Has Auburn found someone better than Dee Ford?

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With Auburn’s spring game on tap for this coming weekend, have the defending SEC champions already found a replacement for Dee Ford, one of the top defensive players in the country last season? With Ford off to the NFL, Carl Lawson has stepped in to fill some big shoes this spring, and he is winning the respect of his teammates in the process.

“Carl’s a physical beast,” defensive tackle Gabe Wright said to Al.com. “Carl is definitely showing some traits on that left side, looking almost as good or better than Dee.”

Better than Dee?

Ford was named First-team All-SEC in 2013 who recorded 14.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks in helping to get Auburn to the BCS Championship Game. He finished the 2013 season second in the SEC in sacks per game despite missing the first two games of the season due to a left knee sprain. Can Lawson be better than that? He is certainly showing he has the work ethic to clear the bar. As a true freshman last season Lawson won playing time as the season progressed as he was named to multiple Freshman All-America lists at the end of the year. As good as he was, even Lawson believes he could have been better last season, and that thought should send fear down the spines of opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks in the fall.

“I feel like now that I have more of an understanding of what I’m doing, I can coach (the rest of the line) up,” Lawson said to Al.com. “The older guys, too, they coach me up as well. I guess there’s nobody in particular I lean on. We all lean on each other.”

Time will tell just how much of an impact Lawson has on the Auburn defense in 2014, but this Saturday could provide a glimpse of what is to come as the Tigers wrap up spring practices with the annual spring game.

Ex-Oklahoma four-star DE Ron Tatum Jr. commits UTSA

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UTSA is now the home for a one-time, big-time football recruit.  Unofficially, the Roadrunners are his new home we should say.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Ron Tatum Jr., announced that he has committed to the UTSA football team.  The defensive lineman spent the 2019 season at Northeast Oklahoma A&M.

Tatum would be eligible to play for the Conference USA school in 2020, although 247Sports.com lists his class as 2021.

“I want to start out by saying God is great and he steady showing me he has a plan,” the lineman wrote. “I want to Thank my entire family, my siblings and especially my dad and mom for staying with me and believing in me through this challenging journey.  I also want to Thank NEO Football and the University, especially Coach Allen and Coach Crissup for always pushing me and believing me when things got tough.

“With that being said I’ll be committing to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)! Thanks you Coach Traylor and Coach Wright for giving me another opportunity.”

Tatum was a four-star member of Oklahoma’s Class of 2018.  The Oklahoma City native was rated as the No. 3 player regardless of position in the Sooner State.  He was also the No. 5 strongside defensive end in the country.

Tatum took a redshirt as a true freshman for the Sooners.  In February of 2019, the 6-5, 270-pound end entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

UTSA is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  The Roadrunners are now 19-29 under head coach Frank Wilson.  The C-USA school is scheduled to open the 2020 season against defending national champ LSU.  In Baton Rouge.

Kent State QB Marquez Glover makes move to the transfer portal

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It’s been a rough last few weeks for the Kent State football program

It’s starting punter the past three years, Derek Adams, transferred to Northwestern.  Duke linebacker Jacob Morgenstern, who had committed to Kent State football in March, opted late last month to transfer to Texas Tech instead.

Now, 247Sports.com has reported, quarterback Marquez Glover has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  As he’ll be just a redshirt sophomore entering 2020, Glover will very likely have to sit out the 202 season.  That would leave him with two years of eligibility moving forward in 2021.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Grover was a member of the Kent State football Class of 2018.  The Florida prospect didn’t see the field in the regular season during his time with the MAC school.  He did, though, show flashes of talent during the 2019 spring game.

Kent State is coming off just its fifth bowl-eligible football season in the past four decades. The Golden Flashes also captured their first-ever bowl win following the 2019 regular season.

Nebraska will allow football players to return to campus for voluntary workouts June 1

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Count Nebraska as the latest football domino to fall.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1.  The SEC subsequently confirmed its players would be returning June 8.  Both Ohio State and Illinois from the Big Ten will be doing the same on the same date.  And, as far as that goes, so are Clemson and Louisville.

Friday, Nebraska announced that it will be getting a one-week jump on its Bi1G counterpart by allowing student-athletes, including football players, to return to campus starting June 1.  Not surprisingly, the university has constructed a detailed plan with protocols that will allow Nebraska football players and others to return safely as they prepare for the upcoming seasons.

From the school’s release outlining testing measures and safety procedures:

  • The first step in the plan for student-athletes who are outside of Lincoln is the gathering of pre-travel information and education, followed by guidelines for traveling back to Lincoln.
  • All student-athletes returning to Lincoln from an outside location will quarantine for a minimum of 48 hours when arriving in Lincoln. Student-athletes living by themselves off campus may quarantine at their home, while those living on campus will quarantine in a designated on-campus dormitory.
  • Following the completion of the quarantine period, the student-athlete will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and return a confirmed negative result before being allowed to access athletic department facilities.
  • Any student-athlete returning a positive test will be required to remain at their residence and self-isolate and follow positive test guidelines. A student-athlete who tests positive will be required to secure two negative tests before completing the self-isolation period.
  • Once a student-athlete is cleared to access athletic facilities for a voluntary workout, they will follow a series of guidelines to help ensure the safest and cleanest workout environment possible:
  1. Workouts will be conducted in small groups and must be in accordance with all local and state guidelines.
  2. Student-athletes will have daily symptom checks and receive instant-read temperature checks prior to entering the facility.
  3. Once cleared to enter the facility, student-athletes will be required to wear a daily wrist band to exhibit medical clearance.
  4. Student-athlete access in the athletic facilities will be limited only to areas that are related to participating in voluntary workouts. Locker room access will not be allowed at this time.
  • Protocols are also in place for handwashing, distancing during workouts, disinfecting equipment between lifts and workouts, and laundry services.

“The plan we have developed is done with the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community as our top priority,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said in a statement. “We have strict protocol that will involve quarantines, testing and detailed cleaning and safety measures. The guidelines we have in place will be strictly followed as our student-athletes return to prepare for their upcoming seasons.”

Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood seeking immediate eligibility at Kentucky

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Kentucky may not immediately have a Power Five football transfer at its disposal.  Or, it may.  Depends.

Joey Gatewood decided in late October of last year to transfer from Auburn.  On the Tigers quarterback’s transfer to-do list were Florida, Kentucky, LSU and Mississippi State, among others.  In early December, Gatewood opted to transfer to Kentucky.

Normally, Gatewood would have to sit out the 2020 season for the Wildcats.  However, the player and the Kentucky football program will seek a waiver that would allow Gatewood to play this upcoming campaign.  That process began in the spring.

The basis for which a waiver is being sought is unclear.

A four-star 2018 signee, Gatewood was rated as the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 49 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  The Jacksonville product was the highest-rated signee in the Tigers’ class that year.

After redshirting as a true freshman — and after losing out on the starting job to Bo Nix — Gatewood threw for 54 yards and two touchdowns prior to his decision to transfer.  He also added another 148 yards and three scores on the ground.

Terry Wilson Will Likely head into summer camp as QB1 for UK.  Wilson began 2019 as the starter before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.  His replacement, Sawyer Smith, also suffered a season-ending injury.  And will also return for 2020.