Vols zeroing in on a Strong hire?

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With three of the four coaching vacancies in the SEC already filled, the lone remaining coach-less school in that conference could be on the verge of a hire that would trump them all.

According to ESPN.com SEC blogger Chris Low, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong “has emerged as the front-runner to be the next head coach at Tennessee.”  Low stressed in his report that nothing has been finalized, and Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has already gone on record publicly as stating that he would do whatever it takes to retain Strong, up to and including making him the highest-paid head coach at the FBS level.

That honor currently belongs to Alabama’s Nick Saban at nearly $5.5 million in 2012.

Strong has been connect to numerous vacancies in the past month, including the one at Auburn that will be filled by Gus Malzahn.  In the wake of that speculation in late November, what was described as an angry Strong vehemently denied the rumors to several media out lets.

“I didn’t interview with Auburn, I have a job,” the coach said at the time.

Less than a week later, Strong was asked Monday about the speculation still surrounding him and his coaching future.

“I will say that at the right time,” Strong said in answering the question of whether he will be the coach at Louisville next season.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy has also been connected to the UT job.

Starting Nevada safety transfers to BYU

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Nevada’s secondary loss will turn into BYU’s gain.

In early December, it was reported that Nephi Sewell will be transferring from Nevada.  Less than two weeks later, Sewell took to Twitter over the weekend to announce that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at BYU.

The move serves as a homecoming for Sewell as the defensive back played his high school football in the state of Utah.

As a sophomore this season, Sewell started all 10 games in which he played after starting eight games in 2017. His 53 tackles in 2018 were good for sixth on the team.

Sewell’s older brother, Gabe Sewell, is a junior linebacker for Nevada and currently leads the Wolf Pack in tackles with 85.  His younger brother, Penei Sewell, is a freshman offensive lineman at Oregon.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

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When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

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For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet Football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

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One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.