Spring winners and losers (cont.)
UCLA: You know you're having a bad spring when your No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks are carted off the field with injuries -- on the same day. But that's the reality first-year Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel is dealing with after both starter Patrick Cowan and Ben Olson went down.
Cowan's injury hurts the most. He earned the starting job earlier in the spring, but is out for the season after incurring ligament and cartilage damage in his left knee. He also missed eight games last season due to various injuries.
Olson is out for six-to-eight weeks with a broken bone in his right foot and is expected to compete with junior college transfer Kevin Craft for the starting spot. No matter who takes it, it's a rough start to the "Neu Era."
LSU: Yeah, they've got a brand-new crystal football to gawk at, but when your next starting quarterback is suspended for the spring, well, that lands you on this unfortunate list.
Ryan Perrilloux was suspended for the third time, giving him more bans than starts (two). He was reinstated when spring practice ended and was subsequently dismissed from the team. That leaves junior Andrew Hatch and redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee to battle for the spot when camp opens. Perrilloux missed out on a golden opportunity to prove to his teammates and the LSU fan base that he's matured and was ready to be the face of Tigers football. But ultimately, he was ready for neither.
Virginia Tech: SuperPrep All-America Ryan Williams may be on the way, but the Hokies' spring ended with some serious concerns at running back.
Branden Ore, who led the team with 992 rushing yards last season, was dismissed from the team and has since landed at Division II West Liberty State College. But things went from bad to worse when Virginia Tech's top two backups, Kenny Lewis and Jahre Cheeseman, were both hurt at practice. Lewis is expected to be out four-to-six months after left shoulder surgery, while Cheeseman, who has a broken left fibula, is expected back when practice begins in August.
Frank Beamer had to finish the spring with a backfield that included former walk-on Dustin Pickle (11 carries in '07) and redshirt freshmen Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby.
Florida State: Bobby Bowden was already dealing with the aftermath of the academic fraud scandal that will have a dozen players suspended for the first three games of the season. But now he'll likely have to make up for the absence of his biggest offensive player, Preston Parker, who was arrested April 22.
Parker, a wide receiver who totaled more than 1,000 yards of offense as a sophomore, was charged for carrying a concealed weapon (a felony) and possession of marijuana (a misdemeanor). The school has yet to take action against Parker, but considering FSU's athletic department policy prohibits athletes facing felonies to compete, the prospect of seeing him in the Seminoles' Sept. 6 opener vs. Western Carolina seems less than certain. His possible absence would be a big blow to a team looking to make offensive strides Jimbo Fisher's second year.
Ben Mauk, Cincinnati: The quarterback stood on the sidelines of the Bearcats' spring game, hoping he'd get one more year at the helm of Brian Kelly's offense. Instead he got bad news from the NCAA, which denied his appeal for a sixth year of eligibility.
The NCAA originally denied him a sixth year of eligibility in February, but Mauk appealed, saying he'd been hurt during his freshman year at Wake Forest when he redshirted.
After breaking his leg as a high-school freshman, Mauk had plates and screws inserted, including one in his big toe. During his senior year of high school, the screw in his toe loosened and had to be removed. The incision frequently bled through, ultimately sidelining him in his first year in college. He had full support from Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe, but the NCAA didn't reconsider their previous decision.
Mauk will reportedly continue to appeal the decision. Fortunately, Kelly's quarterback cupboard isn't bare, with Dustin Grutza, who played in spells last season, and Notre Dame transfer Demetrius Jones. But it's a sad ending for Mauk, who was finally healthy and had his best season last year under Kelly.