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CFT 2017 Preseason Previews: College Football Players to Fall in Love With

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A new college football season is nearing, and it will feature some terrific playmakers you should be well aware of. Odds are you are familiar with some of the players you should know, but now is a good a time as any to introduce the experienced and the brand new fans of college football to some of the top players to keep you entertained in 2017. You will have a blast watching these players do their thing this season and you will want to watch every game they play for the chance to witness greatness.

Without any further adieu, here are the players that will keep you most entertained this fall.

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
In a season that has a number of good running backs around the country, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley may be the best there is. Penn State’s offense may be the best in the Big Ten, and Barkley is one of the reasons why. Barkley has shined in big games for the Nittany Lions the past two seasons, including in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin and Rose Bowl against USC, and he will have his opportunities to lead Penn State to some big wins this season with his moves.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Leonard Fournette
may have been the star attraction out of LSU’s backfield the past few years, but Derrius Guice made a name for himself last season as one of the top running backs in the SEC. Now, Guice steps into the leading role without any question and he should be the main cog in LSU’s offense this fall while the Tigers try to get a passing game figured out.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Keeping with the running back theme (and there are a number of others that could have been mentioned), we stay in the SEC to remind you that Georgia still has Nick Chubb ready to carry the ball. Chubb should be a key player in Georgia’s season, even though he will be splitting running calls with Sony Michel. But Chubb’s ability to burst through the line and get downfield with authority will be an essential ingredient to Georgia’s offensive game plan.

Derwin James, S, Florida State
Some will argue Florida State’s best player may actually be the best player in the nation. Derwin James is ready to make plays on every snap, and after missing the bulk of the 2016 season due to a knee surgery, James is ready to make up for some lost time. Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles will have James lining up all over the field, and he will be a key player in the highly-anticipated Week 1 matchup with Alabama.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Ed Oliver’s recruiting to Houston took the recruiting world by storm, and he has had quite the impact in his young career at Houston. Expect more of the big man to destroy the line of scrimmage this fall. Oliver would be a beast to contain in any conference, but do not look past his performance in the AAC this fall. Oliver will continue to show just how much fun watching a defensive tackle can be this fall.

Quinton Flowers, QB, USF
If there was one thing Charlie Strong really needed to be successful at Texas, it was his Longhorn version of Teddy Bridgewater. Now at USF, Strong has his quarterback in Quinton Flowers. Flowers is among the top players from the Group of Five and will give the Bulls as good a chance as any to not only win the AAC, but also guide the Bulls to a New Years Six bowl game.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Louisville’s quarterback may have won the Heisman Trophy last season, but a brutal finish to the season has left the reigning Heisman Trophy winner laying in the shadows this offseason it seems. Expect that love affair with the dynamic quarterback to be rekindled quickly as Jackson looks to pile up big numbers to start the season once more to remind us all why he captured the nation a year ago. History may be against Jackson’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy again this season, but do not be surprised if he manages to return to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Honorable mentions: Sam Darnold (QB, USC), Justin Jackson (RB, Northwestern), Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma), Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State), Mike Weber (RB, Ohio State), J.T. Barrett (QB, Ohio State), Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA), Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon), Jordan Whitehead (S, Pittsburgh), Da’Shawn Hand (DE, Alabama), Myles Gaskin (RB, Washington)

Former A&M, Louisville WR JaQuay Savage to give Cincinnati a shot

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Maybe the third time will be a charm? Possibly?

Cincinnati announced recently that Ja'Quay Savage has joined Luke Fickell‘s Bearcats football program. As he earned his bachelor’s degree in the spring of this year, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017.

The upcoming season will serve as Savage’s final year of eligibility.

In June, Savage announced via Twitter that he had decided to transfer from Louisville. He spent the past three seasons with the Cardinals.

Savage, who changed his surname from Williams in 2015 to honor his mom, began his career at Texas A&M as a four-star 2013 recruit before transferring to Louisville in May of 2014. After sitting out a transfer season, Savage started six of the nine games in which he played in 2015, catching 12 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Last season, he didn’t catch a pass and likely would’ve been buried on the depth chart heading into summer camp had he not left Bobby Petrino’s program.

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.

USC’s Sam Darnold remains Bovada’s Heisman betting favorite

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Not surprisingly, the wagering favorite for one of the most storied awards in sports remains unchanged.

Back in January, Bovada.lv installed USC quarterback Sam Darnold as a 9/1 favorite to win the 2017 Heisman Trophy; a month later, those odds shortened to 4/1.  Tuesday, the same wagering establishment released its updated Heisman odds, with Darnold remaining a 4-1 favorite.

Up next this time around, however, is Saquon Barkley at 7/1.  In February, the Penn State running back was at 12/1 and behind four other players.

After that, it’s Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield at 15/2 (he was 13/2 in Feb.), Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett at 8/1 (12/1) and Louisville quarterback and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson at 8/1 (13/2).

No other positions other than quarterbacks and running backs were listed.

Below is the complete set of 2017 Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.