Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has been hard at work in rehabbing and preparing himself for the 2014 season. With Shane Morris getting some praise in Michigan’s bowl game with Gardner injured, the spring is expected to bring a quarterback competition, although to what degree this competition reaches is for you to decide. In Gardner’s mind, the starting job is without a doubt his to lose.
“I’m a competitor, I’m going to compete and they’ll pick the best quarterback when it’s time,” Gardner said Tuesday, according to MLive.com. “(But) I’m the quarterback of the team.”
Michigan has been trending downward the last couple of seasons under Brady Hoke, so it should be expected the spring comes with a bit of a clean slate for all involved with the program. With coaching staff changes and pressure mounting for Hoke to turn things around in Ann Arbor, getting all players motivated this spring is key. That includes the quarterback position even if Gardner is the expected starter for the 2014 season. This is something every head coach does at one point or another. The odds are probably pretty good Gardner will be the starting quarterback when healthy, but delivering a message that nobody is safe to the entire team can speak volumes.
Ultimately Morris may have to put together a spring that is so far above and beyond anything Gardner does in order to become a strong contender for the starting job in 2014. Gardner had his ups and downs in 2013, but he is still capable of doing much more positive on the field when healthy.
One of the most dominant defensive players in the country has gotten his just due. I’m thinking it might not be the last.
Very late Monday night, the Football Writers Association of America announced that Alabama’s Jonathan Allen has been named as the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, given annually to the best defensive player in the country. The defensive end was one of five finalists for the award, players that included a teammate, linebacker Reuben Foster, as well as Florida State cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Clemson defensive end Christian Wilkins.
Seven times the last eight years, a Crimson Tide player has been a finalist for the award. This is the first time a player from that school has taken home the trophy.
“I’m honestly speechless right now. I never in a million years thought I would even be up for this award, yet win it,” Allen said. “I’ve got to thank all the guys back at Alabama, God, my parents, my girlfriend, everyone who’s had a part in shaping me and making me who I am. This is just a tremendous award.”
Allen’s statistical resume is encapsulated by the FWAA:
Allen is second on the Crimson Tide’s career sack list with 26.5 and has nine sacks for 72 yards in losses this season. He has 15 quarterback hurries, has broken up two passes, and blocked a kick. He has scored touchdowns on two fumble recoveries – a 75-yard return against Ole Miss and a 30-yard return against Texas A&M.
His worthiness, video-wise, can be summed up thusly:
Ole Miss WR Damore’ea Stringfellow jumping early to NFL
Not surprisingly, one of the most physically-gifted wide receivers in the country is making himself available to the next level.
Ole Miss confirmed Monday that Damore'ea Stringfellow has decided to forego his senior season and will enter the 2017 NFL draft. The receiver had long been expected to make the leap; the official announcement served to confirm the obvious.
“I cannot begin to express to Rebel Nation what an honor and privilege these last three years have been putting on the Ole Miss jersey each Saturday,” Stringfellow said in a statement. “The fans’ endless support, both on and off the field, has allowed me to grow and develop into the athlete and man that I am today.
“In that light, after much reflection and prayer, it pleases and saddens me to announce that I have decided to forgo my senior year and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft to pursue my dream of playing on Sundays. I would like to thank my family, coaches, professors and most of all the fans that have given me the love, courage and much needed prayer to go out and make Oxford proud. I truly would not have this amazing opportunity without you.”
The past two seasons, after he sat out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, the 6-2, 219-pound Stringfellow caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I am grateful to Damore’ea for his commitment to our program,” said Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze. “He has a tremendous opportunity, and we are excited for him to enter the next phase of his life. We look forward to seeing another Rebel receiver in the NFL.”
Lamar Jackson, OU tandem headline list of five Heisman finalists
The Heisman Trophy finalists were announced in a made-for-awkward-television moment during ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on sight from MetLife Stadium. The Heisman trust revealed a list of five finalists including: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Described my some (read: yours truly) as Allen Iverson in cleats, Jackson’s slippery explosiveness led to 4,928 yards of total offense and a nation-leading 51 touchdowns responsible for. He is regarded as the overwhelming favorite to win the stiffarm trophy.
Mayfield has thrown for 3,669 yards with 38 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His 197.75 quarterback rating is on pace to break the FBS single-season record, and he pilots an offense that ranks third nationally in scoring and yards per play. Mayfield’s efforts helped Oklahoma win its second straight Big 12 title and complete the first 9-0 run in the league’s 6-year round-robin era.
Peppers is the swiss army knife of a threat for the Wolverines. He ranks second on Michigan’s elite defense in tackles and tackles for loss while also returning punts and kicks and serving as a running back on offense.
Watson has led Clemson to back-to-back ACC championships and College Football Playoff appearances while firing 37 touchdown passes and throwing for 3,914 yards on the year.
Mayfield’s top target, Westbrook recorded 74 receptions for 1,465 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Westbrook’s inclusion makes Oklahoma the first team to send teammates to New York since Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush did the same for USC in 2005. They’re just the fifth set of teammates to do so overall (Leinart and Bush did so twice.)
That’s also the last time the SEC did not place a player in the top five vote-getters.
The Heisman Trophy ceremony will be held Saturday night in New York.
Army breaking out WWII-themed uniforms for Navy game
Army will carry with it a 14-game losing streak against Navy when it takes the M&T Bank Stadium field on Saturday. But the Black Knights will do so in some some great uniforms.
The academy on Monday unveiled the special uniforms they’ll wear against Navy that honor the accomplishments of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II.
Known as the All-Americans, the 82nd Airborne was “[h]ighly trained and highly disciplined, the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne were asked to spearhead the invasions of Italy, Normandy, and Holland. With little to no reinforcements or relief in the most adverse conditions, their physical and mental toughness was pushed to the limits. Their unwavering brotherhood and intense dedication to success, ultimately led to mission accomplishment.”