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Rutgers announces 2013 recruiting class

Rutgers Scarlet Knights v Arkansas Razorbacks

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

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 6, 2013) – Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood announced Wednesday that 17 student-athletes have signed to play football for the Scarlet Knights beginning in the fall of 2013. In addition, Rutgers already secured commitments from five mid-year enrollees, to bring the signing class total to 22.

The 2013 recruiting class features 11 players from New Jersey, four from Florida, two from Pennsylvania, two from New York and one from Maryland, Delaware and Michigan. In all total, 21 of the 22 student-athletes reside in the “State of Rutgers.”

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 22 members of Rutgers’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Nick Arcidiacono
Tight End • 6-5 • 230
Holland, Pa. • Archbishop Wood High School

Two-way standout who played for head coach Steve Devlin at Archbishop Wood High School … younger brother of current Scarlet Knight Brandon Arcidiacono … third Archbishop Wood standout in the Rutgers program along with Brandon and Desmon Peoples … led team to state championship game as a senior and part of the school’s first state title squad his junior season … three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com, ESPN.com and 247Sports … No. 60 defensive end nationally by Scout.com … rated the No. 33 tight end nationally and the No. 41 prospect in Pennsylvania by ESPN.com … No. 21 prospect in Pennsylvania by SuperPrep Magazine … rated the No. 37 weakside defensive end nationally and Pennsylvania’s No. 24 recruit by 247Sports … eight receptions for 137 yards as a senior … Philadelphia Inquirer All-City selection … selected to play in the prestigious Big 33 game … Second Team All-Southeastern Pennsylvania selection by the Philadelphia Inquirer … No. 20 prospect in Pennsylvania by PennLive.com … played on the offensive line as a junior for a team that scored a school-record 699 points, a single-season standard among Pennsylvania’s AAA and AAAA teams.

Dontea Ayres
Running Back • 5-9 • 205
Salisbury, Md. • Wicomico High School

Mid-year enrollee who will practice in the spring … suffered a knee injury as a senior at Middletown High School in Middletown, Del., and missed the entire season … began his high school career at Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Md., the same school as former RU defensive back Wayne Warren … totaled 3,370 yards and averaged 9.4 yards per carry in three seasons of high school football … rushed for 1,471 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior … averaged 11.9 yards per carry his junior season … versatile back who also caught 13 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns his junior year … rated the No. 26 prospect and No. 2 running back by SuperPrep in its Mid-Atlantic preseason preview … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and the nation’s No. 82 running back … three-star recruit and the No. 3 player in Delaware by Rivals.com … listed as the No. 48 running back nationally and a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … rushed for 1,196 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Indians … averaged 8.7 yards per carry and 119.6 yards per game … finished freshman season with 703 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Nadir Barnwell
Defensive Back • 5-11 • 190
Piscataway, N.J. • Piscataway High School

Mid-year enrollee who will practice in the spring … four-year standout at Piscataway High School for head coach Dan Higgins … started three seasons at quarterback and defensive back for the Chiefs … led squad to a 30-5 record over the last three years … recovered from a shoulder injury to lead Piscataway to the 2012 NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 championship … finished with 30 tackles as a senior … completed 61 of 111 passes for 913 yards and eight touchdowns … also rushed 50 times for 298 yards and four scores … ranks second all-time at Piscataway with 3,239 passing yards and 202 completions … 34 career touchdown passes are the most in school history … led the Chiefs to back-to-back group state titles as a sophomore and junior … threw for 1,364 yards, rushed for 452 yards and scored 18 combined touchdowns as a junior … 40 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions as a junior … Preseason All-America selection by SuperPrep … rated the No. 22 defensive back nationally by SuperPrep … No. 6 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep … four-star prospect according to Scout.com … rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 11 athlete in the nation … No. 7 Garden State recruit by Rivals.com … four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 21 athlete by ESPN.com … four-star recruit and the No. 9 athlete in the nation and the No. 10 prospect in New Jersey by 247Sports … named the MVP of the Semper Fi Bowl as he led the East squad to a 17-14 win over the West … Third Team All-State selection by the Star-Ledger … two-time Home News Tribune and Courier News All-Area selection.

Devan Carter
Running Back • 6-2 • 230
Rochester, N.Y. • Brighton High School

Two-way performer for head coach Steve Lian at Brighton High School … led Brighton to its best record in a decade … senior season was cut short by injury, but still managed to rush for 987 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games (7.4 yards per carry) … rushed for 1,440 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com … rated the No. 6 prospect in New York by ESPN.com … rated the No. 77 inside linebacker nationally and New York’s 17th-best player by 247Sports … SuperPrep’s No. 4 player in New York who totaled 35 tackles and five sacks as a junior in limited action on defense.

Anthony Cioffi
Defensive Back • 6-0 • 180
Springfield, N.J. • Jonathan Dayton High School

Versatile performer who excelled on both sides of the football for head coach Joseph Goerge at Jonathan Dayton High School … Star-Ledger Second Team All-State honoree … 80 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and two sacks on defense … outstanding returner who had seven kick/punt returns of 60 yards or more … rushed for 896 yards and five touchdowns (11.5 yards per carry) at quarterback … threw for 694 yards and five touchdowns … one of the top single-game performances in New Jersey against Pingry … passed for 94 yards and a touchdown, rushed 16 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown and recovered two fumbles and forced one fumble in the 34-20 victory … Star-Ledger All-Union County … rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … No. 31 safety prospect nationally and the No. 18 player in New Jersey by Rivals.com … three-star recruit by Scout.com and the No. 86 safety in the nation … ESPN.com three-star selection.

Justin Goodwin
Running Back • 6-0 • 180
Summit, N.J. • Madison High School

Running back for head coach Chris Kubik at Madison High School … Star-Ledger First Team All-State honoree … rushed for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior … averaged 10.6 yards per carry … caught 12 passes for 439 yards and six scores … returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to help guide the Dodgers to their third-straight section title … sixth in the state of New Jersey in scoring as a senior (174 points) … rushed for a season-high 292 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 carries in a 36-6 victory over Dover … Star-Ledger Morris County Player of the Year as a junior and a senior … finished his high school career by winning his last 37 games … ran for 124 yards and a touchdown and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass in a 13-0 victory over previously unbeaten Mountain Lakes in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 final … rushed for 1,789 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior … returned three kickoffs for touchdowns his junior season … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and Rivals.com … ESPN.com’s No. 17 player in New Jersey and a three-star recruit … rated the No. 72 athlete nationally by ESPN.com … three-star recruit by 247Sports.

Janarion Grant
Wide Receiver • 5-11 • 170
Trilby, Fla. • Pasco High School

All-purpose standout for head coach Tom McHugh at Pasco High School … missed the first six games of the season with a broken hand, but still managed to score 20 total touchdowns in seven games played … Class 5A First Team All-State selection on offense … racked up 591 yards rushing, 168 yards receiving, 104 total yards on interception returns … scored five touchdowns against Fivay as a senior (two rushing, one passing, one receiving and a 50-yard interception return for a score) … rated the No. 8 recruit by Bright House Sports Network … helped guide the Pirates to a combined 25-2 record over the past two seasons, including a trip to the 5A state final four in 2011 and a region final appearance in 2012 … set a Pasco County record with 77 career touchdowns … Tampa Tribune All-Pasco First Team selection on offense … lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punt/kickoff return and defensive back … accounted for more than 1,800 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior … totaled nearly 1,000 yards receiving and led the Tampa area with 18 touchdown receptions as a junior … scored four special teams touchdowns in 2011 … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and the nation’s No. 54 cornerback prospect … three-star Rivals.com recruit and the No. 69 wide receiver nationally … also tabbed by Rivals.com as the No. 90 prospect in Florida … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … a three-star recruit who was listed as the nation’s No. 43 athlete and rated as the 94th-best player in Florida by 247Sports.

Bryant Gross-Armiento
Defensive Back • 6-1 • 190
Sunrise, Fla. • American Heritage High School

Played safety and cornerback for coach Jeff Dellenbach at American Heritage High School … rated three stars by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … named the No. 54 safety prospect by Rivals.com … made 17 tackles, helping lead the Patriots to a 9-2 record as a senior … rated the No. 71 safety nationally by ESPN.com … team won their district and appeared in the Class 5A playoffs … picked up 25 tackles and one fumble recovery as a junior … has two brothers that play football at Colgate … recently added Armiento to his last name to honor his adopted family.

Nick Internicola
Defensive End • 6-3 • 230
Pembroke Pines, Fla. • University School

Played high school football for coach Roger Harriott at University School playing at linebacker and on the defensive line … rated three stars by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … picked as the No. 28 prospect at his position and No. 69 out of Florida by Rivals.com … named the 54th-best player out of Florida according to 247Sports … Class 3A Florida All-State selection … ranked No. 26 on the Sun-Sentinel’s 2013 Broward/Palm Beach Super60 list … led his team to a 13-0 record and Class 3A state championship as a senior … team presented the MaxPreps’ Minuteman Trophy after finishing the season as the website’s small-school national champion … totaled 62 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles-for-loss and two interceptions as the team’s top pass rusher … picked up six tackles and numerous quarterback pressures during the state title game, shutting out the opponent in the second half … totaled 33 tackles, four sacks and two pass deflections as a junior … born in Boston and moved to Florida at age of eight.

Sebastian Joseph
Defensive Tackle • 6-4 • 270
Stroudsburg, Pa. • Stroudsburg High School

Played high school football for Joe Bernard at Stroudsburg … rated as the No. 30 prospect out of the state of Pennsylvania by Rivals.com … ranked three stars by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … checks in as the No. 52 player on the East Coast and No. 39 at his position according to Scout.com … totaled 40 tackles – with 17 for loss – to go with two forced fumbles as a senior … helped lead the Mountaineers to back-to-back Mountain Valley Conference champions with a 10-2 record in his final season … accepted bid to play in the Chesapeake Bowl following the season … picked up 25 tackles and six sacks as a junior as part of a defensive unit that held opponents to an average of 13.4 points per game.

Josh Klecko
Defensive Tackle • 6-2 • 260
Colts Neck, N.J. • Red Bank Catholic High School

Played high school football at Red Bank Catholic for head coach Jim Portela … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com and the nation’s No. 67 defensive tackle recruit … All-Shore Defensive Player of the Year according to the Asbury Park Press after posting 48 tackles and 8.5 sacks as a senior … won honor despite missing four games with injury … 16 quarterback hurries and returned one interception 37 yards for a touchdown … Class A Central Defensive Player of the Year … helped lead the Caseys to three-straight divisional titles … recorded 69 tackles and five sacks as a junior … team finished with the No. 13 ranking in the final NJVarsity Top 25 … Star-Ledger All-Monmouth County selection … Asbury Park Press All-Shore First-Team performer … rated as a three-star recruit by Scout.com … son of New York Jet great Joe Klecko, who played 12 seasons in the NFL with four Pro Bowl appearances as a defensive tackle … brother Dan was a former BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year at Temple and played eight seasons in the NFL and won three Super Bowl rings.

Chris Laviano
Quarterback • 6-3 • 200
Glen Head, N.Y. • Holy Trinity High School

Four-year starter at quarterback for head coach Tony Mascia … joins former high school teammate Matt McBride at Rutgers … threw for 1,473 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior … junior season totals of 1,716 yards passing and 14 touchdowns … four-star prospect according to ESPN.com … listed as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com … rated the No. 8 prospect in New York by SuperPrep … three-star rated recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 3 player in New York … listed as the No. 34 pro-style quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com … three-star recruit by 247Sports and the No. 3 player in New York … also rated the No. 20 pro-style quarterback nationally by 247Sports … completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,716 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior … top game as a junior came against St. Joseph-by-the-Sea after finishing 13-of-15 passing for 205 yards and three touchdowns … also ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on four carries in the 49-7 victory.

Lester Liston
Linebacker • 6-2 • 235
Grand Blanc, Mich. • Grand Blanc High School (Hargrave Military Academy)

Prep school linebacker who played one season at Hargrave Military Academy … originally from Grand Blanc, Mich. and Grand Blanc High School … played for head coach Joe Delaney at Grand Blanc … second on the team as a senior with 98 tackles and led the Bobcats with 699 yards rushing and nine touchdowns … averaged 7.1 yards per carry as a senior … rated the No. 16 prep school player in the nation and the No. 3 prep school linebacker by Rivals.com … a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports … listed as the No. 3 prep school inside linebacker recruit nationally by 247Sports … totaled 87 tackles and two interceptions as a junior en route to KLAA all-conference honors … helped guide Grand Blanc to a 7-4 record and the district playoffs.

Taylor Marini
Tight End • 6-4 • 250
Oviedo, Fla. • Lake Mary Prep

Played high school football for coach Scott Perry at Lake Mary … three-star recruit according to Rivals.com and Scout.com … ranked as the No. 40 tight end prospect nationally by ESPN.com … rated No. 37 on the Orlando Sentinel’s 2013 Central Florida Super60 … helped the Rams to a 7-3 record as a senior … used primarily as a blocker and long snapper, adding 11 receptions for 143 yards receiving in his final prep season … father Tony played basketball for UCF in the 1980’s.

Dorian Miller
Offensive Line • 6-3 • 295
Metuchen, N.J. • Metuchen High School

Played high school football for Sal Mistretta at Metuchen … lined up on both sides of the ball as a guard … helped the Bulldogs rush for 3,941 yards and 48 touchdowns combined during his junior and senior seasons … more than 80 percent of Metuchen’s plays were rushes, running behind Miller approximately 90 percent of the time … made 122 tackles with 12 sacks on defensive in his final two prep seasons … four-star rating from ESPN.com and Scout.com … No. 21 prospect out of New Jersey with a three-star rating from Rivals.com … helped lead the North team to a 28-13 win at the Chesapeake Bowl … Star-Ledger First Team All-State selection … Miller never yielded a sack and Metuchen ran for over 7,000 yards during his four-year career … on defense vs. Spotswood, totaled 12 tackles, four for loss, three sacks, caused a fumble and stopped a two-point conversion in a 28-26 victory … brother Dejuan played 38 games at Oklahoma as a wide receiver with 75 receptions during his career.

Myles Nash
Linebacker • 6-5 • 205
Sicklerville, N.J. • Timber Creek High School

Part of back-to-back South Jersey Group 4 section championship teams for head coach Rob Hinson at Timber Creek High School … joins former Charger teammate Quanzell Lambert at Rutgers … led team to a 22-2 record over his junior and senior seasons … totaled 70 tackles, 14 sacks and eight tackles-for-loss his senior season … four-star recruit by ESPN.com … rated the No. 50 athlete nationally and the No. 16 prospect in New Jersey by ESPN.com … Star-Ledger All-Group 4 selection … one of several Rutgers commitments to play in the Chesapeake Bowl … 84 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior … rated a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 43 outside linebacker by Scout.com … three-star recruit, No. 15 player in New Jersey and the No. 46 athlete nationally by Rivals.com … listed as the nation’s No. 61 athlete and a three-star recruit by 247Sports.

Andre Patton
Wide Receiver • 6-4 • 195
Wilmington, Del. • St. Elizabeth High School

Two-way standout for head coach Joe Hemphill at St. Elizabeth High School … named the Delaware Defensive Player of the Year by voting media and the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association … finished the season with 68 tackles and three interceptions … will play wide receiver at Rutgers and totaled 48 receptions for 761 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior … rushed for 677 yards and another 14 touchdowns … also returned punts and kickoffs for the Vikings … his older brother Eric plays football at Delaware … junior season featured 28 receptions for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns … also totaled 37 tackles and three interceptions in 2011 … three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 67 wide receiver according to Scout.com … No. 1 prospect in Delaware by Rivals.com … a three-star Rivals.com recruit who was tabbed the country’s No. 81 wide receiver … three-star recruit by ESPN.com and 247Sports … rated the No. 1 player in Delaware by ESPN.com and 247Sports.

Delon Stephenson
Defensive Back • 5-11 • 190
Sayreville, N.J. • Sayreville High School (Milford Academy)

Spent the fall at Milford Academy and played for head coach Bill Chaplick … lined up at defensive back for Milford, finishing the season with 48 tackles, six pass breakups and a forced fumble … 2010 Home News Tribune Offensive Player of the Year … rated by Rivals.com the No. 21 prep player in the nation … three-year letterwinner for head coach George Najjar at Sayreville High School … younger brother of current Scarlet Knight defensive tackle Daryl Stephenson and also played with defensive end David Milewski at Sayreville … listed as the No. 12 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep in 2011 … combined 22 touchdowns as a senior, including 1,161 rushing yards and 370 yards receiving … game-winning 65-yard touchdown reception in the closing minute of the sectional semifinal … 59 tackles and six interceptions as a defensive back in 2011 … part of two state championship teams for the Bombers … registered 3,532 yards from scrimmage and 52 touchdowns for his career, including 15 interceptions on defense … scored 12 touchdowns in eight playoff games … Star-Ledger All-State First Team pick on defense … guided the Bombers to a 30-5 career record as a three-year starter … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

T.J. Taylor
Defensive Back • 6-3 • 190
Kendall Park, N.J. • South Brunswick High School

Played for head coach Joe George at South Brunswick High School … continues a strong tradition of Vikings to play at Rutgers, joining former high school teammate Jevon Tyree “On the Banks” and hails from the same high school of current Cincinnati Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu … Star-Ledger Second Team All-State on defense … finished senior season with 33 receptions for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns … led the Vikings to the Central Jersey Group 5 championship … recorded 48 tackles, 15 pass breakups and three interceptions at safety … finished year with 365 return yards … Star-Ledger All-Group 5 defensive selection … Home News Tribune All-Area as a junior and a senior … Star-Ledger All-Middlesex selection on defense … junior year featured 17 receptions for 468 yards and six touchdowns … three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 41 safety by Scout.com … No. 20 prospect in the Garden State, No. 47 athlete nationally and a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … rated the No. 77 athlete nationally, No. 20 recruit in New Jersey and a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … three-star prospect according to 247Sports.

John Tsimis
Wide Receiver • 6-0 • 175
Harrington Park, N.J. • Bergen Catholic High School

Played for coach Nunzio Campanile at Bergen Catholic … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com … ranked as the No. 5 wide receiver out of the Garden State by NJVarsity.com … missed senior season due to injury … caught 50 passes for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com … rated the No. 33 player in New Jersey by ESPN.com … rated No. 30 player in New Jersey and a three-star recruit by 247Sports … all-state honors his junior season … played in an offense that racked up more than 2,000 passing yards in 2011 … helped lead the Crusaders to an 8-3 record … leaves Bergen Catholic ranked in the top five in almost every receiving category … registered 10 catches, 152 yards and two touchdowns in win over Don Bosco Prep as a junior … totaled 15 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore … played high school basketball.

Kemoko Turay
Defensive End • 6-6 • 220
Newark, N.J. • Barringer High School

Played for coach Darnell Mangan at Barringer High School … Third-Team All-State selection by the Star-Ledger … led the state of New Jersey with 19 sacks as a senior … helped guide Barringer to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years … nine tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a safety in a 19-6 victory over Belleville … rated as a three-star recruit by Scout.com … recorded 105 tackles (28 for loss), 19 sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior … did not play football as a sophomore or junior … played the sport as a freshman at East Orange … … NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 spring track and field champion in the triple jump and long jump as a junior … noticed by coaches at Rutgers football camp … also played high school basketball.

Eric Wiafe
Defensive End • 6-5 • 260
Egg Harbor Township, N.J. • Egg Harbor Township High School

Played high school football for coach Tony DeRosa at Egg Harbor Township High School … former high school teammate of current Scarlet Knight defensive back Tejay Johnson … rated three stars by Scout.com … noted as the No. 79 defensive tackle nationally by Scout.com … played both defensive tackle and tight end in high school … recorded 44 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a senior … Press of Atlantic City All-Star selection … 10 tackles and one reception for 19 yards in limited action as a junior … rated as the No. 20 prospect in New Jersey according to SuperPrep Magazine.

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Texas OC, Okla. St. trade lawsuits over play-calling duties

Joe Wickline AP

Just who is calling plays for Texas in 2014 is at the heart of a pair of lawsuits that have begun their journeys through the legal system.

Oklahoma State filed a lawsuit Oct. 17 (case summary HERE) against former OSU assistant and current Texas co-offensive coordinator Joe Wickline in which the university essentially accuses Wickline of lying about the duties his new position entails.  Wickline left the Cowboys in January to become the Longhorns’ co-offensive coordinator along alongside Shawn Watson; in that role, Wickline would reportedly hold play-calling responsibilities.

That latter aspect is key as, the Austin American-Statesman wrote, “Wickline would owe OSU the balance of his contract unless he was named offensive coordinator ‘with play-calling duties’ or went to the NFL.” The balance of that contract is nearly $600,000, which OSU is seeking in its lawsuit.

The impetus for this legal back and forth appears to have been triggered, in part, by Wickline’s new boss. Back in mid-March, ESPN.com wrote, “[UT head coach Charlie] Strong changed course publicly, clarifying that Watson and Wickline would share play-calling duties and that ‘the one final voice will be Shawn.'”

Six days later, Wickline was sent a letter from OSU athletic director Mike Holder that contained the following passage.

“Further, it has now come to our attention that you do not have ‘play-calling duties,'” Holder wrote in a letter dated March 24. “Instead, it appears that your head coach has confirmed that Shawn Watson, not you, will be calling the plays. Thus, in reality it appears you unilaterally and voluntarily terminated the Contract to make a lateral move and as such a waiver of the liquidated damages clause of the Contract is not triggered.

“While OSU wishes you every success in your endeavors and burgeoning career, it is paramount to OSU that contract terms be taken seriously and that they be strictly enforced in the interest of professionalism. Accordingly, OSU will insist upon payment of the liquidated damages clause of the Contract.

It’s readily apparent that Wickline does not hold sole play-calling duties at UT. Based on multiple media accounts, Wickline’s OSU contract also didn’t specify that he must maintain sole play-calling responsibilities or be liable for damages. It’s that distinction that will likely be the crux of the battle should the lawsuits ever see the light of day in a courtroom.

Wickline’s lawsuit, meanwhile, was filed Monday and claims “tortuous interference” on the part of OSU. The coach’s suit makes the claim that his former school’s action “is baseless and its sole purpose is to interfere with coach Wickline’s ongoing employment relationship with UT and the UT contract.”

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Pac-12 paces Lott IMPACT quarterfinalists

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

You know you how you can tell another season is quickly beginning to wind down?  Awards begin to whittle their lengthy preseason watch lists down to quarterfinalists or semifinalists.

The first to get down to its quarterfinalists was the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which announced its group of 20 Wednesday.  There were two quarterfinalists from a year ago that made the cut this time around: Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks.

The Pac-12 led all conferences with seven players selected.  The ACC and SEC had four players apiece, while the Big Ten and Big 12 had two each.  There were no players from the Non-Power Five conferences as Notre Dame claims the remaining player.

Washington was the only school with two players included.

Linebackers and defensive ends had the most players for positions with eight and six, respectively.  Cornerbacks, safeties and defensive tackles accounted for two apiece.

The Lott Trophy, named after Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, is presented annually to the player who best embodies the award’s six tenets — Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity. Last year’s winner was UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.

Eight semifinalists for the award will be announced Nov. 11. In a release, the award states that “four finalists will fly to Newport Beach for a black-tie gala at the Pacific Club on Dec. 14 where the winner will be announced.”

Below is the complete list of 20 Lott IMPACT quarterfinalists.

Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Henry Coley, LB, Virginia
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
Michael Doctor, LB, Oregon State
Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
David Helton, LB, Duke
A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee
Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Hau’oli Kikaha, DE, Washington
Ryan Mueller, DE, Kansas State
Jordan Richards, S, Stanford
Deterrian Shackelford, LB, Ole Miss
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Leonard Williams, DT, USC

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‘Extremely doubtful’ Wyoming’s injured leading tackler returns in ’14

Mark Nzeocha, Taylor Graham

Wyoming’s defense will likely have to play the remainder of the 2014 season without one of its leaders on that side of the ball.

Mark Nzeocha suffered what appeared to be a knee injury during last Saturday’s overtime loss to San Jose State. While head coach Craig Bohl wouldn’t specify the exact nature of the injury, he was decidedly pessimistic about the senior linebacker’s availability moving forward.

“The outlook for him to be playing the rest of the year would be extremely doubtful,” the coach said.

Nzeocha currently leads the Cowboys in both tackles (59) and passes broken up (five). He’s tied for the team lead with two sacks and he’s second in tackles for loss with three.

With Nzeocha sidelined, seniors Devyn Harris or Jordan Stanton will likely serve as his replacement.

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Ole Miss, Wake agree to future home-and-home

Dester McCluster, Alphonso Smith AP

It’s not exactly to the level of some of the heavyweight non-conference clashes announced in recent months, but at least it involves a pair of Power Five programs, right?

Anyway, Ole Miss and Wake Forest announced in twin press releases Wednesday that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series. The agreement calls for the teams to meet in Winston-Salem on Sept. 14, 2024 and Oxford, on Sept. 13, 2025.

The two schools have played just twice in football, and those came recently. The Demon Deacons traveled to Oxford in 2006 while the Rebels returned the favor in 2008.

Wake won both matchups, 27-3 in the first and 30-28 in the second.

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One of Cal’s top WRs won’t play vs. Oregon

UCLA v California AP

Cal’s prolific passing attack will be down a weapon for its Week 9 Pac-12 game.

Head coach Sonny Dykes confirmed Tuesday that Trevor Davis will not play in Friday night’s game against Oregon. Davis suffered a neck/head injury in last Saturday’s loss to UCLA.

After being briefly hospitalized, Davis was released. Just how long the wide receiver will be sidelined remains to be seen.

“Luckily all the tests came back good, and his long-term prognosis is good,” Dykes said.

Davis is tied for third on the Bears in receiving yards (360) and receiving touchdowns (four), and is fourth in receptions (21).

The good news for Cal’s offense is that fellow receiver Chris Harper, injured in the same game, will play against the Ducks. Harper’s 25 catches are third on the team.

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John Wolford good to go at QB for Wake

John Wolford, Eric Crume

An injury that knocked John Wolford out of Wake Forest’s last game won’t do the same for the next one.

Dave Clawson confirmed Tuesday that the quarterback will be available and start this Saturday’s game against Boston College.  Wolford suffered a head injury in the loss to Syracuse last weekend.

It was very quickly determined, however, that Wolford did not incur a concussion.  From the Raleigh News & Observer:

“Because the hit was in the head … we were taking zero chances,” Clawson said Tuesday, adding that when Wolford “felt fine” on Sunday, “we knew he was good to go this week.”

Wolford became the first Demon Deacon to start an opener as a true freshman since 1974, but he’s certainly had his growing pains.

His 12 interceptions (in 124 attempts) are tied for second-worst in the country with Texas Tech’s Davis Webb (196 attempts), behind only New Mexico State’s Tyler Rodgers‘ 15 (170 attempts).  With an interception ration of 1:10, he’s fourth-worst in the country behind only Tulane’s Tanner Lee ((one pick every 7.8 attempts), Kansas’ Montell Cozart (one every 8.9 attempts) and Florida’s Jeff Driskel (one every 9.7 attempts) for quarterbacks who have thrown at least 60 passes.

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Barring ‘something unusual,’ Deshaun Watson is starter when healthy

FBC-T25 Clemson Watson AP

And, in other breaking news, water is wet and the sky is blue.

Deshaun Watson underwent surgery earlier this month to repair the hand injury he suffered in Clemson’s Oct. 11 win over Louisville and is expected to be sidelined for up to five weeks.  Most (rightly) assumed that Cole Stoudt would merely be keeping the quarterbacking seat warm before turning the job back over to Watson once healthy.

Tuesday, Watson’s head coach confirmed as much.

“Yeah. Yeah. Deshaun’s the starter. Whenever he’s healthy, he’ll be back out there,” Dabo Swinney said. “Guys don’t lose their jobs because they get hurt. Something unusual would have to happen for that to be the case.

“But we’ll worry about all that when the time comes.”

Swinney’s declaration is a no-brainer as the Tigers’ offense is simply a more explosive and lethal with Watson on the field.

In the two full games the true freshman started — North Carolina Sept. 27, North Carolina State Oct. 4 — the Tigers averaged 45.5 points per game; the last two games against Louisville and Boston College, which includes the one Watson left very early due to injury, the Tigers are averaging 20 points per game.

Watson is currently second in the country in passing efficiency, behind only Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.  Stoudt, meanwhile, is 99th in the same category as he has thrown just one touchdown and two interceptions in his 147 attempts.

Based on the current timeline, Watson will definitely be back no later than the Nov. 15 game against Georgia Tech, the 10th game of the season.  There’s also the chance he could return for the Nov. 6 game against Wake Forest, which comes after the Tigers second and last bye of the season.

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Rutgers WR Ruhann Peele arrested on assault charge back in August

Ruhann Peele, Andrew Adams AP

Nearly two months after it happened, the arrest of a Rutgers football player has surfaced publicly.

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Ruhann Peele was arrested following an incident Aug. 30.  The wide receiver was subsequently charged with simple assault.  No details of what preceded the arrest and charge have been revealed.

“We are aware of the situation involving Ruhann,” a statement from RU head coach Kyle Flood read. “Due to the fact he has a pending court date, we will not comment until the legal process is complete.”

Peele has not played at all this season due to what’s only been described as an upper-body injury sustained in early August. The Star-Ledger writes that “[h]is absence from football activities, including practice, is 100 percent medically-related at this point, a source familiar with the situation said.”

Whether he heals up in time to play this season and would then face sanctions from the football program for the off-field incident is unknown.

Peele finished fifth on the team last season with 28 catches for 478 yards. He was third on the team when, due to injuries, he was moved from receiver to cornerback in late October for a handful of games.

Entering summer camp, it was expected Peele would be a significant contributor in the passing game in 2014.

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Following arrest, Cincinnati suspends backup QB

players names AP

An off-field incident will likely cost one of Cincinnati’s quarterbacks some game time.

Early Sunday morning, Bearcats backup Jarred Evans was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge shortly after returning from a road win over SMU.  Evans allegedly knocked a man to the ground with a punch, with the alleged victim suffering a concussion and needing stitches.

Evans spent Sunday night in jail before bail was posted Monday.

While Tommy Tuberville said there’s a “[g]ood chance he’s not guilty,” the UC head coach has still indefinitely suspended the player.

“It’s just hard to get through their heads that you are different than everybody else,” Tuberville said according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “You can’t even think about making a mistake or even being close to a mistake. Even if it’s not your fault, you’re still implicated. So, that’s how we handle it and I hope our players on the team see that and understand that and we’ll go from there. …

“I talk to these guys every day about you being a lot more responsible than any other person on campus. They understand that right or wrong, football players, basketball players, athletes across the country are guilty until proven innocent, even in my eyes, because you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Until this season, the JUCO transfer Evans had totaled no stats at the FBS level. In the win over the Mustangs, the 22-year-old Evans rushed for a team-high 67 yards and a touchdown, while also completing both of his pass attempts for 10 yards.

It’s unclear if Evans will be available for Friday’s game against USF.

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Texas could pay student-athletes $10K annually

money AP

Everyone knew there was a new day dawning for collegiate athletics, thanks to autonomy for Power Five conferences and the O’Bannon lawsuit and the like. Part of the change called for increased benefits for all student-athletes in elite conferences specifically, including football players.

Tuesday, one university put a price tag on that change.

At a Big 12 sports forum yesterday, Texas athletic director Steve Patterson revealed that his university will soon begin paying its student-athletes in every sport, male and female. UT expects to spend $6 million annually on the endeavor, which works out to roughly $10,000 per athlete per year.

The Dallas Morning News writes that “[t]he money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by a traditional full scholarship and give each player $5,000 in compensation for the university’s use of his image.” The latter is in connection to the O’Bannon suit.

While an athletic department like Texas, the most profitable in the country, can merely reach into its couches to cover the added expense, there are others at the forum who intimated that cuts in sports could be one casualty of the payments.

“If we begin to [further] remunerate the participants, that’s going to break that model,” UT women’s sports athletic director Chris Plonsky warned.

“We’re in for a period of dynamic change,” said former Maryland basketball All-American and U.S. Representative Tom McMillen. “The system has to change. The money needs to be handled differently.”

Texas, incidentally, becomes the first school to announce specific payments to student-athletes.  It had previously been thought that, with the autonomy legislation, athletes would receive an additional $2,000 to $5,000 to cover the true cost of attendance.

Just when UT will begin paying the five-figure sum is unclear.

(Tip O’ the Cap: our very own Zach Barnett, over at his other job at FootballScoop.com)

UPDATED 4:28 p.m. ET: And now we have a little more clarity to the lack of a timeline.

To further clarify, the $5,000 “image use” to which the Morning News alluded would be placed in a trust fund.  Also, UT and other schools would wait until autonomy is officially approved in January.

Additionally, the $5,000/$5,000 split, should the O’Bannon suit be successful for the plaintiffs, is expected to be a similar range for other Power Five schools.

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Georgia fan Evander Holyfield happy his son received UGA offer

Evander Holyfield Photo Session

Evander Holyfield is a boxing legend. He also played some football in his younger days before embarking on his path to boxing fame. Now he is the father to one of the top football recruits in his home state of Georgia. Running back Elijah Holyfield is a four-star prospect in the Class of 2016 according to Rivals. The younger Holyfield has been drawing interest from plenty of schools out there including Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, South Carolina and many more form the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. It is one of the most recent offers to come his son’s way that has the former heavyweight champ smiling the most. Georgia is among the recent schools to extend an offer to Elijah Holyfield.

“I was happy about that offer because I’m a Georgia fan,” Evander said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And then I found out that he liked Georgia, so that offer was a good thing.”

Elijah Holyfield is reportedly considering Michigan as a top choice, but as of now the recruiting for the Class of 2016 is in the very early stages. Holyfield still has his senior year in front of him after this season, so plenty can change between now and National Signing Day in 2016.

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Will Muschamp turns to QB Treon Harris to save season (and job?)

Missouri v Florida Getty Images

After a horrendous loss at home at the hands of Missouri, Florida head coach Will Muschamp is finally handing the offense over to freshman quarterback Treon Harris. The question is whether or not the damage has already been done in Gainesville.

Harris will replace Jeff Driskel as the starting quarterback for the Gators. Florida is off this week, but the Gators take on a red-hot Georgia team next week in Jacksonville (and the Bulldogs are hoping to have running back Todd Gurley back on the field). Harris would have started in place of Driskel two weeks ago against LSU, but a university investigation connecting Harris to an alleged sexual assault held him out of practice. Harris was later cleared to play after the accuser dropped her complaint, but Harris had already missed a week of practice and Florida was forced to go with Driskel once more at quarterback.

Harris first saw the field this season in a win against Tennessee. Trailing when he entered the game, Harris provided juts enough of a spark to help lead Florida to a road win at Tennessee. Harris did not play against LSU, but he did enter last weekend’s game against Missouri. He completed eight of 12 pass attempts for 98 yards and a touchdown and he added another 26 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.

Muschamp is without question sitting on a hot seat at Florida, and AD Jeremy Foley has said the evaluation of Muschamp will be done at the end of the season before making any decisions on the future of the program. Muschamp really needs Harris to lead Florida to some wins in the SEC, otherwise he may be updating his résumé for prospective employers this offseason.

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Michigan State gets All-Big Ten center back for Wolverines

Michigan State v Oregon

Michigan State’s offensive line is about to get stronger this week as the Spartans prepare for Michigan. Jack Allen, an All-Big Ten player, will be back in the middle of the offensive line this weekend.

Allen was injured two weeks ago in a victory against Purdue. Allen is believed to have injured his ankle, which caused him to miss last week’s game against Indiana. Head coach Mark Dantonio rarely sheds any light on injuries, so the exact details of Allen’s injury are unconfirmed. As reported by MLive.com, Allen appeared to have his left ankle stepped on by Michigan State running back Nick Hill during a running play. The injury occurred in the fourth quarter and he did not return.

Connor Kruse filled in for Allen in the middle of the offensive line last week against the Hoosiers. This week Kruse will remain on the offensive line’s starting unit, but he will slide to right guard. This season the defending Big Ten champion Spartans rank fourth in the Big Ten in rushing offense with an average of 261.43 yards per game on the ground. The Michigan State offensive line has allowed just four sacks this season, tied for best in the Big Ten with Wisconsin.

Michigan State hosts Michigan on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. eastern.

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New report says UNC academic fraud more widespread than initially thought

Kenneth Wainstein, US Attorney for the D

The academic fraud that took place at the University of North Carolina may have been more wide-spread than initially thought. According to information released in a brand new report released by Kenneth Wainstein, a former U.S. Justice Department official, more than 3,100 students enrolled in classes they did not have to show up for to receive credit. This took place over a span of approximately two decades, and according to the report, nearly half of those enrolled in the classes were student-athletes.

According to the findings of the investigation, about 47 percent of the enrollment in 188 classes were student-athletes. Of that percentage, 51 percent were football players. It does look as though any of these problems happened under the tenure of current football head coach Larry Fedora, but the investigation does cover the tenures of Butch Davis and Mack Brown. Many of the student-athletes enrolled in the fraudulent classes were “steered” toward enrolling by academic counselors. One thing that the investigation did say is there is no evidence the university tried to obscure the facts of the scandal. Some students were enrolled in the classes without their knowledge, and the report says at least one counselor would present a list of grades needed to keep a player eligible to an office administrator.

In 2012 the NCAA hit UNC’s football program with a one-year postseason ban and reduced the number of available scholarships that could be used. Those sanctions came following an investigation into alleged academic issues related to tutors helping players against NCAA rules. The NCAA has reopened an investigation into the program in light of newly discovered evidence. Much of that information is likely to be pulled from this report’s findings. Wainstein has met with the NCAA at least three times to review the findings of his investigation. How the NCAA will address this new information remains to be seen. The NCAA may also have to explain how it failed to uncover at least some of the information discovered in this investigation.

The NCAA has issued a statement on the findings of this new investigation.

One question that pops up now is whether or not this was an academic or an athletics problem. The university had gone on record suggesting this was not an athletics issue in the past, but now it may want you to believe it is just that.

Of course, it may be both.

The university has set-up a website with all of the details and documents related to the Wainstein investigation’s findings.

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WVU player cited for excessive celebration in weekend riots

West Virginia v Alabama Getty Images

Following West Virginia’s big victory over Baylor on Saturday, students and fans took to the streets in destructive fashion. This resulted in 32 street fires and seven more dumpster fires being ignited that would require a response from the local fire department. A total of 114 emergency calls, 135 non-emergency calls and 126 other incidents were called to 911. The city of Morgantown continues to review the extent of the damage done over the weekend.

Among those cited for celebrating the victory in such fashion happened to be one member of the West Virginia football team. Redshirt freshman tight end and fullback Elijah Wellman, was charged with disorderly conduct. Seeing as how the game itself saw penalty flag after penalty flag, perhaps it should not be a surprise a player was later called for a foul in the aftermath.

West Virginia president Gordon Gee spoke out against the actions of those involved with the celebratory rioting.

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