The Sun Belt on Tuesday announced its 2018 schedule, leaving the Mountain West as the only FBS league yet to reveal its slate. The 2018 season begins Thursday, Aug. 30, with Georgia State hosting Kennesaw State. The first conference game goes down Sept. 15 when Texas State visits South Alabama.
Tuesday’s announcement was significant for more than just the revelation of dates of games. It brings to a close the conference’s realignment moves that saw Idaho and New Mexico State get the boot and the league join the rest of its peers in adding a championship game. The inaugural Sun Belt Championship will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, at a campus site and be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
The Sun Belt’s roster now consists of 10 teams, but unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will split into two divisions:
Appalachian State and Arkansas State have been the kings of the Sun Belt over the past three seasons, each going 21-3 from 2015-17. The Mountaineers and Red Wolves did not play in 2016 or ’17, but will square off in 2018. The two will square off on Oct. 9, a Tuesday, in Jonesboro for an ESPN2 game.
Troy has gone 13-3 over the past two seasons and split the 2017 title with Appalachian State after the Trojans and Mountaineers also did not meet during the season. That also changes in 2018 (and every season moving forward with the new divisional structure) as Appalachian State hosts Troy on Nov. 24 in a game that figures to decide the first Sun Belt East championship. Troy clinched its share of the 2017 crown with a 32-25 win over Arkansas State (6-2 in SBC play in 2017) on the first Saturday in December, and now the rematch could come in an actual championship game.
Unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will not play a 9-game, round-robin schedule. The Sun Belt will remain an 8-game league.
Dedrick Mills‘ long journey to Lincoln has taken yet another significant milestone.
Earlier this month, Mills’ junior college coach acknowledged that the running back, who had already graduated from Garden City Community College, needed to increase his GPA in order to qualify for enrollment at Nebraska, the school with which he had signed in mid-January after committing to NU last summer. After some initial uncertainty, an NU official confirmed Tuesday that Mils has been cleared and admitted to the university.
Mills is expected to be on campus Wednesday and will officially join his new teammates that same day.
The classroom issue continued a trend of off-field hiccups experienced by Mills the past couple of years.
In August of 2017, Georgia Tech announced that Mills had been dismissed from the program for an unspecified violation of athletic department rules. It was subsequently learned that the dismissal stemmed from failed drug tests — three to be specific.
During the Early Signing Period late last year, Mills was in court addressing a failure to appear citation he received after being charged in July with driving on a suspended driver’s license. He received probation over that incident.
In 2016, Mills’ 771 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns led all Tech ball carriers., with 169 of those yards coming in the bowl win over Kentucky. Mills put up all of those numbers as a true freshman despite being suspended on two different occasions for a total of three games.
Mike Locksley‘s reshaping of his initial roster at Maryland continues, with a pair of previously expected additions officially coming to fruition.
Tuesday afternoon, the Terrapins confirmed that quarterback Josh Jackson and tight end Tyler Mabry have joined Locksley’s football program. Jackson comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, Mabry from Buffalo.
As they have graduated from their respective universities, both Jackson and Mabry will be eligible to play immediately in 2019. Jackson has two seasons of eligibility remaining, while Mabry has just one.
After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing. The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.
Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.
The past three seasons, Mabry has totaled 567 yards and three touchdowns on 60 receptions. The Michigan native totaled 27 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns this past season for the Bulls.
Mabry and Jackson are two of four FBS transfers Locksley has added this offseason, joining Virginia Tech wide receiver Sean Savoy (HERE) and Ohio State linebacker Keandre Jones (HERE).
Never mind that initial never mind.
In early April, it was reported that Auburn wide receiver Kolbi Fuqua had entered the NCAA transfer database; nearly a month later, that first never mind arose as it was reported that Fuqua had pulled his name from the portal, seemingly signaling a desire to remain with the Tigers. Monday, however, an AU official confirmed that Fuqua is no longer a part of Gus Malzahn’s squad.
247Sports.com‘s Brandon Marcello writes that “Fuqua did not return to the Auburn football program following the conclusion of spring practices, a source close to the team tells Auburn Undercover. The circumstances surrounding his departure are not clear.”
The development comes a little over a week after Auburn added a commitment from Zach Farrar, a wide receiver who began his collegiate career at Oklahoma but heads to The Plains from the junior college level. Farrar comes to the Tigers with two years of eligibility he can begin using immediately this coming season.
A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class, Fuqua was rated as the No. 28 player at any position in the state of Alabama. Fuqua played in one game this past season, and didn’t catch a pass in that very limited action.
When Dominic Livingston announced in mid-February that he would be transferring from LSU, the defensive tackle indicated that the move was being made so as to be closer to his home in Texas because of unspecified family issues. Monday, Livingston followed through on that plan of attack.
Speaking to 247Sports.com, Livingston confirmed that his collegiate playing career will continue at Kilgore College. A community college in Kilgore, Texas, Livingston’s new college football home is roughly 200 miles from his hometown of Houston; his old home of Baton Rouge is roughly 270 miles from that same hometown.
Not surprisingly, Kilgore told the same website that he “will play a semester at Kilgore and go from there,” an obvious indication that he expects to be back at the FBS level in 2020.
If that is indeed the case, Kilgore would have three years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.
A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class, Livingston was rated as the No. 38 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 74 player at any position in the state of Texas. As a true freshman, Livingston appeared in exactly one more game than I did.