UMass Minutemen

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  The Massachusetts Minutemen run onto the field prior to the game against the FIU Golden Panthers at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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FCS player granted sixth, seventh seasons, will transfer to UMass

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For decades, stories of this nature were unheard of. The last couple of years, however, they’re popping up more and more.

Bryton Barr began his college football playing career at FCS Towson in 2012, starting 11 games as a true freshman. He started the first two games the following season, then missed the remainder of that year with a pectoral injury. A similar injury cost him the entire 2014 season, while a torn ACL kept him out for all of the 2015 season.

The linebacker was healthy for all of 2016, but his eligibility clock was set to expire even as, in his own mind, he wasn’t finished with the collegiate level. After filing an appeal with the NCAA, Barr was not only granted a sixth season of eligibility last month but a seventh one as well.

Barr has since decided to transfer to UMass for his final two years of eligibility in 2017 and 2018. And after that latter season, he still maintains some hope that his career won’t be over despite all of the injury obstacles.

“My dream is still to play in the NFL,” the player told pennlive.com. “Even though I’ve had those injuries, I know that if I come up here and play like I can, I believe I can get a shot. I think I can get someone to, at least, let me get in camp. This wasn’t the plan, but I definitely think it’s going to work out good.”

In November of last year, Texas Tech offensive lineman Tony Morales, who missed every season from 2011-14 because of various injuries, was granted a seventh season of eligibility that he will use in 2017. After knee injuries cost him the 2010-12 seasons, Deontae Cooper earned a seventh year that he used in 2016.

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

New Mexico State putting together FBS independent schedule for 2018

STATESBORO, GA - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Andrew Allen #8 of the New Mexico State Aggies attempts a pass against the Georgia Southern Eagles during the second quarter on October 17, 2015 at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia.  (Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
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The Sun Belt is giving Idaho and New Mexico State the old heave ho after next season, and college football’s newest orphans are going about their futures in separate ways. Idaho has announced it will join the Big Sky Conference beginning in 2018, while New Mexico State is going to go it alone as an FBS independent.

Which means, obviously, New Mexico State will have to build its own schedule, each and every year.

The Aggies have begun doing so for 2018. On Monday they announced a home-and-home with Wyoming that will see the Cowboys visit Las Cruces on Aug. 25, 2018 — New Mexico State’s first game as an independent — while the Aggies will make a return visit to Laramie on Sept. 21, 2024.

It will be the two programs’ first meetings since 1953 — the only time New Mexico State and Wyoming have met on the field.

“Deputy AD Braun Cartwright and I have put in an enormous amount of time on football scheduling with the focus on securing games with regional Group of 5 opponents,” New Mexico State AD Mario Moccia said earlier this week. “Unlike in 2013 when we played four Power 5 conference programs, which had ripple effects on future year’s schedules, we have really focused on the home-and-home model.”

On Thursday, New Mexico State another home-and-home with current Sun Belt bunkmate Louisiana-Lafayette. New Mexico State will visit Lafayette on either Sept. 8 or Oct. 6, 2018, while the Ragin’ Cajuns will return the favor on Nov. 16, 2019.

New Mexico State also has a previously scheduled game at Minnesota on Aug. 30, leaving nine games still to be filled. The Aggies could seemingly find dance partners in fellow FBS independents BYU, Army and Massachusetts (Notre Dame is a different story), but even then New Mexico State still has to fill seven more games with the 2018 season only 20 months away.

Hurricane Matthew forces date changes to two FBS games

The high winds of Hurricane Matthew roar over Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. The dangerous Category 4 storm blew ashore in Haiti, unloading heavy rain as it swirled on toward a lightly populated part of Cuba and the Bahamas. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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A hurricane barreling its way up the East Coast has had its first impact on Week 6, but it likely won’t be the last.

In a release, UCF and Tulane announced that they have reached an agreement in postponing their football game this weekend to Saturday, Nov. 5.  The two teams had been scheduled to play in Orlando Friday night, but the impact of Hurricane Matthew triggered the decision to push the game back to early next month.

Both teams have a bye for Week 9, making the move easier on all involved.

“Taking into account all the latest projections for Hurricane Matthew, we have to keep the safety of everyone involved in these events at the forefront of our decision-making,” UCF athletic director Dr. Daniel J. White said in a statement. “We appreciate our friends at Tulane and Houston understanding and working with us through this situation. Mike Aresco and the American Athletic Conference staff has been very helpful, as well.”

In addition to that game, the UMass-Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., that had been scheduled for 6 p.m. ET Saturday evening has been moved to Friday night at 8 p.m. local time.  The projected path of Matthew has the storm hitting that area late Saturday night.

For Power Five games such as LSU-Florida in Gainesville, Florida State-Miami in Miami Gardens, Virginia Tech-North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Notre Dame-North Carolina State in Raleigh and Georgia-South Carolina in Columbia, the schools and conferences continue to monitor the situation, although, as of this posting, all of those games are scheduled to go off as planned. The governor of South Carolina was quoted as saying she “can’t imagine” the UGA-USC being played as scheduled, and there has been talk of moving the game to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, although Gamecock officials reportedly haven’t spoken to anyone at that venue about shift.

One note: Georgia’s volleyball team was scheduled to travel to South Carolina for a game in Columbia Friday night; the schools announced earlier today that, because of Hurricane Matthew, that game has been moved to Athens. Additionally, USC has closed its campus Thursday and Friday and cancelled all classes in preparation for the storm’s arrival.

LOOK: Mississippi State will dress Patriotic for visit to UMass Saturday

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots throws a pass during the first quarter of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, Mississippi State and Adidas are huge fans of the New England Patriots.

The Bulldogs will pay Massachusetts a visit — and not for a vacation, an actual football game — on Saturday, and the Minutemen will use the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium as their own.

So Mississippi State will dress like the Patriots.

Take a look, and then compare with the shot of the Patriots’ uniform above.

Mississippi State and UMass have never met previously, so how is this a “homecoming,” as Adidas describes it? Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen grew up in Manchester, N.H., which Google Maps tells me is just a short two-hour drive from Foxborough.

Anything you can do to psyche yourself up to play UMass in an empty stadium, I guess.