Registered sex offender creates recruiting stir at Ohio State

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There are some words you’d never think would be strung together to create a headline on a college football blog. The above is Exhibit A for that sentiment.  And B and C and a couple other letters as well

In one of the more bizarrely creepy — or creepily bizarre, if you prefer — stories of this or any other offseason, a registered sex offender in the state of Kentucky has apparently cost Ohio State a highly-touted recruit, at least for the moment.

At OSU’s spring game April 21, Pennsylvania high school linebacker Alex Anzalone, a four-star player in the Class of 2013 and the No. 16 outside LB in the country according to Rivals.com, verbally committed to the Buckeyes.  The night of that spring game, Anzalone, along with several recruits visiting the campus, posed for pictures with Charles Waugh, a 31-year-old “man” and the registered sex offender in question.

Shortly after those pictures were taken, Waugh, who in 2008 pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors, posted them to his various social media accounts as well as sending messages to the recruits via Twitter.  At some point in the ensuing two weeks, Anzalone became aware of Waugh’s past and was “creeped out” per his father, leading to his decommitment at the urging of his dad.

On Friday, as the controversy began to grow, OSU released a statement addressing the issue.

“The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures – taken in public places – with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person. The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes.”

Along with the statement, an email sent from OSU’s compliance department to student-athletes warning them of Waugh contained a mugshot of the individual as well as links to informational sites about how to block Twitter and Facebook users, the Daily Lantern, the OSU student newspaper which originally broke the story, wrote.

Even as Anzalone’s father urged his son to backtrack on his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, the father also wanted to make it clear that he does not blame the OSU football program or the coaching staff for his son’s on-campus encounter with the convicted sex offender.

Ohio State had no idea that this guy was a perv,” Dr. Sal Anzalone told ESPN.com. “They were totally unaware. Let’s make that very clear. That’s not Ohio State.

“But Alex was creeped out by him. He thought something was wrong. Alex wasn’t going to get hurt. Alex could knock him out. But the point is, this creep shouldn’t be near recruits.”

With his recruitment reopen, Anzalone will once again consider USC, Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida and Stanford, with the latter two perceived as the current front-runners.  Oh, and there’s one more school Anzalone will consider: Ohio State.

That’s right.  The elder Anzalone left the door open for a a second verbal commitment to the Columbus school by his son.

“It’s a possibility,” Sal Anzalone said. “Things change. You can’t hold them responsible for other people’s behavior.”

(Photo credit: Kentucky State Police Sex Offender Registry website)

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.