Da'Shaw Hand

Top-rated 2014 recruit whittles list to three


Rated as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2014 by a handful of recruiting websites, Da’Shawn Hand dropped a bit of news recently by surprisingly dropping a pair of schools from his future college to-do list.

The Woodbridge, Va., defensive end announced that South Carolina and Virginia Tech are no longer in his top five.  Hand’s new top three consists of Alabama, Florida and Michigan.

“I spoke to Bud Foster at Virginia Tech and that was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.,” Hand said according to Rivals.com. “And Deke Adams at South Carolina is a great person as well and that was difficult. Making those calls, especially to coach Foster, was the hardest thing I’ve had to do so far.”

Oddly enough, it appears the academic side of the equation played a role in Hand scrubbing the two schools from his list.

“I am pursuing a major in Sports Management or Sports Marketing, and Virginia Tech doesn’t offer that,” said Hand. “And I didn’t get a good feel for the professor at South Carolina, I just didn’t feel it.”

Hand said he has no favorite at this time, choosing to list his top three in alphabetical order.  The 6-4, 248-pound lineman has already visited the Tide and Wolverines but hasn’t yet done the same with the Gators, although a future trip to Gainesville is in his plans.

While Hand has whittled his choices down to three, it doesn’t appear it will stay that way for long; in announcing that he had dropped the Gamecocks and Hokies, Hand revealed that he’s “also interested in LSU and USC.”  Those two schools — which he described as being on the “outside looking in” — will be a part of Hand’s five official visits.

Hand, who said he hoped to make a verbal commitment at some point in December, added that those are also the only schools he will consider moving forward.

“This is my final list, I’m not open to any other teams,” the recruit said.

Hand is the top-rated prospect in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com.  Scout.com puts Hand at No. 2 overall, while ESPN has him at No. 4.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.