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Former Navy football player turned NASCAR driver pulls family from burning vehicle


Jesse Iwuji was already a hero before he drove onto California’s Interstate 5 last Sunday. The former Navy football player and track and field athlete now races in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West, sort of the Triple-A of America’s highest stock car racing circuit.

After a 15th place finish in the Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on Saturday, June 23, then stuck around to watch the Toyota/Save Mart 300 the following day. While nearing the finish line of his 6-hour drive home, Iwuji noticed a family of four standing near a stranded minivan on the shoulder of Interstate 5. Leaning on his Naval training, Iwuji first tried to move the vehicle out of harm’s way and then, when the car could not be moved, pulled the family to safety.

“They were kind of going in and out of the van and underneath I saw a lot of fluid leaking from the motor and there was a small little fire that began to light,” he told the Associated Press. “Me, just from my background, military and also racing, we all know that flammable fluids can ignite pretty quick and start a huge fire pretty quick, so just instinctively I just stopped on the side of the road and I ran over to them.”

After helping the stranded family, Iwuji then posted a video to Twitter of the wreckage.

A native of Carrollton, Texas, Iwuji played defensive back for the Midshipmen, appearing in 24 career games from 2006-09.

“All I was doing was just being a decent person,” Iwuji said. “For me, it just comes from my background. Just being in the military, I’ve seen a lot of things happen, seen a lot of bad situations happen. Being in racing, I’ve seen a lot of bad situations happen. I just didn’t want that to happen to these folks.”

UTEP new home for USC transfer Ykili Ross

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Nearly a year after verbally strafing his way out of USC, Ykili Ross has found himself a new college football home.

UTEP head coach Dana Dimel confirmed Monday that Ross (pictured, No. 14) has been added as a transfer to his football program.  Eligible immediately as a graduate transfer, the defensive back is expected to take the practice field for the Miners for the first time Tuesday.

Ross, a four-star 2015 signee, played in 24 games the past two seasons after redshirting as a true freshman.  The Riverside, CA, product was in line for the starting strong safety job prior to his abrupt departure a week before the start of the 2018 regular season.

As for Ross’ scorched-earth departure from the Trojans?  From our post last September:

Ross claimed that “neither my talent nor my passion for the sport/game was being utilized to its maximum potential” at USC, adding that his “development as a ball player (sic) and my dedication to the team was not being showcased/invested in.”

The initial reports of the redshirt junior’s impending departure came a short time after he reportedly nearly came to blows with teammates during a midweek practice. “To those that have adopted the narrative that I am disruptive, start fights, have no passion for the game, etc.,” Ross wrote. “I have never started any fights nor got into any crazy incidents, no cops, no trouble.

NCAA denies transfers from Florida, Michigan immediate eligibility at Georgia Tech

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When it comes to playing the NCAA’s “Spin the Wheel of Eligibility” game, you win some and you lose some.

The latest in the latter category are Antonneous Clayton and Myles Sims, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing a person familiar with the situation, reporting that the transfers have been denied immediate eligibility at Georgia Tech.  Clayton, a defensive end, transferred in from Florida, while Sims, a defensive back, began his collegiate playing career at Michigan.

The football program is expected to appeal the NCAA’s initial denial.

If that appeal is denied, Clayton would have just one year of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2019 season.  Sims, conversely, would have three years he could use with the Yellow Jackets beginning in 2020.

Clayton, a four-star 2016 signee, played in 17 games for the Gators, with three of those appearances coming in 2018. Because he played in fewer than four games, Clayton is able to take a redshirt for this past season.

A four-star member of the Wolverines’ 2018 recruiting class, Sims was rated as the No. 17 cornerback in the country and the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Georgia. Only three signees in U-M’s class that year were rated higher than Sims.

Sims did not see the field as a true freshman in Ann Arbor last season.

Wazzu lineman who’s subject of arrest warrant no longer with team

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It appears it’s the end of the road for Christian Haangana in Pullman.

Earlier this month, it was reported that a warrant had been issued for Haangana’s arrest in connection to a vandalism charge earlier this offseason.  Monday, Haangana’s name was removed from the roster, and a school official subsequently confirmed that the offensive lineman is no longer a member of Mike Leach’s football program.

Haangana and two other individuals, Cougars linebacker Fa’avae Fa’avae and women’s basketball player Makamae Gormera-Stevens, were arrested for felony vandalism in late April after they allegedly jumped on and damaged a pair of vehicles.  The lineman missed a pair of court dates in connection to that case, triggering the arrest warrant.

Fa’avae, meanwhile, has taken care of his legal business and remains in good standing with the football program.

Haangana had played in 26 games the past two seasons, with most of that action coming on special teams. The redshirt junior did appear in a pair of games, both in conference play, at left guard this past season.

Bowling Green transfer QB Jarret Doege reportedly granted immediate-eligibility waiver at West Virginia

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The vagaries of the NCAA’s transfer decisions continue unabated, with West Virginia the latest to benefit from The Association’s scattershot wisdom.

While there is nothing yet official from the school, it’s being reported by multiple outlets that Jarret Doege has been granted a waiver by the NCAA that will permit him to play this coming season.  The quarterback entered the transfer database in early April before moving on from Bowling Green to WVU a month later.

Doege will have two years of eligibility he can use plus a redshirt season.

In 2017, Doege became the first true freshman to start a game at Bowling Green since Brian McClure in 1982.  The following season, Doege’s 2,660 yards passing and 27 touchdowns were the most of any quarterback in the MAC.

There is a connection between Doege and Neal Brown as the new West Virginia head coach served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas Tech from 2010-12 when Seth Doege, Jarret’s older brother, was a quarterback for the Red Raiders.

In Morgantown, Doege will join a quarterback competition that includes a pair of fellow transfers — Jack Allison (Miami) and Austin Kendall (Oklahoma).  Allison served as Will Grier‘s primary backup this past season, although Kendall, who joined the Mountaineers earlier this offseason, is viewed by some as a slight front-runner for the starting job.

Brown could announce his first starting quarterback at WVU as early as this afternoon.