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Wisconsin receiver working at defensive back this spring

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Looking for a chance to get some more playing time, Wisconsin’s Natrell Jamerson is embracing a chance to play some defense with the Badgers this spring. Jamerson played wide receiver last season but never had a chance to play any real role in the offense. With room to fill on the defensive side of the passing game, Wisconsin has been working Jamerson at defensive back with the first team defense.

“It’s very exciting,” Jamerson said of playing a position he previously played in high school. “I switched positions so I’d get more playing time, so it’s a big deal going in with the ones. And then when I’m not getting in, I’m getting mental reps.”

Wisconsin returns two starters at cornerback in 2015 with Sojourn Shelton and Darius Hillary each back this season. Jamerson can get the extra reps with the first team though and show the ability to add some depth at the position. Wisconsin is currently showing eight cornerbacks on the roster right now. By contrast, the Badgers show 12 wide receivers on the roster (a number that currently includes Jamerson).

Big Ten announces all-conference teams, individual award winners

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The Big Ten championship is five days away, which means it’s time for Jim Delany‘s league to announce its all-conference teams and its bevy of individual awards.

Since the conference’s list of awards winners is longer than an Iowa touchdown drive, let’s get right to it:

– Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State

– Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year: Tony Lippett, Michigan State

– Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

– Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year: Maxx Williams, Minnesota

– Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year: Brandon Scherff, Iowa

– Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year: Joey Bosa, Ohio State

– Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year: Mike Hull, Penn State

– Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year: Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State

– Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year: Brad Craddock, Maryland

– Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year: Peter Mortell, Minnesota

The conference will announce its offensive, defensive, coach and freshman of the year awards at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday on BTN.

The conference also announced its coaches’ and media first and second teams.

First Team Offense (Coaches)
QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana
WR Tony Lippett, Michigan State
WR Kenny Bell, Nebraska
TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota
C Jack Allen, Michigan State
G Pat Elflein, Ohio State
G Kyle Costigan, Wisconsin
T Brandon Scherff, Iowa
T Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
K Brad Craddock, Maryland

Second Team Offense (Coaches)
QB Connor Cook, Michigan State
RB David Cobb, Minnesota
RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland
WR Devin Funchess, Michigan
TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
C Austin Blythe, Iowa
G Travis Jackson, Michigan State
G Zac Epping, Minnesota
T Jack Conklin, Michigan State
T Taylor Decker, Ohio State
K Sam Ficken, Penn State

First Team Defense (Coaches)
DL Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DL Randy Gregory, Nebraska
DL Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DL Anthony Zettel, Penn State
LB Jake Ryan, Michigan
LB Mike Hull, Penn State
LB Derek Landisch, Wisconsin
DB William Likely, Maryland
DB Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
DB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
DB Doran Grant, Ohio State
P Peter Mortell, Minnesota

Second Team Defense (Coaches)
DL Carl Davis, Iowa
DL Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa
DL Maliek Collins, Michigan State
DL Michael Bennett, Ohio State
LB Quinton Alston, Iowa
LB Taiwan Jones, Michigan State
LB Damien Wilson, Minnesota
DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota
DB Eric Murray, Minnesota
DB Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
DB Frankie Williams, Purdue
DB Michael Caputo, Wisconsin
DB Darius Hillary, Wisconsin
P Justin DuVernois, Illinois

First Team Offense (Media)
QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana
WR Tony Lippett, Michigan State
WR Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota
C Jack Allen, Michigan State
G Zac Epping, Minnesota
G Kyle Costigan, Wisconsin
T Brandon Scherff, Iowa
T Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
K Brad Craddock, Maryland

Second Team Offense (Media)
QB Connor Cook, Michigan State
RB David Cobb, Minnesota
RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
WR Mikey Dudek, Illinois
WR DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
C Dan Voltz, Wisconsin
G Travis Jackson, Michigan State
G Pat Elflein, Ohio State
T Jack Conklin, Michigan State
T Taylor Decker, Ohio State
K Sam Ficken, Penn State

First Team Defense (Media)
DL Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DL Randy Gregory, Nebraska
DL Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DL Anthony Zettel, Penn State
LB Jake Ryan, Michigan
LB Damien Wilson, Minnesota
LB Mike Hull, Penn State
DB William Likely, Maryland
DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota
DB Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
DB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
P Peter Mortell, Minnesota

Second Team Defense (Media)
DL Carl Davis, Iowa
DL Drew Ott, Iowa
DL Andre Monroe, Maryland
DL Michael Bennett, Ohio State
LB Joshua Perry, Ohio State
LB Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
LB Derek Landisch, Wisconsin
DB Nate Gerry, Nebraska
DB Nick Van Hoose, Northwestern
DB Dorian Grant, Ohio State
DB Michael Caputo, Wisconsin
DB Justin DuVernois, Illinois

Report: Ball State to make Lembo highest paid coach in MAC

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Ball State will make head coach Pete Lembo the highest paid coach in the MAC as part of a five-year contract extension. According to Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, who was first to report the contract extension, Ball State will also improve various aspects of the football program to provide for future growth.

The contract extension at Ball State comes after the third season under Lembo. In that time Ball State has improved on the season win total each year. In 2013 the Cardinals went 10-3 and finished second in the MAC West behind Northern Illinois. Ball State went to their second straight bowl game under Lembo, but so far they are 0-2 in the postseason. A lack of postseason victories aside, Lembo has shown signs of improvement in the program each season and has put some of his players in position to be some of the best in the conference.

Keith Wenning excelled at quarterback, leading the MAC in pass completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage last fall. Willie Snead led the conference in receptions and receiving yards as well as receiving touchdowns. The defense improved as well. Last fall Ball State had the third highest positive average point differential in the MAC, trailing only MAC champion Bowling Green and Northern Illinois.

This is a great move by Ball State. Lembo’s success with the program has made him an attractive coaching candidate that will be looked at by other programs from power conferences in the next round of the coaching carousel, especially if he can continue to find ways to improve on the field this upcoming season. While a contract extension will not necessarily keep Lembo from leaving one day for a higher paying opportunity at a power conference program, adding that security and comfort for Lembo is a no-brainer that will hopefully make him think hard before possibly leaving.

Tide’s Sunseri one of record 98 players declaring for draft

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A draft-eligible Alabama rumored to be headed to the NFL — or not — will indeed be a part of a record-breaking pool this May.

Tide defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was one of 98 players included on the NFL’s official list, released Sunday, of players “who have been granted special eligibility” for the upcoming draft.  It was reported a week ago that the safety was leaning toward making the early leap into the NFL, although there was some vacillation as the redshirt junior waited until right up until the Jan. 15 deadline — plus the three additional days allotted to reconsider, provided there’s no signing with an agent — before making his final decision.

Sunseri is still rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in a mid-October win over Arkansas.

The 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL is a record, shattering and/or obliterating the old mark of 73 set just last year.  That standard broke the record of 65 set the year before that.  In 2004, just 43 players with eligibility remaining left school early.

For the second consecutive year, LSU led all schools with seven early entrants.  In 2013, the Tigers saw 10 players leave early.  Sunseri gave the Tide five players leaving early, the same number as USC and one-win Cal (?).  Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina each saw four players take the early jump into the NFL.

2014 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of early entrants has increased.

The number could have actually topped the century mark as four players who have left school early but have already graduated were not included in the NFL’s official count: Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard.

You can view the complete, official list of early entrants into the NFL draft:

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An unofficial list of underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft

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The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is upon us. It looks like we’ll have a record 92 (at minimum) declarations this year, easily topping last year’s record of 73. This draft should be among the most talent-laden in recent history.

Why the sudden exodus? Blame the new rookie wage scale, which rewards less money to first round draft picks and delays the big payout until a player’s second contract. That means the more time spent in the league, the better. A lot of these players want to get moving on proving themselves, even if they are a late round pick at the start.

Here’s the unofficial list of early entries as of the Jan. 15 deadline. The NFL will have an official list on Jan. 19:

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Carl Bradford, DE/OLB, Arizona State
Bashaud Breeland, DB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB, Alabama
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
Mike Flacco, TE, New Haven
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Viliami Moala, DT, California
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Jeoffrey Pagan, DL, Alabama
Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Kelcy Quarles, DL, South Carolina
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
George Uko, DL, USC
Pierre Warren, FS, Jacksonville State
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Terrance West, RB, Towson
James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State
David Yankey, OL, Stanford