We’re still in Week 1, but there might not be a cooler or more heartfelt moment than what we witnessed at the Coliseum Saturday evening.
A few years back, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Jake Olson, a teenage fan at the time suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old). It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.
Fast-forward roughly five years, and Olson walked on to the USC football team as a long-snapper in 2015. He took his first live-drill reps with the Trojans in September of that year, then snapped for the team in the 2016 spring game. While he didn’t see any game action either year, Saturday, at the end of USC’s closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan, Olson finally got to take his place on the field in an actual game with the rest of his special teams teammates.
That. Is. Awesome. Again, it’ll be hard to top this scene this season.
And, for those who are curious, Olson is the second legally-blind player to appear in an NCAA football game. The first? Tulane’s Aaron Golub, who long-snapped on an extra point for the Green Wave in October of 2015.
So much for that wagering momentum, I guess.
Entering the 2017 season as not only the reigning winner but also as seemingly an afterthought, a pair of scintillating performances to open the year pushed Lamar Jackson to the head of Bovada.lv‘s Heisman Trophy pack. Coming off a 26-point Week 3 loss to now-No. 2 Clemson in which he totaled nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns, the Louisville quarterback has seen his odds lengthen a bit from 7/4 a week ago to 11/2 in Bovada‘s latest Heisman release.
Bovada’s new betting front-runner? Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who went from 4/1 to 7/4. Sam Darnold, 6/1, also saw his odds shorten slightly to a Jackson-match 11/2.
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, 10/1 in the previous odds release, is now at 9/1, same as the holding-steady-from-a-week-ago Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
There’s also, interestingly, one true freshman on the board: J.K. Dobbins. The Ohio State running back went from off the board to 40/1 odds. His starting quarterback, J.T. Barrett, saw his odds go from 25/1 to 33/1.
Below is the latest set of 2017 Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.
Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room. Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.
Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini. The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.
As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season. Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”
DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason. How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.
Not surprisingly, UTEP will stay in-house following its in-season dismissal of one of its coordinators.
The Miners confirmed Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease had been fired. A day later, the football program announced that Brian Natkin has been given the keys to the offense by Sean Kugler and will call the plays moving forward.
Natkin began the season as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. He was an All-American tight end at UTEP a decade-and-a-half ago and became a full-time assistant at his alma mater in 2011.
Through three games, UTEP ranks second-to-last nationally in total offense at 204.7 yards per game and in yards per play (3.89). The Miners are also 125th (out of 130 teams) in scoring at 13 points per game.
The promotion of Natkin also means there will be some additional adjustments to Kugler’s staff. Wide receivers coach Chuck Veliz will take over Pease’s other role as quarterbacks coach, while safeties coach Don Yanowsky assume Natkin’s duties as special teams coordinator.
Natkin will continue in his role as tight ends coach.
Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton was taken away on a stretcher after a tackle left him motionless on the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday.
Family members were called to the field, where medical professionals stabilized an apparently unconscious Luton and removed his face mask. The game continued, of course, as Oregon State lost to Washington State 52-23 despite Luton’s 179 passing yards and 22 rushing yards.
Luton tweeted on Saturday night that he’ll “be back.”
Luton has since been discharged from the hospital, according to The Oregonian, though his father posted a message stating Luton was probably dealing with a “thoracic spine fracture.”
Oregon State is off Saturday before hosting Washington on Sept. 30.