One of the best parts of the Michael Sam story at Missouri, where Sam informed his teammates he was gay and nobody made a peep about it the entire season, was how respectful the entire football program was of a historic moment in sports. Sam became the first openly gay football player at the highest level of college football and later went on to become the first openly gay football player drafted by an NFL team, the St. Louis Rams. Now the entire program is being recognized for how it handled Sam and his news.
The SEC awarded Missouri’s football team with a sportsmanship award for how the entire team responded and respected Sam’s wishes to keep the focus on football last fall. In this day and age of instant news and social media and networking, to keep this a secret among the entire team is a testament to the commitment to the team each person associated with the Tigers had, although former quarterback James Franklin said it was more about acceptance instead of support. What makes it even more impressive is the fact the Tigers made a run to the SEC Championship Game, garnering more and more attention from the media along the way in the SEC, the top conference in college football. Sam opened up to his team, asked for it to be kept private until he was ready to go public with it, and everybody bought in, from the players to the coaches.
“Sportsmanship, civility and social responsibility are marks of character that last a lifetime,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive in a release from the SEC. “We are proud of these teams from Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia and the women’s golf coaches of the SEC for setting an example for us all.”
The sportsmanship award is voted on by the SEC’s athletic directors. The football teams at Tennessee and South Carolina were each awarded the male sportsmanship award in 2013. Sam was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in May.
Ole Miss had already lost one quarterback to a transfer the past couple of months. Now, the Rebels are losing another via different means but essentially for the same reason.
In an interview with Scout.com, Ryan Buchanan confirmed that not only is he leaving the Ole Miss football team, but he’s leaving the sport, period. Buchanan’s decision to step away from the game is actually the culmination of a process that began midway through a 2015 season that would see the Rebels win 10 games and a Sugar Bowl title.
“I came to the conclusion a few months ago that football would not be my future and it was time to start applying myself 100% to my future,” he said. “It’s time for me to find my passion beyond football.”
Buchanan, who said he briefly flirted with transferring to another school, informed head coach Hugh Freeze and his position coach, Dan Werner, of his decision a couple of weeks ago.
If Buchanan had decided to return to Oxford, he would’ve been no better than third on the depth chart. All-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly is firmly entrenched as the starter, while five-star 2015 signee and future at the position Shea Patterson is poised to be Kelly’s backup for a season before taking over the reins in 2017. There’s also no guarantee that the sophomore could beat out redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin for the No. 3 spot.
A four-star member of the Rebels’ 2013 recruiting class, Buchanan was rated as the No. 19 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Mississippi. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Buchanan attempted 22 passes and served as Ole Miss’ holder on kick attempts in 2014. This past season, he attempted 13 passes, two of which went for touchdowns.
In early December, DeVante Kincade, a three-star recruit in Buchanan’s class, announced his decision to transfer from the Rebels.
Whatever the reason, the big boy league of football has taken a shining to one particular position on Bret Bielema‘s Arkansas coaching staff.
On Instagram Friday night, Jemal Singleton confirmed that he will be leaving Bielema’s football program. While he didn’t specify it in his post, the running backs coach will be leaving for the same job with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
The 40-year-old Singleton had spent just one season coaching that same position with the Razorbacks.
This marks the second straight year that Bielema will be forced to replace a running backs coach to the NFL. Almost a year to the day, Joel Thomas left Fayetteville for the same position with the New Orleans Saints.
Thomas owed the university $50,000 as part of his buyout last year; Singleton will owe $100,000, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. If Singleton had waited until Feb. 16, that buyout figure would’ve been halved.
Unlike the post right before this one, there were signs of an impending on and around National Signing Day earlier this week.
He was notably absent from a signing day event at Walton Arena on Wednesday, and he did not attend another event to discuss the signing class Thursday in Little Rock, fueling speculation he was being courted by another program.
Singleton’s job with the Colts will be the Air Force graduate’s first at the NFL level.
Surprisingly, Mike Riley has a self-made hole on his Nebraska coaching staff.
In a move that wasn’t on most if any radars, Hank Hughes will not return in 2016 as NU’s defensive line coach, Riley revealed Friday. No reason was given for the the departure of the assistant.
“I want to thank Hank for his hard work and contributions to our football program over the past year,” Riley said in a statement. “We continue to build our program with the pursuit of championships always at the forefront of everything we do, and we will look for a great coach, teacher and recruiter to enhance our defense.”
Regardless of the reason or reasons — and the fact that Riley made certain to note that a replacement would be “a great coach, teacher and recruiter” points to at least a couple — it wasn’t an expected development. From the Lincoln Journal Star:
There was no sign of such a move Thursday night, with Hughes present at the Big Red Bash that celebrated the 2016 recruiting class.
Hughes had just completed his first season with the Cornhuskers. Additionally, it was his first season as an assistant on a Riley-led coaching staff.
As the Journal Star notes, Hughes was in the midst of a two-year deal that was to pay him $300,000 annually.
If Roquan Smith is to win a starting linebacking job as some project, he’ll have to do so coming from behind.
Georgia confirmed in a press release Friday that the linebacker underwent successful surgery last month to repair a damaged wrist. As a result, Smith (pictured, No. 3) will be sideline for all of the 15 spring practice sessions that will commence next month.
The good news is that, according to UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson, “[a] full recovery is anticipated and he [is] expected to fully participate in summer workouts.” Additionally, there should be no limitations placed on Smith’s participation in summer camp that will kick off the beginning of August.
Smith was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 77 recruit overall according to Rivals.com. He was one of the highest-rated players in UGA’s class.
As a true freshman, Smith played in 12 games. He was named as one of the football program’s five Newcomers of the Year following the 2015 season.