ACC: Shakeel Rashad


There's Shaq Mason and Shaq Lawson. Shaquille Powell and Shaq Wiggins. There's even Shakeel Rashad.

Here a Shaq, there a Shaq, everywhere a Shaq Shaq.

Indeed, there has been a proliferation of Shaqs across the ACC and college football over the last few seasons thanks to Shaquille O'Neal.

What does basketball have to do with football? In this case, when O'Neal emerged as an NBA All-Star, his name started to become popular, too. In 1994, Shaquille was the 234th most popular name in the United States, according to the Social Security names database. Shaquille retained its popularity enough to earn a ranking in 1995 and 1996, too.

Mason was born in 1993, when O'Neal would have been going into his second year in the league with the Orlando Magic. The Georgia Tech guard confirms he was indeed named after Shaq Diesel.

"Every time I met a new person, they were always like, 'Were you named after Shaquille O’Neal?' Mason said. "But growing up, I was the only person around me named Shaquille. I didn’t know any others until I got older."

Mason is the only Shaq in the ACC named to the preseason All-ACC team, but he is not the only standout at his position named Shaq across the country. Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson is a preseason All-American candidate; South Carolina's Shaq Roland is one of the better receivers in the SEC.

Back in ACC country, Shaquille Powell will start at running back for Duke on Saturday against Elon. Lawson is the primary backup to Vic Beasley at Clemson; Wiggins has to sit out this season after transferring to Louisville from Georgia. Though his name is spelled differently, let's count Rashad in here, too. Especially since one of his nicknames is "Shakinabox."

Maybe we can spell that "Shaqinabox" just for this exercise.

Naming babies after athletes is nothing new. The name Jordan also started rising in popularity when Michael Jordan became basketball king. So did the name Peyton, after Peyton Manning emerged at Tennessee and then as a perennial NFL All-Pro.

Makes you wonder whether we will see a new generation of Jameises in 18 years.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 8, 2013
Never change, Manning family.

Rashad apologizes for hit on Vernon

October, 22, 2012
North Carolina freshman linebacker Shakeel Rashad apologized to Duke receiver Conner Vernon for hitting him during a substitution, a play that earned him a one-game suspension from the ACC on Monday.

Rashad said in a statement: "I want to apologize to Duke’s Conner Vernon for running into him during Saturday’s game. I was in a hurry to get on the field and focused on where I was going. I have been playing football for most of my life and I have never been involved in that type of incident. I did not mean to run into him and I’m glad he was not hurt. He’s a great receiver and I wish him the best."

North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham also released a statement, as did coach Larry Fedora. Cunningham was disappointed the league did not speak to Rashad before handing down its punishment.

"We are certainly glad that Conner Vernon was not injured," Cunningham said in his statement. "I spoke to Shakeel in the locker room after the game and he was obviously upset about making contact, but insisted that it was unintentional and a result of rushing to get on the field as quickly as he could. We are disappointed with the decision to suspend him for a game. I don’t understand how the conference can suspend a player who was involved in such an unusual play without speaking to him."

Fedora's statement: "Shakeel is a really good kid who would never intentionally attempt to injure another player. Obviously, it was an unusual play, but knowing the type of young man that Shakeel is, I know he did not intentionally make contact with Conner. We were still making substitutions as Duke was lining up for its next play. Shakeel was trying to get on the field as quickly as possible and inadvertently ran into the receiver. We spoke after the game and Shakeel said he did not mean to collide with him. We’re just glad that no one was injured."

The ACC announced a series of suspensions Monday:
  • North Carolina freshman linebacker Shakeel Rashad has been suspended one game for his dangerous collision with Duke receiver Conner Vernon during a substitution in the second quarter Saturday night. In addition, head linesman Tyrone Davis and side judge Angie Bartis have been suspended one game for missing the call.
  • The entire officiating crew in the Florida State-Miami game will receive letters of reprimand, while crew chief and referee David Epperley has been suspended for one game for failure to properly administer the 10-second runoff rule at the end of the first half.

Rashad appeared to intentionally nail Vernon while running onto the field from the sideline but was not flagged. North Carolina coach Larry Fedora defended Rashad during his Monday news conference, saying, "“I promise [you], there was none of, ‘Hey, let me run into this guy and that will stop the play before it gets started,’” Fedora said. “There was no malice at all.”

Later Monday, Rashad issued a statement, apologizing for the hit.

"I want to apologize to Duke’s Conner Vernon for running into him during Saturday’s game," the statement reads. I was in a hurry to get on the field and focused on where I was going. I have been playing football for most of my life and I have never been involved in that type of incident. I did not mean to run into him and I’m glad he was not hurt. He’s a great receiver and I wish him the best."

Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday he was "speechless" about what happened.

“It was full speed, and there was no intent to avoid," Cutcliffe said. "People have seen it, you've seen it on television, I've just never seen anything quite like it. ... I don't know, I'm kind of speechless about it."

As for the crew working the Florida State-Miami game, they announced the half had ended after a Florida State penalty because of the 10-second runoff rule. Miami started running into the locker room before the officials realized they had made a mistake because Florida State had a timeout remaining.

"They were running off the field, and I screamed at him that I had a time out and they can't take [the 10 seconds] off," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday during his weekly press conference. "That's why I saved the timeout for penalty situations like that. You can do that. That's a rule. Finally, they had to bring them back."

When asked if he had ever seen anything like that before, Fisher said, "No. But luckily they got it right and listened. Everybody makes mistakes.

"I don't want to be an official. They've got a tough job. But they have to do their job."

There also were questionable offensive pass interference calls against Florida State made in that game, but the ACC made no mention of those in its release.

2012 recruiting team wrap-ups

February, 2, 2012
While the star systems help evaluate each recruit and grade each class Insider, the most important aspect of signing day is whether or not each program filled its specific needs at each position. Here’s a quick look at each school in the ACC and the biggest need it filled on signing day:

BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles wanted to continue to build the depth on both lines, and did that with three offensive linemen and a defensive end. BC might have gotten a future star in four-star guard Frank Taylor, who is rated No. 14 in the country at his position.

CLEMSON: One look at the 2011 depth chart and it’s easy to see where Clemson’s biggest need was, as three starters on the offensive line and three starters on the defensive line have to be replaced from the ACC title team. Mission accomplished in this class with 10 linemen, including six on offense.

DUKE: The Blue Devils got what they were looking for in offensive skill positions with a quarterback, two running backs and three wide receivers in the 20-player class. Jela Duncan, rated the No. 39 running back in the country by, could give Duke’s running game a much-needed boost.

FLORIDA STATE: An already deep defensive line got even deeper and faster. The Noles lured in five defensive linemen, including the No. 1 defensive end and the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country in Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman, respectively.

GEORGIA TECH: The defensive line was the most pressing need for the Jackets, as they have to replace two senior starters up front. The staff got it done with five defensive linemen in this class, including three tackles.

MARYLAND: Randy Edsall and his staff put a heavy emphasis on linebackers in this class, with three outside linebackers and three inside linebackers. Abner Logan Jr., who is rated No. 28 in the country at his position, highlights the group.

MIAMI: Defensive backs were a big priority, and Miami took care of it with five cornerbacks and two safeties. The prize of the class was Tracy Howard, rated the No. 1 cornerback in the country by RecruitingNation.

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels' depth at linebacker needed some help, especially with having to replace outgoing senior Zach Brown. First-year coach Larry Fedora added some talent with four linebackers in this class, including four-star commit Shakeel Rashad.

NC STATE: Tom O’Brien bolstered his defensive line in this class with six newcomers, and he said he now has a “whole different breed” of pass-rushers. The Pack lured in defensive end Kenderius Whitehead, the No. 31 end in the country.

VIRGINIA: Offensive line was a concern, as the Hoos will have to replace their starting center and left guard in 2012. Mike London brought in three guards and two tackles to help build the depth up front.

VIRGINIA TECH: It’s no secret the Hokies needed to load up on running backs after back-to-back seasons in which three stars decided to leave early and one backup graduated. Virginia Tech got it done in this class with four running backs, including Drew Harris, ranked No. 19 at his position by RecruitingNation.

WAKE FOREST: The Deacs have to replace four starters on the offensive line, and while it’s unlikely a true freshman will earn a starting job, it’s certainly a place on the depth chart where an outstanding rookie has a chance to make an impact. Wake brought in two tackles and a guard to help their cause.

UNC notes

January, 9, 2012
North Carolina announced the arrival of two early enrollees, linebacker Shakeel Rashad and tight end Terrance Knox.

Rashad is a 6-2, 220-pound prospect from Jacksonville, Fla., where he attended The Episcopal School. Knox played tight end and defensive end for Concord High School in Concord, N.C.. He focused primarily on offense as a senior and caught 32 passes for 426 yards and seven touchdowns. As a junior, he had 14 catches for 253 yards and eight touchdowns.

North Carolina also announced that backup quarterback Braden Hanson has graduated and will transfer to the University of North Dakota for his final season of eligibility. Hanson played in six games in 2011 as the backup to Bryn Renner. For the season, he was 9 of 16 for 185 yards. He also played in three games in 2009.