East Carolina Pirates

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 22: Defensive tackle Kevin Williams #92 and defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler #55 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers chase down quarterback Kevin Yost #15 of the Idaho State Bengals during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Mich. St., Virginia confirm additions of Nebraska, ECU grad transfers

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Another day, another couple of graduate transfers are officially in the books.

Following up on reports that first gained traction over the weekend, Michigan State announced that defensive tackle Kevin Williams “has signed a valid Big Ten tender” and will join the Spartans for the 2016 football season.  The upcoming season will be Williams’ final year of eligibility, and his addition could help ease the attrition the Spartans’ defensive line has ben hit with of late — provided he can stay healthy, of course.

Williams missed his entire true freshman season in 2011 because of a knee injury, then missed the entire 2013 season because of another knee issue.  His healthiest season came in 2014 when he played in 10 games.

This past season, a groin injury helped limit Williams to eight games.

Williams was a three-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 36 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Ohio. In between the injuries, he played in a total of 23 games for the ‘Huskers.

Late this past week, MSU announced that Damon Knox, a projected starter at tackle, had decided to leave the program to pursue a career in law enforcement.  Back in April, MSU confirmed that sophomore linemen Craig Evans and Montez Sweat had left the program.

In addition to Williams, Virginia also announced that quarterback Kurt Benkert has joined the Cavaliers.  It had been reported late last month that Benkert would be moving on from East Carolina to UVa.

Benkert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Benkert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

Benkert, who will be eligible to play in 2016 as a graduate transfer, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

ECU transfer QB Kurt Benkert moves on to Virginia

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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On April 25, East Carolina announced that Kurt Benkert had decided to transfer out of the Pirates football program.  Less than a week later, the quarterback has found himself a new football home.

On Twitter Sunday afternoon, Benkert confirmed that he will be enrolling at Virginia and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Cavaliers.  Beckert also acknowledged his decision in a text message to 247Sports.com.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Beckert said in a portion of the brief text.

As Beckert is headed to UVa. as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Hoos immediately in 2016.  Not only that, but he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Beckert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Beckert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

East Carolina QB Kurt Benkert to transfer with two years eligibility

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert will pursue a transfer to end his college football career at another program, East Carolina announced Monday. Benkert is scheduled to graduate from East Carolina this spring, which will make him eligible to compete right away at another FBS program this fall according to NCAA graduate transfer rules. It was not announced where Benkert will transfer.

“I am saddened to announce that I am transferring from East Carolina University,” Benkert said in a statement released by ECU. “I am very blessed for the opportunity that ECU has given me in obtaining my degree, and am forever thankful for the support from such great coaches, teammates, faculty and fans. This was a very tough decision that came from a lot of sleepless nights and conversations from those close to me. With that being said, I feel it is in my best interest to explore other options for graduate school. Thank you again Pirate Nation for the support throughout the last three years, it was never unnoticed and I will forever be grateful for it.”

Benkert was lost for the 2015 season to a right knee injury. With Benkert unable to play for the Pirates, Blake Kemp ended up being East Carolina’s top quarterback with 2,658 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. The Pirates now have four quarterbacks on the roster, including Philip Nelson, who was dismissed from Rutgers after a transfer from Minnesota amid some serious legal trouble). Nelson is the likely leading candidate for the starting job for East Carolina.

After leaving Cal, RB Jeffrey Coprich to play as grad transfer at ECU

EUGENE, OR. - SEPTEMBER 28:  Linebacker Joe Walker #35 of the Oregon Ducks puts a hit on running back Jeffrey Coprich #30 of the California Golden Bears during the fourth quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 55-16. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Three months after leaving his first college football home, Jeffrey Coprich has officially landed at his second one.

East Carolina confirmed Wednesday Coprich formally signed a grant-in-aid agreement Tuesday and will continue his football career with the Pirates.  Because he comes to ECU as a grad transfer, he will be eligible to play in 2016.

Additionally, the running back had previously received a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA, meaning he will have two years of eligibility remaining counting this season.

Coprich announced in late December that he would be transferring from Cal.

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2012 because of injury and missing all of the 2014 season for the same reason, Coprich played in a total of 17 games in 2013 and 2015.  The 5-8, 175-pound back rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 54 carries, while also catching nine passes for 74 yards coming out of the backfield.

AAC releases 2016 conference schedule

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The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).

Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.

The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.

The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.

View the full AAC slate here: