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  • Report: Meyer nearing deal to join Fox team
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 18, 2019

    Recently retired Ohio State coach Urban Meyer might not be ready to leave college football behind after all.

    • The Sporting News reported Friday that Meyer and Fox Sports are nearing a deal that would make Meyer a part of the network's college football coverage.

      The 54-year-old Meyer would have his choice of working as an analyst in the studio or in the broadcast booth. It would be a return to television for Meyer, who worked as a studio analyst for ESPN in 2011 after leaving Florida and before taking the Ohio State job.

      A Fox Sports spokeswoman declined to comment to the Sporting News.

      Meyer walked away from Ohio State after the Buckeyes' defeat of Washington in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. He cited health issues as the reason for his retirement, which ended a tough season that saw him suspended for the first three games over his handling of a staff member's alleged domestic violence.

      He won three national championships as a coach and compiled a 187-32 record in 17 seasons at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.

      Meyer's already announced post-retirement plans involve teaching a class at Ohio State and serving as assistant athletic director.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ex-Oklahoma QB Kendall confirms transfer to WVU
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 18, 2019

    The NCAA quarterback carousel continued to turn Friday, with former Oklahoma quarterback Austin Kendall confirming he will play at West Virginia.

    • As a graduate transfer, he can play immediately and will have two years of eligibility. The Mountaineers are losing quarterback Will Grier to graduation.

      "Thank you Sooner nation for an amazing three years. I will never forget the connections and opportunities at OU," Kendall posted on Twitter. "I am excited for this next step in my life and opportunity at West Virginia University. #HailWV"

      Kendall, a North Carolina native, was a four-star recruit and the No. 9-ranked pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2016, according to the 247Sports composite.

      But as the backup quarterback to two Heisman Trophy winners -- Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray -- his opportunities were limited.

      He played briefly in just two games in 2016, redshirted the 2017 season and appeared in four games in 2018. In all, he completed 28 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns.

      His announcement ends a flurry of activity at Oklahoma this week. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts transferred to the program, and it was reported that Oklahoma would not grant permission to Kendall to play immediately at fellow Big 12 member West Virginia. Amid a backlash, the Sooners relented.

      --Field Level Media

  • Diaz adds two more coaches to Hurricanes staff
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 18, 2019

    New Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz continues to fill out his coaching staff, announcing two more hires on Friday.

    • Taylor Stubblefield was hired as wide receivers coach after filling the same role the past two years at the Air Force Academy, while Stephen Field was hired as the tight ends coach.

      Stubblefield was a star wideout for Purdue. His 316 catches were an NCAA record when he left school in 2004.

      "We're excited to welcome these coaches to the Miami family," Diaz said in a statement. "Taylor was a Biletnikoff Award finalist as a college receiver and he boasts a terrific track record coaching that position. He also has strong ties to our offensive coordinator, Dan Enos, which is significant as we begin to build and shape our offense."

      Field was a specials teams coach for the Hurricanes in 2007-08 as a graduate assistant.

      Field had taken the job as director of recruiting at Louisville earlier this month before accepting the Hurricanes offer.

      "Stephen is an outstanding coach who has had great success at both the college and high school levels," Diaz said. "He is a proven recruiter on a national scale, and also has strong ties to The U and to South Florida. They will both be excellent additions to our staff."

      Last week, Diaz announced the hirings of Eric Hickson as running backs coach and Butch Barry as offensive line coach.

      The Hurricanes hired Enos away from Alabama as their new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: NIU hiring Ravens' Hammock as head coach
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 17, 2019

    Baltimore Ravens running backs coach Thomas Hammock is set to become the new head coach at Northern Illinois, according to an ESPN source. It will be his first job as a head coach.

    • The official announcement is expected to be made Friday at news conferences in DeKalb, Ill., and Chicago, where Hammock will be introduced. According to ESPN sources, another finalist for the job was SMU defensive coordinator Kevin Kane, who held that position at NIU before joining the Mustangs last year.

      A 1,000-yard running back at Northern Illinois in 2000 and 2001, Hammock finished ninth on the school's career rushing list. He returned to the Huskies as a running backs coach from 2005-06, and also coached at Minnesota and Wisconsin before joining Baltimore in 2014.

      He spent the past five seasons on the Ravens' staff, all as the running backs coach, helping lead a group that averaged 152.6 yards per game -- second best in the league behind the Seattle Seahawks.

      Hammock, 37, replaces Rod Carey, who left NIU last week to become head coach at Temple.

      --Field Level Media

  • Murray wins Manning Award as nation's top QB
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 17, 2019

    Oklahoma's Kyler Murray received the 2018 Manning Award, presented to the nation's best quarterback, on Thursday, following Baker Mayfield as the Sooners' second straight winner.

    • The award, presented annually since 2004 by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, was created to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie Manning and sons Peyton and Eli.

      "When it comes to quarterbacks, no family is more accomplished than the Mannings, and I will cherish this honor the rest of my life," Murray said in a statement.

      Murray guided the Sooners to a 12-2 record, an appearance in the College Football Playoff and a No. 4 final ranking. The redshirt junior passed for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns and rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 scores. He led the nation in total yards, points responsible for, yards per pass attempt and yards per completion.

      "Week in and week out, Kyler Murray made highlight-reel plays for one of the best teams in the country," said Archie Manning in a statement. "Kyler proved to be a great leader and exceptional athlete and passer worthy of recognition as the top quarterback in the country this year."

      Murray's lengthy list of awards includes the Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien Award, AP Player of the Year, USA Today Player of the Year and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

      Murray announced earlier this week that he was leaving Oklahoma early to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

      Other finalists for the award included Notre Dame's Ian Book, Georgia's Jake Fromm, West Virginia's Will Grier, Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, Houston's D'Eriq King, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Missouri's Drew Lock, UCF's McKenzie Milton, Washington State's Gardner Minshew and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa.

      Voted on by a media panel and by each of the Mannings, the Manning Award is the only major quarterback award that takes into account a candidate's bowl performance.

      --Field Level Media

  • Longhorns poised to lose QBs Buechele, Rising as transfers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 17, 2019

    Former Texas starting quarterback Shane Buechele has informed the team that he's exploring leaving the program as a graduate transfer, with the school confirming to ESPN that he's in the transfer portal.

    • Texas also confirmed to ESPN that redshirt freshman Cameron Rising is transferring -- most likely to Utah.

      Buechele started 19 games for Texas before losing his job to Sam Ehlinger. Buechele has two years of eligibility remaining after he graduates from Texas in May.

      ESPN reports that Buechele could end up at SMU after the Mustangs lost all-time leading passer Ben Hicks, who transferred to Arkansas.

      Buechele started every game for Texas in 2016, becoming the first true freshman in school history to start at least the first two games of his career. He threw for 2,958 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

      But Buechele was beset with injuries early in the 2017 season, opening the door for Ehlinger.

      Texas will enter the 2019 season with three scholarship quarterbacks. Freshman Casey Thompson, who ESPN reported has informed the school he intends to stay, and true freshman Roschon Johnson will back up Ehlinger.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Tide defensive coordinator Lupoi heads to Browns
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Add defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi to the list of Alabama assistant coaches leaving the program for the NFL, according to multiple reports.

    • Lupoi, Nick Saban's defensive coordinator for one season after three seasons as the school's outside linebackers coach, will be joining the staff of new Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, according to reports from several media outlets.

      Kitchens was a quarterback at Alabama in the mid-1990s.

      Lupoi's departure creates the fifth vacancy for Saban to fill since the end of the season, when Alabama fell to Clemson in the national championship game on Jan. 7.

      Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has taken over as head coach at Maryland; co-offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is the new offensive coordinator at Michigan; quarterbacks coach Dan Enos was Miami's choice for offensive coordinator; and offensive line coach Brent Key is Georgia Tech's offensive line coach, run coordinator and assistant head coach.

      Lupoi spent his collegiate career as a defensive lineman for Cal from 2000-05, leading the Golden Bears defensive line in tackles in 2003 and earning Pac-10 All-Academic recognition two years later.

      As Cal's defensive line coach for four seasons, Lupoi's squad led the Pac-12 in total defense in 2011, when opponents gained just 332.9 yards per game.

      --Field Level Media

  • QB Kendall transfers from Oklahoma to WVU
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    The Sooners' quarterback shuffle continued Wednesday with Austin Kendall transferring from Oklahoma to West Virginia.

    • According to multiple media reports, Oklahoma initially denied a waiver that would have granted Kendall immediate eligibility in 2019 as a graduate senior. However, later Wednesday, the Sooners relented and agreed to grant Kendall the waiver.

      Oklahoma's initial reluctance reportedly revolved around a concern over setting a precedent regarding a transfer within the Big 12 Conference.

      Kendall will be on campus in Morgantown, W.Va., on Thursday, per multiple media reports.

      Earlier Wednesday, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts announced he is transferring to Oklahoma, where he becomes the presumptive replacement for the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray.

      Hurts, who has one year of college eligibility remaining, started his freshman and sophomore seasons at Alabama before losing the job to Tua Tagovailoa in 2018. Tagovailoa will be back with the Crimson Tide in the fall.

      Murray, who has one year of eligibility left, has entered his name in the NFL draft and is widely expected to be a first-round pick. He also is under contract with the Oakland A's, who made him a first-round selection in the Major League Baseball draft last year.

      Kendall, a North Carolina native, appeared in four games for the Sooners in 2018, completing 12 of 17 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. He also got into two games while backing up Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield in 2016, hitting on 16 of 22 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception in his college career.

      Kendall could compete for action at West Virginia with rising junior Jack Allison and rising sophomore Trey Lowe. The Mountaineers' starting quarterback in 2018, Will Grier, was a senior.

      --Field Level Media

  • College football notebook: Hurts transferring to Oklahoma
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Jalen Hurts will transfer to Oklahoma, the former Alabama starting quarterback announced Wednesday in an essay he penned for The Players' Tribune.

    • As a graduate transfer, Hurts can play immediately in 2019 and will have one year of college eligibility remaining.

      Hurts, who started his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Crimson Tide, lost the primary quarterback job prior to this season to sophomore Tua Tagovailoa, who is returning next season. Hurts entered his name in the transfer portal a week ago and also considered Maryland and Miami.

      In his three seasons at Alabama, Hurts threw for 5,626 yards with 48 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He added 1,976 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.

      --Two months after then-Miami coach Mark Richt dismissed sophomore Jeff Thomas from the team, new Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz has welcomed the playmaker back, the university has confirmed.

      Thomas, who previously announced he would transfer to Illinois, addressed his return to Miami in an Instagram post Tuesday, stating in part, "I have decided to keep playing football and earning my degree at the University at Miami. Huge thanks to the University of Illinois for giving me the opportunity to accomplish my future dreams."

      On Nov. 21, Richt released Thomas from the team after he reportedly had a falling out with coaches and missed multiple practices. Thomas appeared in 24 games in 2017 and '18, catching 52 passes for 937 yards (18.0-yard average) with five touchdowns.

      --Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has offered a scholarship to a seventh-grade quarterback from suburban Detroit, according to the 13-year-old's father.

      The Wolverines coach extended the offer this week after watching tape of Isaiah Marshall competing for MacArthur Academy in Southfield, Mich. He will graduate from high school in 2024.

      "It was definitely unexpected," Brian Marshall, who played football at Northwestern, told ESPN regarding his son's offer. "They called me on the phone and asked if that was OK and of course I said yes."

      --One day after making his college commitment, a South Carolina high school football player died during surgery to repair a torn ACL.

      Spartanburg High School senior Nick Dixon, an 18-year-old linebacker and running back, passed away Friday at Spartanburg Medical Center, the Spartanburg School District confirmed in a Facebook post.

      Dixon had earned a scholarship to Division II Wingate University in North Carolina and committed to the school the night before his knee operation, WLTX reported. An autopsy will be performed to determine a cause of death, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.

      --Field Level Media

  • South Carolina prep player dies during surgery
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    One day after making his college commitment, a South Carolina high school football player died during surgery to repair a torn ACL.

    • Spartanburg High School senior Nick Dixon, an 18-year-old linebacker and running back, passed away on Friday at Spartanburg Medical Center, the Spartanburg School District confirmed in a Facebook post.

      Dixon had earned a scholarship to Division II Wingate University in North Carolina and committed to the school the night before his knee operation, WLTX reported.

      "I'm broken-hearted that I'm not going to shake his hand in May and give him that diploma," district superintendent Dr. Russell Booker told the news station.

      Dixon participated in the 2018 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, the annual high school All-Star championship for players in South and North Carolina.

      "He excelled on the turf and off, contributing to the team and to his community," the district said in a statement. "Anyone who knows Nick describes him as everyone's best friend. A talented and highly respected student-athlete. As [the district] grieves this unthinkable loss, we ask Nick and his family be remembered in prayer."

      The school held a candlelight vigil in Dixon's honor on Monday.

      "He could go anywhere he wanted to as far as school," Spartanburg coach Chris Miller said, according to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal. "He was very intelligent. He was a smart young man. And on the field, when Nick wanted to play, he flipped that switch and nobody could stop him. There was proof of that at the Shrine Bowl. He was going toe-to-toe with the big guys until he got his knee hurt, and he even tried to go a couple plays after that."

      Dixon's final post on Twitter was a video clip on Dec. 30 from the Shrine Bowl, in which a commentator discusses the colleges interested in Dixon while the camera follows him on the field. With it, Dixon posted three words: "Not done yet."

      Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said an autopsy will determine a cause of death, the Herald-Journal reported.

      --Field Level Media

  • QB Hurts announces transfer to Oklahoma
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts will transfer to Oklahoma, he announced Wednesday.

    • As a graduate transfer, Hurts can play immediately in 2019. He has one year of college eligibility remaining.

      He made the announcement in an essay he penned for The Players' Tribune.

      ""I've decided to take my talents to the University of Oklahoma, where I will continue my development as both a quarterback and as a student.

      "I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity, and I'm excited for the journey ahead."

      Hurts, who started his freshman and sophomore seasons at Alabama, lost the starting quarterback job to sophomore Tua Tagovailoa in 2018, who is returning next season. He entered his name in the transfer portal a week ago and also considered Maryland and Miami.

      Quarterback Tate Martell announced late last night that he is transferring from Ohio State to Miami.

      At Oklahoma, Hurts will follow two Heisman Trophy winners, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, both of who were transfers to the Sooners.

      And he undoubtedly will strive to lead Oklahoma into the championship game for the first time of the College Football Playoff. In the five-year history of the CFP, Oklahoma has qualified three times but never made it beyond the semifinal game. The Sooners were ousted by the Crimson Tide this season.

      In his three seasons at Alabama, Hurts threw for 5,626 yards with 48 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He added 1,976 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.

      Hurts concluded his essay with messages both to the fans in Norman, Okla., and to those in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

      "So to my about-to-be family in Norman, I truly appreciate you for bringing me on board," Hurts wrote. "Y'all don't know me yet......... but just for now, to introduce myself: I'm a motivated coach's son from the Eastside of Houston, and I love to play ball.

      "And to my Bama family, once again, THANK YOU -- for everything. It's been a great three years. I'll love you until the end of time!"

      --Field Level Media

  • Dismissed playmaker Thomas rejoins Hurricanes
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Two months after then-Miami coach Mark Richt dismissed sophomore Jeff Thomas from the team, new Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz has welcomed the playmaker back.

    • The university confirmed Wednesday that Thomas was returning to the football program.

      Thomas, who previously announced he would transfer to Illinois, addressed his return to Miami in an Instagram post Tuesday.

      "Tuff decision," he wrote. "But I have decided to keep playing Football and earning my Degree at The University at Miami. Huge Thanks to the University of Illinois for giving me the opportunity to accomplish my future dreams. Please with all do respect. Respect my decision, thanks! #GoIllini #GoCanes"

      On Nov. 21, Richt released Thomas from the team after he reportedly had a falling out with coaches and missed multiple practices. He was benched for the first two series of Miami's Nov. 17 win at Virginia Tech.

      "We have high standards for excellence, for conduct and for the commitment to team for all of the young men who wear our uniform, and we will not waver from those standards," Richt said in a statement. "We wish Jeff the very best as he moves forward in his journey."

      Richt retired following a 7-6 season. Diaz, who served as Richt's defensive coordinator from 2016-18, was hired to lead the Hurricanes on Dec. 30.

      Thomas appeared in 24 games in 2017 and 2018, catching 52 passes for 937 yards (18.0-yard average) with five touchdowns.

      He has averaged 22.6 yards per kickoff return and 24.6 per punt return, including a 51-yard touchdown return in his final game last season against the Hokies.

      --Field Level Media

  • Michigan's Harbaugh offers scholarship to seventh-grade QB
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has offered a scholarship to a seventh-grade quarterback from suburban Detroit, according to the 13-year-old's father.

    • The Wolverines coach extended the offer this week after watching tape of Isaiah Marshall competing for MacArthur Academy in Southfield, Mich. He will graduate from high school in 2024.

      "It was definitely unexpected," Brian Marshall told ESPN regarding his son's offer. "They called me on the phone and asked if that was OK and of course I said yes."

      Brian Marshall, who played football at Northwestern, said Isaiah understands he still has a lot of work ahead of him and that he won't let the unusual offer go to his head.

      "He couldn't believe it for a minute, and I had to bring him back down to earth [and] say, 'Hey, this is part of the process, don't change anything,'" Brian Marshall said.

      "There's a long way from now until you're a senior in high school, and a lot of things can change from now until then."

      --Field Level Media

  • Ex-Ohio State QB Martell announces transfer to Miami
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Former Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell is taking his talents to South Beach.

    • The dual-threat freshman tweeted early Wednesday morning that he intends to transfer to the University of Miami, and he's not the only player from Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High School who will call The U home.

      Former teammate Brevin Jordan, a tight end, already attends the school, and safety Bubba Bolden announced his intention to transfer from the University of Southern California earlier this month.

      The three were pictured together in Martell's tweet, which read, "right back like we never left..."

      right back like we never left...

      I'M A HURRICANE! ?????? pic.twitter.com/6Dh0gu4fxD

      — TATE MARTELL (@TheTateMartell) January 16, 2019

      And the Martell move wasn't the only good news the Hurricanes got in a 24-hour period, with wide receiver Jeff Thomas deciding not to transfer to Illinois on Tuesday, reversing a decision the sophomore made earlier this offseason.

      However, Martell was the biggest get for new head coach Manny Diaz, hired earlier this month, and new offensive coordinator Dan Enos.

      In a reserve role last season, Martell was 23 of 28 for 269 yards and a touchdown while backing up Dwayne Haskins. He also rushed for 128 yards on 22 carries with two TDs.

      Martell can file for a waiver, but otherwise will have to sit out the 2019 season. He will have three years of eligibility left when he gets back on the field.

      He will have two good quality targets out of the gate, with fellow freshman Jordan catching 32 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns last season, while Thomas amassed 35 receptions for 563 yards and three TDs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Notre Dame QB Wimbush transferring to UCF
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 15, 2019

    Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush on Tuesday announced that he's transferring to the University of Central Florida for his final season.

    • Wimbush made the announcement via Instagram.

      "I am excited to announce that UCF has granted me an awesome opportunity to play my last year of collegiate football for their great University," Wimbush posted.

      Wimbush amassed 2,606 passing yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions during his Notre Dame career, adding 1,155 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.

      Wimbush started the first three games of the Irish's 2018 season before being replaced by Ian Book on Sept. 22 at Wake Forest. Wimbush started his final game in place of an injured Book on Nov. 10 in South Bend, a 42-13 victory over Florida State. He passed for three touchdowns in that contest.

      Wimbush finished 13-3 as a starter for Notre Dame.

      He joins a UCF program that featured phenom three-year starter QB McKenzie Milton, who was felled by a gruesome knee injury during the Knights' regular-season finale against South Florida in November.

      Milton's status is uncertain. Milton has one year of eligibility left to play, but is scheduled to have a second surgical procedure on his knee on Jan. 25.

      Redshirt freshman Darriel Mack Jr. started the final two games for UCF.

      "With McKenzie Milton recovering from a knee injury, this will give the Knights an experienced veteran to help the young quarterbacks out," UCF wrote in a web post about Wimbush's decision.

      Wimbush is eligible to play next season as a graduate transfer.

      --Field Level Media

  • College football notebook: Oklahoma QB Murray declares for NFL draft
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    Two-sport star Kyler Murray placed his name into the NFL draft on Monday, making his intentions known by tweeting simply, "I have declared for the NFL Draft."

    • The Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma quarterback has been pondering entering the draft ever since his football stock skyrocketed with his stellar campaign. Based on projections, he figures to be a high first-round pick in the NFL draft despite his listed height of 5-foot-10. It's possible he could be the No. 1 overall pick.

      Murray's situation was complex as the Oakland Athletics drafted him ninth overall in June's baseball draft. Murray signed a contract with $4.66 million up front under the proviso he could play the just-completed college football season.

      In recent days, there was an effort to keep Murray out of the NFL, as Oakland was prepared to offer a guaranteed Major League Baseball contract that represents a significant increase over their initial agreement.

      Monday is the deadline for college football players to enter the draft. The final list of early entrants will be released to NFL teams on Friday.

      --Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell has narrowed his transfer targets to West Virginia, Miami and Louisville, according to a published report.

      Martell, who appeared in six games as backup to Dwayne Haskins in 2018, entered the transfer portal earlier this month after Georgia's Justin Fields announced his transfer to the Buckeyes.

      As a redshirt freshman, Martell completed 23 of 28 passes for 269 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. The dual-threat signal-caller also rushed 22 times for 128 yards and two scores.

      --President Donald Trump hosted the Clemson national champion football team at the White House, but thanks in part to the partial government shutdown, the menu choices are not quite the traditional options.

      Using his own money to pay for some "great American food," Trump told reporters earlier in the day: "Very great team. Unbelievable team. I think we're going to serve McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King ... some pizza. I really mean it. Their favorite food. So we'll see what happens."

      While their meal wasn't exactly extravagant, the fast-food menu was served on silver platters under the glow of candlelight for the Tigers, who defeated the previously top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16 in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.

      --A pair of big-name, award-winning players also declared they are leaving school early for the NFL draft:

      Mackey Award-winning tight end T.J. Hockenson of Iowa, who caught 49 passes for a team-high 760 yards and six touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2018, became the second Hawkeyes tight end to declare for the draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. rates Hockenson as the No. 5 tight end in the 2019 draft class, with Iowa teammate Noah Fant as his No. 1 player at the position.

      And LSU linebacker Devin White announced he is leaving the Tigers for the draft, where is expected to be taken in the top 10. White, who won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, led the Tigers with 123 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He also had three sacks.

      --SMU quarterback Ben Hicks announced that he will play for Arkansas in 2019. Hicks is SMU's all-time record holder with 9,081 yards and 71 touchdowns.

      The graduate transfer passed for 2,582 yards and 19 touchdowns against seven interceptions last season, and joins former Mustangs coach Chad Morris, who is head coach in Fayetteville.

      Cole Kelley, who lost the Arkansas starting gig in September, recently transferred to Southeastern Louisiana. Ty Storey, who finished as the starter, placed his name in the transfer portal last week in hopes of finding a new school.

      --Former Notre Dame star running back Autry Denson is the new coach of Charleston Southern, the school announced. Denson, who spent the past four seasons as running backs coach at Notre Dame, will be introduced in a news conference on Wednesday.

      Denson rushed for a school-record 4,318 yards in four seasons (1995-98) at Notre Dame. He topped 1,000 yards in three of them. Denson also rushed for 43 touchdowns, which currently stands second in program history.

      The 42-year-old Denson replaces Mark Tucker, who resigned last month with an 11-11 record in two seasons at the FCS school.

      --The Pittsburgh Panthers have hired former Massachusetts head football coach and ex-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple as their offensive coordinator.

      Whipple, 61, who was fired in November after UMass finished 4-8 for the second consecutive season, compiled a 16-44 mark since returning to the job in 2014. He previously coached the team from 1998-2003, compiling a 49-26 mark.

      --Field Level Media

  • Fired UMass coach Whipple named new Pitt OC
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    The Pittsburgh Panthers on Monday hired former Massachusetts head football coach and ex-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple as their offensive coordinator.

    • "Mark Whipple is truly one of the best teachers of offensive football in the country -- college and pro," Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. "His track record working with quarterbacks is simply outstanding and I know that positional group will really grow under his influence."

      Whipple, 61, who was fired in November after UMass finished 4-8 for the second consecutive season, compiled a 16-44 mark since returning to the job in 2014. He previously coached the team from 1998-2003, compiling a 49-26 mark.

      Despite its losing record in 2018, UMass ranked 36th in FBS by averaging 32.8 points per game, and averaged 298 yards passing and 139.8 rushing.

      At Pitt, Whipple is replacing Shawn Watson, who was fired earlier in January. The Panthers were one of the worst offensive teams in the country in 2018, finishing 97th in total offense, 93rd in scoring offense and 120th in passing offense.

      Whipple will also coach the quarterbacks at Pitt, a role he knows very well. He worked for Steelers head coach Bill Cowher from 2004-06, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played his first three NFL seasons.

      In 2014, Roethlisberger told the Massachusetts Daily Collegian that Whipple "really taught me how to be a pro when it comes to doing the football side of things."

      In October, Whipple made national headlines when he drew a one-game suspension for a rape analogy. Following a 58-42 loss at Ohio University, Whipple referred to a play on which he believed the Bobcats should have been flagged for pass interference, saying in a radio interview, "We had a chance there ... and they rape us, and (the referee) picks up the flag."

      In 1998, Whipple coached the Minutemen to a national title at the FCS level. He also was the head coach at New Haven from 1988-93 and at Brown from 1994-97. Whipple has an 137-103 overall record as a head coach.

      He was offensive coordinator of the Miami Hurricanes from 2009-10, when his teams averaged 30.3 and 26.7 points per game.

      --Field Level Media

  • Trump foots bills for Clemson's White House meal
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    The federal government shutdown even affected that national champion Clemson Tigers during their visit with President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday.

    • And though he didn't wine and dine them, the president ponied up for some "great American food" worthy of the best college football team in the country. Trump said he ordered around 1,000 hamburgers, bringing in food from McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King, as well as pizza.

      "I had a choice," Trump said. "Do we have no food for you? ... Or do we give you some little quick salads that the First Lady will make, along with the Second Lady -- they'll make some salads. (No), I said, you guys aren't into salads."

      Trump singled out Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence for praise.

      "I want to be the agent for that tall, handsome quarterback," the president said. "6-foot-7, they say great athlete, and he's accurate. That's nice."

      Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said of the Washington visit, "What a fun day it's been. It's an honor to be a part of this tradition, and to be honest with you, it's really cool that football can create an opportunity like this."

      While the Tigers' meal wasn't exactly extravagant, the fast food menu was served on silver platters under the glow of candlelight for the Tigers, who defeated the previously top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16 in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.

      "The President wanted to host a fun event to celebrate the College Football National Champion Clemson Tigers," deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told CNN in a statement. "Because the Democrats refuse to negotiate on border security, much of the residence staff at the White House is furloughed -- so the President is personally paying for the event to be catered with some of everyone's favorite fast foods."

      Trump confirmed before the visit that he paid for the Tigers' meal, adding, "We have some very large people that like eating. So I think we're going to have a little fun." He called it "great American food," and boxes of Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, chicken nuggets and Filet-O-Fish were on display.

      "If it's American, I like it. It's all American stuff, (including) 300 hamburgers, many, many french fries -- all of our favorite foods," Trump said, according to a pool report.

      The pool report indicated that the Clemson players arrived shortly before 6 p.m. ET as the White House band played Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." According to the report, some players "whooped" when they saw how the fast food was displayed.

      --Field Level Media

  • SMU QB Hicks transferring to Arkansas
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    SMU quarterback Ben Hicks announced Monday that he will play for Arkansas in 2019.

    • Hicks is SMU's all-time record holder with 9,081 yards and 71 touchdowns.

      The graduate transfer joins former Mustangs coach Chad Morris as a member of the Razorbacks.

      "Looking forward to playing my final season of college football in Fayetteville! @RazorbackFB Excited to get to work!" Hicks wrote on his Twitter account.

      Hicks passed for 2,582 yards and 19 touchdowns against seven interceptions last season.

      He spent his first two seasons as a starter under Morris, who departed for Arkansas in December 2017.

      Hicks passed for 2,930 yards, 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2016 and had a big 2017 campaign in which he passed for 3,569 yards, 33 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

      The Razorbacks are also on the verge of losing their second quarterback since the end of the 2018 season.

      Cole Kelley, who lost the starting gig in September, recently transferred to Southeastern Louisiana. Ty Storey, who finished as the starter, placed his name in the transfer portal last week in hopes of finding a new school.

      "Ty came in and we had a long talk and visit," Morris said during an appearance on a Fayetteville radio show. "He expressed to me that he wants to go somewhere and play, and I understand those things.

      "That's great. You're in that role of a quarterback, and that's a unique position. I've been around it my entire life."

      Storey passed for 1,584 yards and 11 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 2018 for the Razorbacks (2-10).

      --Field Level Media

  • Denson hired as Charleston Southern coach
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    Former Notre Dame star running back Autry Denson is the new coach of Charleston Southern, the school announced Monday.

    • Denson, who spent the past four seasons as running backs coach at Notre Dame, will be introduced in a news conference on Wednesday.

      Denson rushed for a school-record 4,318 yards in four seasons (1995-98) at Notre Dame. He topped 1,000 yards in three of them.

      Denson also rushed for 43 touchdowns, which currently stands second in program history.

      The 42-year-old Denson replaces Mark Tucker, who resigned last month with an 11-11 record in two seasons at the FCS school.

      "This is a great day for Buccaneer football," Charleston Southern athletic director Jeff Barber said in a news release. "Autry Denson is a special person in many ways and stands out as both a recruiter and a coach. More importantly, he cares about his players as people first and will, therefore, have great influence on their hearts and lives and will develop each of them into outstanding young men."

      Denson felt like he was a good fit for the school while going through the interview process.

      "I was drawn to Charleston Southern by the vision of this great Christian university of integrating faith in learning, leading, and serving," Denson said in the news release. "As a result, I knew this could be a place where I could build and lead a program to honor Christ by operating with character, integrity, transparency, accountability, and community."

      After his Notre Dame playing career, Denson appeared in 34 NFL games with the Miami Dolphins (1999-2000), Chicago Bears (2001) and Indianapolis Colts (2002). He rushed for 212 yards on 62 attempts in his career.

      He had coaching stops at Bethune-Cookman, Miami (Ohio) and South Florida before joining the Notre Dame staff under Brian Kelly.

      "I am so excited for Autry as he embarks on the next step of his coaching career as the new head coach at Charleston Southern," Kelly said in the press release. "He has done a tremendous job for us during his time at Notre Dame. He not only developed our running backs to produce at a high level on the field, but he was also instrumental in their growth as young men.

      "This is where Autry touched our program the deepest. He's got a way with young people and truly provides spiritual mentorship that positively affects everyone around him."

      --Field Level Media

  • Oklahoma QB Murray declares for NFL draft
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    Two-sport star Kyler Murray placed his name into the NFL draft on Monday with a simple statement on his Twitter account.

    • "I have declared for the NFL Draft," Murray wrote in a tweet.

      The Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma quarterback has been pondering entering the draft ever since his football stock skyrocketed with his stellar campaign. Murray passed for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns against seven interceptions while also rushing for 1,001 yards and 12 scores.

      Based on projections, he figures to be a high first-round pick in the NFL draft despite his listed height of 5-foot-10. It's possible he could be the No. 1 overall pick.

      Murray has 72 hours to pull out of the NFL draft after declaring.

      Murray's situation was complex as the Oakland Athletics drafted him ninth overall in June's baseball draft. Murray signed a contract with $4.66 million up front under the proviso he could play the just-completed college football season.

      In recent days, there was an effort to keep Murray out of the NFL, as Oakland was prepared to offer a guaranteed Major League Baseball contract that represents a significant increase over their initial agreement.

      ESPN reported that Murray changed his circumstances by playing for Oklahoma, thus opening the door for the Athletics to place him on the 40-man roster with a major league deal.

      Monday is the deadline for college football players to enter the draft. The final list of early entrants will be released to NFL teams on Friday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Iowa TE Hockenson leaving early for NFL draft
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    Mackey Award-winning tight end T.J. Hockenson is leaving Iowa early to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, the Hawkeyes announced Monday.

    • The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Hockenson caught 49 passes for a team-high 760 yards and six touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2018.

      The First Team All-Big Ten selection had three catches for 125 yards in a Sept. 22 loss to Wisconsin and caught four passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns in an Oct. 13 win at Indiana.

      Hockenson is the fourth player to leave Iowa early for April's draft, joining fellow tight end Noah Fant, defensive end Anthony Nelson and safety Amani Hooker.

      ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. rates Hockenson as the No. 5 tight end in the 2019 draft class, with Fant as his No. 1 player at the position.

      --Field Level Media

  • LSU standout LB White declares for draft
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    All-American LSU linebacker Devin White announced Monday he will skip his senior season to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

    • He is expected to be a top-10 selection in April.

      "As a small-town country boy from Springhill, Cullen and Cotton Valley, Louisiana, dreaming of play in the NFL always seemed so far away," White said in a touching video to LSU fans posted Monday on Twitter. "However, it was all God's plan to place the opportunity within arm's reach.

      "I've chosen to accept the challenge."

      White, who won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, led the Tigers with 123 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He also had three sacks.

      ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both have ranked Davis as the No. 3 overall prospect and the top inside linebacker in the nation.

      He is the third underclassman from LSU to put his name in the draft, joining cornerback Greedy Williams and nose tackle Ed Alexander.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Ohio State's Martell considers WVU, Miami and Louisville
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 14, 2019

    Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell has narrowed his transfer targets to West Virginia, Miami and Louisville, according to a published report Monday.

    • Martell, who appeared in six games as backup to Dwayne Haskins in 2018, entered the transfer portal earlier this month after Georgia's Justin Fields announced his transfer to the Buckeyes.

      As a redshirt freshman, Martell completed 23 of 28 passes for 269 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. The dual-threat signal-caller also rushed 22 times for 128 yards and two scores.

      Martell visited West Virginia on Sunday and was expected to visit Miami on Monday and Louisville on Wednesday, according to 247Sports.

      If Martell does leave Columbus, he would have to sit out the 2019 season or request a waiver from the NCAA.

      --Field Level Media

  • TE McCormick announces he won't sue Oregon
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, January 13, 2019

    After two football players announced lawsuits against the University of Oregon, a third has opted against suing the school.

    • Tight end Cam McCormick was one of three players hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis in January 2017 following an offseason workout.

      "I respect my teammates immensely and their very difficult decision to take that path," McCormick wrote on Saturday. "... I look forward to putting this unfortunate situation in the past, and moving ahead."

      Sam Poutasi, an offensive lineman who played as a redshirt sophomore in 2018, late last week sued the university, former football coach Willie Taggart, former strength coach Irele Oderinde and the NCAA, alleging he suffered long-term effects from offseason workouts in 2017.

      Poutasi said the workouts caused him to be diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis and subsequently hospitalized. He is seeking $5 million in damages for what he termed "physical and emotional pain, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and diminishment of avocational abilities, in the past, present, and future."

      Earlier in the week, former Oregon offensive lineman Doug Brenner filed an $11.5 million suit for negligence against the university, Taggart, Oderinde and the NCAA.

      Both Brenner and Poutasi contend the university was negligent in its failure to regulate, supervise or prohibit the workouts; that Taggart and Oderinde were negligent in conducting those workouts; and that the NCAA has failed in its oversight of coaches at NCAA schools.

      Taggart is now the head coach at Florida State, where Oderinde is on his staff.

      Poutasi's lawsuit states he was in the hospital for a week in January 2017 and suffered from "severely swollen arms, muscle aches and pains, loss of use of arms, elevated creatinine kinase levels caused by AER, discolored urine and damage to kidneys."

      At the time, The Oregonian reported that multiple sources compared the workouts to military basic training.

      McCormick, a sophomore, suffered a broken leg in the 2018 season opener against Bowling Green and missed the rest of the season.

      --Field Level Media