Clowney has ‘no interest at all’ in getting offensive for Heisman bid

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In the 78-year history of the Heisman Trophy, just one primarily defensive player — Charles Woodson, 1997 — has won the award, and that was primarily due to the Michigan cornerback seeing time as both a wide receiver and punt return specialist.

Over the past couple of years, though, defensive players have begun getting their share of stiff-armed attention.  Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o became just the second defensive-only player to finish second in the voting, joining Pittsburgh’s Hugh Green back in 1980.  Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh finished fourth in the balloting in 2009, while LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was a finalist in 2011.  Even then, Te’o’s Heisman profile was boosted significantly by an embellished human drama while Mathieu’s candidacy was aided by his return prowess.

Still, the Heisman has historically been a strictly offensive award.  Or, more specifically, a strictly quarterback/running back award — 70 of the 78 winners played one of those two positions, with the trophy going to the former position 11 of the past 12 years.

This year, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will enter the 2013 season as one of the front-runners for the most prestigious award in the sport.  In fact, Clowney may be the front-runner on some of the preseason watch lists that will be dropping over the next couple of months.

He is, though, just a defensive player.  And, if Clowney has his way about it, that won’t change, regardless of what it may do for his bid for the Heisman.

“Nah. I have no interest at all in playing offense,” Clowney said according to the Greenville News, adding an emphatic, “forget it.”

If Johnny Manziel can break through the (redshirt) freshman ceiling, can Clowney be the one to do the same on the defensive side of the ball and without the offensive novelty?  If the voting is based who is the best player in college football, and not just the best quarterback or running back in the game, Clowney certainly has the talent and athletic ability — and should have the on-field production — to do just that.

Seeing as the current stable of Heisman voters are as offensive-focused as they come, I won’t hold my breath.  Hell, when even a man as young as Clowney can see how skewed the Heisman voting is, you can understand why the award is slowly losing its luster.

“It’s strange, but that’s what the people like, touchdowns and more touchdowns,” Clowney. “They don’t worry about the sacks and stuff.”

Maybe one day such inconsequential things will matter in the minds of voters.  Again, though, I won’t be holding my breath anytime soon.

Ohio State led nation for total fan attendance in 2017, Michigan tops in average attendance at home

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In some not exactly breaking news, there are a lot of Ohio State fans out there. Not to be left out, their rivals to the North have quite a few people following the team in maize and blue too.

The National Football Foundation released an interesting set of facts and figures last week that was designed to call attention to just how popular the sport of college football is across the country. The whole list is worth a look if you’re interested in all the little details about the 2017 season but a few of the big highlights are:

  • Ohio State led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,254,160 spectators to all of their games in 2017, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Eleven other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2017: Georgia (1,246,201), Alabama (1,228,376), Auburn, Penn State, Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson and Texas.
  • Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,589 fans per home game in 2017. Three other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per game: Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707) and Alabama (101,722). The Wolverines have led the nation in home attendance for 41 of the past 43 seasons.
  • The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 20th straight year, averaging 75,074 fans per game or a total of 7,357,228 in 2017, followed by the Big Ten (66,227), Big 12 (56,852), Pac-12 (49,601) and the ACC (48,442).
  • The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,622,196 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2017. The number represents a 3.3 percent drop from the 2016 season.

There’s a bunch more in there from the NFF on everything from TV ratings to fan interest and a bunch of other nuggets. Needless to say, college football is pretty popular around the country and we at CFTalk certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

LB Andrew Ward becomes latest Nebraska player to announce plans to transfer out

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Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.

As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.

Former Alabama OL Dallas Warmack confirms graduate transfer to Oregon

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Reunited and it feels so good.

At least, that’s what Mario Cristobal must be feeling after hearing the good news on Saturday that former Alabama offensive lineman Dallas Warmack had committed to Oregon and would be rejoining his old offensive line coach in Eugene.

Warmack appeared in 16 games during his career with the Crimson Tide but couldn’t crack the rotation in 2017. A former top recruit and U.S. Army All-American as a prep, he will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Ducks and figures to solidify an offensive line that could be among the best in the conference with four players returning with starting experience.

If that last name and Alabama connection sounds familiar, you’d be correct in thinking that Warmack is the younger brother of Chance Warmack — a former top 10 pick who recently won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles this past season. Cristobal, who is now Oregon’s head coach, was on the staff in Tuscaloosa when the younger Warmack was originally recruited to the school.

1959 Heisman Trophy winner, LSU legend Billy Cannon passes away at 80

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One of the best players to ever put on an LSU football uniform has passed away as the school confirmed that legendary Tigers star and the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon died on Sunday morning at the age of 80.

Cannon was well known for his versatility on the gridiron, playing halfback, fullback, tight end, defensive back and as a return man over the years. His electrifying 89–yard punt return for a touchdown in the final minutes win over No. 3 Ole Miss on Halloween is widely regarded as one of the biggest plays in LSU history and played a key role in him winning the 1959 Heisman Trophy.  He had powered the Tigers to the national title the year prior as part of a storied undefeated run that was capped off by a win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl where Cannon scored the game’s only points.

After his college career, Cannon was selected as the first overall pick in both the 1960 NFL and AFL Drafts and played professionally for the Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. He was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975 and the the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

A mainstay at games and practices in Baton Rouge over the years, Cannon later became a dentist in the area and eventually had his No. 20 retired by LSU.