Wake Forest signs 19 football recruits

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(Below is Wake Forest’s press release on the players added via its 2012 recruiting class.)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe today announced the signing of 19 prospective student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to attend Wake Forest.

The signing class consists of players from nine states including eight from Florida, three from North Carolina, and two from Georgia as well as players from Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The class includes 10 offensive players and nine on defense.  On offense, Wake Forest is bringing in two wide receivers, two tight ends, three offensive linemen, a quarterback, a running back and one player designated as an athlete.  Defensively, the Demon Deacons are adding four defensive backs including two cornerbacks and a pair of safeties, three defensive linemen, a linebacker and an athlete.

Wake Forest is losing a total of 12 starters off last year’s Music City Bowl team.  The Deacons must replace eight offensive starters and four on defense.

The Deacons are losing four starters on the offensive line and will add three freshmen in the fall of 2012.  The group includes Joel Suggs (6-6, 285) of Randleman, NC, Tyler Hayworth (6-4, 306) from Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport, Tenn., and Will Smith (6-5, 285) from Charlotte, NC who has played at Christchurch School in Saluda, Va.

Wake Forest lost a pair of key wide receivers in Danny Dembry and Chris Givens.  A pair of freshmen will look to help replenish the receiving corps.  The Deacons signed a pair of big receivers in 6-3, 190-pound Jared Crump of St. Johns, Fla (Bartram Trail) and 6-4, 170-pound Jonathan Williams of Atlanta (Mays).

With lefthander Tanner Price returning at quarterback, the Deacons added another southpaw in 6-3, 210-pound Tyler Cameron of Jupiter, Fla. (Jupiter).  Cameron is the lone member of the recruiting class to have enrolled early.  He started classes at Wake Forest on Jan. 18.

Wake Forest lost its top two tight ends to graduation following the 2011 season in Andrew Parker and Cameron Ford.  The Deacons signed a pair of tight ends in 6-5, 235-pound Zach Gordon of Carrollton, Ga. and 6-4, 235-pound Anthony Rook of Greenville, NC (Rose).

Running back Joshua Wilhite (5-10, 187)  of Fresno, Texas (Fort Bend Hightower) will join the Deacons after rushing for over 2,000 yards as a senior and helping Hightower to the Texas 5A State Championship game.

Steve Donatell (6-5, 195) from Lone Tree, Colo. (Highland Ranch) will enroll at Wake Forest without a specified position.  A versatile athlete who plays four sports in high school, Donatell excelled as a lefthanded quarterback and first team all-state punter.  As a basketball player, Donatell is an outstanding scorer and rebounder who has his high school ranked No. 1 in Colorado with a 17-0 record.

On defense, the Deacons lose just four starters but two of those are in the secondary and include starting safeties Cyhl Quarles and Josh Bush.  Wake Forest is bringing in a pair of safety candidates in 5-10, 195-pound Dominique Gibson from Belle Glade, Fla. and 5-11, 180-pound Ryan Janvion from Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Dade Christian).  Janvion hails from the same high school as current Deacon safety Daniel Mack.

At corner, the Deacons will welcome a pair of freshmen in 5-10, 170-pound James Ward from DeLand, Fla. and 5-11, 180-pound LaRonji Vason of Prattville, Ala.  Vason helped his team to the 6A state championship in 2011.

Wake Forest landed three players that the coaches expect to compete on the defensive line.  The trio includes 6-2, 240-pound nose guard Shelldon Lewinson from 6A state champion Seffner, Fla. (Armwood) and a pair of defensive ends in 6-4, 245-pound Tylor Harris of Baton Rouge, La. (Episcopal) and 6-4, 250-pound Josh Banks of Apex, NC (Middle Creek).

Teddy Matthews is a 6-3, 225-pound linebacker from West Palm Beach, Fla. (Royal Palm Beach), the same high school that produced former Deacon running back Brandon Pendergrass.  Kevis Jones, a 6-2, 220-pound athlete from Oakland Park, Fla. (Northeast) is a high school linebacker who could play a variety of positions for the Deacons.

Notes:

Wake Forest did well in recruiting Palm Beach County in South Florida in 2011.  QB Tyler Cameron (Jupiter), LB Teddy Matthews (West Palm Beach) and S Dominique Gibson (Belle Glade) are all from Palm Beach County.

Two future Deacons played against each other the Florida 6A state semifinals.  Shelldon Lewinson’s Seffner (Armwood) squad topped Jared Crump’s Bartram Trail club 46-38 to advance to the state championship game.

Three future Deacons played on state championship squads in 2011.  Shelldon Lewinson’s Seffner/Armwood team won the Florida 6A title while Will Smith’s Christchurch team won the Virginia Independent Division II title.  LaRonji Vason’s Prattville club won the Alabame 6A championship.  Joshua Wilhite’s Fort Bend Hightower club reached the Texas 5A state championship game.

Jared Crump and Steve Donatell were leaders of teams that reached state semifinals in 2011.  Zach Gordon of Carrollton, Ga. and Dominique Gibson of Belle Glade, Fla. played on squads that reached the state title game in 2010.

Tyler Hayworth, Shelldon Lewinson and Will Smith helped their teams to undefeated regular season records in 2011.  Lewinson’s Seffner (Armwood) team and Smith’s Christchurch club were the only squads among this year’s signees that went undefeated throughout the season.

Wake Forest’s 19 signees helped their respective teams to a combined record of 184-49 in 2011.

Jared Crump hails from Bartram Trail High in the Jacksonville area, the same high school that send OG Jeff Griffin (2006-09) and TE Andrew Parker (2008-11) to Wake Forest.

Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett signee Tyler Hayworth comes from the same high school that sent QB Wally Bridwell (1961-62), RB Mike Kelly (1963-65), and S Patrick Ghee (2003-06) to Wake Forest

LB Teddy Matthews will graduate from Royal Palm Beach High in Florida, the same school that produced Wake Forest RB Brandon Pendergrass (2008-11).

With the addition of S Ryan Janvion, Wake Forest will have a pair of Miami Dade Christian graduates including current safety Daniel Mack.

TE Anthony Rook is the second Greenville, NC Rose graduate to play football for the Demon Deacons.  DB Donald Johnson (1981-84) was a three-year letterman for the Deacons.

UNLV ‘very excited’ to share Las Vegas stadium with Raiders

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The biggest news of the day in the NFL has a decidedly college football connection.

By a 31-1 vote, NFL owners approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas later this decade.  The new stadium that will eventually serve as the home for the NFL club is expected to be ready for play for the 2020 season.

As expected, it will also serve as the new home for Sin City’s FBS team, a fact that UNLV’s hierarchy was quick to point out and highlight in the hours after the vote was officially confirmed.  Below are the statements from the three main characters involved with the football program.

Len Jessup, UNLV President
UNLV and the entire Rebel family welcome the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Raiders and the Stadium Authority Board to give UNLV football access to a world-class stadium and accompanying game day experience that will rival the best in college football. We also recognize and thank the numerous stakeholders – including the Adelson family – who invested their time and energy toward this vision. This is an historic day for Nevada and another example of how Las Vegas continues to reinvent itself.

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV Athletics Director
We are very excited to welcome the Raiders to our great city of Las Vegas. Our community is on the rise and that has clearly been recognized by the NFL owners with today’s vote. We can’t wait for the day our UNLV football program has a new home, sharing the new world-class stadium with the Las Vegas Raiders. What a great day for the NFL, our city and our university.

Tony Sanchez, UNLV Football Head Coach
Today is a huge development for UNLV Football and the city of Las Vegas. Sharing a state-of-the-art stadium with the Raiders is another thing that will allow us to recruit at a high level. The combination of an NFL stadium and our upcoming Fertitta Football Complex brings so much energy to this program and campus. As someone who has lived here for eight years, I’m also excited for this community. This is a great place to live and the pride of being an NFL city will make it an even better place.

In addition to being tenants in a new state-of-the-art stadium, the university will soon begin construction on an on-campus football practice facility.

There are five FBS teams that will share stadiums with NFL teams on at least a part-time basis in 2017 — UMass (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium), Miami (Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium), Temple (Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field), Pitt (Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field) and USF (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium).  Georgia State had shared the Georgia Dome with the Atlanta Falcons but are moving to the new Turner Field this season, while San Diego State will still call Qualcomm Stadium home even as the Chargers have bolted the facility for Los Angeles.

There has been chatter that both Temple (HERE) and USF (HERE) could find themselves in a position to build an on-campus stadium at some point down the road — although the latter could extend its agreement with its current home as it continues to evaluate its long-term plans.

The Los Angles Rams are also temporarily crashing at the home of the USC Trojans, Memorial Coliseum, until their new stadium is completed.

Kaylee Hartung leaves ESPN sidelines for CNN

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ESPN’s roster of college football talent has taken a bath lately. Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman broke up their critically acclaimed team for NFL work at different networks. Brad Nessler left for CBS. Brent Musuberger left for Vegas. Samantha Ponder has joined McDonough on the Worldwide Leader’s NFL team and, now, Kaylee Hartung is leaving the network as well.

Hartung confirmed her departure from ESPN on Monday. Though she did not name her next employer, it’s been an open secret within the industry for nearly a month Hartung will leave for CNN.

“Last night I worked my final event with ESPN,” Hartung announced on her Twitter page. “The decision to leave a job I love and take on a new challenge has been incredibly emotional but the overwhelming feeling I have today is gratitude. I am so grateful for the experience I’ve had within the ESPN family for 5 years. I’m grateful for the people I’ve worked with who have supported me, made me a better reporter, made me a better person and became my friends. I’m grateful for the coaches, athletes, staffers, and university officials who’ve shared their stories with me and let me be a part of their magical moments. I’m grateful for the fans who have embraced me and shared their passion with me. Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my life during this incredibly fun and exciting chapter. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter has in store… Now I get to be a fan of you all!”

Hartung started with Longhorn Network and since moved to SEC Network and the mothership. Her final event for the network was Sunday night’s Women’s Elite Eight match between Mississippi State and Baylor. Hartung worked in the political media prior to landing with the Longhorn Network as an associate producer for the CBS program Face the Nation.

Final Four forces South Carolina to postpone indoor facility groundbreaking

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File this one under the most first world of all problems: the South Carolina football program is having to adjust its plans because the Gamecocks’ basketball team has been more successful than anticipated.

With Frank Martin‘s hoops headed to Phoenix for this weekend’s Final Four and taking all the Palmetto State’s attention with them, Will Muschamp‘s football program has been forced to alter what had been a big day planned.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to break ground on their announced indoor practice facility; those plans have now been postponed.

With only six days between South Carolina’s clinching of a Final Four berth and the football team’s planned Garnet-White game, the spring game will have to remain slated for Saturday. But it has been bumped forward to a noon kickoff.

Muschamp did not make the trip to Madison Square Garden for Sunday’s Elite Eight win (Florida’s Jim McElwain was in attendance) and Saturday’s spring game will also preclude his attendance, meaning the head football coach must wait until a possible national championship berth to support the basketball team in person.

With Brandon Harris off the board, Texas reportedly looking at former ND QB Malik Zaire

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Texas pursued former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, but Harris is no longer interested in being pursued.

After Harris’s commitment to North Carolina, Tom Herman has reportedly turned his interests to the next logical choice in the graduate transfer market — former Notre Dame signal caller Malik Zaire.

The news comes from Chip Brown of Horns Digest who, unfortunately hid the goods behind a pay wall.

The move would be an interesting one considering Zaire’s history with the Longhorns. Zaire played like a Heisman candidate in a 38-3 crunching of Texas on the opening night of the 2015 season, hitting 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. As we know, Zaire was lost for the year to a broken ankle one week later, but managed to win back the starting job in training camp before the ’16 season.

Zaire didn’t last long, though, hitting 2-of-5 passes for 23 yards while being credited for no gain on three rushes, giving way to DeShone Kizer in an eventual 50-47 double overtime loss to the Longhorns in Austin to open last season.

Zaire would toss only 18 more passes as a Fighting Irish quarterback.

If Zaire reciprocates Herman’s interest he would immediately join an open quarterback battle with incumbent Shane Buechele and true freshman Sam Ehlinger. At the time of his South Bend departure Zaire was reportedly considering Wisconsin, Baylor and recently off-the-market North Carolina.