Florida hires Armstrong as DC to replace NFL-bound Toney

Syndication: The Clarion-Ledger

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida has hired Austin Armstrong as its defensive coordinator, poaching a member of Nick Saban‘s Alabama staff after less than two months on the job.

The 29-year-old Armstrong replaces Patrick Toney, who left Gainesville after one subpar season to become a defensive assistant with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.

Gators coach Billy Napier turned to Armstrong to fill the position, making him the youngest defensive coordinator in Power Five football. Armstrong, who spent the last two seasons as Southern Mississippi’s defensive coordinator, was Napier’s inside linebackers coach at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2020.

Armstrong will be asked to help fix a unit that ranked 97th in the country in total defense in 2022.

Southern Miss’s defense, known as the “Nasty Bunch” during Armstrong’s tenure, ranked sixth in the Sun Belt Conference and 45th nationally in scoring defense (23.5 points a game). The Golden Eagles were third nationally in tackles for loss (8.3), fifth in sacks (3.38) and seventh in interceptions (17).

Toney is one of three on-field assistants to bail on Napier and bolt for the NFL in recent weeks. Receivers coach Keary Colbert left to take the same position with the Denver Broncos, and tight ends coach William Peagler has reportedly taken a job with the Cardinals.

South Carolina gives AD Tanner raise, two-year extension

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner received a two-year contract extension that ties him to the school through June 2026.

Tanner, 64, is a two-time College World Series champion as the Gamecocks’ baseball coach who moved to leading the athletic department in July 2012.

The new deal was approved by the school’s board of trustees Friday and replaces Tanner’s old agreement that was set to expire in June 2024. Tanner will receive a raise of more than $153,000 per season, increasing his total compensation to $1.175 million.

Tanner has had his ups and downs leading the department. He took over when football coach Steve Spurrier was in the middle of three straight 11-2 seasons with players like defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney and receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

Tanner’s hire to replace Spurrier, Will Muschamp, lasted less than five seasons before he was let go in the middle of 2020. Muschamp’s replacement, current coach Shane Beamer, has had back-to-back winning seasons and been to a bowl game his first two yeas.

Tanner has also overseen the rise of women’s basketball under coach Dawn Staley, who signed a seven-year contract before the 2021-22 season worth $22.4 million. Staley and the Gamecocks won the national title last April and are favorites to repeat this season.

Michigan RB Blake Corum says he’ll be back by fall camp

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan All-America running back Blake Corum said his surgically repaired left knee has gotten strong enough that he’s been cleared to run on an anti-gravity treadmill next week.

Corum said that he is “100%” sure he will play in the season-opening game on Sept. 2 against East Carolina

Corum tore a meniscus and sprained a ligament in his left knee against Illinois on Nov. 19. After playing sparingly against Ohio State, he sat out when the Wolverines won the Big Ten title and advanced to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Instead of entering the NFL draft, Corum decided to stay in school for his senior year.

“Feeling great all-around mentally, physically spiritually,” Corum told The Associated Press.

The 5-foot-8, 210-pound Corum ran for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and had 952 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2021.

“I’ll be back definitely by fall camp,” he said. “I plan on doing everything in the summer workouts, depending on on what doctor says. He told me I shouldn’t be cutting until maybe June. I’m taking my time, but I will be ready by the season.”

Corum will be watching when his teammates face each each other in the Maize and Blue spring game on April 1 at Michigan Stadium.