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Concern rising over dropping student attendance at college football games

Michigan St Illinois Football AP

ESPN’s Darren Rovell has a lengthy look into the dropping student attendance rates at college football games, a problem that seems to be growing among powerful and weak teams across all conferences. It’s one that has university administrators worried given a school’s current students are counted on to be season ticket holders after graduating.

And if students aren’t taking in the game day atmosphere now, would they want to down the road?

The most common complaints included restrictions on tailgating at the stadium, or the quality of presentation of the games on television compared to the sight lines and breaks in the action at the stadium. Fans of the worst teams complained that the games weren’t competitive enough, yet so did did fans of the best teams. One thing that wasn’t an issue? Ticket prices, as most are either free or heavily subsidized.

Rovell spoke to a few students from across the country about declining attendance, and these two responses stuck out:

Sam Eichenblatt, Georgia Tech: “I want to be able to flip over to other football games while watching my team. I don’t want to miss the entire LSU-Alabama game because my team is playing at the same time.”

Greg Licht, Iowa: “There are students here who have been Hawkeye fans since birth and will show up every game. Others would rather drink away their fall Saturdays.”

Those are two complaints colleges can’t do anything about. Your upper-echelon football schools don’t have to worry too much about students ditching games to watch better ones on TV. But for middle or lower-tier schools, enticing students to spend money and time watching a pair of 3-3 ACC teams instead of a primetime SEC showdown would seem difficult.

And then there’s the issue of sobriety, though that’s hardly a new thing. What is new, though, is the amount of games on TV (or streaming online) and the accessibility and connectivity that’s gained from hanging back at an apartment, frat or bar to watch them all while drinking without the watchful eye of stadium security.

But the best thing a college program can do to combat all the no-shows: Win. There still will be no-shows for the FBS and directional Texas non-conference games, and even some of the bottom-feeder conference opponents. But winning breeds an atmosphere that’s often attractive enough to pull students in. It won’t fix everything, but it’s the best way to stem the no-show tide.

Whether these issues result in fewer season ticket holders and less money from boosters, we won’t know for a while. But it’s hard to resist the pull to go back to your alma mater once one graduates, and home football games are generally the best excuse for that trip.

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The 2013-2014 bowl matchups are set

Chick Fil-A Bowl - Virginia v Auburn Getty Images

The regular season is over.

Bowl season is here.

Here’s the lineup for all 35 bowls. We won’t miss a single one.

Dec. 21

Gildan New Mexico
Washington State (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6)

Royal Purple Las Vegas
Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)

Famous Idaho Potato 
Buffalo (8-4) vs. San Diego State (7-5)

R+L Carriers New Orleans
Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)

Dec. 23

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg
East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5)

Dec. 24

Sheraton Hawaii
Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6)

Dec. 26

Little Caesars Pizza
Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)

S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia
Utah State (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)

Dec. 27

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman
Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)

Texas
Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)

Fight Hunger
BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4)

Dec. 28

New Era Pinstripe
Rutgers (6-6) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)

Belk
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6)

Russell Athletic
Miami (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1)

Buffalo Wild Wings
Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5)

Dec. 30

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs. Navy (7-4)

Franklin American Mortgage Music City
Ole Miss (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

Valero Alamo
Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)

National University Holiday
Arizona State (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

Dec. 31

AdvoCare V100
Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)

Hyundai Sun
Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3)

AutoZone Liberty
Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6)

Chick-fil-A
Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)

Jan. 1

TaxSlayer.com Gator
Nebraska (8-4) vs. Georgia (8-4)

Heart of Dallas
UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4)

Capital One
Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)

Outback
Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3)

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1)

Tostitos Fiesta
UCF (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1)

Jan. 2

Allstate Sugar
Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Alabama (11-1)

Jan. 3

Discover Orange
Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1)

AT&T Cotton
Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2)

Jan. 4

BBVA Compass
Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4)

Jan. 5

GoDaddy
Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Ball State (10-2)

Jan. 6

VIZIO BCS National Championship
Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)

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CFT Predicts: the ACC

ACC Championship - Virginia Tech v Clemson Getty Images

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the ACC.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig Ten, Pac-12

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Tigers shook their ‘Clemsoning’ curse and previous Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia by going 11-2 and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
Offense, offense, offense. And some offense sprinkled in. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a legitimate Heisman candidate and he’ll have Sammy Watkins to throw to for a third straight year. Watkins had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012 — at least by his standards — because of a variety of issues, from a suspension to injuries, but he still finished second on the team in receiving yards. His touchdown production should rise again after getting in the end zone just four times.

Anything else?
The defense improved under first-year coordinator Brent Venables. With as good as the Tigers offense projects to be, there’s more wiggle room on that side of the ball. Also, can Clemson finally beat South Carolina after dropping four straight games?

2. Florida State (Last year: 12-2; beat NIU in Orange Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The ‘Noles won the ACC and beat NIU in the Orange Bowl. They also pulled their annual head-scratcher by losing to North Carolina State. The circle never ends, it seems.

So why are they ranked here?
Talent isn’t a question Tallahassee, but there are a lot of new faces. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has a ton of upside at the quarterback spot, it just remains to be seen at this point how he handles his first year as starter. Wide receiver depth is becoming an issue too. The defensive line loses two pass rushers in Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, but that’s an area stacked — almost unfairly — with capable players.

Anything else?
Florida State had a whopping 11 NFL draft picks in April, but Jimbo Fisher also had to replace roughly half his coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover and it’ll be interesting to see how players and coaches jell this year.

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CFT Predicts: the Big 12

Gary Patterson AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Big 12. 

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig TenPac-12

1. TCU (Last year: 7-6; lost to Michigan State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Thanks to injuries, dismissals and attrition of various varieties, the Horned Frogs tossed a lot of young players into their first Big 12 fire and still managed to win seven games. Included in the list of new faces was quarterback Trevone Boykin, who played out the final two months of the season while Casey Pachall dealt with substance abuse issues. Of all the success Gary Patterson‘s had in Fort Worth, 2012 may have been was his best coaching job, and a young defense buckled down in the final month of the season.

So why are they picked here?
Most of them youngins mentioned above are back. The offense should be fine no matter which quarterback, Pachall or Boykin, takes the field. And they’ll have options at their disposal too. Running back Waymon James averaged nearly 10 yards per carry in two games before going down with a season-ending knee injury. In that vein, TCU’s backfield had its fair share of injuries, but when healthy, it should flourish alongside a solid receiving unit.

And that defense? It should be the best in the conference with just about everybody coming back (minus linebacker and second-leading tackler Joel Hasley).

Anything else?
Some departures just before, and around the start of, preseason camp have put a dent in the offensive line and linebacker units. Defensive end Devonte Fields will miss some early-season action as well. But Patterson is well-respected around these parts and he’s shown as recently as a year ago that he can coach around injuries. Also, the Horned Frogs have some intriguing road games at Oklahoma (Oct. 5), Oklahoma State (Oct. 19) and Kansas State (Nov. 16) that should provide tough tests. Going to Lubbock in the early portion of the season (Sept. 12) and Ames in November (Nov. 9) aren’t always picnics, either.

2. Texas (last year: 9-4; beat Oregon State in Alamo Bowl)
What happened last season?
Texas experienced about as many ups and downs as a nine-win team could possibly go through in one season. The Longhorns got taken to the woodshed (again) by Oklahoma and still couldn’t find a way to beat Kansas State, but a come-from-behind win against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl cleansed the football palate just enough to make the offseason bearable. The offense, led by quarterback David Ash, was inconsistent and the defense exhibited too many breakdowns in fundamentals and tackling. 

So why are they picked here?
That’s a handsome question considering there wasn’t a lot praise being doled out in the 2012 recap. But the simple answer is Texas brings back among the most experienced group of starters not just in the Big 12, but in the country. There’s no denying the skill position talent on offense, where receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should be complemented by the deepest backfield in the conference. If the defense can improve even a little — getting Jordan Hicks back should help — this team has the potential to be dangerous.

Anything else?
Yeah, about that Mack Brown. Two BCS championship appearances (and winning one) would normally eliminate Brown from being mentioned as a concern, but media members in Big 12 country didn’t seem to have a lot of confidence in him when they picked Texas to finish fourth in the conference this year. I’m a little more convinced Texas will ascend to the top, or near the top, of the Big 12, which should be wide open this year. But if Brown can’t make it happen this year, it’s hard to see him hanging around much longer.

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CFT Predicts: the Pac-12

David Yankey, David Shaw, Shayne Skov AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Pac-12.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SEC, Big Ten

Pac-12 North

1. Stanford (Last year: 12-2; beat Wisconsin in Rose Bowl)
What happened last season?
Though Stanford lost arguably the best quarterback to ever pass through the program in Andrew Luck, the Cardinal did something it couldn’t when Luck and Jim Harbaugh were on The Farm: win the Pac-12. David Shaw is quickly ascending the list of best college coaches in the country. I mean, the guy did a Ted Talk. Clearly Stanford is big-time now.

So why are they ranked here?
The Cardinal are experienced and there really aren’t many glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is undefeated as a starter and has a solid offensive line and running game that brings back Tyler Gaffney. The defensive front seven returns plenty of starters too, including linebacker Shayne Skov. This is a solid team all around.

Anything else?
Things get a little more interesting schedule-wise in the second half of the season. The Cardinal play UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon in consecutive weeks before ending the year against Cal and Notre Dame. Weather that schedule and Stanford will absolutely be in the national title discussion. And I’d like their chances of winning it all (meaning, by rule of the jinx, they’ll go 8-5 and OMG I’m so sorry, you guys [sad face]).

2. Oregon (Last year: 12-1; beat Kansas State in Fiesta Bowl)
What happened last season?
Another BCS win for the Ducks would end up being the final game for coach Chip Kelly, who left for the NFL shortly thereafter. But the important story line here is that the one-point safety happened and we are all now better off as humans for seeing it.

So why are they ranked here?
The Pac-12 North looks like it could play out in a similar fashion to the SEC East, where Georgia and South Carolina could be slotted in either order as 1A or 1B. Oregon is actually the preseason favorite to win the North (and the league’s championship game) — albeit by the slimmest of margins — but if it comes down to it, I’m going to go with Shaw over first-year coach Mark Helfrich.

Anything else?
There’s a lot of national focus on Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel as far as as quarterbacks go, but keep an eye on Marcus Mariota. This redshirt sophomore was efficient in his first year as a starter, throwing for 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He has great size (6-foot-4 and 211 pounds) and athleticism.

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CFT Predicts: the Big Ten

Urban Meyer AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Big Ten.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SEC, Pac-12

Leaders Division

1. Ohio State (Last year: 12-0)
What happened last season?
Urban Meyer‘s first year with the Buckeyes was flawless, at least as far as things go in the win-loss column. Though Ohio State had no postseason to look forward to thanks to NCAA sanctions, it went undefeated during the regular season. That’s propelled OSU to become one of the preseason favorites to appear in the final BCS championship.

So why are they ranked here?
The more appropriate question would be why wouldn’t the Buckeyes be ranked here? Meyer is easily one of the best in the game and quarterback Braxton Miller is now the betting favorite to win the Heisman. There are some concerns along the defensive front for this team, but it doesn’t have the appearance of something that will be an insurmountable problem.

Anything else?
The Game against Michigan can go either way, but there’s really only one spot I can potentially see Ohio State slipping. That would be an Oct. 5 game at Northwestern. The Wildcats enter 2013 with some hype (there’s something you don’t type everyday) after winning 10 games last year.

2. Wisconsin (Last year: 8-6; lost to Stanford in Rose Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Badgers can thank the NCAA for getting to the Big Ten title game as both Ohio State and Penn State watched from home. The Badgers struggled with offensive consistency throughout the year even though Montee Ball was among the leading rushers in the country. 

So why are they ranked here?
Gary Andersen takes over for the departed Bret Bielema. Though Ball is gone and the quarterback situation needs to be figured out, this is a veteran team with some recognizable names still around like running back James White and receiver Jared Abbrederis. The bigger concern lies on defense, which will be moving to more of a 3-4 this year.

Anything else?
The Badgers avoid Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska this season. It may not help Andersen win the Leaders Division in his first year, but it should help with a few more W’s. Also, QB Tanner McEvoy has started getting some looks at receiver and should help in that department.

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CFT Predicts: the SEC

Nick Saban AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the SEC. 

And while we’re at it, check out our other conference previews: Big Ten, Pac-12

SEC East

1.  South Carolina (Last year: 11-2; beat Michigan in Outback Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Gamecocks put together an 11-2 season for the second straight year — the first time in school history the program has accomplished such a feat. Yet, Steve Spurrier‘s team still didn’t make it to the SEC championship game despite handing it to SEC champ Georgia 35-7 in Columbia. Also, this happened. You may have seen it before on SportsCenter. 

So why are they ranked here?
South Carolina and Georgia have taken their respective turns representing the East division in the SEC title for the past three years, and it looks like 2013 will be two-team race between these two once again. The Gamecocks get the edge this time because of their defense, which features preseason Heisman candidate Jadeveon Clowney. But it’s not just the projected No. 1 NFL draft pick that makes this defense so good. Cornerback Victor Hampton and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles also return.

Anything else?
That’s a Clowney question, bro. But for real, the offense loses wide receiver Ace Sanders. However, the Gamecocks have a solid wide receiver group led by Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd. 

2. Georgia (Last year: 12-2; beat Nebraska in Capital One Bowl) 
What happened last season?
If only Chris Conley had been a few yards further, Georgia would have been playing in the BCS championship game. Still, 12-2 and a January bowl win aren’t too shabby. Despite getting blasted by South Carolina midway through the season, UGA still won the East division for the second year in a row.

So why are they ranked here?
The Bulldogs’ offense returns so many key players, including seventh-year senior quarterback Aaron Murray and running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. But conversely, it’s the defense that loses just about everyone. There’s plenty of talent on that side of the ball and Todd Grantham is considered one of the best in the business at defense coordinator, but there’s enough turnover to cost the Bulldogs the top spot in the East.

Anything else?
Georgia is the media’s favorite to win the SEC East this year, but the month of September could get the Bulldogs off to a slow start. Georgia faces four tough opponents to start the season: Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas* and LSU.

(*Kidding, obviously. But seriously #GoMeanGreen.) 

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2013 preseason watch list repository

Manti Te'o AP

To copy and paste reiterate what JT wrote last year…

For those who are interested in these types of things — and don’t tell me you’re not because you’re reading this — here are links to the college football awards that have released their 2013 preseason watch lists.  The dates for the various awards will be added as they become available:

(Pictured: Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o with the 2012 Lombardi Award.) 

May 15 — Lott IMPACT Trophy
May 20 — Rimington Trophy 
July 5 — Paul Hornung Award
July 8 — Bednarik Award
July 8 — Maxwell Award
July 9 — Mackey Award
July 10 — Lou Groza Award
July 10 — Ray Guy Award
July 11 — Nagurski Trophy
July 11 — Outland Trophy
July 12 — Jim Thorpe Award
July 15 — Butkus Award
July 15 — Rotary Lombardi Award
July 16 — Biletnikoff Award
July 17 — Davey O’Brien Award
July 18 — Doak Walker Award

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Paul Hornung preseason watch list released

Tavon Austin AP

Just another sign that the 2013 college football season is edging ever so closer.

The Paul Hornung preseason watch list was released today with 44 candidates spanning all 10 conferences in major college football. The award is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football. Last season’s winner was West Virginia’s Tavon Austin.

Three finalists from last season made this year’s watch list: Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky), Dri Archer (Kent State) and Marqise Lee (USC). As far as conference representation goes, the SEC leads all with nine players followed by the ACC with six players. There are five players from both the Big Ten and Big 12.

Below is this year’s watch list, though being named to the watch list is not a necessity for being named the winner. The award itself will be handed out in late January, 2014 after the season.

Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Antonio Andrews, WKU
Dri Archer, Kent State
D.J. Banks, Louisiana Tech
Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Corey Brown, Ohio State
Isaiah Burse, Fresno State
Trey Burton, Florida
Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest
Brandon Carter, TCU
Chris Coyer, Temple
Quandre Diggs, Texas
Stefon Diggs, Maryland
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Tyler Ervin, San Jose State
Cody Fajardo, Nevada
JD Falslev, BYU
D.J. Foster, Arizona State
Jerry “BooBoo” Gates, Bowling Green
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Jamal Golden, Georgia Tech
Scott Harding, Hawaii
Akeem Hunt, Purdue
Kyshoen Jarrett, Virginia Tech
Duke Johnson, Miami (FLA)
Christion Jones, Alabama
Marqise Lee, Southern California
Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Venric Mark, Northwestern
Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
Marcus Murphy, Missouri
LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Bernard Reedy, Toledo
Jamill Smith, Ball State
Damien Thigpen, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Tramaine Thompson, Kansas State
Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Trey Watts, Tulsa

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2013-14 bowl schedule

Discover BCS National Championship - Notre Dame v Alabama Getty Images

Okay, now the college football season is feeling closer (though it’s still 99 days away).

The Football Bowl Association released the 2012-13 bowl schedule today, with all 35 games being played over 17 days. So mark your calendars, and when the time comes, grab your favorite beverage and tune out all your in-laws that came in during the holiday season even though you told your husband/wife you didn’t have room for them.

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Wazzu adds 24 as part of 2013 signing class

UCLA v Washington State Getty Images

(Below are the bios released by Washington State on the new members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

The following student-athletes signed Financial Aid Agreements or a National Letter of Intent and enrolled at WSU in January and are attending classes:

LYMAN FAOLIU
Defensive End
6-2 / 275
Vallejo, Calif. / Vallejo HS / College of San Mateo ‘12

FAOLIU’S JUNIOR COLLEGE CAREER
Attended College of San Mateo…as a FRESHMAN, tallied 36 tackles with 6.5 tackles-for-loss including two sacks…also intercepted one pass and forced one fumble…as a SOPHOMORE, named to the All-NorCal Conference team…recorded 46 tackles including 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks…also recovered a fumble…rated three stars by Rivals.com and member of ESPN’s Top-100 Junior College players…enrolled in January and have three years to play two.

FAOLIU’S HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Attended Vallejo High School…as a JUNIOR, earned all-league second team honors as a defensive lineman…as a SENIOR, named all-league first team as both an offensive and defensive lineman…also threw shotput and discus.

IVAN McLENNAN
Linebacker
6-3 / 220
Hawthorne, Calif. / Leuzinger HS ‘11 / El Camino College ‘12

MCLENNAN’S JUNIOR COLLEGE CAREER
Attended …as a FRESHMAN, earned All-Central Conference honors after making 77 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and three sacks…intercepted one pass and recovered three fumbles…as a SOPHOMORE earned Junior College All-American honors and First Team All-Central Conference honors after making 79 stops including 9.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks…had one interception he returned of a touchdown…also forced a fumble and recovered one…rated three stars by Rivals.com…rated the No. 24 junior college prospect and No. 2 outside linebacker prospect by 247Sports.com.

MCLENNAN’S HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Attended Leuzinger High School…as a SENIOR, named All-Bay League i rst team and defensive MVP of 2011 Lions All-Star game.

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Scott Shafer’s first Syracuse includes 19 signees

Syracuse Coach Football AP

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

First-year Orange head coach Scott Shafer and his staff hit the recruiting trail like the experienced, veteran coaches they are and added 19 student-athletes to football program on Wednesday. Named head coach on January 9, Shafer quickly and efficiently assembled a staff with outstanding football pedigrees. The group spent the last four weeks building the recruiting class that will strengthen the program as it moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“We spent the last few weeks doing a good job of putting together a great class of young men who we think can help us win games here at Syracuse,” Shafer said. “I’m really excited about this class because it represents high character men who really love that game of football and treat it with respect. I was proud of the way they operated on the signing date. I think you guys will be excited to meet these kids when they get on campus.”

The offensive line added four players, while the receiving corps, defensive line and linebacker unit are three stronger. SU also added a pair of defensive backs, tight ends and quarterbacks.

The class includes four players from Florida, two each from New York, California and Illinois, and one from nine other states, including Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

2013 Syracuse Recruiting Class

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Stanford signs 12 to National Letters of Intent

Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck (12) stands on the sidelines with head coach David Shaw after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter of their NCAA football game against the University of Oregon in Palo Alto Reuters

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

STANFORD, Calif. – Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw announced today the members of the 12-man 2013 recruiting class who have officially signed their National Letter of Intent and Financial Aid Agreement to play football at Stanford University.

“When you look at our 2013 class, you will see size. You will see athleticism. You will see toughness,” said Shaw, the two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year. “We made it a point in this class to find tight ends and linebackers who can physically do what we need, and we’re excited about the guys we found.”

A class mirroring Stanford’s on-field prowess built upon big athletes, today’s signees average 6’4” and 235 pounds. That comes in a class with no defensive linemen and just two offensive linemen.

The 12 newest Cardinal hail from eight different states. Five come from California, plus one each from Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah and Virginia.

While the number of available scholarships due to a small graduating senior class limited the size of Stanford’s recruiting class, the quality stands strong. As of the completion of today’s final signing, the 2013 Cardinal class ranked 16th in the nation for average player rating and 17th by 247Sports.com.

Among Stanford’s 12 signees, five were named PrepStar All-Americans and five were members of the ESPN 300. Nine of the 12 members of Stanford’s 2013 signing class were rated at least four stars by various recruiting services, including two five-star selections. Nine signees were also selected to play in an All-American game, while 10 were ranked top-25 in the nation at their respective positions by various services.

Seven of these signees are slated for offense – three tight ends, two offensive linemen, a quarterback and a wide receiver – with a quartet on defense – two each at outside linebacker and inside linebacker. One player is listed on both sides of the ball at wide receiver / cornerback. Following several successful recruiting classes at the positions, Stanford passed on signing a running back or defensive lineman for 2013.

“Offensively, we believe that we’ve added exciting firepower,” said Shaw. “Ryan Burns is a big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback, and he is joined by Francis Owusu, who is one of the most explosive wide receivers in the nation. Up front, we have added two physical, aggressive and versatile offensive linemen who fit our style and temperament of play.

“People have asked me the last few years, ‘Where do you find those tight ends?’ We believe that we have three guys in this class who can be as productive in the running game and passing game as Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo were for us.”

Stanford’s three-man tight end haul is a leading strength of the 2013 signing class. Austin Hooper (San Ramon, Calif./De La Salle HS) is a First-Team All-State two-way standout, captain of the CIF Open Division State Champions and No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Greg Taboada (Atlanta, Ga./Marist HS) also earned First-Team All-State honors and was ranked the 167th overall prospect in the nation and 18th overall player in Georgia by ESPN.com. A talented receiving threat and athlete in the mold of Ertz, Eric Cotton (Nampa, Idaho/Columbia HS) may be a sleeper in this class, unranked in any category by Rivals.com and holding one other Pac-12 scholarship offer, though ranked 227th overall in the nation and first overall in Idaho by 247Sports.com.

The Cardinal signed one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Ryan Burns (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge HS), a PrepStar Dream Team selection and U.S. Army All-American who can throw and run at 6’5” and 225 pounds. Burns came to the forefront of Stanford’s recruiting in the summer of 2011, when he thrilled at the Cardinal’s Quarterback Academy camp. He ranked top-six in the nation among pro-style quarterbacks in the 2013 class by PrepStar, ESPN.com and Rivals.com.

A familiar name to Stanford, wide receiver Francis Owusu (Oxnard, Calif./Oaks Christian School) is the younger brother of former Cardinal wideout Chris Owusu (2008-11), now playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The younger Owusu is a taller version at 6’3” who broke his high school’s receiving records and ranked among the top 20 wide receivers in the nation by PrepStar and Rivals.com.

A year after signing what was hailed as the top offensive line recruiting class in the history of college football, Stanford selectively and patiently targeted versatile and athletic linemen to fit the Cardinal’s culture. Both were found in Southern California, after standout performances at Stanford’s summer camps. David Bright (Yorba Linda, Calif./Mater Dei HS) can play tackle or guard and rated as a PrepStar All-American. Thomas Oser (Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake School) is an experienced center ranked 11th in the nation by 247Sports.com who can also play offensive guard.

“Defensively, with the depth of young talent in the defensive backfield and the returning strength of our defensive line, we’ve added four linebackers in this class who can run and hit and play the aggressive style of defense for which Stanford has come to be known,” said Shaw. “Each of these linebackers has unique abilities in pass rush and in coverage, and they will add to the strength and depth of our front seven.”

Outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi (Matthews, N.C./Butler HS) is one of the most decorated players in the nation, earning First-Team All-American honors by USA Today, selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and one of five finalists for the high school Butkus Award. Kalambayi is ranked top-100 among all players in the nation by PrepStar and Rivals.com and consensus top-10 nationally at various linebacker positions. He is joined by Mike Tyler (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville-Broadview Heights HS), an All-Ohio performer who recorded 18 sacks his senior season.

Kevin Palma (Pixley, Calif./Mission Oak HS) is ranked the 10th best middle linebacker in the nation and 196th overall player by Scout.com. He earned First-Team All-State honors following a senior season that saw him record 19 tackles for loss including a school-record eight in one game. Paired at inside linebacker in this class is Sean Barton (North Salt Lake, Utah/Woods Cross HS), a PrepStar All-American and consensus top-three player in Utah who played myriad positions on both sides of the ball. Barton totaled 43 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 receiving yards on offense plus more than 200 tackles and 36 tackles for loss on defense in his career but will wait until 2015 to enroll at Stanford University, following his two-year LDS church mission in Africa.

Three-way threat Taijuan Thomas (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish HS) has prospects at both wide receiver and cornerback plus special teams for Stanford, with demonstrated track speed and playmaking football ability that earned him top-35 prospect rankings in Louisiana by ESPN.com and Rivals.com and Honorable Mention All-State honors.

“Taijuan Thomas is one of those explosive athletes who could help us on offense, defense and special teams,” said Shaw. “We can’t wait for his playmaking ability to impact our team.”

For detailed bios and highlight videos on all 12 Stanford Class of 2013 signees, visit SigningDay Central.

The Cardinal kicks off spring practices in less than three weeks on Feb. 25, with the Cardinal & White Spring Game returning to Stanford Stadium – for the first time since 2009 – on April 13 at 3pm.

2013 Stanford National Letter of Intent Signing Class

* PrepStar All-Americans (5): ILB Sean Barton, OG/OT David Bright, QB Ryan Burns, OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu

* USA Today All-American (1): OLB Peter Kalambayi

* ESPN 300 (5): QB Ryan Burns, TE Austin Hooper, OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu, TE Greg Taboada

* Scout 300 (3): OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu, ILB Kevin Palma

* Rivals 250 (3): QB Ryan Burns, OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu

* 247Sports 247 (4): QB Ryan Burns, TE Eric Cotton, OLB Peter Kalambayi, ILB Kevin Palma

* Tacoma News Tribune Western 100: ILB Sean Barton, TE Eric Cotton, TE Austin Hooper, WR Francis Owusu, ILB Kevin Palma

* U.S. Army All-American Bowl selections (2): QB Ryan Burns, OLB Peter Kalambayi

* Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl selections (4): ILB Sean Barton, TE Austin Hooper, OG/C Thomas Oser, WR Francis Owusu

* Offense-Defense All-American Bowl selections (3): ILB Sean Barton, ILB Kevin Palma, TE Greg Taboada

* International Bowl selection by Team USA (1): TE Eric Cotton

Barton, Sean … ILB … 6-3 … 220 … North Salt Lake, Utah … Woods Cross HS
Bright, David … OT/OG … 6-5 … 290 … Yorba Linda, Calif. … Mater Dei HS
Burns, Ryan … QB … 6-5 … 225 … Leesburg, Va. … Stone Bridge HS
Cotton, Eric … TE … 6-6 … 235 … Nampa, Idaho … Columbia HS
Hooper, Austin … TE … 6-4 … 245 … San Ramon, Calif. … De La Salle HS
Kalambayi, Peter … OLB … 6-3 … 240 … Matthews, N.C. … Butler HS
Oser, Thomas … OG/C … 6-5 290 … Los Angeles, Calif. … Harvard-Westlake School
Owusu, Francis … WR … 6-3 … 193 … Oxnard, Calif. … Oaks Christian School
Palma, Kevin … ILB … 6-2 240 … Pixley, Calif. … Mission Oak HS
Taboada, Greg … TE … 6-5 … 235 … Atlanta, Ga. … Marist HS
Thomas, Taijuan … WR/CB … 5-10 … 185 … Monroe, La. … Ouachita Parish HS
Tyler, Mike … OLB … 6-5 … 225 … Brecksville, Ohio … Brecksville-Broadview Heights HS

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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.)

Continue reading »

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Iowa State signs 25 to 2013 class

Paul Rhoads AP

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

AMES, Iowa – They come from eight states, covering every position on the football field. For Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, this group of 25 student-athletes who signed national letters of intent to join the Cyclones’ upward-bound program Wednesday, they are family. All the dust of signing day has cleared and Rhoads couldn’t be happier.

“I’m very pleased with our 2013 recruiting class and the decisions that came together for all of us today,” Rhoads said. “A class like this comes together through relationship-building that our coaches accomplished with these young men who are here now and will be coming to Iowa State University. The foundation of recruiting is still the strength of the relationships built by our coaches with these new members of the Cyclone family and their parents.”

Iowa State’s newest Cyclones include four individuals who are already enrolled and participating in strength and conditioning work outs. Tight end Emmanuel Bibbs, Jr. chose Iowa State after earning junior college All-America honors at Arizona Western. He caught 22 passes last season for 230 yards and six touchdowns. As a freshman, his team played for the 2011 junior college national championship. His new Cyclone teammate, Aaron Wimberly, played with his Iowa Western team in the 2012 junior college title game. He also earned All-America honors after rushing for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns at Iowa Western. Freshmen offensive lineman Shawn Curtis and linebacker Alton Meeks started college at Iowa State with the start of the second semester. All four Cyclones were offered scholarships by a variety of the nation’s top college football programs. They all chose Iowa State.

“We addressed every single position group,” Rhoads said. “We had dropped down in some numbers in the quarterback position and offensive line position and we were able to bring those numbers up to a level where we are comfortable. Maintaining a balance in those numbers is crucial to the future of any college football program.”

The 2013 Iowa State football recruiting class is the fifth of the Paul Rhoads era. By taking the Cyclones to three bowl games in his first four seasons, his previous signing classes have made a statement on the field. Now it is the turn of the newest Iowa Staters to make their own indelible mark in Cardinal and Gold.

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