While the fallout of the scandal within the Baylor football program continues to have a ripple effect, one former assistant coach under disgraced former head coach Art Briles continues to hold his head as high as possible as he gets ready to open the spring with a new football program. Phil Bennett, now the defensive coordinator at Arizona State, remains confident his name will not be sullied as he aims to turn a page on his career.
“The reason I’ve stayed in this business for 40 years is I’ve never compromised my integrity,” Bennett said according to ESPN.com. “[I’ve] learned every place I’ve been.”
Bennett still seems to struggle to come to grips entirely with what went down at Baylor with players accused of sexual assault and coaches actively attempting to cover things up. To date, Bennett has not been attached to any of the misdeeds that have been documented so far in Waco, and a full vetting process by Arizona State cleared Bennett for being hired to lead the defense under head coach Todd Graham.
“Obviously, he wouldn’t be employed here if he didn’t go through the vetting process and we didn’t get approval,” Graham said, per ESPN.com.
Despite a full vetting process, it will be nearly impossible for Bennett to dodge questions about what has happened at Baylor, although he will make every attempt to set his emotions aside and focus on what’s next for him and Arizona State.
“I just know what I experienced there, that’s all I can talk about,” Bennett said. “I’m trying to move to the future. Right now, anything you say stirs it up.”
Earlier this month, Florida lost one of the most experienced members of its defense to a season-ending injury. This week, they have reportedly lost one of their youngsters on that side of the ball as well, albeit to one not as serious.
Citing a source close to the program, the Gainesville Sun has reported that Nick Smith underwent surgery on his left knee Monday to repair a torn meniscus. It’s unclear how or when the linebacker suffered the injury.
As a result of the medical procedure, Smith will be sidelined for a period of at least six weeks. Such a timeline would not only keep Smith out for the whole of summer camp, but for, at minimum, the 2017 opener Sept. 2 against Michigan in Arlington as well.
It should be noted that UF has yet to publicly address what if any health issues Smith may need to overcome.
A three-star member of the Gators’ 2017 recruiting class, Smith was rated as the No. 79 outside linebacker in the country. While Smith has been expected to contribute immediately on special teams, his expected absence early on exacerbates the dearth of available talent in UF’s linebacking corps.
From the Sun:
The loss of Smith is a blow to Florida’s depth at linebacker, a position that returns just four players who have started a game for the Gators.
The opening of the Big Ten’s Media Days Monday brought some welcome news for Rutgers fans.
One of the most explosive and productive players in the conference, Janarion Grant went down with a serious-looking ankle injury — at the end of a 76-yard touchdown — late in the first half of a Week 4 game against Iowa that ultimately ended the wide receiver’s 2016 season. Grant was in non-contact mode this past spring, leading some to wonder whether he’d be available for summer camp or even the start of the upcoming season.
Yesterday, Chris Ash put any such fears to rest by declaring Grant completely recovered less than two weeks ahead of the start of camp.
“He’s 100 percent… He’s had a great summer,” the head coach said according to nj.com. “He was limited through the spring semester, but this summer he’s been pretty much full go for the majority of the summer. He looks great, he’s in great shape, he’s put weight back on. We’re obviously excited to have him back.”
At the time of the injury, Grant led the Scarlet Knights with 15 receptions and was second on the team with 143 yards rushing. His 562 all-purpose yards were tops in the Big Ten entering Week 4 play last year.
He had six touchdowns in those three-plus games and did it in a quartet of ways — rushing (three), punt return (one), kick return (one) and passing (one).
Suffice to say, Grant was named as part of the Hornung Award watch list earlier this month. He’s on the watch list for the prestigious Maxwell Award as well.
In a day packed full of Big Ten moves becoming official, Ohio State has added a roster move of its own.
Urban Meyer revealed at the conference’s media gathering in Chicago on Monday that defensive lineman Darius Slade will not return to the team.
A 3-star recruit out of Montclair, N.J., Slade (42) redshirted in 2014 and missed the ’16 campaign with a lower leg injury. He racked up seven appearances in 2015.
Slade was expected to back up Sam Hubbard at defensive end.
Meyer said that he “thinks” Slade is off to Arizona State. If that’s true, Slade would have two years of eligibility to play as a Sun Devil unless the NCAA approved a waive for him.
Indiana running back Camion Patrick and linebacker T.J. Simmons will not return to the team this fall after being granted medical hardships, the program announced Monday. Both players would be fifth-year seniors in 2017.
Simmons appeared in 37 games with 35 starts before suffering a season-ending injury that knocked him out of the 2016 campaign entirely. He collected 213 tackles, six sacks, 16.5 TFLs, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a Hoosier. Simmons will remain with the program as a student assistant.
“T.J. was a three-year starter and a tough kid that I was looking forward to coaching,” head coach Tom Allen said in a statement. “He did everything that he could to get himself back from his knee injury, but he was unable to reach a place where he could consistently play. T.J. is excited about his new role as a student assistant coach in the weight room and on the field. He will be helping his teammates get better. T.J. has such a passion for the game and this program, and I am thrilled to have him help us breakthrough.”
Patrick arrived from East Mississippi Community College — of Last Chance U. fame — and proceeded to sustain injuries to his ACL and a shoulder. He caught six passes for 154 yards with one receiving touchdown and one rushing score for Indiana.
“Unfortunately, Camion dealt with multiple injuries during his time at IU and was never able to fully recover,” Allen said. “He has worked hard in the classroom. Camion has battled to get back following each injury, but his body has let him down. He recognizes that. We recognize that, and we want to help him finish strong in the classroom and help him create a bright future for himself.”