In the final days before National Signing Day, highly-recruited athlete De’Anthony Thomas made a last-second trip to Oregon and rumors swirled that the Ducks had made a late surge for Thomas’ talents. On Wednesday evening, Thomas confirmed those rumors by officially, and emotionally, committing to Oregon over USC.
But there are some new — and quite disturbing — developments involving Thomas’ commitment.
According to an e-mail sent to ConquestChronicles.com, Thomas, a Los Angeles native, witnessed a murder while at a party and helped police identify the gang members in question. As a result, a hit was reportedly put on Thomas and his family by members of the accused gang.
Thomas then decided to commit to Oregon over his hometown university for fear of his own safety. There has been no official word about what his family will do. The e-mail reads:
He actually isn’t a punk. He is a good kid. What happened is, he was at a
party and some gang bangers killed a guy. He did the right thing and
cooperated with the police and they arrested the murderers. As a result
of his cooperation, the gang bangers put a hit on him and his family. The
hit is credible and they truly fear for their lives. As a result, he shot
up to Oregon and decided to go there to get away from the threat. That is
why he was crying when he made the announcement. He was the kid in the
class that was actively recruiting other recruits to come to USC. He did
us a tremendous favor by recruiting kids to SC and forestalling his
announcement until after we had our 30 guys.
The kid is heartbroken.
The sources in this story have remained anonymous, so all of this has to be taken with a grain of salt. Obviously, no kid should ever have to make a decision like this based on fearing for his, or his family’s, life (no kid should ever have to fear for his life in general), but I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope this is nothing more than an unfounded rumor and Thomas genuinely wanted to go to Oregon.
Brady Hoke is looking forward to getting back in coaching this season as Oregon’s defensive coordinator. A year away from the game from the coaching point of view after being let go by Michigan, Hoke is taking on a big task with revamping Oregon’s defense. With the offenses Hoke will see in the Pac-12, he knows the defensive goals that have been regular staples for decades in the past will no longer be what he believes to be a realistic goal.
“It used to be the goal was 13 points or less. That was the standard everybody had,” Hoke said this week as he met with the Oregon media for the first time since being hired. “The style of offenses have changed. You can also see defenses evolving for the style of offense. If you’re going to play Stanford, your team goals for that week may be a little different, defensively, because of the style of offense.
“When you’re going to play Arizona, your points per possession become more important than holding [Stanford running back and Heisman Trophy finalist] Christian McCaffrey under 100 yards rushing. You have to be realistic for your players.”
It seems as though Hoke is prepared to give in on a few defensive goals he has lived by for years in hopes of achieving a larger vision with Oregon’s defense. Considering how much Oregon’s defense needs to improve. The Ducks ranked 117th in total defense in 2015. The lowlight of the season had to be the Alamo Bowl meltdown that saw a 31-point lead against TCU end up with a loss to the Horned Frogs. The question is what will be the goal for the Oregon defense in 2016, and how realistic will it be?
“If you set unrealistic goals — we want challenging goals, but unrealistic goals, that’s not fair to those kids,” Hoke said.
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One of key members of Colorado’s 1990 national championship team is moving up on the coaching staff in Boulder. Darian Hagan, who played quarterback for the Buffs in 1990 and won three Big Eight titles when conferences actually had numbers reflective of the number of teams in their conference, has been promoted to the role of running backs coach. The school announced Hagan’s promotion among a couple of accompanying coaching staff changes on Saturday. Hagan had been serving as a director of player development.
For Hagan, this will be the second time he has held a role as an assistant coach on the Colorado sideline. He was an offensive assistant in 2005 under Gary Barnett and he was a holdover when Dan Hawkins was named head coach in 2006. Hagan moved to the role of director of player development in 2011 under Jon Embree and he continued in that role under head coach Mike MacIntyre.
“Darian brings a lot of pride and passion to our football program with his history here, and also brings expertise to our running backs,” MacIntyre said. “In shifting our offensive staff assignments a little bit, he will give us another dimension in our running game and working with our running backs.
As Hagan gets moved into the coaching staff, MacIntyre adjusting the coaching responsibilities on the offensive side of the staff to make room. Klayton Adams, who was coaching the running backs and tight ends, will now coach the offensive line. Gary Bernardi will take on the coaching duties with the tight ends and fullbacks after coaching the offensive line last season.
Alabama will be adding a 1,000-yard wide receiver by way of a graduate transfer from the MAC. Gehrig Dieter will transfer from Bowling Green to Alabama in 2016, and he will be available to play right away. Dieter announced the news of his transfer to Alabama on his Twitter account Saturday afternoon.
Dieter is scheduled to graduate from Bowling Green in May, which means he will be a graduate transfer. This makes him eligible to play right away next fall at any other FBS program with a spot available. That FBS program just so happens to be the defending national champions. With freshman Calvin Ridley breaking out for the Crimson Tide in 2015 en route to a national championship, it looks as though Alabama will have quite a 1-2 punch at the wide receiver position. However, there could be a minor snag preventing Dieter from playing this season. Because this will be Dieter’s third four-year football program, he will need a waiver approved by the NCAA in order to be cleared to play this season. Dieter previously played at SMU before heading to Bowling Green.
Dieter was Bowling Green’s second-leading receiver in 015 with 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns. Together with Roger Lewis (1,544 yards, 16 touchdowns), and quarterback Matt Johnson (4,946 yards, 46 touchdowns), Bowling Green had a dynamic offense that now faces a bit of an uphill battle heading into the spring. With Dieter transferring and Johnson graduating to the NFL and head coach Dino Babers taking a job at Syracuse, Bowling Green could be set to take a step back next fall.
The Notre Dame football family lost a legend today. Johnny Lattner, winner of the 1953 Heisman Trophy, passed away at the age of 83 after battling lung cancer.
In addition to winning the Heisman Trophy in 1953, becoming Notre Dame’s fourth in program history, Lattner also received the Maxwell award in both the 1952 and 1953 seasons. He was also named a consensus All-American in 1952 and 1953. The Chicago native played halfback for the Fighting Irish under Frank Leahy from 1950 through 1953. The “bread and butter ball carrier” went on to be a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but a knee injury suffered during a two-year stint in the United States Air Force cut his pro career short. Lattner went on to dabble in some coaching at the high school level as well as at the University of Denver. He remained the head coach at Denver until the school shut down the football program in 1961.
Lattner was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.