Kentucky, Ohio State and WVU reportedly on Rushel Shell’s transfer list

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Since returning to Pitt is not an option for Rushel Shell, the former Panthers running back now must find a new home.

Speaking to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Shell’s mother said her son has a strong interest in, and received his release to play for, the following schools: Kentucky, Ohio State, and Pitt’s (former) Backyard Brawl rival, West Virginia. The plan, Toni Zuccaro told the paper, is for Shell to visit all three schools over the summer and make a decision before the start of fall camp.

Shell’s mother also confirmed the reason her son wavered on his decision to transfer to UCLA was because he wanted to be closer to his 16-month-old twin daughters. While Zuccaro didn’t have many flattering things to say about Pitt, she said UCLA’s coaches were more understanding of her son’s wishes.

If Shell transfers to any one of the three programs reportedly on his short list, he will have to sit out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules unless he receives a special waiver. Shell is apparently okay with that and not interested in transferring down to the FCS or Division II level. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Ohio State and WVU offered Shell out of high school, and a pair of former Pitt players, Chris and Demitrious Davis, transferred to Kentucky earlier this month.

As the primary backup to Ray Graham last season, Shell rushed for 641 yards and four touchdowns.  Both of those totals were good for second on the team, and tops among returning backs.

Tennessee LB booted from Florida loss releases statement

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On a night the Vols celebrated their 1998 national championship team, Tennessee played about as far away from national championship-caliber football as you’ll ever see a Tennessee team play. The Vols lost to Florida 47-21 in a game that was simultaneously better and worse than the final score. Tennessee was only out-gained 387-364 and won the first downs battle 18-14, but much of that was due all the short fields the Vols gave Florida after coughing up half a dozen turnovers. When fans started pouring out of Neyland Stadium early in the third quarter, the scoreboard read Florida 33, Tennessee 3.

And that’s not all.

Over the course of the game, head coach Jeremy Pruitt told linebacker Quart’e Sapp to leave the field after Sapp, Pruitt said, declined to enter the game.

“Since I’ve been here, Quarte has been a really good ambassador to our program, he’s done everything I’ve asked him,” Pruitt said. “He left the field because he wouldn’t go into the game when he was asked to go in. I don’t know how things were done before, but when you tell somebody to go in and they refuse to go in, we’re not going to do that around here. So I asked him to leave.”

On Sunday, Sapp released a statement on Twitter saying he did not refuse to go in the game. Sapp’s statement does not clarify exactly what happened, but he expressly denies he was asked to enter the game and refused.

“During the UT vs. UF game I was never asked nor did I refuse to go into the game. There was a sideline confrontation (I’m sure will be resolve internally that occurred and the other party had to be restrained.”

Sapp, a redshirt junior, was listed as Tennessee’s No. 2 weakside linebacker entering the Florida game. Given the praise Pruitt heaped upon Sapp above and the fact Tennessee can’t exactly turn away able bodies with Georgia, Auburn and Alabama coming up in its next three games, but bet here is this spat gets resolved internally and everyone moves on.

Minnesota DB Antoine Winfield, Jr. to miss remainder of season with foot injury

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For the second year in a row, Antoine Winfield, Jr.‘s season ends just four games after it started.

After appearing in 12 games and starting nine as a true freshman in 2016, Winfield was lost for the year four games into his sophomore campaign of 2017. He obtained a hardship waiver to play this season as a redshirt sophomore, but now will miss the rest of the season to a foot injury suffered in a 42-13 loss to Maryland on Saturday.

He will undergo surgery on Monday.

In a statement announcing the injury, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck announced the Gophers will pursue another hardship waiver for Winfield, meaning he would be a fourth-year sophomore in 2019 if approved.

Winfield is the second Gopher to be lost for the season, following running back Rodney Smith.

“We are heartbroken for Antoine,” Fleck said. “Like Rodney Smith, I know he will keep his oar in the water, keep moving forward and will work tirelessly to return to the field next season. We believe Antoine meets the waiver requirement for a sixth year of eligibility and we will file that waiver with the NCAA at the conclusion of the season.”

Winfield led all Gophers defensive backs with 17 tackles on the year while tying for the team lead with one interception. He was also the team’s punt returner, notching a 76-yard score in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 1 and a 31-yard return in a 26-3 defeat of Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 15.

Minnesota (3-1) is off Saturday before visiting Iowa on Oct. 6

Wake Forest fires defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel

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Wake Forest has relieved defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel of duties, head coach Dave Clawson announced Sunday.

After starting the season 2-0 with wins over Tulane and Towson, the Demon Deacons have allowed 97 points in consecutive losses to Boston College and No. 8 Notre Dame.

“This was a difficult decision and not a spur of the moment decision,” said Clawson.  “I want to thank Coach Sawvel for all his hard work with our football program over the last two years.  Coach Sawvel is a very good person and a good football coach.”

Wake Forest ranks 110th nationally in yards per play allowed (6.35) and 106th in scoring (33.5).

With Sawvel out, defensive analyst Tom Gilmore has been elevated to the full-time staff as outside linebackers coach. Coordinator duties will be split up amongst the remaining staff, and specific duties have yet to be assigned. Gilmore joined the Wake staff over the summer; he was formerly the head coach at Holy Cross.

Wake Forest (2-2) hosts Rice on Saturday.

Virginia Tech dismisses DE Trevon Hill

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Virginia Tech had a disaster of a night Saturday in Norfolk, falling to winless Old Dominion in a 49-35 stunner. The Monarchs dropped 632 yards on the hapless Hokies, the most ever allowed by a Bud Foster defense, and surrendered 28 fourth quarter points to turn a 28-21 lead into a 49-35 loss.

Perhaps such a performance, shocking as it may be, was inevitable after losing 10 players from last year’s defense, including four over the summer.

But if that’s the standard for how Virginia Tech will defend, things are about to get a whole lot worse. Head coach Justin Fuente announced Sunday that starting defensive end Trevon Hill has been booted from the team, effective immediately.

“After consultation with our coaching staff and administration at Virginia Tech, Trevon Hill has been dismissed from the football team effective immediately for not upholding the high standards that we have for our student-athletes at Virginia Tech,”’ Fuente said in a statement. “I will always put the interests of Virginia Tech and our team first no matter how difficult those decisions may be.”

Hill was, and still is, Virginia Tech’s leader in sacks (3.5) and tackles for loss (4.5). No other Hokie has more than one sack through three games.

He seems to be taking it… well.

As if that wasn’t enough, starting quarterback Josh Jackson left the ODU loss with an injury, and a team spokesman had no update on Sunday.

The Hokies (2-1) visit unbeaten Duke on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).