NCAA Football News
The Texas Longhorns failed to finish with a winning record (5-7) for the second time in Charlie Strong's two-year tenure. But with a new offense, young talent on defense and another strong recruiting finish, the Horns could finally get over the hump in 2016.
Optimism has been hard to come by when it comes to Texas. It's been six years of mediocre-at-best football on the 40 Acres, and even the administration seemed to lack faith in its initially half-hearted effort to ink a new offensive coordinator.
But in supporting Strong in his effort to hire Tulsa's Sterlin Gilbert, those same administrators have given this program a chance to show real progress.
Not only does Gilbert bring a proven offense to the table, but he should also set up one of Texas' quarterbacks up for success in 2016. With the young talent returning on both sides of the ball and Strong's knack for getting it done on the recruiting trail, this coming season has a chance to be a big one.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With five players off early to the NFL, Notre Dame football officially announced five new faces Wednesday with its early enrollees.
The spring semester began Tuesday in South Bend, and the college experience started for linebacker/defensive lineman Daelin Hayes, defensive lineman Khalid Kareem, defensive back Spencer Perry, wide receiver Kevin Stepherson and defensive back Devin Studstill.
Hayes, an Ann Arbor, Michigan, native is the No. 10 outside linebacker and No. 121 overall prospect in the country. The 6’3”, 239-pounder and U.S. Army All-American missed the bulk of his senior season with a separated shoulder.
Hayes decommitted from USC in mid-October then took an official visit to South Bend five days later for Notre Dame’s clash with the Trojans. He tabbed the Irish over Ohio State and Michigan State last month.
Whether he lines up as an outside linebacker or defensive end, Hayes could provide the Irish with much-needed pass-rushing ability. Notre Dame finished tied for 78th in the country with 24 sacks, 16 of which won’t return in 2016.
Kareem checks in as the No. 9 strong-side defensive end and No. 194 overall prospect in the class. The Michigan product decommitted from Alabama in mid-October—two days after Hayes did the same from USC—and pledged to the Irish nine days later.
At 6’3”, 245 pounds, Kareem will get a head start adding weight to his frame. Kareem, who was the MVP of the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, will join a group of defensive linemen that must replace Sheldon Day and Romeo Okwara.
Like Hayes, Perry missed the majority of his senior season with a shoulder injury. The IMG Academy product is the No. 32 safety and No. 525 recruit in the country.
Perry visited Notre Dame in June, decommitted from Florida three days later and announced his verbal commitment to the Irish one week after.
With Elijah Shumate’s graduation, Perry could have the opportunity to grab valuable reps this spring. Safeties Drue Tranquill and Avery Sebastian are coming off injuries suffered this fall.
Stepherson hauled in 48 passes for 835 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior in Jacksonville, Florida. The 5’11”, 171-pounder slides into an Irish receiving corps that must replace its top three receivers from the 2015 campaign.
Junior Will Fuller (62 receptions for 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns) bypassed his senior season for the NFL, and Chris Brown (48-597-4) and Amir Carlisle (32-355-1) are gone, too.
Stepherson, a 3-star prospect and the No. 93 wideout in the class, verbally committed to the Irish in June.
Studstill is slotted as the No. 29 safety and No. 488 recruit in the class of 2016. He pledged to the Irish on Dec. 15.
The 3-star prospect is from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and attended the same high school as current Irish linebacker Te’von Coney.
Like Perry, Studstill joins an Irish secondary with a pair of starting spots to fill. Five other defensive back verbal commitments in Notre Dame’s class of 2016 are scheduled to arrive this summer.
Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports composite rankings.
Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.
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