Cavs look to right a wrong vs. Stanford
UVa hopes to avenge season-ending loss to Cardinal
By Whitelaw Reid / firstname.lastname@example.org | 978-7247
January 7, 2007
Using almost any criteria, last season had to be considered a success for the Virginia men’s basketball team.
A year after coach Pete Gillen was handed his walking papers - and a fat settlement check - UVa, with only eight scholarship players, somehow managed to win seven conference games, plus a game in the ACC Tournament.
However, the season ended on a downer out in California.
Physically and mentally exhausted, Virginia had no juice in a somewhat embarrassing 65-49 loss to Stanford in the first round of the NIT. The Cavaliers’ 49 points was their lowest scoring output of the season.
“We were at the end of our rope,” recalled Virginia coach Dave Leitao. “We were playing a team that we thought we could compete against, but didn’t do that.”
Today, Virginia (9-3, 1-0 ACC) should have plenty of juice when it gets another shot at Stanford (8-4, 1-2 Pac-10).
Leitao pooh-poohed the revenge factor, but his players did not.
“I think it’s on all the guys’ minds,” said Virginia guard J.R. Reynolds, when asked about the defeat. “We try not to bring it up too much, but I think all of the guys know that they ended our season last season, so we’re going to come out and be ready for this game.”
Now, Virginia has a full complement of players - and a ton of confidence. The Cavaliers are coming off one of their best shooting performances in recent history in a roasting of Gonzaga on Wednesday night in which UVa nailed a school-record 18 3-pointers.
“I didn’t even know we hit that many 3’s,” said a smiling Reynolds. “The thing is we haven’t even been practicing shooting. Everything’s been focused in on defense.”
In the first half of the Gonzaga game, Virginia complemented its torrid shooting with stifling ‘D,’ holding the Zags to just 26-percent shooting from the field.
The only alarming aspect of the feel-good win was the fact UVa continued to get almost no offensive production from its big men.
Will Harris and Lars Mikalauskas, the team’s starters, combined for just five points. Coming off the bench, Jason Cain and Tunji Soroye totaled nine points.
“We understand that we’re not going to hit 17, 18 3’s a game,” Reynolds said. “We have to mix the game up a little bit. We can’t count on making that many 3’s. We have to get it inside and then let everything else come off of that.”
“You have to score inside” added forward Adrian Joseph, “because when you do kick the ball inside, it opens up a lot of stuff outside.”
That is something that Stanford, despite consecutive losses to Arizona and Cal, is fairly proficient at. Last year, the Cardinal relied on perimeter players such as Chris Hernandez and Dan Grunfeld. This year, they are leaning more on their big people, such as leading scorer Lawrence Hill (15.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
“They’ve got a really good, solid inside attack,” Leitao said. “They’re big, physical, strong and have nice inside touches, so we’ll have to do a really good job of playing defense inside-out.”
As good as Virginia has looked in its last two wins over American and Gonzaga, Reynolds believes the team can play even better.
“I don’t think we’ve put together a very good game yet,” he said. “We’ve been playing great defense in the first half, but kind of letting up in the second half. If we can bring that same intensity that we do in the first half, we’ll be a scary team.”
Reynolds realizes it’s important to pick up one more win before conference play kicks into full gear Wednesday.
“It will be a great boost for us since we’ll be going on the road and playing great [North] Carolina and Boston College teams,” Reynolds said, “but right now we’re just focused on Stanford.
“They ended our season last season. The taste is still in our mouth a little bit. But they’ve got to come to us this time.”
Sean Singletary, who scored a career-high 37 points against Gonzaga, sat out practice on Friday. “It’s typical sometimes,” Leitao said. “During the week, we may try and give him an extra day off to kind of maintain his hip. It was a little sore after the game the other night, so two days off should get him back to where he needs to be in preparation for [today].” … Leitao said he wasn’t shocked to look at the stat sheet from the Gonzaga game and see that freshman Solomon Tat had five assists in just eight minutes. “He does that instinctively,” Leitao said. “He’s not the most skilled guard I’ve ever been around, but he’s more skilled than anybody else - other than the two playmakers that we have. Hopefully it can happen more often.” … Stanford features a set of twin 7-footers - freshmen Robin and Brook Lopez. Robin is averaging 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, while Brook is averaging 7.7 and 3.0. … Freshman Will Harris joked that the new beard that he has been growing the last few weeks is somewhat symbolic of his quest to play better defense. “I’m trying to play hard and a bit more rugged in practice, so I think me looking like this will help me out,” said a smiling Harris, “because the way you look is the way you’re going to play. If you look scary and big, you’ll play scary and big.”
Hard work paying off for Diane
By Jerry Ratcliffe / email@example.com | 978-7251
January 7, 2007
Dave Leitao’s desire to see a third scoring threat emerge on his Virginia team may be coming through in the likes of Mamadi Diane.
The sophomore swing player, who can man the small forward or shooting guard positions for the Cavaliers, is developing into a more complete player and delivering more consistency to his game. If Virginia is to threaten for the upper echelon of the ACC this season, then Diane’s play could be a true factor.
As a freshman, the product of DeMatha Catholic clocked the eighth-most playing time among rookies in the conference. But he struggled with consistency, which is why he started the first 11 games and came off the bench in the final 19 games.
During that stretch run, he went the final 17 games of the season without scoring in double figures. If nothing else, that statistic along with his poor shooting percentages, made it clear that Diane had work to do in the offseason.
Off the mark
The 6-foot-5 Cavalier connected on 33.7 percent of his field-goal attempts as a freshman and only 24.2 percent of his 3-point attempts, vastly different numbers than what he had posted at DeMatha (59 percent, 43 from beyond the arc).
“Over the summer and coming into this season, I wanted to become more of a threat out there this year,” Diane said after Friday’s preparation for today’s game against visiting Stanford. “Last year we had two main scorers, Sean [Singletary] and J.R. [Reynolds], and not really any help.”
So far, Diane has provided help, scoring in double figures in seven of 12 games, including a career-high 25 in an upset over 10th-ranked Arizona, and 22 against Gonzaga a few nights ago. Diane scored in double digits only six times all of last season.
“We talked about it a lot last year and the summer going into this season about having a consistent third scorer,” Leitao said. “Thus far, Mo has been pretty consistent. If we can get 11, 12, 13 points a game out of him, then I can rely on it game-to-game and I think that’s a major step forward for him and a major step forward for us.”
Hitting his stride
Diane is averaging 11.8 points so far this season and has improved his shooting touch, connecting on more than 50 percent on field-goal attempts and more than 40 percent from Bonusphere.
His defense is better, leaving only his rebounding as an aspect that may require some work. Averaging slightly less than four rebounds a game, Leitao believes that’s a tad shy of what a perimeter wing player should bring to the table.
“We’re going to challenge him to get better at that, but right now we’re very happy with what he has given us from last year to this year and it has helped our team,” the coach said.
Leitao has several tactics when it comes to challenging players to raise their level of play. Sometimes he simply talks to them about what kind of work they need to put into their routine. Sometimes the situation requires more prodding.
“During the season I may get cynical and I may tease a guy and try to embarrass him into playing better or doing things that he may not be, but with Mo, he’s a very intelligent guy and he’s very understanding and is willing to work,” Leitao said. “Any conversations we had one-on-one were about the amount of work necessary to get better. He’s a guy who’s not afraid to work. In fact, he puts in as much, if not more than anybody.”
Working is something that is right up Diane’s alley. His work ethic at the famed DeMatha program is almost legendary. Coach Mike Jones said that Diane took on every weakness with a vigor that left most onlookers shaking their heads because the player worked and worked until the weakness became a strength.
“One year it was my shooting, one year it was a little bit of ball-handling and a little bit of defense,” Diane said. “It was always something. Over the summers I would work out and Coach Jones would push me and my dad would also push me. Even though [his father, Mori] didn’t know a lot about the sport, he would be telling me ‘You’ve got to keep working, keep at it.’”
Mori was a professional soccer player, and Mamadi’s older brother also played soccer in college. He used to notice how hard his brother would practice by himself, not something easily attained in soccer, and noted that was the easiest way to get better.
During his conversations with Leitao, Diane picked the coach’s brain on how some of the great UConn players worked out and improved when Leitao was on that staff.
“I was curious as to what they were like working out, players like Ben Gordon and Ray Allen and others,” Diane said. “So, I asked how they would work out, what kind of things they would work on.”
What he discovered from Leitao was that those players did a lot of shooting and a lot of reps in every phase of the game, something he has tried to incorporate into his routine.
“I’ve always liked working out before and after practice and sometimes coming in later on just to get a lot of reps,” Diane said.
All that work has already paid dividends and not only has Diane benefited, but so have the Cavaliers, who are 9-3 going into this evening’s game against the Cardinal.
“I think I’m a lot more comfortable in my role this year, knowing what’s needed of me and when,” Diane said. “Some nights it might be defense, or whatever. I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing.”
If the young player can keep that going, there’s no limits as to how good he can be and that bodes well for Virginia’s chances to reach the upper tier of the talent-rich ACC.
McCabe to seek transfer
QB looking at D-II programs for remaining eligibility
By Jay Jenkins / firstname.lastname@example.org | 978-7247
January 6, 2007
Coming out of high school, quarterback Kevin McCabe was offered scholarships from some of the biggest and best football programs in the country.
In the end, the four-star signal-caller narrowed a lengthy list down to Michigan, Notre Dame and Virginia, the university he elected to sign a National Letter of Intent with.
For McCabe, that process has now come full circle.
After a discussion with UVa coach Al Groh and counsel from friends and family members, McCabe decided he would rather transfer than compete to become the backup quarterback for rising sophomore Jameel Sewell.
In the next week - assuming he gets his desired release from Virginia - McCabe will start the recruiting process over, this time from the opposite end of the spectrum.
McCabe will have to convince a suitor, most likely a Division II program, that they need his services for his final year of eligibility.
“It is kind of funny. I will be a 22-year-old freshman on a new campus,” McCabe joked. “But [the recruiting process] is not as easy as the first time around. I have to deal with a lot of academic stuff and the timing of it is bad.”
The “academic stuff” has thrown a major wrench in McCabe’s plan.
McCabe, who would need his degree to transfer to a I-AA school, said his “No. 1 goal is to graduate from Virginia” with a degree in sociology. That leaves the Pennsylvania native with two options: Stay at UVa long enough to graduate, a time frame that would drag into sessions in summer school, or transfer now to a Division II school while clinging to hopes of returning to UVa after his football career.
“It’s not that I [have] bad academic standing, but I would have to apply as a regular transfer and you can imagine the GPA’s [of transfers] coming from other schools trying to get into Virginia,” McCabe said. “Their GPA’s will probably be through the roof compared to mine.
“I would have to go through that whole admissions process and I am already here, so I don’t know if I have a good chance of me getting back in here. That’s something that I have to think through thoroughly.”
That leaves McCabe with a classic Catch-22. Regardless, he will not throw another pass for University of Virginia.
“I had aspirations and dreams of being great at the University of Virginia and they didn’t come true,” McCabe said. “And at the end of my time, I look back and I am a little upset.”
While McCabe claims he’s content with life, it wasn’t always the case.
After starting the ’06 season as the backup quarterback to fifth-year senior Christian Olsen, Groh turned to McCabe in a relief role against Wyoming. McCabe responded - he completed 8 of 13 passes for 85 yards - and led the Cavaliers to a 13-12 overtime win with a 25-yard TD pass to Kevin Ogletree in the extra session.
“He had his rough moments out there. He miscalled a couple formations, but any guy would,” Groh said of McCabe after the game. “Probably the best characteristic that he showed wasn’t the ball in the air, but the resilience he showed in coming back from some other circumstances that he found himself in.”
McCabe was promptly named the starter for upcoming game against Western Michigan. But long before he could enjoy his time in the spotlight, it was taken away.
After tossing two first-half interceptions, both of which either led directly or indirectly to WMU touchdowns, McCabe was benched in favor of Olsen.
Sewell, who later replaced Olsen and played the entire second half, took over the position for good the following week. McCabe took a permanent spot on the sidelines as the third-string quarterback.
“For the short moment that I had to start at the level that I wanted to, it just took the wind out of my sails for a couple of weeks,” McCabe said. “It just deflated me and nothing has ever deflated me like that before in my life.”
Teammates, including roommates Allen Billyk, Jon Stupar and Cary Koch, tried to console McCabe.
“The guys did rally around me,” McCabe recounted. “They kept coming up to me and saying, ‘You give us the best chance to win,’ but that was all hearsay whenever I’m not playing. That doesn’t really mean anything.”
McCabe took the high road, supporting Sewell and his teammates.
“They said I probably wasn’t getting the best deal out of it all but that they appreciated how I didn’t bring it up and didn’t try to be a distraction to the team, because you could easily try to distract the mentality of the team and try to divide it,” McCabe said. “[Sewell] did a good job for a freshman, but when you are playing, you want to think that you can win as many ballgames as you go out there and play.”
McCabe eventually stopped mulling over his fall from grace.
“Later in the year I regained some confidence in myself because I was going out there in practice and throwing the heck out of the ball,” he said. “I quit asking, ‘Why?’ As sad as it may seem, it happens to people.”
Give credit, McCabe said, to his support group, one that includes his parents, Joe and Debbie McCabe, and brother, Tim, a former star baseball player at West Virginia.
“I come from a tough family and I attribute that to my parents,” McCabe said. “They built me that way and I just want to get over it.”
Where life takes McCabe now remains a mystery - he has done his research on Grand Valley State (Mich.), Indiana University of Pennsylvania and California University of Pennsylvania - but he will remain a Virginia football fan for life.
“I will pull for Virginia for the times that I went through with the guys,” McCabe said. “It is a great school and a great academic institution.
“I had some great times with the guys on my team … my teammates made it all.”
While Sewell is penciled in as Virginia’s starting quarterback next season, the depth chart behind the sophomore southpaw looks foggy following McCabe’s defection.
With the long-awaited arrival of high school star Peter Lalich expected in August, the Cavaliers should have five signal-callers, none that have taken snaps in a college game, battling for the chance to become the team’s top backup.
In addition to Lalich, the candidates include senior John Phillips, junior Scott Deke, and a pair of redshirt freshmen, Patch Duda and Marc Verica. Phillips is expected to serve as Virginia’s holder on placement kicks.
UVa could also use rising sophomore Vic Hall at quarterback, but Groh has said former four-star signal-caller from Gretna will compete with Mike Brown for a starting position at cornerback.
The opponents for Virginia’s 2007 football schedule have been set.
According to multiple sources, Virginia has agreed to a series with Connecticut that starts this year in Charlottesville. The game is likely to be played in Week 4 of the season.
In addition to hosting UConn, the Cavaliers have home games in league play with Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest and a nonconference contest with Pittsburgh.
Virginia’s road schedule
includes the following: Maryland, Miami, Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wyoming.
A story published earlier this week in the Herald News (N.J.) about former Miami tight end Greg Olsen included an interesting fact about his brother, Christian, who is a former signal-caller at Virginia. Christian Olsen, the story said, signed with sports agent Drew Rosenhaus on Nov. 30. Late in his career at UVa, Olsen said publically that he desires to get into coaching at some point. … Speaking of agents, former UVa cornerback Marcus Hamilton agreed to terms to be represented by Adisa Bakari, who works out of Washington, D.C., with Dow Lohnes PLLC. After signing with Bakari, Hamilton elected not to play in postseason All-Star games that offered him invitations. ...
Two of Virginia’s top commitments for its upcoming recruiting class will be playing today on national television. Christchurch linebacker J’Courtney Williams and Lalich, both of whom verbally committed to UVa, will be competing in two different all-star games.
Williams, who is likely to play safety as a Cavalier, is in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a contest that airs live on NBC at 1 p.m.
Lalich, a West Springfield product, is slated to play in the East Meets West Game in Orlando at 3 p.m. on ESPNU.
Can Cavs erase ugly Stanford memory?
Cardinal arrive for rematch of last year's postseason blowout
BY JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jan 7, 2007
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Late on a Sunday night last March, the University of Virginia men's basketball team learned it had been selected for the National Invitation Tournament.
The Cavaliers cheered. But their mood changed when they saw their draw and learned their opening-round game was scheduled to start in about 48 hours, on the other side of the country.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, U.Va.'s trip west was a disaster. Virginia lost 65-49 at Stanford to close its first season with coach Dave Leitao with a 2-11 road record.
"It was a very sour feeling, going all the way out to California . . . and then losing in the first round in a game like that," sophomore swingman Mamadi Diane recalled Wednesday night. "I think that's in the back of all our minds coming into Sunday's game."
The rematch is tonight, but this time the Cardinal is the team that must cross the United States. U.Va. (9-3) plays host to Stanford (8-4) at 5 p.m. The Wahoos are 8-0 at their new John Paul Jones Arena.
As usual, Virginia will look to Sean Singletary for inspiration. The junior guard from Philadelphia is coming off his second consecutive tour de force. Singletary made his first five shots from beyond the arc Wednesday night and finished with a career-best 37 points as U.Va. routed visiting Gonzaga 108-87 in a game shown nationally on ESPN2.
"I just like playing in big games," Singletary said. "But I'm trying to develop some maturity and consistency so I can play that way every game. When we're playing a team that's not that good, just naturally I tend to drift. For me to be a good player and have a future playing basketball, I've got to be more mature about things."
There shouldn't be much danger of Singletary's drifting tonight. He remembers how his sophomore season ended at Maples Pavilion.
"We know they're a well-rounded team," Singletary said of the Cardinal. "We've just got to take care of our business early, and everything will take care of itself."
To Leitao, this game is not about revenge. The nucleus of his team -- Singletary, Diane, guard J.R. Reynolds, forward Adrian Joseph and big men Jason Cain, Laurynas Mikalauskas and Tunji Soroye -- hasn't changed since last season. But Stanford lost three standouts from 2005-06: swingman Dan Grunfield, power forward Matt Haryasz and guard Chris Hernandez. Newcomers for the Cardinal include freshmen Robin and Brook Lopez, 7-foot twins from Fresno, Calif.
"It's a different time, a different season, a different set of circumstances," Leitao said.
"Right now we're trying to make it about us and our season and what we can possibly do with it. All those things I talk about more than, 'Hey, it's Stanford, and it's the rematch, and they ended our season.'"
The Gonzaga game marked the return of Solomon Tat, who hadn't played since opening night because of a groin injury. The 6-5 freshman from Nigeria had five assists and two points in eight minutes. Equally important was Tat's effect on his teammates.
"He's a spiritual leader with those guys on the court and in the locker room, and I think they all cheer for him," Leitao said. "And so seeing him out there, it's a feel-good story for those guys."
Tat, Leitao said, "is not nearly where he needs to be health-wise, he's not where he needs to be rhythm-wise, he's been away from basketball too long, and it's going to take him awhile. But just having him out there uplifts everybody."
Tech, U.Va. randomly test
After a Freedom of Information Act request, Virginia Tech releases drug-testing results, while Virginia refuses.
BY DAVID TEEL
January 7, 2007
He came from a stable home. Good athlete, spotless record. But when Virginia Tech drug-tested him, he showed positive for marijuana.
"He swore up and down he didn't use it," said Mike Goforth, the school's director of athletic training. "I promise you I wanted to believe him. It had me tore up."
This was many years ago. But Goforth can't shake the memory.
"We were trying to figure out what could have went wrong (with the test)," Goforth said. "He even volunteered to take another test, and it came back positive for cocaine. You talk about blowing our minds."
Virginia Tech and Virginia are among the many Division I-A sports programs that randomly test all athletes for street drugs each academic year. And for all the attention given steroids and other performance-enhancers, drugs such as marijuana and cocaine are more common among college athletes.
For example, NCAA testing at its championship events in 2004-05 produced 17 positives for street drugs, two for steroids. Virginia Tech and Virginia test for steroids only on suspicion.
Positive screens often prompt an "I didn't do it" response, according to Goforth.
"My job is not to believe you," he said, "because if you have a problem and I blow it off because I like you, then we've missed it. ... There's a downward spiral (that affects) relationships and life, and we're trying to keep kids out of that spiral."
Through the Freedom of Information Act, the Daily Press requested test results from the last five years at both schools. Virginia Tech cooperated. Virginia did not.
"The University does not compile summary reports of drug testing," Virginia spokeswoman Carol Wood said in an e-mail. "Each test is associated with an individual student and becomes part of his/her personal academic record. These records are governed by FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) and cannot be released."
Virginia Tech had not compiled annual reports either, but did after the newspaper's request. The results are hopeful, according to Goforth.
The 2,007 tests administered from 2002-03 through December of last year prompted suspensions of nine athletes. Those sanctions were concentrated in two years: six in 2002-03 and three in 2005-06.
Seven of the penalties were for marijuana. One was for a contaminated sample, the other for a no-show.
Eighteen athletes had positives explained by circumstances such as a doctor's prescription for Adarol, a medication for attention deficit disorder that shows up in tests as a stimulant. Ten athletes self-reported drug use before their selection for a random test, allowing them to avoid sanctions once under Virginia Tech's rules.
For all banned substances except marijuana, Virginia Tech suspends first-time offenders for one-third of their playing season. A second positive prompts a one-year suspension, a third expulsion.
For marijuana, the progression of suspensions is 10 percent of a season, one-third of a season, one year and dismissal.
Also, counseling is mandated, and parents are notified.
"It's one of the toughest calls you'll ever make," Goforth said. "I've had parents break down crying. But I think our penalties are fair, and the numbers show they're working for us."
Virginia Tech contracts with Nashville, Tenn.-based Aegis Drug-Free Sports to administer tests.
According to an annual report card Aegis creates for Tech, the school's 2005-06 positivity rate, 4.15 percent including explained positives, was barely half that of all its clients combined (7.66 percent).
Virginia has a three-strike policy, according to chief trainer Ethan Saliba. Athletes implicated for the first or second time are suspended until they test negative. Third-time offenders are suspended indefinitely.
"The number of positives is not alarming," Saliba said. "We want to keep (athletes) safe. This is not a behavior that's tolerated in our department." ?
One-time ‘suspect’ Hunt a keeper for Nittany Lions
Ex-Oklahoma head coach John Blake among Davis hires at UNC
By Doug Doughty
While looking for something else in the mess that I call a desk, out fell the Penn State 2007 Outback Bowl guide.
Media gadfly Jeff White said he got one, too, at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, except that it arrived – or at least he picked it up – one day after the Nittany Lions’ 20-10 victory over Tennessee.
I was aware that Penn State had a number of Virginians on its roster – 10, to be exact – and wondered what kind of numbers running back Tony Hunt had in his career.
I thought he’d a nice career. Boy, was I shocked!
Hunt was rated the No. 7 prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times in 2002, but, even so, selecting him that high was a bit of a flyer. Hunt played for ex-NFL linebacker Riki Ellison at T.C. Williams in Alexandria and Ellison wasn’t the easiest guy to reach.
Hunt’s list of schools at Christmas 2002 included Southern Cal, Michigan, Maryland, Penn State and Virginia, but it was hard to tell if he had offers from all of those schools. Four years later, I can’t remember who furnished the list.
At the time, it was hard to say Hunt was for real. Now, there’s no doubt.
Hunt, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior, carried 31 times for 158 yards in the Outback Bowl and finished the season with 1,358 rushing yards and 27 receptions.
“He is one of the more underrated backs I have seen,” Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer said after the game. “He is a great football player.”
For his career, Hunt rushed for 3,310 yards, scored 25 touchdowns and had 87 receptions. He was a starter in his last 29 games.
He is one of five 3,000-yard rushers in Penn State history, following Curt Warner, Blair Thomas, Curtis Enis and D.J. Dozier (also a Virginian).
Hunt now stands second on Penn State’s all-time rushing list.
“Simply put, Tony Hunt has earned his place among Penn State’s long line of illustrious running backs,” Penn State wrote in its bowl guide. “He has worked his way among the elite backs in Nittany Lion history for his abilities as a ball-carrier, receiver and blocker.”
VIRGINIA TECH SIGNED three top-five players off the 2002 Roanoke Times Top 25 and all three of them have had productive college careers – No. 1 Xavier Adibi, No. 3 Vince Hall and No. 4 Chris Ellis.
The No. 2 player on that list, Phoebus defensive back Philip Brown, signed twice with the University of Virgina and, after a postgraduate year at Hargrave Military Academy, actually played for the Cavaliers in 2004. He later flunked out of school.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Chase Anastasio, a running back and defensive back from Robinson High School in Fairfax. Anastasio was recruited extensively by Virginia Tech and Virginia before signing with Notre Dame.
Anastasio played in 10 games this year and had two receptions for 21 yards. He has had three receptions in 23 games in his career, although he was redshirted as a freshman in 2003 and presumably could return for a fifth season next year. He also has participated on special teams.
So, Hunt has had a better career than at least two Top 5 players from that season and it could be argued that nobody in the 2003 class has had a better career, with the Tech trio of Adibi, Hall and Ellis still having a year to play.
The sixth-rated player on the 2005 Top 25, wide receiver Terrell Golden from Lake Taylor in Norfolk, also went to Penn State. He had one reception in the Outback Bowl, six for the season and 18 in his career. He, too, has a redshirt year available in 2007.
Penn State’s leading receiver this year was yet another Virginian, sophomore Deon Butler from Hylton High School in Woodbridge. Butler, who arrived in State College, Pa., as a walk-on defensive back, has 85 receptions in two seasons.
WHO KNOWS what I would have written today if I hadn’t stumbled across the Penn State postseason guide, had an eye appointment with North Carolina alumnus Dr. Jon Brisley or had a weekly luncheon appointment with the SEC Roundtable.
It was Dr. Brisley who got me thinking about the new staff assignments that have accompanied the coaching changes at North Carolina, N.C. State, Boston College and Miami.
Boston College hired former East Carolina head coach Steve Logan as its new offensive coordinator, but not before Logan had talked to new UNC coach Butch Davis about a similar position.
Logan might have gotten that job if Davis had been willing to give up as much autonomy as Logan wanted.
The most noteworthy of Davis’ hires to date is that of John Blake, a former University of Oklahoma head coach, as a defensive assistant. Blake worked with Davis on Jimmy Johnson’s Dallas Cowboys staff, and new Tar Heels’ defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano was an assistant to Davis at the University of Miami and with the Cleveland Browns.
Pagano was with the Oakland Raiders this past season, serving as secondary coach. Former Virginia Tech assistant Lorenzo “Whammy” Ward was an assistant secondary coach and assistant special-teams coach, who may keep most of their defensive coach after the departure of head coach Art Shell.
Steve Hagen, the Browns’ quarterback coach under Davis in 2004, will be rejoining his former boss as an offensive assistant. This past season, Hagen was the offensive coordinator at Fresno State, also the previous stop for 2006 UNC offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr.
San Diego Chargers’ tight-ends coach Rich Chudzinksi is another possibility for Davis’ staff. He played at the University of Miami, was a Hurricanes’ coach from 1994-2003 and was on the Browns’ staff in 2004.
RUMORS THAT Virginia defensive coordinator Mike London might join former Boston College boss Tom O’Brien at N.C. State made sense, but that’s not going to happen.
Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer has interviewed with O’Brien about the State defensive coordinator’s job. Archer and O’Brien were on Virginia’s staff for a brief time during the 1990s.
O’Brien’s offensive coordinator at BC, Dana Bible, is among the Eagles’ assistants coming to Raleigh, N.C. Defensive coordinator and interim head coach Frank Spaziani has accepted an invitation to join the staff of new BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski in the same capacity.