Brent Calloway situation reveals warped underbelly of recruiting — again

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There are many reasons why I would prefer National Signing Day — or, more specifically, the insanity/absurdity that surrounds it — didn’t exist, at least in its current way-more-important-than-it-should-be form.  The following story is a big reason why I, and most sane people, hold that opinion.

For a lengthy period of time, Russellville (Ala.) High School linebacker/running back Brent Calloway was a solid verbal commitment to Alabama, which was a significant coup for the Tide; Calloway is a five-star player according to Rivals.com and the No. 5 player in the country at his position.  Last month, Calloway abruptly flipped his non-binding verbal commitment to another school.  And not just any school, either — Calloway committed to hated in-state rival Auburn.

That set off a firestorm of criticism of the teenager, leading to rude signs in the stands of his high school basketball games and crude remarks left on his Facebook page and other social media websites.  Calloway’s father unintentionally added fuel to the fire by publicly criticizing his adoptive son’s decision to renege on his original commitment.

Kevin Scarbinsky spun an excellent yarn in this morning’s Birmingham News regarding the backlash Calloway’s faced since his flip.  And how some fans of college football programs really, really need to find some semblance of a life outside of what teenage boys provide them.

He’s a high school student, but he didn’t attend class the last two days. He’s a high school basketball player, but he didn’t play in his team’s game Monday.

“He’s not even in Russellville,” said his high school basketball coach, Michael Smith. “He’ll be back after the signing.”

Back in school and back on the basketball team, sure. But back to normal? Calloway can only hope.

Smith didn’t say where Calloway was. The fact that he wasn’t at home, at school and on the court so far this week was a sad statement all its own.

His life has been turned upside down because too many people who don’t have a life have been hanging on his decision. He’s gone into seclusion because too many people who need a life have been tugging at him and trying to discover or influence his decision.

Scarbinsky closes by writing amongst other things: “Can you imagine the mind of a person who would criticize a teenager, let alone threaten him, because he wanted to play college football here rather than there? Sadly, if you follow recruiting, you can.”

Sad doesn’t even begin to describe it, unfortunately.  “Creepy” and “disgusting”?  Yeah, that’s getting closer.

Lane Kiffin lands yet another talented transfer in WVU wideout Jovon Durante

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We can joke about Lane Kiffin turning FAU into the real ‘Last Chance U’ in 2017 but… it’s kind of happening for real.

In addition to adding several alums from the Netflix show, the Owls have been stocking the roster left and right with FBS transfers this offseason and added yet another just before the season starts in West Virginia wide receiver Jovan Durante.

Durante has started 17 games in his first two seasons in Morgantown, racking up 331 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016. He was expected to assume a starting role once again this year but didn’t report to the Mountaineers preseason camp for what WVU coach Dana Holgorsen described as personal issues.

The South Florida native will have to sit out the 2017 season but will have two seasons of eligibility for the Owls after he redshirts this year.

BYU linebacker looking to transfer to Utah after being forced to redshirt

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When BYU announced this week that linebacker Francis Bernard was going to redshirt this season, only a few people seemed to think anything was really amiss. That does not seem to be the case anymore just a week before the Cougars start their season.

The Salt Lake Tribune talked with Bernard’s brother, James, about the matter and it appears the family is not too happy over the situation and is now looking to transfer. While that wouldn’t normally be much to write home about, the fact that the younger Bernard wants to move up the road to Holy War rival Utah is bound to raise some eyebrows.

“Just to be clear: My brother wants to transfer, regardless,” James Bernard told the paper. “We talk almost every day. He just doesn’t want to stay there any more.”

He went on to say that the reason that first prompted the redshirt announcement was not related to academics or playing time but a potential Honor Code issue with the school. What exactly that violation was however, is not exactly being made clear by the program to the family.

Bernard was suspended from the team’s bowl game last year for an unspecified violation of team rules but was given every indication that he would be back in the good graces of the team prior to preseason camp. That is obviously not the question and it appears a brewing transfer battle to move from Provo to Salt Lake City will soon be taking place between two bitter rivals over the junior linebacker.

Ohio State starting RB still dealing with hamstring injury but expects to play in opener

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Ohio State’s newish looking offense is expected to lean on the ground game early in 2017 but a key cog in that machinery might not be 100 percent healthy heading into the Buckeyes’ opener against Indiana.

Starting tailback Mike Weber has dealt with a lingering hamstring injury he suffered over the summer and hasn’t participated at all in the team’s preseason camp. Despite that bit of concerning news, it seems both the running back and the coaching staff is expecting him to be good to go in less than two weeks when the team kicks off the 2017 campaign.

“I’m getting close,” Weber said Friday, according to Cleveland.com. “They’ve been holding me back all camp to make sure I don’t have problems with it during the season. … I talk to the trainer a lot and it’s looking pretty good. I’m not at full speed yet, but I’m going to get there and I should be ready for the first game.”

Weber rushed for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last year as a redshirt freshman and will see an increased load carrying the ball with Curtis Samuel off to the NFL. True freshman J.K. Dobbins has apparently slid into the backup role but running backs coach Tony Alford told reporters that the starting job is Weber’s when it comes time to go against the Hoosiers.

We’ll see if that eventually holds up given how finicky hamstring injuries are for tailbacks but at least the prognosis is good enough that Buckeyes fans can breathe a little easier as camp winds down in Columbus.

VIDEO: Indiana hands scholarship to walk-on WR after singing school fight song

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Some training camp traditions are better than others but one universal truth every fall is that coaches will bring up players to sing the school fight song in front of the team. As you can expect, often times hilarity ensues because players either don’t know the words or are so off-key with the notes that you can barely recognize what they’re singing.

Indiana coach Tom Allen joined in on the act this week by putting a few players through the same paces by having them belt out the lyrics to ‘Indiana Fight’ in front of both the team and cameras. The school naturally released video of the event on Friday, including a very special message at the end for one of the players signing:

That would be now-former walk-on Luke Timian, a projected starter this season who received a brand new scholarship from the Hoosiers and was mobbed by his teammates after the message flashed on the screens. The junior was involved in every game last year for Indiana and caught 19 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown.

As cool as the unveil was for Timian though, it’s a good thing he’s now a scholarship player at IU because it seems pretty clear that American Idol is not in the kid’s future. We’re all still suckers for videos of coaches handing out scholarships to walk-ons though and this is certainly one of the more unique ways to let a player know the school is picking up the check this semester.