February 25, 2009
• We like you son, but there are just a few minor details ... Besides being one of the top outside linebackers in the country, Brian Cushing was known for two things in his years at USC: Joining a racist Facebook group and, according to some pro scouts, being linked to persistent steroid rumors:
An NFL general manager, requesting anonymity, said: "We’ve been warned it is an issue and might have been one since high school. We are considering that. As unpleasant as it is, this is an issue with this player that only a negative test here is going to clear up right now. It’s unfortunate, because no one wants to kill the kid, but the issue is a reality."
And a 30-year NFL scout added: "If I were to look at the entire 300-plus group of players here and ask myself based on my knowledge of steroids which one of these players is the prime prospect to have used it, he would be it. He has the physique and other attributes that indicate it. But he is fortunate. Unlike other sports, we test strongly for it. And if he passes that test, so be it. He gets a clean slate with us."
See said physique here. I'm not sure the allegations amount to "coffee on a rare painting," as the NFL.com's Robert George describes it, but Cushing is adamant that his drug test at the combine will come back clean and he'll go on to be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round.
• First things first. Michigan has shifted into overtime following the transfer of likely starting quarterback Steven Threet last month: Beginning with current junior Devin Gardner last summer, the Wolverines have already extended offers to seven different quarterbacks in the class of 2010, all of them of the "dual threat" variety. Rich Rodriguez's most recent target is Georgia athlete Blake Sims, who set passing records in the Peach State and fits the ever-present mold of the Rodriguez quarterback until further notice: He's a Pat White clone.
• Something here has to change. Actually everything here has to change. Indiana won three games last year, two of them over Western Kentucky and Murray State, and finished last or next-to-last in the Big Ten in every defensive category. Hoosier fans should keep repeating that to themselves to soothe the departure of eight players with eligibility remaining over the winter, most notably starting defensive tackles Kevin and Keith Burrus, who are moving on following graduation this spring, and another defensive tackle, Jeff Boyd, leaving a pair of converted offensive linemen -- one of them a former walk-on -- as the favorites to take over the middle of IU's defensive line.
Those two are among seven offensive players the Hoosiers are moving to defense this spring, including senior-to-be Ray Fisher, who led the team with 42 catches and five touchdowns last year as a receiver but will play cornerback going forward. He might be replaced on the offensive side by quarterback Kellen Lewis, who IU plans to move "all over the place" next month in an effort to get the only notable athlete on the team in a position to make more plays.
Quickly ... Syracuse's only all-Big East player, defensive tackle Arthur Jones, will require surgery and be out indefinitely after tearing a pec muscle during weightlifting. ... Tennessee has moved tight end Brandon Warren to wide receiver to add a little height to the receiving corps. ... With Miami looking more and more out of the picture, Bryce Brown's final official visit will probably be to LSU. ... Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is turning the Scarlet Knight defense over to two assistants for the first time. ... Florida State is still trying to lock up offensive line coach Rick Trickett. ... New Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham doesn't have any friends on opposing sidelines. ... Given how often Air Force signal-callers keep the ball, it's no surprise that the Falcons are moving their leading rusher to quarterback this spring. ... Patrick Witt's departure at Nebraska doesn't leave any room for quarterback rival Zac Lee to slow down in pursuit of the starting job in April. ... You may remember the odd case of Kentucky's Ashton Cobb, who pleaded guilty to terroristic threats Tuesday for wigging out on his girlfriend last September. ... Keiwone Malone, thank goodness, is no Albert Means, but the Memphis receiver is at the center of a recruiting battleground. ... Texas receiver Collin Ashley is turning down some attractive scholarship offers to walk on at Arkansas, and Marcus Kloos is rejecting some less attractive offers to walk on at Iowa. ... Draft stock of two Ohio State cornerbacks is going in different directions, although in both cases, there was only one way it could go. ... Former Maryland linebacker Rick Costa will go to trial on charges of assaulting a police officer. ... And the story behind an intrasquad basketball fight at USC last weekend. And when did receiver Travon Patterson run for the Trojan track team, again?