Oregon Ducks

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Maurice Smith #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates a stop in the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Pair of transferring ‘Bama DBs could be headed for the Sunshine State

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On the move from Alabama, a pair of former (maybe, in one case) Tide defensive backs could remain in the South to continue their collegiate playing careers.

Earlier this week, al.com reported that senior Maurice Smith (pictured, No. 21) has decided to leave ‘Bama and move on as a graduate transfer. In a subsequent interview with SBNation.com, Smith said he is “highly considering” a transfer to Miami. From the State of the U website:

According to our conversation, Smith loved the outlook of Coach Richt, and already has a relationship with Diaz, from his days at Texas. He felt that Miami was on the “come up”.

However, in a statement attributed to the Smith family, a return to Tuscaloosa is not out of the question. “[Smith] has chosen to entertain options for his senior season of college football… [having] positioned him[self] with the option to either complete his college football career at Alabama, or exercise his graduate-transfer option to play his true Senior season at another institution.”

Oregon, Oregon State and Wisconsin have also reportedly been in play for the defensive back.

One of Smith’s former Tide teammates, Shawn Burgess-Becker, had announced earlier this month his decision to transfer from the school. According to a report from al.com, there’s a “98-percent” chance Burgess-Becker transfers to UCF. The same source added that “[o]ne of the only things that could lead to Burgess-Becker going somewhere other than Central Florida is a scholarship offer from Miami.”

A final, public decision from the rising sophomore is expected to come no later than Friday.

A four-star member of the Tide’s 2015 recruiting class, Burgess-Becker was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 10 athlete in the country; the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 166 prospect overall on that recruiting website’s composite board.

As a true freshman, Burgess-Becker played in 13 games, mainly on special teams. He was credited with three tackles.

Also a four-star recruit, albeit in the Class of 2013, Smith was rated as the No. 9 corner in the country and the No. 84 prospect overall. All told, Smith played in 41 games for the Tide. He started a pair of those contests.

Smith will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer. Burgess-Baker will be forced to sit out the 2016 season, then have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Citing ‘family situations,’ WR Kirk Merritt opts to leave Oregon

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 17:  Wide receiver Kirk Merritt #11 of the Oregon Ducks makes a catch against defensive back Kevin King #20 of the Washington Huskies on October 17, 2015 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Ducks defeated the Huskies 26-20 .
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Unexpectedly, Oregon’s wide receiving corps is thinner now than when the week began.

On his Twitter account Tuesday, Kirk Merritt announced that he plans “on transferring to a new institution to continue my education and athletic career.” The receiver cited unspecified “family situation back home” in Louisiana as the reasoning behind his decision.

Given attrition at what’s still a loaded position for the Ducks, Merritt had been expected to be a more significant contributor in 2016.

A four-star 2015 recruit, Merritt was rated as the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Louisiana. Playing in 12 games as a true freshman, Merritt caught five passes for 61 yards. He added another 13 yards on three carries.

If Merritt ends up at another FBS program, he could be forced to sit out the 2016, and then have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017. Whether the “family situations” would afford him immediate eligibility remains unclear.

Report: Houston the frontrunner for four-star 2016 Baylor signee Tren’Davian Dickson

PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 11:  The Houston Cougars enter the field before a game against the BYU Cougars on September 11, 2014 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
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The first member of Baylor’s 2016 recruiting class to unofficially move on from Waco revealed his intentions earlier this week. Today, there appears to be a frontrunner for the services of one of that recruit’s former classmates.

Late last week, it was reported that wide receiver signee Tren'Davian Dickson had been granted a release from his scholarship. A handful of days later, ESPN.com is reporting that Houston is the new frontrunner to land Dickson.

The recruitment is not over with, however, as the WWL adds that the Texas high school product visited Oregon Wednesday, and could set up a visit to North Carolina in the near future as well.

Unlike D.Q. Osborne, the 2016 BU signee who committed to Oklahoma State Tuesday, Dickson will have to sit out 2016 regardless of where he lands.

Dickson was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice and attended classes. Because of that, he’ll be forced to sit out the upcoming season.

Additionally, BU placed a stipulation on Dickson’s release that he would not be permitted to transfer to another Big 12 program.

A four-star member of the Bears’ most recent recruiting class, Dickson was rated as the No. 14 receiver in the country and the No. 16 player at any position in the state of Texas. On 247Sports.com‘s composite board, he was the No. 105 player in the country.

Minnesota new home for ex-Oregon DB Eric Amoako

EUGENE, OR - MAY 3: Wide receiver Jeff Bedbury #88 of the Oregon Ducks is tackled by defensive back Eric Amoako #28 of the Oregon Ducks during the spring game at Autzen Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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After a sabbatical that lasted a couple of years, Eric Amoako is back at a Power Five program.

On Twitter Friday, Amoako announced that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Minnesota.  As Amoako’s last collegiate stop was at the FCS level, and he’s a graduate, the defensive back will be eligible to play for the Gophers immediately in 2016.

It was announced in June of 2014 that Amoako would be transferring from Oregon. He spent the pst two seasons at Houston Baptist.

Amoako was a three-star member of the Ducks’ 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 57 safety in the country. Amoako received offers from, among others, Kansas State, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Purdue coming out of high school in Arlington, Tex.

After redshirting as a true freshman, he played in just one game in 2013 for the Ducks.

Pac-12 to tamper down on select #Pac12AfterDark kickoffs

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 07:  Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott stands in front of the Stanford Cardinal as they celebrate the Pac 12 Championship after defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-14 at Sun Devil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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When you allow television networks to pay you $3 billion to broadcast football games and happen to be located on the West Coast, you’re going to pay for it in the form of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox want eyeballs on their networks as long as possible on fall Saturdays, and they’re not putting SEC games on at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

So, naturally, the Pac-12 drew those time slots.

And they absolutely hated it.

Remember, this is a conference that only recently joined the 21st century. For decades, the conference was happy with its 10 teams, its football games played on Saturday afternoons and its basketball schedule diced into a handy Thursday-Saturday format. Larry Scott was hired in 2009 to modernize the league while increasing the bottom line, and part of that required late kickoffs.

But on Tuesday the conference announced it has worked with its television partners to reduce the number of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox won’t change their late slots, but the conference has received clearance to play Pac-12 Network games in previously exclusive windows of 2 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. local time. The change is expected to reduce the late night kickoffs by “up to” four games.

“The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans,” Oregon AD Rob Mullens said in a statement. “The increased exposure and revenue from our contracts with ESPN and FOX Sports have been instrumental to our success, but we continue to work hard to minimize as much as possible the negative impact late start times have on our fans who travel great distances to see our teams in person.”

Additionally, the conference announced it has instituted a field storming fine structure of $25,000 for a first offense, $50,000 for a second offense and $100,000 for a third offense. The SEC has a similar structure on its books.

“The Pac-12 Council carefully considered this policy and its impact on our fans who loyally support our teams,” Cal AD Mike Williams said. “This enhanced policy underscores the importance our universities place on the safety and welfare of our student-athletes, officials and fans, and will allow us to educate staffs and fans on procedures going forward.”

Finally, Pac-12 Network will start broadcasting eSports contests between member schools. Clear your schedule now.