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Nation’s leading receivers named among 10 Biletnikoff Award semifinalists

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The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation has trimmed down the list of the nation’s top receivers to 10 semifinalists for this year’s Biletnikoff Award. The award doesn’t necessarily have to go to a wide receiver, but this year’s award will maintain that tradition with 10 semifinalists all playing the wide receiver position.

Among the semifinalists are the nation’s leading receiver, Colorado State’s Michael Gallup (1,298 yards), the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns, West Virginia’s David Sills V (18 touchdowns), and the nation’s leader in receptions per game, SMU’s Trey Quinn (9.6 receptions per game). The semifinalist list also includes key players on conference contenders like Deontay Burnett of USC and James Washington of Oklahoma State.

A Big 12 receiver has won the award each of the past two seasons, so that may be good news for one of the three semifinalists from the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook won the award a year ago, preceded by Baylor’s Corey Coleman in 2015.A Big 12 player has won the award a total of six times since 2007, with Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon each winning the award twice.

2017 Biletnikoff Semifinalists

  • Darren Andrews, UCLA
  • A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
  • Deontay Burnett, USC
  • Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
  • Michael Gallup, Colorado State
  • Steve Ishmael, Syracuse
  • Anthony Miller, Memphis
  • Trey Quinn, SMU
  • David Sills, West Virginia
  • James Washington, Oklahoma State

One-time USC QB commit David Sills now has FBS-leading 18 TD catches for West Virginia

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One of the best under-the-radar storylines of the 2017 season continued Saturday evening in Little Manhattan.

Once a highly-touted quarterback prodigy — as a 13-year-old he was offered a scholarship to USC by Lane Kiffin — David Sills moved to wide receiver not long after signing with West Virginia as part of their 2015 recruiting class. In June of 2016, WVU announced that Sills was moving on to the junior college level “to pursue his dream of playing quarterback.”

Six months later, that dream ended as WVU announced that Sills had come back to the Mountaineers — and was coming back as a receiver.  And come back he did as, after catching seven passes for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns in eight games as a true freshman in 2015, Sills has now caught 18 touchdowns in 10 games this season after recording two more in WVU’s narrow five-point win over Kansas State — one on an absolutely ridiculous catch, especially for a former quarterback.

The only other FBS player even remotely in Sills’ end-zone neighborhood is Memphis’ Anthony Miller, who has 11.  With 10 each, UCLA’s Darren Andrews and Miami of Ohio’s James Gardner are the only other players at this level in double-digits.

With three games remaining, the 6-4, 203-pound Sills has an outside chance — a very outside chance — of tying the FBS single-season record of 27 touchdown catches set by Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards in 1998.  He’s also seven scores away from tying the school record of 25 set by Stedman Bailey in 2012. Bailey is currently tied for second all-time with Marshall’s Randy Moss, who set the FBS record of 25 the year before it was broken by Edwards.

In seven games this season, though, Sills has scored two or more touchdowns in a single game.  He’s caught three in thee contests.

As for the man feeding Sills the ball through the air, Will Grier (howdy Florida!) leads the nation with 34 touchdowns passes, pending what Missouri’s Drew Lock (31) does tonight against Kentucky.  With the same three games remaining, Grier needs eight touchdowns to tie Geno Smith‘s school record of 42 set in 2012 and nine to break it.

UCLA TE Caleb Wilson heading to season-ending foot surgery

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The 2017 college football season has come to an end early for tight end Caleb Wilson, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Wilson went down with a foot injury on Saturday against Colorado. The injury reportedly will require surgery that will sideline him for the remainder of the season. Wilson confirmed the injury status on his Twitter account.

Wilson, one of top-rated tight ends in the nation, is UCLA’s second-leading receiver this season with 38 receptions for 490 yards with one touchdown. In Saturday’s win over Colorado, Wilson caught six passes for 65 yards. In the season-opener, Wilson exploded for 15 catches for 208 yards in UCLA’s wild comeback against Texas A&M.

Austin Roberts figures to see more of a role at tight end as a result of the Wilson injury. The junior has six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns in five games this season.

Josh Rosen leads UCLA back from 34-point deficit to stun Texas A&M

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UCLA staged an impossible rally from 34 points down to stun Texas A&M 45-44 on Sunday night at the Rose Bowl. Trailing 44-10 with four minutes to play in the third quarter, Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen carried his team to five consecutive touchdown drives, the final one culminating on a 10-yard scoring toss to Jordan Lasley with 43 seconds remaining.

In all, UCLA’s rally totaled 396 yards on just 37 plays while needing less than nine minutes. Rosen ended four of those drives in touchdown passes, including an impossible 42-yard strike to Darren Andrews to make the score 44-31 with 8:12 remaining that quite literally went through the hands of A&M safety Deshawn Capers-Smith.

While UCLA’s quarterback played every bit like the possible No. 1 overall draft pick he’s hyped up to be, A&M’s meltdown was made possible by playing a quarterback who proved he was not ready for the moment — even if that moment asked for simply nursing a five-touchdown lead over 19 minutes. The Aggies lost starting quarterback Nick Starkel to a foot injury in the third quarter (he later returned to the sidelines in crutches), and while his numbers (6-of-13 for 62 yards) weren’t anything that would remind you of Johnny Manziel, clearly, Starkel’s presence allowed A&M to stay on the field. With Starkel unavailable, A&M turned to true freshman Kellen Mond (3-of-17 for 27 yards, 15 rushes for 54 yards), who led the Aggies to three 3-and-outs and another punt. Mond did help lead a nine-play, 50-yard drive that ended in a field goal try, but starting kicker Daniel LaCamera was also lost to injury and Braden Mann‘s 43-yard try with 4:41 to play and A&M leading 44-31 missed.

The Aggies raced to a 38-10 halftime lead thanks to a running game that ran over, around and straight past UCLA’s hapless defense. Trayveon Williams led the way with 22 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yard score and a 72-yard burst that set up another A&M touchdown. Keith Ford added 18 carries for 114 yards and three scores of his own. As a team, Texas A&M out-rushed UCLA, 382-70.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome a career night from Rosen, who hit 35-of-58 throws for a career-high 491 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Those final numbers are even more unbelievable considering Rosen hit six of his first 18 passes and ended the first half hobbling to the sideline after taking a sack on 4th-and-10.

Turns out, that was all simply a prologue to one of the greatest comebacks in UCLA history and perhaps the most costly collapse in Texas A&M annals.

The loss was Kevin Sumlin‘s first in 21 regular season non-conference games as Texas A&M’s head coach. And, considering the status he entered this season, it is undoubtedly his worst.

Texas A&M blowing out UCLA through one half at the Rose Bowl

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In a game that has held completely true to form for both teams, Texas A&M is blowing out UCLA 38-10 through one half at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA accepted the ball to open the game and started with its best drive of the night, a 12-play, 53-yard march that stalled at the Texas A&M 12-yard line, setting up a J.J. Molson 29-yard field goal to put the Bruins on top.

It was all Aggies from there.

Texas A&M’s first touch moved 75 yards in 11 snaps, capped by a 5-yard Keith Ford run. After Jarrett Johnson forced a Josh Rosen fumble, A&M pushed the lead to 10-3, then forced another fumble — Armani Watts got this one. Taking over at the Bruins’ 20, Trayveon Williams handled the entire load, needing three runs to push the lead to 17-3 with four minutes still remaining in the first quarter.

Texas A&M forced UCLA into a three-and-out on its next two possessions; the second of which saw Stefan Flintoft boom a punt 57 yards to the Aggies’ 1. But A&M slashed right through the UCLA defense, moving 99 yards — all but four of them on the ground — in seven plays, the largest of which was a 72-yard Williams run. Ford pushed the lead to 24-3 lead with a 2-yard plunge at the 11:38 mark of the second quarter. He a third touchdown on A&M’s next drive, this time a 1-yarder, to extend the lead to 31-3 with 4:11 to play before the half.

UCLA’s offense awoke from its slumber, briefly, piecing together a 67-yard touchdown drive keyed by a 54-yard completion to Jordan Lasley, but A&M effectively erased that touchdown when Williams went 61 yards down the left sideline on the very next snap from scrimmage.

Texas A&M has completely manhandled UCLA at the line of scrimmage, rushing 36 times for 286 yards and five touchdowns as a team. Williams has managed 188 yards and two of those scores on just 15 carries. Nick Starkel earned the start at quarterback and played most of the way, hitting a modest 5-of-9 passes for 49 yards.

Rosen, meanwhile, has lived through a miserable half. He hit only 9-of-23 passes for 114 yards and was hit a number of times, including on the fumble that set up A&M’s field goal. His half ended on a fourth down sack that saw him limping toward the sideline.

The Aggies will receive to open the second half.