Sun Belt coaches name UL Lafayette the unanimous favorite

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The Sun Belt Conference has a unanimous favorite this fall, at least according to the coaches in the conference. UL Lafayette received all 11 first-place votes from the coaches of the Sun Belt in a preseason poll, which was released by the Sun  Belt Saturday.

UL Lafayette tied for the conference championship last season with Arkansas State. Arkansas State is second in the preseason coaches poll for the upcoming season, followed by a growing South Alabama program. The South Alabama Jaguars are entering the third year as a FBS program and just the sixth year of its existence.

The Sun Belt also welcomes some new additions to the conference this season. Idaho and New Mexico State, once left standing together in the rubble of the imploded WAC, join the Sun Belt as football associate members. A pair of FCS programs making the move to the FBS, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, also join the conference this season.

Here is how the Sun Belt coaches poll added up, courtesy of the Sun Belt Conference;

1. UL Lafayette 121 (11)
2. Arkansas State 102
3. South Alabama 98
4. Troy 84
5. UL Monroe 78
6. Texas State 70
7. Appalachian State 47
8. Georgia Southern 44
9. Idaho 29
10. Georgia State 27
11. New Mexico State 26

Sun Belt media day is scheduled for Monday, July 21.

Greg Sankey releases statement against Arkansas guns-at-sporting events law

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The state of Arkansas has passed a law that allows concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would include college sporting events.

Since it was realized immediately upon the bill’s announcement what a terrible, horrendous idea allowing lubed-up sports fans to bring handguns with them to the game would be, the law was quickly amended to exclude college sporting events.

But on Tuesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement arguing for Razorbacks events to be exempted from the law.

To date, Arkansas AD Jeff Long and head football coach Bret Bielema have yet to comment on the law, and Sankey’s statement today is likely coordinated with that — pushing the buck upwards while not crossing those in the Natural State that may be in favor of the bill.

Dismissed Rutgers FB-turned-wrestler returns to football team

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After a pit stop in another sport, Razohnn Gross‘ athletic career in Piscataway has come full circle.

Shortly before the start of the 2015 season, Rutgers announced that five football players, arrested a couple of days earlier in connection to an assault, had been dismissed from the program.  Nine months later, Gross returned to RU athletics, albeit as a wrestler.

Another nine months later?  Nj.com is reporting that Gross has rejoined the Scarlet Knights football program.  The fullback is currently taking part in spring practice with the team.

The arrests of Gross and the others early last September was the result of what had been an ongoing investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department. The investigation initially kicked off in the spring following a reported home invasion in New Brunswick. Per reports, three men wearing masks forced their way into the home and left with an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana as five students were held at gunpoint.

That was followed by the five football players allegedly attacking a group of individuals that left one of them, a student, with a broken jaw.  That attack, reportedly (ahem) unprovoked, was directly connected to the incident mentioned above.

It was reported at the time of Gross joining the wrestling team that he was “accepted into a pretrial intervention probationary program last month” and, if he “stays out of trouble for the necessary time, his record will be cleared.” Gross has stayed out of trouble since; in fact, RU’s wrestling coach, Scott Goodale, has been effusive in his praise for how he has taken advantage of the second chance.

USF dismisses player arrested after being shot in road-rage incident

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It’s been a rough last few days, to say the least, for Hassan Childs.

Over the weekend, the South Florida defensive back was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot Saturday night.  Sunday, Childs was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor marijuana possession in connection to a road rage incident the night he was shot.  Childs allegedly pointed a gun at least twice at a man, Jovanni Jimenez, and his family and was ultimately shot three times by Jimenez.  Jimenez hasn’t been charged as he’s claimed self-defense.

To add insult to literal injury, the senior safety has now been dismissed from his football team by first-year Bulls head coach Charlie Strong.

“When you look at this university and how great an institution it is, and the football program, it is a privilege to represent this program,” Strong said according to the Tampa Bay Times. “And there are standards and there are values that we uphold, and our players understand it is an obligation and it is a responsibility to represent it the right way.”

Childs played in a total of 26 games during his time with the Bulls. Eight of those appearances came during the 2016 season. He was credited with 16 tackles during what turned out to be his last season with the program, setting career-highs with five tackles in games against East Carolina and Navy.

In 2013, his first year with the program, he led the team with three interceptions. Those were the only picks of his career.

Five-star LB out for rest of Ohio State’s spring after shoulder surgery

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Some negative injury news comes with a bit of a silver lining for one of the highest-rated members of Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class.

Urban Meyer confirmed Tuesday that true freshman linebacker Baron Browning will miss the remainder of spring practice because of an injury.  The early enrollee underwent surgery Tuesday morning to repair an unspecified issue in his shoulder.  The Buckeyes head coach declined to reveal the details surrounding the issue that led to the medical procedure, although one report indicated it’s a torn labrum.

The good news for OSU is that Browning should be able to return to football activities at some pint in June.  Barring a setback, he’s expected to be a full participant in summer camp at the start of August.

A five-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2017 recruiting class, Browning was rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 11 player on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only two signees in an OSU class that ranked second nationally were rated higher than Browning (.9936) — cornerback Jeffrey Okudah (.9954) and defensive end Chase Young (.9953).

Browning is expected to contribute immediately as a true freshman this season.