DE Sam Ukwuachu found guilty of raping ex-Baylor soccer player

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On the same day a damning report involving Baylor’s handling of a situation involving one of its players made the rounds, said situation came to a head.  Suffice to say, BU will have some serious and much-needed explaining to do moving forward.

On trial for charges that he sexually assaulted a female BU student in October of 2013, Sam Ukwuachu was found guilty of those charges by a Waco jury Thursday evening.  Ukwuachu’s victim was a former Bears soccer player, with the rape occurring after Baylor’s homecoming win over Iowa State while he was still a listed member of the football program.

Because some of the witnesses in the trial came from out of state, the case has already gone into the penalty phase.  Ukwuachu is facing up to 20 years in prison.

The conviction is the latest in what’s fast becoming a sordid story connected to the rising Bears football program.

In May of 2013, Ukwuachu was dismissed by then-Boise State head coach Chris Petersen for violating unspecified team rules.  While the reasons were unspecified, the dismissal, it was subsequently reported, was triggered by a violent episode involving a female BSU student who was in a romantic relationship with the then-Bronco.

In the damning report mentioned up top, Texas Monthly wrote that “Ukwuachu claimed after the transfer was announced that Baylor’s coaches ‘knew everything’ about what happened in Idaho; and, as indicated by court documents obtained by Texas Monthly, the two programs had some communication regarding Ukwuachu in which Boise State officials expressed reticence about supporting the player’s efforts to get back on the field.”

Ukwuachu transferred to BU in June of 2013, sitting out that season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules and sitting out last season for unspecified reasons; Ukwuachu’s attorney subsequently confirmed that his client had been indicted on two counts of felony sexual assault.

Despite the knowledge of what happened at Boise, and that Ukwuachu was connected to sexual assault allegations while at his new school — again, according to reports — BU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett sounded very confident this past June that, for whatever reason, the end would be eligible to play for the Bears in 2015.

“Ukwuachu is a guy we’re expecting to be back,Phil Bennett said of the former Freshman All-American. “We expect him to be eligible in July. That gives us probably five or six guys we can play at end.”

Bennett’s boss, a little over a month later, liked how the situation involving Ukwuachu has been handled on all ends.

“That’s been an ongoing situation for I don’t know, a year and a half probably and we’ve been real sensitive to the process,” Bears head coach Art Briles stated Aug. 6. “We’ve sat back and waited for it all to take shape and see what the outcome is. So, I like the way we’ve handled it as a university, an athletic department and a football program.”

“We are looking forward to the trial,” Ukwuachu’s attorney, Jonathan Sibley, said earlier this month. “Sam passed a polygraph exam, he’s been cleared by Baylor and has graduated and is 100 percent innocent of these charges against him. He has done everything a man can do to clear his name and he is looking forward to the trial so he can finally do that.”

As Sibley mentioned, Ukwuachu was “cleared” by Baylor following an investigation that has come under intense scrutiny, so much so that the player’s defense team wasn’t permitted by a judge to mention it at trial.  Again, from the Texas Monthly piece:

Jury selection in Ukwuachu’s trial began Monday, and during in limine motions to determine what evidence would be admissible, assistant district attorney Hilary Laborde, who is prosecuting the case, told 54th District Judge Matt Johnson that Baylor’s own investigation into the accusations against Ukwuachu involved interviewing just Ukwuachu, his accuser, and one friend of each, and that the school never saw the rape kit collected by the sexual assault nurse examiner. The woman Ukwuachu is accused of sexually assaulting went to the hospital and talked to the police on October 20, 2013, the day after the encounter. But after the school’s investigation (so insufficient, according to the court, that the judge sustained a motion from the prosecution to restrict the defense from referencing it during the trial), Baylor took no action to discipline Ukwuachu, even while charges were still pending. From Baylor’s brief investigation, to its failure to consider disciplinary action, to its defensive coordinator’s statements this summer about the player’s expected return, the school’s idea of how to respond to serious rape allegations is seriously out of step with that of the courts.

Some hard questions should be asked of both the football program and the university over this debacle.  Just as much, open and honest answers should be demanded and, most importantly, freely offered by both bodies.

In the interim, the school offered up the following comment in the wake of the guilty verdict.

https://twitter.com/ShehanJeyarajah/status/634530924206686208/photo/1

UCLA new home for Duke transfer RB Brittain Brown

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For the second time today, an erstwhile Duke football player has found a new college football home.

Tuesday, it was confirmed that wide receiver Aaron Young had transferred into the Florida Atlantic programOn Twitter not long after, Young’s former Duke football teammate, Brittain Brown, announced on Twitter that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at UCLA.

Brown had entered the NCAA transfer database earlier this month.  He had also drawn interest from, among others, Colorado, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.

Scheduled to graduate from Duke in May, the running back would then be eligible to play for the Bruins in 2020.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

Brown was a three-star member of the Blue Devils’ 2016 recruiting class.  He was the No. 46 player regardless of position in the state of Georgia.

In four seasons with the Duke football team, Brown has rushed for 1,126 yards and 10 touchdowns on 222 carries.  His best season was his second as he ran for 701 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman.

Brown’s last two seasons were marred by injuries.  A shoulder injury cost him four games in 2018, while another shoulder injury sidelined him for the last two months this past season.

The addition of Brown will help to somewhat — somewhat — mitigate the Bruins’ myriad personnel losses of late.

Washington State officially taps Wyoming’s Jake Dickert as DC

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The raiding of the Wyoming staff by the new head coach for Washington State football has formally commenced.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Wazzu would be adding three Wyoming assistants to Nick Rolovich‘s first staff at the Pac-12 school.  Tuesday, the first of those came to fruition as Jake Dickert was officially confirmed as the Cougars’ defensive coordinator.

Dickert will also coach linebackers for Rolovich.

“I am so pumped about this hire, I’ve been following Jake and his coaching career for a long time. We have competed against him the past couple years and his defenses play tough, they play physical and they play as one,” the first-year Washington State football coach said in a statement. “Jake came highly recommended from a number of coaches around the country and he has been very successful in recruiting and developing players from this area of the country. I’ve seen Jake continue to develop as he worked his way up the coaching ladder and he proved himself as a defensive coordinator this past season. He takes pride in how his defense plays, stopping the run, forcing takeaways and pressuring the quarterback, and I think he will be a great fit for this program and the Pullman community.”

Dickert spent the past three seasons at Wyoming.  For the first two, he was safeties coach.  Prior to the 2019 season, he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

The Cowboys job was Dickert’s first at the FBS level.  During a 13-year coaching career, he also served time on football staffs at North Dakota State, South Dakota, Southeast Missouri State, Augustana, Minnesota State and South Dakota State.

Alabama QB signee Bryce Young leaps to top of 247’s Class of 2020 player rankings

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Not only does the Alabama Crimson Tide football team currently hold the nation’s top recruiting class, they now boast the nation’s top player. Well, at least according to one recruiting service they do.

During the Early Signing Period last month, Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young signed with Alabama. At the time, Young was the No. 3 player in the country according to 247Sports.com.

Tuesday, ahead of National Signing Day next week, the recruiting website released its final player rankings for the Class of 2020. And, according to that service, Young is now the No. 1 recruit in this year’s class.

Quarterback and Clemson signee DJ Uiagalelei is the No. 2 prospect. Another Clemson signee, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, is No. 3. The rest of the Top Five is rounded out by an Ohio State signee, wide receiver Julian Fleming, and another Alabama Crimson Tide football signee, weakside defensive end Will Anderson.

The recruiting website explained the process that went into making the decision on the top player in this class:

There were three worthy candidates but there’s a new No. 1. In almost any year, any one of DJ Uiagalelei, Bryce Young and Bryan Bresee would be a clear No. 1. This year, two had to settle for something less. We landed on Young as our top guy after extensive deliberation. Despite Bresee being one of the best defensive linemen we’ve scouted in years, he was up against two quarterbacks that finish with the same rating as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, our highest grade ever given to a quarterback. When it’s close, and a true No. 1 candidate is there at quarterback, we felt that position had to get the nod. Here’s our roundtable discussion on how we sorted through these three elite talents.

Despite coming up short on some of the physical tools that Uiagalelei boasts, Young’s consistency, instincts, accuracy and body of work both during his career, senior season and all-star performances was just too much to pass up for us. As the game turns to the best player going No. 1, regardless of traits (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow), we felt like Young gives us our best shot at hitting on the No. 1 player.

As for the 247 composite, which takes into consideration other recruiting services such as Rivals and ESPN? Bresee is the No. 1 recruit in the country, followed by Young and Fleming. According to that same composite, Uiagalelei is the No. 10 prospect in the Class of 2020.

Ex-Duke WR Aaron Young lands at Florida Atlantic

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When Duke wide receiver Aaron Young first entered the transfer portal, nearly a year ago to the day, he wanted to head back west.“I’m looking for a graduate program that I can get into since I can’t get into one here, and also a chance to play closer to home,” the California native told 247Sports at the time.

Young later pulled his name from the portal and played the 2019 season for the Blue Devils. His 29 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns ranked him second among all Duke wide receivers.

Still unable to get into graduate school at Duke, Young re-entered the portal two days after Christmas, and now he’s found his next destination — which is very much not closer to his Murrieta, Calif., home.

Young later replied to the tweet, comically correcting FAU Owl’s Nest to let them know he’s actually 6’4″ and 210 pounds.

Immediately eligible to play his sixth season, Young will join a defending Conference USA champion team that nonetheless loses four of its top five pass catchers. In 37 career games, Young owns 63 grabs for 849 yards and seven touchdowns.