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2013 Pittsburgh football recruiting class

Paul Chryst AP

(Below are the bios released by Pittsburgh on the 27 members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

Carson Baker, OL, 6-5, 280, Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn
A three-year, two-way starter at tackle for Ohio Division I (largest classification) program…Southwest Ohio All-District…Dayton Daily News All-Area…first team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC)…two-time first team All-GWOC South Division…selected to play in the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic…named Fairborn’s Most Valuable Player, Power Award (top lineman) recipient and team captain…rated one of the top 90 prospects in Ohio by Scout…played under Coach Roy Thobe.

Chris Blewitt, PK, 5-9, 165, Alexandria, Va./West Potomac
Rated one of the nation’s top six placekickers by Scout…received his scholarship offer from Pitt after a standout performance at the Panthers’ specialist camp in June 2012…won the camp’s kickoff competition and a single-elimination field-goal contest, kicking a hurry-up 55-yarder…selected VirginiaPreps.com All-State Class AAA…first team All-Northern Region…first team All-Patriot District…kicked 18 field goals and 72 extra points over his final two seasons…his senior year, kicked eight field goals with a long of 51 yards and also averaged 43 yards on punts…rated one of the top 40 overall prospects in Virginia by Scout…played under Coach Jeremiah Davis.

Tyler Boyd, WR, 6-2, 185, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
One of the state’s most highly recruited players…finished his career ranking among the most productive performers in Western Pennsylvania history…set a WPIAL record with 117 career touchdowns…finished as the fifth-leading rusher in WPIAL annals with 5,755 yards…played diverse roles (running back, receiver, quarterback, defensive back and punt returner) for perennial power Clairton, which went 48-0 in his three years as a starter and 63-1 (.984) in his four varsity seasons under Coach Tom Nola…the Bears won four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles during his career…as a senior, rushed for 2,584 yards and 43 touchdowns, had 295 yards receiving on just 13 catches and led the WPIAL in scoring with 51 total TDs and 345 points…selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio’s Alamodome, where he announced his decision to attend Pitt during NBC’s live telecast…first team MaxPreps Small School All-American…two-time selection as the Class A Player of the Year by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pennsylvania Football News 2011 Class A Offensive Player of the Year…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2012 Player of the Year…named to the Rivals 250 (No. 103) and ESPN 300 (No. 165) national prospect lists…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 8 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 12 wide receiver by Rivals and the No. 12 safety by Scout…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Zach Challingsworth, WR, 6-2, 185, McDonald, Pa./South Fayette
Was a standout for South Fayette in all three phases of the game…was a starting wide receiver and defensive back, while also serving as the team’s punter and top kick returner…selected All-State Class AA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…rated one of the top 35 prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout…averaged 20.5 yards per catch as a senior, compiling 58 receptions for 1,190 yards and 15 touchdowns…also averaged 7.0 yards per rush (147 yards on 21 carries) with two TDs as a Wildcat quarterback…on defense had 29 tackles and four interceptions…averaged 18.7 yards per INT return, taking two back for touchdowns…averaged 33.3 yards per kick return and 15.4 yards per punt return…compiled career receiving totals of 147 catches for 2,759 yards (18.8 avg.) and 38 touchdowns…led team to a three-year record of 33-6 (.846) and berths in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs each season…his sophomore year, South Fayette went 15-1, winning the WPIAL championship and finishing as the PIAA Class AA runner-up…played under Coach Joe Rossi.

Tra’Von Chapman, QB, 6-2, 200, Kent, Ohio/Theodore Roosevelt
Enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation from Theodore Roosevelt…will participate in spring drills…rated the No. 2 quarterback and No. 15 overall prospect in Ohio by Rivals…rated the nation’s No. 12 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals and No. 20 overall QB by Scout…selected first team All-Ohio Division II by The Associated Press…Northeast Inland All-District…Portage Trail Conference Metro Division Offensive Player of the Year…threw for 5,736 yards and 62 touchdowns and rushed for 1,506 yards and 19 TDs over his junior and senior seasons…as a senior, set single-season school records for passing yards (2,901), touchdown passes (33) and total offense (3,650)…set school career records for passing yards (5,736) and total offense (7,246)…other records include single-game passing yards (454 vs. Hoban), passing touchdowns (seven vs. Springfield) and total offense (562 vs. Hoban)…led Theodore Roosevelt to back-to-back 10-2 seasons and consecutive trips to the Ohio Division II state playoffs…played under Coach John Nemec.

James Conner, RB, 6-2, 230, Erie, Pa./McDowell
Highly productive runner and pass rusher at McDowell, earning accolades for both roles…selected All-State Class AAAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers as a senior running back…named Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA at running back his senior year and as a defensive lineman his junior year…Erie Times-News All-District 10…led McDowell to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs as a senior after rushing for 1,680 yards and 21 touchdowns on 155 carries, an impressive average of 10.8 yards per rush…set a McDowell single-season record with 164 points, including 26 touchdowns (tied for the most in school history), three 2-point conversions and a safety…also set school records for sacks in a season (12) and career (17)…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…Conner averaged 7.1 yards per rush in the Chesapeake Bowl (71 yards on 10 carries) and scored a five-yard TD to help the North to a 38-13 win over the South…rated the No. 13 prospect in Pennsylvania and the nation’s No. 26 weakside defensive end by Rivals…rated one of the top 40 prospects in in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Mark Soboleski.

Devon Edwards, TE, 6-4, 255, Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Eastmoor Academy
Columbus City League product who was a three-year starter at tight end and defensive end for Eastmoor Academy…first team All-Central District…Special Mention All-Ohio Division III…The Columbus Dispatch All-Metro Team…helped Eastmoor to three Ohio Division III playoff berths in his four varsity seasons…rated one of the top 90 prospects in Ohio by Scout…played under Coach Jim Miranda…also a three-year starter in basketball.

Matt Galambos, LB, 6-2, 215, Collingdale, Pa./The Haverford School
One of the top defensive prospects in the Philadelphia area…selected All-State Class AAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAA….named the No. 1 linebacker in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Inquirer…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…a two-way first-team All-Inter-Academic League selection at running back and linebacker…first team All-Delaware County…first team All-Mainline…compiled 104 tackles and five sacks his senior year…also rushed for 818 yards and six touchdowns on 156 carries (5.2 avg.) and had 11 receptions for 152 yards (13.8 avg.)…moved from tight end to running back early in his senior season due to injuries and made his backfield debut with a 206-yard rushing effort on just 19 carries (10.8 avg.) in a victory over The Lawrenceville School…led team to a 7-4 record and runner-up finish in the Inter-Ac League…first player in Haverford School history to be selected for the Big 33 Football Classic…rated the No. 18 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 29 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 34 middle linebacker by Scout…played under Coach Mike Murphy.

Reggie Green, ATH, 6-2, 200, Cranford, N.J./Cranford
Considered one of the top “athletes” in New Jersey after starring at quarterback and defensive back for Cranford…first team New Jersey All-Group 3…first team All-Union County…rushed for 3,185 yards over his final two seasons…averaged 171.2 rushing yards per game as a senior, compiling 1,712 yards and 19 touchdowns on 234 attempts (7.3 yards per carry)…also threw for 681 yards and four TDs…had 22 tackles and three interceptions at defensive back…as a junior, rushed for 1,473 yards and passed for 804 in leading his team to a 10-1 record and the North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 championship, the first postseason title in school history…led Cranford to a 17-4 (.810) record his final two years…rated the No. 32 prospect in New Jersey by Scout…played under Coach Erik Rosenmeier.

Tony Harper, TE, 6-4, 200, Toledo, Ohio/St. John’s Jesuit
Two-year starter for St. John’s Jesuit, playing tight end and safety for the Ohio Division I (largest classification) program…Northwest All-District…All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC)… limited to only six games as a senior due to injury but still had 15 receptions for more than 200 yards…primarily a defensive player his junior year and compiled 64 tackles, four tackles for loss and two interceptions…a three-year letterman who helped St. John’s to a 22-11 record (.667) during his varsity career…played under Coach Doug Pearson.

Titus Howard, DB, 6-1, 180, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
A shutdown corner and big-play receiver for perennial Pennsylvania power Clairton…named the Class A Defensive Player of the Year by Pennsylvania Football News…All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…averaged 25.5 yards per catch with 20 receptions for 510 yards…member of a Clairton senior class that helped the Bears to a state-record 63 consecutive victories in addition to four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland)…also played in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 23 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Rachid Ibrahim (rah-sheed e-brah-heem), DB, 6-1, 185, Rockville, Md./Avalon
First-team Maryland Small School All-State performer…three-time Capital Area Football Conference (CAFC) Offensive Player of the Year…averaged 9.1 yards per carry for his three-year varsity career en route to a school-record 4,835 rushing yards…had seven career games with more than 200 rushing yards, including a school-record 370-yard effort his senior year against Riverdale Baptist…broke the Maryland single-game scoring record with 50 points (eight touchdowns and one 2-point conversion) in a 64-55 victory over Model…his eight TDs in the game tied the state mark as he rushed for 298 yards on just 29 carries (10.3 avg.)…led Avalon to three consecutive CAFC championships with a combined record of 25-8 (.758)…rated the No. 22 overall prospect in Maryland by Scout…selected to play in the Maryland Crab Bowl, a senior all-star game showcasing top players from Baltimore and Washington D.C.…speaks fluent French…played under Coach Tad Shields.

Tyrique Jarrett, DL, 6-3, 320, Pittsburgh, Pa./Taylor Allderdice/Milford Academy (N.Y.)
Enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 and will participate in spring drills…prepped during the 2012 season at Milford Academy and helped the Falcons to a 7-4 record against a schedule comprised largely of collegiate competition…totaled 26 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception (returned for a touchdown) and one blocked field goal under Milford coach Bill Chaplick…rated one of the country’s top 20 prep school prospects by Rivals…prior to Milford, earned status as the Pittsburgh City League’s top lineman in 2011 at Taylor Allderdice…was a two-way standout who led the Dragons to the City League title game as a senior…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…two-time first team All-City League…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…rated Pennsylvania’s No. 16 overall prospect and top defensive tackle by Scout as a senior…played under Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett.

Dorian Johnson, OL, 6-5, 290, Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon Area
Widely considered one of the nation’s top offensive linemen…rated a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle by Rivals….named to the Rivals 100 (No. 31) and ESPN 150 (No. 29) national prospect lists…greatly impressed at the Under Armour All-America Game, which showcased 90 of the top high school senior players at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla….first team MaxPreps Medium School All-American…selected All-State Class AAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AAA…rated the No. 2 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 7 by Scout…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…two-time first team All-Big Nine Conference…had 74 pancake blocks as a senior…had 25 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks on defense…was a four-year varsity player at Belle Vernon and three-year starter under Coach Aaron Krepps…helped BVA to four WPIAL Class AAA playoff berths…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Jaryd Jones-Smith, OL, 6-7, 295, Voorhees, N.J./West Catholic (Pa.)
Massive offensive line prospect who was selected All-State Class AA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…All-Southeastern Pennsylvania…All-Catholic League…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…two-way lineman who led West Catholic to a 7-4 record, the Catholic League Class AA championship and the PIAA playoffs as a senior…played under Coach Brian Fluck…rated the No. 27 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…also selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Luke Maclean, DL, 6-3, 235, Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc
Rated the top defensive end prospect in the state of Michigan by Rivals…collected nearly 190 tackles over his final two seasons at Grand Blanc…two-time Flint Journal “Dream Team”…two-time first-team All-Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) selection…had 79 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery as a senior…his junior year, compiled a team-best 107 tackles, six TFLs, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception…a three-year starter, Grand Blanc advanced to the district playoffs three times, won one KLAA championship and compiled a 22-12 record (.647) during his varsity career…rated the No. 14 overall prospect in Michigan by Rivals and No. 17 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 27 weakside defensive end by Rivals…played under Coach Joe Delaney…also a standout discus thrower and set the school record with a throw of 163 feet, 8 inches.

Justin Moody, DL, 6-3, 265, Philadelphia, Pa./George Washington
Starred for Philadelphia Public League power George Washington on both sides of the ball…rated the No. 1 defensive end in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Inquirer…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the nation’s premier players at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles…first team All-Southeastern Pennsylvania…two-time Philadelphia All-Public League…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…in addition to defensive end, was a starter at offensive guard…compiled 65 tackles, 20.5 TFLs, 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries as a senior…led George Washington to two Public League championships…rated the No. 20 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 30 by Scout…rated the No. 34 strongside defensive end by Rivals…played under Coach Ron Cohen.

Alex Officer, OL, 6-4, 290, Rochester, N.Y./Eastridge
The top-rated offensive line prospect in New York according to Scout…was a force on both sides of the ball at Eastridge, collecting 40 tackles on the defensive line while paving the way for two 1,000-yard rushers on offense…New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) first team Class A All-State as an offensive lineman…his junior year, was an NYSSWA All-State pick on the defensive line…three-time All-Monroe County…two-time All-Greater Rochester…led Eastridge to a 17-2 record (.895) his final two seasons, including a 10-1 mark and the Section V Class A championship his senior year…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in New York by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Chad Green.

Scott Orndoff, TE, 6-5, 245, Waynesburg, Pa./Seton-LaSalle
Considered one of the nation’s top 20 tight end prospects by Rivals and Scout…enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation from Seton-LaSalle…will participate in spring drills…two-time All-State Class AA selection by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South “Fabulous 22”…averaged 17.9 yards per catch (35 receptions for 625 yards) over his junior and senior seasons…led Seton-LaSalle to a combined 20-3 record (.870) his final two years, including a pair of berths in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs…rated the No. 12 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 17 by Scout…played under Coach Greg Perry.

Jaymar Parrish, FB, 6-2, 230, Monroeville, Pa./Gateway
Rated one of the top four fullback prospects in the country by Scout…starred at tight end and linebacker for Gateway…team’s leading tackler as a senior with 83 stops…added nine TFLs, five sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown…averaged 19.2 yards per catch at tight end with 17 receptions for 326 yards and a TD…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AAAA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette East “Fabulous 22”…first team All-Foothills Conference…led Gateway to a 9-2 overall record, the Foothills Conference title with an 8-0 league mark and the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs as a senior…the Gators went 18-5 (.783) his final two seasons…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 25 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 33 by Scout…played under Coach Terry Smith.

Zach Poker, LB, 6-4, 220, Oconomowoc, Wis./Oconomowoc
Rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Wisconsin by Scout…caught 50 passes for 753 yards (15.1 avg.) and eight touchdowns as a senior tight end…over his final two seasons had 80 receptions for 1,106 yards (13.8 avg.) and 10 TDs…compiled 22 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery at outside linebacker…also contributed as a punter, kicker and return man…first team Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-State…two-time All-Wisconsin Little Ten selection…two-time WFCA All-South Central Region and all-district…named the top tight end at the National Underclassmen Combine in Chicago…played under Coach Ryan McMillen.

Aaron Reese, OL, 6-5, 300, Fayetteville, Pa./Chambersburg Area
One of the top offensive line prospects in Pennsylvania…three-year starter at offensive tackle for Chambersburg Area…also started at defensive tackle his final two seasons…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…All-Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division…Chambersburg Public Opinion All-Star…helped lead Chambersburg to the District 3 playoffs as a junior and senior…rated the No. 5 offensive lineman and 22 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Mark Saunders.

Shakir Soto, DL, 6-3, 230, Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial
Decorated defensive lineman who compiled an astonishing 52 sacks during his career at G.A.R. Memorial…enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation and will participate in spring drills…two-time All-State Class AA selection by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AA…Wyoming Valley Conference Football Coaches Association Small School Defensive Player of the Year (Class AA-Class A)…compiled 109 tackles, 13.5 sacks and six fumble recoveries as a senior…had 114 tackles and nine sacks as a junior…led team to an 18-6 record (.750), two district playoff berths and one PIAA Class AA playoff berth over his final two seasons…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 24 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 28 by Scout…played under Coach Paul Wiedlich.

Jeremiah Taleni, DL, 6-2, 300, Kaneohe, Hawaii/Kailua
The first Pitt football scholarship signee out of Hawaii in memory…recruitment originated with defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield’s relationship with the staff at Kailua High School, located on the island‘s east coast…a two-way standout who was selected O’ahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) All-Red East Division on both sides of the ball (defensive tackle and offensive guard)…also an All-Hawaii defensive selection…played under Coach Gary Rosolowich.

Jester Weah, WR, 6-3, 190, Madison, Wis./Madison Memorial
Rated the No. 2 wide receiver in Wisconsin by Rivals and Scout after averaging 20 yards per catch over his final two seasons at Madison Memorial…compiled 71 receptions for 1,436 yards (20.2 avg.) and 13 touchdowns over his junior and senior years…enjoyed a prolific and decorated prep career despite not playing organized football until his sophomore season…selected all-state by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) and Associated Press as a senior after catching 38 passes for 799 yards (21.0 avg.) and eight TDs…first team All-Big Eight Conference…also a standout in basketball and track…helped basketball team to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 (largest classification) state title his sophomore year…rated the No. 13 overall prospect in Wisconsin by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Mike Galindo.

Terrish Webb, DB, 5-11, 170, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
As a cornerback and wide receiver, Webb was instrumental in Pennsylvania power Clairton’s run to a fourth consecutive state championship…averaged an impressive 21.4 yards per catch as a senior, totaling 45 receptions for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns…was equally impactful in the secondary with eight interceptions…had a 102-yard interception return against Bishop Canevin…selected All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South “Fabulous 22”…member of a Clairton senior class that helped the Bears to a state-record 63 consecutive victories in addition to four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles…rated the No. 19 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Ryan Winslow, P, 6-5, 205, Ambler, Pa./La Salle College H.S.
Rated one of the country’s top four punters by Scout…first team All-EasternPAFootball.com Big School Team (Class AAAA-Class AAA)…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…All-Catholic League…in addition to his punting duties, also served as a placekicker and kickoff specialist for La Salle…averaged 40 yards per punt as a senior…also converted 15 of 16 placements (2-of-2 on field goals and 13-of-14 on PATs)…helped the Explorers to consecutive 12-2 seasons and a pair of trips to PIAA Class AAAA semifinals as a junior and senior…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland)…also was invited to play in the Chesapeake Bowl all-star game but declined the offer as the game overlapped with basketball season…rated one of the top 40 overall prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Drew Gordon…father, George Winslow, was the first scholarship punter at Wisconsin…George finished his collegiate career at Villanova and went on to punt in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns (1987) and New Orleans Saints (1989)…George and Ryan were both named to the Philadelphia Daily News 35-Year All-City Team (George was the first-team punter, while Ryan was a third-team pick).

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Vandy QB Patton Robinette cleared to play, won’t start against Missouri

Patton Robinette

Four quarterbacks have played for the Vanderbilt Commodores this season. Sophomore Patton Robinette has proven to be the most effective during the limited time he’s been at the helm of the offense.

However, Robinette is recovering from a concussion and won’t start Saturday against the Missouri Tigers despite being cleared to play.

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason already made 10 changes at the quarterback position through seven games. Freshman Wade Freebeck started last weekend against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. Freedbeck was 5-of-7 passing for 20 yards before suffering a finger injury during the Commodores’ narrow 21-20 over the FCS program.

Freshman Johnny McCrary took over for Freebeck and played relatively well. The two then competed during practice this week to be the team’s starter. McCrary eventually won the opportunity to start this Saturday.

“When I step on the field, I can only do my best,” McCrary told The Tennessean‘s Adam Sparks Wednesday. “If my best isn’t good enough, I’ll take myself out of the game. You can tell if you’re not moving this team, but I want to stay tough and maybe something special will happen.”

If McCary doesn’t play at his best, he won’t have to pull himself. Mason has proven he’s more than willing to make changes at the position. Now that Robinette is healthy, McCrary could very well be on a short leash.

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UPDATE: Syracuse football is under NCAA investigation

Scott Shafer

Syracuse is the latest football program to find itself in the clutches of the NCAA.

While the Orange’s basketball team was believed to be the focus of an ongoing investigation, there are concerns regarding the football program, too.

Syracuse.com’s Nate Mink reported the investigation could affect multiple areas within the school’s athletic department.

“The Syracuse football program is part of the wide-ranging NCAA investigation into the school’s athletic department,” sources told Mink.

“The information shows that the NCAA inquiry that has swirled around the basketball team for two years is more involved, and that the football team is part of the investigation and potentially exposed to penalties. It’s unclear if other teams are involved.”

If the Orange football team was to receive any type of sanctions, possible infractions apparently didn’t occur during Doug Marrone‘s tenure. Marrone served as the Orange’s head coach from 2009-12. The current head coach of the Buffalo Bills spoke with Fink about possible reasons behind the investigation.

“There’s nothing that I know about that we did that wasn’t either punished or put forth,” Marrone said.

“One thing I did, if we made a mistake, an incidental contact or something, I just always reported it. It’s not worth it. This way I can sleep at night.”

Syracuse officials are expected to meet with the NCAA in Indianapolis at some point before the end of the month.

UPDATE (8:45 ET): ESPN.com’s Brett Murphy reported Syracuse officials will go to Indianapolis on Oct. 30-31 to face the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

While the basketball program is the primary target of the investigation, the football program might not escape unscathed.

“The football team is also facing allegations involving extra benefits, but only for a two-or-three-year stretch around 2004 or 2005,” a source told McMurphy.

The time period falls between Syracuse’s transition from Paul Pasqualoni to Greg Robinson as the team’s head coach. The Orange were 7-16 during those two campaigns.

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Maryland approves policy to link coaches’ bonuses to academic success

Randy Edsall

Some institutions are serious about keeping the student in student-athlete.

The Maryland Board of Regents unanimously voted in favor of a policy “denying bonuses to coaches and athletic directors whose players don’t measure up academically”, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“I think this is another step for Maryland to be in the vanguard on issues of intercollegiate athletics,” former U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen, who is a member of the Board of Regents, told the Sun. “They were a leader on guaranteed scholarships and now they are a leader in academic accountability.”

Maryland approved a “lifetime guarantee degree” in August. At that time, athletic director Kevin Anderson said, “Our vision is to be the best intercollegiate athletic program while producing graduates who are prepared to serve as leaders in the local, state and global communities. We are confident ‘The Maryland Way Guarantee’ will further demonstrate our commitment to our student-athletes’ pursuit of a college degree.”

The school’s commitment — which extends to Towson, Coppin State and UMBC — took a logical step by making its coaches more accountable for the academic performance of their athletes.

The coaches’ bonuses will ultimately be tied to the school’s yearly Academic Progress Rate. To determine a school’s APR, as defined by the NCAA, “a score of a thousand means every student-athlete on that team stayed eligible and returned to school. You begin losing points for students who are not eligible and/or are not retained.”

During the 2012-13 seasons, the Maryland Terrapins received a score of 950, which would have been worst among Big Ten schools. Clearly, there is room for improvement from Maryland head coach Randy Edsall.

This decision also becomes a recruiting advantage for the Terrapins. With the school’s added emphasis on education and new demands on its coaches, parents can see how dedicated the university is to each student-athlete. Education is at the forefront for Maryland, and it will only help the school’s athletics.

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Two Georgia Tech starters ruled out for Pitt contest

Zach Laskey, Akeem Langham

Saturday’s meeting between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Pitt Panthers is a crucial match up in the ACC Coastal division. Both teams are trying to stay within striking distance of the Duke Blue Devils.

The Yellow Jackets will have to do so without their starting right tackle. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chris Griffin has been ruled out for Saturday’s contest.

The redshirt freshman started all seven games on the strong side this season, but he’s currently dealing with a shoulder injury.

With Griffin out of the lineup, another redshirt freshman, Eason Fromayan, is expected to slide into the starting lineup. Fromayan already started one game this season at left tackle when Bryan Chamberlain was unable to play in the Duke contest due to an ankle injury.

Griffin isn’t the only starter that’s been ruled out for the upcoming game. Starting B-back (fullback) Zach Laskey is also dealing with a shoulder injury and won’t be able to play against Pitt.

Laskey is a key component in Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack, which is currently ranked fourth overall in rushing yards per game. The fullback is the team’s second-leading rusher with 595 yards on the ground.

Seniors Synjyn Days and Matt Connors should be able to fill in for Laskey and provide the presence needed to keep the Yellow Jackets’ inside running attack viable. Without the mid-line option, the Panthers will have a much easier time defending the outside runs or pitches by quarterback Justin Thomas.

These injuries will only help a Pitt defense that ranks 18th in the nation against the run.

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Indiana prepares for life without RB Tevin Coleman, who is considering NFL draft

Tevin Coleman

Running backs such as Georgia’s Todd Gurley, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and even South Carolina’s Mike Davis are all expected to bypass their senior seasons and enter April’s NFL draft. A surprise name could enter the equation.

None of those talented backs lead the FBS in rushing, though. Indiana’s Tevin Coleman does.

Coleman’s 1,192 rushing yards and 8.8 yards per carry makes the running back one of the most explosive players in all of college football. Due to this season’s success, Coleman, a junior, now appears to be leaning toward entering the NFL draft.

“There’s been scant news directly from the source but people close to the Indiana Hoosier program are planning for the departure of Tevin Coleman at seasons end,” DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline reported.

From a football perspective there is very little reason why  Coleman should return this season. He’s already one of the top running backs in the country, and his body hasn’t taken much of a beating after sharing the backfield most of his career. It’s an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot instead of adding more wear and tear to his body.

While the Hoosiers couldn’t replace what Coleman brought to the team the past two seasons (including 23 rushing touchdowns and counting), they can continue to sprinkle freshman running back Devine Redding into the rotation to make sure he’s ready to take over a much bigger role once Coleman and senior D’Angelo Roberts are no longer with the program next season.

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Ex-UM WR Csont’e York will serve seven days in jail

Csont'e York

Before Csont’e York can go on to the next chapter of his football-playing career, he’ll have to atone for some of his past transgressions.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the former Michigan wide receiver was sentenced to, among other things, 365 days in jail — he’ll have to serve seven — in connection to the incident that he led him to becoming the former Michigan wide receiver. In late September, York pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and one charge of assault and battery. In exchange for that plea deal, another assault and battery charge was dropped.

In mid-July, York became involved in a verbal disagreement outside of a drinking establishment in Ann Arbor. Security video that was released Aug. 12 showed York sucker-punching 22-year-old male, who suffered a broken jaw as a result.

York was initially suspended by the football program in early August.  Six days after the video was released, York was dismissed by the Wolverines.

The victim in the case requested that York not be sentenced to jail. The judge had other ideas.

“I feel very strongly that some jail term is appropriate to hold you accountable so you can reflect on your actions and see that your behavior will not be tolerated,” Judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines said in sentencing York according to the Free Press. “In balancing all those factors — accountability, rehabilitation, considering protecting the community and the wishes of victim in this case — I’m going to sentence you to 365 days in jail. I’m suspending the rest, and you will serve seven of those days.”

The paper writes that “[t]he seven-day sentence will be split, with four days occurring immediately, then York being released and returning to jail Oct. 31 for the final three days.”

In addition to the jail time, York was sentenced to 24 months probation; $540 in court fines and costs; and payment of victim medical expenses that currently total $2,134.70. Even more damaging financially for York is that he will also be held responsible for any future unpaid medical expenses connected to the assault, which the judge said could exceed $70,000.

York has transferred to Toledo although he’s not yet a part of the Rockets football team. That’s expected to occur as early as spring practice next year.

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Bear Bryant Award releases 20-coach watch list

AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION GUS MALZAHN

In this latest watch list, it’s all about the Big 12 and SEC, with a healthy sprinkling of the Pac-12 for good measure.

The Bear Bryant Award announced Friday a watch list for its annual Coach of the Year that consists of 20 coaches from seven of the 10 FBS conferences.  It’s mainly, though, a list consisting of coaches from the leagues mentioned in the lede.

The Big 12 and SEC lead all conferences with five coaches apiece, while the Pac-12 is right behind with four.  The Big Ten, with two, is the only other conference with more than one, with the AAC, ACC and Conference USA hitting that singular number.

Six of the coaches on this year’s initial watch list were on last year’s as well: Baylor’s Art Briles, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Oregon’s Mark Helfrich, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.  Malzahn, incidentally, won last year’s award.

As for this year’s contenders?  If it were up to me, and at the moment, I’d split the award right down the middle and hand one piece to East Carolina’s Ruffin McNeill and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.

That said, below are the 20 members of the Bear Bryant Award watch list.  Bitch, whine and/or moan about who’s on it/not on it below that:

  • Art Briles, Baylor
  • Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
  • Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
  • Huge Freeze, Ole Miss
  • Todd Graham, Arizona State
  • Mark Helfrich, Oregon
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
  • Doc Holliday, Marshall
  • Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
  • Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
  • Gary Patterson, TCU
  • Bo Pelini, Nebraska
  • Mark Richt, Georgia
  • Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

 

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SMU AD: ‘no discussion of compensation with potential candidates’

Kliff Kingsbury, Mack Brown

You have to love the twists and turns of a coaching search with a high-profile name connected to it.

In a report taking a look at potential candidates to become the permanent successor to June Jones as head coach that we mentioned Thursday, Dallas Morning News writer Bill Nichols set the Twitterverse ablaze with the following: “SMU officials have already had preliminary discussions with former Texas coach Mack Brown, floating $4 million annually over eight years.”

That came a short time after the former UT head coach’s attorney confirmed that SMU had approached his client about a return to the sidelines.  Brown himself, currently serving as a college football analyst on ESPN, said a week earlier that he will decide in December if his coaching career is done.

The hubbub over the $4 million-per-year- report, however, prompted SMU athletic director Rick Hart to take to his Twitter account to shoot it down.

“While it is not our policy to comment during a search process, the attention a recent report has attracted dictates it be addressed. While we have a great deal of respect for Mack Brown, no one associated with our search has contacted him or his representatives. To that end, there has been no offer or discussion of compensation with any potential candidates.”

So, in summation…

He was approached [by SMU], I was approached, but he’s not interested in coaching anywhere right now.” — Mack Brown attorney Joe Jamail, Oct. 5.

[N]o one associated with our search has contacted him or his representatives.” — SMU athletic director Rick Hart, Oct. 24.

Yep, love the contradictory statements as part of these searches too.  Then again, maybe the well-heeled boosters and political figures connected to the university’s athletic department are merely circumventing official channels, and those in charge of the search are simply unaware of what’s going on behind doors that are closed to even them.  In Texas, anything and everything is possible.

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Wyoming has fingers crossed for injured second-leading rusher

D.J. May

Last week it was a suspension.  This week, it’s an on-field matter that leaves one of Wyoming’s top running back’s future uncertain.

Earlier this week rumors begin to circulate that D.J. May suffered some type of injury during practice. The school sent out a press release Thursday stating that “May did suffer an injury to a knee in Wednesday’s practice,” but that “[d]octors have not yet evaluated tests on the severity of May’s injury.”

As of early Friday afternoon, there was still no definitive word on May’s status moving forward.

May’s 260 yards and two rushing touchdowns remain second on the Cowboys this season. His two receiving touchdowns are tied for second on the team as well.

Mays was suspended for last Saturday’s overtime loss to San Jose State for violating unspecified team rules.

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Season, college career of starting UConn corner over

Connecticut v Central Florida Getty Images

UConn’s loss to East Carolina Thursday night came at a much steeper cost than just in the won-loss column.

By way of John Silver of snyuconn.com, head coach Bob Diaco confirmed Friday that Byron Jones will miss the remainder of the 2014 season because of injury.  The cornerback aggravated a lingering shoulder injury in the loss, and will undergo season-ending surgery in short order.

“Byron was playing through a small issue there,” Diaco said. “That, then exacerbated himself last night to the point that it needs to be addressed. If it doesn’t get addressed it will be something else. Right now, [it's] an isolated thing that needs to be fixed.”

Because Jones is a senior who has already used his redshirt, and will not be eligible for a medical waiver, his collegiate career has come to a close.

Jones started all seven games this season, and started 39 in his career. This season, his two interceptions are the only two picks for the Huskies defense.

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UNC’s Elijah Hood again listed as doubtful

Liberty v North Carolina Getty Images

For the second consecutive game, it appears North Carolina will be sans one of the most productive members of its backfield.

On its weekly injury report, UNC lists running back Elijah Hood as doubtful for Saturday’s game against Virginia.  Thus far, the nature of Hood’s injury hasn’t been disclosed.

Hood was also listed as doubtful heading into last Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech, and ended up not playing against the Yellow Jackets.

Prior to the GT game, Hood had been tops among Tar Heel backs with 199 yards rushing.  His four rushing touchdowns are currently tied for the team lead.

The true freshman was a five-star member of UNC’s most recent recruiting class and was rated as the No. 4 back in the country.

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Judge who will conduct Winston hearing identified

Florida Supreme Court

The “when” of Jameis Winston‘s student conduct hearing is still to be determined.

One “who,” however, has been determined.

According to WCTV in Tallahassee, retired Florida Supreme Court chief justice Major Harding has been selected to preside over the hearing as what’s described as an “independent observer.”  Two other former state court justices, Joseph Hatchett and Charles T. Wells, were in the group of three candidates considered by the Florida State quarterback and his accuser.

Each side was able to strike one of the three from consideration.  If both struck the same judge, FSU would pick from the remaining two.  It’s unknown exactly how Harding came to oversee the hearing.

Harding did confirm to the television station that he has “been chosen to oversee a student conduct hearing, but says no student’s name has been provided to him.”

ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach provided a brief description of each judge in his confirmation of the earlier report on Harding.

Harding, 79, was a state Supreme Court justice from 1991 to 2000. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he is a graduate of Wake Forest and Virginia’s law school. Harding, who is currently a practicing attorney with the law firm Ausley McMullen in Tallahassee, began his career as a jurist in Florida with a 1968 appointment as a Duval County Juvenile Court judge. When he was appointed to the state’s Supreme Court, he was the dean of the Florida Judicial College and chair-elect of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges, according to his bio on the law firm’s website.

Hatchett, 82, was the first black man appointed to a federal appeals court in the Deep South, by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Wells, 75, a graduate of the University of Florida and UF law school, was the Florida Supreme Court’s chief justice from 2000 to 2002. He presided over the 2000 U.S. presidential election recount cases involving the hanging chads on Florida’s ballots.

At the hearing, whenever that may be if it even happens at all, Winston could be charged with up to four student code of conduct violations in connection to the alleged sexual assault of an FSU student in December of 2012.

Winston, as long as he is still a student at the university, will be compelled to attend the hearing. He will not be required, however, to answer questions even as he is permitted to give an opening statement and cross-examine witnesses. Unless given explicit permission by whomever is overseeing the hearing, his attorney, David Cornwell, will not be allowed to speak or argue on his client’s behalf.

Provided it doesn’t interrupt the hearing process, Winston can consult with Cornwell, who will presumably be the one “advisor” permitted at the hearing.

Cornwell has publicly expressed concern over the process, saying earlier this month, “I’m not walking this kid into a firing line without the necessary weapons.”  That tack’s being viewed by some, including the accuser’s attorney, as taking on the feel of “a stall.”

(Photo credit: Florida Supreme Court)

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A&M drops Ducks, adds future Clemson series

12th Man AP

The scheduling gods taketh… and then they giveth right back.

Thursday, Twitter was all, well, atwitter when it was reported that Texas A&M had backed out of its home-and-home series with Oregon that had been scheduled for 2018 and 2019. “Typical SEC school, ducking tough non-conference games,” some derisively said, never mind the fact that A&M already has Notre Dame, Clemson, UCLA and Arizona State on its future slates.

A short time later, however, both A&M and Clemson announced that they had agreed to a future series, with the Tigers replacing the Ducks in 2018 and 2019. Clemson will travel to Kyle Field on September 8, 2018, while TAMU will head to Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2019.

“We are excited to play the Clemson Tigers, who have been on Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule previously, A&M athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement. “As a fellow land-grant institution, Clemson is very similar to Texas A&M with a great football tradition and passionate fans. This will be a great non-conference series for both schools.”

According to FOXSports.com, Hyman “exercised a clause from the contract A&M and the Ducks… that said they could get out deal if A&M changed conferences.” The original series between A&M and UO was agreed to in 2009, prior to the Aggies’ departure from the Big 12 for the SEC.

Hyman further explained that the reason for dumping Oregon came down to simple math as it relates to home dates in 2018 and 2019.

“Our goal is to play seven home games at Kyle Field each season,” the release quoted Hyman as saying. “Playing at Oregon in 2018, combined with the Arkansas game in Arlington, would leave us with only six home games that season. In even-numbered years such as 2018, we only have three SEC home dates as long as we continue to play Arkansas in Arlington.”

And, for those who are wondering, this is not a case of UO being hard to deal with either.  Also from the release:

Texas A&M offered to switch the home-and-home dates with Oregon on the original contract, but Oregon faces the same situation with only four Pac-12 home games in even years with five on the road.

Clemson and A&M have met four times previously, with the last coming in 2005. The Aggies own a 3-1 edge in the series.

“We are looking forward to playing Texas A&M as the two schools share a rich military heritage and of course passionate fan bases,” Hyman’s Clemson counterpart, Dan Radakovich, said. “We know our fans make Clemson a great game day experience and the Aggie fans make Kyle field also one of the great venues in all of college football.”

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Ground and pound: Hurricanes establish identity during 30-6 victory over Hokies

Al Golden, Duke Johnson

The Miami Hurricanes made a statement Thursday against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

While the program may never return to the winning ways it once experienced while Al Golden is at the helm, the program finally gravitated toward an identity that’s long been forgotten. The vaunted Miami teams from the 1980’s and the early 2000’s used to physically dominate opponents. They did that Thursday night in Blacksburg.

Miami (5-2) captured a dominant 30-6 victory over Virginia Tech (4-4).

When Golden was the head coach of Temple from 2006-10, the Owls climbed their way out of football purgatory by running the football effectively week in and week out. The talent level at Miami supersedes anything Golden had at Temple, but the team’s approach against the Hokies was reminiscent of those Owls.

There was nothing fancy about what Miami did to Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes lined up and jammed the ball down the Hokies’ collective throat. Two running backs combined to run for an impressive 364 yards.

Junior running back Duke Johnson ran like a man possessed. Johnson set a career high with 249 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Sophomore Gus Edwards took over in the second half and managed 115 yards.

The Hurricanes were so dominant in the trenches, freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya was only asked to throw the ball 16 teams. He completed seven of those passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Plus, Miami played well on the defensive side of the football.

The Hurricanes shut out the Hokies through the first half of play, before Virginia Tech decided to ride freshman running back Marshawn Williams. Willams carried the ball 21 times for 100 yards. The young back also fumbled twice.

With the ACC Coastal division being wide open, the Hurricanes may have found its identity at the right time. At 2-2 in the division, Miami is now a half game behind the Duke Blue Devils going into this weekend’s games. But Miami holds the head-to-head edge.

If Miami plans to make a run in their division, its ball-control offense will be needed over the next two weeks against the North Carolina Tar Heels and No. 2 Florida State Seminoles.

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No. 18 ECU Pirates may stumble in polls despite 31-21 victory over UConn

Ruffin Mc Neill

The No. 18 East Carolina Pirates secured a 31-21 victory over the Connecticut Huskies Thursday. But was it enough for the Pirates to remain the top non-Power Five program and the favorite to claim an appearance in a contract bowl?

Sometimes a win can be viewed as a loss.

The Pirates struggled against a Huskies squad that entered the game 1-5 and didn’t have a victory against a single FBS opponent this season. It wasn’t until six minutes left in the game that East Carolina finally pulled away from UConn.

When a non-power conference team trying to impress the College Football Playoff gets an opportunity to add style points to their resume on national television, it has to do so. East Carolina didn’t.

The Pirates moved the ball and racked up 580 total yards, but they weren’t able to complete drives most of the evening. UConn employed a bend-but-don’t-break, and the scheme worked.

If East Carolina isn’t putting up big scoring and yardage numbers, the team is nowhere near as impressive.

East Carolina’s primary competition as the top non-Power Five program is the Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall is currently ranked 23rd overall in the AP Top 25. The Thundering Herd’s underwhelming schedule has prevented them from legitimately entering the national conversation. Yet, Marshall’s schedule doesn’t feature a team ranked lower than Connecticut.

Despite the lackluster effort, East Carolina did win the game. Ruffin McNeill‘s squad overcame adversity and was able to win a close contest even though everything didn’t go in their favor. The program still holds victories over the Virginia Tech Hokies and the No. 25 North Carolina Tar Heels.

Plus, very few teams feature a dynamic duo like quarterback Shane Carden and Justin Hardy. Carden was 38-of-64 passing Thursday for 445 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hardy, meanwhile, grabbed 14 passes for 186 yards. The impressive effort moved Hardy into second place among the FBS’ all-time receptions list.

The Huskies deserve some credit for knocking down the Pirates a notch. First-year head coach Bob Diaco has his team playing hard, and they seem to be figuring some things out. The defense plays sound football, while the offense was finally able to move the ball in stretches against East Carolina.

In the end, East Carolina is still the top non-Power Five program in college football, but the margin between the top team and the second team is much closer after Thursday night’s effort.

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