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Oregon’s Jordon Scott among Pac-12 players behind #WeAreUnited movement

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Oregon’s Jordon Scott, a former standout at Pinellas Park, joined a growing contingent of Pac-12 players who are contemplating boycotting the upcoming season unless demands for safety regulations and social injustice are met.

This past weekend, a group of players from the conference wrote a letter addressing their concerns that was published in The Players’ Tribune. To get behind the movement, they urged players throughout college football to use the hashtag #WeAreUnited.

They also sent a release with the names of 13 Pac-12 players from 10 schools, all of whom provided statements about what they perceived as conference shortcomings in handling these issues. 

Among the calls for action listed in The Players’ Tribune:

  • Allowing players the option not to play without losing their scholarship or spot on the roster.
  •  Prohibit COVID-19 agreements that waive liability. 
  • Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19.
  • And end to lavish facility spending and reduced pay for conference executives and coaches. 
  • Form a permanent civic-engagement to address racial injustice and spend two percent of conference revenue directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.
  • Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.
  • Distribute 50 percent of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.

Scott, considered one of the nation’s best defensive lineman, was not among the players listed in the release. His biggest concern is “if they are going to allow us to keep our scholarship if the season is altered or if players decided to opt out due to health risk.”

This past Friday, the Pac-12 released its revised football schedule that pushes the regular season back to Sept. 26 and includes only 10 conference games. 

The conference also announced a new practice schedule that includes 20 hours per week of mandatory team activities for football (weight training, meetings and unpadded walk-through practices) starting on Monday. Preseason practice for Pac-12 schools can begin on Aug. 17.

Oregon's Jordon Scott/Photo credit: Oregon Athletics

In the offseason, Scott (photos courtesy of Oregon Athletics) announced he was returning to the Ducks for his senior season rather than declaring for the NFL Draft. He has already been added to watch lists for the Outland and Bronko Nagurski trophies. 

So would Scott opt out if his concerns are not addressed? 

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. 

Each Power Five conference has already committed to either honoring scholarships or allowing individual schools to make that decision for athletes who opt out of playing due to health concerns. 

But some Pac-12 athletes are already facing repercussions for supporting #WeAreUnited. Multiple Washington State players were “released” from the program but would still retain their scholarship for this season according to Theo Lawson of The Spokesman Review.

The Pac-12 released a statement this past weekend in response to some of the issues raised by players involved in the #WeAreUnited cause. 

“We support our student-athletes using their voice,and have regular communications with our student-athletes at many different levels on a range of topics,” the Pac-12 said in the statement. “As we have clearly stated with respect to our fall competition plans, we are, and always will be, directed by medical experts, with the health, safety and well being of our student athletes, coaches and staff always the first priority.” 

Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter, who starred at Hillsborough, was vocal about raising his own worries in college football, retweeting the #WeAreUnited hashtag that was followed by him saying, “Enough is enough.”

Would Carter join the Pac-12 players who are considering opting out for the season?

“Possibly,” Carter said. “With good leadership.”

Still, not every player wants to sit out.

Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics Comminications

Texas Christian tight end Pro Wells, a former Dixie Hollins standout who is on the watch list for the John Mackey Award, plans to finish his college career by playing his senior season. 

“My thing is when we were quarantined every football player was saying that, ‘oh I miss football, they need to let us play and all this’,” Wells said. “Now that they are letting us practice I see players crying and making excuses. It’s simple: Do you wanna play or not?

“I’m playing no matter what.”

RELATED: Pro Wells named to John Mackey Award watch list

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Former PHU/UCF star Jacob Harris goes to Rams in 4th round

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Jacob Harris, a former star at Palm Harbor University and Central Florida, was taken in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Rams.

Harris, a former soccer standout who did not start playing organized football until senior year at Palm Harbor University, has gone through a meteoric rise to become a sleeper pick in this year’s draft.

He started off as a walk-on at Western Kentucky before transferring to UCF. For the past two seasons, Harris was a dependable receiver for the Knights. As a senior, he had 30 catches for 539 yards and eight touchdowns.

Harris’ most memorable game came against USF this past season when he had five catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns.

With the Rams, Harris will join former East Lake star Tyler Higbee in a group of tight ends that features plenty of locals.  

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College Football

The local list of potential NFL picks

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The NFL Draft concludes Saturday. Plenty of locals have the potential to be picked. Below is the list of former area stars who could hear their name called. All were either on mock drafts or were selected to an all-star game or NFL Combine. 

Photos courtesy of UCF Athletics

TE Jacob Harris, Palm Harbor University/UCF

Harris, a former soccer standout who did not start playing organized football until senior year at Palm Harbor University, has gone through a meteoric rise to become a sleeper pick in this year’s draft. He started off as a walk-on at Western Kentucky before transferring to UCF. For the past two seasons, Harris was a dependable receiver for the Knights. As a senior, he had 30 catches for 539 yards and eight touchdowns. Harris’ most memorable game came against USF this past season when he had five catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns. 

OL Shane McGough, Gaither/Florida International

The younger brother of former Gaither and FIU quarterback Alex McGough redshirted as a freshman before becoming a consistent starter on the Panthers’ offensive line. He was an all-Conference USA honorable mention selection in 2018 and 2020. This past season, McGough started in four of FIU’s five games as a center.  

WR Antonio Nunn, Jefferson/Buffalo

Nunn, a dynamic deep threat at Jefferson, redshirted his first season at Buffalo before rocketing up the depth chart. He started every game the past two seasons, finishing with a combined 86 catches for 1,271 yards and eight touchdowns. Nunn was a third-team all-MAC selection in 2019 and second-team selection this past season. 

Photo courtesy of Indiana University Athletics

WR Whop Philyor, Plant/Indiana

A first-team, all-state selection at Plant, Philyor became Indiana’s most dependable receiving target during his college career. He finished with 2,316 all-purpose yards (2,067 receiving, 134 rushing, 66 kick return, 49 punt return) in 38 games (22 starts).Philyor also is the Hoosiers’ s all-time leader in double-digit catch games (7), ranks fourth in receptions (180), fourth in 100-yard games (7), ninth in yardage (2,067) and is tied for 16th in touchdowns (12). He capped off his career by setting a Big Ten bowl and Outback Bowl record with 18 receptions for 81 yards. 

DL Justus Reed, CCC/Virginia Tech

A first-team, all-state selection, Reed led Clearwater Central Catholic to its only state final appearance as a senior in 2013. He started out at Florida before spending three seasons at Youngstown State. This past season, Reed transferred to Virginia Tech as a graduate student. He started in 10 of the Hokies’ 11 games, finishing with 28 tackles and 6.5 sacks.  

Photo courtesy of USF Athletics

DB K.J. Sails, East Bay/USF

A highly touted high school recruit, Sails spent his first three years in college at North Carolina before transferring to USF. As a junior, he led the Bulls in interceptions with three and recorded 22 tackles this past season. Sails gained notoriety this past summer when he organized a unity walk during the social justice movement that was attended by about 400 teammates, coaches, administrators and community members.  

Oregon's Jordon Scott/Photo credit: Oregon Athletics
Photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics

DL Jordon Scott, Pinellas Park/Oregon

The three-star high school prospect originally committed to Florida before signing with Oregon. He immediately became a force on the Ducks’ defensive line, earning FWAA freshman all-America honors in 2017. Scott opted to return to Oregon as a senior rather than turn pro and helped the Ducks reach the Pac-12 title game for the second straight season. 

Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics Communications

TE Pro Wells, Hollins/Texas Christian

As a senior at Hollins, Wells had a breakout season, finishing with 31 catches for 952 yards and five touchdowns. He played at Milford Academy and Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he became the No. 4 JUCO tight end in the nation. After redshirting in 2018 at Texas Christian, Wells turned a reliable red-zone target and led the team in touchdown receptions each of the past two seasons. 

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College Football

Tre McKitty goes to Chargers in the third round

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Georgia tight end Tre McKitty, who spent time at Wesley Chapel and Tampa Catholic before transferring to IMG Academy, was selected at the end of the third with the Los Angeles Chargers’ compensatory pick (97th overall). 

He becomes the first player with area ties taken in this year’s draft. 

A three-star recruit at IMG, McKitty started his college career at Florida State, where he played in 35 games and caught 50 passes for 520 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

McKitty (photo above courtesy of UGA Athletic Association) went to Georgia as a graduate assistant this past season. He finished with six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. 

The Chargers have a knack for bringing in local talent. Former Admiral Farragut standout Rayshawn Jenkins was selected in the fourth by the Chargers in 2017. Sean Culkin (Indian Rocks Christian/Missouri) and Artavis Scott (East Lake/Clemson) spent time with team as undrafted free agents.  

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