USF welcomes 23 newcomers to the football program

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

TAMPA – The University of South Florida is entering the first year of the Willie Taggart era, and will do so with a group of 23 newcomers that cover virtually every position on the field. The Bulls finished off their 2013 recruiting class with 20 signees on Wednesday to go along with two junior college transfers, and one early enrollee, who have been on campus since the start of the spring semester in January.

Of the 23 newest members of the South Florida family, nine reside on the offensive side of the ball, while 14 are project to play defense. In addition, 18 of the newcomers earned all-state honors during their prep careers.

USF quickly utilized the state’s deep talent pool with 18 of the 23 signees hailing from Florida. The Bulls also received signatures from four Georgia players and one from Kansas.

The Bulls class includes six players at the defensive back position and three linebackers. Coach Taggart adds Hassan Childs of Osceola, Nate Godwin of Freedom, Lamar Robbins of Southridge, Torrel Saffold of Butler Community College, Johnny Ward of Colquitt County, and Darius Whitty of First Coast to the DB position. In the linebacker slot, the position will welcome Rahmon Swain of Butler Community College and local standouts Nigel Harris of Hillsborough and Mitchell Wright of Plant High School.

The defensive line will add three Florida natives in defensive tackles Derrick Calloway (Bradenton), Bruce Hector (Tampa) and Deadrin Senat (Immokalee). All three were all-state selctions by The Associated Press as seniors.

Additionally on the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls add defensive ends Mike Love of Clearwater (Countryside) and Eric Mayes of Sarasota (Booker).

Offensively, USF welcomes a pair of running backs in Sta’fon McCray (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola) and Darius Tice (Miami, Fla./Northwestern) along with fullback Auggie Sanchez (St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeast). McCray rushed for 3,248 yards and 42 TDS over his final two seasons while earning first-team 7A all-state honors. Tice posted 1,587 yards during his junior and senior years and picked up all-state honors. Sanchez, whose brother Armando played for the Bulls, saw most of his action on the defensive side of the ball, tallying 298 tackles and 39 sacks.

Wide receiver Zach Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Catholic) also joins the Bulls and will be working with quarterback signee Mike White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School). White was named the 3A Florida Player of the Year as a senior.

USF welcomes a pair of offensive linemen from Altanta, Ga., in Jeremi Hall and Dominique Threatt, who both played at Tri-Cities High School. Joining the pair on the o-line is Tampa native Cameron Ruff (Jesuit).

Emilio Nadelman, a place-kicker out of Miami, Fla. (Central), has already enrolled at USF and rounds out the Bulls’ 2013 signing class.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.