CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 5: Zach Edwards #4 of the Cincinnati Bearcats leads his teammates on to the field prior to the start of the game against the BYU Cougars at Nippert Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Ex-OSU WR Torrence Gibson following Luke Fickell to Cincinnati

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Torrance Gibson may have left Ohio State, but he’s not leaving the state of Ohio.

Back in August, it was announced that Gibson had been suspended for the entire 2016 season, a suspension with which Urban Meyer didn’t agree.  In December, even as Gibson signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the head coach left the door open for the wide receiver’s return.

That appears to have since been shut as Gibson tells ESPN.com that he has committed to Cincinnati and will play for new Bearcats head coach and former Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.  Instead of MGCCC, though, Gibson is enrolled at Cincinnati State in pursuit of an associate’s degree that would allow him to play for UC in 2017.

“I’m confident about what is happening in the Queen City,” Gibson told the website. “I’m just ready to roll.”

A four-star 2015 recruit, Gibson was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Florida. Coming to OSU as a dual-threat quarterback, Gibson was moved to wide receiver.  At least at first, Fickell will move Gibson back to quarterback.

Marshon Lattimore becomes sixth Buckeye, third OSU DB to leave early for 2017 NFL draft

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 17:  Dede Westbrook #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners tackles Marshon Lattimore #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes as he ran an interception back in the first half of their game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Norman, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Ohio State’s defensive backfield has taken yet another hit, albeit a largely expected one.

Following in the footsteps of others, Marshon Lattimore announced via Twitter that he will be leaving OSU early and making himself available for the April NFL draft.  The cornerback would’ve had two years of eligibility remaining had he decided to return.

A redshirt sophomore in 2016, Lattimore tied for second on the Buckeyes in interceptions with four. That total was also tied for sixth in the Big Ten, and he was named first-team all-Conference by the coaches after the regular season.

His first two seasons in Columbus were marred by leg injuries that, after surgery, caused him to take a redshirt his true freshman season and sidelined him for nearly half of 2015.

The other of the trio of defensive backs who are leaving early are cornerback Gareon Conley (HERE) and safety Malik Hooker (HERE).  Linebacker Raekwon McMillan (HERE), wide receiver Noah Brown (HERE) and running back/wide receiver Curtis Samuel (HERE).

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

Curtis Samuel latest to leave Buckeyes early for NFL; Tyquan Lewis confirms he’s returning

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Curtis Samuel #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes past Dorian O'Daniel #6 of the Clemson Tigers during the first half of the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 31, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Since the end of their 2016 season, Ohio State had seen four of their Buckeyes football players leave eligibility on the table.  Monday, a fifth did the same.

On his Twitter account very early Monday afternoon, running back/wide receiver Curtis Samuel announced that he will bidding adieu to Columbus and saying hello to the NFL and its April draft.

Samuel was the only player at the FBS level to have at least 700 yards receiving (865) and rushing (771) this year, while scoring eight touchdowns on the ground and seven through the air.  The Associated Press tapped the Brooklyn, NY, native as a first-team All-American following the 2016 season.

With the departure of Samuel today along with wide receiver Noah Brown over the weekend, K.J. Hill (18 catches, 262 yards) will be the Buckeyes’ leading returning wide receiver in 2017.

In addition to Samuel and Brown, cornerback Gareon Conley (HERE), safety Malik Hooker (HERE) and linebacker Raekwon McMillan (HERE) have all declared early for the draft.

The Buckeyes did get some good news on the early-entry front as Tyquan Lewis, the Big Ten’s Defensive Lineman of the Year, confirmed that he will be returning to school for another season.