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USC confirms hire of Deland McCullough as Trojans’ new RB coach

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While it took a few days to make things official, USC has confirmed the hire of Deland McCullough as the Trojans’ new running backs coach.

“We are thrilled to welcome Deland to the Trojan Family and fortunate to have him on our staff,” head coach Clay Helton said in a statement.  “He had great success recruiting and then developing prolific running backs at Indiana who were NFL ready.  The Indiana run game during his time was effective, efficient and productive.  He understands the running game and was himself a very skilled runner as a college and pro player.”

McCullough replaces Tommie Robinson, who was hired last month by former USC coach Ed Orgeron to fill the same position at LSU.

The trip West is a bit of a departure for McCullough as he’s spent nearly his entire coaching career — dating back to 2010 — at Indiana. Despite the unfamiliarity with Los Angeles, the young coach developed several quality runners with the Hoosiers, such as Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard, and should be able to keep that impressive list of pupils growing with players like Ronald Jones II on the USC roster in 2017.

Utah injury woes continue as leading rusher Armand Shyne lost for the season

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The injury situation in Salt Lake City has gone from bad to worse.

Utah announced on Monday that tailback Armand Shyne was lost for the rest of the season after suffering a non-contact knee injury on Saturday.

“He’s done for the year unfortunately, so we’re down to our sixth running back,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said at his weekly press conference. “You deal with it and move on. We’ll figure it out. Don’t have an answer for you right now but we’ll have one soon.”

The team’s leading rusher with 373 yards and four touchdowns on the season, Shyne went down in the fourth quarter last week after rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown in a 36-23 win over Pac-12 South rival Arizona. He is the fifth starter to go down for the Utes this year, joining centers Hiva Lutui and J.J. Dielman, tight end Siale Fakailoatonga and defensive end Kylie Fitts.

Complicating matters for the team is they are already extremely thin at running back. Backup Jordan Howard was also hurt late in the game against the Wildcats and will not be available this week against Oregon State. Joe Williams was supposed to be the starter this year but retired two weeks into the season to focus on school and junior Troy McCormick is still injured and won’t play. True freshman Zack Moss will be a game-time decision but is expected to start and redshirt freshman Marcel Manalo is all that’s left on the depth chart after that.

Utah is 5-1 heading into their game against the Beavers in Corvallis but getting a sixth win to keep pace in the standings of the Pac-12 South won’t be easy at all given how perilously thin the team is at tailback.

Indiana DT Darius Latham declares for NFL draft

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As we get set to ring in the New Year, it’s also time for the annual tradition of players bolting early for the NFL to heat up.

The latest to make an early move is Indiana’s Darius Latham, who announced via a school press release that he has decided to leave the Hoosiers and forego his senior season in order to make himself available for the April draft. Below is a rather lengthy statement from the defensive tackle explaining his decision to leave early:

Playing in the NFL has been a dream of mine, and I will put in the work and effort to make this dream come true.

Thank you to my parents and my family for their assistance during this process. Your prayers and support mean everything to me. You will always serve as my motivation, and without you I would not be in the position I am in right now.

I am especially thankful for the opportunity to have played and learned from Coach Wilson. He and the coaching staff not only made me a better player, but were focused on me as a complete person. I would also like to thank Coach Hill and the strength and conditioning team for helping me to get stronger and faster, and Christa Sist in Academics for keeping me focused and on top of my work.

I chose IU over other colleges because it was home, and I believed in what we could build here. We accomplished some good things and I will miss playing with my family, especially my D-line brothers. Indiana University is a special place and I am grateful to be a Hoosier for life. Go IU!

This season, Latham was tied for second on the team with four sacks, while his 10 tackles for loss were third. He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten following the regular season.

Latham is the second Hoosier to leave school early this week as running back Jordan Howard announced his NFL draft intentions Monday.

Indiana and former UAB RB Jordan Howard declares early for 2016 NFL Draft

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One of the top running backs in the Big Ten is turning pro. Indiana junior running back Jordan Howard has announced his decision to skip his final year of eligibility with the Hoosiers and enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Howard, who transferred to Indiana from UAB, released a lengthy statement expressing his thanks to many who have supported him along the way during his college career, including his parents, teammates at Indiana and UAB and coaches at both programs.

Howard is the 11th player in Indiana history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and he ranks 12th in program history for single-season rushing yards. Howard appeared in just nine games this season for Indiana, yet he finsihed third in the Big Ten in rushing yards with 1,213 yards. Only Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Northwestern’s Justin Jackson finished with more rushing yards. Howard transferred to Indiana following the shutting down of the UAB program last year. At UAB, Howard rushed for 1,587 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Blazers in 2014. UAB clearly holds a special place in Howard’s heart. On his Twitter account, he has a tweet from December 2014 pinned to the top for all to see.

“My sincerest thanks to all of my coaches and teammates at Indiana University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham,” Howard’s statement said. “I would like to personally thank former UAB coach Garrick McGee for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.”

No. 9 Iowa remains unbeaten dark horse playoff contender

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Watch out for the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten). They do not appear to be going into hiding anytime soon. Not during the regular season, anyway. No. 9 Iowa moved one step closer to making its first appearance in the Big Ten championship game by holding off an upset bid on thew road Saturday at Indiana (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten) with a 35-20 victory.

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley led the Hawkeyes with 120 yards and a touchdown, and LeShun Daniels rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Quarterback C.J. Beathard threw for 233 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 27 yards and one hard-fought touchdown when he took to the air to leap over defenders and blockers to cross the goal line late in the first half. He got up limping but managed to come back for the second half. Indiana running back Jordan Howard had a good game in a losing effort, rushing for 174 yards and two scores for the Hoosiers.

Next up for Iowa is a home game against Minnesota. The Gophers will be coming into the game after playing on the road at Ohio State this weekend, and of course will be playing their third game since the retirement of head coach Jerry Kill. A win next week coupled with a loss by Wisconsin would wrap up the Big Ten West Division championship for the Hawkeyes, which of course would send Iowa to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.

Indiana will stay home next week and look to cook up another upset bid against a top 25 team. The Hoosiers host Michigan next week in the final home game of the season for Indiana.