Lost in all the hubbub over the crazy Heisman race is the fact that Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald is having a season for the ages.
Forget Jadeveon Clowney. He’s been all hype up to this point. When it comes to picking the best defensive player in college football, it all begins and ends with the Panthers’ No. 97.
Consider for a moment that the NCAA record for tackles for loss in a season is 32 by Jason Babin of Western Michigan in 2003. But keep in mind that Babin achieved that mark as a defensive end.
Through 11 games, Donald currently has a nation-leading 26 tackles for loss. With two games to play, Babin’s mark is in jeopardy. But the crazy thing about it is that Donald is doing all this as an interior lineman. It’s extremely rare for a defensive tackle to surpass 20 tackles for loss in a season.
That’s not all Donald is doing. He also has 10 sacks — another amazing number for an interior lineman — plus 51 overall tackles, four forced fumbles, two pass breakups, 16 quarterback hurries and a blocked kick (that sealed Pitt’s win over Syracuse this past Saturday).
There’ve been a few defensive players over the years who’ve made runs at the Heisman, most recently Manti Te’o of Notre Dame last season. The fact that Donald is currently being overlooked just goes to show you that some people don’t really watch the games very closely, but instead rely on hype and hearsay when doling out awards and honors.
Mike Locksley‘s reshaping of his initial roster at Maryland continues, with a pair of previously expected additions officially coming to fruition.
Tuesday afternoon, the Terrapins confirmed that quarterback Josh Jackson and tight end Tyler Mabry have joined Locksley’s football program. Jackson comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, Mabry from Buffalo.
As they have graduated from their respective universities, both Jackson and Mabry will be eligible to play immediately in 2019. Jackson has two seasons of eligibility remaining, while Mabry has just one.
After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing. The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.
Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.
The past three seasons, Mabry has totaled 567 yards and three touchdowns on 60 receptions. The Michigan native totaled 27 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns this past season for the Bulls.
Mabry and Jackson are two of four FBS transfers Locksley has added this offseason, joining Virginia Tech wide receiver Sean Savoy (HERE) and Ohio State linebacker Keandre Jones (HERE).
Never mind that initial never mind.
In early April, it was reported that Auburn wide receiver Kolbi Fuqua had entered the NCAA transfer database; nearly a month later, that first never mind arose as it was reported that Fuqua had pulled his name from the portal, seemingly signaling a desire to remain with the Tigers. Monday, however, an AU official confirmed that Fuqua is no longer a part of Gus Malzahn’s squad.
247Sports.com‘s Brandon Marcello writes that “Fuqua did not return to the Auburn football program following the conclusion of spring practices, a source close to the team tells Auburn Undercover. The circumstances surrounding his departure are not clear.”
The development comes a little over a week after Auburn added a commitment from Zach Farrar, a wide receiver who began his collegiate career at Oklahoma but heads to The Plains from the junior college level. Farrar comes to the Tigers with two years of eligibility he can begin using immediately this coming season.
A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class, Fuqua was rated as the No. 28 player at any position in the state of Alabama. Fuqua played in one game this past season, and didn’t catch a pass in that very limited action.
When Dominic Livingston announced in mid-February that he would be transferring from LSU, the defensive tackle indicated that the move was being made so as to be closer to his home in Texas because of unspecified family issues. Monday, Livingston followed through on that plan of attack.
Speaking to 247Sports.com, Livingston confirmed that his collegiate playing career will continue at Kilgore College. A community college in Kilgore, Texas, Livingston’s new college football home is roughly 200 miles from his hometown of Houston; his old home of Baton Rouge is roughly 270 miles from that same hometown.
Not surprisingly, Kilgore told the same website that he “will play a semester at Kilgore and go from there,” an obvious indication that he expects to be back at the FBS level in 2020.
If that is indeed the case, Kilgore would have three years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.
A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class, Livingston was rated as the No. 38 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 74 player at any position in the state of Texas. As a true freshman, Livingston appeared in exactly one more game than I did.
There is some positive news when it comes to a distressing situation that developed over the weekend.
Illinois true junior defensive end Bobby Roundtree sustained what was described as a severe spinal cord injury in a swimming accident Saturday and underwent surgery a day later. According to the Associated Press, Roundtree is progressing well following the surgery and, while he remains hospitalized, is speaking, eating and sitting up.
Several members of the Illini football program, including Lovie Smith, traveled to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Fla., to be with the injured player.
“Bobby Roundtree is exactly what you want in a student-athlete,” a statement from the head coach began. “He is a hard worker, dependable, a dedicated student and a leader.
“This is devastating to his teammates, the entire Fighting Illini family and his family and friends. We will give Bobby all the support possible as he battles through his recovery. Please keep Bobby and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Roundtree, who played his high school football in Largo, Fla., has started 20 games the past two seasons since coming to the Illini as a three-star member of their 2017 recruiting class. This past season, the 6-5, 245-pound end led the Illini in tackles for loss with 12.5 and pass breakups, and was second in sacks with 7.5 and quarterback hits with four.
For that, the media named Roundtree honorable mention All-Big Ten for the 2018 season.