Grand jury indicts current, former Vols in rape case

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Two Tennessee Volunteers, one current and one former, are facing very serious charges following a legal development late Thursday afternoon.

Following a rape investigation that began in November of last year, the Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting, current UT cornerback Michael Williams (pictured) and former UT linebacker A.J. Johnson have been indicted by a Knox County grand jury. Williams’ attorney, David Eldridge, told the News Sentinel that his client “turned himself in to the Knox County jail and was released on a $40,000 bond.”

The specific charge or charges the two will be facing have not been detailed.

According to reports that surfaced in mid-November, a 19-year-old UT student claimed that Johnson and Williams raped her at the former’s residence at a Knoxville apartment complex. The unnamed woman claimed that the assault lasted 45 minutes, and occurred during the course of a party being held following UT’s win over Kentucky.

Another 19-year-old woman claimed she was sexually assaulted at the same location around the same time by Williams.

The first woman was treated at the UT Medical Center. Contrary to initial reports, the second alleged woman declined treatment and headed back to her home in Florida. She has thus far declined to pursue charges despite her initial claims of being sexually assaulted.  Whether she cooperated with the grand jury is unknown.

Shortly after the reports surfaced, both players were indefinitely suspended by the football program. Johnson’ eligibility has expired, while Williams’ has not. Williams is currently enrolled in school, and, suffice to say, his future as both a student and an athlete is very much in jeopardy.

This development comes shortly after a grand jury declined to indict Kentucky defensive lineman Lloyd Tubman on a rape charge.

Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill declares for draft, will play in Music City Bowl vs. Louisville

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There’s good news and bad news on the early-entry front for Mississippi State.

The bad? As expected, Kylin Hill announced via Twitter Thursday that, “after much prayer and discussion with my family… I will be forgoing my final season of eligibility and entering my name in the 2020 NFL Draft.”

The good? Hill confirmed that he will be playing in the Music City Bowl matchup versus Louisville Dec. 30.

Hill led the Bulldogs and the SEC this past season with 1,347 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns on 235 carries.  He added 17 catches for 174 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

For his career, Hill totaled 2,474 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, and another 473 and five through the air.

Joe Burrow wins Associated Press Player of the Year in a landslide

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Come Saturday evening, when the results coming out of New York City are made official, I suspect this won’t be the first time we string the words “Joe Burrow” and “wins in a landslide” in the same sentence.

The Associated Press Thursday announced its College Football Player of the Year and, to the surprise of no one, Burrow claimed yet another piece of postseason hardware.  There were 53 media members who voted for the AP award; 50 of them cast first-place votes for Burrow, helping give the LSU quarterback a total of 156 points.

The senior, who is now viewed by some as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns with 48 and completion percentage at 77.9 percent; right now, the completion percentage would be an FBS record, surpassing the 76.7 percent put up by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008.  The Ohio State transfer is also second in the nation in passing yards (4,715) and passing efficiency (201.5).

Speaking of Ohio State, a pair of Buckeyes, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields, finished well behind Burrow in the voting.  Young, who was the only other player to receive first-place votes, totaled 29 points while Fields totaled 43.  Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts was fourth in the voting.

All four of those players mentioned, incidentally, were named as Heisman Trophy finalists earlier this week.

New USF HC Jeff Scott lands commitment from ex-South Carolina RB

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After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.

By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls.  As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.

The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.

Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country.  In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.

Eli Drinkwitz adds Charlie Harbison to first Mizzou staff

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Not surprisingly, Eli Drinkwitz‘s first coaching staff in Columbia is taking on a bit of a Boone feel to it.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, Drinkwitz is expected to add Appalachian State special teams coordinator Erik Link in the same capacity at Missouri.  What has been confirmed, though, is that Drinkwitz has brought Charlie Harbison along with him to the Tigers, a release from the football program announced.

Right now, Harbison will carry the official title of Associate Head Coach/Defense; his specific duties will be spelled out later.

“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.”

Harbison spent one season with Drinkwitz at App State, where he served as the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks coach.  He was also the Sun Belt school’s associated head coach.

Previously, Harbison has spent time as the defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at three Power Five programs — Auburn (2013-14), Clemson (2009-12) and Mississippi State (2008).  He’s also was the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 1998-2000.

In addition to bringing in coaches that worked on his staff at App State, he’s expected to retain at least three of Barry Odom‘s former assistants, including defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters, defensive line coach Brick Haley, and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Those retentions have yet to be officially announced.