NC State Wolfpack

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Johnny Jefferson #5 of the Baylor Bears carries while defended by Dominquie Green #26 and Des Lawrence #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of the Russell Athletic Bowl game at Orlando Citrus Bowl on December 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Half of all FBS signees lived between Texas and North Carolina

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ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton provided a massive public service through his Twitter account on Tuesday, releasing a data dump of fascinating information about the signing class of 2016.

In short, Texas was the most popular breeding ground for FBS prospects, but half of all signees came from a clean sweep from Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and up to North Carolina.

The Lone Star State produced 359 players, with nearly half of those heading to Power 5 institutions. In fact, Hamilton reports, 72 of 128 FBS programs and 38 of 64 Power 5’s signed at least one player from Texas.

Florida trailed with 327 players, followed by California with 248 players and Georgia with 225. For what it’s worth, Ohio was not included in the study.

Data dump, begin!

ACC releases 2016 football schedule

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A little over seven months before the start of the 2016 season, the ACC has finalized the schedules its member schools will face this upcoming year

The first conference game of the 2016 season will pit Georgia Tech against Boston College Sept. 3 at 7:30 a.m.  The early start time is due to the fact that the game will be played in Dublin, Ireland, the first time a league game has been played in that country. It is only the third ACC game played outside of the United States, and both of the others involved Clemson: vs. Wake Forest in Tokyo, Japan, in 1982 and vs. Duke in Tokyo in 1991.

The first games of the new season featuring ACC members will be played two days prior, with Louisville hosting Charlotte and Tulane traveling to Wake Forest Sept. 1.  As has become a tradition, the ACC will close out opening weekend with a Labor Day night game — Florida State vs. Ole Miss in the Orlando Kickoff game. The games in Ireland and Orlando are two of five neutral-site games involving ACC teams, the others being North Carolina vs. Georgia (Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Sept. 3, Georgia Dome; Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Bristol Motor Speedway, Sept. 10); and Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (MetLife Stadium).

The ACC also released some notes trumpeting the strength of the conference’s schedules:

ACC teams will play more games than any other Power Five conference:

— Against non-conference teams that are ranked in ESPN’s 2016 Too Early Top 25 rankings (12). The league will also play a higher percentage of its non-conference games against teams in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 (21%).

— Against non-conference teams that were ranked in the final Associated Press Top 25 (12). The league will again play a higher percentage (21%) of its non-conference games against these teams.

— Against non-conference teams that were ranked in the final Coaches poll (14) as well as a higher percentage (25%).

— Against more non-conference teams that went to bowl games in 2015 (27).

— Against FBS non-conference teams that won 10 or more games (15) as well as against FBS non-conference teams that won nine or more games (18).

ACC teams are also playing games against opponents which had a higher overall winning percentage (.562) in 2015 than any other Power Five Conference, and its FBS non-conference opponents had the second-highest winning percentage of any league (.559).

“Our programs continue to showcase our football strength with an appealing slate of games scheduled for 2016,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “In addition to a number of compelling conference matchups, we again have arguably the toughest non-conference schedule by any measure. With our depth, competitiveness and rivalries, ACC fans can look forward to another season of exciting games every week.”

The Syracuse-Notre Dame game in New Jersey is one of five contests for the Irish against ACC teams, the others being North Carolina State (Oct. 8), Duke (Sept. 24), Miami (Oct. 29) and Virginia Tech. The latter three games will all be played at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

And, finally, if you’re only going to circle one game on your ACC football calendar, make it this one: Clemson at Florida State, Oct. 29. Both of those teams, expected to enter the 2016 season in the Top 10, will be coming off bye weeks.

As for the rest of the newly-released slates, click HERE for a helmet schedule and HERE for a week-to-week schedule.

SEC, Ohio State tops on Carolina, Denver Super Bowl rosters

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29:  Former Tennesse quarterback Peyton Manning and current quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts is honored alongside his former college coach Phillip Fulmer before the start of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 29, 2005 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Cam Newton may be hurtling toward history, but the former Auburn quarterback will not be the lone player representing the SEC in next month’s Super Bowl.  In fact, he’s far, far from it.

As you may have heard, Newton’s Carolina Panthers are set to square off with Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos in the 50th Super Bowl Feb. 3.  Manning and Newton are two of and FBS-best 30 former SEC players who are on the two teams’ rosters, which includes those on the 53-man, reserved/injured list, practice squad, reserved/suspended by commissioner and reserve/future squad.

The Pac-12 is next with 23, followed by the Big Ten (21) and ACC (17).  The final Power Five conference, the Big 12, has 10, three less than the Mountain West’s 13.  The AAC, with eight, is the only Group of Five league to come close to double digits.  The MAC, meanwhile, is the only conference to be shutout, while all of the other divisions in the NCAA combined for 18 players.

Nearly every SEC team is represented in this year’s big game, the lone exception being Vanderbilt.  Of the dozen schools in the Pac-12, only Arizona and Washington State are missing.  Both the ACC and Big Ten have 11 of their 14 teams in the game, the lone exceptions being Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech for the former and Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers for the latter.

One of those B1G schools that’s in, Nebraska, has had at least one player on a Super Bowl roster for 23 straight years, the longest active streak for any FBS program.

Ohio State easily outdistances individual schools with seven, three more than the four each for Auburn, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Tennessee.  Alabama, Arizona State, Colorado State, Georgia, Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Utah.

A total of 20 schools have two players each, including Coastal Carolina, the only non-FBS program in the group.  The other 19 includes Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, San Diego State, South Carolina, Stanford, Troy, Tulane, Washington and Wisconsin.

Randy Moss’ son commits to NC State

Mallard Creek tight end Thaddeus Moss, right, dives over Page defensive back Tarvris Martin following a pass reception during the first quarter of the Class 4AA championship high school football game at Carter-Finley Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Raleigh, N.C. (Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer via AP) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
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North Carolina State picked up a nice recruiting victory on Saturday. Four-star tight end Thaddeus Moss, of Charlotte, announced his verbal commitment to NC State, just weeks before National Signing Day. Moss is the son of former NFL star wide receiver Randy Moss.

The younger Moss is the first four-star commitment to NC State in the Class of 2016 and it is a noteworthy one. Moss is the sixth-ranked player in the football-fertile state of North Carolina, according to Rivals. He is the sixth-best tight end in the country as well. Moss gave a slight indication he was prepared to make his announcement for NC State on Friday, and he returned to Twitter on Saturday to make his decision public.

On Thursday, perhaps in anticipation of Moss’ arrival for a visit, NC State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Eliah Drinkwitz shared an image of Randy Moss reaching for a football. Naturally, the younger Moss liked the tweet.

It turns out, dropping images of the Pro Bowl wide receiver father on Twitter was a not-so-subtle way for assistant coaches to give an indication of their current travel and recruiting plans…

And here’s one thing just to keep in mind. NC State is scheduled to make a trip to Marshall in 2018. Marshall, of course, is where Randy Moss revived his college career and put on quite the show with the Thundering Herd before taking off for the NFL.

2016 early NFL draft entries fall just shy of ’14 record

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So close, yet so far.  Well, technically speaking it is.

With the deadline for early entry into the NFL draft in the rearview, the NFL announced Friday that 96 players “have been granted special eligibility for the 2016 NFL Draft” and will be eligible to be selected during the April 28-30 event in Chicago. While that’s significantly more than 74 draft-eligible sophomores and juniors who declared last year, it falls two shy of the record 98 who declared early for the 2014 draft.

For some perspective, the number of players combined who declared early for the 2007 (40) and 2008 (53) falls short of the number for this year alone.

Another 11 players with eligibility remaining “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements” and are thus eligible for the draft as well. Those 11 are…

2016 NFL Draft I

Of the 96 deemed by the NFL as having special draft eligibility granted, 48 played defense and 46 were from the offensive side of the ball. There were also two kickers in this category — Southern Oregon’s Aldrick Ross and British Columbia’s Quinn van Gylswyk.

A total of 18 defensive ends and tackles are included, while the secondary, combining both cornerbacks and safeties, has 17. On the offensive side, 16 running backs are in the group, joined by 12 offensive linemen and 10 running backs. Just four draft-eligible quarterbacks cannonballed into the pool: Cal’s Jared Goff, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch.

The SEC, naturally, leads all conferences in NFL-designated special draft eligibility — The Shield differentiates this year between them and those who have eligibility remaining but earned degrees — with 25 players leaving early.  12 of the 14 teams in that conference have at least one player in the group, the lone exceptions being Kentucky and Missouri. Next up is the 15 of the Big Ten and Pac-12; the only other conference in double digits is the ACC (11).  The lone remaining Power Five conference, the Big 12, just missed with nine.

The most of any Group of Five league is the Mountain West’s four.  Two conferences, Conference USA and the Sun Belt, had no players granted special eligibility.

Individually, Ohio State saw seven players deemed to have met the NFL’s criteria for special eligibility, followed by UCLA with six and Clemson with five.  Below are the other individual schools with more than one player in this category:

4 — Notre Dame
3 — Arkansas, Baylor, Mississippi State, Ole Miss
2 — Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Cal, Indiana, LSU, Oklahoma, West Virginia

And, below this, are all of the 96 players with special eligibility for the NFL draft:

Bralon Addison, WR, Oregon
Dominique Alexander, LB, Oklahoma
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston
Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn
Vonn Bell, DB, Ohio State
Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Dariusz Bladek, OG, Bethune-Cookman
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan
Beniquez Brown, LB, Mississippi State
Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Trenton Coles, DB, Duquesne
Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
Jack Conklin, OL, Michigan State
Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
Kamalei Correa, DL, Boise State
Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
Elijah Daniel, DT, Murray State
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Thomas Duarte, WR, UCLA
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Jared Goff, QB, Cal
T.J. Green, S, Clemson
David Grinnage, TE, North Carolina State
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Jerald Hawkins, OL, LSU
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Willie Henry, DT, Michigan
Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State
Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Quinton Jefferson, DL, Maryland
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Cayleb Jones, WR, Arizona
Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
Jayron Kearse, DB, Clemson
Denver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas
Darius Latham, DL, Indiana
Kenny Lawler, WR, Cal
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Roger Lewis, WR, Bowling Green
Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State
Alex McCalister, DE, Florida
Brett McMakin, LB, Northern Iowa
Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Yannick Ngakoue, DL, Maryland
Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
Emmanuel Ogbah, DL, Oklahoma State
Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Alex Redmond, OL, UCLA
Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida
Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU
Aldrick Rosas, K, Southern Oregon
Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
Isaac Seumalo, OL, Oregon State
Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
Ron Thompson, DE, Syracuse
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Quinn van Gylswyk, K, British Columbia
Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State
Cleveland Wallace III, CB, San Jose State
Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington
Stephen Weatherly, LB, Vanderbilt
De’Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State
Daryl Worley, CB, West Virginia
Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona
Avery Young, OL, Auburn