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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.

LSU RB Lanard Fournette arrested for illegal gambling at Baton Rouge casino

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The younger brother of Leonard Fournette has finally made a name for himself, albeit for all of the wrong reasons.

Monday afternoon, WAFB-TV reported, LSU running back Lanard Fournette was arrested on a charge of using a fake ID to gamble at a Baton Rouge casino this past weekend.  The 20-year-old Fournette was subsequently released on a $1,000 bond.

The Baton Rouge Advocate has obtained some of the details  led up to the arrest of the redshirt sophomore.

Fournette… was arrested Monday after surveillance video showed and casino personnel confirmed he gained access to the gaming floor Saturday with a different ID than his own driver’s license, according to his arrest report.

Security video showed Fournette playing at a “craps table” for 16 minutes around 1:30 p.m., before walking to the player’s services counter. Fournette then allegedly presented his real ID to the cashier for a cash withdrawal, who determined his accurate age and contacted security, the report says.

Fournette, of Slidell, was detained at the casino, but left before the officer’s arrival, the report says. When casino security asked Fournette about the incident, Fournette said he used another person’s ID to enter the casino, the report says.

Head coach Ed Orgeron is aware of the incident and any discipline will be handled internally.

A three-star 2015 signee, Fournette took a redshirt his true freshman season.  In three games last year, he ran for 13 yards on five carries.

Fournette’s older brother was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft following an Al-American career at LSU.

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.

Horse owner named horse after LSU RB Derrius Guice

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In honor of the Kentucky Derby being held today, here’s a little horse-related college football goodness to digest.

Staton Flurry, a stable owner in Arkansas, has a new steed taking on the namesake of LSU running back Derrius Guice. The name is more than appropriate given the LSU running back ended the 2016 season as the conference’s second-leading rusher and enters the 2017 season as one of the top running backs in the nation.

Flurry seems to enjoy naming horses after LSU running backs. Last summer, Flurry showed off another horse he owned named after former Tigers running back Leonard Fournette. While we won’t be seeing Guice at today’s running at the Kentucky Derby, Fournette did win a race at Belmont Park last summer. Also last summer, a video of Fournette in a scuffle was played off as just horseplay. No more horse puns. I promise.

As for the real Guice, he will also not be running at the Kentucky Derby today. That gives him more time to prepare to win a bet between he and Ohio State’s Mike Weber and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.

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.