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NCAA denies Virginia Tech transfer Brock Hoffman’s appeal

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The NCAA has denied Virginia Tech transfer Brock Hoffman‘s appeal for immediate eligibility, Virginia Tech announced Tuesday.

Hoffman transferred from Coastal Carolina in February and his original application was denied in April, causing him to link arms with Georgia-turned-Illinois transfer Luke Ford in retaining the services of super-lawyer Tom Mars, only, like Ford, to see that effort turn up empty handed.

Hoffman’s family lives in Statesville, N.C., and Brock’s mother, Stephanie, was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma — a non-cancerous brain tumor — in 2017.

Blacksburg is 134 miles from Statesville, while Conway, S.C., is 207 miles away.

Virginia Tech did not include a quote in the announcement, but the press release did include this line:

While extremely disappointed in this final decision by the NCAA, Virginia Tech Athletics and the football staff will continue to provide our unwavering support and compassion to Brock and his family.

Hoffman was a two-year starter for Coastal Carolina at guard and center. He will now use 2019 as a redshirt season and compete for the Hokies in 2020 as a redshirt junior.

Cincinnati transfer OL James Hudson goes public with mental health struggles after NCAA denies waiver

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The NCAA thought it was doing its athletes a solid by liberalizing the rules governing which players are granted immediate eligibility upon transferring from one school to another. Reality, though, has proven much trickier.

We already have one martyr to the system in the form of ex-Georgia tight end Luke Ford, who says his immediate eligibility application at Illinois was denied because the Illini’s Champaign campus is not close enough to his ailing grandfather. It appears we may have another.

On Tuesday, Cincinnati offensive line transfer James Hudson went public after he says the NCAA denied his waiver because he did not go public with the mental health struggles that prompted the transfer.

“The University of Cincinnati filed a waiver for me to be immediately eligible,” Hudson wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “The NCAA has denied my waiver because I never spoke up about my mental struggles to administration at the University of Michigan.

“Like many football players I was afraid to speak up about my depression not looking to look weak. Now the NCAA is telling me that my courage to step forward and speak about my issues was done too late and subjectively my ‘Circumstances do not warrant relief.'”

To play devil’s advocate: it is possible there are simply no bad guys here. As Hudson states above, mental health struggles happen below the surface — Hudson himself said he concealed his illness — so it’s possible that Michigan, and thus the NCAA, simply had no way of knowing Hudson was battling mental illness when his waiver was being decided, because Hudson never told them out of fear of appealing weak.

Cincinnati has the opportunity to appeal the decision, so perhaps this new, relevant information will change the organization’s decision. (As it stands today, though, Hudson, a 4-star recruit out of Toledo, will sit out 2019 and then have the opportunity to play as a redshirt junior in 2020.)

However, it appears Hudson will now learn the lesson that Ford is in the process of learning the hard (and difficult) way: your waiver’s approval often depends on whether or not you have Tom Mars on your payroll.

Transfers Brock Hoffman, Luke Ford retain services of top lawyer Thomas Mars to fight NCAA

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While it seems like every transfer waiver under the sun is getting approved by the NCAA nowadays, that is not the case.

Coastal Carolina OL Brock Hoffman’s move to Virginia Tech was thought to be an easy approval due to the health of his mother but his initial waiver to be eligible in 2019 was denied by the folks in Indianapolis last week. Then, news surfaced not long afterward that Georgia transfer Luke Ford was denied his waiver after moving over to Illinois for similar circumstances.

Both have said they will appeal the decisions and it appears each player is bringing in a big gun in order to help them play right away this by retaining the services of high-powered lawyer Thomas Mars. 

The Athletic also spoke to Mars about Hoffman’s waiver and confirmed he’s consulting on that case.

For those who haven’t kept up with such matters, Mars has become the go-to in dealing with the NCAA on waiver cases the past few years. He successfully got Shea Patterson cleared at Michigan after transferring from Ole Miss and has been involved in a host of other high-profile rulings ever since.

While many expected the waivers to get approved on appeal either way, the addition of Mars to the equation certainly makes both Hoffman and Ford a little more confident that they’ll be able to play later this fall given the lawyer’s track record against the folks in Indy.

Illinois officially welcomes Georgia transfer TE Luke Ford

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Illinois may not have been able to secure a commitment from the top player in the state coming out of high school, but the Illini got him now. Tight end Luke Ford has officially been added to the Illinois football program, as announced today the school Tuesday.

Ford announced his intent to transfer from Georgia to Illinois a few days ago. In his previous statement about his decision to leave the Bulldogs, Ford cited a desire to be closer to his family due to the health of his grandparents and the cost for his family to travel to see him play each week. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith mentioned that factor in a statement about the addition of Ford to the roster.

“Luke Ford was the top-rated recruit in the state of Illinois his senior year and we worked very hard in developing a great relationship during his recruitment,” Smith said in a released statement. “It’s not unusual for athletes wanting to be near home so that family members are close by, and we are extremely happy that Luke felt Illinois was the place for him to attend school and play football after making the decision to transfer.”

Smith and Illinois have been busy adding to their roster with transfer players this offseason. Illinois previously added Miami wide receiver Jeff Thomas and Oklahoma wide receiver A.D. Miller. Minnesota defensive back Rey Estes also previously announced his decision to transfer to Illinois.

Georgia losing top three receivers early to the 2019 NFL Draft, one more player to transfer

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It was a busy day of decision making for Georgia football players, and this has nothing to do with Justin Fields. Georgia’s top three receivers from the 2018 season — wide receiver Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman and tight end Isaac Nauta — all declared themselves eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft on Friday.

“I could not imagine any other program preparing me for the next step the way this one has,” Ridley said in a statement shared on his Instagram account. “Thank you to coach [Kirby Smart] and the entire phenomenal coaching staff for molding me into the athlete I am today. My experience here has been nothing less than absolutely amazing.”

“After thinking through this decision and speaking with my family and my coaches, I have decided to forgo my senior season and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft,” Nauta said in a statement on his Twitter account Friday afternoon. “I truly feel in my heart that this is the best decision for me, and I am ready to pursue another life long dream of mine, playing in the NFL.”

Joining the parade of social media statements was Hardman, who said “After much prayer and thought, my parents and I have made the decision that it is best that I forgo my final year at Georgia and enter the 2019 NFL Draft.”

Ridley was Georgia’s leading receiver with 570 yards this season and a team-high nine touchdowns. Hardman was just behind him with 532 yards and seven touchdowns on 10 fewer receptions this season. Hardman had mroe receiving yards than Ridley in 2017 with 418 yards to 218 yards as both came behind Javon Wims and Terry Godwin in the stat sheet.

Nauta was Georgia’s third-leading receiver this season with 430 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. His season was highlighted by a season-high 81 yards with a touchdown in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama when he averaged 20.25 yards per reception. Nauta had nine catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns in 2017, which was a drop from his 2016 season with 361 yards and three touchdowns.

On top of all of that news, and the idea that Justin Fields is about to officially transfer to Ohio State comes the news that Georgia is also losing another tight end to a transfer. Luke Ford is leaving Georgia for another Big Ten school, Illinois. Ford announced his decision with a statement on Twitter as well, citing the health of his grandparents as a factor in wanting to be closer to them as he moves forward.