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ESPN's Robert Lee pulled from Virginia game because of his name, report says

ESPN broadcaster Robert Lee was scheduled to call an upcoming University of Virginia football game, but in light of recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the network has pulled him from that assignment because of the similarity between his name and that of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

>> Charles Barkley offers brutally honest take on Confederate statue debate

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch released ESPN’s statement on the situation, saying it was Lee’s decision to request a different assignment:

>> See the tweet here

>> Read more trending news

Lee’s decision to request a change of assignment comes on the heels of recent protests in Charlottesville, in which a counter protester, Heather Heyer, was allegedly killed by a white supremacist.

Read more here.

UnScripted: The Cardiac Hill Podcast w/ Corey Cohen (FB Season Preview)

Corey Cohen and Jim Hammett record a complete season preview for the 2017 Pitt Football season.

In this episode of UnScripted: The Cardiac Hill Podcast, Corey Cohen and Jim Hammett record a season preview for Pitt Football. Topics include Paris Ford becoming eligible, an extensive look at the depth chart, and predictions for the season.

Max Browne to start at QB, officially

The USC grad transfer will start for Pitt, Pat Narduzzi announces

It was assumed right when Max Browne announced he was transferring to Pitt, but he’s officially been named the start for Youngstown State by Pat Narduzzi.

Pat Narduzzi announces Max Browne as Pitt's starting quarterback— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 22, 2017

Max Browne was the starter for USC going into the 2016 season, but after a rough few games, was replaced with now Heisman favorite Sam Darnold.

The reports from practice have indicated that Max Browne’s competition mostly came from RS Sophomore Ben Dinucci, who saw some action in last year’s bowl game after Nate Peterman got hurt. There is a certain amount of buzz about true freshman Kenny Pickett as well, but the logic is likely to redshirt him this year and compete for the starting job next year.

Browne is Pitt’s 3rd grad transfer quarterback to start in 4 years (Nate Peterman, Tom Savage). However, both of those former Pitt quarterbacks are on NFL rosters, and Pitt had good play out of both while they were here, especially Peterman. While it’s not great to have a new starter every year, Pitt has taken advantage of using grad transfers at a position it’s had very little depth at the last few years.

Hopefully, Browne’s season at Pitt goes as well as his predecessor’s did.

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: Will Paris Ford redshirt in 2017?

Pitt's football team got some great news that top recruit, Paris Ford, has finally been ruled eligible to play. Nearing the end of training camp, he's joined the team for practices this week, as JD wrote on Monday.

Should Pitt fans get their hopes up for this year, though? Head coach Pat Narduzzi downplayed his addition, at least in terms of this year. Narduzzi actually believes Ford will need to redshirt this season.

The head coach said on Monday, "We aren't going to say, 'okay Paris, let's go, you are the savior.' That isn't going to happen. In my opinion, he is going to redshirt, and if something else happens besides that, it's a miracle. It is just too hard to come in as a kid like that. We are just happy he is here, he's in school and that's the main thing."

That will be disappointing to some, especially with Pitt's secondary needing all the help it can get. That's magnified not only by the fact that the unit was abysmal last year but also that the team is missing arguably its top defensive back in Jordan Whitehead, who is suspended for the first three games.

Do you believe Narduzzi here or is this just a smokescreen? Even if he legitimately believes that Ford will need to redshirt this season, do you think that changes?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt soccer freshman Edward Kizza named to Top Drawer Soccer preseason All Freshman Team

Earlier, I wrote about a top 50 recruit that Pitt men's soccer coach Jay Vidovich landed for this season in forward Edward Kizza (name up for debate as I've seen him referred to as Kizza Edward and Edward Kizza - the Pitt website says Edward Kizza). It was an astonishing grab for a program that has been at the bottom of the ACC since they joined the conference.

Kizza is already gaining some early recognition and is primed for a big first year. Top Drawer Soccer recently named him to their national preseason All Freshman team. He is one of 11 players in the entire country to make the team and one of three forwards.

Pitt's soccer team has a long way to go, obviously. They are 1-1 in their two exhibition games this year, defeating American, 4-1, and losing 1-0 to VCU. The team was only 2-13-3 last year and in one of those victories, they needed double overtime to defeat Duquesne. It's hard not envisioning some kind of improvement this season. And as I said before, if Vidovich can land kids like Kizza and Chandler Vaughn (a 2018 top 20 recruit) without winning anything yet, imagine what he'll be able to do if the Panthers start to improve.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Take a look at this $72M high school football stadium in Katy, Texas

A new $72 million high school football stadium is ready for kickoff this season in Katy, Texas.

>> Watch the news report here

The 12,000-seat Legacy Stadium is the most expensive high school football stadium ever built and will be shared by eight local high schools. It boasts a massive video screen, huge locker rooms, restrooms and concession stands.

>> Read more trending news

The stadium was voted on and paid for by taxpayers in the area, according to NBC News.

“It’s something that this community wanted,” Katy ISD superintendent Lance Hindt told KTRK. “I don’t think the cost was anything that they really looked into.”

The stadium’s first game is slated for Aug. 31.

– Rare.us contributed to this report.

11 members of Cleveland Browns kneel during national anthem

Eleven members of the Browns knelt in protest during the national anthem before Monday night’s NFL preseason game between Cleveland and the New York Giants, the Plain Dealer reported. 

>> Read more trending news

According to the Plain Dealer, Those who took a knee were tight end Seth DeValve, running backs Duke Johnson Jr. and Terrence Magee, safeties Jabrill Peppers and Calvin Pryor, cornerback Jamar Taylor, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, linebackers Chris Kirksey and Jamie Collins, and running back Isaiah Crowell.

DeValve became the first white player to kneel during the national anthem, CBS Sports reported.

Standing with the group were punter Britton Colquitt, who had his hand on his heart; cornerback Jason McCourty; quarterback DeShone Kizer; defensive tackle Trevon Coley; and offensive tackle Shon Coleman, the Plain Dealer reported.

The Browns improved to 2-0 in the preseason with a 10-6 victory in a nationally televised game.

“As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country's national anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad," a Browns spokesman said in a statement at halftime. "We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.”

NFL players have continued the national anthem protests made prominent last season by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was with the San Francisco 49ers and knelt during the anthem's performance before games. 

This past week, Browns coach Hue Jackson defended his players’ rights to make a statement, provided it was peaceful and he had advance notice, ESPN reported.

Pat Signal: Marquis Williams commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a three-star corner from Florida

Pat Narduzzi left everyone guessing after tweeting out a “Pat Signal” late last night. It appears the mystery is now over as Marquis Williams committed live over Twitter just moments ago.

#CardinalGibbons HS (FL) 2018 DB Marquis Williams (@Williamsisland4) commits to the #Pittsburgh #Panthers pic.twitter.com/WvUembJEpt— Sleeper Athletes (@SleeperAthletes) August 22, 2017

Marquis Williams is a 5’9” 165 cornerback from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He chose Pitt over two finalists from the Big Ten, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Williams also held offers from Clemson, Ole Miss, Penn State, and Michigan State among others before narrowing his choices.

Williams is graded as a three-star by Rivals and 247Sports. He is ranked as the 35th best cornerback in the country by Rivals. He will play for Cardinal Gibbons High School this season after playing for Coconut Creek last year.

In an article by David Furones of the Sun-Sentinel, the Cardinal Gibbons coach had some high praise for his senior cornerback.

“They’re getting a really fast guy with a lot of speed,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Matt DuBuc said. “And a guy with ball skills because he can play receiver too, special teams guy. A guy that can do a multitude of things.”

The coach also mentioned about why Williams chose Pitt later in the article.

“Charlie Partridge did a great job recruiting him. We’re close with Charlie, and it ended up working out,” DuBuc said. “I think the ACC was better for him than the Big Ten.”

So in all, it seems like a solid commitment for Pitt. They are getting an athletic corner with good offers from a talent-rich program in a talent-rich state. Williams becomes the 13th recruit in the class of 2018. He is also the first commitment from the state of Florida, a bit surprising after Pitt brought in seven guys from the Sunshine State last year.

Here is a closer look at Williams as a player.

Marquis Williams is the second corner in this class, joining Judson Tallandier of Maryland. They appear to be two totally different players with Tallandier being an imposing 6’2” and Williams checking in at 5’8”. Obviously this is an important position for Pitt, and bringing in talent of any size is important for this program.

Sports teams poke fun at eclipse through social media

Several sports teams had some fun with Monday's solar eclipse, taking to social media to put their own spin on the celestial rarity. The Atlanta Hawks gleefully blocked out the Suns, who were only too happy to block them back. And there was a total eclipse of the Hart in Philadelphia.

>> Read more trending news

Let’s start in Atlanta, where the Hawks’ Twitter account noted that “in honor of the sun being blocked today, here are our best blocks against the @Suns over the past few years!”

The Suns were not about to have the Hawks throw any shade on them, so they responded in kind: 

The Philadelphia Eagles had some fun with the 1983 Bonnie Tyler song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” using defensive tackle Tyler Hart as their focal point: 

Was that Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo protecting his eyes during the eclipse? Only the Spartans know for sure.

There was plenty of creativity to go around in the sports world. Now, players have until 2024 to think of something new.

Tennessee Titans players enjoy eclipse after practice

Members of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans were treated to a post-practice eclipse party Monday, and players laid on the field with pairs of glasses to view the celestial wonder, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Nashville was in the path of the solar eclipse that raced through the United States on Monday, and Titans players viewed it as Bruce Springsteen songs like “Blinded by the Light” and “Dancing in the Dark,” and Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night” blasted through the speakers.

“That was dope,” linebacker Javon Brown told ESPN. “I was trying so hard not to look at the sun. It was crazy. It felt like a cloud was over the sun the whole day. It was dark. It was a great experience though. That was timeless and priceless.”

“It was one of those moments where everybody can forget the problems that they have going on, come together and have fun,” cornerback Adoree Jackson told ESPN. “That's once-in-a-lifetime. It was special.”Nashville was the largest city in the solar eclipse's totality path,EPSN reported. The sun was completely blocked for just over two minutes. Darkness took over the sky and the temperature dropped.“It was like dawn almost, it was a little eerie with the weather,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.

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