Hot Reads: Pass-Catchers Wanted
Remember how the addition of transfer wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow was going to help offset losing Monte Harrison to the major leagues? How, through some NCAA transfer rule magic, Stringfellow might even play this year?
— Damore’eStringfellow (@Filo_wiz9) June 20, 2014
Stringfellow had signed transfer papers with Nebraska, but those are non-binding until a player enrolls. Stringfellow was planning to enroll in July, but now it will be at Ole Miss.
Why? “My visit and just getting to know the coaches and talking to the players about what type of program it was,” Stringfellow told the Omaha World Herald.
The Rebels are sort of a buzzy program right now under Hugh Freeze. The recruiting has been strong since Freeze’s arrival and that tends to snowball. Some are considering the Rebels a dark horse in the SEC West. In short, their star seems to be rising right now and that generally carries some weight. (Further complicating things, Stringfellow delivered his decision to Chris Kiffin — brother of Lane, son of Monte — who is currently the recruiting coordinator for Ole Miss but spent two seasons, 2008 and 2009, at Nebraska.)
This does essentially put Nebraska back to zero in terms of its long-term future at wide receiver. Kenny Bell, Tyler Evans and Jamal Turner will graduate after the 2014 season. Stringfellow, a player talented enough to play at Washington as a true freshman, is out as is Harrison, a player talented enough that there was little doubt he’d contribute right away if he’d chosen to enroll at Nebraska. Spencer Tears, a 2015 verbal commit, decommitted shortly after Stringfellow announced he was transferring to Nebraska.
That leaves Nebraska with three underclassmen wide receivers — Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore, Kevin Gladney — on scholarship on the current roster, and three true freshman. Two of those, Demornay Pierson-El and Glenn Irons, are smaller slot-type receivers. The third, Jariah Tolbert, at least fits the mold of an outside wide receiver (6-3, 190) but his time in Lincoln didn’t get off to an ideal start after he was arrested last weekend.
So Nebraska has some work to do now at wide receiver.
(Aside: Mississippi is a great place to “eat.” Occasionally strange but multi-faceted and always interesting food culture there, though I suppose that’s not what Stringfellow meant.)
Reviews are rolling in for NCAA president Mark Emmert’s time on the stand in the O’Bannon trial yesterday. They’ve been less than glowing.
After the usual two-step between witness and attorneys, Judge Claudia Wilken cut through the crap yesterday and asked Emmert directly about a specific portion of the NCAA’s definition of amateurism that reads “…student-athletes should be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.”
Emmert deflected that question with a non-answer answer, but Wilken pressed, asking the question again. Here’s the exchange, as recounted in Andy Staples’ excellent recap for Sports Illustrated:
After Emmert repeated his opinion for the judge, she asked a two-part question. “Maybe you don’t want that, but do you consider that to be exploitation of them?” Wilken said. “Or is it just something you don’t want to happen?”
Emmert’s reply: “When this rule again has been discussed by the membership, the answer to that would be both.” Wilken sought additional clarification, asking how receiving money for the use of their likenesses would harm the athletes. “The assumption is that by converting them into a professional athlete, they are no longer a student-athlete,” Emmert said. “They are not part of the academic environment. They’re not in a position to gain the advantages of being a student-athlete and being a student at that university. They are not there avocationally but vocationally.”
Wilken asked one more follow-up question. “And that is what you consider to be exploitation of them?”
“Yes,” Emmert replied. “In this language, yes.”
Emmert’s concern isn’t invalid. It’s just dated, perhaps willingly so. Ever talked to a football player at a major university who feels totally connected to the rest of the student body, like just one of the guys tossing a frisbee around on the quad? It’s hard to when that player eats at different table (literally) than all the other students, is by default one of the biggest celebrities on campus, flies on chartered jets to games, has to give interviews to hordes of local media multiple times a week, has to return early from Christmas break to play in a bowl game sponsored by tax prep software and puts in numerous hours a week in practice, training and travel. But it’s the money they would sever all ties for that player from the student body at large?
I have a hard time buying that line of reasoning. I agree with the idealism of it. It would be nice if things were the way the NCAA imagined it, but it hardly resembles reality. We’ll see if Judge Wilken agrees.
The Grab Bag
Corn Nation previews McNeese State. … Michigan State comes in at No. 11 in Phil Steele’s preseason top-40. … Former Husker assistant Milt Tenopir is battling leukemia. … Jameis Winston’s dad says he doesn’t think his son will go pro after this season. … Northwestern is going peanut-free for its first three home games this season to appeal to fans with peanut allergies.