Witnesses: police, not Tide player, aggressors in weekend incident

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Relatively speaking, the weekend arrest of Alabama true freshman Tony Brown was one of those run-of-the-mill incidents involving college students and campus law enforcement that follows the standard formula: party + 18-22 year olds + alcohol + police = brouhaha and/or imbroglio.  This incident in Tuscaloosa, however, is in the early stages of taking on a life of its own.

Multiple eyewitnesses, al.com‘s Michael Casagrande is reporting, have painted the responding Tuscaloosa Police Department officers as the aggressors during a Sunday morning incident that ended with Brown’s arrest.  Those same witnesses claimed that the news release sent out by the TPD was rife with what the website described as “inaccuracies or fabrications.”

In that release, the TPD stated that “police responded to reports of a loud party involving underage drinking at an area apartment complex just after midnight Sunday morning.”  As one partygoer who was placed under arrest was being put into a police cruiser, the crowd in general and “Brown specifically continued to be a problem.”  The 18-year-old Brown was ultimately hit with pepper spray, arrested and charged with failure to obey and resisting arrest.

That was the TPD’s version of events.  Suffice to say, the eyewitness accounts vary greatly.  From Casagrande’s post, with an eyewitness accusing one of the police officers of pulling a gun as Brown was in the fetal position, exacerbating the situation:

Jaison Davis, 23 from Atlantasaid Brown was never threatening to the two police officers, who responded to a noise complaint at Campus Way, an off-campus student apartment complex. The party was attended by mostly Alabama track and field team members, Davis and other witnesses said. …

They say Brown and a few other guests turned to leave immediately after officers pulled out the pepper spray. Brown walked approximately 30-40 yards to his car with an officer following behind, they said. The officer walked beside Brown and pepper sprayed Brown in the face as the athlete was complying with the command to leave, said Davis who only briefly met Brown before Saturday night. …

Brown immediately fell to the ground in a fetal position, Davis said, as the officer pulled his gun. The crowd, which had been relatively calm to that point, was more tense after the pepper spray was used and when the gun came out, Davis said.

Sharper said everyone moved away fast when they saw the gun.

Davis went on to claim that there are at least five cell-phone videos of the incident.  Another eyewitness, 20-year-old Chris Thomas, told al.com that “the police officer appeared to become more aggressive when witnesses pulled out camera phones to capture video of the encounter.”

Along with other media outlets, al.com has requested a copy of the police report filed by the officers.  Thus far, the TPD has declined the requests.

Head coach Nick Saban addressed the incident for the first time publicly Tuesday.

“Look, some people are in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Saban said. “Some people don’t make good decisions about what they do, what they say. Tony Brown’s a fine young man, we’re glad to have him in the program. We’ll certainly try to use this as a learning experience for him. “

Five-star LB out for rest of Ohio State’s spring after shoulder surgery

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Some negative injury news comes with a bit of a silver lining for one of the highest-rated members of Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class.

Urban Meyer confirmed Tuesday that true freshman linebacker Baron Browning will miss the remainder of spring practice because of an injury.  The early enrollee underwent surgery Tuesday morning to repair an unspecified issue in his shoulder.  The Buckeyes head coach declined to reveal the details surrounding the issue that led to the medical procedure, although one report indicated it’s a torn labrum.

The good news for OSU is that Browning should be able to return to football activities at some pint in June.  Barring a setback, he’s expected to be a full participant in summer camp at the start of August.

A five-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2017 recruiting class, Browning was rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 11 player on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only two signees in an OSU class that ranked second nationally were rated higher than Browning (.9936) — cornerback Jeffrey Okudah (.9954) and defensive end Chase Young (.9953).

Browning is expected to contribute immediately as a true freshman this season.

Kentucky transfer WR Jeff Badet moves on to Oklahoma

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Jeff Badet may have left Kentucky, but he hasn’t climbed out from underneath the Stoops coaching umbrella.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday morning, Badet revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma.  The Sooners, of course, are coached by Bob Stoops; the wide receiver’s former program, the Wildcats, are coached by Mark Stoops.

Badet chose OU over another Big 12 school, West Virginia.  The receiver had paid a visit to Morgantown late last month.

In mid-January, the Wildcats announced that Badet had decided to transfer out of the UK football program.  Badet is on schedule to graduate in May, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Sooners.

A three-star member of the Wildcats’ 2013 recruiting class, Badet was third on the team in receptions and receiving yards as a true freshman.  A leg injury in spring practice the following year — a tennis ball to the eye didn’t help either — led Badet to miss the 2014 season.  Returning in 2015, he was third in receiving (29-430); in 2016, he led the team in receiving yards (670) and yards per catch (21.6).

That latter number was tops in the SEC and sixth nationally.

Rutgers grad transfer tight end moves on to Pitt

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Matt Flanagan has officially moved on from one former Big East program to another.

In a missive posted to his personal Twitter account Monday, Flanagan revealed that he will enroll at Pittsburgh in short order and continue his collegiate playing career with the Panthers.  The tight end is expected to graduate in May from Rutgers, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately for his new team during the 2017 season.

This will be Flanagan’s final season of eligibility.

The past three seasons, Flanagan played in 33 games for the Scarlet Knights. In that time, he caught 18 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns.

Flanagan also takes the student part of the student-athlete moniker very seriously. From nj.com:

The former Rutgers tight end told NJ Advance Media last November that his goal was to find a master’s program in a research-based science discipline. At the time, he called his decision “purely academic.”

At Rutgers, Flanagan is part of a select group of Rutgers students studying at the Aresty Research Center. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Flanagan spent three years researching with the hopes of publishing findings on the effects of Creatine — the same supplement made famous by MLB sluggers like Mark McGwire — and how it impacts the cells that synthesize bone.

At his new program, he’ll join a squad that doesn’t return any tight ends who have caught a pass at the collegiate level.

Syracuse makes hiring of D-II Coach of the Year official

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Dino Babers‘ second coaching staff is whole once again.

Following up on reports that first surfaced late last week, Syracuse confirmed in a press release that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) has left his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as Babers’ running backs coach.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.

“The job Justin did as a first-time head coach was fantastic,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s also been a highly-successful assistant coach. The running backs he has coached have performed extremely well, and his special teams units have consistently ranked among the nation’s best. We’re very excited to welcome Justin and his family to Syracuse.”

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.

This will mark Lustig’s first job of any kind at a Power Five program.

“My family and I are excited, honored and grateful for the opportunity to come to Syracuse and join Coach Babers’ staff,” Lustig said. “He is building a championship program there. The future of Syracuse football is very bright and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”