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Joshua Fields returns to UTEP after transferring to Georgia Southern

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Who says you can’t go home again, even in the same offseason?

Joshua Fields left UTEP earlier this offseason and, in June of this year, enrolled in classes at Georgia Southern as he was set to continue his collegiate playing career with the Eagles. It was also reported that the running back would seek a waiver from the NCAA that would grant him immediate eligibility at the Sun Belt Conference school.

Fast-forward two months, though, and it’s now being reported that Fields has decided to reverse course and return to the Miners. That development came a couple of days after the Eagles confirmed in a statement that Fields was no longer a part of the program.

Joshua left the team early in camp. We wish him the best of luck moving forward.

According to the El Paso Times, Fields initially left the Miners because of a family member’s health issue, “but those circumstances changed and now he is back with his family in El Paso.” The Times also reports that Fields should be eligible to play for UTEP this season, presumably because he never attended classes at GSU despite enrolling at the university.

Clarification on his status could come as early as Thursday.

In 2017, Fields’ 362 yards rushing (on 89 carries) were tops on the Miners. According to the school at the time, Fields was the first true freshman to lead the team in rushing since 2013.

This past season, however, Fields’ production dipped to 57 yards on 31 attempts, which works out to just 1.8 yards per carry. That yards-per-attempt figure was the lowest among all FBS running backs with at least 30 carries last year.

With Oklahoma State’s support, transfer J.D. King granted immediate eligibility at Georgia Southern

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Here’s one that’s seemingly a rarity, especially when viewed through the prism of a recent post: a Power Five transfer has been granted immediate eligibility at a Group of Five school.

In mid-November, J.D. King announced that he had decided to transfer from Oklahoma State and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere; that elsewhere ultimately ended up being Georgia Southern.  Monday night, that Sun Belt Conference program confirmed that the running back is eligible to play for the Eagles in 2019.

King will have two years of eligibility, plus a redshirt, he can use at his new home.

“I am very humble and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Georgia Southern football family,” King said in a statement sent out by the football program. “I would first like to thank God for his given talents as well as the NCAA for granting me this eligibility. I would also like to thank Georgia Southern’s compliance office, Coach Lunsford, Coach Foster for his dedication, my teammates, my mother, my father and anyone who has contributed to helping with this matter. Thank you!”

One of the best parts of the whole situation? King was supported by his former school during the process, which included an initial denial of the waiver by the NCAA.  From GSU’s release:

King needed to meet three different criteria in order to be eligible for 2019. His initial request was denied after meeting only two of the three criteria and Georgia Southern filed an appeal on July 22. Oklahoma State’s Athletic Department provided a letter on King’s behalf supporting his decision to leave the program which was included in the original waiver application.

(CC: Jim Harbaugh)

The move to the SBC school will serve as a homecoming of sorts as King was a three-star signee coming out of high school in Georgia two years ago.

King ran for 469 yards and four touchdowns on 99 carries as a true freshman in 2017, making him the Cowboys’ second-leading rusher.  This past season, King’s production dropped to 153 yards and no touchdowns on 43 carries in 10 games.

Cocaine charge against Georgia Southern QB Shai Werts dropped

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It appears Shai Werts does indeed know his caca.

Earlier this month, Werts was charged with possession of cocaine after he was stopped by police after being clocked going 80 mph in his Dodge Challenger.  Two field tests showed a substance on the Georgia Southern quarterback’s windshield was cocaine; Werts very vociferously claimed that the substance was bird poop.

Thursday, it was confirmed by the player’s attorney that the coke charge was dropped after further tests on the collected samples from the scene showed that no controlled substance was present.

That development came a handful of days after Werts was permitted to return to practice upon passing a school-administered drug test.  In a statement Friday morning, athletic director Tom Kleinlein confirmed that Werts would not be subject to any further sanctions.

Werts started every game for the Eagles this past season.  He was named honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference after completing nearly 60 percent of his 116 passes for 987 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions.  His pass efficiency rating of 159.4 led all quarterbacks in the league.

Additionally, Werts’ 908 rushing yards were good for second on the Eagles, while his 15 rushing touchdowns led the team.

Georgia Southern runs past Bowling Green to take GoDaddy Bowl

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The first half of the GoDaddy Bowl was a back-and-forth shootout. The second half was anything but.

Georgia Southern scored 35 unanswered second half points to race by Bowling Green, claiming a 58-27 victory Wednesday night in Mobile, Ala.

Bowling Green led at the half by a score of 27-23 after Matt Johnson fired three touchdown passes and Travis Greene rushed in from five yards out with 36 ticks left before the break. But the Eagles broke the game open by scoring touchdowns on their first four second half drives, the first two traveling 75 and 80 yards and the third just 14 after a Johnson fumble deep in his own territory.

Favian Upshaw notched the first two scores on a three-yard plunge that culminated a 14-play drive, and the second an 80-yard bolt immediately after the Georgia Southern defense forced a turnover on downs at its own 20. After the fumble, Upshaw’s 13-yard run set Matt Breida up for a one-yard dash that gave the Eagles a 45-27 lead with 1:51 to play in the third quarter.

Johnson fumbled again deep in his own territory on the ensuing possession, and Upshaw again capitalized on an eight-yard sprint that pushed the advantage to 51-27 just five seconds into the fourth quarter. Upshaw provided the capper with a 42-yard voyage to the end zone with 5:25 left to play in the game.

Upshaw closed the day with 12 rushes for 199 yards and four touchdowns; he also completed one of three pass attempts for 17 yards. Kevin Ellison started the game at quarterback and completed 3-of-5 passes for 65 yards and the team’s fourth passing touchdown of the season, a 31-yarder to Montay Crockett that gave Georgia Southern a 23-20 lead with 1:27 left in the first half.

For the day, Georgia Southern — who entered bowl season with the nation’s top rushing offense at nearly 356 yards per game — pounded out 68 carries for 452 yards and seven touchdowns. Unbelievably, neither were season highs. The Eagles rushed for 507 yards and seven scores in a 56-26 destruction of New Mexico State on Oct. 17.

Johnson completed a pedestrian 15-of-34 passes for 246 yards with three touchdowns and two costly fumbles. He entered Wednesday night as FBS’s second-leading passer, averaging 361.5 yards per game and 68.8 percent completions. Georgia Southern held All-American wide receiver Roger Lewis to just three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, close to half his season averages for catches and yards.

Georgia Southern also held Bowling Green to 116 rushing yards, nearly 80 below its yearly average.

The win closes Georgia Southern’s second FBS season with a 9-4 mark and a bowl victory in its first season eligible for postseason competition. The Eagles went 9-3 a year ago and claimed the Sun Belt championship, but were not eligible for a bowl game due to their transitional status. Bowling Green closed its MAC championship season at 10-4.

Both teams lost their head coaches earlier this month: Bowling Green’s Dino Babers departed for Syracuse while Georgia Southern’s Willie Fritz left for Tulane. Each program will now move forward under their new head coaches — Mike Jinks for Bowling Green, Tyson Summers for Georgia Southern — with their 2015 seasons officially behind them.

Seminoles putting out splashy Heisman word on Dalvin Cook

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Earlier this week, Stanford launched a Heisman campaign centered around all-everything running back Christian McCaffrey. While not mentioning the stiff-arm word specifically, Florida State has launched one as well.

Referring to him as “College Football’s Most Explosive Player,” FSU’s sports information department sent out a press release Wednesday evening extolling the many virtues of Dalvin Cook on the football field. The release also included a link to a page on the team’s official website detailing all of the running back’s achievements and statistics.

Cook’s 153.9 yards per game are second in the country to Leonard Fournette‘s 172.9.  His average of 8.3 yards per carry is second in the country among those with 100 or more carries (Georgia Southern’s Matt Breida, 9.5 ypc).

Out of all the stats that you could use to describe Cook’s level of play, there’s one that stands out the most, even as it’s not included in the release or on the web page: Cook piled up 75 percent of the Seminoles’ rushing yards and 71 percent of the rushing touchdowns despite accounting for slightly less than 50 percent of the carries entering Week 11.

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