Anyone who questioned Caleb Brantley’s side of the story when he was charged with battery of a female University of Florida student at a downtown bar just weeks before the NFL Draft should have paid attention to Huntley Johnson.
Johnson maintained all along that Brantley was innocent of the charges that he struck Chelsea Austin in the face, knocking her unconscious and causing damage to her face that required medical treatment. Johnson even stated that he had video evidence plus numerous witnesses to back Brantley. The tip that Brantley hadn’t done the things Austin claimed was when Johnson refused a settlement offer rom Austin’s legal team.
If there is one thing you should know about Huntley Johnson after all the years he has defended Florida athletes it is that if he refuses to even discuss a settlement, he knows he has an ironclad case. If Huntley has even a shred of doubt in his client, history tells us he will either take or make a settlement offer. That he didn’t should have been your first clue that he had mounds of evidence favorable to Brantley.
In the Wednesday statement explaining why the charges were dropped, the State Attorney office painted a picture that made it pretty clear Caleb Brantley was not the aggressor and that there was nothing to support the alleged victim’s story. Per the State Attorney, the alleged victim had been drinking heavily despite being underage and couldn’t keep her story straight enough to merit any prosecution. Her alleged witnesses had also been drinking heavily and there were far too many inconsistencies in their stories. It was also determined that Brantley shoved the girl away when she attacked him and never used the kind of force that it would take to knock the girl unconscious.
Prior to this incident Brantley was thought to be a late first round to early second round draft pick. The uncertainty of the charges against him caused him to slide all the way to the sixth round and there was considerable controversy when the Cleveland Brown selected him.
The difference in first round or even second round money and the sixth round is substantial. Had Brantley been chosen by the Browns with their 25th pick, his initial signing bonus would have been $5,661,920 and the total four-year contract (including bonus) worth $10,335,428. That’s guaranteed money. All the contracts in the first through third rounds are guaranteed and they are four-year deals for drafted players. Had he gone early in the second round, Brantley’s contract would have carried a signing bonus of more than $1.2 million and the four-year deal would have been worth $4.5 million or more. As a sixth rounder, Brantley will get a signing bonus of something like $175,000 and a four-year contract worth somewhere around $2.5 million IF he makes the team.
Two things that Brantley should take from this: (1) Stay out of bars. Don’t even think about going to another one any time soon and (2) Remember that since you are now a professional athlete you are going to be a target.
SEC FOOTBALL UPDATES
Alabama: Is a potential quarterback controversy brewing in Tuscaloosa? Jalen Hurts had a successful freshman year when he got Alabama to the national championship game but early enrollee freshman Tua Tagovailoa is so good that former Bama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin calls him “a special talent” and compares him to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young. Hurts is good, but is he Steve Young good?
Arkansas: The depth chart at running back has taken a real hit lately with the retirement of Rawleigh Williams III and the announcement that junior Juan Day will transfer out. Day has four carries for 17 yards in his career. He is graduating so he will be eligible immediately somewhere and will have two years of eligibility remaining. With Day gone, the Razorbacks have only two running backs on scholarship (Devwah Whaley and Maleek Williams). A third (freshman Chase Hayden) will enroll this summer.
Auburn: Wide receiver Kyle Davis, who missed all of spring practice for what HBC Gus Malzahn called “personal business,” is back on the team again … Quarterback Woody Barrett, who announced he was leaving the Auburn program last week, will transfer to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. Barrett redshirted as a freshman so he could play one year of juco then transfer to a Division I school where he would have three years of eligibility.
Georgia: Kirby Smart says defensive tackle Trent Thompson will be enrolled in summer school. Thompson withdrew from classes back in February when he had to deal with a shoulder issue.
Kentucky: Kentucky is the first SEC school to offer a scholarship to 2019 quarterback prospect Paul Tyson (6-4, 210, Mountain Brook, AL Hewitt-Trussville). That’s significant because Tyson is the great-grandson of the late Bear Bryant, who remains the all-time winningest football coach at Kentucky.
LSU: Defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, one of the top recruits in LSU’s 2017 signing class, won’t be on campus until the fall but only if he gets his academic house in order. He’s doing summer school work in high school to try to get his grades up to an acceptable level … Given its mishandling of quarterbacks in the past few years, it will be interesting to see how former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris develops under Larry Fedora now that he’s transferring as a graduate to North Carolina.
Mississippi State: To put it mildly, Mississippi State’s kicking game was horrendous last year, starting with a point blank miss of a chip shot field goal that would have won the season opener with South Alabama. Things did not improve in the spring. Noted Dan Mullen, “Coming out of spring, it’s not a position we’re comfortable in right now but we still have a ways to go to get comfortable and see where we’re at.” The hope is that incoming freshman Tucker Day will be ready to go from day one when he enrolls in the summer.
Missouri: Mizzou alums are doing their part to help fund the construction of a new football facility whose cost is estimated at $100 million. The Tigers received their seventh gift of more than $1 million on Wednesday, raising the total raised so far to $47.15 million. The project is expected to break ground in early 2018.
Ole Miss: At the Regions Tradition Pro-Am Golf Tournament in Birmingham, Hugh Freeze turned and walked away rather than answer a reporter’s question about getting the NCAA investigation behind him.
South Carolina: Will Muschamp isn’t opposed to one of his assistants or coordinators having a different point of view. Muschamp told coachingsearch.com, “When you see things alike and have healthy disagreements on what needs to happen, that happens with good staffs. When we were at LSU with Caoch Saban, whether it was Jimbo Fisher, myself, there was great discussions, disagreements … that’s what good staffs do. As long as you’re on the same page when you walk out of the room, good things happen with you.”
Tennessee: Although new offensive coordinator Larry Scott hasn’t called plays since Sebring High School in 2004, Butch Jones is very confident he’s got the right guy for the job. “In terms of the promotion, that was an easy choice,” Jones said. “I was able to evaluate him for a year, his input on game week, his relationship with the players. He understands our players; there is no learning curve there.”
Texas A&M: The Aggies don’t have a proven quarterback but they have wide receiver Christian Kirk and plenty of other building blocks for a successful offense. HBC Kevin Sumlin noted, “We return a 1,000-yard rusher, four guys that started on the offensive line – that will take the pressure off our first year starter [at quarterback]. Offensively, we are ready to go.”
Vanderbilt: The Tennesseean is reporting that Vanderbilt and HBC Derek Mason have agreed on a three-year contact extension plus raises for several assistant coaches. Mason also requested an increased recruiting budget and reports are that his request will be granted.
SEASON ENDS FOR UF MEN’S GOLF
A day after the Gators played their way into contention at the West Lafayette Regional of the NCAA Golf Championships, they put together one of their worst rounds of the year and played their way to a disappointing end of the season. Florida shot a 312 on Wednesday and finished the tournament at 27-over par (891 total), which was good for eighth place. Only the top five teams from each regional advance to the NCAA Championships so Florida’s season is over. Florida coach J.C. Deacon said, “It was the most disappointing day we’ve ever had on a golf course. Not in a million rounds did I think this could happen to this team.”
SEC BASKETBALL UPDATES
The Gators have offered combo guard Greg Williams Jr. (6-4, 205, Lafayette, LA Lafayette Christian Academy). Williams, who averaged 15.2 per game last year while leading LCA to a state championship, has offers from Auburn, West Virginia and Texas Tech among others.
South Carolina got a visit from C.J. Bryce, who was the leading scorer (17.4 per game) for UNC-Wilmington last year. Bryce will have to sit a year wherever he goes. South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina State are the favorites.
Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork (6-5, 190), who averaged 19 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for a 20-12 team last year will finish up his official visits at Louisville. He’s already visited South Carolina and LSU. He’s a good fit at all three places so there’s no good feeling for where he is leaning at this point.
LSU is also pursuing Lehigh transfer Brandon Alston (6-5, 200), who averaged 6.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while playing out of position at forward. He’ll move to the backcourt wherever he transfers. Alston, who wants to play his natural position as a wing guard, has two years of eligibility remaining.
Mount St. Mary’s transfer Miles Wilson (6-5, 190) will visit Miami and then choose between the Hurricanes and Auburn. Wilson, who averaged 11.8 points and 3.9 rebounds as a freshman at MSM, will have to sit next season but will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Per Adam Zagoria, Pitt grad transfer Cameron Johnson’s decision should come down to Arizona and Kentucky. Where he winds up will likely be determined by who stays in the NBA Draft. If Hamidou Diallo stays in the draft, it could be a positive for Kentucky. If Rawle Alkins elects to return to Arizona then Johnson might seek another destination. Although he’s a grad transfer, Johnson has two years of eligibility remaining.
While Alabama waits word from Braxton Key whether he is staying in the draft or returning to school, Texas transfer Tevin Mack (6-7, 220) has visited Tuscaloosa and committed to play for the Crimson Tide. Mack averaged 14.8 points per game at Texas before he was suspended back in January.
For his fourth quarter targeting hit in the Orange Bowl game against Michigan, Florida State starting safety Trey Marshall will have to sit the first half of the Seminoles’ season opener against Alabama. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher takes exception to the NCAA rule, stating, “I think that’s crazy. No other sport, I don’t know a sport, you have those red cards in soccer, they don’t follow you year-to-year.”
Darren McFadden, the former Arkansas running back who signed a six-year, $60.1 million contract with the Oakland Raiders in 2008, has sued his former financial adviser and Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. for mismanagement. The lawsuit claims the former adviser diverted large sums of McFadden’s money for his own personal use.
Two University of Georgia assistant tennis coaches have been suspended because of an ongoing police investigation into “the possible theft and mishandling of prescription medication involving a number of individuals within the tennis program.” Men’s assistant Bo Hodge and women’s assistant head coach Drake Bernstein are the coaches in question involving an estimated $1,500 of prescription drugs, which makes this a felony investigation.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
If you are Caleb Brantley’s lawyer, do you advise him to sue or just move on to whatever is next?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Sometimes I’ll be driving and hear a song that just won’t go away the rest of the day. That happened Wednesday when I heard “My Life” by Billy Joel. It’s been playing in my head ever since, so I found this 2015 concert from Bonnaroo in which Billy Joel opened with “My Life.” If you’re like me, you know all these songs from years past but it’s never a bad thing to hear them played again.