Vanderbilt Standouts Ray Davis & Mike Wright Enter Transfer Portal

Mike Wright & Ray Davis. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Quarterback Mike Wright and running back Ray Davis, two of Vanderbilt’s top scorers, are entering the transfer portal after leading the Commodores to a 5-7 record this season.

Both players announced their decisions via social media, thanking Vanderbilt, their teammates and coaches.

Wright led the team in touchdowns with 12 passing TD’s and five rushing TD’s. Though he split starting QB duties with freshman AJ Swann, he finished the season behind center for the Commodores. Wright threw three touchdown passes against Florida to beat the Gators at FirstBank Stadium on Nov. 19, and finished the season with 974 passing yards and 538 rushing yards.

“I want to thank Vanderbilt University for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams athletically and academically. I want to thank my coaches, staff, professors, fans who supported me through this journey,” Wright shared on Twitter. “After much prayer and discussion, I have decided that I will be entering the transfer portal in pursuit of my next opportunity.”

Davis led the Commodores in rushing with 232 attempts and 1,081 yards. He scored five touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. His impressive ground game led the Commodores to a 5-7 record, which included two SEC wins over Florida and ranked Kentucky.

“I want to thank Vanderbilt for taking a chance on me in 2020 and allowing me to represent this program at the highest level. With that being said, after many conversations with my family and support group, I will be entering into the NCAA transfer portal as a Graduate Transfer,” Davis said on Twitter.

Along with Wright and Davis, fellow Vandy players, running back Rocko Griffin, receiver Devin Boddie Jr., safety Chase Lloyd, linebacker Daniel Martin, tight end Joel DeCoursey and punter Jared Wheatley have entered the transfer portal.

Kentucky To Face Iowa At 2022 Transperfect Music City Bowl

The NCAA Bowl Committee has announced that Kentucky will take on Iowa at this year’s Transperfect Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium on New Year’s Eve at 11 a.m. CT. The game between the SEC and Big Ten will be televised nationally on ABC, marking the first time the Bowl has been featured on network television.

Despite being selected in 2020, this will be the first official appearance for the Hawkeyes, following that year’s cancellation due to COVID-19. This will be the second overall and second-straight meeting between the two schools. Kentucky beat Iowa in the 2021 Citrus Bowl.

“On behalf of the TransPerfect Music City Bowl board of directors, our staff and our volunteers, we look forward to hosting Iowa and Kentucky in our game this New Year’s Eve,” says Scott Ramsey, President & CEO of the TransPerfect Music City Bowl. “Both schools bring passionate fanbases and we cannot think of a better way to celebrate our 25th anniversary than with these two programs in our game.”

“It’s been an impressive year of football for the Big Ten and SEC,” adds TransPerfect President and CEO Phil Shawe. “We are proud to host the University of Iowa and University of Kentucky in Nashville on New Year’s Eve, and we look forward to a great game.”

Iowa finished the year 7-5, winning four out of their last five games and posting a 5-4 conference record in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes finished third in total defense in the conference and one of the top defenses in the country at 5th overall. Defensive back Cooper DeJean ranked fifth in the Big Ten with four interceptions, including two returned for a touchdown. Defensive linemen Deontae Craig (6.5) and Joe Evans (6) ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in the conference for total sacks.

Iowa is led by Kirk Ferentz, the longest-tenured coach in college football. Ferentz is 185–115 overall in his 24 seasons with the Hawkeyes.

“We are excited to compete in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl,” Ferentz notes. “Our players and staff have worked hard to earn this invitation and we look forward to our visit to Nashville. We understand first-hand the quality of our opponent and look forward to playing on Dec. 31.”

Kentucky returns to the TransPerfect Music City Bowl for the first time since 2017, marking the sixth overall appearance for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats also finished the year 7-5, closing out the season with a win over rival Louisville. The Wildcats are led by dynamic quarterback Will Levis, who posted 19 touchdowns (4th in the SEC) through the air and two on the ground this season. Chris Rodriguez Jr. led the ground attack, leading all Kentucky rushers with 904 yards and six touchdowns.

The Wildcats are led by Mark Stoops, who is in his 10th season in Lexington where he’s amassed a 124-66 overall record.

“On behalf of our team and all of us at the University of Kentucky, we are excited to accept the invitation to play in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl,” Stoops says. “The Big Blue Nation always paints Nashville blue and the hospitality is second to none. We look forward to a great week and our team can’t wait to play one more time this year.”

Established in 1998, the TransPerfect Music City Bowl has transformed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day into one of the city’s busiest times of the year for tourism and has become Nashville’s holiday tradition. This year marks the Bowl’s 25th anniversary where fans have the opportunity to vote on the 25th anniversary team and relive the Bowl’s top 25 moments.

Since its inception, the Bowl has produced nearly $400 million in direct economic impact to Nashville.

MTSU’s Chase Cunningham, Vanderbilt’s Ray Davis Named Comeback Player Of The Year Semifinalists

Ray Davis & Chase Cunningham

Middle Tennessee quarterback Chase Cunningham and Vanderbilt running back Ray Davis have been named as semifinalists for the 2022 Comeback Player of the Year Award by the College Sports Communicators, in association with the Associated Press (AP) and the Fiesta Bowl Organization.

The award recognizes college football student-athletes from all divisions of college football for overcoming injury, illness, or other circumstances.

Cunningham, after his 2021 season ended early due to a torn ACL suffered against Southern Miss, bounced back to lead the Blue Raiders to a 7-5 record and a trip to the Hawai’i Bowl. The Knoxville, Tennessee native has passed for 2920 yards and 19 touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes in 11 starts. The sixth-year senior also rushed for six touchdowns on the ground.

Davis led the Commodores in rushing with 232 attempts and 1,081 yards. He scored five touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. His offensive prowess led the Commodores to a 5-7 record, which included two SEC wins over Florida and ranked Kentucky.

In a vote by a panel of AP writers, editors, sports information directors and Fiesta Bowl Organization representatives, three college football student-athletes will be honored as 2022 Comeback Player of the Year Award winners.

Cunningham is one of two Conference USA Athletes (Jyaire Shorter, WR, North Texas) to make the semifinalist list. Davis is one of two SEC athletes (Ventrell Miller, Florida, LB).

The Full 15-Man Semifinalist List:
(Conference / Player / School / Position)
ACC: Payton Wilson, NC State, LB
BIG 12: Adrian Martinez, Kansas State, QB
BIG 12: Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma, QB
BIG 12: Trace Ford, Oklahoma State, DE
BIG TEN: Mohamed Ibrahi, Minnesota, RB
BIG TEN: Ronnie Bell, Michigan, WR
CONFERENCE USA: Chase Cunningham, Middle Tennessee, QB
CONFERENCE USA: Jyaire Shorter, North Texas, WR
INDEPENDENT: Marist Liufau, Notre Dame, LB
MID-AMERICAN: Kyle Pugh, Northern Illinois, LB
PAC 12: Justin Flowe, Oregon, LB
PAC 12: Laitu Latu, UCLA, LB
PAC 12: Michael Penix Jr, Washington, QB
SEC: Ventrell Miller, Florida, LB
SEC: Ray Davis, Vanderbilt, RB

Nashville Metro Sports Authority Approves New Titans Stadium Plan

Rendering of new Titans stadium. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

At their monthly board meeting on Thursday (Dec. 1), the Nashville Metro Sports Authority approved the new Titans stadium plan originally agreed upon by the Tennessee Titans organization and the office of Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

The deal, which was announced in early October by the Mayor’s office, will include a completely new stadium in the West Bank area in downtown Nashville. This new stadium will be enclosed and will include around 60,000 seats.

The new stadium is set to cost the city, state and Titans around $2.1 billion. It will be paid for by the Titans organization/NFL, bonds from the state of Tennessee of $500 million as promised by Governor Bill Lee, and through a hotel occupancy tax, as well as sale tax at Nissan Stadium, the eventual new stadium and the surrounding area.

No taxes from the city’s general fund will be used to build the stadium.

“We are thankful for the Metro Nashville Sports Authority’s leadership and support in moving the stadium proposal forward. The Authority has worked for many years to identify and address the challenges faced at the existing stadium, and continues to be an important partner as we look ahead to the future. We look forward to further conversation as the process continues,” the Titans shared in a statement to the media.

The stadium deal is now in the hands of the Metro council which has its next meeting on Dec. 6. The plan approved by the Sports Authority is on the council’s agenda for the meeting. The council still needs to pass the 1 percent hotel occupancy tax for the proposed plan.

Trent Dilfer Exits Lipscomb Academy To Coach UAB Football

Trent Dilfer. Photo: Courtesy of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Athletics

Lipscomb Academy head football coach Trent Dilfer will be leaving his position to coach the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) football team. He will officially begin his tenure at UAB on Friday (Dec. 2), following Lipscomb Academy’s state championship game on Dec. 1 in Chattanooga.

“Having the opportunity to lead such a quality program like UAB is one that I am beyond excited about,” Dilfer explains. “The investments the university has made for UAB Football aligns with my vision of taking this program to new heights as we join the American Athletic Conference and compete annually for the highest prize of playing in the College Football Playoff. I would like to thank President Ray Watts, Director of Athletics Mark Ingram and the entire search committee for their commitment to excellence and for trusting in me as we venture into this new era of UAB Football together.”

Dilfer spent the last four years as the head coach of Lipscomb Academy in Nashville where he led the Mustangs to the 2021 TSSAA D2-AA State Championship and will once again play for the state title tonight (Dec. 1). With one game remaining, Dilfer will finish his tenure with Lipscomb Academy with immense success, compiling an overall record of 43-10 in his four years and a mark of 25-1 in the last two seasons.

A former NFL quarterback, Dilfer was selected sixth overall in the 1994 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and threw for 20,518 yards and 113 touchdowns during his 14-year career. In 2000, he led the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1997 and was the recipient of the Bart Starr Award and Ed Block Courage Award in 2003.

In 2008, Dilfer began a nine-year broadcasting career as an analyst on ESPN for a variety of programs, including Monday Night Countdown and NFL Primetime. He was nominated for a Sports Emmy in 2012 for Outstanding Sports Personality in the Studio Analyst category.

Dilfer is also the head coach of the Elite 11 Academy, which began in 2009 to train elite-level high school quarterbacks. His alumni include 27 of the 32 current NFL starting quarterbacks and 14 of the past 15 Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks. Currently, 60 of the 64 Power 5 starting quarterbacks in 2022 attended the Elite 11 Finals or Elite 11 Regional.

“Trent is a proven winner on and off the field at all levels and will be a tremendous leader for our program,” Director of Athletics Mark Ingram adds. “He is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who played the game at its highest level for many years, and he has coached some of the top quarterbacks who are currently NFL franchise players. Trent’s goals and vision for our program is to lead UAB to the College Football Playoff and we have no doubt that he is the right coach to lead our transition in the American Athletic Conference. Most importantly, Trent is an outstanding man, husband and father with tremendous character who fits our department’s core values of winning championships, graduating with honors and making a difference in our community.”

While appropriate members of the UA System Board of Trustees have been notified of the proposed terms and conditions of this proposed agreement, the financial terms remain subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.

Seven TSU Tigers Named To All-OVC Football Teams

Seven members of the Tennessee State football team earned All-OVC honors as the Tigers finished their season on Nov. 19 with a win against Texas A&M-Commerce.

Of the seven Tigers selected, two players–senior defensive tackle Terray Jones and transfer defensive end Terrell Allen–landed on the All-OVC First Team Defense. Senior wide receiver JJ Holloman was selected to the Second Team Offense, while Jahsun Bryant (ILB), K’Vaughan Pope (OLB), and first-year Tiger Bryce Phillips (CB) landed on Second Team Defense. Kaleb Mosley rounds out the Tiger All-OVC performers as he was named Second Team Specialist as a kicker.

First-year linebacker Pope and juco transfer Phillips were also named to the All-Newcomers team.

Jones wreaked havoc on offensive linemen all season long alongside teammate Allen. Jones finished with a career-high 37 tackles on the season (12 solo, 25 assists). He tallied four sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, forced one fumble, and had three quarterback hurries. Jones finished with a season-high eight tackles against Murray State, while he recorded seven tackles, 2.0 for loss, and one sack against Lane College.

Transfer defensive end Allen made a big impact from his defensive end position in his first year as a Tiger. He finds himself on the All-OVC First Team Defense after earning second-team honors last season at Austin Peay. Allen finished the year with 36 tackles (20 solo, 16 assists), while leading the team in tackles for loss (12.0), and finishing tied-in sacks with 4.5. He also swatted down two passes and had seven quarterback hurries. Allen dominated UTM’s offensive line, collecting nine tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. He finished with 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks against EIU.

First-year wide receiver Holloman lands on the Second Team Offense after leading TSU in receptions (33) and yards (353). The senior from Georgia had one receiving touchdown. Holloman’s best performance came against Murray State as he hauled in nine passes for 94 yards.

Senior linebacker Bryant closes his TSU career with Second Team Defensive honors after leading the Tigers in tackles. Playing and starting in all 11 games, the Nashville native racked up a career-high 88 tackles (39 solo, 41 assists) in his final season. He finished with 5.0 tackles, for loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

Ohio State transfer and first-year OLB Pope finds himself on the Second Team Defense with fellow teammate LB Bryant. Pope finished tied for second on the team in tackles with 62 (29 solo, 33 assists). He tallied four sacks, .5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble.

Playing in all 11 games in his first year as a Tiger after transferring in from Santa Ana College, cornerback Phillips rounds out TSU’s All-OVC Second Team Defense selections. The California native led the team in pass breakups with 10, while collecting 35 tackles (27 solo, eight assists).

In his first season handling both punting and kicking duties, Mosley made a smooth transition in taking over for former All-OVC kicker Antonio Zita. He earns Second Team Specialist as a kicker. Mosley finished the year 15-of-21 on field goal attempts, while also knocking through 18 extra point attempts. Mosley had a long of 51 against Lane and had a 47-yarder against TAMUC in the season finale. He finished 3-of-3 against EIU and TAMUC.

Tennessee Vs. Vanderbilt Matchup Sold Out As Commodores Look For Bowl Eligibility

Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt football’s final game of the 2022 regular season against rival No. 9 Tennessee at FirstBank Stadium in Nashville is sold out.

The Commodores (5-6) will host the Volunteers for the 117th meeting between the rivals on Saturday (Nov. 26) at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network.

Vandy is coming off of two historic SEC wins against Kentucky and Florida–their first multi-conference win season since 2018. A win for Clark Lea‘s Commodores will make the team bowl eligible for the first time in four years.

As previously announced, tailgate parking lots are also sold out. The university is encouraging ride sharing for fans who have not already purchased parking.

Fans looking to purchase tickets should visit StubHub, the official secondary marketplace of Vanderbilt Athletics.

Game Day Reminders

  • FirstBank Stadium observes a clear bag policy.
  • Vandyville will run from 4:30-6:30 p.m. feature live music, food, kids zone and more.
  • Concessions will be adding multiple points-of-sale in anticipation of the sell-out crowd.

TSU’s Darius Harper Jr., Kaleb Mosley Earn OVC Player Of The Week Honors

Tennessee State University (TSU) football’s Darius Harper Jr. and Kaleb Mosley both took home Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week awards after their performances in the season finale win over Texas A&M-Commerce (TAMUC).

Harper earned Defensive Player of the Week, while Mosley earned his third Specialist of the Week honor.

Harper, a Nashville native played his final game as a Tiger against TAMUC and saved, arguably, his best performance for last. The senior finished with a career-high five tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a TD, a 20-yard fumble recovery, and a pass breakup.

Harper intercepted a pass on the first play from scrimmage and returned it 44 yards for a score, while his second went for a return of 28 yards. His biggest play of the game came on the final play of the contest as he broke up a would-be game-tying touchdown pass from TAMUC.

Mosley had a bounce-back performance to earn his third Player of the Week award as he was also playing in his final game as a Tiger. Mosley was a perfect 3-of-3 on field goal attempts (47, 36, 25) and had an extra point to finish with 10 points. The dual-threat specialist had a nice day punting the ball, with nine punts for 350 yards. He had a long of 55 and averaged 38.9 yards per punt, with one landing inside the 20-yard line.

TSU finishes their season with a 4-7 record. The Tigers took home five OVC Player of the Week awards during the season.