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From undecided recruits and potential flips, still some prizes to be won on National Signing Day this week

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The confetti in Atlanta has just been swept off the floor in Atlanta following the Super Bowl, but we are a little more than 36 hours away from the next big day on football’s calendar. That’s right, National Signing Day takes place this Wednesday, Feb. 6 as college football’s recruiting process looks to put the final pieces of puzzles in place for the Class of 2019. For the second straight year, an early signing period on the recruiting calendar has taken much of the steam out of the fun of signing day, but there are still some good players available as programs look to polish off their recruiting efforts on a high note this week.

According to a top 100 ranking of the Class of 2019, just seven players are classified as undecided. That includes five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright of Huntington, West Virginia. Tennessee appears to be the leader in the clubhouse for his commitment of the nation’s No. 16 player overall, although West Virginia is in the mix as expected. Mack Brown and North Carolina are also apparently high on Wright’s radar, with Penn State and Georgia likely fading. It’s worth noting the Vols got the last official visit on the schedule over the weekend, giving the Vols the last chance to make their sales pitch on campus.

Other notable undecided players include four-star athlete Jerrion Ealy of Mississippi (Clemson, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State all had official visits recently), four-star cornerback Kaiir Elam of Florida (expected to be a battle between Florida and Georgia), and four-star defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher of Louisiana (LSU is probably the favorite ahead of Alabama and Ole Miss).

Five more players on the board are labeled as verbal commitments, although you never know if one of those players could potentially flip. Four-star safety Nick Cross is currently verbally committed to Florida State, but Rivals notes a few programs have been busy trying to lure him away from heading to Tallahassee. The DeMatha product has been getting some heavy attention from within the state by the Maryland Terrapins. Maryland has some competition just north of the Mason-Dixon Line from Penn State, with the Nittany Lions getting a late official visit on the books and seemingly the most likely program to potentially get Cross to flip his commitment from Florida State. Georgia is also in hot pursuit, and the Bulldogs are not to be overlooked in this recruiting battle as it comes down the final stretch.

Another Florida State verbal commit, four-star defensive end Quashon Fuller, is also on flip-watch according to Rivals. Alabama and Florida are thought to be in the running before Fuller signs his letter of intent. Alabama is always a threat to snatch a talented recruit away from a school, and Dan Mullen and Florida turned in a solid recruiting effort within the state of Florida. Adding one more in-state recruit would bode well for the Gators, if there is any second-guessing from the Florida State commit.

Perhaps the most notable verbal commitment to watch for a potential flip could be Auburn commit George Pickens. The five-star wide receiver and the No. 7 recruit in the nation has been committed to the Tigers for a while but a late visit to Tennessee appears to be throwing some curveballs in the final days before signing day. Once again, Georgia is also thought to be in the mix as well. Keeping Pickens, a Hoover, Alabama recruit, in the pack for the Tigers would be a significant recruiting victory for Gus Malzahn and company.

Will we see any surprises? That remains to be seen. With many programs pretty much having their recruiting classes in good order after the early signing period in January, there could be a pretty light day of recruiting headlines coming our way this week. But even though the traditional signing day may have lost a bit of the shine it once had, that doesn’t mean it is any less important. There are some good football players still looking to bring an end to their recruiting process, and many programs would love to be able to add some of these players to their recruiting class.

Duke hires Chris Hampton as CBs coach

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David Cutcliffe‘s Duke football coaching staff is whole once again.

Friday, the Blue Devils announced the hiring of Chris Hampton as part of Cutcliffe’s 10-man on-field staff. Hampton will serve as the ACC program’s cornerbacks coach.

The newest assistant will replace Derek Jones, who left Duke earlier this month after a dozen seasons to take over as secondary coach/co-defensive coordinator/associate head coach at Texas Tech.

“We are excited for Coach Hampton to join us here at Duke,” the Duke football head coach said in a statement. “His experience both as a student-athlete and coach will pay immediate dividends within our program. Coach Hampton has earned the respect of many coaches and administrators within the coaching industry and I’m confident he will make a smooth transition into our defensive staff room.”

Hampton spent the past four seasons as the defensive backs/secondary coach at Tulane. That was Hampton’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

The opportunity with the Blue Devil will, obviously, serve as Hampton’s first on-field role at a Power Five school.

“I’m both honored and excited to be joining the Duke football family,” the newest Duke football assistant said in his statement. “I’m extremely thankful that Coach Cutcliffe has given me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to learning under him. I can’t wait to get to work with our current players as well start recruiting future Blue Devils.”

During his coaching career, Hampton has also served in stops at:

  • Arkansas State, 2008 (graduate assistant)
  • Georgia Tech, 2009-10 (graduate assistant)
  • Central Arkansas, 2011 (safeties coach)
  • McNeese State, 2012-15 (defensive backs coach)

Dismissed Ohio State DBs indicted by grand jury on felony rape, kidnapping charges

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There’s been a significant development involving two former members of the Ohio State football program.

Late last week, Franklin County (Ohio) prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced that Amir I. Riep, 21, and Jahsen L. Wint, also 21, have each been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping. All of those charges are first-degree felonies.

“If convicted on these charges, both men face a maximum consecutive term of 33 years of incarceration as well as registration as sex offenders,” O’Brien stated.

The details of the alleged rapes earlier this year are disturbing, to say the least.

At approximately 9:45 p.m. on Feb. 4, the two Ohio State players “forced vaginal intercourse with another … by purposely compelling said victim to submit by force,” according to a complaint filed on Tuesday by the alleged victim against Riep and Wint.

Riep, according to the complaint, “held the victim in place, restraining the liberty of another,” and pushed the victim “down by the neck then held her in place with his hands and body, with the purpose to engage in sexual activity with and against the will of said victim.”

Wint, according to the complaint, physically held the victim “by the face” and prevented the victim from “getting away or getting his penis out of her mouth, with the purpose to engage in sexual activity with and against the will of said victim.”

The victim began to have consensual sex with Riep before she stopped and moved away from him, telling him that she “did not want to continue,” per the summary statement of facts in a Franklin County Municipal Court affidavit in support of probable cause. Wint then entered the room, and Riep asked if he could join before forcing her to have non-consensual sex, per the affidavit. Riep then held her in place while Wint forced oral sex on the victim, according to the summary statement of facts.

The Ohio State football program initially suspended the defensive backs. A day after arrest warrants were issued, the Buckeyes dismissed both players.

Riep (pictured) and Wint, who, through their attornies, have maintained their innocence, will be arraigned March 6.

Riep, a cornerback, appeared in 37 games during his time in the Ohio State football program. Wint, a safety, saw action in 35 games. Both players would’ve been entering their senior seasons with the Buckeyes.

Colorado confirms hiring of Karl Dorrell as head coach

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Courtesy of Colorado football, we officially have the most unexpected hiring of the 2019-20 coaching carousel.

To the surprise of most of the free world, word began to circulate Saturday that Karl Dorrell was the front-runner to replace Mel Tucker as the Colorado football head coach.  Sunday evening, the Buffaloes confirmed that Dorrell has indeed been named as the 27th full-time head coach in the program’s history.

The hiring serves as a reunion of sorts as Dorrell has twice spent time on staffs at Colorado football.  From 1995-98, Dorrell was CU’s offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.  Prior to that, he was the Buffs’ receivers coach in  1992-93.

“I’m excited to be back, it’s like coming home,” the new Colorado football head coach said in a statement. “The thing that excited me about this job is that my experience in the past here for the most part has been very successful. We had a lot of good teams, went to a lot of good bowl games. It’s a top-caliber program that has a lot of potential, and I’m excited to return it to that level.”

After being fired as the coordinator at Vanderbilt in December of 2014, Dorrell has spent the past five seasons in the NFL.  The California native was the receivers coach for the New York Jets from 2015-18.  This past season, he served in that same role with the Miami Dolphins.  He also held the title of assistant head coach with that organization.

Dorrell was also the head coach at UCLA for five seasons (2003-07).  He won either six or seven games in four of those five years.  The lone exception was a 10-win campaign in 2005.

Overall, he went 35-27 with the Bruins overall and 24-18 in Pac-12 play.

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” athletic director Rick George said in his statement. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”

According to the school, Dorell, upon approval of the university’s Board of Regents, will sign a five-year contract worth “$18 million, in which the first-year salary would be $3.2 million and then increase by $200,000 annually.” In his final season in Boulder, Tucker was paid $2.4 million in guaranteed compensation.

By moving to Michigan State, Tucker more than doubled what he would’ve made as the Colorado football head coach in 2020.

NC State lands Penn State grad transfer DL Daniel Joseph

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The Wolfpack at NC State has grown by one.

In a tweet posted on Sunday, defensive end Daniel Joseph confirmed he would be transferring to Raleigh for the 2020 season. He’ll be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer.

Once upon a time a four-star recruit out of Illinois, Joseph announced he was leaving Penn State back in late January. He made it into 33 games for the Nittany Lions, mostly as a backup. All told he’ll leave Happy Valley with a grand total of 29 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery over three seasons.

While playing time likely was a big motivator, position coach Sean Spencer leaving for the NFL may also have contributed to the decision to head south.

Still, NC State landed a nice reinforcement in the trenches. The team struggled up front last season and have to hope some re-tooling will help going into 2020. Coastal Carolina DE transfer Jeffrey Gunter was expected to play a big role but he has found himself back in the transfer portal. It seems Joseph could be potentially taking his place.

Either way, the move comes just in the nick of time for Dave Doeren and company. The program starts spring practice on February 27.