Often times it can be easy to lose track of players that move from the spotlight of a major power conference like the ACC to the often overlooked playing fields of the FCS. If you forgot about former Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee, then you can certainly be excused. He just started his second season at James Madison of the Colonial Athletic Association, one of the strongest or deepest conferences in the FCS on a regular basis, and he has started his 2015 season with a bang.
Lee was named the Offensive Player of the Week by the Colonial Athletic Association on Monday for his strong efforts in James Madison’s season-opening victory over Morehead State. In the win, Lee completed 18-of-25 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns before being rested in the third quarter. Lee also rushed for 105 yards on 13 rushing attempts and scored a fourth touchdown on the ground. Combined, it was the third-best single-game total yardage of Lee’s career. The highlights of the day came via a 66-yard touchdown run and a 66-yard touchdown pass to JMU receiver Ishmael Hyman.
Lee left Georgia Tech in the spring of 2014, ultimately landing with the Dukes in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was there Lee was reunited with the coach that had previously attempted to recruit him to North Carolina, Everett Withers. The new head coach of the Dukes was quick to insert Lee into the offense in 2014. James Madison went 9-3 last season and participated in the FCS playoffs. Lee set new school records for single-game passing, completion percentage, single-seaosn touchdowns and more while also collecting some awards and recognition throughout the season. He finished fourth in the Walter Payton Award voting (Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, now at Oregon, finished second in the voting) and he beat out Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller for the 2014 Dudley Award (top Division 1 football player in Virginia).
Lee and the Dukes have two more games to play before hitting the road for the first time this season. James Madison, ranked No. 13 in the STATS FCS Poll, will travel to SMU. The Mustangs are in their first season under head coach Chad Morris, and have already shown some offensive flair in the season-opening loss at home to Baylor. James Madison is no stranger to pulling an upset of an FBS foe. The Dukes upended Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 2010. Can Lee lead James Madison to score a win against an FBS opponent once again? We will find out on September 26.
Lee was joined on the CAA’s first set of weekly honors by teammate Raven Greene. The safety was named the conference’s defensive player of the week after totaling eight solo and nine total tackles and one forced fumble.
Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.
The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database. If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.
As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.
Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead. The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).
A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.
As Miami continues to collect players with steep FBS experience, they’ve also lost a touted member of last year’s recruiting class.
In a press release sent out late Wednesday morning, Miami announced that Marquez Ezzard has decided to leave Manny Diaz‘s football program. No specific reason for the unexpected departure was given.
That said, the speculation is that a pair of wideout developments — Jeff Thomas did an about-face and returned to Miami after signing with Illinois, Buffalo grad transfer K.J. Osborn was added earlier this month — played a significant role in the decision.
“Marquez and I talked, and we decided that it was in his best interests to pursue opportunities at another school,” the first-year head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
Ezzard was a four-star 2018 signee who played in three games as a true freshman, catching two passes for 24 yards.
So much for that.
In August of last year, Torrence Brown announced that, “[d]ue to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end.” The defensive end spent the 2018 season as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, seemingly kickstarting a career in coaching.
While that may ultimately be his employment lot in life, it’s been put on hold as Brown confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that he has decided to transfer to Southern Miss to continue his collegiate playing career. The lineman was actually committed to the Golden Eagles before flipping to the Nittany Lions in February of 2014.
Brown started four of 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 and then started the first three games the following year before going down with a season-ending knee injury.
Because of NCAA bylaws, a player who medically retires while at one school is not permitted to play at that same school if he opts to restart his playing career. He can, though, transfer and continue it elsewhere.
In January of 2016, Adam Breneman ended his playing career at Penn State and medically retired because of chronic knee issues; seven months later, the tight end resurfaced and continued his playing career at UMass.
Virginia Tech’s roster took a one-two personnel punch on Tuesday.
Last evening, wide receiver Eric Kumah announced on Twitter that he has “decided that [it’s] best for me to enter my name into the transfer portal.” A half-hour later, teammate and Hokies tight end Chris Cunningham announced via the same social media site that “I feel as though it is in my best interest to transfer from Virginia Tech.”
The fact that the players’ names are in the NCAA transfer database doesn’t guarantee a departure, although it is normally a sign that the player will ultimately move on to another program. With the names in the database, other schools can contact them without receiving permission from Tech. Conversely, Tech has the right to strip both players of their scholarships at the end of the current semester.
Both Kumah and Cunningham have already graduated from Tech and could use their final season of eligibility at another FBS program immediately in 2019. The former also has a redshirt year available to him.
This past season, Kumah’s 42 receptions, 559 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns were all second on the Hokies. He started 12 games in 2018 and 20 total during his time in Blacksburg.
Primarily a blocking tight end, Cunningham started a pair of games in 2018 and finished the season with 74 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.