Category: Football

Four-star 2020 Colo. DT Aidan Keanaaina picks Notre Dame

Aidan Keanaaina, one of the top overall players in Colorado and top defensive tackles in the Class of 2020 has committed to play for Notre Dame.
Keanaaina, a 6-foot-3, 292-pound interior bruiser for J.K. Mullen High School (Denver, Colo.), chose the Fighting Irish Wednesday ahead of scholarship offers from 22 other programs, including the likes of national powers Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and USC, among others.
The prep star committed on his 17th birthday, using the occasion to thank his family and coaches as he prepares for his collegiate future.

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A Polynesian Bowl selection, Keanaaina finished the 2018 season with 69 tackles, four sacks, one pick and forced three fumbles, per the Denver Post.
“It was awesome. It was so much fun,” Keanaaina told 247Sports about his previous visit to the school. “Just seeing all the fans, going through the player walk. It was a really good experience. I enjoyed it all. I loved the crowd. It was so much fun,” said Keanaaina. “We were right near the student section. I saw all of the rituals that they do. I saw the pushups, which was by far one of my favorite things I saw them do. Then I saw the kickoff, how they acted during field goals. It was just a lot of fun.”

Transferring 'hasn't even crossed' Kayvon Thibodeaux's mind after Oregon DC leaves

Two-year Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will not coach for the Ducks next season, according to 247Sports.
The reasoning behind the departure is unclear as of Wednesday evening, but the opening comes after Oregon completed a 9-4 season, beat Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl and recruited 247Sports‘ No. 7 class in the country.
The good news: The gem of the 2019 group isn’t perturbed by Leavitt’s departure.
Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 1 player in the Chosen 25 and ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year, tweeted that he does not plan to leave the school. He enrolled at Oregon after playing for Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.)

The transfer portal hasn’t even crossed my universe . Stop askin’
— kayvon thibodeaux (@kayvonT8) February 14, 2019
Four-star linebacker Ge’mon Eaford tweeted teary-eyed emojis. He was the only other defensive recruit to tweet about Leavitt as of an hour after the initial report was published on 247Sports on Wednesday night.
— G5 (@Gemon_J_Wilson) February 14, 2019
Keeping Thibodeaux content is key. The NCAA transfer portal has been filled with action over the last few weeks, including from Chosen 25 WR Bru McCoy, who transferred to Texas almost immediately after enrolling at USC when the Trojans lost offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to the Arizona Cardinals.
Luckily for Oregon, there are other factors keeping Thibodeaux as a Duck.
He emphatically announced he will stay.

Pennsylvania HS athlete shot in face during drug deal over one ounce of marijuana

A 17-year-old Pennsylvania student was arrested after shooting an 18-year-old schoolmate during an argument over one ounce of marijuana, according to the Inquirer.
Marquis Mays, 18, was in critical but stable condition as of Wednesday afternoon.
He plays football and track at Haverford High School (Havertown, Penn.), according to CBS Philly.
On Tuesday night, he and another male met up with James McCauley, 17, who had two others in the car with him, according to ABC6. Mays got into the back of the car to purchase marijuana. According to the outlet, the arrangement was one ounce for $150.

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A male in the back of the car got violent during the transaction and they began to physically fight, according to ABC6.
Mays was shot in the face with a gun police believe was a stolen. McCauley and the other occupants fled.
Mays was taken to the hospital Tuesday night. McCauley, 17, was arrested as he left his house to go to school Wednesday morning.
McCauley is being tried as an adult. He is charged with criminal attempt to commit homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, firearms without a license, possession of an instrument of crime and receiving stolen property, according to ABC6.
“When you get down to it, talking about an ounce of marijuana and then you end up shooting somebody over that, it’s ridiculous that a person that age should be carrying a gun, a stolen gun for that matter,” Police Chief John Viola said to the Inquirer.

UNC adds another in-state, 2020 4-star recruit in Ray Grier

One of a small handful of four-star wide receiver recruits in the Class of 2020, Ray Grier committed to his in-state Tar Heels on Saturday.
The pledge is a significant one because of the coach who helped bring Grier into the fold: Legendary coach Mack Brown, who is back with the Tar Heels and burning up the recruiting pathways, all while Florida State continues to emplode, rendering the ACC a far more interesting league come 2019 than it has been in years past.
First, the Tar Heels. Grier announced his commitment to North Carolina on Saturday, picking the squad ahead of N.C. State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, among plenty of others.

Grier announced his decision while he was on an unofficial visit to North Carolina, his second since the hiring of Brown. This time it was Grier,
“I feel a lot of the young players in this state want to come to North Carolina and they grow up wanting to come to North Carolina. And it’s our job to make this place special enough that — modern day, right now — that they can see themselves here being successful and that’s why we need fans in the seats,” Brown told 247Sports. “But I think it’s evident with the 2020 kids that they’re all very interested and we’re in on about every prospect in this state.”
Grier is certainly one of the big reasons for South Pointe (Belmont, Mass.) being successful: he finished his junior season in Providence with 27 catches for 541 yards and seven touchdowns, not to mention three scoring punt returns and one touchdown on the ground.
Now he’s planning to be successful for the Tar Heels.

Meet Michigan's top high school football recruits for 2020

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National Signing Day has come and gone (both of them) and coaches have already turned their attention toward the Class of 2020.
When it comes to the best prospects in Michigan, many have not verbally chosen their college destinations yet. The highest ranked committed recruit in the state is Belleville’s Andre Seldon, who has verbally committed to Michigan. 
Here are the top 10 recruits in the state in the class of 2020, ranked per the 247Sports composite:
Warren De La Salle’s Brett Stanley is tackled by Oak Park’s Justin Rogers on Friday, November 2, 2018 at Oak Park High School in Oak Park, Mich. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Justin Rogers, Oak Park
Vitals: 6-3, 311
247 composite ranking: 5-stars; No. 1 in state; No. 14 nationally; No. 1 OG
Offers: 42 total, including Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU.
Enzo Jennings, Oak Park
Vitals: 6-1, 185
247 composite ranking: 4-stars; No. 2 in state; No. 95 nationally; No. 7 ATH
Offers: 18 total, including Michigan, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Penn State and Tennessee.
More: 4-star Enzo Jennings on Michigan-Michigan State: You could feel the hatred
Rashawn Williams, Detroit King
Vitals: 6-1, 185
247 composite ranking: 4-stars; No. 3 in state; No. 156 nationally; No. 29 WR
Offers: 26 total, including Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri and Ohio State.
West Bloomfield safety Makari Paige returns an interception against Clarkston. The junior has a 4-star rating and has received over a dozen scholarship offers. (Photo: Wright Wilson/For the Detroit Free Press)
Makari Paige, West Bloomfield
Vitals: 6-3, 182
247 composite ranking: 4-stars; No. 4 in state; No. 200 nationally; No. 11 S
Offers: 16 total, including Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.
Andre Seldon, Belleville
Vitals: 5-9, 154
247 composite ranking: 4-stars; No. 5 in state; No. 285 nationally; No. 24 CB
Offers: Received 8; Committed to Michigan in June, 2018.
More: Michigan football commit Andre Seldon helping recruit the class of 2020
Braiden McGregor, Port Huron Northern
Vitals: 6-5, 248
247 composite ranking: 4-stars; No. 6 in state; No. 323 nationally; No. 18 SDE
Offers: 23 total, including Michigan, Michigan State Notre Dame, Alabama and Clemson.
More: Port Huron Northern’s Braiden McGregor ‘shocked’ by Alabama offer
Detroit King’s Peny Boone is tackled by Muskegon’s Ray Williams, during the Division football state title at Ford Field on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press)
Peny Boone, Detroit King
Vitals: 6-2, 225
247 composite ranking: 4-stars; No. 7 in state; No. 339 nationally; No. 29 RB
Offers: 20 total, including Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee.
Bryce Mostella, East Kentwood
Vitals: 6-6, 235
247 composite ranking: 4-stars; No. 8 in state; No. 343 nationally; No. 14 WDE
Offers: 19 total, including Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State.
Earnest Sanders, Flint Beecher
Vitals: 6-2, 190
247 composite ranking: 3-stars; No. 9 in state; No. 388 nationally; No. 73 WR
Offers: 8 total including Michigan State, Kentucky, Central Michigan and Bowling Green.
Bryce Austin, Southfield
Vitals: 6-2, 260
247 composite ranking: 3-stars; No. 10 in state; No. 389 nationallty; No. 31 DT
Offers: 14 total, including Michigan State, Missouri, Purdue and Minnesota.

Cody Bellinger among five inducted into Chandler (Ariz.) Sports Hall of Fame

Cody Bellinger, who became a local celebrity at 13 when he led Chandler National in the Little League World Series, was among four former high school athletes inducted into the Chandler Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday at Hamilton.
Bellinger, an outfielder and first baseman, who starred on Hamilton’s baseball team in 2013, was named the National League Rookie of the Year with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 when he hit a National League rookie record 39 home runs.
Cody Bellinger at the Little League World Series in 2007 (Photo: Richard Obert/Arizona Republic)
“He is a great ambassador for Arizona baseball, as well as Hamilton baseball,” said Hamilton coach Mike Woods, who coached Bellinger in high school. “He has given back to our program and is a source of pride for everyone in the Chandler community at large.”

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Others inducted Saturday into the Chandler Sports Hall of Fame were former Chandler High football and track and field standout Dion Jordan, former Chandler Basha baseball player Jamie Westbrook, former Chandler Valley Christian girls basketball coach Scott Timmer and former Valley Christian athlete Ashton Wolf.
Wolf, who graduated in 2011, is a top handball player who graduated from West Point.
Jordan, who was an outside linebacker/defense end at Oregon, was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins.
Dion Jordan was a standout football player at Chandler High.
Westbrook was taken by the Diamondbacks in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft.
Timmer led Valley Christian girls teams to six state finals, capturing three titles, the last coming two years ago, before stepping down.
Special recognition was given to athletic trainers Lance Michael and Troy Hanzal. Michael is a trainer at Hamilton and Hanzal at Valley Christian.

Southern Miss football recruited former HS standout without telling school of past rape allegations

As a senior at Coppell High School (Texas) in 2015, Charles West was accused of raping two women at knifepoint in separate incidents, according to Dallas News.
He was given probation and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after both women “had a hard time testifying in front of her attacker.”
West had been committed to BYU but never enrolled. He attended Garden City Community College instead.
In January, he spoke to Southern Mississippi about joining the Golden Eagles, according to SBNation and The Athletic.
The coaching staff did not notify the school about his background, both outlets reported.

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According to SBNation, West signed grant-in-aid papers and was told by football staff to move to campus.
He was on campus in January looking at housing and expected to begin classes on Jan. 24, the Athletic reported.
Only when his academic eligibility came to question did staff find the Dallas News article about the rape allegations and probation. According to the Athletic, West was then denied admission.
Southern Miss was his only offer, according to 247Sports. West rushed for 1,492 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games in 2018.
The Athletic reported that West isn’t the only person with connections to sexual assault that Southern Miss has spoken to recently without notifying university staff beforehand.
The outlet said Jay Hopson and staff recently interviewed Art Briles, the former Baylor head coach who oversaw the team in which 31 different players were accused of at least 52 sexual assaults over a five-year period, according to a 2017 lawsuit.

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Arizona HS football coach arrested on suspicion of luring a minor for sex

Mountain Ridge High School (Glendale, Ariz.) football coach Vince Ciliberti was arrested in Mesa Friday on suspicion of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.
Ciliberti was arrested in Mesa on suspicion of one count of luring a minor for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual contact with a minor, according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents.
Vincent Ciliberti (Photo: Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)
Records indicate Ciliberti was communicating with an undercover police officer at the time of his arrest. Ciliberti reportedly thought the officer was a 14-year-old boy and stated through instant messaging he wanted to have a sexual relationship with the boy, records said.
Police then apprehended Ciliberti at a Mesa location where he had agreed to meet the minor for sex, records said.
Ciliberti was released on his own recognizance and ordered to appear for a hearing on Feb. 14.
The Deer Valley Unified School District confirmed Ciliberti’s arrest in an email to The Arizona Republic.
Ciliberti, 35, a math teacher, led the football team the last two seasons. He was placed on paid administrative leave by the school district, according to Monica Allread, spokeswoman for the the district.

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Allread sent The Republic a copy of the letter that was sent to the parents and guardians of football players on Sunday, addressing Ciliberti’s arrest. She said that was all the information the district was able to share.
The letter states:

Dear Mountain Ridge Parents and Guardians,
There is some information that we feel is important to share with you to maintain transparent communication as we work together to ensure a safe and secure school community. The Deer Valley Unified School District was notified by the Tempe Police Department that MRHS teacher Vincent Ciliberti has been arrested. He has worked and coached football at MRHS for one and a half years. Pending further information, Mountain Ridge Administration and DVUSD Human Resources staff will ensure that all teaching and coaching duties are covered by properly certified staff. The Police investigation is ongoing, and we are cooperating fully with investigators. DVUSD Human Resources is following all legal procedures during this investigation. This staff member passed all of the required background checks during the hiring process including the fingerprint clearance check. We do not have any additional information at this time. If you have any information that would be important for police to know, please contact the Tempe Police Department directly. If we learn of information that will further impact our school or your student’s education, we will send out another letter.

Ciliberti was hired in 2016 to replace Bobby Green as head football coach at Mountain Ridge. He was previously the offensive coordinator at Pinnacle (Phoenix), where he had been part of Dana Zupke’s program since 2003.
Ciliberti’s two Mountain Ridge teams went 2-8 in 2017 and 0-10 in 2018.
Reporter Perry Vandell contributed to this report. 

What times will seven players announce on ESPN on National Signing Day?

Seven uncommitted athletes, including five in ESPN’s Top 300, will announce their college decision live on ESPN channels on National Signing Day.
National Signing Day coverage will begin on ESPN2 at noon on Wednesday before shifting to ESPNU at 3 p.m. It will return to ESPN2 at 4 p.m. for College Football Live.
MORE: Top storylines heading into signing day
Here are the time slots at which players will be announcing:


Noon hour, ESPN2
Jerrion Ealy
Jackson Prep (Miss.)
Alabama, Clemson, Miss. State, Ole Miss

1 p.m. hour, ESPN2
Kaiir Elam
The Benjamin School (North Palm Beach, Fla.)
Colorado, Florida Georgia, Miami

1 p.m. hour, ESPN2
Ishmael Sophser
Amrite (La.)
Alabama, LSU, Oregon

1 p.m. hour, ESPN2
Devonta Lee
Amrite (La.)
Kentucky, LSU

3 p.m. hour, ESPNU
Henry To’oto’o
De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Alabama, Tennessee, Utah, USC, Washington

3 p.m. hour, ESPNU
Isaiah Foskey
De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Cal, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Washington

4 p.m. hour, ESPN2
Darnell Wright
Huntington (W.Va.)
Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia

DT Ishmael Sopsher and OT Darnell Wright are in the Chosen 25, while RB Jerrion Ealy is a five-star on ESPN and 247Sports after winning the Under Armour Game MVP award.
ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill and college football analyst Jim Mora will anchor the show. Guest appearances will include recruiting analyst Tom VanHaaren, college football analyst Trevor Matich and recently-retired Miami head coach Mark Richt.

Amauri Pesek-Hickson not signing with Michigan football; prep school offered

A Michigan football commitment who has verbally been part of Jim Harbaugh’s 2019 recruiting class won’t be signing with the Wolverines on Wednesday as originally planned because of recently altered circumstances.
Amauri Pesek-Hickson, a 3-star athlete from Leawood, Kansas, publicly committed to Michigan back in November and had plans to sign this week on National Signing Day.
He’s now pumping the brakes on that decision after Harbaugh’s request, made in-person last week, that he attend prep school for a year before joining the Wolverines in 2020.

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“Because of the scholarship situation, Amauri right now is the odd man out (for 2019). He’s in, but he’s out. What that means is that he basically, to come to Michigan – and this was a conversation we had face-to-face (Wednesday) at Amauri’s basketball game with Coach Harbaugh – was that he wants to use the remaining scholarships for a grad transfer,” Pesek-Hickson’s father, Shermaine Hickson, told the Free Press.
“He wants a defensive lineman, I don’t think that’s a secret. So, instead of Amauri getting a scholarship for 2019, Michigan’s plan is to (for him to) go to prep school for a semester and then reclassify in 2020 and join Michigan for the class of 2020.
Leawood (Kan.) Blue Valley North’s Amauri Pesek-Hickson (Photo: Blue Valley North High School)
“We’re trying to feel this all out and make the most logical decision at the end.”
U-M originally offered Pesek-Hickson in late October and the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder committed to the Wolverines on Nov. 17.
At the time of his pledge, Michigan put a plan in place for Pesek-Hickson – who has scored a 30 on the ACT – to bring his grade-point average up during his fall semester at Blue Valley North to make sure there was no doubt about whether or not he’d be eligible to get into U-M academically.
Pesek-Hickson was under the impression from Michigan that prep school would only be an option if his academic situation wasn’t good enough, his father said.
His overall high school grade-point average was at 2.69 when the fall semester ended, according to his father, and his ACT score is at 30. Pesek-Hickson told Rivals his fall GPA was 3.1. Per U-M admissions, the average ACT score of a student entering Michigan in 2018 was between 31 and 34. Pesek-Hickson is also working on a 4.0 grade-point average during his winter semester at Blue Valley, his father said.
“Amauri had been in contact with (Michigan director of recruiting Matt Dudek after his fall grades came in) and he told Amauri he was good to go for February,” Shermaine Hickson said. “Once his grades came back and Michigan got his grades, Dudek was like ‘he’s good to go.’”
Shermaine Hickson said the next time the family heard from Harbaugh was the day after the NFL draft’s early entry deadline on Jan. 14.
U-M lost four early entrants (Rashan Gary, Devin Bush Jr., David Long, Zach Gentry), but three other (Ben Bredeson, Lavert Hill, Shea Patterson) returned to school for their final year of eligibility. The family had been paying attention to Michigan’s scholarship numbers for weeks, so the timing of the call wasn’t all that surprising.
“We were trying to make sure we were still good. Then right after the (NFL draft early entry deadline), Amauri told us we were going to get a phone call from coach who was going to tell us about the prep school option. So we were kind of prepared for it, but he was kind of hinting around, so we kind of had to let him know ‘hey, we know, we’re watching and paying attention’ not just to Michigan but to other schools because we can kind of read the tea leaves,” Shermaine Hickson said. “We wanted clarity if it was an academic issue or a numbers issue. Because if it was a numbers issue they should’ve told us this in early January. Don’t wait until after the draft deadline and then tell us, because by then most of the schools are out of the picture. Once Michigan sent that offer, all the schools were like ‘we’re out.’
“No one else was recruiting Amauri, everyone dropped out. Iowa State, K-State, Mizzou, Oklahoma – they were all like ‘we’re out, go to Michigan.’”
Last week at Pesek-Hickson’s basketball game, Shermaine Hickson said Harbaugh called a prep school coach and handed him the phone in an effort to get him to commit to that option.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh looks on during warm ups before the Peach Bowl against Florida on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Atlanta. (Photo: Joe Robbins, Getty Images)
The family hasn’t ruled out the prep school option, but is now looking at other spots.
Pesek-Hickson visited Kansas over the weekend and hopes to have a visit with Kansas State finalized soon. His father said he plans to have the entire situation resolved by the end of the month.
“Amauri only thought prep school was an option if he couldn’t get in from a GPA standpoint at Michigan. When you get a 30 on your ACT, you’re pretty much going to school somewhere. Let’s not act like that’s nothing,” Shermaine Hickson said. “But the GPA thing for Michigan, as they made it, was that he had to get his GPA up. We understood that.
“But he did his part in the (fall semester). So we kind of felt internally, you should’ve told us about the number situation in early January and what your plans were. If he wanted a defensive lineman, we would’ve understood that.”
Michigan has not immediately responded to a request for comment for this story.
Contact Nick Baumgardner at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickbaumgardner. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.