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True frosh lineman leaves Gamecocks

J.P. Vonashek

One member of South Carolina’s 2013 recruiting class has officially left the building.

A school spokesperson confirmed to GoGamecocks.com that offensive lineman J.P. Vonashek has decided to take his leave of the football program.  No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.

After beginning the 2013 season as the No. 2 right tackle, Vonashek was not listed on the Gamecocks’ most recent two-deep depth chart.

Vonashek was a three-star member of USC’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 54 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 64 player at any position in the state of Georgia.

(Photo credit: South Carolina athletics)

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Devonte Fields ‘separated’ from TCU pending investigation results

TCU v Baylor

A very disturbing incident has, at least temporarily, cost TCU one of the top defensive players in the Big 12.

In a statement, TCU announced that “Devonte Fields has been separated from the University pending results of an investigation into the allegations against him.” The defensive end is under investigation by the Fort Worth Police Department for a domestic incident involving his ex-girlfriend.

According to reports, Fields’ ex accused him of pointing a gun at her; threatening to “blast” her while pointing the gun at her; and punching her with a closed fist.

Fields has yet to be charged in connection to the disturbance early Sunday morning. Should he be charged, especially if felonies are involved, the separation would likely and very quickly morph into a dismissal.

Earlier this month, Fields was named as the Big 12’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year. In 2012 he was the conference’s Freshman of the Year. His 2013 season was marred by a two-game suspension and, ultimately, a foot injury that limited him to three games.

In late January of this year, Fields claimed he was attacked, beaten and robbed three male suspects, one of whom fired five shots from a handgun into the air.  For whatever reason, Fields declined to press charges despite contacting police.

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Vols, WVU to open 2018 season in Charlotte

West Virginia v Oklahoma Getty Images

Once again, thank you College Football Playoff.

The latest college football programs to up their future scheduling games are Tennessee and West Virginia, with the schools that the Volunteers and Mountaineers will open the 2018 season against one another. The twist is it will be a neutral-site game, with the the two teams squaring off at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

That stadium, the home of the ACC championship game as well as the Belk Bowl, will also play host to the North Carolina-South Carolina game in 2015.

“The game in Charlotte presents a tremendous opportunity for our football program to play against a quality opponent in West Virginia in a first-class NFL venue,” UT head coach Butch Jones said in a statement. “The Charlotte area is in close proximity to many of our fans, and the state of North Carolina is a key component in our recruiting efforts. We very much look forward to such a unique opportunity for our student-athletes and our program.”

The 2018 game, which will be played Sept. 1, will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.  The Vols haven’t played a team from the Big 12 in the regular season — they faced Texas A&M in the 2004 Cotton Bowl — since opening 1997 against Texas Tech, while the Mountaineers’ last regular-season meeting with a member of the SEC came in 2010 versus LSU.

WVU will open the 2014 season at the home of the Atlanta Falcons against Alabama, while UT will play UAB on the Tennessee Titans’s home turf in 2015 and at Bristol Motor Speedway against Virginia Tech the following season.

“Our players enjoy playing in NFL Stadiums and this a great matchup for our program,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, who may or may not still hold that title four years down the road. “We recruit the state of North Carolina and Charlotte is a strong football area. Our fans have always supported us strongly in previous games in Charlotte and I think this is a matchup that they will really enjoy.”

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Report: TCU DE Devonte Fields pointed gun at ex-girlfriend, threatend to ‘blast you’

Devonte Fields, Wes Lunt

Star TCU defensive end Devonte Fields is being investigated by police for allegedly pointing a gun at his ex-girlfriend and threatening to shoot her, according to a report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Fields allegedly punched his ex-girlfriend with a closed fist in the incident as well.

From the Star-Telegram:

There, 20-year-old Haley Brown told officers that Fields had apparently been standing outside the bedroom window listening to her talk to a mutual male friend. Brown told police Fields then punched out the window of their friend’s bedroom from the outside and began yelling at her.

“Haley stated that she thought Devonte was holding a gun in one of his hands and stated that he pointed it at her,” the report states.

“I should blast you!” he yelled at Haley, according to the report.

There are more details of the alleged incident in the Star-Telegram article, but if these accusations are true, Fields is in a world of trouble — and coach Gary Patterson would have justification to kick him off the team. No charges have been filed an arrest has yet to be made as the investigation remains ongoing.

Fields was tabbed as the Big 12 preseason defensive player of the year, though Patterson said Monday he was surprised at that and, as the Dallas Morning News’ Chuck Carlton put it:

Fields only played in three games last year and underwent foot surgery in October, but was the Big 12’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.

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LSU defensive tackle says he’s doing well after horrific injury

LSU Logo

LSU freshman defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao “cut his arm to the bone” when he punched a glass window outside the team’s weight room on Monday, but thankfully won’t require amputation.

On Tuesday morning. Lealaimatafao sent out a tweet with some more good news:

According to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the 17-year-old Lealaimatafao punched the window after becoming upset with his girlfriend.

The 6-foot, 300-pound native of San Antonio was rated by Rivals as a three-star member of LSU’s 2014 recruiting class, the 26th-best defensive tackle and 43rd-best player in Texas.

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Steve Spurrier: ‘Dabo still thinks there are nine planets out there’

AP Photo/Richard Shiro AP

At ACC Media Days, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said his relationship with Steve Spurrier was like they were from different planets — Pluto and Mars.

Pluto, of course, hasn’t been a planet since 2006. But leave it to Spurrier to remind Swinney of that:

Spurrier used his time going through ESPN’s “Car Wash” to take another jab at Clemson, too.

Clemson hasn’t beat South Carolina since 2008…when Pluto was only two years removed from having its planetary status stripped.

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Georgia defensive lineman arrested for aggravated assault

Georgia Bulldogs logo

Georgia reserve defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor was arrested for the second time this offseason early Tuesday morning.

Taylor was arrested in Athens and charged with aggravated assault, a felony, and was booked into the Clarke County Jail at 6:08 a.m. this morning. The Athens Banner-Herald’s Marc Weiszer has more details:

There was evidence that the female victim had been “possibly strangled by the offender,” in the incident in Taylor’s dorm room, Williamson said. There was evidence that the victim and another individual had been involved in an argument in McWhorter Hall, police said. Officers determined an established relationship and “co-habitation” with the individuals.

The victim is a UGA student not enrolled in summer school.

Taylor was one of four players arrested in March on theft by deception charges but avoided suspension from the football team after entering a pre-trial intervention program. According to Weiszer, any arrest or citation constitutes a violation of that program.

The 6-foot-5, 340-pound Taylor came to Georgia in 2012 rated as a four-star recruit and was ranked by Rivals as the 72nd-best player in that year’s recruiting class. He notched nine tackles and one sack for Georgia in 2013.

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LSU kicker transfers to Rice

UAB v LSU

Hey, it’s just a kicker, but still.

In a press release Monday, Rice announced that James Hairston has transferred into the Owls football program.  Hairston had spent the past three seasons at LSU as the Tigers’ kickoff specialist.

A desire to kick field goals and extra points led Hairston to Rice, where his grandfather (1953-55) and an uncle (1993-95) were three-year letter winners on the football team.

Because Hairston received a degree from LSU this past May, he will be eligible to play for Rice immediately in 2014.  Barring a serious injury that leads to a medical waiver, this upcoming season will serve as Hairston’s last year of collegiate eligibility.

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OU’s leading tackler, Frank Shannon, still a Sooner

.J. Yeldon, Frank Shannon AP

When last we dipped our toes into the Frank Shannon “situation,” the linebacker’s future at Oklahoma was “in limbo” after he was accused of sexual assault.  The Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney’s Office, however, declined to pursue charges following a weeks-long investigation.

There was still a chance that Shannon could’ve been booted from the team based on the results of a federally-mandated Title IX investigation into the alleged assault.  It appears, though, those fears were unwarranted.

According to the Oklahoman, the Sooners released their 2014 media guide Tuesday and Shannon’s profile was included in the reference book.  Still, the paper wrote, “OU refused to release any information regarding the outcome of that investigation last week, saying no final disciplinary action had been determined yet.”

In other words, there is still a chance Shannon could be suspended for a game or two. He didn’t play in the spring game earlier this offseason, nor did he participate in a handful of practices leading up to it due to the police probe.

Even if Shannon is slapped with some type of suspension, having him for the majority of the season would be a boon to OU’s defense. As a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Shannon started all 13 games and led the Sooners in tackles with 92.

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With NCAA waiver approved, former Tide recruit can go on scholarship

Elisha Shaw

Tired of all of the arrests and court cases and the like in college football?  Here’s a pretty cool story to lift you spirits.

Elisha Shaw was a three-star defensive tackle in the Class of 2014 who held a scholarship offer from, among others, Alabama and had planned on signing with the Tide this past February.  Unfortunately, a serious neck injury forced him to quit football and give up his dream of playing for Nick Saban.

In a classy gesture, UA decided to honor its scholarship commitment to Shaw.  However, if they did that, NCAA rules stipulate that Shaw would count against the football program’s 85-man scholarship limit even if he didn’t play a single down.

Fortunately for all involved, common sense prevailed as the NCAA recently approved the Tide’s request for a waiver.  In essence, Shaw will be on a non-football scholarship that will not count against the Tide’s 85-man limit.

Shaw addressed the development on his Twitter account Monday:

Bravo to the NCAA for proving his has some (miniscule) semblance of a heart and/or brain.  And kudos to Saban and the Tide for doing the classy thing in the first place by honoring the young man’s scholarship offer.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Football recruit suspected in theft at UGA dorm

iPhone theft

Back in early April of 2011, three football recruits were accused of stealing several items, including iPhones and iPods, from the lockers of several Georgia football players during what was described as an open-house event on the campus.

Unbelievably, three years later, a similar incident has occurred… at the same school no less.

According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, an unnamed football recruit is the prime suspect in the burglary of an UGA dorm. The recruit was on the campus attending an UGA football camp and staying with two current Bulldog football players..

Because the player is a juvenile and lives out of state, he likely won’t face extradition or arrest.

From the Banner-Herald:

Two female Georgia athletes — one a gymnast and the other a soccer player — reported to a residence assistant that an unknown black male entered their Busbee Hall suite at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday and took an iPhone5 and a wallet with two credit cards in it, according to a police incident report. Police were dispatched soon after that morning to meet with the R.A. The victims stated the main entry door to the suite and their respective bedroom doors were unlocked.

UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson told the paper he “feel[s] very confident saying [the football recruit is] our responsible party.”  The sad part is, it doesn’t appear the unnamed recruit will be held responsible for his alleged actions.

Weird, weird story.

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Consensus of Salem, Ore., Dairy Queens? Never heard of Bryce Petty

International Dairy Queen Inc.'s 6000th Store Opening

Still miffed over what he perceived as a Heisman invitation snub for Bryce Petty, Baylor head coach Art Briles challenged those in attendance at the BIG 12 Media Days Monday to “[g]o to a Dairy Queen in Salem, Oregon, and ask if they’ve heard of” the Bears’ starting quarterback.

Radio personality and Oregonian writer John Canzano — or, more specifically, one of his assistants — took up that challenge. The results? Let’s just say you’ll have to go outside that area to find a charter member of the “Bryce Petty Fan Club.”

As Canzano explained, his production assistant called the six official Dairy Queen franchises in Salem and asked employees if they’ve ever heard of Petty. Suffice to say, hilarity — and a little bit of an egg-flavored Blizzard on Briles’ face — ensued.

“I’ve never heard of him,” said one male (West Salem) Dairy Queen employee, who was asked if he knew Petty or Briles. “You know you called a fast food restaurant, right? Are those like owners of Dairy Queens or employees?”

Another male Dairy Queen employee at the Mission Street location said, “I’m not familiar with it at all, I can ask my manager.”

The manager said, “I have no idea. I don’t know.”

The best employee reaction when asked if anyone knew Bryce Petty.

“Like a dog?”

So, there you have it, in scientific black and white — Dairy Queen employees in the great city of Salem, Or., have no earthly clue who the hell Bryce Petty is.

Now, the obvious question becomes: has anyone in a (name a city in), Tex., Hardee’s ever heard of Marcus Mariota?  Hey, this could be kind of a fun game.

By the way, kudos to Baylor and Petty for having a little fun with this situation, which you can view on Instagram HERE.

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UPDATE: Injured LSU frosh DT not facing amputation

LSU Trey

I’ve dealt with quite a few sad stories over the past five-plus years I’ve been with CFT and NBC, but this one ranks right up there amongst the ones that didn’t involve a death.

While the details are extremely scant at the moment, Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, citing multiple sources, is reporting that LSU true freshman Trey Lealaimatafao is facing the amputation of an arm following an incident in the Tigers’ weight room earlier today. The only information relating to the incident at this time is that Lealaimatafao reportedly punched a glass window in the team’s weight room.

Not that it really matters at the moment, but what led to the punch, whether it was directed at a teammate or out of frustration/anger, is unknown.

LSU’s officials have declined to comment on the player’s status, although a statement addressing the issue could be released as early as tonight.

Lealaimatafao was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 26 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 43 player in the state of Texas at any position.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lealaimatafao during this most difficult time.

UPDATED 8:22 p.m. ET: Fortunately, there’s some good news on this front.

Updating his story from just a short time ago, Kleinpeter is reporting that, per an LSU athletic department official, Lealaimatafao is not in danger of losing his arm to amputation.  Kleinpeter also provided a couple of additional details that led to an injury that, while not nearly serious as previously reported, will likely keep the defensive lineman out for the 2014 season:

Sources who were present said Lealaimatafao, a four-star recruit from San Antonio, Texas, was upset about a disagreement with his girlfriend, and punched the window between the weight room and indoor practice facility. The sources said the glass “tore through” Lealaimatafao’s bicep and they could see the bone underneath.

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‘In short period of time,’ Malzahn will have Marshall’s punishment ‘figured out’

Nick Marshall AP

During his appearance at the SEC Media Days exactly a week ago, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn stated Nick Marshall would “have to deal with the consequences” of the starting quarterback’s marijuana citation earlier this month.  That said, Malzahn wasn’t prepared to say what if any punishment the player may be facing.

Monday it was lather, rinse repeat on the latter front, although it appears the coach is getting closer — perhaps real close — to making a decision.

“He’ll have some things he’ll have to pay for,” Malzahn said during an ESPN interview Monday. “I have not decided that for sure right now, but it will be in a short period of time I’ll have that figured out.”

There has been speculation that Malzahn, even as the school’s drug policy may not require it, could sit Marshall for the season opener against Arkansas. If that were to be the case, the Tigers would be forced to turn to Jeremy Johnson.

At least outwardly, Malzahn didn’t seem the least bit concerned about that prospect.

“(Johnson is) another outstanding quarterback I think will play at the next level,” he said. “He played two games last year and was the SEC Offensive Freshman of the Week. We’re in good shape there.”

Marshall, who was described as “teary-eyed” and “very regretful” during his encounter with the police, did not attend the SEC Media Days as scheduled as punishment for the citation.

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Facing five felonies, Okla. St.’s Devon Thomas ‘not a part of our team’

Devon Thomas

At least for now, the status of an Oklahoma State player facing much bigger issues than football has been cleared up.

At the Big 12 Media Days Tuesday, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy was asked about Devon Thomas, the true freshman who earlier this offseason was charged with a grand total of five felonies.  While not mentioning the defensive back by name, Gundy stated that if a player isn’t on the latest roster distributed to the media, he’s not on the team.

“The roster that we handed out today are the players that will report next week,” the coach said. “And if there’s a player that’s not on that roster, then he’s not a part of our team.”

In late May, Thomas was initially arrested on a pair of felony complaints — armed robbery and shooting with intent to kill — following what appears to be a drug deal gone horribly awry. It was subsequently reported that three additional felony complaints were filed against Thomas: kidnapping, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Four other males — two 18 years of age, two 17 – were arrested on similar complaints.

It was subsequently revealed that Thomas had been charged with distribution of child pornography in the months leading up to his junior year in high school.  Additionally, court documents showed, Thomas “had been referred to juvenile court… once before [the child porn charge], on July 6, 2011, on an allegation of an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors ultimately declined to file a charge on that allegation.”

Thomas, an early enrollee, was a three-star member of the Cowboys’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 30 running back in the country by Rivals.com. He participated in spring practice and was expected to make an immediate contribution to the Cowboys’ defensive secondary.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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One arrested A&M player leaves Aggies, another suspended

Mississippi State v Texas A&M Getty Images

A pair of off-field incident have cost Texas A&M one defensive player permanently and another temporarily.

A&M announced Monday that defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury has decided to leave the Aggies football program.  Back in mid-April, Stansbury was one of three Aggies arrested on outstanding warrants following a traffic stop.

Stansbury is facing a misdemeanor charge for assault after being accused of pouring a can of beer on a person and then striking that person with his fist during a party at Rice University.

Playing in 10 games last season, Stansbury finished seventh on the team with 47 tackles and tied for the team lead with three sacks.  He had 42 of those tackles in the last seven games of the season, and seemed poised for a bigger role in A&M’s line rotation in 2014.

To where Stansbury, a three-star member of the Aggies’ 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in Louisiana, will transfer is unknown.  Stansbury is the fourth defensive player who could’ve made a significant contribution in 2014 to leave this offseason; the first three — linebacker Darian Claiborne, defensive lineman Isaiah Golden and safety Kameron Miles — didn’t leave voluntarily, though, as they were dismissed by head coach Kevin Sumlin.

In addition to Stansbury, A&M also announced that defensive back Victor Davis has been indefinitely suspended. Yesterday it was reported that Davis was arrested at some point in the past two weeks for shoplifting at a Kohl’s department store.

Since December of last year, seven A&M players have been arrested on various charges, including one three times (Claiborne) and another twice (Golden).

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