http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nc ... e/2610415/
Running back Michael Dyer is headed to Louisville
George Schroeder, USA TODAY Sports 11:22 p.m. EDT August 1, 2013
(Photo: Nelson Chenault for USA TODAY)
Michael Dyer has accepted a scholarship offer and will have immediate eligibility
He was the offensive MVP of the 2011 BCS Championship with Auburn
His mentor Fitz Hill says he believes Louisville will provide a support system for the running back
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Michael Dyer is ready to run again – at Louisville.
The former Auburn running back, who hasn't played football since the 2011 season, has accepted a scholarship offer and plans to enroll at the school and report next week, according to Fitz Hill, the president of Arkansas Baptist College who has served as Dyer's mentor. Dyer, who will be a junior, is immediately eligible after graduating last month with an associate's degree from Arkansas Baptist.
PREVIOUSLY: Dyer looks to move on, with baggage left behind
"He's excited to have an opportunity to resume his career," Hill told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday evening. "Many people doubted that Michael would ever make this comeback, and it's here."
Dyer could not be reached for comment. Louisville officials are prohibited from commenting on Dyer until he enrolls. But the running back, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in both his freshman and sophomore seasons at Auburn and was the offensive MVP of the 2011 BCS Championship game, could provide Louisville – already considered a dark-horse candidate in the BCS title race – with a potent weapon to go with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Dyer brings baggage after leaving Auburn and then Arkansas State because of incidents involving guns and drugs, but Hill, who personally mentored Dyer for several months, told USA TODAY Sports he would vouch for him.
"Based on what he has done at Arkansas Baptist College, I don't have one negative," Hill said. "I can't talk about (what happened at) Auburn or Arkansas State, but I can talk about Arkansas Baptist College. It's been all positive."
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Dyer left Auburn after he was suspended in December 2011 for failing drug tests. He has since admitted smoking "spice," or synthetic marijuana, as well as marijuana. A few months later, Dyer testified in the trial of four former teammates, acknowledging they used his .45 pistol, though he said the gun, which was legally purchased, was taken without his permission.
He transferred to Arkansas State in January 2012, but was dismissed from the program by then-coach Gus Malzahn – the current Auburn coach who was Auburn's offensive coordinator when Dyer played there – before fall practices started after news of a traffic stop months earlier became public. Dyer was cited for going 96 mph in a 70 zone. A state trooper confiscated a handgun, even though it was stored unloaded in a backpack in the car's trunk.
Dyer enrolled at Arkansas Baptist, a small school in Little Rock, Ark., last fall. Along with classes, he spent considerable extracurricular time with school officials including Hill, formerly the head coach at San Jose State. Hill told USA TODAY Sports in July that Dyer was "misunderstood," noting that he hasn't been charged with a crime.
"Everybody you talk to thinks he's an ex-felon," Hill said. "He's not an ex-anything."
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Hill said during a visit to Louisville last month, Dyer assured Cardinals coach Charlie Strong he wouldn't blow the opportunity. "He looked in (Strong's) eyes and said he wouldn't let him down," said Hill, who said he believed Louisville would provide a support system for Dyer.
"To me, it's just like a handoff," Hill said. "Everyone knows he plays football, but this was a decision for the support system. I think the environment will be productive for him. He told me, 'I just want to find a place that's going to be positive for me to finish the next two years of college football and to get a degree.' "
Louisville and TCU expressed interest in Dyer last spring, but backed away. Hill told USA TODAY Sports last month some schools had grown more cautious of Dyer "because of the (Aaron) Hernandez situation."
Dyer told USA TODAY Sports he intended to clear his name at his next stop.
"I'm not bringing anything but my clothes and myself," he said. "My next opportunity, I'm just gonna go play football, go to class, be respectful and do all the things I'm supposed to do. That's it for me."
Michael Dyer (5) weaves to evade Alabama defensive back Robert Lester (37) during the first half of Auburn's 2011 game against the Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium.(Photo: John Reed, USA TODAY Sports)
Although Dyer said last month he had received interest from Marshall, Western Kentucky and Troy, he also said he would like to walk on at Arkansas, even if another school offered a scholarship – the attraction being playing for his home-state school, with the added symbolism of not asking for anything but a chance. But at SEC media days, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said "there will not be a transfer running back at Arkansas."
At Louisville, Dyer would augment an already dangerous offense. Coming off a Sugar Bowl victory against Florida last January, the Cardinals are ranked No. 9 in the preseason USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll and has a legitimate shot at an unbeaten season and contention for a berth in the BCS title game. Two veteran running backs are returning after knee injuries.
Strong, while not speaking specifically about Dyer – NCAA rules prohibit coaches from publicly discussing potential recruits in-depth – said last week he isn't against providing a second chance, if he could "just make sure you have an impact on a younger person's life," according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
"You want to make sure that if you bring anyone into your program, he's going to become part of your program and you're not going to become him. That's what I always say," Strong said. "Any time we're looking to bring anyone into this program, it's all about us wanting to change that young man's future and give him a future where he has a chance to go be a productive citizen of society."
On Monday, Bridgewater told ESPN that Louisville players "would take him in and welcome him."
Hill said while Dyer had "made some bad decisions, he made some good decisions, too," adding that among those was the decision a year ago to sit out the season rather than transferring to a lower-level school to play immediately. Hill noted that Dyer also could have made himself eligible for the NFL's supplemental draft.
"He hasn't taken the easy way out," Hill said. "That's what I admire in respect."
George Schroeder, a national college football reporter for USA TODAY Sports, is on Twitter @GeorgeSchroeder.