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Baker Mayfield, 2016 winner Lamar Jackson headline Walter Camp Award finalists

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Last year’s winner and the front-runner for it this season headline the finalists for one of the most prestigious awards in all of college football.

The Walter Camp Foundation on Wednesday announced the five finalists for the 2017 version of its Player of the Year Award.  There are a pair of quarterbacks — Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield — as well as a trio of running backs — Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Stanford’s Bryce Love, San Diego State’s Rashad Penny — in the mix for the award.

Mayfield is considered the runaway favorite for this year’s Heisman Trophy, while Jackson, last year’s Heisman winner, also won the 2016 Camp Award.  Mayfield and Penny are seniors, the others juniors.

Below are the pertinents for each of the five finalists:

Barkley ranks second in the nation in all-purpose yardage (2,154; 179.5 yards per game). He has rushed for 1,134 yards and 16 touchdowns, totaling four 100-yard rushing efforts, for the 10-2 Nittany Lions. He has added 47 receptions for 594 yards and three more scores, and has also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Barkley has even thrown a touchdown pass this season.

The 2016 Walter Camp Player of Year recipient, Jackson has accounted for 42 touchdowns (25 passing, 17 rushing) for the 8-4 Cardinals this season. He has thrown for 3,489 yards (241-for-399) and rushed for 1,443 yards. He passed 300 or more yards six times, and had nine 100-yard rushing efforts. He accounted for a season-high 525 yards of total offense (393 passing, 132 rushing) and six touchdowns in a win over North Carolina on Sept. 8.

The leader of the Cardinal’s offense, Love ranks second in the nation with 1,848 rushing yards, averaging 8.6 yards per carry. Love has scored 16 touchdowns. Love has 10, 100-yard rushing efforts, including a season-best 301 (on 25 carries) and three touchdowns in a win over Arizona State on Sept. 30 that earned him Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week honors. Stanford (9-3) will play USC on Dec. 2 in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The leader of the third-ranked Sooners offense, Mayfield has passed for 4,097 yards (247-of-346) and 37 touchdowns. His 4,097 yards rank second in the nation. He has thrown for 300 or more yards nine times, including a career-best 598 (24-of-36, 5 touchdowns) in a win against Oklahoma State on Nov. 4 that earned him Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week honors. Oklahoma (11-1) will play TCU on Dec. 2 in the Big 12 Championship Game.

The nation’s all-purpose yards leader (2,698; 224.8 yards per game), Penny has scored 24 touchdowns for the 10-2 Aztecs, coming four different ways this season – 19 rushing, 2 receiving, 2 kickoff return and 1 via punt return. Penny has rushed for a nation-leading 2,027 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Penny earned Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week honors twice this season (Sept. 9 and Nov. 19).

Alabama announces hiring of UTSA defensive coordinator

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In early January, new NCAA legislation will officially allow FBS football programs to add a 10th on-field assistant to their coaching staffs.  Friday, Alabama, not surprisingly, became the first Power Five program to officially dip into that particular coaching pool.

The Crimson Tide confirmed in a press release that Pete Golding has been added to Nick Saban‘s staff as an ambiguous defensive assistant.  Golding will not be permitted to assume an on-field role until Jan. 9, the day the 10th assistant rule officially goes into effect.

The 2017 College Football Playoff championship game is scheduled to be played Jan. 8 of next year, for what it’s worth.

“We are pleased to have Pete and his family join our staff at Alabama,” Saban said in a statement. “Pete is an exciting young coach, who has an outstanding reputation as both a teacher and recruiter. He will be a great fit in our organization with his knowledge of the game and his ability to relate to student-athletes. We are thrilled to welcome Pete and his family to Alabama.”

Golding, who will be permitted to work with his new program in an off-field capacity for now, has spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at UT-San Antonio.  Prior to that, Golding spent two seasons as the safeties coach at Southern Miss, his first job at the FBS level.

Saban will still need to fill the hole created by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt‘s hiring as the head coach at Tennessee.  Pruitt will remain at Alabama through its playoff run, however long it lasts.

As accuser blasts DA’s office, protective order against Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson dismissed

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Thursday, Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced in a press conference that his office would not pursue charges related to allegations of rape made against Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson. A day later, there were a pair of developments in connection to the situation.

In a statement released Friday, the accuser who claimed Anderson raped her in mid-November released a blistering statement blasting the prosecutors, stating that her faith in the justice system has been diminished by the actions of the district attorney’s office. Specifically, she decried, in part, “inaccurate statements” from Mashburn at the Thursday press conference and hopes that his office’s “unorthodox, erroneous and egregious release of detailed information does not affect and/or deter future victims from coming forward.”

My choice to stay silent to the media was an intentional decision. I held full faith that the Oklahoma criminal justice system would achieve due process with a thorough investigation. Yesterday’s press conference, held by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office, diminished my faith in our local judicial system. I was speechless when I heard inaccurate statements, a disregard for addressing my inability to give consent, and a projected perceived bias. I was led to believe that the case details provided to the media would be a vague overview of the investigative process. I truly hope their unorthodox, erroneous and egregious release of detailed information does not affect and/or deter future victims from coming forward.

In the press conference, the prosecutor noted several text messages between the accuser and Anderson after the alleged assault that were described as friendly in nature. Anderson’s attorney claimed that the accuser only went to the authorities with her claims after Anderson had rejected several of her advances in the weeks following the alleged assault.

Earlier this month, the 23-year-old woman filed for an emergency order of protection against Anderson; additional details subsequently emerged, with the woman describing the player in a written statement to the court as the “alleged rapist” and herself as the “victim of rape.” A hearing on the protective order had been scheduled for Dec. 18.

That hearing three days from today has since been canceled. From the accuser’s statement:

Despite my adamant fight for justice, I have chosen to dismiss my Victim Protective Order upon receiving military orders two days ago to begin training. I look forward to starting this next chapter of my life as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

The woman, who signed her statement “Courtney J. Thornton, OU Class of 2017,” closed the missive with the following paragraph:

In the future, I ask you to consider all sides of every story before resorting to absolutes. Coming forward was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but I never wanted to regret not reporting what happened that night. In the humble words of Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘What you don’t do can be a destructive force.’

Ohio State assistant coach Larry Johnson takes to Twitter to deny retirement rumors

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The addition of an early signing period in college football has altered the sport in many different ways this year, from super quick coaching searches to an ever changing recruiting calendar and process. While you can debate the merits of the new Dec. 20th date all you want, there’s no denying that the entire process has been accelerated much more so than in past seasons.

That is also very true when it comes to ‘crootin rumors.

Apparently there have been a few such rumors floating around that veteran Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson was set to retire at some point in the not too distant future (i.e. after the season). The coach is one of the best in the business and highly regarded for his recruiting abilities so naturally he made things very clear on Twitter Friday morning that he will be in Columbus and wanted to set the record straight that he would not be leaving the staff.

You could probably chalk up the rumors and grumblings to a bit of negative recruiting from some rivals given that the coach is in his mid-sixties but it’s great news for the Buckeyes that he will indeed be the team’s line coach for the forseeable future.

Missouri hires former Florida coach Brad Davis as Tigers new offensive line coach

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Missouri has their new offensive line coach and they didn’t even have to look outside their own division to find one.

The Tigers announced on Friday that they had hired Brad Davis to be the team’s new offensive line coach after he spent the past season at SEC East rival Florida coaching the same position group

“I’m very pleased to have Brad and his family join our program,” head coach Barry Odom said in a statement.  “He’s a tremendous teacher and mentor, and he’s been lights out on the recruiting trail with his approach to building true relationships with kids.  Brad has experience in the SEC and he has worked hard to earn a great amount of respect among his peers.  I’m excited to have him with us, and I know he is going to do a great job helping us move forward offensively and continue building,”

Davis was not retained by new Gators coach Dan Mullen but the former Oklahoma offensive lineman has experience from prior stops at East Carolina and North Carolina over the years. He replaces Glen Elarbee, who left as Missouri’s offensive line coach to follow Josh Heupel to UCF.