“‘Twas the day before Christmas with new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema manning his post.
“‘A running backs coach,’ Bielema wished aloud. ‘That’s what I want the most.’
“And, so, Bielema picked up the phone and gave it a dial. Joel Thomas answered in Seattle, joking to Bielema that it had been a while. Bielema offered Thomas a job, to which the coach accepted. Thomas packed his bags for Fayetteville, and that’s how he left it.”
Anyway, here’s what Bielema said less-poetically and festively in a release on Monday announcing Thomas as the Hogs’ new running backs coach.
“Joel Thomas has a proven record of developing running backs. He excelled at the position as a player and has demonstrated a remarkable ability to connect with his student-athletes and pass his knowledge on to them. He also brings a strong background of recruiting in Texas and Dallas specifically, which is a valuable area for us to have a presence. I am extremely confident in Joel’s ability based on his time spent working under Jim Chaney, and I believe Joel’s knowledge and familiarity with Coach Chaney will be a benefit to our offense.”
Thomas has coached four 1,000-yard running backs in as many years with the Huskies. In his final game with you-dub, Thomas coached Bishop Sankey, who rushed for 205 yards and was named MVP of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
East Carolina has dismissed defensive lineman Darius Commissiong following an arrest for animal cruelty, the program announced Friday.
A Facebook post from the Greenville (N.C.) police department say they responded to a call at an apartment 2 a.m. Friday after a report of a disturbance. They entered the home to find a one-year-old Shih Tzu deceased inside the residence.
According to the department’s Facebook post, the dog suffered “multiple hemorrhages to the skin and body,” three cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, hemorrhaging in the abdomen, left eye and brain, a liver “torn into pieces,” several fractured teeth and a complete fracture in the right hind leg. Witnesses pegged Commissiong as the perpetrator, and the 21-year-old was arrested on a felony charge of animal cruelty. He is held on a $25,000 bond.
“While we always want to be in a position to guide young people, unacceptable behavior such as this clearly crosses the line of humanity and simply will not be tolerated,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said in a statement. “There’s a level of accountability which defines our program, athletics department and East Carolina University, and any conduct which isn’t congruent with those values is unwelcome here.”
Commissioing’s arrest comes shortly on the heals of the surfacing of a video showing Baylor wide receiver Ish Zamora beating and kicking a dog, which was recorded earlier this summer. Zamora was not arrested and remains on Baylor’s roster.
Commissiong played in 10 games last season for the Pirates, collecting 10 tackles. He was a projected started along East Carolina’s defensive front before today’s dismissal.
Remember when Ahmad Bradshaw (not the former Giants and Colts running back) was set to leave West Point? Bradshaw changed his mind, and now he’s set to be the Black Knights’ starting quarterback.
Head coach Jeff Monken told the Times Herald-Record that Bradshaw was “likely” to start, but that both he and sophomore Chris Carter could see action.
Carter sustained a hamstring injury Aug. 1 and didn’t return to the practice field until Aug. 17.
“He’s (Bradshaw) so far ahead in the repetitions that he has taken,” Monken told the paper. “It’s hard when you miss the first couple weeks of camp. There’s 14 or 15 practices that you are standing there watching the other guys getting all of the reps.”
Bradshaw led Army last season with 429 passing yards and led Black Knights quarterbacks with 468 rushing yards last fall. Carter garnered a start against Navy last season and hit 9-of-15 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Army’s 21-17 loss.
“He’ll (Carter) come around and the more that he practices, the better he’s going to get and the more prepared he’s going to be,” Monken said. “That’s when I think we’ll see the battle and who the guy is that’s got to continue. Once you get playing, it’s hard to beat out the starter because he’s got more experience and has played more. I think Ahmad has handled it well.”
Army opens the season next Friday at Temple.
As if there was any doubt, Dakota Prukop will start at quarterback for Oregon this year.
The Montana State transfer arrived in Eugene with the starting role as an understanding, but it was formally confirmed when the Ducks unveiled their depth chart Friday. He’ll start ahead of true freshman Justin Herbert.
Prukop will be the second straight FCS transfer to walk into a starting role at Oregon. Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams led the nation in passing efficiency in 10 games last season, hitting 65 percent of his throws for a national-best 10.2 yards per attempt with 26 touchdowns against six picks.
He was the second straight Duck signal caller to lead the nation in passing efficiency, following Marcus Mariota‘s Heisman campaign of 2014.
A native of Austin, Texas, Prukop earned First Team FCS All-America by the Associated Press last season and accumulated 7,347 yards of total offense and 70 total touchdowns.
No. 24 Oregon opens its season next Saturday against UC Davis (5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks).
A Wednesday night traffic stop led to an arrest for Auburn safety Stephen Roberts. As reported by AL.com, a traffic stop just before 10 p.m. led to discovery of a handgun Roberts possessed without a permit to carry. Roberts bolted from the car in an attempt to evade arrest, but was apprehended and booked into Lee County Detention Center less than an hour later.
Auburn released a statement saying head coach Gus Malzahn was “aware” of the incident. “He is gathering all the facts and will handle the situation appropriately,” the program said.
Roberts appeared in all 13 games last season and was expected to start at free safety.
Malzahn offered praise to the junior less than a week ago.
“There’s no doubt Stephen Roberts, he was one of our better special teams guys last year,” Malzahn said last week. “He’s got experience at the safety position the second half of the year, had a very good spring. Just turning into one of those leaders of the defensive side that I know(defensive backs coach Wesley) McGriff has a lot of confidence in.
“He’s a savvy football player; he just understands football. He’s starting to develop into the player that we really expected when we recruited him and I’m proud of where he’s at right now. He’s got to go out there, he’s got to keep improving and all that but he’s a football player.”
Both charges are misdemeanors. The maximum sentences carry no more than a year in jail and $6,000 fines. He is due to appear in court Nov. 17.