David Sills

Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Hokies take late first half lead in defensive battle with West Virginia

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Old Big East rivals Virginia Tech and West Virginia are locked in an entertaining defensive battle in Landover, Maryland. After one half of play, the No. 21 Hokies hold a 10-7 lead on the No. 22 Mountaineers thanks to a touchdown run from freshman quarterback Josh Jackson.

West Virginia’s Will Grier has been given some good protection from his offensive line in his first start with an FBS program since being suspended by Florida in 2015. Grier isn’t lighting up the Hokies defense, which very few players and teams are capable of doing anyway, so it has been a smart and steady evening of work so far for Grier with 15-of-24 going for 105 yards and a touchdown, and 13 rushing yards. Justin Crawford leads all players with 85 rushing yards for West Virginia, which is more rushing yards than Virgina Tech has as a team (68).

Virginia Tech has also broken in new quarterback Josh Jackson, who has had flashes of solid play as well. Jackson has also had to play efficiently for the Hokies rather than break open many big plays, but he has had his moments.

The story of the first half, however, has been the defenses. The hitting has been fierce at times, and the Mountaineers have exhibited something rarely seen from a Big 12 team by forcing three consecutive three-and-outs after Grier tossed a poor interception to Virginia Tech’s Trevon Hill. It wasn’t one of Grier’s finer moments.

But he did make up for it later in the first half with a touchdown pass to David Sills to give the Mountaineers a 7-3 lead.

Jackson led the Hokies on a nice touchdown drive to close out the first half, finishing the drive himself with a nice run up the middle of the West Virginia defense to reclaim the lead.

Gamecocks offer scholarship to Atlanta-area eighth-grader

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Hey, if it’s good enough for Nick Saban, Les Miles, Jim Mora and, especially, Lane Kiffin, along with a handful of other FBS head coaches, it’s good enough for the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Continuing a trend in college football that was seemingly patented by Kiffin around 2010 — and Bobby Knight in college basketball two decades before — the stepfather of Dominick Blaylock confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his stepson was offered a scholarship by South Carolina after he attended a Junior Day event at the school Saturday. What makes the offer to Blaylock, the son of former NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock, is that he’s a 14-year-old eighth-grader from the Atlanta area.

Blaylock himself told the Journal-Constitution he was “shocked that when I met the coaches, they went straight to the point with the offer.” And, according to the stepfather, this wasn’t just some whimsical move on the part of the Gamecocks — and that he thinks this is the first offer domino that will tumble in the coming weeks for his 5-11, 165-pound stepson.

“They said this was a firm offer, and they felt like it was important that South Carolina was Dominick’s first offer,” John Woods told the paper.

“I am happy for Dominick. I know there are more eighth-graders getting offered now. It seems like it’s happening with more eighth-graders every year. Dominick got invited to five Junior Days, so I think other offers are coming.”

As creepy as it is FBS programs scoping out kids still in middle school — Blaylock will be a Class of 2019 signee — the Gamecocks, as the stepdad alluded to, certainly aren’t alone in this trend.  And they aren’t alone amongst SEC teams with this specific recruiting interest as the AJC notes that Blaylock has also been invited to visit Florida, Auburn and Alabama this spring.

But this trend goes back much further than just Blaylock.

In February of 2010, Kiffin, then the head coach at USC, offered seventh-grade — seventh!!! — quarterback phenom David Sills a scholarship. Somewhat surprisingly, Sills remained a Trojan commit even through Kiffin’s firing in September of 2013, even attending quarterbacks meetings with coaches at one point, although he ultimately ended up decommitting from USC in June of last year and signing with West Virginia in February of this year.

Kiffin was also involved in a middle-school tug-of-war with cross-town rival UCLA in June of 2013, with both the Trojans and the Bruins offering to California middle schooler and Class of 2017 recruit Nathan Tilford. Both Alabama and LSU, among others, offered 14-year-old 2017 recruit Dylan Moses back in July of 2012 and February of 2013, respectively.

Some of the more recent examples of this (my words) disturbingly upward trend include LSU accepting a commitment from then 14-year-old eighth-grade quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann last year and Florida offering eighth-grader Blake Hinson earlier this month.

And somewhere, even though he’s still alive, Chris Hansen is rolling over in his grave…

Top three 2015 Rivals.com QBs now committed to Pac-12 schools

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The Pac-12’s quarterbacking future’s so bright, it’s gotta wear shades — if recruiting rankings hold any weight, that is.

Friday evening, Newhall, Calif. high schooler Brady White verbally committed to play his college football at Arizona State next year.  In addition to the Sun Devils, the finalists for White’s verbal (for now) services were ASU conference rivals Cal and Oregon.

White is a touted four-star prospect in the Class of 2015, rated as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country by Rivals.com.

The two pro-style quarterbacks ahead of White in next year’s class?  No. 1 Josh Rosen, committed to play at UCLA, and No. 2 Ricky Towns, committed to play at USC. So, yes, that means the top three pro-style quarterbacks in next year’s class are committed to Pac-12 schools.

To stretch it out even further when it comes to the Left Coast league, four of the top eight and five of the top 12 are committed to Pac-12 schools, the others being No. 8 Jake Browning (Washington) and No. 12 David Sills (USC, since the age of 13).

Interestingly, the No. 7 prospect in that group, Brett Rypien, is verbally committed to Boise State amongst all of the Power Five heavyweights who are heavily pursuing the nephew of former NFL quarterback — and Pac-12 great — Mark Rypien.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)