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Stanford’s Solomon Thomas will forego remaining eligibility for NFL

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Just a few days after a dominating bowl performance, Solomon Thomas has made that performance the final clip of his collegiate highlight reel.

In a heartfelt — and lengthy — missive, Thomas announced that he was foregoing his remaining eligibility at Stanford and making himself available for the 2017 NFL draft this April.  As he had redshirted as a true freshman in 2014, the defensive end had two years of eligibility remaining.

This season, Thomas led the Cardinal in tackles (62), tackles for loss (15) and sacks (eight).  He was named first-team All-Pac-12 and was a second-team All-American according to, among others, the Football Writers Association of America.

Thomas has been widely projected as a first-round selection in the upcoming draft, and should only see his stock rise in the coming months.

Below is Thomas’ very classy farewell letter to the Stanford community, in its entirety.

To my Stanford family,

Since pulling out a symbolic Stanford tree and donning nerd glasses on National Signing Day in 2014, I have had the most amazing time of my life. I have grown and matured more than I ever could have imagined. I arrived at Stanford somewhat shy and uncertain; now I stand a curious, intelligent, dedicated, and motivated man who is ready to take on any challenge, including the NFL. With the support of my family, I have decided to forgo my last years of eligibility at Stanford and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

To my Stanford brothers, you all mean the world to me and I love you all. You each helped mold me into a better man. From laughing in the locker room, to sweating in the weight room, to grinding on the field — you are the reason I have loved every second of my time here. Our collective goal to not only be the best team, but also the best individuals, connects us on another level. You are all men I look up to as role models and aspire to be like. We have a special bond at Stanford, one that I am so proud to be a part of. I’m so lucky to have you as brothers: this is the most amazing blessing in my life.

Coach Shaw, you are the ultimate role model. Your influence and your values, have been permanently ingrained in me. Your loyalty to this program and your players is something that I will never forget.

I am so thankful to you for recruiting, coaching, and mentoring me.

I love you, Coach Shaw.

Coach Reynolds, you have taught me things that go far beyond football. Because of you and the lessons you have instilled in us, I have not only grown as a football player, but have grown tremendously as a man.

I love you, Coach Reynolds.

Coach Turley, you are one of the most respected men in this program. You push me past my limits and comfort –mentally and physically — to a new level as a man, athlete, and player.

I love you, Coach Turley.

I want to thank God, as without Him, nothing is possible. I want to thank my family for their unconditional love. I want to thank my brothers and coaches for all that we have shared in making these years the best of my life. I want to thank the entire Stanford family. Your kindness, generosity, and love have transformed me into the man I am today. You have changed my life in ways you will never know.

I am so honored, thankful, and grateful for my time at Stanford. I love this game so much and playing in the NFL has been my dream since I was six years old. The lessons I have learned at Stanford have more than prepared me for this next step. I am so blessed by all of the people who have touched my life here. These qualities will stay with me my entire life.

I am ready.

Forever a tree.

Forever a nerd.

Forever Cardinal.

With much love,
Solomon Thomas

Ex-South Carolina QB signs Cal financial aid agreement

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It’s now officially official.

Just a day after Brandon McIlwain indicated on social media that he would be transferring to Cal, the Golden Bears acknowledged in a release that the quarterback “has signed a financial aid agreement and will join the school’s football program.”  Additionally, the football team confirmed that the two-sport student-athlete is expected to play baseball for the university as well.

In late February, McIlwain announced that he would be transferring from South Carolina.  The true sophomore will not play for the football Bears in the upcoming season, but will have three years of eligibility at his disposal after that.

“We’re excited that Brandon has decided to enroll at Cal and become a member of both our football and baseball programs,” a statement from head coach Justin Wilcox began. “We’re looking forward to his contributions and having him join the competition in our quarterback room.”

“I am excited to develop under the incredible coaching staff at Cal,” McIlwain said in his statement. “The Golden Bears have a great quarterback history. In addition, I am equally excited about returning to the Bay Area and taking advantage of the university’s amazing education.”

As a true freshman last season, McIlwain started three of the 12 games in which he played.  In that time, he completed 62-of-118 passes for 600 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception, while he added 127 yards and another two scores on the ground.

The emergence of fellow freshman Jake Bentley midway through the season, however, left McIlwain with no clear football path to a starting job.

Title IX probe into sexual assault allegations involving three Michigan State football players completed

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The Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving playing members of the Michigan State football team has ended, the Associated Press and other media outlets are reporting.

In early February, three unidentified football players as well as a football staffer were suspended amidst allegations that a sexual assault took place on January 16 at an on-campus apartment complex.  As a result of the allegations, a Title IX investigation into the alleged incident commenced in early February and lasted a little over three months.

That investigation was headed by Rebecca Veidlinger, an independent Title IX consultant and Ann Arbor attorney who previously worked in MSU’s Title IX office.  Because of federal privacy laws, the university will not release the findings of Veidlinger’s probe.

As for the next step in the process? Mlive.com explains.

Speaking generally about Title IX investigations, [university spokesperson Jason] Cody said there are two possible outcomes at the conclusion of an investigation. If no university policy violation is found, then the matter would be closed. If a policy violation was found, the case would then be sent to the school’s student conduct system.

The student conduct system could then levy any sanction ranging from a warning or probation to suspension or expulsion.

The alleged sexual assault has spawned three separate investigations, including the recently-completed Title IX probe.  A criminal investigation conducted by campus police led to requests for four arrest warrants to be issued, although the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office has thus far declined to act.  Additionally, the university has hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the football program and its handling of the allegations.

Thus far, the names of the players allegedly involved in the assault have not been released.  The suspended staffer was subsequently identified as Curtis Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance.  Blackwell, who is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather a non-sexual crime after the fact, has received a pair of one-month contract extensions since his suspension was levied.

Ball State transfer WR Damon Hazelton officially added to Virginia Tech roster

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Virginia Tech officially bolstered its receiving corps Monday, although they won’t see an offensive dividend this season.

A little over a month ago, Ball State’s Damon Hazelton took to Twitter to reveal that he would be transferring to Tech. In a press release, the Hokies announced that the wide receiver began summer classes yesterday and will continue his collegiate playing career with the football team.

That continuation won’t happen on the field in 2017, though, as NCAA transfer rules will force Hazelton to sit out this season. He will then have three years to use three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2018.

The 6-2, 207-pound receiver will, however, be permitted to practice with the team while he sits out his transfer year.

Hazelton was a two-star member of Ball State’s 2016 recruiting class. As a true freshman last season, Hazelton was second on the Cardinals with 51 receptions for 505 yards, while his four receiving touchdowns were tops on the team.

Starting Marshall corner charged with drunk driving

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The “Days Without An Arrest” ticker had just gotten to halfway to double digits… and then Rodney Allen came along.

According to WSAZ-TV in Huntington, the Marshall cornerback was arrested on multiple charges over the weekend, including driving under the influence. Additionally, he is facing one count each of crashes involving damage to vehicle and not having a driver’s license.

From the television station’s report:

According to the criminal complaint, Allen was stopped early Sunday morning in the 1400 block of 4 1/2 alley. Allen was driving a vehicle attempting to leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage.

According to the criminal complaint, Allen showed indications of being impaired at the scene. He then blew a .167 BAC into an intoxometer at HPD headquarters.

Allen only had an ID card out of Texas and not a driver’s license.

“We are aware of the situation and will handle it internally and appropriately,” a statement to the station from the university’s athletic department read.

Allen started 11 of 12 games for the Thundering Herd last season. His four forced fumbled tied for 10th nationally and his 14 passes defensed were tops in Conference USA, while his two interceptions tied for the team lead.