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John Mackey Award names eight semi-finalists for top tight end award

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Eight of the nation’s top tight ends were officially named semi-finalists for this season’s John Mackey Award on Monday. The award, named after Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end and former Syracuse player John Mackey, is presented to the nation’s top tight-end as determined by a select voting panel.

This year’s semi-finalists are:

  • Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

A couple of notable omissions from this list stand out. Florida’s Kyle Pitts, who has the second-most receptions and fifth-most receiving yards among the nation’s tight ends somehow slipped through the voters here. The sophomore for the Gators has averaged 4.2 receptions per game and has accounted for 566 yards and five touchdowns for the Gators. No other tight end in the SEC has more yards per game than Pitts. Penn State’s Pat Freiemuth being omitted was also slightly surprising. Freiermuth has seven touchdowns, easily more than any other Big Ten tight end this season and tied for third-most in the conference this season.

Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson won the John Mackey Award in 2018. Other past winners of the award include Dallas Clark of Iowa, Tyler Eiffert of Notre Dame, Jake Butt of Michigan, Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington, and Aaron Hernandez of Florida.

This year’s Mackey Award winner will be announced on Dec. 11th.

Tate Martell to focus on playing QB, not receiver, for Miami

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Well, it was fun while it lasted. Tate Martell will no longer be playing wide receiver for the Miami Hurricanes, head coach Manny Diaz has confirmed. The focus will be squarely on playing quarterback from now on.

“We’re letting him dictate,” Diaz said, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “Receiver was his idea at the beginning and going back to QB is what he wanted to transition back to.”

Martell transferred from Ohio State to Miami after Justin Fields moved from Georgia to Ohio State in the last offseason. But a chance to be the starting quarterback fizzled pretty quickly for Martell at his new home after a rough spring. Still wanting to contribute to the team’s offense, Martell put in time as a receiver for the Hurricanes, but that results have not been there to make the move a permanent one.

Martell has not caught a pass all season and he has been used to run the football two times for a total of two yards. He remains the team’s third-string quarterback this season behind freshman Jarren Williams and sophomore N’Kosi Perry, but perhaps focusing full time on the position the rest of this season and in the offseason will lead to a better chance to have a meaningful role in the offense.

Miami’s Evidence Njoku tweets decision to enter transfer portal

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Following a standout career at Miami, David Njoku was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft.  Njoku’s younger brother had hoped to follow in his footsteps at The U, but, as it turns out, that won’t be the case.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Evidence Njoku announced that, “after Deep Thought And Discussion I Have Decided To Enter The Transfer Portal To Furthermore Continue My Athletic And Academic Career.” The tight end gave no specific reason for his decision.

“He’s a good young man,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “We wish him well wherever he ends up.”

Njoku was a three-star member of the Hurricanes’ 2017 recruiting class who came to The U as a wide receiver before converting to tight end.  After playing in eight games as a redshirt freshman last season, he had played in just one game thus far in 2019.

The 6-6, 226-pound New Jersey native finishes the Hurricanes portion of his collegiate p[laying career with just one catch for 11 yards, with that coming in the last year’s regular-season finale against Pitt.

Jarren Williams sets Miami record with six TD passes in rout of Louisville

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Think of all of the great college quarterbacks that have been produced by The U.  Saturday, Jarren Williams became the greatest of them all — at least in one category.

Following a much-discussed quarterback competition, Williams began the season as Miami’s starting quarterback.  After starting the first five games, a shoulder injury knocked the redshirt freshman out for the next two; a non-football issue sidelined him for another.

Williams regained the job in the week leading into last Saturday’s game against Florida State, helping the Hurricanes to its most lopsided win over its rival since 2001 and triggering the fire of FSU’s head football coach.  A week later, Williams led Miami, 2-3 at one point this season, to its third straight win and fourth in five games as The U overwhelmed Louisville 52-27.

It was a historic performance for Williams personally as he tossed six touchdown passes in just 21 attempts.  The half-dozen scoring tosses set the football program’s single-game record.

Even better than Williams’ record-setting performance is that Miami remains in the hunt in the ACC Coastal.

With a win over Georgia Tech earlier Saturday, Virginia sits atop the division at 5-2 with one conference game remaining (Virginia Tech).  While Miami is at 4-3, they won the head-to-head tiebreaker over Virginia as they dropped the Cavaliers 17-9 earlier this season.  With one league game left (at Duke), Miami could claim the division if they win that game and Virginia loses their rivalry game — maybe, as four other teams are still a part of the divisional equation.

Tech (3-2), Pitt (3-2), North Carolina (3-3) and even Duke (2-3) all have varying degrees of a shot at the Coastal.

Ex-Miami QB Jack Allison confirms transfer from West Virginia

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Jack Allison has officially confirmed that he’s hoping the third college football home will be the charm.

It was reported Tuesday that Allison had decided to leave West Virginia and continue his playing career at an undetermined elsewhere.  A day later, the redshirt junior quarterback took to his personal Twitter account to announce that he has indeed entered the NCAA transfer database.

Allison was originally a four-star signee at Miami in 2016 before transferring from The U in April of 2017 and ultimately landing at West Virginia in June of that year.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Allison served as Florida transfer Will Grier‘s primary backup in 2018, completing just over 50 percent of his 45 passes for 352 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  After losing out on the starting job to Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall this season, Allison went 19-26 for 144 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions before making the decision to leave the program.

It’s expected Allison will receive his degree from WVU in the coming, which would allow him to move on as a graduate transfer and play immediately at another FBS school.