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Minnesota’s Phillip Howard shifts gears, pulls name from portal

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For the third time in two days, this time to the benefit of the Minnesota Gophers football program, a player has reversed course on his portal intentions.

First, linebacker Andrew Pryts opted to return to Stanford. Then, it was wide receiver Kobay White shifting gears and making his way back to Boston College. Now, it’s Phillip Howard’s turn to pull his name out of the transfer database as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has reported that the cornerback will remain a part of the Minnesota Gophers football team.

Howard had first entered the portal earlier this month. On his Instagram account Wednesday, Howard seemed to intimate a change of heart by posting a picture of himself in a Gophers uniform.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Trials and tribulations… My story different ⏳

A post shared by Phillip Howard (@_philllyyy) on Jan 22, 2020 at 3:37pm PST

Howard was a three-star member of Minnesota’s 2016 recruiting class. He took a redshirt his true freshman season.

As a wide receiver, Howard started seven of the 11 games in which he played in 2017. That season, he caught 11 passes for 132 yards. The following season, he caught two passes for five yards.

In between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, however, Howard moved to the defensive secondary. This past season, Howard played in 11 games as a cornerback. He had one interception and one forced fumble.

LSU, two B1G schools will have most players on Super Bowl rosters

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The LSU Tigers football program represented the sport well in winning the 2019 national championship, and now they’re set to be well-represented when the next level crowns its Super Bowl champion as well.

Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs again overcame an early deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game. In the NFC championship game, the San Francisco 49ers pummeled the Green Bay Packers to earn a berth opposite the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That game will be played at the home of the Miami Hurricanes, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Feb. 2.

The 49ers, seeking their first Super Bowl win since 1994, have four former LSU football players currently listed on their official online roster*. The Chiefs, in search of their first title since 1969, have one former LSU football player on their Super Bowl roster. That total of five is tied for the most for a single school in this year’s game.

The number for LSU is matched by a pair of schools from the Big Ten — Iowa and Penn State — for the most players on Super Bowl rosters this year. Three former Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes play for the 49ers, two for the Chiefs.

Two SEC schools, Florida and Vanderbilt, each have four former players as part of the game, as does Stanford. Middle Tennessee State and San Diego State are two of a gaggle of schools with three players on teams playing in the game, which is the most of any Group of Five conference member.

Conference-wise, it was the SEC leading the way (again) with 32 players, followed by the Big Ten’s 22. The ACC (17), Pac-12 (16), Big 12 (12) and Conference USA (11) were the only other FBS leagues in double digits.

As for the other conferences?

  • Mountain West, nine
  • AAC, six
  • MAC, five
  • Sun Belt, four

Football independents accounted for six players. There were a total of 21 players who played at levels of football other than the FBS.

Below are all of the individual schools that will be represented on Super Sunday:

FIVE
Iowa
LSU
Penn State

FOUR
Florida
Stanford
Vanderbilt

THREE
Arizona
Auburn
Clemson
Kansas State
Middle Tennessee State
Mississippi State
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Pittsburgh
San Diego State
South Carolina

TWO
Alabama
BYU
Central Michigan
Duke
FAU
Florida State
Georgia Southern
Michigan
Michigan State
NC State
Ole Miss
Oregon
Purdue
Southern Miss
Tennessee
Texas
Texas A&M
USF
Utah
Virginia

ONE
Air Force
Alabama A&M
Appalachian State
Arizona State
Arkansas
Baylor
Boston College
Bowling Green State
Buffalo
Cal
Cincinnati
Colorado
Colorado State
Colorado State-Pueblo
Eastern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Eastern Washington
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Grand Valley State
Harvard
Hawaii
Illinois
Indiana
James Madison
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana
McGill (Canada)
Minnesota
Montana State
New Hampshire
New Mexico State
North Texas
Northern Illinois
Northern Iowa
Oklahoma State
Old Dominion
Oregon State
Princeton
Samford
San Diego
San Jose State
SMU
South Carolina State
TCU
Temple
Texas Tech
UConn
Utah State
Valdosta State
Villanova
Virginia Tech
Wagner
Washington
West Alabama
Western Illinois
Western Kentucky
Wyoming

(*Includes players on injured reserve, practice squad, etc.)

Minnesota replaces DL coach lost to Rutgers

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After Rutgers poached one of his assistants a month ago, P.J. Fleck has filled that lone hole on his Minnesota Gophers football coaching staff.

Thursday, Minnesota confirmed that Chad Wilt has been hired by Fleck to serve as the Golden Gophers’ defensive line coach. Wilt replaces Jim Panagos, who left in mid-December to take the job on Greg Schiano‘s Scarlet Knights’ staff.

This is a Big Ten homecoming of sorts for Wilt as he was the defensive line coach at Maryland for two seasons (2014-15). Last season, Wilt held the same job at Cincinnati.

Wilt’s other FBS coaching stops as line coach include:

  • Army (2016-18)
  • Ball State (2011-13)
  • Virginia (2009)

After 12 wins combined his first two seasons at the school, Fleck went 11-2 in his third. It was the best season for Minnesota Gophers football since 1904.

Trevor Lawrence enters 2020 offseason as Heisman favorite

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Even as Trevor Lawrence attempts to get the taste of his first-ever college loss out of his month, there’s no time like the present for a little Heisman talk.

On the biggest stage Monday night, Lawrence came up short as Clemson took it on the chin in a 17-point loss to LSU in the College Football Playoff championship game.  While the quarterback didn’t throw an interception, he did complete a career-worst 48.6 percent of his pass attempts.  The true sophomore was also held without a touchdown pass for the first time since a four-point win over Syracuse in September of 2018.

Despite the struggles, Trevor Lawrence hasn’t lost all of the Heisman shine as one offshore sportsbook has him listed as a 7/2 favorite to claim the 2020 stiff-armed trophy.  That’s actually down a bit from the 3/1 Lawrence was at following Joe Burrow winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy in record-smashing fashion.

The quarterback of the team Lawrence and Clemson took down in the semifinals, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, is right behind his under-center counterpart at 4/1.  Another quarterback, true freshman Kedon Slovis of USC, is at 9/1.

Five other returning players will start the offseason at 10/1, including Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, who surprised many (most?) observers by announcing Monday he’s coming back for his senior season.  The others at that 10/1 number are all quarterbacks — Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, Alabama’s Mac Jones, Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler.

The only non-offensive player on the early Heisman wagering agenda?  Standout LSU true freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who is listed at 16/1.

Some perspective, though, on these way-too-early odds: Last year at this time, Lawrence (3/1) and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (4/1) were the heavy favorites to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy.  Lawrence finished seventh in the voting this past December, Tagovailoa 10th.

Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr. declares for 2020 NFL Draft

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One of the key figures in Minnesota’s recent turnaround on the field is leaving for the next level.

In an Instagram post released on Wednesday afternoon, Gophers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. announced he was leaving the program to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Winfield is of course following in his father’s footsteps to the NFL as Winfield Sr. spent 14 years in the pros with the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings after being a first round pick in 1999 out of Ohio State. His son has turned into quite the player with the Gophers this past season, earning All-America honors while leading the team with 88 tackles. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year after hauling in seven interceptions and also added three sacks and two forced fumbles.

Winfield Jr. capped things off with a five tackle performance in an Outback Bowl win over Auburn to give the program 11 wins for the first time in well over a century.