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Mark Richt on Todd Gurley: You’ve gotta give him the ball

Todd Gurley

One of the biggest reasons to like Georgia’s chances in the SEC, if not just the SEC East, in 2014 lies on the health of running back Todd Gurley. The victim of a sprained ankle last season, Gurley appears to be primed for a bounce back season for the Bulldogs and he probably should be the focus of the offense early on. Head coach Mark Richt knows he has quite the talent ready to take handoffs but also realizes the importance of keeping him healthy.

“If he’s healthy, he’s gonna make great runs. I mean you’ve gotta give him the ball,” Richt said in a report recently published by The Telegraph. “We’ve done a pretty good job of throwing the ball to him. But Keith Marshall’s pretty talented, obviously. Brendan Douglas, we like what he did. We’ve got a couple highly-touted guys coming in, I wanna see what they can do.”

There is no doubting that Georgia tends to have a pretty solid running game. That should be the case again in 2014, and it should help take the pressure off the quarterback in a year of some transition under center. With breaking in a new full-time starter at the position, it should be expected the running game carries the load more in the beginning of the season. Richt is suggesting a healthy Gurley is going to be leading that charge, but they need to do so smartly.

“So are we gonna give it to (Gurley) 30 times a game and wear him to a nub, no,” Richt explained. “But there may be a game or two where he’s feeling in, and we’ve got momentum, and he’s pounding, we’re gonna let him pound. But Douglas pounds pretty good too. Keith Marshall can hit a home run at any moment. So we’ll use all those guys.”

Earlier this offseason Richt said there were no plans to redshirt Marshall, so he should be a part of the offensive gameplan as well.

Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.

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LSU kicker transfers to Rice

UAB v LSU

Hey, it’s just a kicker, but still.

In a press release Monday, Rice announced that James Hairston has transferred into the Owls football program.  Hairston had spent the past three seasons at LSU as the Tigers’ kickoff specialist.

A desire to kick field goals and extra points led Hairston to Rice, where his grandfather (1953-55) and an uncle (1993-95) were three-year letter winners on the football team.

Because Hairston received a degree from LSU this past May, he will be eligible to play for Rice immediately in 2014.  Barring a serious injury that leads to a medical waiver, this upcoming season will serve as Hairston’s last year of collegiate eligibility.

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OU’s leading tackler, Frank Shannon, still a Sooner

.J. Yeldon, Frank Shannon AP

When last we dipped our toes into the Frank Shannon “situation,” the linebacker’s future at Oklahoma was “in limbo” after he was accused of sexual assault.  The Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney’s Office, however, declined to pursue charges following a weeks-long investigation.

There was still a chance that Shannon could’ve been booted from the team based on the results of a federally-mandated Title IX investigation into the alleged assault.  It appears, though, those fears were unwarranted.

According to the Oklahoman, the Sooners released their 2014 media guide Tuesday and Shannon’s profile was included in the reference book.  Still, the paper wrote, “OU refused to release any information regarding the outcome of that investigation last week, saying no final disciplinary action had been determined yet.”

In other words, there is still a chance Shannon could be suspended for a game or two. He didn’t play in the spring game earlier this offseason, nor did he participate in a handful of practices leading up to it due to the police probe.

Even if Shannon is slapped with some type of suspension, having him for the majority of the season would be a boon to OU’s defense. As a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Shannon started all 13 games and led the Sooners in tackles with 92.

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With NCAA waiver approved, former Tide recruit can go on scholarship

Elisha Shaw

Tired of all of the arrests and court cases and the like in college football?  Here’s a pretty cool story to lift you spirits.

Elisha Shaw was a three-star defensive tackle in the Class of 2014 who held a scholarship offer from, among others, Alabama and had planned on signing with the Tide this past February.  Unfortunately, a serious neck injury forced him to quit football and give up his dream of playing for Nick Saban.

In a classy gesture, UA decided to honor its scholarship commitment to Shaw.  However, if they did that, NCAA rules stipulate that Shaw would count against the football program’s 85-man scholarship limit even if he didn’t play a single down.

Fortunately for all involved, common sense prevailed as the NCAA recently approved the Tide’s request for a waiver.  In essence, Shaw will be on a non-football scholarship that will not count against the Tide’s 85-man limit.

Shaw addressed the development on his Twitter account Monday:

Bravo to the NCAA for proving his has some (miniscule) semblance of a heart and/or brain.  And kudos to Saban and the Tide for doing the classy thing in the first place by honoring the young man’s scholarship offer.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Football recruit suspected in theft at UGA dorm

iPhone theft

Back in early April of 2011, three football recruits were accused of stealing several items, including iPhones and iPods, from the lockers of several Georgia football players during what was described as an open-house event on the campus.

Unbelievably, three years later, a similar incident has occurred… at the same school no less.

According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, an unnamed football recruit is the prime suspect in the burglary of an UGA dorm. The recruit was on the campus attending an UGA football camp and staying with two current Bulldog football players..

Because the player is a juvenile and lives out of state, he likely won’t face extradition or arrest.

From the Banner-Herald:

Two female Georgia athletes — one a gymnast and the other a soccer player — reported to a residence assistant that an unknown black male entered their Busbee Hall suite at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday and took an iPhone5 and a wallet with two credit cards in it, according to a police incident report. Police were dispatched soon after that morning to meet with the R.A. The victims stated the main entry door to the suite and their respective bedroom doors were unlocked.

UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson told the paper he “feel[s] very confident saying [the football recruit is] our responsible party.”  The sad part is, it doesn’t appear the unnamed recruit will be held responsible for his alleged actions.

Weird, weird story.

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Consensus of Salem, Ore., Dairy Queens? Never heard of Bryce Petty

International Dairy Queen Inc.'s 6000th Store Opening

Still miffed over what he perceived as a Heisman invitation snub for Bryce Petty, Baylor head coach Art Briles challenged those in attendance at the BIG 12 Media Days Monday to “[g]o to a Dairy Queen in Salem, Oregon, and ask if they’ve heard of” the Bears’ starting quarterback.

Radio personality and Oregonian writer John Canzano — or, more specifically, one of his assistants — took up that challenge. The results? Let’s just say you’ll have to go outside that area to find a charter member of the “Bryce Petty Fan Club.”

As Canzano explained, his production assistant called the six official Dairy Queen franchises in Salem and asked employees if they’ve ever heard of Petty. Suffice to say, hilarity — and a little bit of an egg-flavored Blizzard on Briles’ face — ensued.

“I’ve never heard of him,” said one male (West Salem) Dairy Queen employee, who was asked if he knew Petty or Briles. “You know you called a fast food restaurant, right? Are those like owners of Dairy Queens or employees?”

Another male Dairy Queen employee at the Mission Street location said, “I’m not familiar with it at all, I can ask my manager.”

The manager said, “I have no idea. I don’t know.”

The best employee reaction when asked if anyone knew Bryce Petty.

“Like a dog?”

So, there you have it, in scientific black and white — Dairy Queen employees in the great city of Salem, Or., have no earthly clue who the hell Bryce Petty is.

Now, the obvious question becomes: has anyone in a (name a city in), Tex., Hardee’s ever heard of Marcus Mariota?  Hey, this could be kind of a fun game.

By the way, kudos to Baylor and Petty for having a little fun with this situation, which you can view on Instagram HERE.

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UPDATE: Injured LSU frosh DT not facing amputation

LSU Trey

I’ve dealt with quite a few sad stories over the past five-plus years I’ve been with CFT and NBC, but this one ranks right up there amongst the ones that didn’t involve a death.

While the details are extremely scant at the moment, Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, citing multiple sources, is reporting that LSU true freshman Trey Lealaimatafao is facing the amputation of an arm following an incident in the Tigers’ weight room earlier today. The only information relating to the incident at this time is that Lealaimatafao reportedly punched a glass window in the team’s weight room.

Not that it really matters at the moment, but what led to the punch, whether it was directed at a teammate or out of frustration/anger, is unknown.

LSU’s officials have declined to comment on the player’s status, although a statement addressing the issue could be released as early as tonight.

Lealaimatafao was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 26 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 43 player in the state of Texas at any position.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lealaimatafao during this most difficult time.

UPDATED 8:22 p.m. ET: Fortunately, there’s some good news on this front.

Updating his story from just a short time ago, Kleinpeter is reporting that, per an LSU athletic department official, Lealaimatafao is not in danger of losing his arm to amputation.  Kleinpeter also provided a couple of additional details that led to an injury that, while not nearly serious as previously reported, will likely keep the defensive lineman out for the 2014 season:

Sources who were present said Lealaimatafao, a four-star recruit from San Antonio, Texas, was upset about a disagreement with his girlfriend, and punched the window between the weight room and indoor practice facility. The sources said the glass “tore through” Lealaimatafao’s bicep and they could see the bone underneath.

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‘In short period of time,’ Malzahn will have Marshall’s punishment ‘figured out’

Nick Marshall AP

During his appearance at the SEC Media Days exactly a week ago, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn stated Nick Marshall would “have to deal with the consequences” of the starting quarterback’s marijuana citation earlier this month.  That said, Malzahn wasn’t prepared to say what if any punishment the player may be facing.

Monday it was lather, rinse repeat on the latter front, although it appears the coach is getting closer — perhaps real close — to making a decision.

“He’ll have some things he’ll have to pay for,” Malzahn said during an ESPN interview Monday. “I have not decided that for sure right now, but it will be in a short period of time I’ll have that figured out.”

There has been speculation that Malzahn, even as the school’s drug policy may not require it, could sit Marshall for the season opener against Arkansas. If that were to be the case, the Tigers would be forced to turn to Jeremy Johnson.

At least outwardly, Malzahn didn’t seem the least bit concerned about that prospect.

“(Johnson is) another outstanding quarterback I think will play at the next level,” he said. “He played two games last year and was the SEC Offensive Freshman of the Week. We’re in good shape there.”

Marshall, who was described as “teary-eyed” and “very regretful” during his encounter with the police, did not attend the SEC Media Days as scheduled as punishment for the citation.

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Facing five felonies, Okla. St.’s Devon Thomas ‘not a part of our team’

Devon Thomas

At least for now, the status of an Oklahoma State player facing much bigger issues than football has been cleared up.

At the Big 12 Media Days Tuesday, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy was asked about Devon Thomas, the true freshman who earlier this offseason was charged with a grand total of five felonies.  While not mentioning the defensive back by name, Gundy stated that if a player isn’t on the latest roster distributed to the media, he’s not on the team.

“The roster that we handed out today are the players that will report next week,” the coach said. “And if there’s a player that’s not on that roster, then he’s not a part of our team.”

In late May, Thomas was initially arrested on a pair of felony complaints — armed robbery and shooting with intent to kill — following what appears to be a drug deal gone horribly awry. It was subsequently reported that three additional felony complaints were filed against Thomas: kidnapping, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Four other males — two 18 years of age, two 17 – were arrested on similar complaints.

It was subsequently revealed that Thomas had been charged with distribution of child pornography in the months leading up to his junior year in high school.  Additionally, court documents showed, Thomas “had been referred to juvenile court… once before [the child porn charge], on July 6, 2011, on an allegation of an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors ultimately declined to file a charge on that allegation.”

Thomas, an early enrollee, was a three-star member of the Cowboys’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 30 running back in the country by Rivals.com. He participated in spring practice and was expected to make an immediate contribution to the Cowboys’ defensive secondary.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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One arrested A&M player leaves Aggies, another suspended

Mississippi State v Texas A&M Getty Images

A pair of off-field incident have cost Texas A&M one defensive player permanently and another temporarily.

A&M announced Monday that defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury has decided to leave the Aggies football program.  Back in mid-April, Stansbury was one of three Aggies arrested on outstanding warrants following a traffic stop.

Stansbury is facing a misdemeanor charge for assault after being accused of pouring a can of beer on a person and then striking that person with his fist during a party at Rice University.

Playing in 10 games last season, Stansbury finished seventh on the team with 47 tackles and tied for the team lead with three sacks.  He had 42 of those tackles in the last seven games of the season, and seemed poised for a bigger role in A&M’s line rotation in 2014.

To where Stansbury, a three-star member of the Aggies’ 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in Louisiana, will transfer is unknown.  Stansbury is the fourth defensive player who could’ve made a significant contribution in 2014 to leave this offseason; the first three — linebacker Darian Claiborne, defensive lineman Isaiah Golden and safety Kameron Miles — didn’t leave voluntarily, though, as they were dismissed by head coach Kevin Sumlin.

In addition to Stansbury, A&M also announced that defensive back Victor Davis has been indefinitely suspended. Yesterday it was reported that Davis was arrested at some point in the past two weeks for shoplifting at a Kohl’s department store.

Since December of last year, seven A&M players have been arrested on various charges, including one three times (Claiborne) and another twice (Golden).

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Bowling Green RB arrested for attempted rape

MAC Championship - Bowling Green v Northern Illinois Getty Images

Even as it garners exponentially more attention, it’s not just players from Power-Five conferences who find themselves facing very serious and significant off-field legal issues.

Case in point?  Bowling Green’s William Houston, who the Toledo Blade reports was charged with attempted rape following an incident over the weekend.  Houston was arrested at his on-campus residence later in the day after the alleged victim called police.

From the Blade:

Bowling Green police Lt. Brad Biller said officers were called to a home in the 200 block of Manville Drive at 5:03 a.m. Sunday. The victim told police she had been at the Manville address for a party and fell asleep. She awoke when a man “tried to force himself on her,” according to a police report. The victim told police she did not know the man, and she fled after she woke up.

The victim returned to the Manville address where she met and talked to police. People at the home identified the suspect as Mr. Houston, a sophomore running back on the football team.

As for Houston’s status with the team, a school spokesperson would only state that “[w]e are waiting for more details. We’re anticipating more details to come out of it in the next few days. It’s pretty early in the process.”

Despite carrying the ball just 49 times as a true freshman last season, Houston, who played in all 14 games, tied for the team lead with 11 rushing touchdowns.  In his first-ever college game, Houston scored three touchdowns against Tulsa.

He was expected to be a bigger piece of the Falcons’ offensive puzzle in 2014.

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Art Briles challenges you to go to a Dairy Queen in Salem, Ore. and ask about Bryce Petty

Bryce Petty, Kelvin Palmer AP

You won’t find a bigger supporter of Bryce Petty than Baylor coach Art Briles, who on Monday bristled at Petty’s perceived snub from the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York last year.

Petty finished seventh in Heisman voting, falling one spot short of an invite to watch Jameis Winston accept the honor. Briles is doing some early politicking for his quarterback, though, touting him as a Heisman candidate at Big 12 Media Day on Monday.

What could help Petty’s case is that he’s a household name among college football fans. But how much of a household name?

There are eight Dairy Queen locations in the Salem metropolitan area, for the record. Anyone want to try this?

Briles’ point, minus the hyperbole, is a good one, though. Petty’s breakout 2013 season — 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns, three interceptions — placed him on the national radar for the Heisman Trophy this year. The latest Bovada odds have Petty at 12/1 to win the Heisman, put him behind only Winston (4/1), Marcus Mariota (11/2), Braxton Miller (7/1) and Nick Marshall (10/1).

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Texas QB David Ash cleared to participate in preseason practice

Kansas State v Texas Getty Images

After missing most of the 2013 season with a concussion and part of spring practice with a fractured foot, Texas quarterback David Ash was medically cleared on Monday to take part in preseason practice.

Ash, a redshirt junior, appears to be the favorite to win Texas’ starting gig this fall. He’s started 21 games over the last three years and looked promising as a sophomore in 2012, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

But a concussion suffered in Week 2 limited Ash to just three games in 2013, muting any chance he had of building off his solid sophomore season. He’ll have to fend off sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and incoming freshman Jerrod Heard, but given his experience and previous success looks like a good bet to do so.

 

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Miami mascot walks down the aisle with bride whose father passed away

Sebastian the Ibis AP

Nice gesture here from Miami. If you’re having a bad day, just watch this:

That’s Miami’s mascot, Sebastian, walking Miami grad and employee Jennifer Urs Sullivan down the aisle after he dad passed away. The jersey Sebastian is wearing has the nickname of Urs Sullivan’s father on the back.

Via Dr. Saturday, Urs Sullivan wrote on her Facebook page that being walked down the aisle by Sebastian “ended up being one of the most amazing/memorable moments of the day.”

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No surprises here: Media picks Florida State to win ACC

Navy v Duke Getty Images

Consider this: On a per-game average, Phil Steele projects Florida State to out-score its opponents by 29 points and out-gain its opponents by 273 yards.

That’s just one way to illustrate just how good the defending champions look. Another: Florida State earned 104 of 108 media votes to win the ACC this fall. Clemson and Virginia Tech each received two votes to win the ACC. Ninety-nine voters also picked Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston to win conference player of the year.

The full voting breakdown:

ACC Championship
Florida State: 108 votes
Clemson: 2 votes
Miami: 2 votes

Player of the Year
Jameis Winston: 99 votes
Vic Beasley: 6 votes
Duke Johnson: 1 vote
Jamison Crowder: 1 vote
Brenden Motley: 1 vote

Atlantic Division
Florida State: 670 (109 first-place votes)
Clemson: 660 (3 first-place votes)
Louisville: 564
Syracuse: 368
N.C. State: 326
Boston College: 301
Wake Forest: 136

Coastal Division
Miami: 614 (26 first-place votes)
Duke: 597 (33 first-place votes)
Virginia Tech: 571 (23 first-place votes)
North Carolina: 570 (27 first-place votes)
Georgia Tech: 322 (1 first-place vote)
Pitt: 319 (2 first-place votes)
Virginia: 142

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Victim in alleged assault by ex-Rutgers QB making good progress in recovery

Isaac Kolstad Caringbridge

Some good news to start your week: Isaac Kolstad, who was allegedly assaulted by then-Rutgers quarterback Phillip Nelson in May, continues to make encouraging progress in his rehabilitation from injuries that nearly left him for dead.

Kolstad, who was in a coma following a brutal beating in which Nelson allegedly kicked him in the head, has walked 1,000 feet and has re-gained strength and use of his left arm and left leg. While the 24-year-old former Division II football player still has a long recovery ahead of him, his progress is encouraging given he had to have some of his brain removed in mid-May.

Nelson transferred from Minnesota to Rutgers in January but was swiftly booted from the Scarlet Knights following the assault allegations and faces first- and third-degree assault charges.

Kolstad’s wife gave birth to the couple’s second child in early June, and despite his condition he’s been able to bond with his newborn daughter.

Via NJ.com:

“It continues to amaze us the connection he has made with her through this ordeal,” Molly Kolstad wrote. “He truly, truly knows he is a daddy and we see this all the time with his interactions with the girls. When I get to the hospital, he gives me a smile then reaches to hold Malia. When Malia cries he is the first to reach out and want to hold her and comfort her.”

Kolstad still has a difficult, lengthy recovery process ahead of him but that he’s already this strong only two months after the alleged assault is really, really encouraging.

Photo credit: Isaac Kolstad’s Caringbridge.com page

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