Gamecocks offer scholarship to Atlanta-area eighth-grader

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Hey, if it’s good enough for Nick Saban, Les Miles, Jim Mora and, especially, Lane Kiffin, along with a handful of other FBS head coaches, it’s good enough for the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Continuing a trend in college football that was seemingly patented by Kiffin around 2010 — and Bobby Knight in college basketball two decades before — the stepfather of Dominick Blaylock confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his stepson was offered a scholarship by South Carolina after he attended a Junior Day event at the school Saturday. What makes the offer to Blaylock, the son of former NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock, is that he’s a 14-year-old eighth-grader from the Atlanta area.

Blaylock himself told the Journal-Constitution he was “shocked that when I met the coaches, they went straight to the point with the offer.” And, according to the stepfather, this wasn’t just some whimsical move on the part of the Gamecocks — and that he thinks this is the first offer domino that will tumble in the coming weeks for his 5-11, 165-pound stepson.

“They said this was a firm offer, and they felt like it was important that South Carolina was Dominick’s first offer,” John Woods told the paper.

“I am happy for Dominick. I know there are more eighth-graders getting offered now. It seems like it’s happening with more eighth-graders every year. Dominick got invited to five Junior Days, so I think other offers are coming.”

As creepy as it is FBS programs scoping out kids still in middle school — Blaylock will be a Class of 2019 signee — the Gamecocks, as the stepdad alluded to, certainly aren’t alone in this trend.  And they aren’t alone amongst SEC teams with this specific recruiting interest as the AJC notes that Blaylock has also been invited to visit Florida, Auburn and Alabama this spring.

But this trend goes back much further than just Blaylock.

In February of 2010, Kiffin, then the head coach at USC, offered seventh-grade — seventh!!! — quarterback phenom David Sills a scholarship. Somewhat surprisingly, Sills remained a Trojan commit even through Kiffin’s firing in September of 2013, even attending quarterbacks meetings with coaches at one point, although he ultimately ended up decommitting from USC in June of last year and signing with West Virginia in February of this year.

Kiffin was also involved in a middle-school tug-of-war with cross-town rival UCLA in June of 2013, with both the Trojans and the Bruins offering to California middle schooler and Class of 2017 recruit Nathan Tilford. Both Alabama and LSU, among others, offered 14-year-old 2017 recruit Dylan Moses back in July of 2012 and February of 2013, respectively.

Some of the more recent examples of this (my words) disturbingly upward trend include LSU accepting a commitment from then 14-year-old eighth-grade quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann last year and Florida offering eighth-grader Blake Hinson earlier this month.

And somewhere, even though he’s still alive, Chris Hansen is rolling over in his grave…

CB Tony Butler posts classy, heartfelt goodbye in announcing transfer from Nebraska

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Thanks to a Nebraska football player, we won’t have to go through an entire day without a portal post.  Hurray?

Late this past week, Tony Butler announced in a very classy, heartfelt post on Twitter that he will be entering the NCAA transfer database.  The move would serve as the first step in a departure from the Nebraska football program.

The cornerback could also return to the Nebraska football team if he so desires.

That said, Butler would be leaving the Cornhuskers as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“In 2016, I came here as an 18-year-old kid lost and looking for a home.  Nebraska, you became my home and brought me in with open arms,” Butler wrote. “This place became very special. …

“Nebraska, you have done an incredible job at helping a lost boy become a man.  My family and I are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Butler was rated as the No. 22 player regardless of position in the state of Ohio.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past three seasons, Butler played in 27 games.  Four of those appearances came in 2019, which was likely the trigger for the decision to transfer.  Most of the games played came on special teams.

Butler is the third player to leave the Nebraska football program in a week.

Linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

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The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

World of college football reacts to tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter in helicopter crash

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As is the case across the entire world of sports, college football is reacting to the devastating news involving Kobe Bryant.

Sunday morning, Bryant was one of nine people killed — initial reports had the number at five — in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on his way to a travel basketball event.  The former NBA superstar, who retired from the sport following the 2015-16 season, was 41.

Adding to the devastation, one of Bryant’s daughters, who was also a player on her father’s travel basketball team, 13-year-old Gianna Maria Bryant, was killed in the crash as well.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife/mother Vanessa and three daughters/sisters.  The oldest is 17, the youngest will turn one in June.

In the hours after the heartbreaking news was confirmed, the world of college football mourned the passing of Kobe Bryant. Below is just a sampling.

 

Georgia state rep. proposes pay-for-play legislation with a twist that will make no one happy

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Ever since California’s SB 206 passed last September, more than a dozen states followed with their own versions of the Golden State’s Fair Pay to Play Act, to go along with a number of concurrent pushes in Washington. No matter your stance on the pay-for-play issue or what side of the political aisle you sit on, it seems we can all agree that politicians are not the people to solve this issue, and yet the NCAA kept dragging its feet, and dragging its feet, and draaaaggging its feeetttt and, well, here we are. And Sandra Scott‘s bill a large reason why.

Scott, a state representative in Georgia (D-Rex) has introduced HB 766, a type of compromise bill that will make no one happy.

The appeal, at least from the outside, of California’s SB 206, is that it would allow college athletes to capitalize on their popularity during the lifetime of that popularity while costing the school very little money, since the money would come from third-parties.

Scott’s bill does neither. In fact, it goes out of its way to do the opposite.

According to HB 766, Georgia would require its schools to set aside a third of all monies earned in postseason play into an escrow account, which would then be given to players upon graduation.

Read for yourself below.

To recap, Scott’s bill would cost the schools millions of dollars and also shut out a lot of the players who generate those millions. Why should, say, Jake Fromm be barred from having a hand in the money he produced for Georgia just because he went pro?

In short, Scott’s (well-meaning) bill would anger both schools and athletes while continuing the overly paternalistic attitudes adults have adopted toward college athletes that applies to no other demographic in college sports.