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NCAA Tournament awkwardness: South Carolina wide receiver is a Duke fan

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South Carolina is in the middle of spring football practices but you have to figure that head coach Will Muschamp is going to let the team go home early on Sunday night in order to watch a little basketball.

Not only is the NCAA Tournament going on down the road in Greenville, but the Gamecocks themselves are playing in one of the biggest matchups in school history against No. 2 seeded Duke. While you would think that everybody on the football team would be supportive of their brethren on the hoops team trying to make it to the Sweet 16, it appears one player has a bit of a question of loyalties on the hard court.

“My favorite team is Duke. Since J.J. Redick, I’ve been a Blue Devil,” receiver Deebo Samuel told reporters earlier in the week, including The State, before eventually being pressed on the second round matchup with the Gamecocks. “I’m a Blue Devil but I hope South Carolina wins.”

It wasn’t exactly the most convincing of answers from one of the team’s best offensive threats so things might get a little awkward when the two teams tip off around 8:40 p.m. ET on Sunday. At the same time, he might be one of the lucky ones in the matchup since it appears Samuel is in a potential win-win scenario no matter what school takes home the victory.

Duke QB Thomas Sirk to transfer

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Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk is leaving Durham in search of a new place to play football in his final year of eligibility. Duke announced Monday morning Sirk will transfer in 2017.

Sirk was recently declared a no-go for Duke’s spring football practices as he returns from an Achilles injury suffered last season. Sirk was granted an extra year of eligibility, his sixth, from the NCAA last November. It will be his final year of eligibility.

Sirk was Duke’s leading passer in 2015 with 2,625 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He was also Duke’s leading rusher that season with 803 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Naturally, he will likely be a quality dual-threat option for whatever program lands his services in 2017. As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play this fall at any FBS program.

Starting D-lineman one of two dismissed by Duke

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In the midst of spring practice, Duke has seen its defensive line take a twin hit unrelated to any health issues.

Tuesday afternoon, the football program announced that a pair of sophomore defensive linemen, Brandon Boyce and Marquies Price (pictured), have been dismissed by David Cutcliffe.  Other than failing to meet the standards of a Blue Devil football player, no specific reason for the dismissals were given.

Both had been expected to contribute significantly this coming season.

Price started all 11 games in which he played during the 2016 season, and started 14 in his career.  His six quarterback hurries last year were second on the team.

Boyce played in 21 games during his time with the Blue Devils.  Eight of those appearances came in 2016.

In mid-August, it was announced that Boyce was one of two football players suspended for the first three games of last season.  Unspecified violations of team rules was the only reason given for that punitive measure.

North Carolina, Appalachian State announce 3-game series

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Appalachian State hosted Miami last year and recently announced a 4-game series with East Carolina, but Monday’s announcement tops both of them combined…. probably.

The Mountaineers announced Monday a 3-game series with North Carolina, which calls for the Tar Heels’ first-ever visit to Boone among the set.

North Carolina will host Appalachian State on Sept. 21, 2019 and Sept. 9, 2023, with the Heels heading to the mountains for the sandwich game on Sept. 3, 2022. The 2022 visit marks the third ACC team to visit Appalachian State in a 7-year span, and just the second of the Big Four in-state schools to visit Boone; the Mountaineers host Wake Forest on Sept. 23 of this coming season to mark the first of such games.

“This series is the next addition in bringing Power 5 programs to Kidd Brewer Stadium,” App State AD Doug Gillin said in a statement. “With a record crowd for Miami last year, Wake Forest this season, and North Carolina in 2022 we are continuously looking for opportunities to bring great opponents to The Rock.  Our goal is to continue to bring Power 5 opponents, when available, and quality Group of 5 opponents to Boone, which benefits our students, student-athletes, university and community.  I truly enjoyed working with the UNC administration in constructing a series that is a win-win. Playing regional and in-state opponents makes a lot of sense for us.  We will see an increase in tickets sales both home and away, reduced travel costs and less missed class time for our students. Over the next eight seasons we will be playing the series with UNC, in addition to a four-game series with ECU, and home-and-home series with Wake Forest, Charlotte, and Marshall.”

Appalachian State has played the Big Four 29 times previously, all in their respective homes: 22 trips to Winston-Salem, six to Raleigh and one to Chapel Hill, a 56-6 Heels win in 1940.

Two Duke starters, QB Thomas Sirk no-go for spring contact

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As will be the case for most football programs across the country, Duke will be at less than full strength when they open up spring practice.

The Blue Devils will open spring practice Friday (today) and will be without a pair of starters, offensive tackle Gabe Brandner and linebacker Ben Humphreys (pictured, leaping), when it comes to contact as they continue rehabilitating from surgery. The former suffered a broken ankle in the November loss to Pitt that required surgery to repair while the latter underwent an offseason medical procedure on his shoulder.

Thomas Sirk continues his recovery from what was his third Achilles injury, which he sustained nearly a year ago, and will be held out of contact as well. The same injury cost the quarterback both the 2013 and 2016 seasons.

Because of those injuries, Sirk was granted a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA this past November.

Sirk started all 12 games during the 2015 season before rupturing his Achilles in early February of 2016. Daniel Jones started the 2016 season and will remain in that position despite Sirk’s return.