A sad and tragic pall was cast over Hawaii’s first win of the 2013 season as the football program has lost one of their own.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that running back Willis Wilson died early Saturday morning, the victim of what’s being described as an apparent drowning. Wilson’s body was found a couple of hours after he went missing and the authorities were called.
Wilson was just 21 years old.
“We are very saddened by the news of Willis’ passing,” head coach Norm Chow said in a statement. “He was a very fun-loving young man, who was well-liked by his teammates. He was an exciting football player who came to us from the University of Washington and whom we felt would help us at running back. He overcame some obstacles in his life and he was the perfect lesson to our team to never quit. Our thoughts and prayers are with Willis’ family during this difficult time.”
Wilson was in his first season as a walk-on with the Rainbow Warriors. He had spent the previous three seasons as a walk-on at Washington.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Wilson’s family, friends, coaches and teammates on his passing.
(Photo credit: Hawaii athletics)
Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room. Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.
Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini. The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.
As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season. Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”
DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason. How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.
Not surprisingly, UTEP will stay in-house following its in-season dismissal of one of its coordinators.
The Miners confirmed Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease had been fired. A day later, the football program announced that Brian Natkin has been given the keys to the offense by Sean Kugler and will call the plays moving forward.
Natkin began the season as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. He was an All-American tight end at UTEP a decade-and-a-half ago and became a full-time assistant at his alma mater in 2011.
Through three games, UTEP ranks second-to-last nationally in total offense at 204.7 yards per game and in yards per play (3.89). The Miners are also 125th (out of 130 teams) in scoring at 13 points per game.
The promotion of Natkin also means there will be some additional adjustments to Kugler’s staff. Wide receivers coach Chuck Veliz will take over Pease’s other role as quarterbacks coach, while safeties coach Don Yanowsky assume Natkin’s duties as special teams coordinator.
Natkin will continue in his role as tight ends coach.
Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton was taken away on a stretcher after a tackle left him motionless on the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday.
Family members were called to the field, where medical professionals stabilized an apparently unconscious Luton and removed his face mask. The game continued, of course, as Oregon State lost to Washington State 52-23 despite Luton’s 179 passing yards and 22 rushing yards.
Luton tweeted on Saturday night that he’ll “be back.”
Luton has since been discharged from the hospital, according to The Oregonian, though his father posted a message stating Luton was probably dealing with a “thoracic spine fracture.”
Oregon State is off Saturday before hosting Washington on Sept. 30.
A pair of wrist injuries will cost two Tennessee players the rest of their respective seasons.
Wide receiver Juaun Jennings and linebacker Cortez McDowell will miss the rest of the season, head coach Butch Jones announced Monday.
Jennings left Tennessee’s Labor Day victory over Georgia Tech in the second quarter after absorbing as he collected a catch over the middle, his third of the game. Jennings did not return to the game and will not for the rest of the season, forcing the 2-1 Volunteers to move forward without their top returning pass-catcher.
Additionally, McDowell was lost during the Vols loss to Florida on Saturday.
The McDowell injury is particularly brutal for Tennessee because it leaves Big Orange without all three of its protected starters at linebacker. Middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland, Jr., has already undergone season-ending surgery, and strongside linebacker Austin Smith injured his knee during the final week of fall camp.
On top of that, safety Todd Kelly, Jr., did not make the trip to Gainesville and could be lost for the season. Kick returner Evan Berry did not play against Florida either.
Oh, and Tennessee lost to Florida on a Hail Mary after having a first-and-goal inside the final minute.
Other than that, though, everything’s going great in Knoxville.