Marcus Allen

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Alabama and Penn State land two Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists

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Th semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award were unveiled on Monday, and it goes to show how good the defensive secondaries are for Alabama and Penn State. The Crimson Tide and Nittany Lions were the only schools with two semifinalists out of the 13 total players to be announced as semifinalists for the award for the nation’s top defensive back.

Alabama is represented by Minkah Fitzpatrick and Levi Wallace. Alabama has one Jim Thorpe Award winner in the history of the award (first awarded in 1986), with Antonio Langham winning the award in 1993. Penn State is looking for the first Jim Thorpe Award winner in school history. Marcus Allen and Grant Haley have been named semifinalists for the award this year, giving Penn State a chance to have a player win the award.

Other notable players named as a semifinalist include Florida State’s Derwin James and Duke’s Jeremy McDuffie and Ohio State’s Denzel Ward. The Big Ten, SEC, and ACC all have three semifinalists. The winner of the award will be announced during the annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 7 on ESPN.

2017 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists

Marcus Allen, Penn State
Quin Blanding, Virginia
Jalen Davis, Utah State
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Grant Haley, Penn State
Derwin James, Florida State
Jeremy McDuffie, Duke
Parry Nickerson, Tulane
Justin Reid, Stanford
Dominick Sanders, Georgia
Levi Wallace, Alabama
Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Cam Newton is first Heisman Trophy winner to win NFL MVP since Barry Sanders

AP Photo/Butch Dill
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On the eve of the Super Bowl, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League. He is the first Heisman Trophy winner to win the NFL’s MVP award since Detroit Lions running back and former Oklahoma State star Barry Sanders was named the best player in the NFL in 1997. Sanders shared the MVP honors that season with Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, which means Newton is the first Heisman Trophy winner to be the outright winner of the NFL’s MVP award since 1985, when Los Angeles Raiders running back Marcus Allen won the award (Allen was a Heisman Trophy running back for USC in 1981.

Newton becomes the first quarterback to win the top honor at the college and NFL level and joins a short list by becoming the sixth player to receive both awards. Newton was a Heisman Trophy quarterback for Auburn during the 2010 season, in which he fueled a BCS Championship Run. Newton now can become the first player in football history to win the Heisman Trophy, a college national championship, NFL MVP and a Super Bowl. To do that, Newton will have to lead the Panthers past the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, who is perhaps one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time but was passed over for a Heisman Trophy by Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 (Manning finished second in the voting that season).

It is somewhat amazing to think that grand slam of football has never been achieved once since the NFL MVP award was first awarded by the Associated Press in 1957, but it also goes to show that sometimes the best players in college and the NFL do not always achieve the top-level of championship success.

Players to win Heisman Trophy and NFL MVP

  • RB Paul Hornung
  • RB O.J. Simpson
  • RB Earl Campbell
  • RB Marcus Allen
  • RB Barry Sanders
  • QB Cam Newton

Derrick Henry joins an even more exclusive fraternity with Heisman Trophy win

Kelly Kline/Heisman Trust via AP
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When Alabama running back Derrick Henry was named the winner of the 2015 Heisman Trophy Saturday night in New York City, the Crimson Tide star joined the exclusive fraternity of Heisman Trophy winners. This is often referred to as the most exclusive fraternity in sports, as only one player per year is inducted into the club every season since 1935. But Henry joined an even more exclusive club in college football history with his Heisman Trophy win by becoming the 22nd player to win each of the three major individual awards in college football; the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year.

USC’s O.J. Simpson was the first player to win all three major awards in the same season, doing so in 1968. Simpson actually prevented UCLA’s Gary Beban from being the first triple crown award winner in college football when he was named the inaugural Walter Camp Award winner in 1967. Beban won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award that season. Stanford’s Jim Plunkett became the second player to sweep the three individual honors in 1970, and Penn State’s John Cappelletti swept the awards in 1973.

Henry is the fourth player from the SEC to win all three major awards, joining Georgia’s Herschel Walker, Florida’s Danny Wuerffel and Auburn’s Cam Newton. Henry is also the first running back to pull off the feat since Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne took all three honors in 1999. Ricky Williams of Texas did it the previous season in 1998 as well. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won all three individual awards last season as well. Alabama’s A.J. McCarron prevented Florida State’s Jameis Winston from winning all three awards by being named the Maxwell Award winner in 2013. Alabama’s last Heisman Trophy winner before Henry, Mark Ingram in 2009, actually prevented Texas quarterback Colt McCoy from pulling off the triple award feat. McCoy won the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards in that 2009 season.

Players to win Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year in Same Season

  • O.J. Simpson, USC (1968)
  • Jim Plunkett, Stanford (1970)
  • John Cappelletti, Penn State (1973)
  • Archie Griffin, Ohio State (1975)
  • Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh (1976)
  • Charles White, USC (1979)
  • Marcus Allen, USC (1981)
  • Herschel Walker, Georgia (1982)
  • Mike Rozier, Nebraska (1983)
  • Doug Flutie, Boston College (1984)
  • Vinny Testaverde, Miami (1986)
  • Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State (1988)
  • Desmond Howard, Michigan (1991)
  • Gino Torretta, Miami (1992)
  • Charlie Ward, Florida State (1993)
  • Eddie Georgia, Ohio State (1995)
  • Danny Wuerffel, Florida (1996)
  • Ricky Williams, Texas (1998)
  • Ron Dayne, Wisconsin (1999)
  • Cam Newton, Auburn (2010)
  • Marcus Mariota, Oregon (2014)
  • Derrick Henry, Alabama (2015)

Paul Johnson happy Georgia Tech survived its spring game

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Nobody got hurt. Well, nobody got hurt Friday night. That is exactly what Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson wanted from the spring game in Atlanta Friday night. Rain held the attendance to just about 4,000 fans (most of them looking for cover from the elements), but Johnson will take it with no additional players having injury concerns as spring draws to a close.

“You know, it was a typical spring game — at least we got it in and the weather cooperated,” Johnson said. “Nobody got hurt that I know of — or at least seriously — which is what you hope for.”

Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets took some hits leading up to the game. C.J. Leggett, believed to be a potential starter for Georgia Tech’s B-back position, may lose the entire 2015 season due to a torn knee ligament revealed by an MRI this week.

”He’d been working hard,” Johnson said. ”I feel bad for him, but you’ve got to go with the next-man-up mentality.”

Leggett’s injury comes after another possible B-back option, Quaide Weimerskirch, has undergone foot surgery. The good news is Georgia Tech saw Marcus Allen have a good outing, running 14 times for 77 yards.

“I was proud of Marcus Allen,” Johnson said after the game. “I thought he played hard, did some good things, and made some plays. So (it was a) good (night) for Marcus.”

Justin Thomas will  be Georgia Tech’s quarterback in the fall, so Johnson took drastic measures to ensure he left the spring scrimmage in one piece. He played in just three series Friday night, and he attempted and completed one pass for 21 yards. He was also off limits from contact, just as he has been all spring.

Georgia Tech, the defending ACC Coastal Division champions, opens the 2015 season at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, September 3 against Alcorn State.

Can Georgia’s Todd Gurley reach 2,000 rushing yards? Probably not

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In the history of college football there have been just 15 players to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season. That number may begin to increase a little more frequently now as college football adds more games to the schedule. With the addition of the College Football Playoff, the top two teams in college football could be about to play a 15-game season (12 regular season games, conference championship game, two College Football Playoff games), and star running backs on those teams will have a chance to pad the rushing totals like never before. For Georgia running back Todd Gurley, that is an exciting thought.

“If I could get 2,000 yards, that would be awesome,” Gurley said Thursday at Southeastern Conference media days (via The Telegraph). “If the Lord would bless me with that, oh my gosh. That’s going to be pretty hard to do in the SEC.”

Gurley is one of the nation’s top running backs, when healthy. Health was not so kind to him last season, but the expectations for the upcoming season are high. Despite missing three games in 2014, Gurley still led Georgia in rushing with 989 yards and 10 touchdowns. Getting to 2,000 rushing yards in a single season seems like a tall order, especially when you throw in the mix the likelihood Georgia mixes things up running the football with a talented Keith Marshall looking to get involved more in 2014. And that is just assuming Gurley stays healthy. Even if he does stay healthy, the odds Gurley puts up the kind of rushing numbers needed just to get to 2,000 yards may not be great. Gurley’s career high for rushing yards in a single game is 154 yards, which he did in last season’s season opener against Clemson.

Boston College running back Andre Williams is the newest member of the 2,000-yard club in college football. Since 2000, seven players have rushed for 2,000 yards in a season. The first to do so was Marcus Allen of USC in 1981. Barry Sanders holds the single-season rushing record with 2,628 rushing yards in 1988. Will a possible 15-game season by a star college running back of today’s era threaten the record held by Sanders? Perhaps at some point, but even a 15-game season would require quite a workload by even the best running backs in the country.

Just getting to 2,000 yards is an accomplishment in itself. It is not impossible for Gurley, or any running back in 2014, but the odds it happens are not good.