Legal Troubles to Impact Big Ten Rosters
Philip Nelson, a transfer at quarterback from Minnesota to Rutgers, was dismissed from the Scarlet Knights due to serious assault charges left a man in critical condition. Josh Banderas, a contributor at linebacker for Nebraska, is charged with felony theft for stealing bikes. "Bad news season" has arrived.
College football has entered the spot on the calendar where most of the meaningful college football news tends to be negative. Sure, there can be positive recruiting developments, but with little real action for the players you often see indiscretions lead to bad press.
Nelson accounted for three touchdowns in Minnesota's upset over Nebraska a year ago. He was set to compete with Gary Nova at quarterback for Rutgers, who lost his starting job in 2013 due to poor play. Nova is not the kind of dual-threat player that's been so troubling to Bo Pelini defenses over the years. So the absence of Nelson probably benefits Nebraska.
Banderas was the fifth most productive linebacker in 2013. The top four producers all return, though Nate Gerry has moved to safety. Additional competition comes from Trevor Roach, who appeared likely to be a major contributor before losing last season to injury. Courtney Love and Marcus Newby both come off of redshirt seasons. Newby may be used in packages as a rush end (like Demorrio Williams in the past). Love showed well in spring and appeared likely to be in the mix for playing time at linebacker as well.
While NU had the depth to continue without Banderas, it doesn't take much for depth to vanish. With important conference games against running teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa, the Huskers are going to need good healthy linebackers.
No word has been given yet on the status of Banderas with the team going forward. You'd imagine he could be suspended a game or dismissed from the team. Like defensive end Avery Moss, he might have to sit out a year before he's allowed to return (if at all).
It's always troubling to see young men make bad decisions. Hopefully, Banderas and Nelson don't repeat these mistakes as they'll quickly find themselves running out of second chances.