Maybe nine’s not enough after all.
Of the 10 players suspended for at least Florida’s opener against Michigan, nine are reportedly connected to the misuse of scholarship money in general and, specifically, for making improper charges on their student IDs at the school bookstore and then selling those items for cash. Wednesday, head coach Jim McElwain, when asked about any additional players being sidelined beyond those already known, said that “I don’t expect any more, but at the same time if there is it will be dealt with.”
Based on one report, McElwain may still have some dealing to do. From Spectrum Sports‘ Zach Aldridge:
The Gators will now be without 10 players for Saturday’s opener, but that number could rise. A source tells Spectrum Sports more players will be suspended in the future due to their involvement in the ongoing UFPD investigation.
A university police department spokesperson confirmed to SECCountry.com that, when asked about a matter involving Florida football players, there is “an active and ongoing investigation into the allegations of credit card fraud.” The spokesperson did not have the names of those involved in the investigation, and McElwain declined to confirm whether or not the suspended players are a part of that probe.
Additionally, the Gainesville Police Department is involved in one unspecified case involving players and is assisting the university police department in others.
One interesting sidenote from the Spectrum Sports report: it was an unidentified UF football player who implicated running back Jordan Scarlett and wide receiver Rick Wells, who the school announced Wednesday were suspended. Scarlett, the Gators’ leading rusher last season, and Wells are two of the nine players suspended for at least the opener because of the allegations of misuse of school-issued funds. Antonio Callaway, the team’s top wide receiver the past two seasons, was one of the first seven announced suspensions earlier this month.
The 10th player who’s suspended, James Robinson, was cited for marijuana possession twice this year.
Here we go. Again.
Quite the kerfuffle was kicked up earlier this month when Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell and the family of James Hudson, who transferred from Michigan to UC late last year, accused the offensive lineman’s former school in general and its head football coach specifically of not doing enough — or doing the absolute bare minimum — when it came to an immediate-eligibility waiver being sought by the player. Despite the citing of mental health issues, that appeal was denied.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Myles Sims had his appeal for a waiver for immediate eligibility at Georgia Tech denied as well. The defensive back had transferred to Tech from Michigan earlier this offseason.
In a conversation this week with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sims’ parents laid the onus for their son’s denial squarely at the feet of the University of Michigan, intimating, as Hudson’s family did, that U-M did the absolute bare minimum when it came to the waiver process. Even worse, Sims’ family claimed U-M misled the NCAA by providing inaccurate information.
From the Journal-Constitution:
They also believe that a statement from Michigan regarding his transfer – a required part of the application process for a waiver – included inaccurate information about his reasons for leaving that could have damaged his chances for receiving a waiver.
“The disappointment is in knowing that they included just a few words outside of what we said to mislead the NCAA in their decision-making,” Katrina Sims, Myles’ mother, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “Whether that weighed in heavily or not on the documentation that we provided, we take issue with that.
The newspaper also wrote that “[a] Michigan team spokesman stated that the school, as is the case with all transfers leaving the school seeking waivers, did not oppose Sims’ waiver request and followed standard policy.”
I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong in these situations, but I do know it’s something that will be discussed on the recruiting trail and used by rival schools in luring and/or flipping potential prospects. So, do the bare minimum in such situations at your own peril.
Now we officially know the rest of the story. How it will ultimately all play out, though, is decidedly uncertain.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced Monday that Quintez Cephus had been reinstated and is again a student in good standing at the school, two weeks after being found not guilty on a pair of sexual assault charges and almost immediately seeking reinstatement. Initially, there was some uncertainty when it came to the wide receiver’s status with the football team; in a statement released a few hours after the reinstatement affirmation, UW confirmed that Cephus had indeed rejoined the Badgers team.
The school did note in that release, though, that they “are working through eligibility issues before he can participate in a game.” Wednesday, the same day Cephus returned to practice with the rest of his Badger teammates, Paul Chryst expounded on the eligibility issue, telling reporters that it revolves around the lack of class credits, which stemmed from his expulsion from the school before the spring semester this year ended.
At this point, whether the credit issue can be successfully navigated before the Badgers’ open the 2019 season the weekend after next remains to be seen.
Two days after very loudly proclaiming his innocence and announcing he was taking a leave of absence from the Wisconsin football team, Cephus was charged in late August of last year with felony sexual assault of an intoxicated victim and felony sexual assault. The criminal complaint filed against him stated that he allegedly “sexually assaulted two drunken women at once in the bedroom of his apartment in April” of 2018.
It took a jury of his peers less than 45 minutes to acquit him on both of those counts earlier this month.
Cephus was initially suspended by the Badgers football program before being expelled by the university last semester. In October of last year, Cephus sued the University of Wisconsin-Madison in U.S. District Court, claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights. That suit was dropped in March of this year.
In 2017, and despite missing the last five games because of a broken leg, Cephus led the run-centric Badgers in receiving touchdowns with six and yards per catch at 16.7. His 501 receiving yards were good for second, while his 30 receptions were third on the team. Because of the off-field situation that led to the suspension, Cephus didn’t play at all in 2018.
Including this season, Cephus has two years of eligibility he can use.
Who says you can’t go home again, even in the same offseason?
Joshua Fields left UTEP earlier this offseason and, in June of this year, enrolled in classes at Georgia Southern as he was set to continue his collegiate playing career with the Eagles. It was also reported that the running back would seek a waiver from the NCAA that would grant him immediate eligibility at the Sun Belt Conference school.
Fast-forward two months, though, and it’s now being reported that Fields has decided to reverse course and return to the Miners. That development came a couple of days after the Eagles confirmed in a statement that Fields was no longer a part of the program.
Joshua left the team early in camp. We wish him the best of luck moving forward.
According to the El Paso Times, Fields initially left the Miners because of a family member’s health issue, “but those circumstances changed and now he is back with his family in El Paso.” The Times also reports that Fields should be eligible to play for UTEP this season, presumably because he never attended classes at GSU despite enrolling at the university.
Clarification on his status could come as early as Thursday.
In 2017, Fields’ 362 yards rushing (on 89 carries) were tops on the Miners. According to the school at the time, Fields was the first true freshman to lead the team in rushing since 2013.
This past season, however, Fields’ production dipped to 57 yards on 31 attempts, which works out to just 1.8 yards per carry. That yards-per-attempt figure was the lowest among all FBS running backs with at least 30 carries last year.
The 12th Man is a big, big deal at Texas A&M. In fact, it’s pretty much the brand of not just the football program, but the entire athletics department. Case in point, A&M’s athletics department website is 12thman.com.
For the uninitiated, in 1922 the Aggies found themselves short of players in a football game against Center College, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, after multiple players sustained injuries over the course of the game. Down to just 11 players, A&M student E. King Gill volunteered to suit up and stand on the sidelines in case the team needed him. Gill now has a statue outside of Kyle Field, and A&M’s student section is collectively referred to as the 12th Man.
As such, it’s a tremendous honor for an active Aggie player to be awarded the No. 12 and, after fullback Cullen Gillaspia donned the jersey for a record-tying 39 games, it’s time to hand it off to a new player.
On Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher awarded the No. 12 jersey to Braden White, a walk-on linebacker from Florence, Ala.
“I’m honored just to be able to represent this great university and everything about it,” White said. “It’s a true blessing.”
White is a redshirt junior who has checked all the boxes of a player who checks all the 12th Man boxes. He was named Defensive Scout Team MVP during his redshirt year of 2016 and was honored as the Top Conditioned Athlete at the Aggies’ 2018 team banquet. He has appeared in 18 career games, recording 16 career tackles playing primarily as a special teams contributor.
White will wear No. 12 for the first time next when Texas A&M — ranked, ironically, No. 12 in the preseason AP poll — hosts Texas State next Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).