Virginia v Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech announces 18-player recruiting class

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

BLACKSBURG – Seven All-America caliber players highlight a football recruiting class composed of 18 student-athletes, as announced by Virginia Tech on Wednesday. While the traditional magazines of SuperPrep and PrepStar are not composing All-America teams anymore, for the purpose of this release, anyone ranked in ESPN300, 247Sports Top 247 or Rivals 250 is considered All-America level caliber.

“I think this will go down as an outstanding recruiting class,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “Time will tell, but I really like the athletic ability in this class and the size in our linemen. We are extremely pleased with the caliber of players we got from Virginia and equally happy with the quality of prospects we were able to attract from our neighboring states. I think there are pluses to being within driving distance of Blacksburg.

“As always, we researched the character of our recruits, and overall, I believe it is very high.”

Leading the way this year is a familiar name to Tech fans in five-star cornerback Kendall Fuller out of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Baltimore, Md. The brother of Vincent, Corey and Kyle Fuller is listed as the No. 9 overall player in the country and the No. 2 cornerback in the nation by Rivals. He was an Army All-American and is also rated in the top 20 nationally by ESPN Recruiting Nation and in the top 40 by 247Sports. Six players from the Commonwealth also earned All-America level honors: Liberty High defensive end Wyatt Teller (No. 59 on Rivals 100; No. 110 on 247Sports), Manchester High linebacker Holland Fisher (No. 83 on Rivals 100; No. 98 on ESPN150; No. 36 on 247Sports), Salem High quarterback Bucky Hodges (No. 171 on Rivals250; No. 114 on 247Sports), Henrico High cornerback Cequan Jefferson (No. 229 on ESPN300), Thomas Dale High tailback D.J. Reid (No. 234 on 247Sports) and Liberty Christian Academy offensive lineman Braxton Pfaff (No. 254 on ESPN300).

Tech announced 18 players total Wednesday, including 14 who signed NLIs. Twelve of those 18 players are from Virginia and all of them are ranked among the top 31 in the state according to The Roanoke Times. Highlighting this year’s in-state group are the six All-America level players – Hodges (No. 4 by The Roanoke Times), Fisher (No. 8 by The Roanoke Times), Teller (No. 11 by The Roanoke Times), Reid (No. 22 by The Roanoke Times), Pfaff (No. 27 by The Roanoke Times) and Jefferson (No. 31 by The Roanoke Times).

Fuller, the consensus No. 1 player in the state of Maryland, was named The Army All-American Defensive Player of the Year. He had three interceptions, eight pass breakups and 28 tackles, including a sack this past season, as teams shied away from his side most of the year. Teller is ranked the No. 6 strongside defensive end in the country by Rivals, while Hodges is listed as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports. Fisher is rated as the No. 3 outside linebacker in the country by Scout, Reid is ranked as the No. 12 “athlete” in the country by 247Sports, Jefferson is listed as the No. 25 “athlete” in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation and Pfaff is ranked as the No. 14 offensive guard in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation.

Six players from five different states also joined the Hokies. A pair of North Carolina products – Statesville quarterback Carlis Parker and Elizabeth City linebacker Jamieon Moss – will make the trek from the Tar Heel State. Parker is rated as the No. 8 combo quarterback in the country by MaxPreps, while Moss is ranked as the No. 68 outside linebacker in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation.

Offensive lineman Kyle Chung hails from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and played at Ponte Vedra High. His father, Eugene, was an All-American offensive lineman at Virginia Tech who played in the NFL who now coaches with the Kansas City Chiefs. The younger Chung is ranked as the No. 23 tight end (Y) in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation, but will move to the interior line when he arrives in Blacksburg. With Chung joining the program, it marks the 23rd time in the past 26 years (1988-2013) that Tech has brought in at least one player from Florida.

Tech also welcomes one player from the Peach State and one from the Palmetto State. Defensive back Brandon Facyson hails from Newnan, Ga., and is ranked as the No. 26 cornerback in the country and the No. 39 player in his state by ESPN Recruiting Nation. Offensive lineman Jonathan McLaughlin, from Mauldin, S.C., via Fork Union Military, is rated as the No. 3 prep offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports and was ranked the No. 69 offensive tackle in the country by Scout coming out of high school.

Six other players from the state of Virginia are ranked in the top 29 in the state by The Roanoke Times. They are: North Stafford High free safety Anthony Shegog (No. 16), King’s Fork High free safety Charles Clark, Jr. (No. 21), Salem High linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka (No. 24), Patrick Henry High athlete David Prince (No. 25), Warhill High offensive lineman Parker Osterloh (No. 28) and Hampton High athlete Deon Newsome (No. 29).

Shegog is ranked as the No. 46 “athlete” in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation while Clark is listed as the No. 26 cornerback in the country and the No. 14 player in his state by 247Sports. Motuapuaka is rated as the No. 20 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals, Prince is ranked as the No. 35 “athlete” in the country by 247Sports, Osterloh is rated as the No. 46 offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports and Newsome is ranked as the No. 50 cornerback in the country by 247Sports.

Of the 18 players in the class, nine are projected to play on the defensive side of the ball (one on the line, two linebackers, six defensive backs). Of the seven players slated for offense, three are coming in as skill players (quarterback/running back/receiver), while four are coming in as offensive linemen. Two players (Newsome and Prince) are listed as athletes.

Facyson, Osterloh and Parker all graduated from high school early and enrolled at Tech in January, and thus, did not sign an NLI on Wednesday. McLaughlin came after a semester at Fork Union Military and also enrolled at Tech in January. The four are already participating in offseason workouts. Woody Baron (nephew of former Hokie defensive lineman Jim Baron), Seth Dooley and Jerome Wright who signed with Tech in 2012 and deferred their enrollments, also enrolled in January. Fourteen players signed with Tech on Signing Day.

The class, which is ranked 13th nationally and second in the Atlantic Coast Conference by by 247Sports *, is being lauded by national recruiting pundits.

“On paper, this is one of, if not the highest-rated class that Frank Beamer has signed at Virginia Tech. Getting two difference-makers like Fuller and Fisher in the secondary gives the Hokies more talent to work with there and winning the in-state battles for offensive linemen Braxton Pfaff and Parker Osterloh really helped set the tone for this class,” said 247Sports National Director of Scouting J.C. Shurbett. “They have an elite quarterback prospect in Bucky Hodges and plenty of outstanding, versatile athletes like D.J. Reid, Brandon Facyson and Charles Clark that really make up the backbone of this class and are the type of prospects Virginia Tech has made a living on over the years.”

* – as of release time

Kyle Chung, ol, 6-4, 280, Ponte Vedra HS, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Charles Clark, Jr., fs, 6-0, 180, King’s Fork HS, Suffolk, Va.
Brandon Facyson *, db, 6-2, 173, Northgate HS, Newnan, Ga.
Holland Fisher, fs, 6-2, 200, Manchester HS, Richmond, Va.
Kendall Fuller, cb, 5-11, 180, Our Lady Of Good Counsel HS, Baltimore, Md.
Bucky Hodges, qb, 6-5, 230, Salem HS, Virginia Beach, Va.
Cequan Jefferson, cb, 5-9, 175, Henrico HS, Richmond, Va.
Jonathan McLaughlin *, ol, 6-4, 310, Mauldin HS/Fork Union Military, Mauldin, S.C.
Jamieon Moss, lb, 6-2, 210, Northeastern HS, Elizabeth City, N.C.
Andrew Motuapuaka, lb, 6-0, 225, Salem HS, Virginia Beach, Va.
Deon Newsome, ath, 6-0, 180, Hampton HS, Hampton, Va.
Parker Osterloh *, ol, 6-8, 301, Warhill HS, Williamsburg, Va.
Carlis Parker *, qb, 6-3, 180, Statesville HS, Statesville, N.C.
Braxton Pfaff, ol, 6-4, 285, Liberty Christian Academy, Lynchburg, Va.
David Prince, ath, 6-0, 185, Patrick Henry HS, Roanoke, Va.
D.J. Reid, tb, 6-0, 205, Thomas Dale, Chester HS, Va.
Anthony Shegog, fs, 6-2, 200, North Stafford HS, Stafford, Va.
Wyatt Teller, de, 6-5, 250, Liberty HS, Bealeton, Va.

Former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham could follow Bears OC to a new job

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 24: Jarrett Stidham #3 of the Baylor Bears runs against Darian Cotton #23 of the Iowa State Cyclones in the second half at McLane Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
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College football recruiting has kicked into full gear the past few weeks and one of the more interesting decisions this month that could have a big impact on next season is finding out which school former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham will be playing for in 2017.

The signal-caller threw for 12 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards after taking over as the Bears starter midway through last year but he opted to transfer away from the program this summer when Art Briles was fired as the result of a sexual assault scandal at the school. While many have considered SEC schools such as Auburn, Texas A&M and Florida to be the favorites to land the coveted junior college QB, there may be another school that is in the running too: whichever program hires Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles.

“KB is my dude,” Stidham told ESPN.com. “I’m super tight with him. I still talk to him all the time. I’m still waiting to see what happens with him and where he might go and just take it into consideration.”

It remains to be seen if new head coach Matt Rhule will retain the younger Briles but it seems unlikely given the events in Waco the past six months and the school likely wanting a complete divorce from the previous regime. Kendal Briles own job prospects seem a bit unknown given everything at play but it could be an interesting combination for a head coach looking to jump start an offense.

There’s always talk of package deals in college basketball but this would be a potential one in football that may draw some interest.

RB Jordan Cronkrite to transfer from Florida

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Jordan Cronkrite #32 of the Florida Gators heads for the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception against the Tennessee Volunteers in the second quarter at Neyland Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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And that’s the way it was, at least as it pertains to the Florida portion of Jordan Cronkrite‘s collegiate playing career.

Thursday, the Gators announced that Cronkrite has been granted permission to pursue other opportunities.  The release from his scholarship will afford the running back the opportunity to transfer elsewhere.

If that elsewhere is at the FBS, the sophomore would have to sit out the 2017 season.  He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Cronkrite was a four-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 34 player at any position in the state of Florida.

As a true freshman, Cronkrite ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries.  This past season, he carried the ball 31 times for 145 yards and a touchdown.  His 20 receptions were fourth on the Gators.

Oregon president takes thinly-veiled shot at Brady Hoke

CORVALLIS, OR - NOVEMBER 26: Defensive coordinator Brady Hoke of the Oregon Ducks dresses his players during the third quarter of the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Corvallis, Oregon. The Beavers won 34-24. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Brady Hoke had a miserable one-and-done at Oregon, and this piling on just adds to it.

Brought in to turnaround the Ducks’ defense, Hoke instead was in charge of one of the worst units in the country.  Their play, in very large part, helped bring an abrupt end to Mark Helfrich‘s three-year tenure in Eugene.

Helfrich was officially replaced by USF’s Willie Taggart earlier this week.  The boss of Taggart’s boss, UO president Michael Schill, had one piece of advice and one piece of advice alone for his new head football coach.

Can we take that as confirmation that Hoke won’t be retained by the new regime?  At least statistically, though, the president has a point, no matter how clumsily or ill-advised it may have been.

Out of the 128 teams listed on the NCAA’s official stats website, the Ducks were 126th in scoring and yards allowed; 121st in third-down percentage and rushing yards allowed; 117th in turnovers forced; and 114th in passing yards. Last season, the Ducks were 114th in scoring and 116th in yards.

And Taggart’s defense this season? The Bulls were 86th in scoring defense and 120th in yards allowed.  So, there’s that.

Malik Zaire pens thank-you note to Notre Dame students, staff

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 10: Malik Zaire #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish throws a pass in the second half against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Notre Dame Stadium on September 10, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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A week after his departure from Notre Dame was revealed Malik Zaire has gotten down to saying goodbye.

In a letter to The Observer, the university’s student newspaper, Zaire thanked “the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be.” The notes comes a week after the quarterback was given an unconditional release from his Irish scholarship.

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Zaire expects to graduate in December, meaning he’d be eligible immediately at whatever FBS program he ultimately lands. The senior has already or will visit North Carolina and Wisconsin. Pittsburgh is also believed to be in play as well.