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17-year-old gets start at QB for Old Dominion vs. Virginia Tech… in Blacksburg

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Talk about being thrown straight into the fire. At least it’s not “Enter Sandman” at night, though, right?

Regardless, Old Dominion will travel to Blacksburg for an afternoon game at Lane Stadium in Week 4 later on today. Thanks to first-half struggles in ODU’s Week 3 loss to North Carolina, Bobby Wilder inserted Steven Williams at quarterback in the second half and he performed admirably in his first collegiate action — 139 yards passing, two passing touchdowns in two quarters of relief work.

Williams, it was confirmed earlier this week, will remain under center this weekend against Tech and will be tackling his first career start against the Bud Foster-led Hokies defense. The true freshman, though, is no ordinary first-time starter as he is just 17 years, 11 months (almost) old.

Based on our research, the 6-4, 196-pound Williams would become just the fourth FBS player in the last four-plus decades to start at quarterback before the age of 18. The others are Khalil Tate (Arizona, 2016), Nick Isham (Arizona, 2012) and David Walker (Texas A&M, 1973).

It’s believed that Walker, at 17 years, nine months, is the youngest ever to start at quarterback at the highest level of college football.

Despite his youth, Williams, a two-star 2017 signee, has the confidence of both his head coach and teammates.

“At 17 years old, he has to become the defined leader of this organization,” Wilder said according to the Virginian-Pilot. “I personally think he has the ability to do it. … He’s very dynamic. There’s a lot of things he does well.”

“I’ve been thinking about it over the past week, and I can’t imagine myself as a starting quarterback at 17,” redshirt junior wide receiver Travis Fulgham said. “But I think he can do it. That’s what’s crazy about it.”

CFT 2017 Preseason Previews: College Football Players to Fall in Love With

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A new college football season is nearing, and it will feature some terrific playmakers you should be well aware of. Odds are you are familiar with some of the players you should know, but now is a good a time as any to introduce the experienced and the brand new fans of college football to some of the top players to keep you entertained in 2017. You will have a blast watching these players do their thing this season and you will want to watch every game they play for the chance to witness greatness.

Without any further adieu, here are the players that will keep you most entertained this fall.

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
In a season that has a number of good running backs around the country, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley may be the best there is. Penn State’s offense may be the best in the Big Ten, and Barkley is one of the reasons why. Barkley has shined in big games for the Nittany Lions the past two seasons, including in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin and Rose Bowl against USC, and he will have his opportunities to lead Penn State to some big wins this season with his moves.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Leonard Fournette
may have been the star attraction out of LSU’s backfield the past few years, but Derrius Guice made a name for himself last season as one of the top running backs in the SEC. Now, Guice steps into the leading role without any question and he should be the main cog in LSU’s offense this fall while the Tigers try to get a passing game figured out.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Keeping with the running back theme (and there are a number of others that could have been mentioned), we stay in the SEC to remind you that Georgia still has Nick Chubb ready to carry the ball. Chubb should be a key player in Georgia’s season, even though he will be splitting running calls with Sony Michel. But Chubb’s ability to burst through the line and get downfield with authority will be an essential ingredient to Georgia’s offensive game plan.

Derwin James, S, Florida State
Some will argue Florida State’s best player may actually be the best player in the nation. Derwin James is ready to make plays on every snap, and after missing the bulk of the 2016 season due to a knee surgery, James is ready to make up for some lost time. Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles will have James lining up all over the field, and he will be a key player in the highly-anticipated Week 1 matchup with Alabama.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Ed Oliver’s recruiting to Houston took the recruiting world by storm, and he has had quite the impact in his young career at Houston. Expect more of the big man to destroy the line of scrimmage this fall. Oliver would be a beast to contain in any conference, but do not look past his performance in the AAC this fall. Oliver will continue to show just how much fun watching a defensive tackle can be this fall.

Quinton Flowers, QB, USF
If there was one thing Charlie Strong really needed to be successful at Texas, it was his Longhorn version of Teddy Bridgewater. Now at USF, Strong has his quarterback in Quinton Flowers. Flowers is among the top players from the Group of Five and will give the Bulls as good a chance as any to not only win the AAC, but also guide the Bulls to a New Years Six bowl game.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Louisville’s quarterback may have won the Heisman Trophy last season, but a brutal finish to the season has left the reigning Heisman Trophy winner laying in the shadows this offseason it seems. Expect that love affair with the dynamic quarterback to be rekindled quickly as Jackson looks to pile up big numbers to start the season once more to remind us all why he captured the nation a year ago. History may be against Jackson’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy again this season, but do not be surprised if he manages to return to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Honorable mentions: Sam Darnold (QB, USC), Justin Jackson (RB, Northwestern), Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma), Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State), Mike Weber (RB, Ohio State), J.T. Barrett (QB, Ohio State), Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA), Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon), Jordan Whitehead (S, Pittsburgh), Da’Shawn Hand (DE, Alabama), Myles Gaskin (RB, Washington)

Pat Narduzzi dismisses starting DE, suspends three other Pitt starters

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Preseason camps are opening across the country in the next week or so but one ACC team will do so without several key contributors.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi announced on Friday afternoon a slew of player-related discipline decisions and all four significantly alter the outlook for the Panthers during their upcoming non-conference slate to begin the season. Senior defensive end Rori Blair received the harshest punishment as he was dismissed from the program for “conduct detrimental to the program.”

As big of a loss as Blair is along the defensive line though, the team will also be without junior safety (and perhaps best defender on the team) Jordan Whitehead and starting middle linebacker Quintin Wirginis for the first three games of the year after unspecified violations of team policy. Starting offensive lineman Alex Bookser is also suspended for the season opener for “his involvement in an offseason legal situation involving a motor vehicle.”

“Our program’s foundation will always be built on discipline and personal responsibility,” Narduzzi said in a release. “These are highly disappointing situations but I am hopeful that each of these young men will be better, stronger and wiser after taking accountability for their actions.

“In addition to sitting out multiple games, Quintin and Jordan will continue to be held accountable to internal standards of conduct.”

The Panthers open against Bo Pelini’s Youngstown State squad before facing in-state rival and defending Big 10 champion Penn State in State College. Whitehead and Wirginis will also miss out on the team’s other non-conference game in Week 3 as Oklahoma State comes to Pittsburgh.

Narduzzi’s defense wasn’t all that good last season and the loss of so many key contributors for the opening three games will make life even tougher given the high-powered offenses they’ll see from the Nittany Lions and Cowboys.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

AFCA lists 146 players to Good Works Team watch list

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It’s watch list season, and we all know the deal with watch lists. “These guys had good years last year,” the organizations say, “now pay attention to us because it’s the dead of July.”

Usually the watch lists simply consist of every FBS player who started at that position a year ago — or, in the case of positions with multiple starters, the best returning starter from each team. Which makes sense. No one’s being excluded here.

And then there’s the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The Good Works team has nothing to do with what happens on the field — its 22-member team will be released in September. “The student-athletes nominated for this esteemed award embody the true spirit of teamwork and selflessness, donating their limited free time to helping and serving others,” the press release reads.

But, still, the Good Works Team and its sponsor need publicity just like everyone else — and, thus, we have a list of the 146 best dudes in college football.

“After looking at the bios of the 146 nominees we received for 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, it really shows that there are great football student-athletes all over this country who just don’t care what happens between the sidelines, but they also care about their community and giving back to others,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry said in a statement. “The AFCA has been proud to partner with Allstate these past 10 years to honor football players who give more of themselves to help others in need.”

View the 146 watch list members below.

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)

Arizona State – Tashon Smallwood

Arkansas – Frank Ragnow

Arkansas State – Blaise Taylor

California – Raymond Davison

Auburn – Daniel Carlson

Central Florida – Shaquem Griffin

Baylor – Taylor Young

Connecticut – Vontae Diggs

Boise State – Brett Rypien

Georgia – Aaron Davis

Bowling Green – Nate Locke

Houston – Steven Dunbar

BYU – Fred Warner

Illinois – Nick Allegretti

Clemson – Christian Wilkins

Kansas – Joe Dineen, Jr

Colorado State – Zack Golditch

Kentucky – Courtney Love

Duke – Gabe Brandner

Louisiana-Lafayette – Grant Horst

East Carolina – Jimmy Williams

Louisville – Lamar Jackson

Florida State – Mavin Saunders

Maryland – Adam Greene

Georgia Tech – Matthew Jordan

Memphis – Spencer Smith

Georgia Southern – Myles Campbell

Miami – Demetrius Jackson

Indiana – Rashard Fant

Minnesota – Eric Carter

Kansas State – Dalton Risner

Mississippi – Javon Patterson

LSU – Danny Etling

Missouri – Corey Fatony

Marshall – Ryan Yurachek

Nebraska – Chris Weber

Middle Tennessee – Brent Stockstill

Nevada – Austin Corbett

Mississippi State – Gabe Myles

North Carolina – Austin Proehl

North Carolina State – A.J. Cole, III

Notre Dame – Tyler Newsome

Northwestern – Justin Jackson

Oklahoma – Nick Basquine

Ohio State – J.T. Barrett

Pittsburgh – Brian O’Neill

Oklahoma State – Mason Rudolph

South Alabama – Tre Alford

Old Dominion – Josh Marriner

USC – Jordan Austin

Penn State – Brandon Smith

Tennessee – Todd Kelly, Jr

Rutgers – Sebastian Joseph

Texas – Naashon Hughes

San Jose State – Nate Velichko

UTEP – Ryan Metz

SMU – Justin Lawler

Toledo – Cody Thompson

Stanford – Harrison Phillips

Tulsa – Willie Wright

Syracuse – Zack Mahoney

Utah – Chase Hansen

TCU – Shaun Nixon

Virginia – Quin Blanding

Texas A&M – Koda Martin

Wisconsin – Derrick Tindal

Texas State – Gabe Schrade

Utah State – Jontrell Rocquemore

Tulane – Parry Nickerson

Vanderbilt  – Tommy Openshaw

UCLA – Kenny Young

Virginia Tech – Joey Slye

Alabama – Minkah Fitzpatrick

West Virginia  – Rob Dowdy

UAB – Shaq Jones

Western Kentucky – Marcus Ward

Combined Divisions (FCS, II, III & NAIA)

Amherst College – Reece Foy

Moravian College – Nick Zambelli

Aurora – Kurtis Chione

Murray State  – Zach Shipley

Berry College – Michael Wenclawiak

Norfolk State  – Kyle Archie

Bethel (Minn.) – Josh Dalki

North Greenville  – Johnny Burch

Butler – Isaak Newhouse

Northwestern College (Iowa) – Jacob Jenness

Carnegie Mellon – Sam Benger

Notre Dame College – Justin Adamson

Carson-Newman – Antonio Wimbush

Ohio Dominican – Austin Ernst

Chadron State College – Steven Allen

Ohio Wesleyan – Jerry Harper

Chapman – Diano Pachote

Peru State College – Gunnar Orcutt

Colorado State-Pueblo – Zach Boyd

Princeton – Kurt Holuba

Dakota State – Jacob Giles

Saint Augustine’s – Justin Shaw

Davidson College – Ryan Samuels

Saint John’s (Minn.) – Will Gillach

East Stroudsburg – Larry Mills

Samford – Deion Pierre

Eastern Kentucky – Jeffrey Canady

South Dakota State – Jake Wieneke

Edinboro – Ryan Stratton

Southern Arkansas – Stacy Lawrence

Ferris State – Jake Daugherty

Southwestern Assemblies of God – Stephen Lawson

Fordham – Manny Adeyeye

Stephen F. Austin – Marlon Walls

Franklin & Marshall College – Tyler Schubert

Stonehill College – Jermel Wright

Frostburg State – Jordan Procter

Susquehanna – Tommy Bluj

Georgetown College (Ky.) – Kody Kasey

Texas A&M-Commerce – Luis Perez

Grinnell College – Carson Dunn

Catholic U.– Patrick Vidal

Harding – Gavin De Los Santos

The College of Wooster – Patrick Mohorcic

Hillsdale College – Danny Drummond

U. Chicago – Chandler Carroll

James Madison – Jonathan Kloosterman

Mount Union – Alex Louthan

Kalamazoo College – David Vanderkloot

Puget Sound – Dwight Jackson

Kennesaw State – Luther Jones

Saint Mary – Kyle Dougherty

Liberty – Trey Turner

St. Thomas (Minn.) – Matt Christenson

Manchester – Jared Bourff

South Dakota – Stetson Dagel

Marist College – Lawrence Dickens

Wartburg College – Matt Sacia

Mercer – Thomas Marchman

Wayne State (Mich.) – Deiontae Nicholas

Michigan Tech – Cayman Berg-Morales

West Texas A&M – Dillon Vaughan

Millersville (Pa.) – Kevin Wiggins

Western Carolina – Keion Crossen

Minot State  – Logan Gunderson

Western New England – Garrett Jones

Mississippi College – Chris Manning

Wingate – Lawrence Pittman

Montana State – Mitchell Herbert

Youngstown State – Armand Dellovade