Exiting spring, head coach Bill O’Brien firmly stated that neither Tyler Ferguson (pictured) nor Steven Bench had separated themselves in the race to replace Matt McGloin as Penn State’s starting quarterback. With Bench transferring to USF, and with five-star 2013 signee Christian Hackenberg on his way, it was thought the competition would become a two-player chase.
At least for now, that particular summer camp storyline has officially been set.
In his latest depth chart released Thursday, O’Brien listed the quarterbacks as Ferguson followed by Hackenberg, but separated by an “OR.” Thus, the two players will enter camp, which begins Aug. 5 after the players report the day before, as co-starters.
Ferguson was an early enrollee at Penn State this past January after spending the 2012 season at a California junior college. Hackenberg, on the other hand, comes to Happy Valley with a very heft recruiting résumé.
The five-star player was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2013; the No. 3 player in the state of Virginia; and the No. 24 player in the country at any position. 247Sports.com was even higher on Hackenberg, rating him as the top player at his position as well as the No. 6 player overall.
“We have a very good feeling about our team this summer,” O’Brien said in general, although he could very well have been talking specifically about the state of the most important position on a football field — and a certain incoming freshman who most expect will grab the starting by the throat from the get-go and run away with it.
Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr., the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff George, has announced he will look for an opportunity to play football elsewhere in 2018. In a statement shared on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, George said he will leave Illinois with a degree in hand, allowing him to pursue a transfer possibility as a graduate transfer.
Thank you to Coach [Lovie Smith] and the entire staff for helping me develop over the past couple years,” George said in his statement on Twitter. “With that being said, after discussions with Coach Smith as well as my family, it would be in my best interest to pursue my athletic career with 2 years of eligibility left at a school that will best utilize the abilities I have to offer.”
George played in seven games for the Illini in 2017 with 1,273 passing yards and seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The only other quarterbacks on the roster to attempt a pass last season were junior Chayce Crouch (who played quarterback in seven games and had 443 passing yards with one touchdown and four interceptions Cam Thomas, a redshirt freshman in 2017. Illinois also has two other freshmen on the roster — Charlie Reinkemeyer and Connor Kelly – that should make for an interesting quarterback situation this spring.
As a graduate transfer, George will be eligible to play in the fall at any FBS program that welcomes him to their program.
Normally what Nick Saban wants Nick Saban gets. In this case, the head coach may have his work cut out for him.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that disgraced former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was a visitor to Alabama’s football building. With the Crimson Tide searching for another offensive coordinator, speculation focused on Freeze as a potential candidate for the opening; others thought an in-house promotion was more likely and that Freeze could assume another role with the program.
According to the latest from the Tuscaloosa News‘ Aaron Suttles, “Saban is really pushing for Freeze to be an on-the-field coach,” whether it be as coordinator or, perhaps, working with quarterbacks or another positional group. One problem, per the News, is that some within the program are pushing against such an addition, although, again, if Saban really wants Freeze as an on-field addition he’d get it regardless of who was pushing back. Another issue, though, could be his conference.
From Suttles’ report:
Another aspect to this is that should Alabama decided to hire Freeze as an on-the-field coach, it would likely need the blessing of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. Sankey isn’t keen on that happening, The Tuscaloosa News has learned.
The league office’s pause in one of its members giving Freeze his first post-scandal second chance is certainly understandable.
Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a two-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach. The one-year show-cause Freeze was slapped with, which would impact him on the recruiting trail as a head coach, would not be in effect if he served in a non-head coach capacity.
If the SEC would indeed have an issue with the Freeze hire — and if they actually have a say in the matter — it remains to be seen how far down the Freeze road Saban is willing to travel.
Dylan Collie is again on the move, presumably for the final time.
The wide receiver took to Twitter Tuesday night to announce that he has decided it’s in his best interests to transfer from Hawaii. Collie will be leaving the program as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility if he opts for another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.
Collie signed with BYU in 2012 but, after completing an LDS Church mission, opted to transfer to Hawaii.
This past season, Collie led the Rainbow Warriors in receptions with 56, and was second in receiving yards (636) and receiving touchdowns (four). In three years at the Mountain West school, Collie totaled 118 catches for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns.
Two of Dylan Collie’s brothers, Austin and Zac, played receiver at BYU. Their father, Scott Collie, also played his college football for the Cougars.
The 2017 season was put to bed a little over a week ago, so the focus of the college football world has shifted to 2018.
In that vein, the ACC Wednesday released its football schedule for the upcoming season. The first game featuring a team from the conference will have Wake Forest traveling to Tulane on Thursday, Aug. 30. The first league game sees Virginia Tech traveling to Tallahassee on Labor Day to face Florida State in a primetime matchup.
Opening weekend will also see the ACC involved in a pair of neutral-site nonconference matchups: Louisville against defending national champion Alabama in Orlando Saturday, Sept. 1, and Miami facing LSU the next day in Arlington.
There are also five previously-announced games against scheduling partner Notre Dame, including road trips to South Bend for FSU (Nov. 10) and Pitt (Oct. 13). Wake (Sept. 22) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 6) will play host to the Irish, while Syracuse and Notre Dame will square off at Yankee Stadium Nov. 17.
The release announcing the schedule notes that ACC teams will play more games (19) against Power 5 competition than any other P5, and their members will also play 27 games against non-conference opponents that participated in bowl games last season, the highest total among Power 5 conferences.
“The 2018 ACC Football schedule provides our schools and programs the opportunity to build upon the numerous football successes that have been achieved in recent years,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Once again, our teams will be facing both a daunting conference schedule and what is collectively the most challenging non-conference schedule in the country. There will be no shortage of excitement for fans on a weekly basis.”
You can click HERE for the composite schedule, HERE for the team-by-team schedule and HERE for the ever-popular logo schedule.