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No charges filed against NC State players accused of sexual assault

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Serious allegations won’t linger for three current and two former North Carolina State football players, at least legally.

Friday, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced that her office will not pursue charges against Antoine Thompson, Kevince Brown, Isaiah Moore, Erin Collins and Xavier Lyas in connection to allegations of sexual assault stemming from an on-campus party in July. Three women who were at the party claimed that they were sexually assaulted in one way or another, including one who alleged she may have been raped by 7-10 unnamed men.

“Our office has undertaken a detailed review of the information provided from the investigation conducted by North Carolina State University police,” Freeman said. “The evidence does not support moving forward with a criminal prosecution. …

“Under North Carolina law, a conviction for second-degree rape or sexual battery requires a finding that force was used in the commission of the assault and that the assault was against the will of the victim, or that the victim was mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled or physically helpless at the time of the assault.

“Can we say that this is a situation that warrants a criminal prosecution where we can meet that threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt? In this case, we simply are not there.”

According to Freeman, her office reviewed statements made on both sides of the allegations as well as the statements of other witnesses, university security video footage, messages between the parties involved, and consultations with toxicology experts in deciding not to proceed with charges. Warrants to search the cars, rooms and phones of football players, and the information the executed warrants brought forth, were used in the decision-making process as well.

All five players were subject to disciplinary measures because of violations of State’s Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, not because of the allegations of sexual assault but, officially, for attending a party where alcohol and marijuana were present.

Thompson, a linebacker, and Brown, a defensive end, were dismissed from Dave Doeren‘s football team as a result of the off-field incident. Moore, a linebacker, and the two defensive linemen, Collins and Lyas, were indefinitely suspended. Despite the legal resolution, that trio will remain suspended until a Title IX investigation, which has already commenced, is completed.

“I continue to respect due process and these student-athletes remain suspended from competition until the conclusion of the University’s investigation,” the Wolfpack head coach in a statement. “As I said previously, I will be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline. We have a team full of young men committed to representing the University with integrity and respect.”

“We appreciate the hard work of University Police and the consultation of the District Attorney’s office,” said NCSU chancellor Randy Woodson. “The university’s student conduct review continues, and appropriate action will be taken if violations are found.”

Lamar Jackson leapfrogged by Baker Mayfield as Bovada’s Heisman favorite

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So much for that wagering momentum, I guess.

Entering the 2017 season as not only the reigning winner but also as seemingly an afterthought, a pair of scintillating performances to open the year pushed Lamar Jackson to the head of Bovada.lv‘s Heisman Trophy pack.  Coming off a 26-point Week 3 loss to now-No. 2 Clemson in which he totaled nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns, the Louisville quarterback has seen his odds lengthen a bit from 7/4 a week ago to 11/2 in Bovada‘s latest Heisman release.

Bovada’s new betting front-runner?  Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who went from 4/1 to 7/4.  Sam Darnold, 6/1, also saw his odds shorten slightly to a Jackson-match 11/2.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, 10/1 in the previous odds release, is now at 9/1, same as the holding-steady-from-a-week-ago Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

There’s also, interestingly, one true freshman on the board: J.K. Dobbins.  The Ohio State running back went from off the board to 40/1 odds.  His starting quarterback, J.T. Barrett, saw his odds go from 25/1 to 33/1.

Below is the latest set of 2017 Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Illinois adds UCF grad transfer QB Pete DiNovo

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Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room.  Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.

Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini.  The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.

As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season.  Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”

DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason.  How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.

UTEP stays in-house to replace fired OC Brent Pease

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Not surprisingly, UTEP will stay in-house following its in-season dismissal of one of its coordinators.

The Miners confirmed Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease had been fired.  A day later, the football program announced that Brian Natkin has been given the keys to the offense by Sean Kugler and will call the plays moving forward.

Natkin began the season as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.  He was an All-American tight end at UTEP a decade-and-a-half ago and became a full-time assistant at his alma mater in 2011.

Through three games, UTEP ranks second-to-last nationally in total offense at 204.7 yards per game and in yards per play (3.89). The Miners are also 125th (out of 130 teams) in scoring at 13 points per game.

The promotion of Natkin also means there will be some additional adjustments to Kugler’s staff.  Wide receivers coach Chuck Veliz will take over Pease’s other role as quarterbacks coach, while safeties coach Don Yanowsky assume Natkin’s duties as special teams coordinator.

Natkin will continue in his role as tight ends coach.

Oregon State QB Jake Luton discharged from hospital after leaving Wazzu game on a stretcher

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Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton was taken away on a stretcher after a tackle left him motionless on the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday.

Family members were called to the field, where medical professionals stabilized an apparently unconscious Luton and removed his face mask. The game continued, of course, as Oregon State lost to Washington State 52-23 despite Luton’s 179 passing yards and 22 rushing yards.

Luton tweeted on Saturday night that he’ll “be back.”

Luton has since been discharged from the hospital, according to The Oregonian, though his father posted a message stating Luton was probably dealing with a “thoracic spine fracture.”

Oregon State is off Saturday before hosting Washington on Sept. 30.