Pair of frosh WRs among four Badgers no longer with team

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This past February, Wisconsin signed a whopping five wide receivers as part of its 2014 recruiting class.  Heading into summer camp, that number has been pared nearly in half.

UW receivers coach Chris Beatty confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that 2014 recruits Chris Jones and Dareian Watkins are no longer a part of the Badger football team. In fact, the former is already enrolled at Toledo and will play for the Rockets this season.

While Jones met the minimum NCAA academic standards, he failed to qualify academically to enroll at UW.

“We have high (academic) standards at Wisconsin and that is a good thing,” Beatty told the Journal-Sentinel Friday. “That is what makes Wisconsin Wisconsin and what makes the Big Ten the Big Ten.”

Watkins, meanwhile, is undergoing some type of personal issues that led him to leave the school and head back home to Ohio. Watkins was abused by his biological mother and was eventually adopted by a family at the age of 11. That family appears concerned about the life choices their son is making at the moment.

“Unfortunately, I think he’s making poor choices,” Heath Watkins, the player’s adoptive father, told the Wisconsin State Journal. “We wish we could help him with those choices, but he is not open to help right now.”

It’s unclear if Watkins will return to the Badgers at some point in the future.

“I just wish him well and hope it works out for the best,” Beatty said.

Watkins was a four-star recruit and the highest-rated for the five receivers in that class.  He was the No. 10 player at any position in the state of Ohio, and one of just four four-star UW signees this past cycle.  A three-star recruit, Jones was rated as the No. 66 receiver in the country coming out of high school in Maryland.

In addition to Watkins and Jones, defensive lineman Bryce Gilbert and safety Nate Hammon are no longer on the team as well. The latter is giving up football due to injuries, while the former, who played in eight games last season, is transferring out to an undetermined location.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

VIDEO: LSU RB Derrius Guice squats 650 pounds

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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)

Former Miami TE Jovani Haskins headed to West Virginia

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Jovani Haskins announced two weeks ago he was leaving Miami for “somewhere else.” That somewhere else proved to be a favorite destination of other Sunshine State transfers: West Virginia.

“WVU is my new home and I can’t wait to perform in front of the fans of West Virginia!” he tweeted on Saturday.

A 3-star prospect out of Bergenfield, N.J.., Haskins was offered by West Virginia in the class of 2016 and most recruiting experts actually had him signing with the Mountaineers before a surprise commitment to Miami.

Haskins joins two former state of Florida players on WVU’s roster: starting quarterback Will Grier (Florida) and former Miami quarterback Jack Allison (Miami). The Mountaineers also employed Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback and Miami transfer Antonio Crawford at cornerback.

Haskins redshirted in 2016 and will presumably sit out 2017 before gaining eligibility in ’18. West Virginia could use the help immediately; the roster lists one scholarship tight end at present. WVU currently has two tight ends pledged for the 2018 class in addition to Haskins.

 

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.