Byron De’Vinner wanted to tell his story.
The Nashville-based seven-on-seven coach alleged to Yahoo! Sports that he saw a Mississippi State booster give cash to recruit Will Redmond, whom De’Vinner had coached. He told ESPN that “five or six” MSU athletes received benefits from former booster Robert Denton Herring.
When The City Paper contacted De'Vinner, he said he’d received a lot of attention and wasn’t doing unpaid interviews. Later, he sent a text that said, “Nothing’s free anymore.”
Two players De’Vinner coached and advised, Vanderbilt freshmen Brian Kimbrow (Memphis East) and Caleb Azubike (McGavock), were recruited by Mississippi State. According to the Yahoo report, the NCAA has contacted nearly a dozen MSU recruits concerning the De’Vinner case.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin declined comment but athletics director David Williams said that, to his knowledge, the NCAA hasn’t talked to any Vanderbilt players.
“That wouldn’t be something we would have to know,” Williams said. “We go through a very strong process to make sure everything is on the up and up. We do know of Byron and know some kids have had discussions with him. We kind of keep a close eye on that sort of stuff.”
Last month, Auburn running back Jovon Robinson, another Memphis standout coached by De’Vinner — who interviewed but was not hired for a position on Mississippi State’s football staff — was declared ineligible because his high school counselor altered his transcript.
“The only thing you can really do is make sure you follow all of the rules and all of the moral integrity things we have,” Williams said. “You hear all these things about this kid was offered this, by this school, and that. We don’t even get into that because we just don’t do that. Our kids are very clear on the fact that if that’s something you’re interested in, we’re probably not the place you need to be talking to. We’re just not going to do that. ... We haven’t had a problem at all.
“But, by the same token, I think it needs to be mentioned we keep a close eye on everything that’s happened. So do we know who Byron is? Absolutely. Do we have any dealings with him as it relates to working with him to get kids? Absolutely not.”