NCAA reverses course on Marine playing at MTSU
The NCAA ruled that a Middle Tennessee football player who spent five years in the Marines will be allowed to compete this fall and that he will have four years of eligibility remaining.
It's a reversal from the NCAA's earlier decision to rule Steven Rhodes ineligible. School officials had said earlier Monday that they were working with NCAA officials to come up with a solution.
"It's nothing but a blessing," Rhodes said after Monday's practice.
Late Monday afternoon, the NCAA issued a news release saying Rhodes could play immediately and member schools would continue to re-examine the competition rules, especially as it impacts those returning from military service. Rhodes has been practicing at both tight end and defensive end.
"We thank Steven for his service to our country and wish him the best as he begins college," NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon said.
Middle Tennessee Athletics Director Chris Massaro said he and McPhee went to the practice field Monday afternoon to inform Rhodes of the NCAA's decision.
"It was really a neat moment to be there for that," Massaro said. "He was extremely happy, as you'd imagine. It's always fun to be there when dreams start to come true."
Rhodes' eligibility was in question because he played in a recreational league during his military service. An NCAA rule states that student-athletes who don't enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition. An NCAA rule states that student-athletes who don't enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition.
"He has a long way to go," Middle Tennessee Coach Rick Stockstill said. "He hasn't played in six years, obviously. His reps had diminished the last three or four days because we were under the impression that he was not going to play. With only nine days left now before we play, we've got to get him caught up to speed.
"There is no doubt that he'll be able to help us eventually. He's a phenomenal man. He works hard. He has a great attitude out there."
Rhodes has even more determination now that the NCAA has given him the go-ahead to continue working toward this goal.
"It gives you a whole different mindset," Rhodes said. "You feel like you have new life."
NFL Warford not stressing about starting spot
Detroit Lions rookie offensive guard Larry Warford, a third-round draft pick out of Kentucky, told the Detroit Free Press he hopes to win a starting spot with the team. But he said the only reason he checks out the depth chart when he walks in the offensive line room every day is to see who's practicing with what group.
"Seriously, if I need another year, fine with me," Warford, who also starred at Madison Central in high school, told the newspaper. "I don't want to go out there if I'm not my best. If it's time for me to play, I'm going to step up. But I'm not worried about it at all. The coaches are going to make the decision, I don't have control over the decision, all I can control is how I play."
Warford has played often and well in the Lions' first two exhibition games, the Free Press reported. His 85 snaps are 19 more than any other Lion.
"I think I've steadily progressed," Warford said. "I was in there with the (first-team offense) a couple times in both games. I held my own. It boosted my confidence, it made me feel like I have been getting better. When you get out of college you wonder how much better you can really get because you feel like you're at your peak but you're not even close. I figured that out quick and I have gotten better."
■ Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson, battling a left hamstring injury, said after practice Monday that he will return to game action this Saturday against the Washington Redskins. Johnson said he was anxious to test the leg against another team but cautioned that he is not yet back to 100 percent. "I'll be out there on Saturday just to see how everything feels as far as game speed," the former University of Kentucky star said. "It actually is not healed yet. It's a work in progress."
■ Robert Griffin III's top backup, Kirk Cousins, left the Washington Redskins' exhibition game Monday night after spraining his right foot on a run. Starting in the pre-season while Griffin comes back from right knee surgery, Cousins left the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the second quarter. Washington won the game 24-13.
■ The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are hoping a change of scenery will give two disappointing first-round picks an opportunity to realize their potential. The Chiefs traded wide receiver Jon Baldwin to the 49ers for fellow wideout A.J. Jenkins.
Men's soccer hosts Dayton tonight
Kentucky's men's soccer team will prep for the upcoming season with an exhibition against Dayton at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the UK Soccer Complex. The Cats played Dayton in last year's season opener, which the Flyers won 4-3.
■ Sean Graham was added to Kentucky's track and field and cross country coaching staff. He will work primarily with the men's distance and cross country athletes, Coach Edrick Floreal said. Graham, who was assistant last season at American University, competed in college at William & Mary.
Almonte, Dozier star for Legends
Miguel Almonte (5-8) pitched five innings and gave up one run on six hits to lead the Lexington Legends to a 5-1 victory at Greenville. Three relievers — Aroni Nina, Zeb Sneed and John Walter combined to keep the Drive hitless over the final four innings.
Hunter Dozier was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI.
The last word
Seventeen-year-old golfer Charley Hull after her surprising 5-and-4 victory against Paula Creamer that helped Europe to a record rout over the Americans in the Solheim Cup this past weekend:
"I didn't really feel that nervous, to be honest. Because this is how I always look at golf: I'm not going to die if I miss it. Just hit it, and find it, and hit it again."