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6-9, 394-pound Aussie holds offers from LSU, Michigan… and has never played a high school snap

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In their never-ending quest to unearth recruiting talent, college football coaches leave no stone unturned.  Or, in this case, no massive boulder.

17-year-old Daniel Faalele, a 6-9, 394-pound native of Australia who is enrolled at the famed IMG Academy in Florida, holds offers from, among others, Arkansas, Georgia LSU, Miami, Michigan and Oregon State.  The fact that someone as large as Faalele is drawing big-time interest on the recruiting trail is far from surprising; the fact that he has never played a single snap in a high school football game only serves to add to his burgeoning legend.

According to an excellent piece by ESPN.com‘s Thomas Neumann, Faalele was discovered by a recruiter from the University of Hawaii at a Melbourne-area gym.  Faalele, who had never even watched a football game let alone played the sport prior to coming to the United States, ultimately made his way last August to IMG Academy, home to some of the top football recruits in the country.

Faalele didn’t play a down his first season at IMG, although he did practice with the team as the coaching staff opted to ease him into the sport.  This spring, though, the offensive tackle is expected to work with the first team as he continues to progress as a Class of 2018 recruit.

The scary part, however, may just be that, as enormous as he already is, he’s yet to reach his peak physically.  From Neumann’s story:

Thanks in part to a background in rugby and basketball, Faalele has quick feet and extraordinary agility for someone his size. Despite weighing close to 400 pounds, he doesn’t appear fat because his frame is so solid.

“He’s just a freak of nature, obviously,” IMG strength coach David Ballou said. “As thick as he is and as big as he is, you wouldn’t expect him to move like he does. He’s a powerful dude, but he’s had limited strength background before coming here. From our perspective, his training age is 1. He’s an untapped gem.”

Matt Rhea, IMG head of sport science, said Faalele boasts the highest jumping power he has ever measured — including some pro athletes — and that the Aussie phenom has acceleration speed that is off the charts compared to typical prep running backs or linebackers. All that said, Ballou and Rhea are molding Faalele to be leaner.

“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he gains 40 pounds of muscle,” Rhea said. “Even as good as he looks and moves now, there’s still a transformation that is coming. He may gain 40 pounds of muscle but lose 80 pounds of fat. That kid at 350, with that muscle mass, is going to be impressive.

Faalele is currently unranked by 247Sports.com, although the recruiting website writes that the lineman “was one of the reasons Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh elected to have a satellite camp in Melbourne.” Interest in Faalele is certainly increasing as, two days ago, he received an offer from Georgia.

Perhaps the best part of the original ESPN.com story is the nugget thrown in at the very end.

Just imagine if he had been discovered a few years earlier and had the opportunity to play four varsity seasons. With that in mind, consider that Faalele has a younger brother, 11-year-old Taylor, back home in Melbourne.

“I think he’s actually projected to be bigger than me,” Faalele said. “He’s 6-foot, 250 pounds and [wears] size 13 [shoes]. He wants to come to IMG as well, so hopefully he can follow in my footsteps.

Butch Jones says the most Butch Jones quote of all time

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It’s become a theory among some in the media that Butch Jones is conducting a social experiment or participating some sort of performance art. While that’s the more charitable and fun interpretation, I tend to think the Tennessee head coach is just frighteningly insecure and, thus, fighting for every inch of public approval he can in a likely doomed attempt to keep his job.

That approach has backed him into some verbal corners that, in the long run, make his job more difficult on himself.

I’m talking about the “Champions of Life” quote of last season or, in February, actually stating that he didn’t want 5-star players, he wanted 5-star hearts.

This season has seen Jones go on an odd rant blaming the media for negative recruiting and saying Tennessee had one of the best bye weeks ever last week.

It wasn’t one of the best bye weeks ever, because Tennessee lost at home to South Carolina, 15-9. And you’re not going to believe Jones’s explanation for why Tennessee loss. Scratch that. You will believe his explanation, and that’s the problem here, isn’t it?

Here’s the full quote.

Jones is 33-24 in his four-plus seasons in Knoxville, and 14-21 in the SEC. Those numbers will likely fall to 33-25 and 14-22 after Saturday, when the Vols face No. 1 Alabama. The end is likely near.

And here’s the grand irony of Jones’s everything’s-sunny-here p.r. strategy: his attempt to keep his job by stating blatantly cliche quotes in the state of the obvious will live on much longer than Jones’s actual tenure. Two and three years from now, when Jones is working on someone else’s staff or sitting on his buyout money, the next time an on-the-hot-seat coach says his team won the game everywhere except the scoreboard, we’ll see he Pulled a Butch.

Houston Nutt settles lawsuit with Ole Miss

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Houston Nutt wanted money and an apology from Ole Miss. He’ll have to settle for the second of the two — and a largely different future for the program he used to lead.

It was Nutt’s lawsuit, remember, which exposed the documents that led to a Mississippi State fan finding Hugh Freeze‘s call to a Tampa escort service, which led to Freeze’s resignation, which led to… we have no idea what it will lead to, but, whatever that future is, it will be wildly different than if Freeze was still the Rebels’ coach.

Nutt amended his lawsuit in August to seek simply an apology from Ole Miss, and that apology finally came on Monday.

Each side released their own bitter, short statements.

Nutt will go on, with his apology but without any monetary compensation, while Ole Miss will play out the string of this season, hire a new coach, and move into a future that will be immeasurably different that the one it would have lived had it apologized to Nutt in the first place.

Washington loses LT Adams, CB Miller for the season

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No. 12 Washington’s loss to Arizona State was a disaster on the field — for more reasons than one.

The Huskies not only put their College Football Playoff hopes in danger — they’ll need to sweep their next six games, including a finishing kick that calls for games against No. 22 Stanford, No. 15 Washington State and, presumably, No. 11 USC, two of them away from Seattle. But the road to get there became noticeably more difficult after losing two starters.

Left tackle Trey Adams suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, and cornerback Jordan Miller sustained a broken ankle. Head coach Chris Petersen confirmed Monday that both will be lost for the season. Miller is the third Husky this season to suffer a broken ankle.

The Seattle Times noted that Washington is also without another starting corner in Byron Murphy, who is expected to return later this year from a broken foot. The Huskies are expected to replace Miller with either a pair of true freshmen or a converted running back.

But Adams may be the bigger loss for the Huskies. A junior, Adams was widely expected to be a first round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. It’s the second straight season Washington has lost a key player in the trenches to a season-ending injury; a year ago, it was linebackers Joe Mathis, who finished one sack away from the team lead despite playing in only seven games, and third-leading tackler Azeem Victor.

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson to take 6-month sabbatical

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Maryland AD Kevin Anderson will not be the Maryland AD for the next six months.

Anderson announced Monday he will take a 6-month sabbatical to focus on “professional development.” That leave of absence will see him remain on his national committees with the NCAA and NACDA, the professional organization of ADs.

It was reported over the weekend that Anderson would be out completely as Maryland’s AD, but those reports were knocked down by the university.

Additionally, Maryland announced that former Georgia AD and current Terps associate AD/CFO Damon Evans will run the department in Anderson’s stead.