8 Reasons College Football Coaches Can't Wait for Camp to Begin
Next week, college football preseason practices will spring to life across the nation.
Players will report for “fall camp” and two-a-day practices, one of the prime bonding times for any collegiate team. Players live together, eat together, sweat together and grow closer under the blistering August sun, preparing for the season ahead.
Coaches can’t wait for practice to get here. It is a chance for them to mold their rosters and see who they think will stand up in the crucible that is big-time college football. Who they can trust. Who they can’t.
Just as importantly, it’s a chance for them to keep a closer eye on their players. While NCAA rules now allow coaches to observe “voluntary” summer workouts, the beginning of preseason practice means the end of summer and the end of the period where coaches are worried about what their players are doing.
Summer can be a season for arrests as much as it is for player development, and this summer has been no different. Multiple players have found themselves ensnared by the long arm of the law, with various degrees of seriousness. Here are eight reasons that college football coaches are glad preseason practice is right around the corner.
Alabama coach Nick Saban made news at SEC Media Days when he announced that a pair of players had been suspended, although the length of the suspensions remains unclear, per College Football Talk. Junior tailback Kenyan Drake and junior defensive end Jarran Reed were both suspended.
Drake was arrested earlier this summer for obstructing a government operation, and Reed was charged with driving under the influence in early July. Both were expected to be contributors this fall. Reed was battling for a starting role on Alabama’s defense, while Drake, a speedy, explosive back, would see time in the Crimson Tide’s backfield behind starter T.J. Yeldon and sophomore Derrick Henry. Saban said at SEC Media Days that he supports his players, according to AL.com's Andrew Gribble.
I want you to know that there's not one player, not one player, since I've been a head coach that I kicked off the team that ever went anywhere and amounted to anything and accomplished anything, playing or academically. That's not always the answer. Discipline is not punishment. Punishment is only effective when it can help change somebody's behavior. When you have a family and you have someone in your family who disappoints you, we certainly can't kick them out of our family. I think we have to try to support them, teach them, get them to do the right things because we love them, we care about them.
Auburn QB Nick Marshall
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall was a huge factor in Auburn’s surprising run to the BCS National Championship Game last season, passing for 1,976 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding 1,068 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
However, his status for the 2014 season opener against Arkansas Aug. 30 is uncertain following a recent arrest for marijuana possession in Reynolds, Georgia. Reynolds police pulled Marshall over for a potential window-tint violation and found 8-10 grams of marijuana under a window visor. He was cited but not arrested in the matter. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has not announced a punishment in the matter, but Marshall was kept away from SEC Media Days after originally being slated to attend.
According to James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser, Marshall will face discipline in the matter, Malzahn said during a Monday appearance on ESPN.
"He'll have to pay for it," Malzahn said. "I have not decided that for sure right now, but it will be in a short period of time I'll have that figured out."
If Marshall sits against the Razorbacks, starting duties would fall to sophomore Jeremy Johnson. It’s something Auburn fans surely aren’t thrilled about.
Bowling Green RB William Houston
Bowling Green sophomore tailback William Houston was expected to be a big part of the Falcons' offensive plans this fall, but those plans have been thrown into question. Houston was recently arrested and charged with attempted rape, per College Football Talk and the Toledo Blade.
Early Sunday morning, a woman attended a party at a campus house and fell asleep, waking up to find a man (later identified as Houston) on top of her and attempting to force himself on her. She woke up and fled. Bowling Green officials said they are still gathering more details.
Houston had 11 rushing touchdowns as a freshman last fall and showed significant promise, but it is unclear what discipline he will face in this matter.
Georgia DL Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor had a promising season ahead of him this fall. But his second arrest of the offseason threatens to derail 2014 for the Georgia sophomore defensive lineman before it could even begin. According to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph, Taylor was arrested early Tuesday morning on a felony charge of aggravated assault and domestic battery.
Police said that the incident stemmed from a domestic dispute between Taylor and his girlfriend, with “visible marks” on the victim’s neck. Taylor was expected to play a large role on the Bulldogs defense under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, working as both a defensive end and defensive tackle. He had 10 tackles as a freshman.
He was one of four players who was arrested as part of a scheme to cash a single scholarship check twice and accepted pretrial intervention—He was facing only internal discipline in the case. Six UGA players have been arrested this offseason, although, as mentioned, four were in the same case. Georgia has not commented on the arrest, but getting picked up twice in a single offseason is never a positive.
Idaho WR Dezmon Epps
Idaho is making the transition into the Sun Belt following a brief period as an Independent, but it will have to do so without its top receiver. College Football Talk and Dave Southorn of the Idaho Statesman reported that Epps has been dismissed from the Vandals’ roster.
Epps was originally arrested in May on a charge of driving while intoxicated. He had 79 receptions for 980 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, and he’ll be missed in Idaho’s offense.
Oklahoma State RB Devon Thomas
Devon Thomas was one of Oklahoma State’s most promising freshmen and expected to make an impact on the Cowboys backfield this fall. However, he might never get a chance to do so after being arrested and charged with five felonies.
OSU coach Mike Gundy said that Thomas was not on the team’s roster entering the season, according to College Football Talk.
“The roster that we handed out today are the players that will report next week,” Gundy said at Big 12 Media Days. “And if there’s a player that’s not on that roster, then he’s not a part of our team.”
In May, Thomas was arrested on felony charges of armed robbery and shooting to kill, as well as kidnapping, burglary and intent to commit a felony. It is not his first brush with the law: Thomas also had been charged with intent to distribute child pornography as a junior in high school. Clearly, Gundy decided that he’d seen enough of the talented tailback, at least for now.
TCU DE Devonte Fields
Devonte Fields had a tremendous freshman season in 2012 for TCU, piling up 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, which earned him Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.
He might never get the chance to live up to that promise. Last fall, he played in only three games while battling injuries, and a checkered offseason has led to him being separated from TCU.
Tuesday, the Big 12’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year was “separated” from TCU pending the results of a domestic violence investigation that involved Fields and his ex-girlfriend. According to Deanna Boyd of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fields is not allowed to be on school premises until the case is resolved.
“Well, we were the No. 2 defense in the league without him a year ago,” TCU coach Gary Patterson told the Star-Telegram. “So we’ll go play and do what we need to do.”
Police are investigating a domestic disturbance between Fields and his ex-girlfriend. He allegedly heard her talking to another male while standing outside her window, punched out the window and told her, “I should blast you!” before pointing a gun at her and punching her below the eye.
In January, Fields told police that he was robbed outside his home by three men who accosted him while he was walking home, pistol-whipped him and stole multiple items from him. Five shots were fired before the men made their getaway.
If Fields doesn’t play this season, the Horned Frogs will lose a major cog in their defense, but at this point TCU might have no choice but to cut ties completely.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin already had plenty to contend with replacing Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel and star wideout Mike Evans, both of whom made early departures to the NFL following the 2013 season. His team’s offseason conduct has only added stress.
Seven different Aggies have been arrested for various offenses since last December, according to College Football Talk. Defensive tackle Isaiah Golden was arrested three times and linebacker Darian Claiborne twice. Both were expected to play major roles defensively this fall before being dismissed by Sumlin.
Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill was arrested for public intoxication, and redshirt freshman wideout Ricky Seals-Jones was arrested for disorderly conduct. And the arrests just keep coming. Senior defensive end Gavin Stansbury, voted as the Aggies’ top defender by his teammates a year ago, was arrested recently in connection with a March incident in a Rice University dorm.
According to Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle, Stansbury argued with a Rice student on March 16, poured a beer over his head and punched him in the face, causing a wound that required eight stitches. Stansbury’s attorney called it a “horrible case of mistaken identity,” but Rice police said three witnesses identified Stansbury from a photo lineup.
Earlier this week, promising redshirt freshman cornerback Victor Davis was arrested and charged with shoplifting from a Kohl’s department store, according to Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News. It has not been a fun offseason for Sumlin, who’ll surely be glad to start practice next week.