Georgia Tech is officially the beneficiary of not one but two very unique transfers.
Tuesday, Tech confirmed via a press release that defensive back Malik Rivera and longsnapper Zach Roberts have joined Paul Johnson‘s Yellow Jackets football team. Both new additions come to the ACC program as graduate transfers.
The unique part? Both come in as graduate transfers from the FCS level.
“Malik and Zach are great fits for Georgia Tech,” Johnson said in a statement. “On the field, they both fulfill current needs on our football team. Off the field, they’re outstanding students and great teammates. We’re excited to have them join our football family.”
Rivera played 28 games at Wofford over the past three seasons. In 2017, the Florida native started all 13 games at free safety.
Roberts, meanwhile, served as Lamar’s longsnapper each of the past two seasons.
It’s APR — academic progress rate — day around the NCAA which means a bunch of schools are celebrating how well their teams did in the classroom. While many programs are doing a fist pump over hitting certain thresholds, there are a number of head coaches who are picking up a nice check as the result of players staying eligible.
Like, six-figures worth of cold hard cash thanks to their players showing up to class and taking tests.
USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz knows coaches contracts better than anybody and has been tweeting out some of the bonus money that various coaches are getting as a result of APR scores. While a few amounts are somewhat modest, a few others are collecting a very, very nice check.
Lunch is on Paul Johnson today!
Northwestern led all football programs with a multi-year APR rate of 997, followed closely in the FBS ranks by Air Force, Vanderbilt and Duke among others. The overall average score for football teams across Division I ticked up two points to 964 for the 2016-17 school year. Student-athletes receive points for both staying eligible and staying in school, with a formula then determining the program’s single-year and multi-year scores.
Teams can be ruled ineligible for postseason play if their score is too low but only one program suffered that fate (Morgan State of the MEAC). Grambling also was hit with a Level One penalty for their APR score, which includes a reduction in practice time for the upcoming season. The lowest multi-year APR score for a FBS program belonged to Florida State with a 941.
The Shea Patterson ruling cracked the door. Thursday, Thomas Mars‘ righteous tenacity kicked the door wide open for his remaining clients.
Throughout the evening, it was confirmed that five players who had transferred from Ole Miss in the midst of sanctions levied on the football program had been granted a waiver by the NCAA that allows them to compete immediately at their new schools. The quintet impacted by today’s confirmations include defensive back Deontay Anderson (Houston), offensive tackle Jack DeFoor (Georgia Tech), Breon Dixon (Nebraska), wide receiver Tre Nixon (UCF) and linebacker Jarrion Street (UAB).
All of those players were 2016 signees who will have three years of eligibility remaining, and all five will likely contribute to their new teams immediately in 2018.
The Patterson decision, announced late last month and which granted him immediate eligibility at Michigan, came after the quarterback’s new school and his old school, Ole Miss, “worked together over the last several days in conjunction with the NCAA national office staff, and with a focus on the best interest of the student-athlete, to put forward a new waiver application.” That resolution certainly paved the way for these collective decisions less than two weeks later, and decisions that were the absolute correct ones for the student-athletes involved.
Georgia Tech’s roster has taken a significant one-two health punch on both sides of the ball.
In a press release, Tech announced that defensive back A.J. Gray and offensive lineman Jake Stickler will no longer continue playing football for the Yellow Jackets because of medical issues. According to the football program, Gray’s career, at least at his current school, has been submarined by an unspecified heart issue while Stickler is dealing with an undisclosed issue.
The twin losses are significant ones for Tech.
Gray was a starter in the Yellow Jackets’ defensive backfield each of the past two seasons, with nine of his starts coming this past season and another 13 in 2016. Stickler, meanwhile, started 10 games at right tackle this past season.
“I’m extremely saddened for A.J., Jake and our team but, in the big picture, health always trumps football,” head coach Paul Johnson said in a statement. “I’m grateful that A.J. and Jake will be able to continue to attend Georgia Tech and earn their degrees.”
There were more interested parties than just Michigan when it came to an official ruling that went down Friday.
As had previously been reported, Shea Patterson received approval on a waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to play for the Wolverines this coming season. The decision came after the quarterback’s new school and his old school, Ole Miss, “worked together over the last several days in conjunction with the NCAA national office staff, and with a focus on the best interest of the student-athlete, to put forward a new waiver application.”
While it’s certainly good news for Patterson and U-M, it also bodes well for others.
In addition to Patterson, six other Ole Miss players transferred from the Rebels after sanctions on the football program were announced — defensive back Deontay Anderson (Houston) (pictured), offensive tackle Jack DeFoor (Georgia Tech), Breon Dixon (Nebraska), wide receiver Van Jefferson (Florida), wide receiver Tre Nixon (UCF) and linebacker Jarrion Street (UAB). Five of those six, the lone exception being Dixon, are represented by the same attorney who advised Patterson throughout his appeal process — Arkansas-based lawyer Tom Mars.
Based on the Patterson decision, it would seem to be a slam dunk for at least five of the six to receive their own waivers that would grant them eligibility in 2018. The lone outlier in this case could be Jefferson, who was a 2015 signee; all the others, Patterson included, were members of the Rebels’ 2016 recruiting class.
“We find the Shea Patterson ruling to be very encouraging,” a Nebraska official told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “We hope that (Dixon’s) application is judged based on the merits of his situation and we hope for a similar outcome.”
Dixon and NU have not yet filed their appeal, although that’s expected to happen in short order.