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Alabama a potential landing spot for Rice grad transfer Preston Gordon

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Yet another Rice graduate transfer lineman is drawing interest from an SEC school.

Preston Gordon confirmed to al.com this week that he has had “some preliminary contact” with Alabama as a potential landing spot. Last month, the defensive tackle decided to take the graduate transfer route out of Rice.

As the Crimson Tide, which is also in play for a grad transfer quarterback, lost three linemen to the NFL and signed just two in the Class of 2018, a move to Tuscaloosa could make sense for both parties.

“If Alabama were interested, that’s a top-tier program and I would definitely be interested,” Gordon told the website. “As a D-lineman, that’s where it’s at, so it would definitely be high, high interest.”

Gordon has already received an offer from Texas Tech after visiting Lubbock, and has taken a trip to Kansas as well. The lineman also told the site that he has spoken with Syracuse, TCU, Tulane and UConn.

The last three seasons, Gordon started 28 games for the Owls, including all 12 in 2017. In 2016, Gordon tied for the team lead in sacks with 3.5, while his 6.5 tackles for loss led all interior linemen on the squad. This past season, he was third on the team in tackles for loss with 4.5.

Gordon’s former teammate and the Owls’ starting left tackle the past three seasons, Calvin Anderson, has drawn interest from Auburn as a graduate transfer and has already visited the Tigers. It’s believed that Michigan and Texas are the frontrunners, although Texas A&M has entered the mix for Anderson as well.

Former Texas star Frank Okam reportedly hired as Baylor’s next DL coach

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A decade after terrorizing the Big 12 at Texas, it appears Frank Okam will now be teaching his players how to terrorize the Longhorns in a new role in the conference.

Baylor team site SicEm365.com is reporting that Okam will be the Bears next defensive line coach after spending the past two seasons at Rice. He replaces Elijah Robinson, who joined the Texas A&M staff down the road in the same capacity last month.

This will be just the second full-time coaching position for Okam after becoming an on-field coach for the Owls two years ago. Despite the short coaching resume, his playing career resume is a lengthy one that includes a national title while on the 40 Acres with the Longhorns and a trio of All-Big 12 selections. The former five-star recruit played all four years in Austin and was later a fifth round pick of the Houston Texans. He retired from the NFL prior to the 2013 season after getting cut by the New York Giants and later became a graduate assistant at Rice.

The move should complete the coaching staff at Baylor for the 2018 season provided there are no more changes coming for Matt Rhule and company down in Waco.

Texas A&M might be in the mix for former Rice starting LT

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Texas and Texas A&M may not be battling on the gridiron in the here and now, but the two former rivals could be fighting it out for a sought-after transfer offensive lineman.

Last week, Bruce Feldman of SI.com reported that Michigan and Texas were the front-runners to land left tackle Calvin Anderson, who announced his transfer from Rice last month.  Auburn, where he is visiting this weekend, Oklahoma and TCU were also possibilities according to the player himself.

In an update to his original story, Feldman is now reporting that A&M has entered the fray of late and, at minimum, could push TCU further into the background.

Update: As Anderson got ready to fly out to Auburn on the Friday after National Signing Day, he told SI that it’s plausible that Texas A&M could rise above TCU into his top five after he talks with the Aggies staff following the Auburn trip. A&M had offered Anderson earlier in the week.

It’s expected that Anderson will make a decision on his future no later than March 25, which is his birthday.  It’s likely, though, that it’ll happen prior to that date.

Whichever of the contenders Anderson ultimately selects, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2018 as a graduate transfer.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Anderson started 36 straight games at left tackle for the Owls. He was honorable mention All-Conference USA each of the past two seasons.

BYU turns to Rice assistant to round out coaching staff

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An offseason of coaching staff upheaval has come to an end in Provo.

AJ Steward, the football program announced Tuesday, has been named as the Cougars running backs coach.  The 28-year-old Steward, who played his college football at Kansas, had spent the past four seasons as the running backs coach at Rice before moving on to BYU.

Steward’s first job at the collegiate level came as a graduate assistant for the Owls, meaning this move marks his first coaching gig outside of that Conference USA program.

“AJ is known as an excellent recruiter and for his ability to develop players,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in a statement. “He has done great things as a running backs coach and brings unique experience from an outstanding academic school, which helps him understand one of the important focuses we have here at BYU. I’m excited to welcome AJ to our coaching staff.”

“My wife and I are tremendously excited and are blessed to join the BYU football family,” Steward said. “I am grateful for Coach Sitake, Tom Holmoe, President Worthen and Coach Grimes for entrusting me with this amazing opportunity to come to Provo and be part of the rich football tradition at BYU. I sincerely look forward to not only making a difference on the field but also making a life-long impact on the young men in the program.

“I also want to express my appreciation to Coach David Bailiff and Rice University for such a great experience, which has granted me the opportunity to learn, build and grow into the coach that I am today.”

Including Steward, five of the 10 coaches on Sitake’s staff weren’t with the program a year ago.

Three weeks after putting the finishing touches on a 4-9 season, the lowest point for the program since a 3-8 1970 campaign, BYU hired LSU line coach Jeff Grimes as its new coordinator. Grimes replaced Ty Detmer, who was fired in late November after directing an offense that was 123rd (out of 129 teams) in scoring and 118th in yards.  In late December, three new offensive assistants were added as well.

On the defensive side, longtime assistant Steve Kaufusi stepped down from his post as linebackers coach last month and was replaced by Preston Hadley, who was named safeties coach.  Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers job.  All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.

Michigan, Texas frontrunners for Rice lineman Calvin Anderson

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A little over three weeks after announcing his departure from Rice, Calvin Anderson has whittled down his potential transfer to-do list.

According to Bruce Feldman of SI.com, Anderson has settled on a Top Five list of places to which he’s considering a transfer — Auburn, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and TCU.  While they’re shown in alphabetical order here, that’s not how they stack up in the offensive lineman’s head.

From Feldman’s report, which includes a potential timeline for a decision:

The best way I’d put it now is that Texas and Michigan are first tier,” Anderson says. “Behind them is Auburn, and then [Oklahoma] and then TCU. It’s mostly fluid, though, from No. 1 through 4, with TCU a little less likely.” He has set a deadline to make his decision by March 25 — the day he turns 22 — but adds that he’ll likely make his decision before then.

Whichever of the five Anderson ultimately selects, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2018 as a graduate transfer.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Anderson started 36 straight games at left tackle for the Owls. He was honorable mention All-Conference USA each of the past two seasons.