True frosh tapped as Ok. St.’s starting QB

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For the first time in nearly two decades — or ever — Oklahoma State will (probably) head into a season opener with a true freshman under center.

Following a one-day “delay”, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy announced Thursday that 2012 recruit Wes Lunt has been named as his starting quarterback.  The early enrollee received the news from offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who informed the freshman this morning that he had officially been handed the reins of OSU’s offense.

Lunt will replace Brandon Weeden, who left for the NFL following record-breaking passing seasons the past two years.

“I’m overwhelmed. It’s such a humbling experience,” Lunt said in a statement released by the school. “Coming in early, I knew I had a chance to compete for the job and to get it is just overwhelming. I know that we’re still going to compete through summer and two-a-days, so it’s not over.”

Lunt was involved in a three-way battle for the starting job with junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh throughout the spring.  As far as anyone could tell, the trio had been relatively neck-and-neck-and-neck throughout the spring, and, at least statistically, the spring game did nothing to separate one from the others.

Other than “scoring points”, Gundy gave no specific reasons for the coaching staff’s decision.

“We had to make a decision based on what we thought was best for our offense to score points and then give us the best chance to win football games,” Gundy said. “All three players had good springs, but at some point, the decision is made on the field.

“There’s always a comment about who coaches are going to name as the starter at any position, but the coaches usually don’t make that decision – the decision is made by the players. Wes performed better than the other two quarterbacks in the spring.”

Under Weeden — who was of legal drinking age the year Lunt was born* — the past two seasons, the Cowboys have finished No. 2 in passing offense each of those years, and finished No. 2 (2011) and No. 3 (2010) in scoring offense as well.  Those are certainly huge shoes to fill for Lunt, although it appears he will be given the chance to fill them at least through the early portion of the regular season.  After that?  The onus will fall squarely on Lunt’s young shoulders to produce to the offensive level the Cowboys and its fans have become accustomed to in Stillwater.

“We’ve named our starting quarterback and Wes will start in the first game barring (unforeseen) circumstances,” Gundy said. “It’s his responsibility, with the help of the mature players on offense, to lead our team from this point forward.”

Lunt was a four-star member of OSU’s 2012 recruiting class out of Rochester, Ill., rated as the No. 7 pro-style QB in the country by Rivals.com.  Barring the unforeseen, he will become the first true freshman to start at QB for the Cowboys since Tone’ Jones in 1993.  The school’s release notes that “OSU record books shows no true freshman having started a season opener since at least 1950.”

(*that may or may not be true)

(Photo credit: Oklahoma State athletics)

LSU lands commitment from nation’s No. 1 cornerback

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LSU rarely loses a player it wants out of Louisiana. Now add in that said player isn’t just from Louisiana, but lives in Baton Rouge. Now add in that he’s regarded as the No. 1 player at his position. Yeah, this kid was never going anywhere else.

Derek Stingley, Jr., committed to LSU on Wednesday, beating out Texas and Florida.

Rivals ranks Stingley as the No. 1 corner and No. 1 overall player in its 2019 rankings. Stingley stands as the No. 1 corner and the No. 8 overall player on the 247Sports ratings. ESPN is more bullish on Stingley, slotting him as just the No. 3 cornerback and the No. 67 overall player. (247Sports lists Lewis Center, Ohio, defensive end Zach Harrison as its No. 1 overall player, while ESPN favors Westlake Village, Calif., defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.)

Stingley was previously committed to LSU, but de-committed to take his time and make an informed decision. All that information led him to the exact same conclusion.

“There are a lot of reasons I love LSU, but the main thing is coach Corey Raymond. We have built a strong relationship over a long period of time. We have really gotten to know each other. I am relaxed around him, we can talk about anything and I know he will be there for me at any time. Our connection is what really pushed LSU to the top,” he told Rivals. “This commitment is completely different. I took my time. I put more time into it and really looked at other schools. I got caught up in the hype before and I did not know anything about recruiting or other schools. I know all I need to know now and LSU is the school for me. I am done now and I will not visit any other schools.”

LSU’s 13-man class is rated No. 10 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Vanderbilt transfer DL Rutger Reitmaier receives all-clear from NCAA

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Vanderbilt got some good news Wednesday when the NCAA approved transfer Rutger Reitmaier to compete this fall.

The Nashville native signed with Oregon out of high school in 2017 but did not compete for the Ducks. He left the team after spring practice, sat out the 2017 season and enrolled at Vanderbilt in January.

“Adding Rutger to our roster is huge,” head coach Derek Mason told Vanderbilt’s official site. “He adds depth, athleticism and will be a key piece for us. I’m excited about what an impactful player he is, and it’s great to add another quality player from Nashville.”

A 4-star recruit, Reitmaier was recruited by the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina, but favored Vanderbilt when leaving Oregon.

“Vanderbilt was the first school I considered after deciding to leave Oregon,” he said. “It was one of my top-three schools during my initial recruitment in high school. Defense wins championships, so having a head coach like Coach Mason with that background was attractive for me. I’m excited to get going.”

 

Northwestern announces slew of schedule changes, including future home-and-homes with Tulane and Rice

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Northwestern claims they have the best home schedule in the country for the upcoming 2018 season and they have a pretty good case with Duke, Akron, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Notre Dame all coming to Ryan Field. Based on the latest moves on their future schedules however, that good run of big names doesn’t quite continue.

The school announced a slew of new games in the coming years on Wednesday, including a pair of home-and-homes with AAC and CUSA opponents. First up is a date with Tulane in Evanston on Sept. 12, 2020, followed by a return game in New Orleans on Aug. 30, 2025. As a result of that first game against the Green Wave, the Wildcats had to move their previously scheduled contest against Central Michigan from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19 in 2020 (also at home).

Another school in the South was also added to the NU docket with a second home-and-home series with Rice way out in the future. The pair will play in Houston on Sept. 8, 2029, while the return game at Ryan Field is set for Sept. 6… 2031. Yeah, 2031. The two teams will also meet in 2024 and 2025.

A single home game against FCS power South Dakota State was also announced by Northwestern and will be played on Sept. 12, 2026.

The moves mean the Wildcats’ non-conference slate is pretty much set in 2019 (at Stanford, vs. UNLV and UMass), 2022 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Southern Illinois) and 2024 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Rice). The games announced Wednesday fill in some of the holes left in other years but outside of the trip to the Farm next season and a home-and-home with Colorado in 2026/27, there’s not a ton to write home about.

At least Northwestern will always have that 2018 home schedule to point to.

NCAA data shows number of graduate transfers in football nearly doubled last year

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The biggest issue the NCAA is tackling at the moment is an easy one to pick out: transfers. Coaches have chimed in about potential changes and new rules have been enacted but even as we approach the Media Days portion of the calendar next month, transfer talk has been one of the hot topics across all major sports at the collegiate level.

Perhaps that interest is one reason why the NCAA released a new study this week looking into the numbers of one particular category of players: graduate transfers. While the number of actual graduate transfers remains relatively low (about 1% of the total number of student-athletes), the number itself continues to skyrocket year-by-year as more and more players take advantage of rules that allow them to graduate and play immediately at their next school.

According to the NCAA, that number of grad transfers is five times bigger in 2017 than it was in 2011 for men’s sports alone and football in particular saw the number of players moving around nearly double from 117 total in 2016 to 211 the following season. The rates are higher in men’s basketball but the overall number is naturally much bigger in football given the vastly bigger roster size.

Data for 2018 was naturally not made available since we’re just in the middle of the year but a similar increase wouldn’t be too surprising to see given the number of big names that have made headlines prior to the upcoming season. That includes players like Michigan’s Wilton Speight (to UCLA), Cal’s Tre Watson (to Texas), Notre Dame’s Jay Hayes (to Georgia) and Alabama’s Brandon Kennedy (to Tennessee) all among those taking the grad transfer route. It seems like nearly every week we see one or two players announce their intentions to take a similar path.

While we might not have 400+ players listed as graduate transfers in football when 2018 comes to a close, it certainly doesn’t appear that this trend will be slowing down anytime soon and the coaches that are complaining about this brand of “free agency” in college football will just have to get used to the new reality of player movement in light of a number of new NCAA reforms on the subject.