Report: Mariota talked refs out of flagging UCLA LB

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Some players look for every edge when it comes to winning a game, but it seems Heisman Trophy front runner Marcus Mariota isn’t sweating the small stuff these days.  

He just wants to play football.

Proof of the Hawaii native’s ‘hang loose’ mentality was on display in the Ducks 42-14 win over No. 12 UCLA this past Saturday, according to this report from Rob Mosely of GoDucks.com. Bruin linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was getting overly-aggressive and demonstrative against the Ducks  in the early going (see a compilation here) and had a run-in with Mariota late in the second half.

Mariota was heading out of bounds when Zumwalt crashed into him just as he stepped onto the sideline. A flag seemed imminent but, apparently, Mariota convinced the referee to ignore it.

“Anthony Barr said he heard Mariota tell refs on Saturday not to call a late hit on Jordan Zumwalt, and to let them play,” Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register reported this morning. “Earned him respect.”

Not only did Mariota apparently say something to officials, but he tapped Zumwalt on the helmet while running back inbounds, as if to say, “good job, good effort.”

It goes to show that Mariota’s poise isn’t just reflected in the fact that he hasn’t thrown an interception in a Pac-12 record 292 consecutive throws. It also shows in how he sets an example for his teammates, who responded accordingly by recording a season-low-tying five penalties against the Bruins.

“I don’t know,” Mariota told Mosely. “I just try to keep my head, and my guys did an awesome job keeping their heads. They did come after us a couple times, and for our guys to hold their character really says a lot about this team.”

It says a lot about Mariota, too. 

Army’s Donovan Franklin tweets transfer to Kansas

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This is something you don’t see all too often.

Donovan Franklin (pictured, No. 26) tweeted out late Tuesday night that, “[a]fter careful consideration I am happy to announce that I have decided to continue my academic and athletic career at the University of Kansas.” Franklin had spent the past two years at the United States Military Academy at West Point, playing his college football for the Army Black Knights.

It’s unclear what led the slotback to leave the service academy and head to the Big 12 school.

Franklin was a two-star prospect coming out of high school in Maryland in Army’s Class of 2015.  After playing in two games in 2016, he carried the ball one time for seven yards this past season.

The 5-9, 185-pound Franklin was listed as a defensive back coming out of high school, and could assume such a role yet again with the Jayhawks.  That likely won’t happen this season, however, as it’s expected he will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

After committing to Oklahoma earlier this month, Notre Dame grad transfer Jay Hayes flips to Georgia

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That whole thing where Oklahoma landed a graduate transfer from Notre Dame?  Never mind.  Pretend it never happened.

April 15, a little over a week after he announced his transfer from Notre Dame, Jay Hayes took to Twitter to confirm that he had committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma.  Ten days later, the defensive lineman has done an about-face, taking to the same social media service to announce that he is flipping from OU to Georgia.

“This is it!” the lineman wrote, presumably meaning there will be no more flipping.

As a graduate transfer, Hayes will be eligible to play immediately for the Bulldogs in 2018.  This will be the lineman’s final season of eligibility.

Hayes, a four-star member of the Irish’s 2014 recruiting class, played in 26 games for the Irish over the last three seasons, including starts in all 13 games at defensive end in a 2017 season that saw him record 27 tackles and a sack.

Auburn lands UMass transfer lineman over UCLA, USC

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At least in this graduate transfer battle, the SEC has gotten over on the Pac-12.

Tuesday, Jack Driscoll, who decided to transfer from UMass earlier this offseason, confirmed that he had narrowed his potential landing spots down to three — Auburn, UCLA and USC.  A day later, the offensive lineman took to Twitter to announce that he will be enrolling at AU and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Tigers.

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 on The Plains.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.

North Carolina makes addition of Ohio State transfer RB Antonio Williams official

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North Carolina’s addition of a player from another Power Five program.

On his personal Twitter account earlier this week, Antonio Williams announced that he would be transferring to UNC.  A couple of days later, the Tar Heels confirmed that the running back has joined Larry Fedora‘s football program.

Williams will have to sit out the 2018 season because of NCAA rules.  Beginning with the 2019 season, however, he will have two seasons of eligibility that he can use at the ACC school.

Earlier this offseason, Williams had opted to transfer from Ohio State.

A four-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 7 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of North Carolina.  Williams ran for 318 yards and three touchdowns on his 63 carries the past two seasons; 290 of the yards and all three scores came this past season as he was the third back in a rotation that included Freshman All-American J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, who led the Buckeyes in rushing as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

Both Dobbins and Weber return this season, which was likely a trigger for Williams’ move from Columbus.