California v USC

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.

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.