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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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Report: Texas A&M reached out to LSU DC John Chavis

LSU v Washington

Texas A&M is currently without a defensive coordinator, a fact that may have cost the Aggies the nation’s top linebacker prospect and a five-star defensive tackle. Head coach Kevin Sumlin fired Mark Snyder on Nov. 28, and with a holiday week upon us and the Aggies’ Liberty Bowl date approaching, it now appears likely the one month mark will pass before Snyder’s replacement is hired.

That’s not to say Sumlin has sat on his hands, though.

Sumlin chased LeBron-in-a-headset free agent Will Muschamp, and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and Florida’s D.J. Durkin were also reportedly on the Aggie wish list as well.

On Sunday night, a report emerged out of Baton Rouge through The Advocate that Texas A&M has reached out to LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis.

Chavis has coordinated the Bayou Bengals’ defense for the past six seasons and is regarded as one of the very best in the business. Since his arrival in 2009, LSU has ranked 15th, 22nd, second, seventh, 27th and 18th nationally in yards per play allowed. Before arriving in Baton Rouge, Chavis served as defensive coordinator under Philip Fulmer at Tennessee from 1995-08.

Most importantly for Sumlin, Chavis’ defenses have completely flummoxed Texas A&M’s offenses in their three meetings since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. LSU has won each of the three games while holding the Texas A&M to less than 20 points and more than 100 yards below their season average. Nabbing Chavis would be a major coup for Sumlin, bringing instant credibility to a defense that last in the SEC in total defense this season while simultaneously weakening a division rival.

Of course, they’d have to get him first. Chavis earns the third-highest salary of all college football assistants at just north of $1.3 million according to USA Today. (Snyder earned $708,000.) His contract expires after this season, and LSU has offered him a extension that Chavis has yet to sign, according to The Advocate.

However, when you’re blowing up half your stadium as part of a near half-billion dollar renovation project, in the long run busting the budget by a few hundred thousand dollars for an elite defensive coordinator is much less costly than putting a mediocre product on the field.

Texas A&M concludes its season in the Liberty Bowl against West Virginia on Dec. 29 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), while LSU wraps up against Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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Ole Miss QB signee Chad Kelly arrested after scuffle with police

Chad Kelly

Chad Kelly was dismissed at Clemson this April for what Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney deemed “conduct detrimental to our program” but, after a season spent leading East Mississippi Community College to a national title, reclaimed his major college football destiny by signing with Ole Miss earlier this month.

For now.

Back home in his native Buffalo, Kelly was arrested early Sunday morning after fighting with bouncers at a local watering hole and later scuffling with police, reports the Buffalo News. According to Buffalo police, Kelly refused to leave an establishment known as Encore and punched a bouncer in the face. He then took on two bouncers and, according to the police report, said, “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place.”

Police officers later stopped a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup, where Kelly was a passenger.

“Kelly was forcibly removed from the vehicle, officers said,” writes the Buffalo News. “Police said Kelly kicked and tried to swing at officers as they removed him from the vehicle. They said he resisted getting into a patrol vehicle and struggled with staff at central booking.”

Kelly has been charged with third-degree assault, second-degree harassment, second-degree menacing, resisting arrest, fourth-degree criminal mischief, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and, along with a friend involved in the melee, third-degree criminal trespass. All charges are misdemeanors or violations, and Kelly has been released without bail.

“It remains to be seen who was the aggressor and thankfully it was a scuffle where no one was hurt,” Kelly’s attorney Thomas J. Eoannou said.

Kelly is the nephew of former Buffalo Bills great and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. He was named the New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA Player of the Year in 2011 and was regarded as the nation’s top junior college quarterback after throwing for 3,905 yards and 47 touchdowns this fall.

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Mark Richt raids Nick Saban’s staff for strength coach

Mark Richt

They say the strength coach is the most important hire a head coach will make. Between the end of spring ball and the beginning of fall camp, the strength coach is the main point of contact players have with their football program on a daily basis. With longtime strength coach Joe Tereshinski stepping down late last month, Mark Richt has raided Nick Saban‘s strength staff at Alabama to fill his all-important head strength coach role, as Georgia announced the hiring of Mark Hocke on Sunday evening.

“Mark received some outstanding recommendations from those in the industry and is known for his high energy, ability to motivate and relate to his athletes, as well as develop them mentally, physically, spiritually and socially,” Richt said in a statement.

Hocke served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach since 2009. At Georgia, he’ll join a growing roster of Bulldog coaches with Crimson ties (get it?), including defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt (a former Alabama assistant), linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer (formerly Alabama’s director of player development) and offensive line coach Will Friend (a former Alabama player).

Hocke replaces Tereshinksi, the Bulldogs’ head strength coach since 2011 and a member of the Georgia program since 1982.

Prior to his arrival in Tuscaloosa, Hocke worked as an assistant coach and the head strength and conditioning coach at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

Hocke will join the program in Charlotte before its date with No. 20 Louisville in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 30. “This will allow him to be better prepared as we begin our training program in January,” Richt said.

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Gus Malzahn, new Auburn DC Will Muschamp haven’t discussed staff changes yet

In addition to the reported $1.6 million salary, one of the things that drew Will Muschamp to Auburn’s open defensive coordinator slot was the freedom granted by head coach Will Muschamp to select his own staff to work under him.

And while staff changes are likely coming for a defense that ranked 74th in yards per play allowed and 61st in scoring, they won’t happen before the Outback Bowl.

“We have not talked about it,” Malzahn told AL.com. “We’re just trying to give these guys the best plan to win the bowl game. We’ll talk about that at a later date.”

It has been widely speculated within the industry that Muschamp would like to bring Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson with him to The Plains, but a spot is not open for him at this time. Safeties coach Charlie Harbison is set to serve as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator in the Outback Bowl. And it’s possible that a few Gators assistants could look to follow their former boss to Auburn after new Florida head coach plucked Geoff Collins away from Mississippi State to coordinate his defense.

In the meantime, though, rival recruiters are pouncing as the Auburn defensive staff remains in flux. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College safety Tony Bridges chose Ole Miss over Auburn in part because of the uncertainty around the Tigers’ staff.

“(Muschamp) looked at tape of me and said ‘I really need you,’ this and that. I have love for them because they showed me love, so I can’t say nothing bad about them,” Bridges told the Sun Herald before inking with the Rebels on Wednesday. “That being said, it was too late. I didn’t know which way the defensive coaches, like (cornerbacks coach) Melvin Smith, was he going to be there or not?”

No. 19 Auburn will meet No. 18 Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl at noon ET on New Year’s Day (ESPN2).

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Report: Jim Harbaugh not the only NFL coach Michigan is chasing

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

With the NFL’s own coaching carousel ready to start spinning in the next seven-to-10 days, we’re beginning to find out which college coaches that have caught the NFL’s eye and, apparently, the other way around. Michigan’s interest in San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is widely known, but he’s apparently not the only NFL coach that the Wolverines have an interest in.

According to a report from CBS NFL reporter Jason La Canfora, Michigan is aware that the former Wolverines quarterback is likely to remain in the NFL for the 2015 season, so interim AD Jim Hackett and company have shown interest in John HarbaughSean PaytonJason Garrett and Doug Marrone.

Of course, just because Michigan is interested in those coaches doesn’t mean those coaches are interested in Michigan.

Harbaugh has expressed no desire in leaving Baltimore, Payton already reportedly earns more than the $8 million the Wolverines are dangling in front of Jim Harbaugh, and Garrett is expected to sign an extension with the Dallas Cowboys after the season.

So it’s clear why those coaches wouldn’t be interested in Michigan, but it’s unclear why Michigan would even be interested in them. None have any recent experience coaching the college game. The only coach in that group that does have college experience is Buffalo’s Marrone, who went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse.

A .500 mark at Syracuse isn’t typically a stepping stone to Michigan, even if there is an NFL stop in between.

With Harbaugh reportedly using Michigan’s interest for leverage against other NFL suitors, it appears likely at this point that the Wolverines will find their next coach within the college ranks.

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Jameis Winston cleared in FSU Code of Conduct hearing

Jameis Winston; David Cornwell

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been cleared of wrongdoing in his Code of Conduct hearing with the university, his attorney David Cornwell tweeted Sunday.

“In sum, the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for ANY of the charged violations of the Code,” he wrote.

The hearing was held Dec. 3, and a decision was not expected until next month.

Former Florida state supreme court justice Major Harding presided over the case.

“This was a complex case, and I worked hard to make sure both parties had a full and fair opportunity to present information. In sum, the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for any of the charge violations of the Code. Namely, I find that the evidence before me is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof,” Harding wrote in a letter obtained by USA Today.

“As summarized in the preceding paragraphs, the evidence regarding the events that unfolded between you and (the woman) once in your room is irreconcilable. In light of all the circumstances, I do not find the credibility of one story substantially stronger than that of the other. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses. I cannot find with any confidence that the events as set forth by you, (the woman), or a particular combination thereof is more probable than not as required to find you responsible for a violation of the Code.”

While the alleged 2012 sexual assault will likely follow Winston through the civil courts and the NFL Draft process, it will not bar him from completing this season – and likely his college career.

Florida State’s Code of Conduct says that his accuser can pursue an appeal, but it would not be heard before the Jan. 12 College Football Playoff Championship. Moreover, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner is widely expected to declare for the NFL Draft by the Jan. 15 deadline.

Winston and the ‘Noles will meet Oregon in the CFP semifinals at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

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How many FBS programs are still looking for their first bowl win?

A chance at history was missed on Saturday. Western Michigan and South Alabama had respective shots at winning their first bowl games in program history, but each fell short. Western Michigan saw a comeback effort squandered by a catastrophic scoop ‘n’ score in a 38-24 loss to Air Force in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and South Alabama blew a late lead in its first ever bowl appearance, falling to Bowling Green 33-28 in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.

The losses meant the Broncos remained on and the Jaguars joined the ignominious list of eight FBS programs that are 0-fer in their only bowl trips. Warning, this list is #MACtion heavy (via Winsipedia.com):

Akron – 0-1
Ball State – 0-7
Buffalo – 0-2
Kent State – 0-2
Louisiana-Monroe – 0-1
South Alabama – 0-1
Western Kentucky – 0-1
Western Michigan – 0-6

If you want to look at the bright side, those programs are fortunate. Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Texas State and UTSA have never enjoyed the fortune of even appearing in a bowl game, and poor UAB was axed with an 0-1 bowl record.

Western Kentucky has a chance to get off this list on Wednesday as the Hilltoppers will face Central Michigan (3-4 all-time in bowl games) in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (12 p.m. ET, ESPN).

 

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Boise State running back Jay Ajayi declares for NFL Draft

Jay Ajayi

Boise State running back Jay Ajayi will play his final game as a Bronco in the upcoming Fiesta Bowl against Arizona. Ajayi announced Sunday he will enter himself into the 2015 NFL Draft, passing on his final year of eligibility at Boise State.

Ajayi informed his teammates while in the huddle for the final rep in practice on Sunday. He reportedly made his decision to enter the NFL Draft without hearing from the NFL advisory group in place to assist with the decision-making for underclassmen thinking about leaving for the NFL Draft.

Ajayi was the second-leading rusher in the Mountain West Conference in 2014 with 1,689 rushing yards, but he was the conference’s leader with 25 rushing touchdowns. His 25 rushing touchdowns are second in the nation only to Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.

The NFL Draft has not been particularly kind to running backs in recent seasons. Last year there was not a single running back chosen in the first round of the draft. There was also a record number of underclassmen declared for the NFL Draft, which left many without a football home in 2014. Ajayi will be likely to be drafted somewhere between the second and fifth round of the draft, although exactly when he may go is difficult to predict.

Boise State has had six running backs drafted in NFL Draft history. Doug Martin to the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 2012 is the most recent Broncos running back to be picked.

Boise State will face Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl on December 31.

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Oklahoma State AD wants to schedule Oregon and UNC

Mike Holder

Oklahoma State athletics director Mike Holder took note of the way the College Football Playoff selection committee seemed to punish Big 12 champion Baylor for its non-conference scheduling this fall. He wants to make sure that does not affect his Cowboys program in the future, and he is already talking about the possibility of scheduling future games with Oregon.

“I’ve never seen a game in Autzen (Stadium),” Holder said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “I’d love to see that. There’s a lot of those opportunities out there. Need to see some places that are different, rather than Austin, or Norman, or Manhattan, Kansas.”

Holder’s overall point is the entire Big 12 has to schedule tougher non-conference competition. More importantly, the Big 12 needs to win games against other power conference opponents on the schedule. This year the Big 12 failed to score a signature victory. the biggest win in non-conference play may have been TCU’s victory at home against Minnesota. While it may be tough for Holder to ensure Oklahoma State (who opened the season against Florida State) to improve on the non-conference slate in 2015, he knows it will be important for the Big 12 to step things up as a whole in the future.

Holder and his head coach, Mike Gundy, do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to non-conference scheduling.

“My football coach doesn’t want to play anybody any good, definitely, but jiminy Christmas, we looked pretty good against Florida State,” Holder said. “Until we beat OU, that was the highlight of our season.”

It seems everybody would love to take a crack at Oregon, but Holder has a wider scope as well.

“I’d really love to play North Carolina home and home,” Holder mentioned. “Find somebody from the Big Ten or Pac-12 to play us. Maybe even the SEC.”

The Big 12 plays nine conference games and does not currently require its members to schedule another power conference opponent the way the ACC and SEC will be regulating. The lack of a conference championship game may hurt a Big 12 champion in the playoff picture, as seemed to be the case this season, but it is far too early to suggest it is a make-or-break factor. One thing that is somewhat clear is the strength of a team’s non-conference schedule is a factor.

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UCLA’s Mora and Auburn’s Malzahn potential NFL targets?

Jim Mora

The college football world may be on Jim Harbaugh watch to see what happens with his coaching future (NFL or Michigan?), but two other college coaches could be ready to receive some NFL overtures as well.

UCLA head coach Jim Mora and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn are two names of interest according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Rapoport suggests the San Francisco 49ers would be a team expected to have an interest in Mora, where he would replace Harbaugh. The 49ers have a knack for plucking coaches from the Pac-12, so perhaps that makes sense. Mora also has NFL coaching experience with the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. Mora’s time in the NFL did not end well, but sometimes a return can ay off. Just ask current Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.

Malzahn would be a potential target for the Miami Dolphins, per Rapoport, if the team makes a coaching change. Malzahn has no NFL coaching experience, which can be of some mild concern. But if offensive innovation is the key to winning in the NFL, then perhaps Malzahn would be a good fit if he was interested.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports the 49ers could be expected to let Harbaugh go between 24 and 48 hours following the conclusion of the NFL’s regular season. So the wait may drag on for Michigan fans. If Michigan does not lure Harbaugh to Ann arbor, the coaching carousel in the college ranks could get into fifth gear one last time. Pittsburgh and Colorado State still have to find a head coach too.

Stanford head coach David Shaw will reportedly turn down any NFL offers that may come his way.

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Report: Stanford’s David Shaw will not entertain potential NFL offers

David Shaw

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has remained mostly silent on his potential coaching future despite reports saying his alma mater, Michigan, have gone all in on luring him to Ann Arbor. No matter what happens in the coaching carousel in the NFL, Harbaugh’s successor at Stanford plans on staying put at Stanford.

David Shaw will not listen to any potential NFL coaching offers that may come his way, according to a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN. Schefter says Shaw is committed to coaching in college despite having many tendencies that appear attractive to NFL franchises in need of a new head coach. Shaw is every bit a Stanford guy at this stage in his career, and his desire to stay put has been put on display in recent seasons since taking over for Harbaugh as head coach of the Cardinal.

We should never say “never” when it comes to coaching possibilities, although Shaw’s history with Stanford would suggest he really is loyal to the program. Born in San Diego, Shaw grew up in Michigan before his family moved back to California. Shaw went on to play wide receiver for Dennis Green and Bill Walsh at Stanford. After a few different coaching stops in his coaching career, Shaw returned to Stanford as an assistant coach and later was named the head coach of the program after Harbaugh accepted a job offer from the San Francisco 49ers in 2011.

Michigan would be wise to give a call to Shaw in the event Harbaugh leaves the Wolverines hanging, if they have not already, although Shaw seems very comfortable right where he is with the Cardinal.

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Jimbo Fisher once again asked about Jameis Winston’s NFL future

Jimbo Fisher, Jimbo Fisher

With Florida State’s College Football Playoff semifinal match-up with Oregon looming, Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher continues to be faced with questions regarding the playing status of his star quarterback, Jameis Winston. A ruling in Winston’s recent code of conduct hearing is expected before Florida State faces Oregon in the Rose Bowl on January 1, but at this point it appears very likely Winston will be available and eligible to play. even if the ruling from the university serves a punishment to Winston that would prevent him from playing, Winston would be entitled to appeal the decision and remain eligible until the appeal process plays out. The process, if enacted, could take another two to three months.

Bottom line, expect Winston to play against Oregon.

With that said, Fisher is also hounded by questions regarding Winston’s future. Will Winston head to the NFL or return to Florida State for the 2015 season? Depending on whom you ask, Winston is better off in the NFL or another year in Tallahassee. There is no real clear answer to what is best for Winston. Fisher suggests there is much more to the decision to turn pro that needs to be evaluated. Is it an easy decision? Not likely.

“Yeah, was it for Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck? See, everybody assumes you go, but Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning stayed,” Fisher said, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “It’s not just being a top-two pick. It’s about what you want out of life, to me. Is it to get to the NFL and be a top pick or be at the Hall of Fame, or to be a college graduate.”

There have multiple reports in the past suggesting Winston has the intention to return to Florida State to complete his degree before turning pro.

“We all assume that money drives everything, and it’s a very important factor, but at the same time, other people have a lot of value and things that we may not always see that they can do it.”

So, what does Winston value? That’s the big question that only Winston can truly answer.

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Johnny Majors, who once left Pitt for Vols, says Pitt is still a destination job

Johnny Majors

The University of Pittsburgh is in the midst of its fourth head coach search in five years, leaving the question of whether or not Pitt is still home to a destination job in college football to be answered. At least one coaching legend believes it is; Johnny Majors.

“It’s definitely a destination job, and I think it’s a job you can win the championship at, without question,” Majors while being interviewed by MLive.com. “If you have a strong, supportive, loyal president that wants to win at football as well as academics, and a strong A.D. that’s loyal and will support you, you can win championships at a place like Pitt.”

Majors, of course, coached at Pittsburgh two separate times. The first stint came from 1973 through 1976. His second tour of Pittsburgh came two decades later from 1993 through 1996. Majors won a national championship at Pittsburgh in 1976 (Pitt’s last claimed national title), after which he left the program to go closer to home to coach at Tennessee. So you can understand why his comments about Pitt being a destination job may come off a tad ironic.

Majors is not off-target with that last part of the comment though. Any job has the ability to be a long-standing destination job with the proper and supportive leadership in place on multiple levels. Right now Pittsburgh is looking for a permanent athletics director in addition to a head football coach, so there is undoubtedly some stability issues for the program to address. The same holds true at Michigan, with the Wolverines looking for a new AD and reportedly going all in on San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh .

In a way, every coaching job can be a destination job for the right candidate, and Pittsburgh is no different. Simply being in a power conference does not make any job a destination job for most, but it can be the right job for the right guy if the pair can be matched up.

Pittsburgh is looking to replace Paul Chryst, who accepted a head coaching offer from Wisconsin. Whoever becomes Pittsburgh’s next head coach will be the third coach hired to be head coach since the school parted ways with Dave Wannstedt, not including two interim head coaches.

What do you think? Is Pitt a destination job or not?

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Texas A&M brings down west end of Kyle Field

LSU v Texas A&M

Texas A&M took the next step in a massive renovation project on Kyle Field. The entire project is aimed to improve the facilities at Kyle Field and expand seating beyond 100,000 fans. The $450 million project is a two-year process and is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2015 season after getting started last year. Work began immediately following the conclusion of Texas A&M’s 2013 home schedule.

Today called for the tearing down of the west end of the football stadium, which took place this morning.

Texas A&M tore down part of the east side last year as the renovation project got underway. Texas A&M has already installed a new video scoreboard, the largest in college football. The school also approved a $16 million budget to improve other football facilities including locker rooms and training rooms.

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Colorado State University-Pueblo wins first D2 national title

Jarrod Lacey

Saturday may not have been a great day for Colorado State, but another Colorado program achieved the ultimate glory on the field. Colorado State University-Pueblo shutout offensive juggernaut Minnesota State to win the Division 2 national championship. The ThunderWolves scored a 13-0 victory in Kansas City to win the first national championship in program history.

Colorado State-Pueblo scored 10 points in the second quarter, which proved to be more than enough with the way the defense played. Chris Bonner completed a touchdown pass of 18 yards to Paul Browning in the final minute of the first half to put the ThunderWolves up 10-0. Kicker Greg O’Donnell kicked two field goals. The story was the defense though, with Colorado State-Pueblo holding Minnesota State to just four third down conversions out of 16. Defensive end Darius Allen was all over the field to lead the defense. He ended the season with 15.5 sacks

The last time the Division 2 national championship was a shutout was in 1997 when Northern Colorado blew away New Haven, 51-0. Perhaps it is something in the water in Colorado. This was the first time since 1997 played for the Division 2 title. This was also the first appearance in the championship game for Minnesota State. The game was the lowest scoring Division 2 championship game since Brian Kelly‘s Grand Valley State team defeated North Dakota 10-3 in the 2003 championship game. The CSU-Pueblo program was relaunched in 2008 after a period of inactivity from 1985 through 2007. It did not take long to rebuild the program from scratch into a national title program.

Will Colorado State-Pueblo head coach John Wristen be the next coach to make a move up in competition? Wristen is now 68-16 in seven years as head coach with four straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships and playoff appearances. Now with a national championship on his résumé, perhaps Wristen will begin to gain some traction in some coaching carousel news.

Remember that another Division 2 coach from Colorado just got a new opportunity. Colorado School of Mines head coach Bob Stitt was recently named the head coach at Montana. Maybe the state of Colorado is becoming the next fertile ground for rising coaches.

As for that other Colorado State? The Rams went down in flames against Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.

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