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National Signing Day 2019: Winners and losers

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National Signing Day can help shape a college football program for the next few years, but which teams succeeded and which failed in 2019?
National Signing Day 2019 is officially in the books. The once frenetic day in the college football recruiting period still has a little bit of frenzy to it, but not quite in the same manner that it once did thanks to the recent institution of the early signing period. Even still, programs had the opportunity to round out their recruiting classes in a big way.

Some teams undoubtedly succeeded in that regard, while others didn’t necessarily have to. When you look at programs like the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs, they had already completed most of their big-time recruiting work prior to National Signing Day and didn’t have much work to do.
Having said that, those two are largely the outliers as there was work that needed to be done for most college football programs throughout the country. But who succeeded and who failed in that regard? Let’s look at just that by looking at the big winners and losers from 2019 National Signing Day.

Loser: Florida State Seminoles
Even with Deondre Francois on the roster, Willie Taggart’s Seminoles were going to be thin at the quarterback position. However, with Francois being dismissed from the program, that made them in desperate need of landing a quarterback recruit on National Signing Day to provide depth behind James Blackman.

Their big target on Wednesday was James LeGendre, a 4-star recruit that was the best available passer coming into the day. However, they missed out on him as he elected to head to the Maryland Terrapins instead. This now marks the second-straight year that Florida State has failed to secure a quarterback in their recruiting class and the Taggart era in Tallahassee continues to move on less than swimmingly.

Winner: Tennessee Volunteers
With his first full year to compile a recruiting class for the Tennessee Volunteers, Jeremy Pruitt needed to make some big moves in Knoxville. Though he entered the day floating around the top 20 overall recruiting classes, his efforts on National Signing Day vaulted the Vols into the top 10 by the end of the day as they were able to pull off two massive signings.

The prize gem that Tennessee landed on Wednesday was, without question, offensive tackle Darnell Wright, the highest-ranked uncommitted recruit heading into Wednesday, getting him to spurn hometown West Virginia to come to the Vols. With that and landing the third-best outside linebacker in the country, Henry To’oto’o, the Volunteers are in a good way right now with Pruitt leading the charge.

Winner: Ole Miss Rebels
Coming off of a postseason ban, Matt Luke was able to make a splash for the Rebels on National Signing Day. He landed 5-star running back Jerrion Ealy, which is huge — even if he still might go to Major League Baseball instead of playing college football. Meanwhile, they nabbed wide receiver Jonathan Mingo as well, a 4-star recruit who was a big target of rival Mississippi State.

Those big moves and the signing of JUCO transfer linebacker Lakia Henry ultimately vaulted Ole Miss into the top 25 overall classes for 2019 recruiting. Luke still has work to do in Oxford, but they made big strides in the right direction on Signing Day.

Loser: USC Trojans
Entering National Signing Day, Clay Helton’s USC Trojans had the 18th-ranked class in the country, but had the opportunity to improve with some big targets still left uncommitted. They did get one of those guys in wide receiver Kyle Ford, but neither Puka Nacua (at least yet) nor Enokk Vmahi (heading to Ohio State) decided to go with Helton and the Trojans. Oh, and let’s not forget Bru

McCoy making his flip/transfer to Texas official.
Ultimately, Signing Day was a disappointing punctuation mark on the recruiting period for USC. Not only did things not turn out well on Wednesday, but they also missed out on 18 of the top 20 recruits in the state of California, something that would’ve been blasphemous at their peak. Helton has some serious work to do to keep his job if he’s going to misfire in recruiting like this.

Winner: Texas Longhorns
In truth, Tom Herman and the Texas Longhorns weren’t all that active on National Signing Day. Their biggest moment, as previous mentioned, came in the form of announcing officially something that we already knew — that 5-star athlete Bru McCoy would be coming to Austin rather than heading to USC. That bolstered an already strong class for the Longhorns.

Even better, though, the strong class for Texas left them as one of the top five in the entire country for 2019, the only non-SEC team to earn that distinction. It was clear last season that Herman has Texas as “back” as they’ve ever been, and this recruiting class is only going to further solidify that.
Loser: Louisville Cardinals

This is too easy, but it has to be mentioned. The Louisville Cardinals finished last among Power 5 schools in regards to their overall recruiting class rankings. They signed a meager 14 recruits and they appear to be heading in the wrong direction after Bobby Petrino’s departure. That may not be the trend, but things could get ugly early on for Scott Satterfield, and really already have with this 2019 class.

Source: https://fansided.com/2019/02/07/national-signing-day-2019-winners-losers/

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Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko climbs to 23rd spot in WTA ranking

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Ukraine’s second seeded tennis player Lesia Tsurenko has climbed one spot in the latest WTA ranking and has taken 23rd position for the first time in her career.

The 29-year-old has 1,950 points, Ukrinform reports.

Ukraine’s top seeded tennis player Elina Svitolina (5,020) returned to sixth position in the table, whereas Dayana Yastremska (1,386) retained 34th spot.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka (6,970) continues to top the table. Romanian Simona Halep (5,537) is second, and American Sloane Stephens (5,307) is third.

Source: https://menafn.com/1098134348/Ukraines-Lesia-Tsurenko-climbs-to-23rd-spot-in-WTA-ranking

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New York Red Bulls Announce Protected Player List

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The New York Red Bulls announced today the list of players available for the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft for FC Cincinnati, along with the list of players protected. The Red Bulls will protect the maximum 11 players from the senior roster. Four additional Homegrown Players are automatically protected. The expansion draft is set for Tuesday, December 11 at 2 p.m. ET.

New York Red Bulls protected players:

Goalkeepers: Ryan Meara, Luis Robles

Defenders: Kemar Lawrence, Aaron Long, Michael Amir Murillo Tim Parker (rights)

Midfielders: Christian Casseres Jr., Sean Davis, Kaku, Danny Royer

Forwards: Bradley Wright-Phillips

The Red Bulls have protected 10 players under contract and the rights to Tim Parker. The Red Bulls have extended a Bona Fide offer to Parker, retaining his rights and making him ineligible for the upcoming MLS re-entry draft.

Additional Homegrown players on the supplemental roster are automatically protected. Those players are: Derrick Etienne Jr., Evan Louro, Alex Muyl, and Ben Mines.

The list of available players is as follows:

Goalkeepers: None

Defenders: Kyle Duncan, Connor Lade, Hassan Ndam

Midfielders: Vincent Bezecourt, Andreas Ivan, Florian Valot

Forwards: Anatole Abang, Brian White

Source: https://www.newyorkredbulls.com/post/2018/12/10/new-york-red-bulls-announce-protected-player-list

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Vikings score key win to put Packers’ season on life support

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The Minnesota Vikings weren’t getting embarrassed on the national stage for a second straight game.

Badly needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, they came out and handily defeated the division rival Green Bay Packers 24-17 to improve to 6-4-1 on the season.

This was an extremely important victory because next week the Vikings travel to New England, where wins don’t come easily.

Here are three things we learned Sunday night.

1. The Vikings get it

Mike Zimmer’s players understood the importance of this game and knew they had to attack with the sense of urgency. They got off to a sloppy start, but as the game progressed, the team got key stops from the defense and put together productive drives on offense.

Minnesota had the look of a squad that knew it needed to win to keep playoff hopes alive. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was coming off of his worst game as a Viking (two interceptions to go with two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 76.5) and he had all eyes on him Sunday night because the Vikings fans wanted to know he would respond. The quarterback bounced back in a big way, completing 29 of 38 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns.

Helping matters for Cousins was the fact that the Packers’ pass rush is nothing like that of the Bears. Minnesota’s line did a good job of protecting the quarterback, and Cousins held up his end of the deal. He had some of his best throws in the second half with his team needing first downs and points.

2. Defense does still matter

This phase of the game is often overlooked in today’s NFL where teams produce video-game-like scores and rack up record-setting yardage totals. But strong defensive contributions do indeed still have a place in this league.

The Vikings generated good pressure on Aaron Rodgers with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson leading the way with two sacks. The disruption made it hard for the Packers to get anything going in the final three quarters of the game. Green Bay was a woeful 2-for-10 on third downs and managed only 14 first downs compared to the Vikings’ 22.

Give the Vikings credit for the way that they regrouped after offering little resistance to start the game. After surrendering two early touchdowns to the Packers, Minnesota limited Green Bay to just 23 yards in the second quarter and kept Rodgers and Co. out of the end zone the remainder of the game.

3. This just isn’t Green Bay’s year

The Packers already were on a disappointing course as they entered this game with a 4-5-1 record. But now at 4-6-1, and well behind wild card hopefuls in the Redskins, Vikings, Panthers and Seahawks, Green Bay can basically kiss its postseason hopes goodbye.

In their final five games, the Packers will face the Cardinals, Falcons, Bears, Jets and Lions. They’ll have trouble against the Bears, but wins are possible against the four other opponents. That still won’t likely be enough, however. The Packers have some nice pieces, but changes surely are coming. Mike McCarthy’s play-calling is largely unimaginative. The defense needs more difference-makers, and Rodgers could use another weapon or two.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/vikings/2018/11/25/green-bay-packers-minnesota-vikings-score-aaron-rodgers/2111611002/

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