Well, this is certainly an unexpected — and wholly unwelcomed — development for Rutgers.
Head coach Kyle Flood announced Tuesday that starting cornerback Ian Thomas has abruptly left the Scarlet Knights football program in order to pursue a career in baseball. Flood said Thomas will transfer to another university in order to engage that pursuit.
The decision to move on and change sports appeared to blindside both the coach and players.
“I didn’t really see a sign that it would happen,” Flood said. “It’s a strange occurrence to me but it happens. It happens here and it happens at other places. I saw an article about a kid at UCF (DE Blake Keller) who was playing for them and decided it wasn’t the right place for him for whatever reason. Players make those decisions. Division I football is certainly demanding and if you are not 100 percent and your heart is not in it then I could see why somebody would want to move on.”
“Ian and I were very close friends actually and we talked all the time,” wide receiver Leonte Carroo said. “But nothing like that ever came up. It was very shocking to me.”
Thomas had started three of the six games in which he’s played in 2013. This season, the redshirt sophomore had one of Rutgers’ four interceptions.
Arguably the most surprising twist to this abrupt development comes courtesy of a quote from Thomas’ high school football coach.
“The young man didn’t play baseball in high school,” said Franklin (Md.) High School coach Anthony Burgos said.
Well, OK then.
Two former members of Power Five football programs have decided to slide far down the college football ladder in restarting their respective careers.
According to 247Sports.com, Cole is on the campus of East Mississippi Community College and will play for the JUCO team in 2016. The report comes nearly four months after it was reported that Cole had decided to transfer from Michigan to Kentucky.
The recruiting website writes that UK “is a school Cole continues to consider.”
Cole was a highly sought after four-star 2015 recruit who was an early enrollee in Jim Harbaugh‘s first UM class. The No. 74 player nationally on 247Sports.com‘s composite board, Cole was also the No. 1-rated player at any position in the state of Michigan. He played in two games at receiver with the Wolverines; he’ll move to safety with his new program.
Speaking of defensive backs, former Notre Dame safety Mykelti Williams has also decided to go the JUCO route. It was confirmed in March of this year that Williams had decided to leave the Irish and transfer elsewhere.
As it turns out, that elsewhere is Iowa Western.
Williams was a three-star member of the Irish’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 29 safety in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Indiana; and the No. 464 player overall according to 247Sports.com. The 5-11, 200-pound defensive back chose Notre Dame over offers from, among others, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin.
He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.
Earlier this month, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu made the decision to transfer from Utah. Over the weekend, the defensive lineman paid a visit to Nebraska as he began the process of finding a new college football home.
Earlier this week, Tu’ikolovatu continued that process at the defending national champions.
According to the defensive tackle’s Twitter account, Tu’ikolovatu paid a visit to Alabama on Monday. While the Tide, as always, remains loaded along the line even after losing so much to the NFL draft, they could certainly use someone with the talent — and size — the 6-1, 320-pound Tu’ikolovatu possesses if the player and team find common ground.
Last season with the Utes, Tu’ikolovatu played in all 13 games, starting two of those contests. His four fumble recoveries were tied for the lead in the Pac-12 and second nationally.
All told, Tu’ikolovatu played in 25 games the past two seasons. As a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately in 2016 whether he moves on to Alabama, Nebraska or any other FBS program.
The 2016 season will, though, be his final year of eligibility.
After just one season on The Plains, Tim Irvin will be plying his football wares elsewhere moving forward.
On his personal Twitter account Tuesday, Irvin, the nephew of former Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys receiving great Michael Irvin, announced that “it will be better for me to pursue my career elsewhere.” The 5-9, 194-pound defensive back gave no reason for his decision.
The Miami, Fla., native was a four-star member of AU’s 2015 recruiting class. 247Sports.com had Irvin rated as the No. 38 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 285 player overall in its composite rankings.
As a true freshman last season, Irvin played in 10 games. He started at nickel corner in games in which the Tigers opened in the nickel package.
As for potential landing spots? It’s being reported that East Carolina, Miami and Texas may be considerations.
Oklahoma has a huge season opener at a neutral field against Houston to kick off 2016 in a couple of months. Whether their top returning threat in the receiving game is on the field remains to be seen.
According to multiple media outlets, Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook was arrested late Monday morning on a charge of criminal trespassing. The arrest occurred in Westbrook’s hometown of Cameron, Tex.
No details of what led to the arrest have been released. An OU spokesperson said in a statement that “[w]e’re aware of it and are addressing internally.”
With Sterling Shepard off to the NFL, Westbrook is OU’s leading returning receiver.
In his first season with the Sooners, Westbrook was second on the Sooners in receptions (46) and receiving yards (743). His 16.2 yards per catch was tops on the team for those with 20 or more receptions, while his four receiving touchdowns were tied for third.
For that production, Westbrook was named the Big 12’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year.