Bears

The latest on the TCU drug arrests

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The latest on the TCU drug arrests

From Comcast SportsNet
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Authorities arrested 17 students at Texas Christian University on Wednesday as part of a six-month drug sting, an especially embarrassing blow to the school because it included four members of the high-profile football team. Arrest warrants painted a startling picture of the Horned Frogs, with a handful of players who allegedly arranged marijuana sales after class or around practice and who told police that most of the team had failed a surprise drug test just two weeks ago. According to police, players sold undercover officers marijuana during the season and as recently as last week. "There are days people want to be a head football coach, but today is not one of those days," coach Gary Patterson said in a prepared statement. "As I heard the news this morning, I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad." The 17 people arrested were caught making "hand-to-hand" sales of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and prescription drugs to undercover officers, police said. They said the bust followed an investigation prompted by complaints from students, parents and others. TCU has an enrollment of about 9,500 students, but the athlete arrests drew the most scrutiny. The bust came just one day after a thrilling overtime victory by the men's basketball team over a ranked opponent and less than 24 hours after TCU released its football schedule for next season, its first in the Big 12 Conference. Three prominent defensive players on the team were arrested: linebacker Tanner Brock, the leading tackler two seasons ago, defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and cornerback Devin Johnson. The other player is offensive lineman Ty Horn. While school Chancellor Victor Boschini said he didn't think TCU had a "football problem," the arrest affidavits raise the possibility that other players were involved. In November, a Fort Worth police officer was informed that Horn was selling marijuana to "college students and football players at Texas Christian." The officer allegedly bought marijuana that day, Nov. 3, two days before a road game at Wyoming, from both Horn and Yendrey. Officers during the next several months allegedly set up drug deals with the players outside restaurants, a grocery store and other areas around campus. On Jan. 19, Brock allegedly sold an officer 200 worth of marijuana after Yendrey ran out. "After a short conversation about the marijuana, Brock and I exchanged phone numbers, telling me to come to him from now on instead of (Yendrey)," according to the affidavits. Horn and Johnson scoffed at the Feb. 1 team drug test ordered by Patterson, police said. Brock allegedly told an undercover officer that he failed the surprise test "for sure," but that it wouldn't be a problem because there "would be about 60 people screwed." Horn had looked through the football roster and "said there were only 20 people that would pass the test on the team," Brock said, according to the warrant. And six days after the test, Johnson allegedly sold an officer 300 worth of marijuana. Asked about the test, he said: "What can they do, 82 people failed it." In response to that allegation, TCU cornerback Kolby Griffin posted a tweet on his personal account Wednesday that read, "This rumor about 82 of us failing a drug test is false completely false." TCU released a statement late Wednesday afternoon that said the school tests its athletes for drug use "on a regular basis." "The comments about failed drug tests made by the separated players in affidavits cannot be verified simply because they were made in the context of a drug buy," the school said. Patterson declined to answer questions beyond his prepared statement. Phone messages left at the homes of Horn, Johnson and Yendrey were not immediately returned. Brock did not have a listed home number. All of the players are 21 except for Yendrey, who is 20. Brock was being held on 10,000 bond at the Mansfield city jail. Johnson and Horn were being transferred to the jail on Wednesday afternoon and Yendrey had not been arraigned. Police said they had yet to determine if other football players were involved or would be charged. Officials said the students had been "separated from TCU" and criminally barred from campus, but it wasn't clear if the players had been kicked off the team. But their names had already been removed from the football roster posted on the school's athletic website. "I expect our student-athletes to serve as ambassadors for the university and will not tolerate behavior that reflects poorly on TCU, the athletics department, our teams or other student-athletes within the department," athletic director Chris Del Conte said. "Our student-athletes are a microcosm of society and unfortunately that means some of our players reflect a culture that glorifies drugs and drug use. That mindset is not reflected by TCU nor will it be allowed within athletics." Brock was the leading tackler for TCU as a sophomore during the 2010 season, when the Horned Frogs went 13-0, won the Rose Bowl and finished the year ranked No. 2. Brock started the season opener at Baylor last September, but aggravated a foot injury that required season-ending surgery. Yendrey started 12 of 13 games this past season, when he had 39 tackles and three sacks. Johnson played in all 13 games, starting the last eight, and had 47 tackles with 2 12 sacks. Brock likely would have been a starter again in 2012. Yendrey, who also started five guys as a junior, and Johnson both were juniors last season and had another season of eligibility. Horn appeared in 10 games this past season, making one start. He played in eight games as a freshman. "Under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student-athletes will not be tolerated by me or any member of my coaching staff," Patterson said. "I believe strongly that young people's lives are more important than wins or losses. He added: "At the end of the day, though, sometimes young people make poor choices. The Horned Frogs are bigger and stronger than those involved." Boschini, the chancellor, called the charges against all the students "simply unacceptable." Fraternity members were among those arrested, though Boschini said he didn't think any whole fraternity houses were at fault. "Today's events have changed the life of everybody at TCU," Boschini said.

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Mitch Unrein (free agent), John Jenkins (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Jared Crick, Frostee Rucker, Dominique Easley

This unit was consistently the Bears’ best in 2017, with Akiem Hicks playing at a Pro Bowl level (don’t let his exclusion from the game fool you on that) and Eddie Goldman putting together a rock-solid, healthy year. 

Hicks signed a four-year contract extension just before the season began and rewarded the Bears with a dominant year, racking up 8 ½ sacks and 15 tackles for a loss. Goldman played in and started 15 games and was a key reason why the Bears limited opposing rushers to four yards per carry, tied for the 10th-best average in the league. 

But while the Bears’ defensive line was certainly good, it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. These words from Vic Fangio ring true for Hicks and Goldman:

“I think they all have a lot more to give to us than we’ve seen,” Fangio said. “And it’s our job to get them to improve and become even better players. That will be more important to us than anybody we can acquire between now and whenever our first game is. So, and I know it’s always sexy to talk between now and the first game, you know, who are you going to draft, who’s in free agency, etc., but we’ve got to get our so-called good players playing even better. And that will be critical.”

Hicks will enter Year 3 in Fangio’s scheme, while 2018 will be Goldman’s fourth. It’ll also be a critical year for Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris, who’ve flashed potential at times but haven’t been able to turn that into consistent success on the field. 

And that’s where we begin to look ahead to free agency and the draft. Is the Bears’ evaluation of Bullard -- their 2016 third-round pick -- positive enough to hand him a bigger role in 2018? That’s question No. 1 to answer, with No. 2 then being if the team should try to re-sign Mitch Unrein. 

It may be a bit risky to move forward with Bullard, given how popular Unrein was among the Bears’ defensive coaching staff. 

“He’s one of the glue guys on the defense and the team,” Fangio said last November. “Every team needs a few of those guys who are going to do everything right, full speed, hard and tough all the time, and that’s Mitch.”

Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers offered this up about Unrein back in October: “He allows those guys to play fast,” with “those guys” being Hicks and Goldman. 

Statistically, the 30-year-old Unrein doesn’t  jump off the page, but he did record a career high 2 ½ sacks in 2017. Perhaps there would be some benefits to continuity in the Bears’ base 3-4 defensive line.

Worth noting too is this position isn’t a huge need, given Unrein usually played between 40 and 55 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps on a per-game basis last year. Keeping Unrein for a relatively low cap hit would make some sense, as opposed to testing free agency to replace him.

Jared Crick is coming off back surgery and an ineffective 2016; Dominique Easley is coming off his third torn ACL this decade; Frostee Rucker is in his mid-30’s. The Bears could look to pick a 3-4 defensive end in April, but that would be a pretty quick re-draft of the position and would be an indication they don’t think much of Bullard. This seems like a position where keeping the status quo is likely, save maybe for replacing John Jenkins with a different backup behind Goldman. 
 

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

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AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”