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Freshman point guard moves into starting lineup for Dayton

Published: Sunday, December 03, 2017 @ 8:03 PM

Dayton’s Anthony Grant talks to Jalen Crutcher during a game against Auburn on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Dayton’s Anthony Grant talks to Jalen Crutcher during a game against Auburn on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Freshman point guard Jalen Crutcher made his first career start for the Dayton Flyers on Sunday night at Mississippi State.

Crutcher replaced junior John Crosby in the lineup. Crutcher has played more minutes in the first six games (26.7) than Crosby (19.3), though Crosby has been the starter.

Dayton is playing without junior forward Xeyrius Williams for the third straight game. He continues to miss time with a back injury.

Dayton (3-3) is playing its first true road game and trying to avoid its worst start through seven games since 1994-95 when it started 3-4.

South Carolina recruiting: 4-star athlete returns; where in the world is Will Muschamp?

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

Whenever Will Muschamp lands a commitment, the South Carolina coach drops a #SpursUp on Twitter. Come to SEC Country for the latest news, notes and observations in South Carolina recruiting.  For previous editions of SpursUp Surveillance, check out the link.


Another successful visit

Four-star athlete Jammie Robinson (Cordele, Ga.) has taken several visits to South Carolina over the last 10-12 months. Though his mom has accompanied him to Columbia for a game, the latest trip afforded her a chance to have more interaction with Gamecocks coaches.

On Saturday, Robinson and his mother were back in town for South Carolina’s junior day.

“It went great,” he said. “My mom really enjoyed it the most. I mean, I enjoyed it also, but she really enjoyed the visit.”

Robinson added, “We just hung out with the coaches, then went bowling and stuff like that. And then we just talked with Muschamp, Mike P [Peterson] and T-Rob [Travaris Robinson]. It was a good time. That was pretty much it.”

Peterson, the “Bucks” coach, serves as Robinson’s area recruiter at Crisp County High School. Muschamp, of course, and defensive coordinator Robinson are also very much involved in the pursuit of Robinson, who’s ranked by the 247Sports composite as the No. 35 athlete in the Class of 2019.

“[Muschamp] pretty much told me that he really wanted me and I could play a big in role in going there,” Robinson said.

The Gamecocks are recruiting him as a defensive back.

“When I’m with T-Rob, he’s so crazy. We have that bond,” Robinson said. “We can really talk about anything.”

Over the next couple of weeks, he’ll visit Georgia Tech and Auburn.

Long term, Robinson plans to graduate early, so a decision will be reached at some point during the current calendar year.

“I can be ahead of a lot of people and get ready to play,” he said of the decision to be a midyear enrollee.

More offers out

• 2019 4-star OLB Mohamoud Diabate — Auburn, Ala.

Florida, Louisville, Michigan, Mississippi State and Nebraska have also offered the 6-foot-4, 220-pound  prospect, who’s ranked as the No. 13 outside linebacker in the country.

Muschamp delivered the news over the phone on Monday night.

“They want me there,” Diabate said, when asked about Muschamp’s message. “They feel like I can play multiple positions for them, want me to come on a visit.”

• 2019 3-star TE Jackson Lowe — Cartersville, Ga.

N.C. State also offered Lowe (6-5, 242) on Monday. He was offered by Clemson while visiting on Saturday for junior day. His former teammate, 5-star star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, signed with the Tigers.

• 3-star 2019 OT Mark Fox Jr. — Miami

On Monday, the Gamecocks offered Fox (6-4, 290), the No. 48 offensive tackle in the Class of 2019. Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Louisville and Ole Miss have also offered.

• 2020 OT Issiah Walker — Miami

Walker attends Norland High School; Fox is at Northwestern. Walker, a 6-4, 265-pound prospect, was also offered on Monday. Florida and South Florida have offered, too.

• 2021 LB Antwain Littleton — Washington, D.C.

Boston College, Maryland and Syracuse have also offered Littleton (6-0, 265), who landed his Gamecocks offer on Monday.

Champ tracker

Muschamp spent some time in Georgia on Tuesday, visiting at least two schools.

  • Carrollton High School: 2020 4-star outside linebacker Kevin Swint and 2021 linebacker Chaz Chambliss
  • Troup County in LaGrange: 2019 4-star outside linebacker King Mwikuta and 2020 4-star wide receiver Kobe Hudson
  • Cedartown High School: 2019 RB Tony Mathis Jr.

South Carolina recruiting updates

Miss a previous edition of Spurs Up Surveillance?  Get caught up here.

Alabama football: Phil Savage discusses Alabama Senior Bowl participants

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

Alabama football drives the conversation here at the Rammer Jammer , SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap, but we’ll cover news for every facet of the Crimson Tide. Every morning, we’ll be here for the latest on Alabama football, basketball and every other sport on campus.

Senior Bowl stars

Four former Alabama players will participate in the Senior Bowl in preparation for the NFL draft. Defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, punter JK Scott, center Bradley Bozeman and cornerback Levi Wallace will also showcase their skills for scouts during the practices and actual game. Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton will only participate in the interview process because of injury.

On Monday, the Senior Bowl festivities began. Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage discussed Alabama’s participating players during media time. Savage also explained why cornerback Anthony Averett is skipping the Senior Bowl.

MORE: Sign up here to get this roundup in your inbox Monday through Friday

In other headlines …

A-Day date announced

Fresh off of a national championship, Alabama announced when it will return to the field in the spring. The team will play its annual A-Day game on April 21 at 1 p.m. CT. Television coverage will be announced at a later date. The scrimmage will give fans a first look at the Crimson Tide’s new freshmen and transfers. It is always open to the public and caps off the team’s spring practice schedule.

Parallel dynasties

For years, Alabama and the New England Patriots have ruled college and pro football, respectively. The similarities between Saban and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are astounding. Both coaches run their teams in a manner that secures lasting success. After the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit explained why so many people hate Alabama and New England.

The NFL’s farm system

The NFL does not have a legitimate minor league, so college football serves as one. Alabama contributes a lot of NFL-ready players each year under Saban. Many teams choose to draft former Alabama players because of how quickly they can make the jump to pro football. During his introductory press conference, newly hired Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel  said Saban and others provide the NFL with the world’s greatest farm system.

Around the Capstone

Alabama men’s track and field soared to No. 5 in the latest poll.

Miss a previous edition? Find every installment of SEC Country’s daily Alabama newsletter right here.

Michigan State DE target Habakkuk Baldonado feels love as only 2018 prospect on official visit

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 2:57 AM

michigan state-recruiting-habakkuk baldonado

There’s plenty about Habakkuk Baldonado as an athlete for college coaches to highlight.

There’s his 6-foot-5 height and length, his uncommon athleticism, his 30 1/2 sacks as a senior. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio could have focused on all of that Sunday when he sat the Italian defensive end down in his office. But he didn’t.

“He said he likes me as a person, first of all,” Baldonado recalled, “then he likes me as a football player. He said I’m a good student and they want to pick me because they’re trying to build a program with good people inside of it.”

And so on the final day of his official visit, the Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International senior landed a Michigan State offer. He received the news alongside his mother, who had been flown in from Italy for the visit. Naturally, both got excited.

With that, Michigan State moved to the top of his list alongside Central Florida, Nebraska, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The Spartans got his mother’s approval, which may prove crucial.

“She fell in love with the school,” Baldonado said. “She really likes it a lot.”

The visit started out with a Friday night visit to the Breslin Center to see Michigan State’s men’s basketball team run over Indiana. Baldonado never played basketball growing up and knew next to nothing about the program, so it was a completely new experience.

“They love their basketball team,” he said. “The stadium was packed. It was a really fun experience. Their basketball team is really good.”

As the only 2018 prospect on campus, Baldonado got all the love and attention he could possibly expect from the coaches from then through the end of the visit.

Michigan State has hired two coaches within the past week, but still does not have a defensive ends coach in the wake of Mark Snyder’s departure for Florida State. There is no reason to be concerned, the staff told Baldonado.

“When I was there, they were interviewing some coaches, and they’re going to let me know as soon as they decide,” he said. “They’re great coaches, so I’m sure they’re gonna choose a good one. I’m not worried about it.”

Baldonado instead focused on the things Michigan State already has to offer. Shown around by running back Connor Heyward as well as the coaches, he saw Spartan Stadium and the “incredible” facilities.

All the walking around in winter weather might have bothered your typical Rome native. But growing up, Baldonado would visit his family in the mountains of Tuscany, so snow and frigid temperatures aren’t an issue.

“I definitely see myself there,” Baldonado said of Michigan State, citing the people he met as what made the Spartans stand out.

While on campus, he got to take a tour of the engineering department with a professor. Before coming to the United States, Baldonado had attended a trade school in Italy to prepare himself to study engineering. He had long been fascinated with cars and motorcycles.

Michigan State’s 2018 class already has an engineering major in wide receiver Ja’Vez Alexander, who enrolled earlier this month. Baldonado found that his career path would be respected and encouraged by the coaches despite how hectic it would make his schedule.

“They totally encourage you to do what you want to do, and be what you want to be, and they’re helping you out as a person,” he said.

Though Michigan State offered and only has a few spots left in its 20-player class, Baldonado didn’t feel pressured to come to a decision. The coaches gave him the knowledge he needed to make an informed choice and left it up to him.

“They’re not the kind of coaches that push you or oblige you to commit,” he said. “They just showed me around, showed me who they were and were like, ‘Now you have the ball at your feet. You can decide. That’s your choice.’ ”

Baldonado doesn’t plan to rush things. With three official visits remaining, he said he will “for sure” visit Nebraska and Pittsburgh and might use the last one on Syracuse or another school if he can.

As for a decision, he plans to take it right up until National Signing Day on Feb. 7. Many grow tired of the recruiting process by the end, but Baldonado’s just started heating up a month ago. He wants to enjoy it while he can.

“I love doing this since it’s my dream,” he said. “My dream was playing college football, so it’s totally fine for me.”

The post Michigan State DE target Habakkuk Baldonado feels love as only 2018 prospect on official visit appeared first on Land of 10.

Iowa: Why QB Spencer Petras reminds his high school coach of John Elway

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

IOWA CITY, Iowa — When watching Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras play, his high school quarterback thinks of one person.

A Hall of Fame quarterback.

“John Elway was maybe a little bit faster than Spencer was, but he has that freaking cannon,” Marin Catholic (Calif.) football coach Mazi Moayed said. “That ball just jumps out of his hand. He’s pretty doggone impressive with the big, tall frame.”

Petras is elusive enough to buy himself time in the pocket, but Moayed knows Elway was more athletic and faster than his former signal caller.

But when each throws the football, their skill sets are similar. Land of 10 lets Moayad explain why he thinks Elway is the perfect comparison for Petras.

Size

Both look like the prototypical quarterback. Elway played at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds with the Denver Broncos. Petras arrived at Iowa in January standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 225 pounds.

“It’s the first thing anyone notices about a quarterback,” Moayed said.

Arm strength

Looking beyond size, the first trait that jumps out about both is arm strength. Elway’s arm was so strong the Denver Post was writing stories about it years after he retired.

The ball makes a distinctive whoosh sound coming out of Petras’ hand few quarterbacks can replicate. There is a reason why Moayed calls it the strongest arm he’s ever coached, even stronger than NFL quarterback Jared Goff’s.

“When he is out there playing or warming up the ball just explodes out of his hand,” Moayed told Land of 10 in December. “There is a wow factor to it absolutely.”

In Moayed’s mind, arm strength that not only brings Petras and Elway together, but separates them from other quarterbacks and makes them so dangerous.

Elway used his right arm to lead the Broncos to two Super Bowls and throw for 51,475 career yards. Petras used his to throw for 4,157 yards, 50 touchdowns and 2 interceptions this past season.

“They makes every area on the field and every player on the field relevant because of their arm,” Moayed said.

The confidence factor

Moayed always thought Elway carried himself with a certain swagger. Tell him to do anything, even the outrageous, and he would expect to do it.

Petras is the same way.

“You challenge him with something and he believes he can hit that bullseye 80 yards away,” Moayed said. “It’s almost his immediate response without even thinking about it.”

Combining the arm and confidence

Elway was always a threat to make a play with the football in his hand. The fact he consistently did so is why he’s considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

“You can have really good receivers,” Moayed said. “You can have really good tight ends. They can run the greatest routes in the world, but if you don’t have a quarterback who can throw the comeback or the deep post or the verticals, then those guys skill sets are irrelevant.”

It’s with the vertical pass that Petras showed how he combines his arm strength and confidence. His senior year Hudl highlight tape is one long series of downfield tosses.

The third clip in the sequence stands out. Shot from an end zone camera, Petras works his way through at least three options before settling on a receiver running a vertical route.

It’s not an easy toss into a small window. The receiver is heading to the back of the end zone with a defender right on his hip. A safety is coming in support as well. The pass sails right over the defensive back and hits his receiver without breaking stride for a touchdown.

“You got to have the ability,” Moayed told Land of 10 in December, “but you have to have the knack for that too, the desire to fit the ball in there. He has that.”

Another comparison?

Petras likes his arm and he likes taking shots down field. In fact, he’s looking to do it every chance he gets.

“For me if a vertical is there you have to take it,” Petras told Land of 10 in December. “You don’t get a lot of opportunities to make a big play and when they come up it’s important to execute.”

Combine Petras’ arm strength, his faith in his downfield throw and the previous comment and it’s easy to see him with the skill set of another Hall of Fame player — Brett Favre.

Petras sounds a lot like Favre, and trusts his arm in the same way the old Green Bay gunslinger does, but Moayed thinks the comparison is a little off base.

“Brett Favre is one of the greatest quarterbacks all-time in the NFL,” Moayed said, “but he was careless sometimes. I think he drove his coaches crazy at times. Spencer will take risks, but he takes care of the ball as well. He doesn’t really turn the ball over a whole lot. That is something he prides himself in.”

Moayed thinks the closest modern day comparison for Petras is Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco. Like with Elway, it’s tied into their arm strength.

But for Moayed, Elway is the true comparison. The arm strength and swagger is there. Time will tell if Petras, still an unfinished product, grows closer into being an Elway clone in the years to come.

“He still has a little bit of a baby-face and the upside of that obviously is he has some continued maturing to do physically,” Moayed said. “So as scary as he is right now he is going to be even scarier as time moves forward.”