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Clemson’s Christian Wilkins claims ‘Academic Heisman’ honor

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For the first time, Clemson is the home to one of the most prestigious academic honors in all of collegiate sports.

At the 61st annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner in New York City Tuesday night, the William V. Campbell Trophy was presented to Clemson All-American defensive lineman Christian Wilkins. The Campbell Trophy, often referred to as the “Academic Heisman,” recognizes “an individual [who is] the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.”

Wilkins is the 29th recipient of the Campbell Trophy.

“Christian Wilkins’ exceptional accomplishments on and off the field rank him among the best student-athletes in the history of our sport, making him the ideal Campbell Trophy® recipient,” said NFF president & CEO Steve Hatchell. “He truly embodies the scholar-athlete ideal and we are proud to have him as a member of this elite fraternity. He stands as the perfect example for the next generation to emulate.”

Virginia linebacker Micah Frazier was the winner of the 2017 award.

Tua Tagovailoa named Polynesian College Football Player of the Year

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Tua Tagovailoa may have lost out on the most famous trophy in college football, but he has claimed one that honors his heritage.

Thursday, the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced that Tagovailoa has been named as that organization’s Polynesian College Football Player of the Year.  The release states that “[t]he Award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity,” and has been handed out annually since 2014.

The Hawaiian-born Alabama quarterback was the runner-up in the 2018 Heisman Trophy voting and earned consensus All-American status earlier this week.  The true sophomore was also named as the Walter Camp Player of the Year as well as the Maxwell Award winner.

“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate Tua on a historic season,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame chairman Jesse Sapolu in a statement. “He is a tremendous role model and a source of great pride for Polynesians everywhere.”

Other finalists for this year’s award were Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa, Notre Dame defensive back Alohi Gilman, Oklahoma offensive lineman Dru Samia and Hawaii wide receiver John Ursua.

Last year’s winner was defensive end Hercules Mata’afa of Washington State.

Mark Richt praises Manny Diaz as Miami DC officially leaves to take over at Temple

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Mark Richt has officially lost control of the defensive coordinator position on his Miami coaching staff, and now has a rather sizable hole to fill as a result.

It emerged earlier this week that, after interviewing for the Temple opening Monday, Manny Diaz had emerged as the front-runner for the Owls job.  Thursday, Temple confirmed that the Miami defensive coordinator has indeed been named as the program’s new head football coach.

Diaz replaces Geoff Collins, who left earlier this month for the same job at Georgia Tech.

Below is Richt’s statement on the departure:

This morning defensive coordinator Manny Diaz informed me that he has accepted the head coach position at Temple University. Throughout the process, Manny had been very transparent about the opportunity with both myself and Blake James.

“In his three years in Coral Gables, Manny proved to be one of the top assistant coaches in the country and did an unbelievable job leading our defense. I have no doubt that he will experience great success as a head coach and we wish him, Steph, Colin, Gavin and Manny all of the best.

“We have launched a national search for a new defensive coordinator and we have already received great interest from around the country. Our football program, our university and our facilities are among the best in the country, and coaches want to be a part of something special. Our coaches are on the road recruiting the next generation of Canes and I am excited about the young men scheduled to sign with us next week. Together, we are building champions!

Diaz spent the past three seasons as the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator.  He also served as The U’s linebackers coach during that stretch.

The 44-year-old Diaz has also spent time as a coordinator at Mississippi State (2015 and 2010), Louisiana Tech (2014), Texas (2011-13) and Middle Tennessee State (2006-09).  This will mark the Florida State graduate’s first job as a head coach at any level.

Les Miles bringing nation’s No. 1 JUCO QB to Kansas

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Unlike the majority of his time at LSU, maybe Les Miles — and his offensive coaching staff — will be able to get something out of this quarterback?

In a missive posted to Twitter earlier this week, Thomas MacVittie announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Miles at Kansas. “Coach Les Miles, [offensive coordinator] Chip Lindsey and the staff at Kansas, I am ready to join the Kansas family and win a Big XII title,” MacVittie wrote in the tweet.

As a transfer from the junior college ranks, MacVittie will be eligible to play immediately for the Jayhawks in 2019.  Counting this coming season, the quarterback has two years of eligibility remaining.

247Sports.com rates MacVittie as the No. 1 JUCO quarterback — pro-style, dual-threat or otherwise — in this year’s class.  On the recruiting website’s composite board, he’s the No. 3 pro-style quarterback at that level of football.

MacVittie was originally a three-star Pitt 2016 signee who was the highest-rated recruit on the offensive side of the ball for the Panthers that year.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in three games in 2017 — on special teams — and didn’t attempt a pass before deciding to transfer from Pitt in December of 2017.

MacVittie’s 2018 season was spent at Mesa Community College in Arizona.

Arkansas’ Demetrius Walker arrested on weapon, drug charges

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The latest incident to cause the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker back to double-zeroes is quite the prolific one.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Demetrius Walker was arrested by Fayetteville police officers Wednesday on multiple weapons and drug charges.  Specifically, the Arkansas linebacker is facing one count each of delivery of marijuana, possession of marijuana with purpose to deliver, possession of a schedule IV drug with purpose to deliver, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Online records show that a search of Walker’s residence revealed, among other items, 95.8 grams of marijuana, 40 Xanax pills, a digital scale and an AR-15 rifle with one loaded magazine. KFSM-TV writes that “detectives from the 4th Judicial District Drug Task Force purchased marijuana during undercover operations from Walker with assistance from a confidential informant.”

As a result of the arrest, Walker has been indefinitely suspended from the Razorbacks football program.

The student-athlete has been suspended from our football program indefinitely, and we will continue to monitor the situation and cooperate fully with any related legal and campus processes. Our continued expectation is that our student-athletes conduct themselves and represent the University of Arkansas in an appropriate manner at all times.

Walker, a redshirt sophomore, was listed as the third-string weakside linebacker on Arkansas’ most recent depth chart, put out ahead of the regular-season finale late last month. He has played in six games, with all of those appearances coming last season.