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Marshall mourns passing of ex-Herd RB Devon Johnson at age 25

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Way too early, the Marshall football family has lost one of its own.

The family of Devon Johnson confirmed in a statement late Tuesday night that the former Thundering Herd running back passed away earlier in the day.  He was just 25 years old.

A cause of death has not yet been made public.

“With tremendous grief and sadness we can confirm that Devon Johnson passed away today, November 6, 2018. Devon was only 25 years old and was taken from us far too soon. He was a beautiful, fleeting flame in all of our lives that tragically did not get to burn for nearly long enough.  Devon was an incredible football player, but he was an even better person. He forged and treasured relationships from childhood, to his success as a member of the Marshall Thundering Herd, to his time spent in the Carolina Panthers organization, and beyond.

“Devon will always be in our hearts, and we sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support, thoughts, and respects. We kindly and humbly ask that at this time, our family be allowed to grieve privately, so that we can properly process and mourn this sudden loss.

“Please keep Devon in your prayers, and thank you.

Johnson played for the Thundering Herd from 2012-15.  In 2014, Johnson rushed for 1,767 yards, second on the school’s all-time list despite missing nearly three full games, in earning first-team All-Conference USA honors as well as being named a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award.  His 272 yards in a win over FAU that season set the program’s single-game record.

Injuries robbed Johnson of most of his senior season, and he ultimately signed as a free agent with the Panthers after not being selected in the 2016 NFL draft.  While he earned a spot on the practice squad, Johnson never made it onto Carolina’s active roster.

“I am shocked and saddened at the news of Devon Johnson’s passing,” a statement attributed to Herd head coach Doc Holliday began. “Devon was a force in our program, both literally and figuratively. Whether on the field or off, his impact was immeasurable and he will be missed by so many at Marshall. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.”

Arkansas WR Jordon Curtis recovering after being hit by car

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A potentially serious, or even deadly, situation involving one member of the Arkansas football team has turned out okay for all involved.

According to multiple media outlets in the area, defensive back Jordon Curtis was hit by a car after leaving practice Sunday night. Curtis was walking in a crosswalk near the Razorbacks’ practice facility when he was struck.

From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

According to UAPD, officers were dispatched to the scene at 5:26 p.m. Sunday. The officer reported that Curtis was bleeding from a wound above his right eye, but was able to answer cognitive questions about his date of birth and hometown. An ambulance transported Curtis to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.

The driver of a blue 2007 Hyundai Veracruz was issued two citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk and for speeding too fast for conditions. The report states that four witnesses observed the driver never hit his brakes, but the driver stated he tried to stop but was unable to avoid hitting Curtis.

Thankfully for all involved, Cutis was treated and released from the hospital not long after the incident.

“We’re very fortunate, and our thoughts and prayers will be with him and his recovery,” head coach Chad Morris said Monday. “He will not be around this week, but is doing good. We’re very, very, very fortunate. Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

A redshirt freshman, Curtis played in the 2018 season opener but hasn’t seen any game action since.

Reports: Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant scraps planned Miami visit

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We don’t know yet to where Kelly Bryant will transfer.  Based on the most recent intel, though, we can divine one destination that has been taken out of play.

It was reported last week that, after rumored interest, the former Clemson quarterback would be visiting Miami on Nov. 24, with a decision on a future college football home coming on Dec. 4.  While the decision date is still the same, the visit to the Hurricanes reportedly won’t take place.

Miami was supposed to be the fifth of five official visits the graduate transfer can take.  Instead, that fifth visit will go to Auburn at some point next week.  Bryant has already taken an unofficial visit to Auburn earlier this month.

Officially, Bryant has taken visits to North Carolina (HERE), Missouri (HERE), Arkansas (HERE) and Mississippi State (HERE).

As a graduate transfer, Bryant will be eligible to play in 2019 regardless of where he ultimately lands.  Next season would be his final year of eligibility.

Bryant had started 18 games in a row at quarterback for the Tigers, winning 16 of those contests, before he was benched in favor of five-star 2018 signee Trevor Lawrence in September.  Bryant labeled Dabo Swinney‘s decision to bench him as “a slap in the face.”

That perceived slap triggered the much-discussed decision to transfer on Sept. 26.

Kyler Murray gains ground on Tua Tagovailoa in Bovada Heisman odds

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The 2018 Heisman Trophy was all but handed to Tua Tagovailoa earlier this month, but, if he’s going to ultimately go down, Kyler Murray and his Heisman website are not going down without a fight.

In the latest set of odds to be released by Bovada.lv, Tagovailoa is still listed as the prohibitive favorite to claim this year’s stiff-armed trophy, although his odds have lengthened a bit from 2/9 a week ago to 1/4. Murray, meanwhile, has seen his odds shorten from 5/1 to 9/2.

This is actually the second week in a row that Murray has pecked away at Tagovailoa’s wagering lead. On Nov. 5, the Alabama quarterback was at 1/10 while the Oklahoma signal-caller sat at 6/1.

Another pair of quarterbacks, Washington State’s Gardner Minshew and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, saw their odds shrink significantly over the last seven days, with the former going from 50/1 to 30/1 and the latter moving from 100/1 to 50/1. West Virginia’s Will Grier went from 7/1 a week ago to 12/1 this week.

Just four other players remain on Bovada‘s board, although they are distant underdogs to the two frontrunners:

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence (25/1 a week ago, 50/1 this week)
UCF QB McKenzie Milton (100/1, 50/1)
Clemson RB Travis Etienne (25/1, 60/1)
Michigan QB Shea Patterson (20/1, 100/1)

Texas’ Breckyn Hager publicly apologizes for ‘OU still sucks’ blast

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Necessary or not, you knew this was coming.

Following Texas’ huge win over Iowa State Saturday night, eccentric UT defensive end Breckyn Hager punctuated a postgame meeting with the media with an “OU still sucks” blast directed at bitter rival Oklahoma. Monday, the Big 12 publicly reprimanded Hager for his words and stated that it expected a public apology from the player.

Monday night, that apology came from a contrite Hager.

I consider sportsmanship to be an essential part of the game I so truly love. I spoke with our athletics director Chris Del Conte and Coach Herman about what I said after Saturday’s game and understand why it reflected poorly on me and my team. I had no ill intentions when I made my comments about Oklahoma, which included a phrase that’s used by fans, but I have to realize that it’s different coming from me. My thought process was that it would put a fun and light-hearted charge into the greatest rivalry in college football that my family has been involved in playing in for many years, but I can see now that was not the way to do it.

I have the utmost respect for the University of Oklahoma and their football program and know a number of players on their team, and I want to apologize to them. I want to represent myself, my family, my football program, my university and the Big 12 Conference in the best possible way. I’m truly sorry for the comments I made, will learn from this and will keep working to improve my ability to think about the ramifications of what I say before I say it.

If Texas beats Kansas and Oklahoma beats West Virginia this Saturday, the two Red River Shootout rivals will meet the following weekend in the Big 12 championship game.