Penn football adds 27 players in Class of 2018

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Penn football adds 27 players in Class of 2018

Penn head coach Al Bagnoli on Thursday announced his final recruiting class. Bagnoli will retire after his 22nd season as coach.

The Class of 2018 will have 27 players total, four from New Jersey and two from Pennsylvania:

Robbie Arancio, FB - Delbarton High School, Warren, N.J.
The 6-foot, 225-pound fullback was a two-time first-team all-conference player in high school and a 2013 first-team all-county.

Nicholas Bokun, TE - Hobart High School, Hobart, Ind.
A 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end, Bokun was named to the 2012 all-state juniors team by the Indiana Football Coaches Association. He was a 2013 academic all-state.

Mustafaa Dais, WR - The Hackley School, Pomona, N.Y.
Dais lettered in football, basketball and track & field at The Hackley School. The 6-foot-2 receiver won two league titles playing football, and twice made the first-team all-state football team.

Brock Elmore, K/P - Bloomington High School, Bloomington, Ind.
The 6-foot-3 kicker/punter was a 2013 academic all-state and named to the 2013 all-state senior team by the Indiana Football Coaches Associations.

Sam Follansbee, LB - North Hunterdon High School, Annandale, N.J.
A 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker, Follansbee served as team captain in his senior season at North Hunterdon High School. He was also a 2013 first-team all-conference, all-county, all-area and all-West Jersey.

Tayler Hendrickson, DL - Middletown South High School, Red Bank, N.J.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder lettered three years in football and was first-team all-division in each year.

Ben Henry, OL - Palisades High School, Upper Black Eddy, Pa.
Henry (6-2/290) was Palisades High School’s team captain in his senior season, which he was also named first-team all-state.

Hunter Kelley, P/K - Edison High School, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Kelley lettered three times in football and soccer, and was a three-time Scholar Athlete honoree in both football and basketball. He was named the Sunset League Kicker of the Year in 2013.

Nathan Kirchmier, OL - American Heritage School, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound lineman was named by the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel 2013 first-team all-county.

Ephraim Lee, S - Marian Central Catholic High School, Lake in the Hills, Ill.
Lee was a first-team all-conference a first team all-area in 2013 and was also an academic all-state in 2013.

Ayman Mayberry, CB - Francis Parker School, Chula Vista, Calif.
The San Diego Union Tribune named the 5-foot-11 defensive back to the 2013 all-academic team, and his team won the 2013 conference championship with a 10-0 season.

Brandon Michel, CB - Phillips Academy, East Walpole, Mass.
Michel was named to the 2013 all-New England team and was also named his team MVP in 2013.

Brandon Mills, LB/RB - Mira Costa High School, Hawthorne, Calif.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker twice served as team captain and was also a two-time all-area and all-league honoree by the Daily Breeze.

Brandon Myden, DL - Oak Park High School, Oak Park, Calif.
Myden was first-team all-league, first-team all-section and second-team all-county in 2013.

Nick Neu, DE - Roncalli High School, Indianapolis, Ind.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end set his high school’s single-season record for tackles for loss with 32 in his senior season. He was also a two-time team defensive MVP.

Zach O’Leary, LS/LB - Lawrenceville School, Manteca, Calif.
The 6-foot-1 long snapper and linebacker was his school’s valedictorian.

Kylan Philbert-Richardson, S - Archbishop Williams High School, Randolph, Mass.
Philbert-Richardson was a two-time all-scholastic selection at high school and a two-time league all-star.

Nick Rittenhouse, QB - Space Coast High School, Cocoa, Fla.
Rittenhouse holds the single season and career school records in total yards, total touchdowns, completions and passing yards and is third all-time in state history with nine touchdowns (five passing, four rushing) in a single game.

Tre Solomon, RB - Xavier High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Solomon was a three-time team captain and team MVP.

Lukas Sontich, DE - Chagrin Falls High School, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Sontich was named to Ohio’s Top 200 Prospects by Scouting Ohio.

Austin Stapleton, OL - St. Joseph Region High School, Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.
His brother, Christian, currently is a wide receiver for Penn.

Drew Trabing, OL - Prior Lake High School, Prior Lake, Minn.
The 6-foot-4 lineman was first-team all-state, first-team all-conference and first-team all-metro in 2013.

Chibuzor Ugwu, DL - Hightower High School, Sugar Land, Texas
Ugwu was a four-time first-team all-district and a two-time all-city.

Louis Vecchio, DE - Villa Park High School, Orange, Calif.
Vecchio was a two-time all-section, two-time all-county, two-time all-league and a two-time Century League Lineman of the Year in football. He also played basketball.

Justin Watson, WR - South Fayette High School, Bridgeville, Pa.
Watson set league records in 2013 with 1,568 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns. Those numbers also placed him fourth and third in state history in those categories, respectively.

Alex Weber, LB - Chiawana High School, Pasco, Wash.
Weber won four league championships and the 2013 state title in high school. He was a two-time league MVP.

Gerhard Williams IV, Fleming Island High School, Fleming Island, Fla.
The 6-foot-6 lineman served as team captain in his senior season in which his team went 10-0 and won the 2013 division title.

La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

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La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.

VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.

VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.

Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).

Jay Wright: No. 1 Villanova overcoming 'constant challenge' of championship hangover

Jay Wright: No. 1 Villanova overcoming 'constant challenge' of championship hangover

It's something Villanova is constantly battling, constantly fighting. Jay Wright feels it every day and so do his players.
 
The national championship hangover.
 
About 10½ months ago, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Jalen Brunson and several other members of the current Villanova basketball team beat North Carolina, 77-74, at Reliant Stadium in Houston to win the national title.
 
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and Wright’s challenge this year has been to try to make it a twice-in-a-lifetime experience.
 
He has a group of young kids who’ve scaled the highest mountain, who’ve lived a dream, who’ve experienced something only a handful of college basketball players ever get to experience.
 
And with that championship has come a sense of accomplishment that’s certainly deserving and understandable but also at odds with the hunger Wright needs from his players to be at their best every moment of this season.
 
That’s the battle Wright and his team is facing. Beating the NCAA championship hangover. 
 
“It’s definitely there,” Wright said Saturday after the Wildcats beat Providence at the Wells Fargo Center. “It’s something you have to deal with all the time, and as you have success it continues, and I’m sure when it comes NCAA Tournament time, it’s going to be (even stronger).
 
“I get it. Everybody said it to me and if someone asks me next year I would say the same thing, that it’s there and you really, really have to address it and deal with it. Every day.”
 
So far, they’re addressing it and dealing with it magnificently.
 
Villanova is 19-1 and ranked No. 1 in the country. The Wildcats’ only loss so far was to No. 12 Butler by eight points at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
 
Although Villanova graduated Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, the nucleus of last year’s 35-5 team is still here. Eight Wildcats averaged 17 minutes or more last year, and six of them — Hart, Jenkins, Brunson, Darryl Reynolds, Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth — are still in the program, although Booth is currently injured.
 
Hart, Villanova’s national Player of the Year candidate, said the championship hangover is a real thing he senses every day.
 
“Definitely,” he said. “Coach has been coaching longer than we’ve been alive. He’s got the experience, we’ve just got to lean on his experience. He’s been through these situations, and we just have to be humble and be coachable.”
 
The last team to win a national championship and get off to this good of a start was Duke in 2010-11.
 
But that Duke team lost its 21st game. A win at Marquette on Tuesday would make Villanova 20-1, and that would be the best record to start a season by a national champion since Duke opened 23-1 in 2001-02.
 
So from the outside, it seems like smooth sailing. But Wright swears the championship hangover is something he has to deal with every day.
 
“It’s everything,” Wright said. “You sense that home games are like shows, they’re not competitions. You can just sense it. You can feel it. Everybody’s coming to see the show.
 
“You can’t do that as a player because the other team’s coming in to beat the top team in the country, and they’re at another level. So your players sense it. Everything that goes on around them. The way everybody treats them, and what’s going on in their mind.
 
“They’ve done it. I’m sure there’s some times where Josh and Darryl and Kris are like, ‘All right, we’ve done this already, let’s get through this, let’s get to the NCAA Tournament.’ They never say it, but they’re human beings.
 
“You know there’s going to be some times, some times, when I’m on their butts about little things and they have to think, ‘Come on man, we did this already.’ You know? Then they catch themselves. They never say it, but I can just sense that sometimes.”
 
But the Wildcats keep on rolling. They’re now a remarkable 116-14 in four years with Hart, Jenkins and Reynolds on campus, by far the best record in Division 1 since the start of the 2013-14 season.
 
If anything, Jenkins, Hart and Brunson have all been even better this year than last.
 
Jenkins, who hit the historic buzzer-beater to topple North Carolina in the title game, has career-high averages of 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals and is shooting a career-high 43 percent from three.
 
Hart is shooting a career-high 53 percent and averaging career-highs of 19.2 points, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

And Brunson, a sophomore, has blossomed after taking over the point, with 13.9 points, 4.3 assists and 2.5  rebounds per game.
 
“We just have to continue to get better,” Jenkins said. “I believe every guy in our locker room wants to continue to grow and become better. We’re not just satisfied with something we did last year. This is a brand-new year.”
 
Wright was asked if he’s ever had to deal with anything like this before.
 
He didn’t hesitate before saying simply, “No.”
 
In 2009, Villanova went 30-8 and reached the Final 4 but there’s no comparison, he said.
 
“Even after going to the Final 4 in ’09, a lot of those guys left,” Wright said. “We graduated six guys so it was a whole different team.
 
“We’ve got a lot of guys back. We only lost two starters. So all these guys have done it. Mikal Bridges didn’t do it as a starter, Darryl Reynolds didn’t do it as a starter, but they don’t think that way, kids don’t think that way. People don’t treat them that way. Even Jalen Brunson, he started but he was in a different role, but people treat him that way. ‘You’re the national champions, you did it.’
 
“Arch (Ryan Arcidiacono), Daniel (Ochefu), three walk-ons were leaders, they did a lot too.”
 
The Wildcats lost not only a Big East Player of the Year and one of the best big men in the program’s history but also a projected starting guard to injury and their top recruit to eligibility.
 
And they’re 19-1 and No. 1 in the country.
 
You can make a case that Wright is actually doing a better coaching job this year than last year.
 
“It’s just constant,” he said of the 2016 hangover. “They’ve handled it far better than I ever thought 18- to 22-year-olds could, but it’s a constant challenge.
 
“I know you (writers) have children. That’s exactly what it is. Your kid has some good days in school and does well, does his homework, (and thinks), ‘Yeah, I get it.’
 
"'OK, don’t get cocky now.’ Eighteen to 22. And they’ve been amazing. Amazing. But we definitely have to address it all the time.
 
“And I’m not complaining about it. I would take this challenge every year. There’s no reason to complain. You’re a jerk if you’re complaining about it. I’m just being honest about it, that it’s something we address. And I’m happy to do it. And so are they.”