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Duke signs 20 to Class of 2013

FIU Duke Football

(Below is Duke’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University head football coach David Cutcliffe and his staff announced on Wednesday that 20 student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to join the Blue Devil gridiron program.

The class includes two quarterbacks, four linemen and 14 backs.  A total of eight states are represented in the group as Duke signed a class-high five student-athletes from Florida and four from North Carolina.  The group includes three student-athletes from Virginia, two each from California, Georgia and Texas and one apiece from Nevada and South Carolina.

The four in-state prospects include back Breon Borders (Statesville), quarterback Quay Chambers (Monroe), back Bryon Fields (Charlotte) and back Quay Mann (Rocky Mount).

Borders, who helped Statesville High School to 13 wins as a senior, was a first team all-state honoree in 2012 after recording 91 tackles and seven interceptions while Chambers, also an all-state selection, guided Monroe to 21 wins over his final two seasons including a pair of Rocky River Conference championships.

Fields helped Providence Day to a state championship as a junior and went on to receive MVP honors of the 2012 Oasis Shrine Bowl after guiding the North Carolina squad to a 27-6 victory over South Carolina while Mann, who was selected to the 76th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, earned all-state accolades out of Northern Nash High School following a senior season that included 30 tackles on defense in addition to 900 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns.

Florida is represented with back Terrence Alls (Miami Gardens), back Johnell Barnes (Lehigh Acres), quarterback Parker Boehme(Jacksonville Beach), back T.J. Douglas (Fort Myers) and back Dominic McDonald (Longwood).  Alls helped Dade Christian to 38 wins in four seasons while catching 108 career passes for 1,856 yards while Barnes guided Dunbar High School to three district championships while scoring 18 touchdowns over his final two seasons.  Boehme, listed as the No. 23 dual-threat quarterback in the nation by 247Sports.com, played for former Duke wide receiver Adam Geis at Sandalwood High School.  Douglas, who helped Fort Myers High School to 17 wins over his last two seasons, compiled 1,685 yards of total offense as a senior while McDonald garnered first team all-state honors following a 65-tackle, eight-sack campaign in 2012.

Joining Duke’s skilled position units are three Virginia products in Evrett Edwards (Woodbridge), Chris Holmes (Fredericksburg) and Jake Kite (Roanoke).  Edwards, who had 10 career interceptions as a prep, is charted as the No. 43 cornerback in the nation by ESPN.com while Holmes helped Chancellor High School to 21 wins over three seasons and carded 30 tackles along with 25 receptions for 330 yards as a senior.  Kite posted 120 tackles and four fumble recoveries as a senior en route to earning his second River Ridge District Defensive Player of the Year citation.

California natives Joseph Ajeigbe and Phillip Carter signed with the Blue Devils.  Ajeigbe, the No. 61 running back in the country according to ESPN.com, posted three seasons with 1,000-plus rushing yards at Norco High School while Carter helped Folsom High School to 25 wins over two seasons and set a state single-game record with 317 receiving yards against Roseville Woodcreek on August 24, 2012.  Duke’s pair of signees from Georgia are lineman Mike Ramsay (Smyrna) and back Deondre Singleton (Dacula).  Ramsay was a first team all-state choice by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after helping the Walker School to 11 wins in 2012 while Singleton was selected to play in the Georgia Coaches Athletic Association North-South All-Star Game after totaling 47 tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass break-ups as a senior.

Lineman prospects Austin Davis (Mansfield) and Sterling Korona (San Antonio) join the Duke program from Texas.  Davis, who is charted as the No. 6 center in the nation by ESPN.com, helped Mansfield High School to 26 wins and three state playoff berths while Korona, who led Ronald Reagan High School to 19 victories over his final two seasons, was a Texas Class 5A All-Super Team pick by the San Antonio News-Express following the 2012 campaign.  Gabe Brandner, a Blythewood, S.C., native, rounds out the group of four linemen after receiving first team all-state honors as well as South Carolina MVP accolades at the eighth annual Oasis Shrine Bowl.

Back Ryan Smith, a product of Las Vegas, Nev., signed with the Blue Devils after helping Bishop Gorman High School to 56 wins and four straight state titles from 2009-12.  Smith closed his prep career as Nevada’s all-time leader in receiving yardage (3,208).

Boehme, Edwards, Mann and McDonald enrolled at Duke last month.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 20 members of Duke’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Joseph Ajeigbe
5-9, 215
Riverside, Calif. (Norco)

• Three-year letterman at Norco under coach Todd Gerhart

• Helped Norco to three-year record of 23-13 with three state playoff berths

• Listed as the No. 61 running back in the nation by ESPN.com, the No. 81 running back in the country by Scout.com and the No. 82 running back in the nation by 247Sports.com

• Three-time all-league selection

• First team CIF Southern Section choice following senior season

• As a senior, rushed for 1,605 yards with 16 TDs

• Had 1,875 rushing yards with 20 TDs as a junior and 1,075 rushing yards with 12 TDs during sophomore campaign

• Also lettered in basketball

• High school teammate of current Blue Devil safety Corbin McCarthy

• Born January 30, 1995

• Son of David and Ruth Ajeigbe

Terrence Alls
6-1, 180
Miami Gardens, Fla. (Dade Christian)

• Lettered four seasons at Dade Christian under coach Mike Sonneborn

• Helped Dade Christian to a four-year ledger of 38-8 with three state playoff berths including a 13-1 record and appearance in the state championship game in 2012

• In the state title game, caught seven passes for 90 yards and one TD

• First team all-state selection by the Associated Press in 2012

• As a senior, caught 35 passes for 620 yards and three TDs, rushed 18 times for 211 yards and two TDs, returned nine punts for 93 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 236 yards including a 90-yard return for TD vs. North Broward Prep, and added 33 total tackles and two interceptions on defense

• As a junior, caught 21 passes for 366 yards while totaling six TDs

• Recorded 30 receptions for 639 yards and nine total TDs as a sophomore and 22 catches for 231 yards and three TDs during freshman campaign

• Finished career with 108 receptions for 1,856 yards and a 17.2 yards per catch average

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Placed eighth in the 100-meter dash at the 2012 Florida Class 1A state championship track and field meet

• Born September 29, 1994

• Son of Rosalyn and Terrence Alls, Sr.

Johnell Barnes
6-0, 175
Lehigh Acres, Fla. (Dunbar)

• Three-year letterman at Dunbar under coach Phil Vogt

• Helped Dunbar to a three-year ledger of 22-11 with three district championships and three state playoff appearances

• Listed as the No. 38 cornerback in the nation by Scout.com and the No. 79 wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com

• As a senior, caught 24 passes for 500 yards and eight TDs

• Had 38 receptions for 763 yards and 10 TDs during junior campaign

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Born August 21, 1995

• Son of Ana Rosario and Terell Barnes

Parker Boehme
6-2, 220
Jacksonville Beach, Fla. (Sandalwood)

• Four-year letterman at Fletcher High School (2009) and Sandalwood (2010-11-12) under coach Adam Geis

• Listed as the No. 23 dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports.com

• Charted as the No. 40 pocket-passing quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com

• Listed as the No. 62 overall quarterback in the country by Scout.com

• As a junior, accounted for 3,202 total yards (951 rushing & 2,251 passing) and 40 touchdowns en route to earning honorable mention all-state (8A) honors from the Associated Press

• Also lettered in track & field, earning all-conference honors in the shot put

• Born October 5, 1994

• Son of Nancy and Richard Boehme

• Brother, John, is a member of the golf team at Charlotte

• High school coach, Adam Geis, lettered four seasons (1994-95-96-97) as a wide receiver at Duke

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Breon Borders
6-0, 175
Statesville, N.C. (Statesville)

• Three-year letterman at Statesville under coach Randall Gusler

• Helped Statesville to a three-year record of 28-12 with three state playoff berths including a 13-2 ledger and state 3A semifinal appearance in 2012

• As a senior, earned first team all-state (3A) honors from CarolinaPreps.com after posting 91 tackles, 14 pass breakups, seven interceptions, three caused fumbles and two fumble returns for TDs

• During junior campaign, registered 48 tackles, five interceptions and six pass breakups

• Finished career with 15 interceptions and 25 pass breakups

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• At the 2012 track and field state championship meet, placed sixth in the 300-meter hurdles and fourth in the 4×200 relay

• Two-time all-conference and all-county selection

• Born July 22, 1995

• Son of Chaketa Borders and Kaseem Miller

Gabe Brandner
6-6, 255
Blythewood, S.C. (Heathwood Hall)

• Three-year letterman at Heathwood Hall under coach Jon Wheeler

• Helped Heathwood Hall to consecutive state playoff berths in 2011-12

• Charted as the No. 78 offensive tackle in the nation by 247Sports.com

• Listed as the No. 19 overall prospect in South Carolina by Rivals.com

• Earned first team SCISA AAA all-state honors from the High School Sports Report following senior campaign

• All-area selection in 2012 by The State

• As a senior, graded out at 92 percent on offense while recording 68 tackles and 12 tackles for loss

• Posted 70 tackles including 13 tackles for loss during junior season

• In sophomore campaign, carded 34 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three interceptions

• Earned South Carolina MVP honors at the eighth annual Oasis Shrine Bowl on November 24, 2012 in Mooresville, N.C.

• Also lettered in baseball, basketball and track and field, earning all-state honors on the diamond as a pitcher and first baseman

• Born February 15, 1995

• Son of Antara and Thomas Brandner

• Mother played tennis at the University of West Virginia

• Father lettered two seasons (1974-75) as an offensive tackle under Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Bowden at the University of West Virginia, helping the Mountaineers to a two-year ledger of 13-10 including a 13-10 win over N.C. State in the 1975 Peach Bowl

Phillip Carter
6-1, 200
El Dorado Hills, Calif. (Folsom)

• Two-year letterman at Folsom under coaches Troy Taylor and Kris Richardson

• Helped Folsom to a two-year ledger of 25-4 with two state playoff berths including the 2012 Delta River League and Sac-Joaquin Section championships

• Charted as the No. 72 safety in the nation by ESPN.com

• As a senior, served as team captain and totaled 91 tackles, two interceptions, 10 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries while catching 40 passes for 662 yards and 12 touchdowns

• Established California high school single-game record with 317 receiving yards on 10 receptions (5 TDs covering 20, 37, 60, 66 & 78 yards) against Roseville Woodcreek on August 24, 2012

• First team all-metro and all-league pick following senior season

• As a junior, posted 54 tackles, four pass breakups and two caused fumbles while adding 24 receptions for 292 yards and five touchdowns

• Born August 30, 1995

• Son of Lentice and Phillip Carter

• Cousin, Darnell Jackson, lettered four seasons (2005-06-07-08) in basketball at the University of Kansas, helped the Jayhawks to the 2008 NCAA championship and was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat and also played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings

• Cousin, Adam Jennings, lettered four seasons (2002-03-04-05) in football at Fresno State University, helped the Bulldogs to 35 wins and four bowl game appearances, was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons and also played with the Detroit Lions and New York Giants

Quay Chambers
6-3, 215
Monroe, N.C. (Monroe)

• Two-year letterman at Monroe under coach Johnny Sowell

• Helped Monroe to a two-year record of 21-9 with two state playoff berths and two (2011-12) Rocky River Conference championships

• Listed as the No. 39 dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports.com and the No. 40 dual-threat quarterback in the nation byESPN.com

• First team all-state (1A) pick as a senior by both NCPreps.com and CarolinaPreps.com

• Two-time all-conference pick

• Rocky River Conference Offensive Player of the Year choice in 2011

• As a senior, completed 93-of-155 (.600) passes for 1,520 yards and 19 TDs while rushing 143 times for 1,105 yards and seven TDs as Monroe went 11-4 and reached the state (I-AA) semifinals

• In junior campaign, completed 104-of-213 (.488) passes for 1,776 yards and 22 TDs while rushing 147 times for 1,221 yards and 16 TDs

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Helped Monroe to state class I-A championship in basketball and was a member of Monroe’s state championship 4×400 relay unit in 2012

• Born March 13, 1995

• Son of Natasha Melton and Tony Chambers

• High school teammate of current Blue Devil tight end Issac Blakeney and wide receiver Jamison Crowder

Austin Davis
6-4, 290
Mansfield, Texas (Mansfield)

• Three-year letterman at Mansfield High School under coach Jeff Hulme

• Nationally, listed as the No. 6 center by ESPN.com, No. 14 center by 247Sports.com, the No. 16 center by Rivals.com and the No. 23 center by Scout.com

• Helped Mansfield to a three-year record of 26-10 with three state playoff appearances

• As a senior, served as team captain and was a finalist for the Touchdown Club of Fort Worth’s offensive player of the year honor

• Three-time first team all-district pick

• Born February 25, 1995

• Son of Larry and Tracy Davis

T.J. Douglas
6-1, 190
Fort Myers, Fla. (Fort Myers)

• Three-year letterman at Fort Myers under coach Sammy Sirianni

• Helped Fort Myers to a three-year ledger of 22-10

• Second team all-state (6A) selection by the Associated Press in 2012

• Two-time first team all-conference and all-district choice

• As a senior, compiled 1,685 yards of total offense (1,053 rushing & 632 passing) with TD responsibility total of 22 (15 rush, 1 receive & 6 pass)

• During junior campaign, logged 1,888 yards of total offense (625 rushing & 1,263 passing) with 18 total touchdowns

• Also lettered in track and field and wrestling

• Born April 26, 1995

• Son of Shaynon DiNatale and Willie Douglas

• Cousin, Jammi German, lettered three seasons (1994-95-96) as a wide receiver at  the University of Miami (Fla.), was selected in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons and also played with the Cleveland Browns

• Cousin, Melvin German, is a member of the football program at Florida Atlantic University

• Cousin, Joel German, is a member of the football program at Western Kentucky University

Evrett Edwards
5-11, 175
Woodbridge, Va. (Woodbridge)

• Three-year letterman at Woodbridge under coach Kevin Smith

• Helped Woodbridge to state playoff appearances in 2010 and 2012

• Nationally, listed as the No. 43 cornerback by ESPN.com, the No. 59 cornerback by Rivals.com, the No. 67 cornerback by247Sports.com and the No. 79 cornerback by Scout.com

• Charted as the No. 4 cornerback and No. 22 overall prospect in Virginia by Rivals.com

• Two-time all-district and All-Met selection

• As a senior, posted 37 tackles, eight PBUs and one interception while catching 32 passes for 540 yards and two TDs

• In junior season, recorded 37 tackles, eight interceptions and five PBUs while catching 17 passes for 270 yards and two TDs

• Finished prep career with 107 tackles, 21 PBUs & 10 interceptions

• Born September 22, 1994

• Son of Beth and Charles Edwards

• Father played football at Southern University

• Uncle, Benny Guilbeaux, lettered four seasons (1995-96-97-98) as a safety at Notre Dame, leading the team in interceptions as both a sophomore and junior while helping the Fighting Irish to a four-year record of 33-15 with three bowl game appearances

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Bryon Fields
5-11, 185
Charlotte, N.C. (Providence Day)

• Four year letterman at Providence Day under coach Bruce Hardin

• Helped Providence Day to a four-year record of 29-18 with three state playoff berths including the 2011 NCISAA Division I state championship

• Two-time first team all-state selection by the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association

• Two-time All-Mecklenburg pick by the Charlotte Observer

• As a senior, posted 67 tackles and four interceptions, returned two punts for touchdowns, caught 49 passes for 851 yards and six TDs and rushed 44 times for 400 yards and four TDs

• In junior season, logged 47 tackles and five interceptions, caught 47 passes for 632 yards and four TDs and returned five punts for TDs

• Earned MVP honors as Providence Day defeated Charlotte Country Day, 20-14, in the 2011 NCISAA Division I state championship game

• Named the 2011 Special Teams Player of the Year by South Charlotte Weekly

• Finished career with 208 tackles, 14 interceptions and 10 punt returns for touchdowns

• Named the MVP of the eighth annual Oasis Shrine Bowl after helping North Carolina to a 27-6 win over South Carolina with a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown and an eight-yard touchdown run on November 24, 2012 in Mooresville, N.C.

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Captured the NCISAA 3A state championship in the 400 meters in 2012

• Born August 23, 1994

• Son of Bryon and Julie Fields

Chris Holmes
6-2, 200
Fredericksburg, Va. (Chancellor)

• Three-year letterman at Chancellor under coach Bob Oliver

• Helped Chancellor to three-year record of 21-12

• Charted as the No. 77 safety in the nation by Scout.com

• First team all-district selection following senior season

• As a senior, carded 30 tackles and one interception while catching 25 passes for 330 receiving yards and four TDs

• During junior season, had 20 tackles and two interceptions in addition to 17 receptions for 355 yards and five TDs

• Credited with 50 tackles and one interception as a sophomore

• Also lettered in basketball and track and field

• Born August 14, 1995

• Son of Cecil Holmes and Antoinette Young

• Prep teammate of current Blue Devil lineman Sam Marshall

Jake Kite
6-0, 185
Roanoke, Va. (Hidden Valley)

• Four-year letterman at Hidden Valley under coach Scott Weaver

• Charted as the No. 39 safety in the nation by ESPN.com

• Two-time first team all-state (AA) selection by VirginiaPreps.com

• Two-time Timesland Defensive Player of the Year pick by the Roanoke Times

• Two-time Virginia Region IV Defensive Player of the Year choice

• Two-time River Ridge District Defensive Player of the Year honoree

• Earned first team all-district and all-region honors as a kick return specialist in 2012 after returning 14 kickoffs for 304 yards and 19 punts for 215 yards

• In senior season, carded 120 total tackles, six caused fumbles and four fumble recoveries along with 33 receptions for 392 yards and six TDs

• As a junior, posted 148 tackles and four interceptions on defense while catching 34 passes for 458 yards and four TDs

• Three-year letterman in wrestling and finished third in the state’s Group AA classification as a junior

• Born July 6, 1994

• Son of Christie and Christopher Kite

• Father was a member of the football team as a defensive back and wide receiver at the university of Virginia from 1984-87, helping the Cavaliers to a four-year record of 25-19-2 with Peach Bowl and All American Bowl victories following the 1984 and 1987 seasons, respectively

Sterling Korona
6-7, 260
San Antonio, Texas (Ronald Reagan)

• Two-year letterman at Ronald Reagan under coach David Wetzel

• Helped Ronald Reagan to a two-year record of 19-6 with a pair of state playoff appearances

• Charted as the No. 68 offensive tackle in the nation by both ESPN.com and 247Sports.com

• Texas Class 5A All-Super Team choice and all-area selection by the San Antonio Express-News following senior season

• Texas District 26-5A first team all-district pick and team offensive MVP in 2012

• Also participated in track and field

• Born November 8, 1994

• Son of Laura Korona-Ureste and Mark Ureste

Quay Mann
5-9, 185
Rocky Mount, N.C. (Northern Nash)

• Four-year letterman at Northern Nash under coach Mickey Crouch

• Listed as the No. 89 cornerback in the nation by ESPN.com

• First team all-state (3A) honors from CarolinaPreps.com as a senior

• Three-time all-conference selection

• First team all-area pick by the Rocky Mount Telegram in 2012

• As a senior, served as a team captain and posted 30 tackles and one interception while totaling 900 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns

• Had 43 tackles, five interceptions and two caused fumbles during junior season

• Selected to play in the 76th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on December 15, 2012 in Spartanburg, S.C.

• Also lettered in track and field

• Born January 22, 1995

• Son of Velva Mann-Hunter and Raymond Hunter

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Dominic McDonald
6-2, 240
Longwood, Fla. (Lake Brantley)

• Four-year letterman at Lake Brantley under coach George Clayton

• Helped Lake Brantley to three straight state playoff berths (2010-11-12)

• Listed as the No. 59 outside linebacker in the country by ESPN.com and the No. 71 outside linebacker in the nation by 247Sports.com

• Received first team all-state (8A) honors from the Associated Press after senior season

• As a senior, totaled 65 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks

• Recorded 50 tackles including 12 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior and 60 tackles with 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks during sophomore campaign

• Selected to play in the Florida North-South All-Star game on December 19, 2012 in Sebring, Fla.

• Also lettered in weightlifting

• Born December 26, 1994

• Son of Jill and Joey McDonald

• Enrolled at Duke in January, 2013

Mike Ramsay
6-2, 280
Smyrna, Ga. (Walker School)

• Four-year letterman at Walker School under coach John East

• Helped Walker School to an 11-1 ledger and state playoff appearance as a senior

• Georgia Class A first team all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution following senior campaign

• In senior season, served as team captain and posted 40 tackles and four quarterback sacks as the Walker School defense allowed just 8.4 points per game en route to a perfect 10-0 regular season

• As a junior, recorded 37 tackles and 12 quarterback sacks

• Selected to play in the Georgia Coaches Athletic Association North-South All-Star Game

• Also lettered in basketball, soccer and track and field

• Placed fourth in the shot put at the 2012 high school state championship meet

• Born March 16, 1995

• Son of Jean and Michael Ramsay, Sr.

Deondre Singleton
5-11, 175
Dacula, Ga. (Archer)

• Four-year letterman at Archer under coach Andy Dyer

• Charted as the No. 82 safety in the nation by ESPN.com

• Charted as the No. 91 cornerback in the nation by 247Sports.com

• First team all-county selection by the Daily Post and the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett following senior season

• As a senior, posted 47 tackles, two interceptions,14 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries while catching 21 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns

• Earned all-county and all-state accolades as a junior after carding 42 tackles, seven interceptions and 12 pass breakups

• Selected to play in the Georgia Coaches Athletic Association North-South All-Star Game

• Chosen to participate in the Gwinnett County All-Star Game

• Also lettered in baseball, earning all-county honors as an outfielder

• Born February 7, 1995

• Son of Cedric and Crystal Singleton

• Father lettered three seasons (1989-90-91) in football at Louisiana Tech, helping the Bulldogs to a three-year ledger of 21-8-4 including an appearance in the 1990 Independence Bowl

Ryan Smith
5-7, 165
Las Vegas, Nev. (Bishop Gorman)

• Lettered four seasons at Bishop Gorman under coach Tony Sanchez

• Helped Bishop Gorman to a four-year ledger of 56-4 with four state championships

• Charted as the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 3 overall prospect in Nevada by Rivals.com

• Three-time all-state selection

• In senior season, had 39 receptions for 856 yards and 14 TDs as Bishop Gorman captured its fourth straight state title and earned a ranking of No. 9 in the final USA Today national poll

• As a junior, caught 37 passes for 1,041 yards and 17 TDs as Bishop Gorman closed the season at 15-1 and ranked No. 5 in the final USA Today national poll

• Had 38 receptions for 935 yards and 16 TDs as a sophomore and 18 catches for 376 yards and four TDs during freshman campaign

• Career prep totals include 132 receptions for 3,208 yards and 51 touchdowns along with four returns for TDs (3 punt & 1 kickoff)

• Finished high school career as Nevada’s all-time leader in pass receiving yardage

• High school teammate of current Blue Devil running back Shaquille Powell

• Born June 25, 1995

• Son of DeAndre and Lori Smith

• Father is an assistant football coach at Syracuse University

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Indiana’s Wilson fires misguided shot at Big 12 and Notre Dame

Kevin Wilson

There was a time the Big Ten had what seemed to be a competitive advantage in the BCS bowl picture by not playing a conference championship game when the ACC, Big 12 and SEC were. Now the tables have been turned and folks around the Big Ten are starting to fire shots at the Big 12, a conference without a championship game.

One of the big questions yet to be answered entering the new era of college football is what the impact of playing a conference championship game or not playing one will hold on the College Football Playoff selection committee’s line of thinking when it comes to choosing the four best teams in the country. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson may not be ready to have a program worthy of sniffing that conversation any time soon, but he certainly feels the Big 12 and Notre Dame are getting an easier path to the postseason mix.

Wilson, a former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, suggested the Big 12 is avoiding a challenge that is embraced by the Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC with a conference championship game. Not playing the game gives the Big 12 a competitive advantage. To drive his point home, Wilson made a golf reference that suggests Big 12 schools and Notre Dame are playing the equivalent of 17 holes while the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are playing the entire back nine.

That is probably an unfair statement, of course, especially in the case of the Big 12. Unlike in the Big Ten, every Big 12 school plays the entire conference using a nine-game schedule for the 10-team conference. Wilson’s Hoosiers will not have to play Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern or Minnesota this season. A true champion can be crowned in the Big 12 by having every member play the entire conference. Wilson’s point, though, is the added challenge of playing a conference championship game has the advantage of padding a school’s strength of schedule, but also provides a giant risk by potentially missing out on a playoff spot or perhaps a spot in another lucrative bowl game with a loss. Of course, this argument is nothing new.

Notre Dame is a slightly different situation, as a football independent, but the Irish have established a track record of organizing competitive schedules. This season the Irish play Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Florida State, Arizona State and USC. All but Michigan appear in the preseason coaches poll. Indiana faces just two teams ranked in the same preseason poll this fall (Ohio State and Michigan State). Notre Dame has no started a new relationship with the ACC, guaranteeing multiple games each season against ACC competition, in addition to annual rivalry games against USC, Stanford an Navy. Notre Dame also takes their show on the road in the Shamrock Series against other power conference opponents on neutral sites.

Is Wilson out of line, or does he have a point worth discussing further? Feel free to share your opinions down in the comment section.

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Who replaces Bortles? UCF not rushing to find out

George O'Leary

It is that time of the year again when head coaches with vacancies at quarterback refuse to show their cards on making a final call on who will lead the offense on the field. This often happens at schools looking to replace established quarterbacks from the previous season, whether it be because the coach honestly is not sure which way to go with it or because he does not want to give the season opening opponent a hint of whom to prepare for in week one. Where UCF head coach George O’Leary falls on this subject is probably anyone’s guess, but he is not making any decisions on a starting quarterback to replace Blake Bortles anytime soon.

”I’ll let you know when I’m going to name one, it’s not a big secret,” O’Leary said, according to the Associated Press. ”I’ll let you know when I feel comfortable about somebody.

With Bortles now in training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, the competition is now wide open in Orlando. Sophomore Justin Holman is the lone option with any previous playing experience, but redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo, freshman and Boise State transfer Tyler Harris and redshirt sophomore Nick Patti are all going to be given a chance to win the job.

Reporters covering the Knights, defending American Athletic Conference champions, are not the only ones hounding O’Leary for an answer as camp opened up Thursday. “Everybody’s trying to get a jump on it,” O’Leary said. “My wife’s going to be the first one to know. And she’s out of the state, so good luck.”

It may be best to allow the competition play out with so much unknown about the new options, but there is a benefit to narrowing the decision down as quickly as possible. Knowing who will lead the offense during the season will give everybody on the offense a chance to develop an identity and comfort level with the quarterback. With a somewhat challenging schedule facing the Knights, getting as much taken care of early on could be a benefit in the long run.

UCF will open up the 2014 season in Ireland against Penn State in week one. The Knights topped the Nittany Lions in State College last fall, kickstarting their run to the Fiesta Bowl.

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Kirk Ferentz says 10-game conference schedules are coming

Kirk Ferentz

Every change in college football over the last few years has been about expanding and growth. That philosophy could be shifting to the length of a conference schedule. Forget about the debates over eight-game conference schedules or nine-game conference schedules. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz says 10-game conference schedules are coming, at least in the Big Ten.

While making his way through the ESPN car wash on Thursday, Ferentz was asked about conference scheduling when he dropped that thought for all to ponder. Via Brett McMurphy’s Twitter feed;

The Big Ten will be using a nine-game conference schedule, similar to the Pac-12 and Big 12. The ACC and SEC are sticking with eight-game conference schedules but adding a non-conference scheduling requirement for all members to add one game against another power conference opponent each season. The hypothetical 10-game conference schedule format would seem to solve a number of scheduling concerns for any conference with more than 12 teams, such as the ACC, SEC and Big Ten. With a two division format, six games are reserved for division games, leaving just two (ACC, SEC) or three (Big Ten) spots for cross division games. If a conference has locked crossover games (the SEC has paired crossover match-ups, the Big Ten scrapped them with its new division alignment), that reduces the number of opportunities to schedule other teams from the other division while rotating through the conference. The cross division scheduling may not be a major concern in the Big Ten, but it has been a topic of concern in the ACC and SEC.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said at this week’s Big Ten media day the Big Ten will stop playing FCS teams while discussing future plans to increase the strength of schedule for the entire conference. Moving to a 10-game schedule would likely have a positive effect on overall conference strength of schedule, but it also makes it more difficult for top contenders to get out of the regular season without a scratch. That could be something that comes back to haunt a Big Ten champion in the College Football Playoff era as well.

Are 10-game conference schedules a realistic possibility? Yes, although the question may be if that leads to the extension of the regular season from 12 games to 13 or 14. More games means more TV money, which means it is very much a realistic possibility.

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Oklahoma to return to Houston after 14 years, in 2016

Big 12 Football Media Days

Oklahoma will open the 2016 season in one NFL stadium, and if all goes well it could end in another. The Sooners and Houston have agreed to open the 2016 season in NRG Stadium in Houston, home to the NFL’s Houston Texans as well as the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff. The 2016 season will conclude with the College Football Playoff championship game in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Houston Chronicle was the first to report the possibility of a 2016 opener between the Sooners and Cougars, and Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com later confirmed the report to be a done deal via Twitter. The Texas Kickoff is one of the newest neutral site game sin college football, joining Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff and the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas. The first game in the series was played last season between Oklahoma State and Mississippi State and continues this season with LSU and Wisconsin. Texas A&M and Arizona are scheduled to appear in the game in 2015.

This season’s game between LSU and Wisconsin is expected to top last year’s attendance of 35,874 fans, and next year’s game with Texas A&M involved should see a nice turnout as well at the gate. Oklahoma and Houston should make for a good crowd at the game as well, especially if Houston can continue to build its program between now and then and emerge as a top power from the “Group of Five” (I really hate that term) conferences.

Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Houston, 2-0. The most recent of those two meeting came in 2004, with the Sooners winning by a blowout score of 63-14. As noted by The Dallas Morning News, Oklahoma’s last trip to the city of Houston went well. The last time the Sooners were in town they left with the Big 12 championship after topping Colorado in the 2002 Big 12 Championship Game in the same stadium.

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Former Penn football player dies in lobster diving accident

Miami v South Florida Getty Images

A former Ivy League football player who was heading to the Miami Hurricanes this fall was the victim of a diving accident in South Florida. Joseph Grosso, a starting linebacker for the Pennsylvania Quakers, died in a scuba diving accident in Pompano Beach, Florida on Wednesday. According to multiple reports, Grosso was diving alone while lobster diving.

“The entire Penn football family is saddened by the tragic news of Joe’s passing,” Penn football coach Al Bagnoli said in a statement shared by The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Joe was a terrific young man, an accomplished student and an outstanding player. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family during this very difficult period.”

Grosso was added to the football roster for the Miami Hurricanes on Tuesday, according to The Miami Herald. Grosso was to be a walk-on for Al Golden’s program this fall after graduating from Penn. He was intending to continue with law school at Miami and play one mroe year of college football with the Hurricanes.

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Ohio State’s Sprinkle pleads no contest

Tracy Sprinkle

A dismissed Ohio State defensive lineman pleaded guilty to his role in a massive altercation outside an Ohio bar earlier this month. Tracy Sprinkle will now wait to see if he will be allowed to return to the Buckeyes roster in time for the fall season after pleading no contest for a reduced charge for failure to comply, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Sprinkle had his charges reduced after drug tests using various samples returned negative results just days after the arrest. Sprinkle had been facing a cocaine possession charge. Police admitted the drugs may have come from another person apprehended in the vehicle, according to Eleven Warriors. Because the drug test came back negative, Sprinkle was fortunate to be able to negotiate a lesser charge. He was fined $500 and placed on two years of probation. He will also be required to do some community service.

Sprinkle was arrested over the weekend of July 4 for his role in a bar brawl. He was later dismissed by head coach Urban Meyer, but an Ohio State spokesperson suggested a potential return to the team would not be eliminated from the discussion of his future.

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Florida State (over)loading up on QB recruits in 2015

Jameis Winston

It is amazing what a national championship can do to a program’s recruiting production. Just take a look at Florida State, now with three quarterback recruits verbally committed for the Class of 2015. For now.

As of today, Florida State has three four-star quarterbacks lined up in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. That includes in-state prospects Deondre Francois and De’Andre Johnson and Maryland recruit Kai Locksley, the son of Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley who surprised some Thursday afternoon by committing to the Seminoles. Locksley’s verbal came slightly before that of Francois, which makes the recruiting plan a bit interesting for Florida State moving forward. In case you forgot, Florida State is already in a pretty solid position under center with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, returning for just his sophomore season. Florida State also added four-star quarterback J.J. Cosentino in the most recent recruiting class. Simply put, life is good for head coach Jimbo Fisher as far as quarterbacks are concerned. Francois, Johnson and Locksley are all classified as dual-threat options, while Cosentino is scouted more as a typical pro-style quarterback. Winston, of course, is labeled a dual-threat quarterback as well, so that may give a sense for which direction Fisher would like to go on offense. Hey, it worked last season, but what do you do with all of that talent under center?

The first question to address is the future of Winston in Tallahassee. Winston has stated he intends to play two more seasons for Florida State before deciding on his pro future, which echoed comments made by his father earlier in the offseason. If Winston does stay on campus through the end of the 2015 season, the next question is what goes through the minds of four four-star quarterbacks hoping to be the next starter for Florida State? What are the odds Francois, Johnson, Locksley and Cosentino are all still in Tallahassee? They may not be all that great.

For Fisher, that is a problem he will have to begin sorting through now, although the additions of Francois, Johnson and Locksley will not become official until the next signing day, if they all choose to stay committed to Florida State. By then Fisher will have a better idea of whether or not Winston really will be back in 2015 or if he ends up heading into the NFL. The planning for the position all hinges on Winston’s decision, and Winston’s decision could be an influential one to the future decisions of the Class of 2015 quarterbacks. If Winston does come back, might one of these Class of 2015 quarterbacks re-open his recruiting process? It certainly would not be out of the question, nor would it be against the norm in college football recruiting. Florida State is even in a position where it would not be worth sweating over if one of the quarterbacks did start looking again.

Florida State’s recruiting “problem” is one that every program would love to have. There is never anything wrong with having too much talent in a recruiting class, just ask Alabama.

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Potential DL starter one of three no longer with Tar Heels

Shawn Underwood

North Carolina’s depth and talent on the defensive side of the  ball, especially along the line, has taken a hit ahead of the start of summer camp.

A UNC spokesperson confirmed to the Raleigh News & Observer that three players — defensive tackles Shawn Underwood and Greg Webb as well as linebacker Clint Heaven — are no longer on the UNC football team. The two defensive linemen left for personal reasons, while the latter has already transferred to Northern Iowa.

By the far the biggest loss is that of Underwood.

Underwood played in 20 games the past two seasons, starting five of those contests. He would’ve entered summer camp as a favorite to land a starting job.

Webb, a touted four-star member of UNC’s 2013 recruiting class, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season, while Heaven played in five games as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

In addition to that trio, the status of offensive lineman J.J. Patterson is up in the air. Patterson played defensive tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2013 before moving to guard this past spring.

(Photo credit: North Carolina athletics)

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Four-star 2008 signee-turned-MLBer returns to Bulldogs

Rashun Dixon

Apparently you can, in a sports sense, come home again.

In 2008, Rashun Dixon was a four-star member of Mississippi State’s recruiting class, the last of Sylvester Croom‘s tenure.  Dixon never suited up for the Bulldogs, however, as he was drafted in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Oakland Athletics and embarked on a career in professional baseball.

A handful of years later, however, he’s back.

According to InsideMSUSports.com, the 23-year-old Dixon has decided to return to the Bulldogs as a walk-on player.   Because he’s never played a down of college football, he maintains all four years of eligibility and could ultimately earn a scholarship.

At least in his past sporting life, the talent was certainly there.

Rivals.com rated Davis as a four-star recruit in 2008 and as the No. 19 safety in the country that year.  What specific position he will play in his second football go-around is to be determined, although the website wrote that “his No. 85 suggests he will be utilized on the offensive side of the ball,” which could mean either tight end or wide receiver for a player listed at 6-2 and 210 pounds.

After six years in Oakland’s farm system — he batted under .250 for his career — and following his release last fall, Dixon opted to give football another shot.  Dixon is the younger brother of Anthony Dixon, who led MSU in rushing every year from 2007-09.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Former Boise St. RB Aaron Baltazar now leaving Wazzu

Deon'tae Florence AP

Well that was abrupt.

Back in April it was announced that Aaron Baltazar had followed Chris Petersen to the state of Washington, transferring from Boise State into the Washington State football program.  Less than four months later?  Never mind.

A Wazzu spokesperson confirmed to the Idaho Statesman that the running back is no longer a member of the team.  No reason was given for the abrupt and unexpected departure.

In the short-term it’s no loss for Mike Leach and the Cougars as Baltazar would’ve been forced to sit out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.  Wherever he lands next, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

As a true freshman last season, Baltazar was second on the Broncos in rushing before suffering a torn ACL the fifth game of the year and, obviously, missed the remainder of the year.

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Wake suspends leading returning rusher

Wake Forest v Miami Getty Images

One of the most important pieces of Wake Forest’s running game will apparently not be available for the foreseeable future.

A Wake spokesperson has confirmed to the Associated Press that Dominique Gibson has been indefinitely suspended from the football team.  Other than an undisclosed violation of team rules, no reason was given for the punitive measure.

Entering summer camp, he was being viewed as a likely starter, or at the very least one of the two heads in a two-headed rushing attack.

Gibson’s 138 yards last year made him the Demon Deacons’ leading returning rusher.  He had a pair of touchdowns in 2013, one each rushing  and receiving.

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Auburn remembers Lutzenkirchen with number on practice field

Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Joey Gautney

Auburn continues to find ways to pay tribute to one of its own. Following death of former tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen, killed in an auto accident in June, fans took to rolling Toomer’s Corner and there was a video tribute following a memorial service that was very touching. With Auburn now set to open up camp ahead of the 2014 season, the defending SEC champions will continue to remember Lutzenkirchen with his old uniform number (No. 43) painted on the practice field.

The number is painted in each end zone, and a look at the final touch can be seen through this tweet from Auburn’s Twitter account;

Auburn opens camp Friday afternoon.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

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Hoke: ‘if we opened the season today,” Gardner would be starter

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Throughout this offseason, Brady Hoke has declined to definitively tap the incumbent, Devin Gardner, or his challenger, Shane Morris, as Michigan’s starting quarterback.  Instead, the UM head coach demurred and insisted he’d wait until early on in summer camp to declare a starter.

Thursday, Hoke deviated from that tack slightly.

Taking his turn in the Big Ten coaches ESPN car wash, Hoke was, of course, asked about the Wolverines’ quarterback situation.  The coach, compared to how he’s been since spring practice, was surprisingly candid.

“Going in (to camp, there will be a competition),” Hoke said according to mlive.com. “We’ve got great competition. (But) if we opened the season today, Devin would start for the Wolverines.”

Of course, “if we open the season today” is a tremendous qualifier.

Gardner started every game last season before a foot injury he suffered in the loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale sidelined him for the Wolverines’ bowl game.  In his first career start, and as a true freshman no less, Morris completed 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards and interception as UM dropped a 31-14 decision to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

While Gardner was at one time quoted as saying that “it was amazing how much better [quarterback competition this spring] made me,” the incumbent at the position –despite his pre-spring proclamation— exited the 15 practice sessions without a firm grasp on the starting job.  That thought was buttressed as, at the end of spring practice in mid-April, Hoke acknowledged that Morris had narrowed the gap on Gardner.

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Ball State officially adds ex-Cincinnati DE

Joshua Posley

Earlier this summer there was speculation that a member of the Cincinnati Bearcats would be on the move to the MAC.  Thursday, that came to fruition.

Ball State announced in a release that Joshua Posley has transferred into the football program.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, the defensive end will have to sit out the 2014 season.

He will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

“We are pleased to welcome Joshua to the football program and the University community,” Pete Lembo said in a statement. “We have known him since his high school days at Warren Central and have built a strong relationship with the coaching staff there. Joshua is an outgoing guy and a strong student. … We hope he transitions well to a new environment this fall and is ready to compete for playing time once spring practice arrives.”

A pair of high school teammates, Darnell Smith and Anthony Winbush, are already with the Cardinals, which likely played some role in the transfer decision.

Posley, an Indianapolis native, played in four games during his two years with the Bearcats.

(Photo credit: Cincinnati athletics)

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Miami QB Ryan Williams becomes a first-time father

Wake Forest v Miami

As he continues rehabbing a serious knee injury, Ryan Williams will have a much, much, much more important job to perform in the coming months.  And years.

The Miami quarterback announced via Twitter that he and his wife, Deanna, are now the proud parents of a bouncing — and rather large — baby boy.  Roman Louis Williams, the first child for both mom and dad, was born July 29 and weighed in at a healthy nine pounds even.

The couple had announced back in March that Deanna was expecting.

Here’s a picture of the newest member of the Williams clan, courtesy of the newly-minted father’s Instagram account:

Ryan Williams' Son

Sincere congratulations to the new parents from all of us.

Williams suffered a torn ACL in early April and underwent surgery shortly thereafter, meaning the prohibitive favorite to replace Stephen Morris as the starter entering spring practice won’t hit the practice field through at least September.  The earliest Williams is expected to begin participating in practice is at some point in October, if then.

With Williams sidelined for the foreseeable future, Jake Heaps, the Kansas transfer, and Kevin Olsen are expected to be the two main combatants for the starting job, at least early on.  For his part, Heaps has been quoted as saying he didn’t come to The U “to be the backup.”

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