Originally created 08/16/98

College notes: McNeese State enhances its position



Count McNeese State among the latest institutions to profit substantially from a loophole in the college transferring process.

NCAA regulations provide a one-time chance for a player to transfer from a Division I-A to a I-AA institution without sitting out a season.

Already a I-AA power -- it finished runner-up to Youngstown State last fall -- McNeese State used the rule to boost its football program by allowing troubled LSU running back Cecil "the Diesel" Collins to enroll.

"Through Cecil's attorneys, Cecil had expressed to the McNeese football staff that he wished to become a member of our football team." McNeese State coach Bobby Keesler said. "The football coaching staff and team members met to discuss the possibility and have agreed to give Cecil an opportunity to become a member of the team."

McNeese State apparently agreed to deal with Collins' off-field problems.

The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Collins was arrested in Baton Rouge earlier this year for alleged unauthorized entry and sexual battery, prompting his dismissal from LSU.

Doug Williams at Grambling State appeared to be the only coach openly willing to accept Collins and his baggage.

That is until McNeese State emerged. Collins' presence immediately makes McNeese State a distinct favorite to capture the I-AA national title, which they lost by a single point last year.

After all, Collins was leading the nation in rushing at LSU last fall when he broke his fibula in the fourth game of the season.

But what kind of example does this set, when Collins can hop from school to school with apparently few ramifications for his actions?

NO REDSHIRT: Georgia's great quarterback race began in earnest last week. Of the four candidates for the starting job, two -- Nate Hybl and Quincy Carter -- are freshmen.

Even though only one of the four will earn the bulk of the playing time, Bulldog coach Jim Donnan said he doesn't plan to redshirt either of the freshmen if they don't get the job.

"You don't get two guys like Quincy Carter and Hybl hitchhiking into school very often," Donnan said. "So we have to give them a chance, and we're going to do that."

Donnan said that the race could be pared to three candidates by Thursday following full-contact scrimmages on Monday and Wednesday. The competition could be reduced to two by the following week.

TOUGH COMPETITION: South Carolina coach Brad Scott has committed to rely primarily on one running back this fall.

Coming out of spring practice, Troy Hambrick emerged as the leading candidate and sits at the top of the Gamecock's depth chart.

But don't hand the starting job to him just yet.

Boo Williams won't give in that quickly.

"Troy is one of our leaders on offense," Scott said. "But one player who keeps improving is Boo Williams. Boo is showing that he came to play. That could be a good battle for tailback."

Hambrick paced the Gamecocks on the ground last season with 604 yards, while Williams tallied 348. Hambrick also averaged 5.3 yards per carry, while Williams managed just 3.0.

SECONDARY HELP: Georgia's secondary got a big boost last week when cornerback Jeff Harris was re-admitted to the university.

Harris, a 6-1, 181-pound junior from Jacksonville, had been dismissed due to academic problems. He missed all of spring practice, but finished a couple summer courses to regain his eligibility.

Harris started five games last season at cornerback, but could move to free safety or strong safety this fall.

"Jeff's a guy that basically started at nickel for us last season," Donnan said, "so he's a guy we need back there."

Champ Bailey and Cory Robinson are listed atop the Bulldogs depth chart at cornerback.