Recently, Nevada’s men’s basketball roster has taken on a decidedly gridiron hue.
Thanks to injuries and off-field issues, Eric Musselman‘s hoops team was down to just seven scholarship players. Because of those numbers, 6-5 Wolf Pack wide receiver Elijah Cooks was added to the basketball roster earlier this month. Monday night, 6-2 wide receiver-turned-safety Justin Brent confirmed on Twitter that, with the blessing of head football coach Jay Norvell, he too will be joining the Wolf Pack basketball team.
According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Brent was recruited as a basketball player by, among others, Georgetown, Marquette, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Xavier. He ultimately signed with Notre Dame with the intention of playing both sports at the school, but ultimately transferred from the Fighting Irish to the Wolf Pack.
Brent will begin practicing with the team, which will be the main job of both of the football players. While Cooks has traveled with the team to two games since joining, he has yet to take the floor with his new squad, although Mussleman admitted that he nearly put the receiver in late in their recent game against Utah State.
Last season as a true freshman, Cooks caught two passes for 23 yards. Brent, a redshirt junior, totaled 21 yards on his one reception before being moved from offense to defense.
All four-star 2018 recruits are officially accounted for.
After the first-ever Early Signing Period in December and the annual National Signing Day earlier this month, just one of 347 four-star recruits remained unsigned by FBS programs. That one, Tyrone Sampson Jr. of Detroit, had reportedly zeroed in on Arizona State, Mississippi State and Nebraska as likely destinations but, instead of signing on the first Wednesday of February, opted instead to continue studying his options as schools such as Illinois, Missouri and West Virginia had entered the picture.
In the end, however, it appears that the one-time Syracuse commit will at least begin his collegiate playing career not at a Power Five program but rather at a Mountain West Conference school according to the offensive lineman as well as his new football coach.
That commitment came shortly after Sampson visited the Bulldogs’ campus.
Sampson was rated as the No. 7 center in the country and the No. 346 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He had been committed to Syracuse for more than eight months before decommitting in December.
Easily the highest-rated member of Jeff Tedford‘s second recruiting class, Sampson is the first four-star recruit signed by the football program since 2015 (wide receiver L.J. Reed) and just the fourth such prospect in the school’s history, joining quarterback Derek Carr (2009) and offensive tackle James Paulk (2005).
UCLA’s longest-serving assistant may no longer be patrolling the sidelines in Westwood anymore.
Both FootballScoop and SI’s Bruce Feldman are reporting that Bruins tight end coach Angus McClure, who was retained by new coach Chip Kelly, is moving on to take a spot on the Nevada coaching staff handling the offensive line.
McClure has been a fixture at UCLA for over a decade, having first been hired by Karl Dorrell back in 2007. He’s coached just about everywhere for the Bruins, including defensive line, offensive line and special teams. Most recently, he served as the team’s recruiting coordinator for the past few years and has developed a reputation as a quality recruiter.
The move to the Mountain West will reconnect McClure with Wolfpack head coach Jay Norvell after the two were on the same staff in Westwood during Dorrell’s final season with the school. The veteran assistant is no stranger to Reno either, having coached tight ends in 1996 at Nevada. Interestingly, McClure might not be the only assistant that Kelly loses this week as there are reports that Bruins’ offensive line coach Hank Fraley has interviewed with the Detroit Lions.
Spring practice is quickly approaching for many programs around the country which means the race is on to get a full complement of coaches set in the next few weeks before that time of the year rolls around. The latest school to make a move to that end appears to be Boise State, which announced on Thursday that they had hired Jeff Popovich to be the team’s new cornerbacks coach.
“Jeff is someone that brings with him a wealth of experience at both the collegiate and professional levels,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin said in a statement. “He understands what this program is about, both our culture and our tradition, and he is excited to be part of it. We are thrilled to have him join our family.”
Popovich recently spent the past two seasons at the NFL level on the staff of now-fired coach Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts. He has extensive college coaching experience however, having coached defensive backs at both UTSA and Florida International for nearly a dozen years prior to his jump to the NFL.
“Boise State is a program of tradition and success,” Popovich added. “I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the culture Coach Harsin has created, developing athletes both on the field and, more importantly, off the field as young men. My family and I are honored to be Broncos and I can’t wait to get my feet on the blue turf.”
Popovich replaces Ashley Ambrose, who left last month to return to Colorado to coach the Buffs’ cornerbacks.
At long last, our national nightmare is over. Penn State is finally going to meet Nevada and San Jose State on the gridiron, and the Nittany Lions are going to kill both birds with the same season.
Penn State on Monday announced it has scheduled future games with Nevada, San Jose State as well as Bowling Green. Penn State hosts Nevada on Sept. 5 for its 2020 season opener and hosts San Jose State on Sept. 19. The Nittany Lions will visit Virginia Tech on Sept. 12 of that season, meaning all three of Penn State’s non-conference opponents in 2020 will be first-timers.
Penn State last played a Mountain West opponent on Sept. 26, 2015, a 37-21 win over San Diego State in State College.
The Nittany Lions also added a Sept. 7, 2024 game with Bowling Green to be played at Beaver Stadium. Penn State has played Bowling Green twice before, but not since 1998 — a 48-3 Penn State win.