Florida QB Emory Jones transferring after 2 spring practices

Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Quarterback Emory Jones is leaving Florida after just two days of spring practice.

Jones announced he is entering the NCAA transfer portal, an about-face for a fifth-year senior who said earlier this week he wanted to give new coach Billy Napier and his staff a chance.

“After many conversations with my family and after putting a lot of thought into my future, I have decided to enter the transfer portal,” Jones said in a social media post. “I am proud to say that I will continue my education at the University of Florida with the goal of becoming a Gator Graduate at the end of the spring semester.”

Jones started 12 games for Florida in 2021, completing 64.7% of his passes for 2,734 yards, with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Jones will have two years of eligibility remaining wherever he lands.

“Emory has conducted himself with nothing but class and selflessness,” coach Billy Napier said in a statement. “It is not surprising that he has earned the respect of his teammates, coaches and this entire organization.

“I am proud of him for everything he’s accomplished and for his commitment to complete his degree this spring. He is a young man with a bright future, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

Jones must have felt like he didn’t have much of a shot at starting for the Gators this fall. He entered spring football vying for the No. 1 job with front-runner Anthony Richardson, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair cartilage damage in a knee.

Florida has three other QBs in the mix: Ohio State backup Jack Miller transferred to Gainesville in December and joined redshirt freshmen Carlos Del Rio-Wilson and Jalen Kitna.

Jones was always considered a wild card, especially since he had one foot out the door before Florida played UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl. That game, a 29-17 loss in Tampa, seemed to seal his fate. Jones completed 14 of 36 passes for 171 yards and no touchdowns in one of his worst performances of the season.

But Napier and his staff convinced Jones to stick around and see what happens.

“I honestly went in telling them I didn’t want to be here,” Jones said. “They watched the film, went over everything and said that I am very talented, and they can do a lot to change how I played in the past. And I watched film on their quarterback last year. He’s very talented, and he did a lot of great things. That definitely sold me.”

But not for long.

Transferring could qualify as the latest setback for Jones, who tied for the Southeastern Conference lead in interceptions (13) with Kentucky’s Will Levis last season. His 19 TD passes landed him ninth in the league.

Former Florida coach Dan Mullen benched Jones during a loss at LSU last October and finally turned to Richardson, who looked dynamic in a backup role early in the season. Richardson played well against the Tigers and started the following week against top-ranked and eventual national champion Georgia. But he threw two interceptions and fumbled before leaving the game with a concussion in the lopsided loss.

Richardson sprained a knee the following week dancing in the hotel the night before playing at South Carolina. Richardson, who dealt with injuries in high school, also missed two games earlier in the season following a strained right hamstring.

Jones started against the Gamecocks despite dealing with flu-like symptoms all week and played with a sprained thumb on his throwing hand. He got the nod again during the final four games of the season.

He thanked teammates, coaches and fans in his announcement.

“We have shed blood, sweat and tears together,” he said. “We have had ups and downs together. We have seen the light at the end of the tunnel together. And through it all, you have had my back and have been by my side. All I can say is thank you.

“The memories that we formed will never be forgotten.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.