Award season in college football is set to kick off in earnest this coming weekend, and yet another honor has significantly whittled down its to-do list.
Monday, the Rimington Trophy announced three finalists for the 2018 version of an award that honors the most outstanding center in college football. Two of those three finalists come from teams that will be a part of the College Football Playoffs: Alabama’s Ross Pierschbacher, Notre Dame’s Sam Mustipher.
NC State’s Garrett Bradbury is the other of the three finalists for an award won last year by Ohio State’s Billy Price.
Below are the profiles for all three Rimington Trophy finalists for this year’s honor:
Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama
After making 42 career starts at left guard in his first three years at UA, Pierschbacher transitioned to starting at center for the 2018 season, where he helped open holes for the nation’s 32nd ranked rushing offense, the number two scoring offense, and the number three total offense. He earned Midseason All-America first team honors from the AP, was on the Outland Trophy Watch List as well at the Rimington, and earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week accolades for his play at Arkansas.
Garrett Bradbury, NC State
Named a team captain for the 2018 season, Bradbury played 99.0% (901 of 910) of the snaps for the Wolfpack this season. He did not allow a quarterback pressure all season and was named a first-team All-ACC performer (the first first-team selection for a Wolfpack center since 1987) as well as being named a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy – the only center on that list. Most recently, Bradbury scored a touchdown in the final regular season game against East Carolina, rushing the ball from the one-yard line.
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
Mustipher has started all 12 games in the 2018 season at center, where he helped Notre Dame average 39.3 points per game in road and neutral-site matchups, which ranks ninth-best in the FBS. With his leadership, the Irish did not register any lost yardage on offense against Florida State – the first time since at least the 1964 season Notre Dame did not allow a tackle for loss in a game. In addition to being named team captain, Mustipher was also named to the Outland Trophy Watch List and named First Team CoSIDA Academic All-District in 2017.
A self-created hole has suddenly, but not unexpectedly, opened up on Willie Taggart‘s Florida State coaching staff.
In a statement sent out by the university, Taggart announced that he has decided to part ways with one of his assistants, Greg Frey. Frey, who was a member of FSU’s 1993 national championship team, spent this past season, his first, as the Seminoles’ offensive line coach while also holding the title of run-game coordinator.
Below is the head coach’s statement, in its entirety:
This morning I informed Greg Frey that we are moving in a different direction with our offensive line coaching position. I appreciate the hard work and expertise Greg brought to our program and understand how important it was for him that FSU be successful. I wish Greg and his family the best as he continues his coaching career. We are working to fill this position quickly.
This past season, FSU’s line surrendered 36 sacks, a total that was 12th in the ACC and tied for 16th-worst nationally. Even worse, the Seminoles’ 2.8 yards per rushing attempt was 129th out of 130 teams at the FBS level.
Frey came to Tallahassee after spending one season as the run-game coordinator/offensive tackles coach/tight ends coach at Michigan. Prior to that, he was the line coach at Indiana for six seasons.
Those of you who had Penn State in the “Next Power Five Program to Lose an Assistant to the NFL” pool, collect your winnings.
While nothing is official from his new employer, 247Sports.com has reported Friday morning that Penn State assistant Phil Galiano is leaving James Franklin‘s coaching staff to pursue an opportunity in the NFL. The specific NFL club for which Galiano is leaving wasn’t divulged.
Penn State subsequently confirmed Galiano’s departure from the program.
“We are excited for Phil and his family. This is a tremendous opportunity for Phil to return to the NFL,” the statement from the school read. “We are very appreciative of Phil and everything he has done for our program over the last two years. We wish him nothing but success moving forward.”
Galiano has been with the Nittany Lions for two seasons, first as a defensive consultant in 2017 and then as special teams coordinator and assistant defensive line coach this past year. Prior to that, he was the special teams coordinator at both Miami (2016) and Rutgers (2015).
From 2012-13, Galiano was an assistant special teams coach on Greg Schiano‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff.
Galiano would be the second change to Franklin’s staff this offseason. Wide receivers coach David Corley was dismissed in early January and replaced a couple of weeks later by Gerad Parker.
The next step in Maurice Washington‘s legal odyssey has been taken.
Thursday, the Omaha World-Herald reported, a Santa Clara County (Calif.) judge signed a warrant filed earlier in the week that seeks the arrest of the Nebraska running back for alleged violation of that state’s revenge-porn law. It’s alleged that Washington sent a sexually-explicit 10-second video, recorded two years prior by someone other than Washington, involving a then-15-year-old female and two other boys, neither of whom was Washington, to that same female in early March of 2016. The female has claimed she is being sexually assaulted in the video, which shows the teenager performing oral sex on one boy while another masturbates.
Washington has already been charged with a felony count of possessing a video or photograph of a person under 18 who is engaging in or simulating sexual conduct and a misdemeanor count of posting a video or photograph of a person engaging in or simulating sexual conduct without consent, leading to the person suffering emotional distress. Washington had dated the alleged victim prior to the video being recorded.
With the arrest warrant signed, Washington is now expected to turn himself in to California authorities at some point in the not-too-distant future.
From the World-Herald:
Washington’s attorney, John Ball, released a statement Thursday saying Washington will “continue to move forward with a self-surrender” and will voluntarily appear in court in California. Ball said a time frame for that first court appearance is still to be determined.
“We expected this, and were prepared for it,” Ball said. “… Mr. Washington will remain fully cooperative in this matter.
While the university and the NU football program were aware that authorities in California as well as the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office were actively seeking to speak to Washington, and were made aware of some type of situation involving the player in mid-September of last year, they have steadfastly maintained that they were not privy to the details of the situation until Feb. 8 of this year.
After some academic uncertainty throughout the offseason, Washington was cleared to join the Cornhuskers football team in early August of last year. As a true freshman, and despite the off-field cloud hanging over him from the start of the season, Washington rushed for 455 yards and three touchdowns, numbers that were both good for third on the team. His 24 receptions were also third-best, while his 221 receiving yards were fourth.
So much for that bit of uncertainty.
Earlier this week, Coastal Carolina defensive end Jeffrey Gunter tweeted that he had decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Syracuse. A bit of consternation ensued in Orange Nation, however, as the lineman deleted not only the tweet announcing his move to the ACC school but his Twitter account as well.
Fears were allayed Thursday, though, as Syracuse confirmed Gunter’s addition to Dino Babers‘ roster.
Gunter will be forced to sit out the 2019 season in order to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He’d then have two years of eligibility he could use beginning with the 2020 season.
After totaling 14 tackles for loss and five sacks this past season, Gunter was named first-team All-Sun Belt Conference. In addition to Syracuse, Gunter had also considered NC State, North Carolina and Oregon.