulate all for being here.

“I’ve got to thank my parents for pushing me to being the person I am. They demand excellence out of me and that drove me to be the person I am today.

“I also want to thank Ohio State University for this and for all the opportunities it has presented me. And I want to thank my coaches and my teammates for making this opportunity possible. Football is a team sport and I’m nothing without my boys around me. Thank you!”

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After fleeing police, five-star UCLA signee facing multiple charges

Soso Jamabo

A heralded member of UCLA’s 2015 recruiting class will have a few legal obstacles to traverse before getting on campus.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that, early Sunday morning, Soso Jamabo was arrested on multiple charges after fleeing from police officers attempting to pull him over.  Specifically, Jamabo was charged with evading arrest with a vehicle, minor consumption of alcohol, minor in possession of alcohol, speeding, driving without possessing a driver’s license and disregarding a stop sign.

According to the Morning News, it appears Jamabo was at his senior prom prior to the incident.

Jamabo was one of highest-rated prospects in the Class of 2015, with most major programs offering scholarships to the five-star recruit. The list of suitors was ultimately whittled down to UCLA and Texas, with Jamabo taking to Twitter to announce for the Bruins in very unique fashion.

The No. 1 player in the state of Texas, Jamabo was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 4 running back in the country and the No. 22 player overall.

UPDATED 4:04 p.m. ET: UCLA released a statement addressing Jamabo’s situation.

We are aware of the reports out of Dallas regarding Sotonye Jamabo. We are obviously concerned about these reports and are currently gathering more information. As this is a continuing process, we will withhold further comment until the appropriate time.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Gators’ J.C. Jackson arrested in connection to armed home invasion

J.C. Jackson

This past December, J.C. Jackson was the alleged victim of a crime.  Four months later, he’s one of the perpetrators of a crime — allegedly.

WJXT-TV in Jacksonville is reporting Sunday morning that Jackson was arrested Saturday in connection to an armed home invasion robbery.  According to the television station, Jackson turned himself in to face the charge, the specific nature of which was not specified in the report.

The incident that led to the cornerback’s arrest occurred shortly after 4 p.m. ET yesterday.  Essentially, Jackson (allegedly) setup an acquaintance and his home to be robbed by two armed individuals, and then very quickly exited stage left.

The other two suspects are still at large.  UF officials have yet to comment on what impact the arrest will have on Jackson’s status with the football program moving forward.

In the December incident, Jackson and West Virginia wide receiver Jacky Marcellus were both grazed by bullets in a shooting that happened outside of an Immokalee, Fla., apartment building. A third individual, the brother of Marcellus, was shot in the face but survived.

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, Jackson was rated as the No. 21 corner in the country; the No. 37 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 243 recruit overall by Rivals.com.  He played in the 2014 opener, but missed the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.  Exiting the spring, Jackson was expected to take a starting job into summer camp.

(Photo credit: Vic Micolucci‘s Twitter account)

UPDATED 11:42 a.m. ET: According to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Edgar Thompson, Jackson was charged with suspicion of armed robbery and is being held in Alachua County Jail on a $150,000 bond.

UPDATED 12:07 p.m. ET: First-year head coach Jim McElwain released the following statement regarding Jackson’s latest issue.

“We are aware of the news involving JC Jackson and he is currently dealing with a serious issue. We don’t condone any of his actions and it is not something that reflects on the expectations we have in the program. It is being handled accordingly due to the severity of his actions.”

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Travonte Valentine suspended; future at LSU up in the air

Travonte Valentine

Travonte Valentine didn’t suit up for LSU last season because of academic issues.  Depending on how the current situation plays out, he may never play a down for the Tigers because of similar issues.

Saturday, head coach Les Miles confirmed that the defensive tackle has been suspended from the football program because of academics.  Valentine has not participated at all during spring practice this year, so the suspension was an open secret that was finally acknowledged by the coach.

As for a return?  That’s up to Valentine and his work in the classroom.

“We’ve instructed him to go to this school, go to class, take care your business, Miles said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If he does that and handles behavior then there will be a future for him here. Otherwise, we’re not certain.”

Last year, Valentine dealt with NCAA Clearinghouse issues — the player said another SEC program was the root cause — that forced him to miss the start of summer camp his true freshman season. While he was ultimately cleared to practice, he was not permitted to play in any games because of the lingering academic issues.

A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, Valentine was rated as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Florida. He had been expected to be an immediate contributor to LSU’s line rotation.

If he can get his academic house in order, he could make an impact as a redshirt freshman in 2015.

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)

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Big Ten close to clinching top three spring attendance crowds in 2015

Ohio State Spring Game Getty Images

Coming off a successful postseason, the Big Ten now has something else to be proud of. When the spring football attendance numbers are finalized in the coming weeks, the odds are pretty good the top three spring attendance crowds will all come from the Big Ten.

Ohio State set the bar as high as possible by setting a spring game record with 99,391 Buckeye fans packing Ohio Stadium for the annual spring game on Saturday. That is not just an Ohio State record either. That is the national spring game record. That number surpassed the previous high this spring by Nebraska (76,881 fans). Before the day was done Penn State reported an estimated crowd of 68,000 in Beaver Stadium for the Blue White Game. Those numbers are good for the three highest spring crowds this year, and it might be enough to hold up for one more week..

The biggest threat to cracking the top three before the month is over might be Tennessee. The Vols had 68,500 fans at the spring game in 2014, which would be good enough to pass Penn State for third overall this year. Given the excitement surrounding the upward trend in Knoxville, there might be enough orange in Neyland Stadium to do just that.

Other schools still to play spring games from power conferences include Arkansas, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa, UCLA, Utah Washington and Washington State, but the odds are none of those programs will manage to pull a crowd quite large enough. Wisconsin is also still on the schedule for next week, but the Badgers had just over 8,000 fans come to the final spring practice last spring.

Alabama (65,175) and Auburn (62,143) each had huge crowds but threats of inclement weather may have kept a few fans away from each respective spring game. Either way, the two Iron Bowl rivals round out the current top five in spring attendance. Michigan (60,000) follows for another Big Ten attendance mark.

No other school has reported a crowd over 49,000 this spring.

Here is the current numbers…

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Muschamp already has Auburn’s defense leading the way

Will Muschamp

Ask anyone who watched Auburn the biggest need of improvement from 214, and the answer might be the defense. Auburn’s defense is on the right track in a hurry with Will Muschamp taking over as defensive coordinator. The spring game was the latest example of that defense turning a corner.

Since Gus Malzahn has been named head coach at Auburn a couple of years ago, this was the lowest scoring spring game for the Tigers. Credit that to Muschamp getting to work early with the Tigers defense and making some changes. He also brings some energy to the defense, something he has been noted for throughout his coaching career.

“They’re flying around,” Malzahn said. “They’re playing hard.”

Everybody loves Coach Muschamp,” defensive tackle Montravius Adams said after the game, per Al.com. “He’s bringing that energy and changing the question to the whole defense, so we’re going to be a top contender.”

It was just a spring game, but Auburn is feeling more comfortable on defense. They have a defensive coordinator who can cook up some good schemes and have his players buy in. It’s working, and that could be huge if Auburn is going to make some things happen in 2015.

The other side of the Auburn conversation is who replaces Nick Marshall at quarterback? After the spring game it looks as though the answer is more and more likely to be Jeremy Johnson. In fact, let’s put him atop the depth chart for the summer now. Johnson completed 14-of-22 passes for 252 yards with a pair of long touchdowns to Duke Williams and Myron Burton.

“I thought Jeremy did some good things,” Malzahn said. “He has really good command of our offense. He probably held the ball a little too long a couple of throws, but, overall, I thought he did a good job.”

Auburn opens the 2015 season in Atlanta against Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on September 5.

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Alabama’s offense doesn’t pass Saban’s mid-term exam

Alabama Spring Game Getty Images

This spring Alabama’s offense, more specifically the quarterbacks, have been focusing on avoiding turnovers. If the spring game is to serve as a litmus test for the progress being made, Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin have some work to do if the Crimson Tide are going to be SEC and College Football Playoff contenders in 2015.

Alabama’s offense had six turnovers in the spring game Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Jake Coker, who some pumped up as Alabama’s likely starter a season ago, went just 14 for 28 with one touchdown (a long pass to ArDarius Stewart) and an interception. Redshirt freshman David Cornwell was not all tat much better, going 12 for 24 with 110 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. So it looks as though Alabama is heading into the summer with a quarterback situation to sort through. This is not totally unexpected, although it would have been nice if either Coker or Cornwell could have elevated themselves and created some separation in the spring game.

It was not all bad of course. Receivers Stewart (6 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD) and Robert Foster (8 receptions, 118 yards, 2 TDs) had solid outings even if the quarterbacks were not particularly sharp. Alabama’s defense seemed to be in good form, and more than capable of taking advantage of an unsteady quarterback situation on the other side of the ball. Reuben Foster was playing nickel, which Saban has said he’s been doing all spring. Foster also played with some more maturity, according to Saban. Five different players in Alabama’s secondary recorded an interception.

Fortunately, the season does not start tomorrow, or next week. Saban referred to the spring game as a mid-term exam, which leaves plenty of time for the Alabama offense to bring its grade up before opening the new season of what will surely be high with expectations after a second straight season ending in a postseason loss.

Alabama saw a crowd of 65,175 fans come to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Weather may have kept some away from the game. Regardless, the Crimson Tide will likely lock in with the fourth-highest spring attendance this year. Ohio State smashed the competition with a new spring game record, Nebraska is holding firm with the second highest crowd and Penn State edged Alabama’s crowd on Saturday.

Alabama opens the 2015 season against Wisconsin in the Cowboy Classic in Arlington, Texas on September 5.

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Charlie Strong says Swoopes is No. 1 QB at Texas

Tyrone Swoopes

If there is one thing Texas head coach Charlie Strong needs at Texas, it is probably Teddy Bridgewater. Unfortunately for Strong, that is not an option. Strong is looking to find the next best thing at Texas. Whether or not that turns out to be Tyrone Swoopes remains to be seen, but he is currently the number one quarterback for Strong heading out of the spring.

Ty is still the No. 1 guy at this moment,” Strong said after the Texas spring game Saturday afternoon in Austin. Swoopes is in a quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. If Strong’s comments carry weight, the thought of opening the season on the road at Notre Dame for a primetime game with Heard is not something that will allow him to feel comfortable.

“I hope I don’t have to go into that game starting a redshirt freshman,” Strong said. So there you have it. This is where the Texas quarterback situation stands as spring comes to a close.

Swoopes was the top passer for Texas last season, but the consistency was always a bit of a concern. While passing for 2,409 yards and 13 touchdowns, Swoopes did so while completing just 58.3 percent of his passes and being picked off 11 times. Heard could eventually take over the offense if things start slowly for Swoopes and Texas in the fall, but it sure seems as though Strong is not ready to hand the offense over to him at this point in time.

At one point during the spring game Saturday afternoon Swoopes got a little too much air under a pass that went out of play. The football hit a kid, which led Strong to send Swoopes over to apologize. It should also be noted that Strong does feel Heard has started to give Swoopes a run for the job.

“It’s going to be fun going into the summer with those two guys battling it out.”

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Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott ends spring on a high note

Dak Prescott

You could not have asked for much more from Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the spring game in Starkville Saturday afternoon. The potential Heisman Trophy contender capped the spring with 231 passing yards, three touchdowns while completing 20 of 29 pass attempts before being given a break by head coach Dan Mullen.

A handful of schools going through spring games on Saturday have quarterback competitions and debates brewing, but that is far from the case at Mississippi State. There it is clearly Prescott’s job and nobody is aiming to take it away. Prescott emerged as a top player in the SEC while leading Mississippi State to a number one ranking at one point en route to an appearance in the Orange Bowl. The season may not have ended the way Prescott and Mississippi State would have liked, but he brings plenty of promise for the Bulldogs in the fall, and his spring performance should boost the confidence just a bit more.

As good as Prescott was Saturday afternoon for the Maroon team, it was not enough to lead the squad to victory over the White team. With Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback, the White scored the only touchdown of the second half to take a 28-24 victory. Fitzgerald will be Prescott’s backup in the fall, and his performance was not too bad. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air and he rushed for 31 yards and another score, but he was picked off twice. The highlight of the afternoon from Fitzgerald came in the second quarter with a 59-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Dixon.  Dontavian Lee led all players with 53 rushing yards and a touchdown for the White team.

Mississippi State opens the 2015 season on the road on September 5 against Southern Mississippi.

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Nobody will have a higher spring attendance than Ohio State

Cardale Jones

Close it down now. Nobody will have a higher spring game attendance than Ohio State this year. The Buckeyes, fresh off a national championship in January, welcomed 99,391 fans to Ohio Stadium to watch the annual spring game in Columbus.

That easily puts Ohio State on top of the spring game attendance numbers this year, and nobody will have a chance to catch them.

Nebraska entered the weekend as the leader in spring game attendance with 76,881 fans attending last weekend’s spring game in Lincoln. Until the numbers from some other games come in today, the Big Ten is currently holding the top three spots in the spring game attendance numbers. Michigan’s 60,000 was second most in the nation coming into the weekend.

The Big Ten could have another top five spring game attendance figure coming in later today with Penn State’s spring game getting started later this afternoon.

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Notre Dame QB battle just getting started; ND-USC set for primetime

Everett Golson

Spring has come and gone, and Brian Kelly still has a quarterback decision to make before the start of the fall. Notre Dame’s spring game was not likely to solve the equation under center on Saturday, and it certainly left the variable in play. Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will continue to battle for the starting job heading into the summer and leading up to the start of the new season in the fall.

Playing on a practice field while Notre Dame Stadium undergoes renovation, both Golson and Zaire showed some improvement and confidence for much of the afternoon. Golson seemed to have an edge with execution at times, but Zaire also had some respectable moments as well.

Zaire may have had the highlight of the day as well. His 68-yard pass to Will Fuller for a touchdown was one of the top plays on the afternoon in South Bend, showing off Zaire’s arm strength.

The other came on a pass from Golson to end the first half, although for a different reason. Golson’s final pass of the first half was a 12-yard pass to offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, who had been begging for a pass all spring. He made it count and lowered a shoulder into Cole Luke at the end of the play.

From here, the quarterback competition is pretty even. There was no runaway winner in the race on Saturday, and one likely was not expected. Now we will just have to wait and see what happens in the summer. Kelly has confidence in his options, and there is no timetable for when a final decision might be announced.

Notre Dame opens the 2015 season at home on September 5 against Texas. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. eastern. Notre Dame also announced a home game against USC on October 17 will also kick off at 7:30 p.m. Both games will air on NBC.

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Russell Wilson says Tom O’Brien “kinda kicked me out of NC State”

South Carolina v North Carolina State Getty Images

The drama between Russell Wilson and former NC State head coach Tom O’Brien is pretty much ancient history at this point, but that did not prevent Wilson from dropping the suggestion he was forced out at NC State.

“You know, he was my head coach, you know, NC State,” Wilson said when asked about his time at NC State for an upcoming episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. “Kinda kicked me out of NC State a little bit.”

Wilson has typically taken the high road any time this topic of conversation has come up over the years, which is why it is a bit surprising to hear him explain the situation with these words.

We pretty much know the story at this point with the parting between O’Brien and Wilson. Wilson wanted to continue being able to play minor league baseball in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system, but O’Brien wanted the quarterback to stay committed to football. As we know by now, Wilson moved on to Wisconsin, led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and later went on to lead the Seattle Seahawks to one Super Bowl victory and return trip coming up just short of a second. Football has worked out well for Wilson, but the desire to continue playing baseball has not evaporated.

The significance of this quote and its relevance can be better explained now by our pals over at Pro Football Talk, as Wilson is reaching a point where he is ready to get a new contract in Seattle. The last thing Seattle probably wants to do is pull the same power play O’Brien did with Wilson in college.

Wilson will be featured in an interview with next week’s airing of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be featured as well.

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Ohio State’s Cardale Jones feels sorry for Notre Dame

Cardale Jones

No school has quite the intriguing quarterback situation this spring and heading into the fall as Ohio State. Take your pick of Ohio State quarterbacks — Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones —  and odds are your offense will be in good hands. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week he would take his quarterbacks any day over Ohio State’s, which did not fall on idle ears in Columbus.

Leading up to Ohio State’s spring game, ESPN ran an interview with Barrett and Jones conducted by Tom Rinaldi that did not require anyone to shed a tear. It actually yielded a laugh. With the quarterback question in mind, Rinaldi referenced the old cliche about having two quarterbacks meaning you don’t have one. The response from Jones?

“I feel sorry for Notre Dame,” Jones replied before quickly laughing it off and saying he was joking.

😂😂😂😂

A video posted by Land-Grant Holy Land (@landgrantholyland) on Apr 18, 2015 at 9:29am PDT

Going back to Kelly’s comments, what else is he supposed to say? He is a coach pumping up his own players, as any coach would do. His comments may have raised some eyebrows and been shrugged aside as a ridiculous comment — how many coaches this spring would commit NCAA violations for the quarterback situation Urban Meyer has on his hands this year — but he was just a coach saying things a coach would say and nothing more.

Notre Dame’s spring game opened up with Everett Golson leading the offense down the field for a touchdown, with the veteran quarterback running in for a short touchdown run after a decent opening drive. Malik Zaire is also being given a chance to win the starting job in South Bend after showing some promise at the end of last season.

But was Jones really just joking? Probably not too much.

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