Very quietly, one member of the UCLA Bruins football program is making a little international history this season.
Gyo Shojima is a second-year offensive lineman for the Bruins, coming to the Pac-12 program as a walk-on in 2015. Prior to this year, he hadn’t played in a game at this level of football.
That all changed a week ago as he took the field for UCLA’s win over New Mexico State last Saturday. That appearance marked the first time, it’s believed, that a Japanese-born player has played in a game at the FBS level.
“I don’t know if there is a true way to figure out if there was a Japanese born player before me,” Shojima said this week according to Scout.com, “but as I know, I’m the first Japanese-born player to play on American soil, in terms of NCAA.”
Shojima and his family moved to the United States when he was nine years old. His father played American football at a university in Japan, but his son didn’t pick up the sport until after he started high school.
Coming out of a California junior college, Shojima held offers from Houston, New Mexico and UAB but opted for UCLA as a preferred walk-on.
The Japan Times noted in a piece earlier this year that James Takada Gray, a walk-on at Utah, was born to a Japanese mother and American father in New York City but was raised in Tokyo. The running back has not played in a game this year.
In filling a hole on his Rutgers coaching staff, Chris Ash turned to a fellow Big Ten school to do it.
RU confirmed Thursday morning that Ash has added Noah Joseph as one of his 10 Scarlet Knight assistants. Joseph has been named as the football program’s co-defensive coordinator and will also serve as safeties coach.
Joseph had spent the past four seasons coaching safeties at Indiana. He was also that program’s defensive recruiting coordinator.
“I’d like to welcome Noah and his family to our football program,” said Ash in a statement. “His extensive experience coaching defensive backs in the Big Ten will be a tremendous asset for our players. He is a great teacher and outstanding recruiter.”
Prior to his time in Bloomington, his first on-field job at the FBS level was at North Texas as safeties coach from 2012-13.
Sadly, what was already a tragic situation at Marshall has taken an even more heartbreaking turn.
The Thundering Herd confirmed Thursday afternoon that rising redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Larry Aaron died earlier in the day at a Maryland hospital. Aaron was paralyzed from the waist down after being struck by a stray bullet during a New Year’s Eve party, and passed away as a result of complications connected to those injuries he sustained in the shooting.
According to reports at the time, Aaron had stepped in front of his girlfriend to shield her from the bullets.
“Marshall University lost a very special young man today and it has shocked and saddened us all,” a statement from Marshall head coach Doc Holliday began. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Larry Aaron’s family and friends, many of whom were his fellow Thundering Herd teammates. His loss will be felt in every corner of our program and his spirit will never be forgotten.”
After redshirting as a true freshman, Aaron played in eight games this past season.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those impacted by Aaron’s senseless death.
An offseason of upheaval on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has apparently come to an official end.
Early Thursday afternoon, the Crimson Tide announced the additions of two new assistant coaches as well as the promotions/new responsibilities for others on the staff last season. As previously reported HERE and HERE, the new hires are Dan Enos as quarterbacks coach and Craig Kuligowski as defensive line coach. Both coaches, who come to Tuscaloosa from Michigan and Miami, respectively, will also carry the titles of associate head coach.
“We are pleased and happy to have Dan Enos joining our coaching staff at The University of Alabama,” Saban said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge with five years of head coaching experience and numerous stops as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dan is a bright football mind and an outstanding recruiter who will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best chance to be successful.”
In addition to those hirings, Saban also confirmed that Mike Locksley (HERE) has been promoted to offensive coordinator and Tosh Lupoi (HERE) has been promoted to defensive coordinator. Locksley replaces Brian Daboll, who left after one season in Tuscaloosa for the same job with the Buffalo Bills last month, while Lupoi takes over for Jeremy Pruitt, who left after Alabama’s win in the national championship game to take over as the head coach at Tennessee.
As had previously been announced, Jeff Banks will serve as special teams coordinator while also being in charge of the Tide’s tight ends. Josh Gattis, who was confirmed as the new wide receivers coach late last month, will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator, while Pete Golding, in addition to his duties as inside linebackers coach, has been given the title of co-defensive coordinator.
And, finally, Burton Burns will step away from his longtime role as running backs coach and take on an unspecified off-field position. Replacing Burns in his on-field role is Joe Pannunzio, who had been in charge of tight ends.
As it turns out, Houston will have the services of Austin Robinson a little while longer than originally expected.
The football program announced Wednesday that the NCAA has granted Robinson a sixth season of eligibility. While the school wrote in its release that the linebacker “received a legislative relief waiver” from The Association, the specific reasoning behind the waiver being granted is unclear.
With the NCAA’s decision, Robinson will now have eligibility he can use in both 2018 and 2019.
Robinson began his collegiate career at UT-San Antonio in 2014, playing in eight games as a true freshman before transferring to UH and sitting out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He then played in 11 games in 2016 and 12 this past season, starting four contests in 2017.
This past campaign, Robinson was credited with 33 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. He also had a pair of quarterback hurries on his statistical resume.