MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The NCAA ruled Monday that a Middle Tennessee football player who spent five years in the Marines will be allowed to compete this fall and that he will have four years of eligibility remaining.

It's a reversal from the NCAA's earlier decision to rule Steven Rhodes ineligible because he played in a recreational league during his military service. School officials had said earlier Monday that they were working with NCAA officials to come up with a solution.

"It's nothing but a blessing," Rhodes said after Monday's practice.

Late Monday afternoon, the NCAA issued a news release saying Rhodes could play immediately and member schools would continue to re-examine the competition rules, especially as they affect those returning from military service. Rhodes has been practicing at tight end and defensive end.

New bowl game to pit Sun Belt vs. MAC

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Teams from the Sun Belt and the Mid-American Conference will meet in a new bowl game in Alabama's state capital.

ESPN announced its latest postseason game, the Camellia Bowl, Monday at Montgomery's City Hall. It will debut in December 2014 under a six-year contract. The game will be held before Christmas Day.

Extra points

Alabama cornerback Geno Smith was charged Sunday with driving under the influence. Smith, who played in all 13 games as a freshman during last season's national championship run, was expected to compete for the starting job vacated by top-10 draft pick Dee Milliner.