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Syracuse grad transfer TE Kendall Moore announces commitment to Texas

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With Tom Herman now running the Texas offense, tight end is going to be an added emphasis for the Longhorns moving forward. This created an immediate problem for the 2017 club, considering the last Longhorn tight end to produce a prolific full season was Jermichael Finley, who last caught an NFL pass in 2013.

Herman rectified that by signing Reese Leitao, a 4-star tight end out of Tulsa, in February. (The Longhorns also added Cade Brewer, the brother of former Texas Tech and Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer and son of former Texas quarterback Robert Brewer, as added depth.)

However, Leitao was arrested in February on charges of dealing drugs. So the tight end position became a problem again.

On Sunday, Syracuse graduate transfer Kendall Moore announced his intention to be the solution to that problem by committing to Texas. “Officially a Longhorn,” Moore stated on the Instagram post revealing his pledge. “Happy to call Texas my new home.”

As a senior in 2016, Moore appeared in 12 games but caught just one pass for 15 yards. He received four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in 2014. A native of Chicago, Moore’s best season as a Orange was his first, registering 12 appearances with six catches for 65 yards in 2013. He is eligible to play for Texas thanks to a medical redshirt he received after missing nine games due to injury in 2015.

Though Moore’s stats may not immediately remind anyone of David Thomas, he may jump to the front of the line among UT’s tight ends. As Chip Brown notes for Horns Digest, Leitao has a felony hearing April 18 in Oklahoma, returning starter Andrew Beck is coming off a broken foot, Garrett Gray moved to wide receiver, Peyton Aucoin has battled a shoulder injury this spring and Brewer is a true freshman looking to bulk up to a Big 12 weight. Beck led the position last year with four grabs for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

UCLA loses JUCO WR to… Lane Kiffin and FAU

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Lane Kiffin may be comatose onscreen, but off the field on the recruiting trail he’s a machine.  Still.

UCLA has been in hot pursuit of DeAndre McNeal, a California junior college wide receiver who began his collegiate career with the Texas Longhorns.  Instead of Westwood, however, McNeal has opted to commit to Kiffin and Florida Atlantic.

“I know FAU can make me the top wide receiver in the nation,” the receiver told 247Sports.com. “I already know their offense and I know I will get the ball there. At this point in my life I don’t need to go where I know I’m going to play and be used.”

As long as the commitment holds, this would make Kiffin 3-1 lifetime vs. UCLA, including 2-1 as USC’s head coach.

McNeal was the No. 8 JUCO receiver in the country entering National Signing Day.  This is actually the second time he’s spurned UCLA as the Bruins were finalists during his initial recruitment before he opted for the Longhorns.

A four-star member of UT’s 2015 recruiting class, McNeal was indefinitely suspended by then-head coach Charlie Strong in August of last year.  Not long after, the player opted to transfer out.

Syracuse nearing a dozen departures in last few weeks

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Dino Babers‘ second roster at Syracuse will have a decidedly different look than his first.

On his personal Twitter account, Kendall Moore announced the day after Christmas that he has “officially made the decision to transfer” from the Orange. This past season would’ve been Moore’s last season of eligibility, but he was granted a medical hardship waiver for the 2015 season by the NCAA.

Next season will be the tight end’s final season of eligibility.

Moore started a total of four games in 2014 and 2015, including two of the first three in the latter season before sustaining the season-ending injury that led to the medical waiver. The 6-5, 245-pound senior will finish his ‘Cuse career with 14 catches for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He caught one of the passes for 15 of the yards in 2016

One of those touchdowns, which came in the opener to the 2014 season, was quite memorable.

Moore becomes one of nearly a dozen Orange players — the Syracuse Post-Standard puts the number at 11 — who have left the program in the last couple of months.

Quarterback Austin Wilson confirmed earlier this month that he would be transferring to Coastal Carolina, while tight end Trey Dunkelberger was the first to leave and ultimately landed at Western Illinois.  In the last week or so,  linebacker Alryk Perry announced that he has transferred to Div. II Valdosta State and defensive tackle Anthony Giudice confirmed a move to FCS Fordham.

In the last month, defensive backs Chauncey Scissum (HERE) and Corey Winfield (HERE) have announced their decisions to transfer.  Offensive lineman Jon Burton, defensive tackle Tyler Cross, running back Jordan Fredericks and wide receiver Kenterius Womack have left the program recently as well.

Alabama and Ohio State each land six players on AP All-American teams

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The Associated Press released its 2016 All-American teams for the 2016 season, and it should be no surprise the teams are loaded with a healthy sampling of players from Alabama and Ohio State, as well as headlined by the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson was named a First-Team All-American by the AP, as well as fellow Heisman Trophy finalists Jabrill Peppers of Michigan and Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma.

Four players from Alabama were named to the Frist Team, which was more players from a single school than any other program; DL Jonathan Allen, LB Reuben Foster, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick and OT Cam Robinson. Linebacker Tim Williams and tight end O.J. Howard received second-team recognition. Ohio State had three players on the first team; center Pat Elflein, safety Malik Hooker, and H-Back Curtis Samuel.

Houston freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver is the first freshman to be named First-Team All-American since Sammy Watkins of Clemson and LSU punter Brad Wing received the honor in 2011.

The Associated Press All-American team is the third of the five All-American teams to be released that is used t determine the Consensus All-American team. At this rate, there should be a good number of consensus All-Americans on the list, with just the AFCA and FWAA All-American teams to be released in the coming days.

AP First Team All-Americans By Conference

  1. SEC (8)
  2. Big Ten (7)
  3. Pac-12 (4)
  4. ACC (2)
    Big 12 (2)
  5. American (1)
    MAC (1)

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Lamar Jackson, sophomore, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Louisville

Running backs — D'Onta Foreman, junior, 6-2, 249, Texas; Dalvin Cook, junior, 5-11, 213, Florida State

Tackles — Cam Robinson, junior, 6-6, 310, Alabama; Ryan Ramczyk, junior, 6-6, 314, Wisconsin

Guards — Cody O’Connell, junior, 6-8, 354, Washington State; Dan Feeney, senior, 6-4, 305, Indiana.

Center — Pat Elflein, senior, 6-3, 300, Ohio State

Tight end — Evan Engram, senior, 6-3, 235, Mississippi

Wide receivers — Dede Westbrook, senior, 6-0, 176, Oklahoma; Corey Davis, senior, 6-3, 213, Western Michigan

All-purpose player — Curtis Samuel, junior, 5-11 197, Ohio State

Kicker — Zane Gonzalez, senior, 6-1, 195, Arizona State

DEFENSE

Ends — Myles Garrett, junior, 6-5, 270, Texas A&M; Derek Barnett, junior, 6-3, 265, Tennessee

Tackles — Jonathan Allen, junior, 6-3, 290, Alabama; Ed Oliver, freshman, 6-2, 290, Houston

Linebackers — Reuben Foster, senior, 6-1, 228, Alabama; Zach Cunningham, junior, 6-2, 230, Vanderbilt; Jabrill Peppers, junior, 6-1, 205, Michigan

Cornerbacks — Jourdan Lewis, senior, 5-11, 186, Michigan; Adoree’ Jackson, junior, 5-11, 185, Southern California

Safeties — Malik Hooker, sophomore, 6-2, 205, Ohio State; Minkah Fitzpatrick, sophomore, 6-1, 200, Alabama

Punter — Mitch Wishnowsky, sophomore, 6-2, 220, Utah

___

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Deshaun Watson, junior, Clemson

Running backs — Donnel Pumphrey, senior, San Diego State; Christian McCaffrey, junior, Stanford

Tackles — Connor Williams, sophomore, Texas; Orlando Brown, sophomore, Oklahoma

Guards — Billy Price, junior, Ohio State; Will Hernandez, junior, UTEP

Center — Tyler Orlovsky, senior, West Virginia

Tight end — Jake Butt, senior, Michigan

Wide receivers — Zay Jones, senior, East Carolina; John Ross, junior, Washington

All-purpose player — Quadree Henderson, sophomore, Pitt

Kicker — Daniel Carlson, junior, Auburn

DEFENSE

Ends — DeMarcus Walker, senior, Florida State; Harold Landry, junior, Boston College

Tackles — Carlos Watkins, senior, Clemson; Montravius Adams, senior, Auburn

Linebackers — Raekwon McMillan, junior, Ohio State; T.J. Watt, junior, Wisconsin; Tim Williams, senior, Alabama

Cornerbacks — Rasul Douglas, senior, West Virginia; Desmond King, senior, Iowa

Safeties — Budda Baker, junior, Washington; Jamal Adams, junior, LSU

Punter — Cameron Johnston, senior, Ohio State

___

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Baker Mayfield, junior, Oklahoma

Running backs — Saquon Barkley, sophomore, Penn State; Aaron Jones, junior, UTEP

Tackles — Mike McGlinchey, senior, Notre Dame; Forrest Lamp, senior, Western Kentucky

Guards — Nico Siragusa, senior, San Diego State; Quenton Nelson, junior, Notre Dame

Center — Ethan Pocic, senior, LSU

Tight end — O.J. Howard, senior, Alabama

Wide receivers — Amba Etta-Tawo, senior, Syracuse; Austin Carr, senior, Northwestern

All-purpose player — Christian Kirk, sophomore, Texas A&M

Kicker — Gary Wunderlich, junior, Mississippi

DEFENSE

Ends — Hunter Dimick, senior, Utah; Jordan Willis, senior, Kansas State

Tackles — Christian Wilkins, sophomore, Clemson; Solomon Thomas, junior, Stanford

Linebackers — Kendell Beckwith, senior, LSU; Jimmie Gilbert, senior, Colorado; Ben Boulware, senior, Clemson

Cornerbacks — Teez Tabor, junior, Florida; Cordrea Tankersley, senior, Clemson

Safeties — Nathan Gerry, senior, Nebraska; Weston Steelhammer, senior, Air Force

Punter — Michael Dickson, sophomore, Texas