Alabama head coach Saban questions a call from the referee in the second half of play against Virginia Tech at the Chick-fil-A  Kick-Off college NCAA football game in Atlanta

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. “

ECU transfer Kurt Benkert wins Virginia’s starting QB job

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina.  Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.

First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond.  Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

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Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.

Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.

In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth.  His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.

Cassius Peat granted release by Mich. St., appears headed to JUCO

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  A Michigan State Spartans helmet on the bench during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on November 15, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 37-15.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”

A week or so later?  He gone.

MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans.  And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.

Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.

However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.

Ex-Oregon St. DB goes home to LaTech as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Justin Davis #22 of the USC Trojans is defended by safety Cyril Noland-Lewis #17 of the Oregon State Beavers in the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Oregon State 35-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.

The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program.  As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.

Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season.  Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner.  OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.

The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.

Tyler Rodgers, NMSU’s starting QB, arrested on battery charge

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tyler Rogers #18 of the New Mexico State Aggies drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14.  The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.

The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”

The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.

“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”

Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.

Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.