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College football roundup: Illinois gets a Penn State transfer

The SportsXchange

Penn State redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki chose to transfer to Illinois over a home-state offer from Arizona State, according to multiple reports.

Nowicki, a redshirt in 2011, is from Glendale and could have found immediate playing time with the Sun Devils, who lost seven of their top nine offensive linemen.

Recruited as an offensive tackle, Nowicki has a chance to contribute at Illinois immediately. The Fighting Illini enter Camp Rantoul, their annual fall training camp, looking to replace two starters from their 2011 starting lineup.

Nowicki, 6-5, 280, was a two-time 4A All-State selection at Cactus High.

Penn State players have been permitted to transfer to any school without sitting out a season. The NCAA will not waive scholarship limits as initially reported, meaning all FBS schools not facing sanctions that reduce their allotment are allowed 85 scholarship players. With Nowicki included, Illinois has just 81 scholarship players on its current roster.

--Penn State junior kicker Anthony Fera is transferring to Texas, and is expected to compete to be the Longhorns' starting punter and place-kicker in 2012.

He was a hit in his only season as a two-way for the Nittany Lions, earning All-Big Ten first-team honors by hitting 14 of 17 field-goal attempts and averaging 42 yards per punt.

--The NCAA Division I Board of Directors endorsed a new tiered structure for determination and enforcement of violations that could take effect August 1, 2013.

Currently, there are only two tiers in the violation structure and the proposed model would "increase flexibility" by adopting four tiers: severe breach of conduct; significant breach of conduct; breach of conduct and incidental issue.

The board did not take a vote Thursday, instead allowing membership to review details of the enforcement model to draw all final recommendations before a vote to enact the legislation is taken in October.

--The preseason USA Today Coaches poll was released Thursday with LSU narrowly edging Alabama and Southern Cal at No. 1.

LSU received 1,403 total points, ahead of Alabama (1,399), which won the 2011 national championship with a victory over the Tigers in the BCS national championship game.

Georgia (6), South Carolina (9) and Arkansas (10) give SEC five teams in the top 10. Florida State and Michigan, ranked seventh and eighth, are also in the top 10.

--Wisconsin running back Montee Ball denied via Twitter that he was involved in a fight with teammates last week before an "unprovoked attacked" in Madison early Wednesday morning.

TMZ reported Thursday that Ball and several teammates were involved in a fight at a home off-campus "roughly one week before Ball was jumped on campus." TMZ cites law enforcement sources that indicate Ball was present at the home and "may have participated in beating up a non-football player."

Ball struck back via Twitter with a one-line denial: "The report that I was involved in a fight is totally false."

--Purple Heart recipient Daniel Rodriguez was cleared by the Atlantic Coast Conference to join the Clemson football team when camp begins Friday.

The NCAA cleared Rodriguez in June. He served as an Army infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan and was injured on his second tour of duty in Oct. 2009, a battle in which no more than 40 soldiers manned an American base attacked by an estimated 400 Taliban insurgents.

Rodriguez, took a bullet fragment in his shoulder and shrapnel in his legs and neck.

Clemson lists Rodriguez as a 5-foot-8 wide receiver.

--Georgia starting right tackle Kolton Houston remains ineligible because he again tested positive for a banned substance he took after shoulder surgery to repair a high school injury more than two years ago.

Coach Mark Richt said the Bulldogs will have to go into the season without Houston unless he can pass a drug test. A special exemption requested by Georgia was denied by the NCAA. Houston has not been eligible for nearly two-and-a-half years under the NCAA's purview.

Houston has tested positive for 19-norandrosterone, a performancing-enhancing drug Richt said he is certain Houston isn't taking.

---Auburn freshman quarterback Zeke Pike plans to transfer, the team announced. He was arrested for public intoxication during the summer, suspended and sent home. He would not have been allowed to play for Auburn this season.
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