Florida’s secondary continues to face some depth concerns ahead of the 2017 season. The depth chart lost Chris Williamson, multiple reports confirmed today, who is opting to transfer to a new school.
The former four-star defensive back was recently guided through a position change to pad the depth at the safety position this spring. Williamson has spent the past two seasons in Gainesville and has appeared in 14 games with one start. He came to Florida as part of the first recruiting class signed by Gators head coach Jim McElwain in 2015, and he is now the fifth player from that class to transfer, according to Inside the Gators.
From Inside the Gators;
Williamson is the fifth player from Jim McElwain’s inaugural recruiting class at Florida in 2015 to transfer from the program, joining running back Jordan Cronkrite (USF), offensive lineman Brandon Sandifer, tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe (USC) and tight end/linebacker Camrin Knight (Georgia State).
The news of Williamson’s intent to transfer comes on the same day Florida revealed it will be without safety Marcell Harris for the 2017 season. Harris suffered a torn Achilles tendon that will force the fifth-year senior to miss the entire 2017 season.
Williamson will have to sit out the 2017 college football season if he transfers to another FBS program, according to NCAA transfer rules. He will be eligible to play immediately this fall if he transfers to a program at the FCS level or below.
While it took a few days to make things official, USC has confirmed the hire of Deland McCullough as the Trojans’ new running backs coach.
“We are thrilled to welcome Deland to the Trojan Family and fortunate to have him on our staff,” head coach Clay Helton said in a statement. “He had great success recruiting and then developing prolific running backs at Indiana who were NFL ready. The Indiana run game during his time was effective, efficient and productive. He understands the running game and was himself a very skilled runner as a college and pro player.”
McCullough replaces Tommie Robinson, who was hired last month by former USC coach Ed Orgeron to fill the same position at LSU.
The trip West is a bit of a departure for McCullough as he’s spent nearly his entire coaching career — dating back to 2010 — at Indiana. Despite the unfamiliarity with Los Angeles, the young coach developed several quality runners with the Hoosiers, such as Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard, and should be able to keep that impressive list of pupils growing with players like Ronald Jones II on the USC roster in 2017.
Not surprisingly, Alabama is losing handful of underclassmen to the NFL — albeit a smaller handful than some had projected.
At the schools annual press conference for junior NFL announcements, a trio of Crimson Tide football players — cornerback Marlon Humphrey, offensive tackle Cam Robinson, wide receiver ArDarius Stewart (pictured) — confirmed that they will be leaving Tuscaloosa and make themselves available for the April NFL draft.
Robinson has been an All-American the past two seasons after earning Freshman All-American as a true freshman in 2014. He was a consensus All-American this season. Humphrey was also a Freshman All-American his redshirt season in 2015 before joining Robinson this season as an All-American.
This season, Stewart led the Tide in receiving yards (864), receiving touchdowns (eight) and yards per catch (16). His 54 receptions were second on the national title runners-up. The 6-1, 204-pound receiver finishes his ‘Bama career with 129 catches, 1,713 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Both Robinson and Humphrey were given first-round grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee. Stewart received an “other” grade.
There was some good news on the early-entry front as defensive backs Anthony Averett and Tony Brown, who both had considered leaving early, ultimately decided to return to Tuscaloosa for another season.
Clemson had a bit of an injury scare in the firsts quarter when wide receiver Mike Williams was knocked out of the game following a helmet-to-helmet hit, but a sideline report from ESPN’s broadcast says he has been cleared to return to the game.
Williams was on the receiving end of a helmet-to-helmet hit with Alabama’s Tony Brown, who came in late on a tackle effort. There was no foul called on the play for the hit, which was arguably a missed targeting call.
The hit occurred in the first quarter of the game, and was the second questionable targeting incident of the quarter by Alabama. Reuben Foster was flagged for a late hit on Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson on an earlier Tigers possession, but was not called for targeting. No review was called from the booth for targeting either.
USC is no stranger to players leaving for the NFL early and suffered a defection from at least one key player in the wake of the team’s recent Rose Bowl triumph.
In an Instagram post on Friday afternoon, offensive guard Damien Mama announced that he would forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The school later confirmed his intentions shortly thereafter.
Mama started for parts of three seasons for the Trojans and likely projects as a middle- to late-round draft pick in the spring. He started 12 games this season for the team and earned All-Pac-12 second team honors.
The absence of Mama for next season means that USC will now have to replace at least three starters off an offensive line that protected young star quarterback Sam Darnold and paved the way for tailback Ronald Jones. Backup Chris Brown did rotate in at the spot quite a bit in 2016 so there shouldn’t be too much of a drop off for a team that likely begins 2017 in the top 10 in all the preseason polls.
Mama’s announcement should be the first over the next several days for the Trojans, as star defensive back Adoree’ Jackson and wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster are also expected to decide whether to return to Los Angeles for another year or head to the pros.