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Saquon Barkley headlines Hornung Award finalists

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The one-time front-runner for the Heisman Trophy is now in line for another major college football award.

Thursday morning, the Hornung Award unveiled the four finalists for the 2017 edition of the honor — Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, North Carolina State running back Nyheim Hines, Iowa State linebacker/quarterback Joel Lanning and Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis.  The Hornung Award has been handed out annually since 2010 by the Louisville Sports Commission to the nation’s most versatile player.

Barkley, Hines and Pettis — he has set a handful of FBS punt return records this season — all contribute as return specialists, while Lanning not only leads the Cyclones in tackles but is ISU’s third-leading rusher and has attempted three passes this season.

Below are the credentials of each finalist, courtesy of the Hornung Award:

Saquon Barkley, running back/return specialist
Junior, Penn State Nittany Lions (7-2, 4-2 conference)
Barkley earned the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll four times this season. Primarily a running back who also lines up at slot receiver, wildcat quarterback, and returns kicks, Barkley is second in the nation in all-purpose yards with 195.6 per game and has accounted for 15 touchdowns four different ways – rushing (9), receiving (3), kickoff return (2), and passing (1). He set a Penn State record with 358 all-purpose yards on 43 touches in a last-second win at Iowa, returned opening kickoffs for touchdowns against Indiana and Ohio State, and scored three touchdowns against Michigan. Barkley showed breakaway speed with kickoff returns of 98 and 97 yards, an 80-yard touchdown run, and an 85-yard touchdown reception.

Rushing: 152 carries, 864 yards, nine touchdowns
Receiving: 39 receptions, 504 yards, three touchdowns
Kick Return: 13 returns, 393 yards, two touchdowns
Passing: two attempts, two completions, one touchdown, 36 yards

Nyheim Hines, running back/return specialist
Junior, NC State Wolfpack (6-3, 4-1 conference)
Hines earned the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll three times this season. Hines is a workhorse out of the backfield who also returns punts, kickoffs, and is gunner on punt coverage. He accounted for 217 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns, a two-point conversion, and downed a punt on the two-yard line in a home win over Louisville; came back the next week with 249 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, and downed a punt inside the 5-yard line in a road win over Pitt. In an opening week loss to South Carolina, Hines lined up at several positions in the backfield, and accounted for 192 all-purpose yards on 26 touches rushing, receiving, and returning kicks and punts. He has been slowed with an ankle injury since the Notre Dame game on Oct. 28.

Rushing: 126 carries, 688 yards, six touchdowns
Receiving: 18 receptions, 94 yards
Punt Return: eight returns, 148 yards, one touchdown
Kick Return: 17 returns, 377 yards

Joel Lanning, Iowa State, linebacker/quarterback
Senior, Iowa State Cyclones (6-3, 4-2 conference)
Lanning earned the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll three times this season. The starting middle linebacker who plays spot duty at quarterback and is a regular on special teams, Lanning is the Cyclones’ leading tackler with 10.4 tackles per game, the team’s third-leading rusher with 77 yards, three-of-three on fourth down conversion rushing and two-of-three passing for 25 yards. Lanning played 93 snaps in ISU’s road win over Texas Tech, and was the ironman when the Cyclones stunned Oklahoma in Norman with 78 total snaps: 57 plays on defense with eight tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, and a fumble recovery; 13 plays at quarterback with eight rushes for 35 yards and two passes for 25 yards; eight plays on the punt team and field goal defense. His 10.4 tackles per game rank second in the Big 12 and ninth in FBS.

Defense: 94 total tackles, 36 solo tackles, 2.5 sacks (20 yards), 6.5 tackles for loss (29 yards), one interception, one fumble recovery, two quarterback hurries, two PPUs
Rushing: 23 carries, 77 yards
Passing: three attempts, two completions, 25 yards

Dante Pettis, wide receiver/return specialist
Junior, Washington Huskies (8-1, 5-1 conference)
Pettis earned the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll once this season. Pettis is a dual threat wide-out / return specialist who tied the NCAA record by returning a punt for a touchdown in three consecutive games (Rutgers, Montana, Fresno State) and last week added a fourth punt return touchdown and a scoring reception in the No. 8-ranked Huskies win over Oregon. Against Oregon State, he caught 12 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns, and has seven scoring receptions on the season. Pettis averages an astounding 21.7 yards per punt return, nearly 12 yards per reception and completed his only pass of the season for 36 yards. He also holds the NCAA career record with nine punt returns for touchdowns.

Receiving: 49 receptions, 571 yards, seven touchdowns
Punt Return: 19 returns, 412 yards, four touchdowns
Passing: one attempt, one completion, 36 yards

Duke hires Chris Hampton as CBs coach

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David Cutcliffe‘s Duke football coaching staff is whole once again.

Friday, the Blue Devils announced the hiring of Chris Hampton as part of Cutcliffe’s 10-man on-field staff. Hampton will serve as the ACC program’s cornerbacks coach.

The newest assistant will replace Derek Jones, who left Duke earlier this month after a dozen seasons to take over as secondary coach/co-defensive coordinator/associate head coach at Texas Tech.

“We are excited for Coach Hampton to join us here at Duke,” the Duke football head coach said in a statement. “His experience both as a student-athlete and coach will pay immediate dividends within our program. Coach Hampton has earned the respect of many coaches and administrators within the coaching industry and I’m confident he will make a smooth transition into our defensive staff room.”

Hampton spent the past four seasons as the defensive backs/secondary coach at Tulane. That was Hampton’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

The opportunity with the Blue Devil will, obviously, serve as Hampton’s first on-field role at a Power Five school.

“I’m both honored and excited to be joining the Duke football family,” the newest Duke football assistant said in his statement. “I’m extremely thankful that Coach Cutcliffe has given me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to learning under him. I can’t wait to get to work with our current players as well start recruiting future Blue Devils.”

During his coaching career, Hampton has also served in stops at:

  • Arkansas State, 2008 (graduate assistant)
  • Georgia Tech, 2009-10 (graduate assistant)
  • Central Arkansas, 2011 (safeties coach)
  • McNeese State, 2012-15 (defensive backs coach)

Dismissed Ohio State DBs indicted by grand jury on felony rape, kidnapping charges

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There’s been a significant development involving two former members of the Ohio State football program.

Late last week, Franklin County (Ohio) prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced that Amir I. Riep, 21, and Jahsen L. Wint, also 21, have each been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping. All of those charges are first-degree felonies.

“If convicted on these charges, both men face a maximum consecutive term of 33 years of incarceration as well as registration as sex offenders,” O’Brien stated.

The details of the alleged rapes earlier this year are disturbing, to say the least.

At approximately 9:45 p.m. on Feb. 4, the two Ohio State players “forced vaginal intercourse with another … by purposely compelling said victim to submit by force,” according to a complaint filed on Tuesday by the alleged victim against Riep and Wint.

Riep, according to the complaint, “held the victim in place, restraining the liberty of another,” and pushed the victim “down by the neck then held her in place with his hands and body, with the purpose to engage in sexual activity with and against the will of said victim.”

Wint, according to the complaint, physically held the victim “by the face” and prevented the victim from “getting away or getting his penis out of her mouth, with the purpose to engage in sexual activity with and against the will of said victim.”

The victim began to have consensual sex with Riep before she stopped and moved away from him, telling him that she “did not want to continue,” per the summary statement of facts in a Franklin County Municipal Court affidavit in support of probable cause. Wint then entered the room, and Riep asked if he could join before forcing her to have non-consensual sex, per the affidavit. Riep then held her in place while Wint forced oral sex on the victim, according to the summary statement of facts.

The Ohio State football program initially suspended the defensive backs. A day after arrest warrants were issued, the Buckeyes dismissed both players.

Riep (pictured) and Wint, who, through their attornies, have maintained their innocence, will be arraigned March 6.

Riep, a cornerback, appeared in 37 games during his time in the Ohio State football program. Wint, a safety, saw action in 35 games. Both players would’ve been entering their senior seasons with the Buckeyes.

Colorado confirms hiring of Karl Dorrell as head coach

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Courtesy of Colorado football, we officially have the most unexpected hiring of the 2019-20 coaching carousel.

To the surprise of most of the free world, word began to circulate Saturday that Karl Dorrell was the front-runner to replace Mel Tucker as the Colorado football head coach.  Sunday evening, the Buffaloes confirmed that Dorrell has indeed been named as the 27th full-time head coach in the program’s history.

The hiring serves as a reunion of sorts as Dorrell has twice spent time on staffs at Colorado football.  From 1995-98, Dorrell was CU’s offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.  Prior to that, he was the Buffs’ receivers coach in  1992-93.

“I’m excited to be back, it’s like coming home,” the new Colorado football head coach said in a statement. “The thing that excited me about this job is that my experience in the past here for the most part has been very successful. We had a lot of good teams, went to a lot of good bowl games. It’s a top-caliber program that has a lot of potential, and I’m excited to return it to that level.”

After being fired as the coordinator at Vanderbilt in December of 2014, Dorrell has spent the past five seasons in the NFL.  The California native was the receivers coach for the New York Jets from 2015-18.  This past season, he served in that same role with the Miami Dolphins.  He also held the title of assistant head coach with that organization.

Dorrell was also the head coach at UCLA for five seasons (2003-07).  He won either six or seven games in four of those five years.  The lone exception was a 10-win campaign in 2005.

Overall, he went 35-27 with the Bruins overall and 24-18 in Pac-12 play.

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” athletic director Rick George said in his statement. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”

According to the school, Dorell, upon approval of the university’s Board of Regents, will sign a five-year contract worth “$18 million, in which the first-year salary would be $3.2 million and then increase by $200,000 annually.” In his final season in Boulder, Tucker was paid $2.4 million in guaranteed compensation.

By moving to Michigan State, Tucker more than doubled what he would’ve made as the Colorado football head coach in 2020.

NC State lands Penn State grad transfer DL Daniel Joseph

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The Wolfpack at NC State has grown by one.

In a tweet posted on Sunday, defensive end Daniel Joseph confirmed he would be transferring to Raleigh for the 2020 season. He’ll be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer.

Once upon a time a four-star recruit out of Illinois, Joseph announced he was leaving Penn State back in late January. He made it into 33 games for the Nittany Lions, mostly as a backup. All told he’ll leave Happy Valley with a grand total of 29 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery over three seasons.

While playing time likely was a big motivator, position coach Sean Spencer leaving for the NFL may also have contributed to the decision to head south.

Still, NC State landed a nice reinforcement in the trenches. The team struggled up front last season and have to hope some re-tooling will help going into 2020. Coastal Carolina DE transfer Jeffrey Gunter was expected to play a big role but he has found himself back in the transfer portal. It seems Joseph could be potentially taking his place.

Either way, the move comes just in the nick of time for Dave Doeren and company. The program starts spring practice on February 27.