Even if it’s just a sliver, there’s some good news for one Hawaii football player dealing with a significant health issue.
In early July, Kalepo Naotala was seriously injured in a diving accident after jumping off a wall near the iconic Waikiki Beach. In confirming the injury and asking for prayers, the football program did not state the specific nature of the injury; Thursday night, the school confirmed in a press release that Naotala suffered a serious spinal cord injury and has been moved from a hospital to a treatment facility in Colorado to further his rehabilitation.
It was also announced by the university in the same release that Naotala and his family were on the receiving end of a grant from the College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) to help with ongoing medical and non-medical costs. The CFAF was founded in 2010, and is described as “a group of collegiate coaches and athletic administrators concerned about the limited resources available to injured football players. Major donors include some of today’s top college football coaches and Bowls.”
The generous grant by no means ends the family’s financial responsibilities, but it will certainly help defray some of the rising medical costs. For those who are so inclined, you can make donations to further defray it at CFAFund.com, with any donation being placed in a fund reserved solely for Kalepo and his family.
Below are the statements from some of the pertinent parties involved.
“Words can’t express how blessed we’ve been in the midst of this trying time for our family. The outpouring of God’s love and grace through prayers, love and support from Virginia to Hawaii and now Colorado has been tremendous! We’d like to thank the College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) for their support and generous donation in allowing our family to focus on Kalepo and his recovery & rehabilitation. We are grateful and appreciative that such an organization exists and is able to help us out during this critical time in our son’s life.”
HEAD COACH NICK ROLOVICH
“As unfortunate of an incident as it was for Kalepo, the outpouring of support has been amazing. With the help of the College Football Assistance Fund and many others who have generously supported the Naotala family, it will make their journey a little easier.”
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DAVID MATLIN
“On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi, we wish to extend our appreciation to the College Football Assistance Fund for their generosity and support of Kalepo. This gift will make a big difference in assisting the Naotala family in Kalepo’s road to recovery.”
Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.
You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.
“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.
“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”
Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.
It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.
Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.
You probably have never heard of TY Williams the football player but what the former Georgetown linebacker did this weekend at the school will surely bring a tear to your eyes.
Williams injured his spinal cord in a game back in September 2015 and suffered a fractured vertebra that left him partially paralyzed. Despite that, he followed up years of rehab on the injury to walk across the stage at the Hoyas’ graduation ceremony on Saturday to receive his degree from the university.
Boy, it sure is a little dusty up in here after watching that. Congrats to Williams and his family on an incredible achievement.
In some not exactly breaking news, there are a lot of Ohio State fans out there. Not to be left out, their rivals to the North have quite a few people following the team in maize and blue too.
The National Football Foundation released an interesting set of facts and figures last week that was designed to call attention to just how popular the sport of college football is across the country. The whole list is worth a look if you’re interested in all the little details about the 2017 season but a few of the big highlights are:
- Ohio State led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,254,160 spectators to all of their games in 2017, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Eleven other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2017: Georgia (1,246,201), Alabama (1,228,376), Auburn, Penn State, Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson and Texas.
- Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,589 fans per home game in 2017. Three other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per game: Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707) and Alabama (101,722). The Wolverines have led the nation in home attendance for 41 of the past 43 seasons.
- The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 20th straight year, averaging 75,074 fans per game or a total of 7,357,228 in 2017, followed by the Big Ten (66,227), Big 12 (56,852), Pac-12 (49,601) and the ACC (48,442).
- The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,622,196 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2017. The number represents a 3.3 percent drop from the 2016 season.
There’s a bunch more in there from the NFF on everything from TV ratings to fan interest and a bunch of other nuggets. Needless to say, college football is pretty popular around the country and we at CFTalk certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.
As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.
Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.