Half of O’Brien Award semifinalists come from Big 12, SEC

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Not long after the Lombardi Award announced its 2014 semifinalists, an award that rewards outstanding play at the quarterback position has done the same.

The Davey O’Brien Award Tuesday released its list of 16 semifinalists for this year’s trophy.  Eight different conference affiliations are represented (AAC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, C-USA, Independents, Pac-12 and SEC), with the Big 12 and SEC leading all leagues with four each.

The Big Ten and Pac-12, with two apiece, were the only other conferences with more than one semifinalist.

Class-wise, there are nine seniors and five juniors. There is just one sophomore (Florida State’s Jameis Winston) and one freshman (Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett).

Winston, of course, was last year’s winner of the O’Brien as he collected numerous pieces of major trophy hardware on the Seminoles’ road to the BCS title. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Baylor’s Bryce Petty join Winston as semifinalists from a year ago who are in that group for the second consecutive year.  This is actually Mariota’s third consecutive year as a semifinalist, and he will be considered the favorite for the 2014 award.

Below are all 16 semifinalists, with brief bios provided by the O’Brien Award.

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, Freshman, Wichita Falls, Texas, 6-1, 225
Lone freshman among the semifinalists; Fourth in the nation in passing efficiency (170.0) and points responsible for (174); Eighth in NCAA in touchdown passes (23)

Trevone Boykin, TCU, Junior, Dallas, Texas, 6-2, 205
Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week on Oct. 28; Fourth nationally in total offense (361.9) and eighth in points responsible for (156); Seven touchdown passes vs. Texas Tech

Shane Carden, East Carolina, Senior, Houston, Texas, 6-2, 221
Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week on Sept. 16; Third in the nation in total offense (362.0) and sixth in passing yards (2,791); 2014 Senior CLASS Award candidate

Rakeem Cato, Marshall, Senior, Miami, Fla., 6-1, 176
All-time NCAA record holder for consecutive games with a touchdown pass (40); Eighth in the nation in passing efficiency (160.1) and 10th in points responsible for (150)

Connor Cook, Michigan State, Junior, Hinckley, Ohio, 6-4, 218
Seventh in the nation in passing efficiency (163.1); 19 total touchdowns (17 passing); 19-2 career record as a starter; Semifinalist for 2014 Maxwell Award

Everett Golson, Notre Dame, Senior, Myrtle Beach, S.C., 6-0, 200
Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week on Oct. 21; Third in points responsible for (176) and 11th in touchdown passes (22); First Notre Dame player to throw and rush for three TDs in a game

Brett Hundley, UCLA, Junior, Chandler, Ariz., 6-3, 226
Second in nation in completion percentage (.710) and 12th in passing efficiency (156.5); Shares school’s all-time record for career TD passes (68); 2013 Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist

Marcus Mariota, Oregon, Junior, Honolulu, Hawaii, 6-4, 219
Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week on Sept. 9; First nationally in points responsible for (204) and passing efficiency (187.2); 2012 and 2013 Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist

Nick Marshall, Auburn, Senior, Pineview, Ga., 6-1, 210
Has 631 yards and nine touchdowns rushing and 1,357 yards and 13 scores passing; School quarterback record eight career 100-yard rushing games; 2014 Maxwell Award semifinalist

Bryce Petty, Baylor, Senior, Midlothian, Texas, 6-3, 230
Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week on Oct. 14; Seventh in points responsible for per game (19.7); Team leads nation in scoring offense (50.3); 2013 Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist

Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, Junior, Haughton, La., 6-3, 230
Two-time Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week (Sept. 23, Oct. 7); Sixth in points responsible for (162), seventh in total offense (343.8) and 10th in passing efficiency (157.8)

Blake Sims, Alabama, Senior, Gainesville, Ga., 6-0, 208
Third in the nation in passing efficiency (172.7) and 19th in completion percentage (.655); 20 total touchdowns (15 passing) with 2,034 yards passing and 250 yards rushing

Clint Trickett, West Virginia, Senior, Tallahassee, Fla., 6-2, 186
One of two multi-time winners of Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week (Sept. 16, Oct. 21); Fourth in NCAA in passing yards (2,925) and eighth in completion percentage (.675)

Bo Wallace, Ole Miss, Senior, Pulaski, Tenn., 6-4, 217
2014 Maxwell Award semifinalist; 2,416 yards passing and 20 touchdowns plus three rushing scores; Among NCAA’s top 20 in passer rating; Led Ole Miss to national top-5 ranking

Jake Waters, Kansas State, Senior, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 6-1, 210
Maxwell Award semifinalist; 404 rushing yards and seven touchdowns plus 1,878 passing yards and 11 TDs; Nine straight games passing for at least 200 yards

Jameis Winston, Florida State, Sophomore, Bessemer, Ala., 6-4, 230
21-0 career record as starting quarterback; Ninth nationally in total offense (331.9) and 10th in completion percentage (.672); 2013 Davey O’Brien Award winner

Alex Hornibrook no longer with Florida State

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It seems Alex Hornibrook‘s college career is complete.

Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins said on Saturday that Hornibrook is no longer with the Seminoles as the club prepares for the Sun Bowl

He will join (former) teammate Cam Akers in that regard.

A graduate transfer from Wisconsin, Hornibrook appeared in five games this season. His peak as a Seminole came on Sept. 28, when he completed 29-of-40 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. For the year, Hornibrook hit 84-of-122 throws for 986 yards with seven scores versus two picks.

In three years at Wisconsin, Hornibrook threw for 5,438 yards and 47 touchdowns.

SMU WR Reggie Roberson, Jr., to return for senior season

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SMU wide receiver Reggie Roberson, Jr., will return for his senior season in 2020, he announced earlier this week.

Roberson did so through a statement that at first read as if he would leave the Hilltop. “In the past couple of weeks, it has come to my attention that I am able to forgo my senior year and enter the NFL draft. I want to thank Coach Dykes for giving me the opportunity to come to SMU, and play the game I love in my hometown in front of my family and friends,” it began.

However, like a a classic Roberson open field move, he quickly changed directions and sprinted toward opportunity. “I have decided to come back and play my senior year at SMU. There is a lot of unfinished business that I left on the field that I need to take care of next season.”

A native of DeSoto, Texas, just south of Dallas, Roberson was one of SMU’s top players before he was lost to a foot injury in October. He caught 11 passes for 180 yards in the Ponies’ opening week win over Arkansas State and hauled in eight passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-21 drubbing of Temple on Oct. 19.

For the year, Roberson caught 43 passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns over seven-plus games. Spread over a 13-game season, he was on pace to end the year in the neighborhood of 80 receptions for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Roberson originally signed with West Virginia out of high school.

Zack Moss to play in Alamo Bowl

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It’s become A Thing ever since Christian McCaffrey bailed on Stanford for that Sun Bowl: Draft eligible players announcing whether or not their prep for the next level begins for or after their team’s upcoming bowl game.

For Utah running back Zack Moss, that will begin after the Alamo Bowl.

“I just wanted to play with my guys,” Moss told KSL Sports. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come back was to play with these guys and I definitely want to finish it off. I am healthy enough to play and that’s exactly what I want to do.

“I love this team, I love the program, coaching, fans and community, so why not give everyone one last game.”

Moss’s teammate Jaylon Johnson previously announced he will skip the game.

The senior will look to polish off a career in which he’s carried for 4,010 yards and 38 touchdowns.

No. 11 Utah will close the career of Moss and backfield mate Tyler Huntley opposite Texas on Dec. 31 (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

Tom Herman reportedly set to hire Chris Ash as defensive coordinator at Texas

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Sometimes it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to solve these equations. Tom Herman and Chris Ash worked together previously at Iowa State and Ohio State, and when Herman’s team couldn’t stop anyone and Ash found himself out of a job, it seemed like they would try to channel that 2014 energy for the 2020 Texas Longhorns.

And now it seems that’s about to happen.

Multiple reports out of Austin on Sunday indicate Ash is close to being named the new defensive coordinator on Herman’s staff at Texas.

Ash worked with Herman previously for two seasons at two separate stops. In 2009, Ash was the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator on a Paul Roads-led Iowa State staff for which Herman was the offensive coordinator, and in 2014 Herman and Ash led the offense and defense on a national championship Ohio State team.

Shortly after his firing at Rutgers, Ash was spotted in Austin, leading, well, pretty much everyone to start putting two and two together.

And that cliche is a good place to start, because Ash is expected to install a 4-man front, a welcome change in Austin from the 3-man scheme that grew unpopular under Todd Orlando. Texas finished 83rd in sacks, 70th in tackles for loss, 96th in pass efficiency defense, 105th in yards per play and 74th in scoring defense en route to one of the most disappointing seasons in school history.

Orlando was fired back on Dec. 1, and with Ash very much available, it would seem Herman conducted a search beyond his old colleague given that two full weeks passed without a defensive coordinator, though virtually no names beyond Ash circulated amongst the media.

With Ash coming aboard, the focus will now turn to the remainder of the UT defensive staff. Safeties coach Craig Naivar has been appointed interim coordinator for the upcoming bowl game, and cornerbacks coach Jason Washington and defensive line coach Oscar Giles remain in their posts. Ash’s speciality has been in the defensive backfield, so presumably Texas will be in the market for a linebackers coach while Naivar, Washington or both could possibly move on.