Posted on: August 28, 2011 12:00 pm
Most fans outside of Conference USA football have probably never heard of Tulsa's Do-Everything Damaris Johnson.
This, despite the fact that he was a Second Team All-American last season and enters his senior campaign having already set NCAA records for the most kickoff return yardage (3,417) and all-purpose yardage (7,796) for a career. Far from a one year wonder, Johnson has been a superstar since first stepping onto the field as a true freshman for the Golden Hurricane. He led Conferece USA with 2,475 all-purpose yardage in 2009, leadng the team with 10 touchdowns and producing 51 plays of 20 yards or more. Johnson enjoyed his best season to date as a sophomore, averaging a gaudy 224.4 all-purpose yards per game before "dropping" to 202 yards per contest last year. He was his most lethal last year in terms of turning yardage into touchdowns, however, scoring a career high 13, including seven rushing, four receiving and one each on kickoff and punt returns.
The 5-7, 172 pound Johnson isn't viewed as a potential high draft selection by NFLDraftScout.com regardless of his production. In fact, at this time, he's rated by NDS as the 37th best WR prospect in the country and a likely late round or free agent prospect. He does have good timed speed (4.42) and lateral agility to make defenders miss, however -- traits that could lead him to success in a limited role at the professional level.
Unfortunately, for as good as Johnson has been on the field, he's not so good as to justify receiving over a thousand dollars worth of goods from a local Macy's store and be only charged 34 cents -- precisely what authorities are accusing he and his girlfriend (who worked the register at the store) of doing.
The girlfriend -- Chamon Jones -- was booked into Tulsa County Jail at 3 am Friday, according to this report from Eric Bailey of The Tulsa World. Bailey cites the police report which asserts that Johnson used his girlfriend's debit card twice in the week prior to her arrest to purchase goods. He purchased $1569.09 worth of merchandise but was charged only 12.91 by Jones. He also purchased 1,238.75 worth of goods on another occasion, but was charged only the 34 cents.
Jones has since been released on bail. She is officially been charged with embezzlement.
Johnson has not been officially charged with anything, but that didn't stop Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship to suspend his All-American indefinitely.
"They [police] hardly even know anything more. We're just operating on what we know at this point in time," Blankenship said. "We're going to let it all fall and we'll talk about it on Monday."
Tulsa opens their season Saturday at top-ranked Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, they made be doing so without their best weapon.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:23 am
I featured Mississippi nose guard Jerrell Powe over the summer as one of the more intriguing senior prospects in the country and a potential first round prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft.
It seems that Powe might have other ideas rather than joining the 2011 draft, according to a report today from Kyle Veazey of The Clarion Ledger .
Powe, listed as a senior on the Mississippi website, has only used three years (including this one) of his four seasons of athletic eligibility.
As has been well documented, Powe has had numerous run-ins with the NCAA regarding his academic eligibility. In this case, however, an NCAA rule may actually end up helping him. Student athletes who were once academic non-qualifiers can earn an extra year of eligibility if they prove they are on pace to graduate. As Veazy details in his report, Powe is on schedule to graduate in May with a degree in Criminal Justice.
The 6-2, 320 pound Powe is viewed as the top nose guard prospect in the country by some scouts. His 2010 season, however, has been a disappointment and thus, in some ways a microcosm of the Mississippi program this year. Powe has accumulated "only" 20 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this season.
Still, while Powe hasn't been as successful this year as expected, his potential decision to return for another season of collegiate football would be surprising. Due to the fact that he was ruled ineligible to play for three years, he'll already be entering the NFL a bit older (turns 24 in March) than most prospects.
Powe didn't sound like his age was a concern, however.
"We'll sit down at the end of the year, send in a draft analysis, and see where I'm at and then make the best decision from there," Powe said.
Posted on: September 1, 2010 8:27 pm
Dez Bryant proved last year that a player could get suspended for the entire season and yet still remain a first round pick.
North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin hasn't been suspended for the year. But, even if he was, he's talented enough -- and defensive tackle is a valuable enough position -- that he could pull off a similar feat.
As it stands now, is important to note that while Austin's suspension was characterized as "indefinite," to this point UNC has only publicly committed to keeping him out against this weekend's opener at LSU.
"This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review, " says Davis. "Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."
Whatever Austin did to draw the ire of Davis (perhaps posting on his Facebook? ), it may not be close to the amount of trouble he's already in with the NCAA.
Austin, of course, and his teammate, wide receiver Greg Little, are widely believed to be at the center of the NCAA's investigation into college football players receiving improper benefits from sports agents.
Austin considered entering the draft last year. He finished the 2009 season with 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks. He earned Second-Team All-ACC honors despite only starting 11 of 13 games for the Tar Heels. Austin features rare burst for a 6-3, 310 pounder. Had he left last year, he could have made the first round despite the fact that scouts thought he played with inconsistent effort. His grade, according to scouts last January, was very similar to the one given to former UCLA star Brian Price.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Price with the third pick of the second round (No. 35 overall) last April.
On film, Austin is arguably the top three-technique senior prospect in the country and well worth a first round grade.
Regardless of how long his suspension(s) ultimately last, Austin will have to answer some tough questions by NFL teams. If his answers are sincere enough, his upside is likely enough to persuade some NFL team he's worth a pick in the top 32.
Posted on: August 26, 2010 9:58 pm
University of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp, Athletic Director Dick Baddour and head coach Butch Davis met with the press Thursday evening to announce that they were broading the NCAA investogation into their program due to their discovery of “possible academic misconduct involving a former undergraduate tutor and student-athletes on the football team.
The tutor, according to this report by Joedy McCreary of The Associated Press , was employed by the university and worked with Davis' son.
Prior to the press conference, there were initial reports that the Tar Heels' starting cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Charles Brown were among those suspended.
Baddour, however, declined to identify any of the players involved in their investigation or even how many players the school was investigating.
Baddour did not provide a true time table for the investigation either, but did say, ""it is likely that the review would extend beyond the start of the season."
According to those I've spoken to who were at the press conference, the mood in the room was grave. There was a sense that this could grow into significantly more than just a player suspension or two.
McCreary, in fact, notes the concern from Chancellor Thorp to end his article:
Chancellor Holden Thorp — who began the news conference by saying "to everyone who loves this university, I'm sorry about what I have to tell you" — vowed that administrators are taking the probe seriously but expressed hope that its scope ultimately would be limited.
"We will find out what happened. We will do everything we can to keep it from happening again," he said. "And we will not let these mistakes define our university and what we stand for."
Posted on: August 26, 2010 11:26 am
My fellow NFL draft analysts Chris Steuber and Chad Reuter once again hit the radiowaves yesterday with their second episode of their new show, Setting the Board.
Chris and Chad start off the show with a discussion regarding Notre Dame's issue over long commercial breaks as part of their NBC package, as well as the NCAA investigations into several programs and individual players. With last week's episode focusing on the offensive side of the ball, this week Chris and Chad focused on the top defensive prospects.
Take a listen and feel free to comment here on the blog or simply call in next time. Remember, the guys are live from 3-4 pm EST each Wednesday.
Posted on: July 20, 2010 12:01 pm
Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard, one half of the Panthers' set of future NFL pass rushers, has been suspended indefinitely from the team after an arrest early Sunday morning.
Sheard was arraigned Sunday morning on charges of aggravated assault, resisin ting arrest, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. According to this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , Sheard ignored commands from police to stop fighting. He was hitten with a baton and pepper-sprayed and yet continued to fight 27-year old Edward Parker.
At one point Sheard picked up Parker and threw him through the glass door of La Fond Art and Photography Gallery. According to the article, Sheard walked into the gallery and continued to punch the bloodied Parker, who was laying on the ground.
Sheard, who has started each of the past 26 games for Dave Wannestadt's Panthers and was expected to contend for All-Big East accolades this season playing opposite Greg Romeus, is a legitimate NFL prospect. The 6-3, 255 pound defensive end posted 42 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a team-high 12 quarterback pressures in 2009 and with opposing teams likely to focus much of their attention on Romeus, a potential Top 20 talent, the opportunity for Sheard to put up even better numbers in 2010 looked promising.
Scouts working for teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 told me that each was quite interested in Sheard. They felt he had the combination of size, athleticism and natural pass rush skills to potentially fit into their scheme.
Instead, Sheard's NCAA and NFL future, for that matter, is very much in doubt.
Posted on: July 19, 2010 12:22 pm
South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect at the position, is being investigated for potential inappropriate contact with sports agents , according to Joseph Person of TheState.com.
Saunders, who grew up in Durham, North Carolina, is said to be friends with several of the UNC players reportedly being investigated last week by NCAA officials. According to Person's report, the NCAA's concern may be that an agent paid for airfare and lodging for Saunders and/or UNC players, which, of course, would be a violation of the amatuer eligibility rules.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier acknowledged that his talented tight end is in potential trouble with the NCAA in Person's article, but was careful not to paint Saunders in a bad light.
“I’m not accusing Weslye of anything. He may be innocent. He may just know those (North Carolina) guys,” Spurrier said. “But we’ll just have to wait and see how it all comes out.”
The 6-5, 272 pound Saunders offers a rare combination of size and athleticism for the position. A featured component of the team's offense to start last season, Saunders caught 12 passes over his first two games, but finished with only 32 (for 352 yards and 3 scores) on the year.
Saunders heavily considered leaving early for the NFL after last season and did request a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee. Saunders' grade was reported to be in the mid-rounds, which led to his return to South Carolina for his senior season.
Saunders certainly has the physical potential to warrant NFLDraftScout.com's lofty preseason ranking. With previous concerns about his work ethic and consistency, however, if he is to take full advantage of his impressive natural skill set, he'll need to get through the NCAA investigation unscathed and put forth an inspired 2010 season.
Posted on: September 19, 2009 3:41 pm
In last week's issue of Draft Slant, I tried to articulate in a small space an argument against the current BCS alignment that ignores the talents of the so-called weaker conferences of the WAC, Mountain West, MAC, etc.
With yet another upset this morning (MAC's Northern Illinois traveling to and beating Purdue), there is even more evidence that non-BCS teams are being unfairly kept from any chance at a National Championship or even truly big-time bowl game despite consistently beating the teams supposedly better than them.
The primary argument used by some, including ESPN color commentator Bob Davie during Boise State's victory over Oregon in Week One, was that the non-BCS teams simply lacked the talent necessary to handle an SEC or Big Ten (or any of the other BCS conferences) schedule. That the Boise States, Utahs, TCUs, and others of the non-BCS world took advantage of the emotion of playing the big boys to occassionally step up to the level of competition, but over the course of a season would shrink to mediocrity or perhaps even to the bottom.
With each victory against the big boys, however, the non-BCS teams continue to disprove this myth.
For the record, there have now been 11 "upsets" of teams from the "power" conferences from non-BCS teams...
Don't be surprised if there are a few others later this afternoon and evening...