Stephen Rivers

Ex-Vandy, LSU QB Stephen Rivers transfers to Northwestern… State

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After giving a pair of FBS programs that old college try, the brother of Philip Rivers has decided to drop down a rung on the Div. I ladder.

Northwestern State head coach Jay Thomas confirmed late last week that Stephen Rivers has transferred into his football program. Because the Demons play at the FCS level, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

This season will mark Rivers’ final year of eligibility.

“We’re excited to add a quarterback with the maturity and ability that Stephen brings to Demon football. We are going to have a very lively competition for playing time at that position, to say the least,” Thomas said in a statement released by the school. “There’s a few different skill sets in the mix that we can take advantage of with our multiple offense.”

Rivers was originally a three-star member of LSU’s 2011 recruiting class. It was announced in February of 2014 that Rivers would be leaving the Tigers after playing in just four games in three years, ultimately ending up at Vanderbilt as a graduate transfer.

After playing in four games for the Commodores in 2014, Vandy announced in January of this year that if had given Rivers a release from his scholarship.

Rivers will immediately enter into the mix for a starting job as NSU is looking to replace record-breaking senior starter Zach Adkins.

“In searching for a school to finish my academic and football career, I put a bug in some teams’ ears that I thought might have interest in a transfer veteran quarterback. Northwestern State responded to my interest with interest of their own,” said Rivers in his own statement. “I was looking for a school with a sport administration master’s program, and NSU has that. On my visit to Northwestern State, I really enjoyed seeing the historic city, and the football venue in Natchitoches.

“The coaching staff and players at Northwestern State seem to have something special brewing. I watched film with the coaches and I feel that I am a good fit for the system they run,” said Rivers. “I am excited to get started this summer and meet my new teammates. I look forward to applying all I have learned in my four years in the SEC and doing whatever I can to help Northwestern State win a conference championship.”

Likely starter at QB for Vandy chooses medical school over football

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Somewhat abruptly and unexpectedly, the dynamic of Vanderbilt’s quarterback competition has has undergone a dramatic shift.

Friday, Vandy issued a press release announcing that Patton Robinette has decided to retire from the game of football.  A history of injuries, including a concussion last September, influenced the quarterback’s decision to some degree.

The school stated that Robinette spoke frequently with his parents, close acquaintances, Vanderbilt physicians and athletic trainers, and Commodore coaches before walking away from the sport in a fashion similar to the recent retirements of Chris Borland and Jack Miller.

“This has been a very difficult decision to make,” Robinette said in a statement sent out by the school. “This team means the world to me and I love playing football more than anything. It’s been tough coming to a decision that is right for my family and I, and protects my health and future.

“I’ve been very deliberate in coming to this decision. It’s difficult but I’m really excited to move forward to the next chapter of my life and really to see what the field of medicine has in store for me.”

Exiting the spring game this past Saturday, Robinette was widely viewed as the favorite to land the starting job. Less than a week ago, Robinette was stating that he was “going to have to go out this offseason and camp and compete to maintain my position at the top,” adding, “I am going to work hard and do [just] that.”

Six days later, Robinette will now be preparing for medical school instead of summer camp.

While concern over his health played a role in his decision, a significant one, so did the opportunity to embark on a medical career sooner rather than later.

“People have made a big deal of the concussion thing,” said Robinette during a press conference. “That’s certainly a factor, but more than that I’m looking at moving forward in my medical career and seeing where that takes me.

“Though football is an amazing game and I’ve loved playing the game at Vanderbilt, for myself and my future family, there are more important things than me trying to have one last stand. It was difficult to come to that decision.”

The past two seasons, Robinette started five of the 16 games in which he played.  The pinnacle of Robinette’s playing career very well could’ve come in 2013, with the school writing “[t]o many Commodore fans, Robinette’s greatest contribution came on Nov. 23, 2013 when his 5-yard rushing touchdown proved the winning margin over Tennessee in Knoxville.”

That was the second-straight win for the Commodores over the in-state rival Vols, but just the third in the last 31 years.

With Robinette out of the picture, redshirt sophomore Johnny McCrary will likely enter camp as a slight favorite to win the starting job. Also in the mix will be sophomore Wade Freebeck and redshirt freshman Shawn Stankavage, with incoming freshman and 2015 four-star signee Kyle Shurmur joining the fray this summer.

McCrary and Freebeck were two of the four quarterbacks who started at least one game last year for the ‘Dores.  The other player to start a game under center last year, Stephen Rivers, was granted a release from his Vandy scholarship this past January with the intention of transferring.

Vandy gives QB Stephen Rivers release from scholarship

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Vanderbilt has given quarterback Stephen Rivers a full release from his scholarship, allowing Rivers to seek a transfer to another school for the final year of his eligibility in college.

“I have been granted a release from Vanderbilt,” Rivers announced on Twitter. “I am very appreciative of the opportunity they gave me. Wish everyone there the best.”

Because Rivers is a senior, he will be eligible to play at any FBS program in 2015 rather than be forced to sit out a season. This will be the second transfer for Rivers during his college career. Rivers initially started out at LSU before transferring to Vanderbilt a year ago.

“I am looking forward to playing and contributing to the success of another team and finishing my final year of eligibility,” Rivers also said on Twitter.

Rivers appeared in five games in 2014, passing for 334 yards and three interceptions.

Rivers is the younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Ugly 41-3 blowout tells us more about Vanderbilt than No. 15 Ole Miss

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The most telling sequence came early in the fourth quarter, with the game well out of reach. Having mounted its first scoring threat of the entire young season, Vanderbilt had a first-and-goal at the Ole Miss six-yard line. Ralph Webb rushed for no gain on first down. Stephen Rivers connected with Kellen Williams for five on second down, but Webb lost one of those yards on third down. Knowing a 41-3 deficit made no difference than 41-0, Derek Mason went for it on fourth down. Rivers threw incomplete to C.J. Duncan.

On the next play, wildcat ball carrier DeVante Kincaid fumbled the ball, and Vanderbilt again had first-and-goal, this time at the five.

Webb rushed for one on first down and, facing second-and-goal from the four, Rivers had his own personal Chris Webber moment. He attempted to call timeout when Vanderbilt had none remaining, and the Commodores suffered a delay of game penalty. Rivers threw incomplete on second and third down, and Mason elected for a Tommy Openshaw 26-yard field goal on fourth down.

No. 15 Ole Miss 41, Vanderbilt 3. It was Vanderbilt’s first offensive score of the season.

Following a 37-7 loss at the hands of Temple, in which the Commodores’ only points were the equivalent of found money with a fumble recovery inside the Temple end zone, the Mason era has begun with the black and gold getting outscored 78-10. Karl Dorrell’s offense is still waiting on its first touchdown, and the 10 points it does have were absolute gifts.

Much of the talk of Vanderbilt’s uglier-than-it-looks 0-2 start has centered around Mason, but it’s clear former Vandy head coach and current Penn State coach James Franklin left the cupboard half empty (at best) and infested with rats.

The Commodores achieved nine first downs and totaled only 167 yards of total offense. Rivers completed only six of his 25 throws for 90 yards and an interception. Four Vanderbilt runners combined for 107 yards on 25 carries.

On the opposite sideline, it appears Bo Wallace has exorcised whatever demon controlled his right arm over the first three quarters of the Boise State game. The senior hit 23-of-30 passes for 320 yards with a touchdown and zero turnovers. A cavalcade of Rebels runners – nine players totaled between two and eight rushes – combined for 50 carries, 180 yards, and three touchdowns. Ole Miss did not score in the fourth quarter after leading 10-0 through one quarter, 20-0 at the half, and 41-0 through three.

Ole Miss finally opens its home schedule with Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

It’s unclear where Mason and Vanderbilt go from here. It’s an almost certainty that the three-year streak of bowl appearances and two-year run of nine-win seasons are on their last legs. It’s not readily apparent where the solutions are, but here may be one of them: Vanderbilt hosts Massachusetts next week in a game that certainly (hopefully) will bring the ‘Dores’ first offensive touchdown.

Halftime: Ole Miss, Vandy picking up where they left off

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Here’s what we know about No. 15 Ole Miss through six quarters of this 2014 football season: when Bo Wallace doesn’t turn it over, they’re a pretty good team. And here’s what we know about Vanderbilt through an equally small amount of time: when Wallace doesn’t turn it over, they have no chance to play with these Rebels.

After tossing three interceptions in the first three quarters against Boise State – and playing to a 7-6 score – but rallying since, Ole Miss has outscored its opponents 48-6 over its past three quarters. The Rebels blew past Boise State 28-6 in the fourth quarter last week, and lead Vanderbilt 20-0 at the break at Nashville’s LP Field.

Wallace has completed 19-of-25 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, and Jaylen Walton has added eight rushes for 35 yards and a score. The game would be further out of reach, but the Rebels saw drives totaling 12 and 15 plays sputter in the red zone and settled for Andrew Fletcher field goals of 31 and 25 yards.

For Vanderbilt, it’s been more of the same from what we saw in the Temple game. And that means awful football. The Commodores have achieved 76 yards of total offense and five first downs. Stephen Rivers has hit on 2-of-8 throws for a grand total of 24 yards, and the ‘Dores’ ground game has totaled 52 yards on 14 rushes.

Vanderbilt still has not posted an offensive touchdown in the Derek Mason era. Sadly, that’s about the only intrigue this second half has to offer.