Back in early September, Oklahoma announced that the NCAA had denied transfer Jalen Saunders‘ appeal for a hardship waiver that would’ve given the wide receiver immediate eligibility.
A month later? The long-awaited cavalry at the position for Oklahoma has finally and somewhat unexpectedly arrived.
Following practice Wednesday, head coach Bob Stoops confirmed that an appeal of the NCAA’s initial decision has been successful and Saunders is eligible to begin playing in games immediately. Stoops and the coaching staff learned actually learned of the decision during the middle of practice, which had previously been Saunders’ lone on-field contact with his new teammates.
“He’s played a lot of football and played it well,” Stoops said in quotes sent out by the school. “We’re hopeful that he will be able to play (on Saturday). He’s quick, got a great sense of space and the ability to get open.”
While the Sooners have been far from woeful in the passing game sans Saunders this season, his addition will nonetheless bring a significant amount of experience to a unit that was, for the most part, very green and raw entering 2012.
As a sophomore in 2011, Saunders led Fresno State in receptions (50), receiving yards (1,065), receiving touchdowns (12) and total touchdowns (14, two of them rushing). For that, he was named first-team All-WAC following the season.
The receiver announced back in mid-April that he would be transferring from Fresno State. He signed with the Sooners in mid-May.
How big of a role Saunders will play in the Red River Shootout game this weekend vs. Texas remains to be seen.
North Carolina’s reported poaching of North Texas’ coaching staff is officially official.
UNC acknowledged in a press release Friday that Mike Ekeler has been hired as the Tar Heels’ new linebackers coach. Ekeler will take over the job previously held by John Papuchis, who was promoted to defensive coordinator after Gene Chizik abruptly stepped down to spend more time with his family.
“We’re thrilled to add Mike to our coaching staff,” said head coach Larry Fedora in a statement. “He’s a well-respected, energetic coach who has worked with other members of our defensive staff in the past, which will make the transition to Carolina that much easier. He’s an outstanding coach and recruiter who will be a great fit for our program. We look forward to having Mike and his wife and kids join the UNC family.”
Ekeler spent the 2016 season as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Mean Green. Prior to joining UNT, he spent two seasons as inside linebackers coach at Georgia.
He’s also worked on coaching staffs at USC (2013), Indiana (2011-12), Nebraska (2008-10), LSU (2005-07) and Oklahoma (2003-04). At the latter two stops, Ekeler served as a graduate assistant.
Not surprisingly, Syracuse’s top returning defensive back will get to spend a little additional time with the Orange.
On social media Thursday, Antwan Cordy announced that the NCAA has granted him a medical hardship waiver for his 2016 season. Because of the medical redshirt, the safety will have two seasons of eligibility at his disposal instead of just the one prior to the decision.
Should he choose, Cordy could play for the Orange in 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Cordy started the first two games last year, but sustained what turned out to be a season-ending arm injury in a Week 2 loss to Louisville.
In 2015, Cordy started all 12 games for the Orange, with the 5-8, 175-pounder’s 12 tackles for loss leading the team and setting a school record for defensive backs. That total was also second in the ACC amongst secondary players (Duke’s Jeremy Cash, 18).
Paul Chryst is certainly taking a unique approach in reconstituting his Wisconsin coaching staff.
Earlier this month, Chryst hired Jim Leonhard as his new defensive coordinator despite the latter having just one year of experience as a coach at any level. Now, reports have surfaced that Chryst is bringing Bob Bostad back to Madison to fill a vacancy on the staff.
While Bostad was an offensive assistant during his first tour of duty with the Badgers, he’ll be a defensive coach in this latest stint. Specifically, he’ll serve as UW’s inside linebackers coach.
Bostad would technically replace Justin Wilcox, the coordinator Leonhard replaced after Wilcox took the head-coaching job at Cal last month.
From 2006-11, Bostad was an assistant for the Badgers — the first two seasons as tight ends coach, the last four as offensive line coach. After spending four seasons as the line coach for two NFL franchises — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13), Tennessee Titans (2014-15) — Bostad spent the 2016 season as tight ends coach at Northern Illinois.
In a coaching career that spans 27 seasons, this would be Bostad’s first job on the defensive side of the ball.
UPDATED 12:59 p.m. ET: Wisconsin has confirmed the hiring of Bostad.
While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.
First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.
Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.
In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:
Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.
As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.
Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.