Sports Digest: Irish sign 23 football players, 11 for defensive front seven

2014-02-05T22:00:00Z 2014-02-07T15:33:06Z Sports Digest: Irish sign 23 football players, 11 for defensive front seven nwitimes.com
February 05, 2014 10:00 pm

College football

IRISH SIGN 23, 11 FOR DEFENSIVE FRONT 7: Notre Dame has signed a recruiting class heavy on defensive linemen and linebackers.

The Fighting Irish are trying to fill the hole left by linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt leaving with a year of eligibility left to enter the NFL draft and the graduation of three starting linebackers.

Coach Brian Kelly said building depth in the front seven was the focus of the recruiting class of 23 that includes six defensive linebackers and five defensive linemen. The signings include defensive lineman Daniel Cage of Cincinnati, who committed to the Irish Wednesday after previously committing to Michigan State.

The Irish also signed four offensive linemen in a class Kelly said helps build depth to the Irish roster. The Irish also added quarterback DeShone Kizer.

HOOSIERS ADD 26 ON SIGNING DAY: A late commitment from linebacker Robert McCray III gave Indiana a 26-player recruiting class on national signing day.

Coach Kevin Wilson wanted to add depth on offense and playmakers on defense. The Hoosiers think they got both.

The Hoosiers also got a quarterback, Zander Diamont, the Los Angeles city player of the year; running back Tommy Mister, the Chicago Catholic League MVP; and a host of receivers and offensive linemen.

PURDUE LOADS UP ON SIZE: Purdue coach Darrell Hazell found a lot of leaders in this year's recruiting class.

He's hoping that translates into more wins next season, too.

Hazell made a conscious decision to find certain traits in the 19 players the Boilermakers signed Wednesday, the first day high school players could officially sign national letters-of-intent.

Eighteen of the signees served as high school captains. The Boilermakers clearly made a push to get bigger and they did, especially along the offensive line. Hazell's assistants repeatedly touted the toughness they found in this group, and the Boilermakers are hoping it will give them a whole new look after winning just one game in 2013.

The top recruits include quarterback David Blough, a Texas native, Lake Central defensive end Gelen Robinson and defensive Tim Cason, from Michigan.

ILLINOIS ADDS CLASS HEAVY ON DEFENSE, RECEIVERS: Illinois finished its 4-8 season with holes to fill on both sides of the ball. There are hopes in Champaign that the 18 players it signed Wednesday will take care of at least a few.

The group is heavy on linebackers, defensive linemen and wide receivers, with four of each. Illinois' receiver corps was thinned by graduation and its defense was among the Big Ten's worst in 2013.

Coach Tim Beckman said he also signed almost a third of the class from junior colleges because Illinois needs immediate help.

The top addition might be junior college transfer Jihad Ward from Globe Institute of Technology in New York. Beckman called him big and athletic.

Another key addition is receiver Malik Turner from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield.

NORTHWESTERN LANDS 15 PLAYERS: Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald sounded almost giddy as he looked toward the future and unveiled his latest recruiting class.

The Wildcats officially added 15 players Wednesday on national signing day as they try to pick themselves up from a disappointing season, including quarterback Clayton Thorson and of suburban Wheaton, Ill., and running back Auston Anderson of Plano, Texas.

Fitzgerald says he's "very excited about where we're going."

The Wildcats were looking to prove they can beat the best in the Big Ten last season after winning 10 games the previous year, only to watch things fall apart.

Men's basketball

NO. 4 SHOCKERS HOLD OFF INDIANA STATE: Cleanthony Early scored 19 points, and Tekele Cotton added 14 as No. 4 Wichita State remained unbeaten with a 65-58 victory at Indiana State on Wednesday night.

The Shockers (24-0, 11-0 Missouri Valley) extended their school-record winning streak and improved to 11-0 in conference play for the first time in school history. They have won three straight in the series.

The only undefeated team in Division I is No. 2 Syracuse (22-0).

Manny Arup had 16 points and Jake Odum added 11 for Indiana State (17-6, 8-3), which couldn't avoid a rare home loss. The Sycamores were 8-0 at home this season and fell to 40-11 at the Hulman Center under fourth-year coach Greg Lansing. Four of those losses have come to the Shockers.

PURDUE NEEDS TRIPLE OVERTIME TO TOP MINNESOTA: A.J. Hammons had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Purdue Boilermakers to a 77-74 triple overtime victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Wednesday night.

Kendall Stephens had 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and Ronnie Johnson had 11 points for the Boilermakers (14-9, 4-6 Big Ten), who snapped a season-worst four-game skid.

Maurice Walker had 17 points and six rebounds and DeAndre Mathieu added 15 points for the Golden Gophers (15-8, 4-6), who have lost three straight.

Minnesota was called for a shot clock violation and Hammons scored a lay-up with 57 seconds left to put the Boilermakers ahead 75-74.

Johnson made a free throw with 18 seconds left to make it 76-74. Errick Peck grabbed the rebound, was fouled and scored a free throw to give Purdue a 77-74 lead.

ILLINOIS STATE DEFEATS NORTHERN IOWA: Bobby Hunter scored 17 points and grabbed three rebounds as Illinois State defeated Northern Iowa 76-65 on Wednesday night.

Daishon Knight had 15 points and four rebounds for the Redbirds (13-10, 6-5 Missouri Valley Conference). 

JACKSON LEADS CRIMSON WAVE TO WIN: Robert Jackson's game-high 26 points led Calumet Colelge to a 78-41 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference win over Purdue North Central on Wednesday.

Brian Brilmeyer had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Crimson Wave (13-11, 5-9).

Purdue North Central (7-16, 2-11) was led by Nick Lafty's 13 points.

 

Pro football

BEARS HIKE TICKET PRICES: The Bears on Wednesday announced ticket prices for the 2014 season. Price increases range from $2 to $12.

The overall average increase for 2014 season tickets is 4.1 percent.

United Club season tickets range from $275 to $550. Non-club season ticket prices now range from $81 to $175. Season ticket holders can log in to their account and utilize the online payment option by visiting ChicagoBears.com.

The Bears' home schedule includes Buffalo, Dallas, Miami, New Orleans and Tampa Bay and the three NFC North rivals, Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit.

NFL AWARDS THURSDAY CONTRACT TO CBS: The NFL has decided to shift eight of its Thursday night games to a broadcast network, and announced Wednesday that CBS won the bid to showcase more of television's hottest property.

CBS will air the games during the first eight weeks of the season with its top broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, simulcasting them with the NFL Network. The league's cable network will show six Thursday night games alone later in the season, produced by CBS with Nantz and Simms also in the booth. Two Saturday games are included in the deal, but it is unclear whether they will be on CBS or the NFL Network.

The NFL said the contract is for one year, and the league has an option to extend it for 2015.

Around the horn

A season without a national championship on the field didn't slow down Alabama coach Nick Saban on the recruiting trail. The five-star prospects flocked to Tuscaloosa, including one who went to high school at Auburn. The Crimson Tide sat atop the rankings for Rivals, Scout, 247sports and ESPN. ... The Colts on Wednesday signed undrafted 6-foot-9, 320-pound free agent tackle Jack Breckner, who most recently played with the Iowa Barnstormers (2013) of the Arena Football League. ... David Beckham has exercised his option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami, and the deal with the former England captain will be finalized when he can secure a financing plan and location for a new stadium. ... Former star pitcher turned television analyst Curt Schilling announced Wednesday that he is battling cancer.

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