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.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.