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Wednesday, July 12, 2017: Canisius' Woods commits to Rutgers football

   Leading off today: Rutgers has reached into New York's Class of 2018 for yet another football commitment.

   Canisius senior receiver Paul Woods said Tuesday he had picked the Scarlet Knights over 10 other offers, including Buffalo, Cincinnati and Temple.

   Woods finished with 35 catches for 684 yards and eight touchdowns last fall to help the Crusaders win the New York State Catholic High Schools Athletic Association title. He made nine catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the 50-44 win vs. Cardinal Hayes in championship game.

   Woods' commitment makes it 11 straight years the Crusaders have had at least one senior earn a Division I scholarship, Canisius assistant coach Bryce Hopkins told The Buffalo News.

   Rutgers also picked up recent commitments from Erasmus Hall defensive back Kessawn Abraham and Tottenville linebacker Zihir Lacewell. Woods is the state's 15th FBS commitment from the Class of 2018.

    • Lindenhurst tight end Jeremy Ruckert, widely regarded as the jewel of the state's 2018 class, is expected to announce his college destination on Monday. He told Newsday over the weekend that he is down to Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

   "I've had these top four schools on my mind," he said. "They all have strong football traditions, but what really sticks out to me is off the field. They're all highly ranked nationally in education. ... I like everything about them."

   More WNY football: Dylan McDuffie, who rushed for 1,255 yards and 14 touchdowns for St. Francis last fall, will return to Sweet Home for his senior season.

   McDuffie, who also caught 25 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns in 2016, had left Sweet Home after his sophomore year.

   He holds 13 college offers, including from several Mid-American Conference schools.

   Also on the move, perhaps: Section 5 basketball standout Jeenathan Williams told the Democrat and Chronicle he expects to attend a prep school for his senior season, though the destination remains to be determined.

   The 6-foot-6 Williams, fifth-team all-state in Class AA after averaging 22 points as a University Prep junior, has at least 19 offers on the table from the likes of Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Temple and Virginia.

   "Definitely, I want to go to a prep school," he told the paper. "I'm trying to help myself and be academically and physically ready for college knowing I want to play 20-plus minutes or 25-plus as a freshman."

   His destination this fall was briefly rumored to be Lincoln Academy outside Atlanta. Williams has family in the area and will be playing in an Elite Youth Basketball League event this weekend in Augusta, Ga., but he's more likely a better fit at one of the schools in the northeast that routinely attract New York standouts.

   Also on the move, definitely: White Plains girls basketball coach Tara Flaherty has left the Tigers and will take over at Byram Hills in the upcoming season, Mike Zacchio of The Journal News tweeted this week.

   Alexander teen dies: Brian West, a junior lineman on the Alexander team that captured its first Section 5 football championship last fall, died Monday following a single-


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  • vehicle, rollover accident yards from his home.

       He was 17 years old.

       The cause of the accident is under investigation, reported.

       In the pipeline: North Carolina State wrestling coach Pat Popolizio has been working his old stomping grounds again, this time landing a commitment from Fox Lane rising senior Matt Grippi, a two-time NYSPHSAA tournament runner-up.

       Popolizio was a state champion for Niskayuna who went on to coach at Binghamton University before being hired at N.C. State. The ACC school's roster is dotted with New York graduates.

       The youngest of four brothers who all wrestled for the Foxes, Grippi owns a 189-27 career record and will be regarded as a favorite in his final state tournament before heading off to college.

       "It is kind of surreal to be committed to such a prestigious program, but thankfully I'm surrounded by support to help me through the process," he told The Journal News. "The weirdest thing, though, is me being a senior. My whole life, I've always been the smaller and younger opponent."

       Tyler Barnes, a 2017 state champ as a Ballston Spa junior, is also committed to North Carolina State. Former Fox Lane star Sam Speno wrapped up his Wolfpack career last season as a two-time NCAA qualifier.

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