Consensus No. 1 2013 recruit commits to Clemson

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As one of the nation’s top running backs in the Class of 2013 proved Wednesday, a verbal commitment literally means nothing until pen is put to LOI paper in February.

That said, Clemson just landed a huge verbal “nothing”.

As first reported by TigersIllustrated.comand later confirmed by multiple recruiting websites, five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche gave his nonbinding verbal commitment Thursday to Dabo Swinney‘s Tigers (So much for the Big 12 talk impacting their efforts on the recruiting trail, eh?).  Two of Nkemdiche’s high school teammates have already committed to the Tigers, but the move is nonetheless surprising in both its timing and the school selected.

Back in early May, and roughly 10 days before a scheduled announcement was set to take place, the Loganville (Ga.) senior-to-be bid an about-face by stating that he would be delaying his decision so he could focus on his final season of high school ball.

“I’m probably going to try to take all my official visits, and then pick the best school,” Nkemdiche said over a month ago. “I probably won’t take any visits during the season because I want to stay focused on my main goal — and that’s helping our team win another state championship. I’ll probably wait until after the season and then go visit schools and stuff.”

At the time of that announcement, Clemson wasn’t even considered one of the front-runners.  That honor fell to Alabama and Ole Miss — his brother, redshirt freshman defensive back Denzel Nkemdiche, plays for the Rebels — with Clemson, Georgia and LSU perceived to be perhaps a step below those two SEC programs on the 6-5, 250-pounder’s collegiate to-do list.

Rivals.com… and 247Sports.com… and Scout.com all have Nkemdiche as the top-rated prospect in the Class of 2013.

The only problem for Swinney and his coaching staff in landing the consensus No. 1-rated player in the nation?  They have to hold on to Nkemdiche’s verbal for nearly eight months by fending off the likes of, among others, Nick Saban.

Good luck with that, Dabo.

(Photo credit: Loganville Grayson (Ga.) High School)

Richmond confirms death of DB Augustus Lee

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Sadly, tragedy has yet again struck the college football community.

Tuesday, Richmond confirmed that Spiders football player Augustus “Gus” Lee had passed away earlier in the day.  According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Department of Health’s Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner declined to provide details on the cause of the redshirt freshman defensive back’s death.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Augustus Lee,” Richmond head football coach Russ Huesman said in a statement sent out by the FCS program. “Gus was a terrific young man and a great member of our Richmond family. His loss is a true tragedy to those who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gus’ family. This is a very difficult time for everyone in the Richmond Spider family.”

“I have been in touch with Gus’s family to express our deepest condolences on behalf of the entire University,” a statement from president Ronald Crutcher began. “Gus was a sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia, who played on our football team. He was an undeclared pre-business major and a good friend, especially to his teammates and his fellow student-athletes. We extend our deepest sympathies to Gus’s family, his teammates, professors, and many friends on our campus.”

Lee played in 11 games this past season, with most of that action coming on special teams.  He was named Defensive MVP of the Spiders’ spring game earlier this year.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Lee’s passing.

Blake Cashman becomes second Minnesota player to skip bowl game

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A second Minnesota football player has decided to end the collegiate portion of his playing career prematurely.

On Instagram Tuesday, Blake Cashman announced that, “after a lot of thought and discussions with people close to me,” he has decided he will not play in Minnesota’s Quick Lane Bowl matchup with Georgia Tech Dec. 26. “This was a very a hard decision for me, but I feel in my heart that getting a jump start on training will give me the best opportunity at the next level,” the linebacker wrote.

This season serves as the senior’s final year of eligibility.

Cashman currently leads the Gophers in tackles with 104 and is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with 15.  His 2½ sacks are second on the team, while his five pass breakups are good for third.

Earlier this month, teammate and starting offensive tackle Donnell Greene also used Instagram to announce that he has signed with an agent and will not play in the Gophers’ bowl game.  Greene and Cashman are two of at least a baker’s dozen players who have sidelined themselves for their respective team’s bowl game.

  • West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste (HERE)
  • Iowa tight end Noah Fant (HERE)
  • Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary
  • West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (HERE)
  • NC State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon (HERE)
  • Arizona State wide receiver N'Keal Harry (HERE)
  • Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill (HERE)
  • Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver (HERE)
  • NC State linebacker Germaine Pratt (HERE)
  • South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel (HERE)
  • LSU cornerback Greedy Williams (HERE)

Rutgers QB Jalen Chatman uses Twitter to announce transfer

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When Rutgers kicks off spring practice a couple of months down the road, the Big Ten program’s quarterback room will be a little more sparse than when the 2018 regular season ended.

Jalen Chatman announced on his personal Twitter account late Tuesday night that he has “decided to leave Rutgers to pursue new opportunities.” The freshman gave no specific reason for his departure.

“I hope for nothing but the best for my brothers and the Rutgers football program,” Chatman said as he ended his social media missive.

Chatman came to Piscataway as a three-star member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 32 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  The California native didn’t see the field his true freshman season.

In leaving RU, Chatman will take four seasons of eligibility with him.  He’ll have to sit out the 2019 season if he opts for another FBS school.

With Chatman’s departure, just two scholarship quarterbacks remain on head coach Chris Ash‘s roster — 2018 starter and true freshman Artur Sitkowski as well as sophomore Johnathan Lewis, who played in only four games (three at tight end) and is eligible to take advantage of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule that will preserve a season of eligibility. Additionally, the Scarlet Knights are expected to add a pair of quarterbacks in their 2019 recruiting class.

This past season, the 1-11 Scarlet Knights were dead last out of 129 FBS teams in passing efficiency at 78.8; the next-closest school was Central Michigan (85.2).  They threw just five touchdown passes (tied with Navy for fewest in the FBS) while tossing 22 interceptions (most in the FBS; UTEP was next with 19).  Finally, their 4.5 yards per attempt — compared to Oklahoma’s nation-leading 11.6 — was tied with CMU for last in the nation in that category.

Mizzou DE Tre Williams won’t face charges for domestic assault

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There’s some good news on the legal front for one member of the Missouri football program.

Over the weekend, Tre Williams was arrested at his off-campus apartment for suspicion of second-degree domestic assault following an incident involving a woman with whom he was having “an intimate relationship.”  Late Tuesday night, the Columbia Missourian reported that the charge, a Class D felony, will not be filed against the defensive lineman.

The assistant prosecuting attorney, Susan Boresi, told the Missourian that “[a]dditional information came forward that made it impossible to prosecute the case.” The specific new information that came to light was not detailed.

As a result of the arrest, Williams was indefinitely suspended by head coach Barry Odom; at this time, the suspension remains in place, although it’s expected it will be revisited.

A redshirt sophomore, Williams began the season as a starting defensive end for the Tigers before losing the job over the last half of the year.  Williams’ 2½ sacks are still good for third on the team.