The end is in sight for the USC football program. Effective Tuesday, June 10, USC will officially be taken off probation.
The probation was put in place following a lengthy 2006 NCAA investigation looking into alleged extra benefits being received by former USC running back Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo. As a result, in June 2010, the Trojans were slapped with the “lack of institutional control” label, stripped of a BCS national championship and Bush’s Heisman Trophy was vacated. The football program was handed a two-year postseason ban and forced to lose 30 scholarships over a three-year period.
The Trojans are still rebuilding from the impact of the loss of scholarships, and as the Los Angeles Times profiles, it will take some time before the program is back to full working order with a full scholarship limit. The Class of 2015 will be the first full recruiting class USC will be able to put together for the first time in four years. In that time the Trojans have been passed by programs like Oregon and Stanford for Pac-12 bragging rights and UCLA has come on strong under the new leadership of head coach Jim Mora. The Bruins look like a playoff contender in 2014 with a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Brett Hundley and one of the top defensive household names in Myles Jack.
Meanwhile, the Trojans will be opening the new season with its third head coach since the NCAA investigation got underway. Pete Carroll returned to the NFL to lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship and Lane Kiffin was left at the airport after a bad loss against Arizona State last season. Now the task for new head coach Steve Sarkisian will be to restore the pride in the once might USC program.
The good news is, the job should start to get a little easier now.
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)