Tua Tagovailoa named Walter Camp Player of the Year, wins Maxwell Award

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The college football world’s elite gathered in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame for the 28th annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The night turned out to be a pretty eventful night for College Football Playoff representatives from Alabama, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all took home some major awards on Thursday evening.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took home the first player of the year award prior to the start of the show when he was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year winner for the 2018 season. The last five Walter Camp award winners have gone on to win the Heisman Trophy, but we will have to wait until Saturday night to see if Tagovailoa keeps that streak going. The last four Walter Camp award winners also took home the Maxwell Award. Tagovailoa later made it five straight by closing out the evening’s presentation by being named the winner of the Maxwell Award. For a college football player, Tagovailoa has completed the first two legs of the player of the year triple crown with the Heisman Trophy on deck this weekend.

Tagovailoa wasn’t the only Alabama player taking home some hardware. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award, and Quinnen Williams won the Outland Trophy.

Some quick notes:

  • Kyler Murray became the fifth Oklahoma quarterback to win the Davey O’Brien Award, following Baker Mayfield from last year. No school has more Davey O’Brien Award winners than Oklahoma.
  • Georgia defensive back DeAndre Jordan became the first Georgia player to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
  • Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly won his second Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (he previously won it in 2009 at Cincinnati). He is the first two-time winner of the coaching award.
  • Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was named the Biletnikoff Award winner, breaking a three-year run by the Big 12 since Alabama’s first Biletnikoff Award winner, Amari Cooper, won the award in 2014.

Here is a full list of the finalists and winners of awards handed out Thursday night. Winners of the awards are listed first and are in bold, with the remaining finalists following them in alphabetical order according to last name. Some of the awards were announced prior to the awards show but are included here because they were recognized or formally presented Thursday night.

WALTER CAMP PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  • Josh Allen, Kentucky
  • Will Grier, West Virginia
  • Gardner Minshew, Washington State
  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

MAXWELL AWARD
(Player of the Year)

  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  • Will Grier, West Virginia
  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD
(Defensive Player of the Year)

  • Josh Allen, Kentucky
  • Christian Wilkins, Clemson
  • Quinnen Williams, Alabama

DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD
(Best Quarterback)

  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
  • Gardner Minshew II, Washington State
  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

FRED BILETNIKOFF AWARD
(Outstanding Receiver)

  • Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
  • Andy Isabella, UMass
  • Tyan Wallace, Oklahoma State

DOAK WALKER AWARD
(Best Running Back)

  • Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
  • Travis Etienne, Clemson
  • Darrell Henderson, Memphis

JOHN MACKEY AWARD
(Best Tight End)

JIM THORPE AWARD
(Best Defensive Back)

  • DeAndre Baker, Georgia
  • Julian Love, Notre Dame
  • Greedy Williams, LSU

OUTLAND TROPHY
(Most Outstanding Interior Lineman)

  • Quinnen Williams, Alabama
  • Christian Wilkins, Clemson
  • Jonah Williams, Alabama

RIMINGTON TROPHY
(Best Center)

  • Garrett Bradbury, NC State
  • Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
  • Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama

LOU GROZA AWARD
(Outstanding Placekicker)

  • Andre Szmyt, Syracuse
  • Cooper Rothe, Wyoming
  • Cole Tracy, LSU

RAY GUY AWARD
(Punter of the Year)

  • Braden Mann, Texas A&M
  • James Smith, Cincinnati
  • Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

HOME DEPOT COACH OF THE YEAR

  • Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

WUERFFEL TROPHY
(Community Service)

  • Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
  • David Blough, Purdue
  • Dalton Risner, Kansas State

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.

Tulane officially adds Oklahoma State transfer LB Kevin Henry

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One of the nearly dozen Oklahoma State football players who entered the transfer portal this cycle has found a new collegiate home.

Thursday, Tulane announced that Kevin Henry has officially been added to the program’s roster.  As the linebacker left the Oklahoma State football team as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play for the AAC team immediately in 2020.

The upcoming season will serve as Henry’s final year of eligibility.  Henry had previously been awarded a sixth season from the NCAA after taking a redshirt as a true freshman and then missing all but one game of 2017 because of a torn ACL.

A three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2015, Henry was rated as the No. 25 safety in the country.  He was also the No. 20 player regardless of position in the state of Louisiana.  Only one signee on the defensive side of the ball in OSU’s class that year, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels, was rated higher than Henry.

Daniels, incidentally, ultimately finished up his collegiate playing career at Nebraska after transferring to the Cornhuskers in December of 2018.

During his time in Stillwater, Henry played in a total of 36 games, including a dozen appearances this past season.  He started one of those three-dozen games, Oklahoma State football’s Liberty Bowl win over Missouri following the 2018 regular season.

In those appearances, Daniels was credited with 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.

Texas A&M officially hires assistant who was at Florida State for a month

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Texas A&M football has officially pilfered Mike Norvell‘s first Florida State coaching staff.

Dec. 28, Norvell announced that he was bringing TJ Rushing along with him from Memphis.  Nearly a month later, and after reports had it headed in that direction for the last week or so, A&M confirmed that Jimbo Fisher has hired Rushing as defensive backs coach.

Rushing had not officially signed a contract at FSU. As a result, he will not owe that school any type of buyout.

“TJ has an outstanding track record of playing, teaching and developing quality defensive backs,” the Texas A&M football head coach said in a statement. “He is a tireless worker, an outstanding recruiter and he coaches with a lot of fire and enthusiasm. He will make a great addition to our coaching staff.”

The past two seasons, Rushing, who played his college football at Stanford, was Norvell’s defensive backs coach at Memphis. He was also the Tigers’ passing-game coordinator.

From 2016-17, he was the defensive backs coach at Arizona State.  He just missed working with Norvell on that staff as well.

Rushing started his coaching career as a graduate assistant (2012) and defensive quality control coach (2013) at his alma mater. His first on-field job came as cornerbacks coach at Northern Arizona in 2014.  In 2015, he was a defensive assistant at Stanford.

Rushing is the second assistant Fisher has added to his coaching staff in as many days.  Yesterday, Tyler Santucci was hired by A&M as linebackers coach.  Santucci had spent the 2019 season in the same job at Wake Forest.

Fisher still has one hole on his staff to fill.  Earlier this month, tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley took a job with Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. In addition to tight ends coach, Finley will also be passing-game coordinator.