Last season as one of the top defensive players in the country, Tyrann Mathieu was the only player from that side of the ball among the five finalists for the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
In what is nothing less than a shocking and significant development, the player nicknamed the Honey Badger will have no shot at repeating that feat or, more importantly, helping LSU defend its SEC title.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, head coach Les Miles announced that the All-American cornerback is no longer on the team after violating team policy. What that specific violation was has yet to be revealed.
“This is a very difficult day for our team,” Miles said in a statement. “We lose a quality person, teammate and contributor to the program. However, with that being said, we have a standard that our players are held to and when that standard is not met, there are consequences.
“It’s hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him.”
Mathieu was one of three players suspended for one game last season, reportedly for failing a drug test. The drug in question was allegedly synthetic marijuana.
Suffice to say, this is a huge blow for the Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll and No. 4 in our attempt at preseason prognostication. Already somewhat thin at the position thanks to the departure of fellow All-American corner Morris Claiborne, Mathieu’s departure leaves a gaping and inexperienced hole in the secondary.
Mathieu’s loss will also be felt on special teams. Last season as a sophomore, Mathieu returned two punts for touchdowns and finished fourth in the nation in returns with a 15.6 average.
The same FCS program has double-dipped in the NCAA transfer portal, FBS division, in bulking up the talent on its football roster.
Monday afternoon, Albany announced via social media that running back Alex James and fullback Max Anthony have officially signed with the program. James, a redshirt junior, comes to Albany from Coastal Carolina, Anthony, a fifth-year senior, from Rutgers.
As both players come to the Great Danes from the FBS ranks, they will each be eligible to play immediately in 2019.
The past two seasons for the Chanticleers, James has rushed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries. He also caught 16 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Anthony had started six of the 27 games in which he played for the Scarlet Knights.
A sweeping college hoops scandal that’s engulfed the sport has now touched its gridiron counterpart.
Marty Blazer, a Pittsburgh financial advisor-turned government informant after pleading guilty to securities fraud charges, took the witness stand Tuesday in the college basketball fraud trial and levied some potentially explosive allegations. As part of his testimony, Blazer alleged that, between 2000-14, he paid football players from, among others, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Pitt. The payments, some of which were in the thousands of dollars, were aimed at convincing the player to remain in college and not enter the NFL draft in the hopes that they would retain him as their financial adviser when they did turn pro.
The names of specific players were, for the most part, not mentioned by Blazer.
The most damning of the accusations made by Blazer seems to involve Penn State during the Joe Paterno era. Specifically, Blazer alleges that he paid the father of then-Penn State player Aaron Maybin $10,000, with the payment being made at the behest of an unnamed Paterno assistant coach.
If accurate, the NCAA would consider such an arrangement a major infraction. It’s unclear what, if any, action The Association will take on the football side of the accusations made under oath.
Requests for comment from each of the football programs mentioned in Blazer’s testimony have not yet been met with a response.
You can go ahead and add Kentucky to the burgeoning list of FBS schools that have lost signal-callers to the infamous portal.
On his personal Twitter account Tuesday morning, Kentucky’s Gunnar Hoak wrote that, “[a]fter much thought and consideration, I have decided to put my name in the NCAA transfer portal.” As Hoak is set to graduate from UK very early next month, the quarterback would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS program immediately in 2019.
As an added bonus for whichever school he ultimately chooses, Hoak has two seasons of eligibility available.
After losing out in the quarterback competition that ended in summer camp, Hoak spent the 2018 season as starter Terry Wilson‘s primary backup. In that role, Hoak completed 13 of his 26 passes for 167 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Coming out of high school in Dublin, Ohio, Hoak was a three-star 2016 signee.
Jonathan Taylor is on track to be one of the most prolific running backs in college football history, but, this spring, he’ll be giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “on track.”
Wisconsin confirmed Tuesday that the Badgers running back will run in at least three meets with the UW track & field team this spring. Taylor will make his collegiate track debut this weekend at the Penn Relays. Additionally, he’ll run in the university’s Alumni Classic May 3 and the Big Ten Championships May 10-12.
Taylor will be running a leg of the 4×100-meter relay team, and would run in the NCAA prelims as well if they qualify.
Taylor, one of a handful of preseason Heisman Trophy favorites, is no stranger to the track as he won a pair of New Jersey state high school titles in the 100-meter dash.
As a true freshman in 2017, his 1,977 yards were third nationally. This past season, he led the country in rushing with 2,194 yards. If Taylor were to rush for at least 2,235 yards in 2018 — five players in FBS history have surpassed that total in college football history, most recently San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny in 2017 — he would break Donnel Pumphrey‘s all-time record of 6,405 career rushing yards.