CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 20 Texas

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2013 record: 8-5 overall, 7-2 in the Big 12 Conference (4th in the Big 12)
2013 postseason: Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon Ducks (30-7 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: Not ranked
Head coach: Charlie Strong (37-16 overall; 1st year at Texas)
Offensive coordinatorJoe Wickline (1st year at Texas)
2013 offensive rankings: 36th rushing offense (196.2 ypg); 79th passing offense (212.5 ypg); 64th total offense (408.7 ypg); 65th scoring offense (29.3 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: seven
Defensive coordinator: Vance Bedford (1st year at Texas)
2013 defensive rankings: 83th rushing defense (183.1 ypg); 53rd passing defense (224.2 ypg);  68th total defense (407.2 ypg); 57th scoring defense (25.8 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: eight
Location: Austin, Texas
Stadium: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119 capacity; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2009

THE GOOD
Texas is absolutely loaded with talent from the top of the roster to the bottom. It’s only been two years since the Longhorns were putting together Top 5 recruiting classes. And Texas should benefit from those top recruits becoming upperclassmen. Running back Malcolm Brown, linebacker Steve Edmond, cornerback Quandre Diggs and defensive tackle Malcom Brown were elite recruits now expected to be leaders of the team. The talent on the roster is there to mold. It simply comes down to finding the right scheme and place said talent in the position to succeed. That’s where a new coaching staff can come in, have instant success and win at a high level even with the same team that’s struggled to win more than eight games the past four seasons.

THE BAD
Last season, the Louisville Cardinals finished as the top defense in college football. The Cardinals staff is now taking over at Texas, and they inherit a Texas defense that played far below expectations in recent seasons. The argument can be made that Texas plays in the wide-open Big 12 conference, which features some of the most explosive offenses in college football and skews the stats. Yet, Texas’ defense last year was substandard even for the Big 12. The Longhorns didn’t finish better than fifth in the conference in any of the major defensive statistics. The one area on defense the team excelled in 2013 was getting to the quarterback. Unfortunately, the team’s top sack artist from a year ago, Jackson Jeffcoat, has departed for the NFL and will be replaced by junior Shiro Davis. Bookend Cedric Reed returns as does the ultra-talented Malcom Brown. The Longhorns’ new head coach, Charlie Strong, hangs his newly fashioned 10-gallon hat on playing tough and fundamentally sound defense. The talent is there for the new staff to exploit. The coaches must simply develop the available talent to play at a much higher level than they’ve grown to expect in recent years.

THE UNKNOWN
There is a new sheriff in town and his last name is Strong. A multitude of questions comes along with the departure of Mack Brown after 16 seasons as the Longhorns’ head coach. Strong has already begun to answer some of those questions. The new coach immediately displayed strong leadership when he either dismissed or suspended multiple players, which included four projected starters. Recruiting appears to be picking up in recent weeks. These moves, however, are merely the first indications of Strong’s performance. Strong and his staff will need to build off their current momentum and ride it into the season. Strong proved to be a highly successful head coach at Louisville. But can he improve the Longhorns’ stagnant offense? Can Texas’ defense play to Strong’s standards? Will the young talent on the roster develop and reach their potential? As Strong answers questions, more will continue to come until he quiets the rabble with strong team performances each and every Saturday.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Oklahoma
The Red River Rivalry is important every year, but it’s exponentially so this season. When the Longhorns meet the Oklahoma Sooners on Oct. 11, it’s a chance for Strong to make a statement. Mack Brown won his last game against the Sooners, and the team did so in an impressive fashion. If Strong falls short, the negative comparisons will automatically commence. While Brown’s Longhorns upset the 12th ranked Sooners a year ago, Oklahoma is regarded as Top 5 program this fall. Strong can set the tone during this game and prove he was the right choice for the job by taking out Texas’ bitter rival.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: RB Malcolm Brown
While Texas’ roster is supremely talented, potential Heisman candidates are limited (to put it kindly). None of the players currently on the roster have lived up to their lofty status coming into Austin as recruits. Malcolm Brown is the closest of the bunch. The running back has shown the ability to take over games for stretches and be a dynamic runner. Last season, Malcolm Brown led the team with 904 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He was at his best late in the season with three straight games of 128 yards or more. If quarterback David Ash can play at a higher level and consistently threaten defenses in the passing game, Brown could explode for massive rushing totals. And the University of Texas could have its first Heisman Trophy winner since Ricky Williams.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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.