Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Four Gilmour football players headed to Divison III schools

Expect to see plenty of Gilmour Academy players on Division III football rosters.

Four key parts of a Gilmour team that went 9-3 and reached the Division V regional semifinals solidified their college choices on April 16.

Two Lancers are staying close to home as fullback/linebacker Frank Grk and safety P.J. Volpe committed to John Carroll, which went 9-2 in 2013. Volpe was an honorable all-state selection in 2012.

Offensive lineman Zach Saliba gives the Lancers three OAC-bound players. Saliba has committed to Catholic.
Four-year letterwinner Patrick Mohorcic isn't leaving Ohio, either. The offensive lineman committed to The College of Wooster of the North Coast Athletic Conference.

Gilmour coach Shawn Dodd has spent plenty of time talking with college coaches since last summer. Defensive back Ishmael Hargrove signed with Division I Buffalo and safety Jimmy Rooney signed with Division I-AA Georgetown in February.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mentor graduate Mitch Trubisky in heated QB competition at North Carolina

North Carolina stages its annual spring game on April 12.

Consider it the biggest scrimmage of Mentor graduate Mitch Trubisky's football career.

Trubisky is involved in an ultra-competitive race with Marquise Williams to become North Carolina's starting quarterback. Trubisky and Williams are fighting for the job vacated by Bryn Renner, who should land in an NFL training camp this summer.

The winner of the quarterback derby could be in position to become a multi-year starter for the Tar Heels. Trubisky is a redshirt freshman, Williams is a junior. The loser might have to wait for an injury to receive a chance to operate the first-team offense.

Williams started the final five games last season after Renner suffered a shoulder injury. The Tar Heels went 4-1 with Williams as the starter and defeated Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. Williams' 2013 statistics were promising: 104-of-187 passing for 1,527 yards.

Trubisky has displayed promise his entire career and enrolled early at North Carolina to participate in 2013 spring drills. As expected, he redshirted last season despite Renner's injury. North Carolina exhausted significant recruiting resources to lure Trubisky, the 2012 Mr. Ohio Football, to Chapel Hill, where he has been reunited with former Mentor teammate Brandon Fritts, a 2014 early enrollee.

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora told The Charlotte Observer that Trubisky and Williams are splitting first-team reps this spring. The Tar Heels will receive a third highly regarded quarterback when four-star recruit Caleb Henderson arrives this summer.

For those who want to evaluate Trubisky and Williams for themselves, will air North Carolina's spring game on April 12. The scrimmage begins at 3 p.m. The first two quarters are 15 minutes and include normal clock stoppages. The clock will run continuously during the final two quarters.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Should the Big Ten have added UConn instead of Rutgers or Maryland?

Rutgers and Maryland officially join the Big Ten this summer.

The Scarlet Knights and Terrapins have one purpose: raise the conference's television profile in lucrative East Coast markets.

Both schools bring middling football programs to a conference already filled with gridiron mediocrity. See, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State and Iowa.

Rutgers also brings public relations nightmares. The school's athletic director wants News Jersey's largest newspaper to die. Julie Hermann is the same selective-memory administrator who denied any knowledge of warning an assistant volleyball coach from Tennessee about getting pregnant. The head coach at the time? Julie Hermann. Last November, Hermann flubbed a bullying incident at Rutgers involving a football player.

Maryland doesn't bring administrative baggage -- or glamorous football and basketball programs -- to the Big Ten. The school's football team has posted three below-.500 records in the last five years, the basketball program has made just one Sweet 16 appearance since winning a national in 2002.

While Rutgers and Maryland prepare to share Big Ten revenues, Connecticut won its fourth NCAA basketball title since 1999 by defeating Kentucky on April 7. The Huskies defeated the Wildcats two days after upending Florida.The Big Ten can use an SEC slayer, even if it's in the wrong sport.

UConn owns more national men's basketball titles than powers Louisville and Kansas, which have three each, and Eastern stalwarts Georgetown, Syracuse and Villanova combined. The Huskies, who endured a postseason ban because of academic issues, are as good as any basketball program in the last 15 years.

Conference expansion decisions aren't driven by basketball. Football pays bills and pads coffers.

Rutgers and Maryland's football programs are known entities. Neither school consistently fields top-25 teams.

UConn is a Division I football newbie. The school became a full-fledged Division I member in 2002. The Huskies have appeared in five bowl games, including the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. Coach Randy Edsall bolted UConn for, coincidentally, Maryland after the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall owns a 13-24 record in three seasons with the Terrapins.

UConn replaced Edsall with a has-been coach in Paul Pasqualoni, who lasted 2 1/2 seasons. Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco now coaches the Huskies. With the proper coaching and recruiting, UConn has top-25 potential.

Connecticut, unlike New Jersey and Maryland, doesn't have any major professional sports franchises. Storrs, Conn., is one of the few spots on the East Coast besides State College, Pa., and Syracuse, N.Y., where college sporting events are major draws. Being in the same state as ESPN's headquarters doesn't hurt the attention-grabbing possibilities, either.

The UConn men's and women's basketball teams play before capacity crowds. Play the right teams -- and win enough -- and the same fervor would extend to football.

Rutgers brings fervor, none of which stems from on-field triumphs, to the Big Ten. Maryland brings UnderArmour money. Snug apparel isn't likely to turn Maryland into a must-watch athletic department.

Everybody who cares about college sports watched UConn on April 7. The saw one of the last desirable pieces in the expansion puzzle capture another major title.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Friday, April 4, 2014

The youngest in their leagues

Baseball America revealed an encouraging list for the Cleveland Indians: two of their prospects are the youngest players in their respective leagues.

Infielder Jose Ramirez is the youngest player in the Triple-A International League while shortstop Francisco Lindor is the youngest players in the Double-A Eastern League, according to the list.

Ramirez, who reached Cleveland last summer, doesn't turn 22 until September. Had Ramirez started the season in Cleveland, he would have been the third youngest player in the majors behind phenoms Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox and Bryce Harper of the Nationals.

Lindor doesn't turn 21 until November. Lindor is the youngest player in the Eastern League, where he ended 2013, for the second straight season.

Ramirez and Lindor are the only players among the 10 youngest in their respective leagues.

The Lake County Captains have four teenagers -- infielders Dorssys Paulino and Nellie Rodriguez, outfielder Anthony Santander and pitcher -- Mitch Brown. Paulino was the youngest player in Captains' history when he started 2013 in Lake County. Paulino was 18 at the time.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cleveland Indians affiliate preview: Columbus Clippers

Manager: Chris Tremie

Last season: 71-73

What to watch for: Trevor Bauer starts the April 3 opener Indianapolis. The eccentric right-hander remains one of the Indians' top prospects, but for how long? If Carlos Carrasco falters in Cleveland, Josh Tomlin is the top candidate for a quick promotion. Tomlin appears fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander will hog innings. ... First baseman Jesus Aguilar possess power, something lacking in the Indians' farm system. ... Infielder Jose Ramirez is only 21, a switch-hitter and can play multiple infield positions.  His future, even if it might not be in Cleveland, appears bright. ... The Clippers led Minor League Baseball last year by averaging 9,212 fans per game. Placing a ballpark in the Arena District represents thoughtful urban planning. More important, it makes everybody forget about Cooper Stadium.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Cleveland Indians affiliate preview: Akron RubberDucks

Manager: Dave Wallace

Last year: 68-73

What to watch for:  Former Lake County Captains manager Wallace replaces Edwin Rodriguez, whom the Indians promoted to a front-office position. Wallace is managing top prospect Francisco Lindor for a third straight season. Lindor, the heir to Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, hit .289 in 21 Double-A games last season. Joe Wendle, who cracked 16 homers at High-A Carolina, and 21-year-old Ronny Rodriguez surround Lindor in the infield, and 2012 first-round draft pick Tyler Naquin leads the outfield. ... Right-hander Cody Anderson received 2013 Indians Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors and fast-rising left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett gives the bullpen a prospect. ... Owner Ken Babby made the boldest offseason move: changing the team's name from Aeros to RubberDucks. We'll quack to the change.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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Cleveland Indians affiliate preview: Carolina Mudcats

Manager: Scooter Tucker

Last year: 57-83

What to watch for: Tucker managed a 54-83 team in Lake County last season and for the second straight year, the Indians aren't giving him much to work with. Only two Mudcats -- outfielder LeVon Washington (second round, 2010) and right-hander Jacob Lee (ninth round, 2012) -- were drafted in a single-digit round. Injuries have stalled Washington's career and Lee returns to Carolina after posting a 6.10 ERA in 11 outings. Infielder Erik Gonzalez, a member of the Indians' 40-man roster, is the only Mudcat considered one of the organization's top-20 prospects by Baseball America. ... Lake County's roster includes many Midwest League returnees, so the Mudcats should receive help as the season progresses. At least Tucker is surrounded by familiar faces. Pitching Steve Karsay and hitting coach Tony Mansolino also worked in Lake County last season. Tucker is a patient man, which should help him handle this challenge.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy

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