The three finalists for the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in college football, were announced on Monday by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Senior cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State and Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State all made the final cut. The winner will be announced on Dec. 12.
Dennard ranks among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (4), pass break-ups (7) and passes defended (11) and is one of the main reasons why Michigan State leads the FBS in total defense. He ranks fifth on the team with 47 tackles, including two for losses, and has one forced fumble. Dennard is also a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy.
Gilbert leads the Big 12 with six interceptions this season. He has two pick-sixes on the year (at Iowa State and at Texas). His 11 career interceptions rank him 16th among all active players and his 25 career pass break-ups are the most for any Cowboy. Additionally, he has three non-offensive touchdowns this year; a 31-yard interception return at Iowa State, a 100-yard kickoff return vs. Kansas and a 43-yard interception return at Texas. He has eight non-offensive touchdowns in his career.
Joyner leads the No. 2 ranked Seminoles with five sacks and three forced fumbles, and also has 55 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and an interception. He has started 38 games in his career and is the veteran leader of the nation’s fifth-ranked defense, second-ranked scoring defense and passing defense. Joyner’s signature performance came at then-No. 3 Clemson on Oct. 19 when he had eight solo tackles, one sack, an interception and forced two fumbles in the 51-14 Seminole victory. Like Dennard, Joyner is a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy.
The Dan Mullen era has everyone excited in Gainesville, but one key contributor won’t stick around to see it.
Defensive lineman Taven Bryan announced Monday he will leave school to enter his name in the 2018 NFL Draft. According to the statement released on his Twitter account, it sounds as if he made his mind up during the Jim McElwain and Randy Shannon regimes and nearly returned upon Mullen’s arrival.
Bryan ranked fifth on the team with 40 tackles while also recording six TFL and four sacks, just half a sack off the team lead.
A native of Casper, Wyo., Bryan will attempt to become just the third Wyoming native to be among the ranks of active NFL players.
Sonny Dykes will take over as SMU’s head coach, according to multiple reports. The move was first reported by FotballScoop on Monday morning, and since confirmed by ESPN and Sports Illustrated.
Dykes takes over for Chad Morris, who left last week to become the head coach at Arkansas.
Morris was hired to re-establish ties with the Texas high school community after the program flatlined under June Jones, and Dykes has a similar appeal as his predecessor. Like Morris, Dykes is a former Texas high school coach, though only briefly. (He spent one year as the running backs coach at Richardson Pearce High School in 1994.) But more importantly he’s a name that will resonate with Texas high school coaches as the son of the legendary Spike Dykes.
The younger Dykes served as an assistant at Navarro Junior College and Texas Tech before taking over as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, where he led the Bulldogs to a 22-15 mark with one WAC championship from 2010-12. That success led him to Cal, where he took the Golden Bears to one bowl game in four seasons.
He was let go after the 2016 season, and spent the 2017 campaign laying low nearby the Hilltop, as an offensive analyst at TCU.
Dykes will inherit a 7-5 SMU team that ranked eighth nationally in scoring offense and 113th in scoring defense. The Mustangs will meet Dykes’s former team Louisiana Tech in the inaugural Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Interim head coach Jeff Traylor garnered significant support inside the locker room to take over on a full-time basis, so it will be interesting to see if Dykes works to keep the former Texas high school coach on staff, perhaps in an offensive coordinator capacity.
It can be argued Tavita Pritchard started the current era of Stanford football. Trailing 23-17 with 48 seconds left, it was Pritchard that hit Mark Bradford for a 10-yard touchdown to push the Cardinal past No. 2 USC for a 24-23 win in 2007, at the time the largest point-spread upset in college football history and kickstarting the Jim Harbaugh–David Shaw era that continues today.
And now it will be Pritchard’s job to keep the ball he first pushed way back when rolling.
According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, Pritchard will be named Stanford’s offensive coordinator.
Still only 30, Pritchard graduated from Stanford in 2009, but he never really left the Stanford football program. He volunteered with the coaching staff in 2010, began working with the Cardinal defense in 2011 and was promoted to the full-time coaching staff in 2013, working with the running backs.
Pritchard was moved to quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2014 and has remained there the past four seasons, but is now in line to take over the entire offense with offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren now the head coach at Rice.
Led by Doak Walker Award winner Bryce Love, Stanford concluded the regular season ranked 32nd in rushing, 61st in passing efficiency, 19th in yards per play and 39th in scoring at 32.0 points per game. The 13th-ranked and Pac-12 North champion Cardinal will meet No. 15 TCU in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Memphis offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey is taking the same job at Texas A&M, according to a report from, uh, me.
Dickey has been on the Memphis staff for the past six years, first as an original member of Justin Funete‘s staff and continued on under new head coach Mike Norvell. His 2017 unit ranked among the top five nationally in scoring, total offense and yards per play, and came within a defensive stop of winning the American championship and playing in the Peach Bowl.
Beyond Memphis, the appeal for Jimbo Fisher is Dickey’s extensive experience in Texas. A Galveston, Texas, native, Dickey broke into coaching as a graduate assistant on Jackie Sherrill‘s staff at Texas A&M and bounced around in the state as the offensive coordinator at UTEP, SMU and Texas State, and served as the head coach at North Texas from 1998-06. He led the Mean Green to four straight Sun Belt championships from 2001-04.
It will be interesting to see how much control of the offense Fisher gives to Dickey. Memphis ran 882 plays in its 12 games this season, 41st nationally, while Florida State ranked 122nd with 734 — a difference of a dozen snaps a game.