October 20, 2012; Hattiesburg, MS, USA; Southern Miss Golden Eagles quarterback Anthony Alford (2) limps off the field in the third quarter during the game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook - USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Alford Update

A couple of items of news since my piece on Anthony Alford‘s on campus arrest at the University of Southern Mississippi.  Firstly, and most importantly, for Anthony’s short and long term future, is that the aggravated assault charges were dropped the day after the arrest and replaced with conspiracy to possess a weapon on school property and hindering prosecution.

Obviously, being charged with anything is not ideal, but the new charges will severely limit the potential jail time Alford would serve if convicted.  I have tried to have a look for precedent in these sorts of cases without much luck, but aggravated assault charges carried terms from the fifteen to twenty year range.  A life altering conviction.

The second piece of news occurred earlier today when Alford was granted a release from his scholarship at USM.  I haven’t been able to track down any official statement from Alford himself, nor do I expect one from the Jays.  So, we can only speculate.  The arrest and subsequent suspension from the university were probably the deciding factors, but, as per this article, with the Golden Eagles firing their head coach after the first zero win season in the school’s history, it is expected Alford’s offensive coordinator and former high school coach, Steve Buckley, will be shown the door.  This probably factored into the decision as well.

What’s next then?  As commenter Jays Fan pointed out after my last article, confirmed here, the arrest itself won’t affect Alford’s NCAA eligibility.  Meaning he can transfer to another school, red shirt a year, and still be able to play football for three more seasons.  This may very well be the preferred course of action, as Alford may feel he still has a lot to prove on the football field.

However, as per the CBS article I tagged above, Alford did ‘suffer through multiple knee and ankle injuries that kept him out of three games and limited him in several others.’   Given the fact that baseball doesn’t involve 250 pound linebackers trying to kill you, Alford could have come to his senses, realizing baseball gives him a far safer route to any potential professional sports contract.

I recently wrote a piece on how the Jays organization has prioritized high ceiling athletes when drafting positional players in recent years.  Anthony Alford is the poster boy for this category, being generally regarded as the best pure athlete in the 2012 draft.  Of course, this doesn’t mean he can hit a baseball with any great consistency.  If he decides to go the transfer route, choosing a red shirt year of football, he’ll be lost from full-time baseball for a minimum of two years. The Blue Jays organization would probably then view his 750k signing bonus as a sunk cost, and we will never get the chance to see what he could develop in to.

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  • Jays Fan

    This is good news. I doubt Alford will get jail time with the new charges. If he decides to focus on baseball, then AA pulled a huge coup here because he is a first round talent. Hopefully the Jays get him some counseling to learn how to handle pressure and diversity. It will be interesting to watch.

    • Charlie

      After writing the piece I read elsewhere that it’ll probably get pleaded down to a misdemeanor with some community service or something. That was the good news. Bad news is that the feeling is he has committed to Ol’ Miss. Hopefully he comes to his senses and realizes baseball is best path.

      And ya, have no doubt the Jays would look to get some sort of counseling, small price to pay for the investment already laid out.