Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

Louisiana-Lafayette athletics

13 suspended UL-L players have felony charges reduced

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What could have been a devastating blow to Louisiana-Lafayette’s depth chart may have been averted.

In late April, UL-L announced that a whopping 13 players, tight end Matthew Barnes, defensive end Joe Dillon, left guard Robert Hunt, defensive back Denarius Howard, defensive end Jarvis Jeffries, defensive tackle LaDarrius Kidd, linebacker Terik Miller, defensive back Damar’ren Mitchell, running back Trey Ragas, defensive back Simeon Thomas, defensive back Levarious Varnado, left tackle D’Aquin Withrow and running back Jordan Wright, had been indefinitely suspended after they were charged with criminal conspiracy to commit felony theft.  It was alleged that, based on surveillance video evidence, that the baker’s dozen players broke into a dorm room and stole in the neighborhood of $2,400 worth of items from the residence.

While each player was initially facing a felony count, the Lafayette Daily Advertiser has reported that all of the charges have been reduced to criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.  Furthermore, the newspaper writes, “all 13… can have the charges against them dropped upon completion of community service, drug testing and other intervention program requirements.”

“The fact that they’re football players is not a factor,” District Attorney Keith Stutes told the Associated Press. “Without significant prior criminal involvement, I believe in the opportunity for redemption and to not have scar on their records for the rest of their lives.”

The reduced charges were welcome news to the football program, although it’s unclear if the incident will cost any of those involved playing time.

“We are relieved that this issue is nearing closure,” a statement from head coach Mark Hudspeth. “These young men have learned and will continue to learn from this tremendous life lesson. We will continue to be respectful of the legal process as it runs its course.”

Seven of those involved started games last season — Hunt (13), Withrow (13), Mitchell (11), Dillon (eight), Jeffries (seven), Thomas (seven) and Howard (two).  Dillon was named a Freshman All-American by several organizations after leading the Ragin’ Cajuns with 12.5 tackles for losses and seven sacks in 2016.

Wright (pictured, No. 27) wasn’t a starter, but he was fourth on the team last season with 192 yards rushing.  With the departure of leading rusher Elijah McGuire (1,127 yards), Wright, Ragas and Darius Hoggins (281 yards last season) are expected to compete or the starting running back job this season.

UL-L is scheduled to open the 2017 season Sept. 2 against Southeastern Louisiana.

Louisiana-Lafayette suspends 13 players arrested on felony charges

Louisiana-Lafayette athletics
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This’ll certainly leave a mark on the ol’ depth chart.

Louisiana-Lafayette announced Tuesday night that a total of 13 players have been indefinitely suspended by head coach Mark Hudspeth.  Those 13 are tight end Matthew Barnes, defensive end Joe Dillon, left guard Robert Hunt, defensive back Denarius Howard, defensive end Jarvis Jeffries, defensive tackle LaDarrius Kidd, linebacker Terik Miller, defensive back Damar’ren Mitchell, running back Trey Ragas, defensive back Simeon Thomas, defensive back Levarious Varnado, left tackle D’Aquin Withrow and running back Jordan Wright.

While the school attributed the suspensions to a violation of unspecified team rules, KATC-TV is reporting that all 13 of the players were arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit felony theft stemming from an incident earlier this month.

From the television station’s report:

According to investigators, surveillance video shows the 13 players going to a room on the fourth floor of the Huger Hall dormitory and stealing around $2,400 worth of items from the room. Police say the students surrendered after warrants for their arrests were issued.

Seven of those suspended started games last season — Hunt (13), Withrow (13), Mitchell (11), Dillon (eight), Jeffries (seven), Thomas (seven) and Howard (two).  Dillon was named a Freshman All-American by several organizations after leading the Ragin’ Cajuns with 12.5 tackles for losses and seven sacks in 2016.

Wright (pictured, No. 27) wasn’t a starter, but he was fourth on the team last season with 192 yards rushing.  With the departure of leading rusher Elijah McGuire (1,127 yards), Wright, Ragas and Darius Hoggins (281 yards last season) are expected to compete or the starting running back job this season.

UL-L is scheduled to open the 2017 season Sept. 2 against Southeastern Louisiana.

Official beers of LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette could soon be outlawed

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Lawmakers in the state of Louisiana will soon make a decision that could cut off a revenue stream for both LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette. A bill to prohibit universities in the state with having partnerships with breweries would mean official beers for LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette would have to cease to be brewed.

The piece of legislature is House Bill 610 was introduced by Democratic state representative Cedric Glover, who has made it his personal mission to make it illegal for schools to arrange official beer partnerships to brand university images on alcoholic beverages.

“Why would we have wanted to officially license and brand and tie an alcoholic beverage to a school?” Glover asked in a story by The Advocate. “Deep in my heart, I just know it’s wrong for us as a state to allow a public university to put our official stamp of approval on an alcoholic beverage.”

If passed, the bill would not immediately shut down the existing partnerships LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette have, but would prevent them from renewing those contracts when they expire. Of course, LSU president F. King Alexander is suggesting Glover has other motives.

“It’s nonsense. Glover likes to throw stones,” Alexander said. “He’s never been a fan of LSU.”

For what it is worth, Glover attended LSU in college (as well as Grambling State).

Alabama WR Raheem Falkins indicates he’s testing transfer waters

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It appears Alabama’s wide receiving corps will be thinning out prior to the start of spring practice.

On his Facebook page Wednesday, rising senior Raheem Falkins (pictured, No. 88) posted a photo of a letter he received from UA’s assistant director of compliance that grants other school permission to speak to the receiver regarding a potential transfer. The letter also indicates the restrictions that would be placed on any transfer.

In addition to any team in the SEC, Falkins would be barred from transferring to seven of UA’s eight nonconference opponents the next two seasons: Florida State, Fresno State, Colorado State, Louisville, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and The Citadel. The only nonconference opponent to which the player would be permitted to transfer is FCS Mercer, which will travel to Tuscaloosa this season.

A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2013 recruiting class, Falkins was rated as the No. 50 receiver in the country and the No. 15 player at any position in the state of Louisiana. He never caught a pass during is time with the team, and was expected to be buried on the depth chart once again this season.

A desire for a better opportunity at playing time is believed to be the trigger for the transfer decision.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else