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Top 5 uncommitted recruits heading in to National Signing Day

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Decision day looms for college football recruits around the country. A number have already made their decisions through a verbal commitment, but on Wednesday will mark the first time those solid verbals can be become official with the signing of a National Letter of Intent.

A handful of recruits have yet to make their decisions known. Here are the five players still undecided at the end of January with just days to go, according to Rivals.

1. DB Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, CA, Rivals)

Leading Candidates: Florida, USC, LSU, UCLA

This much seems certain, Jackson will be playing his college football in either the SEC or the Pac 12. Being the California native, it is no surprise USC and UCLA have been in the mix, but the Trojans look to have pick dup some steam in the recruiting game since Steve Sarkisian was named head coach. USC’s biggest need may not be in the defensive secondary, but the future outlook for USC seems more optimistic right now and that makes the Trojans a huge player heading in to signing day.

Prediction: USC

2. LB Rashaan Evans (Auburn, AL; Rivals, pictured)

Leading Candidates: Auburn, Alabama, UCLA

Considering Auburn just played for a BCS championship and knocked off Alabama to get there, it would be a major shock if the Tigers let one of the nation’s top linebacker recruits sneak right out of their backyard. Auburn’s defense was good last year but certainly not their strength. Adding some hometown star power would make a great addition.

Prediction: Auburn

3. WR Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, LA, Rivals)

Leading Candidates: LSU, UCLA, Ole Miss, Florida State, Alabama

Dupre has been making a number of visits in January leading up to signing day, but LSU still looks like a strong favorite for the Louisiana wide receiver. the 6’4” 175 pound receiver is the second highest rated recruit in Louisiana and second at his position in the country. With a need at receiver, LSU looks to have one locked in.

Prediction: LSU

4. OL Damian Prince (Forestville, MD; Rivals)

Leading Candidates: Maryland, Florida, South Carolina

Where the 6’5”, 292 pound offensive lineman from Maryland ends up is one of the more up-in-the-air decisions to be made. Maryland has long been a popular favorite for the instate lineman, but Florida and South Carolina appear to have been making a decent push. The wild card in the equation may be Penn State, and Florida State may be in the mix as well. This is a tough one to predict, but Prince would be a huge keep for Maryland if they can hold on to him.

Prediction: Maryland

5. DB John Smith (Long Beach, CA; Rivals)

Leading Candidates: USC, Notre Dame

Another recruiting battle that appears pretty wide open is likely to have two strong contenders in the field with days to go. The California wide receiver from Long Beach is believed to be choosing between USC and Notre Dame. Again, the momentum is a huge factor in this recruiting battle, and USC seems to have it at the right time. The Trojans had Smith on an unofficial visit and an official visit in January that followed up an unofficial visit in December.

Prediction: USC

Vandy turns to familiar face to fill coaching role of assistant fighting cancer

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 22:  Josh Crawford #22 of the Vanderbilt Commodores celebrates a touchdown against the Tennessee State Tigers scored by teammate Trent Sherfield #10 during the second half at Vanderbilt Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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With an assistant fighting a significant health issue, Derek Mason has turned to someone very familiar with the Vanderbilt football program to fill the coaching void.

Vandy confirmed Monday that Warren Belin has been hired as the Commodores’ outside linebackers coach. Belin will, at least temporarily, replace Osia Lewis, who stepped down from his job as he battles liver cancer. Lewis will transition into an of-field role within the program as he fights the disease.

The announcement came on the same day Vandy kicked off spring practice.

From 2002 through 2009, Belin was Vandy’s linebacker’s coach under Bobby Johnson. He was at Wake Forest in the same role from 2013-15.

Last season, he was with the Demon Deacons in an off-field role as director of high school relations.

Blocked from Pitt and Syracuse, Gus Edwards’ transfer from Miami to Rutgers is official

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 13:  Gus Edwards #7 of the Miami Hurricanes rushes for a touchdown during a game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Sunlife Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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In opting to leave Miami in late January, Gus Edwards was restricted by the university from transferring to two of his top choices in Pittsburgh and Syracuse as they were on this coming season’s schedule. A little over a month later, the Staten Island native, who wanted to transfer and move closer to home as he was a new father, has found his new college football home in the same area of the country.

On its official Twitter account earlier Monday, Rutgers announced that Edwards has transferred into the Scarlet Knights football program. As Edwards will be coming in as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017.

The upcoming season will be the running back’s final year of eligibility.

Edwards was third on the team this past season in rushing with 290 yards. For his Hurricanes career, the 6-1, 230-pound back ran for 977 yards and 12 touchdowns on 186 carries.

A foot injury suffered in summer camp cost Edwards the entire 2015 season. He received a medical redshirt for that season.

Mississippi State announces contract extension for Dan Mullen

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 5:  Head coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs celebrates with fans after the end of an NCAA college football game at Davis Wade Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Starkville, Mississippi. Mississippi State beat the Texas A&M Aggies 35-28. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
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With its Egg Bowl rivals knee/neck-deep in controversy — and with said rival reportedly trying to bring it down as well at one point — Mississippi State has taken the time to put a positive face on the current state of its football program.

The Bulldogs announced Monday night that they have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with head football coach Dan Mullen.  The new deal means Mullen is signed through February of 2021.

According to the school, Mullen’s financial package will be $4.5 million for 2017.  Mullen was paid $4.2 million in 2016, a figure that was seventh in the SEC according to USA Today‘s salary database.

“I am very thankful to the University and athletic administration for their belief in me,” Mullen, the subject of myriad coaching carousel rumors the last handful of years, said in a statement. “We have built a special program over the last eight years, creating a culture where winning is expected while achieving that in the toughest division in college football. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I am truly excited about the direction we are heading as a program. This extension allows my family a long-term future here in Starkville, a place we are proud to call home.”

Since taking over as MSU’s coach in 2009, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a 61-42 record overall and 29-35 in conference play.  In those eight seasons, the best divisional finish was second in 2014.  In the other seven seasons, they were either fifth (five times) or fourth (twice) in the SEC West.

The Bulldogs have gone to a bowl game each of the past seven seasons, the longest such streak in school history.  They’re also 5-3 against Ole Miss under Mullen.

“Dan has brought unprecedented success to Bulldog football and is one of the elite coaches in the country,” athletic director John Cohen said. “From a school-record seven straight bowl games to our performance in the classroom, he continues to raise the standard of excellence.”

North Texas, SMU extend series with four more games

DALLAS - SEPTEMBER 24:  A general view of before a game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the SMU Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on September 24, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Texas and SMU jointly announced Monday the two sides have extended their on-going home-and-home series with four more games.

The Mean Green and Mustangs will meet Sept. 1, 2018 in Denton, Sept. 7, 2019 in Dallas, Sept. 5, 2020 in Denton, and Sept. 11, 2021 in Dallas.

The Interstate 35 rivals meet annually from 1922 through 1942, resumed their series on a near-annual basis from 1974 through SMU 1992, and then again picked up the rivalry on an annual basis in 2014.

SMU holds a 30-5-1 all-time lead and owns a 2-game winning streak, including a 34-21 win on Sept. 3 of last season. The pair will meet Sept. 9 in Dallas.

North Texas also announced a home-and-home with Texas Tech earlier this month.