Monday, June 29, 2009

Tar Heels: From shortage to surplus?

North Carolina's Tar Heels have gone from a shortage of football scholarships to a surplus.

Kicker Jay Wooten has decided to transfer and three recruits will enroll in prep school. The Tar Heels were once 11 scholarships over the limit of 85 but now are one under that limit and could have a bigger surplus for coach Butch Davis.

Wooten, who made 4-of-6 field-goal attempts and 11 extra points as a redshirt freshman, shared the kicking responsibilities with Casey Barth in 2008. The school announced he was leaving the program on Monday, giving them 26 available scholarships.

Recruits Justin Dixon, J.R. Rhodes and Johnnie Farms are expected to enroll at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., which means what was once a recruiting class of 29 is down to 23.

Twenty of the recruits who signed in February are enrolled in summer school, a UNC spokesman said Monday.

Three players -- CB D.J. Bunn, TE Prizell Brown and LB Hawatha Bell -- have not yet enrolled, but could in August.

The NCAA allows a maximum of 25 players to enroll in one class but does not limit the number of players who can be signed.

The recruiting class

Not coming
1. S Angelo Hadley (released from LOI)
2. WR Ray-Ray Davis (junior college)
3. QB Donavan Tate (professional baseball)
4. LB Justin Dixon (prep school)
5. RB J.R. Rhodes (prep school)
6. OL Johnnie Farms (prep school)

1. QB Bryn Renner
2. WR Joshua Adams
3. WR Erik Highsmith
4. WR Joshua McKie
5. WR Jheranie Boyd
6. RB Hunter Furr
7. G Brennan Williams
8. T David Collins
9. T Travis Bond
10. DE Donte Moss
11. DT Jared McAdoo
12. LB Kevin Reddick
13. LB Shane Mularkey
14. CB Josh Hunter
15. CB Gene Robinson
16. CB Terry Shankle
17. S Curtis Campbell
18. DB Mywan Jackson
19. ATH A.J. Blue
20. P C.J. Feagles

Not yet enrolled
21. CB D.J. Bunn
22. TE Prizell Brown
23. LB Hawatha Bell

The departed

2008 seniors
1. WR Cooter Arnold
2. G Bryon Bishop
3. P Terrence Brown
4. G Calvin Darity
5. WR Brooks Foster
6. S Trimane Goddard
7. S Jabir Jones
8. LB Mark Paschal
9. TE Richard Quinn
10. T Garrett Reynolds
11. WR Brandon Tate
12. LB Chase Rice

Early to NFL
13. WR Hakeem Nicks

Graduated with eligibility remaining
14. QB Cam Sexton
15. RB Richie Rich
16. WR Kenton Thornton
17. TE B.J. Phillips
18. G Aaron Stahl

19. K Jay Wooten

Medical hardship
20. T Zack Handerson
21. G Mike Dykes
22. G Morgan Randall

23. WR Anthony Parker-Boyd
24. CB Tavorris Jolly
25. DE Darius Powell
26. LB Kenny Harris

-- J.P. Giglio

Irving's surgery successful

N.C. State linebacker Nate Irving's surgery was successful and went as expected on Sunday after he suffered a broken leg and collapsed lung in a car crash early Sunday morning, school sports information director Annabelle Myers said Monday morning.

Irving suffered injuries that were serious but not life threatening in a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 40 while returning to campus from his home in Wallace, N.C., northwest of Wilmington.

Myers said coach Tom O'Brien visited Irving at the Wake Med Trauma Center on Sunday and said Irving feels extremely fortunate to be alive after the crash.

According to a state highway patrol report, Irving ran off the road at 4:40 a.m. near the 314-mile marker in western Johnston County. He was cited for careless and reckless driving, and being tired or sleepy may have contributed to the crash, according to the police report.

Irving is a junior who was expected to be one of the top linebackers in the ACC this season. Myers said Irving's playing status for the 2009 season has not yet been determined.

Ken Tysiac

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thigpen: No question about leaving UNC

Football coach Butch Davis is trying to turn North Carolina into more than a "basketball school."

Apparently former linebackers coach — and Tar Heel player — Tommy Thigpen couldn't wait.

In case you missed the lively discussion at the Tar Pit, Thigpen, who left Chapel Hill to coach the secondary at Auburn after last season, told the Opelika-Auburn News there was no hesitation about leaving his alma mater for the Tigers.

“[I’ve been] watching that crowd respond on gamedays from watching highlight tape,” Thigpen told the paper. “I can’t imagine what it’s actually going to be like in August.”

He continues: “I wanted to be at a place where football was the issue."

And probably where the paycheck is an issue, too. Thigpen made $148,000 last season. Seven of Auburn's assistants had paychecks that ranged between $180,000 and $370,000.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thumb healed, ego bruised for Heels' Yates

T.J. Yates knew what was next after he injured his thumb playing ultimate frisbee. The UNC quarterback was going to hear some jokes from his teammates at his expense.

"That's their job," Yates said.

The sprained thumb has healed and the jokes are over, for now, for Yates who jammed the thumb on his right hand (his throwing hand) trying to catch a frisbee during a UNC team activity on April 22.

Yates said after a six-week rehab, he's 100 percent and back to throwing the football and working out with his teammates. He's also doing his best to avoid any future non-football related accidents. Injuries have followed Yates at UNC. He broke a bone in his left ankle in 2008 and missed six games. He had surgery on his right shoulder following the '07 season.

Yates, who enters his third season as the Tar Heels' starting quarterback in '09, bristled at the suggestion that he is injury-prone.

"I wouldn't say that," said Yates, who threw for 1,168 yards and 11 touchdowns in '08. "I've caught some bad luck. Other than the ankle, I haven't missed any games so it hasn't affected me too much."

For the record, linebacker Kennedy Tinsley was vying for the flying disc the same time Yates was, not that Yates is blaming Tinsley or anyone else for the minor setback.

"It was a freak accident," Yates said. "I think because of the position I play, any little thing can get blow out of proportion. It was no big deal."

-- J.P. Giglio

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BC goes Weinke route

In need of quarterback help, Boston College took a page from Florida State's playbook. The Eagles added Dave Shinskie, a 25-year-old former baseball prospect, on Tuesday.

The Eagles lost probable starter Dominique Davis (transfer) last week. Enter Shinskie, who spent the past six seasons playing minor-league baseball.

FSU netted a national title and Heisman Trophy from its senior citizen quarterback, Chris Weinke. Like Weinke, Shinskie was a two-sport prep star who chose baseball over football out of high school.

Shinskie, 25, is expected to compete with Codi Boek and Justin Tuggle for the starting QB spot. rated Shinskie, 6-4 and 215 pounds, a three-star recruit in the class of 2003. Shinskie said he also considered Rutgers and Pitt before signing with BC.

-- J.P. Giglio

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lineman Stahl leaves Tar Heel football team

Offensive lineman Aaron Stahl has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and will not return to North Carolina's football team, the school announced Thursday.

Stahl graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in exercise and sports science and would have been one of the more experienced players on the Tar Heels' offensive line.

"I appreciate everything Coach (Butch) Davis and his staff have done for me over the last two and a half years," Stahl said in a statement released by the school. "I earned my degree from a great University, enjoyed living in Chapel Hill, and now it’s time for me to move forward with the next phase of my life."

Stahl played in all 13 games last season and made six starts. He began the season as a center, but broke his thumb against Miami and switched to guard for the rest of the season.

He missed spring practice after having shoulder surgery in January.

"I understand Aaron’s decision and appreciate all of his hard work and effort to make us a better football program," Davis said in a statement. "He was a versatile player, and when he was injured last year, he helped the team by moving to another position. I will support him in the future and wish him nothing but success."

- Ken Tysiac

Early ACC game times set

North Carolina's home game against East Carolina on Sept. 19 will begin at noon and will be televised by ESPN or ESPN-2, according to an ACC schedule for the first three weeks of the football season released Thursday.

On Sept. 5, North Carolina's home game against The Citadel is scheduled for 6 p.m. on

N.C. State's home games Sept. 12 against Murray State and Sept. 19 against Gardner-Webb will begin at 6 p.m. and won't be televised. The Wolfpack has a previously announced 7 p.m. opener at home on ESPN against South Carolina on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Duke will play a 7 p.m. opener Sept. 5 against Richmond that won't be televised. The game time for Duke at Army on ESPN Classic on Sept. 12 has yet to be announced, and Duke at Kansas on Sept. 19 is at noon on Versus.

Other games of interest for schools in the Carolinas include Baylor at Wake Forest at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 on ABC or ESPN-2, Stanford at Wake Forest at noon Sept. 12 on Raycom, and Boston College at Clemson at noon on Sept. 19 on Raycom.

- Ken Tysiac

Monday, June 1, 2009

Duke-Kansas kickoff set

Duke's football game at Kansas on Sept. 19 will kickoff at noon. The game will be televised by Versus.

Duke's opener against Richmond on Sept. 5 is set for 7 p.m. The Blue Devils will host N.C. Central on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.

-- J.P. Giglio

O'Brien wary of preseason picks

Some yahoo already picked N.C. State to win the Atlantic Division, which Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien found amusing.

"If you guys knew what the heck you were doing, you would be doing something else," O'Brien said. "As I told the team, nobody picked Boston College last year."

The Eagles, picked to finish fourth in the division by the media, repeated as division champs in '08. O'Brien, who coached at BC from 1996 to 2006, recruited the bulk of the players on the BC roster that won the division in '07 and '08.

O'Brien told his current team that he doesn't think they're as good as the team he left in Boston College.

"It doesn't mean we can't be that good," O'Brien said. "Today, we're not that good, let's see if we can get to be that good. That's the challenge."

One aspect working in O'Brien's favor — State doesn't play an ACC game until October. Given the way O'Brien's first two teams started — 1-5 and 2-5 — a four-game prep for the conference schedule can only help.

-- J.P. Giglio

Nice work if you can get it

After Ron Prince went 17-20 in three seasons at Kansas State, he was given the gate. But not without a $1.2 million buyout.

That's a fairly standard exit fee in today's game. What happened next, though, is a new twist.

Prince, or likely his lawyer, negotiated what Kansas State is now calling a "secret" agreement, according to the Kansas City Star, with lameduck athletic director Bob Krause. The deal reportedly calls for the university to pay a limited liability company, established by Prince, $3.2 million between the years 2015 and 2020.

K-State is suing Prince to negate the contract, which university president Jon Wefald contends never met approval from anyone other than Krause.

Clandestine deals? Balloon payments to a ghost LLC? If Prince, who has since landed an assistant's gig at Virginia, had showed that much initiative on the field, he'd still have his job.

-- J.P. Giglio