National Notebook: Legal issues, assault suspects and new starters

Nick Cremona

Oregon corner suspended, battling bevy of legal issues

Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris was suspended this week after he was pulled over for several infractions, including driving on a suspended license and without insurance.

In a statement released by the school, head coach Chip Kelly said Harris would not be allowed to participate in any football-related activities.

Eugene Police report that Harris was stopped Monday afternoon after an officer noticed he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, for which he was also cited. Harris faces fines in excess of $952 and the car he was driving was impounded.

This isn’t Harris’ first run-in with the law. He was also ticketed this past June for driving 118 mph on Interstate 5, also with a suspended license. Harris was suspended indefinitely by Kelly and missed the Ducks’ season opener against LSU at Cowboys Stadium.

In six games this season for the No. 7 Ducks (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12), Harris has nine tackles as well as an interception.

Trojan RB decides to quit, focus on personal problems

After deciding not to travel to South Bend, Ind., last week for the Trojans game against Notre Dame, sophomore running back Dillon Baxter has decided to leave the USC football program. Baxter had skipped a practice and was late to another function last week, citing both “family and academic issues.”

“The decision has been made for Dillon Baxter to focus on his academics,” head coach Lane Kiffin said in a statement. “As he does so, he will not be part of our football program. However, we will continue to support him with our academic services department.”

There was rampant speculation regarding Baxter’s possible transfer to another school, but as of this week he is still enrolled at USC. Baxter had drawn comparisons to former Trojan Reggie Bush after he performed well in the spring of 2010, but he soon fell out of favor with Kiffin. The San Diego native was suspended for two games last year for unspecified reasons and lost his starting job to D.J. Morgan. Baxter then fabricated a story claiming several head coaches from schools around the country had illegally contacted him after USC received a two-year postseason ban and lost 30football scholarships.

Baxter rushed nine times for 29 yards this year for the Trojans. Kiffin maintains that Baxter will not transfer.

Ohio State RB Jamaal Berry suspect in assault case

Sophomore running back/return man Jamaal Berry is a suspect in an assault case that happened early last Friday morning in Columbus, Ohio. No charges have been filed, but athletic director Gene Smith told the Ohio State school newspaper, The Lantern, that Berry will be suspended if he is charged in the incident.

“The victim, who The Lantern has chosen not to name at this time, said that Berry and his friend were yelling vulgar remarks at him. After asking why they were yelling, the victim said that Berry crossed the street and punched his friend, and then punched him in the face with a closed fist.”

In five games this year, Berry has seven kickoff returns for 150 yards and 169 all-purpose yards.

Vols hand keys to Worley, hope he provides spark at QB

Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley has named true freshman Justin Worley the new starter at quarterback. Worley appeared in the second half last week against Alabama and will make his first career start this week at home against South Carolina.

“We’re not throwing and catching the way we need to, and we’re not calling the game the way we want to,” Dooley said. “So, we just need to make this move. I just feel like it’s the right one. It’s not something that’s done on a whim. You know, we have a lot of data to make a switch. We don’t have a lot of data on Justin.”

Worley figured to redshirt this season, but with Tyler Bray out with a broken thumb and inconsistent play from senior backup Matt Simms the past two weeks, Worley’s redshirt was removed — making him the de facto starter for the remainder of the year.