Illini running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn announces transfer

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Illini running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn announces transfer

The guy who went into last season looking like the Illini's biggest offensive weapon announced his transfer Wednesday.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn announced on Twitter that he'll be transferring away from Lovie Smith's program. His decision comes after a 2016 season in which he started the as the team's primary running back and finished as the third option in the Illinois backfield.

"After much thought, consideration and discussing this with my family, I have decided to explore different avenues to obtain my bachelor's and athletic endeavors," Vaughn wrote on Twitter. "I want to take a moment to express my appreciation to the University of Illinois and the coaching staff for the opportunity to not only gain experience academically but as an athlete as well. Will forever love the Illini Nation."

Vaughn played in 11 of the Illini's 12 games this past season, finishing as the team's third-leading rusher with 301 yards. He trailed Kendrick Foster (720 yards) and Reggie Corbin (523 yards), who emerged as the offense's preferred rushing options.

Vaughn had one big game in 2016, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown in Illinois' 48-23 loss to North Carolina. Take that game out, and Vaughn totaled a mere 185 yards in his other 10 games. His carries plummeted after the first two weeks. After rushing 17 times in the opener and 15 times against North Carolina, Vaughn received just 28 carries the remainder of the season, including just one carry in four separate games.

The lack of production and opportunity doesn't make Vaughn's transfer much of a surprise. But in light of what he did as a true freshman just one season earlier, the fact that Vaughn is departing says something.

Recruited by Tim Beckman, Vaughn was one of the Illini's highest-rated recruits in that 2015 class. He rushed for 723 yards on just 157 carries as Josh Ferguson's backup, including turning in a huge 180-yard, two-touchdown game in a 48-14 win over Purdue.

Now, he'll continue his career elsewhere.

Janarion Grant will return to Rutgers for fifth season in 2017

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Janarion Grant will return to Rutgers for fifth season in 2017

One of the most explosive players in the Big Ten will be back for the 2017 season.

Rutgers announced Tuesday that do-it-all man Janarion Grant will be back on the field for the Scarlet Knights this fall. Grant suffered a leg injury in the team's fourth game of the season and missed the last eight games of the campaign.

"Fifth year, here I come! I'm excited about what I have been able to accomplish so far, but I look forward to getting out there and competing with my teammates again," Grant said in the announcement. "I thank coach (Chris) Ash and the staff as well as my family for their support through this process. Let's make this season special. Go Knights!"

Grant is tied for the all-time NCAA lead in kick-return touchdowns with eight. He's got five kickoff-return touchdowns and three punt-return touchdowns.

This past season, Grant got off to a lightning-quick start, scoring six total touchdowns. In just four games, he totaled 210 receiving yards, 195 kickoff-return yards and a kickoff-return touchdown, 138 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, 21 passing yards and a passing touchdown and 112 punt-return yards and a punt-return touchdown.

Grant is Rutgers' all-time leader in kickoff-return yards with 2,606, and he ranks fourth in program history in all-purpose yards with 4,251.

The Knights were offensively challenged in Ash's first season as head coach, dead last in the conference with an average of 15.7 points per game and 283.2 yards per game. Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill was hired earlier this offseason as the team's new offensive coordinator.

Nebraska quickly fills void at defensive coordinator with former Notre Dame assistant Bob Diaco

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Nebraska quickly fills void at defensive coordinator with former Notre Dame assistant Bob Diaco

Mike Riley wasted little time in filling Nebraska's void at defensive coordinator.

Bob Diaco, most recently the head coach at Connecticut and the former defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, was announced as the new leader of the Huskers' defense on Saturday.

"When we began looking for a new defensive coordinator, Bob Diaco quickly rose to the top of the list," Riley said in the announcement. "He has coordinated a top-level defense, has proven himself as a great teacher and recruiter, and we are excited to have him join our football program. Bob is an energetic coach and is ready to get started immediately, beginning with hitting the recruiting trail to find future Blackshirts."

Diaco is most notable for guiding the Fighting Irish's defense during the 2012 season, when the team reached the national championship game. During that campaign, Notre Dame was second in the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 12.8 points per game.

Diaco spent a total of four seasons in that role under Brian Kelly before taking over as the head coach at Connecticut. His leadership of the Huskies was far less successful, the team going 11-26 in his three seasons as head coach.

Diaco also returns to the Big Ten, where he played as an Iowa Hawkeye under Hayden Fry.

"I am honored to join coach Riley and his staff at the University of Nebraska and am excited to become a part of one of the truly great programs in the history of college football," Diaco said. "Coach Riley has such great respect from everyone in football, and he is building something special here. I started my college football experience in the Big Ten and am thrilled to be back in this conference. I can't wait to get to work and help build a championship football program."

He'll go to work to try and improve a Nebraska defense that was mediocre this past season. The Huskers ranked in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten, sixth in the conference in total defense (allowing an average of 363.7 yards a game) and seventh in the conference in scoring defense (allowing an average of 23.9 points per game).

Diaco takes over for Mark Banker, who worked as Riley's defensive coordinator for a total of 17 seasons before it was announced earlier this week that his contract wouldn't be renewed.