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Semifinalists for Walter Camp Player of the Year Award unveiled, including three each from Clemson, Ohio State

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One of the most prestigious awards in college football has significantly narrowed the field for the 2019 version of the award.

Thursday afternoon, the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced a list of 20 “Players to Watch” for its annual Player of the Year Award.  Included in that group of semifinalists are three players each from Clemson — running back Travis Etienne, quarterback Trevor Lawrence and linebacker Isaiah Simmons — and Ohio State — running back J.K. Dobbins, quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young.

Simmons and Young are two of just four from the defensive side of the ball, the others being from the Big Ten as well in Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield.  That Big Ten trio is part of six from that particular conference, the most of any league.  The SEC is next with five, followed by four from the ACC, three from the Big 12 and two from the Pac-12.

As you can tell, no Group of Five made the list.

Aside from Clemson and OSU, the only other schools with more than one player in the group are LSU (quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase) and Oklahoma (quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb).

Positionally, there are six running backs, six quarterbacks, three wide receivers and one tight end (Florida’s Kyle Pitts) in addition to the defensive players already mentioned.  Just four seniors made the cut, compared to 10 juniors and six sophomores.

After suffering a season-ending hip injury, last year’s winner, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, is not one of this year’s 20 semifinalists, the full list of which appears below:

Joe Burrow, QB, Senior, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Sophomore, LSU
AJ Dillon, RB, Junior, Boston College
JK Dobbins, RB, Junior, Ohio State
Travis Etienne, RB, Junior, Clemson
Justin Fields, QB, Sophomore, Ohio State
Justin Herbert, QB, Senior, Oregon
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Sophomore, Oklahoma State
Tyler Huntley, QB, Senior, Utah
Jalen Hurts, QB, Senior, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Junior, Oklahoma
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Junior, Clemson
Micah Parsons, LB, Sophomore, Penn State
Kyle Pitts, TE, Sophomore, Florida
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Redshirt Junior, Clemson
Devonta Smith, WR, Junior, Alabama
D’Andre Swift, RB, Junior, Georgia
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Junior, Wisconsin
Antoine Winfield, DB, RS Sophomore, Minnesota
Chase Young, DE, Junior, Ohio State

CB Tony Butler posts classy, heartfelt goodbye in announcing transfer from Nebraska

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Thanks to a Nebraska football player, we won’t have to go through an entire day without a portal post.  Hurray?

Late this past week, Tony Butler announced in a very classy, heartfelt post on Twitter that he will be entering the NCAA transfer database.  The move would serve as the first step in a departure from the Nebraska football program.

The cornerback could also return to the Nebraska football team if he so desires.

That said, Butler would be leaving the Cornhuskers as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“In 2016, I came here as an 18-year-old kid lost and looking for a home.  Nebraska, you became my home and brought me in with open arms,” Butler wrote. “This place became very special. …

“Nebraska, you have done an incredible job at helping a lost boy become a man.  My family and I are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Butler was rated as the No. 22 player regardless of position in the state of Ohio.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past three seasons, Butler played in 27 games.  Four of those appearances came in 2019, which was likely the trigger for the decision to transfer.  Most of the games played came on special teams.

Butler is the third player to leave the Nebraska football program in a week.

Linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

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The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

World of college football reacts to tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter in helicopter crash

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As is the case across the entire world of sports, college football is reacting to the devastating news involving Kobe Bryant.

Sunday morning, Bryant was one of nine people killed — initial reports had the number at five — in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on his way to a travel basketball event.  The former NBA superstar, who retired from the sport following the 2015-16 season, was 41.

Adding to the devastation, one of Bryant’s daughters, who was also a player on her father’s travel basketball team, 13-year-old Gianna Maria Bryant, was killed in the crash as well.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife/mother Vanessa and three daughters/sisters.  The oldest is 17, the youngest will turn one in June.

In the hours after the heartbreaking news was confirmed, the world of college football mourned the passing of Kobe Bryant. Below is just a sampling.

 

Georgia state rep. proposes pay-for-play legislation with a twist that will make no one happy

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Ever since California’s SB 206 passed last September, more than a dozen states followed with their own versions of the Golden State’s Fair Pay to Play Act, to go along with a number of concurrent pushes in Washington. No matter your stance on the pay-for-play issue or what side of the political aisle you sit on, it seems we can all agree that politicians are not the people to solve this issue, and yet the NCAA kept dragging its feet, and dragging its feet, and draaaaggging its feeetttt and, well, here we are. And Sandra Scott‘s bill a large reason why.

Scott, a state representative in Georgia (D-Rex) has introduced HB 766, a type of compromise bill that will make no one happy.

The appeal, at least from the outside, of California’s SB 206, is that it would allow college athletes to capitalize on their popularity during the lifetime of that popularity while costing the school very little money, since the money would come from third-parties.

Scott’s bill does neither. In fact, it goes out of its way to do the opposite.

According to HB 766, Georgia would require its schools to set aside a third of all monies earned in postseason play into an escrow account, which would then be given to players upon graduation.

Read for yourself below.

To recap, Scott’s bill would cost the schools millions of dollars and also shut out a lot of the players who generate those millions. Why should, say, Jake Fromm be barred from having a hand in the money he produced for Georgia just because he went pro?

In short, Scott’s (well-meaning) bill would anger both schools and athletes while continuing the overly paternalistic attitudes adults have adopted toward college athletes that applies to no other demographic in college sports.