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No. 17 West Virginia cruises past overmatched Tennessee

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The first play of the game pretty much told the story. Opening at their own 25 yard line, Tennessee called a pass for the first play of the Jeremy Pruitt era. Jarrett Guarantano accepted the ball from under center, stepped back to pass and was planted in the turf by West Virginia nose guard Kenny Bigelow, a 5-star recruit and USC transfer, forcing a fumble that the Vols recovered for a 10-yard loss — not quite the disaster it could have been, but, still, demonstrative of the difference between a team of well-traveled veterans with eyes on a Big 12 and national championship against a young team just figuring things out.

The No. 17 Mountaineers forced a three-and-out on that opening possession, got on the board with their first touch and never really felt threatened, cruising to a 40-14 win at the Belk College Kickoff in Charlotte.

After taking a 3-0 lead, West Virginia (1-0) put the first of many Will Grier touchdown passes on the board, a 59-yard strike to T.J. Simmons.

Tennessee (0-1) pulled within 10-7 midway through the second quarter thanks to a 17-play, 78-yard drive that consumed nearly nine minutes, culminating in a 1-yard toss from Guarantano to Dominick Wood-Anderson on fourth-and-goal.

West Virginia put a second Evan Staley field goal on the board to take a 13-7 lead at halftime, then stretched its legs with two more Grier touchdown passes. Tennessee added the second of its two scores at the 6:09 mark of the third quarter with a 4-yard Tim Jordan rush, but the Mountaineers put the game away for good with two more Grier scoring strikes.

The Heisman hopeful hit a Heisman-like 25-of-34 passes for 429 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions; the 429 yards were a career-high for Grier, and the handful of touchdowns tied his career high. David Sills was once again Grier’s favorite target, hauling in seven passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Gary Jennings, Jr., added six grabs for 113 yards and a score.

Guarantano finished the day connecting on 19-of-25 passes for 172 yards with a score, and Jordan led all runners with 20 carries for 118 yards and a score.

West Virginia starts fast, but Tennessee hanging tough in Charlotte

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West Virginia looked like it was on track to blow out Tennessee in Jeremy Pruitt‘s first game, but the Vols hung tough and remain in the game at the Belk College Kickoff in Charlotte.

After forcing a punt to open the game, West Virginia got on the board first with a 26-yard Evan Staley field goal, then pushed the lead to 10-0 when Will Grier found T.J. Simmons for a 59-yard scoring strike.

The Mountaineers had a golden chance to push the lead to 17-0 late in the first quarter when Grier had David Sills streaking open behind the Tennessee defense, but Grier overshot him and WVU punted. Grier closed the half hitting 9-of-15 passes for 154 yards with a touchdown.

On the ensuing possession, Tennessee put together its best drive of the game, moving 78 yards in 17 plays, including a Jarrett Guarantano pass to Dominick Wood-Anderson on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to put the Vols on the board. Guarantano is 10-of-13 for 91 yards at the break.

West Virginia answered with a 35-yard field goal to push the lead to 13-7 at the break.

West Virginia receives to open the second half.

Michigan State RB Austin Andrews tweets transfer plans

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Austin Andrews’ career at Michigan State has been a winding road and now that road is leading out of East Lansing.

The sophomore took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to announce his transfer out of the program, even posting his permission to contact letter from MSU that signals he’s open to move to other schools.

Andrews has struggled to find a position and a role with the Spartans since arriving from, of all places, Columbus, Ohio as part of the class of 2016. Considered a three-star recruit, he primarily played defensive back for the team but redshirted during his first year on campus and then played in only one game in 2017. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment at Michigan State outside of recording a single tackle was getting suspended for the Holiday Bowl last December.

Interestingly, he was moved to running back during spring practice but it seems failing to crack the rotation there was writing on the wall for a fresh start somewhere else. 

It’s also notable that Andrews’ transfer is one of a long line of names who have left the program, including fellow tailback Madre London (to Tennessee) and wideout Hunter Rison (to Kansas State). While most of those moves came in the offseason, Andrews appears to have waited all the way up to the last day of fall camp for the Spartans and just one week before the team opens the 2018 season on Friday against Utah State.

Kyonta Stallworth is eighth player to transfer from Michigan State this offseason

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Another player has decided to leave behind his time in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State defensive lineman Kyonta Stallworth will continue his college football career at some other program. The redshirt junior announced his intent to transfer on Twitter Saturday morning.

“After much consideration and contemplation, I have decided to transfer from Michigan State University,” Stallworth said in a statement shared via Twitter. “Although I will play my remaining football elsewhere, I will always be a Spartan first.”

Stallworth switched positions for Michigan State after coming to the program in the Class of 2015, moving from offensive line to defensive line. He appeared in five games for the Spartans last season, in which he recorded 11 tackles. Due to the returning starters on the defensive line this season, it appeared Stallworth was not going to get much of a chance to crack the starting lineup on the defensive line.

As noted by MLive.com, Stallworth is the eighth player to transfer from Michigan State this offseason. Among the other players to transfer out of Michigan State include Jalen Watts-Jackson, Madre London, Darien Tipps-Clemons, Hunter Rison, and Trishton Jackson. The transfers come during a turbulent offseason that has seen Michigan State reach a $500 million settlement with victims of Larry Nassar and a report of 16 football players having been accused of sexual assault under head coach Mark Dantonio. Dantonio was given a contract extension in February.

Tennessee makes addition of Stanford grad transfer QB Keller Chryst official

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Just below this post, we noted that wide receiver Jauan Jennings is back in the good graces of the Tennessee football program.  Now, one of the players who could be throwing to Jennings is officially in the Rocky Top fold as well.

Earlier this month, Keller Chryst announced on social media that he had committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Tennessee.  Friday, UT confirmed that the quarterback signed a financial aid agreement earlier this week and will join the team after he graduates from Stanford in the spring.

As a graduate transfer, Chryst, who announced in late January that he was leaving the Cardinal, will immediately join a quarterback fray on Rocky Top that includes Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride.

Chryst began the 2016 season as the backup to Ryan Burns, who started the first seven games after winning the job coming out of camp before losing it to Chryst midseason.  While he suffered a torn ACL in Stanford’s Sun Bowl win over North Carolina in that postseason, he began the 2017 season as the starter; another injury in the Week 4 win over UCLA opened the door for redshirt freshman K.J. Costello to start the following week against Arizona State.  Chryst returned in Week 6 and started the next three games.

Ahead of the Washington State game in early November, however, a healthy Chryst was benched in favor of Costello.  In what turned out to be the final three starts of Chryst’s career with the Cardinal, he completed just under 57 percent of his passes for 453 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

In parts of three seasons, Chryst, whose uncle Paul Chryst is the head coach at Wisconsin, passed for 1,926 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions in 289 attempts.