ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 4: Russell Shepard #10 of the LSU Tigers runs down the field for a touchdown against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Georgia Dome September 4 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
There aren't enough headlines for a full Sprints this morning, but two key SEC West receivers have news out about their eligibility.
First up is Russell Shepard, who was a last-minute scratch from SEC Media Days due to an issue with his eligibility that cropped up. That issue reportedly is that sometime after spring practice, Shepard moved in with his girlfriend who works for the football office. Her employment doesn't seem to be the concern though, as their relationship is established. The question, as I understand it, is whether she was letting him live there for free while he was also receiving his off-campus housing stipend. It's against NCAA rules for a player to receive that stipend while getting rent paid for by someone else.
Les Miles said recently that he doesn't expect Shepard to miss any time though. The direct quote is: "Oh, he's fine. No, he won't have to sit out. He'll come to practice. We wouldn't expect there to be any issues there." To be clear, the matter hasn't been issued a clean stamp of approval from LSU compliance just yet. However at SEC Media Days, Miles merely said he wasn't concerned about the matter. Now, he's stepped that up to predicting that Shepard won't miss any practice time or the first game against Oregon.
The second receiver with an issue was Alabama's Darius Hanks. He's listed as a redshirt senior, but there's a little issue that he didn't quite actually redshirt in 2007. He caught one pass for six yards in that season's opener against I-AA Western Carolina, which burned his redshirt. The NCAA rules state that all it takes is playing in one game to take away the possibility of redshirting unless injury is in play.
The good news for Hanks is that the NCAA does have a waiver provision for getting eligibility back if there's documented proof that a coach didn't understand a bylaw or other extenuating circumstances. Alabama successfully filed that waiver, so Hanks will have to sit out the first two games of this season to make up for the one he played in back in '07. Alabama's spokesman didn't say what the circumstances presented on the waiver were, but it was enough for the NCAA to trade two of this year's games for that one game four seasons ago.
Alabama plays Kent State and at Penn State to begin 2011.