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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.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson wins the 2016 Heisman Trophy

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 22:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals signals a touchdown during the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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It was his in September and it was his in December.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson completed a storybook season on Saturday night in New York City to become the winner of the 82nd Heisman Trophy as college football’s most outstanding player.

Jackson’s numbers were simply overwhelming in 2016 and put him in a class of his own even if the Cardinals faltered a bit down the stretch in losing their final two games. The quarterback accounted for an ACC-record 51 touchdowns on the year and joined fellow Heisman winners Cam Newton and Tim Tebow as only the third player to throw for over 30 scores and run for another 20. In total, he found the end zone more than all but 38 FBS teams this season.

In addition to becoming the first Louisville player ever to win the award (and first finalist, period), Jackson is just the fourth sophomore to capture the honor and the 10th ACC player overall to win the Heisman. The signal-caller also becomes the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever at 19 years and 337 days old, beating Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston by five days at the time of his win.

All told, he led the Cardinals to a 9-3 record and finished the season with 3,390 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions to go along with 1,538 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.

Jackson finished with 2,144 points and was the overwhelming choice in the Heisman race, winning every single region of the country and finishing with the sixth-biggest win. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, making the trip to the ceremony for the second straight season, finished as the runner-up with 1,524 points. Voters were only allowed three choices on their ballot.

Oklahoma teammates Baker Mayfield (third, 361 points) and Dede Westbrook (fourth, 209 points) finished back-to-back behind the two ACC quarterbacks. Fellow finalist Jabrill Peppers of Michigan wound up fifth with 208 points.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning (sixth), Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (seventh), Texas tailback D'Onta Foreman (eighth) and Stanford all-purpose star Christian McCaffrey (ninth) rounded out the voting while Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and San Diego State Donnel Pumphrey both tied for 10th.

All had incredible seasons but none could come close to the eventual winner in Jackson, who threw, hurdled and stiff-armed his way to the trophy and into college football history.

Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham announces transfer to Auburn

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 21:  Jarrett Stidham #3 of the Baylor Bears scrambles with the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham has traded ‘Sic ‘Em’ for ‘War Eagle.’

The highly prized quarterback recruit announced on Twitter Saturday evening that Auburn would be his next college destination. Stidham did start three games as a freshman for the Bears last year (12 touchdowns, 1,265 yards) but broke his ankle and missed the remainder of the season. He ended up leaving the program as a transfer over the summer following the firing of Art Briles in Waco and sat out all of 2016.

Stidham will have three years of eligibility remaining and provides a big boost to Gus Malzhan’s offense. The Tigers struggled at the quarterback position when starter Sean White was hurt and were mostly focused on running the ball when he was under center anyway.

Now with Stidham in the fold, Auburn could sport one of the more dangerous backfields in the SEC with the signal-caller providing a threat through the air to go along with tailbacks Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson.

Texas A&M and Florida were other schools reportedly in the mix to land Stidham but, in the end, he is headed to the Plains.

Army ends 14 game losing streak with turnover-filled victory over No. 25 Navy

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10: Andrew McLean #58 of the Army Black Knights tackles Zach Abey #9 of the Navy Midshipmen in the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The streak is over.

After 14 consecutive losses, countless heartbreaks and some of the most amazing moments in college football on either side, Army finally chased away their demons and beat rival Navy 21-17 on Saturday night in Baltimore.

Turnovers were the hallmark in the game for both sides: a whopping seven combined, along with a handful of other close calls that nearly added to that total. Three of the first four drives in the game ended with a giveaway and a pair of fumbles in the third quarter by Army allowed their rivals to quickly get back into a game they had nearly given away early on.

It was still a rough first half for Navy starting quarterback Zach Abey, who was in the stands at this game last year and was the team’s third-stringer most of the season under center. However the signal-caller pressed into starting duty because of injuries picked things up after halftime and helped the Midshipmen storm back to take the lead in the fourth quarter with a 41 yard touchdown to cap a run of 17 straight points.

But Army would not be denied a victory, which included an appearance by President-elect Donald Trump in the stands and in the CBS broadcast booth. The team put together an 80 yard drive over 12 plays that featured a key 4th down conversion before Ahmad Bradshaw (51 yards rushing, one touchdown) plowed through the defense to find the end zone from nine yards out. That helped the Black Knights re-take the lead with just six minutes remaining.

Navy would go three-and-out on the next drive thanks to a big defensive stand and Army milked away the rest of the clock to secure a win that was their first in the series since 2001.

That set off a raucous celebration that included a field storming by hundreds of cadets and, no doubt, plenty of cheers from the armed forces around the world looking on.

Is this the year? Army jumps out to two-score halftime lead over No. 25 Navy

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10: Army cadets take the field before the start of the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipman game at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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There are few traditions in college football quite like the annual Army-Navy game and the pageantry was in full force once again on Saturday afternoon from Baltimore.

Army kicked off the scoring for the third season in a row in this rivalry game after recovering a Navy fumble and marching right down the field with a 14 play, 66 yard drive that culminated in a touchdown.

While the early score was notable, turnovers dominated first quarter play with three of the first four drives from the teams ending in a giveaway. The quarterbacks combined to complete just a single pass to their own team all half but completed three to the opposing defenses in the form of three ugly interceptions. Army’s Xavier Moss forced the first fumble of the season from Navy fullback Shawn White for the first quarter’s other turnover as well.

Army’s triple option looked to be the superior attack for most of the half, with the Black Knights picking up six of their seven third downs and converting the other on fourth down. Andy Davidson punched it into the end zone both times and finished with 15 carries for 50 yards.

There’s still a lot of football left to be played but the best Army team in nearly a decade certainly is looking primed to end Navy’s long winning streak in convincing fashion based on how the first half went.