Report: drug testing has doubled in Charlie Strong’s first year

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Projected starting offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle was dismissed by the Texas football program earlier this week, reportedly for failing to live up to the terms of a substance abuse rehab program.  Based on the most recent report, that should come as no surprise if true.

Citing data obtained in an open records request, Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday that, in the first eight months of Charlie Strong‘s tenure with the Longhorns, 188 drug tests have been administered to an unknown number of UT football players.  The only known is that every member of the football team was tested in March.

For comparison’s sake, an average of 104 tests per year were administered between 2010-13 when Mack Brown was the head coach.

The tests under Strong are broken down thusly by the American Statesman, which notes athletes can be tested at any time for any reason:

A total of 104 drug tests were administered from March 19-28, according to university records. Then on April 11, another 18 players were tested. Two tests were administered on April 30, and one more came on May 3. Players were tested during the summer, as 15 tests were administered on July 19. Two players were tested on Aug. 11, right in the middle of training camp as the players and coaches were living together in the dorms.

Seven more came on Aug. 22 and another seven players were tested the day before the season opener against North Texas, according to records. Brown usually tested players in the spring and mid-October, but never during training camp or before the season opener, records indicate.

Strictly as it relates to marijuana, there’s a four-strikes-and-you’re-out policy at UT. The first positive nets counseling, while the second and third positives result in suspensions of 10 percent of a sport’s regular-season games (one game for football) and 50 percent (six games) respectively. The fourth earns a student-athlete a dismissal.

This year, $8,775 has been spent on drug testing.  That number ranged from $5,100 to $6,500 the previous four years.   Then again, when you can (reportedly) offer a $10o million-plus financial package to a head coach at another school or the unlimited use of a private jet to another, a couple of hundred extra pee cups probably won’t make a dent in the budget.

“If we get information that leads us to believe there is cause to test, then we will certainly do that,” Allen Hardin, who oversees UT’s sports medicine and drug testing program, told the paper, indicating that this isn’t just a short-term “scare tactic” on Strong’s part but rather the head coach putting actions behind his five core values.

“He puts [the core values] on the wall and [the perception is] it’s like a new thing, like somebody wrote the Bible,” UT defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said earlier this month. “Well … teach a woman with respect. If you have a son, won’t you teach him that? I never had a gun. My mom never let me have a gun. My wife surely won’t let me have a gun. What’s wrong with that? No drugs. What’s wrong with that? Don’t steal. What’s wrong with that? What’s big about those core values? It’s the same thing every parent out there teaches.”

In other words, current and future Longhorn football players, it might be wise to follow this sage and timeless advice when it comes to the pharmaceutical aspect of the Strong’s Top Five…

 

Four-star 2019 corner tweets transfer from Arkansas

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For the second time today, there’s some Arkansas personnel news on which to touch.

Monday, Chad Morris confirmed that linebacker D’Vone McClure left the team to deal with family responsibilities.  Later that same day, teammate Devin Bush took to Twitter to announce that, “[a]fter speaking with my parents and coaches, I’ve made the decision to officially enter the transfer portal.”

A four-star member of the Razorbacks’ 2019 recruiting class, Bush was rated as the No. 28 corner in the country and the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The New Orleans native was the highest-rated defensive signee in Arkansas’ class this year.

Because he played in just four games this year, Bush will be able to take a redshirt for his true freshman season.

WR Weston Bridges is fourth Michigan State player to enter portal

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In the offseason, Weston Bridges changed positions.  Midway through the 2019 season, it appears Bridges is now set to change schools.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Bridges indicated that he has decided to take his leave of Michigan State and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere.  It has subsequently been confirmed that the wide receiver is headed into the NCAA transfer database.

A three-star member of the Spartans’ 2017 recruiting class, Bridges was rated as the No. 31 running back in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  During the spring this year, Bridges moved from running back to receiver.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Bridges carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards last season.  He was suspended for a late-September game because of unspecified violations of team rules.

Bridges is the fourth MSU football player to enter the portal since the 2019 season kicked off, joining linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle (HERE) as well as a pair of running backs in Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE).

Louisville’s season-opening QB starter to undergo year-ending surgery

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Jawon Pass began the 2019 season as Louisville’s starter under center.  After a couple of weeks of uncertainty, the redshirt junior will end it on the sidelines.

Pass suffered what turned out to be diagnosed as a case of turf toe in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.  It wasn’t severe enough, however, to keep the starting quarterback out of the Week 2 win over Eastern Kentucky.

The past four games, though, Pass has been sidelined because of the injury.  Tuesday, it was confirmed by the football program that, as some have speculated, Pass will undergo surgery and, as a result, miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

With Pass sidelined, Malik Cunningham had started all four games in his place.  The redshirt sophomore, though, has been dealing with his own injuries, including a knee issue, that at least temporarily knocked him out of a pair of games.

True freshman Evan Conley replaced Cunningham both times, and was even named as the ACC’s Quarterback and Rookie of the Week for his performance in the upset of Wake Forest this past weekend.

For the season, Cunningham has completed 44-of-66 passes (66.7 percent) for 820 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception.  Conley is at a 64.9 completion percentage on his 37 attempts, throwing for 422 yards, four touchdowns and a pick.  Cunningham is the Cardinals third-leading rusher with 226 yards, while Conley is fifth with 84.

As of today, head coach Scott Satterfield has not named a starter for this weekend’s game against No. 3 Clemson.

USC’s leading rusher set for knee surgery

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Vavae Malepeai tolerated the pain as long as he could, until he couldn’t.

A knee injury sidelined Malepeai for most of USC’s summer camp.  Even as he had played — and played well — in all six games, the issue lingered on into the regular season; this weekend, the pause button was hit on Malepeai’s year as Clay Helton confirmed that the running back will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee.

No timetable for a return was given.

“Vavae is a warrior,” the head coach said according to the Los Angeles Times. “[He was] dealing with a sore knee and really fighting through it for his team. It’s just gotten to the point where it’s gotten too sore, so we’re going to go ahead and take care of it now.”

Malepeai’s 406 yards rushing and four touchdowns currently lead the Trojans.

With Malepeai out for the foreseeable future, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr will see their opportunities in the running game increase.  Stepp is second on the team with 241 yards rushing, Carr third at 233.  Both players have a pair of touchdowns each on the ground.