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Mizzou’s Josh Heupel named UCF’s coach; Randy Shannon hired as DC

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Four days after Nebraska found its new head coach at UCF’s expense, the Knights have found a replacement — and an experienced voice to help the first-year boss for good measure.

The football program announced Tuesday morning that Josh Heupel has been hired as its 11th head coach.  Heupel had spent the 2017 season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Missouri.

Heupel will be officially introduced at a 2 p.m. ET press conference this afternoon.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Josh and his family to UCF,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “I believe we’ve identified one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. His offensive system is very similar to what we’ve been running. I know he’s going to utilize all the great talent on our roster and continue to add to it. He’s no stranger to success, winning a national championship as a quarterback and leading a number of extremely high-powered offensive teams. Coach Heupel is in coaching for the right reasons. He cares about his student-athletes and that’s one of the most important attributes I look for in a coach.”

Heupel, who finished up his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma, spent the 2015 season as coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Utah State after he was fired by his alma mater in January 2015.  From 2006-14, he was an assistant on Bob Stoops‘ Sooners coaching staff, the first four years as quarterbacks coach and the last four as co-coordinator.

Heupel replaces Scott Frost, who spent two seasons with the Knights and led them to an unbeaten regular season that included a conference championship before leaving for the Cornhuskers this past weekend.

This will mark Heupel’s first-ever job as a head coach at any level.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to represent UCF, Heupel’s statement began. “What makes this opportunity so unique is the vision of the leadership from President John Hitt, Provost Dale Whitaker and Director of Athletics Danny White. Their vision for this becoming one of the premier programs in the country makes this an exciting opportunity. That vision, the amazing campus, along with the recruiting base not only allows you to have immediate success but sustained success. I’m very excited to get a staff together and get to work with our wonderful student-athletes.”

Not long after Heupel’s announcement, the program also confirmed that Randy Shannon has been hired as the Knights’ defensive coordinator.  Shannon was promoted to defensive coordinator at Florida in January of this year, then became interim head coach when Jim McElwain was fired.

Shannon comes to UCF with a coaching pedigree almost exclusively tied to the state of Florida.

A linebacker for the Hurricanes, Shannon’s first coaching job came at The U as a graduate assistant in 1991.  He then spent 12 of the next 15 years as an assistant at his alma mater — he was on the Miami Dolphins staff from 1998-2000 — the last five in the role of defensive coordinator before being promoted to head coach in 2007.  Fired in 2010, Shannon spent 2012 at TCU and 2013-14 at Arkansas — he was linebackers coach at each stop — prior to his move to Florida in 2015 as co-coordinator and linebackers coach.

“Randy is someone who I have always had a great deal of respect for throughout the years,” Heupel said. “Seeing what he’s been able to do with defenses, in addition to his ability to recruit this state, it’s extremely special and will be invaluable to our staff.”

Braden White named prestigious 12th Man at Texas A&M

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The 12th Man is a big, big deal at Texas A&M. In fact, it’s pretty much the brand of not just the football program, but the entire athletics department. Case in point, A&M’s athletics department website is 12thman.com.

For the uninitiated, in 1922 the Aggies found themselves short of players in a football game against Center College, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, after multiple players sustained injuries over the course of the game. Down to just 11 players, A&M student E. King Gill volunteered to suit up and stand on the sidelines in case the team needed him. Gill now has a statue outside of Kyle Field, and A&M’s student section is collectively referred to as the 12th Man.

As such, it’s a tremendous honor for an active Aggie player to be awarded the No. 12 and, after fullback Cullen Gillaspia donned the jersey for a record-tying 39 games, it’s time to hand it off to a new player.

On Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher awarded the No. 12 jersey to Braden White, a walk-on linebacker from Florence, Ala.

“I’m honored just to be able to represent this great university and everything about it,” White said. “It’s a true blessing.”

White is a redshirt junior who has checked all the boxes of a player who checks all the 12th Man boxes. He was named Defensive Scout Team MVP during his redshirt year of 2016 and was honored as the Top Conditioned Athlete at the Aggies’ 2018 team banquet. He has appeared in 18 career games, recording 16 career tackles playing primarily as a special teams contributor.

White will wear No. 12 for the first time next when Texas A&M — ranked, ironically, No. 12 in the preseason AP poll — hosts Texas State next Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

UConn begins building out independent schedules with BC home-and-home

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Until they tell us otherwise, Connecticut is going to try to make it as an FBS independent. This upcoming season will be the Huskies’ final one as a member of the American Athletic Conference, as the Huskies’ Olympic sports will return to the Big East and the football team will go it alone.

This will require lots (and lots and lots) of scheduling work, and quickly. As of now, the Huskies have four games on the schedule for a season that begins 12 months from now.

While it does nothing to help the 2020 slate, UConn began chipping away at the mountain in front of it on Wednesday by announcing a home-and-home with Boston College. The first game will be Oct. 29, 2022 in Storrs, with the return game going down Oct. 28, 2023 in Chestnut Hill.

The two programs have met 14 times previously; BC leads the series 12-0-2. The Eagles took the most recent meeting 39-16 in 2017.

Additionally, BC announced a 2023-28 home-and-home with Army and a Sept. 9, 2023 home game with Holy Cross.

Safety graduate transfers from Penn State to Pitt

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Penn State safety Johnny Petrishen has left State College for Pittsburgh, where he is now a Panther.

Petrishen announced the transfer on Tuesday evening, and Pitt confirmed his addition on Wednesday morning.

Petrishen has two years of eligibility remaining thanks — if you want to use that term — to two medical redshirts.

A Lower Burrell, Pa., native, Petrishen appeared in 17 career games as a Nittany Lion, including all 13 last season. Primarily a special teams player, he posted eight career tackles and one TFL in State College.

NC State transfer Tim Kidd-Glass tweets move to Liberty

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Hugh Freeze may be dealing with what was a significant health issue, but he’s still working his first-year roster at Liberty.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday evening, Tim Kidd-Glass announced that he “would like to thank God for allowing me to have another opportunity to further my football career… at Liberty University.” The announcement comes a couple of weeks after the safety triggered a move from North Carolina State by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As a graduate transfer, Kidd-Glass will be eligible to play for the Flames in 2019.

The past three seasons, the Virginia native played in 33 games for the Wolfpack.  He started nine of those contests, all of which came during the 2017 season.