One of the constants on Illinois’ defense in 2013 can’t be counted on to do the same in 2014.
The Illini announced in a press release Friday morning that linebacker/defensive end Houston Bates has decided to transfer from the football program. The release stated that Bates wants to move closer to his home in Louisiana to finish out his collegiate playing career.
“Houston is a terrific and bright young man, who was a great teammate on our football team,” said head coach Tim Beckman in a statement. “We certainly would have liked to have Houston remain on the team, but he indicated that he wanted to finish closer to home and his family. We wish him nothing but the best as he moves on in his career.”
After starting two games in both 2011 and 2012, Bates started all 12 games as a junior last season. He finished second on the team with 12 tackles for loss, a total that was good for ninth in the Big Ten. His 3.5 sacks were second on the team as well.
Bates was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in Covington, La., in 2011.
“I want to thank my teammates and coaches, along everyone who supported me here at the University of Illinois and allowed me to graduate with a degree from such a prestigious institution,” Bates said. “My degree from the UofI allows me to accomplish whatever I want in my life. I wish everyone in the Fighting Illini program nothing but the best. I’m taking this opportunity to finish my playing career closer to home so that my family and friends will be able to see me play.”
Because he has graduated, Bates will be eligible to play at the FBS level in 2013. There’s no word on what specific institutions near his home would be of interest.
Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.
With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future. The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.
Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.
At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas. The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.
Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels. He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.