ACC: Ray Ray Armstrong

Recruiting rewind

January, 28, 2013
1/28/13
4:00
PM ET
It's time to take a look back and reflect on the recruiting class of 2009.

How have the top prospects fared?

ESPN.com has the answer, as it looked back at the ESPN Top 150 four years later, and there are plenty of ACC players worth checking out:

Rankings 1-50
Rankings 51-100
Rankings 101-150
  • No. 103 ATH Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
  • No. 118 RB Lamar Miller, Miami
  • No. 120 DE Malliciah Goodman, Clemson
  • No. 139 RB D.J. Adams, Maryland
  • No. 140 OT J.K. Jay, Clemson
  • No. 150 ATH Willie Downs, FSU

Our recruiting gurus also reranked the recruiting classes of 2009. Miami was replaced by Florida at No. 7, but FSU held steady at No. 8. ESPN.com's Corey Dowlar took a closer look at the Seminoles' Class of 2009.
When Miami safety Ray-Ray Armstrong was dismissed from the team earlier this summer, an obvious opening was created in the starting lineup.

Kacy Rodgers II just figured he would be next in line. Rodgers has been preparing since the spring to win a starting job in the defensive backfield, so losing Armstrong did not change much for him. He continued to push every day to become the starter, with different players competing against him.

So it is that Rodgers has a chance to be in the starting lineup when the season opens Saturday against Boston College. Rodgers is listed as the co-starter at safety with freshman Deon Bush on the latest depth chart the Hurricanes unveiled. Though neither player has ever started a game, they can rely on the experience of fellow safety Vaughn Telemaque, who has started 36 games in his Miami career.

"It's nice to look up to Vaughn," Rodgers said in a recent phone interview. "It's good to watch him work and he's helped better my understanding of the game. The game is a lot faster than practice, and just the way he approaches that, it's been nice to see and do that in my own game."

Rodgers was actually starting ahead of Telemaque in the spring and right next to Armstrong, so that is why he had grown used to the idea of becoming a starter for the Hurricanes. But with Armstrong gone, Rodgers has had to learn both safety positions. He has been getting the bulk of his work at strong safety, but said the positions are interchangeable in the Miami scheme.

"The way we're practicing, I'm prepared to play either safety," he said. "In our scheme, you have to know both so really just getting mroe reps doesn't matter."

Rodgers spent the summer really working on being a more physical and sure-handed tackler, while also learning how to shed blocks. He worked much harder in the weight room than he ever has, setting a personal record in the bench press, with 23 reps at 225 pounds. His previous personal best was 19.

He also added a few more pounds and is up to 212, about five more pounds than the spring. In all, Rodgers feel he has given himself the best opportunity to win the starting job. Headed into this season, his game experience has been limited to mostly special teams. He finished 2011 with just three tackles.

"Personally, I'd like to be someone the team can count on, someone the team feels confident in when he is in the game, a safety who can get the job done," Rodgers said. "I'd love to start. I just have to keep playing well. There's a safety right behind me that wants to start as well. Nothing is set in stone, but I want to and I hope I can."
Stephen Morris has taken the lead over Ryan Williams in Miami's quarterback race following their performances in Sunday's scrimmage, the school announced Monday. Miami has released its post-scrimmage depth chart and Morris is at the top.

I'm guessing Miami fans are eager to see what Williams, a redshirt sophomore, can do, but I had a feeling that Morris' experience in the system would be difficult to overcome, at least early. Morris played in six games and started four as a true freshman in 2010, and started the season opener at Maryland last year when Jacory Harris was suspended because of an NCAA investigation. For the 2011 season, Morris threw for 283 yards on 26-of-37 passing, including a season-high 195 in the start against the Terrapins.

In other Miami news today, attorneys for former safety Ray-Ray Armstrong said he and his family have dropped plans to pursue legal action against the university after he was dismissed from the team. Armstrong has decided he will play Faulkner College, an NAIA school in Alabama.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
12:00
PM ET
Around the ACC we go ...

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 26, 2012
7/26/12
12:00
PM ET
Here we go ...

Walter Camp watch list announced

July, 20, 2012
7/20/12
4:30
PM ET
The Walter Camp Football Foundation has announced the names of 50 players to watch for its 2012 Player of the Year award. Here are your ACC representatives:

Walter Camp Award (Presented to the nation’s most outstanding player by the Walter Camp Football Foundation)

The Walter Camp Award watch list was the final watch list scheduled to be announced by the National College Football Awards Association. As promised, I have been keeping a running list of your ACC players who are up for awards this year. Here is a compliation of the awards released over the past two weeks. Best of luck to those who were nominated:

Doak Walker Award (Presented to the nation's premier running back by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum)
Davey O'Brien Award (Presented to the nation's best quarterback by the Davey O'Brien Foundation)
Biletnikoff Award (Presented to the nation's most outstanding receiver by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation)
Butkus Award (Presented to the nation's most outstanding linebacker by the Butkus Foundation)
Rotary Lombardi Award (Presented to the college lineman of the year by the Rotary Club of Houston)

Jim Thorpe Award (Presented to the nation's best defensive back by the Jim Thorpe Association)
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive player by the Charlotte Touchdown Club)
Outland Trophy (Presented to the nation's most outstanding interior lineman by the Football Writers Association of America)
Lou Groza Award (Presented to the nation's top place-kicker by the Palm Beach County [Fla.] Sports Commission)
Ray Guy Award (Presented to the nation's best punter by the Augusta [Ga.] Sports Council)
Mackey Award (Presented to the nation’s most outstanding tight end by the Nassau County [N.Y.] Sports Commission)
Rimington Trophy (Presented to the nation’s premier center by the Boomer Esiason Foundation)
Bednarik Award (Presented to the college defensive player of the year by the Maxwell Football Club)
Maxwell Award (Presented to the college player of the year by the Maxwell Football Club)

Friday mailblog

July, 20, 2012
7/20/12
9:00
AM ET
Leaving on Saturday for Greensboro, N.C. I'll check the mail before I go ...

Joanna writes: What are the chances that Dabo suspends Watkins for the Auburn game?

HD: The latest comments from Dabo Swinney are that Sammy Watkins "will sit, it's just a matter of how long." I'm sure he'll get asked about it again at media days, but it sounds like Watkins could see the field at some point against Auburn.


Alex in Douglasville, GA. writes: Hi Heather,What kind of message do you think Dabo sends if he only suspends Sammy for a quarter or two? I am a huge Tiger fan and would hate to see "The Deuce" gone for longer, but realistically should he at least suspend him for a game?

HD: Well, it's hard to say from the outside. Has he done everything Swinney and law enforcement officers have asked of him? Has he been apologetic? Was it his first offense? Has Swinney had Watkins running bleachers at 5 a.m., or taking an extra study hall, or doing other things we might not know about to atone for his mistake? It's been a long time since the incident occured on May 4. That's plenty of time to pay some dues. So it's very possible a quarter or a half might be appropriate.


Michael Goetschius in Sergeant Bluff/IA writes: I'm a big Canes fan., How will this situation with Ray ray Armstrong effect the canes this year. they were sighted as having one of the best safty squads this year

HD: Yeah, the duo of Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque was billed to be one of the best in the country, but that never materialized and now it never will. It's a waste of talent if you ask me. Instead, the Canes will turn to A.J. Highsmith, who made the switch from backup quarterback to safety last year. He was No. 2 on the depth chart this spring behind Armstrong. The Canes also have junior Kacy Rodgers and senior Andrew Swasey, and they recruited seven defensive backs in the 2012 class. This is not a team that can afford to lose any more starters.


steven in miami writes: Heather, Appreciate all you do insofar as reporting and analysis. This question comes from a while ago and since I havent seen anything written lately I thought I would ask you: What is status of ACC, Orange Bowl and Notre Dame partnership....has anything moved forward. And would the ACC take Notre Dame's other sports if there was not a plan in place for football to join league in next 3-5 years.

HD: Thanks. No news, Steven, other than confirmation that the ACC has had discussions with Notre Dame about the possibility of an Orange Bowl partnership. I'm not sure how much interest the ACC would have in Notre Dame's other sports, but I'm sure the commissioner will get plenty of Notre Dame questions on Sunday at the ACC football kickoff. I'll give you any updates from there, so check back on Sunday evening.


Newtondt in Birmingham, AL writes: Heather,Any thoughts on potential B1G/ACC football matchup that is being debated over on the B1G blog? With ACC going to 9 league games (probably a mistake), I just don't see this happening. You?

HD: I wrote about this a little bit on Thursday, and basically said the ACC and Big Ten need to find a way to work it out. You're right: Georgia Tech, FSU and Clemson would probably have the biggest hang-ups about it with the nine-game schedule because of their built-in SEC rivals. I don't blame them. But if the leagues worked out some sort of rotation where they didn't have to do it every season, or only the Atlantic one year and the Coastal the next or something ... I think it would be well worth it for the fans and the conferences. I also think that if both leagues were seriously considering a scheduling partnership, it would be worth the ACC's time to go back and rethink the nine-game schedule. Maybe just scrap that in favor of a partnership with the Big Ten?


Paul Andrew in Angier,NC writes: I applaud you for continuing to point out the depth of the scandal at UNC. Why do you think so many in the media and the NCAA continue to ignore the academic fraud that has been documented? The academic fraud is far more serious than a player taking money from an agent. Why is the media so quiet on the school and Butch Davis not wanting his cell phone records released?

HD: I can't believe what has happened at Carolina. I can't believe the imaginary classes and the academic fraud and the laundry list of violations at a place that used to have such a shiny academic reputation. A big reason I don't think it's getting a lot of attention, though, is because the NCAA doesn't seem too interested in it. The bigger question is why isn't the NCAA interested anymore? Well, maybe because it's hard to prove that athletes were the target of these classes? I have no idea, but if the NCAA were nosing around, I don't doubt the media would suddenly become more interested. Right now it seems more academic than athletic. That doesn't mean that perception is correct.

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
12:00
PM ET
Welcome to the club, Pitt ...

Armstrong incident unfortunate

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
12:20
PM ET
There have been several rumors out there but little if any confirmation as to what exactly former Miami safety Ray-Ray Armstrong did to get himself kicked off the team. It's even unclear as to who made the decision -- the university or coach Al Golden.

All I know is what a source told me -- that Armstrong violated policy and that he hasn't had a locker or been with the team since the end of June. He wasn't enrolled in the second summer session with the rest of the team.

He also had a heckuva spring. After being suspended by the NCAA for the first four games of 2011 for accepting impermissible benefits from a booster, Armstrong did a complete 180 in January. He bought into every aspect of the program. He dedicated himself to the weight room before the spring semester even started. It paid off. Armstrong ended the spring as the top free safety on the depth chart.

This is unfortunate for Miami and for Armstrong, who was one of the Canes' top recruits in 2009. He never quite lived up to that hype, but the way his Canes career ended was still a waste of talent, and right now, Miami needs all the help it can get after losing 12 starters from last year's team.
Miami senior Ray-Ray Armstrong has been dismissed from the football team, the school announced today. Armstrong can continue to be enrolled as a scholarship student at UM to complete his degree or the university will grant him a full release should he elect to transfer to another institution. His name has already been removed from the team's roster on its website. Miami did not provide any further information.

Preseason watch lists start today

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
1:40
PM ET
It's that time of year, when the National College Football Awards Association begins to unveil its preseason watch lists. It began today with the Bednarik and Maxwell Awards. As usual, I'll continue to update this list periodically and keep one master file for you to help keep track of the ACC honorees.

Bednarik Award (Presented to the college defensive player of the year by the Maxwell Football Club)
Maxwell Award (Presented to the college player of the year by the Maxwell Football Club)
We've gone over mock drafts, position rankings, draft boards and all the other stuff out there that's fun to predict this far away from the next NFL draft. Today, Mel Kiper does all of that. And, he is very high on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.

Kiper ranks Thomas as the No. 4 overall prospect on his 25-man Big Board. Insider NC State's David Amerson (No. 8) and Florida State's Xavier Rhodes (No. 20) are the other ACC players on the board.

Virginia's Oday Aboushi just missed the cut. Insider

Kiper also ranks the top-5 players at each position, this time breaking it down by senior Insider and junior classes. Insider The ACC contingent:

SENIORS
Mike Glennon (NC State), No. 4 QB
Andre Ellington (Clemson), No. 4 RB
Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech), No. 3 WR
Aboushi, No. 2 OT
Jonathan Cooper (UNC), No. 1 OG
Omoregie Uzzi (Georgia Tech), No. 5 OG
Brandon Jenkins (FSU), No. 4 DE
Kevin Reddick (UNC), No. 2 ILB
Ray-Ray Armstrong (Miami), No. 5 S
Dustin Hopkins (FSU), No. 5 K

JUNIORS
Thomas, No. 1 QB
James Hurst (UNC), No. 4 OT
Andrew Miller (Virginia Tech), No. 5 C
Christian Jones (FSU), No. 4 OLB
Amerson, No. 1 CB
Rhodes, No. 2 CB
Chandler Catanzaro (Clemson), No. 5 K
Dalton Botts (Miami), No. 2 P
Six ACC schools held their spring games this past Saturday, with colleagues Mark Schlabach and Ivan Maisel doubling as coaches in Florida State's scrimmage. Here's a look at three of the other spring games. (Don't worry, UNC and Clemson fans, we'll have you covered later this afternoon.)

WAKE FOREST
Josh Harris went a long way to showing he is completely healthy this spring, rushing for 40 yards and two scores on six carries to help lead the White team to a 21-10 win over the Black squad. Harris played in just five full games last season because of a hamstring injury, limiting his production to 432 yards for his sophomore season.

"He looked like Josh Harris and that's what I like," coach Jim Grobe said. "He had two or three inside runs, he wasn't trying to bounce everything to the perimeter. I loved his touchdown run down in the red zone, I thought he got north and just powered his way up into the end zone and if we can get him to do that all the time — we know he has a chance to be special, but today it looked like he had a little bit of determination and a little bit of pop and was getting up inside, which I like, I like guys that don't mind running inside."

A.J. Marshall, transitioning to safety from cornerback, also had a strong spring game, intercepting two passes, taking the second one back 58 yards with less than a minute remaining to seal the deal for the White squad.

"The key to the game today was turnovers," Grobe said. "The offense needs to take better care of [the ball], but if the defense keeps taking it away like that we'll be a pretty good defensive football team."

MIAMI
The final score — the Orange team beat the Green team, 7-6 — says it all about the Hurricanes' spring game Saturday. Ryan Williams was 15 of 27 for 169 yards but threw a pair of picks for the Orange team. For the Green side, Gray Crow also threw two picks.

Thomas Finnie, Brandon McGee, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque were responsible for the interceptions.

Mike James' five-yard touchdown run with 4:19 left marked was the game's only touchdown. He finished with 57 yards on 15 carries.

Finnie walked away with the team's special teams most improved player award for the spring, with Rashawn Scott (most improved - offense), Shayon Green (most improved - defense) and Garrett Kidd (walk-on) taking home the other spring honors.

VIRGINIA
Mike London was not shy this spring when talking about his team's need for explosive plays. So the Cavaliers coach must have been all smiles when Orange team quarterback Michael Rocco connected with Jake McGee for a 47-yard score on the fourth play from scrimmage Saturday. The Orange (made up of mostly offensive starters) beat the White (defensive starters), 20-17.

"We are going to continue to make downfield throws and try to get the ball in the hands of as many guys as possible," London said. "There is an emphasis on explosive plays, plays that move the ball beyond 15 yards. We have guys that can run, that were athletes and track runners in high school, and we are going to find ways to get them the ball."

Of the reported 500 yards totaled in the game, 410 came through the air.

Virginia also announced its spring award winners and 2012 captains, with Will Hill and Dominique Terrell taking home hardware for most improved honors. Demetrious Nicholson was honored for his classroom, field and community success during his first year. Billy Schautz and Jake Snyder shared academic honors, and Tim Smith was recognized for his work in the weight room.

Hill will serve as a captain this fall, along with Perry Jones, Oday Aboushi and LaRoy Reynolds. Jones was a captain last season as well.
Miami guard Jon Feliciano is out for the remainder of the spring after suffering a right knee injury during the Hurricanes' Saturday scrimmage, according to multiple reports.

The sophomore-to-be started eight games last season at right tackle and was making the transition to left guard this spring.

Feliciano described the injury to the Miami Herald's Susan Miller Degnan following the scrimmage:
"I was pulling and I hit the safety, Ray-Ray [Armstrong], [and] OT [RB Eduardo Clements] was about to break but he got hit in the back and he kind of fell into my knee. Hopefully it's just a sprain. They haven't told me anything. I'll just keep some ice on it and see how it goes.''
We’ve already taken a look at what the recruiting needs were for the Atlantic Division. Let’s shift our attention to the Coastal Division. Here’s a look at where each school’s biggest holes will be in 2012 or are anticipated to be in the near future:

DUKE


Offensive skill positions: After last year’s rare class that didn’t include either a quarterback or running back, both positions are needed in this group. Quarterback Thomas Sirk -- the MVP of the 57th annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic last December -- has already enrolled in school while Shaquille Powell -- a PARADE All-American running back from Las Vegas -- has committed to the program. In addition, with David Cutcliffe’s offense, wide receivers and tight ends also are a priority.

Kicker: Will Snyderwine, who earned first team All-America honors as a junior before struggling through a sub-par season in 2011, graduated, but Duke has a commitment from Ohio native Ross Martin, considered the No. 2 placekicking prospect in the country by ESPN.com.

Safety: With the transition to a 4-2-5 alignment that utilizes three safeties, this becomes an annual point of emphasis. The Blue Devils lose All-American Matt Daniels to graduation.

GEORGIA TECH


Defensive line: This is the most glaring need in the current class. The Yellow Jackets have to replace senior starters Logan Walls (DT) and Jason Peters (DE), but return Izaan Cross (DE) and solid backups T.J. Barnes (DT), Emmanuel Dieke (DE) and Euclid Cummings (DE). The Jackets are expected to sign about 18 players in this year’s class, and five of them should be defensive linemen.

Wide receiver:This is another glaring need after the departures of Stephen Hill, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, and Tyler Melton. Darren Waller and Jeff Greene, who both played last season as true freshmen, have lots of potential, but the position still needs depth.


MIAMI

Defensive backs: There’s still a lot of depth with this group, and the return of Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque helps, but the Canes have to replace two starters in the secondary and have six commits in the current class to help do that.

Defensive line: The Canes have to replace Adewale Ojomo, Micanor Regis, Andrew Smith and Olivier Vernon from last year’s two-deep. The defensive end position was a particular focus in this class.

Receiver: This position lost a lot with the departures of Tommy Streeter, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin. Allen Hurns is now the veteran of the group, along with redshirt senior Kendal Thompkins. There are five receivers currently committed in this class.

Quarterback: Beyond Stephen Morris, Miami has a lot of questions at the position and not a lot of experience. True freshmen Gray Crow and Preston Dewey are already on the roster, along with redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams.

NORTH CAROLINA

Defensive line: This is one of the biggest areas of concern after the departures of Quinton Coples and Tydreke Powell.

Receivers: Larry Fedora’s offense will make good use of this group, but he needs to replace standout Dwight Jones.

Linebackers: This group was thin to begin with in 2011, and now the Heels need to replace outgoing senior Zach Brown. Kevin Reddick is now the main man.

Safety: UNC will have to replace two starters in Matt Merletti, Charles Brown and Jonathan Smith, so this position will have to be rebuilt for the future.

VIRGINIA

Defensive back: This should be the main priority in this class. The Cavaliers will lose four DBs, including two starting safeties in Rodney McCleod and Corey Mosley, and standout cornerback Chase Minnifield. They’ll also miss Dom Joseph, who came in for the nickel packages. Demetrious Nicholson, who started as a true freshman last year, is suddenly the veteran of the group.

Offensive line: The Hoos will have to replace their starting center and left guard. Redshirt freshman center Cody Wallace could get a promotion, and sophomore right guard Luke Bowanko started in the bowl game. They’ve got some big bodies waiting in the wings, but they’ll have some questions to answer here this spring.

Kickers: This position needs to be rebuilt, as the Cavaliers lose Robert Randolph, who finished sixth all time in scoring at UVa, kickoff specialist Chris Hinkebein, and four-year punter Jimmy Howell. The position is wide open heading into the spring.

VIRGINIA TECH

Running back: This one is a no-brainer, as the Hokies have lost four players here in the past two years. David Wilson and his backup, Josh Oglesby, were the latest to depart, and Tony Gregory just had ACL surgery and is out for the spring. The staff likes Michael Holmes, who redshirted last year, and J.C. Coleman enrolled last week.

Receiver: The Hokies will miss Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin, and next year’s class has three seniors in Dyrell Roberts, D.J. Coles, and Marcus Davis. The future of the position is young, and the staff is still going after several uncommitted players pretty hard.

Defensive line: This year’s class already includes at least five committed defensive linemen, and the Hokies will be particularly thin at noseguard. They had some players graduate early who didn’t play a lot, but at least provided depth.

Linebacker:The Hokies have four committed, and are still chasing another just to build the depth. The staff missed on some recruits at this position last year and would like to make up for it in this class.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ACC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12