Da’Shawn Hand: Michigan’s loss is Alabama’s gain

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The general consensus Thursday morning was that Da’Shawn Hand, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, would play his college ball at Michigan. Brady Hoke’s staff was expected to land the nation’s two top recruits, with Hand joining No. 2 overall prospect Jabril Peppers, a defensive back from New Jersey.

But, like everything in college football the last three years, it all came back to Alabama.

“It was hard, but I think I made the right decision,” Hand said. “Roll Tide.”

Hand would’ve been a game-changing recruit for a program like Michigan. Adding him and Peppers to the mix in 2014 could’ve been a boon for Michigan’s BCS hopes, even with both players seeing their first collegiate snaps.

For Alabama, he adds to the ever-growing talent pool in Tuscaloosa.

“I know when I go in, I’m not going to No. 1 on the depth chart, and I know I gotta do a lot of hard work,” Hand said. “But they have the most freshmen playing this year, so anything’s possible.”

No doubt this one stings for Brady Hoke and his coaching staff. At 6-3 and with games at Northwestern and Iowa preceding a season-ending home game vs. Ohio State, Michigan isn’t in great shape. After beating Notre Dame in Week 2, it was hard to imagine this team sputtering to what could be a 7-5 finish. A year ago, Michigan went 8-5.

Hoke isn’t, and shouldn’t be, on the hot seat in Ann Arbor just yet. But landing Hand and Peppers in the same class could’ve positioned Michigan extremely well in a weak conference dominated by their rival to the south.

South Carolina hadn’t won 10 games since 1984 before Jadeveon Clowney — 2011’s No. 1 recruit — came to Columbia. In Clowney’s first two seasons on campus, South Carolina went 11-2; the Gamecocks are 7-2 and likely will make it three consecutive 10-win seasons with a victory over Clemson or in their bowl game.

Of course, there are plenty of other factors that’ve gone into that success beyond just Clowney — the emergence of Marcus Lattimore, for example.

But these No. 1 recruits are game-changers, especially for programs spinning their wheels a bit (side note: Michigan made the 2012 Sugar Bowl less on merit and more on fanbase; eligible teams in Boise State, Kansas State and Baylor all ranked ahead of Michigan in the final regular season BCS standings).

Perhaps Peppers can turn Michigan around on his own. But that’s not an easy task for any single player, let alone a defensive back.

Instead, the game-changing Hand goes to a program not in need of a game-changer. He’ll likely help widen the gap between Alabama and everyone else. Specifically looking at Hand’s choices, he’ll also help widen the gulf between the SEC and Big Ten.

While Hand talked up Alabama’s academics — he’ll major in civil engineering — Michigan brought excellent academics to the table. The difference-maker, then, become this: Two straight national championships, three in four years and a possible three-peat clinched in January.

It’s tough for any program to compete with that.

“Why not go where it’s a great possibility that you can win a national championship,” Hand said. “I’m just excited. Roll Tide.”

NCAA extends recruiting dead period through May 31

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The NCAA has officially extended its dead period for all recruiting activities, shutting down the key spring evaluation period for college football in the process.

In a brief statement released Wednesday afternoon, via Twitter, the NCAA announced the recruiting dead period, which was originally put into effect in mid-March, was extended through May 31. The decision was made following advice and information from experts monitoring the ongoing pandemic linked to COVID-19.

The extended dead period means no face-to-face contact for coaches and recruits, official and unofficial visits, Junior Days, and more. The decision is not unexpected given the current climate in the sports world and with various stay home orders being extended on a state-by-state basis and federal guidelines and recommendations being adjusted.

As with the previous announcement of the dead period, texts and phone calls (and Zoom conference calls?) are all still allowed to keep communication on the recruiting trail open during these unique times.

The NCAA had originally planned to have a dead period lasting until April 15, at which point the NCAA would evaluate the situation before making another decision. As previously noted, April 15 is traditionally the day when coaches were allowed to visit recruits for the spring evaluation period. This extended dead period will wipe that out, at least for now.

Ex-Duke OT Jaylen Miller grad transfers to Tulane

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Tulane is preparing to fill one spot on the offensive line with a graduate transfer from Duke. Offensive tackle Jaylen Miller has committed to the Tulane Green Wave, as reported by NOLA.com on Tuesday. Miller reportedly made his announcement with a message on his Instagram account.

“[I] am beyond excited to start my new journey at Tulane University,” Miller said in his Instagram post. “I am looking forward to grinding, sacrificing, and winning with my new family. Let’s get it.”

As a graduate transfer, Miller will be eligible to play this season for Tulane. It will be expected Miller will be a candidate to fill a starting vacancy on the offensive line for Tulane given his previous experience at Duke.

Miller’s 2018 season was cut short in mid-October due to a fractured ankle. Although Miller eventually missed practicing in the spring of 2019 for the Blue Devils while rehabbing, he did serve in a backup role for the Blue Devils last fall. Miller appeared in nine games.

Rutgers adds commitment from Div. II corner

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Whether on the recruiting trail or transfer portal, Rutgers football is working it on the personnel front under Greg Schiano.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Keenan Reid announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career with the Rutgers football team.  The cornerback spent his first three seasons at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.  Because he’s moving up from the Div. II level, Reid would be eligible to play immediately for the Scarlet Knights in 2020.  He also has a redshirt available if the need arises.

The move will serve as a homecoming as Reid went to high school in Somerset, NJ.

Reid actually enrolled in classes at Rutgers before he even received an offer from the football team.  He participated in walk-on tryouts in late January.  That tryout led to a preferred walk-on offer from Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano.

“I wanted to take a chance on myself. I grew up around Rutgers in Franklin Township right down the street,” the 6-0′, 175-pound Reid told 247Sports.com. “I just wanted to take a chance, come back home and be where I wanted to go from the beginning. This is big for me and my family.”

Reid was a three-year starter for the Lions.  He finished with a pair of interceptions.  He also blocked six kicks during his time at the lower-level school.

Rutgers football hasn’t been shy in dipping into the transfer portal under its first-year coach.  In early February, the program confirmed the addition of four transfers from Power Five programs.  Three of those came from the Big Ten.  Late last month, an FCS offensive lineman was added to the roster as well.

Michigan State sees one punter leave team, another pull his name from transfer portal

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It was a busy day personnel-wise on the punting front for the Michigan State football program.

Last year, Bryce Baringer placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  This week, it was reported that Baringer had pulled his name out of the portal, an indication that the punter has decided to remain as part of the Michigan State football team.

Conversely, Michigan State confirmed that Jack Bouwmeester is no longer part of the Spartans football team.  According to mlive.com, Bouwmeester has returned to his native Australia.  No reason was given for the development.  It’s unclear at this point whether the move is permanent.

Baringer began his collegiate career at Illinois.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2017, Baringer transferred to Michigan State prior to the start of the 2018 season.  Because of injuries that year to the two punters ahead of him on the depth chart, Baringer played in four games.  In that action, he averaged 32.4 yards on 15 punts.  Four of those punts landed inside the 20-yard line.

Mlive.com wrote that “Bouwmeester, who Michigan State found through ProKick Australia, was the program’s first incoming punter recruit to land a scholarship since [Jake] Hartbarger.” Bouwmeester was a three-star 2019 signee, rated as the No. 9 punter in the country.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman after not playing in any games.

Hartbarger served as the primary punter for Michigan State last season.  As a sixth-year senior, Hartbarger’s eligibility has expired.

Baringer is one of three punters currently on the Michigan State roster.  The others are redshirt junior walk-on Tyler Hunt and redshirt freshman walk-on Evan Morris.  Hunt was the second of the two punters injured during that 2018 season.  Hunt, who replaced the injured Hartbarger that year, started five games, punting 36 times for an average of 40.1 yards per.