After being redshirted last year, former Bainbridge Bearcats star Rohan Gaines is shining in preseason practice at Arkansas and may even be in line to start in the Razorbacks' secondary this year.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Former Albany Herald Dynamite Dozen star Rohan Gaines could’ve gone just about anywhere coming out of high school.
But he chose the University of Arkansas — and so far, he seems to be fitting in nicely.
Gaines, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety from Bainbridge, redshirted his freshman season a year ago but now has been thrown directly into the mix for a starting role on the Hogs’ defense.
In fact, he’s been so impressive in preseason practice that wholehogsports.com — a website dedicated to Arkansas sports — recently featured Gaines after he wowed coaches and reporters upon being given his first chance with the starting unit this week.
“Gaines ... rushed up to deliver resounding shots to running backs Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo on short gains on some of the first live-tackling plays of camp, and he added pass break-ups on a couple of Tyler Wilson throws for good measure ... Gaines has been one of the surprises of fall camp, after serving as a scoutteam player and backup at the ‘jack’ position while redshirting last season,” wrote wholehogsports.com reporter Tom Murphy.
“I’m making tackles, (but) I’ve still got a lot of things to work on,” Gaines told the website.
Although, you wouldn’t know it from hearing Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes talk about Gaines.
“Rohan Gaines is a kid that continues to flash and get better,” Haynes told the website.
The Hogs’ linebackers coach Taver Johnson also told reporters at Arkansas’ media day to watch out for Gaines when asked to name a player that could be the biggest surprise coming out of camp.
Gaines said he appreciated the praise and hopes to keep improving.
“I’ve come far,” Gaines told wholehogsports. “Coming in as a freshman, I was just reckless. I would just go bang, bang, hit everything, not worry about anything else. Now I’m more comfortable, and I’m more sound.”
And his teammates are also taking notice.
“He’s fast,” senior safety Ross Rasner told the website. “He’s got work to do on defending the pass, but he’s definitely downhill on the run and he’s just got to work on reading his keys. He’s definitely a playmaker who can run.”
Arkansas is thin at defensive back this season due to injuries to key guys — and that means Gaines may very well get his shot sooner, rather than later.
Gaines, who garnered interest from a host of D-I schools coming out of high school — including homestate Georgia and Georgia Tech — was a heck of a high school athlete, starring in basketball and football. On the football field, he played both offense (WR/QB) and defense, where he shined as a defensive back. During his senior season in 2010, Gaines made 60 tackles, including four tackles for loss, and recorded one interception. He was also named to The Herald’s All-Area First Team.
TYRANN'S TROUBLES FAR FROM OVER:
NEW ORLEANS — Former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu has entered a drug rehabilitation program in Houston since being dismissed from the Tigers, according to a television report Friday.
Fox 8 reported that Mathieu’s adoptive father, Tryone Mathieu, said that the 20-year-old star cornerback and punt returner known as the “Honey Badger” has been at the Right Step recovery center and is being counseled by former NBA player John Lucas.
Tyrone Mathieu said his son is committed to restoring his health and won’t play football until he is confident that his rehab is complete. That may rule out the possibility of Mathieu transferring to a school at the FCS level and playing this season, after which he would be eligible for the NFL Draft.
No one from Mathieu’s family appeared on camera in the New Orleans television report. Lucas has not returned a phone message left by The Associated Press.
LSU has said that about 20 college football programs have asked for permission to speak with Mathieu about transferring. Mathieu has visited McNeese State in Lake Charles, La., where classes began Wednesday.
Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La., also has been granted permission to speak with Mathieu but has not met with him yet. Classes at Nicholls begin Aug. 22.
It remains unclear what Mathieu’s future may hold if he sits out this season entirely. LSU coach Les Miles has declined to close the door entirely on the possibility, however remote, that Mathieu could play for LSU again in 2013. Miles said last Friday, when he announced Mathieu’s dismissal, it would make more sense for Mathieu to transfer. Since then, he has said he can only guarantee Mathieu won’t be playing for LSU in 2012 and declined to speculate beyond that.
Miles and LSU officials have also said that they’ve offered Mathieu whatever help he needs to transfer.
The only public statements Mathieu has made since his dismissal consist of a few posts on the social network website Twitter, where he has also changed his avatar from a photo of himself in an LSU uniform to a motto displayed in white letters on a black background, reading: “Be yourself. There is something that you can do better than any other. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that.”
One of his recent posted messages says: “Patience…. Sometimes you have to stop doing what is easy and begin to do the things that are hard.”
Mathieu emerged as one of college football’s biggest stars in 2011, his sophomore season and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.
He also won the Bednarik Award as national defensive player of the year last season. He scored four touchdowns — two on punt returns and two on fumble returns — intercepted two passes, caused six fumbles and recovered four.
RICHT PRAISES TEAM AFTER FRIDAY'S PRACTICE:
ATHENS -- After wrapping up the first week of fall semester classes, the Georgia football team held a 90-minute practice in full pads Friday as the Bulldogs continue to close in on the season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 1.
“We had a very good practice today,” head coach Mark Richt said. “We shortened it up a little bit and I thought the guys responded well. We did some live tackling as we felt like we needed to tackle a little more out in space. There was a lot of good energy today and a lot of good things happened. There were four interceptions and at least two others that should have been picked, so that’s a good sign for the defense when they are putting enough pressure on the quarterback to cause those types of throws.”
When asked after practice who has been a surprise during preseason camp, Richt said he has been impressed with sophomore center David Andrews.
“I think (Andrews) has had a good camp, and to me he has solidified that job,” Richt said. “We were trying to find the best combination of five (offensive linemen), and we went into camp hoping he would be the guy. I think it’s the best combination for him to be the center, and he came through. I think he’s done a good job.”
Richt also added that he has been pleased with the Bulldogs’ freshman class since the start of fall camp.
“I think the freshmen in general have done a nice of competing,” Richt said. “They’ve competed well, and they seem to really care about their role on the special teams. I think our veterans have done a good job of treating them like a little brother, helping them along and encouraging them. A lot of them have responded to the point where they are going to get some playing time.”
Georgia will return to practice Saturday morning before taking part in the annual Fans Picture Day later in the afternoon in the Reed Plaza area of Sanford Stadium.
Georgia football players will be on hand for photos and autographs from 3-5 p.m. between Gates 2 and 4. Richt will also be available from 3-5 p.m. for those with ticket coupons, and Georgia’s other athletic teams will be on hand for Picture Day from 1-3 p.m.
The Bulldogs will play host to Buffalo in the season opener Sept. 1 at 12:21 p.m., and the game will be televised live by the SEC Network.
Tickets to the home football games against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic (Sept. 15) are on sale to the general public and can be purchased online at http://gado.gs/4a or by calling the UGA Athletic Association ticket office at 1-877-542-1231.
New book claims Paterno had frosty relationship with ex-assistant Sandusky
Joe Paterno had to be prodded by his family to read the grand jury report regarding Jerry Sandusky and did not understand some of its graphic terminology, according to a new book.
The book, “Paterno” by Joe Posnanski, was purchased Friday by The Associated Press in advance of its release next week.
In the book, Posnanski describes a scene at Paterno’s home, two days after Sandusky had been charged with child sex abuse last November. Paterno’s family and a close adviser were trying to explain to the Penn State coach that there was a growing sentiment Paterno must have known for years about the accusations against Sandusky.
The book quotes Paterno as shouting, “I’m not omniscient!”
The book also indicates Paterno didn’t comprehend all the terms in the report, asking his son what sodomy meant.
According to the book, later that night Paterno’s son, Scott, told his mother that she should brace herself for the possibility that Joe could be fired.
Sue Paterno responded, “Scotty, that will kill him.”
Paterno was fired by school trustees two days later, on Nov. 9. He died in January at age 85 of cancer.
Sandusky, Paterno’s longtime defensive coordinator, is jailed and awaiting sentencing after being convicted in June on 45 criminal counts involving 10 boys.
Paterno had granted access to Posnanski to write a biography in 2011, well before Sandusky was charged.
“Nobody would argue — and certainly my book does not argue — that the good Joe Paterno did in his life should shield him from the horrors of his mistakes,” Posnanski wrote in a column for USA Today earlier this week. “Some would argue, especially in the white-hot emotion sparked by the latest revelations, that Paterno’s role in the Jerry Sandusky crimes invalidates whatever good he might have done. My book does not argue that either. My book, I believe, lets the reader make up his or her own mind.”
The book also details the long and frosty relationship Paterno had with Sandusky. The two were never friendly, and late in Sandusky’s tenure Paterno felt the defense was terrible under Sandusky’s leadership.
The book indicates that Sandusky showed interest in taking an early retirement in 1999, and Paterno encouraged him to do so and let his assistant know he would not be the next head coach at Penn State.
Sandusky negotiated a retirement package, and among Sandusky’s demands was to stay on through the 1999 season.
The book indicates Paterno reluctantly agreed, and then regretted the decision when the team’s defense underperformed during a stretch of three straight losses that took them out of the national title picture.