NCAA Football News

Thaddeus Snodgrass to Transfer from Kentucky: Latest Details and Reaction

According to Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader (via KentuckySports.com), University of Kentucky wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass left the program on Wednesday. 

A redshirt freshman, Snodgrass didn't record a single catch during his time with the Wildcats after he was merely listed as a participant for the last three games.

When asked about his lack of playing time, head coach Mark Stoops told Smith that "there’s some other guys playing and he’s been having his struggles, but we’ll see where that goes."

Snodgrass was a 4-star recruit out of Springfield, Ohio. Of the class of 2014, he was the 15th overall prospect in the state and the 43rd-ranked wide receiver in the country, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. 

He impressed Stoops in the spring, as the coach told Smith: "We really feel like he’s got a bright future. He’s strong and he’s got a lot of upside. He’s a guy we feel like can help us outside, got some deep balls, just needs to be a little bit more consistent."   

Snodgrass is one of a number of Kentucky players who left the program in 2015, per Smith. Cornerback Jaleel Hytchye, linebacker Dorian Hendrix, wide receiver Rashad Cunningham and offensive linemen Josh Krok and Nick Richardson left the Wildcats this season.

According to 247Sports, Snodgrass received offers from 15 other schools, including Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame. It remains to be seen where he will transfer to, but one would have to believe that one of those 15 teams will be in the mix.

 

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.

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Mike Hughes, M.J. Stewart's Suspensions to Be Lifted by North Carolina

North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora reinstated freshman cornerback Mike Hughes on Wednesday and plans to do the same for sophomore cornerback M.J. Stewart on Sunday, per Aaron Beard of the Associated Press (via the San Diego Union-Tribune).

"Based on everything that I know at this time, it’s the appropriate action," Fedora said when asked why he made his decision, per Greg Barnes of Inside Carolina.

Less than a week ago, he suspended the two players indefinitely following their arrests on Oct. 4. According to WRAL.com, they were involved in a fight at a fraternity house on the University of North Carolina campus. ESPN.com's Jared Shanker reported Stewart was charged with misdemeanor assault/affray and battery, while Hughes was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.    

Neither player has resolved his legal issues, and Fedora admitted he could ultimately discipline the players further depending on the result of their cases, per Barnes.

Stewart has played in five games for the Tar Heels this year, making 20 total tackles, and his three interceptions lead the team. Hughes, meanwhile, has made three total tackles in his five appearances this year.

Hughes will be available to play against the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday, while Stewart's return will come against the No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers on Oct. 25.

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Otaro Alaka Injury: Updates on Texas A&M LB's Shoulder and Recovery

The Texas A&M Aggies defense suffered a big blow Tuesday, as head coach Kevin Sumlin confirmed sophomore linebacker Otaro Alaka will miss the rest of the season after suffering elbow and labrum injuries, according to Suzanne Halliburton of the Statesman.

Continue for updates.   

Alaka Will Be Ready for Next Season After Surgery Wednesday, Oct. 21

After an impressive freshman season in 2014 that culminated with Alaka being named Liberty Bowl Defensive MVP, 2015 could have been a breakout campaign for the young linebacker. Instead, his season is over after 12 total tackles in three games. Sumlin talked on Tuesday about the woes his players have gone through this season, per Halliburton.

It’s been a tough time for him. He dislocated an elbow in fall camp, had a serious illness in the family, came back and…had a torn labrum, about three quarters of it. The decision was made to just have him have surgery and he’ll fall under the time frame that we’ll apply for a medical redshirt. I think he’ll get this year back and it’s a time for him to get better mentally and physically. With the surgery being this early, we’ll have the opportunity to get him back for spring ball and we’ll need him.

Sumlin seems positive for now, and it's not like the Aggies have a huge hole to fill considering Alaka had only played sparingly.

However, it's still bad news for a defense that may have been holding out hope for his return. The Aggies defense is only allowing about 19 points per game in SEC play—if you don't count the 21 points scored by the Alabama Crimson Tide defense against Texas A&M last week—and will certainly find a way to move on without its linebacker.

It remains to be seen if Alaka will be awarded the medical redshirt, but it certainly would be a huge lift for the team if he entered next season with three years of eligibility. 

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Ohio State Football: Midseason Grades for Each Buckeyes Positional Unit

Ohio State entered the year as college football's first unanimous preseason No. 1 team in the AP poll, and it was expected to dominate an easy schedule en route to a second appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Seven weeks in, the Buckeyes are undefeated and still No. 1, but they haven't looked as strong as many had anticipated heading into the season.

After opening the season with an impressive-looking 42-24 victory over Virginia Tech on the road, Ohio State looked sluggish and uninspired in victories over Hawaii, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Indiana. But the Buckeyes have impressed over the last two weeks in blowout victories over Maryland and Penn State, showing flashes of the dominance that most expected in the preseason.

With things starting to click for Urban Meyer's squad, here's a look at how each unit has performed through the first seven games of the 2015 campaign.

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USC Football: Why the Trojans Are Surprise Favorites vs. Undefeated Utah

It should go without saying—the folks out in Las Vegas usually know what they're doing when it comes to college football.

But the oddsmakers' track records didn't stop one particular Week 8 spread from receiving a massive amount of scrutiny:

No. 3 Utah, boasting a perfect record and the second-most first-place votes of any team in the current Associated Press Top 25 poll, opened as a three-point underdog on Odds Shark to a USC team that has a 3-3 record and an interim head coach.

While lines are set to encourage betting, the Utah side isn't swimming in money after people saw what they thought was such an outrageous point spread.

Quite the opposite, actually.

According to Odds Shark, USC is now a 3.5-point favorite over Utah, and some places even have the Trojans favored by four points. Utah may be a favorite in the eyes of the public, but that doesn't bother Vegas.

And it's not just the oddsmakers who favor USC.

Advanced stat systems, including Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings and ESPN's Football Power Index, both have the Trojans ranked higher than the Utes, despite the large gap in records and perception. They, too, ignore what the polls say and rely on their own data.

But believing that struggling USC is the favorite over a Utah team that has its sights set on a playoff run might be too hard to believe, even for the most optimistic of Trojan diehards.

Here are four reasons why USC is not an underdog this weekend and why it can pull off the non-upset of Utah.

 

Home-field advantage

The last time USC was in the Coliseum, it wasn't pretty. A low-scoring Thursday night loss to Washington turned out to be the last game in charge for head coach Steve Sarkisian.

But the home of the Trojans is still the biggest road venue undefeated Utah has faced all season. The Utes have only traveled to bad Mountain West foe Fresno State and Pac-12 North power Oregon, which only holds 54,000 fans inside Autzen Stadium.

The Coliseum, on the other hand, has almost 40,000 more seats than the rowdy Autzen Zoo, which was quieted quickly in Utah's 62-20 beatdown of Oregon last month.

As Paul Bessire of Prediction Machine (h/t Chip Patterson of CBS Sports) noted this summer, home-field advantage is worth about three points in college football. John Avello of Wynn Las Vegas told Sporting News the location of this game is the main reason why USC is favored.

"They are home," Avello said. "That’s the No. 1 reason why they’re the favorite. ... You’re going to a place that’s just a difficult place to play. This team (USC) should be sky-high for this contest."

If USC's fans can throw their full support behind interim head coach Clay Helton and his team in turmoil, then they can give Utah something it hasn't had to deal with all year: a large and loud crowd making its presence felt for four quarters.

 

Margin of victory

But the standard three-point swing from home-field advantage doesn't fully explain USC's status as the favorite in this game. Take away the Trojans' bonus from being the host, and this looks like a fairly even matchup on a hypothetical neutral field.

How? Well, Utah may have twice as many wins as USC this season, but one important stat that both the oddsmakers and the computers favor—margin of victory—has the two teams looking even.

USC's three losses this season have all been close, and the majority of Utah's wins have been tight. Add the margins of victory together and compare strength of schedule, and there's hardly any difference.

"Scoring margin is generally a better predictor of future performance than a team's win-loss record itself," Sharon Katz of ESPN.com wrote. "USC obviously does not have as impressive a resume as Utah's, but this weekend, the FPI and Vegas expect them to be stronger at home."

Another interesting fact to consider when comparing USC and Utah is its only common opponent so far this season. While USC destroyed Arizona State in Tempe one week after its loss to now-No. 10 Stanford, Utah needed a fourth-quarter rally to put the Sun Devils away at home last Saturday.

While wins and losses are ultimately what matters most, the final score lines seem to indicate USC isn't quite as bad as its 3-3 record suggests, and Utah isn't a dominant No. 3 team.

 

The talent gap

In almost every conceivable metric—recruiting class rankings, number of pro prospects, All-Pac-12 candidates, etc.—USC is a more talented team than the one Utah will bring to Los Angeles on Saturday. It's why USC was a preseason title contender and why Utah was unranked.

But more talent doesn't always lead to wins. Upsets happen all the time, and highly regarded teams just don't live up to expectations. USC fans are already well aware of this notion, considering the number of disappointing seasons in the post-Pete Carroll years.

That's not to say Utah isn't a talented team by any means. Devontae Booker is one of the hardest-running backs in the country, Travis Wilson has developed into a reliable passer and head coach Kyle Whittingham has assembled a rock-solid defense to go along with the nation's best special teams unit.

However, Whittingham knows who will be the more talented team when things kick off Saturday in Los Angeles.

"The biggest concern is the sheer number of players they have that are just incredibly talented," Whittingham said, per Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. "I don't think there's a coach in the Pac-12 that will argue that USC doesn't have the best talent in the conference. That's just how it is year in and year out."

If USC can play up to its potential, something the Trojans have already showed in the Arizona State win that followed the Stanford upset loss, then it is more than capable of ending Utah's undefeated run. It's a matter of execution.

 

The "post-Notre Dame" factor

USC could've easily folded last weekend at Notre Dame. The Trojans were a few days removed from a crazy saga in which their head coach took a leave of absence and then was fired amid a media firestorm.

But they didn't. Under Helton, USC played tough and hung with a playoff-contending Notre Dame team on the road for most of the night. As Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer noted, USC looked like the preseason Top 10 team it was supposed to be this season.

While USC couldn't get the win, the Notre Dame game was still a step in the right direction for a program on shaky ground following Sarkisian's firing. It pressed through the weirdness of having a new interim head coach and looked like a totally different team from the one that lost to Washington.

Garry Paskwietz of WeAreSC.com wrote on ESPN.com regarding Helton:

Helton did a good job to keep a high level of focus to the preparation last week amid all the drama of a coaching switch, and it resulted in the Trojans being in the game in the fourth quarter. ... If Helton can get the team in the right frame of mind, there’s no question the talent on the USC roster is there to come away with the win.

Now things will start to feel more normal for the Trojans as they return to their home stadium this weekend. 

In 2013, USC rallied around interim head coach Ed Orgeron after a close loss on the road to Notre Dame. The Trojans went on to beat No. 5 Stanford in the Coliseum a few weeks later.

The turnaround will have to be shorter for USC this time if it's going to knock off a national title contender. But Helton's squad has home-field advantage, experience in tight games, talent and some momentum from a better-than-expected performance at Notre Dame.

If nothing else, at least the experts in Las Vegas still believe in the Trojans.

 

Unless otherwise noted, other statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com. Recruiting class rankings per 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Brady Hoke Says He Wouldn't Have Punted on Final Play vs. Michigan State

Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke questioned Jim Harbaugh's decision to punt at the end of the game against Michigan State that ultimately led to a fumble and the Spartans' game-winning touchdown return as time expired. 

"Personally, if we have the No. 1 defense in the nation I'm going to test those guys," Hoke told his SiriusXM College Sports co-host, Mark Packer, during the pair's show on Tuesday, per Angelique S. Chengelis of the Detroit News. "You've got to play to the strength of your football team, and the strength of the Michigan football team all year long has been their defense."

Hoke said he would have run the ball with De'Veon Smith in that situation or thrown a play-action pass, adding that he felt there were too many possible breakdowns that could occur on a punt. He also critiqued the punt formation.

"No. 1, I think the one gunner to the field should have been in a little bit more and if you're going to punt it there's ways to protect it a little better," he said.

Michigan faced a 4th-and-2 at the Michigan State 47-yard line with 10 seconds remaining as it lined up to punt. Going for it in that situation might have netted the first down, but it also could have given the ball back to Michigan State with good enough field position to attempt a Hail Mary into the end zone if the fourth-down conversion failed. 

And much like the fumbled snap on the punt, a snap or handoff exchange could have been botched as well had the team gone for it. A successful punt, meanwhile, would have buried Michigan State with poor field position, since the Spartans had all 11 men at the line of scrimmage. So an argument could be made that Harbaugh's decision was the more strategically sound one, though Hoke obviously disagrees.

Hoke spent four seasons as the head coach at Michigan, going 31-20 overall and 1-2 in bowl games. He led the 11-2 Wolverines to a victory in the 2011 Sugar Bowl during his best season in Ann Arbor. After the team limped to a 5-7 record last season, Hoke was fired and replaced by Harbaugh.

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Will Any Team Flip 4-Star RB Kareem Walker from Ohio State?

Running back Kareem Walker will move forward with multiple official visits while maintaining his commitment to Ohio State, he announced Wednesday morning (h/t ESPN's Tom VanHaaren).

The 4-star New Jersey prospect plans to spend time at Alabama, Arizona State and Ole Miss before returning to Columbus for a final campus trip. This development comes less than two weeks after he traveled to Michigan for his first official visit.

"I'm committed to Ohio State. ... These visits are to confirm I'm making the right choice for my future," Walker explained, via VanHaaren. 

Rated No. 1 overall among 2016 rushers in composite rankings, the DePaul Catholic High School (Wayne, New Jersey) standout declared his Buckeyes pledge during halftime of the team's national championship game victory:

Things remained relatively quiet regarding Walker's recruitment for quite a while afterward.

That changed in May, when he journeyed to Alabama and Auburn. Arizona State welcomed him to campus for an unofficial visit this summer, setting the stage for a return flight to Tempe.

Ole Miss emerges as another viable option the SEC, which matches the Big Ten Conference with two programs in play here. He joins tight end Isaac Nauta and offensive tackle Greg Little as top-ranked athletes at their respective positions expected to visit Oxford before settling on schools.

The Rebels already claim a commitment from 5-star quarterback and Elite 11 MVP Shea Patterson, so there is significant potential in place for head coach Hugh Freeze's 2016 offensive haul. 

Walker previously notified the Ohio State staff of his intentions. Never lacking for confidence on the recruiting trail, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer didn't distress.

"Coach Meyer and coach [Tony] Alford, the running backs coach, knew from the start I was taking all of my visits. Coach Meyer doesn’t have an issue with it. He’s confident these trips will confirm my wanting to attend Ohio State," Walker said, via Todderick Hunt of NJ.com.

The Buckeyes aren't lacking for backfield depth in this cycle, despite a recent decommitment from in-state playmaker George Hill. Ohio State holds pledges from Demario McCall, a dynamic athlete likely to land in an H-back role, and former Wisconsin commit Antonio Williams, who joined the class last weekend.

Williams and McCall combined to rush for 4,500 yards and 62 touchdowns in 2014. Despite their presence in the class, Ohio State is ardent about landing multiple backs who can handle the brunt of a heavy workload.

Walker made it a point to dispel any swirling notion he's attempting to dodge the crowd.

"All of this talk about another [running back] committing and me not wanting any competition is false," he stated in Wednesday's announcement. "I love competition ... every school has [running backs] and will sign one or more every year. ... That will only push to make me better."

Ohio State will likely lose superstar Ezekiel Elliott to the NFL draft after his junior season. He's accounted for 58 percent of the Buckeyes' total rushing yards through seven games this fall, so various players could be counted on to initially fill the void following his departure.

Alabama certainly wouldn't be an ideal choice if Walker was looking for a clearer path to playing time. The Crimson Tide signed top-ranked 2015 running back Damien Harris and hold commitments from three rushers rated 4-star or better in the 2016 and 2017 cycles. 

If you're searching for a coaching staff most capable of altering Walker's outlook, attention seemingly shifts to Ann Arbor. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh hosted him in the Big House earlier this month and is aided by current members of his latest recruiting class. 

Walker's trip was highlighted by a victory over Northwestern and the presence of multiple fellow New Jersey natives. Ron JohnsonBrad Hawkins and Ahmir Mitchell—all Wolverines commits from the Garden State—joined him.

"I think Kareem really liked the entire day," Johnson said. "The fans knew who he was. The players knew who he was. Everyone was showing him love."

Walker confirmed that he appreciated the environment in Ann Arbor, heating up recruiting tensions between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

"I had a good trip to Michigan. It's the second time I've been there, but the first time with this staff," Walker said in a statement, via VanHaaren. "The game atmosphere was tremendous; fans really love the team. I enjoyed speaking with the coaches and meeting everyone."

Expect his peers to continue piling pressure on him to team up in college.

"He's a rare player. I need him with us at Michigan," Johnson said.

Mitchell in particular has peppered him with sales pitches lately on social media:

Ohio State is still the pacesetter 15 weeks shy of signing day. Regardless how Walker's upcoming official visits turn out, he maintains that Columbus is his final destination before putting pen to paper. 

Whether Walker calls the Buckeyes' facilities home for years to come remains a mystery. If he does eventually reverse course, expect his future experiences at Ohio State to occur in a maize-and-blue uniform.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Every Undefeated College Football Team's Top Commit and Biggest Recruiting Need

In both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll, 14 of the 25 ranked teams are still undefeated as the season creeps closer to the month of November.

While it may pose a potential problem later in choosing the final four for the College Football Playoff, the goose egg on the end of the records of these teams can be silent recruiting tools for future targets. You can bet that many athletes are looking at today's records and predicting equal success—if not more success—when it's their turn to put on a college uniform.

All 14 undefeated teams currently have decent recruiting classes for 2016. Here's a look at which undefeated team is doing what. The teams are listed in order of their AP Top 25 ranking.

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Showdown vs. Kansas State Is a Statement Game for Charlie Strong, Texas

Texas' Week 8 game against Kansas State won't decide the Big 12 Championship or playoff positioning. In fact, it won't have any national relevance at all. Most people outside the respective fanbases will do little more than check the score at the bottom of their television screen or on their phone.

However, the K-State game could be the biggest statement Charlie Strong's team makes this season. For what it's worth, the Longhorns have beaten the Wildcats once in the last seven meetings (2013).

This isn't meant to diminish the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma. Rivalry games are always important metrics by which head coaches are judged, and if Texas did one thing right in 2015, it was beat the Sooners 24-17.

And it was a necessary win at that. With Texas at 1-4 and coming off a 50-7 loss to TCU, severaloutlets were wondering whether Strong was actually the guy to turn things around for the Longhorns. There were off-field distractions and a report of a divided locker room.

Beating Oklahoma was derived from a team coming together to overcome all of those obstacles and concentrating on a single goal.

But if the Oklahoma game was really a turning point for Strong and the Longhorns program, it can't be the only time Texas plays to the best of its ability. That's why Saturday's game against the Wildcats is crucial.

First and foremost, Texas will be the healthiest it's been in a few weeks, and it has to take advantage of that.

Among the players returning will be offensive lineman Kent Perkins, per Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman. Perkins had been dealing with a knee issue since the Oklahoma State game, and the Horns offense suffered against the Cowboys as a result.

Secondly, against Oklahoma, Texas showed it can limit mistakes and play smart, fast and physical football. The Horns committed no turnovers, had just five penalties and went 9-of-16 on third down while allowing just three of 12 third-down conversions.

It was the best Texas has played in a single game from start to finish since Strong took over the program. Now, can it do it again?

Self-inflicted wounds have been one of Texas' myriad issues under Strong. In the two losses where Texas did have a chance to win (Cal and Oklahoma State), the Horns combined for three turnovers and 26 penalties—though officiating in the Oklahoma State game was noticeably horrible.

Special teams blunders also played a huge role. Nick Rose missed the would-be tying extra point against the Golden Bears, and a mishandled punt gave Oklahoma State the opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal.

By comparison, Kansas State ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 in fewest penalty yards per game, though the Wildcats haven't done as well at holding on to the ball in the past two games against TCU and Oklahoma.

However, Strong doesn't expect to see that same undisciplined K-State team this Saturday, per CBS Austin's Bob Ballou:

There are also areas Texas has to show continued improvement in that don't necessarily show up on the stat sheet.

Missed tackles led to poor third-down defensive numbers up to the Oklahoma game, but Texas' defense made tremendous strides on that front against the Sooners. Quarterback Jerrod Heard also showed moments of greater awareness and decision-making.

In short, Texas has to replicate the same edge, intensity and focus everyone saw in the Oklahoma game. That's the only way to know whether the Longhorns have actually turned a corner or they just got amped for a rivalry game.

It'll be the same story in the following games against Iowa State, Kansas, West Virginia and so on.

As defensive coordinator Vance Bedford told reporters on Wednesday, it's about finding the confidence to keep playing well:

If 2015 is going to go any differently than Strong's first season in 2014, Texas needs to build off its momentum.

The only time Texas won more than one game at a time last year was in November, when it beat Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks. However, Texas followed that up by losing to TCU 48-10 and Arkansas in the Texas Bowl 30-7.

The bottom line for Strong is he needs to get Texas to a bowl game. When you have a young team and you're building for the future, those extra bowl practices can go a long way in propelling things forward.

To accomplish that, the Longhorns need to win four of their next six games. With all due respect to Iowa State and Kansas—though Ames, Iowa is a known stumbling ground for Big 12 opponents—Texas should be able to grab a pair of victories there.

Provided it takes care of business, Texas would have four more games in which it needs to find two more wins.

But like the Cal and Oklahoma State games before, Texas will probably end up on the wrong side of the win-loss column if it can't get out of its own way again. The K-State game will go a long way in determining whether the Longhorns really have started the turnaround under Strong or this is just the same old Texas.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.

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The Biggest Threat to Each Remaining Undefeated College Football Team

The massive list of 128 FBS programs clinging to undefeated records back on the first Thursday night of the 2015 campaign has been whittled all the way down to 14 as the season's second half kicks off this week.

We're now at the point of the season when teams that have already lost a game are back in consideration as top playoff contenders. But the biggest front-runners in the race for the postseason's top games can still be found with a sparkling zero in the loss column.

Ten of these undefeated programs are in Power Five conferences, looking to survive and advance long enough to make it to the coveted four-team bracket. The remaining four represent the Group of Five conferences, which are battling it out for just one bid into the New Year's Six bowls.

Last month, I went through every undefeated team's schedule—there were 29 remaining at that point—and predicted their first loss of the season. This time around, I've singled out the one opponent that is the biggest threat to a program's perfect record, with some help from the advanced stat projections over at Football Study Hall.

If a currently undefeated team lost just one game by the end of this regular season, to which opponent would it most likely be? Sound off with what you think in the comments below.

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Alabama Football Family Mourns the Loss of Former Tide RB Altee Tenpenny

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team was stunned by the news that former Crimson Tide running back Altee Tenpenny had died in a car accident. 

Luke Matheson of ArkansasVarsity.com broke the news late Tuesday night, and AL.com confirmed it with Mississippi Highway Patrol early Wednesday morning.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Altee and his family," coach Nick Saban said during the weekly SEC teleconference with reporters. "This is obviously a tragedy. This is a guy who was in our program and was good friends with a lot of our players. We want to be as supportive as possible to all the people who were affected by this."

Numerous Alabama players took to Twitter to express their grief:

Senior running back Kenyan Drake also posted a lengthy statement with a photo on Instagram that included: "The tears never stopped since I heard the news."

Former Crimson Tide players chimed in as well: 

Tenpenny was part of Alabama’s illustrious 2013 recruiting class, which was expected to restock the backfield with Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Tyren Jones and Tenpenny.

All were considered to be at least 4-star products by 247Sports, with Tenpenny, who was recruited out of North Little Rock High School in Arkansas, rated as the No. 5 running back in the nation and No. 51 overall prospect.

Only Henry remains on the Crimson Tide roster. He’ll be on the opposite sideline of Kamara when Alabama hosts Tennessee this Saturday.

In two seasons at Alabama, Tenpenny had 218 rushing yards and one touchdown on 48 carries. He left the Crimson Tide after the end of the 2014-15 season and announced his decision to transfer to UNLV in May, but was dismissed by coach Tony Sanchez in August.

Tenpenny subsequently enrolled at Nicholls State. However, according to the Thibodaux Daily Comet, he was arrested Sunday morning for possession of a firearm and discharging a weapon.

Nicholls State subsequently announced that Tenpenny has been suspended indefinitely. Earlier Tuesday, coach Tim Rebowe said during his weekly press conference that the running back was not expected to be back.  

“On behalf of the players, coaches, and all of us at the University, we are extremely saddened by the news of the passing of Altee Tenpenny,” Rebowe said in a statement Wednesday. “We extend our condolences to his friends, family and former teammates.”

Tenpenny was heading back home to Arkansas when his car collided with a highway sign in Glen Allan, Miss., which is 170 miles southeast of his hometown of North Little Rock. The accident occurred at approximately 5 p.m.

He was 20 years old.  

“The entire Nicholls community is deeply saddened by the news of Altee Tenpenny’s tragic passing,” Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said in the same release. “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his family, friends and many fans.”

This is the second time in recent memory that Alabama players have had to deal with the death of a former teammate, as offensive tackle Aaron Douglas died from a drug overdose at a house party in Florida on May 12, 2011—less than a month after the tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa.

The 21-year-old had participated in spring practices after transferring from Arizona Western College and initially playing at Tennessee.

"We do everything we can to support the players in every way," Saban said. "We do have counseling programs and we do have counselors, sports psychologists and psychiatrists we use to try and help the players any way that we can."

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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College Football Picks for Week 8: B/R Experts' Predictions for the Top 5 Games

Oh, what a difference a week makes. While Week 7 of the college football season offered up some great games—and one one of the most unlikely endings ever—this week's slate of action leaves a little something to be desired. 

There is only one matchup between teams both ranked in the Top 25, and the rest of the games, while they could be competitive, aren't likely to produce any major upsets. Regardless, that's why they play the games. Here's hoping these five games can produce the same kind of drama as last week. 

The marquee game of the slate is an SEC tilt between two teams looking to regroup. Ole Miss, after leaving the Liberty Bowl in Memphis with a surprising loss, hosts Texas A&M at The Grove. Similarly, the Aggies, after getting thumped by Alabama last week, will try to stay in the hunt for the SEC West title. Kyle Allen's three pick-sixes against the Tide spelled doom, and Ole Miss's fiesty secondary will be in the mood to show it's much better than it played last week. It'll be an intriguing game in Oxford. 

Elsewhere in the SEC, Alabama hosts Tennessee. In a rivalry game that has lost a bit of luster recently, the Vols hope to keep the momentum going from their upset of Georgia two weeks ago. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs was the catalyst for the Vols offense that day and must do the same against a Bama defense that is starting to show signs of being a dominant unit once again. 

In the ACC, sixth-ranked Clemson heads to Miami to face the Hurricanes. This is the first of two straight road games—the other next week at NC State—before a possible undefeated showdown with Florida State. Miami has a good quarterback and playmakers on offense and could shock the Tigers if they lose focus. But Clemson's offense is also starting to round into form, and its defense is one of the best in the country. 

A month ago, Texas Tech came within one play of knocking off TCU in Fort Worth. This week, the Red Raiders hope to close the deal and pull off an upset as the Oklahoma Sooners visit Lubbock. The Red Raiders' high-powered offense looks to keep it rolling against the Sooners, who put together their best performance on both sides of the ball in a 55-0 drubbing of Kansas State in Manhattan. The scoreboard operator will be on high alert in this one. 

Out West, the best game on the Pac-12 schedule sees Utah visit USC. The Utes, led by a swarming D and hard-nosed running back Devontae Booker, face a tough challenge against a resurgent Trojans squad. The Utes will look to remain unbeaten and keep their playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, after a week of turmoil, the Trojans came out and showed themselves well in a tough environment against Notre Dame. They've responded and will look to not only spoil Utah's run, but also try to salvage this season with an improbable Pac-12 South title.

Lead Writer Adam Kramer continues a small lead over our group of experts in the standings going into Week 8. Be sure to hit up the comments section with your thoughts on these games, and your picks as well.  

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Cordell Broadus, Snoop Dogg's Son, Comments on Football Career

Former UCLA recruit Cordell Broadus provided some insight about his decision to end his football career in a message posted on social media Tuesday that wished his father, rapper Snoop Dogg, a happy birthday.

Broadus, a 4-star prospect coming out of high school based on 247Sports' composite rankings, didn't show up for the program's fall camp. Head coach Jim Mora later explained the wide receiver had decided to pursue "other passions," including film.

The announcement came as a surprise given his potential as a football player and his dad's love for the sport, though he'd long been a fan of the Bruins' rivals at USC. A message posted by Broadus on Instagram shed some light on the situation:

I played football for my father because I thought that was the only way he would love me [and] be apart of my life. It took me 12 years to realize he loves Cordell Broadus the person not Cordell Broadus the football player. The best day of my life was when I heard those exact words; I love you dad hope you have a great birthday.

It's not an uncommon theme for young athletes to keep playing a sport with hope of continuing to please their parents. Snoop Dogg's love of football was further illustrated in the duo's documentary miniseries on ESPN, which was called Snoop & Son.

That said, it sounds like Broadus didn't share the same lasting love for the sport despite being so highly ranked as he arrived at UCLA. His heart was elsewhere, and that led him to walk away rather than make the commitment it takes to succeed at the collegiate level.

It's good to see he was able to reach an understanding with his father about the issue and that it didn't fracture the relationship. And if he ever gets the itch to play football again, his raw talent should ensure there will be a roster spot for him somewhere.

Dan Lyons of College Spun notes Broadus remains at UCLA as he works toward interests beyond the football field. On the flip side, 247Sports' commitment list shows the Bruins have landed three wide receivers for the 2016 class as they look to restock the receiving group without him.

 

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Damar Hamlin Tweets Top 4: Odds on Where 4-Star CB Lands

Prized Pennsylvania defensive back Damar Hamlin is primarily focused on four universities following his first official visit.

Fresh off a trip to Notre Dame, Hamlin listed the Fighting Irish in a group of favorites that also features Ohio State, Penn State and Pittsburgh:

The 4-star prospect anticipates official visits at each school, according to Brian Dohn of Scout.com, leaving the door open for a fifth and final destination before his decision. Dohn reports UCLA and Clemson are main contenders to fill that slot. 

Hamlin, a 6'1", 175-pound senior at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, is rated 14th nationally among cornerback recruits in 2016 composite rankings. He carries dozens of scholarship offers, including Stanford, Auburn, Michigan State and Tennessee.

Though a decision isn't expected until at least January, per Dohn, this recruitment officially reached crunch time with Hamlin's announcement. Considered the top 2016 defender in his home state, he has plenty to consider in coming months.

Based on developments to this stage, here's a look at how Hamlin's favorites stack up with commiment odds assigned to each team.

 

Pittsburgh: 5-to-2

Things seem to be trending toward his hometown team. The Panthers have gained recent momentum in the eyes of recruiting analysts, warranting five consecutive experts' predictions in his 247Sports Crystal Ball.

These sentiments are at least in part reactionary to a recent commitment from fellow 4-star defensive back Paris Ford. The local 2017 safety pledged to Pittsburgh last week and there have been previous indications he and Hamlin are a package deal.

Pairings like this are often difficult to pull off, particularly when prospects are part of separate recruiting cycles, but it's certainly a notable element in play. Hamlin, recruited by two Panthers coaching regimes, could also be swayed by Pittsburgh pledges from two high school teammates—safety Bricen Garner and defensive tackle Rashad Wheeler.

The Panthers currently rank 12th overall among FBS squads in passing yards allowed per game. A big-time local addition would further solidify the defensive secondary next season.

 

Ohio State: 3-to-1

Hamlin is scheduled to visit Columbus next month when the Buckeyes host Michigan State in a pivotal Big Ten Conference showdown. He impressed during a Nike regional event on campus this spring while wearing Ohio State apparel:

At the time, sources told Bleacher Report that Hamlin is among a select group of 2016 defensive backs head coach Urban Meyer is willing to wait on as long as it takes. The Buckeyes extended a scholarship offer to 3-star Georgia cornerback commit Malek Young this past weekend, which may come as a sign the coaching staff is starting to intensively explore alternative options at the position.

Hamlin, who attended Ohio State's Friday Night Lights Camp in July, has a strong impression of Buckeyes cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs.

"He's intense. He's always intense. I like that," he told Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com. "He knows what he's talking about. I came on a visit last time and we sat in a room and broke down my film and that was impressive to me that he would take out his time to do that just for me."

Ohio State holds a narrow advantage in Hamlin's Crystal Ball, claiming 36 percent of experts' predictions. 

 

Penn State: 4-to-1

Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin aims to make a major splash in the WPIAL league of Western Pennsylvania, an area that's vital to recruiting efforts in Happy Valley. Penn State identified Hamlin as an early priority, establishing itself as a mainstay among his potential landing spots.

Though it now appears Pitt has gained ground as his top in-state option, the Nittany Lions are undoubtedly a central part of this equation. Johnny Petrishen, Hamlin's former star Central Catholic counterpart in the defensive backfield, is now a Penn State freshman. 

Franklin continues to ardently pursue the Pennsylvania product and attended one of his games earlier this month, per Gary Horvath of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In a fluid recruitment, it wouldn't surprise to see Penn State rise during the final stretch toward national signing day.

Hamlin is targeting an Oct. 31 game against Illinois for his next visit, per Tom Loy of 247Sports.

 

Notre Dame: 6-to-1

The Fighting Irish welcomed Hamlin to campus last weekend. He was hosted by freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford and watched Notre Dame defeat USC. 

"[Crawford] was real cool. He was telling me about the basic aspects of it and how his day goes, every day, and stuff like that. It was stuff that you couldn't just ask a coach," Hamlin told Loy.

Notre Dame landed his first official visit but now must attempt to weather the storm as he likely takes four more campus trips. That may put the Irish at a disadvantage during latter stages of his decision-making process, as Hamlin probably won't return to South Bend before signing day.

Defensive secondary coach Todd Lyght will continue to put in work here, but we view Notre Dame as a slightly distant underdog in this chase.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Altee Tenpenny, Former Alabama RB, Dies in Car Accident

Nicholls State and former Alabama Crimson Tide running back Altee Tenpenny died Tuesday night from injuries suffered in a single-car accident.

According to John Talty of AL.com, the wreck occurred outside Glen Allan, Mississippi, and resulted in the 20-year-old being ejected from his vehicle after hitting a highway sign and utility pole.

After news of his death broke, many remembered Tenpenny on social media, including former Alabama teammate Kenyan Drake:

Also, Arkansas recruiting analyst Luke Matheson of Rivals—who witnessed the North Little Rock, Arkansas, native's rise through the high school and college ranks—offered some kind words regarding the late running back:

Tenpenny was a highly regarded recruit in the Class of 2013 who originally played for the Crimson Tide. He tallied 218 rushing yards and a touchdown on 48 carries but found himself behind the likes of Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon and Drake on the depth chart.

The best game of his career came in November 2014 in a blowout win against Western Carolina when he carried the ball 11 times for 64 yards in relief of the starter, Henry.

Given the lack of playing time with the Crimson Tide, Tenpenny elected to transfer to UNLV in May. However, he was dismissed from the Rebels program in August for breaking team rules and joined Nicholls State during preseason practice.

Tenpenny was recently in the news when he was reportedly arrested for possession of a firearm and discharging a weapon, per Sam Cooper of Yahoo Sports. Nicholls State suspended him indefinitely from the football team in the aftermath of the arrest.

He never appeared in a game for Nicholls State.

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