Jameis Winston wants to earn degree

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
9:58
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Jameis Winston indicated that he might remain at Florida State beyond the 2014 season, telling NFL.com that earning a degree is "very important" to him while claiming that graduating is "the main purpose in college."

Winston's father, Antonor, made headlines last month when he told AL.com that his family expects the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to play two more seasons with the Seminoles.

Although he didn't provide a firm commitment to his father's comments, Winston reiterated his desire to complete his education.

"It's very important to me," Winston told NFL.com. "I was always raised as a student first and an athlete second.

"I think that's the main purpose in college. Some athletes lose that perspective. It's about being a student-athlete, and not just getting that easy money and going to the league. Even if kids leave early, I would want them to come back and get that degree."

Winston also told NFL.com that he is not focused on his father's assertion.

"I'm not really worried about that," Winston said. "I'm just focusing on the season right now, because this year is going to be one to remember."

Winston enjoyed a record-setting season as a redshirt freshman, winning the Heisman while leading the Seminoles to an undefeated season and national championship that he capped with a last-minute touchdown drive against Auburn.


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Troy AikmanUSA TODAY SportsTroy Aikman played under Barry Switzer in Oklahoma before enrolling at UCLA.
Have you logged on Twitter today? Turned on the TV? Went to the grocery store or picked up your child from the babysitter? Then chances are you know the King has returned.

LeBron James is going back to Cleveland.



That has us at CFB Nation thinking: Which college football players originally left home only to transfer back to put together a successful career? So we racked our brains and came up with a handful of the most successful transfers from the last 25 years of college football. The condition, obviously, is the transfer had to be made back to a school in their native state or at least within 100 miles, give or take a few.

If LeBron ever asks, they can all attest that there truly is no place like (playing at) home.

QB Troy Aikman, UCLA (by way of Oklahoma)

The California native left the Golden State and played his high school football in Oklahoma before enrolling with nearby perennial power Oklahoma, led by legendary coach Barry Switzer. Aikman was promised the Sooners' offense would be more passer-friendly, but when Aikman broke an ankle Switzer went back to the wishbone offense. The Sooners went on to win the national championship under the direction of a freshman quarterback, essentially closing the door on Aikman's Oklahoma career. The Covina, California, product returned to the state and enrolled at UCLA. In his first season with the Bruins, Aikman was awarded with the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. He led UCLA to consecutive 10-win seasons and finished third in the Heisman balloting in 1988. He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 1989 draft and is a three-time Super Bowl champion.

 Joe FlaccoMarvin Gentry/USA TODAY SportsJoe Flacco transferred to Delaware to play near his hometown in southern New Jersey.
QB Joe Flacco, Delaware (by way of Pittsburgh)

Technically Flacco did not return to his home state of New Jersey. However, Delaware's campus is less than an hour from Flacco's South Jersey home, making it a closer option than in-state Rutgers, the only FBS program in the state. Flacco played sparingly his first two seasons at Pitt before transferring to FCS powerhouse Delaware. He took the Blue Hens to the FCS national championship and his name is littered throughout the school's record book. He was taken in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft and has a Super Bowl ring and Super Bowl MVP award in his trophy room.

QB Scott Frost, Nebraska (by way of Stanford)

Rarely does an elite prep player from Nebraska leave the state, especially during the Cornhuskers' glory years under Tom Osborne. That's what Frost did, though, spending two seasons at Stanford before returning to the nation's heartland. In his first season, he was named the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. As a senior, he led Nebraska to an undefeated record and a share of the national championship. He was the first quarterback in school history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season.

QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (by way of Michigan)

The second-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2007, Mallett signed with then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr as the heir apparent to senior Chad Henne. However, spread-option coach Rich Rodriguez replaced Carr at season's end, prompting the traditional pocket passer Mallett to transfer. The Batesville, Arkansas, native moved home to play for the Razorbacks and Bobby Petrino, and he had two exceptional seasons. A two-time All-SEC second-team selection, Mallett threw for more than 3,600 yards in both of his seasons in Fayetteville and led the Razorbacks to the Sugar Bowl in 2010. He finished seventh in Heisman voting that season.

WR Randy Moss, Marshall (by way of Notre Dame and Florida State)

Transferring was not entirely up to Moss, whose own transgressions cost him the opportunity to play at his dream school, Notre Dame, and under coach Bobby Bowden, who told Sports Illustrated in 1997 Moss was just as gifted as Deion Sanders. Notre Dame denied his enrollment for his role in a fight, and Florida State removed him from the football team after he tested positive for marijuana, violating his probation. Moss transferred to Marshall, which at the time was a Division I-AA school, allowing him to play immediately. In two seasons, he accumulated 174 receptions, 3,529 yards and 55 total touchdowns. He was taken in the first round of the 1998 NFL draft and is considered one of the greatest receivers in league history.

Cameron NewtonChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesGeorgia native Cam Newton won a Heisman Trophy after transferring to Auburn.
QB Cam Newton, Auburn (by way of Florida and Blinn College)

Much like Moss, Newton's transfer issues were self-inflicted. Urban Meyer removed Newton from the Gators' roster following charges of felony burglary, larceny and obstructing justice stemming from an incident in which he stole another student's laptop. He enrolled at Blinn College (Texas) and led the program to the junior college national championship. The following season, Newton was the starting quarterback at Auburn and won a second consecutive personal national title, leading the Tigers to an undefeated season and BCS trophy. He won the Heisman Trophy in the weeks leading up to the BCS national championship. He declared for the NFL draft in the days following the national title and went No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers. He was the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year and is a two-time Pro Bowler.

Honorable mention: Urban Meyer, Ohio State (by way of Bowling Green, Utah and Florida)

So he isn't a player and technically never transferred, but it certainly has a transfer feel to it. He left Florida after the 2010 season, sat out 2011 and then was named Ohio State's coach before the 2012 campaign. An Ohio native, Meyer's first college coaching job was as a graduate assistant at Ohio State. Even as the coach at other programs, he always spoke fondly of former coaches Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce, who hired Meyer away from a Cincinnati high school.

 

This week ESPN.com spent time looking at the future of college football, so here are a few players returning home -- not all are eligible in 2014 -- who could be the next impact transfers.

QB Jacob Coker, Alabama (by way of Florida State)

Coker is immediately eligible and is the favorite to be the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback for the opener. He left Florida State after the 2013 season after losing out on the job to Jameis Winston.

QB Brandon Connette, Fresno State (by way of Duke)

The change-of-pace and red zone quarterback for the Blue Devils' run to the ACC championship, Connette left for Fresno State to be closer to his ailing mother.

QB Tyler Murphy, Boston College (by way of Florida)

Murphy is from Connecticut, but there aren't many FBS programs up in New England, and Boston is only 100 miles from Murphy's hometown. The BC coaches believe Murphy is a better player than he showed at Florida and can help Steve Addazio take the program to the next level.

LB Mike Mitchell, Texas Tech (by way of Ohio State)

A blue-chip prospect in the 2013 class, Ohio State was considered the long-time favorite for the athletic product. He signed with the Buckeyes but only lasted one season before transferring to Texas Tech, which was not a finalist during Mitchell's recruitment.

DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA (by way of Notre Dame)

This situation got a little ugly last summer. Vanderdoes was the center of a signing day controversy as Notre Dame listed him on their list of signees before Vanderdoes publicly committed at his announcement later in the day. Before ever playing a down for Notre Dame, Vanderdoes decided he wanted to enroll at UCLA, but Notre Dame would not grant him a release. He petitioned the NCAA and was able to play at UCLA this past fall.
It is a lighter day for preseason watch lists as only one was released on Friday. The Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back, announced 39 players on its watch list.

The conference players named to watch lists for this season can be found here. The ACC players to make the Thorpe Award watch list are below.

Jeremy Cash, Duke: Cash was an instant-impact player for the Blue Devils in 2013 following a transfer from Ohio State. With another year in the system, Cash is poised for a huge season. Cash is also on the Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists.

Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech: An impact performer as a freshman and a second-team All-ACC selection, Fuller is set to be the next great defensive back at Virginia Tech. Fuller is also on the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists.

Anthony Harris, Virginia: An All-ACC selection as a junior, Harris will be looked upon to lead the turnaround for the Cavs on defense. It is a talented unit, and Harris, a team captain this fall, might be the best. Harris is also on the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists.

Jalen Ramsey, Florida State: Only a sophomore, Ramsey is the Seminoles’ all-everything defensive back and will take over the role left by Lamarcus Joyner, a Thorpe semifinalist last year. On a defense stockpiled with NFL talent, many believe Ramsey is the best.

P.J. Williams, Florida State: Williams was one of FSU’s best players this spring, and he might be the country’s best cornerback. Williams also is on the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists.
Earlier this week, I asked you guys to weigh in on whether Florida State or Virginia Tech had the best group of defensive backs in the ACC. You responded in big-time numbers, voting for Florida State by a comfortable margin.

No surprise there. I figured I was in the minority when I gave the Hokies the slight edge. Now, here is a little of what you had to say:

Ethan in NY writes: For the ACC DBU, I have to say Virginia Tech gets the top spot, slightly over Florida State. While it's true that we lose Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, we return Detrick Bonner, Kendall Fuller, Brandon Facyson, and Kyshoen Jarrett, the latter three should be among the best in their position in 2014. To me, it comes down to the fact that FSU is a much stronger team overall, and doesn't rely on it's secondary as much as VT. VT has been tested more and withstood more.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Facyson
AP Photo/John BazemoreBrandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller return on what should be a very good Virginia Tech secondary.
Bill in Birmingham, Alabama, writes: You have VT defensive backs ahead of FSU. Glad you did it. You all consistently short-stick FSU's defense. Last year, it was having Duke with more choices on the All-ACC team. Look what happened to Duke and all its All-ACC defenders in the ACC title game. This year, FSU defense slighted again in the All-ACC rankings. FSU defense will use these slights to perform at or better than last year's level. Let Duke, VT, Clemson get all the media publicity and underperform again. We'll take the ACC and national titles again.

Erv Blythe in Blacksburg, Virginia, writes: Thank you for your analysis, Andrea. At least a part of VT's annual good production and worth a word in the debate is the DB coach: Torrian Gray. Since 2006, he is the key player in recruiting the best, and teaching good fundamentals and toughness that the pro teams have come to love in VT defensive backs.

Jason in Harrisonburg, Virginia, writes: I agree with your pick of Virginia Tech having the best secondary. I completely understand the argument for Florida State, and I may have a different opinion after the season. As it stands now, though, I feel that VT has four starters that are proven to be game-changers. I feel like if Facyson didn't miss a few games toward the end of the season and lose time to Kyle Fuller and Exum, he would have given Kendall Fuller competition for Defensive Rookie of the Year. In my opinion, Tech just has more proven talent at the starting positions, so I feel that they need to get the nod at this point in time. FSU's recruiting of freak athletes is enough for me to believe that they are completely capable of being the best, once the season rolls around, but until each of them are thrown into starting roles, it's yet to see how great they can actually be.

Parker Joost in Athens, Georgia, writes: Va. Tech's DBs are the best.

Charles in Bradenton, Florida, writes: FSU or VTech DBs? The depth of the FSU DBs, combined with a ferocious front six (or seven), should allow FSU to have the better unit. Mario Edwards, Eddie Goldman, Chris Casher, Nile Lawrence-Stample, Matthew Thomas and Terrance Smith should prove to be the difference for FSU. Jalen Ramsey, Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams all have first-round potential, and Nick Waisome (backup DB) who is a senior, started for the team his sophomore year. If Tyler Hunter can return to form, he also logged significant minutes with Waisome two years ago. True freshman Trey Marshall, who was in for spring, has played well in camp.

Yapo in San Diego writes: As an alum (93), I am impartial to and have a good resource for knowledge about our team, including elite DBs at FSU. No contest, I thought. ... What [category] could VT possibly lead FSU in as the No. 1 underperforming team last year? Then I took a moment to investigate your blog and... what whaaaat? VT has a couple of All-ACC returnees... in-game actual performance vs. potential, but untested. Ah-ha! Makes sense to even pose this question. Nope. I looked at the deets and I am so, so sorry, Hokies. ... The proof will be in the pudding at season's end. (I am a chef, so when I say pudding, it is undeniable.) At the end of the season, I say FSU has more All-ACC DBs than VT.

Michael Winter in Atlantic Beach, Florida, writes: I'm just curious how Virginia Tech can return all four of its starters and lose a first-round draft pick? (Reporter's note: "All" should be deleted from the sentence). It can be debated who is best, but I think Phil Steele is an idiot. We are not going back 10 years. You only go back one year to try to guess who is going to be better. Ten years ago has nothing to do with what is going to happen this year. Phil Steele has proven he's not very bright, in my mind, when he chose (Marcus) Mariota as the best quarterback over (Jameis) Winston. Did he watch them play? Mariota was not good when he was on the stage against Stanford. Mariota says he gets nervous. Winston showed at Clemson that he is made for the big stage. ... Maybe you need educating, too, I don't know. ... Next time Phil Steele hands out B.S., like choosing Mariota over Winston, those two plays alone are enough to make him look silly.

Mitch in Raleigh, North Carolina, writes: It's still FSU. Aside from Ramsey and Nate Andrews, they also have Tyler Hunter, who missed last season with an injury. If Hunter doesn't get hurt last year, Andrews might not have seen the field. He is a physical freak who will be a menace in the same role as Joyner a year ago. Starting corners Darby and Williams are both top-10 DBs in the country, according to Mel Kiper, with a shot to both go in the first-second round.

Mike at Scott AFB, Illinois, writes: Concerning the best DBs in the ACC (and the nation), I'm just a little biased toward FSU, but I can see yours and Mr. Steele's point. VT does have more returning "starts" and does not have a change in defensive coordinators. So from a "preseason" assessment, you definitely have an argument. However, looking individually... Ramsey is going to be a beast... P.J. Williams is being considered one, if not the best in the nation. Darby is the silent killer [and] no QB will truly test him. Andrews will continue to improve on his surprise freshman season. Then there is Hunter, who was on track to dominate before his injury... That is the potential starting nickel package and all five have NFL draft potential. If they can communicate and work as a team, it is hard to argue them being the No. 1 DB unit in the nation! Go Noles!

ACC lunchtime links

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
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Happy 7/11 Day everyone (or Sem/Elem, as my friends and I call it)! Get your free slurpee!

The ACC's nice guys

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
10:00
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College football fans sure find easy targets to wear the black hat. Whether it's a coach bouncing from school to school, a recruit flipping to a rival or someone who just can't avoid making headlines, there remains no shortage of villains in this sport.

That doesn't mean it's without guys worth rooting for, though. Here, we give you five ACC guys whom even rival fans have to appreciate for what they do on Saturdays and beyond.

[+] EnlargeDaniel Rodriguez
AP Photo/Rainier EhrhardtWR Daniel Rodriguez walked on at Clemson after serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Daniel Rodriguez, Clemson. The Tigers receiver served roughly 18 months in Iraq and one year in Afghanistan. He served in the Army from 2006-10. He earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal With Valor Device. Just watch this "College GameDay" feature on him. One of the better moments all of last season was Rodriguez scoring a 2-yard touchdown against The Citadel on Military Appreciation Day. He enters his senior year with 10 career catches for 30 yards and five punt returns for 31 yards. You don't see stories like Rodriguez's every day, and he certainly helps put the term "hero" in perspective.

Laken Tomlinson, Duke. Tomlinson arrived in Chicago from Jamaica at the age of 10, with little knowledge of the game of football. His recruitment and background is very similar to that of "The Blind Side," with Tomlinson ultimately committing to David Cutcliffe and a then-rebuilding Blue Devils program. He took part in a service trip two years ago in Ethiopia to help construct freshwater wells for local communities. He's blossomed into a pretty good offensive guard, too, earning All-ACC honors during Duke's run to the Coastal Division crown last season.

Kevin Haplea, Florida State. You're out for the season with a torn ACL. So what do you do? If you're Haplea, you help start a charity chapter at your new school. The Penn State transfer founded the Seminoles' chapter of Uplifting Athletes, which, coincidentally, holds its first event, "Lift for Life," today. The fundraising effort raises awareness and research money for rare diseases, with FSU's chapter championing Fanconi anemia, which is the disease that coach Jimbo Fisher's son, Ethan, was diagnosed with. A redshirt senior, Haplea could see his role expand this year, complementing Nick O'Leary in FSU's two-tight-end sets.

Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville. With both of his parents in jail, Mauldin bounced between different foster families before one of his foster mothers introduced him to football in high school. He's excelled since, registering 9.5 sacks last season and earning second-team all-league honors from the American Athletic Conference. Mauldin does no shortage of community work as well.

David Durham, Pitt. The starting defensive end has done no shortage of work around his new community since transferring from Ohio State prior to the 2012 season. Durham has hosted youth football clinics, wrapped and delivered Christmas gifts to families in need, volunteered with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and, most recently, was part of a group of Pitt players who visited an orphanage in Haiti in May for a weeklong mission trip. Durham was the Panthers defense's winner of the Ed Conway Award this spring, which goes to the most improved player.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Kevin Haplea says he was looking to put his new-found idle time to good use. Free moments are a rarity for major-level college football players and are often unwelcome -- forced on a player recovering from a serious injury.

Candi Fisher, wife of Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, believes it to be something more divine. And why wouldn't she as her 9-year-old son battles a rare, incurable disease with an average life expectancy of 33 years and mortality rate of 80 percent before the age of 18?

[+] EnlargeKevin Haplea
Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMISidelined by an injury, Kevin Haplea spent his free time helping the Fishers raise money to help fight a rare disease.
"I felt like it was divine intervention with how Kevin ended up coming from Penn State where [Uplifting Athletes] was founded and he had an injury last season and had extra time and it was one thing after another that fell in place to make this happen," Candi said in an interview with ESPN.com. "He took the initiative and it speaks volumes for the kind of kid he is."

The initiative was organizing Florida State's inaugural Lift for Life, a fundraiser and offense versus defense lifting competition taking place at 4 p.m. ET on the Seminoles' campus Friday.

A redshirt senior tight end at Florida State, Haplea tore a ligament in his knee in June 2013, a little more than a month before preseason practice. Unable to contribute on the field during the Seminoles' national title run, he was intent on emotionally helping a reeling family and community. In 2011, Jimbo and Candi's son Ethan was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare medical condition that affects roughly 1 in 131,000 people. Fanconi anemia prevents bone marrow from making enough new blood cells, which leads to bone marrow failure. Risks of Leukemia and other forms of cancer are significantly higher and affect Fanconi anemia patients at much earlier ages. The Fishers have developed the Kidz1stFund, which raises awareness and money to help find a cure.

As Haplea rehabbed his knee, he drew upon his first few years at Penn State, where he played before transferring in the summer of 2012. In 2003, Penn State players created the first Lift for Life to raise money and awareness for a rare kidney cancer afflicting a player's father. Born from that event and the ones that followed annually was Uplifting Athletes, a national non-profit. There are now 21 chapters across college campuses, each in support of a different rare disease.

"I had originally thought about [an FSU chapter] when I first found out about Fanconi anemia and Kidz1stFund, but there was so much going on when I first got there," Haplea said in an interview with ESPN.com. "I was literally sitting around one day after I got hurt in the summer and thought if there's any time to get it started this is it."

Haplea walked into Fisher's office last summer and approached him about an inaugural Lift for Life event to raise money for Fanconi anemia. The offense and defense square off in a series of strongman competitions to help solicit donations from fans. Fisher was floored at Haplea's charity. Often injured players feel isolated from the team, but Haplea volunteering to help Ethan, who Haplea now sees as a younger brother. As of midnight Friday, the event has raised $11,708.

"It was a tremendous act of kindness and one we really appreciate," Fisher said in an interview with ESPN.com. "It's a tremendous act from our players on how much they understand their role and helping their community is important. I'm very proud of them and happy to coach and be around them."

Haplea's actions come at a critical time for Ethan and the Fishers. While Ethan is still playing baseball and appears physically healthy -- he is considered smaller for his age -- the brutality with Fanconi is there are no predictors of when a bone marrow transplant is needed. Doctors originally estimated in 2011 he would likely require a transplant during a three-to-five year window. During his annual visit to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital this past spring, doctors found Ethan's levels have dropped only minimally and remains in mild bone marrow failure.

The Fishers, who have raised more than $2 million to date through Kidz1stFund for research at Amplatz, hope the funds they have contributed will improve the statistics and quality of life by the time Ethan needs a transplant, which will have to come outside of the family. According to the Kidz1stFund website, two decades ago only one out of seven Fanconi anemia patients survived an unrelated bone marrow donor transplant. That number has since jumped to six out seven.

"He's holding strong and our prayer and hope is we can keep doing what we are doing with Kidz1st and raise awareness and money and help the University of Minnesota find some breakthroughs," Candi said, "so when it's time for a transplant, maybe it's a different treatment plan from what it would have been."

Asked if he would have created an FSU chapter and organized the program's first Lift for Life if he did not originally lose his senior season, Haplea is honest. There just would not have been enough time.

Now, he is working on mentoring the Seminoles' underclassmen in hopes to find the next chapter leader.

"It's a family atmosphere here and Ethan and [older brother Trey] are always hanging around the stadium, always at the games, in the cafeteria for dinner," Haplea said. "We treat them like they're our very own brothers."

Said Candi: "They're family to us and the fact they want to give back and promote a cause that's near and dear to us is very special."
Two more watch lists were released Thursday, and the ACC is well-represented. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the nation’s top defensive player by the Charlotte Touchdown Club. The Outland Trophy is given to the nation’s top interior lineman, offensive or defensive.

Here are the ACC and Notre Dame players to make the watch lists:

Bronko Nagurski Trophy

LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson: A third-team All-ACC selection last season, Anthony was brilliant in the Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State with 11 tackles and an interception. Anthony is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DE Vic Beasley, Clemson: Beasley is a disruptive force in opponents’ backfields and registered 13 sacks as a junior. He led the ACC in sacks in 2013. Beasley also is on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Kelby Brown, Duke: The Blue Devils under David Cutcliffe are most known for offense, but Brown is a stout defender and one of the conference’s best. He will make a run at 100 tackles for a second consecutive season this fall. Brown is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DB Jeremy Cash, Duke: Cash was an instant-impact player for the Blue Devils in 2013 following a transfer from Ohio State. With another year in the system, Cash is poised for a huge season. Cash is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DL Mario Edwards, Florida State: The former No. 1 recruit nationally was dominant in the national title game. Edwards is now the leader of the defensive line and has just as good a chance as any to win the Nagurski. Edwards is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech: An impact performer as a freshman and a second-team All-ACC selection, Fuller is set to be the next great defensive back at Virginia Tech. Fuller is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DB Anthony Harris, Virginia: An All-ACC selection as a junior, Harris will be looked upon to lead the turnaround for the Cavs on defense. It is a talented unit, and Harris, a team captain this fall, might be the best. Harris is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson: With Beasley constantly seeing double-teams, this opens up the door for Jarrett to be an interior force for the Tigers’ defensive line, which is arguably the country’s best. Jarrett is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech: He helped make a name for himself against Alabama at the beginning of the season, and his strong play continued throughout the season. Maddy is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville: It will be interesting to see how he fares without defensive guru Charlie Strong, but he is as talented as they come. Mauldin is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Denzel Perryman, Miami: One of the few bright spots on Miami’s defense last season, Perryman is the unquestioned leader of the Hurricanes defense. He could put up a huge number of tackles this fall. Perryman is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame: He has started every game in his career and was a FWAA Freshman All-American in 2012. He starred in the Irish’s bowl game with an interception and three pass breakups. Russell is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame: Poised to be one of the best linebackers of recent history for the Irish, Smith started all 13 games as a freshman. He had the third-most tackles for a Notre Dame freshman in school history in 2013. Smith is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

CB P.J. Williams, Florida State: Williams was one of FSU’s best players this spring, and he might be the country’s best cornerback. His stiffest competition could come from the opposite side of the field in teammate Ronald Darby, who surprisingly did not make the list. Williams also is on the Bednarik Award watch list.

Outland Trophy

DL Sheldon Day, Notre Dame: An impact player since his freshman season, Day was second among Notre Dame defensive linemen in tackles last season.

OT Cameron Erving, Florida State: A potential first-round draft pick, Erving elected to stay in school for another run at a national championship. As Jameis Winston’s blindside protector, few linemen nationally hold as much responsibility.

OT Sean Hickey, Syracuse: A workout warrior and one of the strongest players in college football, Hickey is the linchpin to the Orange offensive line.

OG Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech: A two-time ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week, Mason has started 26 of the last 28 games for the Yellow Jackets.

OG Josue Matias, Florida State: Another potential first-round candidate along Florida State’s offensive line, Matias is athletic enough to play offensive tackle, too. He experimented at left tackle this spring.

OC Jake Smith, Louisville: Smith could end up playing right guard, where he started earlier in his career, but he is coming off a junior season in which he started at center. Smith is also on the Rimington watch list.

OG Laken Tomlinson, Duke: A key along the offensive line for the Blue Devils, Tomlinson likely will be a preseason All-ACC team selection. He was a first-team All-ACC coaches selection in 2013 as the Blue Devils’ best lineman.

Clemson’s Grady Jarrett and Virginia Tech’s Luther Maddy were represented on both lists.

Jameis Winston to face media

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
3:28
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[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsHeisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston will attend the ACC Kickoff on July 20-21.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston referenced the Johnny Manziel media days circus last year as an outsider looking in. He might be in the middle of it this year.

The reigning Heisman winner will attend the 2014 ACC Football Kickoff, as the conference released the list of 28 players -- two from each of the 14 teams -- that will speak with reporters during media days, which take place July 20-21.

There was uncertainty whether Florida State would have Winston attend considering the off-the-field issues and scrutiny the redshirt sophomore has faced since he was investigated for a sexual assault in November. Winston was not charged.

In April, Winston was cited for shoplifting seafood at a local grocery store and served a short suspension while with the baseball team. Football coach Jimbo Fisher said Winston would not serve any additional punishment and is cleared for practice and the Seminoles' opener against Oklahoma State on Aug. 30.


(Read full post)


Player list for ACC media days

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
2:24
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The 2014 college football season is inching ever so closer, with ACC media days set to take place in less than two weeks.

The league released its list of players who will be attending the July 20-21 event at The Grandover Resort in Greensboro, North Carolina. Here they are:

BOSTON COLLEGE
C Andy Gallik, R-Sr.
DB Dominique Williams, R-Sr.

CLEMSON
QB Cole Stoudt, Sr.
DE Vic Beasley, R-Sr.

DUKE
OG Laken Tomlinson, R-Sr.
LB Kelby Brown, R-Sr.

FLORIDA STATE
QB Jameis Winston, R-So.
CB P.J. Williams, Jr.

GEORGIA TECH
OG Shaquille Mason, Sr.
LB Quayshawn Nealy, R-Sr.

LOUISVILLE
WR DeVante Parker, Sr.
DE Lorenzo Mauldin, Sr.

MIAMI
RB Duke Johnson, Jr.
LB Denzel Perryman, Sr.

NORTH CAROLINA
QB Marquise Williams, Jr.
LB Norkeithus Otis, Sr.

NC STATE
RB Tony Creecy, R-Sr.
DE Art Norman, R-Sr.

PITT
WR Tyler Boyd, So.
DB Ray Vinopal, R-Sr.

SYRACUSE
OT Sean Hickey, Sr.
LB Cameron Lynch, Sr.

VIRGINIA
RB Kevin Parks, Sr.
SS Anthony Harris, Sr.

VIRGINIA TECH
WR Willie Byrn, R-Sr.
DT Luther Maddy, DT

WAKE FOREST
FB Jordan Garside, R-Sr.
CB Kevin Johnson, R-Sr.
One of the biggest questions for Florida State this fall is at receiver, and now Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is dealing with off-the-field issues at a position already lacking depth.

Sophomore receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson was charged with third-degree grand motor theft, a felony. University policy dictates Wilson be ineligible to represent Florida State in any game until the charge has been resolved and all reinstatement requirements are met.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsJimbo Fisher is waiting for the emergence of a No. 2 receiver behind senior Rashad Greene.
Receiver is a position the Seminoles cannot afford to lose any bodies at, especially considering spring practice did not produce a clear-cut No. 2 alongside Rashad Greene. Outside of Greene, no other receiver on the Noles’ roster had more than 13 catches in 2013.

Throughout the spring it appeared Fisher’s patience was growing thin with the receivers as they struggled with bouts of inconsistency. At times the Seminoles coach applauded their effort, but the first-team receivers failed to provide many flashes in the spring game, the first public setting of the 2014 season. Granted, Florida State could have the best secondary in the country, but the depth chart at receiver is still muddled and undefined.

Wilson appeared to be in line for significant playing time this fall, potentially as the slot receiver. At 5-foot-9 and 177 pounds, the Miami native worked mostly with the first team this spring, gaining valuable reps with quarterback Jameis Winston, who no longer has two of his 2013 security blankets.

The Seminoles are still dealing with the losses of Kelvin Benjamin, a first-round pick in May’s draft, and Kenny Shaw. Each had 54 receptions last season, and they combined for 1,944 yards. The numbers will be difficult to reproduce but so will each player’s effect on the passing game. At 6-5 and 235 pounds, Benjamin has rare size and no other receiver on the roster presents the catching radius he possesses. Shaw was often underappreciated for his role as a middle-of-the-field receiver, fighting off defenders and taking linebackers’ and safeties’ best shots in vulnerable positions.

Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary are reliable pass catchers, but the remainder of the receiving corps is not going to instill fear in opposing defenses just yet. Fisher recruited several blue chips at receiver, but none has displayed that ability on the field yet. Wilson might have been closest to doing that.

This could further open the door for four-star freshmen Ja'Von Harrison, Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph. Lane and Rudolph were Under Armour All-Americans, and Fisher said both are physically ready to impact the offense as early as the opener next month.

The suspension only pertains to games, however, meaning Wilson can still work out with the team and run routes with Winston. If the charge is resolved before the opener on Aug. 30, Wilson could play against Oklahoma State, although a suspension from Fisher could still come.

The summer is always a time coaches worry as the season often breeds off-the-field issues. Since Winston’s citation for stealing crab legs in April, the Seminoles have mostly stayed out of the news. There were no rumors of transfers or team unrest, and the program remained out of the police blotter. On top of Wilson adding another question mark to the receivers, it has caused a distraction for a team that was hoping it had put an end to them months ago.

Florida State suspends Jesus Wilson

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State receiver Jesus Wilson has been suspended from the football team after facing a felony charge in the theft of a motor scooter, officials said Wednesday.

Police say Wilson was stopped as he rode a motor scooter days after it was reported stolen on campus June 11. Wilson said a friend loaned him the vehicle. An investigation ensued, and Wilson was later arrested and charged with third-degree grand motor theft. He turned himself in Wednesday and was freed on $2,500 bond.

FSU spokesman Rob Wilson said the athletics department's code of conduct forbids a player from representing the team when charged with a felony. Jesus Wilson is not eligible to play or travel, but can practice and is not automatically kicked off the team.

Coach Jimbo Fisher did not comment outside of announcing the suspension in a statement.

Wilson, a sophomore from Miami, played in 12 games last year and was expected to compete for a starting position as the Seminoles defend their national championship. He had three receptions for 23 yards in 2013 and averaged 11.1 yards on eight punt returns.

Wilson had four catches for 101 yards, including a 66-yard reception and a touchdown during the Florida State spring game. Quarterback Jameis Winston praised Wilson after the game and said building their chemistry wouldn't be as difficult as with the other new receivers.

"He's going to be the easy one because, mentally, he's mature and he wants to be there," Winston said in the spring. "He's the type of player he's going to do it on his own."

The Seminoles will have two new starters at the position after Kelvin Benjamin


(Read full post)


ACC lunchtime links

July, 10, 2014
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ESPN.com took a look toward the future Wednesday and unveiled the second annual CFB Future Power Rankings, which is more like a pre-era poll rather than a preseason poll. The rankings try to determine which 25 programs will be the best over a three-year period.

It’s an Insider article, but essentially five ESPN experts gave a 1-10 rating on five different categories, punched those numbers into a formula and scaled the schools based on the final grade with 100 being the maximum.

Alabama is still No. 1, but reigning champion Florida State is closing the gap. We’re not going to give all of the numbers and analysis away, but is Florida State poised to be No. 1 this time next season?

The Seminoles’ bevy of 2014 talent earned them a 9.8 out of 10 in roster strength, and they are the odds-on favorite to repeat as national champions. Only Alabama has recruited better recently, and a second championship could put the Noles on a level playing field with the Crimson Tide in the homes of prospects. And many are projecting Alabama and Florida State to play for the national title, and a head-to-head win could shake up the recruiting landscape.

Title path (i.e. strength of schedule/conference) is also taken into account, and Florida State is on a tier all by itself in the ACC. It’s foolish to just assume Florida State will continue to roll through the conference for the next four years, but Clemson is the only team right now with the talent to compete with the Noles for the next few seasons. The rest of the conference is looking to climb into that second tier with Clemson. The non-conference schedule is favorable too if the Gators continue to struggle.

When a program wins three out of the last five national championships and finishes with the No. 1 recruiting class just about every year, it deserves the honor of sitting atop the future rankings. But Florida State made a major jump from last year, and Alabama tumbled a bit in the projections, which could make the Seminoles the team to beat in the present and future.

Here are a few more links to help get you through the day:

Top 10 projected CFB programs

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
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CFB Future Power Ranks10 future stars | Chat wrap | 2013 FPR

In case you missed it, ESPN Insider released its College Football Future Power Rankings on Wednesday. Travis Haney led a panel of Insider experts who voted in five categories to determine the top 25 college football programs during the next three years using this methodology. We wanted to find out if our data projections agreed.

One of the foundational elements of our annual Football Outsiders projections is our weighted five-year program ratings. According to our research, program trajectory helps forecast future performance better than previous-year data -- and not just for the upcoming season, but for seasons beyond. We calculated future winning percentages based on current program ratings data, recent program trajectory and projected schedule strength, then adjusted the FPR methodology to identify the potential for each program to be in the hunt for the four-team College Football Playoff at least once during the next three seasons.

Here are the top 10 projected teams, according to our numbers, for the next three years. Alabama is No. 1, but our experts and the data diverge significantly across the rest of the top 10.


1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Future Power Rankings Rank: 1
2013 Program Fremeau Efficiency Index Rank: 1
Projected FBS win percentage 2014-2016: 85.4 percent (minus-3.8 percent from 2011-2013 span)
Projected likelihood of at least one playoff appearance 2014-2016: 93.8 percent

Alabama has distanced itself from the pack in our program ratings trajectory analysis, a result of three national championships in the past five seasons and a top-three ranking in our opponent-adjusted drive efficiency ratings in all five. The Crimson Tide send stars to the NFL draft each year, but coach Nick Saban also brings in one of the nation's top recruiting hauls annually. An SEC West division loaded with other national contenders is the only real reason the Tide may trip up on occasion during the next three years, but Alabama has proven it has what it takes to stay on top of the college football world.

The stats behind the ESPY candidates

July, 10, 2014
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Adam Pretty/Getty ImagesThis is what they hope to win.
With the ESPY Awards almost upon us, let's take a look at three of the top categories to provide statistical insight into who may walk away with the trophy as Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete and Best Team.

Best Male Athlete
Miguel Cabrera – MLB
Cabrera led the majors in batting average (.348) and finished second in home runs (44) and runs batted in (137). His 9.0 offensive wins above replacement was second in MLB. Cabrera became the first player to win consecutive MVP awards in the AL since Frank Thomas in 1993-94 and just the seventh man in AL history.

Kevin Durant – NBA
Durant was the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 to lead the NBA in points per game (32.0), player efficiency rating (29.9) and win shares (19.2). Durant also made history this season by becoming the fourth player to average at least 32 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, joining Hall of Fame players Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.

Peyton Manning – NFL
Manning set the NFL single-season records for passing TDs (55) and passing yards (5,477). Manning had a Total QBR of 95.8 in the red zone as well as an overall Total QBR of 82.9, which ranked second in the league. Manning was spectacular in his first two playoff games, putting up QBR numbers of 91.1 and 88.8 to get to his second Super Bowl.

Floyd Mayweather – Boxing
Mayweather defeated Saul “Canelo” Álvarez by landing almost double the punches (232 to 117) en route to a majority decision victory. That fight also set the record for largest gate in Nevada State Boxing history at over $20 million. Mayweather then defeated Marcos Maidana by majority decision in May. Mayweather landed 54 percent of total punches and 65 percent of power punches. He earned $105 million for the two fights.

Best Female Athlete
Maya Moore – WNBA
Moore was named the 2013 WNBA Finals MVP for the Minnesota Lynx, averaging 20 points per game in a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Dream. Moore was the top three-point shooter in the regular season at 45.3 percent and scored 18.8 points per game, third in the league.

Ronda Rousey – MMA
Rousey moved her MMA record to 10-0 over the past year, recording the first two knockouts of her career in wins over Sara McMann and Alexis Davis. In December, Rousey won her eighth fight by armbar when she defeated Miesha Tate at UFC 168. In her last three fights, Rousey has landed 77 percent of her takedowns.

Mikaela Shiffrin – Alpine Skiing
Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist when she won in Sochi at age 18. She ended the 2014 season as the reigning Olympic, World Cup and world champion in slalom. In the 2014 season, Shiffrin won five times and had six podiums in slalom.

Breanna Stewart – WCBB
Stewart led the UConn women’s basketball team to their second national title in a row and in doing so won her second consecutive Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. Stewart led the team in points per game (19.4) and rebounds per game (8.1) and in the national title game scored 21 points (18 in the paint) to lead the Huskies.

Best Team
Boston Red Sox – MLB
The Boston Red Sox won their third World Series in 10 years by leading the majors in runs scored, slugging and OPS. David Ortiz led the charge for the Red Sox, hitting .688 (11-for-16) with two home runs and six RBIs in the World Series while Jon Lester went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA.

Los Angeles Kings – NHL
The Los Angeles won their second Stanley Cup in three years with Jonathan Quick in net. Quick won 43 games (regular season and playoffs) and posted a 2.07 GAA (fifth-lowest). In the playoffs, Justin Williams took home the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP, scoring nine goals with 16 assists, including the OT winner in Game 1. The Kings had a plus-17 goal differential in the 3rd period/OT (plus-1 in first two periods).

San Antonio Spurs – NBA
The San Antonio Spurs were sixth in both points per game (105.4) and fewest points allowed (97.6) which helped them lead the NBA in wins with 62. The Spurs set the NBA Finals record in the three-point era (since 1979-80) for effective field goal percentage (60.4 percent) and offensive rating (118.5). Tim Duncan became the all-time leader in playoff double-doubles, but Kawhi Leonard was the star. Leonard averaged 17.8 points on 61 percent shooting in the Finals, becoming the second-youngest Finals MVP.

Seattle Seahawks – NFL
The Seattle Seahawks defense ranked first in points per game allowed, receiving yards allowed and total yards allowed. In the Super Bowl, the Seahawks shut the Broncos high-scoring offense down, winning by 35 points which was the third-largest win in Super Bowl history. Russell Wilson threw 26 touchdowns in the regular season and in the Super Bowl put up a Total QBR of 88.1. Richard Sherman led the NFL with eight interceptions and caused the interception that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

UConn Women’s Basketball – WCBB
The Connecticut Huskies are one of eight teams to finish the season undefeated after their 40-0 season. The Huskies finished the season outscoring opponents by 34.3 points per game while holding opponents to just 47.8 points per game. Along with Breanna Stewart, Bria Hartley was second on the team with 16.2 points per game and center Stephanie Dolson scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the Huskies national title win over Notre Dame.

Florida State Football – CFB
Florida State won the national championship and completed at 14-0 undefeated season by averaging 51.6 points per game. On defense, FSU led college football in both interceptions (26) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (5). Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston had an 88.5 adjusted QBR and threw for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass in the national title game to Kelvin Benjamin, who was second on the team in receiving yards (1,011) and led the team with 15 touchdowns.

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