Doak Walker semifinalists headlined by B1G contingent

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For pretty much the entire 2014 season, four Big Ten running backs have been among the top 10 rushers yardage-wise at the FBS level.  For three of them, their in-season production has the potential to be rewarded in the postseason.

Of the 10 semifinalists for the 2014 Doak Walk Award, three came from the Big Ten: Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Indiana’s Tevin Coleman and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah.  Those three are first, second and ninth, respectively, in  rushing yards.

That conference could actually make a case that it was gypped as Minnesota’s David Cobb, seventh nationally in rushing, wasn’t named a semifinalist.  The only other conference outside of the B1G with more than one semifinalist was the ACC with two (Pittsburgh’s James Conner, Miami’s Duke Johnson).

Another fair gripe would be Western Michigan true freshman Jarvion Franklin, who is sixth in rushing and second in rushing touchdowns.  The same could be said for San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey, fifth in rushing.  Cobb, Franklin and Pumphrey are the only players in the top 10 in rushing not named as semifinalists.

There are six junior semifinalists, with two each for the senior and sophomore classes.

Gordon and Abdullah are the only 2013 semifinalists named again in 2014.  Neither were finalists for the award won by Boston College’s Andre Williams.

Gordon and Johnson were also named as semifinalists for the prestigious Walter Camp Award Wednesday as well.

Below are the 10 semifinalists for the 2014 Doak Walker Award.

Ameer Abdullah (Sr.) Nebraska
Jay Ajayi (Jr.) Boise State
Javorius Allen (Jr.) USC
Cameron Artis-Payne (Sr.) Auburn
Matt Breida (So.) Georgia Southern
Tevin Coleman (Jr.) Indiana
James Conner (So.) Pittsburgh
Melvin Gordon (Jr.) Wisconsin
Devon Johnson (Jr.) Marshall
Duke Johnson (Jr.) Miami

USC transfer QB Jack Sears backing off commitment to San Diego State

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It appears one USC football transfer will still be searching for a new home.

After finding himself fourth on the USC football quarterbacking depth chart, Sears announced on his personal Twitter account in late August that he had decided to enter the NCAA transfer database.  A little over three months later, and after a flirtation with Oregon State, Sears landed at San Diego State.  In fact, he signed a grant-in-aid with the Mountain West Conference school.

Over the weekend, and a couple of weeks after a head-coaching change at SDSU, however, it’s now being reported that Sears is no longer going to attend the school.  However, 247Sports.com reports that the Aztecs are still in play for the transfer.

Per our sources, 247Sports has learned that Sears is “very comfortable” with Hoke as head coach and has no issues in the slightest about that decision. However, with the coaching turnover on staff and no offensive coordinator, quarterback coach, or defensive coordinator on staff at this time, Sears has decided to take a step back regarding his final decision and wants to keep an open mind. We’ve learned that he will not be enrolling early at the school for the spring semester. That said, San Diego State remains absolutely in play, but he wants to keep an open mind to make sure this next and final decision is the right one.

As a graduate transfer, Sears will be eligible to play for any FBS school in 2020.  He would also have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

Sears was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Sears completed 20-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown the following season.

Obviously, Sears didn’t attempt a pass this past season.

On three-year contract, Bo Pelini to make $2.3 million annually as LSU’s DC

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Not surprisingly, Bo Pelini will be paid handsomely for returning to LSU.

After a few days worth of speculation, it was reported earlier Monday that all signs were pointing to a Pelini reunion down on the bayou.  A few hours later, after Youngstown State announced it was losing its head football coach, it was confirmed that Bo Pelini is the new defensive coordinator at LSU.

Pelini replaces Aranda, who left earlier this month to take the head job at Baylor.

“We are privileged to have one of the top defensive coordinators in all of football in Bo Pelini join our staff,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement. “Bo has had some of the best defenses in football during his career and we are looking forward to him bringing his tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise back to LSU to continue to win championships.”

From 2005-07, Pelini served as the Tigers’ coordinator.  He went on to spend seven seasons as the head coach at Nebraska.  The past five seasons, he was the head coach at FCS Youngstown State.

According to reports out of the area, Pelini has agreed to a three-year deal that will pay him $2.3 million annually.  The man he replaced, Aranda, was the highest-paid assistant in college football at $2.5 million this past season.

At Youngstown State, Pelini was paid less than $400,000 in 2019.  Of course, there were also the millions paid to Pelini by the Cornhuskers as part of his buyout, so it’s not like he was forced to eat Hydrox instead of Oreos the past few years.

“The opportunity to return to LSU is truly unique,” Pelini said. “Culturally, with my prior experience at LSU, I know it is a great fit for me. The chance to work with Coach Orgeron, the ability to take charge of the Tigers defense, is something that I’m extremely excited about. All of that in a place that both my family and I immensely enjoyed when we were there before is very exciting for us. We are very honored and looking forward to this next chapter.”

Maryland QB Max Bortenschlager hits transfer portal

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Add another Big Ten quarterback to the NCAA transfer portal. Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager has placed his name in the transfer portal, according to a report form 247 Sports.

Bortenschlanger will be a graduate transfer, which means he will be eligible to play for any FBS team this fall. For Bortenschlager, a chance to play quarterback one final year could be at play. The graduating senior previously started for Maryland at quarterback in 2017 but was moved to special teams in 2018. Last season saw injuries interfere with Bortenschlager’s ability to get on the field.

Maryland’s quarterback situation should look similar to how it looked last season. Josh Jackson was named the starter after transferring from Virginia Tech. Jackson passed for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions in 10 games. Tyrell Pigrome contributed as well with 719 passing yards and three touchdowns and 153 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Jackson and Piugrome each have one year of eligibility remaining.

After being medically cleared, Alabama’s Nigel Knott enters transfer portal

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Alabama defensive back Nigel Knott will finish his college football career with a new school. Knott, who was medically disqualified for the 2019 season, announced on his Twitter account on Monday he will enter the transfer portal and look to play his final year of eligibility somewhere else.

“I am blessed to have played football for the University of Alabama,” Knott said on his Twitter account on Monday morning. “I have decided to enter the transfer portal.”

Knott confirmed in a follow-up tweet that he is still enrolled at Alabama and on scholarship. The plan appears to be to obtain his degree from Alabama this spring and move on as a graduate transfer. Doing so would make Knott eligible to play for any other FBS program in the fall.

Knott was medically disqualified to play for Alabama in the 2019 season, but he has since been cleared to play. Knott rejoiced at the news on Dec. 30, 2019.