Purdue’s defensive secondary has gotten a veteran shot in the arm in the midst of spring practice.
On his personal Twitter account late this past week, Josh Okonye announced that he has decided to transfer from Wake Forest to the Big Ten football program. One of the reasons for the defensive back landing in West Lafayette could be Derrick Johnson, the Boilermakers’ new cornerbacks coach who spent the last four season as a defensive assistant with the Demon Deacons.
As Okonye is coming to the Boilermakers as a graduate assistant, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017. The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.
A three-star 2013 recruit, Okonye took a redshirt his true freshman season. The past three seasons, Okonye played in a total of 37 games, none of those being starts.
A baker’s dozen of those games played came in 2016 when he served as a safety/nickel back. His 36 tackles last year were tied for seventh on the Demon Deacons, while his three passes defensed were tied for sixth.
Last November, four Purdue football players were accused of sexually assaulting two Purdue students. Although no criminal charges were levied against the players, whose names have never been released, the university has reportedly conducted its own internal investigation of the alleged assault decided to not only dismiss three of the publicly unidentified players from the football program, but expel them from the university entirely.
According to a report from FOX 59 in Indianapolis, a law firm representing one of the alleged victims claims the move to expel three of the players came following an investigation from the university’s administrative board. The players were suspended from the football program last fall following the accusations while the legal process played out, but they remained enrolled and attending classes.
“My clients and I appreciate Purdue’s careful review of the facts and circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident, which led to the expulsion of these three players. Purdue has taken the necessary steps to ensure that these players will not victimize another student, for which we are grateful,” attorney Mario Massillamany, who represented the family, said in a statement.
Massillamany’s law firm has also accused the players of providing alcohol to the underage women. The alleged victims claim to have consumed wine and shots on the night of the alleged sexual assault.
Purdue is already in the midst of its spring football practice schedule. The university said in a statement it is prevented by federal privacy laws from sharing details of the investigation against the Purdue student-athletes.
Consider the hole on Larry Fedora‘s coaching staff officially plugged.
Very late last month, UNLV announced that Travis Burkett had replaced DeAndre Smith as the Rebels’ running backs coach. Thursday, UNC announced that Smith has taken the same job with the Tar Heels.
Smith had been with Tony Sanchez‘s UNLV program for just three months or so, coming to Las Vegas after spending the 2016 season in the same position at Purdue.
“I’m excited have DeAndre join our staff and be here for spring football practice,” said Fedora in a statement. “DeAndre and [UNC offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic] played together in college so they have some familiarity, and I’m impressed with his coaching skills and his ability to relate to players. He’s an outstanding recruiter and we’re thrilled to welcome he and his family to Chapel Hill.”
Prior to his brief time in West Lafayette, Smith was the running backs coach at Syracuse for three seasons. He’s also overseen backs at New Mexico (2012, 2008), Illinois (2010-11), UNLV (2009), Miami (Ohio) (2005- 07) and Northern Illinois (2001-04).
Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.
The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.
“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said. “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”
Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator and safeties coach last season.
The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.
An off-field incident involving alcohol has unofficially cost an assistant coach a job.
It had been reported that Gerad Parker, who served as Purdue’s interim head coach last season, decided to leave his new job at Cincinnati to take another at East Carolina. That reported move was complicated after reports surfaced that, following a going-away party in West Lafayette early Tuesday morning, the coach was pulled over and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Parker had been expected to take over the wide receivers coach job at ECU; Wednesday, multiple reports indicated that the Pirates are moving on from the coach in light of the recent development.
In a tweet that has since been deleted from his Twitter account, Parker apologized. “I’m sorry to all my friends and family,” the coach wrote. “Thanks to all that have reached out and shown support.”
Parker would’ve replaced Phil McGeoghan, who left ECU in late January for a job with the Buffalo Bills. ECU’s search for a replacement will continue.