As expected, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa are the lone finalists for the 2018 Heisman Trophy. The announcement was made Monday evening on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown.
The All-QB group guarantees the Heisman will go to a quarterback for the third consecutive year, the eighth time in nine years and the 16th time since 2000.
Based on the statistics alone, Murray would seem a shoo-in to win the stiffarm trophy. The Allen, Texas, native is on pace to break the single-season FBS passing efficiency record — a record Baker Mayfield set en route to winning the Heisman last year — by completing 70.9 percent of his 340 passes for 4,053 yards (an eye-popping 11.7 yards per attempt) with 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions for the Big 12 champions. In addition to rushing 123 times for 892 yards in 11 touchdowns, Murray is the first player in FBS history to average 300 passing yards and 60 rushing yards per game.
If Murray wins, Oklahoma will become the first program to have two separate players win consecutive Heismans since Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis did it for Army in 1945-46.
Tagovailoa would’ve been the runaway winner had the Heisman been awarded Nov. 1, but has seen his candidacy slip — just a bit — while Murray’s has risen. (As evidence, Tagvailoa led The Athletic‘s straw poll of 34 Heisman voters all season, until this week’s edition.) Still, the Alabama quarterback ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency, completing 67.7 percent of his 294 passes for 3,353 yards (good for 11.4 yards per attempt) with 37 touchdowns against four interceptions while running 190 yards for another five touchdowns.
As the quarterback for a Big Ten champion Ohio State team, Haskins would be a clear frontrunner in plenty of other years but appears to be a clear bronze medalist this season. He leads Murray and Tagovailoa in overall passing stats, throwing for 4,580 yards with 47 touchdowns. Hitting 70.2 percent of his passes for 9.2 yards an attempt, Haskins places fourth in passing efficiency nationally, which makes him better than all but three opposing quarterbacks but third in this three-horse race.
Entering summer camp, Deon Stewart was the most senior member of a very young receiving corps. Unfortunately for all involved, Stewart will exit camp on the sidelines and will remain there for the foreseeable future.
Multiple media outlets in the area initially reported that Stewart suffered a torn ACL during Arkansas’ scrimmage this past Saturday; Monday, head coach Chad Morris confirmed the initial reports, saying that an MRI showed a tear in the ligament.
Suffice to say, the fifth-year senior, who posted an ominous one-word tweet over the weekend portending the development, will miss the entire 2019 season.
Morris also confirmed that Stewart will pursue a sixth season of eligibility.
Stewart played in 36 games the past three seasons, starting 14 of those contests in 2017 (six) and 2018 (eight). This past season, Stewart was fourth on the Razorbacks in receptions (22) and sixth in yards (178).
Of the 17 receivers listed on the Razorbacks’ preseason roster, 13 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. Stewart is one of two seniors at the position, the other being Jimmie Stoudemire, who didn’t catch a pass during his first season in Fayetteville after transferring in from a California junior college.
Pardon me while I clean up a bit of personnel news from late last week during these early-morning hours.
Early last week, speculation was making the rounds that Jayden McDonald was considering a transfer away from Iowa. Friday evening, the speculation became a reality as the football program confirmed in a press release that the redshirt freshman linebacker has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.
It’s at this point in the program where we remind our readers that entering a name into the portal doesn’t guarantee a departure, even as it allows other programs to contact the player without receiving permission from his current school. McDonald could also reverse course, pull his name from the database and return to the Hawkeyes.
Conversely, the university can take away McDonald’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.
After originally committing to Rutgers, McDonald signed with Iowa as a three-star recruit in 2018. The Georgia high schooler opted for Iowa over Kansas State, Ole Miss and Purdue.
McDonald didn’t see the field as a true freshman and, with the Hawkeyes moving to a 4-2-5 base defense this season, he saw his opportunities for playing time in Iowa City narrowed even further.
With his wife fighting cancer, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is stepping away from the football part of his life temporarily to be with his family. Arkansas State announced the news Monday evening. Defensive coordinator David Duggan will take over as the interim head coach until Anderson is ready to return to the team.
“Coach Anderson has decided to take a leave of absence during this difficult time to be with his wife, Wendy, and his family,” a statement from Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a released statement. “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”
Anderson has been dividing his time between football and being with his wife, but there comes a time when you have to realize there is much more to focus on than football. This is certainly one of those times, and good for Arkansas State to allow their head coach to do what he needs to do during this troubling time for his family.
Cancer sucks, plain and simple.
And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).
Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).
2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith
- Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
- Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
- Woody Barrett, Kent State
- Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
- Anthony Brown, Boston College
- Kelly Bryant, Missouri
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
- Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
- K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
- Jacob Eason, Washington University
- Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
- Mason Fine, North Texas
- Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
- Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
- Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
- Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
- Quentin Harris, Duke University
- Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
- Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
- Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
- Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
- Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
- D’Eriq King, Houston
- Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
- Jordan Love, Utah State University
- Jake Luton, Oregon State University
- Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
- Justin McMillan, Tulane
- Steven Montez, University of Colorado
- James Morgan, FIU
- Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
- Kato Nelson, Akron
- Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
- Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
- Malcolm Perry, Navy
- Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
- Armani Rogers, UNLV
- Nathan Rourke, Ohio
- Anthony Russo, Temple University
- J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
- Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
- Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
- Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
- Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
- Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
- Brady White, University of Memphis
- Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
- Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida