Update: Terps remove Vandy restriction from O’Brien transfer

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UPDATED 9:54 a.m. ET: Maryland confirmed via a press release that offensive lineman Max Garcia, quarterback Danny O’Brien and linebacker Mario Rowson have all been granted a full release from the football program with no transfer restrictions.

“While at first I thought it was important to limit the institutions to which they could transfer, I have since reconsidered my decision” head coach Randy Edsall said in a statement. “At the end of the day, I want what’s best for these guys and I wish them well in their futures.

“As a program we are looking forward to putting this distraction behind us and to moving forward. Spring practice opens on March 10 and we can’t wait to get back out on the field.”

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Apparently, the backlash was extremely effective.  Or the football program stepped into a puddle of class and caught a swift case of common decency, one of the two.

Heavily criticized for limiting the transfer options of quarterback Danny O’Brien and two other players, Maryland is backing off that stance, with the Baltimore Sun reporting that all three players will now be permitted to transfer to Vanderbilt if they so desire.  The Sun wrote that “Terps coach Randy Edsall is meeting with the players this morning and informing them of the decision.”

O’Brien, along with offensive lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson, were granted releases from their scholarships earlier this month, although the releases came with stipulations: no transfers to ACC schools; any upcoming non-conference opponents, including West Virginia and Temple; and Vandy, coached by former Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin.  The first two stipulations are standard, while the third was viewed, and rightly so, as vindictive, petty and classless.

Part of the pettiness on the Terps’ part was the school reportedly believed Vandy had “tampered” with the players, particularly O’Brien.  Franklin has denied the accusations and insinuations.  That said, the Sun reports that the school will continue to pursue the tampering issue through the ACC and SEC.

According to the Washington Post, a formal complaint has already been filed with the ACC, which in turn forwarded the matter to the SEC for further investigation.

Despite the Terps’ sudden benevolence, there’s no guarantee O’Brien will end up with the Commodores, however.  In addition to Vandy, schools such as Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, USF, Stanford,  Ole Miss, East Carolina and Arizona have been mentioned as potential destinations.

Garcia has been offered scholarships from Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Ole Miss since his release, while both Alabama and South Carolina are reportedly considering doing the same.

Maryland’s decision to rescind the Vandy stipulation, though, could change the direction of both situations.

Clemson QB Tucker Israel enters his name in graduate transfer market

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Tucker Israel has yet to see significant action during his time at Clemson. With Kelly Bryant coming back and No. 1 quarterback recruit Trevor Lawrence joining the roster, that wasn’t likely to change.

So Israel (the non-Deshaun Watson player pictured above) is leaving.

“My time here at Clemson will always hold a special plate in my heart,” Israel said in a Twitter post released by the school. “I enjoyed every minute being here & thank Coach Swinney for believing in me. After much consideration, I plan on transferring upon getting my degree from this amazing university.”

A former 3-star recruit, Israel redshirted in 2015, threw four passes in 2016 and did not play in 2017. The Orlando, Fla., native will have two years of eligibility remaining upon arriving at his new destination.

Shane Beamer reportedly leaving Georgia for Oklahoma

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After you beat them, join them? Georgia special teams coordinator Shane Beamer is on his way to Oklahoma to become an offensive assistant coach at Oklahoma, according to multiple reports on Monday.

At Georgia, Beamer held the role of special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. At Oklahoma, it is reported Beamer will take on an assistant head coach title and assist head coach Lincoln Riley in preparing the offensive game plan for the Sooners. Beamer was with the Georgia staff for two years under Kirby Smart after leaving Virginia Tech to join the coaching staff in Athens.

Beamer is the son of former Virgina Tech head coach Frank Beamer. Georgia defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, which was a semifinal game for the College Football Playoff last season.

There is no update on how Smart will replace Beamer on his coaching staff at this time, but Dawg Nation notes Georgia has already lost special teams advisor Scott Fountain to join the coaching staff at Mississippi State.

 

Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley among Lombardi Award finalists

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The list of Lombardi Award candidates has been whittled down to a list of seven select finalists for this year’s award. A week after a list of 21 candidates was unveiled, only seven remain after a panel of voters cast their initial ballots for the award.

2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love of Stanford, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville highlight the list of finalists for the Lombardi Award. Other finalists include Saquon Barkley of Penn State, Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama, Shaquen Griffin of UCF and Joel Lanning of Iowa State.

The Lombardi Award has a new trophy and criteria this season after opening the award up to any position after previously being reserved for the top lineman or linebacker in the nation. The award is based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency on and off the field.

Lombardi Award Finalists for 2017 Season

  • Saquon Barkley, Penn State (RB)
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (S)
  • Shaquem Griffin, UCF (LB)
  • Lamar Jackson, Louisville (QB)
  • Joel Lanning, Iowa State (LB/QB)
  • Bryce Love, Stanford (RB)
  • Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (QB)

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award for the 2016 season. Carl Nassib of Penn State won the award in 2015, meaning Barkley and Fitzpatrick are attempting to win another Lombardi Award for their school. Oklahoma is the only other school with a Lombardi Award among the schools represented by the finalists for this season’s award. Iowa State, Louisville, Stanford and UCF are all looking for their first Lombardi Award winner in school history. Oklahoma has three all-time Lombardi Award winners, and Alabama and Penn State each have two.

QB Wilton Speight holding off graduate transfer decision

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Former Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is going to take his time evaluating all of his options before making a final decision. After previously announcing his decision to leave Michigan behind, Speight will reportedly not enroll at a new school until the summer, which gives him more time to decide where exactly he would like to continue his college football career.

According to a report from The Detroit News, Speight felt rushed to make a decision on a transfer between graduating from Michigan and January enrollment periods at potential landing spots. It would have been an ideal situation to be able to enroll in January and be eligible to participate in spring practices with his new program if possible, but it is also wise to not rush to a decision that Speight may end up regretting.

Because Speight will not be available for spring practices anywhere, The Detroit News reports Speight plans to stay in shape and train in Los Angeles. Joining a new program in the summer should still allow him an opportunity to step in and compete for a starting job, depending on where he ends up.

Speight announced his decision to transfer from Michigan as a graduate transfer in late November, and he later confirmed there would be some restrictions placed on his pending transfer. Per Speight, Michigan has blocked any potential transfer to another Big Ten program and any non-conference opponent on Michigan’s 2018 schedule (Notre Dame, Western Michigan, SMU). At the time, Speight said he was not joining the Wolverines for the bowl game because he was intending to enroll in January. With January nearly over, the next window for a transfer will have to wait until the summer.

As a graduate transfer, Speight will be eligible to play with his new football program this fall.