Associated Press

UNLV players seeking normalcy in wake of Las Vegas massacre

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UNLV players will have more on their mind than just a football game Saturday night in Sin City.

Earlier this week, a madman armed with more than a dozen weapons mowed down 58 innocents attending a country music festival in Las Vegas. It marked the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States.

The UNLV football team finished up practice just a couple of hours before the Sunday shooting, which occurred less than two miles away from their football facility. While no Rebel football players were directly affected by the shooting, the fact that so many of them are from the city and the area — according to the Las Vegas Sun, more than 20 fall into that category — has led to an emotional week leading into the Week 6 game against undefeated and 21st-ranked San Diego State.

“It’s our job and it’s the job of each and every one of us to get back up and to go back to work and to keep living our lives and to continue to celebrate and to do the things that these acts try to eliminate,” head coach Tony Sanchez said according to the Sun. “I think that’s one of the biggest things we’ve learned as a nation is when these things happen, we need to grieve and we need to give it time, but we also need to keep living and keep loving and keep doing the things that make this country so great. We can never let that stop and that has to be our combined mission. …

“[W]e told them we have a job to do and a great opportunity to go out Saturday night and give some people in our community a little bit of a reprieve and a little bit of a break from it. There’s so many people that are hurting right now that are going to have to pull themselves out of bed and out of their house and hopefully you get a couple hours of getting away from it a little bit, because it’s going to linger and be there for a long time. But if we can go out and play an inspired game and give everybody an opportunity to breathe a little bit and forget for a minute, then we need to do that. That’s our job and we’re back at work.”

“The biggest thing is normalcy. Getting back to a routine.”

The Rebels, 2-2 on the season, haven’t beaten the Aztecs since 2013 and have just one win, versus seven losses, in the series dating back to 2010.

More importantly, both teams before and during the game will honor the lives senselessly lost that fateful Sunday night, as well as the heroes who prevented a further loss of life.

VIDEO: Blind USC long snapper Jake Olson can play quarterback, too

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Jake Olson became one of the stories of the 2017 season on the opening Saturday, when he entered USC’s opener to serve as a deep snapper for an extra point in the waning moments of a win over Western Michigan.

Which would not otherwise be a story except for the fact that Olson is legally blind.

Olson’s athletic ability extends far beyond his ability to accurately snap a football, as he showcased last month.

With Sam Darnold now off to the NFL, Olson has thrown his name in the ring of those vying to become USC’s next quarterback.

After displaying his ability to snap and throw the football, his next step needs to be to kick the pigskin.

Clemson QB Tucker Israel enters his name in graduate transfer market

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Tucker Israel has yet to see significant action during his time at Clemson. With Kelly Bryant coming back and No. 1 quarterback recruit Trevor Lawrence joining the roster, that wasn’t likely to change.

So Israel (the non-Deshaun Watson player pictured above) is leaving.

“My time here at Clemson will always hold a special plate in my heart,” Israel said in a Twitter post released by the school. “I enjoyed every minute being here & thank Coach Swinney for believing in me. After much consideration, I plan on transferring upon getting my degree from this amazing university.”

A former 3-star recruit, Israel redshirted in 2015, threw four passes in 2016 and did not play in 2017. The Orlando, Fla., native will have two years of eligibility remaining upon arriving at his new destination.

Shane Beamer reportedly leaving Georgia for Oklahoma

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After you beat them, join them? Georgia special teams coordinator Shane Beamer is on his way to Oklahoma to become an offensive assistant coach at Oklahoma, according to multiple reports on Monday.

At Georgia, Beamer held the role of special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. At Oklahoma, it is reported Beamer will take on an assistant head coach title and assist head coach Lincoln Riley in preparing the offensive game plan for the Sooners. Beamer was with the Georgia staff for two years under Kirby Smart after leaving Virginia Tech to join the coaching staff in Athens.

Beamer is the son of former Virgina Tech head coach Frank Beamer. Georgia defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, which was a semifinal game for the College Football Playoff last season.

There is no update on how Smart will replace Beamer on his coaching staff at this time, but Dawg Nation notes Georgia has already lost special teams advisor Scott Fountain to join the coaching staff at Mississippi State.

 

Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley among Lombardi Award finalists

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The list of Lombardi Award candidates has been whittled down to a list of seven select finalists for this year’s award. A week after a list of 21 candidates was unveiled, only seven remain after a panel of voters cast their initial ballots for the award.

2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love of Stanford, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville highlight the list of finalists for the Lombardi Award. Other finalists include Saquon Barkley of Penn State, Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama, Shaquen Griffin of UCF and Joel Lanning of Iowa State.

The Lombardi Award has a new trophy and criteria this season after opening the award up to any position after previously being reserved for the top lineman or linebacker in the nation. The award is based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency on and off the field.

Lombardi Award Finalists for 2017 Season

  • Saquon Barkley, Penn State (RB)
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (S)
  • Shaquem Griffin, UCF (LB)
  • Lamar Jackson, Louisville (QB)
  • Joel Lanning, Iowa State (LB/QB)
  • Bryce Love, Stanford (RB)
  • Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (QB)

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award for the 2016 season. Carl Nassib of Penn State won the award in 2015, meaning Barkley and Fitzpatrick are attempting to win another Lombardi Award for their school. Oklahoma is the only other school with a Lombardi Award among the schools represented by the finalists for this season’s award. Iowa State, Louisville, Stanford and UCF are all looking for their first Lombardi Award winner in school history. Oklahoma has three all-time Lombardi Award winners, and Alabama and Penn State each have two.