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CFT Predicts: the ACC

ACC Championship - Virginia Tech v Clemson Getty Images

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the ACC.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig Ten, Pac-12

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Tigers shook their ‘Clemsoning’ curse and previous Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia by going 11-2 and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
Offense, offense, offense. And some offense sprinkled in. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a legitimate Heisman candidate and he’ll have Sammy Watkins to throw to for a third straight year. Watkins had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012 — at least by his standards — because of a variety of issues, from a suspension to injuries, but he still finished second on the team in receiving yards. His touchdown production should rise again after getting in the end zone just four times.

Anything else?
The defense improved under first-year coordinator Brent Venables. With as good as the Tigers offense projects to be, there’s more wiggle room on that side of the ball. Also, can Clemson finally beat South Carolina after dropping four straight games?

2. Florida State (Last year: 12-2; beat NIU in Orange Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The ‘Noles won the ACC and beat NIU in the Orange Bowl. They also pulled their annual head-scratcher by losing to North Carolina State. The circle never ends, it seems.

So why are they ranked here?
Talent isn’t a question Tallahassee, but there are a lot of new faces. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has a ton of upside at the quarterback spot, it just remains to be seen at this point how he handles his first year as starter. Wide receiver depth is becoming an issue too. The defensive line loses two pass rushers in Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, but that’s an area stacked — almost unfairly — with capable players.

Anything else?
Florida State had a whopping 11 NFL draft picks in April, but Jimbo Fisher also had to replace roughly half his coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover and it’ll be interesting to see how players and coaches jell this year.

3. Maryland (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Randy Edsall doubled his win total in year two with the Terps, but a linebacker was starting at quarterback by the end of the year because of injuries. Apparently, being a quarterback at Maryland can be equated to playing drums for Spinal Tap.

So why are they ranked here?
The quarterbacks are finally back with working knees and there is some talent on that side of the ball, namely wide receiver Sefon Diggs. Another running back will have to step up with Wes Brown being suspended for the year, though the running game in general needs to improve. The Terps also have to replace a sizable portion of their starting defensive front seven. Several of Maryland’s toughest games (Florida State, Virginia Tech) are on the road too.

Anything else?
It feels like wide receiver Deon Long has led the life of a traveled NFL veteran more than a college player, but he finally at Maryland. He was suspended this spring, but he should be a good addition to the passing game. He has the physical tools to make an impact, so he could be a player to watch.

4. Wake Forest (Last year: 5-7) 
What happened last season?
It was a tough season in hindsight for the Deacs when you consider they lost two games by an average of six points (against Maryland, Duke) that could have propelled them back into the postseason.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s some potential for this team, which returns a good portion of its starting 22 from a year ago. Tanner Price is a veteran quarterback and leading running back Josh Harris will be eligible to play in 2013. The problem is Wake Forest couldn’t find the end zone last year and were shut out twice. The defense wasn’t much better, but it does return eight guys from 2012.

Anything else?
There are plenty of manageable games on Wake’s schedule this year, including in the non-conference department. Getting back to a bowl is a realistic goal.

5. North Carolina State (Last year: 7-6; lost to Vanderbilt in Music City Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Though NC State hadn’t had a losing season since 2009, and despite upsetting Florida State, Tom O’Brien couldn’t keep his job. He’s replaced by former NIU coach Dave Doeren.

So why are they ranked here?
Turnover is rarely easy, and there’s a lot of it for the Wolfpack in 2013. In addition to a new coaching staff, this team loses quarterback Mike Glennon and, even though he had some disappointing moments in 2012, cornerback David Amerson. There’s plenty to be excited about with Doeren, but his first year could be rough.

Anything else?
If there’s one area of improvement to look for right away, it would be the ground game. NC State was among the worst rushing teams a year ago while NIU ranked 12th in the nation in that category. The offense does return its top two leading rushers from a year ago in Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy.

6. Syracuse (Last year: 8-5; beat West Virginia in Pinstripe Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Orange got off to a bit of a bumpy start, but won six of their final seven games in 2012. Two of those wins came in convincing fashion against Louisville and West Virginia.

So why are they ranked here?
The ‘Cuse lose coach Doug Marrone to the NFL and in comes Scott Shafer. The Orange are also entering a new conference with some key departures, including quarterback Ryan Nassib, wide receiver Alec Lemon and defensive back Shamarko Thomas — all leaders in their respective positions.

Anything else?
If there is one person to watch, it’s Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. Though Shafer doesn’t plan on announcing a QB until the last possible moment, Allen is believed to be in a position to win the starting job. He played sparingly for the Sooners, but could be a key member of the offense for the Orange.

7. Boston College (Last year: 2-10)
What happened last season?
The Eagles won two games and Frank Spaziani got the long-awaited boot.

So why are they ranked here?
Former Temple coach Steve Addazio takes over and has, by all accounts, injected some energy into a program that desperately needs some. Whether that energy will turn into wins remains to be seen. This was an offense that couldn’t run the ball or score a year ago, but the passing duo of quarterback Chase Rettig and wide receiver Alex Amidon do give experience and play making ability to the passing game.

Anything else?
The front part of BC’s schedule is brutal, but there’s some room for the Eagles to make some noise toward the end of the year and build some momentum heading into 2014. The final two games against Maryland and Syracuse are on the road, but those aren’t impossible games to win.

Coastal Division

1. Miami (Last year: 7-5)
What happened last season?
The Hurricanes actually won a share of the Coastal Division, but they also self-imposed a postseason ban for the second straight year because of the ongoing NCAA investigation of the program.

So why are they ranked here?
Miami figures to have one of the more potent offenses in the entire conference thanks to the return of quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnsonwith the latter considered to be among the most exciting players to watch in the game. It’s the defense that has all the question marks for the ‘Canes. This was a team that was simply pushed around up front and gave up at least 40 points four times last year.

Anything else?
Give Al Golden credit. He’s identified the weakness on defense (not that it was too difficult) and recruited some immediate help. David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow join the team from Wisconsin and Virginia, respectively, and add an immediate boost along the defensive line.

2. North Carolina (Last year: 8-4)
What happened last season?
Like Miami, North Carolina had to watch the postseason from home thanks to a postseason ban. Unlike the Hurricanes, this was NCAA-mandated. Still the Tar Heels won eight games under first-year coach Larry Fedora.

So why are they ranked here?
There are two major departures from last year’s team: running back Giovani Bernard and offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper. Bernard received a bulk of the carries in the run game and had over 1,200 yards. So whether it’s one player — perhaps A.J. Blue — or a committee, that production will have to be replaced. But there are plenty of other playmakers on offense, including veteran QB Bryn Renner. Defense returns its entire secondary and should be an overall improved unit that fared well enough in Year 1 under Fedora.

Anything else?
UNC’s key stretch comes in the middle of the season. It starts with a road game at divisional opponent Georgia Tech and ends with another road game at North Carolina State. Get through that and a bulk of the Coastal Divsion contenders should be behind them by that point.

3. Virginia Tech (Last year: 7-6; beat Rutgers in Russell Athletic Bowl) 
What happened last season?
2012 was a disappointment by Virginia Tech’s standards. The Hokies needed overtime three times to pull out wins and there were some tough losses to Pitt and Cincinnati mixed in.

So why are they ranked here?
Primarily because health and depth are already concerns for Virginia Tech before a single regular season snap has been taken. Star cornerback Antone Exum will miss the season opener against Alabama and perhaps longer. The knee injury he sustained early this year was serious and there are few guarantees when it comes to a timeline for return. There’s been some attrition on both sides of the ball with various injuries and departures. If this team can get healthy as the season goes on, maybe it can make a run for the divisional title late in the season.

Anything else?
Scot Loeffler takes over as offensive coordinator. Quarterback Logan Thomas was, to say the least, inconsistent last year with just over a 50 percent completion rate and 18 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He’s shown at times he can make tremendous throws, but he needs to be able to do it without a handful of bad throws and decisions in between. With Loeffler calling the plays, Thomas doesn’t need to throw for 4,000 yards — he just needs to play smarter.

4. Georgia Tech (Last year: 7-7; beat USC in the Sun Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Yellow Jackets backed their way into the ACC championship game, but embarrassed USC in the Sun Bowl. So, yeah. Georgia Tech came out ahead on that one.

So why are they ranked here?
Some key pieces of GT’s triple option are leaving, including Tevin Washington and Orwin Smith. But, Vad Lee moves in to take control of the offense, and he already saw plenty of game action last year. The defense ended up playing much better down the stretch last year after Al Groh was fired, so there’s definitely room to continue growing on that side of the ball.

Anything else?
Despite being a run-heavy offense, Georgia Tech has been known to have one big, physical receiver under Paul Johnson. Jeff Greene looked to be that guy until he left for Ohio State. Who will step up for the Yellow Jackets in that spot in 2013?

5. Pitt (Last year: 6-7; lost to Ole Miss in BBVA Compass Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Pitt got off to a tough start in Year 1 under Paul Chryst by losing to Youngstown State to start the season, but rebounded quickly by beating Virginia Tech in Week 3. The Panthers actually won and lost games in alternating pairs the entire way through the year before falling to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
After 14 years, 10 head coaches and 500 sacks, the Tino Sunseri era is finally over. Tom Savage, the former Rutgers quarterback who is also a veteran of the college game, enters 2013 as the starter. But there are a lot of concerns on offense, namely the running game. Ray Graham is gone and Rushel Shell, the running back figured to take bulk of the carries going forward, has moved on to West Virginia. Defense should be the strength of the team with defensive tackle Aaron Donald coming back along with a solid secondary that has safety Jason Hendricks, who led the team in tackles a year ago.

Anything else?
Pitt has the opportunity to make a huge first impression in the ACC if it can beat Florida State at home in Week 1. There are some tough games for the Panthers this season, including a road trip to Virginia Tech, and the Panthers are an unknown heading into ACC play.

6. Duke (Last year: 6-7; lost to Cincinnati in Belk Bowl)
What happened last season?
Duke became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 under coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils ultimately lost a close game to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, but there was a lot to be happy with in 2012.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s little concern on offense. Even though quarterback Sean Renfree is gone, there’s a lot of buzz on Anthony Boone. Boone is a mobile guy who gives Cutcliffe another dimension to add to the offensive attack. If the ground game can improve, this is a team that could be tough to stop. Defense is a concern as it ranked among the worst in the country a year ago. The Blue Devils will probably find themselves in more than a couple shootouts this fall.

Anything else?
No matter where Duke finishes in the ACC this season, there’s something to be said for what Cutcliffe is building there. He’s had other opportunities to leave, and he’s chosen to stay. He’s one of the most well-regarded X’s and O’s coaches in the game and the Blue Devils should be in a position at the end of the year to possibly make it to a second straight bowl game.

7. Virginia (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Virginia got an early season win against Penn State when the Nittany Lions were struggling, and a late-season win over Miami. In between was when things were rough.

So why are they ranked here?
Mike London went with a coaching overhaul that brings in former North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien and Jon Tenuta as defensive coordinator. Defense should be the greater strength for UVA this year with a seasoned secondary. It’s the offense that needs work. Two quarterbacks from 2012 — Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco — are gone, so this is a team that will probably have to rely on its run game.

Anything else?
It’ll be interesting to see if Virginia can make strides with a restructured coaching staff, but wins could still be hard to come by with a tough schedule. BYU, Oregon and even Ball State make up a difficult non-conference slate, and the last four games against Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech is a rough way to end the year.

———————————————

John Taylor’s Prediction:

ATLANTIC
1. Clemson
2. Florida State
3. North Carolina State
4. Wake Forest
5. Maryland
6. Syracuse
7. Boston College

COASTAL
1. Miami
2. North Carolina
3. Georgia Tech
4. Virginia Tech
5. Pittsburgh
6. Virginia
7. Duke

Ben’s ACC champ: Clemson
John’s ACC champ: Clemson

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Davon Durant’s future as a Sun Devil in hands of ASU board

Davon Durant

Late this past week, a highly-touted member of Arizona State’s 2015 recruiting class took care of business when it comes to the legal system.  Now, his fate at the university is in the hands of a different set of “judges.”

According to the Arizona Republic, Davon Durant attended a hearing Friday in front of ASU’s University Hearing Board that will determine whether the JUCO transfer can remain at the institution as both a student and an athlete.  The hearing was in response to a March domestic violence incident in which Durant was initially charged with one count of felony aggravated assault and three counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

It was alleged at the time that the female victim was hit by Durant “in the face once and grabbed her around the neck,” leading to “visible injuries, including a bruise below her left eye and bruising around her neck that was consistent with finger marks.”

The Republic explained the university’s process moving forward.

The hearing did not produce an immediate decision. The University Hearing Board has up to three days to issue a recommendation to an ASU dean of students. A final determination on Durant’s fate could take up to 20 days.

The paper also explained that Durant has already been expelled from the university, and that the hearing was part of the linebacker’s appeal to be permitted to re-enroll.

Durant pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct at his court appearance Thursday, with sentencing scheduled for the middle of next month. Previously, the alleged victim had both recanted her claims and asked that a moratorium on contact between the two be dropped.

Transferring in from the JUCO ranks, Durant had been expected to be a significant contributor to the Sun Devils’ defense in 2015.

Coming out of Butler County Community College, Durant was a four-star member of ASU’s 2015 recruiting class.  Durant, a South Carolina native, had actually been a verbal commitment to South Carolina during part of his time at the Kansas JUCO, but flipped his commitment to ASU in October.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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KeiVarae Russell takes to social media to announce Irish return

KeiVarae Russell, Jeremy Gallon

Suspended for the entire 2014 season because of the findings rendered in an academic fraud investigation, KeiVarae Russell took to social media last October to vent his frustration over a school, Notre Dame, that he wrote “is becoming ridiculous.” Less than two weeks later, though, signs were pointing toward a return in 2015.

Seven months later? It appears he’s back.

While there’s been nothing official coming from Notre Dame — that’s expected to come at some point next month according to a school official — Russell took to the same social media website to announce a return to the Irish.

KeiVarae Russell

As explained by our buddy Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish, Russell’s acceptance to re-enroll at the South Bend school has been imminent for a while. Still, Russell’s unofficially official confirmation portends good things for the Irish secondary as he’s a supremely talented football player.

Russell had started all 26 games during his two years in South Bend prior to his 2014 suspension. A freshman All-American in 2012, Russell finished fifth in tackles in 2013, tops among all defensive backs. His work in pass coverage is superb, as evidenced by the fact that he led all Irish players in passes broken up (eight) and passes defensed (nine) his true sophomore season.

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$20 armed robbery nets Rutgers’ Darian Dailey a dismissal, too

Kevin Snyder, L.J. Liston

To reiterate what was stated in the last post on this subject, I hope it was worth it.

In a statement released Thursday night, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood announced that Darian Dailey (pictured, No. 33has been dismissed from his Scarlet Knights football program. The dismissal comes a handful of days after Dailey, along with another business associate, was arrested and charged in connection to a Florida armed robbery that netted the entrepreneurs a whopping total of $20.

Padding their financial portfolios with a single Andrew Jackson wasn’t enough, though; they earned a felony charge by using what turned out to be a pellet gun.

“Every one of these situations is unique,” Flood said in his (under)statement. “We’ve made the decision and now as a football program we’re moving on from that decision.”

A two-star member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2014 recruiting class, Dailey took a redshirt as a true freshman. He had been expected to compete for significant playing time this upcoming season — prior to his hostile takeover of a well-heeled bicyclist, that is.

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USF officially adds ex-Badger S Austin Hudson to its roster

Two months after leaving Wisconsin, and three weeks after it was reported he was headed back to his home state, Austin Hudson officially has a new college football home.

In a press release sent out Friday afternoon, USF announced that Hudson has transferred into Willie Taggart‘s Bulls football program.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Hudson will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

Beginning in 2016, he will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Hudson was a two-star member of the Badgers’ 2014 recruiting class. He held offers from Georgia and Missouri prior to signing with UW.

As a true freshman last season, Hudson played in all 14 games.

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Terps’ pass-catching corps springs another Leak

Maryland v Syracuse

Last month it was reported that running back Jacquille Veii, a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, had decided to leave the Terrapins.  A month later, the Terps’ passing game has taken another hit.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that Marcus Leak has withdrawn from school due to personal reasons.  In May of 2013, Leak left under similar circumstances, although he ultimately returned.

It’s unclear if a return is in the cards this time around as well.

Last season, Leak was third on the team in receptions (20) and receiving yards (297), while he was second in receiving touchdowns (three).  With Leak’s departure, the Terps won’t return their top four in receiving yards from the 2014 season: Stefon Diggs (792, early entry into NFL draft), Deon Long (575, expired eligibility) and Veii (230).

Those four departures mean that the leading returning receiver in terms of yards is Amba Etta-Tawo (222). The leading returning receiver in receptions is running back Wes Brown (21). The good news for the Terps is that Levern Jacobs, the team’s leading receiver in 2013, is returning from an injury that cost him most of the 2014 season.

Leak’s departure comes one day after Maryland announced the addition of quarterback Daxx Garman as a graduate transfer.

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Field-rushing could cost SEC schools $250,000

Alabama v Mississippi Getty Images

Earlier this week, outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive confirmed that his conference was looking to stiffen penalties for schools whose fans rush the field/storm the courts following wins.

With the league’s annual spring meetings coming to a close, those stiffer penalties have officially been enacted — and they are more than a slap on the wrist.

The previous penalties were on a sliding scale, with $5,000 fines for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for each violation thereafter within a three-year period.  After that three-year period, the slate was wiped clean.

Moving forward, the fine is $50,000 for a first offense, $100,000 for a second and a whopping $250,000 for a third offense.  The biggest news, however, may be that there is no three-year period to be wiped clean; rather, the $250,000 penalty will be in force for, well, forever.

For example: If a third offense is committed in, say, November of this year, and then a fourth in 2019, the $250,000 fine is applicable.

That said, given the new revenue numbers that came in today, and the projections for future years, I’m thinking the SEC schools will be able to bite the financial bullet if its fan deem it necessary to rush the field/storm the courts three or more times.  Or, as Ole Miss fans did last year after their post-Alabama win field rush, they’ll just donate the money to pay for the fines themselves.

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Big 12 sets record for big revenue, too

Raining Money

The SEC isn’t the only conference announcing record financials at the end of the work week.

Friday afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that eight of his conference’s schools will received full shares of $27 million each.  New-ish members TCU and West Virginia will receive $24 and $23 million apiece, respectively; next year, each of those schools will receive full shares.

In 2014, Bowlsby announced what was a then-record payout of $23 million per school.

Bowlsby also noted that “several Big 12 schools [are] close to or over SEC numbers given third-tier rights.” Texas and Oklahoma, of course, would be the big winners in that revenue stream, while WVU made up somewhat for its lack of a full share.

As a reminder, SEC schools are expected to receive a shade over $31 million each for the 2014-15 fiscal year.  Those numbers don’t include multimedia rights deals — no third-tier rights in that conference because of the SEC Network — worked out by the individual schools, like the lucrative new deal signed by Alabama in April of 2014.

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SEC to ban adding transfers disciplined for ‘serious misconduct’

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

Most casual college football fans wouldn’t consider the SEC holding the high moral ground on many if any issues.  When it comes to a certain type of transfer, however, they now most certainly do.

Georgia had proposed a rule change that would bar SEC schools from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for what was labeled as “serious misconduct” at that student-athlete’s previous institution.  Some observers believed that the initiative had little chance of passing; they were wrong.

Friday afternoon, the conference announced that the “UGA rule” had passed muster with its member institutions and will be implemented for the 2015-16 sports season.  It’s believed that the SEC is the first conference to enact such a policy.

As for the specifics of what’s being described as a groundbreaking rule, let’s go to the tweets from those in Destin for the league’s annual spring meetings:

While the rule is being hailed as the “UGA rule,” it might as well be called the “UGA rule, brought to you by Jonathan Taylor.”

In July of 2014, Taylor was dismissed by Georgia following a domestic violence arrest.  In a controversial move, Taylor signed with Alabama in January of this year.  Two months later, Taylor was arrested again on a domestic violence charge, leading to his second dismissal from an SEC school in less than a year.

Now that the SEC has set the standard when it comes to transfers such as Taylor, look for most, if not all of other Power Five conferences to follow suit in relatively short order.

One final bit of business (I’ll have a separate post on the new field-rushing-court-storming penalties in short order): Mike Slive announced that Greg Sankey will take over as commissioner of the SEC June 1.  Slive’s contract runs through July 31, and he had been expected to fulfill that obligation before stepping down.

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HS coach: backup QB John Franklin transferring from FSU

John Franklin

The first post-Everett Golson casualty is unofficially in the books.

Exactly 10 days after the former Notre Dame quarterback became a current Florida State quarterback, John Franklin‘s high school coach revealed to the Orlando Sentinel that his former player has decided to move on from the Seminoles. It’s relatively big news as Franklin had exited the spring as the unofficial No. 2 on the depth chart behind Sean Maguire, although most observers thought Franklin would be able to continue pushing for the job once summer camp kicked off.

In confirming the decision to move on, South Plantation (Fla.) coach Doug Gatewood stated that Franklin “is just looking for an opportunity” at another school.  Gatewood added that he’d be open to that opportunity being at another position, although why he couldn’t play another position at FSU if he’s open to it is unknown.

Franklin was a three-star member of FSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Tennessee was the only other Power Five program to offer Franklin a scholarship.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Franklin appeared in two games.  According to his official FSU bio, he also practiced at wide receiver in 2014.

(Photo credit: Florida State athletics)

UPDATED 2:39 p.m. ET: On Instagram, Franklin confirmed that he is indeed transferring from FSU.  In addition to his confirmation, he wrote out a lengthy statement, which appears below.

I want to first and foremost thank Coach Jimbo Fisher for being the first coach to take a chance on me at playing Quarterback out of high school. He saw something in me that many other schools looked over and for that I will forever be greatful. I want to thank all the coaches for taking me under their wing and treating me as one of their own. Want to thank the one and only Nole Nation for supporting me while I was here at FSU. No matter where I end up I will always be a Nole at heart. Lastly, want to thank my teammates for being a family away from home. I’ve built relationships with yall boys that no one will ever be able to understand nor break up. I’m going to miss grinding on the field and all the love we shared together. Some people may not understand why I decided to leave, but this is my life and I’m doing what is best for me to continue reaching my dreams and making them reality. I appreciate all the love and support as I go through this transition and I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for me in the near future. Thank you.

Franklin also added a rather amusing postscript.

PS: Any schools that are interested in me or want to talk feel free to message me on any social media. I’m open to all schools right now.

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Urban, on Braxton: ‘He’s playing for Ohio State’ this fall

Braxton Miller, Urban Meyer AP

Maybe now any last speculation ember when it comes to a Braxton Miller transfer will be extinguished?  Probably not, but Urban Meyer‘s giving it that ol’ college try.  Again.

The rehabbing Ohio State quarterback had indicated at a rally earlier this year to celebrate the squad’s national championship that he will return to the Buckeyes for his senior season.  Meyer has seemed fairly confident all along that he’ll have a three-man quarterback competition this summer that will include Miller; he reiterated as much as recently as late April.

Even Miller’s athletic director addressed the situation publicly, becoming the latest member of the university to express confidence in the senior staying with the Buckeyes.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from swirling.  Most recently, Miller was connected to Alabama, which was only fueled by the perception that Nick Saban was tap-dancing around the possibility.

Friday, Meyer was again asked about Miller’s future status with his football team.  And, once again, Meyer reiterated what’s been his public stance for nearly a half-year.

Meyer added that Miller, in the latter stages of his recovery from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season and, in essence, triggered the signal-calling speculation in Columbus, is now up to throwing the ball 35 yards and is expected to be at or near 100-percent healthy for the start of summer camp.  Additionally, there has been no talk of a position switch for Miller.

So, barring something completely unforeseen, Miller will enter August in a three-way competition with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.  Just the way the football gods intended it.

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SEC set to dole out record revenue to its membership… again

Money AP

Last year around this time, the SEC was announcing record revenues to be divvied up amongst its member schools.  12 months later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat… even more.

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, the SEC will distribute $435 million earned in 2014-15 to the 14 schools in the conference.  That averages out to roughly $31.07 million per member; in 2009, $13.8 million was distributed to each school.

That total far surpasses last year’s “paltry” record of $20.9 million per member.  For comparison’s sake, the Big 12 last year doled out $23.9 million each to eight of its 10 members — “new” members TCU and West Virginia received partial shares of $14 million each — while each Big Ten member received in the neighborhood of $24 million.

The Big Ten could slice into the SEC’s financial lead this year, though, as projections pegged B1G institutions at $30.9 million each in revenue for the 2014-15 cycle.  The Pac-12, meanwhile, is projected to hand out close to $23 million per — in 2018, meaning the Left Coast conference is lagging far behind the two Power Five Superpowers.

As for from where the SEC’s revenue comes, McMurphy writes “[t]he total amount of the distribution is composed of revenue generated from the SEC Network, televised football, bowl games, the SEC football championship, televised basketball, the SEC men’s basketball tournament, NCAA championships and a supplemental surplus distribution.”

The SEC Network printed more money in Year 1 than initially projected, which, combined with the wildly-successful College Football Playoff and its substantial windfall, means that the conference should, or more likely will, continue to set annual record revenues standards for the foreseeable future.

UPDATED 2:43 p.m. ET: The official numbers are out, and each SEC school will actually receive a whopping $31.2 million in revenue.

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Ex-Virginia QB Greyson Lambert to visit Florida, Georgia

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Greyson Lambert #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers looks to throw in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 24-20. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Having fallen short in their respective pursuits of Everett Golson, it appears Georgia and Florida have their collective sights set on another transfer quarterback.

Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald is reporting that UGA has received permission to talk to transfer target Greyson Lambert.  247Sports.com, meanwhile, reports that Lambert will visit Athens this weekend, and will then follow up that with a visit to Florida Monday.

Nearly two weeks ago, it was announced that Lambert had received a release from his Virginia scholarship.

Entering spring practice, Georgia’s quarterback competition to replace Hutson Mason was a three-player race: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park.  Ramsey and Bauta exited the spring 1-2 — or 1a-1b, to be technically correct — on UGA’s unofficial depth chart.

Florida’s quarterback situation is equally unsettled, with neither Treon Harris nor Will Grier able to grab the job by the throat this spring, although Grier will enter the summer as the slight favorite.

Lambert could immediately enter either the Bulldogs’ or Gators’ signal-calling fray as he will receive his degree from UVa. late next month and will be eligible immediately at any FBS school.  Colorado State, Fresno State and Purdue have also shown an interest in Lambert, who will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Last season, Lambert started nine of the Cavaliers’ 12 games.  He threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10) while completing just under 60 percent of his 261 passes.  That performance, as well as their collective performances in the spring, allowed Matt Johns to wrest control of the starting job exiting those 15 sessions and contributed to Lambert pulling the trigger on a transfer.

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Gopher De’Niro Laster transferring to be closer to Ohio home

Minnesota v Wisconsin

After a couple of years in the Twin Cities, De’Niro Laster has a personal need to get back closer to his Ohio roots.

In a text message to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Laster confirmed that he has decided to transfer out of the Minnesota football program. The Cleveland native told the Star-Tribune in the text that his family is going through an unspecified situation and he wants to be closer to them.

“I’m transferring home to be closer to my family, as we are going through a difficult family situation right now,” Laster wrote in the missive to the paper. “I will miss all of my teammates and the fans dearly! I don’t have a school picked right now, but I will have one in the upcoming week.

“I love Coach [Jerry] Kill, and I am thankful and honored for what we did there as a program. I wish the best to all my teammates and coaches!”

Regardless of the family situation, Laster will have to sit out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program. The linebacker would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016; he could play immediately at an FCS school and have three years left.

Laster, a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2013 recruiting class, was rated as the No. 35 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state of Ohio. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then played in nine games in 2014.

Coming out of high school, he held offers from, among others, Akron, Bowling Green and Toledo. According to Rivals.com‘s profile of the player, Ohio State showed some level of interest, although that interest never morphed into an actual scholarship offer. In fact, Minnesota and Illinois were the only Big Ten teams to officially offer Laster.

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After leaving Iowa, John Kenny ‘reunites’ with RichRod in the desert

Henry Krieger Coble, John Kenny AP

In the run-up to National Signing Day in 2013, Rich Rodriguez and Arizona offered John Kenny a scholarship. The potential marriage didn’t work out at the time but, two years later, RichRod’s got his man.

While nothing is officially official, Kenny (pictured, No. 47) announced via Twitter Thursday night that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career with the Wildcats. A little over two weeks ago, Kenny had confirmed that he would be transferring out of the Iowa football program.

After sitting out the 2015 season, Kenny will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Kenny later added a post to his Instagram account, which contained the following farewell to his former football home:

Excited to continue chasing my dreams at another great program! Thank you Iowa for blessing me with great friends and countless memories that will last a lifetime. A new journey starts shortly in Tucson.

Kenny was signed as a linebacker by the Hawkeyes, but moved to fullback last season. He will move back to linebacker with the Wildcats.

A three-star member of Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class, Kenny was rated as the No. 34 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Indiana.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in 11 games last season, starting two of those contests. While he had no rushing attempts, he did catch four passes for 27 yards.

Exiting spring practice, he wasn’t listed on the Hawkeyes’ two-deep depth chart at any position.

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About face: Baylor AD plans to beef up non-conference schedules after all

Baylor West Virginia Football

SMU, Lamar, Rice, Northwestern State, Liberty, UTSA, Duke, Abilene Christian, Incarnate Word, and Lousiana Tech. That’s the full list. The names of schools you just read comprise the entirety of Baylor’s non-conference schedule through 2020. The entire thing. This isn’t the filler in between home-and-homes with Penn State or neutral site games with North Carolina and Oregon – that’s it.

No matter how many times athletics director Ian McCaw and head coach Art Briles denied it, that schedule – this year’s slate included SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo – and the stigma surrounding it were the reason Baylor played in last season’s Cotton Bowl and not the Sugar Bowl. Trade the road game at Buffalo for a trip to Boston College and the Bears are probably the last team in the inaugural College Football Playoff, not eventual champion Ohio State.

On Thursday, McCaw finally acknowledged that fact. Sort of.

When we’re in the midst of a 14-year bowl drought, our scheduling philosphy is: ‘Let’s try to find six wins,’ because we needed to end that drought. We were scheduling with an eye on let’s try to find a way to get to six,’ McCaw told David Ubben of FoxSportsSouthwest.com. “Obviously, as we’ve won back to back Big 12 championships and our program’s in the national stage and we’re recruiting at an extremely high level and have McLane Stadium in place, we’re able to take on a higher level of competition and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

McCaw said to having “two or three discussions” with fellow Power Five foes about scheduling games between 2016 and 2020, but made no promises the Bears would line up a major-conference foe on a yearly basis. “It’ll vary a little bit from year to year because we have a number of years still fully committed and a number of years still looking to schedule games, but we’re certainly open to playing a Power 5 game in addition to the nine we’re playing,” he said. “Probably not every year, but a good number of years.”

Outside the home-and-home with Duke, Baylor’s lone Power Five foe lined up for upcoming schedules is Utah, with whom the Bears will meet in 2023 and ’24.

 

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