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Jalen Hurd’s mom, stepdad address RB’s decision to transfer from Vols

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One of the more stunning personnel developments of the 2016 season unfolded Monday, with Tennessee ultimately confirming speculation that Jalen Hurd had decided to transfer from the Vols.  No reason was given for the unexpected and abrupt departure, although some had opined that the running back had been benched and that triggered his decision to abruptly leave with a month left in the regular season.

On social media Tuesday, Hurd’s stepfather, Arthur Smotherman, vehemently denied that the junior had been benched at any point in the season.  He also lashed out at the media, criticizing them for “[assuming] something is going on and they don’t know the truth so they begin a rumor.”

From The Tennessean:

The problem with the media is this, they assume something is going on and they don’t know the truth so they begin a rumor,” Arthur Smotherman said. “And the problem with fans are, they don’t get the truth, so they just take off with it. So, half of you on here have been saying, ‘Jalen needed to quit anyway because he got benched by the coaches, nobody wanted him there.’ That’s not true.”

At this moment, you guys need to know Jalen was never benched,” Arthur Smotherman said. “If you need to ask anybody on the inside resources, ask (Tennessee running backs) coach (Robert) Gillespie … him and coach Gillespie had a great relationship all the way til the day that Jalen decided he was leaving … coach Gillespie will tell you that Jalen was always a warrior and always gave his all on the field. So you can say what you want about him, that’s fine. But that rumor that he was benched and he’s just mad because (Alvin) Kamara and (John) Kelly had taken over, that’s not true.

In a Facebook post, Tara Smotherman, Hurd’s mother, indicated that she didn’t necessarily agree with her son’s decision to transfer but supported him regardless.

While it was not my choice for Jalen to leave Tennessee (and we were adamant about this), this is a decision that he put a lot of thought into and certainly did not take lightly. It is not my place to discuss his business and the reasons that he’s decided to transfer, but at the end of the day, he believed that it was best for everyone. People are mad, hurt and very upset, and I understand that. Yet, the reality is if you don’t know what he has been through or what he is going through now, then it is very easy to speculate & judge, make up lies & rumors, or heaven forbid, actually believe them.

Jalen has chosen a different path. We don’t always agree with our children’s decisions, but nevertheless, you love and support them through it all no matter what. Thank you to all of our family, friends and Vol supporters that were so kind to us today. We are so thankful and appreciative to the University of Tennessee, the coaching staff and the wonderful fans for all the love and support throughout the years. Many blessings and much success to you all.

Hurd currently leads the Vols in rushing with 451 yards.  He did not play in the Texas A&M game in Week 6 after what his stepfather claimed was a concussion sustained the week before against Georgia; the team had never mentioned such an injury publicly.  In what turned out to be his last game as a Vol, Hurd didn’t play in the second half of last week’s loss to South Carolina because of an unspecified injury.

At the time of his departure, Hurd was 445 yards away from breaking Travis Henry‘s school record for career rushing yards.  Instead, his 2,634 yards leaves him sixth place all-time.

SMU confirms hiring of Sonny Dykes as new head coach

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After a year away from the head-coaching game, Sonny Dykes is back in it.

Not long after reports had surfaced earlier Monday, SMU confirmed a short time ago that Dykes has been named as the football program’s new head football coach.  Dykes replaces Chad Morris, who left for the same job at Arkansas late last week.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be introduced as the Head Coach at SMU,” a lengthy statement from Dykes began. “This is home and this is a program I grew up watching. I watched Mustang legends compete and I could always see myself putting on that iconic pony. Today, I’m proud to do just that.

“Coach Morris did great things here and I am fortunate that I have been selected to take the foundation Chad and his staff put in place and take it to a new level. And, make no mistake – That is what we plan to do.”

Prior to 2017, Dykes had spent the previous seven seasons as a head coach — four at Cal (2013-16) and three at Louisiana Tech (2010-12).  After being fired by the former school, he was considered a candidate for the offensive coordinator position at Arizona State.  Family issues, however, made TCU a better fit as he spent this past season as an offensive analyst with the Horned Frogs.

A native of Texas who played college baseball for Texas Tech, Dykes has gone 41-45 as a head coach — 22-15 at Louisiana Tech, 19-30 at Cal.

In Morris’ third season at SMU, the 7-5 Mustangs are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.

Florida DL Taven Bryan declares for NFL Draft

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The Dan Mullen era has everyone excited in Gainesville, but one key contributor won’t stick around to see it.

Defensive lineman Taven Bryan announced Monday he will leave school to enter his name in the 2018 NFL Draft. According to the statement released on his Twitter account, it sounds as if he made his mind up during the Jim McElwain and Randy Shannon regimes and nearly returned upon Mullen’s arrival.

Bryan ranked fifth on the team with 40 tackles while also recording six TFL and four sacks, just half a sack off the team lead.

A native of Casper, Wyo., Bryan will attempt to become just the third Wyoming native to be among the ranks of active NFL players.

SMU reportedly tabs former Cal, La Tech head coach Sonny Dykes as new head coach

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Sonny Dykes will take over as SMU’s head coach, according to multiple reports. The move was first reported by FotballScoop on Monday morning, and since confirmed by ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Dykes takes over for Chad Morris, who left last week to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Morris was hired to re-establish ties with the Texas high school community after the program flatlined under June Jones, and Dykes has a similar appeal as his predecessor. Like Morris, Dykes is a former Texas high school coach, though only briefly. (He spent one year as the running backs coach at Richardson Pearce High School in 1994.) But more importantly he’s a name that will resonate with Texas high school coaches as the son of the legendary Spike Dykes.

The younger Dykes served as an assistant at Navarro Junior College and Texas Tech before taking over as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, where he led the Bulldogs to a 22-15 mark with one WAC championship from 2010-12. That success led him to Cal, where he took the Golden Bears to one bowl game in four seasons.

He was let go after the 2016 season, and spent the 2017 campaign laying low nearby the Hilltop, as an offensive analyst at TCU.

Dykes will inherit a 7-5 SMU team that ranked eighth nationally in scoring offense and 113th in scoring defense. The Mustangs will meet Dykes’s former team Louisiana Tech in the inaugural Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Interim head coach Jeff Traylor garnered significant support inside the locker room to take over on a full-time basis, so it will be interesting to see if Dykes works to keep the former Texas high school coach on staff, perhaps in an offensive coordinator capacity.

Report: Former Stanford QB Tavita Pritchard named Cardinal offensive coordinator

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It can be argued Tavita Pritchard started the current era of Stanford football. Trailing 23-17 with 48 seconds left, it was Pritchard that hit Mark Bradford for a 10-yard touchdown to push the Cardinal past No. 2 USC for a 24-23 win in 2007, at the time the largest point-spread upset in college football history and kickstarting the Jim HarbaughDavid Shaw era that continues today.

And now it will be Pritchard’s job to keep the ball he first pushed way back when rolling.

According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, Pritchard will be named Stanford’s offensive coordinator.

Still only 30, Pritchard graduated from Stanford in 2009, but he never really left the Stanford football program. He volunteered with the coaching staff in 2010, began working with the Cardinal defense in 2011 and was promoted to the full-time coaching staff in 2013, working with the running backs.

Pritchard was moved to quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2014 and has remained there the past four seasons, but is now in line to take over the entire offense with offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren now the head coach at Rice.

Led by Doak Walker Award winner Bryce Love, Stanford concluded the regular season ranked 32nd in rushing, 61st in passing efficiency, 19th in yards per play and 39th in scoring at 32.0 points per game. The 13th-ranked and Pac-12 North champion Cardinal will meet No. 15 TCU in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).