Charlie Strong: Texas is the state’s flagship program

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Texas A&M put together one of the top recruiting classes in the country, but new Texas head coach Charlie Strong is making a bold statement on his first national signing day as the head coach of the Longhorns.

“We’re still the University of Texas,” Strong said according to the Austin American Statesman. “We will always be the flagship university of this state.”

The Texas Class of 2o14 was ranked second in the Big 12 and 20th overall by Rivals. Those rankings are not all that bad, but the standard is set high for the Longhorns program given the luxuries and benefits found within the program. With Oklahoma taking the top Big 12 class and storied rival Texas A&M hauling in a top ten class (A&M is ranked sixth overall by Rivals), the tone is being set by Strong right now that Texas needs to get back to the top. Despite being able to lure away one Louisville target on signing day (defensive tackle Poona Ford), Texas saw nine of the state’s top recruits and 19 of the top 25 go to other programs. That includes defensive end Myles Garrett, the state’s top recruit who committed to Texas A&M.

“It’s hard to try to keep guys in, but you have to go recruit them and not be afraid,” Strong said. “You’ve got to go battle those Southeastern Conference teams, whomever they may be.”

SEC schools claimed 18 of the top 50 players in Texas, including a large number of players heading to Texas A&M. Strong realizes what he is up against at Texas. With fertile recruiting grounds all over the state, the SEC, Pac 12 and Big 12 are thriving on talent found in the state of Texas. Texas A&M helped to open the doors to the SEC when they joined the conference a couple of years ago, but the Aggies have also seen a  spark in recruiting due to a successful transition from the Big 12 to the SEC as well. At the same time Texas has fallen behind Baylor in the Big 12, Texas Tech and TCU have started to benefit from a struggling Longhorns program and Oklahoma continues to take charge in the Big 12 pecking order when it comes to recruiting.

“What’s going to be key is we have to control this state,” Strong said. “If we do decide to go out-of-state, we will go out-of-state for a specific need. You can’t make a living in those other states. You’ve got to take care of this state.”

Fortunate;y for Texas, Strong has experience with getting his program to the top of the state in football. Strong previously took over a deflated Louisville program that was picked to finish last in the Big East in his first year on the job. Under Strong’s leadership Louisville quickly became the top team in the Big East and became the top program in the state of Kentucky. The goal is similar at Texas, but Texas A&M is no Kentucky. The objective is simple for Texas; keep the best talent close to home.

“Everyone’s coming here,” Strong stated. “If you think about it, if everyone’s coming to pluck your state, why are you going to venture out?”

VIDEO: LSU RB Derrius Guice squats 650 pounds

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Derrius Guice may be the most underrated player in college football.

Playing in the shadow of Leonard Fournette, Guice posted an eye-popping 8.55 yards per carry (51 rushes for 436 yards) as a freshman in 2015, then kept his big-play ability as his usage increased while Fournette battled injuries in his final college season. Guice rushed 183 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns; his 7.58 yards per carry average was the most among Power 5 rushers with at least 180 carries.

So, yes, Guice is really good. He’s also a physical freak.

LSU captured and tweeted video Friday of Guice squatting 650 pounds, more than three times his listed 212 pounds.

If — and this is a massive, Les Miles-firing if — LSU can consistently throw the ball in 2017, go ahead and make Guice your darkhorse Heisman contender in 2017.

(HT CBS Sports)

Former Miami TE Jovani Haskins headed to West Virginia

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Jovani Haskins announced two weeks ago he was leaving Miami for “somewhere else.” That somewhere else proved to be a favorite destination of other Sunshine State transfers: West Virginia.

“WVU is my new home and I can’t wait to perform in front of the fans of West Virginia!” he tweeted on Saturday.

A 3-star prospect out of Bergenfield, N.J.., Haskins was offered by West Virginia in the class of 2016 and most recruiting experts actually had him signing with the Mountaineers before a surprise commitment to Miami.

Haskins joins two former state of Florida players on WVU’s roster: starting quarterback Will Grier (Florida) and former Miami quarterback Jack Allison (Miami). The Mountaineers also employed Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback and Miami transfer Antonio Crawford at cornerback.

Haskins redshirted in 2016 and will presumably sit out 2017 before gaining eligibility in ’18. West Virginia could use the help immediately; the roster lists one scholarship tight end at present. WVU currently has two tight ends pledged for the 2018 class in addition to Haskins.

 

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.