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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Freshman playmaker Parmalee impressing KU football coaches, teammates

Kansas University freshman wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee leaps over teammate Andrew Turzilli during drills with the receivers unit on Tuesday, August 22, 2012, at the practice fields near Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University freshman wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee leaps over teammate Andrew Turzilli during drills with the receivers unit on Tuesday, August 22, 2012, at the practice fields near Memorial Stadium.

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Tre' Parmalee goes through receiver drills Tuesday

Kansas freshman receiver Tre' Parmalee (No. 11) goes through receiver drills Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012, at the KU football practice fields.

Almost every time Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis addresses the media, wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee’s name comes up.

There’s a reason for that, Weis said Tuesday during his regular weekly news conference.

“He’s just made too many plays,” Weis said. “He’s made ’em in the return game, he’s made ’em at receiver, and he makes ’em every day.”

Parmalee, a 5-foot-10, 168-pound freshman from Bishop Miege High in Kansas City, was one of six wide receivers whom Weis singled out Tuesday for positive production in camp. KU’s three seniors — Kale Pick, Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears — have been atop the depth chart since spring practice, but there has been some shifting behind them.

Of the five other wideouts whose names appeared on KU’s Aug. 1 depth chart, only two were mentioned by Weis on Tuesday — junior Chris Omigie and sophomore Andrew Turzilli. Josh Ford, Christian Matthews and JaCorey Shepherd were the others on KU’s initial depth chart, but it certainly seems possible that their names will not be included on the updated two-deep when it’s released next Tuesday.

In fact, Shepherd, a sophomore who was KU’s fourth-leading receiver and tied for the team lead with three touchdowns as a true freshman in 2011, spent Tuesday’s practice working as a defensive back.

“There’s a lot of candidates,” said Weis when asked to size up his receiving corps. “And some of them have been a bit of a surprise, moving up or moving down.”

Beshears, who said he and Patterson had made it a priority to help Parmalee adjust to college football, said Parmalee had surprised a lot of people with both his ability and his consistency.

“Coming in as a freshman, people just expect you just to go through the motions,” Beshears said. “But he’s improved every day, he’s making great strides and I think he’s gonna be a good player here.”

Beshears said Parmalee’s physical skills were only part of the package.

“He’s a pretty smart kid,” Beshears said. “Intelligent. He’s really focused in the meeting rooms and he’s producing on and off the field.”

Added Weis: “He’s played himself into contention to legitimately be playing. When I brought him in here, I looked at him in his house and said, ‘Well, there’s a red-shirt.’ But you go out there to practice, that’s not the way he’s played. And everyone will tell you the same thing, from the starting quarterback right on through. All he’s done is made plays all the time.”

McKinney still coming

The question took a little more than 10 minutes to get to during Tuesday’s news conference — the delay designed to disguise overkill — and the answer was pretty much the same it had been all month.

Yes, junior-college transfer Ty McKinney is still coming and, no, Weis does not know when.

“We’re in any-day mode,” Weis said. “It could be today. It could be tomorrow.”

Originally slated to compete for a starting spot along KU’s defensive line, the 6-3, 310-pound junior’s arrival has been delayed because he has not been able to finish his final junior-college class. According to Weis, McKinney completed all of the course work some time ago, but the school through which McKinney is taking the class has a rule that says the work must be graded before the final exam can be taken. Although frustrating for both the Jayhawks and McKinney, Weis said everyone was keeping a cool head.

“The dean of the school has been very helpful in encouraging the professor of the one class that we’re waiting on to finish grading the material so he can take the exam so he can come,” Weis said.

The good news, Weis said, is that now that KU has started classes, McKinney would be eligible to jump right into practice without having to go through the acclimatization process required in the summer. In addition, the NCAA offers a grace period for situations such as these. So, as soon as McKinney takes the exam, he will be able to report to campus without having to wait for the exam to be graded.

Although Weis would love to have the big D-lineman plugging up the middle of his defense, he said football was not the only thing he was concerned about.

“We’ve started school,” he said. “We’re in class now. What we can’t do is let one of our young men come in and get behind academically. Forget about football for a second. Let’s let him get settled into his class schedule.”

Depth chart nearly set

With just 10 days remaining before the first game of the Weis era, a handful of position battles remain unsettled.

But Weis said Tuesday that most had been settled.

“There’s a little juggling,” he said. “But I’d say over 90 percent of the depth (chart) that you’re getting next Tuesday is already done.”

Asked if the players who had won their battles had been informed, Weis grinned.

“No,” he said. “We can’t tell them. Here’s what they know; they know if they’re still fighting, they know how close it is. They’re not blind. They can watch the tape and see who’s playing better than the others and who’s getting more reps because of it.”

Of the spots up for grabs, only two were for first-string positions, with Tunde Bakare and Prinz Kande battling at Sam linebacker and Aslam Sterling and Riley Spencer competing for the final starting spot on the offensive line. The rest of the battles were for second-string roles. Among the leaders in those spots were junior running back Taylor Cox, who currently sits just ahead of sophomore Brandon Bourbon and behind starter Tony Pierson, and red-shirt freshman quarterback Michael Cummings, whom, Weis said, had a slight edge of sophomore transfer Turner Baty for the No. 2 QB spot behind Dayne Crist.

Spencer returns

Speaking of Spencer, the 6-6, 305-pound junior who missed the past two weeks because of a knee injury returned to practice Tuesday.

Asked how Spencer’s presence changed the flow, junior Randall Dent said it did not alter things very much.

With Spencer sidelined, Sterling and junior Gavin Howard have handled the right tackle spot. When Howard, who is listed as KU’s starting right guard, has been at tackle, Dent has worked with the first team at right guard.

When asked Tuesday night if his starting line had been established, O-line coach Tim Grunhard did not spoil the surprise.

“That’s a question for (Coach Weis),” Grunhard said. “I think you guys can see what’s going on.”

Surprise scholarships

Four former walk-ons received the surprise of a lifetime last Saturday, as long snapper Justin Carnes, defensive lineman Shane Smith, reserve running back Ryan Burton and safety Brandon Hawks all received word that they would be on scholarship for the 2012 season.

Weis said the opportunity to award the four scholarships came because KU had not reached its maximum of 85 scholarships. He added, however, that the effort turned in by all four players throughout the offseason made it an easy decision to make.

“Justin Carnes is our long snapper, he’s been our long snapper and he and Shane Smith are two guys who play on special teams,” Weis said. “And then Ryan Burton and Brandon Hawks don’t really play too much but they typify what a walk-on should be: A great student, (who) goes and busts (his) butt every day for multiple years.

“As the head coach, together with the administration, watching the team’s reaction to those guys, it was pretty good stuff,” Weis said.

Weis was not the only one who appreciated the moment. Several Jayhawks said Tuesday that they were thrilled for those four guys, including newcomer Mike Ragone, who has known them for just a few months.

“The guys that were chosen, 100 percent they were deserving of it,” Ragone said. “I was just as excited for them as they were for themselves. It was awesome. They work hard every day, they come to work and it’s very, very hard for a walk-on, at the Div. I level, to be a part of the team, and these guys are very deserving.”

Defense progressing

Several KU coaches said Tuesday that the defense has made great progress during the past couple of weeks, but only one seemed less than thrilled about it.

“It’s been a pain in the butt as the offensive coordinator,” Weis joked. “It’s gotten tougher as the camp’s gone on because they’ve gotten better and better.”

Weis followed that comment by quickly changing hats.

“As the head coach, that’s a wonderful thing.”

With 12 newcomers on KU’s defensive two-deep, Weis said the upgrade in talent has done wonders for a defense that ranked among the worst in college football the past two seasons. But simply upgrading the talent has not accounted for all of the upward movement.

“Not only has the competition gotten much, much, much greater on defense,” Weis said. “But the pace of practice has picked up considerably — the tempo which they’re practicing at, because coach (Dave) Campo has been emphasizing running to the ball, showing effort and all that other stuff.”

Grunhard, whose offensive linemen are forced to face the defense every day in practice, said he had noticed great improvement, as well.

“Just as a group, they have really started to do some great things in practice,” Grunhard said. “They’re coming off the ball, they’re playing physical, they’re playing low, they’re starting to get a little swagger. I really think that group is gonna surprise a lot of people this year.”

Comments

d_bradley27 1 year, 11 months ago

Nice work Matt. Appreciate the updates. I'm thinking too much time has passed for McKinney to make an impact this year. Will be mid-season before he's in shape to pay any dividends. Maybe red shirt option. Thoughts? Also, I'm very happy for Tre' but see him in the same mold as D.J and Daymond. Do we have any legit receivers over 6 ft who can stretch the field and have an advantage? Who's grabbing the jump ball on a corner route for us?

Rock Chalk!

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Matt Tait 1 year, 11 months ago

It's possible, but I still think McKinney will play. He's got game-changing size in the middle there. It all depends on the kind of shape he's in when he does finally get here.

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KanFan27 1 year, 11 months ago

I was thinking the same thing about McKinney. I think he could easily contribute this year, but it might be best for the future to just cut our losses and red shirt him. Also Tre cannot really fit into the same mold as D.J. or Daymond. He is a little taller and not as fast. He is more like a small Briscoe. He does not have blazing speed he is just slippery and runs great routes. He won't beat many people down field, but he will find a way to get open and won't drop much that comes his way. As for grabbing those corner routes we have Pick. He is extremely athletic and has some of the best hands in the game. He makes incredible catches on a daily basis. Lastly we do have a few guys over 6 ft who can stretch the field. Omigie is the biggest of the bunch but has limited speed to stretch the field although he has been getting faster. As far as good size with good speed we have Ford. We also have Turzilli. Turzilli is the fastest receiver on the roster and one of the biggest. He just needs a little more work on his routes and his consistency, but he is still young so I won't be surprised to see him become a real play maker.

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KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

How about Tre' and Ryan Broyles? Same build (Ryan was 5'10" 170 coming out of H.S.). Similar speed. Surely Broyles has more of it, but "it" seems a lot like what Tre' has. The ability to get open. Intangibles. Instincts. The stuff you can't coach.

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duanep5ku 1 year, 11 months ago

I have to admit for the first time in years that I can not wait to the football season to begin. I would also like to like to say this in advance of the upcoming season thank you Charlie Weis for brining back the excitement in the other great Kansas sport,football.

I know as fans we always major success by the wins and loses but it sounds like to me you have already done a great job in the academic's part of your job. I know that fans sometime forget that in football the classroom is also very important to the whole scheme of student athlete. Okay now on to the football side, I just want to thank the team in advance and wish them the best of luck on the season. I do hope you guy's can go out and shock some people and the fans this year, Take it one game at a time and just have faith that you the players are at the start of doing great things this year at Kansas both on the field and in the classroom.

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april28 1 year, 11 months ago

Someone needs to tell the coaching staff that Tre Parmalee was not a highly-ranked recruit and therefore cannot play, regardless of what they see in practice.

There is another god-awful university down the road that has produced a pretty good football program over the past 20 years with very few NFL-caliber players. It's good to see that someone in Lawrence has been paying attention.

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KU79 1 year, 11 months ago

Reminds me of that Sproles kid from Johnson County that Terry Towel didn't think was worthy of a scholarship. The old guy from the State school took a chance on him, but don't remember if he ever panned out. He probably went on to greatness, and Game Ball went on to obscurity. ;-0

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Steve Reigle 1 year, 11 months ago

Darren Sproles is in his eighth year in the NFL. He currently plays for the Saints.

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KU79 1 year, 11 months ago

This post was so good, it posted it twice.

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KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Can you nicely explain sarcasm to iamakufan?

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bville_hawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Jordie Nelson. I know he was pretty much a Manhattan local kid, but did KU try to recruit him?

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bville_hawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Interesting (and depressing!). Did he walk on at KSU or did Snyder see his potential and offer him a scholarship?

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Ron Prichard 1 year, 11 months ago

WRONG! Please do not make up stuff when you have no idea what you are talking about. Jordy went to my high school (15 miles NW of Manhattan) and my dad was actually his Jr. High football and basketball coach. I taught him and his brother swimming lessons when they were young. Without a doubt, he and his family were decidedly KSU all the way. That family bleeds purple. He was also a walk on at KSU before he got his scholarship so that little bit of your post doesn't pan out either. So, while KU may have asked him to walk on, that was no worse of a deal than KSU offered, and he was NEVER a KU fan.

Still, he's a great kid, and I don't say that about too many Wildcats.

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Ron Prichard 1 year, 11 months ago

Furthermore, 2003 was his freshman year at KSU.

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LSHawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Grunhard says, " I really think that unit is going to surprise a lot of people this year." Yep, I think that goes for the whole team.

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Andy Tweedy 1 year, 11 months ago

I know a few other people that are glad 4 extra scholarships got passed out! Those players' parents!!! I love to hear guys like that get noticed and rewarded for their hard work. Kudos to the walk-ons...

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John Randall 1 year, 11 months ago

That professor is waiting for a nice payoff to get his butt off the dime. The "schools" that offer these make-up courses for kids who need one are just after a little piece of the pie.

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Jim Jackson 1 year, 11 months ago

Tait, any news on Anthony Mcdonald, the ILB? I know he's been riding the exercise bike and Weis mentioned it was precautionary since he is injury prone, but is he injured right now? Is he in the two deep as it seems he hasn't practiced at all?

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Matt Tait 1 year, 11 months ago

I think he's practiced more than we realize and I think he's very much in the two-deep, if not still the starter.

Sounds like Weis is just doing what he can early to make sure McDonald doesn't take too many unnecessary poundings.

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KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Riding the bike doesn't sound too bad, but Weis drove home the point that injured players have it worse than healthy practicing players. Do you have any clue as to what he's doing to make being injured so awful?

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 11 months ago

I've said all along I am all in...I'm thinking bowl game unlike many people; however, things that make me nervous. 1) 168 lb 5'10" receiver is making waves (I know that there are successful receivers at that size, but they also get hit). 2) A lot of the same names, hopefully, the coaching staff really has "coached" the talent. 3) Some joke of a professor that couldn't make it in the real world, thinking he is teaching a football kid a lesson, let alone in JUCO and in a summer class. Isn't the semester over, shouldn't the grade already been done. 4) Injuries (I think we aren't as deep as people think, and injuries will crush us). 5) Our defense was dead last in the previous year, this is the first article that mentioned that the offense was having to work against them to move the ball. One thing you can count on is in the Big XII you will see some offenses move the ball, but we have to go from 120 to about 60 or less for that bowl game.

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KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Ryan Broyles. I compared the two above. He's playing for the Lions. Somehow the guy avoids getting hit squarely. Marcus Allen used to be great at that. I never saw him get popped.

As far as defensive ranking, we were a couple of offensive plays, bad calls, and defensive stops from making a bowl game in 2012. We got screwed a little by the refs vs. Baylor, Gill stuck with the ineffective Webb instead of the effective Matthews vs. Misery, and against Iowa St. we had several chances but blew it. Even if we had won all three of those games and gone to a bowl, we still would've been ranked last or near last on defense. So I don't think it needs to THAT much better.

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KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Agree on all points. The academic situation alone (which none of us were aware of) would've been a nightmare. I was just mentioning, like texashawk below, that we don't have to improve that much on D to get to a bowl.

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texashawk10 1 year, 11 months ago

Oklahoma St. and Baylor were both ranked in the 100's in (OSU 107 and Baylor 116) total defense and OSU won 12 games and Baylor won 10 games last year. The Big 12 also only had 3 defenses that finished ranked in the top 60 last season (UT-11, OU-55, A&M-59) so KU's defense doesn't have to be top 60 to be a successful Big 12 defense.

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Eric Dawson 1 year, 11 months ago

Matt, I confess to being confused by the award of scholarships to the 4 walk-ons. I thought KU had reached it's 25 new starts per academic year limit for AY2012-13. Here's the NCAA rule (from the "2011-12 NCAA Division I Manual"):

"15.5 MAXIMUM INSTITUTIONAL GRANT-IN -AID LIMITATIONS BY SPORT 15.5.1 Counters. A student-athlete shall be a counter and included in the maximum awards limitations set forth in this bylaw under the following conditions: (Revised: 6/10/04, 1/15/11 effective 8/1/11) (a) Athletics Aid. A student-athlete who receives financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability shall become a counter for the year during which the student-athlete receives the financial aid; or (b) Educational Expenses—Olympic Committee/National Governing Body. A student-athlete who receives educational expenses awarded by the U.S. Olympic Committee or a U.S. national governing body (or, for international student-athletes, expenses awarded by the equivalent organization of a foreign country) per Bylaw 15.2.6.4 shall become a counter for the year during which the student-athlete receives the aid. ... Football Limitations. 15.5.6.1 Bowl Subdivision Football. [FBS] There shall be an annual limit of 25 on the number of initial counters (per Bylaw 15.02.3.1) and an annual limit of 85 on the total number of counters (including initial counters) in football at each institution. (Revised: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/92, 12/15/06)"

As I understand the above limitations, a walk-on receiving a scholarship, even though he was on the team for the previous season (but did not "count" as he was not receiving financial aid based on his athletic ability), is an "initial counter" for the AY he first receives financial aid.

Even though KU might still be under the AY limit of 85 total counters (including initial counters), the limit of 25 initial counters per year supposedly stops KU from awarding any more for AY 2012-13. Yet the 4 scholarships awarded to the deserving young men on Saturday equates to 29 scholarships for this year -- don't they? 31 awards since December minus 2 applied to AY2011-12 (KU only had 23 new counters last AY) for January transfers Crist and Heaps minus 25 awards before last Saturday equals 4 awards to walk-ons.

Desiring understanding, and appreciating your insights, thank you!

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Keith Hummel 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't know the definitive answer to this, but I recall Weis mentioning at some point that some athletes would count against last year's numbers. Is it possible that accounts for the discrepancy?

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Matt Tait 1 year, 11 months ago

Here's the best and quickest way I can sum it up:

Although the Jayhawks were full for the incoming class, they were not full in other classes (from the past) which means that they still have some wiggle room under that 85 number.

Think about all of the guys who left, transferred or were dismissed. Some were going to be sophomores, juniors, even seniors. So when you take those guys out of the equation, the numbers in each of those classes comes down.

Because there's a year-to-year limit, that doesn't mean you can add more newcomers in the 2012 class, but it does mean you can use those available scholarships for upperclassmen walk-ons who are already here.

It's more than likely a one-year deal for those guys, because, if Weis brings in another full class next year he'll have to even things out again, but what a year it will be for those guys.

It's one of the truly awesome things in college sports.

And I gotta tell you, all four of the guys who received this honor are just incredibly nice dudes!

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 11 months ago

Also, JUCOs typically don't count against those counters.

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DocPossum 1 year, 11 months ago

I think the four scholarships belonged to the last four players who left....the two QBs and the two Einstens who had the run in with the cops.

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Jeff Suther 1 year, 11 months ago

Glad we have freshman stepping up. But Can we please get a receiver with some size to start making plays!

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machinegun 1 year, 11 months ago

Coach Weis is a genius! He is providing real opportunities for players who might not get the chance elsewhere. Tre Parmalee is an example of an undersized player who is going to get his shot at playing big-time college football.

We can see the same approach on defense where Coach Weis and his staff are encouraging players to get into the two-deep rotation. Get into that rotation and, guess what, you will get to play against some of the top teams in the country.

The scholarships for walk-ons are another great way to reinforce Coach Weis' message about hard work. The casual fan does not understand the psychological shift taking place at Memorial Stadium. We are so lucky to have Coach Weis at Kansas!

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Travis Shinkle 1 year, 11 months ago

Yea, I bet at ND Weis didn't have full control of how to operate things...at KU, for him (and us), it is starting over from scratch. Zero traditions (as Coach pointed out earlier this year), zero high expectations, and zero heavy media scrutiny with the exception of the idiot pro-Missouri media in Kansas City.

Granted, KU does play a YEARLY schedule that does rival ND on strength but if they start competing, then winning, and there is a noticeable difference in outlook, then we'll be in great shape.

The past few years has been so bad that all I want is a team that competes...I think Gill's teams would have been badly beaten by the Ottawa and Baker teams...

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jgkojak 1 year, 11 months ago

I still contend we were 1 decent coach and 1 decent QB away from being a decent (for the B12- which means great in other leagues) offensive team.

If we can put up 40pts per game we can win a few or be in a few at the end that we haven't been in the past.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 11 months ago

The kool-aid just keeps getting better. My optimism is way up now. Six wins? A cake-walk. How about an upset of TCU?

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banttp 1 year, 11 months ago

I think Charlie Weis and Staff will have a very successful year as oppose to previous seasons. I am very impressed with QB - Crist. As for WR- I think he has a talented crew around him that he will be able to stretch the field I am very impressed that we are hearing such positive things about our up and coming freshman ie... Parmalee. Practice transfer to the field which shows me Aprils comments he/she is clueless about the game. I think Campo will get the defense right and that KU will be on the rise again.

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Lance Cheney 1 year, 11 months ago

“The guys that were chosen, 100 percent they were deserving of it,” Ragone said. “I was just as excited for them as they were for themselves..."

Sounds like these Notre Dame transfers are bringing in a great attitude with them.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 11 months ago

Is there a problem with the Parmalee video link or is it just me?

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