Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina. Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.
First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond. Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.
Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.
Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season. Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.
Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.
In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth. His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.
Late this past week, Virginia transfer Grant Polk took to Twitter to post a tweet that read simply “officially official,” along with the hashtag #BullsUnite. Sunday, the offensive lineman’s new school made his “officially official” official.
“He’s with our squad now and he will be participating in training camp with us,” USF head coach Willie Taggart said according to the Tampa Bay Times, confirming Polk’s addition to the Bulls’ roster.
Polk, who decided in April to transfer from the Cavaliers, will have to sit out the 2016 season. He’ll then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.
A three-star member of UVa.’s 2015 recruiting class, the 6-6, 295-pound offensive lineman took a redshirt as a true freshman.
The Big 12, Pac-12 and, this season, the Big Ten will all play a nine-game league schedule this season. Whether the ACC joins them at some point in the future remains to be determined.
Earlier this week it was reported that ESPN had gained scheduling concessions from the ACC in exchange for a conference network set to launch in 2019. As part of those concessions, the ACC has to determine whether it wants to play eight conference games and two non-conference games against Power Five teams each season, or nine conference games plus one Power Five non-conference game.
Friday morning, ACC commissioner John Swofford and the conference’s 14 athletic directors participated in a conference call to discuss the scheduling issue, with the potential existing for a vote on the preference moving forward. Instead, the league has tabled the talk for the moment.
“ACC athletic directors remained deadlocked Friday on the league’s future football scheduling model and delayed resolution, perhaps until October’s annual fall meeting,” David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press wrote.
Before concessions were made to ESPN in order to acquire their own network, it’s believed the conference’s athletic directors were 8-6 in favor of an eight-game slate. A nine-game schedule would allow for teams to play those in the other division more often, and there seems to be a growing sentiment in favor of that tack.
According to Teel, however, “[s]chools with annual state rivalries against Southeastern Conference opponents – Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Louisville – advocate 8-plus-2.” North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia are among those who favor the 9-plus-1 model.
DeShaun Watson is back from last year’s College Football Playoff runner-up, and with that, there was little debate in the ACC media poll about who will repeat as conference champions in 2016.
Clemson, with 144 votes, was picked to repeat as ACC champions in the conference’s annual media poll. Florida State (39), North Carolina (seven) and Louisville (one) also received votes.
Watson, the Tigers’ junior quarterback, was picked to be the ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (18), North Carolina running back Elijah Hood (four), Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (two), Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (two) and Duke cornerback/returner DeVon Edwards (one) also received player of the year votes.
Here’s how the voting broke down by division, with first-place votes in parentheses:
1. Clemson (148) – 1,293
2. Florida State (42) – 1,176
3. Louisville (1) – 961
4. NC State – 704
5. Boston College – 441
6. Syracuse – 426
7. Wake Forest – 347
1. North Carolina (121) – 1,238
2. Miami (50) – 1,108
3. Pitt (14) – 859
4. Virginia Tech (3) – 697
5. Duke (2) – 597
6. Georgia Tech (1) – 588
7. Virginia – 261
What was rumored on Tuesday become official on Thursday: ESPN and ACC will launch the much-awaited ACC Network in 2019.
The announcement came at a press conference/pep rally to open the conference’s media days in Charlotte, with the entire delegations from the conference and the Worldwide Leader in attendance.
The partnership will create an online-only digital network starting next month and a linear cable operation by 2019. ESPN and the ACC will combine to produce 600 events beginning this year, with the number rising to 1,300 by 2019.
“On behalf of the ACC Council of Presidents, Faculty Athletics Representatives and our ACC Television Committee, we are tremendously pleased to further enhance our long-term partnership with ESPN that includes the creation of the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra, and positions the conference for the long-term future,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “This partnership continues to be a win-win for ESPN and the ACC. ESPN is the premier provider in sports content and this agreement will deliver unprecedented coverage to our fans, while highlighting our quality student-athletes, coaches and institutions.”
The network, which figures to be headquartered in Charlotte alongside ESPNU and the SEC Network, will show 40 football games a year and 150 basketball games. The conference will up its league hoops schedule to 20 games per year once the network goes live in 2019.
“We look forward to working with our longtime partners at the ACC to create a network that reflects the depth and quality of its athletes and teams, and serves the fans who passionately support them. We are proud and excited to add the ACC Network to our industry-leading college content offerings,” ESPN president John Skipper said.