The Strange Offseason of Damore’ea Stringfellow

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Damore’ea Stringfellow had his collegiate coming-out party in a late-season matchup with UCLA. A 4-star recruit out of Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, California, Stringfellow was somewhat slow to acclimate to the college game.

But when it clicked, he was every bit as good as his billing. He hauled in eight passes for 147 yards against the Bruins and scored a touchdown. With senior quarterback Keith Price on the sidelines, Stringfellow’s touchdown ball came from Cyler Miles. It was seemingly a glimpse into the future of Washington Huskies football.

Stringfellow and Miles were again connected less than three months later, albeit in much more dubious fashion. Seattle police investigated the two in connection with an assault following February’s Super Bowl, prompting recently arrived Huskies head coach Chris Petersen to place the two on indefinite suspension.

In March, Miles was cleared.

Stringfellow was charged a few days later and faced almost two years in jail, but pleaded down in exchange to a lesser sentence, as detailed by The Seattle Times‘ Adam Jude.

Miles remains at Washington and will serve a one-game suspension for the Huskies’ season opener against Hawaii. Stringfellow opted out. The budding connection, the potential future of the Washington offense, was no more.

Petersen was tight-lipped on the matter at last week’s Pac-12 media days.

“Damore’ea decided to transfer,” Petersen said bluntly, though added the wide receiver was welcome to return.

When asked if Stringfellow would have faced further punishment at Washington, Petersen said: “I’m not going to get into those things.”

Now, Stringfellow is hardly unique in that players routinely run into trouble and need a change of scenery to get back on track. Stringfellow wasn’t even the most notable wide receiver in such a situation this offseason, as former Missouri standout Dorial Green-Beckham headed to Oklahoma after his dismissal from the Tigers.

Stringfellow’s offseason gets much stranger post-transfer.

Damore’ea Stringfellow signed his transfer papers to join the Nebraska Cornhuskers in May. He sang the program’s praises in an interview with HuskersIllustrated:

Nebraska was my second choice when I committed to Washington. I love the coaches and in particular coach Fish. I plan on visiting in June and I will arrive July 13 or 14. This is it for me. I’m signed and set for Nebraska. My family, my mom and my dad support my decision 100-percent.

Then, just as soon as Stringfellow was a Cornhusker, he wasn’t.

Less than three weeks later, Stringfellow texted Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald he was bound for Ole Miss.

Per McKewon, Stringfellow explained his change-of-heart came from: “My visit and just getting to know the coaches and talking to the players about what type of program it was.”

This was on June 20, less than three weeks after his glowing praise and “100-percent” family commitment to Nebraska. And family plays a central role to this unusual story.

When discussing Stringfellow’s departure from his program, Bo Pelini was not as guarded as Chris Petersen. The Nebraska head coach offered the following, per Michael Bruntz of HuskersIllustrated:

“Read between the lines,” Pelini said. “I think we all know what happened in that situation.”

Cryptic, but his follow-up about parental involvement was less so:

“Especially when it’s a clueless parent.”

Not much ambiguity there, and a reference to a controversy that surfaced upon Stringfellow’s initial commitment to Ole Miss.

Kahlila Levine, Stringfellow’s mother, sent a retort to Nebraska fans and social media users accusing her of accepting airfare from SEC suitors during her son’s re-recruitment. Via the Omaha World-Herald:

I couldn’t care less what people say. They’re going to have their opinion regardless of what I tell them. They’re still going to talk mess on a screen. Ole Miss didn’t pay for my ticket. Alabama didn’t pay for my ticket. I put myself in a bind, on my end, to make sure my son was content. That’s my business to take care of – no one else’s. Nobody’s going to pay for my house or my car note. It’s on me. At the end of the day, my son’s content. The decision he made is the decision he made. There’s not a price tag you can put on his decision, because money runs out.

I could get on a blog and respond to these people, but for what? They’re still going to think, even with your article, what they want to think.

Stringfellow will miss the 2014 season per NCAA transfer rules, which would have forced him to sit at either Nebraska or Ole Miss.

Should the Damore’ea Stringfellow who shined against UCLA last November emerge in 2015, Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze will have one of the nation’s most formidable one-two combinations at wide receiver. Current Ole Miss star Laquon Treadwell will be a junior when Stringfellow gains his eligibility.

That’s assuming, of course, Stringfellow’s future doesn’t take another unexpected turn.