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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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D’oh! FSU QB Sean Maguire’s parents give away tickets, won’t attend son’s first start

Sean Maguire

So, this isn’t how you draw it up when you son signs a scholarship to play quarterback at Florida State.

With sophomore quarterback Sean Maguire set to make his first start Saturday, his parents won’t be in attendance. It’s not that they don’t support his career. They just gave his tickets away thinking there was no chance their son would see the field against an important conference rival.

They were probably right, until Jameis Winston hopped on that table and earned himself a half-game suspension.

Maguire, who ran a Wing-T offense in high school, has thrown 26 career passes with 16 completions for 144 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

No. 1 Florida State faces No. 22 Clemson at 8 p.m. ET Saturday night on ABC.

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K-State shoots itself in foot, shin and kneecap, trails Auburn 10-7 at the half

Tyler Lockett

When hosting the No. 5 team in the country and defending SEC champions, it’s never a good idea to turn the ball over twice – once in your own red zone, once in your opponent’s – and miss a field goal in the first quarter. No. 20 Kansas State did just that.

The Wildcats opened the game by forcing a punt, but gave the ball right back when Jake Waters dropped the ball on a botched zone read. Auburn’s Robenson Therezie recovered at the Kansas State 21, and the Tigers turned it into a field goal. On the ensuing drive, the Wildcats calmly marched 74 yards in 10 plays to set up a 2nd-and-goal at the Auburn one, but Waters’ pass was bobbled by all-everything wide receiver Tyler Lockett and straight into the arms of Auburn cornerback Jonathan Jones. This is an Auburn game, after all. Of course balls are popping off opponents’ face masks straight into their defenders’ arms. Kicker Jack Cantele put the cherry on top of a frustrating first quarter for Kansas State by missing a 41-yard field goal try.

With all that considered, Kansas State is lucky to be within 10-7 at the half.

The Kansas State defensive front has been fantastic to this point, limiting Auburn to 55 rushing yards on 17 carries. Nick Marshall has completed 9-of-18 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The simple fact that Auburn has more passes than rushes and twice as many yards through the air than the ground should tell you the job the Wildcats have done defensively.

Defensive tackle Travis Britz has been especially good, batting down one pass to end an Auburn drive, and deflecting another to create the Marshall interception. Auburn is just 2-of-7 on third down, and came up empty on its first five tries.

Jake Waters has had an up-and-down night so far, completing 13-of-20 passes for 151 yards with the interception to Lockett. He ended the half by taking an awful sack/fumble that set up another Cantele field goal miss at the horn.

The key for the second half, obviously, is the Auburn running game. The Tigers are 1-9 when rushing for less than 200 yards over the last three years, while Kansas State is 21-2 while allowing less than 200 rushing yards.

Kansas State gets the ball to open the second half.

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Report: Texas A&M will pay $300,000 to ship in a new field from North Carolina

Kyle Field

For a university that takes such pride in their grass (seriously, go there some time), the playing conditions – or lack thereof – at Kyle Field last Saturday night had to be especially disheartening for Texas A&M. Heavy rain Friday night and Saturday morning combined with Kyle Field’s natural grass combined to create a playing surface that was hazardous at best and dangerous at worst.

“The field was kind of bad, but both teams had to play on it,” Texas A&M wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones told the Houston Chronicle after the game.

Rice head coach David Bailiff said “had some concerns” about even bringing his team out of the locker room to play the second half. (He did, and Rice lost 38-10). “I thought the grounds crew did about as good a job as anybody could do,” Bailiff said. “They kept the surface safe. Every time they saw a divot, they ran out there and fixed it.”

These post-game tweets showed his fears were not without reason.

According to a report from the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Texas A&M has a plan in place to fix the field, and will spare no expense to do it. Texas A&M officials plan to pay North Carolina-based company Carolina Green to ship an entirely new field to College Station.

The field will be moved in pieces inside 21 refrigerated trucks and begin installation the week of Sept. 29. Texas A&M System vice chancellor of marketing and communications Steve Moore says the process should take about four days.

“After the game, the chancellor asked the staff and the Kyle Field redevelopment committee to look at options,” Moore told the paper. “He wanted to know how to provide the best competitive playing surface we could going to forward and that’s what led to this process and the decisions that have been made.”

Carolina Green offers a thicker, more solid base that should allow the sod to take root in time for the Aggies’ next home game. And if there’s one silver lining to this story, it’s that the replacement comes at a good time: the Aggies are on the road the next three weeks, visiting SMU on Saturday, facing Arkansas at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 27, and visiting Mississippi State on Oct. 4. The sixth-ranked Aggies return to Kyle Field and their new surface on Oct. 11 to face No. 10 Ole Miss.

The new field comes at a cost of $300,000, but that’s chump change when you’re paying nearly half a billion dollars to renovate your football stadium.

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At long last, BYU to retire Jim McMahon’s No. 9 on Oct. 3

Jim McMahon

From the Department of Things That Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago, BYU announced Thursday it would retire former quarterback Jim McMahon’s No. 9 on Friday, Oct. 3.

McMahon will be enshrined into the BYU Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Seriously, the man quarterbacked the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl nearly 30 years ago, and has spent every waking second since then making sure we don’t forget it. Frankly, I’m surprised the man hasn’t broken in during the middle of the night (wearing his signature shades and utterly unnecessary head band, of course) and installed his own bust by now.

A tipster tells us the delay was on McMahon’s part, not BYU’s. Athletes are not eligible for enshrinement or jersey retirement until completing graduation, which McMahon apparently just recently finished.

McMahon, whose name and number will be permanently displayed on the LaVell Edwards Stadium press box, joins a group of a half-dozen former Cougars to have their numbers retired: Eldon Fortie (No. 40), Marion Probert (No. 81), Steve Young (No. 8) and Gifford Nielsen and Ty Detmer (both No. 14).

“I’m very proud of Jim finishing his degree. He is a competitor and a finisher. Completing his education at BYU is evidence of the type of person he is,” said his former coach LaVell Edwards. “Jim was a great leader and had a complete understanding of the game of football. He is very deserving of the hall of fame and having his jersey retired.”

McMahon left school in 1981 holding 70 school records after compiling 653 completions for 9,536 yards and 84 touchdowns with a 156.9 passer rating. As a senior, McMahon won the inaugural Davey O’Brien Award, the Sammy Baugh Trophy, and was named the NCAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind USC’s Marcus Allen and Georgia’s Herschel Walker.

McMahon will be honored in a ceremony during No. 21 BYU’s home date with Utah State on Oct. 4. The Cougars host Virginia on Saturday.

 

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Torn ACL, MCL ends season for Texas State’s Michael Orakpo

Corey Robinson, Michael Orakpo AP

Looking to get a fresh start at Texas State after getting the boot from Colorado State, Michael Orakpo will instead spend the next several months rehabbing a rather significant injury.

Earlier this week, TSU head coach Dennis Franchione confirmed that Orakpo will miss the remainder of the 2014 season due to a torn ACL and MCL.  The linebacker, who’s the brother of former Texas All-American Brian Orakpo, sustained the injury in this past weekend’s loss to Navy.

Franchione described the injury as “not a pretty sight to see.”

The injury also ends the playing career of the fifth-year season as he will not be eligible for a sixth season of eligibility.  It was also a career that reeks of what could’ve been.

In April of 2012, Orakpo, along with two now-former Colorado State teammates, were involved in what was described as the “savage beating” of fellow CSU students.  The trio was suspended by the program, ultimately charged with one count each of disorderly conduct, and eventually dismissed from the team.

Orakpo originally intended to transfer to and play for Baylor, but was removed from the roster — after having his own profile on the team’s official website — because of the baggage he brought from CSU.  He ended up at TSU and would be named second-team All-Sun Belt for his play during the 2013 season.

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Cincy’s starting RB, CB cited, with another Bearcat arrested

Hosey Williams, Junior Sylvestre AP

With a huge intrastate non-conference game looming two Saturdays from now, an incident that could turn into at least a mild distraction for the Cincinnati football program has reared its head.

The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote Thursday afternoon that “[t]he future of two University of Cincinnati football players on scholarships is unclear after one was arrested and the second was cited when police responded to a weekend party near campus where gunshots were fired.”  In a press release, the school subsequently confirmed the arrest as well as a total of three citations issued to football players

The arrested one was freshman cornerback Alex Thomas, who was charged after attempting to flee police who had responded to the call of shots fired. Running back Hosey Williams was cited for disorderly conduct while intoxicated according to the Enquirer. The paper noted that Williams’ citation” indicates he refused to tell police where he attends school.”

The other two given unspecified citations were sophomore linebacker Ey’Shawn McClain and junior cornerback Leviticus Payne.

The incident that led to the arrest and citations happened very early Sunday morning.

“This kind of behavior is not acceptable and not indicative of the UC football program. Moving forward, we will continue to educate our players on making good decisions and being great representatives of the University,” a statement from head coach Tommy Tuberville read.

Houston has been suspended by the football program and “will not be eligible to participate in a game until his legal matter is completely resolved. He has a preliminary court date on Oct. 14 so he will miss at least four games and possibly more,” the school’s release read. The other three have been disciplined internally but remain on the roster and eligible to participate in games.

That’s particularly good news when it comes to two portions of the cited trio.  Williams is UC’s starting running back and, in the season opener in Week 3 — the Bearcats had byes the first two weeks — led the Bearcats with 103 yards on 14 carries. Payne, meanwhile, is on of UC’s starting corners.

Thomas and McClain are not listed on the Bearcats’ two-deep depth chart.

(Tip O’ the Cap: ArrestNation.com)

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Report: Tech fired Wallerstedt for suspicion of being under the influence

Matt Wallerstedt

Before you go there, yes, that would explain some of Texas Tech’s defensive woes.  Now, with that out of the way, we can move on.

Earlier today it was reported that Texas Tech had fired defensive its coordinator, Matt Wallerstedt, and replaced the second-year coach with Mike Smith.  The school has yet to confirm the move, although that’s expected at some point this afternoon of evening.

No reason for the abrupt dismissal three games into the season was given either, although it was believed to be performance-related as the Red Raiders’ defense had been gashed for almost 500 yards rushing against Arkansas.  As it turns out, that may not be the case.

From ESPN.com‘s Jake Trotter:

Texas Tech fired defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt on Thursday after the coach was suspected of being at the school’s football building while under the influence of an unknown substance, sources told ESPN.com.

Wallerstedt was sent home from the facility Monday, according to a source.

What that alleged substance was wasn’t detailed by Trotter, and it’s highly, highly doubtful the university will divulge the circumstances surrounding the dismissal let alone any details of the alleged substance involved.

What we are certain of is this likely isn’t the last we’ve heard of this particular story.

(Photo credit: Texas Tech athletics)

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VIDEO: Jameis Winston running out of chances in eyes of NFL

Jameis Winston

Personally, I could care less what if any impact the latest brouhaha involving Jameis Winston will have on the Florida State quarterback’s future NFL draft stock.  The only thing I care about are things like what effect it will have on FSU’s chances in the Clemson game… if will it further damage any shot at back-to-back Heismans… if it will have any bearing on the Seminoles repeating as champions… will it cause Winston to leave FSU early for the professional ranks.  That’s it.

It’s the college football angle and the college football angle only that interests me — unless it somehow becomes intertwined with the future of the Cleveland Browns either directly or indirectly.

The fine folks at PFT Live, however, are keenly interested in Winston’s draft stock and what impact it may or may not have in the eyes of NFL clubs and their scouting departments.  Unofficial data suggests that’s already happening as Mel Kiper has dropped Winston from No. 3 to No. 25 on his Big Board for the 2015 NFL draft.  An overreaction to the obscene and vulgar meme Winston publicly belted out?  Possibly, but the reality of the new NFL suggests it’s not.

As the esteemed and deftly-coiffed Mike Florio explains in this PFT Live segment, teams will likely be on the lookout for character issues of potential draft picks in the wake of the controversies involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.  Taking that into account, and taking into account the myriad off-field hiccups Winston’s already stepped into during his two-plus years in Tallahassee, Florio opines that “for a guy that’s going to be the face of a franchise somewhere, there is enough evidence out there to have a concern that this guy isn’t ready and may never be ready to be the face of your franchise.”

“He’s running out of chances to convince the NFL he can come in and be that player who is the leader of your team both in the locker room and in the public eye,” Florio added.

For those who are interested in the NFL aspect of this situation, this two-minute clip is actually well worth your time.

 

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Reports: Texas Tech cans DC Matt Wallerstedt

Matt Wallerstedt

Go ahead and file this in the “whoa, didn’t expect this so soon” folder.

Within minutes of each other Thursday afternoon, both CoachingSearch.com and FootballScoop.com reported via Twitter that Matt Wallerstedt has been fired as defensive coordinator by head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Mike Smith is expected to take over the coordinating duties on that side of the ball.

Tech is expected to release a statement confirming the move at some point this afternoon.

The apparent decision to can Wallerstedt, in his second season at Tech, comes just five days after Arkansas ran over, through and around the Red Raiders in an embarrassing 49-28 loss Saturday in Lubbock. In that game, the Razorbacks ran for 438 yards while passing for just 61.

Smith, a 2004 TT graduate, held the titles of co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach.

As it stands now, the Red Raiders’ defense is second-to-last in rushing defense and 106th in scoring defense through three games.  Last season, Wallerstedt’s first, they were 74th and 90th, respectively, in those categories.

(Photo credit: Texas Tech athletics)

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Ark. St. can return remembrance crosses to helmets

Arkansas State Cross

The fact that an attorney complained to Arkansas State about memorial crosses placed on the football team’s helmets triggered action from the university, with the crosses being altered or removed so that only the initials of the dead remained.  It also, though, triggered an outpouring of criticism of the school from those who felt they caved to the interests of a single individual at the expense of the majority.

One of those levying the most pointed criticism was the Liberty Institute, a conservative Christian legal organization that had complained in a letter to the university that it had infringed on the private religious rights of the players.

In the end, they’re right back to a similar place where they were prior to the original complaint lodged over a week ago: the players can have crosses on their helmets, if they want them there. And they won’t be placed their by an employee of the school as before; rather, the players themselves will be able to affix crosses or any other NCAA-sanctioned tribute to former defensive lineman Markel Owens and former equipment manager Barry Weyer Jr., who both died back in 2013 in separate incidents.

The university allowed that it was wrong for the school to place the crosses on the helmets originally. “The sticker idea originated among the coaches and the coaches’ small group of football players on the Leadership Council,” a letter from ASU System President Charles Welch to the institute stated, also noting that the stickers were paid for using public funds.  That will not happen this time around.

According to the same letter, “[t]he display of these stickers will be totally voluntary and completely independent of university involvement. The university will not procure the stickers, purchase them, or affix them to the helmets.”

ASU officials had consulted with their counterparts at the Liberty institute to come up with a solution that allows the individuals to make the choice.  It also came after conversations with its own legal team and the NCAA.

“In the interest of allowing our student-athletes to memorialize their fallen colleagues, Markel Owens and Barry Weyer, it is the university’s position that any player who wishes to voluntarily place an NCAA-compliant sticker on their helmet to memorialize these individuals will be able to do so,” the letter from the university continued.

The Liberty Institute issued its own statement hailing what it referred to as “a great victory for the players of Arkansas State University!”

“According to the letter we received from the University and communications from the Arkansas Attorney General Office, the players will be allowed to place the original cross sticker design on their helmets in the original location if they so choose.

“The University officials and the Arkansas Attorney General did the right thing restoring the religious liberty and free speech rights of the players to have the original cross sticker design if they so choose and we commend them for doing so.”

A Red Wolve football player had complained that the school had violated his right to free speech because of the cross flap, which gained the interest of the institute. The school, though, denies the player’s right to free speech was infringed upon due to the university’s actions.

In the letter referenced previously, the institute was taken to task by the president for disseminating what it called misinformation over what led to the school’s initial decision.

The University’s response said “The foregoing facts are in stark contrast to the misinformation contained in your letter stating that the ‘students designed the helmet sticker,’ that ‘[e]ach teammate affixed the sticker to his helmet,’ and that the ‘stickers were designed by the students on their own.'”

The letter also said that all of this was done without the advice of counsel. The University argued that “Accordingly, when the school modified the stickers to avoid Establishment Clause concerns, no student speech was infringed.”

(Photo credit: Arkansas State athletics)

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Sooners to debut alternate unis vs. WVU

Photo: Oklahoma Athletics

Because, of course, there’s something inherently wrong with their classic, iconic, traditional football duds.

Regardless, Oklahoma revealed Wednesday that they will be wearing alternate uniforms for the nationally-televised game against West Virginia Saturday night. This version is actually one of the different alternate combinations announced back in July but have yet to be worn.

Head coach Bob Stoops sounded positively thrilled over the debut of the uniforms.

We just thought we might as well use them. Since you got them, you eventually got to use them,” Stoops said.

As we wrote a couple of months ago, the Sooners will have a pair of alternate uniforms to choose from moving forward.

One adopts a white alternate helmet, while one features a wood grain pattern in the numbering, lettering and the helmet itself. The wood grain is supposed to be reminiscent of, a press release stated, “the weathered texture of the Sooner Schooner, a Conestoga reminiscent of the pioneer mode of travel employed by the hearty souls who settled Oklahoma Territory around the time of the 1889 Land Run.”

The newer uniforms also feature the phrase “47 straight,” a tribute to Oklahoma’s NCAA record winning streak running from 1953 through 1957.

The uniforms that will be worn in the Big 12 opener against the Mountaineers in Morgantown will have the wood-grain theme.

Oklahoma Uniform

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Status of starting Gamecocks guard for Vandy game up in the air

North Carolina v South Carolina

Already dealing with the loss of Mike Matulis until at least midseason because of a knee injury, South Carolina’s offensive line could be set to take yet another injury hit.

South Carolina confirmed Wednesday in their practice notes that Cody Waldrop did not practice again because of an unspecified injury to his left knee.  It was the second practice in a row that the starting guard, who was seen walking with the aid of a crutch, had missed.

The injury occurred late in the win over Georgia this past Saturday, and is expected to keep him out of this weekend’s game against Vanderbilt.

Waldrop has started the first two games this season at right guard.  Oddly enough, Waldrop became the starter because of the injury to Matulis.

If Waldrop is out e would be replaced in the starting lineup by Will Short.

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UConn, Mizzou schedule home-and-home for 2015, 2017

Bob Diaco AP

Using Bob Diaco’s favorite analogy, he’s baked one serious ingredient into his future schedule cakes.

Mizzou announced a home-and-home series with UConn to be played in 2015 in Columbia and 2017 in East Hartford, giving UConn its first power-five opponent of the Diaco era. UConn will travel to Faurot Field on Sept. 19, 2015 and welcome the Tigers to the Northeast on Sept. 23, 2017.

UConn already has a tough trip to Provo to face BYU scheduled for 2015 as well as non-conference home games against Villanova and Army. A home-and-home series with Virginia will be played in 2016 and 2017, while UConn has Big Ten bottom-feeders Illinois and Indiana on its 2019 and 2020 schedules. Adding an SEC opponent certainly will be a good test for Diaco’s Huskies.

UConn doesn’t do a whole lot for Mizzou’s future non-conference schedules, as there’s plenty of work to be done in East Hartford before Diaco gets the Huskies to a competitive level in the AAC, let alone on a grander scale. Mizzou faces FCS side Southeast Missouri State and travels to Arkansas State in 2015 while welcoming Purdue to Columbia in 2017.

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So who is Sean Maguire, other than being Florida State’s first-half QB vs. Clemson?

Sean Maguire AP

Chances are, Florida State won’t ask Sean Maguire to do too much in the first 30 minutes against Clemson Saturday night. With Jameis Winston getting himself suspended, Maguire will step in — and while it may not cost Florida State a win, swapping Winston for Maguire certainly makes Saturday night’s game in Tallahassee a little tougher for the ‘Noles.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes on Maguire:

– He’s a redshirt sophomore who stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 220 pounds.

– Maguire completed three of five passes for 28 yards in garbage time this year and went 13 of 21 for 116 yards and a touchdown a year ago, again being used only in garbage time.

– The Sparta, N.J. native was rated by Rivals as a three-star pro-style quarterback out of high school. According to Rivals, Buffalo was the only other school to offer Maguire, who committed to Florida State in early June of 2011 (about 10 months before signing day).

– Florida State’s official website offers this:

ran a wing-T offense in high school which didn’t allow for many passing opportunities…made the most of the ones he got displaying good arm strength, touch, the ability to change ball speeds and ability to consistently throw a catchable ball with accuracy to all three levels

– The wing-T? Alright then. Good on him for sticking it out at his high school instead of transferring somewhere with a 21st-century offense, I guess.

Again, Florida State probably won’t ask Maguire to do a whole lot against Clemson other than hand the ball off. But if Clemson stacks the box with eight guys and forces FSU into some passing down situations, Maguire may need to make some throws — and if those don’t go well, the door could very well be open for Clemson to steal a win at Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday night.

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Ripple effect of Auburn-Kansas State will be felt well beyond Manhattan tonight

Big 12 Football Media Days Getty Images

Kansas State hosts Auburn tonight in a game that’s not only massive for the outlook of things in Manhattan, Kan. This is a game that carries far-reaching implications in Norman, Okla., Waco, Texas, East Lansing, Mich., and across a large swath of the South.

If K-State pulls off the upset and Aggieville parties long into Friday morning, the Big 12 will get a massive boost as a whole. K-State’s road to the College Football Playoff would all of a sudden open up, even if it’s an unlikely path: The Wildcats’ Big 12 schedule sends them to Oklahoma and Baylor, while there’s a tricky road game at West Virginia in there, too.

It’d be foolish to doubt Bill Snyder, but chances are, K-State won’t make a serious playoff push. But the Wildcats would do Oklahoma or Baylor a huge favor by beating Auburn tonight — they’d give those teams another chance at a solid win over the course of a fairly light Big 12 schedule.

If one spot in the College Football Playoff comes down to a one-loss Big 12 team vs. a one-loss Big Ten team (looking your way, Michigan State), a win over a K-State team that toppled Auburn could go a long way toward the selection committee going with the Big 12 team. Oklahoma will have a win over Baylor or Baylor will have a win over Oklahoma, giving either side a better victory than Michigan State or any other Big Ten team will have this year. But if Oklahoma trips up Saturday at West Virginia or Baylor gets knocked off by Texas in Austin, a win over K-State could help counter-act that defeat.

Or consider this: Would a one-loss Big 12 team get a higher seed or spot in the playoff over a one-loss Florida State? If the ‘Noles fall to Clemson or Notre Dame in Tallhassee or Louisville on the road, would a weak ACC schedule come back to bite them? (Probably not, but it wouldn’t be a slam dunk.)

Those clinging to the hope of a Big Ten team making the College Football Playoff should be rooting for two things: Auburn to win tonight, and then chaos to reign in the SEC West. An Auburn win weakens the Big 12 while boosts a conference that doesn’t really need a boost. The Big Ten has an advantage over the Big 12 in its conference championship game, meaning there’s a good chance a one-loss Michigan State team faces a one-loss Wisconsin side in Indianapolis.

The best-case for the Big Ten would be for Michigan State to run the table, beat that one-loss Wisconsin team and have a resume of “hey, we took care of our business except for a nearly impossible task in Week 2 in Eugene.” That’s not a bad resume, even given the Big Ten’s awful rep.

Would a one-loss ACC or Big 12 team still make the playoff over a one-loss Big Ten team? Probably, but again, it’s not a guarantee.

The worst-case scenario for the SEC is Auburn loses tonight, but navigates its brutal SEC schedule with only one other loss and emerges as conference champions for the second straight year. The selection committee still would likely give Auburn a bid to the College Football Playoff, but it could hinder the conference’s chances of getting two teams in — especially since the East’s two top teams, Georgia and South Carolina, already have one loss.

Tonight in Manhattan will go a long way toward determining the landscape of the first College Football Playoff. Buckle up.

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