Wake Logo

Wake Forest signs 19 football recruits

Leave a comment

(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.

Amidst medical mystery, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson withdraws from spring semester classes

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19: Anthony Jennings #11 of the Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns is pursued by Trenton Thompson #78 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.

First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.

In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:

Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.

As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.

Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.

Iowa State DB Mike Johnson suspended amid domestic violence arrest

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Keke Coutee #20 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders blocks defensive back Mike Johnson #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones as he rushed for yards in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.

She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.

“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”

Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

James Conner
Getty Images
Leave a comment

James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Willie Taggart no longer speaking with Oregon beat reporter

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Willie Taggart walks the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on September 28, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Getty Images
6 Comments

Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde is now back at work after serving a 1-month, unpaid suspension resulting from three players being hospitalized after Oderinde’s first supervised workout with the Ducks, but the story is not over in Eugene.

According to Oregon’s student paper The Daily Emerald, Taggart is no longer speaking with the reporter who broke the story, The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart told the paper. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”

Greif, for his part, stands by the story and says the paper will not issue a retraction, as Taggart requested:

“Though the description of the workouts is understandably subjective, ultimately what has never been in doubt is that three UO players were hospitalized after the first week of offseason workouts and received treatment for several days,” Greif said in an email to the Emerald.

Complicating matters for Taggart is that the university commissioned faculty athletics rep Tim Gleason, a journalism professor, to review the report. In speaking with players, coaches, trainers and AD Rob Mullens, Gleason found the report not to be inaccurate.

“It’s not an unfair characterization; it’s just that the way it gets interpreted is regrettable,” Gleason said. “In the shorthand of journalism, it resulted in an impression that may not have been completely accurate.”

Also contradicting Taggart are members of his own staff, who said off-the-record that the workouts were “military-style.” Greif quoted them anonymously when inserting that phrase into the piece:

Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

It’s not clear where the story goes from here, except that Taggart made clear twice in his interview with the Emerald he has no plans to answer questions from Greif in the future.