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College football: UCF quarterback Blake Bortles to enter NFL Draft

Associated Press

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Blake Bortles arrived at the University of Central Florida as a virtual unknown quarterback with modest expectations. Running back Storm Johnson was a transfer looking for a new start.

Both are heading to the NFL after leading the Knights to the most successful season in program history.

The players announced Monday that they will skip their senior seasons and enter the NFL Draft.

“After a lot of deliberations and talking with my parents, I’ve decided to try and pursue my goal to play in the NFL and capture my lifelong dream,” Bortles said. “I just couldn’t be more proud to say I played football at UCF, and it was the best four years of my life.”

Bortles finished 2013 passing for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns. The season followed a sophomore season in which he had 25 touchdowns and threw for 3,059 yards.

Johnson transferred from Miami after his freshman season in 2010. After sitting out in 2011, he spent his first year at UCF in 2012 backing up Latavius Murray. He was then elevated to the starting job as a junior this season and finished with 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns.

NFL bound

• University of Alabama-Birmingham running back Darrin Reaves is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

Reaves is third on UAB’s career rushing charts with 2,337 yards. Reaves ran for 928 yards and 12 touchdowns last season after earning first-team All-Conference USA honors as a sophomore.

He finished with 30 total touchdowns and 3,048 all-purpose yards for the Blazers.

• Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt is leaving school early and entering the NFL Draft.

Notre Dame director of football media relations Michael Bertsch said Monday that Tuitt has informed coach Brian Kelly of his decision. Tuitt is the second Irish defensive lineman to declare for the NFL Draft, joining nose guard Louis Nix III.

UCLA QB staying

Brett Hundley decided the NFL can wait until he accomplishes a few more feats for UCLA.

Hundley will return for his junior season, the UCLA quarterback announced Monday at a campus news conference.

Rematches avoided

BCS executive director Bill Hancock says the selection committee for the College Football Playoff will try to avoid rematches, but not at the expense of the integrity of the seedings.

Hancock spoke to the Football Writers Association of America on Monday. He says the top priority of the selection committee will be to make sure the No. 1 team plays close to home and the teams are properly seeded.

Using this season’s final BCS standings, and next season’s semifinal sites, the final four would have been No. 1 Florida State playing No. 4 Michigan State in the Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Auburn playing No. 3 Alabama in the Rose Bowl.

Hancock says seeding adjustments will only be made if teams are considered even.

Malzahn honored

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year.

Malzahn was announced as the winner of the award Monday before the Tigers met Florida State for the BCS championship. He was elected in online fan voting and by national media and players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Freshman All-America

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston highlights the freshman All-America team that has been released by the Football Writers Association of America.

The defense features Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa.

Texas welcomes Strong

Charlie Strong talked about being tough and winning championships. That is exactly what Texas fans wanted to hear from their new football coach.

There’s little doubt he can deliver the first. The second part will determine whether he can revive a dormant program back and push it back among the national elite where the Longhorns are desperately longing to be.

“It’s time to put the program back on the national stage,” Strong said Monday at his introductory news conference. “The mentality is always going to be mental and physical toughness. ... We will be a hard-nosed football team.”

GoDaddy Bowl

Allen Muse caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Fredi Knighten with 32 seconds remaining to lift Arkansas State past Ball State 23-20 at the GoDaddy Bowl on Sunday night.

Ball State had a chance to tie at the end of regulation, but Scott Secor’s 38-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Ryan Carrethers as time expired.


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