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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.

Pitt and UCF add home-and-home series for 2018 and 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 19:  James Conner #24 of the Pittsburgh Panthers celebrates his third quarter touchdown with teammates against the Duke Blue Devils at Heinz Field on November 19, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. James Conner became the ACC's all-time leader for total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images
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The Pitt Panthers have filled out their non-conference slate for the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the addition of a home-and-home series with UCF.

The scheduling deal, announced Thursday morning, confirm UCF will host Pitt on September 19, 2018. The Knights will make the trip to Pittsburgh the following season on September 21, 2019. The two schools have faced each other just once before, with the Panthers taking a blowout 52-7 victory in Orlando on October 13, 2006.

As a member of the ACC, Pitt is required to play one power conference opponent each season in its non-conference schedule. As much as the American Athletic Conference would like us to all believe the AAC is indeed a power conference, the addition of UCF does not satisfy Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement. However, Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement is met in 2018 with a home game against Penn State and a road game at Notre Dame (as part of the ACC’s rotating Notre Dame schedule) and with a road game at Penn State in 2019. The Panthers and Nittany Lions will play each other in 2017 as well in State College.

For UCF, the addition of Pitt to the future schedule continues to tack on power conference opponents in future seasons. UCF will play Georgia Tech and Maryland this coming season and will play at UNC in 2018 in addition to the newly added home game against Pitt. UCF also has Stanford and Texas on future schedules in addition to more games against UNC and Georgia Tech.

Mississippi lawmaker proposes bill to fine NCAA for extended investigation process

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2013, file photo, Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze leads his team to the field prior to their NCAA college football game against LSU  in Oxford, Miss. Mississippi has aspirations of competing for SEC titles. No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0) plays No. 3 Alabama (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014,  in its biggest home game in more than a decade.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File
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Politicians will always look for ways to play to their constituents, and that sometimes means tugging at the heartstrings of local sports fans. There is no other reason why a lawmaker in Mississippi is proposing a bill that aims to fine the NCAA for taking too long to conduct any investigation of a school within the state of Mississippi.

Representative Trey Lamar is endorsing a bill that provides a one-year limit for NCAA investigations after notifying the school of a pending investigation. A notice of allegations must then be presented within six months from the initial notice of a pending investigation.

It is worth remembering that Ole Miss remains under NCAA investigation for potential violations of NCAA rules. The investigation has been going on since last January and has cast a bit of a cloud of uncertainty over the entire Ole Miss football program. No hearing in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions is currently scheduled for the program, leaving many following the Ole Miss program a tad frustrated.

The problem with NCAA investigations is there is no current structure for forming a definitive timeline of the investigation process, and each investigation is handled on a case-by-case basis with a different outcome and different allegations and charges in each. Because of that, investigations can drag on for extended period of times before the NCAA feels comfortable in its resolution.

How the state can actually fine the NCAA for taking longer than a year to complete an investigation is unknown, and perhaps not likely. But hey, Lamar will get the Ole Miss vote the next time he is on the ballot.

LSU dismisses nose guard Travonte Valentine

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 03: Travonte Valentine #55 of the LSU Tigers awaits the snap against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field on September 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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LSU has dismissed nose guard Travonte Valentine. The dismissal for a violation of team rules was announced Thursday night with an emailed release with head coach Ed Orgeron sharing a brief statement.

“At this point in time, Travonte is no longer part of our football program,” Orgeron said. “We wish him the best.”

Valentine played in five games for LSU last season as a sophomore, but he did not play in the final seven games of the season. Valentine faced some academic troubles at LSU last year that put his eligibility in question over the summer, but he worked to meet the academic requirements to play for LSU prior to the start of the 2016 season. Valentine also had to work through NCAA issues regarding academic concerns that prevented him from playing his freshman season.

LSU did not announce or confirm the reason for Valentine’s dismissal from the program other than to say it was for a violation of team rules.

Matt Canada being paid $1.5 million per year to be LSU offensive coordinator

N.C. State Wolfpack offensive coordinator Matt Canada talks with Jacoby Brissett (12) during spring football practice in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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LSU has certainly invested in its coaching staff, now under the leadership of Ed Orgeron. New details about the contract for new offensive coordinator Matt Canada reveal LSU’s newest coordinator will be paid $1.5 million per year over the course of his three-year deal, according to The Advocate.

Canada came to LSU after serving as offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh under Pat Narduzzi. Canada’s contract details at Pitt have not been revealed or recorded in USA Today’s annual database of coaching salaries, but it is very likely he was not getting close to this kind of money at Pitt. Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis was the nation’s highest-paid assistant coach in college football last season, according to the USA Today salary database. No other coach hit the $1.5 million mark, although Clemson’s Brent Venables was close ($1.43 million), as was supposed LSU target Lane Kiffin at Alabama ($1.4 million). Canada was a Broyles Award finalist this past season, so he has earned a chance to be among the highest-paid coaches in the game given his recent success.

LSU is also paying top dollar to its defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda. Aranda was the nation’s fourth highest-paid assistant coach last season with a contract paying $1.315 million in 2016. Aranda has since been given a raise from LSU and is earning a reported $1.8 million per year under his new three-year deal. LSU was paying Cam Cameron $1.211 million last season as well. Cameron was fired during the 2016 season along with former head coach Les Miles.

Having the best assistant coaches money can buy is always a nice perk, and LSU will hope paying their coordinators better than any other assistant coach will help Orgeron take the Tigers back to the top of the SEC. Paying top dollar brings pressure to win though, and if LSU struggles to take those next steps then we could be right back to square one in a matter of time.

Expect top assistants to continue to be paid handsomely moving forward though. Media rights deals and revenue shares from such deals pays well, and is a big reason why LSU has been able to afford such high assistant contracts. Canada’s base pay from LSU is set at $500,000 but the additional $1 million comes in part from media rights compensation. This is why schools in the SEC and Big Ten will likely be able to stay ahead of the pack in the coaching game more often than not, and why some assistant coaches may find it more lucrative to remain a coordinator at a program rather than take on a head coaching gig at some other spots.