Sudden change of plans for former Penn football prospect

While recruits for the Class of 2017 begin the process of formally announcing their college decisions, one Florida high school senior will no longer be able to do so.

According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, a few days before Plant High School quarterback Aaron Banks was going to orally commit to Penn, his offer was taken away.

Though at the moment Penn football coach Al Bagnoli and the athletics department have declined to comment on the issue, Plant coach Robert Weiner said he will never have his players go to Penn during Bagnoli's tenure.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior played for a Plant team that went 10-2 on the season and is ranked No. 325 nationally and No. 21 in the state of Florida.  The quarterback completed 57 percent of his passes in a season that included 1,442 passing yards and 12 touchdown passes.

In the postseason, he was named most valuable offensive player in the Hillsborough County All-Star Game.

However, there is still much information missing about the reasoning behind such a situation, though Ivy League regulations and qualifications may be behind it.

However, Weiner — who said that nothing like this has ever happened to one of his players — believes the removal of the offer was made due to a decision to go with another quarterback for this recruiting class.

This Week on 33rd Street: Nov. 9, Part II

In this week's football segment, I sit down with Associate Sports Ed. Kenny Kasper to talk Penn football. The Quakers upset Princeton on the road, 28-21, a week ago, and have set themselves up for a de facto championship game Saturday against No. 25 Harvard at Franklin Field (see preview). The Crimson rank near the top of the Ancient Eight in almost every category, so what will the Red and Blue need to do to come out on top?

This Week on 33rd Street: Oct. 19

The team needed all 60 minutes, but Penn football escaped last Saturday with a 24-20 win over Columbia at Franklin Field (see story). All three of the Quakers' touchdowns came in the second half. On this week's edition, I sit down with Associate Sports Editor Mike Tony to discuss Penn's slow starts and preview the next game at Yale:

Three Up, Three Down: Yale Edition

I couldn’t have done any better with last week's predictions if I had a crystal ball. Scott Lopano was very “up,” earning Ivy Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Ryan Mitchell was also “up,” leading the Quakers in receiving. And Penn’s pass protection was indeed “down” all afternoon long. So who’s up and down this week?

Three Up —

Billy Ragone: Because he’s gotten better every game so far this season. Granted, he started out at the lowest of lows at Lafayette, but he hasn’t thrown a pick since then and is increasingly incorporating lesser-targeted receivers such as Mitch King and Ryan Allen into the passing game as teams start to blanket Conner Scott. Fourth-quarter comebacks do wonders for a quarterback’s confidence regardless of what happened in the previous three quarters. Ragone is a quarterback with momentum going up against the Ivy League’s worst scoring defense.

Conner Scott: Speaking of Scott, it doesn’t matter whether Yale decides to double him or not. They won’t be able to stifle him as much as Columbia did last week when the Lions held him to just 17 yards receiving on two catches. Ragone isn’t going to be going up against a defensive front as underrated and stout as Columbia’s was, so he should have more time to find Scott downfield. Scott has already established himself as the kind of player who just doesn’t have two quiet games in a row.

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Mano-A-Mano: Is the Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?

In this week’s Mano-A-Mano, football writer John Phillips and Associate Sports Editor Mike Tony debate the state of the Quakers’ offense.

John Phillips: It’s one thing to have an off week, where a team comes out flat in the first half. But as Billy Ragone said after the game on Saturday, the team hasn’t put together a full game, two solid halves, yet.

A comeback is great, but really, they were two yards away from losing a game on Saturday that — if this team hopes to compete with Harvard and Cornell — they should have dominated. Slow starts are less of a worry than an inability to play a cohesive, clean 60 minutes, which is what this team has shown.

Mike Tony: It’s true that Penn’s offense has yet to play a complete game, but I’ll take at least one guaranteed interval of dominance when it counts against a solid (not to mention scholarship) William & Mary defense and a Columbia ‘D’ that came in ranked No. 7 in the FCS in sacks per game.

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This Week on 33rd Street: Oct. 5

On this week's episode of This Week on 33rd Street, I sit down with football writer Karl Bagherzadeh, who was in Hanover, N.H., to witness Penn's 28-21 win to open the Ivy season. This week, we talk about what the Quakers finally did well and what the final "piece of the puzzle" is to becoming a complete team:

Mano-A-Mano: Splitting up the carries

Last week we discussed which part of Penn’s offense should be the focus (see story), and after Saturday’s game, football columnist Karl Bagherzadeh said the Quakers should go with the run game. In this week’s Mano-A-Mano, football writer John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor Megan Soisson debate how Penn’s backs should be used.

John Phillips: The Quakers have a ton of RBs, and if they plan to run the ball every game as often as they did against Dartmouth, that’s not a bad thing at all. But the distribution of the carries seems off to me. Jeff Jack had the brunt of the carries for the Quakers — including 18 on Saturday — but wasn’t productive, averaging just 2.9 yards per attempt.

Why not let Lyle Marsh or Spencer Kulcsar, backs who have proven to possess big play potential, get more carries and see if they can jump start the ground game?

Megan Soisson: I’m honestly not sure if I can even attempt to explain half the personnel decisions Al Bagnoli and his staff makes, but heck, I’ll give it a go.  Continue reading

Game 3: at Dartmouth — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Penn football picked up its first win of the season Saturday, defeating Dartmouth, 28-21, in the first Ivy game of the year for both teams (see game recap). The Quakers jumped out to a 20-0 lead at halftime and held off a Big Green second-half surge.

THE GOOD: Penn's mistake free offense. Zero turnovers. Not even a fumble that was ruled an incomplete pass by the referee, but just a simple, clean sheet for the Quakers’ offense. Backup quarterback Andrew Holland came close to ruining the party, throwing two near-interceptions in a row, but he was then quickly pulled out of the game. The memory of the eight-turnover debacle against Lafayette is probably still deeply ingrained in everyone’s head, so we’ll wait to see if this unit can produce 60 minutes of mistake-free football again. But no giveaways in the first true meaningful is promising.

THE BAD: Colavita is hurt … again. After sitting out most of the first two games with injuries, running back Brandon Colavita was in fact in the starting lineup against the Big Green. But then, one series later, he was back on the sidelines again, this time on crutches. Will the Quakers ever have a full, healthy stable?

THE UGLY: Dartmouth's botched field goal at the end of the first half. With three seconds remaining before halftime, the Big Green were set to attempt a 41-yard field goal, and Penn coach Al Bagnoli called two consecutive timeouts to ice the kicker. Whether the timeouts affected the kicker, however, was made negligible when the snap sent the football sailing off the holder's helmet. Dartmouth jumped on the loose ball, but the half ended with Penn up, 20-0. See the video.

This Week on 33rd Street: Sept. 28

On this edition of This Week on 33rd Street, Senior Sports Editor Megan Soisson sits down with Sports Editor and football writer Alyssa Kress to discuss what went wrong in Penn's 24-8 loss to Villanova and what needs to improve if the team hopes to open its Ivy season with a win at Dartmouth:

Three Up, Three Down: The Dartmouth Edition

We're excited to have a new segment on The Buzz called Three Up, Three Down, in which we predict three players whose stock will rise and fall over the course of upcoming games.

Look for the following threesome to be thriving after Penn's Ivy opener at Dartmouth on Saturday:

Three Up —

Billy Ragone: Quite simply, this is Ragone’s time. He found his groove in Dartmouth’s backyard last year after a slow start, and it would be no coincidence if he were to do it again Saturday. The Big Green ranked dead last in the Ivy League in rushing defense a year ago, and they can be expected to once again set Ragone up to tuck and run. That usually translates into a more confident aerial attack from him.

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