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Mich. St., Virginia confirm additions of Nebraska, ECU grad transfers

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Another day, another couple of graduate transfers are officially in the books.

Following up on reports that first gained traction over the weekend, Michigan State announced that defensive tackle Kevin Williams “has signed a valid Big Ten tender” and will join the Spartans for the 2016 football season.  The upcoming season will be Williams’ final year of eligibility, and his addition could help ease the attrition the Spartans’ defensive line has ben hit with of late — provided he can stay healthy, of course.

Williams missed his entire true freshman season in 2011 because of a knee injury, then missed the entire 2013 season because of another knee issue.  His healthiest season came in 2014 when he played in 10 games.

This past season, a groin injury helped limit Williams to eight games.

Williams was a three-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 36 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Ohio. In between the injuries, he played in a total of 23 games for the ‘Huskers.

Late this past week, MSU announced that Damon Knox, a projected starter at tackle, had decided to leave the program to pursue a career in law enforcement.  Back in April, MSU confirmed that sophomore linemen Craig Evans and Montez Sweat had left the program.

In addition to Williams, Virginia also announced that quarterback Kurt Benkert has joined the Cavaliers.  It had been reported late last month that Benkert would be moving on from East Carolina to UVa.

Benkert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Benkert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

Benkert, who will be eligible to play in 2016 as a graduate transfer, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Wendy Anderson, wife of Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson, loses two-year battle with breast cancer

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The heartbreak that is cancer has, once again, impacted the world of college football.

Arkansas State announced Monday that Blake Anderson would be taking a leave of absence from his job as head football coach to be with his wife Wendy, who was battling an aggressive form of breast cancer for the second time in three years.  Tuesday morning, Anderson posted that his wife had lost her brave battle with the insidious disease shortly before midnight last night “with me laying right beside her.”

Wendy Anderson was 49.

Wendy Anderson was initially diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2017.  In August of that year, Anderson had tweeted that his wife was cancer-free.  Sadly, cancer returned a few months later.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Coach Anderson for his loss.

Defensive coordinator David Duggan will serve as interim head coach during Anderson’s indefinite leave of absence.  Arkansas State will open the 2019 season against SMU Aug. 31.

Arkansas loses starting WR to torn ACL

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Entering summer camp, Deon Stewart was the most senior member of a very young receiving corps. Unfortunately for all involved, Stewart will exit camp on the sidelines and will remain there for the foreseeable future.

Multiple media outlets in the area initially reported that Stewart suffered a torn ACL during Arkansas’ scrimmage this past Saturday; Monday, head coach Chad Morris confirmed the initial reports, saying that an MRI showed a tear in the ligament.

Suffice to say, the fifth-year senior, who posted an ominous one-word tweet over the weekend portending the development, will miss the entire 2019 season.

Morris also confirmed that Stewart will pursue a sixth season of eligibility.

Stewart played in 36 games the past three seasons, starting 14 of those contests in 2017 (six) and 2018 (eight). This past season, Stewart was fourth on the Razorbacks in receptions (22) and sixth in yards (178).

Of the 17 receivers listed on the Razorbacks’ preseason roster, 13 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. Stewart is one of two seniors at the position, the other being Jimmie Stoudemire, who didn’t catch a pass during his first season in Fayetteville after transferring in from a California junior college.

Iowa confirmed Jayden McDonald cannonballed into transfer portal

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Pardon me while I clean up a bit of personnel news from late last week during these early-morning hours.

Early last week, speculation was making the rounds that Jayden McDonald was considering a transfer away from Iowa. Friday evening, the speculation became a reality as the football program confirmed in a press release that the redshirt freshman linebacker has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

It’s at this point in the program where we remind our readers that entering a name into the portal doesn’t guarantee a departure, even as it allows other programs to contact the player without receiving permission from his current school. McDonald could also reverse course, pull his name from the database and return to the Hawkeyes.

Conversely, the university can take away McDonald’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

After originally committing to Rutgers, McDonald signed with Iowa as a three-star recruit in 2018. The Georgia high schooler opted for Iowa over Kansas State, Ole Miss and Purdue.

McDonald didn’t see the field as a true freshman and, with the Hawkeyes moving to a 4-2-5 base defense this season, he saw his opportunities for playing time in Iowa City narrowed even further.

Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson takes leave of absence as wife fights cancer

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With his wife fighting cancer, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is stepping away from the football part of his life temporarily to be with his family. Arkansas State announced the news Monday evening. Defensive coordinator David Duggan will take over as the interim head coach until Anderson is ready to return to the team.

“Coach Anderson has decided to take a leave of absence during this difficult time to be with his wife, Wendy, and his family,” a statement from Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a released statement. “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”

Anderson has been dividing his time between football and being with his wife, but there comes a time when you have to realize there is much more to focus on than football. This is certainly one of those times, and good for Arkansas State to allow their head coach to do what he needs to do during this troubling time for his family.

Cancer sucks, plain and simple.