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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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Buckeyes sending conflicting message with hype video?

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As you get set for your Thanksgiving feast, here’s a little something to chew on in the meanwhile.

During the 2013 edition of The Game between Ohio State and Michigan, a pair of Buckeyes — offensive lineman Marcus Hall and running back Dontre Wilsonwere ejected for throwing punches in the midst of a kick-return fracas. Mindful of that situation, Urban Meyer had a message his players were to carry into this year’s version of The Game.

“He said he wants the game to be very intense, but if anybody throws a punch they’re dismissed,” linebacker Curtis Grant said Monday. “He pretty much put it out there [Sunday]. There’s no telling what will happen if we get in a fight this year.”

Fast-forward a day or so later, and OSU released a hype video for this year’s game — Meyer tweeted it out to his 140,000-plus followers — that featured, you guessed it, fisticuffs and dust-ups from past UM-OSU football battles.

 

“What do you expect?” defensive lineman Michael Bennett said Monday of the volatility of The Game in general and last year’s game specifically. “We just watched this highlight video of Ohio State-Team Up North fights for the last week on repeat with ‘It’s Time for War‘ playing the whole time. Kids wanna fight, that’s just how it is. It didn’t surprise me.”

When it comes to Meyer’s ultimatum, is this is one of those “do as I say, not as I hype video” type deals? You be the judge.

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LSU’s Mike the Tiger ate Texas A&M (logo) for breakfast

Mike the Tiger

Many of us will be feasting on turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie and perhaps a green bean casserole or cranberry sauce if you prefer. But tigers need to eat too, right?

LSU is playing Texas A&M Thursday night to add to your football enjoyment. In honor of the occasion, LSU made sure to prepare an appropriate Thanksgiving Eve feast for Mike The Tiger. Today, Mike was fed raw meat in the form of Texas A&M’s logo, with a question on social media asking how many tigers it takes to devour the Aggies.

The answer? Just one.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 9.35.15 PM

It should be noted, this is a fairly common treat for Mike the Tiger. He has also devoured the logos of Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss this season.

Image via Mike the Tiger’s Instagram.

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Clemson QB Watson might have shot to snap losing streak to Gamecocks

Deshaun Watson

When Clemson lost starting quarterback Deshaun Watson to a sprained LCL in mid-November, there was a chance he could be expected to return this season. With just days to go leading up to The Palmetto Bowl against South Carolina, it appears there is a chance Watson will play for Clemson. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had some good things to say about Watson’s healthy and mobility in practice this week.

“I thought he was better today than he was yesterday,” Swinney said, according to TigerNet. “It’s just like I have been saying it gets better each day. I know he was more confident today than he was yesterday.”

Cole Stoudt has been leading the offense and will be Clemson’s starter this week unless Watson is deemed ready to step back into the starting job. Watson replaced Stoudt earlier in the season against Florida State and held onto the job until getting injured. Swinney will play it safe and wait until he sees more before throwing Watson back under center.

“Tomorrow is another important day for us from a preparation standpoint. I think he has a good chance,” Swinney added. “How much or when? We haven’t decided that yet. But I think he definitely has a chance to play.”

Clemson has lost five straight games to their in-state rivals from the SEC. The last time Clemson defeated South Carolina at home was in 2008.

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Status of UCLA starting WR unknown following practice injury

Thomas Duarte, Adoree' Jackson

UCLA needs one more win to clinch the Pac-12 South Division, but the Bruins may have to do so without the services of one of their top wide receivers. Thomas Duarte had to leave practice on Tuesday after injuring his left leg, putting his status for Saturday’s contest with Stanford in some question.

“He is so important to us,” UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said according to The Los Angeles Times. “He has excellent ball skills, and that’s big for us. He is an inside guy that causes matchup problems.”

Duarte is UCLA’s second-leading receiver this season with 458 yards and three touchdowns. Tyler Scott has been listed behind Duarte on the UCLA depth chart and could be in line for a spot start if needed. Freshman Mossi Johnson could be another possible option if it comes to needing to replace Duarte.

If UCLA defeats Stanford, the Bruins will win the Pac-12 South and face Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game. A UCLA loss to Stanford will hand the division championship to the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game.

Stanford will be playing UCLA without its top wide receiver. Ty Montgomery has been ruled out due to a right shoulder injury.

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Is it better for Ohio State to play Wisconsin or Minnesota (again)?

Ohio State v Minnesota Getty Images

Regardless of what unfolds Saturday in Columbus, Ohio we know the Ohio State Buckeyes will be heading to the Big Ten Championship Game as the Big Ten East Division champions. The Buckeyes will learn whom they will face on Saturday as Wisconsin and Minnesota play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the Big Ten West Division championship. With Ohio State looking to make a push up the College Football Playoff rankings in the next two weeks, does it matter more if Ohio State plays Wisconsin or Minnesota?

Here is the situation for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are currently ranked sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings. TCU is ranked just ahead of Ohio State and Mississippi State owns the fourth spot in the rankings. Baylor is in the conversation as well, sitting at seventh place just behind Ohio State.

Ohio State has already played Minnesota this season, winning a competitive game on the road in the snow just a couple of weeks ago. Ohio State did not have Wisconsin on the regular season schedule. If the committee compares results against similar opponents, then TCU seems to hold an edge on Ohio State with a wider margin of victory against Minnesota from a game in September. As it turns out, the Minnesota game is helping keep TCU ahead of Baylor, despite the Horned Frogs losing a head-to-head result against Baylor and having an identical record.

For Ohio State, winning the final two games of the season will be an absolute must in order to have a shot at one of the four playoff spots, especially if Alabama, Florida State and Oregon win their remaining games and conference championship games. Ohio State will have to hope the selection committee sticks to the idea of conference championships carrying a little extra weight when it comes time to selecting the four playoff teams. That overall body of work would likely look more impressive with a Big Ten championship game victory over a surging Wisconsin, with a potential Heisman Trophy running back in Melvin Gordon leading the Badgers offense.

There is no guarantee Ohio State can leapfrog TCU and Mississippi State. If ending the season on a high note holds any significance, then Ohio State may have the best argument to make with a win against Wisconsin. Would playing Minnesota a second time have the same importance?

Well, actually…

If Minnesota beats Wisconsin, it is possible the Gophers could climb as many as five spots in the next playoff ranking. This happens easier if Auburn loses to Alabama, Georgia Tech loses to Georgia and Missouri loses to Arkansas. The loser of the Arizona-Arizona State game should also fall behind a victorious Minnesota. Then we would be talking about a top 13 Minnesota, and this is assuming UCLA is not upset by Stanford or Michigan State upset by Penn State.

But Ohio State has already proven it can beat Minnesota, doing so on the road. Doing it again on a neutral field does not add much to the overall body of work for Ohio State. Adding another team to the list of opponents would likely be more beneficial to the Buckeyes. Wisconsin beating Minnesota would diminish the attractiveness of one of Ohio State’s wins, but it would do the same for TCU as well. The more Minnesota wins, the better things could play out for TCU, and not Ohio State.

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Georgia Southern has bowl waiver denied

Georgia Southern has already clinched a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship in its first season at the FBS level, but it does not look as though the Eagles will be going to a bowl game. The university reportedly filed for a waiver to be eligible to participate in a postseason bowl game, but that waiver has been denied. Georgia Southern can still file an appeal and hope for the best.

Any appeal decision at this point is likely to uphold the original ruling on the waiver. If bowl spots start to become harder to fill, then the chances Georgia Southern could receive a positive response could increase.

Programs moving up from the FCS to the FBS ranks are ineligible for postseason play in their first year in FBS. Exceptions may be made to allow these schools play in a bowl game, but this has rarely been a legitimate concern. Georgia Southern’s case is just about as strong as it could have been with a share of the Sun Belt title and a chance to win the conference’s outright title.

Georgia Southern can win the outright Sun Belt title with a win against ULM or a Louisiana-Lafayette loss to Troy this weekend. The Sun Belt’s champion typically plays in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

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Todd Gurley begins rehab after ACL surgery

Todd Gurley

Georgia running back Todd Gurley underwent surgery on Tuesday to address a torn ACL, and he started his rehab on Wednesday.

It used to be a torn ACL would keep a player out of action for a year, but sometimes players can come back earlier than they used to thanks to improved medical treatment and rehab practices. Regardless, Gurley should not be expected to play again this season and he will likely be limited at best in the spring. The other question is whether or not Gurley will be working to return for one more season at Georgia or if he will risk taking a shot at the NFL while coming off a torn ACL.

Returning for one more year at Georgia would appear to be the most logical situation for Gurley. Before the injury Gurley would have likely been the first running back off the big board in the 2015 NFL Draft, but considering the diminished running back stock in the NFL Draft and the injury, heading to the NFL would be an unwise move for Gurley right now.

Gurley recently had his anticipated return to the field cut short. After sitting out four games due to a suspension, Gurley returned to action in a home game against Auburn. It was a fine return, but a torn ACL in the final minutes of the game put a damper on the entire game despite the win.

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Broyles Award nominees include Kiffin, Venables, 38 others

Lane Kiffin

With the next round fo the coaching carousel about to get underway at full speed, some programs may want to pay attention to the list of names nominated for the Broyles Award. The Broyles Award is presented annually to the top assistant coach in college football, and the list of 40 nominees for this year’s award includes some names with previous head coaching experience and others about to be in line for a head coaching gig somewhere around the country.

Current head coaches who previously won the Broyles Award include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, UConn’s Bob Diaco and Duke’s David Cutcliffe. Last year’s Broyles Award winner was Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who many feel could be ready for a head coaching offer in the next round of the coaching carousel.  This year Narduzzi is not a finalist for the award, but Spartans co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner is.

“This will be one of the most challenging years ever for our selection committee to choose the top 5 finalists and winner, so many assistant coaches did outstanding work this year,” David Bazzel, Broyles Award executive director.

This year’s Broyles Award winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 9 by The Rotary Club of Little Rock and sponsor Delta Dental. The award is named after former Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles, who had a solid track record of pumping out quality assistant coaches. Some of the assistants who coaches under Broyles include Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Hayden Fry, Joe Gibbs, and Jackie Sherrill.

Broyles Award Nominees

Alabama – Lane Kiffin, Offensive Coordinator
Appalachian State – Dwayne Ledford, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Arizona – Jeff Casteel, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas – Robb Smith, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas State University – Walt Bell, Offensive Coordinator
Boise State University – Mike Sanford, Offensive Coordinator
Boston College – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator
Brigham Young University – Nick Howell, Defensive coordinator
Clemson – Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator
Colorado State – Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator
Duke University – John Latina, Run Game Coordinator/OL
East Carolina University – Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator
FIU – Josh Conklin, Defensive Coordinator
Georgia Southern University – Doug Ruse, Offensive Coordinator
Louisiana – Marquase Lovings, Running Backs
Louisiana Tech – Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator
Louisville – Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator
Memphis – James Shibest, Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
Miami – Mark D’Onofrio, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan – Greg Mattison, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan State University – Dave Warner, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Minnesota – Tracy Claeys, Defensive Coordinator
Mississippi State – Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator
Missouri – Dave Steckel, Defensive Coordinator
NC State – Desmond Kitchings, Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator
Ohio State University – Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator
Ole Miss – Dave Wommack, Defensive Coordinator
Oregon – Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator
Penn State University – Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator
Stanford – Lance Anderson, Defensive Coordinator
TCU – Doug Meacham, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Temple – Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator
UCF – Brent Key, Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
UCLA – Noel Mazzone, Offensive Coordinator
Utah – Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator
Utah State University – Todd Orlando, Defensive Coordinator
UTSA – Neal Neathery, Defensive Coordinator
West Virginia University – Tony Gibson, Defensive Coordinator
Western Michigan University – Kirk Ciarrocca, Offensive Coordinator
Wisconsin – Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator

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Freeze, on Bo Wallace: ‘have to chain him down to keep him from’ Egg Bowl

Mississippi v Arkansas Getty Images

While it’s not yet officially official, it appears Ole Miss’ triggerman will indeed be under center for the Egg Bowl Saturday.

Bo Wallace missed a substantial chunk of the Arkansas loss last week after injuring his ankle.  During practice leading up to the rivalry game against Mississippi State, Wallace has been somewhat limited.

On the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday, however, Wallace’s head coach seemed decidedly optimistic that the quarterback will be on the field when the Rebels take on the Bulldogs.

You would have to chain him down to keep him from going,” Hugh Freeze said. “He’s looking better every day. We anticipate him being ready to go.”

If Wallace were to suffer a setback, the Rebels would turn to either Devante Kincaid and Ryan Buchanan. The backup duo, both redshirt freshmen, has attempted 39 passes this season, with Kincaid completing 15 of his 17 attempts.

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Hoos your coach in 2015? For Virginia, it’s Mike London

Mike London AP

There will be many head coaches dragged to the chopping block over the next month or so.  One of those who won’t be, somewhat surprisingly, is Mike London.

With speculation swirling, Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage confirmed in a press release Wednesday afternoon that London will be returning as the Cavaliers’ head coach in 2015.  A two-win team in London’s fourth season last year, the Cavaliers stand at five wins in 2014 and on the cusp of bowl eligibility.

It’s that improvement that led Littlepage to take his finger off the trigger and give London what most would consider a one-year reprieve.

“It was important to see improvement in our football program this season,” Littlepage’s statement began. “I’ve seen signs of progress in many areas. Through the staff changes made over the last two years, we are better at teaching the game and in the overall development of the student-athletes. We also continue to notice the commitment by this group of coaches and student-athletes to their academic and community responsibilities.

“The staff has re-focused its recruiting efforts to emphasize the need to attract student-athletes capable of helping the program compete at a high level in the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference. We are seeing many of these student-athletes on the field right now and the staff continues to have success on the recruiting trail. We will continue to support the program in their efforts to maximize their recruiting success.

“It’s important for each of our sports programs to continue to show progress and follow a plan to compete for conference championships and in postseason competition to support the department’s goals. I trust the plan Mike has in place and believe his leadership provides the best opportunity for Virginia football to be successful in the future.”

In London’s five-plus seasons, UVa is 23-37 overall and 11-28 in ACC play.  An 8-5 season in 2011 led to speculation that he would replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.  London instead remained in Charlottesville, and the Cavaliers finished sixth and seventh in the Coastal division in 2012 and 2013, respectively; they’re tied for fourth this year.

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Report: no contact between Braxton Miller, Oregon

Braxton Miller AP

It’s not just the coaching rumor mill that’s churning the day before Turkey Day.

Because of J.T. Barrett‘s eyebrow-raising success this season, success that has put the redshirt freshman squarely in the Heisman mix, speculation has been growing that the window on Braxton Miller‘s days at Ohio State is closing.  As the speculation goes, Miller will look to transfer from the Buckeyes — as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately — and move on to a situation that would afford him the opportunity to be the starter for his final collegiate season, which may or may not be the case at OSU.

Miller’s name, despite no hints from the player himself, mind you, has been connected to schools such as Auburn, Boston College and, most notably, Oregon.  The Ducks would make sense on numerous levels, as both the offensive system utilized would seem to match Miller’s skillset and UO’s triggerman, Marcus Mariota, is expected to leave early for the NFL.  The dot-connecting is reasonable, although that doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

According to The Oregonian, and citing a source with knowledge of the situation, “[t]here has been no contact between Oregon and either Miller or anyone acting on his behalf.” Leading up to the paper knocking down the talk, there was a rumor making the rounds that Miller had let it be known to the UO football program that he had an interest in the school and offensive coordinator Scott Frost followed up on that interest during a recruiting trek a couple of weeks ago. One of the problems with that, the paper notes, is that Frost wasn’t on the recruiting trail at that time.

A little over a week ago, NFL.com reported that “the quarterback’s plan for now is to remain at Ohio State and lead the Buckeyes in 2015.” Two months ago, Urban Meyer stated emphatically that Miller is his guy.

Braxton is our quarterback,” Meyer said Sept. 30. “To be fair to Braxton, Big Ten Player of the Year. But it’s good to know we’ve got both of them.”

A month and a half later, Meyer’s tune had changed slightly as he heavily intimated Miller will have to earn the job back… if he even stays, which the head coach seemed to hint at as well.

Competition brings out the best, and I’m really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year, if that’s the plan,” the coach hedged.

If it’s made clear to Miller that he will have to earn back a job that he held for three years prior to re-injuring his shoulder during summer camp, it will be interesting to see if he accepts the challenge or moves on.  And, if there is a true competition, is it something Miller can even win?  Barrett, in 11 games, has already proven to be the better passer of the two — as the competition has already pointed out — and his running ability, while not at Miller’s level, is a significant weapon as well.

It’s hard to see how Meyer could send Barrett back to the bench after the season he’s had, one that could see a mid-December trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.  It’s also hard to see how Meyer could keep Miller, the 2012 and 2013 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, off the field.  One way or the other, whether it’s by transfer attrition or competition, something has got to give.

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Clemson-South Carolina officially dubbed ‘The Palmetto Bowl’

Clemson v South Carolina Getty Images

After years of fans and media alike ofttimes and unofficially referring to it as “The Palmetto Bowl,” the in-state rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina has officially taken on that moniker, both schools announced Wednesday.

Seeing as both teams hail from “The Palmetto State,” the name makes perfect sense.  The announcement also comes just a couple of days before the 112th meeting between the two football programs.

“This is one of the premier games every year in college football, and it’s a great opportunity for our institutions to increase exposure to the State of South Carolina and all the great people here,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. “To name this game ‘The Palmetto Bowl’ hopefully adds to the identity of this great rivalry.”

“From ‘Big Thursday’ to ‘The Palmetto Bowl,’ there is so much history and tradition to showcase about this rivalry,” said Radakovich’s South Carolina counterpart, Ray Tanner. “The Palmetto Bowl gives this rivalry an identity that highlights the State of South Carolina and the accomplishments of these outstanding institutions.”

In addition to the name, the schools also announced a trophy and logo will be developed and unveiled prior to the 2015 game.

Behind only Minnesota-Wisconsin (108 this weekend), Clemson-South Carolina is the second-longest, consecutively-played rivalry in the country at 106 straight (as of Saturday).  The Tigers currently lead the series 65-42-4, although the Gamecocks have won five straight and six of the last eight.

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Sun Devils’ leading receiver to play in Territorial Cup

Jaelen Strong, Dominique Hatfield

A head injury kept the most productive piece of Arizona State’s passing game out of last week’s game.  That, though, won’t be the case on rivalry weekend.

Tuesday, Todd Graham confirmed that Jaelen Strong will play in this Saturday’s Territorial Cup battle with Arizona.  Graham allowed that the wide receiver was “close to playing last week” against Washington State, but the team decided to take the precautionary route because of the concussion.

That won’t be the case this week as the symptoms have subsided, giving the offense back one of its most potent weapons.

It’s going to be great to have him back,” quarterback Taylor Kelly said. “It’s going to open up D.J. (Foster) and our running game and also get Cam Smith the ball more.”

Strong is tops on the Sun Devils in receptions (71), receiving yards (982) and receiving touchdowns (nine). Those totals are good for 12th, 16th and T-11th in the nation, respectively, and fourth among Pac-12 receivers in all three categories.

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TCU with good news, no news on skill-player front

B.J. Catalon, Orion Stewart

TCU’s skill-position players are getting healthier. Whether they are getting really healthy as the push toward a potential spot in the College Football Playoff remains to be seen.

Gary Patterson confirmed Tuesday that wide receiver Deante’ Gray will play in the Thanksgiving Day game against Texas. Gray has missed the past two games with a foot injury.

Despite being sidelined for a pair of games, Gray is still tied for the lead in touchdown receptions with seven, while he’s third in receiving yards (486) and fourth in receptions (29).

On the not-so-good injury front is B.J. Catalon.

The running back sustained what’s only been described as an upper-torso injury — the speculation is that it’s a concussion — in the Nov. 1 win over West Virginia. Catalon did not play in the last two games, wins over Kansas State and Kansas, because of the injury. Whether it’s a third straight sidelining is unclear, although it’s not sounding promising.

I don’t know whether B.J. will be with us or not,” the head coach said when asked about Catalon’s availability for the holiday road trip to Austin.

This season, Catalon has accounted for 910 all-purpose yards — 493 rushing, 163 receiving, 254 on returns. That versatility led the junior to be named as one of the five finalists for the Hornung Award.

Despite those two missed games, he still leads the Horned Frogs with 10 rushing touchdowns. He’s returned a punt for a touchdown this year as well.

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Wazzu to induct Steve Gleason into its Hall of Fame

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

If you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up, we have you covered.

During Saturday’s Apple Cup game with Washington, Washington State will induct its Class of 2014 into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. That class will consist of one person: Steve Gleason.

Gleason played both football and baseball for the Cougars from 1995-99. On the gridiron, he was a two-time captain; he was a captain on the baseball team his senior year as well. Three times he earned All-Pac-10 honors in football, and four times he was a Pac-10 All-Academic selection.

In 2011, a handful of years after a seven-year NFL career came to an end, Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Since then, Gleason established “Team Gleason,” a foundation that looks to raise money and awareness for ALS.

Gleason raising awareness will serve as his lasting and most impactful legacy; his collegiate athletic prowess, though, will now have an official legacy as well.

“Steve is a tremendous Cougar and his induction Saturday night into the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame is well deserved,” said athletic director Bill Moos in a statement. “With a sold-out Martin Stadium for the Apple Cup, I can think of no better setting to highlight Steve’s accomplishments than in front of a fan base that has admired him for so many years.”

Gleason’s induction will take place between the first and second quarters of the rivalry game. It will mark the first time in the school’s history that just one former student-athlete has been inducted in that year’s class.

Based on how Gleason lived his life before and after his diagnosis, the honor is well-deserved.

 

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