College Football News June 29: J.T. Barrett Flies Under the Radar


In Ohio State’s three-man quarterback race, each Buckeye has played a unique role.

Cardale Jones, the breakout star of the College Football Playoff, is the brash and exuberant one, soaking in the limelight with (late) April Fools jokes and high-profile Twitter beefs. Braxton Miller is the veteran whose unfortunate injury had him seemingly destined to be college football’s Wally Pipp, thus rumors of a transfer that never came to fruition circulated. And then, there’s J.T. Barrett.

The middle quarterback in Ohio State’s line of succession last season, J.T. Barrett has assumed a role not unlike that of a middle child. He’s fallen somewhat into the backdrop, at least in the public eye. And per Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, he’s just fine with that.

May examines J.T. Barrett’s low-key demeanor, as well as the not-insignificant declaration of Barrett’s father that Braxton Miller should be considered Ohio State’s No. 1 going into fall camp.

Alabama Kicker Eddy Pineiro Booms 73-Yard Field Goal

Nick Saban garnered some criticism for sending out kicker Adam Griffith to attempt a 57-yard field goal in the 2013 Iron Bowl. We all remember how that turned out for the Crimson Tide.

Perhaps had Eddy Pineiro been doing the Tide’s kicking then, there would have been no Kick Six. Pineiro shared footage of himself connecting on a 73-yarder Sunday. That’s nine yards longer than Matt Prater’s NFL record.

Teen Convicted in Steubenville Rape Case Set to Play for Newly Formed JUCO Team

David DeWitt, The Athens News

Trent Mays, one of the two teens convicted in the Steubenville rape case, is enrolling in Ohio junior college Hocking, where he will play for the school’s newly formed football team.

Mays was a quarterback for the Ohio prep powerhouse Steubenville High before his arrest in 2012. The recorded rape of a 16-year-old girl gained national attention, and sent Mays to a juvenile detention center for two years. He completed his high school education upon release this winter.

Though Mays will play for the JUCO’s football team, the college’s rules preclude registered sex offenders from living on campus.

Hocking president Betty Young issued a preemptive statement. Via the Athens News:

“Everyone deserves a second chance. Second chances do not excuse or defend previous behavior. There are a lot of ‘second chance’ stories at every community college, Trenton’s story is just one more. His path will be challenging, but many of our students face challenges, and they overcome them to reach success. It is up to him to determine what to do with this opportunity.”

The concept of “second chances” has been a primary topic of this offseason, primarily due to the SEC’s discussed regulations prohibiting athletes from transferring within conference after certain arrests.

Mays served his time, but Hocking College adding him to its football team so quickly after his release raises moral questions. Among them: How does Mays’ presence impact those around him?

A somewhat similar situation is ongoing in the SEC, at Vanderbilt, where a highly publicized rape trial in which former Commodores Cory Batey and Brandon Vanderberg were found guilty, will be retried.

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason inherited the awful situation, which occurred under current Penn State head coach James Franklin. Franklin and the university both acted quickly, with all involved dismissed from the team and later Vanderbilt altogether.

But Franklin’s departure left Mason in charge of the football program with the original trial ongoing. After a controversial mistrial, Tennessean sports editor David Climer points out the retrial leaves Mason and his players dealing with an “ugly residue.”

Utah State WR/Ret. JoJo Natson Gone from Program

JoJo Natson, a dynamic wide receiver and returner at Utah State, is no longer with the Aggies. The university released a statement late Sunday, including the following from head coach Matt Wells:

“We are extremely disappointed anytime we have to make a decision regarding the future of one of our student-athletes. We will continue to support JoJo as he moves forward in his career.”

The nature of Natson’s split with Utah State is unspecified. More certain is that without him, the Aggies lose a key weapon in their arsenal.

A small, speedy spark plug, Natson was a reliable receiving target, as the USU release notes. He leaves the program just its 17th player ever to catch 100-plus passes. But it’s his contribution on special teams that Utah State will be most hard-pressed to match.

He was one of just 10 players in the FBS last season to return multiple punts for touchdowns, and he averaged more than 22 yards of punt-return work per game. Utah State’s average starting field position, in part due to Natson’s efforts, was at its own 31 — one of the better such averages in the nation.