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Wake Forest adds 25 on signing day

Jim Grobe AP

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

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe on Wednesday announced the addition of 25 newcomers to the Demon Deacon football squad. Grobe announced the signing of 22 prospective student-athletes to National Letters of Intent and also released the names of three newcomers who enrolled at Wake Forest in January.

The signing class consists of players from 12 states including five from Florida and four each from Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. In addition, the Deacons received commitments from players in Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The class is evenly distributed on both sides of the ball. Wake Forest is adding 14 defensive players, 10 on offense, and one kicker.

The 25 signees mark the most since Grobe became head coach prior to the 2001 season. The previous largest class was 23 in 2003.

The Deacons will welcome four new offensive linemen including center Cory Helms (6-4, 290) from Milton High School near Atlanta and his high school teammate Josh Harris (6-4, 290). Wake Forest will also add linemen Cameron Gardner (6-5, 275) from Bailey, NC (Southern Nash) and Taylor Chambers (6-8, 300) from Columbia, SC (Irmo).

Three receivers will join Wake Forest next fall including wideout Tyree Harris (6-2, 180) of Marietta, GA (Marietta). The Deacons also signed a pair of tight ends/H-backs in Cam Serigne (6-3, 215) of Ashburn, VA (Briar Woods), and Brendan O’Neil (6-4, 220) of Burlington, MA (Buckingham Browne and Nichols).

Wake Forest added a quarterback in 6-3, 195-pound Michael Radford of Charlotte, NC (Country Day). Two running backs also inked with the Deacons. Dez Wortham (6-0, 205) of Frisco, TX (Hebron) is coming off ACL surgery last fall and John Armstrong (5-9, 165) of Orlando, FL (Olympia) has all the tools to become a slot receiver.

On defense, Wake Forest added five outside linebackers to fit its 3-4 scheme. The quintet includes Julian Thomas-Jackson (6-4, 210) of Dothan, AL (Dothan), Wendell Dunn (6-3, 210) of Miami, FL (Palmetto), Lance Virgile (6-2, 220) of Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas), Ali Lamot (6-2, 200) of Mebane, NC (Eastern Alamance) and Duke Ejiofor (6-4, 220) of Houston, TX (Alief Taylor).

Both of Wake Forest’s new inside linebackers are already enrolled and will participate in spring drills. They include Marquell Lee (6-3, 220) of Pomfret, MD (Westlake) and Ford Howell (6-1, 225) from Memphis, TN (University School).

The Deacons will add five newcomers in the secondary including cornerbacks Deonte Davis (5-10, 170) of Snellville, GA (South Gwinnett), Josh Okonye (6-0, 185) of Sugar Land, TX (George Ranch), Brad Watson (6-0, 170) of Round Rock, TX (Round Rock), and Jalen Latter (6-0, 185) of Charlotte, NC (Vance) as well as safety Michael Stevenson (6-0, 175) of Clearwater, FL (Central Catholic).

Along the defensive front, Wake Forest signed Andrew Hauser (6-2, 235) of Covina, CA (Charter Oak). The Deacons have James Looney (6-3, 275) of Lake Worth, FL (Lake Worth) on campus as an early enrollee. Looney, a projected nose guard, is the younger brother of former Wake Forest All-ACC guard Joe Looney, now with the San Francisco 49ers.

Wake Forest also added a kicker/punter in Mike Weaver (6-1, 180) of Pine City, NY (Elmira Southside). Weaver has been out of high school for two years while pursuing college football opportunities after a stellar amateur soccer career.

Notes
• Lance Virgile, from St. Thomas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is from the same high school that produced Wake Forest great Brian Piccolo. The stadium at St. Thomas is named after Piccolo. At the time Piccolo attended the school, it was known as Central Catholic.
• With the addition of OL Josh Harris, Wake Forest will have three players named Josh Harris on next year’s squad. The senior Harris is a running back from Duncanville, Texas who has rushed for 1,760 career yards. He will be a senior in 2013. Another Josh Harris is a walk-on defensive back from Raeford, NC who did not see any game action last fall. The newest Josh Harris is an offensive lineman.
• The largest signing classes in the Grobe Era include this year’s group of 25, followed by 23 in 2003, and 22 in 2005 and 2000.
• Quarterback Michael Radford’s father, Michael, Sr., was a guard at Marshall when Jim Grobe was an assistant coach with the Thundering Herd (1979-83).

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 25 members of Wake Forest’s 2013 recruiting class.)

John Armstrong RB 5-9 165 Orlando, FL (Olympia)
Earned all-state honors (Class 8A) in 2012 . . . Ranked No. 23 in the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida Super 60 . . . Had 980 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior to go with 269 receiving yards on 30 receptions and three receiving scores . . . Averaged better than 17 yards per kickoff return as a senior . . . Scored five touchdowns in a 41-27 win over West Orange as a senior . . . As a junior, led Olympia in rushing (1,101 yards), touchdowns (19), receptions (60) and receiving yards (653) . . Has 4.4 speed in the 40 . . . Played at the same high school as Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans and broke Johnson’s season rushing record . . . Ranked No. 17 on the Bright House Sports Network list of top players in Central Florida . . . As a high school freshman, scored on a 62-yard run on his first varsity carry . . . Played for Coach Bob Head . . . Also had offers from Duke, Illinois, Iowa State, Cincinnati, East Carolina, and Temple . . . . Is the cousin of Alton Howard, a freshman receiver for the Tennessee Volunteers . . . Recruited by Tom Elrod.

Taylor Chambers OL 6-8 300 Columbia, SC (Irmo) Named first team all-state in South Carolina in Class 4A . . . Graded out at 92 percent for the season . . . Preseason All-State pick in 2012 by MaxPreps . . . Helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the second round of the state playoffs as a senior . . . Rated the No. 18 prospect in South Carolina by Rivals.com . . . Played for Coach Bob Hanna . . . Invited to San Antonio for the Army All-American game following the 2012 season . . . Selected to the North team for the South Carolina North-South All-Star game . . . Born Jan. 11, 1995 . . . Son of Tom and Angela Chambers . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.
Former Deacon from the same high school: DL Don Richardson, 1984 letterman

Deonte Davis CB 5-10 170 Snellville, GA
(South Gwinnett)
A two-year starter for South Gwinnett . . . Saw action at both cornerback and safety . . . Earned honorable mention All-Gwinnett County honors . . . Helped the Comets to a 10-3 record including a first round victory over Milton High . . . Played for Coach John Small . . . Played in the Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Football game following his senior season . . . Was a middle school teammate of current Deacon WR Jonathan Williams . . .Played in Region 8-6A . . . Had offers from Air Force, Colorado State and Navy among others . . . Recruited by Brian Knorr.

Wendell Dunn OLB 6-3 210 Miami, FL (Palmetto)
Honorable mention all-state Class 8A at linebacker as a senior . . . Four-year starter for the Lancers . . . Had 95 tackles and four interceptions as a junior . . . Runs a 4.7 in the 40 . . . Started his career has a safety . . . Selected for the Under Armour All-American game . . . Ranked as the No. 54 OLB in his class by Scout.com . . . His uncle, Jermaine Chambers, was a wide receiver with the Miami Hurricanes . . . Played for Coach Matt Dixon . . . Also had offers from Central Florida, UConn, West Virginia . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons from the same high school: C Dick Penn (1964-66); LB/C Bo Williams (1965-66)

Duke Ejiofor OLB 6-4 220 Houston, TX (Alief Taylor)
Honorable mention All-Greater Houston selection . . . Named one of the top 100 players in the Houston area by the Houston Chronicle . . . Was an honorable mention selection in District 18-5A . . . Had 58 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and six pass break-ups as a senior . . . Runs a 4.53 40 and has a 39 inch vertical leap . . . An honor roll student at Alief Taylor High School . . . Helped the Lions to an 8-4 record and a district championship in 2012 . . . Played for Coach J.D. Jordan . . . Also is a high jumper in track for the Lions . . . Son of Samuel and Franca Ejiofor . . . Born April 24, 1995 . . . Had offers from Houston, Rice, Kansas and TCU . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Cameron Gardner OL 6-5 275 Bailey, NC (Southern Nash)
First team all-state pick in 3A by NCPreps.com . . . Was the anchor for an offensive line that produced Southern Nash’s top two all-time leading rushers . . . Helped the Firebirds to an 8-3 record and a second place finish in the Big East Conference in 2012 . . . Played for Coach Brian Foster at Southern Nash High . . . Also throws the shot put in track . . . Missed three games during his senior season after dislocating his thumb . . . Enjoys fishing and 4-wheeling . . . Son of Jeff and June Gardner . . . Born Sept. 16, 1995 . . . Chose Wake Forest over NC State, Virginia Tech and Penn State . . . Will be 17-years old when camp starts in August . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Josh Harris OL 6-4 290 Milton, GA (Milton)
Earned first team all-state and all-region 5-6A honors as a senior . . . Rated the No. 41 offensive guard in the country and the No. 73 prospect in Georgia by Rivals.Com . . . Three-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Milton High School . . . High school teammate of fellow signee Cory Helms . . Played for Coach Howie DeCristofaro . . . Helped the Eagles to a 7-3 record and a berth in the state playoffs as a senior . . . All-region selection as a junior . . . Invited to the 2013 Offense Defense Showcase Bowl . . . Also wrestled as a junior and senior . . . Qualified for sectionals as a junior . . . Full name is Joshua Thomas Harris . . . Born May 14, 1995 . . . Son of Tom and Kim Harris . . . . Had offers from Maryland, North Carolina and South Florida . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Tyree Harris WR 6-2 180 Marietta, GA (Marietta)
First team All-Region 4-6A as a senior . . . A first team All-Cobb County pick by the Marietta Daily Journal and honorable mention all-state . . . Member of the Marietta Daily Journal’s Dynamite Dozen . . . Helped the Blue Devils to the second round of the 6A state playoffs in 2012 . . . Three-year starter . . . Had six receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown vs. Lovejoy in the playoffs . . . Had a 30-yard touchdown reception in the opening round of the playoffs at Marietta upset Valdosta Lowndes . . . Team finished the year 8-4 . . . Had 48 receptions for 856 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012 . . . Set the school record for receiving yards and TD catches in a season . . . Finished his career with 114 catches for 1,914 yards and 18 touchdowns . . . Played for Coach Scott Burton . . . Played in the Cobb All-Star Senior Bowl following the 2012 season where he had five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown . . . Was selected to the inaugural High School Clash of Scholar Athletes Game which featured the Palm Beach County, Fla. All-Stars vs. Atlanta All-Stars . . . Chose Wake Forest over Mississippi State . . . Also had offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisville and NC State . . . Recruited by Brian Knorr.
Former Deacon from the same school: LT Hank Hames (1967)

Andrew Hauser DE 6-3 265 Covina, CA (Charter Oak)
Named first team all-area as a senior by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune . . . Earned All-Sierra League honors at linebacker as a senior . . . Played for Coach Lou Farrar at Charter Oak . . . Had 13 tackles and a pair of sacks vs. Chino Hills . . . Started his career at Bishop Amat as a sophomore offensive lineman and helped the Lancers to a 9-2 record . . . Transferred to Charter Oak High and sat out his junior season in order to gain eligibility . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.

Cory Helms C 6-4 290 Alpharetta, GA (Milton)
An all-metro, all-region and high school All-American . . . Earned first team All-Region 5-6A honors as a senior . . . Was the starting center for the Blue team in the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Houston . . . Ranked as the No. 9 center nationally and the No. 58 prospect in Georgia by Rivals.com . . . High school teammate of Josh Harris . . . Played for Coach Howie DeCristofaro . . . Full name is Cory Scott Helms . . . Born Dec. 31, 1994 . . . Son of Scott and Sharon Helms . . . Had 11 offers including South Carolina, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Ford Howell ILB 6-1 225 Memphis, TN (University School)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . Joins Wake Forest from Memphis, Tenn. University School . . . A 6-1, 225-pound linebacker . . . First team All-State Division II-AA by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association . . . Helped the Owls to the AA Division 2 state championship game in 2012 . . . Had 72 solo tackles and 13 tackles for loss as a senior . . . Added five sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and a pair of interceptions . . . All-state, all-region and all-metro selection as a senior . . . Also named an AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star . . . Named to the Best of the Preps team by the Memphis Commercial Appeal . . . As a junior, had 60 tackles and three tackles for loss . . . Helped University School to an 8-4 record and the state semifinals in 2011 . . . Runs a 4.7 40 . . . Played for Coach Bobby Alston . . . Son of Jim and Ann Howell . . . Was also offered by NC State . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.
Former Deacon from the same high school: C Russell Nenon (2007-10)

Ali Lamot OLB 6-2 200 Mebane, NC (Eastern Alamance)
First team all-state Class 3A by NCPreps.com . . . Had 101 tackles as a senior including 74 solos, 17 sacks and 20 quarterback hurries . . . Helped the Eagles to a 12-2 record and the third round of the state playoffs . . . Tied for fourth in the state with 17 sacks as a senior . . . Earned all-region honors in football as a junior . . . Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 30 prospect in North Carolina . . . Played at Eastern Alamance for Coach John Kirby . . . Finished second in the region in the 110 meter hurdles in the spring of 2012 . . . Also played basketball at Eastern Alamance . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.
Jalen Latter CB 6-0 185 Charlotte, NC (Vance)
Signed as an cornerback . . . Versatile athlete who played both quarterback and cornerback at Charlotte Vance High School . . . Threw for over 1,600 yards as a senior with 16 touchdowns . . . Also rushed for 400 yards and six touchdowns . . . Had offers from Air Force, Navy and Charlotte . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.
Former Deacons from the same high school: OT Wesley Bryant (2003-05)

Jalen Latter CB 6-0 185 Charlotte, NC (Vance)
Signed as an cornerback . . . Versatile athlete who played both quarterback and cornerback at Charlotte Vance High School . . . Threw for over 1,600 yards as a senior with 16 touchdowns . . . Also rushed for 400 yards and six touchdowns . . . Had offers from Air Force, Navy and Charlotte . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.
Former Deacons from the same high school: OT Wesley Bryant (2003-05)

Marquell Lee LB 6-3 200 Pomfret, MD (Westlake)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . Played at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. . . . A three-year starter for the Westlake Wolverines . . . Earned honorable mention all-state as a senior . . . First team All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference at linebacker . . . Helped Westlake to the Maryland Class 3A South Region final . . . The Wolverines finished the season 8-4 . . . Had 12 tackles and a fumble recovery vs. Huntingtown during a regular season victory . . . Had an interception in the South Region semifinal win over Potomac and a fumble return for a touchdown vs. Lackey . . . Made 14 tackles vs. Calvert . . . Considered the Wolverines’ emotional leader . . . Played for Coach Marlon Curtis as a senior . . . Had 70 tackles as a junior while also throwing for over 800 yards as a quarterback . . . Ranked No. 36 on the Chose Wake Forest over Maryland . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

James Looney DL 6-3 275 Lake Worth, FL (Lake Worth)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . . Graduated from Lake Worth (Fla.) Community High School in December and enrolled at Wake Forest in January, 2013 . . . First team All-State Class 7A on the offensive line . . . Also earned first team all-Palm Beach County honors . . . Member of the Sun-Sentinel Super 11 . . . Projected as a defensive lineman for the Deacons . . . Rated the No. 14 player in Palm Beach County on The Big Board . . . Served as a team captain as a senior . . . Missed three games as a high school senior with a pulled muscle in his hip . . . Had two sacks and a forced fumble against Atlantic . . . First team All-Palm Beach County as a junior as he registered 60 tackles and two sacks . . . Played for Coach Errick Lowe . . . Had over a dozen offers from major colleges . . . Younger brother of former Deacon Joe Looney, now with the San Francisco 49ers . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons from the same high school: DE Todd Middleton (1987-89), LB Scott Shelhamer (1989-92), OG Joe Looney (2008-11)

Josh Okonye CB 6-0 185 Sugar Land, TX (George Ranch)
Played at George Ranch High School in its first season of football . . . Helped the Longhorns to a 5-5 record . . . Projected as a cornerback for the Deacons . . . Was a second team Texas Academic All-State selection . . . First team All-District 23-4A selection at defensive back . . . Has 4.72 speed . . . Played for Coach Ricky Tullos . . . Also runs track where he has been a regional qualifier in the 200 meters . . . Member of the National Honor Society . . . Born June 5, 1995 . . . Son of John and Philo Okonye . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Brendan O’Neil TE 6-4 220 Burlington, MA
(Buckingham Brown and Nichols)
Rated the No. 5 prospect in Massachusetts and the No. 39 tight end in the nation . . . As a senior, earned NEPSAC Lineman of the Year, All-ISL, All-New England, Boston Herald All-Scholastic . . . Named All-Scholastic by the Boston Globe . . . Selected team offensive MVP and All-ISL at tight end as a junior . . . Earned honorable mention All-Independent School League as a sophomore . . . Has also played defensive end for the Knights . . . Also captains the BBN basketball team . . . Played for Coach John Papas . . . Son of Chris and Cathy O’Neil . . . Father, Chris, played football at UMass . . . Rated the No. 88 TE by Scout.com . . . Had offers from Connecticut, UMass and Temple . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.

Michael Radford QB 6-3 195 Charlotte, NC (Country Day)
Quarterback at Charlotte Country Day . . . Considered a dual-threat quarterback with the ability to run as well as throw . . . Led Country Day to the state semifinals before suffering a concussion and missing the semifinal game . . . Completed 78 of 159 passes for 1,625 yards and 21 touchdowns with just seven interceptions . . . Carried the ball 110 times for 707 yards and seven touchdowns . . . Helped lead the Buccaneers to a 9-2 record in 2012 . . . As a junior, threw for 1,519 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 750 yards and 20 touchdowns . . . Played for Coach Bob Witman . . . Parents and Michael and Tammy . . . Michael, Sr. was a guard at Marshall when Jim Grobe was an assistant coach with the Thundering Herd . . . Fielded offers from Charlotte, Marshall and Presbyterian . . .

Cam Serigne TE 6-3 215 Ashburn, VA (Briar Woods)
Helped Briar Woods to a 15-0 record in 2012 and a 42-3 record over the past three seasons . . . Led the Falcons to three consecutive AA Div. 4 state titles from 2010-2012 . . . Earned first team all-state honors as a tight end and was also all-region as a defensive end . . . First team All-Washington Metro . . . Had 56 receptions for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns while serving as a captain in 2012 . . . Had a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown in a first round playoff win over Powhatan in 2012 . . . Set Briar Woods’ career records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches . . . Selected to the South team in the 2012 Chesapeake Bowl . . . Earned first team all-district, all-region and all-state as a junior . . . Had 53 receptions for 709 yards and 10 touchdowns during the 2011 season . . . Had 43 receptions for 438 yards as a sophomore . . . Projected as a tight end/H-back at Wake Forest . . . Played for Coach Charlie Pierce . . . Also lettered in baseball . . . Son of David and Michelle Serigne . . . Ranked as the No. 45 tight end in the class of 2013 by Scout.com . . . Had offers from James Madison, Air Force and Ohio . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.

Michael Stevenson S 6-0 175 Clearwater, FL
(Central Catholic)
A first team all-state Class 3A pick The No. 59 safety in the country as rated by Rivals.com . . . Played at Clearwater Central Catholic . . . Played for Coach John Davis . . . Had 91 tackles and three interceptions as a senior . . . Helped the Marauders to a school-record 11 wins as CCC reached the Class 3A state semifinals . . . Had offers from South Florida, Central Florida, Pittsburgh and West Virginia . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.

Julian Thomas-Jackson OLB 6-4 210 Dothan, AL
(Dothan)
Had 141 total tackles as a senior including 110 solos and 33 tackles for loss . . . Collected seven sacks in earning team defensive MVP honors . . . Played OLB in a 3-4 scheme as a senior after working at ILB in a 4-3 as a junior . . . Team tackle leader and defensive MVP . . . . Was at Oxford (Miss.) High School as a freshman and sophomore before moving to Dothan for his final two years of high school . . . The Tigers were 6-4 in 2012 . . . Played for Coach Kelvis White . . . Son of James and Elaine Byrd . . . Born March 7, 1994 . . . Brother Alan Thomas played defensive end at Ole Miss from 2009-11 . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Lance Virgile OLB 6-2 220 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
(St. Thomas)
Rated the No. 25 OLB in the nation by ESPN and No. 55 by Rivals.com . . . Played at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, the same high school that produced Wake Forest legend Brian Piccolo (though the school was known as Central Catholic at the time) . . . Helped the Raiders to a 13-2 record and the Florida 7A state championship . . . A two-year starter . . . Lost in the regional finals in 2011 . . . Member of the U.S. National U-19 team . . . Ranked as the No. 82 OLB by Scout.com . . . Played his home football games in Brian Piccolo Stadium . . . Played for Coach Rocco Casullo . . . Recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Cris Carter is an assistant coach for the Raiders . . . Had offers from Houston, Louisville, NC State and West Virginia . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons who attended the same high school: FB Brian Piccolo (1962-64), RT William Salter (1963-64), C Mike Nesselt (1981-84), K Danny Nolan (1983), DB Ulysses Robertson (1990-92), TE Ben Stafford (1996-99), LB Mike Simmons (2004-07)

Brad Watson CB 6-0 170 Round Rock, TX
(Westwood)
Member of the Texas Class 5A Region 2 Elite Team . . . A three-year letterman and starter at Westwood High School . . . Has the ability to play either corner or safety . . . Named to the Academic All-District team . . . Helped the Warriors reach the third round of the Texas 5-A Division 1 playoffs . . . Had 55 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups as a senior . . . Added two touchdown receptions as a receiver to go with an interception return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown . . . . The Warriors won back-to-back 5A Division 1 area championships in 2011 and 2012 . . . Had 67 stops, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups as a junior . . . Made eight career interceptions and totaled over 150 tackles for his career . . . Played for Coach Anthony Wood . . . Also runs track where he competes in the 200 meters and the long jump . . . Son of Carlton and Alexis Watson . . . Born August 20, 1995 . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Mike Weaver P/PK 6-1 180 Pine City, NY
(Elmira Southside)
A 2010 graduate of Southside High School in Elmira, NY . . . Was primarily a soccer player until playing just his senior year of football . . . Played varsity soccer starting in the seventh grade . . . Ran track and also played basketball for the Green Hornets . . . Has been out of high school for two seasons while pursuing college opportunities . . . Booted five field goals in just four varsity football games . . . Punted six times for a 53.0 average . . . Nailed a 42-yard field goal on his first career attempt in high school . . . Named Southside’s Special Teams Player of the Year and was invited to the Ernie Davis Senior Bowl Game . . . Earned West All-Division honors in soccer in 2007 . . . Won a pair of state championships while playing soccer for BC Fusion as a striker and midfielder . . . Son of Rick and Lori Weaver . . . Born Aug. 12, 1991 . . . Also had offers from Cincinnati and Miami (Fla.) . . . Recruited by Billy Mitchell.

Dez Wortham RB 6-0 205 Frisco, TX (Hebron)
Tore his ACL in the fifth game of his senior season . . . Had 115 carries for 745 yards before being injured in mid-October . . . Scored seven touchdowns and had 12 receptions for 100 yards in four and one-half games . . . Rushed for 797 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman in high school . . . Went over the 1,000-yard mark as both a sophomore and junior . . . The Hawks reached the Texas 5A playoffs in 2012 . . . Had offers from Kentucky, Colorado State, Connecticut and Houston among others . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.

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Judge who will conduct Winston hearing identified

Florida Supreme Court

The “when” of Jameis Winston‘s student conduct hearing is still to be determined.

One “who,” however, has been determined.

According to WCTV in Tallahassee, retired Florida Supreme Court chief justice Major Harding has been selected to preside over the hearing as what’s described as an “independent observer.”  Two other former state court justices, Joseph Hatchett and Charles T. Wells, were in the group of three candidates considered by the Florida State quarterback and his accuser.

Each side was able to strike one of the three from consideration.  If both struck the same judge, FSU would pick from the remaining two.  It’s unknown exactly how Harding came to oversee the hearing.

Harding did confirm to the television station that he has “been chosen to oversee a student conduct hearing, but says no student’s name has been provided to him.”

ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach provided a brief description of each judge in his confirmation of the earlier report on Harding.

Harding, 79, was a state Supreme Court justice from 1991 to 2000. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he is a graduate of Wake Forest and Virginia’s law school. Harding, who is currently a practicing attorney with the law firm Ausley McMullen in Tallahassee, began his career as a jurist in Florida with a 1968 appointment as a Duval County Juvenile Court judge. When he was appointed to the state’s Supreme Court, he was the dean of the Florida Judicial College and chair-elect of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges, according to his bio on the law firm’s website.

Hatchett, 82, was the first black man appointed to a federal appeals court in the Deep South, by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Wells, 75, a graduate of the University of Florida and UF law school, was the Florida Supreme Court’s chief justice from 2000 to 2002. He presided over the 2000 U.S. presidential election recount cases involving the hanging chads on Florida’s ballots.

At the hearing, whenever that may be if it even happens at all, Winston could be charged with up to four student code of conduct violations in connection to the alleged sexual assault of an FSU student in December of 2012.

Winston, as long as he is still a student at the university, will be compelled to attend the hearing. He will not be required, however, to answer questions even as he is permitted to give an opening statement and cross-examine witnesses. Unless given explicit permission by whomever is overseeing the hearing, his attorney, David Cornwell, will not be allowed to speak or argue on his client’s behalf.

Provided it doesn’t interrupt the hearing process, Winston can consult with Cornwell, who will presumably be the one “advisor” permitted at the hearing.

Cornwell has publicly expressed concern over the process, saying earlier this month, “I’m not walking this kid into a firing line without the necessary weapons.”  That tack’s being viewed by some, including the accuser’s attorney, as taking on the feel of “a stall.”

(Photo credit: Florida Supreme Court)

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A&M drops Ducks, adds future Clemson series

12th Man AP

The scheduling gods taketh… and then they giveth right back.

Thursday, Twitter was all, well, atwitter when it was reported that Texas A&M had backed out of its home-and-home series with Oregon that had been scheduled for 2018 and 2019. “Typical SEC school, ducking tough non-conference games,” some derisively said, never mind the fact that A&M already has Notre Dame, Clemson, UCLA and Arizona State on its future slates.

A short time later, however, both A&M and Clemson announced that they had agreed to a future series, with the Tigers replacing the Ducks in 2018 and 2019. Clemson will travel to Kyle Field on September 8, 2018, while TAMU will head to Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2019.

“We are excited to play the Clemson Tigers, who have been on Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule previously, A&M athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement. “As a fellow land-grant institution, Clemson is very similar to Texas A&M with a great football tradition and passionate fans. This will be a great non-conference series for both schools.”

According to FOXSports.com, Hyman “exercised a clause from the contract A&M and the Ducks… that said they could get out deal if A&M changed conferences.” The original series between A&M and UO was agreed to in 2009, prior to the Aggies’ departure from the Big 12 for the SEC.

Hyman further explained that the reason for dumping Oregon came down to simple math as it relates to home dates in 2018 and 2019.

“Our goal is to play seven home games at Kyle Field each season,” the release quoted Hyman as saying. “Playing at Oregon in 2018, combined with the Arkansas game in Arlington, would leave us with only six home games that season. In even-numbered years such as 2018, we only have three SEC home dates as long as we continue to play Arkansas in Arlington.”

And, for those who are wondering, this is not a case of UO being hard to deal with either.  Also from the release:

Texas A&M offered to switch the home-and-home dates with Oregon on the original contract, but Oregon faces the same situation with only four Pac-12 home games in even years with five on the road.

Clemson and A&M have met four times previously, with the last coming in 2005. The Aggies own a 3-1 edge in the series.

“We are looking forward to playing Texas A&M as the two schools share a rich military heritage and of course passionate fan bases,” Hyman’s Clemson counterpart, Dan Radakovich, said. “We know our fans make Clemson a great game day experience and the Aggie fans make Kyle field also one of the great venues in all of college football.”

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Ground and pound: Hurricanes establish identity during 30-6 victory over Hokies

Al Golden, Duke Johnson

The Miami Hurricanes made a statement Thursday against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

While the program may never return to the winning ways it once experienced while Al Golden is at the helm, the program finally gravitated toward an identity that’s long been forgotten. The vaunted Miami teams from the 1980’s and the early 2000’s used to physically dominate opponents. They did that Thursday night in Blacksburg.

Miami (5-2) captured a dominant 30-6 victory over Virginia Tech (4-4).

When Golden was the head coach of Temple from 2006-10, the Owls climbed their way out of football purgatory by running the football effectively week in and week out. The talent level at Miami supersedes anything Golden had at Temple, but the team’s approach against the Hokies was reminiscent of those Owls.

There was nothing fancy about what Miami did to Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes lined up and jammed the ball down the Hokies’ collective throat. Two running backs combined to run for an impressive 364 yards.

Junior running back Duke Johnson ran like a man possessed. Johnson set a career high with 249 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Sophomore Gus Edwards took over in the second half and managed 115 yards.

The Hurricanes were so dominant in the trenches, freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya was only asked to throw the ball 16 teams. He completed seven of those passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Plus, Miami played well on the defensive side of the football.

The Hurricanes shut out the Hokies through the first half of play, before Virginia Tech decided to ride freshman running back Marshawn Williams. Willams carried the ball 21 times for 100 yards. The young back also fumbled twice.

With the ACC Coastal division being wide open, the Hurricanes may have found its identity at the right time. At 2-2 in the division, Miami is now a half game behind the Duke Blue Devils going into this weekend’s games. But Miami holds the head-to-head edge.

If Miami plans to make a run in their division, its ball-control offense will be needed over the next two weeks against the North Carolina Tar Heels and No. 2 Florida State Seminoles.

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No. 18 ECU Pirates may stumble in polls despite 31-21 victory over UConn

Ruffin Mc Neill

The No. 18 East Carolina Pirates secured a 31-21 victory over the Connecticut Huskies Thursday. But was it enough for the Pirates to remain the top non-Power Five program and the favorite to claim an appearance in a contract bowl?

Sometimes a win can be viewed as a loss.

The Pirates struggled against a Huskies squad that entered the game 1-5 and didn’t have a victory against a single FBS opponent this season. It wasn’t until six minutes left in the game that East Carolina finally pulled away from UConn.

When a non-power conference team trying to impress the College Football Playoff gets an opportunity to add style points to their resume on national television, it has to do so. East Carolina didn’t.

The Pirates moved the ball and racked up 580 total yards, but they weren’t able to complete drives most of the evening. UConn employed a bend-but-don’t-break, and the scheme worked.

If East Carolina isn’t putting up big scoring and yardage numbers, the team is nowhere near as impressive.

East Carolina’s primary competition as the top non-Power Five program is the Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall is currently ranked 23rd overall in the AP Top 25. The Thundering Herd’s underwhelming schedule has prevented them from legitimately entering the national conversation. Yet, Marshall’s schedule doesn’t feature a team ranked lower than Connecticut.

Despite the lackluster effort, East Carolina did win the game. Ruffin McNeill‘s squad overcame adversity and was able to win a close contest even though everything didn’t go in their favor. The program still holds victories over the Virginia Tech Hokies and the No. 25 North Carolina Tar Heels.

Plus, very few teams feature a dynamic duo like quarterback Shane Carden and Justin Hardy. Carden was 38-of-64 passing Thursday for 445 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hardy, meanwhile, grabbed 14 passes for 186 yards. The impressive effort moved Hardy into second place among the FBS’ all-time receptions list.

The Huskies deserve some credit for knocking down the Pirates a notch. First-year head coach Bob Diaco has his team playing hard, and they seem to be figuring some things out. The defense plays sound football, while the offense was finally able to move the ball in stretches against East Carolina.

In the end, East Carolina is still the top non-Power Five program in college football, but the margin between the top team and the second team is much closer after Thursday night’s effort.

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Miami RB Duke Johnson explodes as Miami leads Virginia Tech 24-0 at halftime

Brad Kaaya, Duke Johnson

Welcome to the Duke Johnson show.

The Virginia Tech Hokies simply had no answer for Miami’s running back. Johnson accumulated 185 total yards through two quarters of play as the Hurricanes lead the Hokies 24-0 at halftime.

Miami came into Thursday night’s contest with the intention of establishing the run game, and Al Golden‘s squad did so in spectacular fashion.

As the Hurricanes dominated an undersized Virginia Tech defensive front, Johnson continued to churn out yardage. The junior running back accumulated 148 rushing yards on 19 carries.

The dagger at the end of the first half also came from the running back.

Already leading 17-0, Miami drove the ball to Virginia Tech’s 22-yard line with the clocking ticking within 15 seconds remaining before the horn for halftime blew. With the clock still running, the Hurricanes snapped the ball and freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya found Johnson open out of the backfield for his second touchdown in the half.

While the Hurricanes’ offense running all over the Hokies, Miami’s defense completely shut down the Hokies’ rushing attack. Virginia Tech ran the ball eight times for minus-13 yards.

Because of the Hokies’ inept running game, quarterback Michael Brewer suffered. When forced to throw, Brewer couldn’t step up and make a play. Virginia Tech’s signal-caller finished the half 7-of-12 passing for 49 yards.

The Hokies should expect the same approach from the Hurricanes in the second half. Golden may decide to lighten Johnson’s load (after he establishes a new career high), but Virginia Tech will then get a steady dose of sophomore Gus Edwards.

If Frank Beamer‘s squad has any chance of coming back in tonight’s game, Brewer must take his game to another level. That may be asking too much of the junior quarterback.

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No. 18 ECU Pirates lead UConn 14-7 as Carden, Hardy post memorable halves

Shane Carden

The first half of Thursday’s meeting with the Connecticut Huskies had it all for East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden.

Carden already threw the ball 39 times as the No. 18 East Carolina Pirates built a 14-7 over the Huskies at halftime. Carden is well on his way to eclipsing his season high of 48 passes.

The quarterback also doubled his season total for interceptions by throwing an ill-advised pass into the end zone. UConn senior cornerback Byron Jones came down with the ball.

The senior signal-caller also threw a pair of touchdowns. The first of which was a highlight reel reception by senior wide receiver Justin Hardy. Hardy dove in the end zone and bobbled the ball before he finally came down with the 13-yard touchdown reception (see: below).

The catch wasn’t Hardy’s only memorable moment of the evening. The prolific pass-catcher also climbed another rung on NCAA’s all time receptions ladder. Hardy became the NCAA’s third all-time leader in receptions during the first half. The talented wide receiver already made six receptions for 90 yards.

While the Pirates continued to throw the ball over the field, the Huskies prevented the big play. Despite surrendering 302 yards of total offense through two quarters, Connecticut is within striking distance due to Easter Carolina’s miscues.

Connecticut has been able to throw the ball better than expected. Senior quarterback Chandler Whitmer is 7-of-10 passing for 96 yards. But the Huskies stalled on offense numerous times due to penalties and an inability to run the ball.

For the Huskies to remain in the game, they’ll need to shorten the second half. Carden can’t be allowed to throw the ball 25 times in one quarter like he did in the opening frame. A commitment to the running game will help keep the Pirates offense off the field, while the Huskies try to to muster enough offense to garner their first win over an FBS opponent this season.

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Marshall hires PR firm to help with possible College Football Playoff berth

Marshall v Florida International Getty Images

A year ago, the Marshall Thundering Herd would be known as a “BCS Buster.” Instead, Doc Holliday‘s squad is attempting to be this year’s dark horse choice to become one of four teams invited to the inaugural College Football Playoff.

The Thundering Herd (7-0) is one of three undefeated teams, and the program is currently ranked 23rd overall in the AP Top 25. With only five games left on the regular season schedule, Marshall has plenty to overcome to be named one of college football’s Top 4 teams.

But the university and Conference USA won’t go down without a fight.

“Marshall University and Conference USA have hired an LA-based public relations firm to assist with their case to be selected to the first College Football Playoff,” Tess Quinlan of USA TODAY Sports reported.

“Brener Zwikel & Associates, which counts the Rose Bowl, Los Angeles Dodgers and Speedo as clients, sent out a release Thursday highlighting the Thundering Herd’s undefeated record, standing in the Amway Coaches Poll and their non-Power Five conference affiliation.”

The Thundering Herd’s schedule is expected to hold the program back despite a potential undefeated campaign. Marshall won’t face a single ranked opponent this season and their biggest win could eventually come in the Conference USA Championship Game.

However, the school features one of college football’s most exciting offenses and an electric quarterback.

Marshall’s offense is ranked second overall behind the Baylor Bears. The Bears only average 4.1 more yards per game than the Thundering Herd. And senior quarterback Rakeem Cato accumulated 2,135 total yards and 24 total touchdowns through seven games.

While it’s unlikely a strong public relations effort will be enough to push the Thundering Herd into this year’s College Football Playoff, the hire won’t be for naught. Marshall still trails the No. 18 East Carolina Pirates as the top program not affiliated with a Power Five conference. The highest-rated team outside of the Power Five automatically receives a bid to one of the remaining contract bowls.

Marshall’s ability to pass East Carolina in the rankings is far more important and achievable than chasing a spot in the College Football Playoff.

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Report: Syracuse football is under NCAA investigation

Scott Shafer

Syracuse is the latest football program to find itself in the clutches of the NCAA.

While the Orange’s basketball team was believed to be the focus of an ongoing investigation, there are concerns regarding the football program, too.

Syracuse.com’s Nate Mink reported the investigation could affect multiple areas within the school’s athletic department.

“The Syracuse football program is part of the wide-ranging NCAA investigation into the school’s athletic department,” sources told Mink.

“The information shows that the NCAA inquiry that has swirled around the basketball team for two years is more involved, and that the football team is part of the investigation and potentially exposed to penalties. It’s unclear if other teams are involved.”

If the Orange football team was to receive any type of sanctions, possible infractions apparently didn’t occur during Doug Marrone‘s tenure. Marrone served as the Orange’s head coach from 2009-12. The current head coach of the Buffalo Bills spoke with Fink about possible reasons behind the investigation.

“There’s nothing that I know about that we did that wasn’t either punished or put forth,” Marrone said.

“One thing I did, if we made a mistake, an incidental contact or something, I just always reported it. It’s not worth it. This way I can sleep at night.”

Syracuse officials are expected to meet with the NCAA in Indianapolis at some point before the end of the month.

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Michigan lowers student-ticket prices for 2015 season

Minnesota v Michigan Getty Images

The Big House’s student section should be completely full during every game next season.

After recent complaints by the student body, the University of Michigan decided its in the school’s best interests to decrease the prices of student tickets for the 2015 campaign.

This season, a season ticket purchased by a student was $280. Next season, the prices will be dropped to $175 per season ticket.

“We’ve been listening,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Michigan Daily Thursday. “We really learned that two really important components to re-engaging with our students in trying to create a more robust, more enthusiastic and larger student section for next year’s football season was price and strength of schedule.

“A nearly 40-percent reduction in ticket prices is, I think it’s fair to say, unprecedented.”

However, it’s not quite to the price level demanded by the president of Michigan’s central student government, Bobby Dishell, a week earlier at Michigan’s Board of Regents meeting.

During’s Dishell’s address to the board, he said Michigan’s “athletic department has broken its trust” with students. Another student representative respectfully asked for Brandon’s resignation.

Dishell appears happy with the change, though.

“It’s been great working together,”  Dishell told The Michigan Daily. “We realized that the University takes need into account when you’re coming here, so your experiences here should also take that into account.”

As the future of the football program remains in turmoil, it appears to have regained the trust of its students and may avoid seeing empty seats at Michigan Stadium.

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Hackenberg, other Nittany Lions deliver pizzas to ‘Nittanyville’

Christian Hackenberg AP

Christian Hackenberg may not be delivering on the field the way he did as a true freshman last season, but he sure is off of it.

(Waiting for the groaning to die down… waiting… still waiting… and we’re good)

This week, students at Penn State have set up camp in “Nittanyville” ahead of Saturday’s primetime showdown with Ohio State in Happy Valley.  And by “this week” I mean “several days ahead of the contest.”

As is ofttimes the case with individuals in that age group, they came down with a serious case of the munchies.  And, thanks to the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback and some of his teammates, said craving was sated Wednesday night.

Before you ask, I have no idea who paid for the pizzas.  And, for video of the special delivery that we can’t embed here, click HERE.

The Nittany Lions, incidentally, will be looking to snap a two-game Big Ten losing streak when they host the 13th-ranked Buckeyes.  And Hackenberg will be looking to bounce back from both a rough first half of the 2014 season (five touchdowns, seven interceptions compared to 20-10 a year ago) and his worst day yardage-wise a year ago (112 in a 63-14 thrashing by OSU in Columbus).

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Butch Jones playing coy with Justin Worley’s availability for ‘Bama

Justin Worley, Robert Nkemdiche AP

Earlier this week, Butch Jones seemed to indicate that there was little doubt his starting quarterback would be healthy enough to play this weekend.

With the Alabama game getting closer on the horizon?  Yeah, not so much.

Justin Worley was knocked out of the Week 8 loss to Ole Miss with a shoulder injury.  While Worley has practiced since, the Vols’ head coach intimated during his radio show Wednesday night that it’s up in the air whether or not Worley plays in the rivalry game.

It’s ongoing right now,” Jones said when asked for an update on Worley’s status. “We’ll have to make a decision here later in the week with Justin’s status. The great thing for us is the way we practice all of our quarterback get equal reps in practice.”

That said, it’s widely expected Worley will be on the field and under center when the Vols square off with the Tide in Neyland Stadium.  Should the unexpected happen and Worley is shelved, either Josh Dobbs or Nathan Peterman would assume the position.

Regardless of just who is under center, though, the UT offensive line, with all new starters from last year’s unit, needs to do a better job of protecting the quarterback.  The 30 sacks surrendered by the Vols is second only to SMU’s 35 as the most at the FBS level this season.

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Northwestern CB retires… after learning he has one kidney?

Alonzo Moore, Dwight White AP

This is something you don’t hear or read about every day.

In a press release Thursday, Northwestern announce that Dwight White has decided to retire from the game of football.  No specific reason, injury, medical or otherwise, was given, although the cornerback said in a statement that the “decision I’ve had to make [is] for my long-term health.”

According to InsideNU.com, however, the reason for the decision is that the player has one less significant organ than most.

OK then.

“We love Dwight and we’re proud to have him as a part of the Wildcats football family,” head coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a statement. “It’s disappointing to lose a great teammate from the field but I’m excited he’s able to remain involved in the program, and I’m looking forward to his continuing development as a student, a leader and a professional at Northwestern.”

After starting six of the 12 games in which he played in 2013, White was being looked upon as a significant contributor to the Wildcats’ secondary this season. After playing in the season opener, White was subsequently announced the following week as being out with an undisclosed injury. He hadn’t seen the field since.

“I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches, teammates and especially the Northwestern Sports Medicine staff for all of their support,” the final portion of White’s statement read.

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Five-person committee to steer SEC search for Slive replacement

Mike Slive

Just a little over a week after Mike Slive not-so-unexpectedly announced he would be stepping down as the commissioner of the SEC next year, the conference has taken the next expected step in securing a replacement.

The SEC announced in a press release Thursday that it is set to launch its search for Slive’s successor.  As part of that search, Vanderbilt chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, current chair of the SEC’s presidents and chancellors, has appointed a five-person committee charged with the task of hiring the eighth commissioner in the conference’s history. The Fab Search Five are:

  • Dr. David Gearhart, Arkansas chancellor
  • Dr. Judith Bonner, Alabama president
  • Dr. Eli Capilouto, Kentucky president
  • Dr. Mark Keenum, Mississippi State president
  • Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, Missouri chancellor.

Dr. Gearhart’s will serve as the committee’s chairperson.

“The SEC has enjoyed an era of unprecedented success under Mike Slive and at the same time has been a leader in dramatic change in the landscape of college athletics under his direction,” Zeppos said in the statement. “It is critical to have an efficient transition of leadership in order to continue our success on the fields of play as well as to identify a staunch advocate for academic achievement, integrity and sportsmanship. Our objective is to seamlessly maintain our conference’s participation in shaping the future of intercollegiate athletics.”

It’s widely believed that the SEC’s current chief operating officer, Greg Sankey, is the current favorite to take over for Slive.  Before what many assume to be the inevitable happens, though, the committee will undertake a search that’s national in scope.

As for a timeline, there’s not one specific in nature.  The release, though, stated that “the presidents and chancellors hope to select the new commissioner in a timely manner to allow a transition period before Slive’s retirement on July 31, 2015.”

By most accounts, the conference would like to have the successor in place around the first couple of months of the new year to allow for as smooth a transition as possible.

“The SEC has enjoyed an era of unprecedented success under Mike Slive and at the same time has been a leader in dramatic change in the landscape of college athletics under his direction,” Zeppos said. “It is critical to have an efficient transition of leadership in order to continue our success on the fields of play as well as to identify a staunch advocate for academic achievement, integrity and sportsmanship. Our objective is to seamlessly maintain our conference’s participation in shaping the future of intercollegiate athletics.”

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UPDATE: SMU ‘floating $4 million annually’ to entice Mack Brown

Mack Brown

If SMU fails to land Mack Brown as its next head coach, it won’t be for lack of trying.  Or financial incentive.

In a piece detailing just who may emerge as legitimate candidates for the Mustangs job opened by June Jones’ abrupt retirement two games into the 2014 season, Dallas Morning News writer Bill Nichols dropped the intriguing nugget below a handful of paragraphs into the article:

And basketball’s quick ascension under Larry Brown seems to have galvanized the school’s football commitment.

Thus, it’s not shocking that SMU officials have already had preliminary discussions with former Texas coach Mack Brown, floating $4 million annually over eight years, sources say. Brown, 63, fits the Larry Brown model — a national championship winner who can land star prospects on name alone.

A $4 million-per-year commitment would more than double Jones’ 2013 salary of $1.9 million. The healthiest salary for an AAC head coach in 2013 was the $3.7 million earned by Louisville’s Charlie Strong, who, oddly enough, replaced Brown in Austin. Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville made $3.1 million at Cincinnati last season, while Strong’s successor at the UofL, Bobby Petrino, will average $3.5 million annually on a seven-year contract.

In his final season at Texas, Brown pulled in just over $5.4 million.

All of the discussion involving Brown, SMU and salary, though, is wholly dependent on whether the coach wants to return to the sidelines.

Earlier this month, the former UT head coach’s attorney confirmed that SMU had approached his client about a return to the sidelines. While acknowledging that Brown misses coaching, the attorney, Joe Jamail, flatly stated that “he’s not interested in coaching anywhere right now.”

Brown, currently serving as a college football analyst on ESPN, himself said a week earlier that he will decide in December if his coaching career is done.

Should Brown decide to take over the reins at SMU, he’d be stepping into an on-field mess.  The Mustangs’ offense has scored 39 points in six games this season; 14 teams are averaging at least that many points per per game.  UConn is the second-lowest scoring team in the country, and they’ve nearly doubled up SMU’s output (77 points in seven games).

To add insult to offensive injury, the Mustangs rank dead last in points allowed at 48 per game.  Not so unexpectedly, they are 125th out of 125 teams in total defense (548.8 ypg) and next-to-last in total offense (249.2 ypg, ahead of only Wake Forest’s 206.7).

On the flip side, the Mustangs qualified for four straight bowl games from 2009-12 before missing out with a 5-7 record in 2013, so there is a recent track record of both some modicum of talent and success.  Still, it’s a significant rebuilding effort for anyone who takes over, let alone an individual who will turn 64 prior to the start of the 2015 season.

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Texas OC, Okla. St. trade lawsuits over play-calling duties

Joe Wickline AP

Just who is calling plays for Texas in 2014 is at the heart of a pair of lawsuits that have begun their journeys through the legal system.

Oklahoma State filed a lawsuit Oct. 17 (case summary HERE) against former OSU assistant and current Texas co-offensive coordinator Joe Wickline in which the university essentially accuses Wickline of lying about the duties his new position entails.  Wickline left the Cowboys in January to become the Longhorns’ co-offensive coordinator along alongside Shawn Watson; in that role, Wickline would reportedly hold play-calling responsibilities.

That latter aspect is key as, the Austin American-Statesman wrote, “Wickline would owe OSU the balance of his contract unless he was named offensive coordinator ‘with play-calling duties’ or went to the NFL.” The balance of that contract is nearly $600,000, which OSU is seeking in its lawsuit.

The impetus for this legal back and forth appears to have been triggered, in part, by Wickline’s new boss. Back in mid-March, ESPN.com wrote, “[UT head coach Charlie] Strong changed course publicly, clarifying that Watson and Wickline would share play-calling duties and that ‘the one final voice will be Shawn.'”

Six days later, Wickline was sent a letter from OSU athletic director Mike Holder that contained the following passage.

“Further, it has now come to our attention that you do not have ‘play-calling duties,'” Holder wrote in a letter dated March 24. “Instead, it appears that your head coach has confirmed that Shawn Watson, not you, will be calling the plays. Thus, in reality it appears you unilaterally and voluntarily terminated the Contract to make a lateral move and as such a waiver of the liquidated damages clause of the Contract is not triggered.

“While OSU wishes you every success in your endeavors and burgeoning career, it is paramount to OSU that contract terms be taken seriously and that they be strictly enforced in the interest of professionalism. Accordingly, OSU will insist upon payment of the liquidated damages clause of the Contract.

It’s readily apparent that Wickline does not hold sole play-calling duties at UT. Based on multiple media accounts, Wickline’s OSU contract also didn’t specify that he must maintain sole play-calling responsibilities or be liable for damages. It’s that distinction that will likely be the crux of the battle should the lawsuits ever see the light of day in a courtroom.

Wickline’s lawsuit, meanwhile, was filed Monday and claims “tortuous interference” on the part of OSU. The coach’s suit makes the claim that his former school’s action “is baseless and its sole purpose is to interfere with coach Wickline’s ongoing employment relationship with UT and the UT contract.”

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