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Reigning national champ Clemson officially names Deshaun Watson successor

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The man charged with the unenviable task of trying to replace one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history has officially been identified.

Upon the completion of spring practice earlier this year, Dabo Swinney stated that, if Clemson “played a game today, Kelly (Bryant) would be the” starting quarterback.  Fast-forward a little over four months, and Bryant is indeed the guy who will replace Deshaun Watson under center for the reigning national champions.

The announcement from the Tigers is the culmination of what had been a three-way fight for the job, but the head coach also seemingly left the door slightly ajar for the competition to, at least, bleed into the early part of the 2017 season.

“He has earned it and I am proud of him. It has been a great competition, but this part is over,” Swinney said in quotes distributed by the team. “[Redshirt freshman] Zerrick Cooper is the number-two quarterback, but [freshman] Hunter Johnson is right there. We hope to get all three quarterbacks experience in the first part of the season.”

A junior, Bryant has played in 12 games and exactly 100 snaps.  In that time, he has completed 13-of-18 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He’s added 35 carries for 178 yards and another three scores.

Redshirt sophomore Tucker Israel, who wasn’t even a part of the unofficial competition, is the only other quarterback on the roster who has thrown a pass at the collegiate level (four attempts last season).

Essentially a three-year starter, Watson was responsible for 8,702 of the 9,382 yards and 76 of the 80 touchdown passes for the Tigers the past two season.

Clemson will kick off defense of its national championship Sept. 2 at home against Kent State.  They’ll begin ACC play two weeks later on the road against Louisville.

Roll Tide! Alabama tops preseason AP Top 25; OSU, FSU, USC receive first-place votes

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For the fourth time under head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide will begin a college football season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25.

The defending SEC champions received 52 first-place votes from the AP voters, easily pulling away from No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Florida State. Both the Buckeyes and Seminoles received first-place votes, as did No. 4 USC. But none of those schools received more than four first-place votes from the voters. Alabama and Florida State meet in Week 1 next week in Atlanta.

Defending national champion Clemson was left without a first-place vote, but still starts the year highly-ranked at No. 5. They are followed by Penn State, fresh off a Big Ten championship from last season. Defending Pac-12 champion and College Football Playoff participant Washington starts the year at No. 8, one spot behind the defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners with a first-year head coach in Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma travels to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio State in Week 2. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State round out the top 10 in the preseason AP poll.

The lone Group of Five team in the preseason top 25 is USF, with new head coach Charlie Strong taking over the Bulls. Strong’s new team is ranked No. 19, a few spot s ahead of his old program, the No. 23 Texas Longhorns (now coached by Tom Herman).

The SEC leads the country with six teams appearing in the preseason AP Top 25, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five ranked teams each. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each have four schools represented. No independent teams appear in the preseason top 25.

And here is the full AP Top 25 preseason poll, with first-place votes noted);

  1. Alabama (52 first-place votes)
  2. Ohio State (3)
  3. Florida State (4)
  4. USC (2)
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Washington
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. Michigan
  12. Auburn
  13. LSU
  14. Stanford
  15. Georgia
  16. Louisville
  17. Florida
  18. Miami FL
  19. USF
  20. Kansas State
  21. Virginia Tech
  22. West Virginia
  23. Texas
  24. Washington State
  25. Tennessee

Reports: Ex-Clemson, Florida OL Jake Fruhmorgen transfers to Baylor

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This a slightly unexpected turn of events.

In late-June of this year, Florida announced that Jake Fruhmorgen, a transfer from Clemson, had officially joined the Gators. Four days later, it was reported that Fruhmorgen had decided to step away from football, at least in Gainesville.

Nearly seven weeks later, he’s reportedly stepped back in as both TigerNet.com and SicEm360.com are reporting that Fruhmorgen has enrolled at Baylor and will continue his collegiate football playing career with the Bears. The latter website noted that the lineman is scheduled to arrive in Waco at some point Thursday.

Fruhmorgen will have to sit out the 2017 season, but will then have two years of eligibility he can use, presumably at BU.

Fruhmorgen didn’t play another game for Clemson last season after suffering a shoulder injury in late October. While the injury kept him out of a couple of games, he missed the latter quarter of the regular season, as well as the postseason, dealing with unspecified personal issues that kept him away from the team. He decided to transfer from the Tigers in mid-January.

Prior to all of that, the true sophomore had started the first eight games of the 2016 season at right tackle.

A four-star 2015 signee, Fruhmorgen was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida. As a true freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound lineman played in 11 games, starting one of those contests.

Dave Clawson calls Lamar Jackson’s Wake accusations ‘fake news’

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In a story that was Peak Offseason that has bled into the actual season, Dave Clawson has clapped back at Lamar Jackson‘s assumption that Clawson anonymously trashed the Heisman winner’s future NFL prospects.

For those with better things to do, here’s the primer: an unnamed ACC coach spoke to Sports Illustrated about Deshaun Watson‘s NFL chances, where this quote was published:

“We played [Watson] and Lamar Jackson, and Jackson has no shot at playing quarterback in the NFL. None,” the coach said. “He can’t make the throws and can’t read coverages. He’s not going to have a chance.”

Jackson said at ACC media days that he thought he knew the identity of the unnamed coach. “Yeah, I heard Wake Forest. I heard (it was) the Wake Forest coach,” he said. “But we won, so I don’t really care.”

Clawson has now come out and stated that hot take did not belong to him.“This is what’s called fake news,” Clawson told Demon Deacon Digest on Monday.

“I think he is one of the very best players in all of college football, and one of the most dynamic quarterbacks I’ve seen play the game,” Clawson said. “I have great respect for him as a player and how he’s developed as a quarterback.”

For the record, Jackson completed 14-of-26 passes for 145 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions — his second-lowest passer rating of the regular season — while rushing 22 times for 153 yards. Louisville won the game 44-12 in a game better remembered as the Wakeyleaks game. Watson experienced better success against Wake Forest, hitting 23-of-33 throws for 202 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions while rushing seven times for 47 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-13 Clemson victory.

Bovada continues to tap Alabama as 2017 title favorite

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When last we left Bovada.lv‘s odds for the 2017 national champion, 2016 runners-up Alabama sat atop the initial wagering odds.  On the cusp of a new season?  Same old, same old.  Pretty much.

Along with its updated Heisman Trophy odds, Bovada also revealed its updated odds to win the next edition of the College Football Playoff championship, with the Crimson Tide sitting as a comfortable favorite at 12/5.  In January, those odds were a little longer at 4/1.

The next two teams, USC and Ohio State, saw their odds shorten as well, with the former going from 9/1 to 6/1 and the latter from 15/2 to 13/2.  Florida State and Michigan, at 7/1 and 9/1, respectively, seven months ago, have lengthened a bit to 15/2 for the Seminoles and 16/1 for the Wolverines.

Prior to Bob Stoops’ retirement, Oklahoma had been at 9/1; after his abrupt departure, those odds have tumbled to 16/1.

Below are the complete set of updated 2017 national championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.