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CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Heisman Watch List

Heisman Trophy

And now we come to one of the most fruitless and frustrating portions of preview season: the preseason Heisman watch list.

Last year around this time, Johnny Manziel, fresh off becoming the first freshman to ever claim the Heisman, was being viewed as the co-favorite to become just the second-ever to stake his claim to a pair of stiff-armed trophies. AJ McCarron, still basking in the glow of becoming the first starting quarterback with back-to-back BCS title-game wins, was viewed as a potential challenger to Johnny Football. So too were Braxton Miller, Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater and a whole host of other players.

And then, of course, Jameis Winston happened. A 35-1 longshot last August, Winston went on to claim the 2013 Heisman in near-record fashion, joining Manziel as the only freshmen to win the award.

Winston, as you can expect, will be the favorite heading into the 2014 season. Is there, though, another Jameis out there this year? Let’s take a snapshot look at the reigning winner as well as 20 players, in alphabetical order so as not to (gasp!) offend anyone, who could snatch the trophy from the preseason front-runner.

JAMEIS WINSTON, FLORIDA STATE, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 257-of-384 passing (66.9%) for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 88 carries for 219 yards (2.8 yards per carry) and four touchdowns
QUICK HIT: There’s really not much to say here that hasn’t already been said.  Winston was the best player in college football last season, and also happened to play on the best team for good measure.  He’s lost a couple of weapons, but twice as many returned to go along with the obligatory growth of some of the younger skill players who should see their roles expand in 2014.  Also remember that Winston was in his first year as a starter; if his skill-set makes even a nominal jump, look out Archie Griffin… especially if he can avoid the negative off-field headlines.

AMEER ABDULLAH, NEBRASKA, RB
2013 STAT LINE: 281 carries for 1,690 yards (6.0 ypc) and nine touchdowns; 26 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns
QUICK HIT: Unbeknownst to quite a number of people I’d suspect, Abdullah, not Melvin Gordon (see below) or anyone else, led the Big Ten in rushing last season.  As you can see by his receiving numbers, he’s quite adept at coming out of the backfield as well.  If you’re looking for a Heisman darkhorse, you could do worse than focusing on Abdullah as he will be the focal point of the Cornhuskers’ offense yet again..

RAKEEM CATO, MARSHALL, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 298-of-499 passing (59.7 %) for 3,916 yards, 39 touchdowns, nine interceptions; 99 carries for 294 yards (3.0 ypc) and six touchdowns
QUICK HIT: The first of two players on this list from non-Power Five conferences, and the one who has the best chance of crashing the December New York City Heisman party as a finalist.  The 2013 stats speak for themselves, and should do nothing but improve in 2014.  What separates Cato from the rest of the “have-not” pack is his team: there’s a very good chance that Cato and the Herd roll through the regular season unbeaten, and do so very, very easily.  Will the fact that exactly zero of the 12 opponents come from Power Five conferences impact Cato’s chances?  Possibly, but if the quarterback jabs voters in the face with a left-right combo of stats and team success, they won’t have a choice but to pay attention.

MIKE DAVIS, SOUTH CAROLINA, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 203 carries for 1,183 yards (5.8 ypc) and 11 touchdowns; 34 receptions for 352 yards
QUICK HIT: One of the most underrated players in the country at any position, Davis will get the opportunity, especially early on, to carry more of the offensive workload as Dylan Thompson establishes his footing as the full-time starter for the first time.  As with Abdullah, his work in the passing game is an overlooked facet that provides an extra dimension for his offense — and another consideration for voters.

MELVIN GORDON, WISCONSIN, RB
2013 STAT LINE: 206 carries for 1,609 yards (7.8 ypc) and 12 touchdowns; one reception for 10 yards
QUICK HIT: Gordon may not have led his conference in rushing as mentioned earlier, but he did lead the country in yards per carry for those backs with at least 200 carries.  In fact, he was one of just two running backs in the country who had 200-plus carries and averaged over seven yards a carry, with the other being Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde (7.3).  With running mate James White (1,444 yards, 13 touchdowns) off to the NFL, the path is cleared for Gordon to double-up on his 2013 production — and I’m only slightly exaggerating.

TODD GURLEY, GEORGIA, RB
2013 STAT LINE: 165 carries for 989 yards (6.0 ypc) and 10 touchdowns; 37 receptions for 441 yards and six touchdowns
QUICK HIT: An injury cost this Bulldog three games in the month of October.  When healthy — and he’s expected to be just that to start the season — he’s arguably the most talented back in the country.  Add in Georgia being one of a handful of SEC teams breaking in new quarterbacks, and Gurley should be at or near the top of most Heisman watch lists throughout the season.

CHRISTIAN HACKENBERG, PENN STATE, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 231-of-392 passing (58.9%) for 2,955 yards, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 49 carries for -68 yards (-1.9 ypc) and four touchdowns
QUICK HIT: One of just two true sophomores on this list, Hackenberg flourished under QB guru Bill O’Brien.  With O’Brien off to the NFL, how will Hackenberg handle new head coach James Franklin and an entirely different offensive system?  Based on watching a kid who just oozes talent and confidence, I’m guessing he’ll adapt just fine, thank you very much.

BRETT HUNDLEY, UCLA, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 248-of-369 passing (67.2%) for 3,071 yards, 24 touchdowns, nine interceptions; 160 carries for 748 yards (4.7 ypc) and 11 touchdowns; one reception for seven yards and a touchdown
QUICK HIT: All Hundley has done in two seasons as the Bruins’ starter is throw for over 6,800 yards and 53 touchdowns, all while completing a ridiculous 67-percent of his passes (nearly).  Oh, and he’s added more than 1,100 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns on the ground for good measure.  If he’d have been putting up those numbers for a team that played in a conference east of the Mississippi, you could be looking at the biggest challenger to Winston’s crown.  Instead, you’re looking at a player still fighting for the respect he richly deserves.  Hopefully voters look west and beyond their narrow focus on a certain Duck if Hundley continues to put up the numbers he has.

MYLES JACK, UCLA, LB/RB
2013 STAT LINE: 75 tackles, 11 passes defensed, two interceptions, one return touchdown; 38 carries for 269 yards (7.0 ypc) and seven touchdowns
QUICK HIT: Jack is the other of the two true sophomores.  As a true freshman, he was a two-way highlight machine, finishing fifth on the Bruins in tackles while landing behind only Hundley in rushing touchdowns.  If Jack goes both ways again this year — and that appears to be the plan — and does it all season, there’s little doubt he’ll be on the tip of many a Heisman voter’s tongue come November.

DUKE JOHNSON, MIAMI, RB
2013 STAT LINE: 145 carries for 920 yards (6.3 ypc) and six touchdowns; four receptions for 77 yards; 14 kick returns for 396 yards (28.3 yards per return)
QUICK HIT: A devastating ankle injury cost Johnson the final five games of last season and sidelined him for all of spring practice as well.  Johnson, at 100-percent, can put scores on the board rushing, receiving and in the kick-return game.  A healthy Johnson will be a factor in both the ACC and Heisman races, especially given the very unsettled nature of The U’s quarterback situation.

CHUCKIE KEETON, UTAH STATE, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 136-of-196 passing (69.4%) for 1,388 yards, 18 touchdowns, two interceptions; 55 carries for 241 yards (4.4 ypc) and two touchdowns
QUICK HIT: The second of just two non-Power Five conference players on the list.  Also one of the ones coming off a significant injury, one suffered in the sixth game of the year that cost the Aggie senior more than half the season.  If he can get back to the form he displayed in 2012… if USU can maintain its presence as a 10-win(ish) mid-major… if he can put on a show in Knoxville against Tennessee in the opener… if those three things take place, you never know.  Watching a potential mid-major between Keeton and Cato develop would be fascinating, though.

TAYLOR KELLY, ARIZONA STATE, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 302-of-484 (63.4%) for 3,635 yards, 28 touchdowns, 12 interceptions; 173 carries for 608 yards (3.5 ypc) and nine touchdowns
QUICK HIT: If I were a gambling man, I’d bet you I’d put a little bit of money on Mr. Kelly and his 100/1 odds for the 2014 Heisman.  Call it a hunch.  Kelly has been flying underneath the national radar the last two seasons; entering his third year as a starter, he’s ready to break out and become a household name.  Again, a hunch.

TREVOR KNIGHT, OKLAHOMA, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 79-of-134 passing (59%) for 819 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions; 67 carries for 445 yards (6.6 ypc) and two touchdowns
QUICK HIT: This one may be the first real stretch in the group, so much so that I think I just felt something pop.  Which Knight will show up this year, the one who had issues hanging on to the job in his first season as a starter or the one that torched Alabama for 348 yards passing and four touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl?  From this vantage point, I’ll say somewhere in between, with a big jump the deeper we get into 2014 and on into the 2015 season.

SEAN MANNION, OREGON STATE, QB
2013 STAT LINE:
QUICK HIT: One of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country statistically in 2013, Mannion was hamstrung by one simple fact — his seven-win Beavers were just a fair-to-middling squad.  If OSU can get closer to 10 wins than five, and Mannion can put up similar numbers — won’t be easy with the loss of Brandin Cooks — he should be on the radar through October and on into November.

MARCUS MARIOTA, OREGON, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 245-of-386 passing (63.5%) for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns; four interceptions; 96 carries for 715 yards (7.4 ypc) and nine touchdowns
QUICK HIT: Simply put, Mariota is one of the best — THE best in my opinion — quarterbacks in college football.  You’ve heard all of the well-deserved superlatives, so there’s no need for me to drop to my knees as well.  He’ll be a factor in the Heisman race from Game 1 through Game 12 and on into the Ducks’ (expected) appearance in the Pac-12 championship game.

NICK MARSHALL, AUBURN, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 142-of-239 passing (59.4%) for 1,976 yards, 14 touchdowns, six interceptions; 172 carries for 1,068 yards (6.2 ypc) and 12 touchdowns; one reception for 35 yards
QUICK HIT: Marshall’s first season as a starter wasn’t statistically overwhelming, but it was deadly in its efficiency.  Marijuana citation aside, Marshall is said to have had a very good offseason, improving his throwing mechanics and becoming more and more comfortable in Gus Malzahn‘s offense.  If true, and if the passing aspect of his game improves, that could prove to be bad news for the SEC in general and the West specifically.

BRAXTON MILLER, OHIO STATE, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 162-of-255 passing (63.5%) for 2,094 yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions; 171 carries for 1,068 yards (6.2 ypc) and 12 touchdowns
QUICK HIT: Miller improved in nearly every statistical category in his third season as a starter.  Entering his fourth year, it’s time for the 2013 preseason Heisman favorite to take the next step, which means becoming more of a passing quarterback and less of a running one.  A greater threat in the passing game while maintaining the “holy crap, he may take off” aspect of his run threat would prove to be a lethal combination that not many quarterback’s possess — and not many coordinators would stand a chance of counteracting.

TY MONTGOMERY, STANFORD, WR
2013 STAT LINE: 61 receptions for 958 yards (15.7 ypc) and 10 touchdowns; 36 kick returns for 1,091 yards (30.3 ypr)
QUICK HIT: Montgomery’s long-shot candidacy may have suffered a fatal blow before it even started as shoulder surgery leaves him questionable for the first two games of the year.  One missed game would all but end the candidacy; two missed games would kill it for a receiver.  Still, I felt, given the immense two-way talent Montgomery is, he at least deserved a mention.

BRYCE PETTY, BAYLOR, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 250-for-403 passing (62%) for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns, three interceptions; 94 carries for 209 yards (2.2 ypc) and 14 touchdowns
QUICK HIT: Along with Winston, Miller and Mariota, Petty is widely viewed as a quarter of the four-headed Heisman favorite.  While the passing yards and touchdowns certainly catch the eye, the fact that Petty threw just three picks in 403 attempts is enough to drop the jaw to the floor.  Art Briles‘ system just chugs along — at warp speed — year after year; don’t expect anything to change in Petty’s second year as the Bears’ triggerman.

KEENAN REYNOLDS, NAVY, QB
2013 STAT LINE: 68-of-128 passing (53.1%) for 1,057 yards, eight touchdowns, two interceptions; 300 carries for 1,346 yards (4.5 ypc) and 31 touchdowns
QUICK HIT: How could you not put a player like Reynolds on a list like this?  Yes, the Midshipmen have somewhat of a penchant for running the ball and utter disdain for throwing it, which means Reynolds won’t have the gaudy passing stats that catch a voter’s attention the way a set of jingling keys catches a toddler’s.  Still, any player with 31 rushing touchdowns — 31!!!!!! — in a single season deserves a shout-out.  Especially one who comes from one of our nation’s great service academies.

T.J. YELDON, ALABAMA, RB
2013 STAT LINE: 207 carries for 1,235 yards (6.0 ypc) and 14 touchdowns; 20 receptions for 183 yards
QUICK HIT: This bruising back has it all: speed, power, change of direction and surprisingly soft hands for a man his size.  He’s everything Nick Saban wants in a running back.  What he doesn’t have?  Sole ownership of the Tide’s running game load, the kind of ownership that would allow him to put up eye-catching numbers, because of the presence of Derrick Henry.  The reality is Henry is too good of a back and too much of a weapon to not utilize, which means Yeldon could still be one of the most Heisman-worthy players in the country and not have the stats to show it.  Such is life on Five-Star Island.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Dismissed by ‘Bama, Jonathan Cook could end up at Auburn

Alabama’s loss could ultimately become the Tide’s Iron Bowl rival’s gain.

Last month, off-field issues prompted Alabama to dismiss Jonathan Cook from Nick Saban‘s football team.  A month later, Cook’s mother has confirmed that her son is already enrolled at a Kansas junior college and will play football for Garden City Community College this season.

Melissa Cook also confirmed to al.com that, when her son moves back to the FBS level, Auburn and Florida State sit atop his wishlist.  It should be noted Cook has yet to hear from either school.

A three-star member of UA’s 2013 recruiting class, Cook was rated as the No. 37 cornerback in the country and the No. 15 player at any position in the state of Alabama.  After redshirting as a true freshman, he played in three games in 2014.

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2014 winner Scooby Wright headlines Bednarik Award watch list

78th Annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala Press Conference

Not surprisingly, a past winner of the latest award to release a watch list is the headliner for this honor.

The Bednarik Award Tuesday announced its 2015 preseason watch list, which this year consists of 78 defensive players from eight of the 10 FBS conferences (Conference USA and the Sun Belt the lone exclusion).  Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright won the 2014 version of the award and, as he returned to the Wildcats for his senior season, makes the initial cut.

In addition to Wright, five semifinalists from last year are on this year’s watch list: Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman and Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee each placed three on the watch list. There were two players each from Alabama, Arizona, Baylor, Boise State. Clemson, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah State, USC, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

As was the case with the Maxwell Award watch list, the SEC led all conferences with 18 selections, followed by the ACC (13), Big Ten and Pac-12 (12 apiece) and the Big 12 (11). The most for a Group of Five conference was the mountain West’s four.

2015 Bednarik Watch List

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Trevone Boykin the new Bovada Heisman betting favorite

Trevone Boykin

When Bovada.lv released its odds in May on who will win the 2015 Heisman Trophy — and even the previous release in January — Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott was the favorite. Now, though, those odds have changed and there’s a new favorite.

In the odds released by Bovada Tuesday, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is listed as the favorite at 6/1. In May, those odds were at 15/2, the same as in January.

Elliott, meanwhile, saw his odds slip a bit, going from 6/1 to 7/1. Most interesting, though, are the odds for three of the running back’s Ohio State teammates.

Obviously, all three quarterbacks — J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller — are listed by Bovada. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s Miller, coming off shoulder surgery that cost him all of the 2014 season, is the favorite among that trio at 10/1, followed by Jones at 20/1 and Barrett at 25/1. Back in May, the order was Jones (14/1), Barrett (16/1) and Miller (18/1), while Jones was at 12/1 in January compared to Miller’s 25/1 and Barrett’s 28/1.

Below are the complete set of July Heisman odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

July Bovada Heisman Odds

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One Buckeye not impressed with Wolverines’ move to Nike

Michigan v Ohio State

Whether it be late in the fall or early summer, the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is always simmering, although some times are hotter than others.  The latest to crank the knob to boil?  Ohio State’s Darron Lee.

Monday afternoon, UM announced that it was leaving adidas and moving on to Nike as its official uniform supplier for all of its men’s and women’s sports.  That move will come in 2016.

A few hours later, Lee took to Twitter to opine on the rival’s move and dissect just what it may mean for the football program’s fortunes.

Not suprisingly, the linebacker received some “feedback” on his twin tweets.

In last year’s win, the then-true freshman recorded a career-high nine tackles and returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown in the Buckeyes’ 42-28 win over the Wolverines.  This year’s UM-OSU tilt, the first of the Jim Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor, will take place exactly 144 days from today in the Big House.

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Lawyer: woman hurled racial slurs prior to ex-FSU QB’s punch

Casey Anthony Released From Jail Getty Images

Not surprisingly, there’s yet another twist in the De’Andre Johnson saga.

Charged with a misdemeanor for an incident at a Tallahassee night club late last month, the quarterback was suspended and ultimately dismissed by Florida State after video of him punching a woman in the face went public, with FSU’s president issuing a statement of support for head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s decision.  According to Johnson’s lawyer, however, there are mitigating factors behind the punch.

From our pals at NBC News:

The woman raised her fist and shouted “racial epithets” at Johnson when the player accidentally made contact when he was walking up to the bar, lawyer Jose Baez told NBC News.

Johnson “tried to deescalate the situation” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated,” the attorney added.

The lawyer stated that he has witnesses who heard the racial slurs, although Johnson “makes no excuses for what happened.”

Baez, mostly known as the defense attorney in the infamous Casey Anthony case, added that while his client wasn’t the initial aggressor, he’s “owning this” situation and trying to learn from it.

“All he wants to do is learn from this experience and move on and get an education,” Baez said. “We certainly don’t want him to pay for the rest of his life for an incident that occurred in a bar.”

According to Baez, Johnson is currently volunteering at a battered woman’s shelter.

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Duke’s Kelby Brown suffers fourth ACL tear, this one career-ending

Jameis Winston, Kelby Brown

There’s heartbreaking and unkind, and then there’s what God has wrought on Kelby Brown‘s knees.

In late November of 2010, the Duke linebacker tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee. He tore the ACL in the same knee in February of 2012 and missed that entire season.  Unbelievably, in August of last year, he tore the ACL in his left knee and missed all of the entire 2014 season.

Incredibly, Brown sustained a fourth ACL tear last Tuesday, the second to his left knee.  In a press release, the school confirmed that this latest injury will end Brown’s collegiate career.

“It’s difficult to put into words the feeling of heartbreak I have for Kelby and his family,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement. “While we will certainly miss his athletic abilities and leadership as one of the best linebackers to play at Duke, what is most important above all else is Kelby’s health. He is a truly special young man who is destined to accomplish great things in his life. Kelby’s strengths lie in his core values, and I know that despite this setback, he will continue to play an integral part of our program’s success both on and off the field.”

According to the school, Brown will serve the program as a student assistant for the 2015 season.

A first-team All-ACC selection in 2013, Brown ranked second in the conference with 8.8 tackles per game. He was a preseason All-ACC selection in 2014 as well.

All told, Brown started 29 games as a Blue Devil when healthy — 12 in 2013, 10 in 2011 and seven in 2010.  He played in 32 total games.

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Reports: Jimbo, FSU didn’t see punch video until Monday night

Florida State v Miami Getty Images

Very late Monday night, Florida State announced that quarterback De’Andre Johnson had been dismissed from the football program.  The announcement came several hours after video surfaced of Johnson punching a woman in the face following a bar confrontation, leading to a misdemeanor battery charge being filed against the 2015 four-star signee.

Some had questioned whether FSU had seen the video of the incident prior to it being released and was simply reacting to the public outcry with the dismissal, or if yesterday was the first time they had viewed the damning piece of evidence.

According to a pair of reports, it’s most certainly the latter.

Additionally, a school spokesperson stated that “[n]one of us saw it” when asked by the Tallahassee Democrat about the timing of the university’s first viewing of the video.

In a statement released late Tuesday morning, FSU president John Thrasher released a rather lengthy statement in support of Jimbo Fisher‘s decision to dismiss Johnson from the team.

“I fully support Coach (Jimbo) Fisher’s decisions to immediately suspend and subsequently dismiss De’Andre Johnson from the football team. While it is always important to adhere to due process, having now seen the physical altercation captured on video, there is no question in my mind that Coach Fisher made the correct decisions.

“I expect all students at Florida State University, including student-athletes, to adhere to the highest level of conduct. I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior exhibited in this case.

“Florida State University was forged from an outstanding college for women and has a long tradition of being a caring community that demands students be treated with dignity and respect. All students must know their university will do everything it can to ensure a safe, healthy and positive environment in which they can learn and enjoy their college experience. As president, I am committed to maintaining such an environment at FSU.”

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All three Buckeye QBs make Maxwell Award preseason watch list

J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller AP

One of the most prestigious awards in college football became the latest to toss its hat into the preseason watch list ring, and this particular honor carries a decidedly Ohio State tinge to it.

The Maxwell Award, given annually to the nation’s Player of the Year, released a preseason watch list Tuesday that included a total of 80 FBS players.  Among those 80 players are four Ohio State Buckeyes, including all three quarterbacks (in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone): J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller.

The fourth Buckeye on the initial Maxwell watch list is Ezekiel Elliott.  The preseason Heisman favorite according to one wagering outfit, Elliott will enter the 2015 season coming off a postseason that saw him run for 696 yards and eight touchdowns in postseason wins over Wisconsin (220 yards, Big Ten championship game), Alabama (230, College Football Playoff semifinal) and Oregon (246, CFP championship game).

TCU was next among individual schools with three players, while Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Tennessee had two each.

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is the only 2014 finalist to make the preseason cut this year.  There are also four 2014 semifinalists on the initial list: Florida State quarterback Everett Golson, who made it last year while at Notre Dame, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, Pittsburgh running back James Conner and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

The SEC led all conferences with 17 players listed — Vanderbilt was the only one of the 14 schools without a representative — followed by the Big Ten (12) and ACC and Pac-12 (11 each). The Big 12, with nine, had the fewest amongst Power Five leagues, while the AAC’s five were the most of the Group of Five conferences.

Last year’s winner was Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

2015 Maxwell Award Watch List

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Michael Irvin’s son commits to ‘Canes

Miami Hurricanes v Florida State Seminoles Getty Images

For those who thought they’d seen the last Michael Irvin taking snaps at wherever the Miami Hurricanes will continue playing football, you’d be wrong. Probably.

In a non-binding verbal commitment, Michael Irvin II announced Monday that he will begin his collegiate football career at The U. Irvin II’s dad is, of course, the former Hurricane receiving great who’s an NFL Hall of Famer — and who told the football program’s fans earlier this year to “calm their asses down” when it comes to the current head coach.

And, as a lot of football recruits are doing these days, Irvin made his initial announcement via social media — in head-scratching, make-the-NCAA-take-notice fashion — before expounding on the decision with other media entities.

The younger Irvin, a tight end to his famous pop’s wide receiver, had Syracuse as his No. 2 option. Georgia and Michigan were under serious consideration by the 2016 prospect as well.

It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” Irvin told 247Sports.com about his commitment to his dad’s alma mater. “I like the coaches. They told me I would play all over for them. In the backfield, at tight end and at receiver.”

Suffice to say, Irvin’s dad is pleased with his son’s decision.

“We had been talking about where and what I was going to do for a very long time. He knew what was coming,” Irvin said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “We always stay in touch even though he’s still in Texas and I’m here playing at St. Thomas [in Florida]. We talk every day about everything and he was very excited, extremely excited. But I think he knew what I wanted to do. … I was a ‘Cane from the start. I grew up a fan and wanted to be a ‘Cane.”

Listed at 6-2, 200 pounds by Rivals.com, Irvin has been given a three-star rating according to that recruiting website. He’s also listed as the No. 81 receiver in the country and the No. 70 player at any position in the state of Florida.

Shortly after Irvin’s verbal became public knowledge, head coach Al Golden — the one who has the approval of the father of his latest commit — posted the following to his Twitter account:

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FSU dismisses QB shown punching woman in disturbing video

De'Andre Johnson

Not surprisingly, the “career” of De’Andre Johnson at Florida State was a short one.

Shortly after security footage of a disturbing incident surfaced, FSU announced that Johnson has been dismissed from the football program. Earlier this month, Johnson was charged with misdemeanor battery after video from a Tallahassee drinking establishment showed him punching a female during the course of a verbal/physical incident that turned extremely physical.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel‘s account of what led to Johnson’s charges and, ultimately, his dismissal:

According to the [Tallahassee Police Department] report, Johnson allegedly pushed a woman from behind “aggressively” when she approached the bar. The woman turned around to address Johnson and “raised her right arm to defend herself” when Johnson allegedly “grabbed her arm that was raised and began pushing her.”

The woman raised her knee to Johnson’s midsection to push him away and attempted to punch Johnson. One witness heard the woman yell “no” twice before Johnson allegedly punched her in the face, causing bruising under her left eye, swelling to her left cheek and upper lip, and a small cut on her nose.

The woman’s account is consistent with video obtained from security cameras, according to the police department.

johnsonFor what it’s worth, Johnson’s attorney, Jose Baez, released a self-serving statement on his client’s behalf.

“While it is clear from the video that De’Andre Johnson was not the initial aggressor, his family wants to take the lead in helping him learn and grow from this experience. He is currently participating in community service, and faith-based programs focused on battered women, substance abuse, and the empowerment of children. De’Andre is extremely embarrassed by this situation and would like to express his heartfelt apologies to everyone, including those who were directly affected, Coach Fisher and his team mates, the entire Florida State University community, as well as his family and friends.”

For those who haven’t seen the video of the incident, it appears below. You decide how much longer it’s going to be OK for a man to punch a woman… I’m sorry, decide whether this woman deserved to be punched by a “man.”

 

Johnson was a four-star member of FSU’s 2015 recruiting class who will likely get a shot somewhere else at some level of college football because of his physical talent.

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South Alabama begins exploring possible on-campus stadium options

Georgia Southern South Alabama

South Alabama began playing college football just seven years ago in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, and now the Jaguars are looking for a place to more appropriately call home. The university announced Monday work has begun on a preliminary study to explore the feasibility of constructing an on-campus stadium for South Alabama football, which is a long way from saying a stadium is going up. But it is a possibility down the line.

“Construction of a football stadium is an extremely complex undertaking that requires significant due diligence on the part of the University leadership, and we are at the very beginning of a process that will examine all the issues we must consider before a decision can be made,” said USA President Tony Waldrop in a released statement.

Trustees, administrators and select staff members will join forces to put together the feasibility study. The results of the report will be shared to the leadership of the university at a later point in time. There is no deadline for this process, and that is a wise decision. Given the experience and wisdom gained from watching the mishandling of the UAB football program, South Alabama officials should take all the time in the world needed to determine what is best for the university and football program, whether that means building a football stadium or not.

Ladd-Peebles Stadium is an aging facility, constructed in 1948. The stadium is currently home to South Alabama football in addition to the GoDaddy.com Bowl and Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl has been played in the stadium every year since 1951, making it the go-to destination for college football’s top NFL prospects, not to mention NFL scouts and coaches every week in the offseason. History is nice, but if South Alabama can make it worth the effort and money to build an on-campus stadium, then it will help the Jaguars continue to build its own identity in the college football world.

Building a stadium is not the best solution for every program. Time will tell if it is the best option for South Alabama.

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Ohio State OL signee: I will be enrolling at Georgia

Mark Richt

Oh to be a fly on the wall of Mark Richt‘s office right now. Georgia will end up being the football home to offensive lineman Mirko Jurkovic, who had previously signed with Ohio State, coached by Richt’s former SEC East rival Urban Meyer. Jurkovic’s status at Georgia is still pending acceptance by the admissions department.

I will be enrolling at the University of Georgia,” Jurkovic announced on his Twitter account Monday. “I will be reporting for training camp on August 2md. I would like to thank Ohio State and all the other schools that gave me the opportunity to come play for them throughout this crazy process. Excited to start this journey to the next chapter of my life.”

Jurkovic took a round-about route to Athens. After signing with Ohio State in February, Jurkovic never showed up to Columbus to join the rest of the incoming class for summer classes. The holdup for the enrollment was deemed to be due to an academic issue, although the specifics of that situation were never really clarified. The three-star recruit will end up being a nice last-minute addition to the Georgia recruiting class, which will now include four offensive linemen. Georgia lost an offensive lineman in the Class of 2016 when DeVondre Seymour walked away from football, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I don’t know what all went on there behind the scenes there,” Jurkovic explained to the AJC. “It just kind of was what it was. I don’t know. I wasn’t admitted to Ohio State. That’s all I know.

“And there are no hard feelings against Ohio State. It’s a business. It didn’t mess me up too much. I ended up at Georgia, so I’m not too mad or disappointed about that. Ohio State is just a thing in the past now.”

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QB Vernon Adams eligible at Oregon, nearly ready to take aim at replacing Mariota

Eastern Washington v Washington Getty Images

In a transfer that has long been all but official, Vernon Adams has officially been approved for graduate classes at Oregon. This brings him one giant step closer to making his case to be the next starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks in 2015.

The next step for Adams will be enrollment. Per The Oregonian, Adams has been admitted and is eligible to enroll, but has not done the later just yet. Enrolling at this stage may now just be a matter of procedure, because Oregon ruling Adams eligible to enroll is still a positive sign Adams will indeed be joining the Ducks for the fall.

Adams is transferring from FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington and is a likely contender to win the vacant starting quarterback job at Oregon, left vacant by Marcus Mariota. Mariota won last season’s Heisman Trophy, but Adams is a two-time Walter Payton Award runner-up at the FCS level. The Walter Payton Award is presented annually to the top player in the FCS, so this makes Adams the FCS equivalent of Andrew Luck, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting during his time at Stanford.

Adams has one final year of eligibility remaining, and he hopes to make the most of it with the Ducks. It is far froma  given he ends up being Oregon’s new starting quaretrback, but he could be a quick fix to the Oregon offense in the post-Mariota era. He has the ability to throw and run, making him a versatile player for the Ducks, even if he is measuring in at just 5′-11″.

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Michigan ditches Adidas for Nike (in 2016)

Michigan Football Spring Game

A week after Tennessee unveiled their brand new uniforms from Nike after moving on from a partnership with Adidas, the University of Michigan has rejoined The Swoosh. In an announcement made Monday afternoon, Michigan announced a new apparel partnership with Nike. The new contract will officially begin in 2016, which means one more football season for Michigan in uniforms designed by Adidas.

A return to Nike may not yield quite the same lucrative contract Michigan had with Adidas, but the image that comes with wearing Nike is quite a selling point as well. The Portland Business Journal previously valued Michigan’s contract as the most valuable apparel contract in college sports, with $4.4 million in equipment and $3.8 million in cash from Adidas. Under the terms of the agreement, Michigan was required to be the highest-paid partner with Adidas among college clients. A move to Nike likely will mean some sort of reduction in pay, as Nike has many partners to satisfy, including Michigan’s division rivals at Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State.

For the sake of comparison, Georgia’s new deal with Nike will result in a payment of $2.88 million annually in equipment and $1 million in cash.

A move away from Adidas has been speculated for a while, with new leadership in place at Michigan and the Adidas alternate uniforms being largely connected to the efforts of former Athletics Director Dave Brandon‘s branding initiative. And those alternate uniforms were just plain awful. Now we have to wonder if Adidas will serve up one final atrocity before Michigan leaves them this fall.

Adidas is losing some of its big contracts. In addition to Michigan, Notre Dame also left Adidas (for Under Armour). And, of course, Tennessee has abandoned ship.

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Ole Miss acknowledges NCAA investigation regarding Laremy Tunsil

Laremy Tunsil

When the stepfather of Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil dropped an allegation the Rebel was associating with sports agents, Ole Miss responded swiftly. So did the NCAA. Now both are conducting investigations to determine if Tunsil acted in violation of NCAA rules regarding agents. Ole Miss issued a statement Monday afternoon to say it is a manner the program takes seriously.

“The University of Mississippi Department of Athletics is aware of the allegations made by Laremy Tunsil’s stepfather regarding potential NCAA violations involving Laremy,” the statement opened. “As we do with any allegation, we initiated an internal investigation last week and have offered the NCAA our full cooperation. We take the obligations to the NCAA and SEC very seriously, and we will continue to educate, monitor and enforce all applicable rules. Any other reports are speculation until the process is complete.”

Tunsil was arrested and charged for domestic violence after punching his stepfather, Lindsey Miller. Tunsil reportedly was acting in defense of his mother at the time. Tunsil and his mother pressed charges against Miller, at which time Miller let it be known his stepson had been riding around with agents. It was this that he claims started the discussion that turned violent. Once that became public, the NCAA got involved to see what they can find.

While most will praise Tunsil for defending his mother in a tense moment, his eligibility will eventually have to be analyzed. If he is found guilty by the NCAA and Ole Miss of associated with and accepting any kinds of benefits from agents then his eligibility will be put at risk, even if just for part of a game. So for now, let’s let the legal process play out on one end, and the NCAA and Ole Miss investigations play out on the other.

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