Winners and Losers from Signing Day

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National Signing Day is just about over, so it’s time to take stock at who the winners and losers were on Wednesday.

Winners

Alabama — The rich get richer. Alabama nabbed yet another No. 1 recruiting class, thanks in part to the signing of the nation’s top recruit, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand. Ho-hum.

Kentucky — No, this is not a basketball recruiting ranking. Head coach Mark Stoops signed the best Wildcats recruiting class in recent memory, landing at No. 16 on the Rivals.com team list. It’s led by safety Mike Edwards and quarterback Drew Barker.

Virginia — The state of Virginia had three five stars this recruiting cycle and coach Mike London nabbed two of them, including the nation’s No. 5 player, safety Quin Blanding, and the No. 32 player, defensive tackle Andrew Brown. The other? The nation’s top prospect, the aforementioned Hand. Can’t get ’em all.

Stanford — Given the difficulties of recruiting to an elite academic institution, perhaps Stanford should be graded on a curve. The Cardinal checked in at No. 14 in the team rankings, with quarterback Keller Chryst and defensive end Soloman Thomas being the elite prospects.

LSU — The Tigers signed a monster class and finished second in the team rankings behind Alabama. The nation’s top running back, Leonard Fournette, should make an instant impact as a freshman, as should No. 2-ranked wide out Malachi Dupre.

Michigan State — The Spartans used their Rose Bowl victory and No. 3 national finish to sign the No. 21 class, one of the best recruiting finishes by MSU in a long time. The jewel of the class is 5-star defensive end Malik McDowell, who should end up with the Spartans once issues with his dad get worked out.

Losers

UCLA — The Bruins thought they had a chance at Adoree Jackson. He went to USC. They thought they might get Malachi Dupre. He went to LSU. They hoped to get Budda Baker. He went to Washington. It was still a good class for Jim Mora (ranked 18th), but he swung for the fences a few times and whiffed.

Michigan — The Wolverines felt the effects of a disappointing 7-6 season and their class slumped to 31st in the national rankings. Michigan needs some instant help this fall and, outside of top corner Jabril Peppers, it fell short.

Virginia Tech — The Hokies received a major blow when top DT Derrick Nnadi signed with FSU. They missed out on Isaiah McKenzie, who signed with Georgia. A top receiver commit, Javon Harrison, also jumped ship to sign with the Seminoles. Overall, the Hokies finished 25th nationally but could’ve finished much higher with a stronger signing day.

Utah evaluating potential upgrades to Rice-Eccles Stadium

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It may be hard to believe, but Utah has just completed its sixth year in the Pac-12. Now, after benefitting from an increased conference revenue compared to their days in the Mountain West Conference, Utah appears to be ready to dig in and explore the possibility of expanding Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The University of Utah announced today the school is putting together a feasibility study to expand the south end zone of Rice-Eccles Stadium. Among the details to figure out include how much it may cost, who it will be funded and whether or not there is a market for such an expansion in the first place. Given the move to the Pac-12 a little more than half a decade ago and the success of making the transition with a more attractive regular season schedule, it stands to reason there is potential for a stadium expansion to take advantage of.

“Understanding the market, costs and feasibility will help us better prepare for the future of the stadium,” said President David W. Pershing in a released statement. “There’s still much work to be done before taking steps toward renovation. We have to know if the market will support this kind of expansion.”

Rice-Eccles Stadium opened its doors in 1998 after a complete rebuild of the original stadium structure that was Rice Stadium. One of the only portions of the stadium that was left largely untouched between the transition of the stadium was the south end zone. This is where Utah wants to explore renovation plans for the most part. If the hypothetical project goes through, Utah will rebuild the locker rooms, equipment storage and media rooms as well as medical treatment areas. Of course, the school will also evaluate possibilities for luxury seating for fans and donors and concession area upgrades. Among those fan amenities under consideration is connecting the east and west concourses.

Rice-Eccles Stadium currently has a listed seating capacity of 45,807. It has a sellout streak of 38 games, with 35 going above the official maximum capacity, according to Utah Athletics.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.