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Grambling the latest player in Clarett saga

Wire services
Published September 25, 2003

GRAMBLING, La. - Comments by Grambling coach Doug Williams concerning suspended Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett have prompted an official NCAA inquiry into possible violations of recruiting rules.

The possible infraction was outlined in a Sept.15 letter from Chris Strobel of the NCAA to Grambling athletics director Al Dennis.

Clarett was reportedly considering a transfer to the Division I-AA school after he was suspended by Ohio State. He would not have had to sit out a season if he transferred down from I-A.

Williams and Dennis have said they never have spoken to Clarett.

"I'm puzzled by the idea that we would get a letter, if there was no contact by either party," said Williams, a former Bucs quarterback.

The inquiry refers to a section of the regulations stipulating colleges may not contact a student-athlete at another school - even indirectly - without written permission from the player's current athletics director.

"They are saying that we indirectly made contact with the kid through the media," Dennis said.

He confirmed Grambling never received clearance to talk to Clarett, but also that they were not seeking it.

"When all of this broke, our registration was already closed. He wasn't coming to Grambling, anyway," Dennis said.

Williams said he suspects that entering a Sept.9 news conference while carrying a No.13 Grambling jersey sparked the inquiry. Clarett wore that number at Ohio State.

"I was poking fun at the local media that I see every week," Williams said. "This is very small. There are a whole lot of things that have happened with Clarett that are bigger than poking fun with a No. 13 jersey. I find it hard to believe."

Strobel's letter does not mention possible sanctions or a deadline for responding.

"This wasn't an attempt to contact Clarett," Dennis said. "If he's asked a question, "Would you like to have a player of Clarett's ability on your team?', can that be construed as trying to contact him? We don't see it that way."

ALABAMA: Justin Smiley does not list himself as questionable or probable for Saturday against No.9 Arkansas. "I'm starting this weekend," the Crimson Tide guard said.

Smiley, a junior, missed the past two games with a sprained right foot after logging 27 consecutive starts. The Tide apparently missed the preseason All-SEC pick, rushing for 118 yards in last weekend's 19-16 loss to Northern Illinois after a strong performance the previous week against Kentucky.

CENTRAL FLORIDA: The Golden Knights will be banged up for their Mid-American Conference opener at Kent State (2-2, 1-0) on Saturday. Seven players, including five regulars for the Knights (1-2), are questionable, doubtful or out for the game.

Starting weakside linebacker Antoine Poe (knee), backup tailback Keith Williams (hamstring) and defensive tackle Ben Brinson (shoulder) are questionable.

Guard Adam Toeniskoetter (shoulder), linebacker Ronnell Sandy (toe) and offensive lineman Seth Ulsh (knee) are all out, and tailback Gabby Torres (neck) will be a game-time decision.

UCF will look to reverse its fortunes this season after a rough start. Sandwiched between lopsided losses to Big East foes Virginia Tech and Syracuse was a harder-than-assumed 33-28 win over I-AA Florida Atlantic.

"It is a brand new season for us," quarterback Ryan Schneider said. "Even though it is a new season, we still don't like what happened the first three games of the season."

GEORGIA: Senior safety Kentrell Curry will need surgery to clean a calcium deposit between the bones in his right knee, ending a final season in which he played sparingly in one game.

Curry, expected to be a stalwart of the defense, was diagnosed with a stress fracture during preseason practice. He missed the first three games before attempting to play in Saturday's loss at LSU.

"It's been a very irritating, nagging, painful deal," coach Mark Richt said. "He's a guy who really wanted to have a great senior year and worked so hard in the spring. It's sad for him and it's sad for us."

Since Curry was redshirted his first year at Georgia, he was not eligible for a medical redshirt. He started all 14 games last season, leading the team with four interceptions.

IDAHO: Fullback Keith Greer, hospitalized with a respiratory ailment after leg surgery, was removed from intensive care. The 19-year-old sophomore broke his leg in a game against Washington State on Aug.30 and had surgery in Seattle the next day.

After the operation, in which a rod was inserted in the leg to help repair two broken bones, Greer developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Greer was listed in critical condition, but was upgraded to serious on Sept.10. He was removed from a ventilator last weekend and was breathing on his own, the university said.

Greer played in 11 games at tight end as a freshman last season. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound player moved to fullback in the spring and earned the starting job for the Vandals.

MIAMI: Running back Frank Gore (knee, ankle) was held out of parts of practice, but coach Larry Coker said he should start Oct.2 against West Virginia. But the Hurricanes could be without one of their top pass rushers.

Defensive end Baraka Atkins, who leads the team with three sacks and six quarterback hurries, has a sprained right ankle and did not practice. His foot was in a walking boot. Receiver and kickoff returner Devin Hester returned to practice and could be ready for the game.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Safety Darren Williams missed Saturday's loss to Houston with a foot injury and has been held out of practice this week. He is not expected to play against LSU on Saturday. Williams made the SEC's all-freshman team last season.

With Williams out, Kevin Dockery moves to free safety and freshman Jeramie Johnson starts at strong safety. Johnson gives the Bulldogs two freshman starting in the secondary. Cornerback Quentin Culberson has started all three games. The Bulldogs rank last in the nation in pass defense, allowing 343 yards per game.

RESCHEDULED: Minnesota moved its game against Michigan up one day because of scheduling conflicts with the Minnesota Twins over the use of the Metrodome. The game, scheduled to be played on Saturday, Oct.11, moved a day earlier because of a potential conflict with the American League championship series.

The Big Ten Administrators Council also conditionally approved rescheduling the Saturday, Oct.18 Michigan State game to Oct.17. It will be moved only if the Twins advance to the ALCS.

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