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Leonard Fournette says sitting out of LSU bowl game was coach’s decision

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Players sitting out games in the postseason was one of the bigger storylines of last season and no decision was bigger than that of Leonard Fournette sitting out LSU’s bowl game against Louisville.

The star tailback is on his way to the NFL now and has apparently changed his tune as to the reason behind sitting out the game.

“To be honest, it really wasn’t my decision,” Fournette told NFL Network. “My coach brought me into the office. He told me ‘You have a lot on the line.’ He didn’t want me to play. I cried like a baby. It was hard for me. That was my first time not really traveling with the team and I couldn’t play in a game with my brothers. I’m going to miss them.”

The coach in question likely was Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron, who didn’t seem to need Fournette’s services in the team’s romp over the Cardinals. Still, it’s interesting for Fournette to say it was the coach’s decision to sit out after holding a press conference to announce the decision and citing his health as the biggest reason he missed the bowl and that he would have played if he could have.

Perhaps Orgeron knew something about the ankle injury that Fournette did not or he simply was being really protective of his star player but it seems this story isn’t going to go away with the NFL Combine rapidly approaching.

‘Family reasons’ lead two-year starter at WR to leave Utah

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Suddenly, Utah’s receiving corps is significantly depleted.

The Utes confirmed Thursday that Raelon Singleton has decided to leave Kyle Whittingham‘s football program.  The school cited unspecified “family reasons” for the redshirt junior wide receiver moving on from the Utes.

“We are sorry to see Raelon leave, but understand that his family comes first,” a statement from the head coach read. “We appreciate his contributions to our program over the last four years and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Singleton, a native of the state of Texas, will graduate from the university in May.  That would make him eligible to play immediately in 2018 at another FCS school if that’s the route he chooses to take.

The past two seasons, Singleton was the Utes’ second-leading receiver yards-wise.  He had 36 receptions for 531 yards and four touchdowns this past season, and went 27-464-4 in 2016.

With Singleton’s departure and leading receiver Darren Carrington‘s expired eligibility, the Utes will have to replace 106 receptions and 1,511 yards.  That twosome also combined for 10 touchdown catches; as a team, the Utes had 18 this past season.

Peter Sirmon steps down as Bobby Petrino’s DC at Louisville

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It’s that time of year for a handful of coaching surprises.

The latest such development comes from Louisville, with Jody Demling of CardinalAuthority.com the first to report that Peter Sirmon has stepped down as the U of L’s defensive coordinator.  The football program subsequently confirmed that Sirmon has left Bobby Petrino‘s coaching staff.

“I would like to thank Peter Sirmon for all his work this season at the University of Louisville,” a statement attributed to the head coach began. “I wish him and his family all the best.”

Sirmon just completed his first season with the Cardinals.  In his lone season, the U of L finished 70th in scoring defense (27.4 ppg) and 62nd in total defense (388.1 ypg); in the year prior to arrival, they were 71st (27.1 pp) and 59th (387 ypg), respectively, in those categories.

Prior to the U of L, Sirmon had served as the coordinator at Mississippi State for one season in 2016.

QB Zerrick Cooper announces transfer from Clemson

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Not surprisingly, Clemson’s quarterback room will have one less familiar face in it this season than it did last.

Using Clemson’s official Twitter account, Zerrick Cooper announced Friday that he has decided to transfer from the Tigers.  In his statement, the quarterback indicated that he was moving on in order to find a better opportunity for playing time.

“This is no reflection of the Clemson family,” Cooper wrote, “but rather a direct reflection of my drive to lead, play & compete.”

Cooper was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Cooper, along with Hunter Johnson, served as the backups to starter Kelly Bryant following the competition to replace Deshaun Watson.

Of the two, the strong-armed Cooper saw the most action as he completed 25 of his 41 attempts for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns in seven games.  Johnson, a true freshman who was a five-star 2017 signee, attempted 27 passes.  However, by the end of the season, Johnson had seemingly become Bryant’s primary backup.

Both Bryant and Johnson will return in 2018.  Perhaps more than anything, however, Clemson signed Trevor Lawrence, the top-rated player in the Class of 2018, as part of the first-ever early signing period last month.

Alabama reportedly raids Penn State staff for new WRs coach

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Nick Saban‘s latest reshaping of his coaching will reportedly come at the expense of a Big Ten school.

Earlier Thursday, a report surfaced that Mike Locksley was being promoted by Saban to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  As Locksley served as Alabama’s wide receivers coach this past season, it left Saban in search of a new coach for that positional group.

According to FootballScoop.com, that search has ended as Penn State’s Josh Gattis is expected to take the job.  Gattis will also serve as the Tide’s co-offensive coordinator.

A couple of other outlets confirmed the initial report.

Gattis had spent the past six seasons on James Franklin-led coaching staff, the first two at Vanderbilt and the last four at Penn State.  In addition to receivers coach, Gattis held the title of passing-game coordinator and assistant special teams coordinator with the Nittany Lions.