George Mason seeks resume-building wins in paradise

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George Mason seeks resume-building wins in paradise

Coming off a loss at Bucknell, George Mason looks to rebound this weekend island-style, though there doesn't figure to be tons of toes in the sand time during the Patriots' jaunt to St. Thomas.

Without a pair of suspended sophomores, Paul Hewitt's squad faces Atlantic Sun program Mercer on Friday at 1:30 p.m., the first of three games in four days for the Patriots (1-1). After the meeting with the Bears, Hewitt will have the services of imposing center Erik Copes and swingman Vaughn Gray for the final two games. Before the season, the sophomores were each suspended three games for conduct violations.

The matchup with Mercer stands as potentially one of three games that will boost Mason's all-important RPI. Yes, it's important to live in the moment, especially when you're in, hello, paradise, but this tournament is tremendous opportunity to help the Patriots NCAA Tournament at-large resume.

Following Mercer, George Mason faces either New Mexico, an NCAA Tournament team last season, or Illinois-Chicago. No. 23 Connecticut and Wake Forest loom on the other side of the bracket along with Iona and Quinnipiac. With a little luck, the Patriots could leave the island with three matchups the bracketology community will love in addition to the two already in the can.

Facing a comparable scenario last season in the NIT Tipoff, the Patriots fell to upstart Florida International in the early rounds. That meant rather than playing Virginia Tech, George Mason took on the underwhelming trio of Monmouth, Brown and Albany.

Junior point guard Bryon Allen, the reigning CAA co-Player of the Week, scored five of his 13 points in the final minute of George Mason's season opening win over Virginia. Swingman Sherrod Wright leads the Patriots in scoring (15.5) while shooting 60 percent from the field.

The Bears (2-0) have won their games this season by an average of 37 points, though it's hard to gauge what to make over victories against Sewanee (?) and Oglethorpe (???). There is no mistaking the Macon, Ga. program's accomplishments last season as anything but impressive. Four starters return from a 27-win team that knocked off Georgia Tech during the regular season and captured a postseason championship in the College Insiders.com tournament. Guard Travis Smith (11.5 ppg) leads in scoring, though the Bears are expected to be without All-Conference point guard Langston Hall (ankle).

Beat Mercer and George Mason plays the New Mexico/UIC winner on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Lose and the Patriots second game is 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Regardless of the path, the third game will be on Monday.

DeAngelo Hall to be inducted into Virginia Tech Hall of Fame

DeAngelo Hall to be inducted into Virginia Tech Hall of Fame

Former Virginia Tech standout and current Washington Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall will be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, the school has announced.

Hall played for the Hokies from 2001 to 2003, catching an interception as a true freshman in the very first game of his collegiate career. He was a dynamic player for Virginia Tech on defense, offense and special teams, scoring touchdowns in all three phases of the game. Hall remains the only player in school history to return two punts for touchdowns in the same game which he did in 2003 against Syracuse. He also played a major role in one of the biggest wins in program history, a 31-7 win over No. 2 Miami in 2003 in which Hall scored a touchdown on a strip and return.

The Chesapeake, Va. native was named an All-American after the 2003 season. He left Virginia Tech after three years and was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2004 NFL Draft. He is now in his eighth season in Washington.

Kerri Gardin, Kevin Jones, Spyridon Jullien, Ashlee Lee and Jim Weaver will also be inducted with Hall. The ceremony will take place on Sept. 16 and all six will be introduced the following day during halftime of Virginia Tech's game against Boston College.

RELATED: VIRGINIA TECH LANDS FOUR COMMITMENTS SATURDAY

Virginia Tech lands four commitments Saturday

Virginia Tech lands four commitments Saturday

Virginia Tech had itself a day on Saturday as four prospects committed publicly to the football program. Three players are from the 2017 class while the Hokies also grabbed their first commitment for 2018.

Wide receiver Sean Savoy, linebacker Jaylen Griffin and offensive lineman Aiden Brown committed from the class of 2017. Wide receiver Bryce Thompson from the class of 2018 committed also committed. Savoy is a three-star prospect and Brown is a two-star. Both Griffin and Thompson are unrated, per Rivals.

In addition to the four commitments, there is more good news out of Blacksburg as four-star defensive end TyJuan Garbutt also visited the school over the weekend.


Garbutt is the eleventh ranked defensive end in the country. He was previously committed to Virginia Tech, but decommitted earlier in July. Despite the decommitment, Virginia Tech remains the leader to land the prized prospect.

RELATED: FUENTE EMBRACES EXPECTATIONS AT VIRGINIA TECH

Mendenhall provides little clarity on QB race

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USA TODAY Sports

Mendenhall provides little clarity on QB race

If you were hoping for some clarity from Bronco Mendenhall at the ACC Kickoff on Virginia's quarterback race, he provided none.

Matt Johns returns for his senior season, but he is competing with transfers Connor Brewer and Kurt Benkert to remain atop the depth chart in 2016. Mendenhall is certainly in no hurry to name a starter.

"We currently have three quarterbacks in contention that we will carry through fall camp before we make a decision," Mendenhall said.

Despite starting for the past two seasons, Johns did not do enough to entrench himself as the starter. Johns threw for 2,810 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015, but he also threw 17 interceptions. Mendenhall praised his poise and experience, but his play has left an opening for Brewer and Benkert.

Brewer served as Johns' backup last season after transferring from Arizona. He appeared in only two games for the Cavaliers, completing 4-of-8 passes for 34 yards and an interception. His progress in the offseason, however, has pleased the coaches and has thrust him into the midst of the quarterback competition.

"Connor Brewer had a very good spring, much more efficient and effective than any of us expected," Mendenhall said. "He was just grateful for a chance. But he made the most of it."

The newest quarterback of the three to Charlottesville, Benkert may also be the most intriguing. He transferred to Virginia from East Carolina in the spring after missing the entire 2015 season with a knee injury. ECU head coach Ruffin McNeil, now the defensive line coach at UVa, named Benkert the starter before he suffered the injury.

Unlike the other two quarterbacks, Benkert also has two years of eligibility remaining which is a very appealing prospect to the head coach.

"We're very intrigued by what we've seen from [Benkert] with the upside that he has two years of eligibility,' Mendenhall said. "There is a nice bridge there that could be formed with the possibility of more experience."

As Mendenhall begins rebuilding the Virginia program, having too many options at the quarterback position is potentially a positive development for the Cavaliers. UVa may need help in a lot of areas, but if they come into the season feeling confident under center it will make the transition to a new coach that much easier.

Because of the importance of the position, however, it's a decision Mendenhall has to get right and he intends to take his time before he makes it.

"I won't know until fall camp is over," Mendenhall said. "We'll have to do a masterful job of orchestrating fall camp to distribute the repetitions enough to be clear enough as to who is the uncontested leader."

RELATED: MENDENHALL NOT INTERESTED IN 'HONEYMOON PERIOD' AT UVA