Florida Atlantic athletics

Presumptive starter at LB leaving FAU for military career

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Nate Ozdemir is taking one for his country.  Because, ‘Merica.

After much deliberation and soul-searching, the Florida Atlantic linebacker decided last week to leave not only the Owls football program but the sport entirely. Why?  To begin a career in the military.

Per Ozdemir, his first choice is the Marine Corps, while “[flying] for the Army or any other branch” is another option. From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Ozdemir said his goal is to complete Officer Candidate School (OCS) with the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., later this year and become a second lieutenant in the Marines. He would spend 10 weeks at OCS before returning to Boca Raton to finish his last semester at FAU and graduate in December.

Ozdemir is also a pilot, and was recently offered a full-time position at the Boca Raton airport to be an instructor. He said he would need to fly 40 more hours to qualify, but that that goal is more attainable without football.

Fearful that an injury in football his final season would hamper, even temporarily, his military aspirations, Ozdemir decided to call it quits. He also feels it’s his duty to serve his country.

“I just feel like as a grown, dominant male figure in this country, I kind of owe it to them,” Ozdemir said. “I just don’t feel like it’s fair for other people my age going and putting their lives on the line to do that kind of thing when I’m just as healthy, I’m just as fine, just as qualified to it, if not more qualified.”

Ozdemir would’ve been a fifth-year senior in 2017. In 2016, he started the first eight games of the season at middle linebacker before going down with a broken foot that cost him the remainder of the year.  He was expected to be a starter again this coming season.

While no longer a part of the team, Ozdemir is going to try to be around his now-former teammates as much as possible, a tack that FAU’s first-year head coach has signed off on.

“He’s got our support,” Lane Kiffin said. “We would have loved to have him. He’s a leader, so I talked to him about keeping him around in any way as much as we can.”

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.