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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

Clemson’s championship team leads to multiple ESPY nominations

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The ESPYS are coming. ESPN’s annual summer tradition of showering star athletes with Hollywood praise is coming in July, and fans now have a chance to vote for their picks in multiple categories. As is typically the case, the reigning national champions tend to be well-represented.

The Clemson Tigers appear multiple times among the finalists for various ESPY awards. Former quarterback Deshaun Watson, now with the NFL’s Houston Texans, is one of four finalists for the Best Championship Performance award. Despite passing for 420 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and running for 43 yards and a score against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last January, Watson is up against some stiff competition in the category. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, and Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker are the other finalists. Topping Brady or Durant may prove difficult for Watson considering the pedigree each of those two have. A player competing in the NBA Finals has won the award each of the past four seasons (three of them won by LeBron James). The only college football player to win the award was former Texas quarterback Vince Young in 2006 following his performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. Watson’s performance against Alabama was about as close to Young’s Rose Bowl as you can get, so maybe there is a chance.

Watson may stand a better chance of being named the Best Male College Athlete. He is the only college football player in the running and may have the most well-known name recognition across the nation compared to the others in contention, although Kansas basketball player Frank Mason could stand a chance.

Clemson’s victory over Alabama is also one of three finalists for Best Upset. The only other finalists for the award are the Mississippi State women’s basketball team upsetting the UConn women in the women’s Final Four and Denis Istomin toppling Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open. Clemson has a chance here, although the UConn women losing was a stunner. No college football game is up for Best Game despite a thrilling national championship game and a Rose Bowl for the ages. But then again, it’s hard to argue against Game 7 of the World Series and the Super Bowl, with a Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal Australian Open Final coming out as the three finalists.

Clemson is also up for Best Team, but against the Chicago Cubs, Warriors, Pittsburgh Penguins, Patriots, South Carolina women’s basketball and the United States women’s gymnastics team. It’s a loaded field.

Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is in the hunt for an ESPY though. His hurdle of a defender is in a tournament-style bracket of 16 plays for the Best Play ESPY. Given the No. 14 seed, Jackson is up against a pass by Aaron Rogers to Jared Cook that led to a playoff victory against the Dallas Cowboys, so once again it looks like a tough draw. Here’s the Jackson hurdle against Syracuse…

The ESPYS will air on Wednesday, July 12.

South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel and Skai Moore cleared in bar assault investigation

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South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel and linebacker Skai Moore have each been cleared by authorities investigating an assault at a Five Points bar, but police are still attempting to find one former Gamecocks football player in connection to the alleged assault.

Former South Carolina linebacker Jalen Antwan Dread is accused of assaulting a man at the Five Points Saloon, according to The State. His whereabouts now are unknown.

Both Samuel and Moore were originally accused of the assault as the investigation opened, along with Dread, but Samuel informed South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp he was not at the bar where the assault took place. His attorney later made the same case, and the investigation has confirmed that to be the case. The original police report of the assault said the assailants were South Carolina football players, with an unknown source saying the identities were that of Samuel, Moore, and Dread. None of the players were at the bar when police arrived on the scene originally.

This all sounds like a big mess, because to this point is has been. Players being identified in an assault that authorities later confirmed were not there at the time proves once again it is always best to be accurate instead of rushing to judgment in any situation.

No charges have been filed at this time as the investigation continues in South Carolina.

Muschamp previously announced Dread was leaving the South Carolina program, but this incident is not connected to that roster change. Muschamp announced Dread’s departure from the program in February, months before the bar incident in question.

Attorney: Deebo Samuel wasn’t present for alleged bar assault

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Tuesday, Will Muschamp very emphatically stated that one of the players accused in connection to a bar fight, star wide receiver Deebo Samuel, wasn’t present for an incident at a Columbia bar.  Two days later, another individual is coming to the South Carolina receiver’s defense.

Neal Lourie, an attorney representing Samuel, stated in a press release, via the Columbia State, that his client was not present for or a part of an alleged assault at Five Points Saloon very early Saturday morning.  Samuel, along with teammate and linebacker Skai Moore as well as former Gamecock Jalen Dread, had been named in a criminal complaint filed in connection to the alleged assault of a 24-year-old man.

“It’s unfortunate his reputation was tarnished by inaccurate reporting and a rush to publish a story without any independent corroboration,” a portion of the release read. “I hope there will be a retraction with as strong a headline as the initial false report.”

As of Wednesday, the State reports, none of the players connected to the incident have spoken to police.  Video surveillance of the alleged incident is expected to be made available to police at some point, while the newspaper has asked for a copy of it as well.

It’s unclear if Moore has secured legal representation.  Muschamp made no mention of the starting linebacker when he issued a denial on Samuel’s behalf.

Last season, Samuel led USC with 59 receptions for 783 yards.

Deebo Samuel tells Will Muschamp he wasn’t at bar that was site of alleged assault

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There’s been a potentially significant development in one of the day’s most noteworthy college football stories.

Earlier Tuesday, reports surfaced that two current members of the South Carolina football program, fifth-year senior linebacker Skai Moore and redshirt junior wide receiver Deebo Samuel, as well as a former Gamecock, Jalen Dread, had been accused in a criminal complaint filed in connection to the alleged assault of a man at a Columbia bar very early Saturday morning.  Video surveillance of the alleged incident is expected to be made available to police at some point; it’s unclear if any of the players have spoken to police as they were not at the bar when officers arrived.

As far as Will Muschamp is concerned, at least one of his players will not be seen on the video when it is reviewed by police investigators as Samuel told his head coach that he wasn’t even at the bar where the alleged assault occurred.

“We’re still kind of gathering the facts. I’ve been out of town, so I’ve been out of pocket,” Muschamp said according to the Columbia State. “We are still gathering information. I have talked to Deebo Samuel and he was not at the establishment so there’s an incorrect report and that’s some irresponsible journalism, in my opinion, but it is what it is.”

Witnesses told police that all three of those involved in the alleged assault of a 24-year-old Marine who served in Afghanistan were Gamecock football players.  None of the trio mentioned in the complaint filed with the Columbia Police Department have been charged.  An investigation into the alleged incident is ongoing.

Last season, Samuel led USC with 59 receptions for 783 yards.  Moore led the Gamecocks in tackles from 2013-15, earning second-team All-SEC honors in 2015, before missing the 2016 season because of a neck injury.  He announced in January that he would be returning to Columbia for one final season.

Dread played linebacker for the Gamecocks last season but opted to transfer from the football program in February.