Orangeyes Daily Articles for Tuesday - for Football |

Orangeyes Daily Articles for Tuesday for Football


No recent Cali or Iggy awards; Mr Irrelevant
Aug 15, 2011

Welcome to National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day!

There are over 900,000 law enforcement officers in the United States, and they are honored on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (L.E.A.D.), being shown that the community recognizes the difficulty of their job and supports them as they provide a public service. The day is dedicated to all members of law enforcement, but the focus is on police and similar state and local agencies. It was started by Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S), which partners with organizations across the country to make the day happen.

First observed in 2015, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day came about in the wake of the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri, officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown, at a time when there was much scrutinization of police officers and concerns about police brutality. Observants of the day spend it thanking police officers, wearing blue, and turning on blue lights at their homes.

SU News

Syracuse football adds bulk on defensive line, landing commitment from DT Michael Nwokocha (PS; Carlson)

Syracuse defensive tackle recruit Michael Nwokocha verbally committed to the Orange on Monday, adding more bulk to next year’s defensive line.

Nwokocha is listed at 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds with an offer list that included Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and a number of other prominent programs. He played five games for Tyler (Texas) Junior College last season, making 22 tackles and collecting 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss in five games.

He has two years of college eligibility remaining.

Let’s Work! @Coach_E_Rob @coachfranbrown @CoachNickWill #DART
— Michael Nwokocha (@MichaelKocha1) January 8, 2024

First Class Prospects’ Chase Moss, who identified himself as Nwokocha’s agent, said the final two schools in consideration for Nwokocha were Syracuse and Mississippi State. He said the choice to attend Syracuse was a case of Nwokocha picking a better overall fit over a more lucrative financial offer.

He said Nwokocha has a strong connection with Syracuse head coach Fran Brown and that he expected to be able to start at defensive tackle at Syracuse. The path to a starting job at Mississippi State was more daunting.

Moss said Nwokocha, who grew up in Dallas, Texas, also liked the city atmosphere of Syracuse, as opposed to the rural environment in Starkville, Mississippi.

Since taking over the SU program, Brown has made a notable effort to increase the mass along Syracuse’s offensive and defensive lines. Nwokocha fits that effort nicely.
... (SI; McAllister)

Syracuse football picked up a big commitment on Monday in junior college defensive lineman Michael Nwokocha. The 6-5, 290 pounder picked the Orange over offers from Arizona State, Georgia, Houston, Indiana, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Purdue, TCU, Tennessee and West Virginia.

"Biggest reason is I believe in what the coaching staff is trying to do here," Nwokocha said. "I believe we're going to win a lot next year. Coach E (Elijah Robinson) and coach Nick (Williams), we have really good d-line coaches. That's my biggest reasons for coming to Syracuse."

The highly coveted defensive lineman said his official visit to Syracuse felt like home.

"When I was on my visit, I felt like it was home, honestly," Nwokocha said. "I really did. I talked to my family and my people that were there. I just felt like the coaches and everybody there and the community, it's a great place. It took me a couple days after my visit and I committed because I just felt like it's the right place to be."

With Nwokocha's size and athleticism, he thinks he will fit into the Syracuse defense well.

"They told me they were looking big, athletic d-linemen that can play on the entire line," Nwokocha said. "I know that I fit the bill. I'm a pretty versatile player so I'm happy to be utilized in their system."

Nwokocha will be enrolling this month and participating in spring ball at Syracuse. That gives him extra time to learn the system and get used to being part of the Orange program. He is excited to get started.

"(Fans can expect) a player that can ball," Nwokocha said. "We're going to be in the community, we're going to be helping out. On the field, we're going to be dogs and getting some wins. Championships are the expectation."
... (SI; McAllister)

Class of 2024 junior college defensive tackle Michael Nwokocha has committed to Syracuse. Nwokocha is listed at 6-5, 290 pounds and plays at Tyler Junior College in Texas. He picked Syracuse over offers from Arizona State, Georgia, Houston, Indiana, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Purdue, TCU, Tennessee and West Virginia, among several others. Nwokocha visited Mississippi State after visiting the Orange, but he chose to play at Syracuse. Oregon was also involved down the stretch of his recruitment.

During the 2022 season, Nwokocha record 22 tackles with 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss in five games. In five games this past season, he recorded 10 tackles, two sacks and one tackle for loss. In 10 career games at Tyler, he recorded 32 tackles, 4.5 sacks and five tackles for loss.

Nwokocha was originally a high school recruit out of Lake Highlands High School in Texas as part of the 2020 recruiting class. He signed with Northeastern State before going the junior college route. He has reportedly run a 4.76 laser timed 40, which is really moving for someone of his size.

Under-the-radar Recruit Ibn McDaniels to Visit Syracuse University (; Khan)

High school football sensation, Ibn McDaniels, from Elizabeth High School in New Jersey is set to make an official visit to Syracuse University on January 12th. The Class of 2024 defensive back is an intriguing prospect with the capability to play any position in the secondary and boasts experience as a wide receiver.

McDaniels: The Under-the-radar recruit

Despite being viewed as an under-the-radar recruit, McDaniels’ athletic prowess and football instincts signal he could potentially evolve into a power five caliber recruit. Standing at an imposing 6-3 and weighing 190 pounds, his physical attributes have already caught the attention of many.

Impressive Senior Season

During his senior season, McDaniels recorded impressive statistics, including 34 tackles and three interceptions, one of which resulted in a touchdown. As a wide receiver, he racked up 744 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. His exemplary performance not only earned him recognition but accolades including a spot on the NJFCA North 2 Super 100 All-State Team and First Team All-Conference honors.

Syracuse: The Next Step?

Drawn by McDaniels’ potential, Syracuse’s previous coaching staff extended an offer to the promising recruit. Now, the new coaching staff led by head coach Fran Brown has followed suit. McDaniels has been in consistent communication with multiple members of the Syracuse coaching staff and is using his upcoming campus visit to gauge if Syracuse is the right fit for him.

As of now, Syracuse’s 2024 class has commitments from three defensive backs: Marcellus Barnes, Braheem Long, and TaRon Haile. Only time will tell if McDaniels will decide to join their ranks and become a part of Syracuse’s defensive backfield.

Keeping Up With The 315 1-8-24 (ESPN; radio; The 315)

Brian begins the show reacting to another big commitment for Fran Brown and discussing reports of another potential DB recruit. Then, a couple callers chime in with some thoughts on the NFL and College Football championship game tonight. Lastly, Brian reacts to some interesting comments from Gerry McNamara about the starting lineup on Orange Nation from earlier today.

Syracuse Football Can’t Waste an Easy Schedule (; Aitken)

The offseason hype for Syracuse football hasn’t been this high in a long, long time. With a new fleet of coaches led by Fran Brown, an impressive transfer class headlined by former Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord, and SU’s best high school class in recent memory, Orange fans are rightfully excited. But all that is just a part of the reason for optimism. Syracuse football has an easy schedule next season that’s ripe for the picking.

As of now, there’s still one non-conference opponent that needs to be added. But unless that foe is a national title contender, which it likely won’t be, then SU is in a great spot schedule wise. No Clemson, no Florida State, and no North Carolina. That’s an opportunity that Brown and the Orange can’t waste.

Take a look at this list of games, and keep that in the back of your mind when you’re forming expectations for Syracuse football next year. There are a lot of winnable games, and with an expanded 12-team playoffs next year… well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Gimme Games

Ohio: In an average year, this would be far from a gimme game. The Bobcats are coming off a strong 10-3 year in a good MAC conference, including a dominant 41-21 win over Georgia Southern in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Still, if Syracuse football is the program it thinks it is, then this should be an easy win. In the programs’ lone matchup, SU won 29-9 back in 2021. Expect a bigger win this time around.

Holy Cross: There isn’t much to say here. Holy Cross is an FCS opponent that just lost a great coach in Bob Chesney. This will be a blowout.

30 Minutes in Orange Nation 1-8-24 (ESPN; radio; Orange Nation)

To start the show today, Steve & Paulie talked about the continuous news coming out of Syracuse football. New signees, hires, and more. Next, the guys talked about the excitement surrounding the team and how they can keep it going in a positive direction and took a call from a listener. Finally, Steve & Paulie got into NFL playoff discussions where they took another call from a listener and got into a lengthy Steelers-Bills debate.

(youtube; podcast; Locked on Bulldogs)

Fran Brown is gone to Syracuse... What does that mean for DB recruiting for Georgia Football?

Fran Brown RECRUITING PLAYMAKER for Syracuse | All Day College Football (youtube; podcast; All Day College Football)

Fran Brown RECRUITING PLAYMAKER for Syracuse | All Day College Football

The Juice on the Cuse Podcast: Scanlon ‘loving’ new Syracuse coaching staff (; podcast; The Juice on the Cuse)

Former Syracuse and NFL linebacker Rich Scanlon talks about Fran Brown and the new coaching staff on The Juice on the Cuse Podcast presented by Bleav and Rivals. Hosts Wes Cheng and Matt Dagostino also talk about a new commitment from Marcellus Barnes Jr. with TJO editor-in-chief Brad Bierman.

Episode 464- Syracuse Basketball/Football/News/BC Preview! (; podcast; Cuse Militia)

What's up Cuse Nation?!?! Sorry we are late in getting back! But we are here nonetheless. Tonight we'll discuss some of the class of 2024 that we missed since we've been gone. The loss to Duke. Then we'll let you know what we think about Boston College as they head to the dome this Saturday!

Disloyal Idiots: Fran Brown recruits more 4 star players, football outlook (TNIAAM; podcast; Disloyal Idiots)

The Syracuse Orange news never stops, so we’re here to talk about it!

In this week’s edition of the Podcast, the guys talked about...

  • We’ve got a Bills, Dolphins, and Steelers fan all on the call... fun!
  • Syracuse is adding depth on the line and defensive backs
  • Schedule talk! Who does Syracuse add to their 2024 schedule now that Army has dropped off? Does it mean Notre Dame is suddenly on the schedule?
  • What needs to happen for ‘Cuse to succeed and meet the growing expectations around the program?
  • HOMEFIELD APPAREL (Use Promo Code “NUNES23” for 10% off first purchase)
  • Futbol! Transfers and MLS free agency moves are happening for former Oranges
  • Deep dive into Women’s Basketball with Dom, why the team is so strong this year, and why things are looking strong at the program level.
  • Men’s basketball beat Pitt! They lost to Duke!
The Juice Online - How did Syracuse Football's outgoing transfers do in 2023? (r1vals.,com; Gustin)

As the 2023 college football season wraps up, I took a look at how outgoing transfers from Syracuse did during the season.

With 138 total tackles in his three seasons, Carter was a dominant safety for Syracuse including his 2022 season where he had three interceptions in three straight games.
Carter had a slow start with the Buckeyes this season totaling five tackles through the first five games of the year. In week 7 against Penn State, he suffered a leg injury blocking for a kick return. This ended up keeping him sidelined the rest of the season.
As a senior with one more year of eligibility, Carter remains a backup at Ohio State looking to return to form for his final season.

Lamson appeared to firmly establish himself as Syracuse's top reserve quarterback before he entered the transfer portal in the spring.

The Sacramento native set his sites on playing in the Pac-12 conference he grew up watching. Though Stanford struggled in the 2023 season, Lamson got his chance for more playing time.

The sophomore had 504 passing yards on the year but still seeks his first career touchdown.

Originally from Anderson, South Carolina, Geer is another transfer from the Orange that seeked a destination closer to home. As a sophomore at Syracuse he started every game on the line and looks to get back to this way next year. After a promising sophomore season at Syracuse, Geer was able to transfer into the SEC with South Carolina.

Geer played the last six games for the Gamecocks after an injury kept him out the first three weeks. Totalling ten tackles and one forced fumble on the season, he is looking to make more of an impact in 2024.

Ex-Syracuse football DB Myles Farmer commits to Appalachian State (PS; Leiker)

Former Syracuse football safety Myles Farmer is transferring to Appalachian State, he announced via social media Monday night.

Farmer spent one season with the Orange. He is a second-time transfer, having come to SU from Nebraska last August after being suspended indefinitely by the Cornhuskers in preseason camp.

He has one year of collegiate eligibility remaining.

Farmer worked his way onto the depth chart and appeared in 11 games for the Orange behind captain Justin Barron at rover. He made 20 total tackles and forced one fumble.

During his four-year career at Nebraska, Farmer had 112 tackles, one forced fumble, eight passes defended and four interceptions.

Farmer is originally from Atlanta, Georgia.

Appalachian State finished 9-5 this season. The Mountaineers had the No. 29 passing defense in the country this year.

Twenty SU players have put their name in the transfer portal so far this offseason. Farmer is the sixth to find a new home.

BHS alum Nick Williams hired to Syracuse Football coaching staff - The Post-Searchlight (

Nick Williams, a Bainbridge High School football alumni, has been hired to the Syracuse football coaching staff. Williams joins as the defensive edge coach and will work under defensive coordinator Elijah Robinson and head coach Fran Brown.

“It was a dream of mine to work with Elijah Robinson,” Williams said, per Syracuse Athletics news site “Fran Brown was someone that people compared me to, and I had heard nothing but great things about before I had the chance to meet him. I’m extremely passionate, and joining those two who have the same passion as me was the reason for me coming here. I can’t wait to work with them and learn from them. I would have followed them anywhere in the country if they gave me the opportunity.”

Williams attended Bainbridge High School and graduated in 2008. He played quarterback and linebacker for the Bearcats and threw for 2,428 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career.

He joins Syracuse from a defensive line coaching position at the University of Colorado Boulder. Williams helped land the Buffalos a top-30 recruiting class within just two weeks after being hired prior to the first signing period, according to

ACC News

Friedlander: Top 5 ACC Heisman Trophy hopefuls heading into 2024 - Saturday Road (; Friedlander)

Michael Pennix Jr.’s scintillating Sugar Bowl performance against Texas has sparked a debate over the Heisman Trophy voting process.

Would Jayden Daniels still have won college football’s most prestigious honor if postseason performances had factored into the equation?

Did the balloting close too early?

Opinions differ on both sides of the argument.

But there’s one thing regarding the Heisman about which everyone can agree. It’s never too early to start looking ahead and identifying the top candidates for next year’s award.

FanDuel has already come out with its list of odds, establishing Alabama’s Jalen Milroe and Texas’ Quinn Ewers as co-favorites at +750, with Georgia’s Carson Beck not far behind at +850.

Unlike last year at this time when North Carolina’s Drake Maye and Florida State’s Jordan Travis were prominently mentioned as serious Heisman contenders, there are no ACC players among the top 10 of this year’s early frontrunners.

Cade Klubnick checks in at No. 11 with a +2400 payout that would bring back a hefty return for anyone daring enough to plunk down a wager on the Clemson quarterback.

The good thing about the Heisman or any other college football award is that, whether the voting ends before or after the postseason, the winner is still decided by performance on the field. To that end, you never know who might start generating some buzz once the games begin.

Including these 5 ACC players.

Cade Klubnik, Clemson

Klubnik took his share of heat for the early season struggles that transformed the Tigers from preseason favorite to ACC also-ran by the midway point in the schedule. And some of it was earned. He did have a problem with turnovers, with 5 of his 9 interceptions and all 5 of his lost fumbles coming during his team’s 4-4 start.

But it should be remembered that 2023 was the former 5-star prospect’s 1st season as a starter. And that his receiving corps wasn’t up to Clemson’s traditional standards. It should also be noted that Klubnik improved steadily throughout the season, leading the Tigers to wins in the final 5 games. He finished the year with a bang by engineering a 12-play, 68-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:22 – converting a pair of 3rd-and-long situations along the way – to beat Kentucky in the Gator Bowl.

With a season-opening date against Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Clemson’s schedule, a big performance and a win against the Bulldogs would immediately thrust Klubnik into the conversation as a legitimate Heisman contender.

DJ Uiagalelei, Florida State

After getting run off by Clemson and replaced by Klubnik, Uiagalelei rehabilitated his once highly-rated reputation during his season at Oregon State. He threw for a career-high 2,638 yards while accounting for 27 total touchdowns (21 passing, 6 rushing) and posted a personal best quarterback rating of 145.0.

The interesting thing about Uiagalelei’s career path and the way it’s been perceived is that he threw for a better percentage in 2022 during his final season with the Tigers (62,1%) than he did in 2023 with the Beavers (57.1). And that his touchdown-to-interception ratio for the 2 seasons was almost identical.

But perception is reality.

And the perception is that his experience and playmaking ability make him just the right quarterback to pick up where Travis left off and help the Seminoles into the College Football Playoff in 2024. FanDuel has Uiagalelei as the 2nd-highest rated ACC player behind Klubnik in its early Heisman Odds. He checks in tied for 12th overall with former Duke and current Notre Dame quarterback Riley Leonard at +2500.

Kyron Drones, Virginia Tech

Not since Michael Vick finished 3rd in the Heisman voting as a freshman in 1999 have the Hokies had as dynamic a dual-threat performer at quarterback as Drones. A former 4-star prospect who transferred to Blacksburg from Baylor, Drones took over the starting job 2 games into the season after Grant Wells was injured and immediately energized an offense that ranked near the bottom of the ACC in 2022.

Drones threw for 2,085 yards and 17 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. He also ran for 818 yards and 5 scores while improving Tech’s scoring average by more than a touchdown per game. His game-changing ability was on full display against Tulane in the Military Bowl, when despite playing in monsoon conditions, he ran for 176 yards and threw for a pair of scores in guiding Tech to a convincing 40-21 victory.

Because he’s not nationally known, Drones will start next season at a disadvantage to other contenders. FanDuel has his odds listed at +2100. But with virtually all his supporting cast returning – including leading receiver Jaylin Lane and top rusher Bhayshul Tuten – he has the potential to become a breakout star on a dark-horse ACC contender.

Omarion Hampton, North Carolina

Only 1 running back, Alabama’s Derrick Henry in 2015, has won the Heisman Trophy over the past 13 seasons. But if any running back has a shot at breaking through in 2024, Hampton makes a strong case.

He led the ACC and ranked 5th nationally with 1,501 rushing yards while scoring 15 touchdowns last season. With Maye moving on to the NFL, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s emphasis on the ground game and an offensive line revamped through the transfer portal, there’s a good chance Hampton will be even more productive as a junior next year.

Impressive stats are important to a Heisman campaign. But playing for a nationally relevant team is even more of a prerequisite. That, rather than ability or performance, could end up being the biggest obstacle Hampton – whose +35000 odds are the 2nd-highest among those listed by FanDuel – will face.

KC Concepcion, NC State

This one is a longshot, not only because of the position he plays but because of the team he plays for. He’s such an outlier that his odds aren’t even on the board.

At least not yet.

Concepcion was his team’s only consistent offensive threat during a season in which the Wolfpack endured quarterback issues, a porous line and a nonexistent ground attack. And yet he still managed to catch 71 passes for 839 yards and 10 touchdowns while running for 320 yards and averaging 7.8 yards per carry. He even threw a touchdown pass to help State to a surprise 9-wins season.

With the addition of transfer quarterback Grayson McCall and a full offseason for offensive coordinator Robert Anae to dream up new ways of getting the Freshman All-American receiver the ball and putting him in a position to make plays, Concepcion has the potential for a massive 2024 season.

Best of the rest

Among the other ACC players to make FanDuel’s list of preseason Heisman hopefuls are several transfer quarterbacks – Louisville’s Tyler Shough (from Texas Tech) at +8000, North Carolina’s Max Johnson (from Texas A&M) at +11000, NC State’s McCall (from Coastal Carolina) at +11000, Syracuse’s Kyle McCord (from Ohio State) +21000 and Duke’s Maalik Murphy (from Texas) at +29000. Boston College’s dual-threat quarterback Thomas Castellanos is also mentioned, checking in at +24000.

Three Players Representing the ACC Elected to the 2024 College Football Hall of Fame Class (

The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced the 2024 College Football Hall of Fame Class during ESPN’s “Championship Drive Presented by Allstate” on Monday, Jan. 8, which includes three players representing the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Florida State running back Warrick Dunn, Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers were named to the 2024 class.

“Congratulations to the outstanding 2024 College Football Hall of Fame class which includes Warrick Dunn, Larry Fitzgerald, and Julius Peppers,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, Ph.D. “This is a well-deserved honor for each of these amazing individuals, and we are extremely proud that they are being recognized by the National Football Foundation. We look forward to celebrating them throughout the year and at their induction in December.”

The 19 First-Team All-America players and three standout coaches in the 2024 Class were selected from the national ballot of 78 players and nine coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 101 players and 32 coaches from the divisional ranks.

The 2024 College Football Hall of Fame Class will officially be inducted during the 66th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 10, 2024, at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Florida State University
Running Back, 1993-96

One of the most electrifying players in college football history, Dunn became the first Florida State player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons while leading the Seminoles to the 1993 National Championship. The New Orleans native now becomes the ninth Florida State player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Selected as a First-Team All-American in 1996 by the Football Writers Association of America and a Third-Team selection in 1995 by the Football News, Dunn finished his career as the Seminoles’ all-time leader in career touchdowns scored (49), career all-purpose yards (5,321), career rushing yards (3,959), career rush average (6.9 ypp), career 100-yard games (22), single-season rushing yards (1,242 in 1995) and single-season rush average (7.5 ypp in 1995). During his career in Tallahassee, he rushed 575 times for 3,959 yards and 37 touchdowns, while catching 132 passes for 1,314 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dunn finished fifth in the 1996 Heisman Trophy voting and ninth in 1995.

A three-time First-Team All-ACC selection, he led the league with 8.7 points per game during the 1995 season. He finished his career ranked sixth in ACC history with 3,744 rushing yards. Helping the Noles capture four consecutive ACC crowns, he led the team to a 31-1 conference record during his career and was named a member of the ACC All-Academic Team in 1996.

Playing for Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden, FSU went 43-5-1 during Dunn’s career, never finishing ranked lower than No. 4 nationally. In 1993, the team went 12-1, capping the season with an 18-16 victory over No. 2 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to claim the national title. In 1994, FSU went 10-1-1, finishing the season with a 23-17 win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl and a No. 4 final AP ranking. In 1995, the Noles produced a 10-2 record, including a 31-26 victory over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl and landing at No. 4 in the final AP Poll. During Dunn’s senior season, the Noles went 11-1, appearing in the Sugar Bowl against Florida and finishing at No. 3 in the polls.

A first-round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft (12th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dunn played 12 seasons in the NFL for Tampa Bay (1997-01, 2008) and the Atlanta Falcons (2002-07). He was the 1997 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl three times. He was named the 2004 Walter Payton Man of the Year, the NFL Byron Whizzer White Man of the Year in 2008, and the NFL Bart Starr Award recipient in 2009.

Known for his prolific philanthropic work, Dunn founded Warrick Dunn Charities and the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation. Its flagship program, Homes for the Holidays, has awarded more than $2 million in furnishings and $500,000 in down payment assistance to more than 200 single-parent families. His charitable work earned him the Heisman Humanitarian Award in 2010 and the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in 2022. He also holds a minority stake in the Atlanta Falcons.

Dunn is also a Georgia Sports Hall of Fame inductee. Florida State retired his No. 28.

University of Pittsburgh
Wide Receiver, 2002-03

One of the most dazzling players ever, Fitzgerald produced one of the most decorated careers for a wide receiver in the history of college football, including becoming the first sophomore to win honors as the Walter Camp Player of the Year. The Minneapolis, Minnesota, native now becomes the 20th Pitt player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

A 2003 unanimous First-Team All-American and the Heisman Trophy runner-up, Fitzgerald was virtually unstoppable in 2003 during his sophomore campaign, compiling 92 catches for 1,672 yards (18.2 avg.) and 22 touchdowns. Facing double and even triple coverage each week, Fitzgerald led the nation in receiving yards per game (128.62 avg.) and touchdown catches. His performance in 2003 also earned him the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver. He also became the first-ever sophomore to win the Walter Camp Player of the Year award. The 2003 Big East Offensive Player of the Year and the 2002 Big East Rookie of the Year, Fitzgerald was a two-time unanimous First-Team All-Big East selection.

Despite only playing two seasons with the Panthers, Fitzgerald totaled 161 catches for 2,677 yards (16.6 avg.) and a Pitt-record 34 touchdowns. He caught a touchdown in 18 consecutive games to set an NCAA record. He also owns the NCAA record for touchdowns as a freshman and sophomore (34); the single-season receiving yards by a sophomore (1,672); and is tied for the most games catching a touchdown in a single season (12). In total, Fitzgerald set or tied four NCAA marks, eight Big East records, and 11 Pitt marks.

The team went 17-9 during his two years with the Panthers, including a win in the 2002 Insight Bowl to pick up a final No. 18 ranking and an appearance in the 2003 Continental Tire Bowl.

The third overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft, Fitzgerald spent his entire 17-year pro career with the Arizona Cardinals (2004-20). An 11-time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL 100 All-Time Team, he ranks second in NFL history in receiving yards (17,492) and receptions (1,432). Following the 2016 season, Fitzgerald was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

Fitzgerald has done extensive philanthropic work, both in the United States and globally. Through his two foundations -- the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund and the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund -- he has helped thousands by providing funds for kids and families in crisis. To honor his late mother, Carol, he has been heavily involved in furthering breast cancer awareness and research.

Fitzgerald's No. 1 was officially retired by Pitt in 2013. He currently works as an analyst for ESPN. He also holds a minority stake in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

University of North Carolina
Defensive End, 1999-2001

A menace in the backfield with explosive speed, Peppers ranks among the greatest defenders to ever play the game. The Wilson, North Carolina, native now becomes the seventh Tar Heel player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

A unanimous First-Team All-American in 2001 and a Second-Team All-American in 2000, Peppers won both the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player and the Lombardi Award as the nation’s top lineman in 2001, making him the first Tar Heel defensive player to ever win a national college football award. He was named the 2001 Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year, finished 10th in the 2001 Heisman Trophy voting, and was a 2001 finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top defender.

In 2000, he led the nation with 15.0 sacks and established a school record with 24.0 tackles-for-loss. The following year, Peppers led a defense that finished first in the ACC and 15th in the nation in total defense while guiding UNC to a 16-10 victory over Auburn in the 2001 Peach Bowl.

A two-time First-Team All-ACC selection, he led the conference in tackles-for-loss (24.0) and sacks (15.0) in 2000, while his 30.5 career sacks rank eighth and his 53.0 tackles-for-loss rank 15th in ACC annals despite only playing three seasons. He holds the Heels’ single-game sack record with four, and he led the team with three interceptions in 2001. His 53.0 career tackles-for-loss and 30.5 career sacks rank him second all-time at UNC. He boasts two of the top 10 single-season sack performances, ranking second with 15.0 in 2000 and eighth with 9.5 in 2001.

His career totals also included 177 total tackles, five interceptions, two interceptions returned for touchdowns, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one fumble returned for a touchdown.

One of the top two-sport athletes in ACC history as a walk-on forward on Carolina’s basketball team, Peppers averaged 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds to help the Tar Heels claim a share of the 2001 regular-season ACC championship.

The second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, Peppers played 17 seasons in the NFL with the Panthers, Bears, and Packers. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002. He was also a four-time First-Team All-Pro, three-time Second-Team All-Pro, and a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

Currently residing in Coral Gables, Florida, Peppers is a special assistant to the Carolina Panthers. He donated $350,000 to the UNC Alumni Association scholarship fund and was the Carolina Panthers’ 2018 NFL Man of the Year nominee. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2021 and was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2003.


  • Justin Blackmon – WR, Oklahoma State (2009-11)
  • Paul Cameron – TB, UCLA (1951-53)
  • Tim Couch – QB, Kentucky (1996-98)
  • Warrick Dunn – RB, Florida State (1993-96)
  • Armanti Edwards – QB, Appalachian State (2006-09)
  • Deon Figures – CB, Colorado (1988, 1990-92)
  • Larry Fitzgerald – WR, Pittsburgh (2002-03)
  • Toby Gerhart – RB, Stanford (2006-09)
  • Dan Hampton – DT, Arkansas (1975-78)
  • Steve Hutchinson – OG, Michigan (1997-2000)
  • Antonio Langham – CB, Alabama (1990-93)
  • Randy Moss – WR, Marshall (1996-97)
  • Julius Peppers – DE, North Carolina (1999-2001)
  • Paul Posluszny – LB, Penn State (2003-06)
  • Dewey Selmon – NG, Oklahoma (1972-75)
  • Alex Smith – QB, Utah (2002-04)
  • Kevin Smith – CB, Texas A&M (1988-91)
  • Chris Ward – OT, Ohio State (1974-77)
  • Danny Woodhead – RB, Chadron State [NE] (2004-07)
  • Mark Dantonio – 132-74-0 (64.1%): Cincinnati (2004-06), Michigan State (2007-19)
  • Danny Hale – 213-69-1 (75.4%): West Chester [PA] (1984-88), Bloomsburg [PA] (1993-2012
  • Frank Solich – 173-101-0: Nebraska (1998-2003), Ohio (2005-2020)
2024 National Championship (RX; HM)

2024 National Championship

First, congratulations to the Michigan Wolverinesfor winning the CFP Championship - their first national title since 1997 (27 years ago). They had a runner at halftime who was averaging 31 yards per carry! How do you even do that? And the Michigan defense harrassed Washington QB Michael Penix so much that he appeared to be hearing footsteps even when he had time to throw...

Anyway, if there was an ACC team in the game I would write a lot more about it, but since there wasn't I'll just say congratulations to the Wolverines for a great season!


Should SMU get a Full CFP Share? (RX; HM)

Should SMU get a Full CFP Share?

Today the CFP met to discuss things like whether to break the new 12-team expanded playoff into 5 auto-bids and 7 at-large, or leave it at 6 and 6. They failed to reach a decision on that, so it should come as no surprise that they also couldn't reach a decision on the other big item on the agenda: whether to grant SMU a "P5" share starting next year (worth an estimated $6 million), or leave them at the G5 rate (about $1 million).

This controversy gave rise to a lively debate on, which I have sampled here:

From: Dellenger: CFP denying SMU P5 payout & potential blocking future G5 to P5 payouts

A Texas fan who goes by "bullet" wrote:

Its a bad look. Sankey looks really greedy and chincy. We're talking about less than a 100k impact on the other schools*. And they all will be doubling or tripling the CFP revenue
And SMU had good reason to believe they would get it, so they might well sue, which makes the CFP look bad.

* I estimate about $88k - Hokie Mark
That prompted a Texas A&M fan who goes by "bryanw1995" to reply:

The only bad look here is the naked money grab by the ACC. I don't blame the CFP Committee at all for refusing to help fund it.
Which kinda got my goat, so I replied:

As opposed to the money grabs by the SEC, Big Ten, and Big XII?
Look, I have no problem in just leaving it the way it was -- each conference can just continue to get the same payout it got before expansion; if that means you have to divide it more ways, so be it. Nobody forced the SEC to add 2 teams or the Big Ten to add 4 or the Big XII to go from 10 teams to 16. Of course, that would be a windfall for the Pac-2, but if that means "refusing to help fund" expansion, so be it!
Otherwise, get out of here with this mess about judging the ACC by a different standard. It's all just an attempt to justify greed!

College football's Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2024: Reloaded Georgia back on top (ESPN; Schlabach)

The curtain fell on the four-team College Football Playoff in Houston on Monday night, and it more than delivered in its last season with two nail-biting semifinals that weren't decided until the final play and enough controversy to make even Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh raise an eyebrow.

The 2024 season will arrive with a seismic shift that includes even more conference realignment and a bigger (and supposedly better) 12-team CFP format. That will surely make everyone in Florida happy, right?

As we bid adieu to college football's familiar landscape and embark on an even more uncertain future, let's take a sneak peek at the inaugural edition of the 2024 Way-Too-Early Top 25:

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2023 record: 13-1, 8-0 SEC

Expected key losses: TE Brock Bowers, OT Amarius Mims, WR Ladd McConkey, C Sedrick Van Pran, LB Jamon Dumas-Johnson, RB Daijun Edwards, S Tykee Smith, CB Kamari Lassiter, S Javon Bullard

Expected key additions: RB Trevor Etienne, WR London Humphreys, DL Xzavier McLeod, S K.J. Bolden, CB Ellis Robinson IV, LB Justin Williams, TE Jaden Reddell

2024 outlook: After narrowly missing out on the College Football Playoff for the third straight season, the Bulldogs reloaded with another No. 1-ranked recruiting class and blasted Florida State 63-3 in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Georgia has won 30 of its past 31 games and 46 of 48. The winning might not slow down with starting quarterback Carson Beck opting to return for his senior season. His experience will be invaluable during a 2024 schedule that kicks off with a high-stakes opener against Clemson in Atlanta. Georgia's demanding slate includes SEC road games at Kentucky, Alabama, Texas and Ole Miss. Replacing Bowers and McConkey presents a challenge, but the Bulldogs have stockpiled tight ends and receivers. Adding Etienne, who ran for 1,472 yards with 14 touchdowns at Florida the past two seasons combined, was important with Edwards and Kendall Milton departing. Developing depth in the interior defensive line and in the secondary will be a priority in the spring.

2. Texas Longhorns

2023 record: 12-2, 8-1 Big 12

Expected key losses: WR Adonai Mitchell, WR Xavier Worthy, RB Jonathon Brooks, TE Ja'Tavion Sanders, OT Christian Jones, DT T'Vondre Sweat, NT Byron Murphy II

Expected key additions: WR Matthew Golden, S Andrew Mukuba, WR Ryan Wingo, DE Colin Simmons, RB Jerrick Gibson, CB Kobe Black, S Xavier Filsaime

2024 outlook: The Longhorns are back. Texas turned the corner under coach Steve Sarkisian in 2023, winning the Big 12 in its last season in the league and reaching the CFP for the first time. The Longhorns could return as many as four starting offensive linemen, reinforcing the team's strength up front. The task of identifying capable replacements for key players like Sweat and Murphy on the defensive line takes center stage in the spring. Quarterback Quinn Ewers has a decision to make regarding the NFL draft. If he returns, Ewers will have to find new go-to targets with Mitchell, Worthy and Sanders all expected leaving for the NFL. The Longhorns play at Michigan on Sept. 7 and face Oklahoma in Dallas and Georgia at home in consecutive weeks in October, before closing the regular season at Texas A&M on Nov. 30. Welcome to the SEC.

3. Oregon Ducks

2023 record: 12-2, 8-1 Pac-12

Expected key losses: QB Bo Nix, RB Bucky Irving, WR Troy Franklin, C Jackson Powers-Johnson, G Steven Jones, CB Khyree Jackson, S Steve Stephens IV, S Evan Williams

Expected key additions: QB Dillon Gabriel, QB Dante Moore, RB Jay Harris, S Kobe Savage, OT Matthew Bedford, OT JacQawn McRoy, DE Elijah Rushing, DT Aydin Breland

2024 outlook: Oregon's Dan Lanning has done a commendable job in his first two seasons as a head coach, guiding the Ducks to a 21-5 record and signing ESPN's No. 3-ranked recruiting class in 2024. But three of Oregon's five losses under Lanning came against rival Washington, and with both programs transitioning to the Big Ten, Lanning and his staff have to figure out how to get over that particular hump. Adding Gabriel, who threw for 3,660 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions at Oklahoma in 2023, was big after losing Nix. UCLA transfer Moore, the No. 2 pocket passer in the 2023 ESPN 300, might be Oregon's quarterback of the future. Savage, who had 115 tackles and six interceptions at Kansas State the past two seasons, will help offset the loss of three starters in the secondary. Oregon plays at Michigan on Nov. 2 and gets Ohio State and Washington at home.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

2023 record: 12-2, 8-0 SEC West

Expected key losses: LB Dallas Turner, OT JC Latham, C Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB Terrion Arnold, LB Chris Braswell, DL Justin Eboigbe, WR Jermaine Burton, K Will Reichard

Expected key additions: DL LT Overton, CB Domani Jackson, QB Julian Sayin, CB Jaylen Mbakwe, WR Ryan Williams, LB Cayden Jones, RB Kevin Riley, TE Caleb Odom

2024 outlook: Just when it seemed the Alabama dynasty might be fading, Nick Saban pulled off one of his better coaching jobs and guided the Crimson Tide to another SEC championship and CFP appearance. Quarterback Jalen Milroe, benched in the third game of the season, became one of the better dual-threat passers by season's end. He needs to continue to develop as a decision-maker. The offensive line, to which guards Tyler Booker and Jaeden Roberts and left tackle Kadyn Proctor are expected to return, remains a liability at times. There's a lot of firepower expected to depart on defense, especially Turner, Braswell and Eboigbe. The transfer portal additions of Overton (Texas A&M) and Jackson (USC) might help fill some of those holes. Alabama plays road games at Wisconsin, Tennessee, LSU and Oklahoma in 2024. A Sept. 28 home game against Georgia will loom large.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes

2023 record: 11-2, 8-1 Big Ten

Expected key losses: QB Kyle McCord, DT Michael Hall Jr., WR Marvin Harrison Jr., LB Steele Chambers

Expected key additions: QB Will Howard, WR Jeremiah Smith, QB Air Noland, CB Bryce West, DE Eddrick Houston, WR Mylan Graham, CB Aaron Scott

2024 outlook: Ryan Day has done solid work as Ohio State's coach since taking over for Urban Meyer in 2019. The Buckeyes are 53-8 the past five seasons, winning two Big Ten titles and reaching the CFP three times. But after a third consecutive defeat to rival Michigan, followed by a listless 14-3 loss to Missouri in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the pressure is building. McCord transferred to Syracuse, and Day went into the portal to land former Kansas State starting quarterback Howard, who threw for 48 touchdowns and 5,786 yards over four seasons with the Wildcats. Noland, from Fairburn, Georgia, was the No. 2 pocket passer in the 2024 ESPN 300. Improving the offensive line is also a priority. Ohio State's schedule in 2024 includes home games against Iowa and Michigan and road contests at Oregon and Penn State.

6. Michigan Wolverines

2023 record: 15-0, 9-0 Big Ten

Expected key losses: QB J.J. McCarthy, RB Blake Corum, RB Donovan Edwards, OT LaDarius Henderson, G Trevor Keegan, G Zak Zinter, C Drake Nugent, WR Roman Wilson, LB Michael Barrett, CB Mike Sainristil

Expected key additions: QB Jadyn Davis, LB Jaishawn Barham, TE Brady Prieskorn, LB Jaden Smith, RB Jordan Marshall

2024 outlook: After returning to the CFP for the third straight year, there will be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Michigan program heading into the offseason. Will coach Jim Harbaugh sign a contract extension at his alma mater or jump back to the NFL? The Wolverines have already received a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding alleged recruiting violations and there's a separate NCAA investigation into the program's alleged sign stealing. Harbaugh might face another suspension in 2024 if he returns. On the field, the Wolverines are going to lose a boatload of talent, especially if McCarthy and Edwards leave for the NFL draft. The offensive line will have to be rebuilt and key pieces will also have to be replaced on defense. The Wolverines play one of the most difficult schedules in the FBS next season with home games against Texas, USC and Oregon and road games at Washington and Ohio State.

Athlon's Way Too Early 2024 Ranking 2024 Jan 8 (RX; HM)

Athlon's Way Too Early 2024 Ranking 2024 Jan 8

From Athlon Sports:

College Football's Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2024

10. Notre Dame

New additions to the coaching staff and from the transfer portal should help the Fighting Irish contend for a CFB Playoff spot in '24. Coach Marcus Freeman's ability to land Mike Denbrock as offensive coordinator from LSU was a big-time move, especially as the team looks to break in another transfer (Riley Leonard from Duke) at quarterback to go with a revamped receiving corps. Replacing standout tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher won't be easy. A defense that limited opponents to 15.9 points a contest won the offseason thanks to the return of safety Xavier Watts and lineman Howard Cross III for another year.

13. Clemson

With Florida State losing a big chunk of talent from the ACC Championship team from '23, coach Dabo Swinney's Tigers are likely to open '24 as the favorite to win the conference. After averaging only 23.6 points a contest in ACC play, Swinney hopes another offseason for quarterback Cade Klubnik under coordinator Garrett Riley will help to elevate the entire production of this group. Helping to ease the pressure on a developing offense is another standout defense in Death Valley. Linemen Peter Woods and TJ Parker and linebackers Wade Woodaz and Barrett Carter headline the top returners next season.

17. Florida State

2024 is likely to be a rebuilding year for coach Mike Norvell, but the 'Noles aren't going to completely disappear from the ACC Championship or CFB Playoff race. Landing Oregon State and Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei to start at quarterback was a good bridge option to the team's younger signal-callers. A couple of portal additions are needed to restock depth at running back and receiver, but the 'Noles should have one of the better lines in the ACC next fall. Patrick Payton, Darrell Jackson, and Joshua Farmer headline the list of key players returning in the trenches, while coordinator Adam Fuller has work to do to restock at linebacker and in the secondary.

23. Louisville

A favorable schedule and the arrival of new coach Jeff Brohm helped to propel Louisville to its first appearance in the ACC Championship and the program's first double-digit win season since '13. The Cardinals have one of the top portal hauls in the nation joining in time for '24, which includes quarterback Tyler Shough (Texas Tech), receivers Ja'Corey Brooks (Alabama) and Caullin Lacy (South Alabama), and running back Don Chaney (Miami). The defense allowed only 21.3 points a game last year and will return standout lineman Ashton Gillotte (14.5 TFL) after he passed on the NFL Draft to return to Louisville.

25. NC State

Coach Dave Doeren has been a model of consistency in Raleigh with six seasons of eight or nine victories over the last nine years. Replacing the production and leadership of linebacker Payton Wilson isn't going to be easy. However, the Wolfpack landed one of the top quarterbacks in the portal (Grayson McCall) and return rising star receiver Kevin Concepcion after a standout freshman season.

26. Miami

If the 'Canes can find a quarterback to work behind a standout offensive line, then coach Mario Cristobal's team should be able to push for a finish in the top 25. Receiver Xavier Restrepo opted to return instead of declare for the NFL Draft, and the defense is anchored by rising star end Rueben Bain and linebacker Francisco Mauigoa.

28. Virginia Tech

The Hokies surged at the end of the '23 season with a 5-2 mark over their final seven games. With nearly everyone back and an offseason to develop around quarterback Kyron Drones, coach Brent Pry's squad should get preseason top 25 consideration.

29. SMU

The schedule is tougher with the Mustangs on the move from the American to the ACC. However, coach Rhett Lashlee's squad should be in the mix for a top-25 finish, especially with quarterback Preston Stone returning to full strength after suffering from a season-ending leg injury late in the '23 campaign.

That's 7.5 teams in the Top 25 30!

Actually, it's 4.5 in the Top 25, 3 more in the next 5... not bad!


Hochul wants $50 million to fight child poverty in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo (PS; Weiner)

Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to fight child poverty in Syracuse – among the worst in the nation – as part of a $50 million pilot program aimed at tackling the problem in New York’s three largest Upstate cities.

Hochul would target the poorest pockets of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, focusing on neighborhoods in each city where about three out of four children live in poverty.

The governor plans to unveil her anti-poverty plan at 1 p.m. today as part of her 2024 State of the State address at the state Capitol in Albany.

Hochul will propose including the $50 million in her executive budget for the 2025 fiscal year, a spokesman told | The Post-Standard.

Under the plan, the governor would work with the cities to come up with innovative ideas and determine how the money should be spent.

Hochul wants to target nine ZIP codes in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo that have the highest childhood poverty rates in the state.

“For decades, Upstate New York has been left out and forgotten,” Hochul said in a statement. “As the first governor from Upstate in nearly a century, I’m committed to change that. Our new $50 million anti-poverty initiative will target the communities who need it most and lift up neighborhoods in every corner of the state.”

If the initiative is successful, Hochul would look to use some of the ideas to fight child poverty statewide, her spokesman said.

The governor chose to focus on Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo because each ranks among the 10 cities in the United States with the highest rates of child poverty.

Moon landing attempt by US company appears doomed after ‘critical’ fuel leak (PS; AP)

The first U.S. moon landing attempt in more than 50 years appeared to be doomed after a private company’s spacecraft developed a “critical” fuel leak just hours after Monday’s launch.

Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology managed to orient its lander toward the sun so the solar panel could collect sunlight and charge its battery, as a special team assessed the status of what was termed “a failure in the propulsion system.”

It soon became apparent, however, that there was “a critical loss of fuel,” further dimming hope for what had been a planned moon landing on Feb. 23.

Late Monday, the company said the leak was continuing and estimated that the lander would start losing solar power in about 40 hours.

The trouble was reported about seven hours after Monday’s predawn liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket provided the lift for Astrobotic’s lander, named Peregrine, putting it on a long, roundabout path to the moon.

A propulsion system problem “threatens the ability of the spacecraft to soft land on the moon,” the company said. The lander is equipped with engines and thrusters for maneuvering, not only during the cruise to the moon but for lunar descent.

Astrobotic released a photo from a lander-mounted camera, which the company said showed a “disturbance” in a section of thermal insulation. That aligns with what is known so far of the problem, the company said.

Astrobotic was aiming to be the first private business to successfully land on the moon, something only four countries have accomplished. A second lander from a Houston company is due to launch next month. NASA gave the two companies millions to build and fly their own lunar landers.

The space agency wants the privately owned landers to scope out the place before astronauts arrive while delivering tech and science experiments for the space agency, other countries and universities as well as odds and ends for other customers. Astrobotic’s contract with NASA for the Peregrine lander was $108 million and it has more in the pipeline.

Before the flight, NASA’s Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration, noted that while using private companies to make deliveries to the moon will be cheaper and quicker than going the usual government route, there will be added risk. He stressed that the space agency was willing to accept that risk, noting Monday: “Each success and setback are opportunities to learn and grow.”

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