Keeping true to his college roots is something Peyton Manning, a first ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback when the time comes, believes Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has the Vols heading in the right direction. While speaking at a charity golf tournament Monday, Manning showed support for the head coach of his alma mater.
“I really like Butch,” Manning said, according to the Associated Press. “I’m a big Butch Jones fan.”
Jones is ramping up for his second season in charge of the once dominant SEC and national power. Rebuilding the program after years under Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley is a bit of a work in progress but Jones has generated some new enthusiasm around the program through recruiting. Just over the weekend former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara announced he was joining Tennessee.
“I think it’s going in the right direction,” said Manning. “I think Butch had a lot of work to do when he got here. He’s put in that work. He’s signing some of his players. Every coach wants to have their players. He’s been patient. At the same time, he’s been hard-working, as he was advertised to be. He’s done that. I just see it continuing to get better. I really do.”
Tennessee may not be ready to challenge South Carolina or Georgia for the SEC East just yet, but after finishing each of the past four seasons in the bottom half of the SEC East division, the Vols could be ready to start moving back up in the division. That needs to be the first goal for Tennessee this season, and it is not all that unrealistic. It will not be easy though, with road games at South Carolina and Georgia and a home game against Alabama.
Two former members of Power Five football programs have decided to slide far down the college football ladder in restarting their respective careers.
According to 247Sports.com, Cole is on the campus of East Mississippi Community College and will play for the JUCO team in 2016. The report comes nearly four months after it was reported that Cole had decided to transfer from Michigan to Kentucky.
The recruiting website writes that UK “is a school Cole continues to consider.”
Cole was a highly sought after four-star 2015 recruit who was an early enrollee in Jim Harbaugh‘s first UM class. The No. 74 player nationally on 247Sports.com‘s composite board, Cole was also the No. 1-rated player at any position in the state of Michigan. He played in two games at receiver with the Wolverines; he’ll move to safety with his new program.
Speaking of defensive backs, former Notre Dame safety Mykelti Williams has also decided to go the JUCO route. It was confirmed in March of this year that Williams had decided to leave the Irish and transfer elsewhere.
As it turns out, that elsewhere is Iowa Western.
Williams was a three-star member of the Irish’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 29 safety in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Indiana; and the No. 464 player overall according to 247Sports.com. The 5-11, 200-pound defensive back chose Notre Dame over offers from, among others, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin.
He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.
Earlier this month, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu made the decision to transfer from Utah. Over the weekend, the defensive lineman paid a visit to Nebraska as he began the process of finding a new college football home.
Earlier this week, Tu’ikolovatu continued that process at the defending national champions.
According to the defensive tackle’s Twitter account, Tu’ikolovatu paid a visit to Alabama on Monday. While the Tide, as always, remains loaded along the line even after losing so much to the NFL draft, they could certainly use someone with the talent — and size — the 6-1, 320-pound Tu’ikolovatu possesses if the player and team find common ground.
Last season with the Utes, Tu’ikolovatu played in all 13 games, starting two of those contests. His four fumble recoveries were tied for the lead in the Pac-12 and second nationally.
All told, Tu’ikolovatu played in 25 games the past two seasons. As a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately in 2016 whether he moves on to Alabama, Nebraska or any other FBS program.
The 2016 season will, though, be his final year of eligibility.
After just one season on The Plains, Tim Irvin will be plying his football wares elsewhere moving forward.
On his personal Twitter account Tuesday, Irvin, the nephew of former Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys receiving great Michael Irvin, announced that “it will be better for me to pursue my career elsewhere.” The 5-9, 194-pound defensive back gave no reason for his decision.
The Miami, Fla., native was a four-star member of AU’s 2015 recruiting class. 247Sports.com had Irvin rated as the No. 38 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 285 player overall in its composite rankings.
As a true freshman last season, Irvin played in 10 games. He started at nickel corner in games in which the Tigers opened in the nickel package.
As for potential landing spots? It’s being reported that East Carolina, Miami and Texas may be considerations.
Oklahoma has a huge season opener at a neutral field against Houston to kick off 2016 in a couple of months. Whether their top returning threat in the receiving game is on the field remains to be seen.
According to multiple media outlets, Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook was arrested late Monday morning on a charge of criminal trespassing. The arrest occurred in Westbrook’s hometown of Cameron, Tex.
No details of what led to the arrest have been released. An OU spokesperson said in a statement that “[w]e’re aware of it and are addressing internally.”
With Sterling Shepard off to the NFL, Westbrook is OU’s leading returning receiver.
In his first season with the Sooners, Westbrook was second on the Sooners in receptions (46) and receiving yards (743). His 16.2 yards per catch was tops on the team for those with 20 or more receptions, while his four receiving touchdowns were tied for third.
For that production, Westbrook was named the Big 12’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year.