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With three key underclassmen returning, time is now for Vols to make push in SEC East

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The deadline for underclassmen to declare their intentions to enter the 2016 NFL Draft passed yesterday, and Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara opted to pass on a shot at playing on Sundays in order to come back and help Tennessee reclaim some SEC East glory.

Kamara rushed for 698 yards and seven touchdowns for Tennessee last season, playing a solid complementary role alongside Jalen Hurd (1,288 yards, 12 touchdowns). Kamara also added 291 receiving yards and three touchdowns and returned a small handful of punts, with one going for a touchdown. The former Alabama running back transferred into a good spot at Tennessee and will be part of a nice thunder-and-lightning backfield for Tennessee in 2016. Kamara was believed to be liekly to enter the NFL Draft, with the outlook of playing a third-down back role. A return to Tennessee in 2016 could allow him to show off more of his abilities and change the way he is potentially used in the future.

Kamara is joined by junior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cameron Sutton as three key underclassmen who will return to play for Butch Jones in 2016. The 2016 season figures to be one of great optimism for the Volunteers as the roster assembled under Jones since his arrival is starting to come together strongly and develop to the point of breaking out. After two straight seasons ending with big bowl margins of victory, the time for Tennessee to begin moving up in the SEC East is now.

Tennessee had the second-best recruiting class in 2015, behind Alabama, and the third best in 2014 (trailing only Alabama and LSU). Rivals currently ranks Tennessee ninth in the SEC and 29th overall, but that could change between now and signing day as well.

Syracuse no longer calling the Carrier Dome the, uh, Carrier Dome

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Stadium names change all the time in college football and we’ve seen some strange mash ups over the past few decades but there’s been an interesting twist in upstate New York.

Thanks in part to a growing spat with the company over the naming rights to the aptly named Carrier Dome, Syracuse has embarked on a bit of a rebranding for their longtime football and basketball home by shortening things to just ‘The Dome.’

As spotted by Syracuse.com, the school has removed some 64 mentions of the word Carrier in their annual football media guide and have even gone as far as to leave out any mentions of the company in their season ticket materials too.

“We will be contacting the university to discuss further,” Carrier Senior Director of Communications Ashley Barrie said in a statement to the site.

Orange officials have said they are not de-emphasizing the ‘Carrier’ part of the Carrier Dome to send any sort of message but rather reinforcing the ‘Dome’ part of the stadium’s name.

Something says that as much as that may be their public stance, this rebranding battle is something that figures to get some lawyers involved in soon enough. The football team’s home opener isn’t until Sept. 14 against defending champion Clemson so there’s certainly some time to work things out but it sure seems like a new name for the venerable venue is something we’ll all have to start getting used to.

Ex-Auburn, Miami RB Asa Martin lands at Memphis

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After going from AU to the ACC, tailback Asa Martin is now ticketed for the AAC.

Got that?

Per 247Sports, Martin has apparently enrolled at Memphis for the 2019 season. Per transfer rules he’s sitting out the year either way unless there’s some sort of NCAA waiver involved but it’s still the sophomore’s third school in nine months.

Martin was originally a four-star recruit in the class of 2018 and saw action in five games for the SEC Tigers as a true freshman, rushing for 57 yards all told while catching two passes for 36 yards. He entered the transfer portal in late December though, just after Auburn’s season had concluded.

Eventually Martin found a home at Miami and enrolled in time for spring practice. Perhaps he was not thrilled at the situation because come mid-June the tailback was back in the transfer portal looking for a new program to play with.

We’ll see if this latest move to Memphis sticks because we’ve certainly seen that Martin is no stranger to moving around.

Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens gets the nod as Mississippi State’s starting QB

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Tommy Stevens’ reunion with Joe Moorhead has proven to be a fruitful one.

The Penn State transfer was named the starting quarterback on Thursday by the Mississippi State head coach, ending a camp battle with Keytaon Thompson and others in the bid to replace Nick Fitzgerald under center for the Bulldogs.

Stevens made his way to Starkville rather surprisingly this offseason after spring practice for the Nittany Lions wrapped up. While he was expected to be the heir apparent to Trace McSorley in State College for the 2019 campaign, it seems that a competitive battle with fellow Penn State QB Sean Clifford pushed him to enter the NCAA transfer portal instead.

While some may have questioned the move initially given that Thompson has starting experience at MSU and in Moorhead’s system, things apparently worked out in the end as Stevens takes over for Fitzgerald instead.

A noted dual-threat with the ball in his hands at PSU, Stevens rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns last year while also passing for 110 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Mississippi State opens the season against Louisiana-Lafayette in New Orleans on Aug. 31 before their home opener against Southern Miss on Sept. 7.

Arkansas inks 2-for-1 series with old rival Tulsa, Golden Hurricane also add LaTech to non-conference slate

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The non-conference scheduling wheel in college continues to roll.

It has been a particularly busy month for Arkansas in terms of lining up future opponents. Hot on the heels of confirming another home-and-home series with Oklahoma State deep into the future, the Razorbacks announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a 2-for-1 series with old, old rival Tulsa over the next decade.

The Razorbacks will host the Golden Hurricane in Fayetteville on Nov. 21, 2026 and Sept. 1, 2029. The return trip to Tulsa is set for Sept. 4, 2027.

The regional rivals were old foes back in the day and have met 73 times over the years. Arkansas won 23-0 last season in their most recent meeting and will make their first trip to Northwest Oklahoma since 1952 when that 2027 date rolls around.

The Golden Hurricane also had some additional scheduling news from earlier in the week when they announced a home-and-home with ex-CUSA foe Louisiana Tech. The old conference rivals will meet in Ruston on Sept. 21, 2024 and then play a return game the following year on Sept. 27, 2025 at Tulsa’s H.A. Chapman Stadium.