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UGA expects Keith Marshall, pair of WRs back for summer workouts

Tennessee v Georgia AP

A high-profile running back and a pair of experienced and productive wide receivers missed all or part of Georgia’s spring practice due to injury and/or rehabilitation from injury, but that shouldn’t be the case when the Bulldogs takes its next big step in preparing for the upcoming season.

According to head coach Mark Richt, running back Keith Marshall (pictured) and wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley are expected to be healthy enough to participate in the football program’s “voluntary” summer workouts.  Those structured workouts will commence in June.

All three of the players are coming off of torn ACLs suffered last season that forced them to miss various amounts of games.  Marshall and Scott-Wesley both incurred their knee injuries during the Tennessee game last October, while Mitchell’s knee was injured in late August.

Mitchell had been participating — in non-contact fashion — in UGA’s spring practice earlier this year before another leg injury knocked him out for the remainder of the spring.

In addition to those three, Richt said he expects tight end Jay Rome, who suffered a foot injury last year and underwent surgery in the offseason, to be at full speed for the workouts as well.

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Dismissed by ‘Bama, Jonathan Cook could end up at Auburn

Alabama’s loss could ultimately become the Tide’s Iron Bowl rival’s gain.

Last month, off-field issues prompted Alabama to dismiss Jonathan Cook from Nick Saban‘s football team.  A month later, Cook’s mother has confirmed that her son is already enrolled at a Kansas junior college and will play football for Garden City Community College this season.

Melissa Cook also confirmed to al.com that, when her son moves back to the FBS level, Auburn and Florida State sit atop his wishlist.  It should be noted Cook has yet to hear from either school.

A three-star member of UA’s 2013 recruiting class, Cook was rated as the No. 37 cornerback in the country and the No. 15 player at any position in the state of Alabama.  After redshirting as a true freshman, he played in three games in 2014.

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2014 winner Scooby Wright headlines Bednarik Award watch list

78th Annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala Press Conference

Not surprisingly, a past winner of the latest award to release a watch list is the headliner for this honor.

The Bednarik Award Tuesday announced its 2015 preseason watch list, which this year consists of 78 defensive players from eight of the 10 FBS conferences (Conference USA and the Sun Belt the lone exclusion).  Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright won the 2014 version of the award and, as he returned to the Wildcats for his senior season, makes the initial cut.

In addition to Wright, five semifinalists from last year are on this year’s watch list: Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman and Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee each placed three on the watch list. There were two players each from Alabama, Arizona, Baylor, Boise State. Clemson, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah State, USC, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

As was the case with the Maxwell Award watch list, the SEC led all conferences with 18 selections, followed by the ACC (13), Big Ten and Pac-12 (12 apiece) and the Big 12 (11). The most for a Group of Five conference was the mountain West’s four.

2015 Bednarik Watch List

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Trevone Boykin the new Bovada Heisman betting favorite

Trevone Boykin

When Bovada.lv released its odds in May on who will win the 2015 Heisman Trophy — and even the previous release in January — Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott was the favorite. Now, though, those odds have changed and there’s a new favorite.

In the odds released by Bovada Tuesday, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is listed as the favorite at 6/1. In May, those odds were at 15/2, the same as in January.

Elliott, meanwhile, saw his odds slip a bit, going from 6/1 to 7/1. Most interesting, though, are the odds for three of the running back’s Ohio State teammates.

Obviously, all three quarterbacks — J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller — are listed by Bovada. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s Miller, coming off shoulder surgery that cost him all of the 2014 season, is the favorite among that trio at 10/1, followed by Jones at 20/1 and Barrett at 25/1. Back in May, the order was Jones (14/1), Barrett (16/1) and Miller (18/1), while Jones was at 12/1 in January compared to Miller’s 25/1 and Barrett’s 28/1.

Below are the complete set of July Heisman odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

July Bovada Heisman Odds

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One Buckeye not impressed with Wolverines’ move to Nike

Michigan v Ohio State

Whether it be late in the fall or early summer, the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is always simmering, although some times are hotter than others.  The latest to crank the knob to boil?  Ohio State’s Darron Lee.

Monday afternoon, UM announced that it was leaving adidas and moving on to Nike as its official uniform supplier for all of its men’s and women’s sports.  That move will come in 2016.

A few hours later, Lee took to Twitter to opine on the rival’s move and dissect just what it may mean for the football program’s fortunes.

Not suprisingly, the linebacker received some “feedback” on his twin tweets.

In last year’s win, the then-true freshman recorded a career-high nine tackles and returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown in the Buckeyes’ 42-28 win over the Wolverines.  This year’s UM-OSU tilt, the first of the Jim Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor, will take place exactly 144 days from today in the Big House.

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Lawyer: woman hurled racial slurs prior to ex-FSU QB’s punch

Casey Anthony Released From Jail Getty Images

Not surprisingly, there’s yet another twist in the De’Andre Johnson saga.

Charged with a misdemeanor for an incident at a Tallahassee night club late last month, the quarterback was suspended and ultimately dismissed by Florida State after video of him punching a woman in the face went public, with FSU’s president issuing a statement of support for head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s decision.  According to Johnson’s lawyer, however, there are mitigating factors behind the punch.

From our pals at NBC News:

The woman raised her fist and shouted “racial epithets” at Johnson when the player accidentally made contact when he was walking up to the bar, lawyer Jose Baez told NBC News.

Johnson “tried to deescalate the situation” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated,” the attorney added.

The lawyer stated that he has witnesses who heard the racial slurs, although Johnson “makes no excuses for what happened.”

Baez, mostly known as the defense attorney in the infamous Casey Anthony case, added that while his client wasn’t the initial aggressor, he’s “owning this” situation and trying to learn from it.

“All he wants to do is learn from this experience and move on and get an education,” Baez said. “We certainly don’t want him to pay for the rest of his life for an incident that occurred in a bar.”

According to Baez, Johnson is currently volunteering at a battered woman’s shelter.

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Duke’s Kelby Brown suffers fourth ACL tear, this one career-ending

Jameis Winston, Kelby Brown

There’s heartbreaking and unkind, and then there’s what God has wrought on Kelby Brown‘s knees.

In late November of 2010, the Duke linebacker tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee. He tore the ACL in the same knee in February of 2012 and missed that entire season.  Unbelievably, in August of last year, he tore the ACL in his left knee and missed all of the entire 2014 season.

Incredibly, Brown sustained a fourth ACL tear last Tuesday, the second to his left knee.  In a press release, the school confirmed that this latest injury will end Brown’s collegiate career.

“It’s difficult to put into words the feeling of heartbreak I have for Kelby and his family,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement. “While we will certainly miss his athletic abilities and leadership as one of the best linebackers to play at Duke, what is most important above all else is Kelby’s health. He is a truly special young man who is destined to accomplish great things in his life. Kelby’s strengths lie in his core values, and I know that despite this setback, he will continue to play an integral part of our program’s success both on and off the field.”

According to the school, Brown will serve the program as a student assistant for the 2015 season.

A first-team All-ACC selection in 2013, Brown ranked second in the conference with 8.8 tackles per game. He was a preseason All-ACC selection in 2014 as well.

All told, Brown started 29 games as a Blue Devil when healthy — 12 in 2013, 10 in 2011 and seven in 2010.  He played in 32 total games.

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Reports: Jimbo, FSU didn’t see punch video until Monday night

Florida State v Miami Getty Images

Very late Monday night, Florida State announced that quarterback De’Andre Johnson had been dismissed from the football program.  The announcement came several hours after video surfaced of Johnson punching a woman in the face following a bar confrontation, leading to a misdemeanor battery charge being filed against the 2015 four-star signee.

Some had questioned whether FSU had seen the video of the incident prior to it being released and was simply reacting to the public outcry with the dismissal, or if yesterday was the first time they had viewed the damning piece of evidence.

According to a pair of reports, it’s most certainly the latter.

Additionally, a school spokesperson stated that “[n]one of us saw it” when asked by the Tallahassee Democrat about the timing of the university’s first viewing of the video.

In a statement released late Tuesday morning, FSU president John Thrasher released a rather lengthy statement in support of Jimbo Fisher‘s decision to dismiss Johnson from the team.

“I fully support Coach (Jimbo) Fisher’s decisions to immediately suspend and subsequently dismiss De’Andre Johnson from the football team. While it is always important to adhere to due process, having now seen the physical altercation captured on video, there is no question in my mind that Coach Fisher made the correct decisions.

“I expect all students at Florida State University, including student-athletes, to adhere to the highest level of conduct. I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior exhibited in this case.

“Florida State University was forged from an outstanding college for women and has a long tradition of being a caring community that demands students be treated with dignity and respect. All students must know their university will do everything it can to ensure a safe, healthy and positive environment in which they can learn and enjoy their college experience. As president, I am committed to maintaining such an environment at FSU.”

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All three Buckeye QBs make Maxwell Award preseason watch list

J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller AP

One of the most prestigious awards in college football became the latest to toss its hat into the preseason watch list ring, and this particular honor carries a decidedly Ohio State tinge to it.

The Maxwell Award, given annually to the nation’s Player of the Year, released a preseason watch list Tuesday that included a total of 80 FBS players.  Among those 80 players are four Ohio State Buckeyes, including all three quarterbacks (in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone): J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller.

The fourth Buckeye on the initial Maxwell watch list is Ezekiel Elliott.  The preseason Heisman favorite according to one wagering outfit, Elliott will enter the 2015 season coming off a postseason that saw him run for 696 yards and eight touchdowns in postseason wins over Wisconsin (220 yards, Big Ten championship game), Alabama (230, College Football Playoff semifinal) and Oregon (246, CFP championship game).

TCU was next among individual schools with three players, while Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Tennessee had two each.

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is the only 2014 finalist to make the preseason cut this year.  There are also four 2014 semifinalists on the initial list: Florida State quarterback Everett Golson, who made it last year while at Notre Dame, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, Pittsburgh running back James Conner and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

The SEC led all conferences with 17 players listed — Vanderbilt was the only one of the 14 schools without a representative — followed by the Big Ten (12) and ACC and Pac-12 (11 each). The Big 12, with nine, had the fewest amongst Power Five leagues, while the AAC’s five were the most of the Group of Five conferences.

Last year’s winner was Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

2015 Maxwell Award Watch List

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Michael Irvin’s son commits to ‘Canes

Miami Hurricanes v Florida State Seminoles Getty Images

For those who thought they’d seen the last Michael Irvin taking snaps at wherever the Miami Hurricanes will continue playing football, you’d be wrong. Probably.

In a non-binding verbal commitment, Michael Irvin II announced Monday that he will begin his collegiate football career at The U. Irvin II’s dad is, of course, the former Hurricane receiving great who’s an NFL Hall of Famer — and who told the football program’s fans earlier this year to “calm their asses down” when it comes to the current head coach.

And, as a lot of football recruits are doing these days, Irvin made his initial announcement via social media — in head-scratching, make-the-NCAA-take-notice fashion — before expounding on the decision with other media entities.

The younger Irvin, a tight end to his famous pop’s wide receiver, had Syracuse as his No. 2 option. Georgia and Michigan were under serious consideration by the 2016 prospect as well.

It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” Irvin told 247Sports.com about his commitment to his dad’s alma mater. “I like the coaches. They told me I would play all over for them. In the backfield, at tight end and at receiver.”

Suffice to say, Irvin’s dad is pleased with his son’s decision.

“We had been talking about where and what I was going to do for a very long time. He knew what was coming,” Irvin said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “We always stay in touch even though he’s still in Texas and I’m here playing at St. Thomas [in Florida]. We talk every day about everything and he was very excited, extremely excited. But I think he knew what I wanted to do. … I was a ‘Cane from the start. I grew up a fan and wanted to be a ‘Cane.”

Listed at 6-2, 200 pounds by Rivals.com, Irvin has been given a three-star rating according to that recruiting website. He’s also listed as the No. 81 receiver in the country and the No. 70 player at any position in the state of Florida.

Shortly after Irvin’s verbal became public knowledge, head coach Al Golden — the one who has the approval of the father of his latest commit — posted the following to his Twitter account:

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FSU dismisses QB shown punching woman in disturbing video

De'Andre Johnson

Not surprisingly, the “career” of De’Andre Johnson at Florida State was a short one.

Shortly after security footage of a disturbing incident surfaced, FSU announced that Johnson has been dismissed from the football program. Earlier this month, Johnson was charged with misdemeanor battery after video from a Tallahassee drinking establishment showed him punching a female during the course of a verbal/physical incident that turned extremely physical.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel‘s account of what led to Johnson’s charges and, ultimately, his dismissal:

According to the [Tallahassee Police Department] report, Johnson allegedly pushed a woman from behind “aggressively” when she approached the bar. The woman turned around to address Johnson and “raised her right arm to defend herself” when Johnson allegedly “grabbed her arm that was raised and began pushing her.”

The woman raised her knee to Johnson’s midsection to push him away and attempted to punch Johnson. One witness heard the woman yell “no” twice before Johnson allegedly punched her in the face, causing bruising under her left eye, swelling to her left cheek and upper lip, and a small cut on her nose.

The woman’s account is consistent with video obtained from security cameras, according to the police department.

johnsonFor what it’s worth, Johnson’s attorney, Jose Baez, released a self-serving statement on his client’s behalf.

“While it is clear from the video that De’Andre Johnson was not the initial aggressor, his family wants to take the lead in helping him learn and grow from this experience. He is currently participating in community service, and faith-based programs focused on battered women, substance abuse, and the empowerment of children. De’Andre is extremely embarrassed by this situation and would like to express his heartfelt apologies to everyone, including those who were directly affected, Coach Fisher and his team mates, the entire Florida State University community, as well as his family and friends.”

For those who haven’t seen the video of the incident, it appears below. You decide how much longer it’s going to be OK for a man to punch a woman… I’m sorry, decide whether this woman deserved to be punched by a “man.”

 

Johnson was a four-star member of FSU’s 2015 recruiting class who will likely get a shot somewhere else at some level of college football because of his physical talent.

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South Alabama begins exploring possible on-campus stadium options

Georgia Southern South Alabama

South Alabama began playing college football just seven years ago in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, and now the Jaguars are looking for a place to more appropriately call home. The university announced Monday work has begun on a preliminary study to explore the feasibility of constructing an on-campus stadium for South Alabama football, which is a long way from saying a stadium is going up. But it is a possibility down the line.

“Construction of a football stadium is an extremely complex undertaking that requires significant due diligence on the part of the University leadership, and we are at the very beginning of a process that will examine all the issues we must consider before a decision can be made,” said USA President Tony Waldrop in a released statement.

Trustees, administrators and select staff members will join forces to put together the feasibility study. The results of the report will be shared to the leadership of the university at a later point in time. There is no deadline for this process, and that is a wise decision. Given the experience and wisdom gained from watching the mishandling of the UAB football program, South Alabama officials should take all the time in the world needed to determine what is best for the university and football program, whether that means building a football stadium or not.

Ladd-Peebles Stadium is an aging facility, constructed in 1948. The stadium is currently home to South Alabama football in addition to the GoDaddy.com Bowl and Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl has been played in the stadium every year since 1951, making it the go-to destination for college football’s top NFL prospects, not to mention NFL scouts and coaches every week in the offseason. History is nice, but if South Alabama can make it worth the effort and money to build an on-campus stadium, then it will help the Jaguars continue to build its own identity in the college football world.

Building a stadium is not the best solution for every program. Time will tell if it is the best option for South Alabama.

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Ohio State OL signee: I will be enrolling at Georgia

Mark Richt

Oh to be a fly on the wall of Mark Richt‘s office right now. Georgia will end up being the football home to offensive lineman Mirko Jurkovic, who had previously signed with Ohio State, coached by Richt’s former SEC East rival Urban Meyer. Jurkovic’s status at Georgia is still pending acceptance by the admissions department.

I will be enrolling at the University of Georgia,” Jurkovic announced on his Twitter account Monday. “I will be reporting for training camp on August 2md. I would like to thank Ohio State and all the other schools that gave me the opportunity to come play for them throughout this crazy process. Excited to start this journey to the next chapter of my life.”

Jurkovic took a round-about route to Athens. After signing with Ohio State in February, Jurkovic never showed up to Columbus to join the rest of the incoming class for summer classes. The holdup for the enrollment was deemed to be due to an academic issue, although the specifics of that situation were never really clarified. The three-star recruit will end up being a nice last-minute addition to the Georgia recruiting class, which will now include four offensive linemen. Georgia lost an offensive lineman in the Class of 2016 when DeVondre Seymour walked away from football, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I don’t know what all went on there behind the scenes there,” Jurkovic explained to the AJC. “It just kind of was what it was. I don’t know. I wasn’t admitted to Ohio State. That’s all I know.

“And there are no hard feelings against Ohio State. It’s a business. It didn’t mess me up too much. I ended up at Georgia, so I’m not too mad or disappointed about that. Ohio State is just a thing in the past now.”

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QB Vernon Adams eligible at Oregon, nearly ready to take aim at replacing Mariota

Eastern Washington v Washington Getty Images

In a transfer that has long been all but official, Vernon Adams has officially been approved for graduate classes at Oregon. This brings him one giant step closer to making his case to be the next starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks in 2015.

The next step for Adams will be enrollment. Per The Oregonian, Adams has been admitted and is eligible to enroll, but has not done the later just yet. Enrolling at this stage may now just be a matter of procedure, because Oregon ruling Adams eligible to enroll is still a positive sign Adams will indeed be joining the Ducks for the fall.

Adams is transferring from FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington and is a likely contender to win the vacant starting quarterback job at Oregon, left vacant by Marcus Mariota. Mariota won last season’s Heisman Trophy, but Adams is a two-time Walter Payton Award runner-up at the FCS level. The Walter Payton Award is presented annually to the top player in the FCS, so this makes Adams the FCS equivalent of Andrew Luck, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting during his time at Stanford.

Adams has one final year of eligibility remaining, and he hopes to make the most of it with the Ducks. It is far froma  given he ends up being Oregon’s new starting quaretrback, but he could be a quick fix to the Oregon offense in the post-Mariota era. He has the ability to throw and run, making him a versatile player for the Ducks, even if he is measuring in at just 5′-11″.

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Michigan ditches Adidas for Nike (in 2016)

Michigan Football Spring Game

A week after Tennessee unveiled their brand new uniforms from Nike after moving on from a partnership with Adidas, the University of Michigan has rejoined The Swoosh. In an announcement made Monday afternoon, Michigan announced a new apparel partnership with Nike. The new contract will officially begin in 2016, which means one more football season for Michigan in uniforms designed by Adidas.

A return to Nike may not yield quite the same lucrative contract Michigan had with Adidas, but the image that comes with wearing Nike is quite a selling point as well. The Portland Business Journal previously valued Michigan’s contract as the most valuable apparel contract in college sports, with $4.4 million in equipment and $3.8 million in cash from Adidas. Under the terms of the agreement, Michigan was required to be the highest-paid partner with Adidas among college clients. A move to Nike likely will mean some sort of reduction in pay, as Nike has many partners to satisfy, including Michigan’s division rivals at Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State.

For the sake of comparison, Georgia’s new deal with Nike will result in a payment of $2.88 million annually in equipment and $1 million in cash.

A move away from Adidas has been speculated for a while, with new leadership in place at Michigan and the Adidas alternate uniforms being largely connected to the efforts of former Athletics Director Dave Brandon‘s branding initiative. And those alternate uniforms were just plain awful. Now we have to wonder if Adidas will serve up one final atrocity before Michigan leaves them this fall.

Adidas is losing some of its big contracts. In addition to Michigan, Notre Dame also left Adidas (for Under Armour). And, of course, Tennessee has abandoned ship.

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Ole Miss acknowledges NCAA investigation regarding Laremy Tunsil

Laremy Tunsil

When the stepfather of Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil dropped an allegation the Rebel was associating with sports agents, Ole Miss responded swiftly. So did the NCAA. Now both are conducting investigations to determine if Tunsil acted in violation of NCAA rules regarding agents. Ole Miss issued a statement Monday afternoon to say it is a manner the program takes seriously.

“The University of Mississippi Department of Athletics is aware of the allegations made by Laremy Tunsil’s stepfather regarding potential NCAA violations involving Laremy,” the statement opened. “As we do with any allegation, we initiated an internal investigation last week and have offered the NCAA our full cooperation. We take the obligations to the NCAA and SEC very seriously, and we will continue to educate, monitor and enforce all applicable rules. Any other reports are speculation until the process is complete.”

Tunsil was arrested and charged for domestic violence after punching his stepfather, Lindsey Miller. Tunsil reportedly was acting in defense of his mother at the time. Tunsil and his mother pressed charges against Miller, at which time Miller let it be known his stepson had been riding around with agents. It was this that he claims started the discussion that turned violent. Once that became public, the NCAA got involved to see what they can find.

While most will praise Tunsil for defending his mother in a tense moment, his eligibility will eventually have to be analyzed. If he is found guilty by the NCAA and Ole Miss of associated with and accepting any kinds of benefits from agents then his eligibility will be put at risk, even if just for part of a game. So for now, let’s let the legal process play out on one end, and the NCAA and Ole Miss investigations play out on the other.

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