A year ago at this time, Matt Rhule was coming off a dismal 1-11 campaign in his first season in Waco. It was rough for his fellow coaches, the players and a fan base that had grown accustomed to winning plenty in recent seasons.
Well, what a difference a year makes.
Baylor capped off a remarkable turnaround from those dark days to grab victory No. 7 on the season in the Texas Bowl in shootout fashion 45-38 over Vanderbilt.
The Bears, as you could predictably rely on for a Big 12 squad, used their offense to rack up big plays galore and numerous long scoring drives. QB Charlie Brewer was dealing both inside and outside the pocket, throwing for 384 yards with two scores and a pick. He also accounted for 109 yards rushing and scored one of four Baylor touchdowns on the ground.
As good as Brewer was though, his top target was hard to beat coming out of the backfield as Trestan Ebner ran for 90 yards and a score while catching three passes for 109 yards with another trip to the end zone off a fantastic 75-yard scamper over the middle.
Maybe even more wild was the fact that Ebner wasn’t even the tailback with best performance in the game.
That would be belong to Vandy’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who you really should know all about after the way he broke off three 60+ yard runs to finish the year in style. The junior wound up with 243 yards on just 13 carries and probably should have seen the rock even more the way he was running.
It wasn’t totally a one-man show for the Commodores though. QB Kyle Shurmur became the school’s all-time leading passer with 286 yards (1 TD) on the night and Khari Blasingame was an all-purpose threat with 96 total yards and three touchdowns.
In the end though, bad tackling — something both sides were quite guilty of — in key situations in the second half that proved to be Vandy’s undoing in a pretty fun game to close out an otherwise boring Thursday during bowl season. While the Dores will head back home to Nashville wondering why they couldn’t get that one key stop or put up one more big play, the Bears will head up the highway to Waco and celebrate all the way after capping a wild turnaround in 2018 with a win.
Oklahoma isn’t the only Power Five program to see a player weighing a football-or-military life choice this offseason.
According to The State, Dabo Swinney has acknowledged that Garrett Williams is “probably not going to be back” with his Clemson football program next season. “[H]e really wants to go into the military,” the Tigers head football coach stated as the reason behind the tight end’s likely move on from the defending national champions.
“He’s around this spring and is going to be out there helping us, but he’s dealing with his health issues. He’s getting his knee back right and he’s got a lot of things he’s dealing with,” Swinney said of Williams.
In April of 2017, Clemson announced that Williams had suffered a torn ACL that sidelined the then-rising junior for the entire season. Williams came back to start 13 games in the Tigers’ run to the College Football Playoff title.
In the past, Williams, whose father and grandfather served in the military, has stated a desire to either enlist in the Marines or become a Navy SEAL.
As a rising redshirt senior, Williams still has one season of eligibility he could use.
I guess that’s what happens when the school to which you moved has produced back-to-back Heisman winners at the position you play, eh?
In mid-January, as he was in the midst of transferring from Alabama, Jalen Hurts was listed by BetOnline.ag as a 9/1 shot to stake his claim as the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy. Very shortly thereafter, Hurts’ move to Oklahoma was confirmed; a month later, in the latest odds released by the same online sportsbook, Hurts now sits at 13/2 to win this year’s version of the most storied trophy in college sports.
As was the case a month ago, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the way-too-early 2019 Heisman favorite at 7/2, although those odds have lengthened a bit from the initial 3/1. The quarterback whose play on the field pushed Hurts out in Tuscaloosa, 2018 Heisman runnerup Tua Tagovailoa, also saw his odds lengthen a smidge from 4/1 to 5/1.
Most of the other odds remained relatively steady from that initial release, although USC quarterback JT Daniels and Clemson-to-Missouri transfer Kelly Bryant did both make a move from off the board to part of a mini-pack at 25/1.
For perspective given the fact that we’re still nearly seven months from the 2019 season kicking off, the 2018 Heisman winner, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, wasn’t among the two dozen or so college football players listed wagering-wise as potential winners around this time a year ago. The top three Heisman odds at this time last year? Stanford running back Bryce Love, Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, none of whom were finalists for the trophy won by Murray.
Never mind, I guess.
Earlier this month, Derek Green, a member of Oklahoma’s 2019 recruiting class, revealed that he would be pursuing a career in the military instead of a career in college football.
“I don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” Green said at the time, “because Oklahoma has a great group of guys on that defense that’s there and coming in and I want them to be successful and they can spend more time developing them while I try to serve my country.”
Green also confirmed at the time that he would be placing his name into the NCAA transfer database, although “that’s just in case I want to go back to it later, but as of right now I’m going to serve my country.”
Fast-forward a few days, and Green announced via Twitter that he will be putting his military career on hold and transferring to a football program other than the one with which he signed back in December.
Green was a consensus three-star signee for the Sooners who enrolled in classes at the university earlier this month. He was the only signee listed as a defensive tackle in OU’s class this year.
For the third time this offseason, first-year head coach Mike Locksley has pulled in a Power Five transfer to his Maryland program.
On his personal Twitter account Monday night, Josh Jackson announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Locksley at Maryland. Nearly four weeks ago, it was confirmed that Jackson would be leaving Virginia Tech as the quarterback had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.
As Jackson is expected to graduate from Tech in May, he would be eligible to play for Maryland this coming season. Not only that, but he will have another year of eligibility he can use in College Park in 2020 as well.
After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing. The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.
Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.
In addition to Jackson, Maryland has landed transfers from wide receiver Sean Savoy and linebacker Keandre Jones. The former comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, the latter from Ohio State.