With one of the biggest games in the football program’s history on tap Saturday night, unbeaten Northwestern will be getting a huge boost both offensively and on special teams with the return of a single player.
After initially suffering the injury early on in summer camp, running back Venric Mark played sparingly in the opener and has missed the past three games with a leg injury. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald confirmed to ESPN.com that, as expected, the senior will return and play in the home game against Ohio State this weekend.
The player himself said he’s “ready to go” and “itching to get back on the field,” adding that he’s excited his return comes against one of the top teams in the country.
“Every time they step on that field, they’re ready to play,” Mark said of Ohio State, winners of a nation’s best 17 straight games. “We know that. We’re also ready to play. We have a lot of confidence right now. They’re coming into our house, and we definitely expect to defend our house.”
Last season, Mark led the Wildcats with 1,366 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns (tied with quarterback Kain Colter). He also averaged 18.7 yards per punt return; he was one return shy of officially finishing second in the country in that category.
Mark, who returned to practice last week with an eye on playing No. 4 OSU, is expected to again handle punt returns this weekend.
With Mark sidelined, junior Treyvon Green leads NU in rushing (404 yards) and rushing touchdowns (five). Green is expected to slide back into his backup role, although he’ll certainly receive his share of work as Mark eases back into action.
Heading into spring practice, Minnesota will find its defensive secondary a bit thinner than it was when the curtain fell on the 2017 season.
A school spokesperson confirmed to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Ken Handy-Holly has been granted a release from his scholarship. 247Sports.com had previously reported that the safety was looking to transfer to be closer to family in Jackson, Ala.
A three-star member of the Gophers’ 2017 recruiting class, Handy-Holly was rated as the No. 38 safety in the country and the No. 28 player at any position in the state of Alabama. Only one signee in Minnesota’s class that year, offensive tackle Blaise Andries, was rated higher than Handy-Holly.
Because of injuries, Handy-Holly was pressed into action as a true freshman. He made his collegiate debut in a Sept. 30 loss to Maryland, and went on to play eight games total this past season.
In that action, Handy-Holly was credited with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
An off-field situation for one playing member of the Arkansas football program that began during the 2017 regular season has taken yet another step toward winding its way to a conclusion.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cole Kelley pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated. While the quarterback was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 89 of those days were suspended while he was given credit for time served for the other. Additionally, the Democrat-Gazette wrote, the 20-year-old Kelley “was also ordered to complete an alcohol safety class and pay $720 in fines and court costs.”
Kelley was arrested for DWI and reckless driving in November of last year. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game; he was subsequently reinstated after serving what amounted to a one-game suspension.
Austin Allen started the first five games of the 2017 season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with a healthy Allen returning to his starting role for the remainder of the year.
On the season, Kelley completed almost 58 percent of his 151 passes for 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. The rising redshirt sophomore is expected to compete for the starting job in 2018 under new head coach Chad Morris.
With coaching holes throughout his Washington State staff to fill thanks to significant offseason poaching, Mike Leach has added a very famous college football surname. Reportedly.
According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Spurrier Jr. is leaving Western Kentucky to take a job under Leach at Wazzu. The son of College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier just completed his first season as the Hilltoppers’ quarterbacks coach. He also held the title of assistant head coach under Mike Sanford.
It’s unclear what specific title Spurrier Jr. will hold at Wazzu.
Prior to his one season at WKU, and one season as an off-field staffer at Oklahoma, Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons. During his time with the Gamecocks, he served at various points as wide receivers coach (2005-15), passing-game coordinator (2009-11) and co-offensive coordinator (2012-15).
Spurrier Jr., who played wide receiver at Duke, has also spent time during his coaching career as receivers coach at Oklahoma (1999-2001) and with the Washington Redskins (2002-03).
Baylor’s latest coaching addition is a very familiar name in the state of Texas.
BU confirmed Wednesday evening that Frank Okam has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff. Okam, who was a Freshman All-American and two-time All-Big 12 defensive tackle at Texas from 2004-07, will coach the Bears’ defensive line.
“Frank is a living embodiment of everything the young men in our program should want to accomplish,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s a college graduate, an All-American, a Big 12 champion, a national champion, a NFL draft pick and then he continued life after football earning his master’s degree from Rice and is now one of the top young football coaches in the country.
“We are excited to have Coach Okam on staff and for him to mentor our defensive line group and help take them to the next level.”
The 32-year-old Okam, who went to high school in Dallas, spent the past four seasons at Rice, the last two as the Owls’ line coach. This will mark Okam’s first coaching job at a Power Five program.