Reports: Possible NCAA violations led to Joker Phillips’ resignation

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And know we know at least a portion of the rest of the story.  Allegedly.

Earlier today in a surprise announcement, it was revealed that wide receivers coach Joker Phillips had abruptly resigned his post at Florida.  Further intrigue was added when “personal reasons” were behind the decision as well as Phillips reportedly working a camp on the very day he resigned, which, if true, would be highly unusual.

Now comes a tweet from Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com that, per a source, “Phillips [was] forced to resign at UF by Will Muschamp because of Phillips’ possible NCAA recruiting violations.”  McMurphy later amended that tweet to read that Muschamp hadn’t pushed Phillips out the door, although, as of this posting, the report remains up on the WWL’s website with a headline of “Source: Joker forced out at Florida.”

What those possible NCAA recruiting violations consisted of weren’t detailed by McMurphy, although FootballScoop.com subsequently reported the violation — singular — was very minor in nature.

Why Phillips would step down, let alone be forced by someone at UF to step down, over what’s barely a minor, secondary violation is the great unknown at the moment — unless, of course, there was something significantly more serious than just a little ol’ “bump.”

Phillips came to the Gators in December of 2012 with the reputation of being a master recruiter. He used his Twitter feed, replete with photoshopped messages to potential recruits, as part of his sales pitch to unnamed and unspecified prospects — not a violation of NCAA bylaws, incidentally.

Aubrey Hill, who Phillips replaced, abruptly resigned on the eve of summer camp in 2012 for what was described at the time as personal reasons.  That decision, however, came a mere two weeks after Hill was named in a report as possibly committing recruiting violations while he was an assistant at Miami.

(Photo credit: Florida athletics)

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.

LB Darrin Kirkland announces transfer from Tennessee

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Darren Kirkland‘s injury-plagued time on Rocky Top has come to an end.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday evening, Kirkland announced that he has decided to transfer out of first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt‘s Tennessee football program.  The linebacker gave no specific reason for his decision to move on from the Volunteers.

“Tennessee will always hold a special place in my heart,” Kirkland wrote. “These moments have been priceless and I’m a better player and man from this experience.”

As a graduate transfer, Kirkland would be eligible to play for another FBS program in 2018.  Not only that, but he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining counting this year.

A four-star 2015 signee, Kirkland started 10 games as a true freshman and then another six in a sophomore campaign marred by a high-ankle sprain that forced him to miss four games.  In summer camp last year, he suffered a knee injury severe enough to sideline him for the entire 2017 season.

The rehab from that injury kept Kirkland from being a full participant in Pruitt’s first spring practice this year.