As the in-state recruiting battles between the schools simmer, Tennessee is planning an on-field invasion deep into Vanderbilt’s backyard.
In concert with the Nashville Sports Council, the Vols confirmed Thursday that they will open the 2015 season in Nashville. UT will face the Conference USA’s UAB Blazers at LP Field, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
In a statement, UT athletic director Dave Hart acknowledged that recruiting played at least a part in the decision to move a home game to the home city of SEC rival Vandy.
“It is exciting to have this come to fruition, and we look forward to opening our season in front of a great crowd in Nashville,” Hart said.
“We have made the necessary adjustments to our 2015 football schedule in order for us to move our opening game against UAB to Nashville, which is a priority for us from the perspective of recruiting, our fans, and our alumni.”
Those adjustments specifically refer to suspending the home-and-home series with UConn, which was scheduled for 2015 and 2016. In 2016, the Vols will play a home game at Bristol Motor Speedway against Virginia Tech.
The game at LP Field will mark the program’s first in the NFL Stadium since the 2010 Music City Bowl. The Vols also played at the home of the Titans in 2002.
LP Field seats just under 69,000 fans. Neyland Stadium, on the other hand, holds in excess of 102,000.
In a statement Wednesday night, Memphis head coach Mike Norvell confirmed that he has indefinitely suspended wide receiver Jae’Lon Oglesby and cornerback Kam Prewitt from his football program.
The teammates were reportedly involved in an on-campus physical altercation Tuesday. Later that day, several gunshots were fired into Oglesby’s car while the receiver was sitting in his apartment. Oglesby told police he did not see who fired the shots, but did indicate that he had been involved in the altercation with Prewitt.
No one has been arrested in connection to either incident, and Memphis police are currently investigating the situation.
“I will make no further comments on this matter while it remains under investigation,” the Tigers coach said in his statement. Norvell’s decision to suspend the players came after consultation with athletic director Tom Bowen.
Bowen said in his own statement that the university has “offered our full support to the local authorities investigating that incident.”
The past two seasons, Oglesby, a sophomore, has caught 25 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. Five of those catches and 46 of the yards have come in 2016. He also has carried the ball eight times for 64 yards.
A redshirt freshman, Prewitt has yet to play a down for the Tigers. According to the Commercial Appeal he was suspended during summer camp for undisclosed reasons.
Whether Florida will have its leading tackler for its annual rivalry game with Georgia won’t be known (still) for another couple of days.
The good news is that, for the first time since severely spraining his ankle in the Week 7 win over Missouri, Jarrad Davis returned to practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis. If the linebacker takes the field for the UGA game, it won’t be known until Saturday shortly before kickoff.
“Obviously, that will be one of those that it’s got to be right with him, got to be right with the doctors. We’ll see. Kind of game time,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “I thought he moved pretty well. One of the tackling circuits he got beat up by one of the sleds. The sled bit back, but it was good to see. The opportunity to play in this game is something that’s real special and that guy is a real big part of our team. He’ll do anything he can to help us.”
Davis currently leads the Gators in tackles with 48 and is tied for second on the team with 3.5 tackles for loss.
While the status of Davis remains up in the air, McElwain did confirm that two starting defensive linemen, end Jordan Sherit and tackle Joey Ivie, will play against the Bulldogs. Sherit underwent arthroscopic surgery three weeks ago while Ivie had surgery performed on his thumb the week before. Additionally, starting defensive end Bryan Cox has a chance to play despite his own thumb injury.
Thankfully, one of the more underrated in-state rivalries isn’t going away anytime soon.
BYU and Utah announced Thursday that the schools have reached an agreement on a two-game extension of their series. The Cougars will host the first game of the extension Sept. 11, 2021, in Provo while the Utes will return the favor Sept. 3 the following season in Salt Lake City.
The schools had previously agreed to games from 2017 through the 2020 season.
“BYU-Utah is one of the great college rivalries in the country. There’s a lot of history and tradition between the two schools and I’m glad we were able to extend the series through 2022,” said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe in a statement. “I’ve loved this rivalry as a player, coach and administrator, and look forward to the future games.”
The teams have played 91 times since the series kicked off in 1922. The Utes hold a 56-31-4 advantage all-time, including a 20-19 win earlier this season.
When Derwin James went down with a torn meniscus in Week 2, Florida State had the Clemson game circled as a potential date for a return. Unfortunately for both the player and the team, that won’t be the case.
On his weekly call-in show Wednesday night, Jimbo Fisher confirmed that James and his surgically-repaired knee will not play in the Seminoles’ game this Saturday against the Tigers. There is still no timetable for the sophomore safety’s return.
“Hopefully Derwin will be back here soon,” the head coach said.
One thing apparently off the table is a redshirt for James as Fisher said if the defensive back can return at any point this season he will.
The Clemson game will mark the sixth straight missed by James. FSU will close out the regular season against North Carolina State (Nov. 5), Boston College (Nov. 11), Syracuse (Nov. 19) and Florida Nov. 26).
In less than two full games this season, James was credited with 11 tackles and also has an interception.
As a true freshman last season, James’ 91 tackles were second only to Reggie Northrup’s 94. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5).
For that, he was named a consensus freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC. This offseason, he was named to the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists, and is widely considered one of the most talented players on the defensive side of the ball in the country.