Johnny Manziel made history last season, becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
There’s a chance he may not be the only one.
Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston staked his claim to the Heisman on Saturday night, throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns (plus another on the ground) to lead the No. 5 Seminoles to a 51-14 shellacking of No. 3 Clemson in Death Valley.
How good has Winston been this year? Through six games, he has 1,885 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns (plus another three rushing touchdowns), 3 interceptions, a 71 percent completion percentage and a passer rating of 210. That’s some pretty amazing stuff for a guy who is just getting his feet wet.
More importantly, his production has helped Florida State harken back to some of its past glory. This is easily the Seminoles’ best team since 2000, which was also the last time FSU had a Heisman winner (Chris Weinke) and landed a berth in the BCS title game.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, there’s still a long way to go this season. The ‘Noles still must play Miami, rival Florida and whoever it happens to play in the ACC title game (if it gets there).
And while Winston has been on fire, he’s not yet the favorite in this race. That honor would go to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, who is still the player to beat.
But whether he wins or not, Winston has already established himself as a likely Heisman finalist. Before Manziel, the only freshmen to make it as finalists were Michael Vick and Herschel Walker.
That’s pretty good company.
Following up on reports that surfaced earlier today, Texas head coach Charlie Strong has confirmed in a statement that Chris Vaughn is no longer a member of his Longhorns coaching staff.
“Chris did a tremendous job for us,” the statement from Strong began. “He’s a terrific football coach and a great person. However, circumstances have put us in a position that we are going to part ways.”
While those circumstances weren’t specified, it’s believed they’re tied to the NCAA’s investigation into the Ole Miss football program.
From 2008-11, Vaughn was an assistant under Houston Nutt with the Rebels. One report in connection to Vaughn’s ouster at UT stated that “the facts against Vaughn [in the Ole Miss case] ‘were damning,'” while another said the “NCAA has a ‘thick file’ on Vaughn.”
Vaughn had spent the past two seasons as Strong’s defensive backs coach. While his two-year contract had expired late last month, he had an option for a third year that, prior to the Ole Miss developments, was expected to be picked up by the football program.
For the third time this offseason, Dan Mullen has added a new face to his Mississippi State defensive staff.
The latest addition is Maurice Linguist, who the school confirmed Thursday has been hired as to coach the safeties for the Bulldogs. Linguist had spent the past two seasons as Iowa State’s defensive passing game coordinator.
“Maurice is a very sharp person with a bright future in the coaching profession,” a statement from Mullen read. “His knowledge of the game is exceptional, while his teaching and communication skills will resonate well with our players. We are happy to have him in Starkville and look forward to the impact he will make on our team.”
“I am excited to be a part of the tradition that Coach Mullen has established in his tenure here at Mississippi State,” Linguist said. “It’s a privilege to be a Bulldog, to coach in the Southeastern Conference and to mentor the dynamic safeties we have on this team.”
Linguist’s first on-field job at the FBS level came at Buffalo in 2012-13, holding the same job title he had at ISU. After finishing up his playing career at Baylor — as a safety he was team MVP and honorable mention All-Big 12 selection — he began his coaching career at his alma mater as a grad assistant in 2007.
The 31-year-old assistant has also spent time on staffs at Valdosta State (2008, defensive backs/special teams) and James Madison (2009-11, safeties).
Linguist joins Peter Sirmon (defensive coordinator) and Terrell Buckley (secondary) as coaches Mullen has hired over the past three weeks.
It appears the tentacles of an NCAA investigation centered in Oxford could ultimately have an impact on Austin as well.
247Sports.com was the first to report that Texas and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn are expected to part ways. The recruiting website writes that “[i]t is unclear whether Vaughn will resign or be fired.”
Subsequent to that initial report, multiple media outlets have reported the same.
It surfaced late last month that the Ole Miss football program, the subject of an NCAA investigation, had received a Notice of Allegations from The Association regarding alleged violations in three sports, including football. There were 28 total violations spread out amongst the sports, 13 of which reportedly involved football — with nine of those occurring since Hugh Freeze took over for Houston Nutt in December of 2011.
Vaughn was a member of Nutt’s Rebels coaching staff from 2008-11 when four of the alleged NCAA violations occurred, and from which his current employment issue currently stems:
Vaughn, who was an assistant at Ole Miss six years ago, may have been implicated in part of the NCAA allegations recently levied against Ole Miss.
Vaughn coached for the Rebels from 2008 to 2011 and served as the team’s defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Sources tell Horns247 the facts against Vaughn “were damning.”
And then there’s this ominous-sounding Twitter update from Brian Davis of the Austin-American Statesman:
Vaughn has spent the past two seasons with Charlie Strong and the Longhorns, and has been a key recruiting component for the program. In between his stints at Ole Miss and Texas, Vaughn was the cornerbacks coach at Memphis from 2012-13.
Oregon has already landed FCS transfer Dakota Prukop this offseason. Now, the Ducks have landed another FCS player who could potentially provide protection for the quarterback this coming season as well.
The Ducks announced via Twitter Wednesday that Zac Morgan has been added to the football roster. The offensive lineman began his collegiate career playing at Dayton of the FCS.
The upcoming season will be Morgan’s final year of college football, and he will be eligible to play immediately for the Ducks.
The Ducks will be getting a lineman who has the experience to step in and contribute right away.
Over the past three seasons, the 6-7, 280-pound Morgan started 26 games, including all 12 at left tackle in 2015. Following this past season, Morgan was named to the first-team All-Pioneer Football league squad.