Score one for Mark Stoops: Blue-chip defensive tackle Matt Elam committed to Kentucky over Alabama Thursday, only adding to a pretty nice 2014 recruiting class for the Wildcats.
247 Sports pegs Elam as a five-star recruit, while Rivals gives him three stars. But the 6-foot-7, 372-pound native of Elizabethtown, Ky., was coveted by plenty of powerful programs, fielding offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee as well as Alabama.
While there’s disagreement on just how good a prospect Elam is, for Stoops and his staff to fend off Nick Saban and college football’s most powerful program is a massive victory.
Rivals rates Kentucky’s 2014 class as the 13th-best nationally, while 247 has them No. 19. That represents a huge gain for a historically downtrodden program, even if eight SEC teams currently have better recruiting classes per 247 Sports.
The SEC East may have been “down” last year, even with two very strong teams in Mizzou and South Carolina topping the division. But with Kentucky and Tennessee bringing in strong recruiting classes, Florida and Georgia having plenty of talent and Mizzou and South Carolina both coming off double digit-win seasons, top-to-bottom the SEC East could soon rival the SEC West as college football’s most difficult division.
The third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night and the top ten remained exactly the same from a week ago. Such a holding pattern was expected after the entire top 10 won a week ago.
It is the first time in the history of the CFP rankings the top 10 has remained the same from one week to the next.
Most notably, Oklahoma did not fall from No. 6 after being pushed to the limit by 5-4 Oklahoma State at home.
Kentucky was the highest-ranked team to lose, a 24-7 loss at Tennessee, and the Cats fell from No. 11 to No. 17.
UCF moved up to No. 11 and Syracuse to No. 12 ahead of their showdown with the Irish. UCF’s No. 11 ranking is the highest a Group of 5 team has ever appeared in 28 sets of CFP rankings.
Mississippi State remained the highest-ranked 4-loss team, edging out Northwestern at No. 21. Utah State, Cincinnati and Boise State joined the rankings in the final three spots.
3. Notre Dame
8. Washington State
9. West Virginia
10. Ohio State
14. Penn State
16. Iowa State
20. Boston College
21. Mississippi State
23. Utah State
25. Boise State
The two major rule changes in college football over the past decade have combined into one on the Oregon wide receiver depth chart.
Oregon wide receiver Tabari Hines, who arrived in Eugene by way of a graduate transfer out of Wake Forest, has announced he will take this season as a redshirt year and pursue a second graduate transfer elsewhere.
“Tabari Hines is not on roster right now,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal told The Oregonian. “He is on the transfer portal. He will use this year to redshirt and transfer out.”
A native of Florence, S.C., Hines signed with Wake Forest as an early enrollee and caught 32 passes for 366 yards, a school record for a true freshman. Hines’s production increased from there, catching 38 balls as a sophomore and 53 as a junior — the most on the team.
However, Hines decided to try his luck elsewhere and left for Oregon, but has caught only three passes for 32 yards and one touchdown, all of them in a 62-14 win over Portland State in September. He has appeared in three games, none since Pac-12 play began.
Given that, Hines will use the new redshirt rule to take a mulligan and now find a third school to play for — or perhaps he realizes the grass wasn’t really greener and returns to Wake Forest.
Virginia Tech’s embattled defense has taken yet another hit.
Justin Fuente confirmed Monday Houshun Gaines will miss the remainder of Virginia Tech’s 2018 season because of a knee injury. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster had previously stated that the defensive end had suffered a torn ACL.
Gaines suffered the injury in Saturday’s blowout loss to Pitt.
“House plays extremely hard and will be missed, but he’ll be very quickly on the road to recovery and we look forward to having him out there next year,” the head coach said by way of the Roanoke Times.
The redshirt junior currently leads the Hokies in sacks with 4½, while his five tackles for loss are tied for fourth.
Last September, Kasim Hill‘s season came to a premature end thanks to a torn ACL in his right knee. During Saturday’s loss to Indiana, Hill suffered what appeared to be a significant injury to his other knee.
In fact, in an Instagram post Monday, the Maryland starting quarterback intimated that it was yet another torn ACL as he alluded to “attacking the process all over again.”
Tuesday, acting head coach Matt Canada confirmed that Hill had indeed suffered another torn ACL. Obviously, the sophomore’s season has come to an end.
Hill had started all 10 games under center for the Terrapins this season. He completed under 50 percent of his 170 passes for nine touchdowns and four interceptions. His passing efficiency rating of 115.7 is 10th in the Big Ten and 100th nationally.
Sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome is expected to take over for Hill as the Terps’ starting quarterback.