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Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald sweeps B1G Coach of the Year honors

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What appeared to be a lost season for Northwestern took a sharp turn once the calendar flipped to October, earning Pat Fitzgerald some well-deserved postseason conference honors.

The Big Ten Tuesday announced a handful of individual awards, with Fitzgerald taking home both the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year.  The former award is voted on by the coaches in the league, the latter by the media that covers it.

Northwestern started the 2018 season with a 1-3 mark in September, including a 1-1 record in Big Ten action.  The Wildcats finished off the regular season by winning seven in a row in conference play, with their only loss in that stretch coming to third-ranked Notre Dame the first weekend of November.

Thanks to that closing stretch, Northwestern claimed its first-ever B1G West crown and a spot opposite Ohio State in the conference championship game this weekend.

The Big Ten also announced several individual honors, including Michigan linebacker Devin Bush being named as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Below are all of the individual honors doled out by the conference thus far (offensive awards will be announced Wednesday night). For the complete all-conference teams for both defense and special teams, click HERE.

Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award: Jake Wood, Wisconsin
Named for Minnesota’s Tony Dungy and Indiana’s Anthony Thompson

Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award: Antwaan Randle El, Indiana
Named for Michigan’s Gerald Ford and Iowa’s Nile Kinnick

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year: Devin Bush, Michigan
Named for Minnesota’s Bronko Nagurski and Michigan’s Charles Woodson

Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches vote): Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Named for Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Michigan’s Bo Schembechler

Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media vote): Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Named for Wisconsin’s Dave McClain

Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year: Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
Named for Michigan State’s Bubba Smith and Penn State’s Courtney Brown

Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year: Devin Bush, Michigan
Named for Illinois’ Dick Butkus and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald

Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year: Amani Hooker, Iowa
Named for Ohio State’s Jack Tatum and Purdue’s Rod Woodson

Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year: Chase McLaughlin, Illinois
Named for Wisconsin’s Jim Bakken and Michigan State’s Morten Andersen

Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year: Will Hart, Michigan
Named for Illinois’ Dike Eddleman and Michigan State’s Brandon Fields

Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa
Named for Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers and Iowa’s Tim Dwight

Former FIU DB Emmanuel Lubin dies in car accident, program confirms

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FIU announced on Sunday that former Panthers defensive back Emmanuel Lubin died in a car accident on Saturday night.

Lubinn (jumping, left) played in 45 games over four seasons for FIU, the most recent coming in 2018. He started all 13 games last season, collecting 31 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, one sack and four pass breakups. For his career, Lubin compiled 86 tackles, 11 pass breakups and one interception.

“Tragically, we lost a great young man in Emmanuel Lubin last night,” FIU head coach Butch Davis said. “He was a hard worker, great teammate and was respected and loved by his teammates, coaches and staff at FIU. His character, work ethic and leadership were instrumental in leading our program to success these past two seasons. Our football program is mourning his loss and we will honor Emmanuel every day moving forward. Our hearts and prayers go out to his friends and family.”

Added former teammate Tyree Johnson: “Anybody who knows you would never say anything bad on your name because you literally lit up any room you were in…I never told you this because I assumed you knew, but you made me the man I am today. If it wasn’t for you, I’ll still be the same Teejayy from four yeas (sic) ago.”

The North Miami Beach native was 22 years old.

Ex-Clemson DB Kyler McMichael headed to North Carolina

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The Portal is as mysterious as it is powerful. Some souls enter never to be heard of again, others are out as quickly as they entered. The Portal blesses whom it decides to bless, and it’s not for us humans to understand. All we know is The Portal must be questioned.

For instance, there’s the case of Kyler McMichael.

On Friday, the former 4-star recruit was a Clemson Tiger. By Saturday, he was a North Carolina Tar Heel.

Roughly 24 hours after announcing his intent to transfer, McMichael had announced his new destination. “Beyond blessed and grateful to be apart (sic) of such an amazing team last year at Clemson, however today I begin my next Chapter in life as I redirect my journey and travel to Chapel Hill, to the University of North Carolina and become a Tar Heel.”

McMichael didn’t make a major impact on Clemson’s national championship team, but that’s largely because he was a true freshman playing for the eventual national champions.

The Atlanta native played in 101 snaps according to his Clemson bio, which was still live as of this writing, spread across 12 games, where he made two tackles.

Barring a waiver, McMichael will sit out the 2019 season and compete for the Tar Heels as a redshirt sophomore in 2020.

Colorado lands Nebraska transfer LB Guy Thomas

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There’s a new Guy on the team at Colorado.

On Saturday, former Nebraska linebacker Guy Thomas announced his commitment to Colorado. “I give thanks to everybody that has been influential, and supportive in my life,” Nyon said in a graphic posted to his Twitter account. “I am taking this time to announce that I will be committing to the University of Colorado.”

Thomas first announced his transfer back in November; he appeared in just four games over two years on the club. He posted four tackles in as many games as a redshirt freshman in 2018, with three coming against FCS Bethune-Cookman.

“It’s not working out,” Thomas told the Omaha World-Herald upon his transfer.

Barring a waiver, Thomas will have to sit out the 2019 season and compete as a redshirt junior in 2020. He figures to contribute as a pass-rushing outside linebacker whenever he is cleared to play.

As of now, Jim Harbaugh plans to play Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game

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Michigan does not open training camp until Aug. 2 and does not play its first game until Aug. 31, so any “as of right now” statements are devoid of 20-odd practices worth of context.

Still, as of Big Ten media days, Jim Harbaugh plans to play both Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game.

“Yeah, I do (see games where they’ll both play). Where it stands right now, and that could change later or not, is I see them both playing,” Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press. “Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is…. I’m really not talking about playing them both at the same time (on a play), when I say both in games it’d be they’re both playing quarterback during the same game. And in the way it stands now, in every game.”

Harbaugh has been a one-quarterback man for the entirety of his career, but Patterson’s inconsistency and McCaffrey’s talent may demand a change. Michigan did juggle quarterbacks in 2017 — John O’KornBrandon Peters and Wilton Speight each threw at least 81 passes — but that was due to necessity, not strategy.

Patterson completed 64.6 percent of his passes last season for 2,600 yards (on 8.0 per attempt) with 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions while rushing 76 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns. In his second year in the program, McCaffrey completed 8-of-15 passes for 126 yards with two touchdowns whilst rushing 10 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The son of Ed McCaffrey and brother of Christian McCaffrey is certainly the heir apparent in Ann Arbor, and it appears Harbaugh isn’t willing to wait for the future to arrive in order to unleash arguably his most talented quarterback recruit since Andrew Luck.