Dalvin Cook

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Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Florida State chops banged up Michigan for wild Orange Bowl victory

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Dalvin Cook and Florida State taking on Jabrill Peppers and Michigan in the Orange Bowl was pegged early on as one of the best matchups of the season and a bowl that might be better than one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games.

While we didn’t get to see Peppers due to a hamstring injury, we did see plenty of Cook and the Wolverines battling back and forth in a thrilling game that the Seminoles ultimately ended up winning 33-32 after a pair of wild fourth quarter comebacks.

FSU led for most of the contest and used a couple of big plays in the passing game to control the first half. But the Wolverines came clawing back as momentum shifted between both squads in the second half like a game of hot potato. Cook wound up rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown (adding another 62 on three receptions) as he likely closed out his career in garnet and gold not far from where he grew up.

Quarterback Deondre Francois (222 yards, two scores) began the game by leading Florida State on a 75 yard opening drive that ended in the end zone, but his play trailed off in the third quarter and tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Mike McCray.

That pick-six was the spark Michigan needed after coming so close to breaking out some big plays to cut into the lead. After allowing Francois to find the end zone on the next drive to make up for his mistake, the Wolverines rallied behind a balanced attack that busted open several big plays on a tired defense.

Quarterback Wilton Speight found Khalid Hill in the end zone to finish off a quick drive in the final quarter and then Chris Evans rumbled 30 yards run to cap off 15 point outburst in under four minutes to take the lead for the first time all night.

A huge kick return allowed Florida State to get right back into things and snatch momentum back in a flash, finishing a crazy stretch when Francois found Nyqwan Murray in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning points. The extra point was blocked and returned for a defensive score, giving Michigan another slim opening to capture the win.

 

Eventually the talented ‘Noles defense came up with a huge stop on fourth down to seal the victory and cap off one of the best Orange Bowls in a long, long time.

Florida State rolls to big halftime lead as Michigan deals with Jabrill Peppers, Jake Butt injuries

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Things got off to an ominous start for Florida State at the Orange Bowl when mascot Renegade was spooked in pre-game activities and knocked Chief Osceola off just as he was about to plan the team’s famed flaming spear at midfield.

As it turns out, that would be about the only time that the Seminoles struggled as they jumped out to a 20-6 lead heading into halftime of the first New Year’s Six game of the season.

The Wolverines had to deal plenty of their own adversity, as do-everything star Jabrill Peppers was ruled out pregame with a hamstring injury and Mackey Award-winning tight end Jake Butt was taken to the locker room after suffering a shot to his knee late in the second quarter. While the former won’t play at all, it’s possible the latter does return for a team that needs all the help they can get.

Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight threw for only 60 yards but was under pressure on just about every dropback as defensive end Demarcus Walker was in the backfield on every play and was one reason why the team only rushed for 18 yards in the half.

Taking advantage of the absence of Peppers on the Wolverines defense were Dalvin Cook (70 yards, one score rushing) and Deondre Francois (177 yards, one touchdown pass), with the two leading the Noles to an opening drive touchdown to set the tone early in the game.

While things have been fairly one-sided in the Orange Bowl so far, there’s still a lot of football left to be played and it should be fun to see how the chess match between Jim Harbaugh and Jimbo Fisher plays out after some halftime adjustments.

Injured Michigan star Jabrill Peppers out for Orange Bowl against Florida State

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Bad news for Michigan hit right as the team kicked off the Orange Bowl against Florida State on Friday night as it was announced that star player Jabrill Peppers would be out for the game, possibly ending his career.

The Heisman finalist apparently injured his hamstring earlier in the week and was seen going through warmups for the game but apparently did not bounce back quickly enough to play. Peppers’ absence was immediately noticeable on the field as the Seminoles marched right down for a touchdown on their opening drive, capped off by a Dalvin Cook touchdown run.

The redshirt sophomore is widely expected to declare for the NFL Draft and is considered by most to be a potential first-rounder at a number of positions. Peppers was named the Big Ten defensive player of the year award and became a unanimous All-American after showing off some remarkable versatility by playing nearly a dozen positions for the Wolverines this season.

Alabama and Ohio State each land six players on AP All-American teams

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The Associated Press released its 2016 All-American teams for the 2016 season, and it should be no surprise the teams are loaded with a healthy sampling of players from Alabama and Ohio State, as well as headlined by the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson was named a First-Team All-American by the AP, as well as fellow Heisman Trophy finalists Jabrill Peppers of Michigan and Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma.

Four players from Alabama were named to the Frist Team, which was more players from a single school than any other program; DL Jonathan Allen, LB Reuben Foster, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick and OT Cam Robinson. Linebacker Tim Williams and tight end O.J. Howard received second-team recognition. Ohio State had three players on the first team; center Pat Elflein, safety Malik Hooker, and H-Back Curtis Samuel.

Houston freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver is the first freshman to be named First-Team All-American since Sammy Watkins of Clemson and LSU punter Brad Wing received the honor in 2011.

The Associated Press All-American team is the third of the five All-American teams to be released that is used t determine the Consensus All-American team. At this rate, there should be a good number of consensus All-Americans on the list, with just the AFCA and FWAA All-American teams to be released in the coming days.

AP First Team All-Americans By Conference

  1. SEC (8)
  2. Big Ten (7)
  3. Pac-12 (4)
  4. ACC (2)
    Big 12 (2)
  5. American (1)
    MAC (1)

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Lamar Jackson, sophomore, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Louisville

Running backs — D'Onta Foreman, junior, 6-2, 249, Texas; Dalvin Cook, junior, 5-11, 213, Florida State

Tackles — Cam Robinson, junior, 6-6, 310, Alabama; Ryan Ramczyk, junior, 6-6, 314, Wisconsin

Guards — Cody O’Connell, junior, 6-8, 354, Washington State; Dan Feeney, senior, 6-4, 305, Indiana.

Center — Pat Elflein, senior, 6-3, 300, Ohio State

Tight end — Evan Engram, senior, 6-3, 235, Mississippi

Wide receivers — Dede Westbrook, senior, 6-0, 176, Oklahoma; Corey Davis, senior, 6-3, 213, Western Michigan

All-purpose player — Curtis Samuel, junior, 5-11 197, Ohio State

Kicker — Zane Gonzalez, senior, 6-1, 195, Arizona State

DEFENSE

Ends — Myles Garrett, junior, 6-5, 270, Texas A&M; Derek Barnett, junior, 6-3, 265, Tennessee

Tackles — Jonathan Allen, junior, 6-3, 290, Alabama; Ed Oliver, freshman, 6-2, 290, Houston

Linebackers — Reuben Foster, senior, 6-1, 228, Alabama; Zach Cunningham, junior, 6-2, 230, Vanderbilt; Jabrill Peppers, junior, 6-1, 205, Michigan

Cornerbacks — Jourdan Lewis, senior, 5-11, 186, Michigan; Adoree’ Jackson, junior, 5-11, 185, Southern California

Safeties — Malik Hooker, sophomore, 6-2, 205, Ohio State; Minkah Fitzpatrick, sophomore, 6-1, 200, Alabama

Punter — Mitch Wishnowsky, sophomore, 6-2, 220, Utah

___

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Deshaun Watson, junior, Clemson

Running backs — Donnel Pumphrey, senior, San Diego State; Christian McCaffrey, junior, Stanford

Tackles — Connor Williams, sophomore, Texas; Orlando Brown, sophomore, Oklahoma

Guards — Billy Price, junior, Ohio State; Will Hernandez, junior, UTEP

Center — Tyler Orlovsky, senior, West Virginia

Tight end — Jake Butt, senior, Michigan

Wide receivers — Zay Jones, senior, East Carolina; John Ross, junior, Washington

All-purpose player — Quadree Henderson, sophomore, Pitt

Kicker — Daniel Carlson, junior, Auburn

DEFENSE

Ends — DeMarcus Walker, senior, Florida State; Harold Landry, junior, Boston College

Tackles — Carlos Watkins, senior, Clemson; Montravius Adams, senior, Auburn

Linebackers — Raekwon McMillan, junior, Ohio State; T.J. Watt, junior, Wisconsin; Tim Williams, senior, Alabama

Cornerbacks — Rasul Douglas, senior, West Virginia; Desmond King, senior, Iowa

Safeties — Budda Baker, junior, Washington; Jamal Adams, junior, LSU

Punter — Cameron Johnston, senior, Ohio State

___

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Baker Mayfield, junior, Oklahoma

Running backs — Saquon Barkley, sophomore, Penn State; Aaron Jones, junior, UTEP

Tackles — Mike McGlinchey, senior, Notre Dame; Forrest Lamp, senior, Western Kentucky

Guards — Nico Siragusa, senior, San Diego State; Quenton Nelson, junior, Notre Dame

Center — Ethan Pocic, senior, LSU

Tight end — O.J. Howard, senior, Alabama

Wide receivers — Amba Etta-Tawo, senior, Syracuse; Austin Carr, senior, Northwestern

All-purpose player — Christian Kirk, sophomore, Texas A&M

Kicker — Gary Wunderlich, junior, Mississippi

DEFENSE

Ends — Hunter Dimick, senior, Utah; Jordan Willis, senior, Kansas State

Tackles — Christian Wilkins, sophomore, Clemson; Solomon Thomas, junior, Stanford

Linebackers — Kendell Beckwith, senior, LSU; Jimmie Gilbert, senior, Colorado; Ben Boulware, senior, Clemson

Cornerbacks — Teez Tabor, junior, Florida; Cordrea Tankersley, senior, Clemson

Safeties — Nathan Gerry, senior, Nebraska; Weston Steelhammer, senior, Air Force

Punter — Michael Dickson, sophomore, Texas