Wake Forest adds 25 on signing day

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

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe on Wednesday announced the addition of 25 newcomers to the Demon Deacon football squad. Grobe announced the signing of 22 prospective student-athletes to National Letters of Intent and also released the names of three newcomers who enrolled at Wake Forest in January.

The signing class consists of players from 12 states including five from Florida and four each from Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. In addition, the Deacons received commitments from players in Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The class is evenly distributed on both sides of the ball. Wake Forest is adding 14 defensive players, 10 on offense, and one kicker.

The 25 signees mark the most since Grobe became head coach prior to the 2001 season. The previous largest class was 23 in 2003.

The Deacons will welcome four new offensive linemen including center Cory Helms (6-4, 290) from Milton High School near Atlanta and his high school teammate Josh Harris (6-4, 290). Wake Forest will also add linemen Cameron Gardner (6-5, 275) from Bailey, NC (Southern Nash) and Taylor Chambers (6-8, 300) from Columbia, SC (Irmo).

Three receivers will join Wake Forest next fall including wideout Tyree Harris (6-2, 180) of Marietta, GA (Marietta). The Deacons also signed a pair of tight ends/H-backs in Cam Serigne (6-3, 215) of Ashburn, VA (Briar Woods), and Brendan O’Neil (6-4, 220) of Burlington, MA (Buckingham Browne and Nichols).

Wake Forest added a quarterback in 6-3, 195-pound Michael Radford of Charlotte, NC (Country Day). Two running backs also inked with the Deacons. Dez Wortham (6-0, 205) of Frisco, TX (Hebron) is coming off ACL surgery last fall and John Armstrong (5-9, 165) of Orlando, FL (Olympia) has all the tools to become a slot receiver.

On defense, Wake Forest added five outside linebackers to fit its 3-4 scheme. The quintet includes Julian Thomas-Jackson (6-4, 210) of Dothan, AL (Dothan), Wendell Dunn (6-3, 210) of Miami, FL (Palmetto), Lance Virgile (6-2, 220) of Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas), Ali Lamot (6-2, 200) of Mebane, NC (Eastern Alamance) and Duke Ejiofor (6-4, 220) of Houston, TX (Alief Taylor).

Both of Wake Forest’s new inside linebackers are already enrolled and will participate in spring drills. They include Marquell Lee (6-3, 220) of Pomfret, MD (Westlake) and Ford Howell (6-1, 225) from Memphis, TN (University School).

The Deacons will add five newcomers in the secondary including cornerbacks Deonte Davis (5-10, 170) of Snellville, GA (South Gwinnett), Josh Okonye (6-0, 185) of Sugar Land, TX (George Ranch), Brad Watson (6-0, 170) of Round Rock, TX (Round Rock), and Jalen Latter (6-0, 185) of Charlotte, NC (Vance) as well as safety Michael Stevenson (6-0, 175) of Clearwater, FL (Central Catholic).

Along the defensive front, Wake Forest signed Andrew Hauser (6-2, 235) of Covina, CA (Charter Oak). The Deacons have James Looney (6-3, 275) of Lake Worth, FL (Lake Worth) on campus as an early enrollee. Looney, a projected nose guard, is the younger brother of former Wake Forest All-ACC guard Joe Looney, now with the San Francisco 49ers.

Wake Forest also added a kicker/punter in Mike Weaver (6-1, 180) of Pine City, NY (Elmira Southside). Weaver has been out of high school for two years while pursuing college football opportunities after a stellar amateur soccer career.

Notes
• Lance Virgile, from St. Thomas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is from the same high school that produced Wake Forest great Brian Piccolo. The stadium at St. Thomas is named after Piccolo. At the time Piccolo attended the school, it was known as Central Catholic.
• With the addition of OL Josh Harris, Wake Forest will have three players named Josh Harris on next year’s squad. The senior Harris is a running back from Duncanville, Texas who has rushed for 1,760 career yards. He will be a senior in 2013. Another Josh Harris is a walk-on defensive back from Raeford, NC who did not see any game action last fall. The newest Josh Harris is an offensive lineman.
• The largest signing classes in the Grobe Era include this year’s group of 25, followed by 23 in 2003, and 22 in 2005 and 2000.
• Quarterback Michael Radford’s father, Michael, Sr., was a guard at Marshall when Jim Grobe was an assistant coach with the Thundering Herd (1979-83).

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 25 members of Wake Forest’s 2013 recruiting class.)

John Armstrong RB 5-9 165 Orlando, FL (Olympia)
Earned all-state honors (Class 8A) in 2012 . . . Ranked No. 23 in the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida Super 60 . . . Had 980 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior to go with 269 receiving yards on 30 receptions and three receiving scores . . . Averaged better than 17 yards per kickoff return as a senior . . . Scored five touchdowns in a 41-27 win over West Orange as a senior . . . As a junior, led Olympia in rushing (1,101 yards), touchdowns (19), receptions (60) and receiving yards (653) . . Has 4.4 speed in the 40 . . . Played at the same high school as Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans and broke Johnson’s season rushing record . . . Ranked No. 17 on the Bright House Sports Network list of top players in Central Florida . . . As a high school freshman, scored on a 62-yard run on his first varsity carry . . . Played for Coach Bob Head . . . Also had offers from Duke, Illinois, Iowa State, Cincinnati, East Carolina, and Temple . . . . Is the cousin of Alton Howard, a freshman receiver for the Tennessee Volunteers . . . Recruited by Tom Elrod.

Taylor Chambers OL 6-8 300 Columbia, SC (Irmo) Named first team all-state in South Carolina in Class 4A . . . Graded out at 92 percent for the season . . . Preseason All-State pick in 2012 by MaxPreps . . . Helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the second round of the state playoffs as a senior . . . Rated the No. 18 prospect in South Carolina by Rivals.com . . . Played for Coach Bob Hanna . . . Invited to San Antonio for the Army All-American game following the 2012 season . . . Selected to the North team for the South Carolina North-South All-Star game . . . Born Jan. 11, 1995 . . . Son of Tom and Angela Chambers . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.
Former Deacon from the same high school: DL Don Richardson, 1984 letterman

Deonte Davis CB 5-10 170 Snellville, GA
(South Gwinnett)
A two-year starter for South Gwinnett . . . Saw action at both cornerback and safety . . . Earned honorable mention All-Gwinnett County honors . . . Helped the Comets to a 10-3 record including a first round victory over Milton High . . . Played for Coach John Small . . . Played in the Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Football game following his senior season . . . Was a middle school teammate of current Deacon WR Jonathan Williams . . .Played in Region 8-6A . . . Had offers from Air Force, Colorado State and Navy among others . . . Recruited by Brian Knorr.

Wendell Dunn OLB 6-3 210 Miami, FL (Palmetto)
Honorable mention all-state Class 8A at linebacker as a senior . . . Four-year starter for the Lancers . . . Had 95 tackles and four interceptions as a junior . . . Runs a 4.7 in the 40 . . . Started his career has a safety . . . Selected for the Under Armour All-American game . . . Ranked as the No. 54 OLB in his class by Scout.com . . . His uncle, Jermaine Chambers, was a wide receiver with the Miami Hurricanes . . . Played for Coach Matt Dixon . . . Also had offers from Central Florida, UConn, West Virginia . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons from the same high school: C Dick Penn (1964-66); LB/C Bo Williams (1965-66)

Duke Ejiofor OLB 6-4 220 Houston, TX (Alief Taylor)
Honorable mention All-Greater Houston selection . . . Named one of the top 100 players in the Houston area by the Houston Chronicle . . . Was an honorable mention selection in District 18-5A . . . Had 58 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and six pass break-ups as a senior . . . Runs a 4.53 40 and has a 39 inch vertical leap . . . An honor roll student at Alief Taylor High School . . . Helped the Lions to an 8-4 record and a district championship in 2012 . . . Played for Coach J.D. Jordan . . . Also is a high jumper in track for the Lions . . . Son of Samuel and Franca Ejiofor . . . Born April 24, 1995 . . . Had offers from Houston, Rice, Kansas and TCU . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Cameron Gardner OL 6-5 275 Bailey, NC (Southern Nash)
First team all-state pick in 3A by NCPreps.com . . . Was the anchor for an offensive line that produced Southern Nash’s top two all-time leading rushers . . . Helped the Firebirds to an 8-3 record and a second place finish in the Big East Conference in 2012 . . . Played for Coach Brian Foster at Southern Nash High . . . Also throws the shot put in track . . . Missed three games during his senior season after dislocating his thumb . . . Enjoys fishing and 4-wheeling . . . Son of Jeff and June Gardner . . . Born Sept. 16, 1995 . . . Chose Wake Forest over NC State, Virginia Tech and Penn State . . . Will be 17-years old when camp starts in August . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Josh Harris OL 6-4 290 Milton, GA (Milton)
Earned first team all-state and all-region 5-6A honors as a senior . . . Rated the No. 41 offensive guard in the country and the No. 73 prospect in Georgia by Rivals.Com . . . Three-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Milton High School . . . High school teammate of fellow signee Cory Helms . . Played for Coach Howie DeCristofaro . . . Helped the Eagles to a 7-3 record and a berth in the state playoffs as a senior . . . All-region selection as a junior . . . Invited to the 2013 Offense Defense Showcase Bowl . . . Also wrestled as a junior and senior . . . Qualified for sectionals as a junior . . . Full name is Joshua Thomas Harris . . . Born May 14, 1995 . . . Son of Tom and Kim Harris . . . . Had offers from Maryland, North Carolina and South Florida . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Tyree Harris WR 6-2 180 Marietta, GA (Marietta)
First team All-Region 4-6A as a senior . . . A first team All-Cobb County pick by the Marietta Daily Journal and honorable mention all-state . . . Member of the Marietta Daily Journal’s Dynamite Dozen . . . Helped the Blue Devils to the second round of the 6A state playoffs in 2012 . . . Three-year starter . . . Had six receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown vs. Lovejoy in the playoffs . . . Had a 30-yard touchdown reception in the opening round of the playoffs at Marietta upset Valdosta Lowndes . . . Team finished the year 8-4 . . . Had 48 receptions for 856 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012 . . . Set the school record for receiving yards and TD catches in a season . . . Finished his career with 114 catches for 1,914 yards and 18 touchdowns . . . Played for Coach Scott Burton . . . Played in the Cobb All-Star Senior Bowl following the 2012 season where he had five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown . . . Was selected to the inaugural High School Clash of Scholar Athletes Game which featured the Palm Beach County, Fla. All-Stars vs. Atlanta All-Stars . . . Chose Wake Forest over Mississippi State . . . Also had offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisville and NC State . . . Recruited by Brian Knorr.
Former Deacon from the same school: LT Hank Hames (1967)

Andrew Hauser DE 6-3 265 Covina, CA (Charter Oak)
Named first team all-area as a senior by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune . . . Earned All-Sierra League honors at linebacker as a senior . . . Played for Coach Lou Farrar at Charter Oak . . . Had 13 tackles and a pair of sacks vs. Chino Hills . . . Started his career at Bishop Amat as a sophomore offensive lineman and helped the Lancers to a 9-2 record . . . Transferred to Charter Oak High and sat out his junior season in order to gain eligibility . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.

Cory Helms C 6-4 290 Alpharetta, GA (Milton)
An all-metro, all-region and high school All-American . . . Earned first team All-Region 5-6A honors as a senior . . . Was the starting center for the Blue team in the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Houston . . . Ranked as the No. 9 center nationally and the No. 58 prospect in Georgia by Rivals.com . . . High school teammate of Josh Harris . . . Played for Coach Howie DeCristofaro . . . Full name is Cory Scott Helms . . . Born Dec. 31, 1994 . . . Son of Scott and Sharon Helms . . . Had 11 offers including South Carolina, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Ford Howell ILB 6-1 225 Memphis, TN (University School)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . Joins Wake Forest from Memphis, Tenn. University School . . . A 6-1, 225-pound linebacker . . . First team All-State Division II-AA by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association . . . Helped the Owls to the AA Division 2 state championship game in 2012 . . . Had 72 solo tackles and 13 tackles for loss as a senior . . . Added five sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and a pair of interceptions . . . All-state, all-region and all-metro selection as a senior . . . Also named an AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star . . . Named to the Best of the Preps team by the Memphis Commercial Appeal . . . As a junior, had 60 tackles and three tackles for loss . . . Helped University School to an 8-4 record and the state semifinals in 2011 . . . Runs a 4.7 40 . . . Played for Coach Bobby Alston . . . Son of Jim and Ann Howell . . . Was also offered by NC State . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.
Former Deacon from the same high school: C Russell Nenon (2007-10)

Ali Lamot OLB 6-2 200 Mebane, NC (Eastern Alamance)
First team all-state Class 3A by NCPreps.com . . . Had 101 tackles as a senior including 74 solos, 17 sacks and 20 quarterback hurries . . . Helped the Eagles to a 12-2 record and the third round of the state playoffs . . . Tied for fourth in the state with 17 sacks as a senior . . . Earned all-region honors in football as a junior . . . Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 30 prospect in North Carolina . . . Played at Eastern Alamance for Coach John Kirby . . . Finished second in the region in the 110 meter hurdles in the spring of 2012 . . . Also played basketball at Eastern Alamance . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.
Jalen Latter CB 6-0 185 Charlotte, NC (Vance)
Signed as an cornerback . . . Versatile athlete who played both quarterback and cornerback at Charlotte Vance High School . . . Threw for over 1,600 yards as a senior with 16 touchdowns . . . Also rushed for 400 yards and six touchdowns . . . Had offers from Air Force, Navy and Charlotte . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.
Former Deacons from the same high school: OT Wesley Bryant (2003-05)

Jalen Latter CB 6-0 185 Charlotte, NC (Vance)
Signed as an cornerback . . . Versatile athlete who played both quarterback and cornerback at Charlotte Vance High School . . . Threw for over 1,600 yards as a senior with 16 touchdowns . . . Also rushed for 400 yards and six touchdowns . . . Had offers from Air Force, Navy and Charlotte . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.
Former Deacons from the same high school: OT Wesley Bryant (2003-05)

Marquell Lee LB 6-3 200 Pomfret, MD (Westlake)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . Played at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. . . . A three-year starter for the Westlake Wolverines . . . Earned honorable mention all-state as a senior . . . First team All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference at linebacker . . . Helped Westlake to the Maryland Class 3A South Region final . . . The Wolverines finished the season 8-4 . . . Had 12 tackles and a fumble recovery vs. Huntingtown during a regular season victory . . . Had an interception in the South Region semifinal win over Potomac and a fumble return for a touchdown vs. Lackey . . . Made 14 tackles vs. Calvert . . . Considered the Wolverines’ emotional leader . . . Played for Coach Marlon Curtis as a senior . . . Had 70 tackles as a junior while also throwing for over 800 yards as a quarterback . . . Ranked No. 36 on the Chose Wake Forest over Maryland . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

James Looney DL 6-3 275 Lake Worth, FL (Lake Worth)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . . Graduated from Lake Worth (Fla.) Community High School in December and enrolled at Wake Forest in January, 2013 . . . First team All-State Class 7A on the offensive line . . . Also earned first team all-Palm Beach County honors . . . Member of the Sun-Sentinel Super 11 . . . Projected as a defensive lineman for the Deacons . . . Rated the No. 14 player in Palm Beach County on The Big Board . . . Served as a team captain as a senior . . . Missed three games as a high school senior with a pulled muscle in his hip . . . Had two sacks and a forced fumble against Atlantic . . . First team All-Palm Beach County as a junior as he registered 60 tackles and two sacks . . . Played for Coach Errick Lowe . . . Had over a dozen offers from major colleges . . . Younger brother of former Deacon Joe Looney, now with the San Francisco 49ers . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons from the same high school: DE Todd Middleton (1987-89), LB Scott Shelhamer (1989-92), OG Joe Looney (2008-11)

Josh Okonye CB 6-0 185 Sugar Land, TX (George Ranch)
Played at George Ranch High School in its first season of football . . . Helped the Longhorns to a 5-5 record . . . Projected as a cornerback for the Deacons . . . Was a second team Texas Academic All-State selection . . . First team All-District 23-4A selection at defensive back . . . Has 4.72 speed . . . Played for Coach Ricky Tullos . . . Also runs track where he has been a regional qualifier in the 200 meters . . . Member of the National Honor Society . . . Born June 5, 1995 . . . Son of John and Philo Okonye . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Brendan O’Neil TE 6-4 220 Burlington, MA
(Buckingham Brown and Nichols)
Rated the No. 5 prospect in Massachusetts and the No. 39 tight end in the nation . . . As a senior, earned NEPSAC Lineman of the Year, All-ISL, All-New England, Boston Herald All-Scholastic . . . Named All-Scholastic by the Boston Globe . . . Selected team offensive MVP and All-ISL at tight end as a junior . . . Earned honorable mention All-Independent School League as a sophomore . . . Has also played defensive end for the Knights . . . Also captains the BBN basketball team . . . Played for Coach John Papas . . . Son of Chris and Cathy O’Neil . . . Father, Chris, played football at UMass . . . Rated the No. 88 TE by Scout.com . . . Had offers from Connecticut, UMass and Temple . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.

Michael Radford QB 6-3 195 Charlotte, NC (Country Day)
Quarterback at Charlotte Country Day . . . Considered a dual-threat quarterback with the ability to run as well as throw . . . Led Country Day to the state semifinals before suffering a concussion and missing the semifinal game . . . Completed 78 of 159 passes for 1,625 yards and 21 touchdowns with just seven interceptions . . . Carried the ball 110 times for 707 yards and seven touchdowns . . . Helped lead the Buccaneers to a 9-2 record in 2012 . . . As a junior, threw for 1,519 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 750 yards and 20 touchdowns . . . Played for Coach Bob Witman . . . Parents and Michael and Tammy . . . Michael, Sr. was a guard at Marshall when Jim Grobe was an assistant coach with the Thundering Herd . . . Fielded offers from Charlotte, Marshall and Presbyterian . . .

Cam Serigne TE 6-3 215 Ashburn, VA (Briar Woods)
Helped Briar Woods to a 15-0 record in 2012 and a 42-3 record over the past three seasons . . . Led the Falcons to three consecutive AA Div. 4 state titles from 2010-2012 . . . Earned first team all-state honors as a tight end and was also all-region as a defensive end . . . First team All-Washington Metro . . . Had 56 receptions for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns while serving as a captain in 2012 . . . Had a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown in a first round playoff win over Powhatan in 2012 . . . Set Briar Woods’ career records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches . . . Selected to the South team in the 2012 Chesapeake Bowl . . . Earned first team all-district, all-region and all-state as a junior . . . Had 53 receptions for 709 yards and 10 touchdowns during the 2011 season . . . Had 43 receptions for 438 yards as a sophomore . . . Projected as a tight end/H-back at Wake Forest . . . Played for Coach Charlie Pierce . . . Also lettered in baseball . . . Son of David and Michelle Serigne . . . Ranked as the No. 45 tight end in the class of 2013 by Scout.com . . . Had offers from James Madison, Air Force and Ohio . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.

Michael Stevenson S 6-0 175 Clearwater, FL
(Central Catholic)
A first team all-state Class 3A pick The No. 59 safety in the country as rated by Rivals.com . . . Played at Clearwater Central Catholic . . . Played for Coach John Davis . . . Had 91 tackles and three interceptions as a senior . . . Helped the Marauders to a school-record 11 wins as CCC reached the Class 3A state semifinals . . . Had offers from South Florida, Central Florida, Pittsburgh and West Virginia . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.

Julian Thomas-Jackson OLB 6-4 210 Dothan, AL
(Dothan)
Had 141 total tackles as a senior including 110 solos and 33 tackles for loss . . . Collected seven sacks in earning team defensive MVP honors . . . Played OLB in a 3-4 scheme as a senior after working at ILB in a 4-3 as a junior . . . Team tackle leader and defensive MVP . . . . Was at Oxford (Miss.) High School as a freshman and sophomore before moving to Dothan for his final two years of high school . . . The Tigers were 6-4 in 2012 . . . Played for Coach Kelvis White . . . Son of James and Elaine Byrd . . . Born March 7, 1994 . . . Brother Alan Thomas played defensive end at Ole Miss from 2009-11 . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Lance Virgile OLB 6-2 220 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
(St. Thomas)
Rated the No. 25 OLB in the nation by ESPN and No. 55 by Rivals.com . . . Played at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, the same high school that produced Wake Forest legend Brian Piccolo (though the school was known as Central Catholic at the time) . . . Helped the Raiders to a 13-2 record and the Florida 7A state championship . . . A two-year starter . . . Lost in the regional finals in 2011 . . . Member of the U.S. National U-19 team . . . Ranked as the No. 82 OLB by Scout.com . . . Played his home football games in Brian Piccolo Stadium . . . Played for Coach Rocco Casullo . . . Recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Cris Carter is an assistant coach for the Raiders . . . Had offers from Houston, Louisville, NC State and West Virginia . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons who attended the same high school: FB Brian Piccolo (1962-64), RT William Salter (1963-64), C Mike Nesselt (1981-84), K Danny Nolan (1983), DB Ulysses Robertson (1990-92), TE Ben Stafford (1996-99), LB Mike Simmons (2004-07)

Brad Watson CB 6-0 170 Round Rock, TX
(Westwood)
Member of the Texas Class 5A Region 2 Elite Team . . . A three-year letterman and starter at Westwood High School . . . Has the ability to play either corner or safety . . . Named to the Academic All-District team . . . Helped the Warriors reach the third round of the Texas 5-A Division 1 playoffs . . . Had 55 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups as a senior . . . Added two touchdown receptions as a receiver to go with an interception return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown . . . . The Warriors won back-to-back 5A Division 1 area championships in 2011 and 2012 . . . Had 67 stops, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups as a junior . . . Made eight career interceptions and totaled over 150 tackles for his career . . . Played for Coach Anthony Wood . . . Also runs track where he competes in the 200 meters and the long jump . . . Son of Carlton and Alexis Watson . . . Born August 20, 1995 . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Mike Weaver P/PK 6-1 180 Pine City, NY
(Elmira Southside)
A 2010 graduate of Southside High School in Elmira, NY . . . Was primarily a soccer player until playing just his senior year of football . . . Played varsity soccer starting in the seventh grade . . . Ran track and also played basketball for the Green Hornets . . . Has been out of high school for two seasons while pursuing college opportunities . . . Booted five field goals in just four varsity football games . . . Punted six times for a 53.0 average . . . Nailed a 42-yard field goal on his first career attempt in high school . . . Named Southside’s Special Teams Player of the Year and was invited to the Ernie Davis Senior Bowl Game . . . Earned West All-Division honors in soccer in 2007 . . . Won a pair of state championships while playing soccer for BC Fusion as a striker and midfielder . . . Son of Rick and Lori Weaver . . . Born Aug. 12, 1991 . . . Also had offers from Cincinnati and Miami (Fla.) . . . Recruited by Billy Mitchell.

Dez Wortham RB 6-0 205 Frisco, TX (Hebron)
Tore his ACL in the fifth game of his senior season . . . Had 115 carries for 745 yards before being injured in mid-October . . . Scored seven touchdowns and had 12 receptions for 100 yards in four and one-half games . . . Rushed for 797 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman in high school . . . Went over the 1,000-yard mark as both a sophomore and junior . . . The Hawks reached the Texas 5A playoffs in 2012 . . . Had offers from Kentucky, Colorado State, Connecticut and Houston among others . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.

Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns

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The Big Ten won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first of college sports’ power conferences to yield to the pandemic.

The move announced Tuesday comes six day after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

But it was not a surprise. Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks emerge

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President Donald Trump joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches Monday in the push to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown.

There was speculation that two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their seasons. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports and became the first school in the Bowl Subdivison to break from its league in doing so; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes had been taken by its presidents and chancellors on fall sports as of Monday afternoon and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,’” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. ”Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among the group posting their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #WeWantToPla. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Old Dominion has stopped trying. The Virginia school canceled football and other fall sports less than a week after Conference USA set out a plan to play a football season.

“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” ODU President Broderick said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a different stand, saying the Wolverines have shown players can be safe after they return to school.

“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” he wrote. “I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.

“Life is about tradeoffs. There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that’s absolutely true; it’s always true,” he wrote. “But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18- to 22-year-olds will be if there isn’t a season.”

“Here’s the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football, but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football,” added Sasse, a former college president. “This is a moment for leadership. These young men need a season. Please don’t cancel college football.”

Players unite in push to save college season, create union

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Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds saw the tweets from Trevor Lawrence and other college football players pushing for the opportunity to play this season despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers behind a players’ rights movement in the Big Ten, didn’t like the way some on social media seemed to be pitting Lawrence’s message against the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds got on a call with Lawrence and the star quarterback’s Clemson teammate, Darien Rencher, and within a matter of hours the summer of athlete empowerment found another gear.

College football players from across the country united Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport’s biggest decisions.

Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from Florida State to Oregon posted a graphic on social media with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently but at the end of the day the message wasn’t too far off from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. “Which is we all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do so safely.”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a movement they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened mass opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited arrived on the scene a couple days later, a movement that claimed the backing off 1,000 Big Ten football players. Their demands were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety in dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night, the call with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence led to a Zoom meeting — of course — with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs got to work on a graphic and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started bouncing ideas off each others’ heads and kind of discussing where we go from here and we ended up coming up with that statement,” said Reynolds, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

All of this capped a weekend during which the adults who run college sports seemed to be moving toward shutting it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college football leagues to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. They discussed mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic still not under control in the United States.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago? No, we’re not,” he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push back the tide with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too.

Reynolds wants athletes to have a say in the meetings that are deciding the fate of their sports — starting now.

”All college athletes through unifying and not being afraid to speak our minds and having social media to kind of mobilize, I think that box on a Zoom call is something that is pretty attainable,” he said. “Especially, in the near future.”

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

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In many ways, the Mid-American Conference has little in common with Power Five leagues that first come to mind when fans think of major college football.

There are no 75,000-seat stadiums in the MAC. Million-dollar per year coaches are rare. In a typical season, NFL scouts might find one or two potential first-round draft picks playing at the 12 MAC schools that dot the Midwest. The MAC’s biggest games — #MACtion, if you will — are often played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Its television deal with ESPN pays per year only a few million more than the $9 million Clemson pays coach Dabo Swinney.

Still, the MAC is one of 10 conferences that competes in the NCAA’s highest level of football, and Saturday it became the first of those to surrender to the coronavirus pandemic and cancel the fall sports season.

So is the MAC an anomaly, done in by its small budgets or is this a dire sign of things to come in college football?

“I won’t try to judge what other folks are doing,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “I know we’re all in the same place. They all have their advisers. They’re going to make judgments based on the information they are receiving.”

Not long after the MAC announced it would explore second-semester seasons for all fall sports, including soccer and volleyball, the Big Ten made its own announcement that seemed ominous given the timing.

Tapping the brakes on football’s preseason, the Big Ten told its schools that until further notice full contact practices cannot begin. All teams will remain in the first two days of what is known as the “acclimatization period,” working out in just helmets. The first Big Ten games of the season are scheduled for Sept. 5.

“As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The MAC’s schools were facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly COVID-19 protocols, while also dealing with the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely.

A move to the spring, however, could also be budget-buster if it means less revenue from the ESPN deal, which pays each school about $1 million per year, and football ticket sales. The MAC also shares about $90 million per year in College Football Playoff money with four other conferences.

“It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications of any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. “As we sit here today we don’t know what this will mean financially and how the rest of the fall plays out.”

Steinbrecher said the decision effects only fall sports, not basketball or others that begin in the second semester such as baseball, softball and lacrosse.

He added the decision was unanimous among the membership. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier, supported by NIU President Lisa Freeman, has been a vocal advocate of delaying the season.

“No one wants to have football or sports more than me,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama in the late 1980s. “Football gave me all the opportunities I have today, but I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives.”

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said he has been feeling a sense of inevitability for two weeks about the MAC canceling fall football, but can’t predict whether this decision trickles up to other conferences.

“Could it? Certainly. There’s certainly a narrative out there that could happen,” Wetherbee said. “No, it wouldn’t shock me if some followed suit. In fact, it would shock me if some didn’t.”

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline made clear that even though plans for the football season have been adjusted to accommodate potential COVID-19 disruptions like the ones Major League Baseball has had, they are all still aspirational.

“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward,” Hainline said Friday during the NCAA’s weekly video chat on social media.

As the Power Five conferences re-worked their schedules to play exclusively or mostly within their conferences, another of the MAC’s revenue streams dried up.

MAC schools, with athletic budgets in the $30 million range, rely heavily on payouts from road games against power conference teams. Kent State alone had more than $5 million in so-called guarantee games canceled. Whether they can be recouped and when is still to be determined. Without that revenue, the strain became too great of trying to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic.

“Certainly there was a cost attached to it,” Wetherbee said. “But as a league we were prepared to do it.”

The move to try spring football has already been going on in the second tier of Division I.

Nine of 13 conferences that play in the Championship Subdivision, have postponed fall football seasons. The first was the Ivy League in early July.

Now it’s the MAC, which was among the first conferences to limit fan access to its basketball tournament in March as concerns for the virus began to soar across the country. On March 12, the MAC was among many conferences to call off their tournaments hours before the NCAA canceled all of March Madness.

“If you told me in March we’d be here today,” Steinbrecher said, “I’d never have believed it”