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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.

Hugh Freeze fuels Ole Miss win in Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl golf outing

Hugh Freeze
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge
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It appears Ole Miss’ off-field issues laid bare for the country to see over the weekend had little or no impact on Hugh Freeze’s focus on a golf course.

At the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl challenge in Greensboro, Ga., Freeze and his Ole Miss partner, former Rebel tight end Wesley Walls, pulled away from the field of 13 FBS head coaches and their partners to claim a two-shot win.  Moat impressive was how the Rebel duo pulled away as Freeze holed an 8-iron from 150 yards on the par-four 14th for an eagle, then the team proceeded to rip off four straight birdies to close out both the round and a trio of teams that finished at -11 –Georgia (Kirby Smart/David Dukes), Georgia Tech (Paul Johnson/Jon Barry), North Carolina State (Dave Doeren/Terry Harvey).

“The ball was jumping off my irons and I knew I hit it good,” Freeze said of the holed-out shot that jumpstarted the birdie binge. “Then Wesley said he thought he saw it disappear. I thought it was long but I started walking to the hole pretty fast and found out it went in. That’s when we thought we had a chance.”

Freeze’s heroics helped win his team $100,000, with that total being split evenly between endowed scholarships at the universities and foundations or charities of the coach’s choice.  Those heroics also kept the Georgia Tech team of Johnson and Barry from three-peating and winning the event for the fifth time in the last six years.

Below is how the rest of the field finished in the challenge as well as scholarship.charity money earned.

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‘Sometime this week or next week,’ ex-Miami TE Jerome Washington should sign with Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 16: Rutgers Scarlet Knights are wearing helmets with a stars and stripes logo in honor of Military Appreciation Day before the start of their game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
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In mid-April, former Miami tight end Jerome Washington confirmed that Rutgers will be his likely transfer destination.  Three weeks later, that move is coming closer to fruition.

Speaking to nj.com, Washington stated that, when it comes to officially signing with the Scarlet Knights, “[h]opefully it’s sometime this week or next week.”  All indications are RU will send the required paperwork in short order to officially make Washington the newest member of first-year head coach Chris Ash‘s football program.

“I haven’t signed but they told me they have a scholarship offer for me,” Washington told the website. “And when I asked what I should say to schools recruiting me, they said I should say I’m not interested, which means I’m basically good to go. Coach Ash told my cousin that last week at the recruiting event.”

If Washington lands at RU, or any other FBS program, he’d have to sit out the 2016 season, but would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Washington, a rising sophomore, appeared in nine games in 2015 for the Hurricanes but did not record a statistic. He arrived at The U by way of Mercer County Community College.

In February, Washington announced that he would be transferring from Miami and continuing his playing career elsewhere.

Minnesota losing DL Mose Hall to transfer

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 15: The jersey and helmet of Jon Christenson #63 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers are seen during the third quarter of the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 15, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Buckeyes defeated the Golden Gophers 31-24. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The transfer train continues its run down the tracks, with Minnesota the latest to see its roster hit with attrition.

As all the cool kids are doing these days, Mose Hall took to social media confirm a change in his current situation, announcing on Twitter that he has decided to transfer out of the Gophers football program. No reason was given for the defensive lineman’s departure.

Should Hall move on to another FBS program, he’d have to sit out the 2016 season. He’d then have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Hall was a three-star 2015 recruit rated as the No. 98 strongside defensive end by 247Sports.com.  He was also the No. 61 player at any position in the state of Alabama.

Last season as a true freshman, Hall took a redshirt.

Expansion rumblings once again swirling around Big 12

Matt Ritchey
Associated Press
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Expansion in major college football has been in hibernation for a couple of years now, but it appears movement on that front could be imminent.  Or it could not.  One of the two.

Over the past 24 hours or so, a handful of stories have surfaced that, once again, have the speculation swirling around the Big 12 when it comes to that conference getting back to matching its numerical name.  From analytics to potential expansion candidates to the 800-pound Longhorn in the middle of the room, the Big 12’s annual spring meetings this week figure to at least begin — or, more specifically, continue — the process of settling the expansion/conference title game/league network issues that are all inextricably intertwined.

To wit:

— Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed that in research performed by an analytics outfit hired by the league, a 12-team conference with an eight-game league schedule and a championship game is the best model for one of its teams qualifying for the college football playoff.  Right now, the Big 12 is the exact opposite of that model, with 10 teams, nine conference games and no title game.

According to Bowlsby, the first combination would increase a league’s chances of sending a team to the playoffs by five percent.  As Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News asked, would that slight bump be enough to get everyone onboard with expansion and a title game?

“Some would say we want every advantage we can get,” Bowlsby said. “Others may say it’s not enough to blow up a good scheduling model.”

From Carlton’s report:

Bowlsby said the Big 12 is scheduled to receive “two major reports” in Irving. In addition to information on the title game, Navigate will examine scheduling models for a 10-, 12- and 14-team conference and the variables involved.

In February, Bowlsby said he hoped to have an answer to the expansion question, one way or the other, this summer.  Just how close Bowlsby gets to that timeline will depend on how things go in Phoenix this week.

— Boise State, BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis and UCF have all been mentioned as potential candidates if the Big 12 opts to expand.  According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the UofM has been lobbying the conference for inclusion in a next round of expansion if it comes.

University of Memphis president M. David Rudd sent a promotional publication – highlighting the finer points of the city and its major university – to University of Texas president Dr. Gregory Fenves in December, showcasing the U of M as a possible Big 12 expansion candidate.

Rudd said the publication, entitled “Memphis Soul of a City,” captures “the passion and proud history of Tiger athletics including a historic run by our football program.”

The Memphis publication highlights the city’s top Fortune 500 companies, its overall attributes and the U of M’s attributes, including its recent athletic accomplishments, particularly the turnaround by the football program. Tiger football has gone 19-7 the past two seasons.

— And, finally,that 800-pound Longhorn we spoke of earlier.

It’s long been believed that Texas is not in favor of expanding the conference, especially at the expense of folding its Longhorn Network into a conference-wide network, with Texas Tech and TCU, for their own reasons, following in lock-step with the state’s flagship institution.  According to a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, the conference is one vote shy of garnering enough support to expand.

It’s believed seven of the 10 schools favor expansion. But Big 12 bylaws call for a super majority vote of 75 percent (so at least eight schools) to make a major change. Texas is believed to be influencing Texas Tech’s and Texas Christian’s decisions to also be reluctant to expansion.

Texas Tech has long fallen in line with Texas. Both are public universities that have been in the same league together since 1956, when they were in the Southwest Conference. Texas and Texas Tech were founding members of the Big 12 in 1996.

TCU is believed to be following Texas’ lead because the conference’s power broker reportedly helped the Horned Frogs get into the Big 12 four years ago.

In other words, we’re right back to where we’ve been on multiple occasions in the past: as Texas goes, so goes Big 12 expansion.  Or doesn’t go, as the case may be.

UPDATED 6:38 p.m. ET: If you want an idea as to Texas’ thought process at the moment, I think this sentence pretty much tells you everything you need to know.