The tale of Rudy at Notre Dame was made for Hollywood. Perhaps the sequel is better suited for a Vegas show on the strip. UNLV senior Jonathon James is serving as a reminder to all Rebels players this spring just what hard work can lead to.
You will not find James listed on the depth chart but you will find him on the team’s spring roster, without a number. Although his chances may be limited t contribute on the field, his role on the team is a special one. He made the team as a walk-on as a freshman, receiving the last roster spot on the 105-man roster allowed by the NCAA. He wears a t-shirt with the number 105 on it every day in practice, and he does so proudly. Instead of preparing for a role on game days, James goes through the rigors of practice just like every player and takes it upon himself to help get younger players in the right mindset and understand the program.
“It’s all about work ethic and looking past the naysayers,” James said in a profile story published by The Las Vegas Sun. “I had a coach in high school who told me I’m too short to play receiver. How many years later, I’m playing at the Division I level. Whether I had just one catch for 1 yard, I still made it.”
James’s one catch for one yard came in a 2011 game against Hawaii. It is possible that will be his only contributions on the stat line for his collegiate career, although if he continues to stay in good shape it would be nice to see him get a chance to get some playing time this season. Few players have earned that opportunity as much as James has.
“Jonathon is a great guy, great kid,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said, “the kind of guy you want on your team.”
College football needs more positive stories like this. Be sure to read James’s story via The Las Vegas Sun.
Photo credit: UNLV Athletics
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)