Adding transfers from FBS programs is nothing new to the schools in the OVC, even when they’re from top-tier squads.
But usually, the bigger the fish, the sketchier the past, and in turn, the greater the risk.
That may be true in this latest case, but Tennessee State’s head football coach is standing by two new players, who could be dynamic playmakers for the Tigers in the upcoming season.
The new additions are Darion Hall from the University of Miami and A.C. Leonard from the University of Florida, both big time FBS programs. But according to the Tennessean, both spent time under suspension at their previous schools.
Coming out of Lely High School, Hall ranked as a 3-star, top-50 running back by Rivals.com. Hall redshirted during the 2010 season, and in 2011, made just one appearance, against Bethune-Cookman.
He was slated to be third on the Hurricanes’ depth chart at running back for this season, but in February, Hall was suspended indefinitely by Miami coach Al Golden for an unspecified violation of team rules, and had not been with the team since March.
The Miami Herald then quotes Hall’s high school coach as saying he wasn’t surprised Hall was suspended.
Leonard joins Tennessee State after one season with the Florida Gators. The tight end appeared in nine games for the Gators, including eight receptions for 99 yards during the 2011 season. Leonard’s career game came against Florida State, where he caught three passes for 65 yards, including a career-long 24-yard reception.
Prior to his arrival at UF, Leonard was listed as the No. 5 tight end nationally by Rivals.com. The Jacksonville product was part of the ESPNU 150 class and the Rivals 100 class.
But Leonard pleaded “no contest” this past April to a misdemeanor simple domestic battery charge after an incident involving his girlfriend in February, according to the Florida Times-Union. He was suspended into March, but Florida coach Will Muschamp then allowed Leonard to return to spring practice.
Sometime between then and SEC Media Days last month, it was determined that Leonard would transfer.
TSU head coach Rod Reed spoke of the players past to the Tennessean:
“We did our research on the guys and talked to the coaches down there before we decided to move forward. We brought these kids in and we sat down and talked with them. They know what we expect out of them.”
He added that sometimes players simply need a chance of atmosphere, and that he feels they’ll be able to better mentor the players than their previous schools.
Both were at the school when camp opened over the weekend.
I’ve discussed the risk vs reward quotient when it comes to these type of players previously, and there’s no doubt that they could be both beneficial or detrimental to the team’s efforts. It comes down to the coaches to determine how it ends out.
Hall and Leonard join two other FBS transfers that joined TSU earlier this summer. Ronnie Vinson came to Tennessee State from LSU, while Corey Robinson transferred to the Tigers from Kansas.
Headline Photo Courtesy: University of Miami Athletics