Alabama offense holds Irish 'D' in high esteem

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Alabama offense holds Irish 'D' in high esteem

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Barrett Jones got to know Manti Te'o last month on the awards circuit, exchanging pleasantries with the Irish linebacker while the pair were in Houston for the Lombardi Award ceremony. Even with a brief meeting, the venerable Alabama center came away with a healthy respect for Te'o, calling him a "super guy" Thursday morning.

That respect carried over to Jones' teammates regarding the entire Irish defense.

"They do a good job of just reading the offense," offensive lineman Chance Warmack said. "It doesn't take them long to process the information in terms of who has the ball or what formation we're in. It takes a really special defense to do that, and that's what they are."

RELATED: Barrett Jones returns to Alabama's offensive line

Plenty of Alabama players fielded questions Thursday asking if Notre Dame's defense was, in essence, an SEC-like unit. Notre Dame's defensive linemen and linebackers, as has been the case all year, garnered the most praise from its opponent.

"This is as good a front seven as we've seen," Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said. "They do a great job jumping in and out of their odd (3-4) defense and going from an odd to a four-down front, and they've got big, physical, fast players. They run well on the back end, very well coached. They're just a really, really good defense."

Specifically, Alabama seems keen on muting Te'o's impact -- which, by extension, means limiting Louis Nix. Running back Eddie Lacy explained: "If you can somehow get him out of his game or something like that, I think we have a pretty good chance of being successful."

That's not a slight at the rest of Notre Dame's defense -- remember, Te'o was a Heisman finalist, so naturally he's the guy opponents want to shut down. Really, at this point, trash talk and bulletin board material looks like endangered species.

For the last two BCS teams to come through South Florida, plenty of the chatter surrounded brash comments made by Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch. Florida State picked up on that, and took great pleasure in pounding Lynch into the ground during the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.

That same trend doesn't appear to be materializing with Alabama and Notre Dame now occupying the area.

"They're very fundamentally sound," Jones summed up. "They rarely ever make mistakes, they know their scheme really well, you can tell they're extremely well-coached, they use their hands well, they're strong at the point of attack. They just do all the little things right."

DePaul basketball program on the rise after landing 5-star recruit Tyger Campbell

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AP

DePaul basketball program on the rise after landing 5-star recruit Tyger Campbell

DePaul hoops received a huge boost this week as five-star recruit Tyger Campbell committed to the university.

The elite point guard recruit out of La Lumiere, will join the Class of 2018, choosing DePaul over schools like Michigan State, Illinois and Memphis.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy.

"Mainly what I like about the school is I want to help bring it back. I love Chicago; it's a great city. I want to bring the city a college back to cheer for."

Campbell also said the Blue Demons' new Wintrust Arena at McCormick Place Event Center, which is slated to open this fall, is a big draw for him.

The Blue Demons are a combined 18-45 the last two seasons and hasven't had a winning season since 2006-07 when they went 20-14 and made the NIT Quarterfinals.

The program last made the NCAA Tournament in 2003-04 during Leitao's first stint as the team's head coach.

Northern Illinois adds running back Fotis Kokosioulis

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USA TODAY

Northern Illinois adds running back Fotis Kokosioulis

Northern Illinois University added it's fourth known verbal commitment today in its growing Class of 2018.

Maine South junior running back Fotis Kokosioulis (5-foot-8, 165 pounds) added an offer from the Huskies on Tuesday after making a spring practice visit, and today he gave head coach Rod Carey his verbal commitment.

"I chose NIU because it's been a school that I've liked for awhile now," Kokosioulis said moments ago. "I like the facilities at NIU, the stadium and everything else they have to offer. I also really like all the coaches at NIU. I felt that even if I got more offers I would've still chose NIU over other schools. I know that there are bigger school and programs but I feel that I just fit in well at NIU, so I committed."

Kokosioulis, who was an All-State performer for the Class 8A state champion Maine South Hawks in 2016, is now the fourth known in-state verbal commitment for Rod Carey and the Huskies and the fifth known commitment overall. Kokosioulis joins Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Plainfield East defensive end Jack Sullivan and Danville tight end Julian Pearl in the NIU Huskies in-state Class of 2018.