DE Joe Kruger leaving Utah early for NFL

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For the seventh time (officially) since late November, an underclassman defensive lineman has left eligibility on the table for a shot in the professional ranks.

The latest to do the early deed is Joe Kruger, the Utah defensive end who announced Wednesday afternoon that he will not return to the Utes in 2013 and will instead make himself available for the April NFL draft.  The 6-7, 280-pound junior played in 37-of-38 games from 2010-12 with 14 starts. He started seven of the 11 games in which he played this season.

He led the team with six sacks in 2012.

“Joe and his family spent a lot of time making this decision and concluded that it’s in Joe’s best interest to forego his senior year of eligibility and enter the draft,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement. “Joe certainly has NFL potential and we wish him the best as he takes his game to the next level. The Kruger name has been synonymous with Utah football for a lot of years and we are very appreciative for all they have done for our program.”

Kruger’s brother Paul Kruger is a former Utes player and current Baltimore Raven.  He had another brother, Dave, who finished this past fall as a four-year starting defensive tackle.

Below is Kruger’s rather lengthy statement on leaving the Utes a year early:

“I am releasing this statement after much prayer, consideration and evaluation with my family in announcing that I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and enter the 2013 NFL draft.

“These past three years, I have been honored to be a part of a very special group of teammates and coaches at the University of Utah. I have cherished what has been my amazing college experience. The privilege to play under someone as great as Coach Kyle Whittingham has been a tremendous opportunity. The experience of playing together with my brother Dave has been priceless. Now it is my journey to pursue a lifelong dream, which is to become a professional football player in the National Football League.

“This decision is one of the toughest that I have ever had to make. As I reflect on the University of Utah, my teammates, all of my coaches, the football staff, and most importantly the Utah fans, I am filled with humility and deep gratitude. These past years at Utah have been a tremendous learning and growing experience for me. I want to thank everyone at the University and all the Utes everywhere for their support.

“It is my hope in making this decision that the fans, coaches, teammates, and the Utah athletic department will continue to support me and my family as I take this next step in attaining my goals.

“My heart belongs to Utah and I wish continued prosperity and success to my Utah Utes!”

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.