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Clemson’s championship team leads to multiple ESPY nominations

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The ESPYS are coming. ESPN’s annual summer tradition of showering star athletes with Hollywood praise is coming in July, and fans now have a chance to vote for their picks in multiple categories. As is typically the case, the reigning national champions tend to be well-represented.

The Clemson Tigers appear multiple times among the finalists for various ESPY awards. Former quarterback Deshaun Watson, now with the NFL’s Houston Texans, is one of four finalists for the Best Championship Performance award. Despite passing for 420 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and running for 43 yards and a score against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last January, Watson is up against some stiff competition in the category. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, and Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker are the other finalists. Topping Brady or Durant may prove difficult for Watson considering the pedigree each of those two have. A player competing in the NBA Finals has won the award each of the past four seasons (three of them won by LeBron James). The only college football player to win the award was former Texas quarterback Vince Young in 2006 following his performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. Watson’s performance against Alabama was about as close to Young’s Rose Bowl as you can get, so maybe there is a chance.

Watson may stand a better chance of being named the Best Male College Athlete. He is the only college football player in the running and may have the most well-known name recognition across the nation compared to the others in contention, although Kansas basketball player Frank Mason could stand a chance.

Clemson’s victory over Alabama is also one of three finalists for Best Upset. The only other finalists for the award are the Mississippi State women’s basketball team upsetting the UConn women in the women’s Final Four and Denis Istomin toppling Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open. Clemson has a chance here, although the UConn women losing was a stunner. No college football game is up for Best Game despite a thrilling national championship game and a Rose Bowl for the ages. But then again, it’s hard to argue against Game 7 of the World Series and the Super Bowl, with a Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal Australian Open Final coming out as the three finalists.

Clemson is also up for Best Team, but against the Chicago Cubs, Warriors, Pittsburgh Penguins, Patriots, South Carolina women’s basketball and the United States women’s gymnastics team. It’s a loaded field.

Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is in the hunt for an ESPY though. His hurdle of a defender is in a tournament-style bracket of 16 plays for the Best Play ESPY. Given the No. 14 seed, Jackson is up against a pass by Aaron Rogers to Jared Cook that led to a playoff victory against the Dallas Cowboys, so once again it looks like a tough draw. Here’s the Jackson hurdle against Syracuse…

The ESPYS will air on Wednesday, July 12.

Ex-A&M WR Ja’Quay Savage transferring from Louisville too

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For the third time in his career at this level, Ja’Quay Savage will have a new college football home.

Savage revealed via Twitter Tuesday evening that he has decided to transfer from Louisville and continue playing elsewhere.  As the wide receiver has already received his degree from the U of L, he would be eligible to play for another FBS program in 2017.

Savage, who changed his name 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.

USC QB Sam Darnold remains prohibitive Heisman favorite according to latest odds

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Spring practice is over and most transfers have been completed in college football which means we have a pretty good idea of how teams will look heading into the fall.

As a result, the folks over at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook decided to update their latest Heisman Trophy odds and not surprisingly kept USC quarterback Sam Darnold as the prohibitive favorite for the award heading into the summer.

Interestingly, Darnold saw the gap widen a bit between himself and Oklahoma signal-caller Baker Mayfield according to the latest odds from the sports book. The latter moved up to 8/1 odds to win the sport’s most prestigious award, tying him with last year’s winner in Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

In fact, just about everybody’s odds on the preseason list went up relative to their standing in April. The lone exception was Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham, who made a big move from 50/1 to win the award to 20/1. It certainly seems that comes as a result of high praise of the Baylor transfer coming out of the Tigers’ spring practice this year and the expectation he will be the starter for Gus Malzahn and company going forward.

Despite the latest moves in Vegas though, Stidham and a host of others are still chasing the heavily-favored Darnold to win the Heisman as the Trojans’ see expectations in 2017 ratchet up even further.

Lamar Jackson given key to city of Florida hometown

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Before he was a Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was still the greatest football player to come out of Pompano Beach, Fla.

Jackson played for Boynton Beach High School, where he was a 4-year starter, but became the first player ever from the city of 99,000 people just north of Fort Lauderdale to win the Lou Groza Award High School Player of the Year in 2014.

He then matriculated to Louisville where he, of course, won the most prestigious individual award in sports just two years later.

Over the weekend, Jackson was given the key to his hometown.

Thank you to the city of pompano beach key to the city🔑🔑🙏🏾🙏🏾

A post shared by Lamar Jackson (@new_era8) on

Jackson completed 230-of-409 passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns against nine interceptions while rushing 250 times for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore for Louisville in 2016.

Despite commitment to Tennessee, Shaq Wiggins visits Mississippi State

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Hit the pause button on Shaq Wiggins and his intent to transfer to Tennessee. There appears to be a new contender in the running. The Clarion-Ledger reports Wiggins is visiting Mississippi State even after previously committing to the Vols last month as he pursues a graduate transfer destination from Louisville.

Wiggins arrived at Mississippi State on Sunday and the visit will reportedly go through at least Monday night, according to The Clarion-Ledger‘s report. Wiggins is a graduate transfer so he will be eligible to play immediately for any other FBS program this fall.

Wiggins announced his intent to transfer out of Louisville in March. His previous connections to former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was a key reason why he ended up transferring to Louisville from Georgia. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Grantham is now at Mississippi State. However, Mississippi State was initially reported to be on a short list of schools Louisville was blocking Wiggins from considering, likely because of the Grantham connection after Grantham left the Louisville staff. Other schools reported to be blocked included Kentucky, Notre Dame, Purdue and Western Kentucky (a mix of future opponents and regional rivals). Fortunately for Wiggins, an appeal to be able to consider Mississippi State was approved.

Wiggins previously announced his commitment to Tennessee in late April. Now that remains in question as Mississippi State was initially going to be high on Wiggins’ personal list when he decided to transfer. With the Bulldogs once again a potential option, they could swipe Wiggins from the Vols at the 11th hour.