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Ole Miss releases appeal letter to NCAA

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Ole Miss is digging in for its appeal to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in hopes of being able to be eligible for the postseason in 2018. The university released its full appeals letter to the COI online Friday, days after formally submitting the appeal to the infractions committee earlier this month.

“This Committee should vacate and reverse the penalties and factual findings,” the appeal stated, “because the COI abused its discretion, departed from precedent, committed procedural errors, and reached factual conclusions inconsistent with the evidence.”

In addition to appealing the 2018 postseason ban (Ole Miss voluntarily sat out of the 2017 postseason), Ole Miss also hopes to have restrictions on unofficial visits overturned as well as have the “lack of institutional control” label scratched from the record.

The NCAA’s COI has 30 days to review and respond to the appeal, which sets the deadline in the first week of March. Ole Miss will then have 14 days to respond with any rebuttal if the university feels one is warranted. But if the COI doesn’t adhere to the appeal now, odds are there will be little that can be done by NCAA in the rebuttal stage if it reaches that point that will affect the outcome of the NCAA’s decision.

Ole Miss argues the addition of the 2018 postseason ban on top of the school’s voluntary postseason ban is unprecedented. Given the charges against Ole Miss, it still seemed likely a second year would be added to the postseason ban already self-imposed anyway. But a second year without postseason eligibility cuts into the coffers for Ole Miss, as it means the school would be blocked from accepting any postseason revenue shares other schools in the SEC would receive. So you can see one of the main reasons why Ole Miss hopes at least part of the appeal is accepted.

The sanctions levied against Ole Miss came for offenses under former head coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss has argued it should not be punished as severely now that those parties connected to the infractions are no longer a part of the program.

Georgia’s hot streak continues by landing four-star WR Tommy Bush out of Texas

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Georgia doesn’t have to go far to find good players given how many good in-state recruits it has access to but it’s a sign of just how big of a recruiting juggernaut Kirby Smart has turned the Bulldogs into when he can go into the state of Texas and pluck a top 100 prospect away from several in-state powers.

Such was the case as Schertz (Texas) four-star wideout Tommy Bush added to the Dawgs’ haul and committed in a rather unique way on ESPN2 Wednesday afternoon.

“I am committed and will be playing football at…,” Bush said, before unzipping his crying niece’s jacket to unveil a Georgia shirt.

“I made my decision a few weeks ago but wanted to take all my visits,” Bush later added.

The 6-foot-4, 190 pound pass-catcher gives quarterback Jake Fromm (or perhaps five-star signal-caller Justin Fields) a big target in Athens to boost the offense and caps off a pretty quick rise up the recruiting rankings over the past few months. Bush picked Georgia over both Baylor and Texas, as well as Ole Miss.

With Bush in the fold, the Bulldogs extend their lead as the top program in the 247Sports’ team recruiting rankings over Ohio State and also help prevent the No. 3 Longhorns from gaining any ground on them too. There’s still several big commitments left on the board but so far the second National Signing Day is looking a lot like the first with UGA continuing to lock up talented players left and right.

Devin Winters, 2018 prospect being recruited by Ole Miss, Syracuse, dies suddenly

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Less than two weeks before National Signing Day, tragedy has struck the recruiting trail.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Orleans high schooler Devin Winters was found unconscious in his home last Thursday night and was unable to be revived.  He was just 19 years old.

Details surrounding Winters’ passing, including a cause of death, have not been revealed.

“I’m so proud of him, and he was so loved,” Winters’ mother, Cavanda Kelley, told the Times-Picayune. “I know he’s in a better place right now. It’s hard. I’m trying. I’ve got a lot of support, and I thank everybody for it. [There are] so many people out here, half of them I don’t even know, but I’m thankful and grateful for everybody who came out to show love and support for my son.”

Winters, a two-star defensive lineman, was scheduled to take an official visit to Syracuse this weekend and then take one to Ole Miss the following weekend, just a couple of days before signing day.  The Daily Advertiser labeled Winters as a soft commit to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns along with the Power Five interest.

“Very saddened by the unexpected (news),” former UL head coach and current Mississippi State tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth told the paper.  Billy Napier, the coach who replaced Hudspeth with the Ragin’ Cajuns, had continued to recruit the lineman.

Winters had also held offers from, among others, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas, Oregon State and SMU.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those affected by Winters’ passing.

Report: Wilton Speight open to Michigan return if Shea Patterson’s waiver is denied

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Perhaps the Wilton Speight era at Michigan isn’t over after all?

Earlier this week, it was reported that Speight, who announced his transfer from U-M in late November, was putting off a decision on a new school.  Thursday, we potentially have an indication as to why.

Citing a source with knowledge of the quarterback’s thought process, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Speight would consider a return to the Wolverines this season if the situation is right.  Specifically, Speight would be open to a return if Shea Patterson‘s appeal for immediate eligibility is denied.

Patterson transferred to U-M from Ole Miss in December, and, because of the Rebels’ expanded sanctions, is seeking a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play immediately in 2018.  Should that waiver be granted, Patterson, who was the Rebels’ starting quarterback before going down with a season-ending injury midway through the 2017 season, would be the unquestioned favorite to win the starting with the Wolverines.

It had previously been reported that Patterson would receive a decision in late January or early February.  As it stands now, it appears a decision won’t be made until late next month at the absolute earliest.

The starter for the vast majority of the 2016 season, Speight began the 2017 season as the starter as well before a late-September back injury knocked him out for the remainder of the season.  As important as it is to note that Speight would be open to a return, it should be stated that Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff would welcome him back as well.

Houston officially adds Ole Miss transfer Deontay Anderson

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Houston has officially bolstered its secondary.  Now, whether that bolstering will be realized on the field this year or next is still to be determined.

On his personal Twitter account in late December, Deontay Anderson announced that he would be transferring from Ole Miss to Houston.  Thursday, the Cougars made the addition of the defensive back official by announcing his addition to their football roster.

Because of NCAA sanctions levied on the Rebels football program, Anderson and UH are seeking a waiver that would allow him to play immediately in 2018.  It’s hoped that a decision on aid waiver will be reached at some point in the next month or two.

If granted immediate eligibility, Anderson will have three years to use beginning next season.  If not, he would have two years of eligibility to use beginning with the 2019 season.  Whenever he does take the field, though, the Cougars will be the beneficiaries of a player with an elite recruiting pedigree.

Anderson was a skydiving four-star member of Ole Miss’ 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 2 safety in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 52 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Only one defensive player in that Rebel class, five-star Benito Jones, was rated higher.

As a true freshman, Anderson started one of the 12 games in which he played. He took a redshirt this past season.