Perhaps lost in the buzz surrounding signing day is the latest development in the lawsuit filed by the family of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno against the NCAA. After making some changes to the original lawsuit, the Paterno family has added Penn State as a nominal defendant after the NCAA argued the university should be labeled as a defendant in the case. A nominal defendant is one that is included in a lawsuit due to a technicality in order to make an accurate ruling but has no responsibility or fault in the ruling.
According to a report by Penn State student newspaper The Daily Collegian, the changes to the lawsuit were made to appease the NCAA but the family is not seeking any damage or compensation from the school.
“To be clear, we do not seek any monetary damages from Penn State, nor do we ask that the court order Penn State to take any action.” attorney for the Paterno side, Wick Sollers said in a statement. “We ask only for a declaration that the plaintiffs have rights under the NCAA rules that were violated, and that the Consent Decree imposed by the NCAA is null and void.”
The Paterno family is seeking to overturn the sanctions levied by the NCAA against the football program in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and publication of the Freeh Report. It is the Paterno family’s belief the university was pressure to sign off on a consent decree, which university president Rodney Erickson did in the summer of 2012. Because of the way the NCAA handled the Penn State case, the Paterno family claims a number of assistant coaches, including Jay Paterno, were victims of defamation and because of that have not been able to find a job coaching football since being let go by the university once Bill O’Brien was hired in January 2012.
One of the demands of the consent decree mandated Penn State would accept whatever punishment the NCAA handed down without challenging the decision. This is not typical of NCAA protocol that allows for a university to appeal a decision made by the NCAA. Penn State was issued a four-year postseason ban, significant reduction in available scholarships and a $60 million fine to be paid over the course of the sanction period. Current players and recruits were also given a free transfer by the NCAA. Since then the NCAA has cut back on the scholarship restrictions and is allowing Penn State to gradually work back up to 85 total scholarships.
Penn State was given back five scholarships for the Class of 2014, going from 15 to 20. The Nittany Lions will have a full 25 initial scholarships to offer in the Class of 2015.
Two Power Five transfer players are officially Florida Gators.
Monday, the Gators confirmed that offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen and quarterback Malik Zaire have enrolled in classes at the university. Zaire was given his unconditional release from Notre Dame in late November and, after awaiting the SEC’s tweaking of its graduate transfer policy, confirmed his move to UF earlier this month, while Fruhmorgen left Clemson in mid-January before two months later revealing that Gainesville would serve as his next college football home.
As Zaire is coming to the Gators as a grad transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017 and is looked upon as a potential, or even likely starter under center. Fruhmorgen will have to sit out the 2017 season, but will then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
Zaire started three games during his time with the Fighting Irish — the first in the Music City Bowl win over LSU following the 2014 season then the first two games of the 2015 season before an ankle injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He played in eight games last season as the backup to DeShone Kizer.
Fruhmorgen didn’t play another game last season after suffering a shoulder injury in late October. While the injury kept him out of a couple of games, he missed the latter quarter of the regular season, as well as the postseason, dealing with unspecified personal issues that kept him away from the team.
Prior to all of that, the true sophomore had started the first eight games of the 2016 season at right tackle.
A four-star 2015 signee, Fruhmorgen was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida. As a true freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound lineman played in 11 games, starting one of those contests.
A former Miami Hurricane wasn’t the only Power Five transfer West Virginia landed over the weekend.
On his personal Twitter account Sunday, T.J. Simmons surprised many by announcing that he would be transferring from Alabama. Not only that, but the wide receiver announced his new college football home — West Virginia.
After sitting out the 2017 season, Simmons will have three years of eligibility remaining with the Mountaineers.
A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2016 recruiting class, Simmons was rated as the No. 58 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. While he played in 12 games as a true freshman, mainly on special teams, he caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in this year’s spring game.
In addition to Simmons, former Miami tight end Jovani Haskins announced Saturday he would be transferring to WVU as well. All told, four Power Five players have come to Morgantown this offseason — those two, plus former Syracuse defensive back Corey Winfield (HERE) and ex-Miami quarterback Jack Allison (HERE).
Meanwhile, In Tuscaloosa, Simmons has joined linebacker Shawn Jennings (HERE) and O.J. Smith (HERE) as transfers away from UA in the last month. As 247Sports.com noted, that trio of transfers gets the Tide down to 86 scholarship players, one above the 85-man limit.
The extended Eastern Carolina football family is in mourning following the passing of one of their own.
Over the weekend, Domonique Lennon was shot and killed following an incident outside of a Raleigh, NC restaurant. He was just 24 years old.
Witnesses described hearing upwards of 15 gunshots, with police arriving at 9:45 p.m. Friday night. No suspect or suspects are in custody as police continue to investigate the fatal shooting, which they believe involved more than one shooter.
It’s unknown if Lennon was the target or just caught up in the crossfire.
Lennon played defensive back for the Pirates from 2011-15. He played in 26 games his last two seasons with ECU, starting 14 of those contests in 2014.
“East Carolina University, the athletics department and Pirate football program are saddened by the tragic passing of Domonique Lennon,” a statement from the school began. “He made a positive impact on many people during his time as a student-athlete at ECU and earned the respect of both his teammates and coaches. We extend our condolences to Domonique’s family, friends and all those who knew and loved him.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help start a college fund for Lennon’s young son Landon. You can reach it by clicking HERE.
Derrius Guice may be the most underrated player in college football.
Playing in the shadow of Leonard Fournette, Guice posted an eye-popping 8.55 yards per carry (51 rushes for 436 yards) as a freshman in 2015, then kept his big-play ability as his usage increased while Fournette battled injuries in his final college season. Guice rushed 183 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns; his 7.58 yards per carry average was the most among Power 5 rushers with at least 180 carries.
So, yes, Guice is really good. He’s also a physical freak.
LSU captured and tweeted video Friday of Guice squatting 650 pounds, more than three times his listed 212 pounds.
If — and this is a massive, Les Miles-firing if — LSU can consistently throw the ball in 2017, go ahead and make Guice your darkhorse Heisman contender in 2017.
(HT CBS Sports)