Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - NOVEMBER 07: A helmet of the Purdue Boilermakers sets on the sideline at Ross-Ade Stadium on November 7, 2015 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Cory Seward/Getty Images)
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Starting WKU LB officially follows Jeff Brohm to Purdue

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Not long after Jeff Brohm left Western Kentucky for the head job at Purdue, WKU confirmed that T.J. McCollum would be transferring from the Hilltoppers.  A little over a week after the player’s decision to move on came to light, a reunion involving the player and coach has come to fruition.

Brohm’s new employer confirmed in a press release that the head coach’s former player has transferred into his new football program.  As McCollum will be coming to West Lafayette as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play for the Boilermakers in 2017.

This upcoming season will be the linebacker’s final season of eligibility.

Originally a UAB signee, McCollum transferred to WKU after the 2014 season when that former program was, temporarily as it turned out, shuttered.

The past two seasons, McCollum started 26 games for WKU. In 2015, he led the Hilltoppers in tackles and tackles for loss; in 2016, he was third in the former category and seventh in the latter.

McCollum was also one of three defensive captains for the 2016 season.

Starting LB T.J. McCollum leaving WKU as grad transfer

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One of the most experienced and productive members on the defensive side of the ball for Western Kentucky has decided to leave the Hilltoppers.

Late this past week, WKU confirmed that T.J. McCollum has opted to transfer out of the football program. As the linebacker is leaving Bowling Green as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school in 2017 for his final season of eligibility.

That said, there are restrictions on where McCollum can transfer. Despite being a grad transfer, he won’t be permitted to move on to any Conference USA school or any teams on WKU’s 2017 non-conference schedule — Eastern Kentucky, Illinois, Ball State and Vanderbilt.

Regardless of where he lands, McCollum’s new team will be getting a very experienced and productive player.

Originally a UAB signee, McCollum transferred to WKU after the 2014 season when that program was, temporarily as it turned out, shuttered.

The past two seasons, McCollum started 26 games for WKU. In 2015, he led the Hilltoppers in tackles and tackles for loss; in 2016, he was third in the former category and seventh in the latter.

McCollum was also one of three defensive captains for the 2016 season.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

College football records highest-ever scoring season in 2016

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The average college football team topped 30 points per game for the first time in the game’s history, according to data compiled and released by the NCAA.

The typical team scored 30.04 points per game this fall, busting the record of 29.7 points per game per team set last fall. The Big 12 led all conferences with an average of 33.58 points per game. Western Kentucky led all teams with 45.5 points per game.

Consequently, the 2016 season also set the record for the longest average game time in FBS history.

As Dennis Dodd for CBS Sports notes, this is the seventh time since 2000 the average scoring record has been broken. That same record was broken 19 times in the previous 63 seasons.

This season also saw records broken for average total offense (417.5 yards per game), yards per play (5.83), yards per pass attempt (7.39) and touchdowns per game (3.82).

However, teams did average 182.99 rushing yards per game, the highest number since 1979.

Steve Spurrier Jr., new HC’s dad added to WKU coaching staff

Steve Spurrier Jr.
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As Mike Sanford assembles his first Western Kentucky staff, he’s officially added one very familiar familial face along with a side-order of name recognition.

Following up on speculation that had been growing for the last week or so, Sanford announced the addition of the first three on-field assistants to his WKU coaching staff. Included in that group is Mike Sanford Sr., the father of the head coach, as well as Steve Spurrier Jr., the son of Florida and South Carolina coaching legend.

Sanford Sr., who stepped down as the head coach at FCS Indiana State after a four-year run earlier this month, will serve as his son’s special teams coordinator and running backs coach, while Spurrier Jr., director of high school recruiting and offensive specialist at Oklahoma this past season, will coach quarterbacks as well as hold the title of assistant head coach.  The elder Sanford was also the head coach at UNLV from 2005-09.  Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons.

The third hire is Jami DeBerry as safeties coach as well as recruiting coordinator. DeBerry had spent the past four seasons on the elder Sanford’s ISU staff.

“I am thrilled to be able to add not only three outstanding football coaches but exceptional motivators and mentors to our coaching staff,” Sanford said in a statement. “All three coaches come from winning pedigrees and understand what is required to achieve success at the highest levels with backgrounds as national champions and consistent bowl contenders.

“They will also be great representatives of WKU in the community and on the recruiting trail.”

Sanford still has six positions on his initial Hilltoppers staff left to fill.