Family of slain UConn corner seeking $5 million from school

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Stabbed to death following an altercation at a school-sponsored dance in October of 2009, Jasper Howard‘s parents are seeking significant financial compensation for the parties they believe are at least partly responsible for their son’s death.

A Connecticut claims commissioner, the Hartford Courant writes, “is considering a request by Howard’s parents… to file a lawsuit against UConn for damages ‘in excess of ‘$5 million‘.”  The paper goes on to explain that “[t]he state, by law, enjoys immunity from most lawsuits unless the claims commissioner grants a request to sue.”

Months of depositions will take place before the claims commissioner makes a decision on whether a lawsuit against UConn should go forward.

A lawsuit against the company that provided security the night of their son’s death seeking unspecified monetary damages has already been filed.

The cornerback became mixed up in a confrontation involving a group of UConn students and a group of non-UConn students, altercations that allegedly took place both during the Oct. dance and after.  The non-UConn group went back to their vehicles following one of the verbal altercations, and at least two armed themselves with knives and returned to confront the group of UConn students.

Howard, along with teammate Brian Parker, was stabbed in what the family’s attorney claims was the third altercation involving the group of non-UConn students.  Howard, who was reportedly not involved in the original confrontation(s), died a short time later as a result of the injuries suffered in the stabbing.  Parker recovered from his injuries.

The school claims it is not responsible for Howard’s death and that the family should not be permitted to sue the university.

The murder of Jasper Howard was a terrible and senseless tragedy. Although we strongly condemn this brutal crime and continue to express our condolences to Jasper Howard’s family and friends, the State of Connecticut is not legally liable for his death,” Associate Attorney General Perry Zinn-Rowthorn and Assistant Attorney General Michael R. Bullers wrote in March 2011.

“The legislature has determined that the State – and by extension its taxpayers – shall only bear legal and financial responsibility for claims in which the State has caused the damage or injury that is the subject of the claim. Based on the foregoing, the [state] respectfully denies liability in this claim.”

In response to the civil suit, the company that provided security for the dance shot back that Howard himself was to blame for his death.

“Any injuries, damages or losses suffered by the plaintiffs’ decedent, Jasper Howard, were a direct and proximate result of the negligence and carelessness of Jasper Howard, and his own actions or inactions were the primary and substantial factor” in what happened to him.

Howard “initiated, instigated, caused and/or became involved “in either a “verbal altercation” or a “physical altercation,” or both, Paice wrote.

John Lomax was sentenced to 18 years in prison last March after pleading no contest to first-degree manslaughter in connection to Howard’s death.  Hakim Muhammad was sentenced to over two years for the stabbing of Parker.

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

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The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

AP Photo/Chris Brashers
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Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

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A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.