Saquon Barkley

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Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley among Lombardi Award finalists

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The list of Lombardi Award candidates has been whittled down to a list of seven select finalists for this year’s award. A week after a list of 21 candidates was unveiled, only seven remain after a panel of voters cast their initial ballots for the award.

2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love of Stanford, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville highlight the list of finalists for the Lombardi Award. Other finalists include Saquon Barkley of Penn State, Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama, Shaquen Griffin of UCF and Joel Lanning of Iowa State.

The Lombardi Award has a new trophy and criteria this season after opening the award up to any position after previously being reserved for the top lineman or linebacker in the nation. The award is based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency on and off the field.

Lombardi Award Finalists for 2017 Season

  • Saquon Barkley, Penn State (RB)
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (S)
  • Shaquem Griffin, UCF (LB)
  • Lamar Jackson, Louisville (QB)
  • Joel Lanning, Iowa State (LB/QB)
  • Bryce Love, Stanford (RB)
  • Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (QB)

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award for the 2016 season. Carl Nassib of Penn State won the award in 2015, meaning Barkley and Fitzpatrick are attempting to win another Lombardi Award for their school. Oklahoma is the only other school with a Lombardi Award among the schools represented by the finalists for this season’s award. Iowa State, Louisville, Stanford and UCF are all looking for their first Lombardi Award winner in school history. Oklahoma has three all-time Lombardi Award winners, and Alabama and Penn State each have two.

Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love among Lombardi Award candidates

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The college football season may be in the books for the 2017 season, bu there is still a piece of hardware to present to one of the sport’s top players from the most recent season. On Monday, the Lombardi Foundation unveiled a list of 21 players named as a candidate for the Lombardi Award for the 2017 season. This year, the award is open to players of any position based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency and the list of candidates includes a number of names you should be familiar with.

2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love, Saquon Barkley, Roquan Smith, and J.T. Barrett are all among the players nominated for the award. The list of 21 candidates will be whittled down to seven finalists by a select panel of award voters this week, and four of those finalists will be invited to the Lombardi Honors presentation for the awarding of the Lombardi Award. The seven initial finalists will be announced this coming Monday, January 22.

Saquon Barkley, Penn State (RB)
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State (QB)
Bradley Chubb, N.C. State (DE)
Tyrell Crosby, Oregon (OT)
DeShon Elliott, Texas (S)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (S)
Shaquem Griffin, UCF (LB)
Lamar Jackson, Louisville (QB)
Derwin James, Florida State (S)
Joel Lanning, Iowa State (LB/QB)
Bryce Love, Stanford (RB)
Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State (DE)
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (QB)
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (G)
Ed Oliver, Houston (DT)
Da’Ron Payne, Alabama (DT)
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (RB)
Roquan Smith, Georgia (LB)
Vita Vea, Washington (DT)
James Washington, Oklahoma State (WR)
Christian Wilkins, Clemson (DT)

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award for the 2016 season.

Penn State adds Army assistant David Corley to fill vacancy at RB coach

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Penn State head coach James Franklin was in need of adding a new running backs coach, so what better place to look than a program that runs the ball roughly 99 percent of the time? David Corley has been named Penn State’s new running backs coach. Corley comes to Penn State after serving a role as wide receivers coach at Army.

Corley shared a message to the Army fans he leaves behind and thanked Army head coach Jeff Monken for the opportunity to coach at Army.

“I want to thank Coach Jeff Monken for giving me the opportunity to work with him and the awesome staff at West Point,” Corley said. “Coaching Army West Point Football has been an experience that I will never forget.”

Corley then posted another message proclaiming his excitement to join the Penn State coaching staff.

Corley will not get a chance to work with Saquon Barkley, who is heading to the NFL, but Penn State’s running backs are a fairly solid position with Miles Sanders ready to take on the lead role in the running game and four-star recruit out of Virginia, Ricky Slade, on the way.

Former Penn State running backs coach Charles Huff left the program to join former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State.

Penn State’s Saquon Barkley declares for NFL draft

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Penn State running back Saquon Barkley said he would announce his decision when he felt the time was right. A day after helping lead Penn State to a victory in the Fiesta Bowl, Barkley has revealed his decision. He’s going to the NFL.

As many suspected would be the case, Barkley will skip his final year of eligibility at Penn State and enter the NFL Draft, where he is expected to be one of the top picks in the draft and the top running back selected. Barkley announced his decision on his Instagram account with a lengthy letter to the Penn State community.

Barkley finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2017 but won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player. A consensus All-American and a two-time Chicago Tribune Silver Football recipient as the Big Ten’s best player, Barkley was a key player in Penn State’s rise the past two seasons in a brand new offense. The former four-star recruit rushed for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns and caught 54 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns this season. Barkley also had an impact on special teams, where he returned 15 kickoffs for 426 yards and two touchdowns, both at the start of games.

Barkley’s departure from Penn State leaves the door open for Miles Sanders to take over the bulk of the running duties next season. Also a former top running back recruit from Pennsylvania, Sanders carried the football 31 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns in 2017 and continued to take over some special teams duties as well, as he did as a freshman in 2016. Penn State also adds Ricky Slade in the Class of 2018 to the running back haul as the Nittany Lions look to replace the production of Barkley next season.

CFT Previews: PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

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WHO: No. 9 Penn State (10-2) vs. No. 11 Washington (10-2)
WHAT: The 47th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
WHEN: 4:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
THE SKINNY: A year after a debate was waged on which of these two should be included in the College Football Playoff, Washington and Penn State meet in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. This one could be one of the more entertaining games we see this bowl season with plenty of good talent to go around on both sides of the field. After both teams ended their postseason last season with a loss, both Penn State and Washington are looking to make up for it this year.

The running back duo is terrific with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley capable of a highlight any time he touches the ball, if his offensive line gives him room to work. Barkley is going up against a stingy Washington defense so there may not be much room to work for much of the night. This is expected to be the final game of Barkley’s career before heading off to the NFL, where he is likely to be a top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The stats may not tell the full story of just how dangerous Barkley can be, but he can be a factor running the ball, catching the ball, and returning kicks. Barkley has two kickoff return touchdowns this season and he was named the winner of the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most dynamic player.

Penn State will have their hands busy trying to contain Myles Gaskin of Washington, one of the top offensive players the Pac-12 has to offer. The quarterback comparison is a good one too with Penn State’s Trace McSorley a spunky dual-threat and Washington’s Jake Browning a more traditional dropback passer.

Both offenses will be led by new coordinators on the sidelines after the previous coordinators left to take head coach jobs elsewhere this offseason. While Penn State’s James Franklin is looking for his first major bowl victory after not being able to finish off the Rose Bowl a year ago, Washington’s Chris Petersen is looking for his third Fiesta Bowl victory. This should be a good one, but Penn State may have just enough big plays in them to keep the school’s perfect Fiesta Bowl record unblemished.

THE PICK: Penn State 30, Washington 26