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College notebook: Athletes starting to commit to 2014 classes
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Three weeks after the signing date for the college football class of 2013, commitments already are starting to pour in for the 2014 class.
Michigan and Penn State already had taken commitments from Virginians before safety Quinn Blanding from Bayside High School in Virginia Beach announced Wednesday that he had made an oral commitment to the University of Virginia.
Also in the past week, Penn State had taken a commitment from Fairfax High School junior Nick Scott, whose other listed offer was from Boston College.
Scott, who moved to Virginia from Massachusetts this past fall and also lived in Lancaster, Pa., at one point, is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound running back whom the Nittany Lions are recruiting as an "athlete."
He rushed for 950 yards and scored 14 touchdowns for a 5-5 Fairfax team this past season.
Earlier in the month, Michigan had taken a commitment from Wilton Speight , a 6-6, 229-pound quarterback from the Collegiate School in Richmond who was rated the No. 7 junior prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times.
Speight, who elected to repeat his junior year after suffering a broken collarbone in 2011, passed for 2,504 yards and 28 touchdowns this past season.
He comes from the same program that produced quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Jake McGee, who was moved to tight end at UVa.
The 2011-12 school year hadn't ended before Virginia Tech took its first commitments for 2014, three from Virginians -- tight end Xavier Burke from Brunswick County, defensive end Vinnie Mahota from Massaponax in Fredericksburg and running back Marshawn Williams from Hampton High School (and now Phoebus after transferring at midyear).
Mihota was rated the No. 13 prospect in the state.
Aside from that, UVa and Tech both have taken commitments from Lakeland, Fla., prospects, defensive back Javon Harrison for the Hokies and defensive lineman Chris Nelson.
Former UVa tight end John Phillips from Bath County said Wednesday that the four-year contract he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2009 will expire March 12, by which time he must come to terms with the Cowboys or become a free agent.
"The Dallas organization has always been very good to me," Phillips said.
"I enjoy the city and it's one of the most popular franchises in the NFL. But, when it comes to football, there's obviously a business side to it. It can be a short career."
Phillips, a sixth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2009, suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss the 2010 season but has played in 48 regular-season games, 20 as a starter.
Dallas frequently employs two tight ends, including prolific receiver Jason Witten, but Phillips has 67 receptions in his NFL career. He also has met the four-year requirement to become vested in the NFL's pension plan,
"Obviously, it's a big deal because the average career is only three years," he said, "but hanging around just to become [vested] was the furthest thing from my mind."
n John Garrett, the Cowboys' tight ends coach and a receivers coach at Virginia during Phillips' college career, has resigned to take a position at Tampa Bay. Garrett had interviewed for the University of Delaware head coaching job that went to 2011 Rutgers offensive coordinator Dave Brock.
Brock is a one-time Ferrum College linebacker.
Well-traveled college football assistant Chris Beatty, dismissed as Illinois co-offensive coordinator after the 2012 season, has surfaced as the receivers coach at Wisconsin. Beatty, who won back-to-back state championships as the coach at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, previously had been an aide at West Virginia and Vanderbilt.
Virginia Tech senior Logan Shinholser from Burtonsville, Md., second in both men's diving events at the ACC championships, is the older brother of UVa freshman diver Colby Shinholser. A third Shinholser brother and diver, Thomas, also known as "T.J.," signed with the Hokies during the fall.
After earlier knocking off top-ranked Salisbury 7-6 in double overtime at Salisbury and then beating No. 8 Denison on the road, Washington and Lee (4-0) debuted at No. 9 in the Division III men's lacrosse poll, receiving two first place votes.
Salisbury had won 31 games in a row before dropping a 13-12 decision at Lynchburg College in the season's first week.
Virginia cross country teammates Catherine White from Northside and Kathleen Stevens from Blacksburg were named to the ACC All-Academic team in their sport. Both are repeat honorees.
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