Heated recruiting battles lead to awkward moments

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With National Signing Day coming up (Wednesday, February 5) recruiting battles are coming down the final stretch with heated recruiting battles being fought this weekend. For many of the top rated recruits around the country, some awkward moments are bound to happen.

One of the top pliers in the state of Michigan recently experienced one of those moments once a recruiting dead period had been lifted b the NCAA. Malik McDowell, from Michigan, had assistant coaches form Michigan, Michigan State and Alabama waiting for a chance to talk with him recently, but apparently one coach could not wait to get his turn for a one-on-one conversation. According to a story shared by McDowell to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison walked in and interrupted a conversation between McDowell and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.

“Michigan State was here, then Michigan came, they just walked right in and sat down,” McDowell said to the Detroit Free Press. “That was pretty funny. I was just sitting there watching … (Coach) Narduzzi was sitting right here. It just all stopped. Then (Mattison) was like, ‘Oh, is this a bad time?’ It made me laugh.”

Last week assistant coaches from Florida (Joker Phillips and DJ Durkin) and Florida State (Charles Kelly) attended a high school basketball game with the family of Georgia defensive end Lorenzo Carter. The coaches sat on opposite ends of the family at the basketball game, which made for a humorous shot captured by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“It was a little awkward at first, but then you just relax,” Carter’s mother, Lisa, told the AJC. “They’re people, we’re people, and you just have normal conversation. It will all work out how it supposed to in the end. But they are good people at Florida and Florida State. Both sides have great coaches. I enjoy talking to both of them. They have funny stories.”

This weekend figures to be just waiting for more recruiting awkwardness around the country, with this being the final full weekend coaches will be able to make their sales pitches before National Signing Day.

2017 starting LT Josh Ball, suspended after being accused of dating violence, won’t return to Florida State

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It appears Josh Ball‘s playing career at Florida State has come to an end.

In November of last year, reports surfaced that Sandra Sellers, an FSU student who dated Seminoles football player Josh Ball for a year and a half, had accused the offensive lineman of dating violence, including allegations that he physically attacked her on at least three occasions.  In mid-May, in connection to those allegations, Ball was suspended by the university after a ruling by the school’s judicial panel and led him to play at the junior college level in 2018.

While there was speculation earlier this month that Ball would attempt to rejoin the Seminoles football team, the lineman posted on Twitter Thursday evening that his time in Tallahassee is over.  Ball did, though, state that he is leaving the university “in good standing.”

“I have made the determination to stay closer to family and not return to Florida State even though I have been cleared and [am] in good standing to do so by the Florida State administration,” Ball wrote.

Ball started the last nine games of the 2017 season at left tackle for the Seminoles.  Exiting spring practice this year, and with last year’s starter Rick Leonard no longer around due to expired eligibility, the redshirt sophomore was penciled in as FSU’s starting right tackle.

A Fredericksburg, Va., native, the 6-8, 335-pound Ball spent the 2018 football season at a Kansas junior college.

Minnesota again extends P.J. Fleck’s contract

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In November of last year, not even all the way through his first season with the Golden Gophers, P.J. Fleck was given a contract extension.  A year and a month later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat on the contractual front.

Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that the university and its head football coach had agreed to another contract extension.  The extended deal was formally approved by the university’s Board of Regents earlier in the day.

With the tweaked contract, Fleck, whose original five-year contract was agreed to in January of 2017, is now signed through the 2023 season and on into 2024.  Fleck made $3.35 million in 2018; there was no word on what if any financial adjustments were included in the extension.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and our great state,” a statement from Fleck began. “Our family loves living in Minnesota, and I look forward to leading our football program into the future. Through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student-athletes, and through recruiting, we are building a championship culture that our fans can be proud of.

“Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, [athletic director] Mark Coyle, President Kaler and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program. We are so excited and humbled with the contract extension!”

Taking over a program that won nine games in 2016, Fleck has guided the Gophers to records of 5-7 and 6-6 his first two seasons at the school.  This year, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and, in the process, became bowl-eligible for the first time under Fleck.

Pitt mourns death of College Football Hall of Famer Bill Fralic

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The extended Pitt football family is mourning the loss of one of the greatest Panthers ever.

Following a battle with cancer, Bill Fralic passed away Thursday, the football program announced in a press release Friday.  The former Pitt All-American was 56 years old.

“Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill’s reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends.

Fralic, whose No. 79 jersey was retired more than three decades ago, was a three-time first-team All-American at Pitt, earning unanimous honors his last two seasons with the Panthers.  Twice Fralic finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting, the first-ever offensive lineman to do so.

Fralic’s prowess on the gridiron also led to a word that’s still a part of the football lexicon.

Fralic’s collegiate career led to the phrase “Pancake Block” being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used “Pancakes” as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.

The passing of Fralic comes less than a week after he paid for the hotel rooms for all of the players and coaches at Penn Hills High School, his alma mater which played for the PIAA Class 5A championship last Friday night.

Dismissed UAB RB Kingston Davis arrested for domestic violence

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Kingston Davis‘ downward spiral has hit yet another new low.

According to al.com, Davis was arrested Thursday morning on one count of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation in connection to a late-September incident while he was still a member of the UAB football program.  Details of what led to the arrest and charge have not yet been released.

The arrest comes nearly three weeks after a tweet surfaced that contained videos allegedly showing “Davis brandishing a gun in one video and threatening violence in another.” That tweet has since been deleted.

Around that same time, Davis’s name had been removed from UAB’s online roster.  In late September, Davis was indefinitely suspended from the Blazers football team for what was described as an unspecified student-conduct issue.

In three games this season prior to the original suspension, Davis rushed for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 carries. The two rushing touchdowns were tied for the team lead at the time.

In mid-December of last year, Davis announced that he would be transferring from a Kansas junior college — hello “Last Chance U” — to UAB after being dismissed by the JUCO.  In March of that same year, Davis had decided to transfer from Michigan.

A three-star member of the Wolverines’ 2016 recruiting class, Davis was rated as the No. 1 fullback in the country. As a true freshman in Ann Arbor, the 6-1, 245-pound back carried the ball twice for 17 yards.