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Clemson DT Christian Wilkins announces return for senior season

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Clemson’s defensive line was already nasty in 2017. It’s going to be even nastier in 2018.

The Tigers have already announced the returns of All-American defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, and on Monday All-American defensive tackle Christian Wilkins revealed he’s coming back, too.

With Wilkins’s return, Clemson will return its entire starting defense line (fellow tackle Dexter Lawrence was a true sophomore in 2017), a unit that helped the Tigers rank eighth nationally in yards per carry allowed, fourth in total defense, second in scoring, tied for first in sacks and sixth in tackles for loss. The quartet of Ferrell, Bryant, Wilkins and Lawrence combined to record 25 sacks and 45 TFLs last season.

Clemson’s announcement heralding Wilkins’s return notes that the Tigers will boast a defensive line featuring three players that have recorded All-America honors and four that earned All-ACC recognition.

Wilkins is also expected to pick up his third Academic All-ACC honor later this month as well. He earned his undergraduate degree in less than three years.

Combined with the returns of All-American left tackle Mitch Hyatt and quarterback Kelly Bryant, Clemson will jockey with Alabama to enter the 2018 campaign as the national championship favorite.

Tennessee loses LB Jonathan Kongbo to torn ACL

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Heading into this weekend’s rivalry game against Alabama in Knoxville, Tennessee’s linebacking corps has taken a hit that will be felt for the rest of 2018.

Late in the third quarter of Tennessee’s huge Week 7 upset of Auburn this past weekend, Jonathan Kongbo went down with an injury to his right knee and didn’t return to the game.  Over the weekend, Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that Kongbo was diagnosed with a torn ACL.

Obviously, Kongbo, who is expected to undergo surgery at some point this week to repair the damage, will miss the remainder of the 2018 season.  As this was his final year of eligibility, it also means that this effectively ends the linebacker’s collegiate playing career.

The fifth-year senior had started five of the six games this season for the Vols.  In that half of the regular season, he had accounted for 11 tackles, four quarterback hurries and an interception.  The pick came in the second quarter of the upset of the Tigers.

Last season, Kongbo started 10 games.

After throwing and landing punches on Mizzou player, Alabama DL Raekwon Davis will lose playing time

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An on-field incident in Week 7 will cost Raekwon Davis on the field in the future.  Just when and how much remains to be seen.

During Alabama’s romp over Missouri this past weekend, the defensive lineman was caught by the all-seeing television broadcast eye punching (x3) Mizzou offensive lineman Kevin Pendleton.  Not only did the cameras catch him, but so did the officiating crew, who flagged Davis for unsportsmanlike conduct.

While Davis very publicly apologized to Pendelton, and the human punching bag very graciously accepted…

… there will be, after Nick Saban spoke with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey about the incident, playing-time repercussions for the lineman.

“We will have him do some things and I think it should affect his playing time in the future,” the head coach said.

Again, just what effect specifically the incident will have on Davis on the field is unclear.

Davis is currently sixth on the Crimson Tide with 27 tackles while his three tackles for loss are tied for sixth.  Alabama will face rival Tennessee, coming off a huge upset of then-No. 21 Auburn this past weekend, in Knoxville this coming Saturday.

Report: Bryan Harsin, Boise State closing in on contract amendment

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Bryan Harsin and Boise State are closing in on a contract amendment to keep the coach in Broncos colors moving forward, according to a report from the Idaho Statesman.

The amendment has already been agreed upon by both sides and now just needs approval by the Idaho State Board of Education, which should come Thursday.

The new deal isn’t necessarily an extension, it just adds on terms to his existing one — which runs through the next five years and automatically extends by one year each time the Broncos win eight games. And it isn’t a raise, either. His salary is set to remain at $1.65 million this season and $1.75 million next.

But it does add a bunch of new clauses.

First of all, it would add a buyout on Harsin’s end for the first time in his five seasons as Boise State’s head coach. Should the coach leave for another school between now and Jan. 10, he would owe $300,000 to Boise State. The figure drops $50,000 each year thereafter.

Additionally, the amendment includes a slew of new incentives, including $10,000 for beating BYU and an extra five grand for doing so in Provo. Boise State hosts BYU on Nov. 3.

The amendment also allows Harsin to double-dip on his bonuses. For example, he could receive $75,000 for winning a Mountain West championship and $35,000 for taking Boise State to a bowl game. Under his existing contract, Harsin could only take the conference title bonus. On top of that, Harsin will also receive a $25,000 for winning six conference games, which then doubles to $50,000 for seven MW wins and $100,000 for eight.

Finally, the amendment changes the language on Harsin’s pool for his 10 assistant coaches. Previously, Harsin could allot up to $2.2 million for his 10 assistants; now the school must provide at least that amount.

Harsin is 46-14 as Boise State’s head coach (27-8 in MW play) with two conference championships, including a 4-2 overall mark this year

 

SEC will not levee punishments for Florida, Vanderbilt brouhaha

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The game between No. 11 Florida and Vanderbilt was exciting enough on its own. The Commodores jumped to a 21-3 lead but couldn’t hold it, and the Gators rallied for a 37-27 win, their 14th consecutive in Nashville. But the action when the clock was running was not the most entertaining thing to happen at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday. Not even close.

After Florida’s James Houston IV laid a de-cleating block — for which he was flagged for targeting and ejected from the game — upon Vanderbilt’s Dare Odeyingbo, who remained on the turf long after the hit. That drew Vandy head coach Derek Mason and defensive line coach C.J. Ah You to check on their player. While at midfield, someone from the Florida sideline said something to Mason, Mason said something back, and all of a sudden grown men were being restrained by other grown men.

Asked by ESPN’s Tom Luginbill at halftime what was said, Florida head coach Dan Mullen said the conversation would have to be referred to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw.

But by the time the game ended, Mason and Mullen had calmed down, and the two head coaches exchanged a warm, lengthy embrace at midfield.

That hug-it-out mentality extended to their respective post-game press conferences.

“Derek’s a great, really close friend of mine,” Mullen said. “And I think, our sideline, we’ve got to make sure we’re cleaner in that situation and he probably thinks the same thing.”

On Monday, SEC spokesman Herb Vincent told The Tennessean that no punishment would be handed down to either side for the altercation, citing the cooler heads each side displayed after the game.

“Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were appropriately administered on the field by the officials,” Vincent told the paper. “Any discussion about decorum among the coaches will be handled privately between the conference office and the participating institutions. Both coaches appeared to put this issue behind them in their post-game midfield meeting and post-game comments.”