‘Canes player lucky to be alive, plans to continue playing football

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As Miami closed the curtain on spring practice with a game and new uniform unveiling, the Hurricanes appear very lucky they weren’t also honoring a deceased teammate as well.

In late February, Hunter Knighton lost consciousness and collapsed during a workout session, sending the offensive lineman straight to the hospital and into intensive care.  Knighton was released from the hospital two weeks later, although details were scant as to what exactly the player endured and fought through during that time.

Some of those details are now available and, quite frankly, they’re horrifying.

In a statement released through the university Saturday, Knighton explained that February day he had “a 109 degree body temperature and [was] unknowingly suffering with the flu,” which resulted in him being “stricken by a heat stroke.”

With symptoms such as “brain swelling, multiple seizures, kidney and liver failure,”  an unresponsive Knighton “was placed on a ventilator for twelve days during which time I fought one of the greatest battles of my life against a loss of blood platelets, double pneumonia, and fever.” “By God’s grace, and with an amazing medical team at both Doctor’s Hospital and UM Hospital and with a great support group of family, coaches, and friends,” Knighton was able to exit both ICU and the hospital two weeks after being admitted.  Despite the medical setback, Knighton has no intention of giving up his football dream.

I am so close to achieving my childhood goal of playing Division I football and I am determined to make it happen,” a portion of the player’s statement read. “I plan to contribute this spring to my team and not only achieve my goal of playing major college football, but far surpassing it, and helping The U win games.  Thank you to all of those who have supported me and prayed for me.”

Knighton, a three-star member of The U’s 2013 recruiting class, is a 6-foot-6, 278-pound freshman who redshirted last fall after undergoing shoulder surgery.  While there’s no specific word on when Knighton will resume his playing career — he’s not participating in spring practice, obviously — he will have the full support of head coach Al Golden and the entire UM football program throughout his rehabilitation.

As we entered the spring of 2014, Hunter Knighton was distinguishing himself as one of the top performers on our team,” the coach said. “He had completed our off-season training program ranked third among all of our offensive linemen and was emerging as a team leader.  Hunter was so close to realizing his lifelong goal of starting at center in major football program when he fell ill.  

“Since he first began the recovery process, Hunter has been nothing short of amazing and has been an inspiration to us all, approaching his rehab program with courage and fortitude.  I have absolutely no doubt that Hunter will continue to persevere, make a full recovery, rejoin his teammates and realize all of his goals at The U.”

After stops at TCU, Arkansas State, Cameron Echols-Luper to give WKU a try

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?

On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.

As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.

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Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.