The curious case of a 2012 recruit and Jerry Sandusky

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Of all the stories that have surfaced in the week since the grand jury’s presentment of a 40-count indictment on Jerry Sandusky, this one is right up there with the most mind-boggling.

In an interview with WYFF-TV in Greenville, South Carolina high school linebacker Adam Ah Ching claims that Sandusky visited him earlier this year during spring football drills.  That alleged visit from Sandusky came months after the Greer High School senior claimed to have received recruiting letters from Penn State, presumably from Mike McQueary, the Nittany Lions wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator who is now on paid administrative leave.

“[Sandusky] came to my last spring game going into my senior season. He liked how I moved, laterally, and how gifted I am,” Ah Ching said in regards to the man who was charged with sexually abusing eight children a week ago today.

Ah Ching’s high school coach, Will Young, told the TV station that “he is not aware anyone representing Penn State attended a spring game.” On his Twitter account Friday evening, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Joe Starkey tweeted that “Greer H.S. athletic director Travis Perry strongly denies that Sandusky was ever at Adam Ah Ching’s practice or games.”  The station writes Ah Ching stands by his story, that Sandusky was in the stands for the spring game at his high school.

Penn State has not returned emails requesting comment on what official or unofficial involvement, if any, Sandusky may have had with this recruit specifically or recruiting in general over the past several years.

The Associated Press subsequently reported that “Sandusky attended a football camp for Polynesian players in Utah over the summer and urged all in attendance to play for Paterno.”  Ah Ching was in attendance at that camp, which included coaches from 30 universities representing, among other conferences, the ACC, Big East and Pac-12.

Ah Ching said during the TV interview that after the scandal broke, he scratched the Nittany Lions off the list of schools he’s considering — he’s reportedly received offers from BYU, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, UCLA, and Utah — and added that other recruits are doing the same (which is not necessarily the recruiting reality, incidentally).

“It’s very devastating to have a top-tiered program and have them drop like that,” said Ah Ching. “That really did play a big impact on where I wanted to go.”

For his part, Ah Ching’s father agrees with what his son thinks is a decision to take Penn State out of consideration.

“Do you want to be associated with the mess that’s still going to come down the road here?” Otto Ah Ching said during the interview.

It should be noted that we can find no information that Ah Ching was being recruited, heavily or otherwise, by Penn State other than recruiting letters, with that information coming from the player himself.  It should be further noted that there is no credible evidence whatsoever that any contact Sandusky may have had with Ah Ching came under the direction of the Nittany Lions football program.

Sandusky wrapping himself in the Penn State name, though, would not exactly qualify as a shocking development given his emeritus status at the university since leaving the football program in an an official capacity in the late nineties.

The State of Pennsylvania’s investigation into Sandusky’s alleged rapes of multiple children, including at least one that occurred on the campus, began in 2009.  School officials, including then-head coach Joe Paterno and in-limbo athletic director Tim Curley, testified in front of a grand jury in January regarding the allegations.

Sandusky had maintained an office in the Lasch football building and use of any facility on the Penn State campus since his retirement in 1999.  Three days after his arrest, it was reported that he was seen working out in the football facility’s weight room multiple times in the week leading up to the multi-count indictment.  He was finally banned from the campus after being charged.

In 2007, five years after being witnessed by McQueary sodomizing a 10-year-old boy, Sandusky was “selected to be the featured speaker at the commencement ceremony for Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development”, Starkey was quoted as relaying during a radio interview this week.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Charleston City PaperSportsByBrooks)

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.