Players from top seven CFP teams among 15 Camp semifinalists


It stands to reason that the highest-ranked teams possess a good amount of top-tier talent.  If the fine folks at the Walter Camp Foundation can be used as an accurate barometer, that’s certainly the case this year.

Wednesday morning, the Camp Foundation released its 15 semifinalists for the 2014 version of its prestigious Player of the Year award.  Included in that group was at least one player each from the top seven teams in the current College Football Playoff Top 25.

  • Wide receiver Amari Cooper, quarterback Blake Sims, No. 1 Alabama
  • Quarterback Marcus Mariota, No. 2 Oregon
  • Quarterback Jameis Winston, No. 3 Florida State
  • Quarterback Dak Prescott, No. 4 Mississippi State
  • Quarterback Trevone Boykin, No. 5 TCU
  • Quarterback J.T. Barrett, No. 6 Ohio State
  • Quarterback Bryce Petty, No. 7 Baylor

Winston and Mariota were semifinalists for last year’s award, , while Winston was named a finalist prior to claiming the 2013 Camp trophy. A group of five finalists will be announced Dec. 3, with the 2014 award being presented Dec. 11.

More than half of the 15 semifinalists (eight) are quarterbacks, while two are running backs and two are wide receivers.  There are just three defensive players on the list, and just two of them play defense exclusively (Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, Louisville safety Gerod Holliman).  The other, Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson, is his team’s second-leading rusher.

OSU’s Barrett is the only freshman, redshirt or otherwise, while there are four sophomores — Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins, Winston, Wright and Holliman.  The rest are juniors (seven) and seniors (three).

The ACC, SEC and Pac-12 have three semifinalists each.  The Big Ten and Big 12 have two apiece.

Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato and Higgins are the only players from Group of Five conferences to be named a semifinalist.

Just to name a few, among the notable players absent from the list of semifinalists are running backs Tevin Coleman of Indiana and James Conner of Pittsburgh (second and third nationally, respectively, in rushing); wide receivers Nelson Spruce of Colorado, Kevin White of West Virginia and Justin Hardy of East Carolina (first, second and third, respectively, in receptions); Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson (second in pass efficiency); and Utah’s Nate Orchard and Washington’s Hau’Oli Kikana (tied for the lead in most sacks).

Below is the complete list of Camp semifinalists, with statistical notes provided by the foundation.

J.T. BARRETT, RS Freshman, QB, OHIO STATEHas passed for 2,356 yards and 29 touchdowns for the 9-1 Buckeyes.

TREVON BOYKIN, Junior, QB, TCUHas passed for 3,201 yards and 24 touchdowns for the 9-1 Horned Frogs.

RAKEEM CATO, Senior, QB, MARSHALLHas passed for 2,613 yards and 26 touchdowns for the 10-0 Thundering Herd.

AMARI COOPER, Junior, WR, ALABAMAHas caught 87 passes for 1,303 yards and 11 touchdowns for the 9-1 Crimson Tide.

MELVIN GORDON, Junior, RB, WISCONSINLeads nation with 1,909 rushing yards, averaging 8.6 yards a carry, and has scored 23 touchdowns for the 8-2 Badgers.

RASHARD HIGGINS, Sophomore, WR, COLORADO STATEHas caught 67 passes for 1,280 yards and 13 touchdowns for the 9-1 Rams.

GEROD HOLLIMAN, Sophomore, DB, LOUISVILLELeads the nation with 13 interceptions for the 7-3 Cardinals.

DUKE JOHNSON, Junior, RB, MIAMI (FLA)Has rushed for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns for the 6-4 Hurricanes.

MARCUS MARIOTA, Junior, QB, OREGONHas passed for 2,780 yards and 29 touchdowns, and has eight rushing touchdowns for the 9-1 Ducks.

BRYCE PETTY, Senior, QB, BAYLORHas passed for 2,421 yards and 21 touchdowns for the 8-1 Bears.

DAK PRESCOTT, Junior, QB, MISSISSIPPI STATEHas passed for 2,521 yards and 20 touchdowns, and has 11 rushing scores for the 9-1 Bulldogs.

BLAKE SIMS, Senior, QB, ALABAMAHas passed for 2,454 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 9-1 Crimson Tide.

SHAQ THOMPSON, Junior, LB/RB, WASHINGTONHas 60 tackles and scored four defensive touchdowns, while rushing for 456 yards for the 6-5 Huskies.

JAMEIS WINSTON, Sophomore, QB, FLORIDA STATEHas passed for 2,844 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 10-0 Seminoles.

SCOOBY WRIGHT, Sophomore, LB, ARIZONAHas 117 tackles, 21 for losses, and 12 quarterback sacks for the 8-2 Wildcats.

Temple WR Sean Ryan immediately eligible at West Virginia

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In his first season in Morgantown, Neal Brown will have a new offensive toy with which to play as West Virginia heads into the 2019 season.

Early on in the offseason, Sean Ryan opted to transfer from Temple and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  In April, the wide receiver settled on WVU as his next elsewhere, announcing on Twitter that he would be transferring to the Mountaineers.

With the start of a new campaign eight days away, it’s being reported that Ryan has been granted an immediate-eligibility waiver that will allow him to see the field in 2019 for the Big 12 school.

The granting of the waiver is very likely due to the fact that Temple went through some significant coaching upheaval following the end of the 2018 season.

As a true freshman this past season, Ryan played in 10 games.  In that extended action, the 6-4, 195-pound receiver from Brooklyn, NY, caught 12 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown for the Owls.

Illinois beats out Florida, Nebraska, Texas for Miami transfer Derrick Smith

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Some will say that this could be one of the Fighting Illini’s only Power Five wins in 2019, but you won’t hear that from us.

Aug.13, Derrick Smith tweeted that, “effective today, I would like to inform [Miami Nation], I am no longer on the University of Miami football team.” Over the weekend, Smith took to Twitter again to reveal that four schools are under consideration as a potential landing spot — Florida, Illinois, Nebraska and Texas. In the same tweet, the third-year junior defensive back indicated that a new school will be picked at some point this week.

Friday evening, Smith revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career for Lovie Smith and the Illini.

It’s believed Smith will be ineligible to play immediately for his new team.  He would, though, have two years of eligibility he can use beginning with the 2020 season.

The Orange Park, Fla., native came to The U as a three-star member of the football program’s 2017 recruiting class. The past two seasons, Smith saw action in 25 of the Hurricanes’ 26 games and was credited with 24 tackles, 1½ of which were for a loss.

Prior to his decision to leave, Smith was expected to play an expanded role in the Hurricanes’ secondary this coming season.

Boise State down a few more freshmen as QB Kaiden Bennett and RB Keegan Duncan leave team

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Boise State’s once impressive Class of 2019 is dwindling much quicker than head coach Bryan Harsin would like just as the season arrives on the blue turf.

As per the Idaho Statesman, freshman quarterback Kaiden Bennett and tailback Keegan Duncan have both left the team. In addition to those names, as many as three other members from the most recent recruiting class could fail to suit up for the program this fall.

Bennett was one of several quarterbacks battling for the starting job to succeed Brett Rypien at Boise State so his likely transfer out seems like a clear indication that one of Chase Cord, Jaylon Henderson or even freshman Hank Bachmeier will be the starter when the team opens against Florida State in Jacksonville. While the three-star recruit from Folsom, California was considered a long shot in the race, his departure may just be the first of several after Harsin names a starter.

The loss of Duncan can’t be overlook either as he was considered to be one of the best recruits in the state of Idaho during his senior season and could have provided depth in a fairly young tailback room this season.

Fellow freshman D.K. Blaylock also left the team this month and two junior college transfers have not made it to campus yet according to the Statesman.

Boise State had signed the top class in the Mountain West in February according to 247Sports and a top 50 group nationally but it appears that highly touted group won’t be making quite the impact many expected after these most recent defections.

Penn State confirms Sean Clifford will be starter at quarterback

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James Franklin has his replacement for Trace McSorley at quarterback and it’s the guy everybody could have predicted for the past several months.

In the latest in a long line of QB decisions around college football this week, redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford will indeed be the Nittany Lions starter when the team opens their season against Idaho on Aug. 31.

Clifford was tabbed by many as McSorley’s replacement almost as soon as last year’s fellow backup, Tommy Stevens, announced his plans to transfer to Mississippi State. While the two were both expected to battle it out throughout August to become PSU’s starter, both will wind up taking the first snaps for their respective programs after Stevens was named QB1 for the Bulldogs on Thursday by ex-Nittany Lions OC Joe Moorhead.

As for Clifford, he beat out redshirt freshman Will Levis for the gig and will have a high bar to clear leading a team many consider as a dark horse to win the Big Ten. As McSorley’s backup in 2018, he threw just seven passes in mop-up duty but completed five for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Those career numbers are about to make a significant jump in the coming weeks as Clifford starts a new chapter in State College.