Hokies’ Antone Exum personifies the Christmas spirit

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As most of us get older, we realize that the Christmas season is more above giving than receiving, especially when kids are part of the holiday equation.  At a relatively young age, Virginia Tech’s Antone Exum already has a complete grasp of that sentiment.

As part of the swag for earning a bid to the Russell Athletic Bowl, each Hokies player was given, among other things, a $470 gift card to Best Buy.  Monday afternoon, Exum and some of his teammates headed out to an Orlando Best Buy for a shopping spree on the bowl’s dime.

At the store, the redshirt junior cornerback noticed three young boys — kids he had never met, incidentally — which set the giving-not-receiving wheels in motion.  After initially picking out items for himself, Exum ultimately put the gadgets back and began a search for the kids.  Upon finding them, he floored ’em with a simple gesture: “I got this money and I want you to go shopping and get what you want,” the player told the kids, who the Orlando Sentinel reports are two brothers and a cousin from the Bahamas and just happened to be in the country for the holidays.

And that’s exactly what Santa Exum and the kids did, with the young trio ultimately settling on a PlayStation 3 and a Blackberry phone.  The kids wanted some games for the PS3 as well so, with his $470 gift card nearly maxed out, Exum enlisted the help of teammates Tariq Edwards and Marcus Davis, who gave up what was left on their respective cards to the kids.

“I think I was blessed to have a lot of fortunate Christmases when I was a kid, so I hope that every little kid deserves to have a perfect Christmas,” Exum said according to the Sentinel.  “I know it was a Christmas that I won’t forget because I won’t forget those smiles and the excitement on their faces when I told them they could get whatever they wanted in the store.”

To help him remember, Exum had a picture taken with the beneficiaries of his generosity and posted it on his Twitter account:

Antone Exum 1

Said head coach Frank Beamer, “I was proud of him. It made someone else’s Christmas better and I think he felt good about it.”

As well he should.  And bravo, Antone Exum.  We could all take a little lesson from your selfless gesture — this or any other time of the year.

Clemson transfer Scott Pagano progressing from foot surgery, but might miss Oregon’s opener

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There was good news and potentially not-so-good news on the Scott Pagano front Thursday for Oregon.

A transfer from Clemson this offseason, Pagano suffered a broken bone in his foot in the Tigers’ mid-November win over Pitt that forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season.  After moving on to the Ducks as a graduate transfer in mid-April, UO’s medical staff decided he needed to undergo surgery to repair the damage in his foot.

First-year head coach Willie Taggart Thursday declared the defensive lineman ahead of schedule in his recovery from the medical procedure, but didn’t guarantee he’d be on the field for the 2017 opener.

“Something he had that he needed to be corrected,” Taggart said of the surgery according to oregonlive.com. “He’s ahead of schedule right now. I don’t like putting certain weeks on guys because everybody heals differently.

“He’s one of those kids that has been rehabbing his tail off and is itching to get back out there. He’s ahead of schedule right now. Hopefully he’s there for the Southern Utah game.”

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. He started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Before opting for UO, Pagano had taken an official visit to Oklahoma as he had whittled his to-do list down to those two. Arkansas, Notre Dame and Texas were also among the lineman’s five allotted official visits in his second round of collegiate recruiting.

CB Ryan Mayes no longer part of Miami football team

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There’s been a slight tweak to Miami’s defensive secondary ahead of the start of summer camp.

In a press release that consisted all of two sentences, the Hurricanes announced that Ryan Mayes is no longer a member of Mark Richt’s football program.  No reason was given for the separation, nor is it known whether the move was voluntary or involuntary.

A three-star member of The U’s 2014 recruiting class, Mayes was rated as the No. 48 cornerback in the country and the No. 92 player at any position in the state of Florida.  He held offers from, among others, Boston College and Syracuse.

As a true freshman, Mayes played in three games, then saw action in just one game the following season as he took a redshirt.  In 2016, the defensive back played in 11 games, mainly on special teams.

Prior to his departure, the redshirt junior was expected to fill a reserve role in the Hurricanes’ secondary.

Kyle Whittingham confirms Darren Carrington is at Utah, not yet a Ute

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Former Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington‘s father confirmed his son of the same name was headed to Utah on Wednesday, and the head coach of the team in question has now double confirmed it.

But just because Carrington is at the University of Utah does not make him a Ute. Not yet.

Speaking at Pac-12 media days, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said Carrington is in school but has hurdles to clear to join the team.

“Not just yet. There’s a process that has to occur, some things that have to transpire and we’ve just got to wait for all that to kind of take place,” Whittingham said, via Deseret News.

It’s not sure what “things” have to transpire and when that is expected to happen; Whittingham couldn’t be sure Carrington would be with the team when camp opens Friday.

“Right now I don’t have a good answer because everything’s being sorted through right now,” Whittingham said.

Carrington will be immediately eligible to play as a graduate transfer. He caught 43 passes for a team-leading 606 yards and six touchdowns last season. Utah’s leading returning receiver, junior Raelon Singleton, nabbed 27 passes for 464 yards and four scores a year ago.

Clay Helton: O.J. not welcome back at USC

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OJ Simpson is one of the greatest Trojans of all-time. A unanimous two-time All-American, Simpson won the 1968 Heisman Trophy and was a member of USC’s 1967 national championship team.

OJ Simpson will also soon be a free man.

Granted parole from his felony armed robbery conviction last week, Simpson will be free on Oct. 1. The question, then, if you’re a reporter at Pac-12 media days is whether or not USC will welcome back one of its most accomplished — if not favorite — sons.

The answer? Uh, no.

To be clear, Simpson has not indicated he wanted to be part of USC football again. The 70-year-old indicated to the parole board he would return to Florida if granted his freedom.

USC has distanced itself from Simpson ever since his 1994 double-murder trial, but his Heisman Trophy remains on display at Heritage Hall.