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Ex-Miami WR Jeff Thomas lands at Illinois

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A month after he was dismissed by Miamior he wasn’tJeff Thomas has found a new college football home.

Friday, Illinois announced Thomas has signed a financial aid agreement and will enroll at the university in the spring of 2019.  The wide receiver will (possibly) have to sit out the 2019 season, but would then have two years of eligibility to use beginning in 2020.

There’s also the possibility that Thomas, a four-star recruit coming out of high school in East St. Louis (Ill.), and the Illini will pursue a waiver that would grant the receiver immediate eligibility next season if approved.

“Jeff Thomas is an elite level football player who we expect to make an immediate impact with the Fighting Illini program,” Illini head coach Lovie Smith said in a statement. “We know he is excited to return to his home state. This continues a string of great players from East St. Louis coming to the University of Illinois. We recruited Jeff extremely hard out of high school, and when he contacted us about the possibility of returning home, we were immediately interested in making his wishes come true. We will fully support his efforts for immediate eligibility at Illinois.”

At the time of his departure/dismissal in November, Thomas was leading the Hurricanes in receptions (35) and receiving yards (563).  The sophomore’s 16.1 yards per reception were second on the team while his three touchdown receptions were tied for third.

Lawyers for Mark Dantonio seeking legal fees from former MSU recruiting director Curtis Blackwell

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Lawyers representing former Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio in a federal lawsuit filed by former Michigan State recruiting director Curtis Blackwell are seeking reimbursement for legal fees as the case appears to be heading for possible dismissal. According to Mlive.com, Dantonio’s legal team is seeking up to $214,153 to cover legal fees tied to the case.

One of Dantonio’s lawyers, Thomas Kienbaum, is optimistic his client will receive reimbursement but does not expect a full compensation.

“Have I ever gotten anything close to what I think this judge will award? Nope, never,” Kienbaum said, according to the MLive.com report. “I’ve never asked for anything close to this, never been an occasion for it.”

Blackwell filed a lawsuit against Dantonio and Michigan State University in Nov. 2018 on the claim a contract not being renewed was a violation of the contract. Blackwell also claimed Dantonio and the program were guilty of various NCAA violations connected to recruiting and job placement opportunities for recruits. Dantonio resigned as head coach of the program shortly after the lawsuit documents were submitted. Blackwell later filed another lawsuit piling on the program and Dantonio once again.

In March of this year, a federal judge has recommended the original lawsuit be tossed due to a belief Blackwell’s lawyers were misusing the court process to harass defendants, including Dantonio.

Penn State WR Mac Hippenhammer enters transfer portal

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Another Penn State wide receiver is entering the transfer portal. Mac Hippenhammer, who was not named on Penn State’s spring football roster, has reportedly entered his name to the NCAA transfer portal.

By entering the transfer portal, Hippoenhammer is free to communicate with any other college football program interested in recruiting him to their program. Hippenhammer may also withdraw his name from the portal and stay at Penn State, but Penn State is no longer obligated to reserve his scholarship spot in the program.

Hippenhammer’s future at Penn State as a football player appeared to be going in the opposite direction as he has been focusing more on playing baseball. Hippenhammer did not participate in spring football practices in 2019 so he could participate in Penn State’s baseball season. He once again shifted his spring focus to baseball this spring before college baseball was shut down. This is why some of Hippenhammer’s transfer options may be slanted more toward baseball, one of the sports that was shut down by the NCAA this spring due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In 10 games in 2019, Hippenhammer caught one pass for 15 yards and returned two punts for 13 yards. Hippenhammer was a three-star addition of Penn State’s Class of 2017. He will still have one year of eligibility for football, although the NCAA tacking on an extra year of college eligibility for baseball would give Hippenhammer two years on the baseball diamond.

Penn State is already facing a bit of a questionable situation at wide receiver in 2020 following the early departure of KJ Hamler to the NFL and the transfer of Justin Shorter to Florida.

Alabama’s use of Apple Watches during coronavirus pandemic under scrutiny

Nick Saban
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The NCAA recently made a decision to allow strength and conditioning coaches to distribute workouts to players while they are isolated away from their respective programs. But Alabama’s use of Apple watches to monitor the players is drawing some eyes from around the SEC and beyond with everyone trying to figure out whether or not Alabama is in violation of any NCAA rules.

According to a report from Mark Schlabach of ESPN, the SEC is in the process of checking in on the use of the smartwatches at Alabama. The Athletic reports Alabama has been in constant communication with the SEC regarding the manner, according to a statement shared by a university spokesperson;

“The SEC is aware that Alabama provided Apple Watches to some of our student-athletes,” Alabama senior associate AD for compliance Matt Self said in a statement. “We are in constant communication with the SEC discussing the appropriate manner in which to utilize these and any other resources to provide for the health and well-being of our student-athletes during this crisis.”

Alabama set players up with the smartwatches as part of the program setup by strength and conditioning coaches David Ballou and Matt Rhea. The watches include workouts and apps to help players stay in as best in shape as possible during these unique times in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA recently allowed for such workouts to be distributed to players with the stipulation that coaches were not permitted to monitor those workouts. The only member of Alabama’s staff reportedly observing the information from the watches has been Alabama’s director of sports medicine, Jeff Allen.

So why all the fuss about Alabama’s smartwatches? It seems to be a lack of uniformity in interpreting the NCAA regulations.

The NCAA has certainly been more accommodating and understanding with the situation hitting every facet of the sports world right now, so it remains to be seen if the NCAA would step on Alabama to investigate this issue before the SEC makes any kind of decision first. For now, at least, Alabama players can continue using those Apple Watches.

If Alabama is given confirmation their use of smartwatches during this time is permissible, it won’t take long for other schools to follow in Alabama’s footsteps and send out smartwatches to their players as quickly as possible.

As college football coaches preach staying home, Dabo Swinney was flying on vacation

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As more and more college football coaches are putting out public service announcements about the severity of the coronavirus, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, the eternal optimist, is not bashful about taking his family on vacation with a private jet. And he may be doing so again around Easter.

Speaking to members of the media on Friday, Swinney spread his usual positive message in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Swinney remains as confident as possible in suggesting college football’s 2020 season will manage to kick off as currently scheduled. Swinney’s proclamation college football will be unaffected in the fall came in the most patriotic way imaginable.

“I don’t have any doubt. I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing and the stands are going to be packed,” Swinney said. “I’ve got one plan, and that’s to get the Tigers ready to play in late August, early September.”

Perhaps that sense of security is what has allowed Swinney to keep on living some parts of his life as if nothing has changed. For example, going on vacation with the family. Swinney said his family flew to Florida recently on a private plane, and he is contemplating flying again next week for Easter.

“The plane was sanitized,” Swinney said. “We don’t have any concern.”

It must be nice to live such a lifestyle right now.

The state of South Carolina is one of the few remaining states with no state-wide stay-home order in place (Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa have no orders in place), but it is one of four states with stay-home orders in place in parts of the state (Utah, Wyoming, and Oklahoma). As of now, Charleston and Columbia are the two major locations in the state with stay-home orders in play, with Charleston enacting its order on March 26 and Columbia following three days later on March 29.

The ACC suspended all athletic activities in mid-March.