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Virginia announces recruiting class of 22

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

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia football program signed 21 student-athletes to a National Letters of Intent (NLI) for the 2013-14 academic school year head coach Mike London announced. One additional recruit enrolled at UVa in January, topping the class off at 22. Highlighting the nationally ranked class are 10 signees from the state of Virginia, including six from the Richmond region and three from the Tidewater region.

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

George Adeosun
6-6 • 295 • OL
Alpharetta, Ga.
Alpharetta HS

Played offensive tackle at Alpharetta High School for head coach Jason Dukes … a native of Nigeria, didn’t start playing football until reaching high school … started junior season on the junior varsity team and an injury forced him to make varsity debut blocking ESPN’s No. 2 recruit and Auburn signee Carl Lawson … holding his own, he remained on varsity for the remainder of his career … student body president at Alpharetta High School … a four-star player by 247sports … a three-star player by Rivals.com, ESPN.com and Scout.com.

Zach Bradshaw
6-3 • 210 • ATH
Damascus, Md.
Damascus HS

Played linebacker, receiver and kick returner for head coach Eric Wallich at Damascus High School … named to the Maryland Consensus All-State team at linebacker … also named to Maryland’s Big School All-State team at linebacker … Washington Post All-Met first team and Montgomery Gazette first team honoree … one of the state’s top all-around performers, a defensive standout who had more than 600 receiving yards and handled kick return duties … played in the 2012 Chesapeake Bowl … listed as three-star player by ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports … attended the same high school as current UVa safety Brandon Phelps.

Tyrell Chavis
6-3 • 290 • DT
Richmond, Va.
Varina HS/Fork Union Military Academy

Was a 2012 signee with Virginia before attending Fork Union Military Academy for a post-graduate season where he played for coach John Shuman … offensive guard and defensive tackle for head coach Stu Brown at Varina High School … first-team all-district offensive lineman … first-team all-region offensive and defensive line … Touchdown Club of Richmond first-team defensive lineman … first-team All-Metro offensive and defensive line … is a four-star player by 247Sports and the No. 9 prep player in the country … a three-star player by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … played at Varina with current UVa cornerback Maurice Canady … son of Marie Chavis … has an older brother, Robert … enjoys cooking.

Malcolm Cook
6-1 • 195 • S
Richmond, Va.
Fork Union Military Academy

Played safety for head coach Captain Brian Hurlocker at Fork Union Military Academy, playing for the high school team … was an All-Prep League and Virginia Prep/Rivals.com All-State honoree … made 96 tackles and intercepted nine passes, four of which he returned for touchdowns … amassed 369 interception yards … had a 100-yard interception for a touchdown against St. Christopher’s … returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Georgetown Prep … scored a receiving touchdown against Liberty Christian in the VIS Division 1 State Championship game … caused three fumbles during the season … caught four passes for 59 yards … spent first three years of high school at Armstrong High School in Richmond where he also played quarterback … made 67 tackles and had seven interceptions at Armstrong in 2011 … returned five of his interceptions at Armstrong in 2011 for touchdowns … a four-star player by 247Sports … a three-star player by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … ranked the No. 27 safety in the nation by 247Sports … ranked the No. 13 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times.

Corwin Cutler
6-4 • 180 • QB
Chesapeake, Va.
Ocean Lakes HS

Played quarterback at Ocean Lakes High School for head coach Chris Scott … senior season was cut short due to injury, but still threw for over 2,100 yards and 30 touchdowns … VHSL Group AAA All-State first-state first-team honoree … named a VHSCA All-State first-team quarterback as a senior … All-Tidewater first-team honoree while guiding the Dolphins to an unbeaten regular season and Beach District Championship … Beach District Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Eastern Region … threw for over 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011 … finished high school career with 4,635 career passing yards in regular season games, which ranks No. 12 all-time on the South Hampton Roads career passing list … ranked by ESPN.com as a four-star player and the No. 21 quarterback in the class of 2013 … a three-star player by 247Sports, Scout.com and Rivals.com … ranked the No. 14 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … nickname is Turtle.

Jack English
6-5 • 260 • DL
Richmond, Va.
St. Christopher’s School

Played tight end and defensive line at St. Christopher’s School for head coach Michael Turner … Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro second team in 2012 … was a three-year letterwinner in football, earning all-state, all-prep and All-Metro honors twice … as a tight end, made 11 catches for 204 yards and one touchdown in 2012 … made 56 tackles and 17.0 tackles for loss … also collected five sacks for a loss of 43 yards … made 50 tackles, including 20 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2011 … also plays baseball and basketball … all-prep and all-state pitcher and outfielder on the baseball team … is a three-star player by ESPN.com and Rivals.com … ranked the No. 18 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … son of Ben and Loretta English … has an older brother, Patrick … has an older sister, Kate.

Kirk Garner
5-11 • 180 • S
Olney, Md.
Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

Played safety and receiver at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School for head coach Bob Milloy … rushed 10 times for 70 yards and one touchdown … caught 18 passes for 270 yards … made 42 tackles on defense and two tackles for a loss … snatched four interceptions and caused two fumbles … returned a kickoff against Gonzaga for a 78-yard touchdown … returned 14 punts for 128 yards … Maryland Consensus All- State honoree … All-State Big Schools first team at defensive back … All-WCAC first team at wide receiver … All-Gazette first team … All-Met second team as a defensive back … played in the 2012 Chesapeake Bowl … made 33 tackles as a junior in 2011 … a four-star player by Rivals.com … a three-star player by 247sports, ESPN.com and Scout.com … current Cavaliers E.J. Scott and Vincent Croce attended the same high school.

Tim Harris
6-2 • 190 • DB
Richmond, Va.
Varina HS

Defensive back and wide receiver at Varina High School for head coach Stud Brown … Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro first team … played in the Chesapeake Bowl … ranked the No. 10 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … All-Capital and All-Central Region first-team honoree … ranked as the No. 11 recruit in Virginia according to the 2013 Daily Press Fab 15 … a four-star performer by 247sports, ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com … the No. 124-rated player in the nation by 247sports and the No. 16 rated cornerback … the No. 179-rated player in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 14-rated cornerback.

Keeon Johnson
6-3 • 200 • WR
Kannapolis, N.C.
A.L. Brown HS

Wide receiver at A.L. Brown High School for head coach Mike Newsome … in 2012, made 41 catches for 535 yards and five touchdowns … ranked as MaxPreps.com’s No. 25 wide receiver … member of the 2012 Carolina All-Gridiron team … represented the North team in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas … as a junior in 2011, caught 39 passes for 795 yards and nine touchdowns … a three-star performer by 247sports, ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Zack Jones
5-11 • 180 • WR
Chesapeake, Va.
Oscar Smith HS

Wide receiver at Oscar Smith High School for head coach Richard Morgan … earned VHSL Group AAA all-state second-team honors as a wide receiver in 2012 … caught three passes for 85 yards, one touchdown and had 116 all-purpose yards in the 2011 Group AAA Division 6 state title game, helping Oscar Smith win its second title in four years … caught 32 passes for 675 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 … named first-team all-district and all-region … named to the All-Tidewater second- team … caught 52 passes 1,015 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior … had a 90- yard kick return for a touchdown and a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown in 2011, the only two times he registered a kick return … also punted for over a 40- yard average … all-district and all-region first-team … All-Tidewater and all-state … three-star performer by 247sports, ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com … ranked the No. 19 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … brother of former UVa captain Perry Jones.

Micah Kiser
6-2 • 215 • LB
Baltimore, Md.
Gilman School

A linebacker and tight end at the Gilman School for head coach Biff Poggi … was a three-year letterwinner and a three-time All-Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Conference honoree … two-time Maryland Consensus All-State first- team defense … two-time All-Metro first-team … was the 2012 All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year … Baltimore Sun ‘s Defensive Co-Player of the Year … helped Gilman to a MIAA A Conference title defense … was a 2012 Semper Fidelis All- American … accumulated 111 tackles, two forced fumble and intercepted three passes, while returning two for touchdowns … was a team captain in senior and helped lead Gilman to a No. 19 ranking in the USA Today Super 25 high school team rankings … was a 2011 MaxPreps Air Force Junior All-American second-team linebacker … made 91 tackles and forced three fumbles as a junior in 2011 … a four- star player by 247sports and ESPN.com … a three-star player by Scout.com and Rivals.com …. also played lacrosse at Gilman in 2011 with current Cavalier Ryan Tucker … played the 2010 season of football at Gilman with current Virginia wide receiver Darius Jennings … volunteers with Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Agape House … son of Michael and Donna Kiser … has a younger brother, Jordan.

Andre Levrone
6-2 • 195 • WR
Laurel, Md.
Our Lady of Good Counsel

Played wide receiver and safety at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School for head coach Bob Milloy … suffered a lower extremity injury in the first game of 2012 and didn’t return to play until the final three games of the year … caught nine passes for 117 yards … rushed twice for 63 yards … ranked the No. 42 wide receiver in the nation and No. 2 wide receiver in Maryland by Rivals.com … ranked the No. 11 recruit from Maryland by Rivals .com … ranked the No. 1 wide receiver in Maryland by 247sports … selected first-team all-combine of the US Army All-American Junior Combine … named preseason all-state first-team by MaxPreps … named Top Performer out of the 30 participants from the state of Maryland at the Army All- American Combine by MDHigh.com … named the No. 2 wide receiver at the Top Gun Showcase Camp by Rivals.com … a three-star player by 247sports, ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com … son of Andre and Angie Levrone … has an older brother, Jonathan … has an older sister, Raquel … brother Jonathan served a tour in Iraq as a tanker in the U.S. Army … mother Angie was a high school MVP for three years in track & field, gymnastics and cheerleading … father Andre, Sr. played linebacker for his base team while serving in the Marine Corp … cousin Kevin Levrone is a IFBB Hall of Fame body builder, four-time first-runner-up to Mr. Olympia … current Cavaliers E.J. Scott and Vincent Croce attended the same high school.

Brendan Marshall
6-5 • 210 • QB
Gaithersburg, Md.
Our Lady of Good Counsel

Played quarterback and punter at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School for head coach Bob Milloy … completed 102-of-172 passing attempts for 1,375 yards and seven touchdowns to lead Good Counsel to an 11-1 record and a national rank of No. 43 … was an honorable mention All-State Big Schools first-team as a punter … had 37 punts for 1,351 yards which comes to a 36.51 average … seven punts were inside the 20 … also named All-Sentinel first-team punter … in 2011 he threw for 1,471 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior … a three-star player by 247sports, ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout .com … current Cavaliers E.J. Scott and Vincent Croce attended the same high school.

Jack McDonald
6-5 • 275 • OL
Quincy, Mass.
Boston College HS

Played the offensive and defensive line at Boston College High School for head coach Joe Gaff … also played for two seasons for head coach Jon Bartlett … three- year starter on the offensive line … two-time Catholic Conference All-Star … 2012 Catholic Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year … 2012 Massachusetts Super 26 all-state team … three-time scholar athlete … 2011 Massachusetts Division I state champion … 2012 Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic … 2012 Boston Globe All-Scholastic … earned High Honors or Honors every term of high school … volunteers at My Brothers Keeper, an organization that delivers presents and furniture to families in need … son of John and Michelle McDonald … has an older sister, Kiley … has two younger brothers, Michael and Dylan … uncle Cliff McDonald played offensive tackle at New Hampshire and held the New England Heavyweight boxing title … cousin Cliff McDonald, Jr. played football at Dartmouth.

Taquan Mizzell
5-10 • 185 • RB
Virginia Beach, Va.
Bayside HS

Played running back at Bayside High School for head coach Darnell Moore … a five- star player by Rivals.com … the first five-star recruit to come to UVa since current Jacksonville Jaguar Eugene Monroe in 2005 … a Parade All-American honorable mention honoree … ranked the No. 29 player in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 5 running back in the class … a ESPNU Top 150 prospect, ranking in at No. 78 … ranked by ESPN.com as the No. 9 running back in the nation … a four-star recruit by ESPN.com, Scout.com and 247sports … ranked the No. 3 player in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … ranked as the No. 6 recruit in Virginia according to the 2013 Daily Press Fab 15 … a Lemming Top Player for MaxPreps.com as the No. 4 running back prospect in the nation … ranked the No. 51 prospect in the nation by MaxPreps.com … selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … had a 72-yard kickoff return that set up the game-winning score as the East beat the West, 15-8, in the U.S. All-American Bowl which was played in the Alamodome in San Antonio … also played in the Chesapeake Bowl and rushed for one touchdown … All-Tidewater first-team honoree … All-Beach District first-team honoree at running back and kick returner … finished senior season with 1,231 yards rushing with 31 touchdowns … accounted for over 2,000 all-purpose yards … led Beach District in rushing … added five receiving touchdowns and returned two punts and one kickoff for scores … finished high school career with 416 regular-season points, which ranks No. 2 all-time in South Hampton Roads history … collected more than 3,500 career rushing yards … All-Beach District first-team running back and kick returner … All- Tidewater first-team honoree … VHSL Group AAA All-State second team honoree … rushed for 1,198 yards and 23 touchdowns as junior in 2011 … nickname is Smoke.

Sadiq Olanrewaju
6-6 • 280 • OL
Gaithersburg, Md.
Salisbury School (Conn.)

Played offensive line and defensive line at the Salisbury School for head coach Chris Phelps … registered 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks for a loss of 21 yards … helped the Salisbury School to the 2012 New England Championship … a three-star player by 247.com, ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com … listed as the No. 64 overall player in Scout.com’s East 100 rankings … helped school to a 9-0 record during his senior season … named to Max Emfinger’s Northeast Top-75 list … named No. 3 player in Connecticut by Rivals.com … helped team defeat Phillips Exeter Academy to win the Jack Etter Bowl and win its second New England Preparatory School Athletic Council title in the last three years.

Eric Smith
6-5 • 280 • OL
Decatur, Ga.
Columbia HS

Played offensive line at Columbia High School for head coach David Edwards … also played for former head coach Mario Allen … Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-DeKalb honoree … is a three-star player by 247sports and ESPN.com … team finished 5-5 during his senior season … starting center on high school basketball team … named to Class AAAA All-Region 6 team.

LaChaston Smith
6-0 • 215 • LB
Statesville, N.C.
South Iredell HS

January early enrollee and will participate in spring football … a linebacker and running back at South Iredell High School for head coach Scott Miller … was MVP of the North Carolina AA State title game after rushing 25 times for 159 yards and three scores … scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left in 30-27 win over Carrboro … missed most of senior season with an injury … upon return in opening round of playoffs rushed for a state single-game record of seven touchdowns on 13 carries for 191 yards and all in the first half … did not play the second half … played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas … as a junior made 82 tackles, 12 of which went for a loss … also had 1.0 sacks and two interceptions … added 99 tackles, 24 of which went for a loss in 2010 … also had 7.0 sacks and forced seven fumbles … Catawba Valley Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore … all-conference selection as both a sophomore and junior … listed as a four-star linebacker by ESPN.com … listed as three-star player by Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports … national position ranked by Rivals.com at No. 36, ESPN.com at No. 40 and Scout.com at No. 45 … son of Janice Smith … has three sisters, Shakayla, Tatiana and Kendrea Mayfield … has one brother, Preston Ellis … brother Preston ran track at Livingstone … nickname is Ray Ray.

Max Valles
6-5 • 210 • ATH
Sicklerville, N.J.
St. Joseph (Fork Union Military Academy)

Was a 2012 signee with Virginia before attending Fork Union Military Academy for a post-graduate season … played wide receiver, defensive end and safety for head coach Paul Sacco at St. Joseph High School in Hammonton, N.J. … finished 2011 with 13 catches for 204 yards and four touchdowns … on defense had 33 tackles and seven sacks … grabbed one interception, caused three fumbles and recovered one … part of a defense that allowed only 17 points the entire season (1 rushing TD, 1 passing TD & 1 FG) … member of three state championship teams, including 2011 with a 10-0 record … All-South Jersey … all-state … Press Athlete of the Fall … named All-Cape-Atlantic League … Philadelphia Inquirer South Jersey Defensive Player of the Year … also a All-Cape-Atlantic performer as an outfielder for the St. Joseph baseball team … son of Paul and Pamela Valles … has two older brothers, Andre, and Hakeem, a sophomore in 2012 on the football team at FCS Monmouth … volunteers at the St. Joseph eighth grade football camp … plans to major in criminal justice.

Eric Tetlow
6-6 • 300 • OL
Richmond, Va.
Mills E. Godwin HS

Played on the offensive line at Mills E. Godwin High School for head coach John Phillips … saw time all over the offensive line, including at center … started on the defensive line as well at Godwin … VHSL Group All-State second-team and VHSL Group AAA Coaches All-State second-team honoree on offense … VirginiaPreps.com’s All-Central Region first-team honoree … led an offensive line at Godwin that produced two players who each averaged over 96 yards rushing per game in 2012 … ranked the No. 36 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … played in the 2012 Chesapeake Bowl … a three-star player by ESPN.com, 247sports and Rivals … listed as the No. 41 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by ESPN.com … listed as the No. 23 prospect in Virginia by ESPN.com … a two-star player by Scout.com … also played baseball, basketball and wrestling first two years of high school … father Peter, who was born and raised in Australia, was a world-class swimmer, won national championships and qualified for the Olympics before coming to the United States to swim at Harvard … father was ranked as high as seventh in the world in the 1,500-meter freestyle.

Donta Wilkins
6-2 • 305 • DT
Woodbridge, Va.
Potomac HS

Played offensive and defensive line at Potomac High School for head coach Jerry Roadcap … VHSCAA All-State AAA first-team honoree as an offensive lineman … All- Met first-team honoree and two-time Northwest Region offensive and defensive player of the year … recorded 100 tackles with 12.5 sacks and 27 tackles for a loss in 2012 … played in the Chesapeake Bowl … recorded 90 tackles and 10 sacks in 2011 as a junior … also recorded 20 tackles for a loss … in 2011 was a VHSCAA All-State AAA honoree on both offense and defense … was a first-team defensive honoree and a second-team offensive honoree … ranked the No. 12 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … ranked the No. 18 defensive tackle in the nation by 247sports and the No. 13 player in the Commonwealth of Virginia regardless of position … is a four-star player by 247sports … ranked a three-star player by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Connor Wingo-Reeves
6-3 • 220 • LB
Midlothian, Va.
Monacan HS

Played linebacker and tight end at Monacan High School for head coach Danny Parsons … collected 93 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles as a senior in 2012 … Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro second-team performer in 2012 … a first-team All-Dominion District linebacker … ranked the No. 40 prospect in Virginia by the Roanoke Times … a two-star player by 247sports, ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com … also plays basketball for Monacan.

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Three Texas A&M Aggies were arrested last week

Howard Matthews, Charles Ross

It has been a whole ten days since the last time we wrote about a Texas A&M player being arrested, so let’s do some catching up. Three Texas A&M players – defensive back Howard Matthews, wide receiver Edward Pope and defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury — were arrested last Thursday according to multiple reports citing police records. All three were suspended by the university from team activities, although Stansbury has since returned.

“We are continuing to gather information,” a Texas A&M statement reads. “Gavin Stansbury was initially suspended from all athletic activities, but has since been reinstated to the team. Howard Matthews and Ed Pope were not suspended and are still members of the football team.”

Matthews was arrested and charged for speeding and failure to provide a driver’s licence after being pulled over for an expired registration. Pope and Stansbury were in the car at the time. Matthews and Pope both face a charge for failure to appear, although Pope’s charge stemmed from an earlier failure to comply on an unrelated incident. Warrants for all three players were discovered once the police officer pulling the car over ran the licenses of the players.

Stansbury is facing a misdemeanor charge for assault after being accused of pouring a can of beer on a person and then struck the person with a closed fist at Rice University.

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Is Chad Kelly’s apology to Clemson too little, too late?

South Carolina State v Clemson

Former Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly shared his apology to his coaches, teammates and family after being dismissed by the program earlier this week. The nephew of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly said he let his family down.

”I let down not only my coaches, and teammates, but also Clemson University and all of our fans,” Kelly said. ”Most importantly, I’ve let down myself and my family.”

Kelly was booted from the team following an apparent meltdown during the spring game last weekend, but it was a pattern of poor behavior that ultimately cost him his spot on the Clemson roster. Head coach Dabo Swinney stated a pattern of behavior as the reasoning behind the roster cut after it was reported Kelly was arguing with coaches over play calling in the spring game.

”He has had a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program,” Swinney said earlier this week. ”I hope he will mature and grow from this and become the man and player I know he can be. I wish him nothing but the best in the future academically and athletically.”

Kelly understands and agrees with that thought as well.

”I let my emotions get the best of me, culminating in this unfortunate situation with coach Swinney and the Clemson Tigers,” Kelly said. ”What’s most important now is that I use this experience to grow as a student, as an athlete and most importantly, as a man.”

The apology may be too little, too late as far as his position with Clemson is concerned. Clemson named Cole Stoudt as the starting quarterback to replace Tajh Boyd this upcoming season soon after the dismissal of Kelly. But if Swinney is truly a Christian man, which apparently he is, maybe there will be a time for forgiveness and a second chance at Clemson.

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James Madison will pass on Sun Belt and FBS move

Stony Brook James Madison Football

With a number of programs making the move from the FCS to the FBS in recent years, James Madison will hold firm with their place in the Colonial Athletic Association at the FCS level.

“Consistent with these values and principles and the ongoing issue of conference alignment, JMU will not pursue or accept an invitation from a conference that does not meet our criteria,” James Madison president Jonthan Alger said in a statement released on the school’s athletics website this week. “If we do receive an offer consistent with our established values, we are prepared to review it and make a recommendation to the Board of Visitors. This process is ongoing and will require continued support on the part of the university, students, faculty, staff, coaches, alumni, and fans.”

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson told reporters the powerhouse FCS program was under consideration for an invite to join the conference, which will add Appalachian State and Georgia Southern this season.

“We never offered an invitation,“ Benson said, but “[t]hey were under consideration.”

If James Madison was to move up, Conference USA would look to be the most attractive and realistic option for the Dukes. Conference USA has added Old Dominion, another school from Virginia, and is adding Charlotte in football in 2015. There is no indication Conference USA is looking to add any other future members after Charlotte, which makes for a rough spot for James Madison and any FBS plans. As Massachusetts can prove, making the move for the sake of making the move can sometimes backfire on a school. If Conference USA is not coming to James Madison, the best situation for the Dukes may be to sit still, because it is not likely the ACC or SEC will come calling anytime soon.

The Sun Belt has been exploring expansion possibilities for a while now. James Madison may have been removed from the conversation, but that will not stop the conference from looking at all possibilities for future consideration. Liberty appears to be one of the consistent names in the mix to be the next FCS school to make the move up to the FBS ranks, and the Sun Belt Conference would appear to be a good fit with the latest additions to the conference (Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State). The Sun Belt will have 12 football members including the additions of Idaho and New Mexico this season, so the football membership is even without any further expansions.

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NCAA approves new roughing the passer penalty for hits below knees

Tennessee v Florida

Hitting a quarterback below the knees in passing situations will result in a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer according to a new rule approved by the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel. The new rule will go into effect this fall around the country.

One of the first questions that may come to mind is just what qualifies as a passing situation in a game where passing has become more and more frequent? Will every pass play by considered a passing situation, or just plays that come on third and long or perhaps even second and long? Fortunately the NCAA laid out the basics for when this penalty will come into play.

According to the NCAA, “the rule specifically covers a scenario in which a quarterback is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground.” When in this situation, no defensive player rushing unabated can hit the quarterback at the knees or below the knees. In addition, a defensive player may not roll or lunge and forcibly hit the quarterback in the knee or below. So a defender already on the ground may not roll into the quarterback.

There are exceptions to the rule though. A quarterback who takes off to run, no matter where located on the field, is no longer considered in a passing situation so he would be vulnerable. If a defender is already engaging in wrapping up the quarterback for a tackle, the passing situation is considered over. Any defender blocked into a passer is also in the clear as far as a penalty is concerned, but this means officials will have to keep a close eye on the entire play to determine if a player hitting below the knee was pushed into the passer or if the dive or lunge was initiated by the defender.

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Florida State expresses disappointment in New York Times story

Florida State Spring Game

Florida State University issued a statement in response to a story published by the New York Times on Wednesday. The university expressed disappointment in the story that profiles the timeline of the response taken by the university and Tallahassee police in an investigation for an alleged sexual assault committed by quarterback Jameis Winston.

According to the statement released by Florida State, many of the responses provided during the process of writing the story were not included in the final copy that was released. Among the many points made by the university in an outline of issues with the story include is a statement that Florida State does not tolerate sexual assault, state and federal privacy laws restrict what the university can do on certain student matters, and the university must balance the duty to investigate with the general welfare of the alleged victim. By leaving out information Florida State feels were justified to include in telling what it believes to be the full story, the New York Times has done a disservice to its readers and the Florida State community, the statement says.

“Like all other colleges and universities, FSU is faced with a balancing act when following the “Dear Colleague” letter,” the statement by Florida State opens.

“Given the inherent tension within the “Dear Colleague” letter, FSU seeks to empower victims by giving great weight to their wishes when it comes to counseling, academic accommodations and supporting them through criminal or university proceedings,” the statement continues. “In a great number of cases, the victims make it quite clear that they don’t want to file a police report or pursue a Code of Conduct process.”

You can read the full statement released by Florida State as well as the full outline of points the university feels were missing from the New York Times story.

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‘Cuse confirms Terrel Hunt will remain QB starter

Terrel Hunt AP

Not that there was much mystery involved to begin with, but the question marks surrounding the quarterback position at Syracuse have been answered.

As expected, offensive coordinator George McDonald has confirmed to ESPN.com that Terrell Hunt will remain the Orange’s man under center.  While Hunt ended last season in that position, the competition was open once again this spring.

McDonald said Hunt’s growth throughout the spring locked down the job once again for the player.

“He’s had a really good spring,” McDonald said of the incumbent. “He’s doing a lot of things he wasn’t able to do last spring. For him, the game that made him a lot more comfortable was the Minnesota game. He’s really built off that game. He’s playing at a different level this spring.”

Hunt ultimately started the final 10 games of the 2013 season after Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen, who started the first three, was benched for poor performance.  In addition to throwing for over 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns, Hunt was also second on the team with 500 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground.

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LSU, ‘Cuse officially set future home-and-home

1965 Sugar Bowl

After a month or more of speculation, the long wait for official word on a future series between programs from the ACC and SEC is finally, thankfully over.

Syracuse confirmed via a release Wednesday that it will play a future home-and-home series against LSU.  The Orange will host the Tigers Sept. 26, 2015, in the Carrier Dome, while ‘Cuse gets the “pleasure” of traveling to Death Valley to face the Bayou Bengals Sept. 9, 2017.

“We are thrilled to enter into this home-and-home agreement with a premiere program like LSU. Student-athletes come to Syracuse to play on the biggest stage possible, and this gives our coaches and young men the chance to battle one of the standard-bearers of the SEC on our home turf,” said athletic director Dr. Daryl Gross in a statement. “It is a complicated process to arrange games of this magnitude, and I couldn’t be happier for our fans and for all who will be involved in this upcoming series.”

The two football programs have never met during the regular season, but have squared off twice in the postseason. The first meeting came in the 1965 Sugar Bowl (LSU, 13-10) and the second and last came in the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl (Syracuse, 23-10).

And, while I’m here, Syracuse introduced some new uniforms this afternoon as well.  So, instead of wasting any additional space on uniform news, here they are. Enjoy:

Syracuse Unis

(Program photo credit: Allstate Sugar Bowl)

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SMU’s two-way threat, Kevin Pope, granted medical waiver

Central Florida v SMU

After going both ways for the latter portion of the 2013 season, Kevin Pope will get the opportunity for a repeat in 2014.

SMU announced in a press release that the running back/linebacker “has been granted a medical hardship waiver by the American Athletic Conference and will return to the field in 2014.”  Pope played in just one game in 2010 before an injury that originated in high school not only sidelined him for the remainder of that season but for all of 2011 as well.

That one game Pope played in 2010 came as a running back.  He was shifted to linebacker and played in 24 games at the position the past two seasons, including 11 starts in 2013.  The final two games of last season, however, Pope saw action as both a linebacker and running back, carrying the ball 11 times for 89 yards.  He also caught five passes for 61 yards out of the backfield.

Exiting spring practice this year, Pope was listed as the Mustangs’ No. 1 running back.

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Report: four-star 2013 DB bolts Buckeyes

Jayme Thompson

Kentucky was on the wrong end of a transfer earlier today, but the Wildcats could become the beneficiaries of another school’s loss at some point in the not-too-distant future.

While the school has yet to officially announce the move, defensive back Jayme Thompson is expected to transfer out of the Buckeyes football program.  No reason for the impending departure was given.

According to Rivals.com, Thompson will visit the UK spring game, which will be played Sat., April 26.  In addition to the Wildcats, Louisville, Penn State, Rutgers and West Virginia — Thompson verbally committed to WVU before flipping to OSU — are reportedly potential destinations as well.

The Toledo, OH, high schooler was a four-star member of OSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 29 safety in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  He missed all of the 2013 season due to a broken ankle, but had participated in spring practice this year.

(Photo credit: Ohio State athletics)

UPDATED 2:46 p.m. ET: Tidying up a couple of loose ends, Ohio State has confirmed that Thompson has been granted a released from his scholarship.  Additionally, in a statement to Rivals.com, Thompson’s father acknowledged his son’s departure.

“We would like to thank The Ohio State University for the opportunities they have given my son, Jayme, and our family,” the statement from Deon Thompson began. “Jayme is leaving the program in good academic standing, and we look forward to the next chapter of Jayme’s education and football playing career.”

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Tweet leaves TCU as latest to see QB transfer

TCU Football Media Day head shots

Quarterbacks across the country are taking cabin fever to the extreme and fleeing their football homes in relatively large numbers this Wednesday afternoon.

The latest to be hit by attrition at the position is apparently TCU, with Tyler Matthews seeming to confirm via a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account that he has decided to pack up leave the Horned Frogs football program.  It should be noted, though, that the school has not yet addressed, at least publicly, Matthews’ status for the upcoming season and beyond.

It’s unknown why Matthews would decide to leave the program as the sophomore was engaged in a competitive spring battle with last year’s part-time starter, Trevone Boykin, for the starting job.

Despite Boykin’s struggles — when he was the starter — last season that led to the competition this spring, Matthews rarely saw the field in 2013 as a redshirt freshman and did not attempt a pass.  Prior to redshirting as a true freshman in 2012, Matthews was a four-star member of that year’s class and was the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.  He was the No. 1 prospect at any position in the state of Kansas that year, and heading back to his home state is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Interestingly, TCU is already a rumored landing spot for Matt Joeckel, who it was announced earlier today was transferring from Texas A&M.

(Tip O’ the Cap: frogsowar.com)

(Photo credit: TCU athletics)

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Losing USC QB battle won’t lead to Max Browne transfer

Max Browne AP

(Writer’s note: For now at least.)

Late last night, Steve Sarkisian did what’s long been expected and officially tapped the incumbent, Cody Kessler, as USC’s starting quarterback.

Because his prime competition for the job, Max Browne was a high-profile recruit — he was Rivals.com’s No. 1 quarterback in the Class of 2013 — who could be in for a second consecutive season of inactivity, the “T” word came front and center when it came to Browne’s future with the Trojans.  According to the player, however, that’s not an option for him — ever.

I’m staying put,” Browne said when asked about a potential transfer. “I’m here for good.”

Sarkisian attempted to soften the sting of losing the battle, telling the media “I think Max is going to be a star.”

That’s all well and good in the here and now, but the future doesn’t look very promising for Browne at USC, at least as far as seeing the playing field goes.  Including 2014, Kessler still has two years of eligibility remaining.  As a redshirt sophomore last season and tasked with the responsibility of replacing longtime starter Matt Barkley, Kessler performed exceptionally well as he completed just over 65 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

Another factor that could lead to an about-face from Browne?  Ricky Town, the top quarterback in the Class of 2014, verbally committed to play for the Trojans this past January and is expected to be a part of USC’s recruiting class next year.

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Another SEC QB transfer as Jalen Whitlow leaves Kentucky

Jalen Whitlow AP

‘Tis the season for quarterbacks fleeing SEC football programs en masse, apparently.

Shortly after Texas A&M confirmed that Matt Joeckel, a potential starter in 2014, was leaving the Aggies, Kentucky announced that Jalen Whitlow, a bonafide starter in 2013, has decided to do the same when it comes to the Wildcats.  Whitlow started 15 games the past two seasons, including eight in 2013, and entered spring practice, at least as far as the media and the fans were concerned, as UK’s unquestioned starter under center.

However, at a press conference shortly after the surprising announcement of Whitlow’s impending departure, head coach Mark Stoops confirmed that the decision was made after the player was talked to about changing positions.  Specifically, the coaching staff asked Whitlow to move to wide receiver.  The quarterback declined, instead opting to move on elsewhere for his remaining two seasons of eligibility.

We respect Jalen and his decision as we want the best for him,” Stoops said in a statement released prior to his talk with the media. “I thank Jalen for his contributions to the team. I want everyone to understand how hard he has worked and the effort he has given since our staff has been here.”

The past two seasons, Whitlow has thrown for 1,831 yards and 10 touchdowns.  He also contributed nine touchdowns on the ground.

Coming out of high school in Prattville, Ala., Whitlow was rated as a three-star recruit and listed as an “athlete” by Rivals.com.

I appreciate the University of Kentucky and what the coaching staff and administration have done for me,” the player said in his statement. “I also thank the community and the fan support I have received here. I wish the coaches and my teammates the best of luck.”

With Whitlow no longer a part of the equation, UK’s group at the position will include the veteran but oft-injured Maxwell Smith; Patrick Towles and Drew Barker, four-star members of UK’s 2012 and 2014 recruiting classes, respectively; and redshirt freshman Reece Phillips.

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QB Matt Joeckel transferring from A&M

UTEP v Texas A&M

And then there were two.

What started as a three-man competition to replace Johnny Manziel has officially been whittled by one, with Texas A&M announcing Wednesday morning that Matt Joeckel has decided to transfer from the Aggies.  The school stated via Twitter that head coach Kevin Sumlinand A&M Football wish Matt Joeckel all the best next season, Joeckel graduated & will pursue his final season at another school.”

Matt is a great Aggie and he has decided to transfer,” Sumlin said in a statement subsequently released by the school. “We wish him all the best.”

As Joeckel has already graduated from A&M — earned a business degree last December — he’ll be permitted to play immediately at an FBS program in 2014 if that’s the path he chooses for his final year of collegiate eligibility.

Joeckel, the brother of former A&M All-American and 2013 No.2 overall NFL draft pick Luke Joeckel, served as Manziel’s primary backup in 2013 and entered spring practice with a significant edge in experience over his two competitors.  A three-star member of the Aggies’ 2010 recruiting class, Joeckel was the No. 29 pro-style quarterback in that class coming out of high school in Arlington, Tex.

“I  have loved my four and a half years at Texas A&M,” Joeckel said. “I am glad I had the opportunity to play for Coach Sumlin, Coach (Jake) Spavital and the rest of the coaches. I am proud to have my degree from the Mays Business School and I’ll always consider myself a member of the Aggie family.”

With Joeckel out of the mix, the onus for replacing Manziel falls squarely on the shoulders of Kenny Hill and/or Kyle Allen.

Hill showed flashes last season that lead some to believe he could, like Manziel two years ago, surprise observers as spring practice commenced.  Also like pre-Heisman Manziel, unfortunately, Hill has an off-field legal issue with which to deal.  Late last month, Hill was arrested and charged with public intoxication, resulting in an indefinite suspension from the football program.

Allen comes into the battle with the high-profile pedigree, a five-star member of the Aggies’ 2014 recruiting class rated as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 7 player at any position.  An early enrollee who is participating in spring practice, Allen has been impressive in his own right.  Add in Joeckel’s transfer and Hill’s arrest, and Allen could be in position to take over the A&M offense as a true freshman in 2014.

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40th postseason game, Orlando’s Cure Bowl, officially announced

Cure Bowl Logo

Yippie!?!?

Following up on the reports from Tuesday, the American Athletic Conference and the Orlando Sports Foundation announced the creation of what’s being called the Cure Bowl.  The AAC will face a member of the Sun Belt Conference in December 2015 at the newly-renovated Citrus Bowl.

One of the few redeeming qualities for yet another game added to an already bloated postseason slate is that this one will have strong ties to charitable organizations working to find a cure for breast cancer.

We are pleased to partner with the Cure Bowl and commend the organizers for their dedication and commitment to such a worthy cause while also supporting youth organizations in Central Florida,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “By adding the Cure Bowl to our already strong bowl lineup, we continue to meet our goal of providing a competitive game and a desirable destination for our student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

Barring any contraction between now and then — highly unlikely, unfortunately — the Cure Bowl will bring the total number of FBS bowl games to a whopping 40.  In 1995, just 18 bowl games were played after that season.  Or, to put it into even more perspective, there’s this little historical nugget from al.com:

The number of bowl games increased from six to 11 between 1955 and 1975. Then they went from 11 to 18 from 1975 to 1995. During the 16-year Bowl Championship Series era, the amount of bowls increased from 20 to 35.

There were 35 bowls played in the 2013-2014 postseason cycle, with 79 teams reaching the requisite six wins for bowl eligibility.  There will be four additional bowl games added for the 2014 season, bringing the total to 39 the year prior to the Cure Bowl’s arrival.

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Prosecutor decries police handling of Winston rape probe

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Getty Images

William Meggs, the Florida state’s attorney charged with handling the investigation into the allegations of rape made against Jameis Winston last year, did not hide the fact that, in his opinion, the initial investigation was not handled properly by the Tallahassee Police Department.

In a New York Times “expose” published Wednesday morning, Meggs was on the offensive yet again.  Meggs assailed the TPD probe on multiple fronts, from failing to readily identify a witness — who also happened to be one of Winston’s teammates — to apparent nonchalance when it came to a crucial tip involving a taxi cab to its handling of Winston in the early stages of the investigation.

On the night in question, in December of 2012, Winston and at least two of his teammates, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, were at a Tallahassee bar named Potbelly’s.  It was there that the three met up with the alleged victim, had a few drinks and then took off in a taxi with the woman.  At some point a few hours, a 911 call was made, alleging she was raped.

It was the investigation — or lack thereof — that has Meggs speaking out more than four months after his office decided against filing charges against Winston.  And, in somewhat of an unexpected turn, Meggs made his strongest comments to date on the case:

– On the TPD failing to find Casher, who allegedly videotaped a portion of the encounter, in a timely manner, possibly leading to the loss of key evidence:

In the recent interview, Mr. Meggs said he was surprised that the police had not quickly found Mr. Casher. “How long does it take to identify a freshman football player — about 10, 15, 16 seconds?” he asked, adding, “Anybody that looked at this case would say you get a report at 2 in the morning, by noon you could have had the defendant identified and talked to.”

Casher allegedly deleted the video “a couple of days” after Winston’s encounter with the alleged victim, well before he was ever contacted and interviewed by police.

– One of the three football players used an FSU ID to get a discounted fare for the taxi.  TPD investigators failed to find the driver of the cab, as well as failed to secure videotape from myriad security cameras positioned in and around the Tallahassee bar that could have shed some light on the incident:

“I am convinced that we would have identified the cabdriver that night and had an interview with him,” Mr. Meggs said. “Don’t know what we would have learned, but we would have learned the truth. I am also convinced that had it been done properly, we would have had the video from Potbelly’s.

By the time the prosecutor [Meggs] asked for that video, the tape had long since been recycled.

– The TPD’s initial encounter with Winston regarding the allegations came via the telephone, which allowed the player the opportunity to “lawyer up” before he could be questioned:

Mr. Meggs said he was shocked that the police investigator’s first attempt to contact Mr. Winston was by telephone. “He says, ‘I have baseball practice, I’ll get with you later,’” Mr. Meggs said. That call allowed Mr. Winston to hire a lawyer who told him not to talk.

“It’s insane to call a suspect on the phone,” Mr. Meggs said. “First off, you don’t know who you are talking to.” He said he would have gone straight to the baseball field. “If you walked up to Jameis Winston in the middle of baseball practice and said, ‘Come here, son, I need to talk to you,’ he would have said, ‘Yes, sir.’”

In summation, Meggs stated that the TPD “just missed all the basic stuff that you are supposed to do” during the course of an investigation of this type, although he stopped well short of accusing the department in general and the investigating officer specifically of willful misconduct because of Winston’s status as a Seminoles football player. Meggs was also quick to caution, as the Times wrote, that “a better investigation might have yielded the same result,” which was no charges being filed against Winston.

In mid-November, after reports of the probe had surfaced publicly, Meggs vowed that his office would get to the bottom of the allegations, a report of which had only recently been forwarded to him by the TPD — 11 months after the alleged rape and only after an open records request from news organizations seemingly forced the department’s hand.  Three weeks later in a press conference announcing no charges would be filed against Winston, Meggs said his investigation didn’t find enough evidence to prove that the sexual encounter between the player and the alleged victim was not consensual.

A short time later, the attorney for Winston’s accuser called for an investigation into the TPD’s handling of the case.  The feds have also reportedly gotten involved on the university side of the situation, with reports coming to light earlier this month that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.

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