James Hudson in high school playing for Toledo Central Catholic HS.

It’s not uncommon for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to make mistakes in handling many different subjects. Over the course of the past few years some student-athletes have been allowed in football to transfer to new schools and receive instant eligibility.

When looking back over some of the names of those who received waivers to compete without sitting out a year is decided.

Shea Patterson – The former IMG quarterback signed and played for Ole Miss before leaving for Michigan following the Rebels issues related to former head coach Hugh Freeze. Patterson had attorney Tom Mars on his side throughout the process using the claim Freeze and Ole Miss deceived Patterson and other recruits about NCAA Level I violations. Patterson won and received immediately eligible.

Justin Fields – The former five-star recruit out of Kennesaw, Georgia was a back-up quarterback as a freshman for the Bulldogs. Those in the know have said Fields became frustrated with his inability to beat out Jake Fromm for the starting job. Fields would use an incident where a Georgia baseball player made bigoted comments to the quarterback in late September as part of the process in getting a waiver to receive immediate eligibility under the following NCAA guidelines. Fields, like Patterson, used attorney Tom Mars during the process.

Here is the NCAA guideline used to help Fields.

**New NCAA transfer guidelines include a provision for undergraduate transfers which states that a player may not have to spend one year-in-residence before taking the field for their new team if “the transfer is due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete.**

Tate Martell – Another former five-star prospect, Martell came out of Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas) and considered the next dual-threat quarterback to take over and run Urban Meyers offense the way J.T. Barrett had done. Like Patterson and Fields, Martell hired an attorney, Travis Leach, to help him in his transfer and request for instant eligibility. Recently, Martell has stated he was told he’d be better off finding a new home leaving for the Miami Hurricanes. It’s been reported by multiple outlets that Leach used some things that happened at Ohio State as his leverage in getting Martell immediate eligibility.

That brings us to Luke Ford, Brock Hoffman and James Hudson. All three requested immediate eligibility from the NCAA and all three have been turned down. 

Ford who was considered the top recruit in Illinois for the 2018 recruiting class signed with Georgia. The native of Carterville, Ill., announced in early January his plans to transfer closer to home as his grandparents are fighting health issues and the rest of his family can’t afford the travel to see him play.

Ford transferred to Illinois with the Champaign campus being about 190 miles away from his hometown and family. The NCAA denied Ford in his waiver request with some stating a NCAA rule established in 2012 that these types of cases had a limitation of 100 miles from hometown to the new school.

Hoffman, an offensive lineman from Coastal Carolina looked to get closer to his hometown of Statesville, North Carolina and his mother, who had a noncancerous brain tumor removed prior to his freshman season with a transfer to Virginia Tech. According to Hoffman, the NCAA determined his mother’s condition improved too much and Virginia Tech is too far away from his home residence (five miles outside of 100-mile radius) to merit immediate eligibility despite his mother still having side effects from the surgery.

The most recent NCAA fail is that of Hudson who signed with Michigan as a four-star recruit in the 2017 recruiting class out of Toledo Central Catholic.

Hudson, unlike the three quarterbacks we discussed above, left the Wolverines program during the season. Many questioned why Hudson would leave the Wolverines when he did and many just put it off from a lack of playing time.

With his departure in late October, Hudson committed to Cincinnati in December as more was being learned about his off the field circumstances fighting mental health issues, he was too afraid to speak up about.

Now, Hudson has come out and addressed his fight as the NCAA denied his waiver to gain immediate eligibility with a tweet.

As Hudson stated, those who have a family member or who suffer from any type of mental issues themselves usually keeps it hidden and away from those they know.

Depression continues to be a major issue in this country with more than 3 million reported cases per year. The facts are mental illness, especially depression, lead many to suicide. The NCAA has done past analysis on this subject finding suicide represented the third leading cause of death among college-age individuals and second leading cause of death among college students.

While we don’t know the level of depression suffered by Hudson, the NCAA should take the issue serious enough to do more if there is any doubt at all about Hudson or any other student-athlete playing under the NCAA umbrella, especially in the sport of football where in the NCAA analysis they found the highest rate of suicide occurred in men’s football as compared with other male, non-football student athletes.

For those who’ve never suffered from depression it is often something, you’ll never understand. However, it is real, and while more is being learned to help those who are fighting the disorder, more needs to be done in this country.

While we hope the NCAA comes to grasp with the issues of the three student-athletes they’ve denied and issue them eligibility this season, the case of Hudson should get even more attention as we’re talking about a person’s mental wellbeing.

Since the change in the transfer wavier guidelines, 51 of 64 NCAA players who appealed for immediate eligibility since the modification have been approved for instant eligibility. Why the three above have been turned down while others approved should have many scratching their heads.

If you or someone you know is fighting depression or any form of mental and/or substance use disorders and need help. Please contact the SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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Dave Berk

Team publisher and recruiting analyst for Scout.com from 2002-2017. Founded Dave Berk Consulting (DaveBerkConsulting.com), a football recruiting consulting company focused on helping families through the recruiting process in 2016. Founded First Star Football Report in fall of 2018. Has appeared on national, regional and local television and radio including NFL Network, FOX Sports Radio, Sporting News Radio, 700 WLW, 980 WONE, WCPO CH9 and more. Provided recruiting analysis for FOX Sports Ohio weekly high school game of the week in Southwest Ohio area and was an analyst for the Time Warner Sports (Spectrum Sports) Ohio National Signing Day show.

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