D2 conference championship canceled following ugly incident

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An end of the season football banquet is supposed to be a positive way for a conference to wrap up a football season. That will not be the case for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, a conference playing Division 2 football.

As first seen on D2football.com and later reported by the Winston-Salem Journal, Winston Salem State quarterback Rudy Johnson, a 2013 All-CIAA First Team quarterback, was allegedly assaulted by five members of Virginia State’s football team. According to the reports, Johnson was beaten up in a restroom at a banquet hall hosting a football luncheon the day before the CIAA football championship game. As a result of the brawl, Winston-Salem State assistant athletic director Kevin Manns is reported as saying the conference championship game has been canceled.

One of the Virginia state players arrested as a result of this incident was Lamont Britt, sophomore running back. The cause of the altercation is also not known at this time.

Johnson was treated at a local hospital and has already been released.

UPDATE (8:15 p.m. ET) – The CIAA has released the following statement regarding the cancelation of their championship game;

Based on the incident that occurred today, and after consulting with the leadership of each institution and the Football and Volleyball championship committees, the CIAA is saddened to announce that this weekend’s Football and Volleyball conference championships that were scheduled to take place in Winston-Salem have been canceled. On the eve of such an important weekend for dozens of our student-athletes, many of whom have waited a lifetime for such a moment, we are left to focus instead on what might have been.

Our singular focus is on the safety and security of the CIAA’s student-athletes and those who follow them. It is important that everyone involved in the CIAA embody our mission every day by acting as upstanding individuals on and off the field. We must work together to hold each other to higher standards of responsible judgment and conduct because we must demand that if we are to succeed.

We did not make this decision lightly, as its impact is far and wide – affecting our student-athletes, alumni, fans, sponsors and more. But the CIAA has long had policies to encourage responsible behavior, and must consider what is necessary to assure days like today are not repeated, ever.

We will cooperate fully with the NCAA as it relates to its upcoming Division II national championships.

Photo: Winston-Salem State Athletics

Police investigating death of FCS player as a suicide

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Sadly, there’s more tragic news involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets, University of Montana Grizzly football player Andrew Harris was found dead at his residence in Missoula Tuesday.  The Missoulian writes that “police are investigating the scene as a suicide.”

Harris was just 22 years old.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time,” university president Seth Bodnar said in a statement sent out to the Missoulian. “The entire UM family mourns his loss and our hearts go out to all who knew him.”

A redshirt junior, Harris was a defensive lineman who played in 11 games during his time with the Griz.  Our thoughts, prayers and condolences going out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.

And for those in the reading audience: The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.  Please, pick up the phone and call that number if you ever get to the point where you feel like you just can’t go on.  Or call somebody, anybody.

South Carolina’s third-leading rusher enters NCAA transfer database

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Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.

The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.  If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.

As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.

Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead.  The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).

A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.

Four-star 2018 WR Marquez Ezzard leaves Miami

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As Miami continues to collect players with steep FBS experience, they’ve also lost a touted member of last year’s recruiting class.

In a press release sent out late Wednesday morning, Miami announced that Marquez Ezzard has decided to leave Manny Diaz‘s football program.  No specific reason for the unexpected departure was given.

That said, the speculation is that a pair of wideout developments — Jeff Thomas did an about-face and returned to Miami after signing with Illinois, Buffalo grad transfer K.J. Osborn was added earlier this month — played a significant role in the decision.

“Marquez and I talked, and we decided that it was in his best interests to pursue opportunities at another school,” the first-year head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

Ezzard was a four-star 2018 signee who played in three games as a true freshman, catching two passes for 24 yards.

Medically retired in August, Torrence Brown to transfer from Penn State to Southern Miss

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So much for that.

In August of last year, Torrence Brown announced that, “[d]ue to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end.” The defensive end spent the 2018 season as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, seemingly kickstarting a career in coaching.

While that may ultimately be his employment lot in life, it’s been put on hold as Brown confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that he has decided to transfer to Southern Miss to continue his collegiate playing career.  The lineman was actually committed to the Golden Eagles before flipping to the Nittany Lions in February of 2014.

Brown started four of 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 and then started the first three games the following year before going down with a season-ending knee injury.

Because of NCAA bylaws, a player who medically retires while at one school is not permitted to play at that same school if he opts to restart his playing career.  He can, though, transfer and continue it elsewhere.

In January of 2016, Adam Breneman ended his playing career at Penn State and medically retired because of chronic knee issues; seven months later, the tight end resurfaced and continued his playing career at UMass.