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J.T. Barrett gives impassioned postgame speech, Urban Meyer heaps praise on his QB

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Just a few weeks ago, fans and media alike were calling for J.T. Barrett to be benched.  Saturday night, the Ohio State quarterback thrust himself squarely into the Heisman Trophy discussion while simultaneously keeping his Buckeyes in the thick of College Football Playoff contention.

Trailing by 18 points on two occasions to No. 2 Penn State, Barrett — with a huge assist from a swarming defense — was the triggerman behind No. 6 OSU’s remarkable come-from-behind win that left the Buckeyes in complete control of the Big Ten East.  And, to put them in such a position, the ofttimes embattled signal-caller put on a performance that will live in Buckeye lore.

All Barrett did was complete 33 of his 39 passes — he completed his last 16 to set a single-game school record — for 328 yards, four touchdowns and, most importantly, no interceptions.  For good measure, he led the team in rushing with 95 yards on 17 carries.  By any measure, it was a virtuoso performance from a player who’s taken shots from many sides over the past couple of years.

Afterward, and perhaps because of the sting of the criticism that’s built up, the normally-reserved Barrett let loose with a rousing stream of emotion that let those inside the locker room know just how much this game — and those listening — meant to him.

Not to be outdone, Urban Meyer heaped unadulterated praise on the redshirt senior quarterback in his postgame press conference.  Below is just a brief snippet of the adulation the head coach expressed for Barrett in his exchanges with the media, in quotes distributed by the team:

You guys can figure out all the records. I’ll just tell you, man-to-man, this is one man talking about another man. I don’t know if I’ve ever had more respect for a human being and as a person, because you earn respect and you witness people in very dire straits at times, tough situations.

I’ve never had a kid play perfect, but damn he was close tonight — 33 of 39. I can count four drops off the top of my head and two penalties that kept him from big completions. And he’d be the first one to tell you he’s a product of those around him, which he is — receivers and offensive line played. That’s the No. 1 defense in America, we have great respect for. And I just can’t — just how proud of J.T.

Q. You said earlier in the week teams are won by leadership. J.T., you see him behind the scenes… What did you see this week in him?
COACH MEYER: I think I’ve had him for five years. I’ve seen it ever since he’s been playing for us. I heard about this J.T. Barrett guy, and he came on as a redshirt freshman. And he wasn’t tall enough, wasn’t this or that. But he’s tough as a lion and he has an incredible skill to lead others.

Since wetting the Week 2 bed in a loss to Oklahoma — barely completed 50 percent of his passes, season-low 183 yards passing, no touchdowns, one interception — Barrett has been on an absolute roll.  In the ensuing six games, he’s completed 75 percent of his 176 pass attempts, thrown 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions.  Throw in 327 yards and another four touchdowns on the ground, and you have someone who should very much be in the thick of the Heisman talk.

“I think that H word is appropriate after today’s game,” Meyer said when asked if Barrett’s performance today was Heisman Trophy candidate quality.

Based on the last six games, I’d say it’s more than appropriate.

Ex-Rice football player pleads guilty in death of former teammate Blain Padgett

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A former Rice football player has acknowledged his role in the death of an ex-teammate.

In early March of 2018, Rice football player Blain Padgett was found dead in his apartment after he failed to show for a football workout and a wellness check was performed. In late June, the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the 21-year-old defensive end’s death was caused by the toxic effects of carfentanil, which was described as being designed originally as an elephant tranquilizer.

Seven months later, former Owls defensive lineman Stuart Mouchantaf was charged with manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance in connection to Padgett’s death.  Authorities allege that it was Mouchantaf who sold Padgett the pills that directly led to his death.  That charge was a second-degree felony that carries a penalty ranging from five years to 99 years or life in prison.

Thursday, however, Mouchantaf pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute causing death and possession with the intent to distribute causing death.  Mouchantaf will be sentenced May 14.  He is facing 20 years-to-life and a fine of up to $1 million.

The 27-year-old Mouchantaf was a defensive tackle at Rice from 2012-15 after beginning his collegiate career at Blinn College.

In 2016, the 6-5, 250-pound Padgett was second on the team in tackles for loss with 5½ and led all Owls defensive linemen with 41 tackles.  He played in just three games in 2017 before going down with a shoulder injury. He also played in eight games as a true freshman in 2015, Mouchantaf’s last season with the Owls.

“You’ve got to remember he played football with Blain for one year, so we saw him on the football field,” Wyndi Marsh-Padgett, Blain’s mother, told the Houston Chronicle. “It’d be different if we didn’t know him at all. It’s hard to see him and think about. He has family. …

“We just miss [Blain] terribly. Miss him every day.”

Four-star 2020 recruit and Florida commit Marc Britt flips to Ole Miss

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Just a couple of months into his tenure as the Ole Miss football head coach, Lane Kiffin is already leaving his recruiting mark.

In November of last year, Marc Britt committed to play his college football at Florida.  The Early Signing Period came and went without the four-star 2020 prospect signing with the Gators.  On National Signing Day earlier this month, Britt didn’t put his Herbie Hancock on a National Letter of Intent with UF either.

A little over two weeks later, at a signing ceremony at his Miami high school, though, Britt confirmed that he had flipped his commitment to Ole Miss football.

Ole Miss football has not yet confirmed Britt’s signing.  Kiffin, though, has been retweeting reports of Britt’s flip on his personal Twitter account as well as the recruit’s own tweets.

Britt is a four-star 2020 recruit.  Coming out of high school in Miami, he’s rated as the No. 44 player regardless of position in the state of Florida.  247Sports.com’s composite has him listed as the No. 9 athlete in the country. Only two signees in the Rebels’ class this year are rated higher than Britt.

At this point, it’s unclear whether Britt will start his collegiate career as a wide receiver or a defensive back.

Ole Miss football currently has the No. 34 recruiting class in the country.  That would also be 12th in the 14-team SEC.

Re-Buff’d? Eric Bieniemy reportedly pulls name from Colorado search

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We don’t know yet who will be the next Colorado football head coach.  We do know (again), though, who it won’t be.

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 football Eric Bieniemy was immediately considered the front-runner, although speculation of late had him staying in the NFL.

Overnight, Mike Klis of the NBC affiliate in Denver reported that Bieniemy “notified his alma mater Wednesday night he would no longer seek the job.” ESPN‘s Adam Schefter subsequently confirmed that Bieniemy has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Klis wrote that, “[a]lthough Bieniemy never formally interviewed for the CU head job, he and school officials stayed in contact either personally or through his agent, even while he and his family kept a long-scheduled, 5-day vacation.”

The 50-year-old Bieniemy was a running back with the Buffaloes in the late eighties, finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior season.  He began his coaching career at his alma mater as running backs coach in 2001-02.  He returned to Colorado football in 2011-12 as offensive coordinator.

Since 2013, Bieniemy has been a member of the Chiefs coaching staff.

So, to where does Colorado football now turn?  Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has seemingly taken the 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.  Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian also interviewed for the job this week.  Like Bieniemy, the former USC and Washington head coach has opted to remain in his current job.

Since being rebuffed by both Sarkisian and Bieniemy, it’s believed that Colorado has decided to expand its search for the next head football coach.  That, of course, would mean the search could drag on into next week.

Brady Hoke adds nephew to San Diego State coaching staff

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Brady Hoke‘s second first coaching staff with the San Diego State football program will have a familial feeling to it.

Thursday, San Diego State announced that Kyle Hoke has been hired as a defensive assistant for the Aztecs. Specifically, Kyle Hoke will coach SDSU’s safeties.

The newest assistant is the nephew of the first-year San Diego State football head coach. This will mark the younger Hoke’s second on-field job at the FBS level.

Kyle Hoke spent the 2019 season as the safeties coach at FCS Indiana State. The year before that, he manned the same position at Texas State.

In 2017, Hoke was the defensive coordinator at Div. III John Carroll. From 2015-16, Hoke was a graduate assistant at South Carolina. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan (2012-13).

Kyle Hoke played his college football at Ball State. His head coach his true freshman season? His uncle, who then left for his first stint as the San Diego State football head coach.

In early January, Rocky Long stepped down as SDSU’s head coach. Hoke, the defensive line coach for the Aztecs in 2019, was immediately named as Long’s replacement.

During his first go-round at the Mountain West Conference school, Hoke posted a 13-12 record before leaving for the Michigan job.

San Diego State has won at least 10 games in four of the past five seasons, including 10 in 2019.  Prior to that strecth, the Aztecs won double-digit games in a season just four times total in the program’s FBS history.