Tee Martin: toughest decision he’s ‘ever had to make’

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After Butch Jones openly acknowledged during his introductory press conference that he’d be open to bringing Tee Martin back to Rocky Top… after Martin acknowledged he’d been offered a spot on the coaching staff at his alma mater Tennessee… after all the will he/won’t he, the last player to quarterback the Vols to a national championship declined a return.

In his initial comments on the decision, Martin cited “a commitment to my players at USC” as part of the reason behind eschewing a return to his collegiate home.

In a statement released Tuesday night through USC, where he has served as wide receivers coach for the past year, Martin expounded on the decision.

“I was very honored to be offered a position on Coach Jones’ Tennessee staff. I truly believe he will do an outstanding job with the Vols program. My decision to remain at USC was the toughest I have ever had to make because Tennessee is such a special place to me.

“At the end of the day, I am a man of my word. I promised Coach Kiffin when I was hired at USC that I had goals I wanted to accomplish here. We still have work to do here to reach those goals. I see a great future at USC with the players on our roster and the recruits we have coming in.

“I have so much love and respect for Tennessee. But at this time, the right decision was to continue at USC and I am looking forward to doing that.”

In the end, Martin made a commitment to not only USC but to the players he recruited, and to the families in whose living room he sat all along the recruiting trail.  And, after some very real and understandable heart-tugging back toward where he came from, actually stuck to that commitment.

That’s very rare these days.  And immensely commendable and admirable.

(Photo credit: USC athletics)

Former South Carolina DE announces transfer to TCU

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TCU loses its top two sack artists from 2018 to 2019, but some help just arrived.

Shameik Blackshear (above, top) announced on Saturday he will spend his final year of college football in Fort Worth.

The Bluffton, S.C., native played his first three seasons at South Carolina, where collected 34 tackles and one sack. He appeared in all 13 of the Gamecocks’ games in 2018, including two starts.

He’ll have a chance to compete for an immediate starting role following the graduations of Ben Banogu and LJ Collier plus the departure of Michael Collier. Banogu and Collier combined for 14.5 sacks in 2018, more than 40 percent of the Frogs’ 35 total sacks.

Blackshear is the second Power 5 graduate transfer to pick TCU this week. The Frogs also secured the services of former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton.

Penn State LB Jarvis Miller announces graduate transfer to UMass

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UMass signed one of its biggest recruits since joining FBS, four years after he left high school.

Penn State linebacker Jarvis Miller has announced he will leave State College to spend his final season in Amherst.

“After much prayer and consideration with my family I have decided to play my 5th year of eligibility at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst will pursuing my Masters (sic) Degree,” Miller wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “To the Penn State fan base you are the best fans anyone could ask for ! It has been the most memorable 4 years of my life.”

A consensus 3-star recruit, Miller was viewed as a top-10 player in the state of Connecticut when he signed with the Nittany Lions out of Suffield.

Miller redshirted in 2015, then played in 33 career games as a special teams player and reserve linebacker. He collected 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack while in blue and white.

Florida State QB James Blackman reportedly not considering transfer after all

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It appears a bad debut season for Willie Taggart at Florida State is not going to get worse.

After it was reported Wednesday that Seminoles quarterback James Blackman had entered his name into the transfer portalWarchant reported that no such entry had been made as of the end of the business week.

Of course, entering one’s name into the transfer portal wouldn’t guarantee a transfer, but it’s simply not possible to transfer without putting your name in, so it appears that — as of this writing, at least — Blackman is intent on returning to Tallahassee for his junior season.

Starting quarterback Deondre Francois also dealt with a similar rumor last month. As of now, he remains a Seminole as well.

While playing for the injured Francois, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a true freshman in 2017. Francois returned to health and the starting lineup this past season, connecting on 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,731 yards with 15 scores against 12 picks. Blackman went 33-of-51 for 510 yards with five touchdowns and one interception as his backup.

As Francois’ numbers indicated, the Seminoles sputtered offensively in Taggart’s debut campaign. Florida State finished 110th nationally in yards per play, 93rd in passing efficiency and 113th in scoring. However, both signal callers would be wise to stick around. Taggart hired Kendal Briles to run his offense. In 1-season stints at Florida Atlantic and Houston, Briles pushed the Owls from 80th to eighth in scoring and the Cougars from 65th to fifth.

Georgia hires Charlton Warren away from Florida

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Kirby Smart killed a whole slew of birds with one stone on Saturday.

Georgia announced the hiring of Charlton Warren as its new defensive backs coach. Warren spent 2018 as the cornerbacks coach at Florida, where he was considered one of the best recruiters on the staff.

In a surely unrelated story, Kaiir Elam, a 4-star defensive back pursued by the Bulldogs and Gators, was in Athens on Saturday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Charlton is from Atlanta and has a wide range of experience coaching defensive football at several universities and conferences around the country,” Smart said in a statement.

“His entire coaching career has been on the defensive side of the ball and especially defensive backs,” Smart said. “He has developed an outstanding record and reputation in the coaching profession and he’ll bring great knowledge and energy to our staff.” 

Warren’s hire is also a window into Smart’s thought process on his defensive coordinator hire. Mel Tucker served as Georgia’s defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach before leaving to become Colorado’s head coach, so hiring Warren would mean Smart would have to throw someone overboard to make room in the boat for a new defensive coordinator. Since that isn’t likely to happen, look for outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning or inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann to be Georgia’s next defensive coordinator.