NCAA Football

Jameis Winston, Teammates Reportedly Investigated by Florida State

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winstonavoided criminal charges late last year stemming from a rape accusation, but the star Seminole may not be out of the woods yet.  

According to Adam Weinstein of Deadspin.com, Winston and teammates Chris Casher and Ronald Darby were investigated in the weeks following Florida State's national championship triumph over Auburn in accordance with the university's code of conduct.

Winston, Casher and Darby were part of a Title IX investigation stemming from the alleged rape. While Casher and Darby have reportedly been charged with five code-of-conduct violations, Winston has yet to be charged with anything.

Later on Thursday, Rachel Axon of USA Today reported that Florida State is now under federal investigation for how they handled the case:

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation of Florida State University into whether its handling of the Jameis Winston rape allegations violated Title IX laws, according to a letter confirming the decision that was obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

According to Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com, Winston's accuser claimed he raped her on Dec. 7, 2012. The allegations put the Heisman Trophy winner in jeopardy of missing the BCS National Championship Game, but he ultimately wasn't charged.

Per Schlabach, Florida state attorney Willie Meggs didn't feel as though there was enough evidence to lead to conviction at the time:

We've carefully examined all the evidence in this case and have concluded that no charges will be filed against anyone in this case. ... We have a duty as prosecutors to determine if each case has a reasonable likelihood of conviction. After reviewing the facts in this case, we do not feel that we can reach those burdens.

Both Casher and Darby admitted they saw Winston having sex with the accuser, and Casher said that he took video of the sex act on his phone, although he eventually deleted it, according to Weinstein.

With that in mind, the university charges against Casher and Darby are as follows:

Both Casher and Darby face FSU charges of "conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for another person" and "acts that invade the privacy of another person." Casher faces an additional charge of "recording of images without consent." If found responsible in a university hearing, they could receive punishments ranging from a letter of reprimand to expulsion from the university.

While Casher and Darby came forward with their side of the story, Winston was advised by his legal counsel to refrain from answering questions, per Weinstein. That resulted in no charges being levied against him, although the door isn't shut provided new information becomes available.

According to Weinstein, the accuser's attorney, Baine Kerr, believes Winston should face repercussions if he doesn't speak up:

We're pleased that the university is finally attempting to meet its Title IX obligations, but it shouldn't be well over a year (after my client's assault). ... If Mr. Winston continues to refuse to discuss what happened that night, it's difficult to see how the university can avoid taking action.

Winston is set to enter his redshirt sophomore season at Florida State, which means he will be eligible to enter the 2015 NFL draft if he so chooses.

After a spectacular freshman campaign, Winston is the odds-on favorite to be the top prospect in the 2015 class. Should anything come of this investigation, that could affect Winston's decision to enter the draft and also affect how NFL teams view him.

Winston was able to effectively block out distractions last season and lead his team to a national title, so there is reason to believe that he can do the same this season.

Even so, it seems as though these accusations will continue to loom over Winston's head for as long as he stays at Florida State.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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Miami Football: Week 4 Spring Practice Stock Report

The Miami Hurricanes are soon entering the final week of spring practice, but competition is heating up in the limited workouts that remain before the end of the session.

It was a slower week in Coral Gables, Fla., as an intrasquad scrimmage and a single practice were the main headlines. Miami also held pro day on April 3 while the current 'Canes prepared for a second scrimmage on April 4.

A few players stepped up during the first scrimmage, earning status as offensive or defensive team leaders. Other teammates, however, were brought back from the highest ranks and must work their way back toward a coveted orange-black jersey.

Miami has a pair of practices on April 8 and 10 before the spring game, which takes place at Sun Life Stadium on April 12.

 

News & Notes

Following the first scrimmage of the spring, sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad was seen wearing a red no-contact jersey.

Muhammad is the leading candidate to replace departed senior Shayon Green on one edge of the defensive line, bringing more intensity to the position.

Jamal Carter, who had been wearing a coveted black jersey, donned a yellow limited-contact get-up. Carter had been performing well in the absence of incumbent starter Rayshawn Jenkins before the setback.

According to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, expect Anthony Chickillo and Ufomba Kamalu to play defensive tackle on third down while Muhammad and Tyriq McCord prowl the outside.

As reported by InsideTheU, the 'Canes are adding a tight end, but he isn't traveling a far distance.

Raphael Akpejiori, a 6'9", 241-pound forward on the Miami basketball team, has been watching practice over the past week and will join the team sometime this spring.

 

Stock Up

Dallas Crawford continues to be more impressive on a weekly basis, earning a black jersey in just his fourth week after switching to safety.

Per Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Dallas has been physical and is "not making mental errors, doing a good job of putting his eyes on his keys and reading run-pass and showing up."

Sophomore linebacker Jermaine Grace also impressed coaches and was given a black jersey of his own.

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes D'Onofrio said Grace "made a lot of plays [in Saturday's scrimmage]. Didn't have mental errors. Has a ways to go, but [he is] doing a good job."

Defensive tackle Earl Moore was certainly the biggest surprise of the past week, becoming the first D-lineman to earn a black jersey. According to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, Golden said the junior is ahead of JUCO transfer Calvin Heurtelou and Corey King.

The timing of Moore's emergence is perfect because returning starter Olsen Pierre has been sidelined for a few weeks due to a head injury.

 

Stock Down

Tracy Howard, the No. 1 cornerback on the team, had his black jersey taken away following what was apparently mediocre performance in the scrimmage. Additionally, Alex Figueroa also lost the black, but it is not clear if the sophomore's injury was a contributing factor in that.

Per Jackson, D'Onofrio wants the pair to be more consistent because they were "not up to the standards" during the scrimmage.

As discussed earlier this week, I believe head coach Al Golden and D'Onofrio are attempting to send a message with the shakeup.

Thurston Armbrister was rewarded for his performance late last week, but the black jersey was quickly taken away from the linebacker. Armbrister is the second-most experienced linebacker on the team and may occupy a larger role than many anticipate.

 

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Alabama Football: Week 2 Spring Practice Stock Report

After a week off due to spring break, the Alabama Crimson Tide got back down to business and began their second full week of spring practice.

Nick Saban and his staff continue to work on developing the entire roster, with experiments along the offensive line and at linebacker headlining the newest developments this week.

 

News of the Week

The shifting of players to different positions continued on both sides of the ball this week, as detailed by Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star.

The biggest change was inserting sophomore Brandon Greene—who saw action last season at tight end—into the starting group at left tackle. Burnett reports that Leon Brown, who was taking reps with the ones at left tackle last week, worked in the same spot with the twos.

The other move that may pique the interest of Tide fans came on defense, where Reggie Ragland took snaps at outside linebacker. The junior has spent most of his first two seasons working at the two inside spots in the middle level of the Tide’s defense.

On the negative side, Andrew Gribble of AL.com reported that sophomore running back Altee Tenpenny was arrested over spring break in his home town of Little Rock, Ark., and charged with possession of a controlled substance.

"I’m aware of the situation with Altee and this is obviously not the kind of behavior we expect from our players," Saban said. "In addition to any punishment he may receive from a legal standpoint, we will have some internal discipline as well as education that he will be responsible for working through."

 

QB Competition Update

Saban has often stated that the quest to pick AJ McCarron’s successor is unlikely to end any time soon. With that caveat in mind, getting quality information on the five quarterbacks currently competing for the job is a chore.

However, perhaps the most revealing information about the spring competition came from an unlikely source—senior safety Nick Perry.

“It's going to be a good competition,” Perry told Gribble.

We have four or five good guys who are getting the reps. You have Blake Sims who is an experienced guy. Then you have Alec Morris who is a gunslinger. You have (Cooper) Bateman, who's more of a Greg McElroy type, AJ McCarron type. It's going to be a good competition so be prepared for it.

 

Saban Being Saban

It’s not exactly uncommon for Saban to express displeasure during the spring, and with one question about the perceived depth along the defensive line, the Tide’s head coach quickly tempered any budding enthusiasm about that unit’s progress.

“They’ve got a long way to go,” Saban told Marc Torrence of BamaOnline

“I’m not satisfied with the way any of them are playing, if you want to know the truth about it. They’ve got to be more aggressive, physical, play with better leverage, hold the point better, rush the passer better.”

As Travis Reier of BamaOnline points out, the lack of experienced bodies at defensive end and the recent pectoral injury that will keep nose guard Darren Lake out for the rest of spring have Saban bristling at the idea of that unit being anything except unsettled.

Alabama fans and reporters who cover the team can identify with the trouble of figuring out an accurate depth chart—and that’s because Saban himself says that the team doesn’t have one yet.

"Well we really don't have a depth chart,” Saban told Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “Really what we're trying to do is coach every guy so they can be the best player they can be and nobody should judge anybody and nobody should pout about anything. Everybody should be focused on getting better."

 

1st Scrimmage Looming

Even though Saban despises the idea of having a depth chart in spring, that doesn’t mean players can’t make a move to position themselves for playing time in the fall over the course of the next few weeks.

The best chance for that to occur is to perform well in scrimmages and the Tide are scheduled to hold their first one of the spring on Saturday.

With these practices representing the closest simulations to the type of atmosphere the team will see during the season, it represents a great opportunity for players to show the improvement they have made in the offseason.

“The first scrimmage you want to get out there and see what you know without the coaches being right there in your ear, telling you plays,” senior running back Jalston Fowler told Torrence.

“Everyone’s looking forward to that first scrimmage to get that coach out of your ear and see what they can do on their own,” he said.

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