Citing need to leave 'distractions', top Cal recruit decides to leave Berkeley

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In February, Chris Martin was the defensive crown jewel of a Cal recruiting class that was a consensus top-twenty group according to all of the major recruiting websites.

Five months later, the linebacker is taking his leave of the Bears football program.

In a statement released by the school, Martin stressed that he had no issues with Jeff Tedford or the Cal football program.  Instead, leaving “many of the distractions” the Oakland native has in the Bay area was the impetus for his decision to transfer before ever playing a down for Cal.

“My decision to transfer definitely does not reflect on the football program or the academics at Cal. Rather, I feel like for me to focus and truly reach my potential I need to leave many of the distractions I have here at home in the Bay Area. I need to venture away from home and start my college career somewhere else where I don’t have those distractions.”

Tedford released his own statement of support for Martin’s decision.

“This is a decision that Chris and his family have made to do what they feel is in the best interest of Chris. We wish Chris the best as he pursues his college football career. It is always important for young men to make the correct decisions to be able to reach their full potential. I understand his concern with the continued outside distractions he’s facing, and I support Chris and his decision to transfer. I wish him and his family all the best.”

Martin, who had originally given a verbal commitment to Notre Dame before flipping to Cal, played his final year at a Colorado high school before coming home to Cal.  The 6-4, 240-pounder was given a five-star rating by Rivals.com, and was the recruiting services No. 2 defensive end in the country and the No. 18 player overall.

Knee injury to sideline UConn RB Zavier Scott until next summer

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A rather significant injury will cost one playing member of the UConn football program more than just the rest of this year.

Randy Edsall confirmed Tuesday that Zavier Scott is set to undergo season-ending knee surgery on Friday.  According to the head coach, the running back suffered tears to his MCL and PCL in last Saturday’s loss to SMU.

Not only will Scott be sidelined for the last two games of the regular season, but he’s also already been ruled out for spring practice as well.  Edsall expects the redshirt freshman to be healthy enough to participate in summer camp next year.

Scott is currently third on the Huskies with 194 yards on the ground.  Where they’ll arguably miss him the most is in the passing game as his 33 receptions coming out of the backfield are tops on the team.

Scott’s injury continues the spate of attrition at the position for the Huskies over the last couple of months.

In early August, Nate Hopkins, who led the Huskies in rushing touchdowns in 2017, decided to leave the football team.  Two weeks later, Donevin O’Reilly, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship over the summer and was on track to be the No. 1 running back, was lost to a season-ending ACL injury.  In late September, freshman Khyon Gillespie went down with his own ACL injury in the loss to Syracuse.

Quarterback David Pindell is the Huskies’ leading rusher with 1,118 yards.  Kevin Mensah has taken over as the lead back and is second on the team with 860 yards.  Those two have accounted for all 16 of UConn’s rushing touchdowns this season, with Pindell leading the way with 10.

Bovada has Purdue’s Jeff Brohm as heavy favorite to replace Bobby Petrino as head coach at Louisville

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This latest wagering line will come as no surprise to those who have been paying any attention at all.

In the immediate aftermath of Louisville’s decision to fire Bobby Petrino over the weekend, Jeff Brohm was one of the first, and most prominent, names to be mentioned as a potential replacement.  Brohm, currently in his second season as the head coach at Purdue, is a natural fit as he was born in the city of Louisville and played his college football for the Cardinals.

With that as a backdrop, Bovada.lv released its first set of odds on Petrino’s replacement Tuesday and (surprise surprise surprise) Brohm is a heavy favorite at 1/10.

Troy head coach Neal Brown is next at 4/1, with Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who could be in line for the OSU job when Urban Meyer steps down, right behind at 9/2.  Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, always a popular name on the coaching carousel even as he’s in the midst of his seventh season with the Tigers, is next at 9/1.

Others receiving odds from the sportsbook are Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell (11/1), Syracuse head coach Dino Babers (12/1), Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell (12/1), Toledo head coach Jason Candle (16/1) and Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield (16/1).

Ex-Michigan State staffer suing Mark Dantonio, other MSU officials

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Curtis Blackwell may be gone but, thanks to a recent development, he won’t soon be forgotten in East Lansing.

In May of last year, Michigan State confirmed that the university had “parted ways” with Blackwell after opting not to renew the staffer’s contract.  Blackwell, whose official title with the football program was director of college advancement and performance, was suspended with pay February 9, the same day three unidentified Spartan football players were suspended in connection to sexual assault allegations.  While Blackwell was a part of the police investigations into the allegations, he was not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather failing to disclose information he knew about the incident.

Monday, the Associated Press reported, Blackwell filed a lawsuit in U.S. District court alleging that his employment contract was violated when it wasn’t renewed.  Head football coach Mark Dantonio is named in the suit, as are former MSU athletic director Mark Hollis and other MSU officials.  The AP wrote “[t]he suit alleges that the defendants did not honor Blackwell’s employment agreement, which the suit says required that he be allowed to speak with the athletic director before any discipline was imposed.”

A university spokesperson declined to comment on the development.

Also named in the lawsuit are two university police officers who arrested Blackwell for obstruction of justice.  Blackwell, who was never formally charged, claims that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the officers.

According to mlive.com, Blackwell is seeking at least $150,000 in damages, plus attorneys fees and punitive damages.

Clay Helton announces dismissal of four-star 2017 LB Levi Jones

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Levi Jones‘ forced sabbatical has turned into a permanent one.

The linebacker was suspended from USC’s loss to Cal this past Saturday because of unspecified violations of team rules.  Following practice Tuesday night, Clay Helton announced that Jones has been dismissed from the Trojans football program and is no longer on the roster.

No specific reason for the dismissal was given by the head coach.

Multiple media outlets have reported that Jones was arrested on a charge of public intoxication in early July of this year.  It’s unclear whether that off-field issue played a role in his forced departure four months later.

Jones was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 93 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  The Austin product was the highest-rated linebacker signee in USC’s class that year.

After playing in 10 games as a true freshman, Jones had played in eight games this year prior to his dismissal.