Houston corner continues rapid recovery from near-fatal injury

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With the holiday season fast approaching, how about a little Christmas cheer to end the year?

In early November cornerback D.J. Hayden collided with a Houston teammate and tore the inferior vena cava, the major vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart.  The injury, normally associated with high-speed vehicle crashes, carries a 95-percent fatality rate.  Thanks to “the quick action of UH training staff and hospital personnel,” it wasn’t fatal in Hayden’s case.

Following emergency surgery to repair the damage and a week-long hospital stay to begin what was expected to be a lengthy rehab process, Hayden was released.  Six weeks later, Hayden is progressing more rapidly than expected as he was cleared Friday, FOX26 in Houston reports, to begin light workouts.

While working on a stationary bike and the elliptical machine might not seem like a lot, it was a significant step in the player’s recovery.

“It definitely is one of the biggest days of my life,” Hayden told the television station. “It meant a lot to me because I’ve been in the house watching everybody else work out and I’ve been itching to do something because I really can’t sit still.

“It meant that I’m healing and getting better.”

While it took some time for him to come to grips with how close to death he actually came — “I was crying. I was just thanking God.” — Hayden doesn’t consider it a miracle that he survived such a devastating injury.

“People remind me every day that I’m a miracle, I’m a miracle. I don’t feel like I’m a miracle.,” Hayden said. “I’m just regular, silly D.J., but yea I do have some who believe I’m somewhat of a miracle. At the end of the day it happened, people can learn from it, get inspired by it and I’m here and we’re still breathing.”

The station writes that “Hayden hopes to begin backpedaling drills in two weeks… [and] should be completely recovered in six months and ready for football activities at some point during the summer.”

Despite how the injury took place, Hayden’s goal remains the same: playing in the NFL.  Seeing how he’s fought back against these long odds, I’m not betting against him.

Sanford to Samford: ex-Georgia LB Jaleel Laguins heads to FCS

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From Sanford to Samford, and Bulldogs to Bulldogs, Jaleel Laguins has settled on his new college football home.

In an announcement posted to his personal Twitter account Thursday evening, Laguins confirmed that he has decided to enroll in classes at Samford and continue his playing career with the FCS Bulldogs.  The move comes almost exactly one month after the linebacker used the same social media website to announce his transfer from Georgia.

As Samford plays at a level below the FBS, Laguins will avoid having to sit out the 2018 season.

A four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2016 recruiting class, Laguins was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Georgia. He was the top-rated linebacker in UGA’s class that year, and only three signees on the defensive side of the ball — defensive tackles Julian Rochester and Michail Carter, and defensive end Chauncey Manac — were rated higher.

As a true freshman, Laguins played in six games. He took a redshirt for this past season, and would have to sit out the 2018 season if he moved on to another FBS program.

Ohio State transfer Jared Drake moves on to the FCS

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After moving on from Ohio State, Jared Drake has opted to drop a couple of rungs on the college football ladder in continuing his playing career.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday, Drake announced “that the next stop on this long journey will be with the Leathernecks of Western Illinois University!” As Western Illinois plays at the FCS level, the linebacker will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

Drake came to the Buckeyes as a walk-on in 2015.  he played in nine games the past two seasons, almost exclusively on special teams.

According to his official OSU bio, Drake had “added long snapping to his résumé along with his responsibilities as a linebacker.”

Houston, UTSA announce tweaks to twin home-and-homes

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The aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey continue to linger, in this case as it pertains to college football scheduling.

Houston and UT-San Antonio in March of 2016 announced a future four-game series, with two of the games set to be played at the latter’s home (2017, 2023) and two in the former’s (2022, 2024). Because of the once-in-500 years flooding event in the Houston area last August, however, the 2017 game was canceled.

In a press release Thursday, UTSA confirmed that the canceled 2017 game will now be played on Aug. 30, 2025, at TDECU Stadium in Houston. The 2023 game, which had been scheduled to be played in San Antonio, will now be played in Houston.

The 2022 and 2024 games had been scheduled for Houston’s home but will now be played in San Antonio’s Alamodome.

The two football teams have met twice previously, in 2013 and 2014. The road teams won each of those matchups, with the Roadrunners spoiling the opening of UH’s new stadium in the 2014 game.

Oregon LB arrested for removing parking boot dismissed by Ducks

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In April, Fotu Leiato was arrested on a couple of charges related to the illegal removal of a parking boot from his vehicle.  A month later, we’ve learned Leiato was given the boot from his current football program for good measure.

247Sports.com was the first to report that Leiato has been dismissed by first-year Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal.  Further to the point, the linebacker’s dismissal came a day after his April arrest but the news didn’t surface until Thursday.

In the April incident, Leiato was arrested on charges of second-degree criminal mischief, second-degree theft and criminal trespassing.  That was actually his second arrest this year as he was charged with misdemeanor trespassing in January.

The combination of the two arrests led Cristobal to pull the trigger on a dismissal.

Coming to Eugene as a three-star safety, Leiato played in 37 of 38 games the past three seasons.  The Washington native earned the first start of his collegiate playing career during the 2017 season.

The senior had been in line to earn a starting job exiting spring and heading into the summer phase of the offseason.