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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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Report: FSU not expecting NCAA penalties for Jameis’ crab hook-up

Jameis Winston

At least as far as Florida State is concerned, the athletic department is going Lt. Drebin on the latest Jameis Winston revelations — alright, move on, nothing to see here.  Please disperse.

In an interview with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh that appeared on an ESPN NFL draft special last week, the former FSU quarterback, for the first time, stated publicly that he had received a seafood hook-up from an individual who worked at a Tallahassee grocery store. Winston went on to claim that he had gotten a similar hook-up from the Publix employee on at least one other occasion prior to that.

While Winston’s former head coach Jimbo Fisher stated that FSU’s compliance department had previously looked into the issue but felt like it was an isolated incident, athletic director Stan Wilcox subsequently released a statement saying “we will work in partnership with the NCAA to determine whether a violation occurred.”

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, which cites a source close to the football program, the school “does not expect any NCAA violations to stem from the latest revelation in Jameis Winston’s shoplifting incident.” Wilcox declined to respond to the Democrat’s report, but did state that he doesn’t expect the situation be a drawn-out one.

Winston was issued a citation late last April for shoplifting crab legs from a local Publix store. At the time, Winston claimed to police he had simply forgotten to pay for the seafood.

After leaving the Seminoles early for the NFL, Winston is widely expected to be the top pick in the upcoming draft.

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Blind USC walk-on hopeful will need NCAA waiver

Jake Olson Pete Carroll

Leave it to the NCAA and its policies to be the buzzkill, at least temporarily, as it concerns a potentially heartwarming story.

Last week it was reported that high school senior Jake Olson will attempt to become a walk-on at USC this year. Olson is a young man who, in addition to being a USC super fan, lost his eyesight to a rare form of cancer a few years ago and was essentially adopted by the Trojans football program in general and former head coach Pete Carroll specifically.

Flipping a middle finger in the general direction of his blindness, Olson became a long-snapper on his high school football team. He became so adept at that particular skill, in fact, that current USC head coach Steve Sarkisian very firmly stated that, when it comes to Olson snapping in a game for the Trojans, “it will happen” someday.

Before someday comes, though, Olson will have to navigate some NCAA obstacles.

Olson, you see, is one of this year’s recipients of a Swim With Mike scholarship, a handful of which are awarded annually from the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship fund at USC. Because that scholarship is considered an athletic one, the Orange County Register explains, Olson would count as one of the 85 scholarship players for the Trojans. From the Register‘s report:

The way the NCAA determines counters, football supersedes all other sports. According to bylaw 15.5.9.1, even a student-athlete “who was not recruited and/or offered financial aid to participate in football and who competes in football and one or more (other) sports shall be counted in football.”

Schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision have annual caps of 25 “initial counters” (incoming freshmen and transfers) and 85 total scholarships. USC has reached its limit of initial counters for 2015 – the first year it has been able to add a full recruiting class since 2011 because of NCAA sanctions.

The university will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow Olson to be a counted as a non-scholarship walk-on and not count against the 85-man limit.

As it turns out, there are other potential “issues” for which the family is being proactive and very upfront about in working with the school’s compliance officials. “Jake is a published author, makes motivational speeches and is involved in a charitable foundation – all of which the Olsons plan to vet through USC’s compliance department,” the Register writes.

“Jake has aspirations to walk on to the team and play football at USC,” Jake’s father, Brian Olson, told the paper. “There has to be a process of approaching the NCAA. We’re putting faith in the process that there’s a positive outcome for Jake. We’ll take it as it comes.

“It’s nothing negative. It’s just the way things are at the college level.”

The Register is of the belief that it’s unlikely the NCAA will deny Olson the waiver. Hopefully, the NCAA gets it right this time.

(Photo credit: openyoureyes.org)

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Big Ten, SEC each draw 400,000+ fans in spring football

Ohio State Spring Game Getty Images

When it comes to spring football, the Big Ten and SEC tend to rule the attendance game. It only makes sense with the largest stadiums in the country mostly residing within the Big Ten or SEC, not to mention some of the top brands in the game. Both conferences went over the 4 million fan mark this year in the conference-wide spring game attendance figures.

Both conferences closed the books on spring practices Saturday with Tennessee and Arkansas the last two SEC schools to play a spring game and Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin closing out the Big Ten spring schedule. When all was said and done, the Big Ten edges the SEC in spring attendance by roughly 2,000 fans.

The Big Ten’s spring total added up to 410,943 fans. That includes a new national record set by Ohio State (99,391) and three other schools with over 60,000 fans (Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan). Michigan State also set a new school record with 48,000 fans on Saturday. Illinois, Maryland and Northwestern are not included in that total due to not keeping track or recording a spring game attendance.

The SEC ended the spring with 408,599 fans coming out to SEC stadiums. The Big Ten numbers were top heavy, but there was a little bit more even distribution of fans throughout the SEC, with the notable exception of Vanderbilt. It should be noted Kentucky and Texas A&M did not play a spring game or record any spring attendance numbers. It should be expected Texas A&M be a solid spring draw next year after the completion of renovations on Kyle Field (better than Jerry World?). That could be enough to push the SEC in front of the Big Ten if we assume most of these attendance numbers are roughly the same in 2016.

Numbers are still coming in for the Big 12 and Pac-12, but none of the other power conferences will even sniff 200,000 fans this spring. It’s just a different routine in the Big Ten and SEC every spring, and the attendance numbers show it.

Source: 2015 Spring Football Attendance

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Michigan State center scores only TD of Spartans’ spring game

Jack Allen

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio was pushing to get 50,000 fans to show up at Spartan Stadium for the annual spring game, but he had to settle for 48,000 fans instead. That was still good enough for a school record for the spring game.

The 48,000 fans that did show up were treated to a handful of trick plays and familiar dominance in the trenches. The only touchdown of the game was scored by center Jack Allen, who found space on his way for a short touchdown run after 300-pound guard Donavon Clark rumbled 13 yards on a lateral from quarterback Connor Cook. Do not expect to see too much of that during he regular season, but do not forget about it either. Dantonio is know for pulling some tricks in key moments, but even that might be considered a bit of a costly risk.

As for individual performances, Shilque Calhoun was credited for 2.5 sacks in the game.Cook went 11-of-22 for 105 yards. It was not a stellar performance from the Spartans’ quarterback, but there is no real reason for concern in East Lansing. that is because the starting offensive line was split between teams. Put them all together and Cook should be in good shape in the fall. Cook’s backup, Damion Terry, did not play in the spring game as he recovers from injury.

Michigan State’s crowd of 48,000 was locked in as the fifth best this spring around the Big Ten. Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and Michigan all finished ahead of the Spartans, but Dantonio should feel good about the crowd that turned out. In Madison, Wisconsin, the crowd was considerably smaller, but there is a lot to do in Madison. Michigan State’s attendance (combined with the totals from Wisconsin and Iowa on Saturday) pushed the total spring attendance around the Big Ten to 410,943, giving the Big Ten the largest combined spring attendance in 2015.

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Hokies close out spring and set focus on Buckeyes

Motley, Brewer

Every year there is one team that has the opportunity to play the defending national champions in the first game of the season. In 2015 that will be Virginia Tech, the only team to hand national champion Ohio State a loss last season. This year the Buckeyes visit Blacksburg for a Monday night game n Labor Day, which means now that the spring is over the Hokies are already in need of getting ready for everything Ohio State will throw at them.

Some teams end their springs with some question marks, but the vibe seems pretty positive at Virginia Tech after Saturday afternoon’s spring game.

“I like where we are. I like our football team,” Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said after the game. “I think we’ve got a lot of good character guys and a lot of good football players. I like where we are right now and we’ve got to keep going in a positive direction.”

Starting quarterback Michael Brewer threw one touchdown while splitting time between teams. The red zone efficiency was respectable between the two teams as well, with touchdowns scored on four of five red zone opportunities. On the flip side, the defense gave up four touchdowns in five red zone situations.

“I thought the offense took a step in the right direction,” Brewer said following the game. “We’re not where we need to be or where we want to be, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

In typical Virginia Tech fashion, the first score of the game came on special teams when Greg Stroman returned a punt early on for an 88-yard touchdown. Later in the game the defense got on the scoreboard when Donovan Riley returned a fumble 36 yards for a score. The defense could be credited for another score after recovering a fumble deep in the offense’s pat of the field to set up a short touchdown run by Trey Edmunds.

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Kansas spring game sees starting QB injured, leading rusher suspended

Michael Cummings

It was quite a disastrous afternoon for the Kansas Jayhawks. Not only was a starting quarterback injured, but two more players were confirmed to be suspended for violations of team rules.

Michael Cummings limped off the field with the assistance of the team’s medical staff. He had taken a low hit by safety Michael Glatczak, but the severity of the injury is not yet known. Kansas head coach David Beaty said it was too early to start discussing how the future of Cummings looks. Cummings was the leading passer for Kansas in 2014 with 1,715 yards and nine touchdowns.

Two other players with an uncertain future right now at Kansas are wide receiver Rodriguez Coleman and running back Corey Avery. Beaty said both players have been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, and it is unknown when or if either player will return to the program. Avery was the leading rusher for the Jayhawks last fall, rushing for 631 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. Coleman had three catches for 37 yards in 2014.

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Jeff Long says 13th games were factor for CFB Playoff committee

Jeff Long

This may not sit too well with some fans in Big 12 country, specifically fans of Baylor or TCU. If there was any doubt how valuable a conference championship game was going to be in the College Football Playoff era, Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long made the message pretty clear; it’s pretty important.

Long, who chairs the selection committee for the College Football Playoff, was a guest in the broadcast booth for a short Q&A on the SEC Network during the Arkansas spring game Saturday afternoon. During his interview Long was asked about the College Football Playoff and the value of playing a conference championship game in the eyes of the selection committee. In his response, Long said the 13th game played by those in conference championship games was a factor for the selection committee. Baylor and TCU only played 12 games, with the Big 12 not holding a conference championship game.

Baylor and TCU shared the Big 12 championship last fall, and neither school was invited to participate in the first College Football Playoff despite entering the final week of the season ranked ahead of Ohio State. The Buckeyes roared into the playoff following a dominating victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game despite trailing TCU in the weekly CFB Playoff rankings up until the final week of the rankings.

Change may be on the way for the Big 12 though. The conference could begin playing a championship game as soon as 2016, which would give its conference champion one more time to impress the selection committee. Of course, even if the Big 12 had a championship game last season it is unknown if it would have been enough to keep TCU or Baylor in the playoff field ahead of a surging Ohio State along with Alabama, Oregon and Florida State. Big brands still carry weight growing and blossoming programs like Baylor and TCU are working to achieve.

Long also said during his brief moment in the booth the committee would be reviewing possible minor changes to the College Football Playoff, although nothing too drastic is expected to change in the eyes of the public.

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Jim Mora will name starting UCLA QB “whenever kickoff is vs. Virginia”

Jerry Neuheisel

The UCLA spring drew to a close Saturday afternoon on the west coast. As far as head coach Jim Mora is concerned, there is no need to name a starting quarterback just yet, and he may be letting the competition brew right up until the season’s opening kickoff against Virginia.

Earlier this week Mora said “I will not say who’s the guy until our first series against Virginia,” and after the spring game that plan has not changed.

The options for UCLA are Jerry Neuheisel, Asiantii Woulard, Mike Fafaul and early enrollee Josh Rosen. If the spring game was any indication, it might be a wide open race to replace Brett Hundley. There were some nice plays at times, but the final spring practice also saw a decent amount of overthrowing targets, and it would be fair to suggest none of the candidates for the starting job jumped out and grabbed a hold of the position out of the spring.

Woulard did serve up one of the nicer highlights from UCLA’s scrimmage…

UCLA opens the 2015 season at home against Virginia on September 5.

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Urban Meyer was against satellite camps before he was for them

Urban Meyer

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer may think satellite camps should be outlawed, but do not think for one second he is not going to take advantage of the NCAA rules the same way his coaching brethren at Michigan and Penn State are. Ohio State coaches will be working with coaches at Florida Atlantic this summer, giving Ohio State coaches access to potential recruits in the state of Florida in the same way Penn State and Michigan will have access to recruits in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and beyond.

There is a connection between the two schools, according to Cleveland.com. FAU Athletics Director previously was employed by Ohio State. Meyer’s previous experience in the state of Florida also helps.

“I think we’re thinking about doing one,” Meyer said Monday. “I can’t tell you if it has been finalized. Am I a fan of that? Not really. A big lore to Ohio State is getting them here on campus.

“I think what happens is monkey see, monkey do, they did that so let’s go do it,” Meyer said. “We’re not going to do it only because other schools are trying it.”

No word on whether or not Meyer will be accepting an open invite by Jim Harbaugh to help with Michigan’s summer camp.

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Leah Still scores touchdown at Temple spring game

Nike Levi's Kids Rock - Runway - New York Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015

Leah Still, the daughter of Cincinnati Bengals player Devon Still, has already scored the best touchdown of the day among all the spring games being played this afternoon.

Still was a special guest at Temple’s spring game today. The Owls invited her to toss the coin before the game, and then gave her a chance to score one more career touchdown than her father, a former Penn State defensive lineman, ever had.

Good job by the Temple Owls here.

Leah Still’s inspirational story caught the attention of the sports world and beyond last fall, just months after she had been diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma, which led to surgery and other forms of treatment. The Cincinnati Bengals released Devon still from the team but kept him on the practice squad so he and his family could benefit from the health insurance provided by the NFL. Leah is currently in remission and remains an inspiration for so many.

UPDATE (7:30 p.m.) – We now have a better quality video courtesy of CSN Philly;

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UAB linebacker brings helmet to graduation and leaves President Watts hanging

Derek Slaughter

UAB linebacker Derek Slaughter won the crowd at a graduation ceremony this week. The graduating senior brought his UAB football helmet to graduation and held it high as he walked to the stage to accept his diploma from the university. The crowd erupted in support of not just Slaughter, but the entire football program that was cast off by the university and the board of trustees.

That moment was great, it was touching. Then Slaughter scored one more point as he left UAB President Ray Watts hanging as he walked off the stage.

The disgraced university president was there to offer a congratulatory handshake to all UAB students graduating, but Slaughter refused to shake hands with Watts, who has become the target for so much criticism over the shutting down of the UAB Blazers football program despite a new report suggesting the program was financially viable.

In this video below you can see Slaughter make his way to the right of the stage to walk back to his seat. The image may be a little grainy, but you can see Watts extend his hand to shake hands, as Slaughter walks right on by.

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Washington’s Chris Petersen has Huskies focused on tackling technique

Chris Petersen

If there is one thing to take note of as you watch Washington football this fall, pay attention to the technique with which the Huskies tackle. Head coach Chris Petersen has been trying to change the way the fundamentals of tackling are taught and enforced in his second spring with the Huskies.

“The game has to change,” Petersen said, according to The Seattle Times. “We have to change as coaches.”

Petersen picked up some new ideas after having a discussion with a former Boise State player, Michael Lose, about the relatively low number of head injuries in rugby. Rugby players, if you were unaware, typically do not wear helmets. His interest in improving tackling technique continued to grow after a conversation with Seattle Seahawks defensive assistant Rocky Seto.

“We are fully committed to this,” Petersen said. “It’s the right thing to do. But the really neat thing about this whole thing is, not only is it the right thing to do because it’s the safe thing to do, it’s a better way of tackling.”

Going for the big hit may result in a nice highlight or two, but it can also lead to the chance of a missed tackle. Better form and better technique could not only make for a a safer game, but a better defense as well.

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Texas A&M’s Kyle Field better than Jerry World, says chancellor

Kyle Field

Texas A&M has invested serious money ($485 million) to give Kyle Field a nice facelift over the course of the past two years. When all is completed, Kyle Field will be better than a pair of NFL stadiums in the state of Texas, AT&T Stadium and NRG Stadium. Well, according to Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp at least.

“This stadium is going to be the most impressive college sports venue in the country,” Sharp said for a local news story on KBTX. That includes the two NFL stadiums that have taken up hosting college football games in the regular season and bowl season in recent years.

One of the notable upgrades to Kyle Field, other than more restrooms, is the expanded WiFi coverage inside the stadium, which Texas A&M claims will be able to handle 100,000 calls at the same time and save your phone’s battery life from start to finish.

“If you come to the stadium with a full charge, it should last the whole game,” Todd Christner, Director of Wireless Business Development for IBM/Corning, said. [Insert AT&T Stadium joke here if you wish].

Sharp also commented on the future, or lack thereof, of the rivalry between Texas A&M and Texas. As far as he is concerned, the series will not be returning for some time. That’s a shame. It would be fun watching one of college football’s best in-state rivalries play in the so-called most impressive college sports venue in the country.

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Boise State’s potential starting QB arrested

Boise State at Air Force

I suppose it is time to hit the reset button on that arrest ticker on the side of the page.

Boise State quarterback Ryan Finley was reportedly arrested early Saturday morning and charged for a pair of misdemeanor offenses related to alcohol. The Idaho Statesman says Finley was charged for possession of an alcoholic beverage as a minor and resisting or obstructing officers.

Finley, a sophomore, ended the spring as the most likely candidate to be Boise State’s starting quarterback in the fall. A pair of misdemeanor offenses may not do much to distract from that idea, unless Finley gets in any more trouble moving forward between now and the start of the new season.

Finley was Boise State’s backup quarterback behind Grant Hedrick last season. He appeared in five games and completed 12 of his 27 pass attempts for 161 yards. He tossed a pair of touchdowns and was picked off once in the process. With the leg up in experience, Finley saw the most action in Boise State’s recent spring game with the first-team offense, a suggestion the starting job under center will ultimately be his to lose.

There has been no statement from Boise State at this time.

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Peyton Manning, Vol for life, donates $3 million to Tennessee

Tennessee v Georgia Getty Images

Peyton Manning, whom you may remember from various commercials for MasterCard, Gatorade, Oreo or Papa John’s Pizza*, made a sizable contribution to his alma mater Friday. The former Tennessee Volunteer quarterback donated $3 million back to his school, the funds to be used to support the football program and the Peyton Manning Scholarship Endowment.

Not only is $3 million being used to support the football program and an academic fund, but the donation will also provide an opportunity to honor Tennessee legend and longtime athletics official Gus Manning and administrator for the UT baseball program Carmen Tegano. Gate 16 at Neyland Stadium will be renamed the Gus Manning Gate, and a dining hall will be named in Tegano’s honor.

“Gus and Carmen both personify what it means to be a Vol for Life, and both have made the University of Tennessee a better place,” said Peyton Manning. “No one has served Tennessee and its athletics program better than Gus, and Carmen has also served this University with tremendous distinction.”

Peyton Manning has supported the academic scholarship fund in his name since graduating from Tennessee and becoming the top draft pick in the NFL Draft in 1998.

* Manning went on to have a pretty successful career in the NFL as well.

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