USC All-America DL Tuli Tuipulotu declares for NFL draft

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – Southern California All-America defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu will enter the NFL draft.

Tuipulotu, who led the FBS with 13 1/2 sacks as a junior, announced his decision on social media Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4, 290 pound edge rusher had two tackles and one sack in the eighth-ranked Trojans’ 46-45 loss to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl on Monday. He finished his college career with 21 sacks and 32 tackles for loss in 32 games.

The younger brother of USC and Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu, Tuli impressed as a freshman during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season by getting two sacks and 2 1/2 tackles for loss in six games.

His last season was his best, with Tuipulotu finishing second nationally in tackles for loss with 22. The defensive equivalent to Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams, Tuipulotu’s disruptive play helped a flawed defense lacking talent and depth – USC allowed 29.2 points per game and 6.5 yards per play – produce timely negative plays and takeaways.

Tuipulotu received the Morris Trophy as the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12, an award voted on by players. He was also a finalist for the Bednarik and Nagurski Awards presented to the top defender in college football and the Lombardi Award for the top offensive or defensive lineman.

Led by Williams and Tuipulotu, USC finished 11-3 and played in the Pac-12 title game and a New Year’s Six bowl in coach Lincoln Riley‘s first season. The Trojans were 4-8 in 2021 when Clay Helton was fired as coach after two games.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.