Even as Florida State is celebrating the return of one defensive underclassmen, the Seminoles have incurred an even bigger, albeit expected, loss.
Following up on reports that surfaced earlier in the week, FSU confirmed Thursday evening that All-American Bjoern Werner has officially decided to take his leave of the ‘Noles and ply his football wares at the next level.
“I’m grateful to Coach Fisher and Florida State for giving me the opportunity to be a Seminole and play for one of the top college football programs in the country,” Werner said. “I’ve learned so much from the coaches especially Coach [D.J.] Eliot and have been able to play with some of the best players in the country. After sitting down with my wife Denise and gathering as much information, I’ve decided to move on and enter the NFL draft. I’ve enjoyed my time at FSU and will cherish the time I spent as a Seminole.”
Even as Werner’s early departure was long considered inevitable, it’s a significant loss nonetheless.
Simply put, Werner was one of the best defensive linemen in college football over the past two seasons. The end currently ranks seventh in the NCAA in sacks per game and second in total sacks (13) while adding 18 tackles for loss. Following the 2012 regular season, he was named as the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year and was accorded unanimous All-American status.
He’s considered a lock to be a top-10 selection in the upcoming NFL draft, and could easily move into the top five by the time April rolls around.
“I’d like to congratulate Bjoern on his decision to enter the NFL draft,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It’s the best decision for him and his family. Not only is he a great football player but he’s an unbelievable person. His leadership on and off the field will impact this program for years to come. I wish him nothing but the best and he will always be remembered as one of the great players in FSU history.”
Werner becomes the third Seminole to leave eligibility on the table, joining cornerback Xavier Rhoads and defensive lineman Brandon Jenkins.
Looking to put an embarrassing overtime win over two-win FAU in the rearview mirror, Florida is look at some significant defensive line issues heading into its annual in-state showdown with Florida State.
First and foremost on the injury report is Jon Bullard, who is listed as doubtful for Saturday night’s game against the Seminoles. Bullard, who has been dealing with an arm issue the past couple of weeks, suffered a knee injury on the first possession of the FAU game. While the defensive tackle returned to that game, he’s been limited in practice this week leading to his doubtful designation.
Bullard’s 13.5 tackles for loss are tops on the team and fourth in the SEC. He has started 33 games during his Gator career, including a streak of 23 straight.
In addition to Bullard’s injury issue, defensive ends Alex McCalister (foot) and defensive tackle Taven Bryan (ankle) are also listed as doubtful as well. McCalister currently leads the Gators in sacks with 6.5, one more than Bullard’s 5.5.
But wait, there’s more: three other defensive linemen are listed as questionable — Joey Ivie (knee), Jordan Sherit (hamstring) and Thomas Holley (hip).
Still needing another win to secure bowl eligibility, Chris Petersen has been rewarded by his Washington bosses for the work he’s done with the Huskies thus far.
First reported by SI.com‘s Pete Thamel and subsequently confirmed by ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, Petersen has signed a two-year contract extension with UW. The new deal would keep Petersen with the Huskies through the 2020 season.
Thamel adds that Petersen will earn $4 million in the extension years of 2019 and 2020; in 2015, Petersen earned $3.4 million. Petersen had already been scheduled to earn $4 million in 2018 under the terms of his original five-year deal.
Following an eight-year tenure at Boise State in which the Broncos won 88 percent of their games, Petersen left to take over the Huskies for the 2014 season after Steve Sarkisian exited for the USC job. In his first season, Petersen went 8-5 and ended the year with a Cactus Bowl loss. This season, the Huskies are 5-6 and need a win over No. 20 Washington State this weekend to extend their bowl streak to six straight seasons.
In Petersen’s first seven seasons as a head coach, he went 84-8; in his last three seasons, he’s gone a combined 21-16 — 8-4 in his last season in Boise, 13-12 in his first two years at UW.
UPDATED 12:04 p.m. ET: Within a minute of this being posted, UW sent out a press release confirming that Petersen has indeed agreed to a contract extension.
“Coach Petersen has demonstrated tremendous integrity and is building a program that Husky fans can be proud of, both on and off the field,” athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “This extension is well-deserved and we hope Coach Petersen is a Husky for a long time to come.”
In a deposition this past summer, the woman charged with running the office that deals with victims of, among other things, sexual violence on the Florida State campus claimed that 20 women were sexually assaulted by members of the Seminole football team over the past nine years. The former director of FSU’s victim advocate program, Melissa Ashton, went on to claim that the accused football players received special treatment and that most of the alleged victims chose not to pursue student-conduct charges “a lot of times based on fear” of reprisals.
The June deposition is part of the ongoing lawsuit filed by Erica Kinsman, who had accused star quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her in December of 2012. The first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft was neither charged criminally nor found guilty in a student-conduct hearing.
The testimony of Ashton, who left her post in August of this year, was part of what was described as the release of heavily-redacted documents related to Kinsman’s lawsuit. It’s argued in the Title IX suit that FSU did not properly investigate Kinsman’s claims against Winston as required by federal law.
Speaking of others who said they had been sexually assaulted at the school over the past nine years by football players, Ashton said the majority “chose not to go through a process, a lot of times based on fear.” Ashton said victims had “a fear of retaliation, seeing what has happened in other cases and not wanting that to be them.”
But in her statements she said she was concerned that athletes get preferential treatment during investigations of misconduct, including access to an athletic department official who helps them get access to outside lawyers.
In addition to the unnamed football players allegedly involved in an estimated 20 sexual assaults the past decade, “Ashton stated that… ‘easily double‘ that number have been involved in interpersonal violence.”
FSU officials had sought to block the release of the depositions, but were ordered by the judge in the case to hand them over in a ruling this past October. The document release was prompted by a public records request from various news organizations, including the Associated Press.
Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.
Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.
But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.
“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”
The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.