A&M aiming to name starting QB in next two weeks

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The race to replace Johnny Manziel renewed in earnest Friday at Texas A&M, with Jake Spavital making it perfectly clear that this will be a quarterback competition in the truest — and fairest –sense of the word.

The two combatants, sophomore Kenny Hill (pictured) and true freshman Kyle Allen, commenced the initial phase of the competition during spring practice. As the fight for the job moves into summer camp, each will be getting their fair share of reps.

And by fair share, Spavital means split evenly right down the middle.

“Right now, we’re splitting reps 50/50. There is no front-runner yet,” the A&M offensive coordinator said. “Each day, we hope to give the guys equal amounts with the 1’s and the 2’s. We’re going to put them in the same situations and see where the competition goes from there.”

The hope is that, through the first 15 days of camp, one of the two separates himself for the other, allowing the coaching staff to name a starter and give him plenty of time to prepare for the opener against South Carolina a couple of weeks later.

As for the two competitors? Hill showed flashes last season that lead some to believe he could, like Manziel two years ago, be successful and productive right out of the gate. Allen comes in with the high-profile pedigree, a five-star member of the Aggies’ 2014 recruiting class rated as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 7 player at any position.

Spavital offered up his thumbnail thoughts on the two candidates, via the San Antonio Express-News, after the first day of camp:

On sophomore Kenny Hill: “He’s been here for a year, and he’s learned under Johnny Manziel and understands how this offense operates. He’s more of an athletic guy, and he’s got a pretty quick release, too.”

On freshman Kyle Allen: “He’s inexperienced, but he’s been here six months and gone through spring ball. He’s got a very strong arm and probably throws the best deep ball out of all of them.”

The way it stands now, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either of the two under center when the Aggies travel to Columbia later this month in a game against the Gamecocks that will also serve as the SEC opener for both programs.

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.