NCAA Football News

FSU TE Nick O'Leary in Another Motorcycle Accident, out for Spring

Less than a year after surviving a motorcycle crash that could have easily taken his life, Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary has been involved in another motorcycle accident—this one seemingly less horrifying but serious enough to sideline him for the rest of spring practice with cuts and minor injuries.

"He’s fine, just skinned up," said Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher, according to Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel. "He just wrecked a motorcycle again. Skin and a swollen ankle. He can’t practice but he’ll be fine."

Per Sonnone, O'Leary's crash in 2013 occurred when he was cut off and hit by a black Lexus, which sent him hurtling some 75 feet from his bike and into the windshield of a bus. Though he miraculously walked away from the accident with nothing but minor injuries, it was hoped he had at least learned a lesson about auto safety and mortality.

Apparently, he didn't.

"I can be frustrated, he needs to be frustrated. It’s not important if I’m frustrated," Fisher said after this most recent crash. "What’s important is that he’s frustrated with it and learns his lesson."

O'Leary, the grandson of legendary golfer and 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, was one of Jameis Winston's most reliable weapons last season, finishing the year with 33 catches for 557 yards and seven touchdowns. In the Seminoles' 51-14 rout of Clemson—the signature win of a signature season—he delivered a hit on safety Travis Blanks that served as a microcosm for the game as a whole:

Unlike last season, Florida State has fostered nice depth behind O'Leary at the tight end position in 2014. Senior Kevin Haplea is back after missing 2013 with a knee injury, and freshman Jeremy Kerr has shown flashes of game-readiness this spring. As long as O'Leary stays safe and recovers as expected this summer, his absence this spring shouldn't much affect the team's fall performance.

But at this point, that's kind of a big if.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Pac-12 Football: Updating Every Team's Quarterback Situation

Every position on the football field is important to a team's overall success, but there's virtually zero chance of becoming elite without an effective signal-caller. In the Pac-12, those special players can be found in nearly every nook and cranny.

As we enter spring practice (or exit, for some), we enter a time when position battles are often decided and the team begins to hone in on exactly what it wants to be throughout the 2014 season.

Quarterback battles typically grab the most headlines, so we're going to update each Pac-12 team's status in regard to the starting signal-caller. Recent years have seen plenty of turnover and numerous battles for the starting gig in the offseason.

But 2014 is a little different, as just two starting seniors—Arizona's B.J. Denker and Washington's Keith Price—are gone from the 2013 campaign.

Still, several teams have wide-open competitions, while others have yet to completely decide on who will start at quarterback when the beginning of the season rolls around. And finally, a few teams have zero doubt as to who will start at signal-caller, and it doesn't take a football depth chart guru to figure out which squads we might be referring to.

Take an updated look now at where each Pac-12 team stands at the quarterback position.

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SEC Football: Updating Every Team's Quarterback Situation

It's, to quote a cliche, out with old and in with the new for Southeastern Conference quarterbacks in 2014. Much of the league's most proven talent at the position is now awaiting the NFL draft or has their diploma, leaving a relative hole at quarterback.

The cupboard isn't completely empty, though. A couple of all-stars in Mississippi return, as well as an injured signal-caller for one of the conference's most elite programs, and a massive amount of talent will step onto SEC campuses for the first time this fall.

With spring practice underway and guys now jockeying for starting roles, let's take a look at each squad's quarterback situation and project who will be taking the first snaps of the teams' first games.

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Notre Dame Football: Matt LaFleur Breaks Down QB Position, Golson, Zaire

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A new quarterbacks coach, a new offensive coordinator, a quarterback returning from suspension and another coming off a freshman season he spent redshirting. From the meeting room to the practice field, it all combines to create a blank slate among the quarterbacks, according to position coach Matt LaFleur.

LaFleur met with the media Wednesday for the first time since his introductory press conference in late January and touched on a variety of subjects.

The Irish are 10 practices into their spring schedule, and the Blue-Gold Spring Game is 10 days away. Let’s take a look at the quarterback position as it stands now through the eyes of LaFleur.

 

*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Jerry Sandusky's Criminal Appeal Won't Be Heard by State's Supreme Court

An appeal effort made by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky regarding his sexual abuse conviction was denied on Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

An order was issued to deny Sandusky's motion after he disputed his 2012 trial, implying that his lawyers didn't have adequate time to review the information at their disposal, per a report by Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press, via StarTribune.com:

Sandusky asked the court to take up his 45-count conviction, arguing his lawyers were rushed too quickly to trial in 2012 and that prosecutors improperly made reference to his decision not to testify.

He also said the trial judge should have issued a jury instruction about how long it took his victims to report the abuse and that jurors should not have been told to weigh evidence of his good character against all other evidence.

The state attorney general's office had countered that Sandusky did not provide sufficient basis for the Supreme Court to take up the matter, and that decisions made by the trial judge did not violate his rights.

NBC News Investigations reporter Tom Winter weighed in on the latest legal development, which may mark the conclusion of the appeals process for Sandusky:

This futile attempt at exoneration should see Sandusky, 70, continue to serve his 30 to 60 years in prison without any further inquiries in the courts. However, the controversy surrounding him should not end anytime soon, since some involved in the administration are facing allegations that they covered up complaints about Sandusky.    

Although the Nittany Lions have done their best to put this disturbing issue behind them, the latest news has allowed it to resurface for the Penn State football program.

Sandusky's wife, Dottie Sandusky, recently spoke about how she trusted her husband. Her testimony may give at least some credence to the issue of Jerry Sandusky not testifying, which was part of his appeal, per a March 29 report by Scolforo:

I know who he is, and I know what he is, and people need to look into some of the other situations...I trust my husband. That's what the world is about today. People don't trust anybody. And all these young kids, all they think about is sex...(His lawyers) felt the trial was going well enough that he did not need to testify. Jerry wanted to testify, but they felt he didn't need to testify.

For those who were outspoken victims of Sandusky's abuse, these remarks will only cause further pain. Perhaps his wife's public support was part of the final push Sandusky was hoping to make, but whatever the story may be, his conviction and prison sentence remain the same.

The sanctions that slammed the Nittany Lions in the aftermath of Sandusky's scandal have since been reduced by the NCAA, but the perception of Penn State unfortunately may never be quite the same.

Hopefully this is the last Sandusky will be heard from in the media so that the Nittany Lions and the victims of the case can have official closure and continue moving forward in a positive direction.   

 

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Virginia 5-Star Early Enrollee Andrew Brown to Miss Rest of Spring with Injury

Virginia early enrollee Andrew Brown, a 5-star defensive tackle who was the top-rated interior lineman and No. 11 overall player on the 247Sports composite, has sustained a turf toe injury and will be sidelined for the rest of spring camp.

Cavs Journal tweeted the report from head coach Mike London:

Brown and fellow 5-star defender Quin Blanding, the top-ranked safety in the class, both played high school football in Virginia—Brown at Oscar Smith, Blanding at Bayside—and made the atypical decision to stay in-state with the Cavs and not the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Blanding was the No. 6 overall player in the class, but did not enroll early. He will instead join the team in the summer.

Although the top-ranked player from Virginia, 5-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge), committed to Alabama over the Cavs and the Hokies, the 2013 class was a seminal one for London and his staff in terms of recruiting kids from in-state.

Among the other notable Virginia commits are 4-star athlete Jamil Kamara (Bishop Sullivan), 4-star offensive guard Steven Moss (Chancellor) and top-rated prep school quarterback Corwin Cutler (Ocean Lakes).

Brown is expected to step into the lineup and give UVA a formidable presence at defensive tackle as soon as next season—if not by the end of fall camp, then not long after. Turf toe injuries are pesky, but it shouldn't affect Brown's status at the end of the summer.

He is still the most physically impressive front-four player on the roster and, barring continued poor health, he will not be kept off the field for long.

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No. 1 WR Damarkus Lodge Reveals a Surprising Top 3

Damarkus Lodge is arguably the top 2015 prospect in Texas but doesn't appear intent on staying in the Lone Star State during his college career. The 5-star wide receiver told 247Sports reporter Ryan Bartow he views three options to the east as preferred destinations.

Lodge named Ole Miss, LSU and Clemson as favorites, leaving in-state institutions to fight an uphill battle for his services. 

Texas and Baylor offered the Cedar Hill High School standout last April, during the final stretch of his sophomore year. Texas A&M and Texas Tech followed with scholarships in May.

The 6'2.5", 190-pound playmaker is one of the hottest commodities of his class. Lodge is listed as the nation's No. 1 receiver in 247Sports' composite rankings after a dominant junior season.

He helped lead Cedar Hill to a state championship, electrifying the offensive attack with big-play ability. Lodge caught 72 passes for 1,255 yards and 22 touchdowns in 16 games.

His wide range of skills has warranted understandable national interest. Lodge carries offers from dozens of programs, including Alabama, Cal, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Florida.

He identified LSU as his clear favorite at this stage, citing the program's success rate at his position as an alluring element.

"They are putting out great receivers," Lodge told 247Sports. "LSU is looking pretty good with me right now. ... They need some deep receivers like myself to come in and do good things.”

Lodge plans to take advantage of multiple official visits later this year, so it's probably safe to pencil him in for a trip to Baton Rouge. The Tigers extended an offer in February and have already made up enough ground in the race to be considered a front-runner.

SEC rival Ole Miss is also strongly in the mix.

Lodge, who lived in Mississippi through middle school, appreciates the proximity to his old stomping grounds and is greatly enthused by the Rebels passing game.

"I think they are going to dominate the SEC," he told 247Sports. "Especially (wide receivers) Quincy Adeboyejo and Laquon Treadwell. I’m picking them to win it.”

Adeboyejo is a 2013 Cedar Hill graduate. He didn't receive as much notoriety during his recruitment process as a 3-star prospect but saw the field in Oxford last fall as a true freshman.

Lodge told 247Sports he plans to spent time at Ole Miss this summer. He is also set to attend the team's Oct. 4 matchup against Alabama, representing the only concrete plans of his official visit slate, per the report.

Lodge hasn't traveled to Clemson yet, but the Tigers are still in his top three. The team has established an outstanding track record at receiver under head coach Dabo Swinney, producing first-round NFL talents in consecutive drafts.

The Houston Texans selected former Clemson star DeAndre Hopkins with the 27th overall pick in 2013. Orange Bowl MVP Sammy Watkins is the consensus No. 1 receiver this year.

Their success undoubtedly helped put the Tigers in position to round out Lodge's list.

“If LSU is one, who would be two and three?" Lodge said. “I’d have to say Ole Miss two and Clemson three.”

Although Lodge's top three choices are sensible opportunities for any premier pass target, the glaring lack of a Texas team in his favored group is certainly a surprising development.

247Sports' Crystal Ball lists Baylor as a heavy favorite, with Texas and Texas A&M as the next likely contenders. He attended an Aggies junior day in February and remains a top offensive target for Charlie Strong's new regime in Austin after Mack Brown laid the groundwork for his recruitment.

An early commitment from Lodge appears unlikely, so there's still time for an in-state program to push its way to the top of his pack before a decision is made. For now, news of this freshly revealed surprise trio of favorites will resonate quite differently at LSU, Clemson and Ole Miss.

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Penn State Football: Why DEs Are Poised to Be Heart of Defense in 2014

The Penn State coaches are doing their best this spring to fit guys into different spots on the defensive side of the ball, looking for the best combinations and skill sets for the jobs. 

Newcomers Antoine White and Tarow Barney are in the mix at tackle, whereas Anthony Zettel hopes to solidify himself as a starter.

The linebacker combinations are constantly in motion while Jordan Lucas and Adrian Amos are the lone sure things in the secondary—although where Amos will play may not be such a sure thing.

The lone area on the defense where depth is an asset and the starters are both written in pen is defensive end, where bookends C.J. Olaniyan and Deion Barnes return for what should be another productive season.

As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Barnes' production demanded playing time and the rangy Philadelphia native was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year while earning an All-Conference Honorable Mention.

His five sacks and 10 tackles for loss were both tops on the squad.

Back for his third year as a starter, Barnes has gained some weight in his upper body and has All-Big Ten ability.

Olaniyan became a full-time starter for the first time last season and had a stellar year, outperforming his counterpart in Barnes.

As an every-down player, Olaniyan recorded 11 tackles for loss and led the team with five sacks, including two-and-a-half against Michigan.

His 33-yard interception return against Wisconsin proved vital in helping Penn State hold on to a winning record in 2013.

Barnes and Olaniyan are a dynamic pair of ends that will prove to be among the top in the conference.

And they're just the tip of the iceberg.

After having an impact in the rotation as an end last season, Zettel was able to bulk up and move to tackle—partly because of the lack of depth inside, but also because of the strength at end.

Former walk-on Carl Nassib and redshirt freshman Evan Schwan each recorded tackles for loss last season, but they'll have to fight to see the field in 2014.

High school All-American Garrett Sickels is fresh off his redshirt campaign and has been turning heads in spring camp. After gaining the weight required to play the position, he has trimmed down and is going to be in the rotation.

Also a member of the 2013 recruiting class, redshirt freshman Curtis Cothran has put on some weight and drastically improved his explosiveness.

Similarly to Barnes, Cothran is longer than he is big, so it will be interesting to see if he can hold his ground at the point of attack.

With at least five more-than-capable defensive ends at his disposal, new defensive line coach Sean Spencer should always have fresh bodies on the edges.

With most of the defense undetermined at this point, the one thing that's certain is Penn State will be as good at defensive end as it's been in some time.

 

All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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Ohio State's Spring Injury Problem Isn't as Bad as It Seems

Ohio State has had a tough stretch of injuries this spring, dating back to their Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game and it happens to just about every team at one point or another. 

This time, the football gods' roulette wheel just happened to land on Columbus, Ohio. 

Via Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Disptach, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer confirmed Tuesday that tight end Jeff Heuerman will miss the rest of spring practice after having foot surgery for a sprain on Monday. 

"It’s six weeks in a cast (and then) boot, and we should have him ready to go full-speed in June," Meyer said (via The Dispatch). 

In a text message to The Dispatch, Heuerman—who finished third on the team last year with 26 receptions and 466 receiving yards—said the procedure was "just minor surgery" and that he would be "back in no time."

In addition to Heuerman, Ohio State is without quarterback Braxton Miller (shoulder), receiver Evan Spencer (leg) and defensive back Vonn Bell (knee). There are other injuries, of course, but those are the biggest losses. 

So how big of a deal is this really? It's not ideal, that's for sure. It's also not as bad as it could be. 

Bell, Heuerman, Miller and Spencer should all be back in time for fall practice. Bell could really have used the reps during spring considering the youth in the secondary, but Heuerman, Miller and Spencer are all veteran players. This isn't their first go-around in spring drills. While every practice is an opportunity to get better—an opportunity these players are missing—no one is doubting Miller's or Heuerman's ability. 

It's not like these jobs are largely up for grabs. 

In other words, the Buckeyes' offense shouldn't miss too much of a beat in 2014 because some parts were missing in the spring. As B/R's Michael Felder previously pointed out, Miller can still grow in the mental aspect of the game, even if he's not physically taking part in drills. 

According to Meyer, Heuerman will still play a prominent role in developing other players.  “He’ll be a captain of our team and a guy who leads our team,” Meyer said, courtesy of Kyle Rowland of ElevenWarriors.com

You have to feel a little for Ohio State. Injuries are the worst. However, Meyer doesn't seem too concerned about them since the numbers are about the same as in previous years. 

Until Meyer expresses more anxiousness, there's not much for Buckeye fans to worry about. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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