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2017 Texas signee sees felony drug charge reduced to misdemeanor

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It appears the door to one member of Texas’ 2017 recruiting class arriving in Austin this summer has opened a little wider.

In late February, Reese Leitao was arrested at his Oklahoma high school on a charge of possession/delivery of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a school, a felony.  Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting, Leitao pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge.

As part of the plea agreement, Leitao received a four-year deferred sentence; provided he stays clean during that time, the charge will be wiped off his record.  The American-Statesman writes that, “[a]ccording to Leitao’s attorney, Leitao has ‘some probationary work,’including speaking engagements at schools, and will be under the supervision of the district attorney.”  A $1,000 fine was part of his punishment as well.

The ball is now in the hands of first-year UT head coach Tom Herman as to whether Leitao will have a football future with the Longhorns.

“I’m happy,” the attorney, Allen Smallwood, told the newspaper. “Hopefully the University of Texas will be happy.”

At the time of Leitao’s arrest, a statement attributed to Herman said that “[w]e’re collecting information, will talk to Reese and his family, let the legal system run its course and then address it further at the appropriate time.” As of this posting, the university has yet to publicly address the development.

Leitao was a three-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 19 tight end in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.

Rimington watch list details list of returning centers

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It’s the dead time of the college football calendar, which means it’s time for this sport’s oldest, most antiquated tradition: watch lists.

First one in line is the Rimington Trophy, given to the best center in college football. And to help voters narrow down their choice for when voting picks up six months from now, the Rimington has helpfully provided this watch list of essentially every returning starting center in college football.

The 2017 list includes (deep breath):

– Aaron Mitchell, Fresno State
– Alan Knott, South Carolina
– Alac Eberle, Florida State
– Antonyo Woods, Florida Atlantic
– Asotui Eli, Hawaii
– Austin Doan, Central Michigan
– Austin Golson, Auburn
– Austin Schlottmann, TCU
– Billy Price, Ohio State
– Blaise Fountain, New Mexico
– Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State
– Brad North, Northwestern
– Bradley Bozeman, Alabama
– Brendan Moore, Maryland
– Brian Allen, Michigan State
– Bryce Holland, Army
– Cameron Ruff, South Florida
– Chandler Miller, Tulsa
– Coleman Shelton, Washington
– Colton Prater, Texas A&M
– Danny Godloveske, Miami (Ohio)
– Dennis Edwards, Western Kentucky
– Drew Keyser, Memphis
– Erick Wren, Oklahoma
– Evan Brown, SMU
– Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
– Gabe Mobley, Georgia State
– Garrett McGhin, East Carolina
– Jake Bennett, Colorado State
– Jake Hanson, Oregon
– Jake Pruehs, Ohio
– James Daniels, Iowa
– James O’Hagan, Buffalo
– Jesse Burkett, Stanford
– John Keenoy, Western Michigan
– Jon Baker, Boston College
– Julian Good-Jones, Iowa State
– Keoni Taylor, San Jose State
– LaVonne Gauthney, Akron
– Levi Brown, Marshall
– Luke Shively, Northern Illinois
– Mason Hampton, Boise State
– Matt Hennessy, Temple
– Mesa Ribordy, Kansas
– Michael Deiter, Wisconsin
– Nathan Puthoff, Kent State
– Nick Allegretti, Illinois
– Nick Clarke, Old Dominion
– Reid Najvar, Kansas State
– Ryan Anderson, Wake Forest
– Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
– Scott Quessenberry, UCLA
– Sean Krepsz, Nevada
– Sean Rawlings, Ole Miss
– Sumner Houston, Oregon State
– T.J. McCoy, Florida
– Tanner Thrift, Baylor
– Tejan Koroma, BYU
– Tim McAullife, Bowling Green
– Trey Martin, Rice
– Will Clapp, LSU
– Will Noble, Houston
– Zach Shackelford, Texas

Exhale.

Got all that?

Ohio State’s Pat Elflein claimed the honor last season.

Recent tax return shows NCAA President Mark Emmert made more than $1.9 million

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Being a punching bag of public criticism is not without its benefits, as NCAA president Mark Emmert’s pay package shows.

USA Today obtained the NCAA’s most recent tax return listing the compensation paid out to top executives and not surprisingly the organization’s leader was the runaway leader when it came to cashing checks. Emmert was listed with a base salary of $1,462,838 in 2015 (a 3.5% increase over 2014 per the paper) and the rest of his remaining payout coming in the form of benefits and deferred compensation. He is signed through October of 2020 to run the NCAA in a recent contract extension that was signed last year.

The figure puts Emmert behind many of his peers in college athletics, namely the Power Five commissioners who are all over the $2 million mark. The association’s president wasn’t the only one to be well compensated however, as a whopping 10 others made more than $415,000 in 2015, the most recent figures provided by the NCAA’s 2016 fiscal year return.

Most notable among that group was former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, who is essentially Emmert’s second in command and holds the title of NCAA executive vice president. Luck received the highest bonus doled out by the association ($50,000 bonus) and wound up taking just over $800,000 home.

Somewhat buried in the report was also the NCAA’s legal costs, which have been spiraling in recent years as they’ve gone to court to defend many of their core beliefs. Outside legal costs were reported as $33.5 million and bring the combined total up to a remarkable $72.4 million over the past three tax returns the association has released.

College athletes may not be allowed to be compensated but it certainly seems pretty clear based on these figures that is not the case for those that run the $1 billion enterprise.

QB Malik Zaire pushes back transfer decision, which may mean Florida is still in the mix

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Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire remains hanging in college football’s equivalent of free agent limbo. Zaire will reportedly stay hanging in the balance until some time after the SEC’s spring meetings before he makes his final decision regarding his pending transfer.

According to multiple reports surfacing today on Twitter, including the preliminary report from Anwar Richardson of Rivals, Zaire plans to sit back and enjoy his graduation from Notre Dame this weekend and announce his decision after the SEC spring meetings, with Texas one of two supposed finalists.

It is worth noting Richardson previously reported Zaire was intending to announce his transfer decision today, before the SEC spring meetings. At the time, that was taken as a sign Florida may no longer be in the mix. Now, as Zaire pushes that announcement back, could Florida be back in the running?

Florida has long been reported to be one of the leading possibilities to land Zaire as a graduate transfer, although SEC rules prohibiting players to be added to a football roster as a graduate transfer if that player previously failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. That rule is planned to be discussed at the SEC’s spring meetings. If the SEC amends the rules in a way that would allow Florida to welcome Zaire without hassle, then the Gators could once again look like the favorites to add Zaire to the roster this fall.

Both Texas and Florida would benefit from adding a quarterback with Zaire’s potential. He may have had a rough end to his run in South Bend as he was overtaken as starting quarterback by NFL-bound Deshone Kizer, but Zaire may still have something left to prove and could thrive in a team with the athleticism and talent he could surround himself with at Florida or with the coaching of Tom Herman at Texas.

Pair of Texas defensive tackles leaving the football program

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With new head coach Tom Herman taking over at Texas, there were bound to be a few transfers out of Austin. On Thursday, the school confirmed one such move and the departure of another, leaving the Longhorns a lot lighter in the trenches.

Sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, in a Snapchat no less, announced his intention to transfer first earlier in the afternoon. A spokesperson for the program later told Hookem.com and several other outlets that redshirt freshman defensive lineman Marcel Southall had also left the team.

The pair of exits mean the Longhorns have now lost three players this offseason to transfer but the gaps left on the depth chart by these two figure to be a little harder to replace. Senior Poona Ford is the unquestioned starter on the interior of the defensive line but Elliott was expected to be his primary backup and rotate in fairly often after showing flashes a season ago. Southall missed time due to academic issues this spring and didn’t seem to factor in as a huge contributor to the rotation, but his transfer will leave a rather thin unit even thiner heading into 2017.

Eliott was an Army All-American coming out of high school so he figures to eventually have a wealth of suitors looking for a big tackle. All told, he played in six games and made eight tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, while Southall redshirted last season and did not see any action on the field for Texas. Both prepped in the Lone Star State so it will be interesting where they wind up and if former UT coach Charlie Strong is interested in bringing either player over to USF in the near future.