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Illinois surprises walk-on WR Donny Navarro with a full scholarship

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There are a lot (ok, a lot) of great things about college football but one of the best items on a daily/weekly/yearly basis has to be the rewarding of scholarships to walk-ons.

It’s obviously a huge moment for the players themselves but also everybody around them too. Their parents have to be overjoyed at not cutting a big check while teammates always get excited over rewarding a key member of the program who put in the hours upon hours of hard work.

The latest example comes courtesy of Illinois, which on Thursday evening saw head coach Lovie Smith — and his fantastic beard, of course — make the announcement at a team meeting that walk-on wide receiver Donny Navarro was now one of 85 scholarship players for the Illini.

Here’s the video:

Maybe not as creative a way to break the news to the player and the team overall that we’ve seen but a special moment nonetheless. These never ever seem to get old and you can add this one as the latest to the pile.

As for Navarro, his scholarship has certainly been earned over the past few months as he’s broken into the rotation at receiver. He’s recorded 11 catches for 183 yards and one touchdown in 2019, with the lone score coming in as a 48-yarder during the shocking upset of Wisconsin.

Illinois remains a win away from bowl eligibility heading into their game against Michigan State on Saturday.

Dave Doeren not impressed with Xavier Lyas’ decision to transfer from NC State

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We didn’t start the day with a portal post, but you knew the odds were favorable that we’d get one in sooner rather than later.

On his personal Twitter account over the weekend, North Carolina State’s Xavier Lyas announced that he has “decided to enter the transfer portal in order for me to reach my full potential both academically and football.”

The defensive end’s head coach, though, didn’t seem very impressed with Lyas’ decision. From Dave Doeren‘s Monday press conference, via Rivals.com:

When did you find out about Xavier Lyas and what does his departure kind of do to depth?

“He came in and see me saw me on Sunday. Wish him luck, rather talk about the guys that are here. Somebody put a great screenshot out today, though, that their girlfriend was in the portal, I thought that was pretty funny. It’s life, some of these kids don’t play as much as they want and how it goes.

“So as far as our depth will be fine. We got enough defensive ends we’ll be good.

Lyas was a three-star member of the Wolfpack’s 2017 recruiting class.  This season, Lyas is currently third in sacks with four and tied for third in tackles for loss 4½.  Additionally, his two forced fumbles are tops on the team.

Three Power Five WRs added to Biletnikoff watch list

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For the fourth time in a little over a month, a major college football honor is adding to its watch list.

This week, the Biletnikoff Award announced that it has added five wide receivers to its watch list, including three from Power Five schools and two from Group of Five programs.  Those included this go-around are Louisville’s Chatarius Atwell, Western Kentucky’s Lucky Jackson, Syracuse’s Trishton Jackson, Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings and San Jose State’s Tre Walker (pictured).

Below are each players’ statistical particulars for the 2019 season:

  • Atwell: 46 receptions for 810 yards, eight touchdowns
  • L. Jackson: 62-839-2
  • T. Jackson: 51-780-8
  • Jennings: 50-771-7
  • Walker: 59-896-1

Walker is currently 13th in the nation in receiving yards, Lucky Jackson 17th. The latter is also tied for 25th in receptions per game.

The Biletnikoff Award is handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding FBS receiver. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, which oversees the honor, stresses that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award.”

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy was the 2018 winner of the award.  A wide receiver has won the award every year since it was first handed out in 1994, and all of the players added this week are listed as receivers.

Texas Tech intends to redshirt QBs Alan Bowman and Maverick McIvor

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A season that was derailed early on by injury concerns will now end with Alan Bowman redshirting the 2019 season. Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells confirmed on Monday Bowman will redshirt the remainder of the 2019 season to preserve a year of eligibility. The decision is not much of a surprise given the current status of the Red Raiders offense and Bowman’s injury history. Maverick McIvor, who has not appeared in a game this season due to an offseason foot injury, will also redshirt the remainder of the season.

In mid-September, Bowman was said to miss “several weeks” due to a shoulder injury. Although Bowman has now been medically cleared to play for the Red Raiders, the situation in Lubbock appears to be a good opportunity to protect the shoulder a little more unless absolutely needed. The decision to redshirt was Bowman’s, according to multiple reports, and Wells agreed that was in the best interest of all involved.

Bowman appeared in three games this season for the Red Raiders, leaving him one more game to play without jeopardizing a year of eligibility. Texas Tech could still play Bowman in one more game and not have this season count against his redshirt year under the NCAA’s revised redshirt rules from a year ago.

In his three games played, Bowman has completed 101 of 154 attempts for 1,020 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. Jett Duffey has led the offense in Bowman’s absence, and he has performed admirably with 1,774 yards and 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions over seven games.

McIvor is a freshman, so he will still have four years of eligibility beginning with the 2020 season.

Houston cornerback Ka’Darian Smith charged with aggravated assault

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Houston cornerback Ka’Darian Smith has been suspended by the football program after he was charged for aggravated assault for an incident occurring last week. Smith admitted to the assault to police and was released from jail after posting bond.

“We are aware of the serious allegations regarding Ka’Darian Smith,” a UH Athletics spokesperson said, according to The Daily Cougar. “He has been suspended indefinitely from the Houston football program. We will have no further comment at this time.”

According to police records, the incident leading to the charge occurred last Wednesday, Nov. 6. The alleged victim was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for injuries to the upper body and the head.

Smith responded to a tweet from Houston Chronicle reporter Joseph Duarte, there was more to the story about the alleged victim. According to Smith, the man broke into his room and was stealing from Smith.

How long Smith remains suspended may depend on how long the legal process takes to play out, which is fairly standard for incidents like these.