Finalists announced for the 2012 Walter Camp Award

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Two weeks ago, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 semifinalists for the prestigious National Player of the Year.

That list has now been whittled down to five.

Heisman Trophy front-runner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel headline the list of finalists, as well as one-time presumptive Heisman favorite Collin Klein of Kansas State.  Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was the only defensive player named, while Oregon running back Kenjon Barner and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee round out the list.

Stanford’s Andrew Luck won the Camp Player of the Year award in 2011.  This year’s award winner will be announced Dec. 6.

Below are the biographical quickies sent out by the Camp folks in their release of the finalists:

KENJON BARNER – OREGON – Senior – Running Back
Kenjon Barner ranks fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game (135.33) for the 11-1 Ducks… He has totaled 1,624 rushing yards (on 248 attempts) and 21 touchdowns on the season… Barner’s 22 total touchdowns rank sixth in the nation… Barner has seven 100-yard rushing efforts on the season, including a career-high 321-yard effort – with five touchdowns – in a win over USC on November 3.

COLLIN KLEIN – KANSAS STATE – Senior – Quarterback
Collin Klein has led the Wildcats to a 10-1 record entering Saturday’s regular-season finale versus Texas… Klein has passed for 2,306 yards and 14 touchdowns, completing 172-of-258 passes… He has thrown for 200 or more yards in a game six times… A dual threat, Klein has rushed for 787 more yards and 20 touchdowns…. He has rushed for two or more touchdowns in a game six times this season.

MARQISE LEE – USC – Sophomore – Wide Receiver
Second in the nation in receiving yards per game (140.0), Marqise Lee has totaled 112 catches for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns for the 7-5 Trojans… Lee has also returned 28 kickoffs for 802 yards (28.6 yards per return) and one touchdown… His best game came against Arizona on October 27 when he had 16 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns.

JOHNNY MANZIEL – TEXAS A&M  Redshirt Freshman – Quarterback
Johnny Manziel ranks second in the nation in total offense (383.3 yards per game) for the 10-2 Aggies… He has passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, completing 273-of-400 throws… Manziel has thrown for 200 or more yards nine times this season… He has rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, including six 100-yard efforts… His best game came in a win over Louisiana Tech on October 13 when he accounted for six touchdowns (3 rushing; 3 passing) and 576 yards (395 passing, 181 rushing), which earned him Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week honors.

MANTI TE’O – NOTRE DAME – Senior – Linebacker
Te’o is the leader of the top-ranked Fighting Irish (12-0) defensive unit that ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (10.3 points allowed per game) and sixth in total defense (287.3 yards allowed per game)… Te’o has totaled 103 tackles (8.6 tackles per game) and ranks third in the nation with seven interceptions…Has played a role in 11 of Notre Dame’s 23 turnovers this year (7 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 pass hurries that directly led to interceptions).

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

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While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

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Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.