Texas transfer Casey Thompson opens spring as Nebraska’s No. 1 QB

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Casey Thompson, who started 10 games and passed for 24 touchdowns for Texas last season, opened Nebraska’s spring practice as its No. 1 quarterback.

“I think he’s the best one right now,” new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple said. “That might change tomorrow. There’s nothing set in stone.”

Among the Cornhuskers’ priorities is sorting out the quarterback situation following Adrian Martinez‘s transfer to Kansas State. Thompson and Chubba Purdy, who transferred from Florida State, are competing with returnees Logan Smothers and Heinrich Haarberg.

“What I saw today, attitude-wise and talent-wise, we’ve got enough there to be more than successful,” Whipple said.

Whipple said Purdy was nicked up and didn’t do much at the first practice.

Thompson was a backup to Hudson Card for the first two games at Texas before taking over the starting role. He went 4-6 as the starter and passed for 2,113 yards. Texas finished 5-7.

Thompson has ample opportunity at Nebraska, which finished 3-9 overall and 1-8 and tied for last in the Big Ten West.

Thompson and Purdy are part of an offensive overhaul that saw Martinez leave after starting four years – he could have stayed for a fifth because the NCAA extended eligibility due to the pandemic – and coach Scott Frost replace four of his five offensive assistants.

Thompson showed strong leadership upon his arrival, Frost said, and excelled during the team’s winter program. Whipple said it’s critical to develop depth behind Thompson.

“This day and age,” Whipple said, “it’s changed because of the speed of the game, and more quarterbacks get hurt. Why? I think it’s because you’re throwing it more, and if you’re running option there’s a chance you’re going to get hurt.”

Whipple indicated he didn’t want to see his quarterbacks taking as much contact as Martinez did. Martinez led the team in rushing attempts each of the past three years and had the second most in 2018. He played much of last season with a broken jaw and had a run of injuries throughout his career.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”