Brady Hoke expects QB Devin Gardner to open season as starter

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The Michigan Wolverines disappointed last season, and plenty of blame fell at the feet of starting quarterback Devin Gardner.

Gardner has been pushed this offseason by sophomore Shane Morris, but Michigan head coach Brady Hoke still envisions Gardner as the team’s starting quarterback.

“I would expect him to start on the 30th (against Appalachian State),” Hoke told the Detroit Free Press’ Mark Snyder.

Gardner struggled at times last season, particularly early in the year during near-catastrophic losses to Akron and Connecticut. The upperclassman did improve as the season progressed, which should have been expected from a first-year starter. Gardner finished the season with 21 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions, and his best effort came against the hated Buckeyes. The quarterback threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns against that team from Ohio.

But Morris was a highly decorated recruit, and he’s considered the future of the program.

“I feel like I’m ready to be the starting quarterback at Michigan, definitely,” Morris told GoBlueWolverine.com’s Kyle Bogenschutz Sunday during Michigan’s media day. “But Devin’s also a great quarterback and he’s been here a long time and we’re both pushing each other to be the best we can be.”

Both Gardner and Morris were given a fresh start under Michigan’s new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Nussmeier spent the previous two seasons with Alabama and prefers a pro style offense, which isn’t necessarily the best fit for Gardner.

“A lot more responsibility is put on the quarterback in this offense,” Morris described. “We have to know a lot more about the line and what everyone’s doing and it’s definitely helping us understand the whole entire offense more so, it’s very good for us and it’s going to help our offense be the best it can be.”

While Gardner will likely begin the season atop Michigan’s quarterback depth chart, he should expect Hoke to have a quick hook if he starts to struggle at any point. Morris is going to take over as the face of the program sooner or later. It’s up to Gardner to determine exactly when that happens.

After stops at TCU, Arkansas State, Cameron Echols-Luper to give WKU a try

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?

On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.

As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.

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Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.