Justin Ferguson

WR Justin Ferguson transferring from Irish, too


First this month there was quarterback Gunner Kiel earlier this month.  Then came wide receiver Davonte’ Neal late last night.  Now comes word that yet another member of Notre Dame’s 2012 recruiting class has left the building.

The father of wide receiver Justin Ferguson (pictured, No. 82) confirmed to BlueandGold.com that his son has decided to leave the Irish.  Neal’s father told the same website that fatherhood and not anything to do with the school or the program led to his son’s decision to transfer.

In Ferguson’s case, Jason Ferguson said some level of discomfort on the part of his son was the driving force behind the receiver’s decision, although no specifics were given.

“It’s more of a level of comfort,” the dad explained to the website. “He didn’t provide specific reasons like playing time or anything because he hasn’t even come home yet since deciding, but I’ve been working with him through his feelings as well. I’m not pressuring him to stay. He talked to Coach (Brian) Kelly and he says he’s sure of his decision and Coach Kelly knows of his intentions.”

Shortly after the 247Sports.com website’s story was posted, head coach Brian Kelly confirmed that both Ferguson and Neal “are no longer part of the football program,” adding that he and his staff “wish them the best in future endeavors.”

There’s no word on where Ferguson, who attended Pembroke Pines (Fla.) Flanagan High School, may head to next.  He held offers from, among others, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, West Virginia and Wisconsin coming out of high school.

Ferguson played in 11 games last season as a true freshman, catching one pass for nine yards.  He was a three-star member of last year’s class, rated as the No. 58 receiver in the country.

In addition to Ferguson, Neal and Kiel, a fourth member of the Irish’s 2012 class rated No. 20 in the nation had previously left the program.  Cornerback Tee Shepard signed with Notre Dame in January of last year as an early enrollee but left two months later.

Shepard, Ferguson and Kiel were the three highest-rated players signed by the Irish in that recruiting class.

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”

Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.

At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August.  The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”

Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.

Michigan’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
Associated Press
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Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5.  The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.

De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.  Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.

“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”

Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.

Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).

In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well.  The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury