AMES, IA â NOVEMBER 26: Wide receiver Shelton Gibson #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers pulls in a 50 yard pass in the first half of play against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Instagram the vehicle for WVU’s Shelton Gibson to announce NFL plans

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For the first time this cycle, West Virginia is losing a Mountaineer football player to early draft attrition.

On his Instagram account Wednesday afternoon, Shelton Gibson revealed that  he has decided to enter the 2017 NFL draft, foregoing his remaining collegiate eligibility.  The wide receiver said he came to his decision “[a]fter many emotional talks with God, family, coaches and teammates.”

🤐GODS PLAN🙏🏾 #blessed #216

A photo posted by Shelton Gibson (@sheltongibson_) on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:45am PST

Gibson led the Mountaineers this year with 951 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions, while his 22.1 yards per catch was good for fourth nationally. He also led the Mountaineers in all-purpose yardage at 124.1 yards per game as he was also the team’s primary kick returner.

Following the regular season, Gibson was named second-team All-Big 12.

A Look Ahead: CFT’s Way-Too-Early 2017 Top 25

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans passes the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The last bit of confetti has barely settled onto the Raymond James Stadium turf and the carcass of the 2016 season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already rolling out a way-too-early Top 25 for the 2017 season? Yep. Because that’s how we roll. Or something.

In our role as preseason Nostradumbass, the first 10 of CFT’s Top 25 consisted of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Notre Dame (ouch), No. 7 Washington (yeah us!), No. 8 TCU, No. 9 Michigan State (whoops) and No. 10 Tennessee. A little over 4½ months later?

Three of the four playoff participants were in our Top 10; the fourth, Ohio State, was just outside at No. 11. While not No. 1, Oklahoma came into the postseason ranked seventh in the College Football Playoff Top 25, and will likely move up thanks to the 16-point Sugar Bowl win over No. 14 Auburn (not in our preseason Top 25). Florida State (No. 11), LSU (No. 20) and Tennessee (No. 21) were all ranked at least eight spots lower when the postseason began, but all three won their respective bowl games.

On the flip side, TCU, at 6-6, earned a bowl bid… and subsequently lost to finish under .500. And then there was Notre Dame and Michigan State, which combined to win a total of seven games so let’s just forget about that and move on.

The point of this whole review-before-we-look-ahead exercise? Preseason polls are meaningless — but not nearly as meaningless as polls produced nearly eight months ahead of the start of a new season. With that in mind, enjoy this way-to-early Top 25 that will put the “mean” in meaningless. And the “less” in it, for that matter.

Oh, and as always, feel free to complain/whine/moan/bitch away in the comments section below.

NO. 1 USC
WHY? As a redshirt freshman, Sam Darnold emerged as one of the most electrifying playmakers at the quarterback position in college football, and should, to the chagrin of opponents, get even better with a full offseason as the man at the position.  Winning nine straight to close out the season doesn’t hurt either.
WHY NOT? There’s always at least one team that’s way overhyped — hello 2016 Notre Dame — and the hoopla and attention proves to be too much for the young Trojans to bear.

NO. 2 ALABAMA
WHY? Nick Saban + top-ranked recruiting classes year-in, year-out + a burning desire to be the greatest there ever was at this level = a permanent spot inside the Top 10 as long as The Nicktator resides in Tuscaloosa.
WHY NOT? An NFL team (finally) entices Saban to go back and finish what he started — and abruptly ended — in the big boy league of football.  It’s not going to happen, of course, but that’s about the only thing that could derail the Crimson Tide juggernaut — well, that and a Tiger named Deshaun.

Clemson v Florida StateNO. 3 FLORIDA STATE
WHY? The Seminoles are once again loaded with top-flight talent on both sides of the ball and at every positional unit, with Deondre Francois showing flashes in his first season as the starter of being one of the best young quarterbacks in the sport.
WHY NOT? They face Alabama on a (ahem) neutral field to open the season, then travel to Gainesville to face Florida in the regular-season finale.  In between, there’s a trip to Death Valley for their annual ACC Atlantic grudge match with Clemson.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA
WHY? With Baker Mayfield returning, and the rest of the conference still trying to play catch-up, the Sooners are clearly the cream of the Big 12 crop.
WHY NOT? The twin backfield loses of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine can’t be overcome and Mayfield has to shoulder too much of the offensive burden. Plus, the road trips to Ohio State, Baylor and Oklahoma State for Bedlam.

NO. 5 WASHINGTON
WHY? They have a talented arm in quarterback Jake Browning, a very staunch defense and a schedule that’s very favorable, with the toughest road game being the trip to Stanford.
WHY NOT? They are losing a significant amount of talent that helped get them to the College Football Playoffs.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v ClemsonNO. 6 OHIO STATE
WHY? Given the personnel losses after the 2015 season, 2016 was thought to be a rebuilding year but turned into another playoff appearance.  The target was always the 2017 season for this young Buckeyes team, and a squad loaded with this much talent will be a factor throughout.
WHY NOT? J.T Barrett continues to regress as a quarterback despite Urban Meyer shaking up the top of his offensive coaching staff, and none of the other young quarterbacks are quite ready for prime time.

NO. 7 CLEMSON
WHY? Despite losing a couple of pieces, Brent Venables‘ defense will once again be one of the best in the nation.  The Tigers won 10 or more games in each of the three seasons prior to Deshaun Watson‘s arrival, so it’s far from a one-man show that Dabo Swinney has built.
WHY NOT? Losing Watson, a three-year starter at quarterback, proves to be too much as his replacement simply can’t handle the burden.

NO. 8 MICHIGAN
WHY? For all of his well-publicized off-field antics, Jim Harbaugh is simply one of the best head coaches in the sport and will settle for nothing less than getting his beloved Wolverines back into the national title discussion on an annual basis.  Wilton Speight was a breakout star in 2016 and should flourish despite the loss of his quarterbacks coach, while Don Brown continues to be one of the best defensive minds in the game.
WHY NOT? Too much talent was lost to the NFL, and Harbaugh simply hasn’t gotten the requisite time to completely restock the cupboard in Ann Arbor to compete with the Ohio States of the college football world.

Oklahoma State v BaylorNO. 9 OKLAHOMA STATE
WHY? One of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the country, Mason Rudolph and James Washington, eschewed an early shot at the NFL and returned for one more season in Stillwater.
WHY NOT? A defense that was 53rd in scoring as it was loses nearly half its starters, plus OSU will have to play at Pittsburgh, Texas and West Virginia.

NO. 10 PENN STATE
WHY? They return a bunch of talent from their Big Ten-winning squad, including Heisman contenders in quarterback Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, and get Michigan, Nebraska and Pittsburgh in Happy Valley.
WHY NOT? They lost a very talented wide receiver in Chris Godwin and have to play at Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.

NO. 11 STANFORD
NO. 12 AUBURN
NO. 13 TEXAS
NO. 14 LSU
NO. 15 WISCONSIN
NO. 16 LOUISVILLE
NO. 17 GEORGIA
NO. 18 WEST VIRGINIA
NO. 19 SOUTH FLORIDA
NO. 20 FLORIDA
NO. 21 KANSAS STATE
NO. 22 COLORADO
NO. 23 WASHINGTON STATE
NO. 24 SAN DIEGO STATE
NO. 25 OREGON

USC QB Sam Darnold, Houston DL Ed Oliver headline FWAA Freshman All-America Team

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton and quarterback Sam Darnold #14 react after defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions 52-49 to win the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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USC quarterback Sam Darnold and Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver were the stars of the FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team for the 2016 season, and Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente and USC head coach Clay Helton shared the award for First Year Coach of the Year.

The FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team, announced today, includes 20 true freshmen including Oliver, Ohio State running back Mike Weber, Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill and Florida State defensive lineman Brian Burns.

Fuente is coming off his first season as the head coach at Virginia Tech after a successful stint as head coach at Memphis, with an ACC Coastal Division championship and appearance in the ACC Championship Game. Helton overcame a rough start to coach USC into a top 10 finish and a Rose Bowl victory over Big Ten champion Penn State. Both have been head coaches before, of course, but the FWAA First Year Coach of the Year is open to any coach in his first full season as a head coach at his current school.

OFFENSE

  • QB Sam Darnold, USC
  • RB Mike Weber, Ohio State
  • RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
  • RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
  • WR Ammon Richards, Miami
  • WR Demetris Robinson, California
  • WR Ty Lee, Middle Tennessee
  • TE Isaac Nautta, Georgia
  • OL Michael Jordan, Ohio State
  • OL Jawaan Taylor, Florida
  • OL Ryan Bates, Penn State
  • OL Thomas Shoaf, BYU
  • OL Ben Bredeson, Michigan
  • AP Donnie Corley, Michigan State

DEFENSE

  • DL Ed Oliver, Houston
  • DL Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
  • DL Brian Burns, Florida State
  • DL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
  • DL Reggie Walker, Kansas State
  • LB Logan Wilson, Wyoming
  • LB Troy Dye, Oregon
  • LB Leo Lewis, Mississippi State
  • LB Josiah Tauaefa, UTSA
  • LB David Reese, Florida
  • DB Xavier Crawford, Oregon State
  • DB Javon Hagan, Ohio
  • DB Taylor Rapp, Washington
  • DB Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
  • DB Clifton Duck, Appalachian State

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia
  • P Tom Sheldon, North Carolina
  • KR Tony Pollard, Memphis
  • PR Malik McGue, Army

Matt Rhule manages to keep Baylor roster largely in place

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 02: Head coach Matt Rhule of the Temple Owls reacts during the game against the Army Black Knights at Lincoln Financial Field on September 2, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Black Knights defeated the Owls 28-13. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Barring any more changes in the days to come, Matt Rhule has managed to succeed in one of his first jobs at Baylor. That task is keeping the roster together. Consider that one mission accomplished following the announcement by one player confirming he will not be transferring to a new program in 2017.

Cornerback Jordan Tolbert, who had previously thought to be considering a transfer out of Waco, announced via Twitter he will in fact be staying put right where he is. The return of Tolbert will help keep the Baylor secondary with some solid depth in the new season even if he does not make a push for a starting job.

With Tolbert planning to stay put, it would appear Rhule will keep his inherited roster in place with one notable exception. Wide receiver KD Cannon previously announced his declaration to enter the 2017 NFL Draft, leaving Baylor a year early. He is the only player from Baylor set to leave the program early as Rhule gets settled in with his new staff. Now, the more challenging job becomes scratching together a recruiting class with just weeks to go until National Signing Day. According to Rivals, Baylor’s Class of 2017 currently holds eight commitments, highlighted by four-star New Jersey defensive back Harrison Hand (the other seven commitments all come from Texas). Baylor’s recruiting class was decimated as the school was being rocked by a scandal that led to the dismissal of former head coach Art Briles.

Helmet sticker to Reddit.

Reports: Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon declares for 2017 NFL Draft

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts after a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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To the surprise of nobody, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is moving on from Norman and is headed to the 2017 NFL Draft.

Reports from The Oklahoman and ESPN both reported the news on Thursday night ahead of an official announcement by the school.

The controversial tailback was the star of the team’s romp over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his game-high five receptions for 89 yards. Mixon wraps up his two year career with the Sooners with 2,027 rushing yards and 894 receiving yards on 65 receptions.

While Mixon was one of the best running backs in the country between the lines, his actions off the field largely defined his reputation. Just after arriving on campus as a five-star true freshman, Mixon punched a woman in a 2014 incident that forced him to take a plea deal with prosecutors and caused him to miss the entire season as a school-imposed punishment.

Fellow back Samaje Perine already announced his intentions to declare for the draft, giving Oklahoma two departures from the backfield in as many days. Rising sophomore Abdul Adams is expected to take over as the top option in the ground game for what should be a somewhat thin position for the defending Big 12 champions.