Camp Award unveils semifinalists

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As one of the oldest and most prestigious trophies in college football, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding player.

Tuesday, the Camp Foundation released its list of semifinalists for the 2012 version of the award.

A total of 15 players constitute that list, paced by the Pac-12 and SEC with four and three players, respectively.  The Big Ten and ACC were the only other conferences with more than one player with two each.

As expected, quarterbacks littered the semifinalists with nine players from that position.  Running backs (three), linebackers (two) and wide receiver (one) were also represented.

“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Foundation president John Marks said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”

Individually, USC quarterback Matt Barkley is the only 2011 semifinalist to repeat in 2012.  The Trojans are also the only team with two players represented — Barkley and wide receiver Marqise Lee.

The five finalists for the award will be announced Nov. 28.  The winner will be announced Dec. 6.

Below is the complete list of semifinalists as released by the Camp Foundation:

MONTEE BALL, Senior, RB, Wisconsin – Has rushed for 1,226 yards and 16 touchdowns for 7-3 Badgers.

MATT BARKLEY, Senior, QB, USC – Has passed for 2,972 yards and 33 touchdowns for the 7-3 Trojans.

KENJON BARNER, Senior, RB, Oregon – Has rushed for 1,360 yards and 19 touchdowns for 10-0 Ducks.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, Sophomore, QB, Louisville – Has passed for 2,858 yards and 21 touchdowns for the 9-1 Cardinals.

TAJH BOYD, Junior, QB, Clemson – Has accounted for 3,304 yards of total offense and 33 touchdowns (28 passing, 5 rushing) for 9-1 Tigers.

COLBY CAMERON, Senior, QB, Louisiana Tech – Has passed for 3,283 yards and 27 touchdowns for 9-1 Bulldogs.

JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN, Senior, RB, UCLA – Has rushed for 1,270 yards and 8 touchdowns for 8-2 Bruins.

JARVIS JONES, Junior, LB, Georgia – Has 56 tackles, 10.5 quarterback sacks, and 5 forced fumbles for 9-1 Bulldogs.

COLLIN KLEIN, Senior, QB, Kansas State – Has accounted for 2,768 yards of total offense and 31 touchdowns (19 rushing, 12 passing) for the 10-0 Wildcats.

MARQISE LEE, Sophomore, WR, USC – Has 98 receptions for 1,447 yards and 13 touchdowns for 7-3 Trojans.

EJ MANUEL, Senior, QB, Florida State – Has passed for 2,641 yards and 19 touchdowns for 9-1 Seminoles.

JOHNNY MANZIEL, Freshman, QB, Texas A&M – Has passed for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,014 and 15 scores.

AJ MCCARRON, Senior, QB, Alabama – Has passed for 2,158 yards and 20 touchdowns for 9-1 Crimson Tide.

BRAXTON MILLER, Sophomore, QB, Ohio State – Has 2,919 yards of total offense and 27 touchdowns (14 passing, 13 rushing) for 10-0 Buckeyes.

MANTI TE’O, Senior, LB, Notre Dame – Has totaled 92 tackles and six interceptions for the 10-0 Fighting Irish.

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.