steven rhodes

NCAA comes around, grants MTSU player immediate eligibility


As you’ve no doubt heard by now — and if you haven’t, you can change that by reading this outstanding piece from Sunday’s edition of the Daily News-Journal — walk-on Middle Tennessee State defensive end/tight end Steven Rhodes was forced to take a mandatory redshirt for the 2013 season by the NCAA for, well, no good reason at all.

Rhodes, a Marine veteran, was told he must sit out the season because of a NCAA bylaw stating that players who do not enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of eligibility for every academic year they compete in organized competition.

Well, Rhodes just so happened to compete in organized competition after high school:  a military-only recreational football league. “Intramurals” as Rhodes put it.

Naturally, when word got out about Rhodes’ story, it was met with appropriate outrage. MTSU and the NCAA began re-examining the situation, and on Monday evening, the NCAA (correctly) reversed their original decision. Rhodes will now not only be allowed to play in 2013, but he’ll maintain all four years of eligibility. From the NCAA’s statement:

As a part of its continued review of Steven Rhodes’ eligibility, NCAA staff determined he may play immediately. Additionally, he will maintain all four years of his eligibility.

Throughout this process, NCAA staff worked closely with Middle Tennessee State University, and we appreciate the school’s partnership.

As a part of the ongoing review of NCAA rules, our members will examine the organized competition rules, especially as it impacts those returning from military service.

We thank Steven for his service to our country and wish him the best as he begins college.

The NCAA’s original decision was absurd, but it surely wasn’t done out of malice. Get a highly bureaucratic entity like the NCAA and rules with unintended consequences happen. Someone(s) somewhere made a decision based on a rule and that was that.

The important thing is that common sense prevailed. Even if Rhodes never sees the field once this year, he’ll have the option. And that’s what he should have.

(Photo credit: MTSU athletics) 

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah