Gators grab 21-7 halftime lead on Pirates in Birmingham Bowl

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In the second-to-last non-playoff bowl game remaining, it’s a Power Five team getting the best of a Group of Five squad.

After two quarters of play, Florida overcame a sluggish start to grab a 21-7 halftime lead on East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.  This is just the second meeting between the two programs, with the first coming in 1983.

And while UF grabbed what for the moment is a comfortable lead, it was ECU that actually took an early 7-0 on a Justin Hardy touchdown reception, after which the all-time FBS leader in career receptions busted out the Gator Chomp.  After that, though, it was all Gators.

Appropriately enough, a defensive touchdown — a Brian Poole pick-six — opened the scoring for UF late in the first quarter.

Adam Lane, a 5-7, 222-pound redshirt freshman who could very well double as a beer keg in the offseason, led the Gators with 68 yards rushing on just four carries; entering this game, Lane had rushed for 72 yards the entire 2014 season.  Lane scored the first offensive touchdown for the Gators, a two-yard run early in the second quarter that gave UF its first lead of the game.

(Writer’s note: no, I don’t know if Lane “had an accident in his pants,”)

A Treon Harris 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Powell eight minutes later capped the Gators’ 21-0 run.

One of the few lowpoints for UF was a rather horrific one as Antonio Morrison, the team’s leading tackler, went down with what appeared to be a significant leg injury.  During the telecast, you could actually, very clearly, hear Morrison screaming out in pain, a disturbing sound that most could likely do without hearing.

Morrison was subsequently taken off the field on a cart for further evaluation by the football program’s medical personnel.

The Gators were outgained 282-161 in total offense, but only allowed the seven points.

ECU’s Shane Carden, the nation’s No. 2 passer in yards, passed for 203 in the first two quarters.  He also had a touchdown and interception, one of two Pirate turnovers.  The second one, a fumble by Kurt Benkert, came at the UF one-yard line late in the half as ECU was looking to cut the score to 21-14.

The Pirates did have a chance to cut the lead to 21-10 on the drive after that, but missed wide-right on a 42-yard field goal attempt with :42 remaining.

Miami lands commitment from three-star 2020 Washington State signee Keyshawn Smith

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The personnel roll on which the Miami Hurricanes football program has been on is showing no signs of abatement.

After some initial uncertainty, Houston quarterback D’Eriq King announced Monday that he will be transferring to the Miami Hurricanes football team.  Not long after, AAC Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche announced that he will be doing the same.  Hell, even the Florida International kicker who taunted Miami after beating them joined the Hurricanes.

A day after King and Roche hopped aboard, so did Keyshawn Smith — although his addition comes with a bit of a twist.

Writing “[m]y dream school is the University of Miami,” the Class of 2020 wide receiver announced on Twitter that he is committing to The U.  The twist comes in the fact that Smith had signed his National Letter of Intent with Washington State during the Early Signing Period last month.

Because Mike Leach subsequently left Wazzu to take the Mississippi State job, however, Smith’s old school released him from his NLI so he could join his new school.

“From the West Coast to the East Coast, I am ready to get it going in the 305!” Lewis wrote. “Let’s do this!

“Special thanks to everyone that supported me through this very long process.”

Smith is expected to enroll in classes at U-M this week.  That will allow him to participate in spring practice with his new Miami Hurricanes football teammates.

A three-star prospect, Smith was rated as the No. 152 receiver in the country and the No. 84 player in the state of California regardless of position.  Smith would be the third receiver added by the Hurricanes this cycle, the others being four-star recruits in Michael Redding III and Dazalin Worsham.  The former is the No. 28 player at the position, the latter No. 57.

Third NC State football player this month hits the portal

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Who does this NC State football team think it is, Clemson?

Citing an unnamed source, 247Sports.com has reported that defensive lineman Joseph Boletepeli (pictured, No. 99) has entered the NCAA transfer database.  The website did note that “Boletepeli is still on the active roster for the Wolfpack and can still return to the program despite entering the portal.”

No specific reason for the decision was given, although playing time certainly played a role.

A three-star member of the Class of 2018 for NC State football, Boletepeli was rated as the No. 27 player regardless of position in the state of North Carolina.  During his two seasons with the Wolfpack, Boletepeli played in seven games.  Four of those appearances came this past season.

Boletepeli started the first two games of his true freshman campaign.  This season, Boletepeli was a No. 2 defensive end who ultimately dropped further down on the depth chart.

Barring something unexpected, Boletepeli will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility he could begin using in 2021.

Boletepeli is the third NC State football player to enter the portal this month.  Jan. 7, linebacker Brock Miller announced on Twitter that he was leaving as a graduate transfer.  A week later, defensive end Jeffrey Gunter was reported to be making the same move.

Over the weekend, Miller announced that he would be transferring to Boise State.

Southern Miss co-DC Derek Nicholson moves on to Louisville

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A familiar face has returned to the Louisville football coaching family.

In a release, Louisville announced that ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield has hired Derek Nicholson to his staff as inside linebackers coach.  Nicholson will take over the void left by Dale Jones‘ departure for the defensive coordinator job at Appalachian State.

“Derek has an infectious personality that will blend well within our staff,” the Louisville football head coach said in a statement. “He will bring great energy to our program and is an excellent recruiter. He has shown that he’s a great teacher of defensive football and will be a great addition to our defensive staff.”

This will be Nicholson’s second stint with the Louisville football team.  In 2014, Nicholson coached the Cardinals’ outside linebackers and defensive ends.

In between his time at the UofL, Nicholson spent four years at Southern Miss.  The first two he coached the defensive line.  He was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past two seasons.

Nicholson played his college football at Florida State.

“I’d like to thank Scott Satterfield, Bryan Brown, Cort Dennison and the rest of the Louisville football program for this amazing opportunity,” Nicholson said. “My family and I are extremely excited to be back at Louisville and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I look forward to working with the coaching staff and coaching the inside linebackers. There is something special is brewing in Louisville and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Marshall WR Obi Obialo makes way into the portal

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One of the best names in the sport, and a Marshall Thundering Herd football player to boot, is the latest to hit the portal.

Over the weekend, Obi Obialo announced on his personal Twitter account that he has decided to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The move is normally the first step in a departure, although the wide receiver could always return to the Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

“I want to thank all of the coaches and staff at Marshall for the opportunity to grow into the person and player I am today,” Obialo wrote.

Obialo also confirmed in the same post that he will be leaving the Herd as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will serve as his final season of collegiate eligibility.

Obialo actually began his playing career at Oklahoma State as a three-star 2016 signee who was originally a walk-on.  In May of 2017, Obialo opted to transfer from OSU.  A month later, he moved on to Marshall.

In 2017 and 2018, Obialo started 16 games for the Thundering Herd, including all 13 in the latter season.  In that 2018 season, Obialo was second on the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (505) and receiving touchdowns (four).

A foot injury sidelined Obialo for all but one game this past season.  In that limited action, he caught 18 passes for 244 yards.

Because he played in just the four games, that will allow Obialo to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.  The move also preserved a year of eligibility that he will presumably use elsewhere.