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Semi-finalists for Ray Guy Award announced, but missing last year’s winner

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Who is the best punter in the land? According to the Ray Guy Award, there are now 10 players left in the running for that title in the 2019 season.

This year’s semi-finalists for the Ray Guy Award are Oscar Bradburn (Virginia Tech), Joseph Charlton (South Carolina), Max Duffy (Kentucky), Tyson Dyer (New Mexico), Sterling Hofrichter (Syracuse), Adam Korsak (Rutgers), Dane Roy (Houston), Tommy Townsend (Florida), Michael Turk (Arizona State), Owen White (Navy).

Somehow, last year’s winner, Texas A&M’s Braden Mann, didn’t make the cut. Mann is third in the nation in punting average (48.21 yards per punt). Not exactly sure how that happened, but there will be a new Ray Guy Award winner this season as a result of this slip form the award’s committee.

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.

AAC latest league to allow walk-ons to transfer without losing a year

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The so-called ‘Baker Mayfield Rule’ continues to spread throughout the country as players’ freedom of movement becomes a hot button issue in the world of the NCAA.

Per a release from the league office, the American Athletic Conference has formally approved a rule change that will allow walk-ons (or, more formally, student-athletes not on scholarship) to transfer to another school in the conference without having to sit a year. 

The move came as part of a broader set of issues that were discussed by AAC presidents and athletic directors during their annual fall meetings this week.

“We had another extremely productive meeting with our presidents and athletic directors this week in Philadelphia,” Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “There was a great deal of discussion about the future of our league and the momentum that we have created as we prepare for our new television/media agreement with ESPN beginning next year. There is enormous enthusiasm in the wake of the Conference’s increasing football, basketball and Olympic sport success and we will continue to energize and refresh our successful P6 campaign.  We discussed the NCAA Board of Governors’ recent statement on name, image and likeness and we will be forming a conference working group to examine further that issue. We are all in agreement that this is a very complicated matter, and that preserving the amateur experience in a way that is fair to all student-athletes is of the utmost importance.”

The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma first called attention to the issue after he was a walk-on at Texas Tech before eventually transferring to the Sooners and being placed on scholarship. Big 12 rules at the time stated Mayfield had to lose a season of eligibility as a result of the move but that was later amended to allow for such a scenario to happen without a player dropping a season. The Pac-12 and others have followed suit in recent years, with the AAC the latest at the Group of Five level to join the growing chorus.

In January, the NCAA also approved rules changes allowing walk-ons to transfer without penalty but many individual conferences had rules against doing so within their own league. That’s no longer the case in the AAC and others now as walk-ons finally get a measure of freedom that they didn’t have before.

Report says redshirting Houston QB D’Eriq King has little chance of returning to Cougs in 2020

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There are a number of easy candidates to point to as far as the most underperforming or disappointing teams in 2019 but in terms of the top spot — or lowest one, depending on how you want to order things — it might be hard to top Houston in their first season under Dana Holgorsen.

The Cougars were expected to challenge for the AAC crown and be among the top Group of Five teams after luring their head coach over from West Virginia with a hefty Power Five-caliber contract this offseason. Though they went just 8-5 a year ago, there was plenty of talent returning on the roster and there was even a budding dark horse Heisman campaign for starting quarterback D’Eriq King.

Things have not turned out that way however as UH has sunk to 3-6 on the season after getting trounced by UCF on Saturday and it will be an uphill battle to even make it to a bowl game. King sat out the game, as he has for the last several at Houston given that he curiously decided earlier this year to announce he was redshirting with the intention of returning to the team in 2020.

Only you’re not going to believe this, but it appears the signal-caller might not be back with the Cougs current dumpster fire after all.

Per a report from Yahoo! Sports on Saturday night:

There’s little chance that King will return to Houston, as he’s expected to enter the transfer portal in the postseason and garner interest from top programs like LSU, Georgia and Florida State. (Former Houston OC Kendal Briles is the offensive coordinator at FSU, and wherever Briles is coaching next year would loom as a potential landing spot for King.) Don’t discount LSU, which will need to replace Heisman favorite Joe Burrow.

Such a move is hardly unexpected, as it was widely speculated on as soon as it was announced that King was going through such a move. He should have one season remaining as a grad transfer in 2020 and is coming off his last full season under center having thrown for 36 touchdowns and rushed for 14 more. While he’s not quite Jalen Hurts-caliber coming to the grad transfer market, he’s certainly up there and a good reason why programs like the Tigers and Seminoles seem likely to gauge his interest in joining them next year.

LSU transfer Mannie Netherly to visit Illinois

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Lovie Smith‘s Home for Wayward Transfers* could see another tenant set up camp on its Champaign campus. Maybe.

In mid-March, Mannie Netherly entered his name into the NCAA transfer database on his way out of the door at LSU.  Now playing for a junior college in Texas, Weatherly took a visit to Houston last month as he kickstarted what he hopes will be a 2020 return to the FBS level.

This weekend, Netherly will continue down that path as he confirmed to 247Sports.com that he will be taking a trip to Illinois to check out the Fighting Illini.

“I don’t know much,” Netherly said when asked what he knew about the Illini. “But they’ve caught my eye these past couple of weeks.”

Regardless of where he ultimately lands, Netherly will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  He will also have another year of eligibility he can use the following season as well.

A four-star member of LSU’s 2017 recruiting class, Netherly was rated as the No. 36 wide receiver in the country.  During a 2017 campaign in which he played just one game, the Texas native moved from wide receiver to cornerback.

In 2018, Netherly appeared in just two games for the Tigers.

(*HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE this year alone.)