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Florida, Texas A&M settle on starting QBs

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The first true Monday of the college football season is a busy one for starting quarterback announcements. The news continues to flood in with decisions made by a pair of new SEC coaches. At Florida, Dan Mullen has tabbed Feleipe Franks as his starting quarterback this weekend, while Jimbo Fisher has named Kellen Mond as Texas A&M’s starter for this weekend.

Franks was a likely favorite to win the starting nod in Gainesville after playing 11 games for the Gators last season and passing for 1,438 yards and nine touchdowns. Some inconsistency issues and eight interceptions by Franks as a freshman held Florida back at times, but Franks seemed like the best fit for the beginning of the Mullen era of Gators football in 2018. Franks also started eight games for Florida last season, giving him a bit of a leg up on the competition.

Franks won a close competition against redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask and freshman Emory Jones, according to a release from Florida on Monday. It might not be a shock if all three find some playing time this weekend as Florida opens up the 2018 season at home against FCS opponent Charleston Southern.

At Texas A&M, Mond ended up winning a battle with Nick Starkel for the starting job in Week 1, reversing the outcome of the close quarterback competition a year ago under former head coach Kevin Sumlin. Both players are now sophomores and had fairly even stats in 2017, although Starkel was a little more efficient and productive in the stat sheet with nearly 400 more passing yards and six more touchdowns in 22 fewer pass attempts (and the same number of interceptions thrown, but in three fewer games) than Mond.

Both Mond and Starkel are expected to play in the season opener for Texas A&M against FCS opponent Northwestern State. The big test will come the following week, when Texas A&M hosts ACC favorite Clemson. In fact, the quarterbacks who end that game for both teams may be more interesting to see than who starts that Week 2 matchup. Clemson named Kelly Bryant as its starting quarterback on Monday as well.

Joe Burrow wins Associated Press Player of the Year in a landslide

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Come Saturday evening, when the results coming out of New York City are made official, I suspect this won’t be the first time we string the words “Joe Burrow” and “wins in a landslide” in the same sentence.

The Associated Press Thursday announced its College Football Player of the Year and, to the surprise of no one, Burrow claimed yet another piece of postseason hardware.  There were 53 media members who voted for the AP award; 50 of them cast first-place votes for Burrow, helping give the LSU quarterback a total of 156 points.

The senior, who is now viewed by some as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns with 48 and completion percentage at 77.9 percent; right now, the completion percentage would be an FBS record, surpassing the 76.7 percent put up by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008.  The Ohio State transfer is also second in the nation in passing yards (4,715) and passing efficiency (201.5).

Speaking of Ohio State, a pair of Buckeyes, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields, finished well behind Burrow in the voting.  Young, who was the only other player to receive first-place votes, totaled 29 points while Fields totaled 43.  Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts was fourth in the voting.

All four of those players mentioned, incidentally, were named as Heisman Trophy finalists earlier this week.

New USF HC Jeff Scott lands commitment from ex-South Carolina RB

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After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.

By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls.  As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.

The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.

Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country.  In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.

Eli Drinkwitz adds Charlie Harbison to first Mizzou staff

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Not surprisingly, Eli Drinkwitz‘s first coaching staff in Columbia is taking on a bit of a Boone feel to it.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, Drinkwitz is expected to add Appalachian State special teams coordinator Erik Link in the same capacity at Missouri.  What has been confirmed, though, is that Drinkwitz has brought Charlie Harbison along with him to the Tigers, a release from the football program announced.

Right now, Harbison will carry the official title of Associate Head Coach/Defense; his specific duties will be spelled out later.

“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.”

Harbison spent one season with Drinkwitz at App State, where he served as the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks coach.  He was also the Sun Belt school’s associated head coach.

Previously, Harbison has spent time as the defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at three Power Five programs — Auburn (2013-14), Clemson (2009-12) and Mississippi State (2008).  He’s also was the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 1998-2000.

In addition to bringing in coaches that worked on his staff at App State, he’s expected to retain at least three of Barry Odom‘s former assistants, including defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters, defensive line coach Brick Haley, and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Those retentions have yet to be officially announced.

Willie Taggart’s new job will offset the money Florida State owes him as part of his buyout, but not by much

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Every little bit helps, right?

Florida State’s decision to fire Willie Taggart less than two years into his contract came with a steep financial cost, with the deposed head coach being owed in the very ritzy neighborhood of $18 million. That buyout, though, would be offset by any money Taggart would make in his next job(s).

Wednesday evening, Florida Atlantic announced that Taggart had been hired as its next head football coach. As of this posting, FAU has yet to release the financial particulars of Taggart’s deal with the university.

At least a portion of that info, though, has now been made public.

 

For perspective, the man Taggart is replacing, new Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, was paid $1.432 million in guaranteed compensation for 2019.

So, if Berkowitz’s numbers are accurate — and they normally very much are — FSU’s future obligation to Taggart would drop to just under $14 million.  So they have that going for them.  Which is nice.