Alabama, Texas A&M and the Heisman

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Beyond all the national implications of Saturday’s huge Alabama-Texas A&M showdown, there is the matter of how it will affect the race for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

Last season’s 29-24 upset win by the Aggies over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa helped propel Johnny Manziel to an improbable Heisman. His 4,600 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns was remarkable, but his performance against Alabama assured he would become the first freshman to take home the trophy.

Almost one year later, the situation has changed. Manziel is well-established as the premier player in college football, but the obstacles in place between him and another Heisman are many.

It’s no coincidence that there’s only been one two-time Heisman winner, Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, who captured the trophy in 1974 and 1975. But almost 40 years of perspective hints to us that Griffin’s repeat was probably a matter of happenstance, a case of the Heisman electorate temporarily falling asleep at the wheel

Think of some of the amazing players who had a chance to pull it off but couldn’t: Doc Blanchard of Army, Doak Walker of SMU, Roger Staubach of Navy, Billy Sims of Oklahoma, Ty Detmer of BYU, Matt Leinart of USC and Tim Tebow of Florida.  The failure of these players to win that second trophy raised the bar for future players attempting a shot at it. After all, the next player to match Griffin’s feat will have to be put on the short list of all-time college football legends, right? The Heisman electorate went against normal convention and selected a freshman last time around.  Casually doling out two Heismans is another story.

Add to that the matter of Manziel’s off-season, off-field antics, and the chances of him repeating are remote.

But if Manziel is going to be the one to defy history and take his place in that pantheon of all-time greats, it all starts with what he does on Saturday. A prolific performances against the Tide would give him plenty of momentum in the race and probably assure that he at least gets a return invite to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Playing poorly in a loss to Alabama means his Heisman hopes will be officially vanquished. He’ll have to be satisfied with his one trophy.

But Manziel isn’t the only Heisman candidate in this game. There’s also A.J. McCarron, the Tide’s senior quarterback. He led the nation in passing efficiency last season while guiding his team to its second-straight national title. While he’s off to a slow start so far, he has a chance to do what no other quarterback has ever done — win three straight titles. If he plays well in leading Bama to a victory over the Aggies, he’ll be in the Heisman conversation and have a chance to get to New York if he finishes the season strong. But if Alabama loses, you can probably kiss his Heisman hopes goodbye.

When these two teams last met, the Heisman race was a mess and waiting for a player to take control. Manziel did that. But this season they meet in the early stages of the race, with several strong contenders still vying for the trophy. It’s unlikely that the outcome of this game will have the same positive impact it had last year, unless we see another legendary performance take place.

Knowing Manziel and McCarron, it could happen.

Accused of sexual assault, ex-Florida QB Jalon Jones transfers to FCS

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As he looks to repair his image amidst disturbing allegations, Jalon Jones will do so at a lower level of football.

According to 247Sports.com, Jones has moved on to the FCS level and will continue his collegiate playing career at Jackson State.  The move comes a little over three weeks after the quarterback decided to transfer from Florida.  It also comes after Jones saw his name prominently displayed in headlines across the country for all of the wrong reasons.

In early May, multiple media outlets reported that Jones had been accused by an unnamed female of sexually assaulting her in the early morning hours of April 6.  It was subsequently unearthed that another unnamed female had accused the UF quarterback of sexually assaulting her that same day as well at the same on-campus residence as the first alleged victim.

Both of the alleged victims are friends and students at the university, although neither has pursued charges.  That doesn’t mean Jones is free and clear as police reports connected to alleged incidents will be forwarded to the state attorney’s office, which will investigate the case before determining whether to charge Jones with any crimes.

Jones was a four-star 2019 signee, rated as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the country on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  An early enrollee, Jones participated in spring practice with the Gators.

As Jackson State plays at the FCS level, Jones will be eligible to play immediately for the Tigers — provided there are no legal implications connected to his off-field issues.

Minnesota new home for Michigan transfer Benjamin St-Juste

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Benjamin St-Juste may have left Ann Arbor, but he hasn’t left the Big Ten.

Taking to Twitter Tuesday night, St-Juste announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at Minnesota.  As a graduate transfer, the cornerback is eligible to play immediately for the Golden Gophers in 2019.

Not only that, but St-Juste will have two more years of eligibility after this season as he graduated from his previous school in less than two-and-a-half years.

In late March, Michigan confirmed that St-Juste, who dealt with hamstring issues last year, had decided to medically retire from the sport.  A little over a month later, the cornerback took to social media to announce that, instead, he would be entering his name into the NCAA transfer database while also disputing that he had retired from playing football as U-M had originally claimed.

A four-star 2017 signee, St-Juste was the No. 39 cornerback in the country coming out of high school in Canada.  After playing in 12 games as a true freshman, the 6-3, 196-pound corner didn’t see the field at all due to the hamstring issue.

Mizzou QB Shawn Robinson alleges mistreatment at TCU in appeal for immediate eligibility

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In early 2018, Kolby Listenbee, a former wide receiver at TCU, filed a lawsuit taking aim at the university and Big 12 for alleged abuse and harassment he claims never allowed him to fully recover from an injury that may have impacted his outlook for a playing career in the NFL.  Earlier this month, that lawsuit was settled.

Nearly three weeks later, TCU is back in the headlines with additional, albeit vague, mistreatment allegations.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Shawn Robinson, who transferred from TCU to Missouri late last year, has filed an appeal with the NCAA that would grant the quarterback a waiver for immediate eligibility in 2019.  The waiver claims Robinson was the victim of unspecified mistreatment during his time with the Horned Frogs; “TCU is contesting the grounds that waiver is supported on,” the Star-Telegram wrote.

The Kansas City Star further adds that TCU is not expected to object a favorable ruling for Robinson, but “is determined to defend itself against Robinson’s accusations.”

Regardless of what happens during Robinson’s appeal process, Mizzou will head into the summer portion of the 2019 offseason with Kelly Bryant, a transfer from Clemson, firmly entrenched as the Tigers’ starter under center.  If Robinson’s appeal is successful, though, he would provide a veteran presence as the backup should something happen to the starter.

Robinson, who has another year of eligibility he can use in 2020 irrespective of the appeal, completed nearly 61 percent of his passes this past season for 1,334 yards.  He averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt, though, and had nine touchdowns versus eight interceptions in his 204 attempts.

South Carolina in play for Clemson transfer RB Tavien Feaster

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This would certainly add a little bit of spice to the annual Palmetto Bowl if it were to come to fruition.

Late last month, and amidst rumors of a potential departure, Clemson confirmed that Tavien Feaster had entered the NCAA transfer database and was looking to continue his collegiate playing career at somewhere other than the home of the defending national champions.  Speaking to the Charleston Post and Courier this week, Feaster acknowledged that Clemson’s in-state rival, South Carolina, is one of a handful of schools that have shown interest.

“They are recruiting me like most teams. Obviously, they want to talk to me and see where I’m at with everything,” Feaster told the Post and Courier. “That’s really how it’s been with everybody. Everybody is seeing where my head is and where I’m at with everything. But, I look at it (USC) as a place that’s providing me with an opportunity to better myself and better my future.

“I haven’t really looked at it from a fan’s aspect because that’s not my job and that’s not what I’m doing it for. That doesn’t really matter to me. What really matters to me is that I go to a place that’s going to use me and play me in the way that I need to be played.”

It had previously been reported that Power Five programs such as Alabama, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia Tech had already been in touch with the running back since he entered the portal.  East Carolina has shown interest as well.

Feaster has not yet taken any visits to potential landing spots, and won’t make a decision on his football future until he’s had a chance to take trips to various campuses.

If he follows through with the transfer — the back has the option of pulling his name from the portal — Feaster would finish the Clemson portion of his playing career with 1,330 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, as well as 183 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions.  The Spartanburg, SC, native, who ran for 11 yards on three carries in the Tigers’ title game win over the Crimson Tide, started 11 of the 41 games in which he appeared for the Tigers.

In the Tigers’ 63-9 win over the Gamecocks last season, Feaster ran for 63 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.  In three career games against the SEC’s USC, The back carried the ball 21 times for 117 yards and a pair of scores.  He also caught three passes for another 19 yards.

As a grad transfer, Feaster would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.  The upcoming season will be the back’s final year of eligibility.