Virginia Tech announces 18-player recruiting class

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(Below is Virginia Tech’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

BLACKSBURG – Seven All-America caliber players highlight a football recruiting class composed of 18 student-athletes, as announced by Virginia Tech on Wednesday. While the traditional magazines of SuperPrep and PrepStar are not composing All-America teams anymore, for the purpose of this release, anyone ranked in ESPN300, 247Sports Top 247 or Rivals 250 is considered All-America level caliber.

“I think this will go down as an outstanding recruiting class,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “Time will tell, but I really like the athletic ability in this class and the size in our linemen. We are extremely pleased with the caliber of players we got from Virginia and equally happy with the quality of prospects we were able to attract from our neighboring states. I think there are pluses to being within driving distance of Blacksburg.

“As always, we researched the character of our recruits, and overall, I believe it is very high.”

Leading the way this year is a familiar name to Tech fans in five-star cornerback Kendall Fuller out of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Baltimore, Md. The brother of Vincent, Corey and Kyle Fuller is listed as the No. 9 overall player in the country and the No. 2 cornerback in the nation by Rivals. He was an Army All-American and is also rated in the top 20 nationally by ESPN Recruiting Nation and in the top 40 by 247Sports. Six players from the Commonwealth also earned All-America level honors: Liberty High defensive end Wyatt Teller (No. 59 on Rivals 100; No. 110 on 247Sports), Manchester High linebacker Holland Fisher (No. 83 on Rivals 100; No. 98 on ESPN150; No. 36 on 247Sports), Salem High quarterback Bucky Hodges (No. 171 on Rivals250; No. 114 on 247Sports), Henrico High cornerback Cequan Jefferson (No. 229 on ESPN300), Thomas Dale High tailback D.J. Reid (No. 234 on 247Sports) and Liberty Christian Academy offensive lineman Braxton Pfaff (No. 254 on ESPN300).

Tech announced 18 players total Wednesday, including 14 who signed NLIs. Twelve of those 18 players are from Virginia and all of them are ranked among the top 31 in the state according to The Roanoke Times. Highlighting this year’s in-state group are the six All-America level players – Hodges (No. 4 by The Roanoke Times), Fisher (No. 8 by The Roanoke Times), Teller (No. 11 by The Roanoke Times), Reid (No. 22 by The Roanoke Times), Pfaff (No. 27 by The Roanoke Times) and Jefferson (No. 31 by The Roanoke Times).

Fuller, the consensus No. 1 player in the state of Maryland, was named The Army All-American Defensive Player of the Year. He had three interceptions, eight pass breakups and 28 tackles, including a sack this past season, as teams shied away from his side most of the year. Teller is ranked the No. 6 strongside defensive end in the country by Rivals, while Hodges is listed as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports. Fisher is rated as the No. 3 outside linebacker in the country by Scout, Reid is ranked as the No. 12 “athlete” in the country by 247Sports, Jefferson is listed as the No. 25 “athlete” in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation and Pfaff is ranked as the No. 14 offensive guard in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation.

Six players from five different states also joined the Hokies. A pair of North Carolina products – Statesville quarterback Carlis Parker and Elizabeth City linebacker Jamieon Moss – will make the trek from the Tar Heel State. Parker is rated as the No. 8 combo quarterback in the country by MaxPreps, while Moss is ranked as the No. 68 outside linebacker in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation.

Offensive lineman Kyle Chung hails from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and played at Ponte Vedra High. His father, Eugene, was an All-American offensive lineman at Virginia Tech who played in the NFL who now coaches with the Kansas City Chiefs. The younger Chung is ranked as the No. 23 tight end (Y) in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation, but will move to the interior line when he arrives in Blacksburg. With Chung joining the program, it marks the 23rd time in the past 26 years (1988-2013) that Tech has brought in at least one player from Florida.

Tech also welcomes one player from the Peach State and one from the Palmetto State. Defensive back Brandon Facyson hails from Newnan, Ga., and is ranked as the No. 26 cornerback in the country and the No. 39 player in his state by ESPN Recruiting Nation. Offensive lineman Jonathan McLaughlin, from Mauldin, S.C., via Fork Union Military, is rated as the No. 3 prep offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports and was ranked the No. 69 offensive tackle in the country by Scout coming out of high school.

Six other players from the state of Virginia are ranked in the top 29 in the state by The Roanoke Times. They are: North Stafford High free safety Anthony Shegog (No. 16), King’s Fork High free safety Charles Clark, Jr. (No. 21), Salem High linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka (No. 24), Patrick Henry High athlete David Prince (No. 25), Warhill High offensive lineman Parker Osterloh (No. 28) and Hampton High athlete Deon Newsome (No. 29).

Shegog is ranked as the No. 46 “athlete” in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation while Clark is listed as the No. 26 cornerback in the country and the No. 14 player in his state by 247Sports. Motuapuaka is rated as the No. 20 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals, Prince is ranked as the No. 35 “athlete” in the country by 247Sports, Osterloh is rated as the No. 46 offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports and Newsome is ranked as the No. 50 cornerback in the country by 247Sports.

Of the 18 players in the class, nine are projected to play on the defensive side of the ball (one on the line, two linebackers, six defensive backs). Of the seven players slated for offense, three are coming in as skill players (quarterback/running back/receiver), while four are coming in as offensive linemen. Two players (Newsome and Prince) are listed as athletes.

Facyson, Osterloh and Parker all graduated from high school early and enrolled at Tech in January, and thus, did not sign an NLI on Wednesday. McLaughlin came after a semester at Fork Union Military and also enrolled at Tech in January. The four are already participating in offseason workouts. Woody Baron (nephew of former Hokie defensive lineman Jim Baron), Seth Dooley and Jerome Wright who signed with Tech in 2012 and deferred their enrollments, also enrolled in January. Fourteen players signed with Tech on Signing Day.

The class, which is ranked 13th nationally and second in the Atlantic Coast Conference by by 247Sports *, is being lauded by national recruiting pundits.

“On paper, this is one of, if not the highest-rated class that Frank Beamer has signed at Virginia Tech. Getting two difference-makers like Fuller and Fisher in the secondary gives the Hokies more talent to work with there and winning the in-state battles for offensive linemen Braxton Pfaff and Parker Osterloh really helped set the tone for this class,” said 247Sports National Director of Scouting J.C. Shurbett. “They have an elite quarterback prospect in Bucky Hodges and plenty of outstanding, versatile athletes like D.J. Reid, Brandon Facyson and Charles Clark that really make up the backbone of this class and are the type of prospects Virginia Tech has made a living on over the years.”

* – as of release time

Kyle Chung, ol, 6-4, 280, Ponte Vedra HS, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Charles Clark, Jr., fs, 6-0, 180, King’s Fork HS, Suffolk, Va.
Brandon Facyson *, db, 6-2, 173, Northgate HS, Newnan, Ga.
Holland Fisher, fs, 6-2, 200, Manchester HS, Richmond, Va.
Kendall Fuller, cb, 5-11, 180, Our Lady Of Good Counsel HS, Baltimore, Md.
Bucky Hodges, qb, 6-5, 230, Salem HS, Virginia Beach, Va.
Cequan Jefferson, cb, 5-9, 175, Henrico HS, Richmond, Va.
Jonathan McLaughlin *, ol, 6-4, 310, Mauldin HS/Fork Union Military, Mauldin, S.C.
Jamieon Moss, lb, 6-2, 210, Northeastern HS, Elizabeth City, N.C.
Andrew Motuapuaka, lb, 6-0, 225, Salem HS, Virginia Beach, Va.
Deon Newsome, ath, 6-0, 180, Hampton HS, Hampton, Va.
Parker Osterloh *, ol, 6-8, 301, Warhill HS, Williamsburg, Va.
Carlis Parker *, qb, 6-3, 180, Statesville HS, Statesville, N.C.
Braxton Pfaff, ol, 6-4, 285, Liberty Christian Academy, Lynchburg, Va.
David Prince, ath, 6-0, 185, Patrick Henry HS, Roanoke, Va.
D.J. Reid, tb, 6-0, 205, Thomas Dale, Chester HS, Va.
Anthony Shegog, fs, 6-2, 200, North Stafford HS, Stafford, Va.
Wyatt Teller, de, 6-5, 250, Liberty HS, Bealeton, Va.

Jim Harbaugh says Michigan is going on safari in South Africa next spring

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has said he wants to make a spring trip for the football program an annual event. Staying true to his word, Harbaugh announced Michigan will be heading to South Africa next spring.

“We’re going to (South) Africa,” Harbaugh said in a radio interview with WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor, according to The Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to Johannesburg and Cape Town and we’re going to do a safari. How about that? How about a safari?”

This spring, Michigan visited Paris. Last year, the team took a trip to Rome. This all started becoming a thing after opposing football coaches in the south caused an uproar over Michigan packing up the program and heading to Clearwater for some spring football practices.

Each of the past two trips for Michigan have been covered by donations from some big-money donors to the program. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and The Graham Group founder Don Graham split the bill for Michigan’s trip to Paris this spring. Kotick also took up the expenses for Michigan’s trip to Rome in 2017. It is unknown how Michigan is covering the pending expense of a trip to South Africa at this time, but if donors with deep pockets keep taking care of the charges, there is no reason not to take advantage of the travel opportunities.

In the meantime, Harbaugh has plenty of time to pick out a good safari hat to go with his finest pairs of khaki pants. Of course, he’ll probably stick to the blue Michigan cap to keep with his style abroad.

Clemson QB Hunter Johnson set to transfer; Purdue and Northwestern in the mix

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Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson is reportedly seeking to transfer to a new program, according to multiple reports Monday morning. The sophomore, a former five-star recruit in Clemson’s Class of 2017, is believed to have a desire to play for a couple of Big Ten schools.

Purdue and Northwestern have emerged as the top two potential destinations within the Big Ten, according to various reports. Johnson is an Indiana native and would figure to step right into a possible starting job with either the Boilermakers or Wildcats if he were to transfer to either Big Ten school. Of course, Johnson would have to wait until 2019 to begin playing for Purdue or Northwestern or any other FBS school due to NCAA transfer rules.

Despite Johnson’s talent and potential, it appears he got stuck in a tough spot on a Clemson roster that is overflowing with top-tier talent. With Kelly Bryant essentially cemented as Clemson’s starting quarterback, Johnson would have been waiting for his time to shine at the position, assuming he beat out the competition for the job. Clemson just added a five-star quarterback in the most recent recruiting class with Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has already enrolled and played well in the Clemson spring game, offering a glimpse to the future of Clemson’s offense once Bryant moves on.

Johnson appeared in seven games as a freshman for the ACC champion Clemson Tigers last season, in which he completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 234 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Zerrick Cooper, also a freshman last fall, appeared in three more games than Johnson as both backing up Bryant.

Purdue and Northwestern would both figure to be good landing spots for Johnson. Northwestern is preparing for one final year with Clayton Thorson at the helm, and Johnson could potentially slide right in once the 2019 season comes around after sitting out the year as a transfer. Purdue would also give Johnson a chance to shine in an offense coached by Jeff Brohm, which could rack up all kinds of attractive passing stats.

Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018 season. He also has a redshirt option to spare.

Kansas fires AD Sheahon Zenger, but David Beaty’s job is safe for now

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The Kansas Jayhawks made a change in leadership Monday morning with the firing of athletics director Sheahon Zenger. While a change in AD may be an ominous sign for a head coach of a struggling football program, Kansas football coach David Beaty appears to be safe from any further changes.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod said in a released statement. “But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

“[Earlier] today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season,” Girod made a point to say in his released statement about the firing of Zenger.

Deputy athletics director Sean Lester will fill the gap at the AD position on an interim basis while Kansas conducts a search for a new athletics director.

Zenger was named AD at Kansas in 2011, after a previous stint at Illinois State. Prior to his job at Illinois State, Zenger was an assistant AD at Kansas State. Zenger has made two coaching hires for Kansas football. The more recent hiring of Beaty was made in after the 2014 season and has yielded a football record of just 3-33 in that span. Prior to Beaty, Zenger was responsible for hiring former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis to a massive contract that took a toll on Kansas athletics years after the Weis experiment had imploded. Of course, Zenger should take the brunt of the attack for the Weis hire, but there is plenty of blame to be spread around with others having a chance to say “no” to the sizable contract that was being offered to Weis at the time.

With a new AD coming in, it may not be unfair to suggest the 2018 season must be one that sees obvious improvement in the football program on the field. Beaty’s hot seat will certainly be warming if Kansas continues to struggle and a new AD is put in place to decide his fate as the head coach moving forward.

Charles Woodson: Michigan isn’t putting emphasis on Ohio State game like they should

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Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.

You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.

“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.

“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”

Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.

It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.

Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.