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Elijah Hood cuts back, will leave Tar Heels for NFL

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Well this is at last mildly surprising, given what happened last month.

In announcing in late December that Elijah Hood would be skipping the Sun Bowl for medical reasons, North Carolina intimated that the junior running back would be returning for his senior season.  Just a little over two weeks later, the Tar Heels announced that Hood would indeed be leaving Chapel Hill for the April NFL draft.

Hood said in a statement that he came to the decision after gathering more information the last couple of weeks.

“This was a difficult decision, but after gathering more information and talking with my family, I believe it is in my best interest to declare for the NFL Draft and pursue my dream of being a professional football player,” said Hood. “While I’ll miss playing with my teammates in Chapel Hill, I’m excited about my future opportunity. I would like to thank Coach Fedora, the coaching staff and all Carolina fans for understanding how difficult it was to come to this decision. This program is on the rise because of the great people at UNC. I’m going to continue to pursue my degree from UNC and I’m proud to say I will always be a Tar Heel.”

Hood rushed for 2,580 yards in his UNC career, which ranks ninth on the school’s all-time list.  His best season came in  2015, when he rushed for 1,463 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to first-team All-Acc honors.

He was named third-team all-conference this season, one littered with lingering issues, after rushing for a team-high 858 yards and eight touchdowns.

“Elijah is a special individual who meant so much to this program during his time in Chapel Hill,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “He is an excellent student, a standout football player and a first-class person who made the most of his opportunity at Carolina. We support his decision to further his career at the next level and wish him the best as he pursues his dream to play in the NFL. He helped change the culture in our football program and it was an honor to coach him for three seasons.”

Hood might not be the only backfield loss for Fedora as starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky is strongly leaning toward leaving for the NFL.  Trubisky, and other draft-eligible players, have until Jan. 16 to declare their intentions.

After transferring from USC last year, E.J. Price tweets he’s leaving Kentucky too

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No stranger to transfer, E.J. Price is embarking on a search for a new college home — again.  Whether football is involved, however, seemingly remains to be seen.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday morning, Price announced that he is “stepping away” from the Kentucky football program.  In the tweet, the offensive lineman stressed, in all-caps, that “I WAS NOT KICKED OFF I AM LEAVING.”

In a subsequent tweet. he stated it was “time for me to overcome football.”

Earlier this month, head coach Mark Stoops mentioned “some inconsistencies with [Price] that he needs to iron out.” In another tweet, the lineman stated the following:

Price was a four-star member of USC’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country.  He transferred from USC to Kentucky in July of last year.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Price was forced to sit out the 2017 season.

NCAA grants South Alabama TE Andrew Reinkemeyer a sixth season

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South Alabama recently received some positive news on the personnel front.

A USA spokesperson (for the university, not the country) confirmed to that Andrew Reinkemeyer has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. The tight end will use that additional season of eligibility, his last, to play for the Jaguars in 2018.

The decision to grant Reinkemeyer an extra season of eligibility was seemingly a no-brainer.

As a true sophomore at a Kansas junior college, Reinkemeyer suffered an injury in the 2015 season opener and didn’t play again that year. After transferring to USA, Reinkemeyer missed the entire 2016 season because of the torn Achilles tendon that cost him most of the previous season at the JUCO.

Finally healthy last season, Reinkemeyer caught 10 passes for 75 yards for the Sun Belt Conference program. He was the leading receiver amongst Jaguars tight ends in 2017.

North Carolina formally announces hiring of ex-Tennessee RBs coach Robert Gillespie

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The latest addition to Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff has been confirmed.

Following up on reports that surfaced earlier this month. UNC announced Wednesday that Fedora has hired Robert Gillespie. While not confirmed by the football program in the release, it’s expected Gillespie will serve as the Tar Heels running backs coach, a position he’s held for most of his coaching career.

“We are excited to welcome Robert and his family to Chapel Hill,” Fedora said in a statement. “He has a well-earned reputation as a great offensive coach and recruiter, and he has a wealth of experience working with running backs at a very high level. We are happy to have him join our staff as we get into the bulk of spring practice.”

Gillespie fills the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, will assume Brewer’s role with receivers.

Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee. He was originally retained by new UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.

In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12). He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.

Report: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury ‘just a sprain’

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It appears Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his LEFT (throwing) hand.  It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

While there’s been nothing official yet from the football program or head coach,, citing unnamed sources, writes that the injury “is believed to just be a sprain and he should be able to return to practice in at least a limited capacity at some point soon.”

Until then, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are engaged in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp.  That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.