Writer: ‘Bama supporter paid for five-star recruit

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The battle between in-state rivals Alabama and Auburn for the services of five-star linebacker Brent Calloway was, to say the least, intriguing.

Long a commitment to the Tide, the five-star linebacker stunned most observers by pulling his verbal commitment from the Tuscaloosa school and committing to the Tigers during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl — on NBC —  in early January.  The flip-flop did not please his family, and Calloway ultimately signed with the Tide on National Signing Day nearly a month after his initial flip.

That’s not the end of the story, however, according to at least one website.

By way of Mr. SEC.com, Jeffrey Lee of Rivals.com‘s Auburn site appeared on an Alabama radio station this morning and, in essence, accused Alabama of paying for Calloway’s talents.  Mr. SEC.com has the bullet points of the explosive things Lee said went on financially between an Alabama supporter, Calloway and at least one member of Calloway’s family.

* A supporter of Alabama took Calloway to Tuscaloosa multiple times including the weekend prior to national signing day.

* The supporter allegedly then drove Calloway out of state and kept him there until he returned to his hometown of Russellville, Alabama on signing day.

* Before Calloway’s final trip to Tuscaloosa pre-signing day, the Bama supporter allegedly made cash payments to Harland “Peaches” Winston who is Calloway’s adoptive father.

* Winston supposedly received $2,500 from the Bama fan on at least one occasion.

* Supposedly, Winston also received aid in catching up on his home mortgage.

* The fan also allegedly provided Calloway with a new car that the player drove to school.  Supposedly enough questions were asked about the car that it was returned on the same day.

* Allegedly, the car was purchased by the Bama supporter from a dealership in Muscle Shoals owned by yet another Alabama supporter.

* Supposedly, the supporter told Calloway that he would receive $1,200 per month while playing at Alabama.

If true, this would be an instance where the word “wow” would hardly suffice.

Of course, eyebrows should be raised over a website dedicated to covering Auburn flinging serious accusations against rival Alabama.  But the level of detail involved in the accusations leveled against this Tide supporter — we’re unclear if the “booster” label should be applied — certainly makes this something to keep an eye on in the near future.

It should also go without saying that the NCAA may have an interest in speaking to a couple of individuals regarding the situation — if there even is a situation — that’s been brought to the public light.

Duke starting safety Jeremy McDuffie out indefinitely after surgery on fractured thumb

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What we do know is that Duke will be without its starting piece of its defense.  What we don’t know is for how long.

The football program announced Wednesday that Jeremy McDuffie underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured right thumb.  The junior sustained the injury during a recent Blue Devils practice.

As a result of the injury and subsequent surgery, McDuffie will be sidelined indefinitely.

McDuffie transitioned from cornerback to safety this past spring. Entering summer camp, the defensive back had been listed as a starter for the Blue Devils.  The past two seasons, McDuffie had played in 24 games.

Duke opens the 2017 season Sept. 2 against NC Central.  They will kick off ACC play three weeks later on the road against North Carolina.

Albeit with a disclaimer, Jim Mora doesn’t see Josh Rosen leaving UCLA early for NFL

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Most expect Josh Rosen to be one of the first quarterbacks selected when the next NFL draft rolls around.  Rosen’s coach, though, doesn’t see the outspoken junior being a part of the pool of available draftees.

“My firm belief is that he will not leave,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora told Yahoo SportsPete Thamel over the weekend. “I don’t think he’ll leave. …

“I want a disclaimer, I have an option to change my opinion. But as we sit here right now, I can really honestly say I don’t think he’s going to leave.”

Mora’s proclamation comes less than two weeks before the Bruins kick off the 2017 season and around five months before draft-eligible early entrants have to officially file their paperwork with the NFL.

Rosen flashed brilliance as a true freshman in 2015, passing for nearly 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns.  His sophomore campaign was marred by a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder that sidelined him for the final six games of the season.  Rosen has resoundingly rebounded from that health issue, and will head into the 2017 season 100-percent healthy.

Whether he enters the 2018 season 100-percent Bruin remains, his head coach’s confidence notwithstanding, highly unlikely or even doubtful, especially given his recent comments that football and school don’t mix.

Report: Call to escort service coincided with a Hugh Freeze recruiting trip

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Not surprisingly, more details are surfacing in Hugh Freeze‘s unceremonious exit from Oxford.

Freeze resigned as the head football coach at Ole Miss last month in part because of Jan. 19 phone call to an escort service that was initially deemed to be a misdial.  According to the Wall Street Journal, that call came a few hours after a university plane landed in Tampa, Fla., as part of a five-day, 13-stop recruiting trip.  On that plane was Freeze as well as other members of the Rebels football staff.

The discovery of the link between the call and recruiting trip came after a review of phone records and other documents.

After Freeze’s “resignation,” Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork described an unspecified pattern of personal misconduct that led to the coach’s departure.  Bjork somewhat expounded on that pattern to the Journal.

Although school officials had previously declined to characterize the alleged misconduct, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in response to questions from the Journal about Freeze’s travel that the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.

“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them,” Bjork said. “We took action swiftly.

Speculation of late has there being more, potentially much more, to Freeze’s forced resignation.  Only time will tell how much more will ultimately come out — especially if another former Ole Miss head coach’s lawsuit, kicked out of federal court for lack of jurisdiction, is revived in the state of Mississippi as expected.

Reports: ankle injury likely to keep WR Michael Pittman out of USC’s opener

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In his college football preview Bible, the great Phil Steele had Michael Pittman listed as one of three starting wide receivers for USC.  With the start of a new season a little more than two weeks away, Pittman doesn’t appear set to make that magazine projection come to fruition.

According to multiple reports, Pittman suffered an ankle injury during practice Tuesday and was taken off the field via a cart after having a boot placed on his left foot.  While X-rays taken post-practice showed no break or fracture, the sophomore has been diagnosed with the dreaded high-ankle sprain.

As a result, the Los Angeles Daily News writes that “[i]t seems unlikely he would be able to play against Western Michigan.” Rivals.com tweeted that the injury “[p]robably keeps him out of season opener.”

At least for now, the football program has yet to officially rule Pittman out for the opener.

Pittman was a four-star 2016 recruit, rated as the No. 9 receiver in the country.  As a true freshman last season, he caught six passes for 82 yards.