Reviewing the ACC pro days

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
Pro days are now in the rearview mirror, with a month remaining between now and the NFL draft. With that, let's take a look back at some notable performances from ACC pro days this year.

Boston College (March 12)
Big name: RB Andre Williams. Representatives from 29 NFL teams were on hand to see the nation's top running back from last season. Williams says he improved on his combine 40-yard-dash time of 4.56. Also of note: Nate Freese, who went 20 of 20 last season on field goal tries, did not disappoint in front of his future employers, hitting a 60-yard try.

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
AP Photo/Michael ConroyClemson WR Sammy Watkins in all likelihood will be the first ACC player drafted in May.
Clemson (March 6)
Big name: WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins stood on his 40 time of 4.43 from the combine but was there to help out quarterback Tajh Boyd, doing little to change the general consensus that he is the top receiver in this year's draft. Boyd said scouts told him his performance was much better than his showings at the combine and Senior Bowl, as he connected on short, intermediate and deep routes with familiar receivers in familiar environs.

Duke (March 26)
Big name: CB Ross Cockrell. Cockrell improved on his combine results, with Duke saying that his 40 time was sub-4.4, which is better than what he ran in Indianapolis (4.56).

Florida State (March 17)
Big name: Where to begin? DL Timmy Jernigan slightly improved his combine 40-time from 5.06 to 5.03. S Terrence Brooks, LB Telvin Smith, DB Lamarcus Joyner and LB Christian Jones all drew a crowd, but they declined to run the 40 in front of reps from all 32 NFL teams, content to sit on their combine performances.

Georgia Tech (March 28)
Big name: LB Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu ran drills at both linebacker and defensive lineman, recovering nicely from a hamstring injury in the Senior Bowl that forced him out of the combine. He said his 40 time was in the 4.5s. DB Jemea Thomas also impressed, reportedly running a 4.38 40.

Louisville (March 17)
Big name: QB Teddy Bridgewater. With scouts from 29 teams watching, Bridgewater was off target with several of his throws. He ran an unofficial 4.78 40 time, but the potential No. 1 pick misfired on at least 10 passes, leaving some questions lingering heading into the draft.

Miami (April 3)
Big name: OT Seantrel Henderson. This is the name that is going to stick out, as Henderson did not finish his workouts. His agent later told reporters that it was due to dehydration. With 30 NFL teams represented, quarterback Stephen Morris took a strong step forward, reportedly completed almost all of his 67 throws.

North Carolina (March 25)
Big name: TE Eric Ebron. Ebron stood on his 40 time from the combine of 4.60, but his pro day was marred by several dropped passes, though the always upbeat tight end was not stressed about the drops when speaking to reporters afterward.

NC State (March 25)
Big name: CB Dontae Johnson. Johnson showed his versatility, as he can play corner or safety, and he said he felt better than he did at the combine, where he ran a 40 time of 4.45 and jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical.

Pittsburgh (March 3)
Big name: DT Aaron Donald. College football's best defensive player rested on his combine numbers in the 40 (4.68) and bench press (35 times), but teammates Tom Savage and Devin Street helped themselves. Savage impressed during a scripted 100-throw workout while Street said he ran a sub-4.5 40.

Big name: LB Marquis Spruill. Spruill recovered nicely from a combine snub, weighing in at 231 pounds, nine pounds heavier than his playing weight. He did not disclose numbers. Running back Jerome Smith, meanwhile, said he ran in the 4.5-4.6 range, which would be an improvement over his combine time of 4.84.

Virginia (March 17)
Big name: OT Morgan Moses. A considerably different-looking Moses showed up at 311 pounds, roughly 20 pounds lighter from his playing days with the Cavaliers. After clocking in at 5.35 in the 40 at the combine, he unofficially ran between 4.9 and 5.06 at his pro day, though he pulled a hamstring during one of the runs, forcing him to miss the remainder of his drills.

Virginia Tech (March 19)
Big name: QB Logan Thomas. Thomas remains a fascinating prospect to keep an eye on in the NFL, and he threw well in front of NFL scouts at pro day. Corner Antone Exum impressed as well, running 40 times of 4.53 and 4.55.

Wake Forest (March 17)
Big name: WR Michael Campanaro. After seeing his final year end prematurely because of a shoulder injury, Campanaro, the only Demon Deacon to have garnered a combine invite, again impressed in receiver drills, making his case to become a potential mid-round pick. Nose guard Nikita Whitlock, meanwhile, saw himself lining up as a fullback for the first time in his career. Weather conditions were less than ideal for the NFL hopefuls.
It was reported Wednesday that Florida State was altering its Seminoles logo, the university has released a statement on the forthcoming changes to one of college football’s most recognizable logos.

The new logo, which will be released April 11, has been under discussion for almost two years after issues reproducing the Seminole Head.

“The issue was that our Seminole Head, while as recognizable and iconic as any in all of sports, does not reproduce well in a number of mediums,” the university statement said. “It is particularly difficult to embroider and impossible to accurately represent on some materials including at midfield at Doak Campbell Stadium. We believe this image is the best in all of sports and that the result of our efforts will maximize the symbol on a national level.

“The refined logo will allow us to use it more prominently across all platforms including our uniforms, sideline apparel and graphics.”

It was originally rumored the Seminole Tribe of Florida requested alterations to the Seminole logo, but both the Tribe and Florida State said the changes did not come at the Tribe’s behest. Florida State said in the statement Nike helped recreate the logo.

“We tasked Nike for help in refining the logo so that consistency can be achieved without diminishing the identity of the iconic image,” the statement said. “We arrived at a design that can take FSU Athletics into the future.”

ACC lunchtime links

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
Lots of news out of Tallahassee ...

Feds open investigation into FSU

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has opened an investigation into Florida State's handling of sexual assault allegations against quarterback Jameis Winston and potential Title IX violations by the university.

USA Today Sports first reported the investigation Thursday. It stems from a complaint filed with the Office for Civil Rights by the accuser in the Winston case.

"Our client is particularly gratified by the OCR's decision to investigate and look for discrimination and find remedies to it,'' the accuser's lawyer, Baine Kerr, said, "because her primary goal, from the beginning, has been affecting change that will make women at Florida State safer on campus.''

The accuser, a Florida State student, said she was raped by Winston in December 2012. reported Thursday that school officials met with Winston in January 2013 to discuss the matter. But the school might have violated federal law by delaying its investigation and meeting with Winston, alone, despite legal advice to the contrary.

No charges were filed by State Attorney Willie Meggs against Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Winston's accuser filed her complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in March, 16 months after she first reported the incident.

The OCR tells schools that "conduct may constitute unlawful sexual harassment under Title IX even if the police do not have sufficient evidence of a criminal violation. In addition, a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably.''

(Read full post)

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
Lots of injuries, not a lot of quarterbacks ...

Getting to know Shy Tuttle 

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

LEXINGTON, N.C. -- When going down the list of the most productive players in the Class of 2015, defensive tackle Shy Tuttle might be at the top.

In three varsity seasons, Tuttle, No. 12 in the ESPN Junior 300, has more than 230 tackles, including over 50 tackles for loss and more than 30 sacks.
According to North Davidson head coach Mark Holcomb, there are more reasons for his success than just raw talent.

“He is stronger and quicker than the kids he’s lined up against, so he’s able to push kids on this level around,” Holcomb said. “But he plays hard, runs to the ball, and effort is something you can’t coach, and he came here with that. He plays hard, lifts hard and just does things the right way.”

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Before spring practice started, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and Jameis Winston acknowledged that, despite leading the Seminoles to an undefeated season and national championship while breaking several school records, the Heisman winner still needs to evolve as a passer.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsJameis Winston is trying to work on generating more throwing power with his hips this spring.
Winston is alternating between throwing from the quarterback's pocket and the pitcher’s mound this spring, limiting his time to focus on mechanics. Two weeks ago, Winston laid out his spring goals; to hold the football higher and generate more power with his hips during his delivery. Fisher and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders proposed the tweaks to Winston following the national championship game.

Through nine practices, Fisher said Winston’s adjusted well to the tinkering “at times” but that it’s still a work in progress. That isn’t unexpected, however, as Winston toys with his mechanics, which are never easy for a quarterback to alter, while also splitting his time between football and baseball.

“He hasn’t played up to his capability. He’s missed some throws,” Fisher said. “That’s part of it, you have to grind through it. Not everything is a utopia.”

Fisher didn’t absolve Winston, but he mentioned that his third-year quarterback is also dealing with a wide receivers unit with little experience outside of senior Rashad Greene. Fisher blistered the group Monday for its lack of production this spring, specifically for its inability to get open and catch the ball. He said the receiving corps took strides in the right direction Wednesday, though.

“I think a big part of it is players around him aren’t playing as consistent. When the receivers are getting to your points, it allows you play fast and lets those things to happen,” he said.

Overall, Fisher was much more upbeat Wednesday than after Monday’s scrimmage, when he admonished the Seminoles for “laziness” and “unacceptable” mental mistakes. He was pleased with how the team responded to his message regard the need to remain motivated despite coming off a two-year run which produced a national championship and a 26-2 record.

“We got a lot more done. I thought we threw and caught the ball a lot better and ran the ball much better. And at times, the defense did some good things,” he said. “The intensity was much better and what a practice should be.

“... We’re not going to have a bad culture, a lazy culture or a soft culture.”

Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary was in a second motorcycle accident in the last year, and this time it will keep him from the practice field.

The senior tight end was involved in an accident over the weekend, and Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said O'Leary will miss the final six spring practices.

"He wrecked a motorcycle again," Fisher said. "He's skinned and got a swollen ankle and can't practice but he'll be fine. ... He's skinned from head to toe."

As a junior, O'Leary caught 33 passes for 557 yards and seven touchdowns and was named as a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, given annually to college football's top tight end. He was also voted All-ACC Second Team. A three-year starter, O'Leary already holds the school record for touchdowns by a tight end (11).

With the departures of receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, O'Leary is expected to see an expanded role in the offense. Following Monday's scrimmage, which O'Leary did not participate in, Fisher pointed out the lack of production from his inexperienced receivers.

In May 2013, O'Leary was involved in a motorcycle accident but did not miss any practice time.

"He needs to be frustrated. It's not important if I'm frustrated. What's important is if he's frustrated and learned his lesson," Fisher said.

(Read full post)

Florida State and its Seminole logo will undergo minor alterations.

The design alterations are rooted in the university’s desire to create consistency in its school colors and brand, but Florida State will continue to use the Seminole head as its logo. The head will undergo some alterations, as well.

“The changes are very minor and the primary thing people will see is consistency in the garnet,” Florida State vice president for university relations Liz Maryanski said. “If you go into a sports store and look across the store, you’ll see as many shades of garnet as there are T-shirts, and we’re trying to get consistency in our colors.

“… We’ll still have what we call ‘the head’ with the Seminole [Tribe’s] blessing.”

Gary Bitner, the spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said the university recently presented the alterations to Seminole Tribe of Florida chairman James Billie, who signed off on the changes. Bitner said he is unaware of any request by the Seminole Tribe that Florida State alter its logo depicting the Seminole.

“The school was behind the changes and they submitted it to the Tribe for approval,” Bitner said. “It’s the relationship they have and the respect [Florida State] has for the Tribe that they wanted to reach out to the Tribe.”

Maryanski said the university engaged the Seminole Tribe early in the alteration process.

In 2005, the NCAA placed Florida State on a list of schools deemed to have “hostile or abusive” mascots. The Seminole Tribe of Florida responded with a public and written declaration of support for Florida State, and the NCAA removed Florida State from the list.

Maryanski could not confirm a release date for the altered logo. However, Florida State recently released two videos foreshadowing the logo change and marking a release date of Apr. 11, one day before the annual football spring game.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
The ACC is a football conference!
Through the first third of spring practice, guard Kareem Are was still walking the sidelines in street clothes. It was the story of the spring for Florida State’s top early enrollees -- they all were expected to contribute early but were sidelined for various reasons.

Dalvin Cook tore the labrum in his shoulder and is sidelined until the summer. Kain Daub has an NCAA Clearinghouse issue and can’t practice. But as for Are, a junior college transfer, there were questions surrounding his absence from the first five practices. There were whispers he came in overweight -- he dropped 15 pounds before practice started -- but Jimbo Fisher never said Are was dealing with a specific injury.

Whatever the case, Are, listed at 6-foot-6 and 335 pounds, is emerging as the star of the spring despite practicing only three times. Following a Monday scrimmage in which Fisher expressed disappointment with nearly every facet of his team, he made a point to heap praise on the junior.

“[Are is] learning what to do, but I’ll tell you what, very talented, very good player,” Fisher said. “I’m extremely excited. He has a chance to really help us. He’s a big, athletic guy, learns well, you can coach him hard, takes criticism. … He’s done his work and he paid attention when he was sitting out.”

Considering how the early enrollees have fared thus far, it is only fitting even Are had trouble getting cleared at Florida State. He planned to enroll for the start of classes Jan. 6, but by mid-January he was still being held up by online classes he took previously.

The Seminoles brought in Are, ranked No. 46 in the ESPN Junior College 50, with the idea he would immediately add depth and push for a starting spot in 2015. The Noles return four of their five offensive linemen from a season ago but will undergo a complete overhaul next offseason. In only three practices, Fisher said Are has exceeded expectations.

Senior right guard Tre' Jackson was not available for Monday’s scrimmage, so it was the newcomer Are receiving the bulk of the first-team snaps. Lined up across from Are occasionally was former five-star defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr., the No. 1 recruit in the 2012 class, who was in harmony with Fisher regarding Are’s quick start.

“He’s definitely aggressive, that’s one of the good things I’ve noticed about him,” Edwards said. “He loves to pile you in the ground if you let him, and he has strong hands.”
The theme throughout this spring across the ACC has been turnover and uncertainty at quarterback.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Boone
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesWith Anthony Boone (and Brandon Connette), Duke has plenty of experience at the QB position in 2014.
But what about those schools that return a good amount of starting experience? Duke returns more career starts than any team in the ACC, just ahead of Florida State. Quarterbacks Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette have combined to start 16 games for the Blue Devils, while Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston has 14 starts for the Noles.

That should give both teams and edge when it comes to defending their respective division crowns. How much of an edge? Depends on the viewpoint. Relying on returning quarterback data alone to predict how a team will do often fails to look at the big picture.

Go back to last season. Duke and Florida State went into 2013 having to replace veterans at quarterback — EJ Manuel had 31 career starts for the Noles, while Sean Renfree had 35 career starts for the Blue Devils. Questions about experience at quarterback followed both teams into the season. Indeed, Clemson was picked to finish ahead of Florida State thanks in large part to returning starter Tajh Boyd, going into his third season behind center.

Those questions, however, were quickly answered as both Duke and Florida State went on to play for the ACC championship. Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina -- all picked to finish ahead of Duke -- returned multi-year starters at quarterback but that was not enough to win the division. Boyd did not help Clemson win an ACC title, but the Tigers did make a BCS game and won 11 contests. Tanner Price, one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the ACC last season, could not help Wake Forest get back to a bowl game.

Still, returning a starting quarterback is almost always preferable. Not every redshirt freshman is going to win the Heisman the way Winston did in Year 1 as a starter. Boone, who had his share of ups and downs early last season as he transitioned to a starting role, has now been on both sides.

“You’re obviously going to have some growing pains with quarterbacks who haven’t played many snaps, young quarterbacks going into their first year as a starter,” Boone said recently. “I just feel like that’s something we’re capable of avoiding, that’s something that should be to our advantage, having the knowledge of different teams in our league, just knowing tendencies of what team plays what kind of defense, just having that knowledge going into next year. I feel like it’s good to if you have one, but we have two who have been there. It’s a good feeling. It lets our offensive coordinator be at ease because we have the ability to fix a lot of play calls that have been called, if something happens. I feel that knowledge is a huge winning edge for us, compared to guys who may not know the system as well.”

Returning career starts at quarterback:

Duke: 16
Florida State: 14
Virginia: 12
Syracuse 10
Miami: 10*
Boston College: 6*
North Carolina: 5
NC State: 3*
Clemson: 0
Georgia Tech: 0
Louisville: 0
Pittsburgh: 0
Virginia Tech: 0
Wake Forest: 0

*-QBs at these schools made their starts while playing for other programs.

Change in W-L record for teams that returned starting quarterbacks in 2013.

Boston College: +5
Miami: +2
Louisville: +1
Virginia Tech: +1
North Carolina: -1
Clemson: No change
Wake Forest: -1

Change in W-L record for teams that started first-time quarterbacks in 2013.

Duke: +4
Florida State: +2
Pitt: +1
Georgia Tech: No change
Syracuse: -1
Virginia: -2
NC State: -4

W2W4: The NIT semifinals

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
Larry BrownAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesLarry Brown returns to the Garden for the NIT semifinals.
NEW YORK -- Here's what to watch for in Tuesday's semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET, and you can watch the games on ESPN2.

HOME SWEET HOME: Brooklyn native and former Knicks coach Larry Brown returns to the Garden and should receive a warm welcome.

The 73-year-old Hall of Famer has rejuvenated the Southern Methodist basketball program in just two years at the helm. The Mustangs were 13-19 in 2011-12, prior to Brown's arrival. This season they have won 26 games, the second-most in school history.

SMU was the first team left out of the NCAA tournament field, and received one of four No. 1 seeds in the NIT.

When asked last week about returning to New York, Brown said, “I don’t look at it like that, for me. For me, for our kids to have an opportunity to keep playing is great.

"I’m happy for our team, I’m thrilled for our program. After the disappointment we had [Selection Sunday], this is a privilege to still be playing.”

GAME 1: SMU (26-9, 12-6 AAC) will play No. 3 seed Clemson (23-12, 10-8 ACC) in the first semifinal. The Mustangs finished tied for third in the American Athletic Conference with Final Four participant UConn, and beat the Huskies twice in the regular season. The Tigers, in their fourth year under coach Brad Brownell, finished sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Their best win of the season was a 72-59 triumph over Duke at home on Jan. 11.

Two players average in double figures for SMU -- sophomore point guard Nic Moore (13.5 PPG, 4.9 APG) and sophomore forward Markus Kennedy (12.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG). Clemson has just one double-figure scorer -- junior forward K.J. McDaniels (17.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG). McDaniels was also the leading shot-blocker in the ACC (2.8 BPG).

The Mustangs are 18th in Division I in offensive field goal percentage (48.4), and seventh in defensive field goal percentage (38.2) -- quite a combination! The Tigers aren't nearly as good offensively, ranking 265th (42.4). But they are almost as good defensively, ranking 14th (39.3).

GAME 2: A pair of No. 1 seeds, Minnesota (23-13, 8-10 Big Ten) and Florida State (22-13, 9-9 ACC), will meet in the second semifinal, tipping off at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET. The Golden Gophers, in their first year under coach Richard Pitino (Rick's son), finished seventh in the Big Ten. The Seminoles, in their 12th year under coach Leonard Hamilton, finished tied for seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

These two teams met back on Dec. 3 in Minneapolis, with Minnesota winning 71-61. But the Golden Gophers' leading rebounder, junior center Elliott Eliason (5.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG), is likely out for this game due to an ankle injury, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Three players average in double figures for Minnesota -- junior guard Andre Hollins (13.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG), senior guard Austin Hollins (12.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG) and junior guard DeAndre Mathieu (11.8 PPG, 4.1 APG).

Three players average in double figures for Florida State, as well -- sophomore guard Aaron Thomas (14.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG), senior guard Ian Miller (13.7 PPG, 2.9 APG) and senior forward Okaro White (13.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG).

The Seminoles also stack up very well on both sides, ranking 49th in Division I in offensive field goal percentage (46.8) and 25th in defensive field goal percentage (39.9). The Golden Gophers trail significantly in both categories, ranking 142nd offensively (44.8) and 116th defensively (42.5).

ACC's lunch links

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
How much do FSU fans miss this guy already?
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher said he didn’t have any expectations for Florida State’s first scrimmage.

Well, odds are he didn’t expect the first two players he praised following Monday’s practice would be a walk-on receiver and a backup offensive guard. And not to rain on Jared Jackson's and Kareem Are's parades, but, when it comes halfway through Fisher’s media session, that is more of an indictment of the reigning national champions than anything else.

“It was a very average scrimmage both ways,” Fisher said.

Even the quarterbacks, Jimbo, where Heisman winner Jameis Winston returns?

“Very average.”

OK … what about the defensive line, where you have all those five-star recruits?

“No, nothing outstanding.”

Time to try something else: The younger receivers are getting first-team reps and working extensively with Winston for the first time, so what do you want to see more of from them?

“Get open and catch the ball. I’m not seeing enough of it.”

It was evident early on he had no interest in filling up reporters’ notepads with positive spin. Fisher was terse answering most questions, often falling back on the adage that he needs to look at the film. That’s usually coach speak for “I’m none too pleased.”

As mediocre as Fisher made the scrimmage out to be, the reality is it is still the spring. A dozen Noles expected to start or at least play significant minutes in the fall were either held out of practice or in a green non-contact jersey. This is still a program that has recruited as well as any since 2011 and has elite talent at nearly every position.

Coming off a national championship and with a roster made primarily up of players who have experienced losing just twice (if that) since coming to Florida State, there is certainly more incentive for Fisher to try to bring the team back down to earth. The Noles have been adamant all spring complacency has not set in, but Fisher was annoyed at the lack of intensity and enthusiasm Monday. Former coach Bobby Bowden said it is imperative Fisher see complacency and “nip it in the bud” as soon as possible, and maybe that is what the fifth-year coach is doing.

The first scrimmage is far too early to make any type of definitive statement about this team, as inviting as it can be when dealing with the obvious preseason No. 1. Myriad questions surrounded the Noles coming into the spring and some have been answered while others are still coming into focus. There are concerns, but what happens Aug. 30 will not be determined March 31.

“I stay in the reality world. When you expect things you get in trouble,” Fisher said. “You just wait and see what your eyes tell you.”

His eyes are telling him this is an unfinished product. Our heads are telling us it’s only April.


FSU Recruiting Builds On BCS Title Win
Craig Haubert breaks down the Seminoles' efforts to translate on-field momentum to success in recruiting.Tags: Derwin James Jr., De'Andre Johnson, Tyrek Cole, Florida State Seminoles, Jimbo Fisher, Nike's The Opening