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Bednarik Award watch list led by Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and USC

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There are plenty of new faces gracing the 2018 Bednarik Award watch list form the Maxwell Football Club. After three 2017 finalists for the award all moved on to the NFL, there will be some new names to keep a close eye on for the top defensive player award in college football from the Maxwell Football Club.

Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and USC all landed three players on the watch list for the award. Alabama has also had a player win the Bednarik Award each of the past two seasons, becoming the first school with two consecutive Bednarik Award winners since LSU had back-to-back winners in 2010 and 2011 (Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, respectively). Jonathan Allen won the Bednarik Award in 2016 and Minkah Fitzpatrick took home the award last fall for the Crimson Tide.

Some key names to note on this year’s Bednarik Award watch list include Houston’s Ed Oliver, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence, Duke’s Joe Giles-Harris, Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons, and NIU’s Sutton Smith. All were semifinalists for the award a year ago.

Here is this year’s Bednarik Award watch list:

LB Curtis Akins, Memphis
LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
LB Josh Allen, Kentucky
DE Zach Allen, Boston College
LB Jeffrey Allison, Fresno State
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic
DE Bradlee Anae, Utah
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State
LB Markus Bailey, Purdue
CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
DE Ben Banogu, TCU
LB Thomas Barber, Minnesota
DT Terry Beckner, Missouri
CB Julian Blackmon, Utah
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
DE Brian Burns, Florida State
LB Devin Bush, Michigan
LB Te’von Coney, Notre Dame
DE Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan
CB Javaris Davis, Auburn
DE Raekwon Davis, Alabama
S Lukas Denis, Boston College
LB Joe Dineen, Kansas
S D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin
LB Tyrel Dodson, Texas A&M
LB Troy Dye, Oregon
S Mike Edwards, Kentucky
LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin
DE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
DT Greg Gaines, Washington
DE Rashan Gary, Michigan
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern
CB Mark Gilbert, Duke
LB Ulysees Gilbert, Akron
LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
DE Carl Granderson, Wyoming
LB Porter Gustin, USC
LB Breckyn Hager, Texas
LB De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
DT Trysten Hill, UCF
LB Khalil Hodge, Buffalo
CB Alijah Holder, Stanford
CB Tyler Horton, Boise State
DE Jalen Jelks, Oregon
LB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
LB Gary Johnson, Texas
S Jaquan Johnson, Miami
DT Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M
DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
LB David Long, West Virginia
DE Shareef Miller, Penn State
DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa
LB Bobby Okereke, Stanford
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
CB Brian Peavy, Iowa State
LB Justin Phillips, Oklahoma State
LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
S Delvon Randall, Temple
S Taylor Rapp, Washington
LB Malik Reed, Nevada
LB David Reese, Florida
DT Dontavius Russell, Auburn
NG Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
LB Cameron Smith, USC
DE Sutton Smith, NIU
LB Ty Summers, TCU
LB Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
S Marvell Tell, USC
S Jalen Thompson, Washington State
S Juan Thornhill, Virginia
NG Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
DT Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
S Nigel Warrior, Tennessee
LB Devin White, LSU
DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
CB Greedy Williams, LSU
LB Mack Wilson, Alabama
S Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
DE Chase Winovich, Michigan
DT Daniel Wise, Kansas
DE D.J. Wonnum, South Carolina
LB Charles Wright, Vanderbilt
DE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion

Report: Ex-FSU QB Deondre Francois to walk on at FAU

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Months after contemplating his future, former Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois will walk-on with the FAU Owls. According to a report from 247 Sports, Francois will attempt to enroll at FAU as soon as possible to begin the process of officially joining Lane Kiffin and the Owls.

Francois was dismissed by Florida State in February by head coach Willie Taggart, with the second-year head coach of the Seminoles attempting to improve the culture of his latest football program. Francois has been cleared of a domestic assault accusation in Jan. 2018, and he had previously had a legal issue involving suspected possession of marijuana. A video shared by Francois’s girlfriend showed a man threatening her, with the man said to have been Francois One day after being dismissed by Florida State, Francois was officially entered in the NCAA transfer portal to begin weighing his options for his future.

Kiffin is no stranger to giving players another chance to play FBS football. He has been making a habit of it during his brief time in Boca Raton with the Owls. Kiffin has welcomed players from troubled pasts to build his depth on the roster, including former Oklahoma quarterback Chris Robison and a number of players who appeared in the Netflix documentary “Last Chance U.”  Kiffin has been actively adding players via transfers on top of his normal recruiting efforts and the plan has worked with a Conference USA title in 2017 and a team seemingly capable of making another run to the conference title in 2019.

That is why it may seem odd that Kiffin took a bit of a jab at the transfer portal earlier in the offseason, calling it a “sexy thing to do” for players. As it turns out, however, Kiffin may have just landed another potential starting quarterback through the transfer portal.

Francois played in 11 games for Florida State in 2018, passing for 2,731 yards and 15 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

LSU CB Kelvin Joseph reportedly plunges into transfer portal

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LSU cornerback Kelvin Joseph entered the transfer portal on Monday morning, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Joseph is a surprise entry, given that the 4-star recruit and Baton Rouge native is just a sophomore. He appeared in five games as a true freshman in 2018 — meaning he cannot use the season as a redshirt — collecting 12 tackles with one pass breakup.

He was expected to compete with incoming freshman Derek Stingley, Jr. for a starting job opposite Kristian Fulton this fall. With Fulton out due to injury, Joseph and Stingley started LSU’s spring game.

Entering the portal does not guarantee Joseph will leave, and he is still free to return as long as LSU will have him. Joseph was suspended for a violation of team rules from LSU’s Fiesta Bowl win over Central Florida, but, again, he did start the spring game, indicating he’s on good standing with Ed Orgeron and the LSU staff.

Mother’s death forces Purdue RB Evan Anderson to leave team

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Purdue running back Evan Anderson has left the team, head coach Jeff Brohm told Gold and Black.

A member of Purdue’s 2018 signing class, Anderson redshirted last season, then had a proverbial bomb go off in his life that took precedence over football and school.

“His mother passed away,” said Brohm told the site. “That set him back, that hurt him. It hurt all of us. It was a bad situation. We felt for him. He missed a lot of school, he missed a lot of practice. I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but his family situation was important to him. It was a rough, rough semester on him–and understandably so.”

A 3-star recruit, Anderson is a native of Suwanee, Ga. Should he desire to continue his college football career, he figures to be a shoe-in for an NCAA hardship waiver if he transfers closer to home.

In less important matters, Anderson’s departure leaves a hole on Purdue’s running back depth chart. The Boilermakers’ top two running backs were seniors, and their third-leading rusher was wide receiver Rondale Moore. The Boilers’ leading returning rusher is sophomore Alexander Horvath, who carried all of nine times in 2018. Six runners, including two incoming freshmen, will fight for carries in fall camp, but Anderson will not be one of them.

Brock Huard leaving ESPN for Fox

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After 12 years at ESPN, Brock Huard is leaving to become the No. 2 college football analyst for Fox.

The news was first reported by the New York Post, then confirmed by Huard himself on his radio show in Seattle.

“I’m leaving there and getting an opportunity, a huge opportunity, and as big of a bummer as it is leaving ESPN, it’s as huge of a gift and an opportunity to join Fox on their college football broadcasts and join Joe Davis, who I worked with way back when on one of his first games when he filled in for Mark Jones,” Huard said, via Awful Announcing. “And I knew then this dude is talented, really good, they’ve got an incredible crew.”

Huard (right) will replace Brady Quinn, who join’s Fox’s revamped pre-game show, which now features Reggie Bush and Urban Meyer alongside Rob Stone and Matt Leinart, in addition to Quinn.

The former Washington quarterback worked alongside play-by-play man Bob Wischusen and sideline reporter Allison Williams on ESPN’s No. 5 crew. Florida’s win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl will now mark Huard’s final game at ESPN.

Fox revealed at its upfront presentation to advertisers that it will put its top games in the noon ET window, a clear attempt to build off its beefed-up pre-game show and to avoid fierce competition with CBS’s SEC package at 3:30 ET and ABC’s Saturday Night Football at 6:30 ET. This means Fox’s No. 1 crew of Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt will spend most, if not all, of their time in Big Ten and Big 12 country, so it stands to reason Huard will spend much of his fall on his native West Coast doing Pac-12 games later in the day.