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.
The NCAA’s Board of Directors is expected to approve a proposal that will allow college football programs to add a 10th assistant to the coaching staff. The proposal has received the support of the Division 1 Council in this week’s NCAA meetings, which was to be expected. There appears to be nothing else to stand in the way of passing the proposal and expanding the coaching staff at football programs across the country.
There appears to be a widespread show of support for the addition of a coach to the staff from head coaches, which makes sense. With many programs adding on special assistants as analysts, some programs would benefit from being able to promote an analyst to a coaching role and get them more involved in the program. Just within the last week, Alabama hired Mike Locksley to a full-time coaching role after he had been helping the program out as an analyst. Alabama also picked up Steve Sarkisian as an analyst and promoted him to offensive coordinator following the awkwardly timed decision to push Lane Kiffin on his way out the door to take the FAU head coaching job.
The concern is this would lead to a greater divide between the haves and the have-nots in college football, as the addition of an extra coach will increase the payroll. This is hardly a concern for programs like Alabama and Ohio State, but perhaps more of a concern for a program like UMass or UAB (yes, UAB is back this year), for example.
Regardless, Donald Trump will happily take credit for the creation of potentially 128 new jobs in college football.
The Division 1 Council did scrap the idea of having an early signing period in the summer but there does still appear to be momentum for an early signing period in December. Another proposal receiving support from the council include the option for high school seniors to make official visits starting April 1 until the end of June (official visits currently cannot take place until September 1). The Council has also discussed organizing a 14-week season to play 12 games, thus providing two bye weeks for each team and push the start of the season into August.
Colorado has a new defensive coordinator, but that means Kentucky is now shopping the market. DJ Eliot will leave his job as defensive coordinator at Kentucky to take on the same role at Colorado. The news was first reported by FootballScoop.com and The Courier-Journal has followed that initial report with confirmation.
Eliot has ben Kentucky’s defensive cooridnator for the past four seasons and leaves Mark Stoops in need of hiring a new coordinator after years having Eliot working with him. It remains to be seen where Kentucky will look for their new defensive coordinator, but it is worth noting that two current assistants — defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale and linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Matt House — have prior defensive coordinator experience.
Colorado had a vacancy to fill at defensive coordinator after losing Jim Leavitt after two seasons to Oregon to be a part of the new staff working under Willie Taggart.
As Auburn looks to fill its vacancy on the football staff at offensive coordinator (previously filled by UConn-bound Rhett Lashlee), it appears that search will no longer include Oklahoma State’s Mike Yurcich. Yurcich, according to reports out of Stillwater, has pulled his name off the table for the Auburn job.
Yurcich reportedly interviewed with Auburn this week. Other candidates supposedly in the mix for the job include former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich and Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.
If Yurcich is to be the guy, Auburn will hope he can bring some of the same offensive production he ha shad at Oklahoma State with him. Oklahoma State had the nation’s 14th-best total offensive production in 2016 with an average of 494.8 yards per game (Auburn was 42nd with 440.8 ypg) and the 17th-best scoring average with 38.6 points per game (Auburn averaged 31.2 ppg). Of course, the Big 12 is not exactly known for playing solid defense, at least that is how the narrative goes, but the Tigers could benefit from a spark on the offensive side of the football in 2017.
The fight for an early signing period will continue, but a proposed rule to open up a signing period in the month of June has been rejected by the NCAA’s Division 1 Council.
According to the Associated Press, the council modified the proposal for flexibility of the recruiting calendar. The June signing day proposal was removed after a recommendation from the NCAA’s football oversight committee. The stripping of the June signing period proposal was not to be unexpected, and the overall push for an early signing day continues with the focus shifting more to a period after the regular season but still before the typical February signing period.
While the proposed summer signing day may have been eliminated, the council will continue to leave the option of a possible December signing period on the table. A final vote on the December signing period is scheduled for April. The Collegiate Commissioners Association must approve the change before it can go into action. If the April vote allows for an early signing period, it could potentially be put in place for the Class of 2018, meaning high school players could begin signing with their desired college programs this December.
As a reminder, national signing day is the first Wednesday of each February, with this year’s signing day falling on February 1.