Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP

Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs steps away from baseball to focus on football

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With major league teams gearing up for spring training, so are college baseball teams around the country. Tennessee skipper Dave Serrano confirmed yesterday that one of his players is leaving the team to focus on another sport. That player just so happens to be Tennessee’s starting quarterback, Joshua Dobbs.

Unlike Florida State’s Jameis Winston a couple of years ago, Dobbs has decided it is in his best interests to focus more on football this spring rather than live the two-sport college life in Knoxville. Serrano told The Knoxville News Sentinel the Vols’ quarterback is welcome back at any time.

“Josh is a wonderful young man,” Serrano said, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel. “He came out and worked out for, I don’t know, a week total. I think he was out here for four days. He just decided that was his fun he wanted to have and he’s going to go back to football. I told Josh he’s always welcomed here. He’s welcome to come down in the dugout during our home games and when his football career is over and football isn’t in his future, he can come back and play baseball.”

Dobbs was a high school baseball standout in addition to a football star. The Georgia native was a pitcher and a shortstop for his high school team and was welcomed to workout with Tennessee’s baseball team this winter with the permission of Vols head coach Butch Jones. It was uncertain whether Dobbs would be a fixture on the Tennessee baseball roster, but it certainly never hurts to have a young football player stay in shape on the baseball diamond. Sure, it presents another injury risk factor to the offseason routine, but there are not enough instances or examples where working out with a baseball team has come back to haunt a football team to suggest Jones should have turned down the idea in the first place.

Tennessee’s spring practices are scheduled to commence on March 7.

Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian has reportedly interviewed for Colorado opening

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Very late in the churning of the 2019-20 coaching carousel, Nick Saban could find himself with a significant opening on his Alabama Crimson Tide football coaching staff.  Maybe.

When Mel Tucker left for the Michigan State head job earlier this month, it triggered an unexpected coaching search at Colorado.  Current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was immediately considered the front-runner, although it’s now expected that he’ll stay in the NFL.  Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has now taken that front-runner mantle in some corners — he interviewed for the CU job this week — while former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is in the mix as well.

Steve Sarkisian‘s name has been connected to the Colorado opening as well.  It was reported by CBS Sports that the Alabama Crimson Tide football assistant interviewed for the job Wednesday, with ESPN.com confirming that development Thursday morning.

Sarkisian, of course, has experience as a head coach in the Pac-12.  His unceremonious exit from his last job in the conference, though, could make him a hard sell to the Buff faithful.

In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues.  It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use.  Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.

From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15).  He went 46-35 during his time in that league.  He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.

Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.

Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.  Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.

A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.

Florida State DB A.J. Lytton ‘has been removed from the team’

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Florida State football has seen its roster pared as we dive deeper into the offseason.

Wednesday, 247Sports.com reported that A.J. Lytton is no longer consider a member of the Seminoles program.  A Florida State football official confirmed that the defensive back “has been removed from the team.”

No specific reason, including whether it was voluntary or involuntary, was given for Lytton’s removal.

A four-star 2018 signee, Lytton was rated as the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Maryland.  He was also the No. 7 cornerback in the country.  Only one signee in FSU’s class that year, fellow defensive back Jaiden Woodbey, was rated higher than Lytton.

Over two seasons, Lytton played in a total of 22 games.  A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign.  He started one of those appearances, with that lone start coming this past season.

With two-year starter Stanford Samuels III leaving the Seminoles early for the NFL, Lytton had been expected to compete for a starting corner job.

Lytton’s departure continues the expected Florida State football roster churn since Willie Taggart‘s firing and Mike Norvell‘s hiring.  Norvell will be taking over a program that has gone 11-14 the past two seasons.  That two-year stretch is the worst for the school since they went 8-14 in 1975-76.

Mel Tucker adds former Michigan State WR Courtney Hawkins as Spartans’ receivers coach

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As Michigan State football continues to brace itself for potential NCAA sanctions, its new head coach continues to build his first coaching staff.

Wednesday, Mel Tucker announced that Courtney Hawkins has been hired as his wide receivers coach.  The move to add Hawkins will certainly be a popular one for the fan base as the newest assistant played his college football at MSU.

From 1988-91, Hawkins was a wide receiver for the Spartans.  Twice, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors during his time in East Lansing.

“Courtney Hawkins was a phenomenal player here at Michigan State who went on to have a very successful career in the NFL,” the new Michigan State football head coach said in a statement. “He’s shown tremendous leadership serving as both the athletic director and head football coach at Flint Beecher High School. I’m really excited to get him here on campus.”

Since 2006, Hawkins served as the head football coach and athletic director at his alma mater, Beecher High School, in Flint, Michigan.  That tenure followed a nine-year career as a wide receiver in the NFL.

This will, incidentally, serve as Hawkins’ first job of any kind at the collegiate level.

The hiring of Hawkins is the fourth officially announced by the Michigan State football program.

This past weekend, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained.  Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.

Kapilovic will serve as offensive line coach and running-game coordinator for Tucker.  Burton is expected to continue on as defensive line coach.  Tressel has spent the past 13 seasons with Michigan State football as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Ole Miss corner Deantre Prince enters transfer portal

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If you had Ole Miss football as next up for an early-morning portal post, collect your winnings at the door.

Wednesday, it was reported by multiple media outlets that Deantre Prince has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database.  By entering the portal, Prince can be contacted by any other school without receiving permission from Ole Miss football.  He can also pull his name from the database and remain with the Rebels.

Conversely, the defensive back could have his scholarship pulled at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

Prince’s decision, incidentally, comes two months after Lane Kiffin took over as the head coach of Ole Miss football.

A three-star 2019 signee, Prince was rated as the No. 18 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.  As a true freshman, Prince played in all 12 games for the Rebels.

With two interceptions, Prince tied for the team lead in 2019.  He as also credited with 25 tackles and two pass breakups.

Barring something unexpected, Prince would have to sit out the 2020 season in order to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  Unless those NCAA bylaws are changed and he’s grandfathered in, of course.