SAB

East Carolina gives Ex-Gophers, Ex-Rutgers QB Philip Nelson one more chance

2 Comments

When East Carolina opened spring practice, it did so with one quarterback looking to turn his college career around. Philip Nelson, the former Minnesota quarterback that once transferred to Rutgers only to be dismissed, will join the Pirates as a walk-on this season. East Carolina confirmed his addition to the fall camp roster.

Nelson transferred from Minnesota to Rutgers in early 2014 shortly before being charged for felony assault following a bar brawl that left Division 2 football player Isaac Kolstad (Minnesota State-Mankato)  in critical condition. Following his arrest in May 2014, Rutgers cut ties with Nelson by dismissing him from the program. Nelson later pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Now, it appears, East Carolina is willing to give him another opportunity at the FBS level.

So, why would ECU head coach Ruffin McNeil willingly welcome a player with this kind of character issue hovering above him? McNeil feels Nelson has paid his due by taking responsibility for his actions and suggests Nelson will be surrounded by the kind of character that will allow for Nelson to continue rehabilitating his own flaws.

“I think it’s human nature and fair to question decisions such as these, but there was a lot of forethought and deliberation about our willingness to allow Phil to join our program as a [walk-on],” McNeill said in a story published by Wilmington Star News. “He did not make a good decision, but has taken responsibility and performed community service, which included cautioning kids about avoiding bad situations. It is my belief the support and leadership core of our football program can help enable him to become the man we know he can be.”

McNeil better hope he is right with Nelson, and Nelson should feel fortunate there was another door open to play FBS football somewhere in the country. Nelson had two opportunities to make something of himself at the FBS level already, and few get a third chance to prove something. With Kolstad’s football days over, no player in the country should feel as fortunate to be playing college football this season as Nelson.

Small school stars take center stage in NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Leave a comment

Division 2 standout running back Terrell Watson, representing Azusa Pacific, won NFLPA Collegiate Bowl MVP honors on Saturday. Watson led the National team of college all-stars with 55 yards and a touchdown in leading his National team to a 17-0 victory on Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is down the ladder in terms of star power in the college all-star circuit, but it is a terrific opportunity for some players from smaller schools to compete and catch the eye of an NFL coach or scout. Watson had his chance to do just that, as did Southern Illinois Malcolm Agnew, who complimented Watson’s production with 53 rushing yards for the National team. Eastern Kentucky running back Channing Fugate got one rushing attempt, and he made the most of it with a short touchdown run in the third quarter.

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl did have some names most college football fans might be more familiar with though.

South Alabama quarterback Brandon Bridge led the National passers with 51 yards and Miami Ohio quarterback Andrew Hendrix added 47 yards. Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley had the most efficient day at receiver, leading the National team with 45 receiving yards on two catches.

Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt was the leading passer for the losing American squad, completing seven of eight passes for 48 yards. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato finished the game with 31 passing yards with a 50 percent completion percentage. Cato was also second on the American team in rushing with 15 yards. Prairie View A&M quarterback Jerry Lovelocke mixed in 40 passing yards. Missouri running back Marcus Murphy led the American team in rushing with 47 yards, and West Texas A&M wide receiver Anthony Johnson led the team with 40 receiving yards.

As BGSU, S. Alabama trade late bowl punches, Falcons left standing

8 Comments

If you like your after-dark football a little dangerous and a lot wild, the Camellia Bowl was served it up just right.

Seemingly in control at halftime, Bowling Green (8-6) watched as South Alabama (6-7), playing in its first-ever bowl game, whittled away at the deficit and actually took the lead late.  However, the Falcons matched the Jaguars’ late-game magic with some of its own, claiming a wild 33-28 win in the inaugural Camellia Bowl.

With 1:20 remaining in the game, a three-yard Terrance Timmons run gave USA its first lead of the game at 27-26.  However, on BGSU’s first play from scrimmage after that go-ahead score, James Knapke hit Roger Lewis on a 78-yard touchdown pass that, after a failed two-point conversion, gave the Falcons a five-point lead with 1:04 remaining.

On the very next play from scrimmage for USA, any hopes of another comeback were immediately thwarted as quarterback Brandon Bridge threw his second interception of the game.  All told, the Jaguars committed four turnovers.

Knapke finished the game with 368 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner.  Suffice to say, he was named as the Camellia Bowl’s most outstanding player.

BGSU and Knapke, though, would’ve saved themselves some angst at the end if they hadn’t botched a possession midway through the fourth quarter.

Up 27-21, BGSU moved the ball to the USA one-yard line thanks to a pass interference penalty in the end zone.  Three straight running plays up the middle gained exactly zero yards.  Instead of going for it on fourth down to essentially put the game out of reach, the Falcons attempted an 18-yard field goal… and promptly missed it.

Another source of angst for the winning squad?  Ronnie Moore, one of BGSU’s starting wide receivers, was ejected for targeting on a punt return early in the third quarter.  At the time of his ejection, Moore had five receptions for 61 yards and his team led 20-7; after that, the Falcons were outscored 21-13 and nearly coughed up the victory.

The game wasn’t without its bizarre moments on the sidelines, either.

Very early in the third quarter, an official was injured by something thrown from the stands as he was running down the sidelines.  In the fourth quarter, USA head coach Joey Jones, a former Alabama football player, sustained an injury to the nose after he was inadvertently kicked by one of his own players who had been tackled out of bounds.  Jones was shown during the broadcast bleeding rather profusely and being tended to by team medical personnel as he continued his coaching duties, with the speculation being that it was broken.

After midnight, and at least as far as college football goes, it doesn’t get much better than MACtion vs. Funbelt.

Starting QB, 2nd-leading rusher continue UAB exodus to S. Alabama

3 Comments

While one football program in the state of Alabama shuffled off this mortal coil, another has greatly benefited, personnel-wise, from its demise.

Wednesday, Cody Clements confirmed to al.com that he has decided to transfer to South Alabama for his final season of football.  The starting quarterback became the fourth former UAB football player to transfer to the the Sun Belt team since that university’s administration decided to kill off the Blazers football program.  A day later, running back D.J. Vinson, also entering his final season of eligibility, became the fifth.

All five of the UAB-to-USA transfers come from the offensive side of the ball.  The fact that offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent made the same move played a significant role in the mass migration to the Jaguars.

“Definitely I would say first of all, coach Vincent,” Clements said. “That was my main goal coming out of all this mess at UAB was to follow him if I could. He’s a great coach and I love playing for him.

“Then I got up there this past weekend and saw the facilities and housing and was able to hang out with the guys. I knew that was a good spot for me to go and to finish out my career.”

Clements started all 12 games for the Blazers in 2014, completing more than 65 percent of his passes for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’ll get the opportunity to start at his new school as the Jaguars’ starter last season, Brandon Bridge, is out of eligibility.

While Vinson finished second on the team in rushing with 670 yards, he told al.com in confirming his move to USA that he will play wide receiver. He had 15 receptions coming out of the backfield in 2014.

All five of the USA transfers, and every other former UAB football player for that matter, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 thanks to a waiver from the NCAA.

John Mackey Award announces 33-member midseason Watch List

1 Comment

The John Mackey Award released its 33-name midseason Watch List on Monday and, considering the state of the position in college football, this may very well be the only 33 names that meet its criteria.

We all remember the Jace Amaro fiasco last year, where the Texas Tech tight end was first deemed not eligible for the award, then granted eligibility, only to be snubbed from the finalist list despite ranking sixth nationally with 106 catches, while North Carolina’s Eric Ebron ranked second among tight ends at 62. Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins took home the 2013 trophy.

Wake Forest’s Cam Serigne leads all tight ends with 29 catches for 282 yards and one touchdown. He ranks 78th nationally among all pass-catchers, and stands as the only tight end in the top 100.

Here is the full list, presented in alphabetical order:

– Rory Anderson – South Carolina
– Kennard Backman – UAB
– E.J. Bibbs – Iowa State
– Gerald Christian – Louisville
– Evan Engram – Ole Miss
– Billy Freeman – San Jose State
– David Grinnage – N.C. State
– Connor Hamlett – Oregon State
– Mitchell Henry – Western Kentucky
– Jeff Heuerman – Ohio State
– Bucky Hodges – Virginia Tech
– Austin Hooper – Stanford
– O.J. Howard – Alabama
– Jesse James – Penn State
– Malcolm Johnson – Missisippi State
– Ben Koyack – Notre Dame
– Tyler Kroft – Rutgers
– Jimmay Mundine – Kansas
– Nick O’Leary – Florida State
– Casey Pierce – Kent State
– Joel Ruiz – Georgia State
– Tyreese Russell – Eastern Michigan
– Wes Saxton – South Alabama
– Cam Serigne – Wake Forest
– Jean Sifrin – Massachusetts
– Justin Sinz – Purdue
– Jonnu Smith – Florida International
– Randall Telfer – USC
– Eric Tomlinson – UTEP
– C.J. Uzomah – Auburn
– Clive Walford – Miami (Fla.)
– Alex Welch – Miami (Ohio)
– Maxx Williams – Minnesota

Semifinalists will be announced Nov. 17, finalists a week after that, and the winner will be revealed at ESPN’s college football awards show on Dec. 11.