The East beat the West 27-17 in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. But, of course, the final score is always the least interesting thing to happen inside the Alamodome on the first Saturday in January.
The day is about seeing college football’s next generation make plays — Clemson quarterback commit Hunter Johnson earned MVP honors, in case you assumed the Tigers were set to fall off a Deshaun Watson-sized cliff after Monday night — and commit to their respective schools of choice.
We’ve got them all for you here:
Los Angeles 4-star wide receiver Jamire Calvin picks Oregon State:
Wylie, Texas, 4-star running back Eno Benjamin picks Arizona State:
Aledo, Texas, 4-star offensive lineman Chuck Filiaga pledges to Michigan:
Las Vegas 4-star safety Bubba Bolden commits to USC:
Calabasas, Calif., 5-star cornerback Darnay Holmes verbals to UCLA:
Grand Prairie, Texas, 5-star cornerback Jeffrey Okudah commits to Ohio State:
Graham, Wash., 5-star offensive lineman Foster Sarell announces for Stanford:
It appears Utah will be moving in a new direction on the offensive side of the ball.
The Utes announced Friday afternoon that assistant head coach/running backs coach Dennis Erickson has decided to step away from the game and retire from the sport. Additionally, co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick will not be retained by head coach Kyle Whittingham.
“Both Dennis and Aaron have been instrumental to the success of our program and we appreciate their contributions,” said Whittingham in a statement. “Dennis is one of the most respected coaches in the history of college football and the opportunity to work side by side with him and learn from him has been an invaluable experience. Aaron has been an incredibly loyal member of our staff for many years and has been an integral part of this program’s growth.”
Erickson had spent the past four seasons with the Utes as an assistant on Whittingham’s staff. Prior to that, the 69-year-old had been a head coach for the previous three decades, with collegiate stops at Idaho (1982-85, 2006), Wyoming (1986), Washington State (1987-88), Miami (1989-94), Oregon State (1999-2002) and Arizona State (2007-11). He won a pair of national championships with the Hurricanes.
There were also two NFL stops as a head coach, with the Seattle Seahawks from 1995-98 and the San Francisco 49ers from 2003-04.
Roderick, who played his college football at BYU, had served as a Utah assistant since 2005. During his time with the Utes, Roderick had been a receivers coach (2005-13), quarterbacks coach (2014-16), passing-game coordinator (2012-13) and co-offensive coordinator (2010, 2015-16).
Gary Andersen has yet to take Oregon State to its first bowl game, but the Beavers coach has already earned his first extension.
Oregon State announced Tuesday it has extended Andersen through the 2021 season. Andersen originally inked a 6-year contract when he arrived from Wisconsin in December 2014, so the new deal only pushes his contract forward another 12 months.
“Extending Coach Anderson’s contract reflects my belief that we have the coach in place who is capable of taking Beaver football to bowls and conference championships, and preparing our student-athletes to be champions in life beyond football,” Oregon State president Ed Ray said in a statement.
Salary terms were not disclosed, but Andersen earned $2.55 million this fall, according to USA Today.
While Andersen stands at only 6-18 in Corvallis, it would be foolish to examine that number without context. The Beavers compete in one of the most competitive divisions in college football — three of Oregon State’s five Pac-12 North neighbors reached bowls this season, including Washington — and they closed with wins over Arizona and Oregon this fall.
“We are excited about the direction of our program and the way our young men work to represent Beaver Nation the right way,” Andersen said. “We expect to continue to be much improved off and on the field, and I look forward to successful seasons ahead.”
In a period of about five months earlier this year, Michigan State saw five defensive linemen leave the football program for various reasons. Wednesday, three of those resurfaced at Power Five schools.
Mississippi State confirmed that one of the trio, Montez Sweat, has signed with the Bulldogs. Another, Enoch Smith, announced on Twitter Tuesday night that he had committed to Oklahoma State. The third, Craig Evans (pictured), will continue his FBS career at Oregon State.
All three of the linemen had spent the 2016 season at junior colleges.
Evans and Sweat parted ways with the Spartans in the spring of last year for what was described at the time as personal reasons. Evans acknowledged that he had failed a drug test and would’ve been facing a six-game suspension had he remained in East Lansing. That suspension will not follow him to Corvallis.
In September, Smith announced that he would be leaving the Spartans as well. No reason was given.
According to mlive.com, there’s a chance that another of the quintet, Cassius Peat, who left in August, could possibly return to MSU. The earliest that would happen, though, would be next summer.
Damon Knox, the fifth linemen, announced in May that would be pursuing a career in law enforcement instead of playing another season for the Spartans.
Oregon State’s two leading rushers will return in 2017. Predictably, there’s been some personnel upheaval in the Beavers’ backfield as a result.
Taking the traditional Twitter tack to make his announcement, Paul Lucas confirmed that he will be transferring from OSU. The running back stated he made the “tough decision… after careful consideration and talking with my parents.”
A three-star 2015 recruit, Lucas was rated as the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Arizona. A wide receiver initially, Lucas made the move to the backfield during the midst of his true freshman season.
After rushing for 172 yards on just 23 carries (7.5 ypc) in 2015, Lucas ran for just 113 yards on 33 carries this past season. He added six receptions for 83 yards, although he didn’t tally a touchdown by either rushing or receiving.
Leading rusher Ryan Nall, a sophomore with 951 yards this past season, and Artavis Pierce, a freshman who was second on the team with 523 yards, will both be back next season. With the departure of senior Tim Cook (137 yards), Lucas would’ve been the Beavers third-leading returning running back.