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Nick Saban: only thing player injured in shooting guilty of is ‘being out late’

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Whether Alabama has one of its projected starting defensive linemen for its huge opener this weekend remains up in the air.

Over the weekend, Raekwon Davis was hit in his right leg by a stray bullet outside of a bar in Tuscaloosa. It’s believed that McMillan wasn’t specifically targeted, although he was reportedly uncooperative with investigators looking into the shooting.

As for his health, the unspecified injury or injuries Davis received as a result of the shooting were described as minor. As for the defensive lineman’s availability for the opener against Florida State in Atlanta Saturday night, any decision will be made by the football program’s medical personnel.

“He is released from the hospital. He’s here, he’s getting treatment. He’ll be day-to-day,” Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said. “We’re still gathering information, and what his status is moving forward will be a medical decision, not something we can really comment on here right now.”

Saban said the football program is “still gathering information” on the incident,” and added that, when it comes to speculation that something untoward may have been going on because of the time of the shooting; location outside of a bar where there had been multiple shootings and a homicide in recent years; and Davis being uncooperative with authorities, “[i]t doesn’t seem like our players were guilty of anything, other than being out late, which doesn’t make me happy.”

“But it is what it is,” the coach said.

From an ABC affiliate in the state, quoting the owner of the bar on how Davis may have suffered what has apparently been rumored to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound:

Dionne Murrell, who bought Bar 17 this year, said 300 people showed up to her establishment Saturday night to watch a fight on the bar’s television screens.
18 security guards looked on. The crowd left and Murrell closed up shop one hour early at 1 a.m. That’s when she spotted police in the empty parking lot.

“Is everything okay?,” Murrell said she asked police. “He said yeah we just got a call about a random shooting. So I started looking around and was thinking since nobody is here it couldn’t have happened here.”

Investigators found shell casings but the victim did not cooperate with investigators. Murrell believes there’s more to the story.

“That’s the rumor going around that he shot himself. That he was shooting in the air and he shot himself,” Bar 17’s owner told ABC 33/40 News.

According to Murrell, police have not contacted her about the investigation.

For his part, Saban doubled down on his displeasure that one of his players got himself into such a situation — and that teammates/team leaders didn’t intercede to prevent it.

“Nothing good ever happens after midnight. Nothing good ever happens after three drinks,” Saban said. “I’m always concerned about our players being out, where they’re out, who they’re with, who’s the alpha dog that provides the leadership to not get out of that situation somewhere earlier in the evening where it would have never happened.

“I’m always concerned about players’ safety. I’m very concerned about this player’s safety. I’m very concerned about this player’s well-being and getting healthy in the future. But if they had followed my advice, they wouldn’t have been there.”

After playing in seven games as a true freshman last season (four tackles, one sack), Davis was a projected starter for the Tide during summer camp. Davis was a four-star member of UA’s 2016 recruiting class.

Division II, Division III and NAIA title games set while FCS heads into semifinals

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Outside of a thrilling Army-Navy game and the Heisman ceremony, it was an empty Saturday at the highest level of college football.

But no so at the lower levels.

The divisional playoffs are cranked into high gear. Let’s take a brief look at where everything stands in each division.

FCS

Top-seeded and defending champion James Madison needed a last-second field goal to survive visiting Weber State, 31-28, on Friday night, while No. 5 seed South Dakota State routed New Hampshire, 55-14.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed and winner of five of the last six national titles North Dakota State walloped Wofford, 42-10 in Fargo. No. 6 seed Sam Houston State outlasted upstart Kennesaw State, 34-27, to send the Bearkats into their fifth semifinal game in the last seven years.

Semifinals: No. 5 South Dakota State at No. 1 James Madison — 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPNU; No. 6 Sam Houston State at No. 2 North Dakota State — 8 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN2.

Division II

No. 4 seed West Florida traveled north and upset top-seeded Indiana (Pa.), 27-17 on Saturday, to send the Argonauts into their first championship game. No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Commerce fended off the option attack of No. 3 Harding (Ark.), 31-17, putting the Lions in their first title game as well.

National championship: No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce vs. No. 4 West Florida — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Division III

In a similar dynamic to FCS, the defending champion is on a collision course with the traditional champion. In the first semifinal, defending champion Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) blanked Brockport (N.Y.), 24-0. The Crusaders will make their third trip to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, looking to win their second title.

In the other semifinal, Mount Union (Ohio) overcame a 21-10 deficit to beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 43-40. The Purple Raiders will play in their 20th Stagg Bowl — all of them coming since 1993, and 19 of them since ’96 — with a shot at their 13th national championship. However, Mount Union has won just — “just” — two national championships since 2009.

National championship: Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) vs. Mount Union (Ohio) — 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN at Salem Stadium in Salem Va.

NAIA

The NAIA was off this weekend, taking a break in between last week’s semifinals and Saturday’s national championship. Defending champion Saint Francis (Ind.) out-gunned previously-undefeated Morningside (Iowa) 43-36 in the first semifinal, while Reinhardt (Ga.) held off undefeated Southern Oregon, 37-34 in double overtime.

National championship: Saint Francis (Ind.) vs. Reinhardt (Ga.) — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN3 at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Minnesota lands commitment from 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle

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P.J. Fleck is going to need a bigger boat.

Minnesota has landed a commitment from the largest recruit on record, as 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle Daniel Faalele has committed to the Gophers. Faalele made the announcement on his Twitter page on Saturday night.

A 3-star recruit, Faalele is rated as the No. 29 offensive tackle in the country, according to 247Sports. He listed 20 offers, including from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and LSU.

As the story goes, Faalele did not find football; football found him. He was discovered by a recruiter from Hawaii working out at a gym in his native Melbourne, Australia. He attended a Michigan satellite camp in Australia and played this season — his first season in pads — at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

In making the trip from the Land Down Under to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Faalele will be joined by a pair of IMG Academy teammates in offensive lineman Curtis Dunlap, Jr., and quarterback Zack Annexstad, who also committed to Minnesota on Saturday.

Those pledges now give Minnesota the 26th best recruiting class in the country and the sixth best in the Big Ten — but the No. 1 class in the Big Ten West — in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Minnesota’s class may not be the best in the country, but it’s among the biggest — both in size (the Gophers have 25 pledges thus far) and stature.

Texas A&M suspends DT Zaycoven Henderson amid felony gun charges

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Texas A&M defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson was suspended amid multiple felony charges on Saturday.

As detailed by Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News, witnesses say Henderson pointed a rifle at one person outside College Station’s Campus Village Apartments and threatened to kill two others and allegedly threw the gun out of a fleeing car as police arrived on the scene. The car was later tracked down by College Station officers, who discovered marijuana in the car.

He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and marijuana possession. The first charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in a prison. The second is a third-degree felony and the third is a misdemeanor.

He was booked into the Brazos County (Texas) jail at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Texas A&M has suspended Henderson indefinitely, which really only lasts one game as the senior from Longview, Texas, was set to close his Aggies career in the Belk Bowl against Wake Forest on Dec. 29 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Henderson made 35 tackles with five TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 12 starts this season. He was honored as a member of Texas A&M’s senior class at the annual team banquet earlier this weekend.

UCLA reportedly hires Paul Rhoads as defensive backs coach

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Chip Kelly has reportedly hired one of the most respected men in the business to his staff. According to a report from Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman, Paul Rhoads is on his way to Westwood to coach UCLA’s defensive backs.

Rhoads spent the past two seasons at Arkansas, the first as defensive backs coach and the second as defensive coordinator in addition to his duties with the secondary. He’s best known, of course, for his 7-year run as the head coach at Iowa State, where he took the Cyclones to three bowl games and created this viral moment before any of us knew what “going viral” went.

In addition to Arkansas, Rhoads also owns defensive experience at Auburn, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, Pacific, Ohio State and Utah State.

UCLA finished last season ranked 74th in pass efficiency defense, yielding a 57.1 percent completion rate for 7.3 yards per attempt with seven interceptions against 18 touchdowns.