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.

As accuser blasts DA’s office, protective order against Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson dismissed

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Thursday, Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced in a press conference that his office would not pursue charges related to allegations of rape made against Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson. A day later, there were a pair of developments in connection to the situation.

In a statement released Friday, the accuser who claimed Anderson raped her in mid-November released a blistering statement blasting the prosecutors, stating that her faith in the justice system has been diminished by the actions of the district attorney’s office. Specifically, she decried, in part, “inaccurate statements” from Mashburn at the Thursday press conference and hopes that his office’s “unorthodox, erroneous and egregious release of detailed information does not affect and/or deter future victims from coming forward.”

My choice to stay silent to the media was an intentional decision. I held full faith that the Oklahoma criminal justice system would achieve due process with a thorough investigation. Yesterday’s press conference, held by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office, diminished my faith in our local judicial system. I was speechless when I heard inaccurate statements, a disregard for addressing my inability to give consent, and a projected perceived bias. I was led to believe that the case details provided to the media would be a vague overview of the investigative process. I truly hope their unorthodox, erroneous and egregious release of detailed information does not affect and/or deter future victims from coming forward.

In the press conference, the prosecutor noted several text messages between the accuser and Anderson after the alleged assault that were described as friendly in nature. Anderson’s attorney claimed that the accuser only went to the authorities with her claims after Anderson had rejected several of her advances in the weeks following the alleged assault.

Earlier this month, the 23-year-old woman filed for an emergency order of protection against Anderson; additional details subsequently emerged, with the woman describing the player in a written statement to the court as the “alleged rapist” and herself as the “victim of rape.” A hearing on the protective order had been scheduled for Dec. 18.

That hearing three days from today has since been canceled. From the accuser’s statement:

Despite my adamant fight for justice, I have chosen to dismiss my Victim Protective Order upon receiving military orders two days ago to begin training. I look forward to starting this next chapter of my life as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

The woman, who signed her statement “Courtney J. Thornton, OU Class of 2017,” closed the missive with the following paragraph:

In the future, I ask you to consider all sides of every story before resorting to absolutes. Coming forward was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but I never wanted to regret not reporting what happened that night. In the humble words of Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘What you don’t do can be a destructive force.’

Ohio State assistant coach Larry Johnson takes to Twitter to deny retirement rumors

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The addition of an early signing period in college football has altered the sport in many different ways this year, from super quick coaching searches to an ever changing recruiting calendar and process. While you can debate the merits of the new Dec. 20th date all you want, there’s no denying that the entire process has been accelerated much more so than in past seasons.

That is also very true when it comes to ‘crootin rumors.

Apparently there have been a few such rumors floating around that veteran Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson was set to retire at some point in the not too distant future (i.e. after the season). The coach is one of the best in the business and highly regarded for his recruiting abilities so naturally he made things very clear on Twitter Friday morning that he will be in Columbus and wanted to set the record straight that he would not be leaving the staff.

You could probably chalk up the rumors and grumblings to a bit of negative recruiting from some rivals given that the coach is in his mid-sixties but it’s great news for the Buckeyes that he will indeed be the team’s line coach for the forseeable future.

Missouri hires former Florida coach Brad Davis as Tigers new offensive line coach

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Missouri has their new offensive line coach and they didn’t even have to look outside their own division to find one.

The Tigers announced on Friday that they had hired Brad Davis to be the team’s new offensive line coach after he spent the past season at SEC East rival Florida coaching the same position group

“I’m very pleased to have Brad and his family join our program,” head coach Barry Odom said in a statement.  “He’s a tremendous teacher and mentor, and he’s been lights out on the recruiting trail with his approach to building true relationships with kids.  Brad has experience in the SEC and he has worked hard to earn a great amount of respect among his peers.  I’m excited to have him with us, and I know he is going to do a great job helping us move forward offensively and continue building,”

Davis was not retained by new Gators coach Dan Mullen but the former Oklahoma offensive lineman has experience from prior stops at East Carolina and North Carolina over the years. He replaces Glen Elarbee, who left as Missouri’s offensive line coach to follow Josh Heupel to UCF.

Texas booster Red McCombs tells paper he’s trying to convince Incarnate Word to hire disgraced Baylor coach Art Briles

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Texas megabooster Red McCombs getting involved in a coaching search is nothing new. McCombs pushing Art Briles as a candidate at a small Texas college however, well that’s a bit eye-opening.

The San Antonio Express-News caught up with the billionaire on Friday and he confirmed that he had spoken to the University of the Incarnate Word’s board of trustees and was lobbying them to hire the disgraced and scandal-plagued former Baylor coach to run the program.

“You not only will be getting the best football coach available but also the best man,” McCombs told the paper of what he said to the UIW trustees. “In two years’ time, he would leave them with an unbelievable program in place and then could go to the big time, because that’s where he should be in the first place.”

A source close to the search told the Express-News that Briles is not being considered for the job, which opened last month after a 1-10 season for the FCS program.

Briles was of course fired by Baylor in 2016 after numerous sexual assault allegations were brought against the school. Subsequent lawsuits over the past few years have rendered the former Bears coach as nearly un-hireable at the college level and the scandal has even cost him a job in the CFL after just a few hours of outrage.

That’s why it’s downright shocking, especially given the dozens upon dozens of reports and negative headlines about what went on in Waco under his tenure, that McCombs would call the evidence against Briles a “bunch of baloney…a bunch of garbage,” according to the paper.

Luckily it sounds like Incarnate Word isn’t even entertaining the idea of hiring him and this is just some rich guy trying to help a friend… but the whole scenario and comments outlined by the Express-News are not exactly what you want to have associated with a coaching search. Yikes.