South Mecklenburg High linebacker/fullback Spencer Shuey, who has seen his college recruitment increase dramatically since an outstanding performance in the Shrine Bowl, has set up tentative visits with some of his new suitors.
He expects to visit Clemson Jan. 9, North Carolina Jan.16 and Tennessee or Illinois Jan. 23, according to his father.
"Both UNC and Clemson have told Spencer and myself that they plan to offer (scholarships) on his visits," Mark Shuey said in an e-mail. "But it is a dead period right now. So it's been a couple of days since anyone has talked.
"UT says they think they will offer also, but needed to wait until coach Monte Kiffin (father of head coach Lane Kiffin) arrives...As he will have the final say. That's where we stand right now, anyway."
- Stan Olson
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
South Mecklenburg High linebacker/fullback Spencer Shuey, who has seen his college recruitment increase dramatically since an outstanding performance in the Shrine Bowl, has set up tentative visits with some of his new suitors.
Monday, December 29, 2008
N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson is out for the rest of the Papajohns.com Bowl with a knee sprain.
Wilson was injured on a touchdown drive that put the Wolfpack ahead 17-6 late in the second quarter against Rutgers.
At halftime, Wilson had 186 passing yards and one touchdown and 46 rushing yards on eight carries. Harrison Beck will replace Wilson.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
N.C. State starting boundary safety Clem Johnson, who missed the regular season finale against Miami with an ankle injury, will play in Monday's Papajohns.com Bowl against Rutgers.
Coach Tom O'Brien said during Sunday's news conference that he's not sure Johnson is 100 percent, but he has been healthy enough to practice.
Johnson's play as the last line of defense could be critical against an opponent with a big-play passing attack. Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel has thrown 20 touchdown passes over the last six games.
"It's good for us that he's sharp, and he looks pretty healthy during practice, so that's good for our secondary," O'Brien said.
• O'Brien is familiar from his days at Boston College with Teel, Rutgers' quarterback.
Teel played at Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey for Greg Toal, father of Boston College linebacker Brian Toal. Teel attended camp at Boston College, was recruited by O'Brien and said he was a close friend of Brian Toal.
"(Boston College) was a nice place and (O'Brien) was a great coach," Teel said. "It just wasn't right for me."
O'Brien also tried to recruit Rutgers wideout Kenny Britt, who leads the Big East in catches and receiving yards, and a few players in the Scarlet Knights' secondary.
• The lone North Carolina resident on Rutgers' roster is Hickory High graduate San San Te, who starts at place-kicker as a redshirt freshman.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said he typically recruits place-kickers through specialists who run camps devoted exclusively to coaching young kickers. That's how he located Te, who is 9-for-13 on field goal attempts.
"He's had some pretty good answers for us," Schiano said.
• One of the most often asked questions about the Birmingham game is why it's called the Papajohns.com Bowl rather than just the Papa John's Bowl.
Bowl executive director Mark Meadows said the sponsorship with the pizza retailer was hatched shortly after Papa John's began making delivery available through its web site. Company executives thought the bowl would raise awareness of the Internet ordering option.
"I do think it was a successful sponsorship and partnership," Meadows said.
It was successful enough for the company to recently sign on for two extra years as title sponsor after the initial two-year contract expired. -- Ken Tysiac
Friday, December 26, 2008
N.C. State continues to finish its football recruiting season strong, adding two more players from Georgia, a state the school has done well in recently.
Center Camden Wentz of Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga., and offensive tackle Duran Christophe of Woodstock (Ga.) High committed to the Wolfpack on the way home from a visit to the school this week.
The players, who are close friends and live near each other, said they also considered going to Louisville - which had offered both - together.
Wentz had previously committed to Stanford but later changed his mind. He is 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds.
"It's a great school with great facilities," Wentz said of N.C. State. "All the other schools I looked at were comparable to that but the coaching staff stood out to me. Coach (Tom) O'Brien has a history with offensive linemen and the offensive line coach has a history of putting linemen in the NFL.
"It just felt that the offensive line there is a big deal to coaches."
Wentz was a four-year letterman. As a senior OT, he helped Lassiter to a 9-3 season and was an AP all-state selection.
Christophe, who is 6-6 and 275 pounds, said he also had offers from East Carolina, Tulane, Indiana, Central Florida and Middle Tennessee State.
He is scheduled to play in Georgia's high school North-South all-star game Monday. While he is expected to play defense in the game, Christophe expects to play the offensive line at N.C. State.
The Wolfpack now has 24 commitments.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
South Mecklenburg High linebacker/fullback Spencer Shuey made a splash during last week's Shrine Bowl practices and game in Spartanburg, and college coaches noticed.
Although Shuey, who is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, did have offers from Illinois, Duke and Appalachian State among others, most of the major schools in the area hardly seemed to have noticed him.
Then came the Shrine Bowl.
Shuey wound up as the North Carolina squad's defensive MVP in his team's 24-16 loss Saturday. He had eight tackles, including two for losses, but seven of them came in little more than a quarter, before he broke his thumb.
Since the game, the calls have been pouring in.
"Clemson has called," South Mecklenburg coach James Martin said this evening. "North Carolina called and talked to his father, and Tennessee is showing interest. This weekend certainly has helped; just being named MVP in the game has made a difference."
Martin was asked why Shuey, who rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored 14 touchdowns offensively and had 87 tackles on defense, seemed to play under the radar for much of his career.
"He plays baseball as well (third base), and nowadays sophomores and juniors in high school go to the summer camps and attract attention there," Martin said. It also hurt that the rebuilt Sabres, who reached the state semifinals this season, had struggled in recent years.
"He was sort of a late bloomer. And he's absolutely able to play at the next level."
That could be at any number of positions. Schools are looking at him at middle linebacker, defensive end, tight end or fullback, Martin said.
"And he has very good speed," Martin said. "We've clocked him at 4.7 in the 40 (yard dash)."
- Stan Olson
The oddsmakers may say West Virginia is a 1 1/2-point favorite over North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Saturday but history -- and lug nuts -- came down on the Tar Heels' side on Tuesday.
During the annual trip to Lowe's Motor Speedway for both teams, North Carolina coach Butch Davis squared off against West Virginia's Bill Stewart in a tire-changing competition.
By their own admission, neither is particularly familiar with rapid-fire tire changing and air wrenches but, then again, the competition isn't all that serious either. It comes between ride-along sessions for players and coaches on both sides and after a buffett lunch of barbecue, baked beans and cole slaw.
When it came to tire changing, Davis won the "five off, five on" race with a time of 17.12 seconds, exactly .12 faster than Stewart in what may have been the most competitive coaching challenge in the history of lug nuts.
What does it mean?
It means history is on the Tar Heels' side because four of the previous six winners of the tire-changing competition have led their teams to victory in the bowl game.
-- Ron Green Jr.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
N.C. State’s ticket office has sold about 5,500 of the school’s allotment of 10,000 seats for the Papajohns.com Bowl, school assistant athletics director for ticket operations Brian Kelly said Thursday.
The Wolfpack (6-6) will meet Rutgers (7-5) on Dec. 29 in the game in Birmingham, Ala. Kelly said school officials still are taking orders daily. The school ticket office will take orders by phone through Tuesday and will continue accepting online orders through Dec. 26.
Bowl sales and marketing manager Bo Kerr said most of the ticket orders taken directly by the bowl are received online, so it’s impossible to tell for sure how many patrons of that outlet are N.C. State fans. But he said there are a lot of orders from fans who have phone numbers with North Carolina area codes.
“We’ve gotten very good response from N.C. State,” Kerr said. “We’re expecting to have a good crowd.”
– Ken Tysiac
North Carolina has received the commitment of a top Florida defensive back, choosing the school over finalists Georgia and Michigan, among others.
Angelo Hadley, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety at Armwood High in Seffner, Fla., announced his selection of the Tar Heels today, continuing a strong recruiting effort from coach Butch Davis' staff.
"He really liked the school and campus, and had a great relationship with his position coach," said Armwood coach Sean Callahan. "He runs a 4.4 40, but he’s football-fast, better on the field than when being timed.
"He's one of my favorite players; he's a tremendous hitter, but he would never put a big hit on our guys in practice. He would save it for Fridays. And he’s good enough that he will be playing on Sundays.”
Hadley had ten interceptions as a senior, giving him a school-record 19 for his career. He returned three of those ten for touchdowns, and also had 79 tackles. He’s expected to play free safety in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina is also recruiting two of Hadley’s teammates -- defensive end Ryne Giddins, a top-flight national prospect who is also considering UNC along with a number of other schools, and quarterback Mywan Jackson, who would play cornerback for the Tar Heels.
-- Stan Olson
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
N.C. State, which seems to add another commitment daily, now has one from 6-foot, 210-pound safety Donald Coleman of the Hun School in Princeton, N.J.
Coleman, who grew up in Detroit, said he was also offered scholarships by Iowa, Minnesota and Delaware. He is the 22nd player to commit to the Wolfpack.
He liked the way N.C. State finished strong in coach Tom O'Brien's second season, he said, and thinks the program is on the way to winning championships.
In his post-graduate season at the Hun School, Coleman, who has 4.45 speed, had 75 tackles and also forced five fumbles. He played running back as well, scoring seven touchdowns and gaining more than 800 yards rushing.
The recent addition to the updated Scout.com top 100 prep football prospects list of quarterback Bryn Renner of Springfield, Va., (No. 94) gives the North Carolina four commitments in that group, leading area schools. There's more good news for Tar Heels fans; seven undecided players are still considering UNC.
One of them, CB Gabe Lynn of Jenks, Okla., will make his choice Thursday, and while the Tar Heels may be longshots in a competition that includes in-state powers Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, they remain in the running.
In addition to Renner, North Carolina's other top 100 players are DE Donte Moss of Jacksonville (N.C.) Northside High at No.40, WR Jheranie Boyd of Gastonia Ashbrook High at No. 67 and LB Justin Dixon of Smithfield-Selma High at No. 91.
South Carolina has Rock Hill South Pointe High safety Devonte Holloman (No. 31) and Clemson has the No. 78 player in DE Malliciah Goodman of West Florence High in Florence, S.C.
And Virginia Tech has No. 86 in TE Logan Thomas of Lynchburg, Va.
-- Stan Olson
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Phase I of North Carolina's Kenan Stadium renovation, which will begin in the coming months, won't include luxury boxes after all.
Athletics director Dick Baddour said Tuesday that in the new design plan, one — not two — floors will be added to the existing Kenan Football Center, at the cost of $18 million. Phase II — slated to begin after the 2009 season — will include adding more than two dozen luxury boxes and a new press box to the south side of the stadium where the current press box sits; Baddour said the athletics department is still working on that financial plan.
Phase III will eventually include adding seats to the east end zone, where the old field house currently stands, but plans for that are a ways away.
"The materials are on order, work has already started,'' Baddour said of Phase I, " ... but I'm not sure yet when you'll see a crane over there; probably not until at the end of January, at the earliest."
The new floor of the football center will be used for added space as recruiting rooms and offices are enlarged throughout the complex; the extra floor will also be used by the operations staff while Phase II is in progress.
Last summer, the state legislature approved $50 million of debt for the renovation project, which the school must pay back.
Baddour said he is hopeful that the first two phases will be financed through the sale of premium seats; the Educational Foundation (also known as the Rams Club) will not undertake a major campaign right now to finance the project, although there will be some focused fundraising by the organization, he said.
N.C. State juniors Willie Young and Jamelle Eugene are submitting their names to the NFL draft advisory board for feedback on where they might be selected in the draft in April if they choose to leave school early, coach Tom O’Brien said Tuesday.
Young, a defensive end, leads the team with 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Eugene has rushed for 432 yards and two touchdowns.
“Neither has any intentions at this point of leaving, but they want to know (their status),” O’Brien said during his news conference to preview N.C. State’s Dec. 29 appearance against Rutgers in the Papajohns.com Bowl.
Neither player was available for comment Tuesday. Sophomore linebacker Nate Irving, who led the team with four interceptions, said he hasn’t thought about his plans beyond this season.
“I’m just getting ready for Rutgers,” Irving said. “After Rutgers I’ll worry about my future plans.”
The deadline for underclassmen to apply for the draft is Jan. 15. The draft advisory board reviews the credentials of underclassmen and provides them of an estimate of where they might be selected in the draft if they leave school in order to help them make informed decisions about their future.
O’Brien also said Tuesday that safety Clem Johnson is supposed to return to the practice field this week in hopes of returning for the bowl game. He missed the first four games while recovering from a broken jaw and didn’t play in the regular season finale against Miami because of an ankle injury.
“We think he’s our best safety,” O’Brien said. “We know we’re going to need our best players to slow this passing game (of Rutgers) down some. It would be fortunate for him, too.”
N.C. State fans will be able to get a rare glimpse at the team during a practice this weekend. O’Brien is opening up practice to the fans at 4 p.m. Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Wolfpack has a basketball game scheduled at the RBC Center at 2 p.m. Saturday against Lipscomb. Fans who do not attend the basketball game but want to attend football practice are asked to park in the lot to the south of Carter-Finley Stadium.
– Ken Tysiac
N.C. State has received a football commitment from A.J. Ferguson, a 6- foot-2, 250-pound tight end/defensive end from South Brunswick High in Southport.
He picked the Wolfpack over Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina (offers), and was receiving interest from Virginia Tech and North Carolina, according to South Brunswick coach Gordon Walters.
A four-year starter, Ferguson's 10 receptions on offense included four touchdowns. He also scored three touchdowns on defense.
"He was under the radar when the season began," Walters said. "He never came off the field and had a great senior season.”
Ferguson helped South Brunswick to a best-ever 10-3 mark as a senior.
An all-around athlete, he also ran track (100- and 200-meters) and plays basketball. The Wolfpack's 21st commitment, he's expected to play defensive end.
Monday, December 15, 2008
North Carolina has sold out of its 22,000 allotment of bowl tickets to the Dec. 27 Meineke Bowl against West Virginia, the school announced; any remaining tickets can be purchased at from Ticketmaster.
UNC's original allotment was 12,500, but it asked for additional tickets to bring it to the 22,000 total.
"In addition to the 22,000 tickets we sold in Chapel Hill, we have been told that many of our fans purchased tickets directly from the Meineke Car Care Bowl and Ticketmaster,'' Clint Gwaltney, UNC's associate athletics director for ticket operations, said in a prepared statement.
"We expect more than 40,000 Tar Heel fans to be at the game."
Only 5,000 tickets remain, according to a bowl spokesman.
— Robbi Pickeral
Clemson has added the commitment of defensive back Jonathan Meeks, a highly rated defensive back from Hargrave Military in Chatham, Va., who also played for Rock Hill High. He also visited North Carolina and N.C. State and considered a number of other schools.
Meeks, who is 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds, has 4.5-second speed in the 40- yard dash. He chose the Tigers Sunday, at the conclusion of his official visit. He is new coach Dabo Swinney's first commitment and No. 9 in the Tigers' current class.
He's expected to play safety for Clemson.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Recent North Carolina commitment Donavan Tate, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound athlete from Cartersville (Ga.) High, has jumped into the just-revised Rivals.com Top 100 prospects list, at No. 81. Tate, who runs the 40- yard dash in 4.5 seconds, was also offered by Southern Cal, Alabama and Georgia, among others.
The Tar Heels also have No.17 on the list, Donte Moss of Jacksonville (N.C.) Northeast High, a powerful DE, and WR Jheranie Boyd of Gastonia Ashbrook (No.34).
Clemson has an outstanding catch at No.36, Malliciah Goodman, a 6-4, 255-pound DE out of West Florence (S.C) High. And South Carolina claims the No.89 prospect, DB/QB DeVonte Holloman of South Pointe High in Rock Hill. The Gamecocks also landed No.91, athlete Damario Jeffery of Columbia (S.C.) High.
Virginia Tech, assembling another strong class, has commitments from TE Logan Thomas (No.29) of Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville High, and RB David Wilson (No.46) of Danville (Va.) George Washington High.
Three Appalachian State players were voted Walter Camp Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) All-Americans.
That quarterback Armanti Edwards made it was no surprise. He's joined by offensive tackle Jonathan Bieschke and safety Mark LeGree. The Mountaineers were the only team with as many as three players selected to the 25-member first team.
Edwards is the first Appalachian State quarterback to be so honored. The 2008 Southern Conference Player of the Year finished the season with 2,902 passing yards, 941 rushing yards and a Southern Conference-record 41 touchdowns responsible for (30 passing, 11 rushing).
He ranks second nationally with a 170.19 pass-efficiency rating. He's also one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, the division's Heisman, which will be announced Thursday.
Bieschke is the third Appalachian State offensive linemen in as many years on the Walter Camp All-America team (Matt Isenhour in 2006, Kerry Brown in 2007). The senior right tackle keyed a line that helped the Mountaineers to
463.6 yards of total offense a game.
LeGree, a sophomore, leads the nation with 10 interceptions. That total broke the 45-year-old school record. He also had 17 passes defended (second in the Southern Conference) and 58 total tackles.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
N.C. State, on a recruiting roll lately, has received it's 20th commitment, landing Brandan Bishop of Boca Raton (Fla.) High. Bishop was recruited to play safety, but he also played wide receiver in high school.
Bishop, who is 6-1, 200 pounds, has 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, and is also expected to compete in sprints for the Wolfpack track team.
He said his other finalist was West Virginia.
“It was a combination of a lot of things," Bishop said. "It’s a great university and they have great facilities there. I think the football program is moving in the right direction under Coach (Tom) O’Brien. I felt real comfortable there when I visited.”
As a senior, he had 108 tackles and five interceptions, returning one for a score. He also caught 45 passes for 600 yards and eight touchdowns as his team went 8-3 before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Following Appalachian State's first playoff loss in four years, coach Jerry Moore held a conference call this morning while driving past
Richmond, on the road recruiting. He was wrapping up 2008 and looking ahead at the same time.
"We're all on the road recruiting, up in Virginia, Pennsylvania, to down in Florida," Moore said. "Some coaches left Monday night, most
left Tuesday morning. We haven't done this in three years; we haven't been able to recruit before Christmas because of the championship
runs. So it's a little bit get back on track. I'd a whole lot rather be getting ready to play somebody else."
Moore said he talked to the team about what lies ahead "For four or five hours" Monday morning.
"The main thing for us is to try and grow some of the young guys up; get some kids healed up. Work hard on developing really strong
leadership through some of the competitive things in the spring, through the weight room, through the lifting through the running.
We've got issues, not meaning that there's anything bad. But those are things we think we've got to do to get to the level that we want to be
at. I think we're pretty close.
"We've got a lot of players coming back, but I don't think you can just say 'status quo' either, and just think that because they're
young and coming back that you're gonna be good.
"You've got to work harder; I know staff-wise, we made a commitment to work harder than we've ever worked."
Someone asked Moore if he thought ASU's dynasty was over.
"Is it the end? I don't think that," he said. "It would be the end if we all quit. If we quit working that would be the end. That never even
crossed my mind. You take the Patriots, the Boston Celtics, the Yankees; at some point in time they lose. But they don't quit; it's
not the end of the dynasty.
"I can speak for myself; I'm probably more driven now than in the 20 years I've been at Appalachian State."
*Moore thinks highly of Rod Chisholm, a running back from Independence High who was redshirted as a freshman this season after
coming off ankle surgery. Chisholm is a talented player and Moore thinks he will see considerable playing time in the future. That might
have happened this year if the Mountaineers had known they would have so many injuries at the position.
North Carolina has already sold 14,000 tickets for the Dec. 27 Meineke Bowl, which will pit the Tar Heels against West Virginia.
After quickly selling out of its initial 12,500 ticket allottment, it requested and received 2,500 more. The remaining tickets can be purchased at tarheelblue.com.
-- Robbi Pickeral
Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore just had a wrap-up-the-season conference call, and went into detail on quarterback Armanti Edwards' physical problems in Saturday's playoff loss to Richmond, a game in which Edwards threw five interceptions after totaling four in the season's first 13 games.
"He wasn't 100 percent, that's for sure," Moore said. "I think anybody that's seen him play knows that. He had a hip pointer that he got about three weeks ago. Then he hurt a knee; it wasn't a surgical kind of deal, just aggravating. And Tuesday in practice, it began to bother him a little bit more than it had in the past.
"And he was just limited. He threw a couple bad balls, a couple of them off his back foot. It's strange; he did the same thing against South Carolina State. He tried to throw the ball away, he just didn't have anything on it. And some of that's the hip pointer; the only time it really bothered him was when he was throwing. He couldn't throw the ball with the velocity that he wanted to."
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Jarvis Giles, a highly-rated running back from Gaither High in Tampa, Fla., has committed to South Carolina.
He officially did so at a news conference at Gaither today.
Giles, who is 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, had also strongly considered Tennessee, but the coaching change there helped solidify his commitment to the Gamecocks, he said at the news conference.
He has 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, and Rivals.com ranks him as the No.2 all-purpose back in the country.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and his staff are looking for speed, and Giles' explosiveness could get him into the lineup quickly.
Giles is graduating early and expects to enroll in Columbia for the spring semester.
- Stan Olson
Monday, December 8, 2008
As Appalachian State football fans try to get over that rare FCS playoff loss -- Richmond's 33-13 quarterfinal win in Boone Saturday was the Mountaineers' first in 14 postseason games -- they might consider this:
ASU could be the preseason favorite in 2009, picked to win its fourth national championship in five years.
It starts with quarterback Armanti Edwards, a marvelous player who could win the Payton Award (the FCS version of Heisman) and who has already said he will return for his senior season.
Including Edwards, 17 of the 22 starters on Saturday's depth chart return. And 21 of the 22 backups are underclassmen, meaning 38 of the Apps' top 44 players will be back.
While punter Neil Young graduates, kicker Jason Vitaris is a sophomore.
Of 44 players on this year's two-deep roster, only six were seniors.
Don't forget that three key players--junior running back Devon Moore, junior defensive lineman Tony Robertson and freshman defensive back Dominique McDuffie -- were all lost to season-ending injuries, and should return.
Another boost could come from defensive end Gary Tharrington and tight end Jordan Gary, if they become academically eligible.
"We wasted a lot of time out there, and we're going to learn from it," Appalachian coach Jerry Moore said of the loss. "That's the way we're going to approach the winter, the spring and the summer. We're a relatively young football team. ... Guys just kept stepping up and making plays all year long, and (against Richmond) we just weren't able to do it. On either side of the ball, offense or defense."
Expect the Mountaineers to make adjustments. And to be back in the hunt next year.
CHAPEL HILL — There may be a few North Carolina players who would rather have played in an out-of-state postseason game, rather than the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 27.
But not running back Ryan Houston.
The sophomore from Butler said Monday he's already received requests from friends and family in the Charlotte area for 100 tickets, and he loves the idea of playing close to home.
"I always wanted to play at -- it's Bank of America Stadium now, but when I was growing up, it was Ericsson Stadium -- I always wanted to play in there,'' he said. "When I was a senior, and I was in the Shrine Bowl, we went to the Giants and Panther game, and me (and a couple of other players) ... went, and got presented at halftime as being the players representing North Carolina and South Carolina. It was kind of fun being on the field, and it will be even better playing on it."
— Robbi Pickeral
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Charlotte’s Meineke Car Care Bowl landed the local draw it craved Sunday when North Carolina accepted an invitation to play in the Dec. 27 game at Bank of America Stadium.
The Tar Heels (8-4) will meet West Virginia (8-4) of the Big East in a game that will be televised at 1 p.m. on ESPN. The Meineke has averaged 60,000 fans over its previous six seasons by relying on schools within a short driving distance of Charlotte to deliver big crowds.
In 2002, West Virginia lost to Virginia as the bowl debuted in Charlotte with a sellout crowd. Two years later, North Carolina helped deliver the bowl’s only other sellout in a loss to Boston College.
This will be the Tar Heels’ first bowl appearance since that game.
Wake to play at RFK
Wake Forest has accepted an invitation to play Navy in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 20 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
It will be the second meeting of the schools this season. Navy defeated the Deacons 24-17 on Sept. 27 in Winston-Salem.
The bowl will kick off at 11 a.m. and will be televised by ESPN. It will be the first of the 34 bowl games this season.
- Ken Tysiac
N.C. State athletics director Lee Fowler has a feeling the Wolfpack is heading to Birmingham, Ala., for the PapaJohn's.com Bowl, but said he still isn't certain.
Reached by telephone at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, Fowler said N.C. State still is talking to officials at the PapaJohns.com and Texas bowls about their games.
The PapaJohns.com Bowl is Dec. 29. The Texas Bowl is Dec. 30 in Houston.
"They're saying, 'Don't worry, you're going to be in a bowl,' " Fowler said.
But neither bowl officials nor the ACC office have confirmed which one. Fowler suspects that officials want to withhold an announcement until after the Champs Sports Bowl's 4:30 p.m. meeting Sunday to select its ACC representative.
Champs officials are expected to choose Florida State but still haven't officially ruled out North Carolina. If Florida State goes to the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 27 in Orlando, North Carolina will be selected for the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.
"I cannot imagine they don't take Florida State," Meineke Bowl executive director Will Webb said at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, "but they have surprised me in the past."
Late Saturday night, Meineke executives announced that West Virginia (8-4) of the Big East will meet the ACC representative on Dec. 27 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. – Ken Tysiac
Friday, December 5, 2008
It will likely be Sunday before Meineke Car Care Bowl officials know for certain which two teams will be playing in their game at Bank of America Stadium on Dec. 27.
Will Webb, executive director of the game, said Friday that he remains hopeful North Carolina will be the ACC representative against either West Virginia or Pittsburgh from the Big East.
However, it's possible the Tar Heels could wind up playing someplace other than Charlotte depending on various factors.
Webb had hoped the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando would release the Tar Heels this week so the Meineke Car Care Bowl could finalize bringing the Tar Heels to Charlotte. However, Webb said, the Orlando bowl hasn't released the Tar Heels though Florida State is expected to be headed there.
Should a scenario play out that keeps the Tar Heels out of Charlotte, Webb said it was likely the Meineke bowl would invite Maryland.
The Big East representative will likely be determined by the Sun Bowl, which is expected to have its pick of either West Virginia or Pittsburgh, leaving the other free to come to Charlotte.
-- Ron Green Jr.
Maybe the ACC is better than the SEC in football after all, at least this year. That’s the belief of alert fan Max Daniel, who sent me a pile of statistics to back his opinion.
He uses the Sagarin ratings, which rank college teams, to make his points. Start with those rankings, which show every ACC team among the nation’s top 51 squads. And all 12 ranked above six SEC teams: Vanderbilt (52), Kentucky (63), Tennessee (67), Auburn (71), Arkansas (75) and Mississippi State (102).
The ACC’s lowest is Duke at 51.
The SEC has the top-end teams (Florida at No .3, Alabama at No. 6) but Daniel’s point is that top to bottom the ACC is stronger. The ACC’s top-rated teams are Boston College at 14, Florida State at 15, Georgia Tech at 17 and Clemson at 19.
The ACC’s overall strength of schedule is also far better than the SEC’s.
The nation’s four most difficult schedules all belong to the ACC (Virginia, Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest) and no league team is below 34th.
The SEC’s toughest schedules belong to Georgia (7th) and South Carolina (10th), but seven teams are 38th or lower, meaning that each has an easier schedule than any ACC team.
Looking at the leagues as a whole, that’s a pretty good case for the ACC.
Louisville's loss on Thursday night all but guaranteed N.C. State an at-large bowl bid. The question remains where will the Wolfpack go bowling?
The definitive answer won't be decided until Sunday.
Rutgers eliminated Louisville from the at-large bowl pool with the 63-14 win, leaving the Wolfpack and Notre Dame as the only unaffiliated BCS teams with a 6-6 record.
Given two teams each from the SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten are selected for the BCS bowls, there will be at least three open at-large bowl bids (Independence, Motor City and Texas) and potentially as many as five (PapaJohns.com and/or Hawaii).
Arizona State (5-6) can join the Pack and Irish with a win over rival Arizona on Saturday but there would still be enough bowl bids to go around for the Pack, Irish and Sun Devils.
The winner of the Arizona State-Arizona game will go to the Las Vegas Bowl. If Arizona State wins, Arizona will go to the Hawaii Bowl. If Arizona wins, the Sun Devils are 5-7.
Louisville (5-7), on the other hand, would have been a viable candidate to snag an at-large bid from N.C. State in either Birmingham, Ala. — State's preferred choice — or Detroit.
As it stands of today, there is one at-large team with a record of 7-5 or better that is guaranteed a bid (either Western Michigan or Central Michigan) in front of N.C. State.
One of two things need to happen for the Wolfpack to find a preferred bowl home:
1) Ohio State selected as an at-large BCS team.
All $ign$ point to the Buckeyes (10-2), No. 10 in the BCS standings, going to either the Fiesta or Sugar over Boise State (12-0), ranked No. 9.
Only one team from outside the BCS conferences is guaranteed a BCS bid if it finishes in the top 12. Utah (6) fills that quota leaving Boise State on the outside.
The Broncos and WAC have surrendered the BCS dream, not even waiting for the official word to come Sunday before trying to convince Ball State to come to Boise for the only matchup of unbeaten teams. The Cardinals declined.
With Ohio State out of the Big Ten rotation, a spot is cleared in the Motor City Bowl because there are seven Big Ten tie-ins and only seven bowl eligible teams, two of those — OSU and Penn State (Rose) — would be in BCS bowls.
As far as attractive opponents, the Motor City would be State's best-case scenario because No. 12 Ball State is likely going to be the Mid-American Conference champion.
The undefeated Cardinals (12-0), who play Buffalo (7-5) in the MAC title game tonight, are being relegated to a return trip to Ford Field.
The reason N.C. State stands a good chance of playing in Detroit on the day after Christmas is of the at-large bowl spots, this one can't go to either Western Michigan (9-3) or Central Michigan (8-4) — a pair of MAC teams, one of which will be left out of the MAC bowl mix and guaranteed an at-large bid.
At-large teams with a record of 7-5 or better are guaranteed spots before 6-6 teams.
The other 6-6 teams from outside BCS conferences seeking an at-large bid are: San Jose State, Northern Illinois (another MAC team), Bowling Green (another MAC team), Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida Atlantic and potentially Arkansas State, which is 6-5 and an 11-point underdog at Troy.
The question is: What would the Motor City do if it doesn't take State? Beg Notre Dame? Bring in Howard Schnellenberger and Florida Atlantic? Punt?
2) Troy beats Arkansas State.
If Troy wins, the PapaJohns will have an at-large opening.
Troy (7-4) wins the SBC, and the New Orleans Bowl bid, by beating Arkansas State at home. If Troy loses, Arkansas State wins the SBC and Troy would be guaranteed the PapaJohns spot at 7-5.
State wants to play in Birmingham because it would be against a BCS conference opponent (either UConn or West Virginia from the Big East) and on the latest possible date (Dec. 29), which allows for more practice time.
• • • •
Rutgers' win also tidies up the Big East pecking order. The Scarlet Knights (7-5) are expected to take the Sun Bowl berth and push Notre Dame — while technically an Independent but has weaseled its way into the Big East's bowl order — to the Texas Bowl.
That means the Meineke Car Care Bowl will have its choice of Pittsburgh (8-3) or West Virginia (7-4). As we reported on Tuesday, Pittsburgh is the favorite to face UNC in Charlotte on Dec. 27.
• • • •
With Notre Dame likely going to the Texas Bowl that leaves the extra MAC team in Shreveport, La., Birmingham or Hawaii.
The MAC doesn't want to send its directional Michigan team to Hawaii but it might not have a choice.
The Independence has already invited in-state WAC school Louisiana Tech (7-5) and would like to add Louisiana-Lafayette, which won on Wednesday to reach bowl eligibility.
The Motor City won't take another MAC team.
Geographically, San Jose State would be the closest at-large team to the Hawaii Bowl, but host Hawaii (7-5) is already lined up. Hawaii and San Jose State are both from the WAC and SJSU already won at Hawaii on Sept. 28.
There is no NCAA rule preventing conference teams from meeting in a bowl, so technically there could be a SJSU-Hawaii rematch but only if the directional Michigan found another home.
Technically, Hawaii is in play for the Wolfpack but that would take an unusual set of circumstances (Boise State to the BCS, Arkansas State wins and the directional Michigan to the Independence).
• • • •
As for the completion of the ACC order, Steve Hogan, head of the Champs Bowl said out of respect for the ACC's bowl process, they will wait until after the ACC title game to select their ACC participant.
Multiple media outlets, including us, have reported it will be Florida State (8-4), but the ACC wasn't pleased with the Chick-fil-A and Gator for making bowl announcements out of turn, so Orlando will wait until Sunday.
Given the ticket sales to the ACC title game in another central Florida city — Virginia Tech and Boston College have combined to sell 5,000 to Tampa — the chances are beyond remote that the Champs Bowl selects a team other than Florida State.
That leaves the conference title game loser in Nashville (per conference rules) and UNC in Charlotte.
The bottom three slots are technically waiting for the dominoes to fall in front of them, but expect Miami to go to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, Maryland to the Humanitarian in Boise — to play Nevada, not Boise State — and Wake Forest to get a second chance at Navy in the new EagleBank Bowl, which will be played at RFK Stadium, not FedEx Field.
• • • •
Bowl schedule with projections (RED teams have accepted invitiations)
• Dec. 20, EagleBank Bowl @ Washington, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Navy vs. Wake Forest (ACC)
• Dec. 20, New Mexico Bowl, 2:30 (ESPN)
Fresno State (WAC) vs. Colorado State (Mountain West)
• Dec. 20, St. Petersburg Bowl, 6:30 (ESPN2)
South Florida (Big East) vs. Memphis (C-USA)
• Dec. 20, Las Vegas Bowl, 8 (ESPN)
BYU (Mountain West) vs. Arizona (Pac-10)
• Dec. 21, New Orleans Bowl, 8 (ESPN)
Southern Miss (C-USA) vs. Troy (Sun Belt)
• Dec. 23, Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, 8 (ESPN)
TCU (Mountain West) vs. Boise State (WAC)
• Dec. 24, Hawaii Bowl, 8 (ESPN)
Hawaii (WAC) vs. Western Michigan (at-large)
• Dec. 26, Motor City Bowl @ Detroit, 7:30 (ESPN)
Ball State (MAC) vs. N.C. State (at-large)
• Dec. 27, Meineke Car Care Bowl @ Charlotte, 1 (ESPN)
UNC (ACC) vs. Pittsburgh (Big East)
• Dec. 27, Champs Bowl @ Orlando, Fla., 4:30 (ESPN)
Florida State (ACC) vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten)
• Dec. 27, Emerald Bowl @ San Francisco, 8 (ESPN)
Cal (Pac-10) vs. Miami (ACC)
• Dec. 28, Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, La. 8 (ESPN)
Louisiana Tech (WAC) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (at-large)
• Dec. 29, PapaJohns Bowl @ Birmingham, Ala. 3 (ESPN)
West Virginia (Big East) vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
• Dec. 29, Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, 8 (ESPN)
Northwestern (Big Ten) vs. Missouri (Big 12)
• Dec. 30, Humanitarian Bowl @ Boise, Idaho, 4:30 (ESPN)
Nevada (WAC) vs. Maryland (ACC)
• Dec. 30, Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, 8 (ESPN)
Oregon (Pac-10) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12)
• Dec. 30, Texas Bowl @ Houston, 8 (NFL)
Rice (C-USA) vs. Notre Dame (at-large)
• Dec. 31, Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, noon (ESPN)
Air Force (Mountain West) vs. Houston (C-USA)
• Dec. 31, Sun Bowl @ El Paso, Texas, 2 (CBS)
Rutgers (Big East) vs. Oregon State (Pac-10)
• Dec. 31, Music City Bowl @ Nashville, 3:30 (ESPN)
BC/VT loser (ACC) vs. Vanderbilt (SEC)
• Dec. 31, Insight Bowl @ Phoenix, 6 (NFL)
Minnesota (Big Ten) vs. Kansas (Big 12)
• Dec. 31, Chick-fil-A Bowl @ Atlanta, 7:30 (ESPN)
Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. LSU (SEC)
• Jan. 1, Outback Bowl @ Tampa, Fla., 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Iowa (Big Ten) vs. South Carolina (SEC)
• Jan. 1, Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, Fla., 1 (CBS)
Clemson (ACC) vs. Nebraska (Big 12)
• Jan. 1, Capital One Bowl @ Orlando, Fla., 1 (ABC)
Georgia (SEC) vs. Michigan State (Big Ten)
• Jan. 1, Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, Cal., 5 (ABC)
Penn State (Big Ten) vs. USC (Pac-10)
• Jan. 1, Orange Bowl @ Miami, 8 (FOX)
Cincinnati (Big East) vs. BC/VT winner (ACC)
• Jan. 2, Cotton Bowl @ Dallas, 2 (FOX)
Texas Tech (Big 12) vs. Ole Miss (SEC)
• Jan. 2, Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, 5 (ESPN)
Kentucky (SEC) vs. Tulsa/ECU winner (C-USA)
• Jan. 2, Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, 8 (FOX)
Ala/Fla loser (at-large) vs. Utah (at-large)
• Jan. 3, International Bowl @ Toronto, noon (ESPN2)
Buffalo (MAC) vs. UConn (Big East)
• Jan. 5, Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, Ariz., 8 (FOX)
Texas (at-large) vs. Ohio State (at-large)
• Jan. 6, GMAC Bowl @ Mobile, Ala., 8 (ESPN)
Tulsa/ECU loser (C-USA) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)
• Jan. 8, BCS Championship Game @ Miami, 8 (FOX)
Ala/Fla winner (SEC) vs. Oklahoma (Big 12)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The Walter Payton Award has become the Heisman Trophy of the Football Championship Subdivision. Three finalists have been named, and one is Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards.
He's competing with RB Herb Donaldson of Western Illinois and QB Rodney Landers of James Madison.
Asked this week about his quarterback's candidacy, Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said, "He's very deserving of that. At our level, he's one of the best athletes in the country, not only athletically but (in) productivity.
"He's been the quarterback of two national championship teams and he -- well, his team -- has got us in the playoffs again. I think most people that have seen him play like what he does."
Edwards, though, is focusing on the playoffs -- App plays Richmond Saturday in Boone in the quarterfinals.
"I haven't even thought about it," he said of the Payton award. "(Being a finalist) is a great accomplishment and a great feeling. Without the team I wouldn't be in it, and at the same time you have to put the award in the back seat to the playoffs."
The winner will be named on Dec. 18 in Chattanooga.
-- Stan Olson
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Many N.C. State fans were frustrated Monday when they learned N.C. State wouldn’t be able to be considered for any of the ACC’s bowl slots.
That rules the Wolfpack out of the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C., which would have been an easy destination for fans to reach.
But coach Tom O’Brien didn’t seem the least bit flustered during his weekly radio show or afterward, even though the EagleBank Bowl would have matched him against his alma mater, Navy.
O’Brien didn’t come out and say this, but there is one significant reason the Wolfpack would be better off if they can secure an at-large bowl bid elsewhere. The EagleBank Bowl, though it would be convenient for fans, is scheduled for Dec. 20.
There isn’t enough time on the calendar for N.C. State to hold its full allotment of 15 pre-bowl practices before that Dec. 20 game. O’Brien considers those pre-bowl practices vital.
He said Saturday that the extra practice associated with eight straight bowl appearances while he coached Boston College were pivotal in building his program.
“That all adds up and accumulates over the years,” O’Brien said.
N.C. State’s postseason possibilities are the Hawaii (Dec. 24), Motor City (Dec. 26), Independence (Dec. 28), PapaJohns.com (Dec. 29) and Texas (Dec. 30) bowls. None would be as convenient for fans’ travel plans as the EagleBank Bowl. But all would provide the Wolfpack with more opportunities to practice.
– Ken Tysiac
North Carolina has two recruiting commitments who have been invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl high school football all-star game, set for Jan.3 in San Antonio.
Future Tar Heels' defensive end Donte Moss of Jacksonville (N.C.) Northside High and wide receiver Joshua Adams of Cheshire (Conn.) Academy have been selected to play in the game.
Clemson commitment Malliciah Goodman, a DE from West Florence (S.C.) High, will also play.
Other ACC schools with invitees include Miami (two), Virginia Tech and Florida State (one each).
Notre Dame and Texas had the most future players invited, with six apiece, followed Southern Cal with five and Alabama and Ohio State with four.
Also invited is Xavier Nixon of Fayetteville Jack Britt High, the state's best offensive lineman. He remains undecided on a school, but may announce his choice during the game.
It's snowing again in Boone this morning, a dusting that is adding to the several inches the town received Sunday night. No problem for Appalachian State's football team, which now has an indoor practice facility, something that even the Panthers don't have.
Appalachian's big aluminum building was completed in October of 2007 as part of a $50 million athletics upgrade, built on the site of the former baseball field. It includes an 80-yard long, FieldTurf articificial surface. When it rains or snows -- like today -- the Mountaineers slip inside and get their work done. They are preparing for their FCS second-round playoff game with Richmond Saturday at noon in Kidd Brewer Stadium. In relative comfort.
-- Stan Olson
Monday, December 1, 2008
N.C. State's Russell Wilson may indeed be the best quarterback in the ACC, as my colleague Luke DeCock wrote Sunday. But he's not the best quarterback in the Carolinas.
That would be Armanti Edwards, the Appalachian State junior who just might lead the Mountaineers to a fourth straight FCS national championship.
Edwards' statistics are amazing; he's the school and Southern Conference record holder for total offense, with a current career mark of 10,457 yards. And that's with at least one more playoff game and another year to go.
Despite his mind-boggling totals, you can't sum him up with numbers.
Edwards, recruited out of Greenwood High by a number of schools to play defensive back, wanted to play quarterback. Almost everyone thought that at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, he was too small. Appalachian gave him a chance.
Edwards has grown, he's now a legitimate 6 feet and 185 pounds. Wilson, for comparison, is 5-11 and 191, and no one says he's too small.
Edwards was, if you've forgotten, the guy who led Appalachian to its historic win at Michigan last year, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another and totaling 289 yards in Ann Arbor. He was also the guy at the controls for ASU's last two national titles.
Casual onlookers tend to think he's a running quarterback who can pass a little. Actually Edwards is brilliant in both areas; he has a strong arm and remarkable instincts—before the first of his two interceptions Saturday, he had thrown 176 passes without a pick.
And he rallied from Saturday's mistakes to throw for an Appalachian-record 433 yards in one game.
Again though, it wasn't the numbers. There was a third-and-12 play at the ASU 23, with the Mountaineers clinging to a three-point lead and their momentum dieing. Just before he was sacked, Edwards threw the ball—somehow—to receiver T.J. Courman, who caught it and wriggled to the 36 for a first down that eventually led to a score.
I've seen most of his games—either live or on TV—this season, and Edwards seems to make a similar play in just about every narrow Appalachian victory.
You think South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who could have had him, would have taken him Saturday against Clemson?
Don't be too hard on Spurrier; the other six Carolinas' BCS schools missed too.
They put him into that cornerback box, if they thought of him at all.
And I promise you, they lost a shot at the best quarterback in the Carolinas.
At any level.
- Stan Olson
After being honored as the first freshman first-team All-ACC quarterback in history on Monday, N.C. State’s Russell Wilson smiled as he thought back to his first visit to Carter-Finley Stadium.
In 2004, he watched from the visitors’ section as his brother Harrison played wide receiver for Richmond against defensive end Mario Lawson and the Wolfpack’s ferocious defense.
He said he realized that day that he wanted to play college football in that kind of atmosphere.
On Monday, he said it has exceeded his expectations.
“I love it here so far,” Wilson said during a conference with reporters.
Wilson overcame a lot in his redshirt freshman season to earn honors as the ACC’s top quarterback. While he was in a five-player race for the starting spot in the preseason, his father suffered a stroke.
In the season opener against South Carolina, Wilson suffered a serious concussion that knocked him out of the next game. He returned against East Carolina only to have a shoulder injury keep him out of another game.
He bounced back to lead the ACC in passing efficiency, total offense and touchdown passes, and threw just one interception all season. At season’s end, he has a school-record 226 passes without an interception as N.C. State (6-6, 4-4 ACC) awaits a possible bowl selection this week.
Wilson is proudest of sparking a four-game winning streak that allowed a team that started 2-6 to get bowl eligible.
“To win those games that we’ve won, when you’re down in the dumps and it looks like you have no light at the end of the tunnel, our team realized we could persevere and kept pushing and won some games at the end,” Wilson said.
For his first season, at least, it was better than Wilson had even imagined when he first set foot in Carter-Finley. His father has been well enough to attend Russell’s last two home games.
And Wilson has established himself as the ACC’s premier quarterback.
- Ken Tysiac
If there is a single point of emphasis to Appalachian State's current stay in the FCS playoffs, it's to take this one game at a time. That may be the biggest cliche in sports, but it's a cliche because it's true; if you don't do so, you get beat.
The Mountaineers beat S.C. State in the first round 37-21 Saturday, but clung to a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, and could have lost but for a couple of clutch plays. Now they wait for Richmond, which plays ASU in Boone at noon next Saturday in the second round.
And, despite three straight national titles, you can't get coaches or players to look any farther ahead than the Spiders.
"It's a stepladder, and like I was telling the guys during (Saturday's) warmups, this is Round One," said wide receiver T.J. Courman, a senior who would love a fourth ring but who can't let himself think about it. "This is a four-round heavyweight bout and we've got to get through all of them. We conquered our first obstacle, and we'll bring 'em on next week."
The win over the Bulldogs was interesting, because S.C. State tried to take the run away and Appalachian said, "Fine, we'll throw." And QB Armanti Edwards passed for a school-record 433 yards.
"I'm not apologetic about throwing," ASU coach Jerry Moore said. "We've got good receivers, we've got quarterbacks who are good at throwing the ball. If they're going to dictate that to you, we (don't have) an ego about running the ball. We like to run the ball; that's our first choice. But if you let us throw, we'll do it."
-- Stan Olson