Getty Images

Saquon Barkley headlines Hornung Award finalists

Leave a comment

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

Alabama remains unanimous No. 1 in Super 16 Poll; UCF cracks top 10

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a somewhat quiet week of college football for the top teams in the Super 16 poll, there was minimal change to the top 10 this week. The Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation once again sees Alabama claiming the top spot with all 51 first-place votes from the collective voters this week.

Alabama is followed by the same teams in the same order they were last week with Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, and Oklahoma not moving this week. At No. 7, Washington State moved up one spot. West Virginia fell from the seventh spot down to No. 11 after a road loss at Oklahoma State last weekend. The Mountaineers dropping allowed No. 8 LSU and No. 9 UCF to move up two spots. No. 10 Ohio State dropped one spot after having to survive an overtime shootout at Maryland over the weekend.

No. 16 Washington returned to the Super 16 this week to round out the poll. The Huskies trail Texas, Florida, and Penn State, who all moved up this week. No. 15 Utah State fell one spot after escaping an upset bid at Colorado State on a Hail Mary that didn’t count because the receiver stepped out of bounds on the final play of the game.

Here is this week’s full Super 16 Poll, with first-place votes noted.

  1. Alabama (51)
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Michigan
  5. Georgia
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Washington State
  8. LSU
  9. UCF
  10. Ohio State
  11. West Virginia
  12. Texas
  13. Florida
  14. Penn State
  15. Utah State
  16. Washington

As a regular disclaimer, three contributors to College Football Talk are Super 16 voters; Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, and myself (Kevin McGuire).

Charlotte relieves Brad Lambert, will look for second coach in program history

Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The only man to fill the role of head coach of the Charlotte 49ers football program will not return to coach the 49ers after the 2018 season. Brad Lambert will not be retained by the university, a statement from Charlotte Athletic Director Mike Hill said on Sunday. A national search for a new head coach is now underway for the young Charlotte program.

“We’ve decided to make a change in our football program,” Hill said in a released statement. “It is a decision I made after an opportunity to assess my first football season here. It’s about the trajectory of the program and putting us in the best position for the future. We elected to make this decision now so that we could begin the search immediately.”

A former assistant with Georgia and Wake Forest, Lambert was hired to be the head coach of the new Charlotte program in 2011, two years before the football program officially stepped foot on a football field for a game. Lambert coached Charlotte to back-to-back years with 5-6 records in the FCS for the first two years of the program’s existence. Charlotte moved up to the FBS in 2015 as a member of Conference USA but the program has yet to record a winning season. Charlotte has gone 21-48 under Lambert since 2013, and the 49ers will once again finish below .500 this week regardless of the outcome of a final regular season game against Florida Atlantic.

Lambert will coach Charlotte’s final game of the season this weekend against FAU.

North Dakota State takes No. 1 seed in FCS Playoffs

Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images
3 Comments

The playoff field is set for the FCS Playoffs. Defending national champion and No. 1 North Dakota State took the top seed overall but will face a challenging bracket if the Bison are to claim another national title this year.

As the top seed, North Dakota State will own home-field advantage in the Fargo Dome for as long as they are in the playoffs, with the exception of a possible national title game appearance, which will be played in Frisco, Texas on January 5. North Dakota State’s portion of the bracket includes No. 4 seed Kennesaw State (who was the No. 2 team in the FCS top 25) and last year’s national title runners-up from James Madison. The Dukes were not seeded in this year’s tournament with a record of 8-3, but they are always to be considered a dangerous opponent this time of year.

A handful of teams ended playoff droughts with this year’s bracket. East Tennessee State is making its first playoff appearance since 1996, ending the longest drought among this year’s playoff teams. Delaware and Southeast Missouri State are each back in the playoff for the first time since 2010. The field also includes three first-time playoff teams; Incarnate Word, Lamar, and UC Davis.

The FCS Playoffs begin next weekend.

Michigan’s Berkley Edwards tweets he has been released from hospital after nasty hit

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
2 Comments

Michigan running back and special teams player Berkley Edwards was carted off the field on a stretcher in the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium on Saturday in a scary scene that paused the game for roughly 10 minutes. The morning after the Wolverines beat Indiana, however, there is good news to report on Edwards. Edwards shared an update on his Twitter account to tell his followers and Michigan fans he has been released from the hospital and he is OK.

“Just got out the hospital,” Edwards said. “[E]verything is good!”

Edwards followed that up to say he did not see the Indiana player who hit him (Cam Jones, who was ejected for the hit) and his head is still hurting a bit.

It is unknown at this time what the status of Edwards will be for Michigan’s regular-season finale at Ohio State this week. The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game will play in the Big Ten Championship Game as the East Division champion.