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Wazzu’s leading returning receiver cited

Oregon v Washington State Getty Images

For the third time this month, a member of the Washington State football program has found his name in the names following an off-field incident.

The latest is wide receiver Gabe Marks, who the Spokane Spokesman-Review reports cited in an alcohol-related incident early Sunday morning.  Officially, Marks was cited for “MIP-Exhibiting,” which is police speak for a minor exhibiting the effects of alcohol consumption.

The school is aware of the latest incident involving one of its football players, and will handle the matter internally.

Marks finished the 2012 season with 49 receptions and 560 yards as a freshman.  Thanks to Marquess Wilson‘s chaotic and messy exit from the program, Marks is the Cougars’ leading returning receiver.

In early February, it was reported that running back Leon Brooks was charged with drunk driving.  A day later, walk-on wide receiver Drew Loftus was charged with third-degree theft, minor in possession of alcohol and public intoxication.  Loftus was subsequently dismissed from the football program.

(Tip O’ the Cap: shotofginn.com)

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Former Vandy player moves on to WVU

Wake Forest v Vanderbilt AP

A month and a half after leaving Vanderbilt a second time, Darien Bryant has found a new place to ply his football wares.

While the school has yet to announce his addition, a source with knowledge of the situation tells CFT that Bryant has decided to transfer into the West Virginia football program.  The tight end-turned-defensive lineman-turned-(?) will join the Mountaineers initially as a walk-on.

Bryant was expected to be in attendance at a team meeting Wednesday morning in his first “official” act as a Mountaineer.

As he graduated from Vandy in May, Bryant will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.  He will also have two years of eligibility remaining.

Ohio University was also a consideration for Bryant before he moved on to WVU.

Bryant was a three-star member of the Commodores’ 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 30 tight end in the country. Following his first departure and return to Vandy, he moved from that position to defensive end. In leaving Vandy for good, Bryant wanted to move back to offense and play H-back/tight end or be utilized as a big wide receiver (he’s listed at 6-4, 230); it’s unclear how he’ll be used in Morgantown.

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Dabo hands Spurrier a (gasp!) compliment

Clemson v South Carolina Getty Images

If you’re headed down to Hades in the near future, you best pack a parka.

Over the past several years — including this offseason on more than one occasion — Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier have engaged in a little bit of “friendly banter.” Compliments, though, have been few and far between for the head coaches of the state’s two FBS programs.

Until now.

During the ACC head coaches’ version of the ESPN car wash, the Clemson head coach was asked about his South Carolina counterpart in general and his career specifically. His response may surprise you.  Or floor you, as the case may be.

“If I can have half the career he’s had, I’ll count that as a huge success.” Swinney said according to GoGamecocks.com.

In actuality, it’s not that much of a surprise that Swinney would say something complimentary. While the two snipe verbally at one another, there’s an underlying respect between the two men that each has publicly acknowledged.

Now, with that said, get back to the sniping as that’s immensely more entertaining than the niceties. Or just go ahead and have that rasslin’ match. One of the two. Or both.

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Pair of 2014 LSU signees cited for misdemeanors

Davon Godchaux

It’s certainly been an interesting last couple of months for LSU’s Class of 2014 — and for one signee in particular.

Last week, incoming freshman Trey Lealaimatafao suffered what was initially feared to be an amputation-level injury to his arm after punching through a weight-room window. Fortunately for Lealaimatafao, the physical damage wasn’t as severe as initially reported and the defensive tackle was released from the hospital two days later.

One day after that, however, Lealaimatafao was arrested for allegedly stealing a bicycle from an on-campus library. Lealaimatafao was caught on surveillance video helping himself to an unsecured bike, and was issued a citation after eventually returning it to the police.

From the Baton Rouge Advertiser:

“He did admit to investigators (Thursday) that he did take the bike,” Lalonde said, adding that Lealaimatafao indicated he borrowed the bicycle and thought it was permissible to do so if the bicycle wasn’t secured.

(Writer’s note: ROTFLMMFAO.)

Oddly enough, Lealaimatafao is the second member of LSU’s most recent recruiting class to be cited for the same issue, joining fellow defensive lineman Frank Herron‘s Schwinntation back in April.

But wait, there’s more…

In addition to Lealaimatafao’s legal issue, fellow 2014 signee Davon Godchaux (pictured, courtesy of Rivals.com) was cited last Thursday for criminal mischief. The misdemeanor arrest “stemmed from an early morning July 21 incident in which firecrackers were thrown into a unit at LSU’s West Campus Apartments, causing a small fire that damaged a sofa,” the Advertiser wrote.

(Writer’s note: let he who has not tossed firecrackers at buddies indoors cast the first M-80.)

Of the two most recent arrests, Godchaux is easily the most highly-rated player. A four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Godchaux was rated as the No. 9 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 10 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.

Both players are expected to be disciplined, although it’s unclear if said punishment will include suspensions.

The off-field damage for the Tigers is not limited to the Class of 2014, however. Starting cornerback Jalen Mills was indefinitely suspended earlier this offseason after allegedly punching a woman in the mouth and being arrested on a second-degree battery charge.

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Wrench thrown into Jayhawks’ plans as KU loses four-star RB

Traevohn Wrench

(Writer’s note: not literally lost, for those who were concerned about the player’s well-being.)

The highest-rated member of Kansas’ 2014 recruiting class will have to wait a year if he’s going to play in Lawrence as originally planned.

Multiple media outlets reported recently that Traevohn Wrench will be a non-qualifier academically at KU. Instead, the running back will go the JUCO route, playing the 2014 season at Butler (Kan.) Community College.

Wrench had signed with KU this past February.

The good news for the Jayhawks and Charlie Weis — if he’s still around in 2015, that is — is Wrench plans on resigning with KU and playing for them in 2015.

“I am 100 percent going to KU,” after spending time at Butler the player said.

That would be welcome news for a roster that needs as many quality football players as it can acquire. Wrench would fit in that category as he was a four-star member of KU’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 running back in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Kansas.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Purdue suspends starting safety for first two games

Melvin Gordon, Taylor Richards

An off-field at the end of last year will cost Purdue’s defensive secondary at the beginning of this season.

Second-year head coach Darrell Hazell confirmed to the Indianapolis Star recently that Taylor Richards (no relation) will be suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season. Taylor was arrested last December and charged with operating while intoxicated (a vehicle, not on a patient) and underage consumption of alcohol.

The incident occurred after the postseason-less Boilermakers put the finishing touches on a one-win season.

Taylor has started 27 consecutive games at safety, so the loss of his veteran experience will certainly be a steep price to pay for both the player and the team. He will miss, incidentally, the opener against Western Michigan and the following week versus Central Michigan.

Additionally, fellow safety starter Landon Feichter will miss the first half of the opener. In the season finale against Indiana, he was flagged for targeting in the second half of the loss.

Feichter has started 25 straight games for the Boilermakers.

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Dismissed Bergeron seeking release from UT scholarship

New Mexico State v Texas Getty Images

Well, this is a plot twist most wouldn’t necessarily see coming.

Last Friday, multiple media outlets reported that Joe Bergeron had been dismissed by new Texas head coach Charlie Strong. The only reason given was the standard “violation of unspecified team rules.”

Five days later, the Austin American-Statesman is, citing unnamed family sources, reporting that Bergeron is “actively seeking a release from his scholarship.” It’s unclear why a player who has been dismissed would need to actively seek a release — speculation is that he’s been granted an unconditional one — especially considering said player’s next reported stop.

Again per the American-Statesman, Bergeron is looking at moving on to West Texas A&M to continue his collegiate playing career. That school’s athletic director confirmed that portion of the story to the paper.

Because that A&M is a Div. II program, Bergeron would be eligible to play immediately in 2014. Perhaps the release is a mere technicality, although, again, it’s unclear.

(Writer’s note: I’ve put out multiple feelers to divine what if any meaning this whole “release” angle has.)

The American-Statesman, though, sums up the overall situation very nicely:

Bergeron’s situation is perplexing. He was sent home from spring football practice for undisclosed reasons. But Strong talked up Bergeron during the coach’s bus tour in April and May and always included him in any discussion about the depth at running back.

Then prior to his appearance at Big 12 media day, Strong told the Statesman, “Joe’s back.” By week’s end, Bergeron was gone from the team for good.

Bergeron was one of four Longhorns reportedly dismissed late last week by Strong. The school has yet to announce the forced departures.

All told, seven players have been dismissed since Strong took over for Mack Brown.

Additionally, three more UT players are facing suspensions as the new football sheriff in Austin looks to open the eyes of his players to a new, and more demanding, style of discipline.

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Third legal strike and Herd RB is out

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwezymfkotm5mdjhodhmowuxoguznda5ogrkm2uwnjc2 AP

Unfortunately for Kevin Grooms, in college sports, as in baseball, very, very rarely are you given a fourth strike.

Over the weekend, Marshall announced that the running back had been dismissed from the football program. The separation came a few hours after Grooms was arrested on a felony burglary charge as well as misdemeanors of domestic assault, petit larceny and fleeing on foot.

The arrest was Grooms’ third in a little over 15 months. In late April of last year, the back was charged with underage consumption of alcohol and obstruction. Seven months later, he was suspended indefinitely after he was arrested and charged with domestic battery and obstruction.

Head coach Doc Holliday reinstated Grooms before the start of spring practice, with the player exiting the 15 sessions as the clear starter at the position.

Grooms was a talented player who could never quite get his head out of his nether regions, though.

After redshirting as a true freshman — he was a three-star member of the Herd’s 2011 recruiting class coming out of high school in Hollywood, Fla. — Grooms led Marshall in 2012 with 737 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He was named Conference USA’s Freshman of the Year following that season.

Despite not playing the in the last three games last season due to a combination of injuries and his suspension, Grooms finished third on the team with 503 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns.

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Punishment up in the air for starting Utah QB cited for alcohol

Travis Wilson AP

As evidenced by his 16 interceptions last season — second most at the FBS level, and in just nine games no less — Travis Wilson had an issue with the on-field decision-making part of the quarterback equation.

As evidenced by a recent incident, the off-field decision-making could use some work as well.

Late last week, Utah’s starting quarterback — at least for now — was cited for underage consumption of alcohol. The citation was issued at a Tim McGraw concert and came courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Wilson was released at the scene.

What if any disciplinary measures Wilson will face are to be determined.

“We are still in the process of gathering information on the incident,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement released to the Tribune. “Once we have all the facts, we will handle the situation internally and determine any disciplinary action that should be taken.”

After starting the first three-quarters of the 2013 season, a concussion — technically, an intracranial artery injury — sidelined Wilson for the last three games and led to questions as to whether he would ever play the game again. Wilson, though, was cleared to participate in spring practice, albeit in non-contact mode, and was ultimately cleared medically for full contact last month.

Wilson will enter summer camp as the projected starter, although, Kendal Thompson, a transfer from Oklahoma, is expected to push the incumbent for the job.

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Bo Pelini suggests foul play by Ole Miss

Bo Pelini

There is an old football cliche that goes something like this: “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.”

And Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini stopped just short of accusing the Ole Miss Rebels of cheating during a recent recruiting battle.

Wide receiver transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow, who originally chose the Washington Huskies as part of the 2013 class, verbally committed to Nebraska during a visit this summer. After visits to Alabama and Ole Miss, Stringfellow, a four-star recruit, decided to flip his commitment and he will attend Ole Miss in the fall.

What happened in between?

“Read between the lines,” Pelini told Huskers Illustrated’s Michael Bruntz. “I think we all know what happened in that situation.”

Since Coach Pelini suggested it, let’s read between the lines about what could have possibly happened.

OK — I’m reading between the lines now — what could Ole Miss have done to flip Stringfellow’s commitment?

  • They paid him.
  • They gave him a car.
  • They offered his parents a job.
  • They told him he would start right away.
  • Young ladies were used as “campus aides” to woo him.

There really is an untold amount of possibilities we can think of based on Pelini’s simple suggestion.

Or — and this is far more likely — a teenager with plenty of options available to him changed his mind. Too bad the coach on the wrong side of the decision simply couldn’t accept that fact.

Pelini didn’t give much of an explanation for his outburst, but he seemed to lay the blame at the feet of Stringfellow’s parents.

“Especially when it’s a clueless parent,” Pelini said.

Pelini may think he knows what’s best for every kid Nebraska recruits, but he is not in any position to tell Stringfellow and his family what’s best for them.

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A deluge descends upon UCLA’s campus

Terrence Bowman #12

A water main break near UCLA’s campus has completely flooded large areas of the university.

The football team was forced to quickly move its gear from the onrushing water. The football field is almost completely submerged, and the weight room is reportedly in “bad shape.”

Here are other images from around UCLA’s athletic complex:

If you want to follow the NBC 4’s coverage of the water break, click the video below:

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Report: Three more Longhorns could face a suspension

Daje Johnson

When four players were dismissed from the Texas Longhorns program last week, there was speculation more players would follow. Three more players have been identified by HornsDigest.com’s Chip Brown as being at risk.

Wide receiver Daje Johnson and offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle all face suspension, according to Brown. The trio are apparently down to their “last strike” with the program.

It should be pointed out that Texas has not announced anything and these three players may simply be facing internal pressure to conform with head coach Charlie Strong’s new approach.

If we do take a moment to consider the possibility of any of these players being suspended, it would be a major blow to the Longhorns’ offense.

Harrison and Estelle are projected to the team’s starting bookends at offensive tackle. The Longhorns lack experience behind their starters and protecting quarterback David Ash with a pair of neophyte offensive tackles could prove to be disastrous. Kent Perkins, who is projected to start at guard, would likely be asked to move back to right tackle, while sophomore Camrhon Hughes would be thrust into the starting lineup.

At wide receiver, Johnson has shown the potential to be a dynamic play maker. While it may be difficult to replicate what Johnson can do within the offense, it could eventually prove to be an opportunity for a young receiver — whether it’s Jacorey Warrick, Jake Oliver or one of five incoming freshmen — to earn playing time and possibly produce.

It wouldn’t be surprising with Strong’s recent track record to find out that one or all of these players are eventually suspended, but we wanted to stress the fact that it hasn’t happened or hasn’t been announced at this time.

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Mizzou WR suspended due to a banned substance

Missouri v Vanderbilt

The Missouri Tigers’ war of attrition at wide receiver continues.

Sophomore Levi Copelin has been suspended for the 2014 campaign due to taking a banned substance.

“The reason I am suspended is that I recently bought an over-the-counter nutritional supplement from a local store, and used it as part of my workout routine,” Copelin said in a statement released by the schoool. “Unfortunately, I used it without clearing it with my strength coaches or trainers.  This supplement is legal and available to the public, but it isn’t approved by the NCAA, and as a result of using it, I failed an NCAA drug test.  This was a stupid mistake on my part, and I’m very sorry that I put myself and my team in this situation.  This is a hard lesson to learn, as I never had the wrong intentions. I also understand there aren’t any shortcuts to success.  There’s nothing I can do except dedicate myself to representing me, my family, my team, and Mizzou the right way going forward.  I’m very grateful to my coaches and my teammates for giving me a chance to overcome this.”

Last season, the Tigers had one of the most explosive wide receiver corps in college football. L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas were lost to the NFL, and budding superstar Dorial Green-Beckham was dismissed from the team in April.

The team will now rely heavily on seniors Bud Sasser, Darius White and Jimmie Hunt. Copelin was projected to be the team’s fourth starter at wide receiver in its spread system. Instead, Copelin’s absence will provide an opportunity for a pair of true freshmen, Nate Brown and DeSean Blair, to make an early impact for the Tigers. The coaching staff could also turn to tight end Sean Culkin to provide a big presence — all 6-6 and 245 pounds of him — in the slot.

“This is a very unfortunate situation, but one that Levi created for himself,” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said in the statement. “He’s paying the price for this mistake, and I commend him for owning up to it and taking responsibility.  Our strength coaches and trainers rely on our players to be careful of what they do on their own, and to always get approval from them first.  We’re disappointed that Levi didn’t follow this guideline, but we will support him during this time, and have high expectations that he will handle all of his responsibilities in the classroom, in the community and on the field in a first-class manner.”

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WVU’s Wendell Smallwood cleared of charges in murder case

Wendell Smallwood

Sometimes, as is the case with West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, it’s far more prudent to allow the justice system to play itself out before a student-athlete’s future is determined.

Smallwood was arrested July 14 on charges of intimidating a witness involved in a murder case.

Wilmington (Delaware) police claimed at the time that Smallwood “tried to get a witness to recant statements implicating a friend (Zakee Lloyd) of his charged with first-degree murder.”

Lloyd, however, admitted to the crime, while Smallwood was a vital part of the investigation. The Wilmington Police Department issued a statement regarding Smallwood’s role in the matter:

Since his arrest, Wendell Smallwood has been fully cooperative with the Department of Justice and Wilmington Police Department including giving a full statement regarding his involvement in witness intimidation. He was fully prepared to testify truthfully in the upcoming trial, and his cooperation was instrumental to the State in securing today’s conviction of Zakee Lloyd.

There is no evidence of Smallwood’s involvement in the murder of Manuel Oliveras.  Moreover, despite the recorded phone call between Smallwood and Lloyd, there is no evidence that it resulted in a threat being conveyed to that witness.  In consideration of all of the facts and circumstances, including Smallwood’s full cooperation with authorities and the conviction of Zakee Lloyd, the State today entered a nolle prosequi on the witness intimidation charge against Wendell Smallwood.

Upon news of Smallwood’s involvement in the case, West Virginia University didn’t comment on the situation, and Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen wouldn’t discuss it during Big 12 media days. Instead, Smallwood remained on the roster, and he’ll now be able to return to the team without fear of suspension or dismissal.

Smallwood finished third on the team with 221 rushing yards in 2013, and he was second with 894 all-purpose yards.

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Jake Heaps expects to start at QB for the Hurricanes

Jake Heaps

Quarterback Jake Heaps hopes the third time is the charm.

Heaps is on his third team in four years. After unsuccessful stints with the BYU Cougars and the Kansas Jayhawks, Heaps has one year of eligibility left to make his mark with the Miami Hurricanes. And Heaps plans to make the most of it as the team’s starting quarterback.

“I didn’t come here to be the backup,” Heaps told the Miami Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan. “I made this decision for a reason. I came here to play, but you have to earn that. No one is going to give that to you, and that’s what I knew coming into this situation and that’s what I wanted.

“… That’s the only way you’re going to earn your teammates’ respect and gain their confidence. So for me, I’m very excited about this opportunity. This is my last year. I’ve given everything I have at this thing, and it’s extremely important for me to perform well — not only to win the job but for my goals and aspirations down the line as well.”

Heaps’ experience speaks for itself and provides him with an advantage in the Hurricanes’ upcoming quarterback competition. During his time with the other two institutions, Heaps played in 33 games and threw for 5,181 yards, 32 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.

The starting job, however, won’t be handed to the upperclassman. Although, the trek will be much easier to navigate without projected starter Ryan Williams in the running. Williams suffered a torn ACL during spring ball, which allowed Heaps to transfer to the University of Miami.

Heaps will compete with three young but very talented quarterbacks. Kevin Olsen is a redshirt freshman and former four-star recruit. Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier are a pair of highly touted true freshmen that could work their way into the mix with strong showings during fall camp.

“Many times you’re in a situation with quarterback battles, [and] it’s very easy to find a team that has a divided locker room, that in a lot of situations don’t handle this situation very well,” Heaps said. “It’s a testament to the group of guys in this quarterback room that there hasn’t been any division.

“I’ve tried to come in and be nobody but myself and show these guys how much I love the game of football. It has gone extremely well. These guys are great.”

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Disciplinary actions at Texas are helping recruiting

Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong had many challenges facing him when he took over as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. The biggest of which was relating to high school coaches in the state of Texas after they became accustomed to the ways of Mack Brown over the past 16 years.

Strong’s recent disciplinary action — he suspended or dismissed six players last week, including two potential starters — wasn’t seen as a negative around the state. Strong is establishing a new culture in Texas, and high school coaches are taking notice.

“The high school coaches I’ve spoken with say they want to send players to a place where is sound discipline,” Daron Roberts, a Texas graduate who will coach at the high school level this season, told Bleacher Report’s Ben Kercheval. “Everyone knows that Strong means what he says.”

The high school coaches don’t just want their athletes to play for the University of Texas. They want them to become better men under the supervision of Strong.

“We’re in the development business,” Todd Moebes, the head football coach at Abilene Cooper High School, told Kercheval. “We want to make our players better citizens in society, but you also have to look at how that affects the program. I admire him.”

Strong is quickly setting the tone within his program and changing expectations around the state. And it’s working.

Texas currently ranks 20th overall in Rivals.com’s 2015 class rankings. The program didn’t rank in the Top 20 during Brown’s last full recruiting cycle. The team finished 24th. And the Longhorns received a pair of verbal commitments from wide receiver John Burt (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) and defensive lineman Du’Vonta Lampkin (Houston/Cypress Falls) since the suspensions.

It will take time for Strong and his staff to fully ingratiate themselves into recruiting the state of Texas, but the coach has certainly set the right tone early in his tenure.

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