College Football
NCAAF News Wire
  • San Diego State gives Long a contract extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, January 19, 2017

    San Diego State football coach Rocky Long received a contract extension that runs through the 2021 season, the school announced Thursday.

    • Long had one season remaining on his contract. The university rewarded him with four more seasons after he became the first coach in school history to guide the Aztecs to back-to-back 11-win seasons.

      San Diego State concluded its season by routing Houston 34-10 in the Las Vegas Bowl and finished 25th in the final national poll. It was only the second time in program history that the Aztecs were ranked at the end of a season. The other time was in 1977.

      Long is 54-26 in six seasons as San Diego State. The team has won back-to-back Mountain West Conference titles and gone to six bowl games during Long's tenure.

      Long, who turns 67 next week, has a 119-95 record in 17 seasons as a head coach. He went 65-69 at New Mexico from 1998-2008.

  • Florida QB Del Rio undergoes shoulder surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, January 19, 2017

    Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio underwent surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, coach Jim McElwain announced on Thursday.

    • Del Rio will miss spring drills while recuperating from the procedure.

      Del Rio injured his left shoulder during a loss to Arkansas on Nov. 5 and missed the rest of the season.

      He also suffered a knee injury last season and compiled a 5-1 record as Florida's starter. He finished his sophomore campaign with 1,358 passing Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio underwent surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, coach Jim McElwain announced on Thursday.

      Del Rio will miss spring drills while recuperating from the procedure.

      Del Rio injured his left shoulder during a loss to Arkansas on Nov. 5 and missed the rest of the season.

      He also suffered a knee injury last season and compiled a 5-1 record as Florida's starter. He finished his sophomore campaign with 1,358 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.

      Del Rio is the son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio.yards, eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

      Del Rio is the son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio.

  • Shoulder surgery sidelines Washington QB Browning
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, January 19, 2017

    Washington quarterback Jake Browning underwent surgery on this throwing shoulder earlier this month, the Seattle Times reported.

    • Browning will require about six weeks to of recovery time from the procedure on his right shoulder.

      Browning suffered the injury during a Nov. 19 game against Arizona State.

      The Huskies reportedly kept the ailment quiet as they didn't want opponents to know the shoulder was bothering Browning.

      Browning was highly ineffective in Washington's 24-7 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31. He was just 20-of-38 passing for 150 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

      Browning concluded his sophomore season with 3,430 yards, second most in school history. He also tied the Pac-12 record with 43 touchdown passes and was intercepted just nine times.

  • Clemson QB Watson passes on Senior Bowl
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, January 18, 2017

    Quarterback Deshaun Watson, with a national championship trophy on his resume after leading Clemson to a thrilling win over Alabama, declined an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl.

    • Watson announced last week that he would forgo his senior season at Clemson and enter the 2017 NFL Draft, and he now will let his MVP performance in the College Football Playoff title game to stand out to impress NFL teams.

      Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns while adding 43 yards and another score on the ground to account for 463 total yards in the 35-31 win over Alabama. Watson delivered the go-ahead score with one second remaining on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow, sealing Clemson's first national championship victory since 1981.

      Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl, confirmed the news about Watson's decision on Wednesday.

      "I can confirm that @DeshaunWatson4 will not be participating in the 68th Annual #REESES @seniorbowl. Players begin arriving on Sunday," Savage wrote on Twitter.

      The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Watson is rated 14th overall and the second-ranked quarterback in the 2017 draft class behind only North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, according to NFLDraftScout.com.

      The Cleveland Browns, who have No. 1 and No. 12 overall picks, will miss out on a chance to see Watson up close in practice.

      Browns head coach Hue Jackson and his staff will head to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Sunday to work with the South team. The game will be played Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

      Watson, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, will now focus on training for the NFL Combine, which begins Feb. 28 in Indianapolis.

      "Watson is a winner with the make-up and intangibles you want at the position,'' Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com told Cleveland.com. "And physically, his arm and mobility are great foundation traits. But he had several areas as a pocket passer that require development, most importantly his ball placement downfield. Opinions from NFL teams are all over the map on his draft 'value' so all eyes will be on him throughout the process.''

      The 21-year-old Watson threw for a career-high 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2016, adding 624 rushing yards and nine rushing scores. He was awarded the 2016 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

      Watson finished his three-year college career with 10,168 passing yards and 90 touchdowns along with 1,929 yards and 26 scores on the ground.

  • With players still hospitalized, Oregon suspends strength coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, January 18, 2017

    University of Oregon football strength coach Irele Oderinde was suspended for one month without pay Tuesday after three players were hospitalized following three days of rigorous workouts.

    • Tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi were still hospitalized as of Tuesday. They were listed in good condition after being admitted to the hospital last week.

      Offensive lineman Doug Brenner was released Tuesday.

      Oregon also announced that the strength and conditioning will now answer to the Andrew Murray, the school's director of performance and sports science, instead of new head coach Willie Taggart.

      "I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies," Taggart said in a statement. "As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first.

      "I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university. I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans."

      The Oregonian reported that Poutasi was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, an acute clinical syndrome of muscle breakdown that could lead to death in extreme cases. It could also result in kidney failure.

      The Ducks' winter strength and conditioning program reportedly included up to an hour of continuous up-downs and push-ups.

  • Beamer, Smith, Howard named to CFP selection commitee
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is one of three new members of the College Football Playoff selection committee, the entity announced Tuesday.

    • Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Robert Morris president Chris Howard were a's( appointed. All three will serve three-year terms.

      "Frank, Chris and Gene will each bring a wealth of knowledge to the selection committee," CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. "All three played college football. And they will continue the CFP tradition of committee members with high integrity and a passion for college football."

      Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt will return as chairman.

      "We are also delighted that Kirby will return as chair," Hancock said. "He did a tremendous job of leading and facilitating the committee's deliberations, and he was also an excellent representative with the media and public."

      Among the outgoing members are former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez. The ending of Rice's three-year term means there are no females on this year's committee.

  • Oregon players hospitalized after intense workout
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Three Oregon football players were hospitalized after participating in what several sources told The Oregonian were "military style basic training" strength and conditioning workouts last week in Eugene, Ore.

    • Ducks tight end Cam McCormick and offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi were admitted Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield, Ore. late last week and are in fair condition, a hospital spokesperson told the newspaper.

      Poutasi's mother told The Oregonian her son has been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which skeletal muscle rapidly breaks down and can leak into the blood stream.

      The workouts purportedly included up to one hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs. An Oregon official disputed a report that one player passed out, saying they were not aware of any players fainting.

      The Oregonian reports several other Oregon players had discolored urine, and some were found to have high levels of creatine kinase, both common symptom of rhabdomyolysis.

      "The safety and welfare of all of our student-athletes is paramount in all that we do," the school said in a statement. "While we cannot comment on the health of our individual students, we have implemented modifications as we transition back into full training to prevent further occurrences."

      Newly-hired Ducks coach Willie Taggart reportedly visited with the sickened players in the hospital.

      Oregon cornerback Ugochukwu Amadi took to social media to downplay the severity of the workouts.

      "The workout was not even what the media is portraying it to be," the junior reportedly wrote on his Twitter account.

      Oregon (4-8) missed a bowl game for the first time since 2004 this season, resulting in the firing of fourth-year coach Mark Helfrich. The Ducks were tied for the second-worst record in the Pac-12, behind only Arizona (3-9).

  • USC CB Jackson declares for draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, January 16, 2017

    USC All-American cornerback Adoree' Jackson, one of the most versatile players in college football, announced Monday he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

    • "Forever A Trojan. Thank You and Love you," Jackson wrote on his Twitter account, along with the announcement.

      "After the Rose Bowl, I had many thoughts running through my head. What was on my mind was that nothing is guaranteed in life and to take advantage of every opportunity that is put in front of you. With that being said, I would like to announce that I have decided to forgo my final season of eligibility and enter the 2017 NFL draft.

      "It's been an incredible three years playing for one of the greatest traditions in college football. I made the best decision of my life when I chose to come to USC, and finishing it off with a Rose Bowl win is one of the best ways I could have ever hoped for it to end."

      Jackson won the Jim Thorpe Award in his 2016 junior season as the nation's top defensive back. He was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

      Jackson is rated as the 55th-best prospect and eighth at the cornerback position by NFLDraftScout.com.

      The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Jackson was a three-year starter at cornerback, and also played at receiver and made an impact as a dangerous returner with his blazing speed. He finished his career with eight return touchdowns (four punt, four kickoff), 39 catches for 628 yards and six interceptions.

      Jackson started every game for the Trojans in 2016, making 55 tackles with five interceptions, 11 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

      Jackson attempted to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics as a long jumper, but he finished 10th at the U.S. track and field Olympic trials.

  • Vanderbilt LB Cunningham declares for NFL draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, January 15, 2017

    Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham confirmed Sunday that he is bypassing his senior season and declaring for the NFL draft, the school announced.

    • Cunningham, the first unanimous All-American in Commodores' history, led the Southeastern Conference with 125 tackles this season. He posted 16 1/2 tackles for losses, tying him for third most in a season in school history.

      Cunningham is considered a first-round pick. He is forecasted as the second-best outside linebacker and 23rd overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com.

      "We could not be more proud of Zach Cunningham and what he has accomplished as a student-athlete at Vanderbilt," Commodores coach Derek Mason said in the school's press release. "Zach leaves West End among the most decorated players in Commodore football history, and he works as hard as any student-athlete I have ever coached. Zach's been a great pleasure to coach and a tremendous teammate.

      "Vanderbilt is indebted to Zach for his impact on our football program, on and off the field. Zach will always be a Vanderbilt Man, and we wish him years of success in the NFL."

      Cunningham recorded 295 career tackles (39.5 for losses), seven forced fumbles and six sacks during three seasons with the Commodores.

      Vanderbilt has produced only two first-round draft picks in the past 30 years. Quarterback Jay Cutler was the No. 11 overall selection by the Denver Broncos in 2006 and offensive tackle Chris Williams was the 14th pick in 2008 by the Chicago Bears.

  • Missouri State RB Nelson killed in shooting
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, January 15, 2017

    Missouri State freshman running back Richard Nelson was shot and killed Saturday in Las Vegas after trying to stop a fight. He was 18.

    • "My son died in my arms," Nelson's mother, Roxanne Bruce, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "He took his last breath in my arms."

      The Bears redshirted Nelson his freshman season.

      "Our Missouri State football family is in shock and mourning at the loss of one of our family members," Bears head coach Dave Steckel said in a statement. "Richard is like a son and a brother. It is a tragedy that he lost his life defending what is right. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in Las Vegas, and we know he is in a good place with God. We ask everyone to respect the privacy of our football family at this time as we begin the healing process."

      According to the newspaper, Nelson tried to intervene in a fight involving his younger sister when he was shot and killed. He received the 2016 Courage Award from the Review-Journal in recognition for his fight against depression.

  • Baylor WR Zamora declares for NFL Draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, January 15, 2017

    Baylor sophomore wide receiver Ishmael Zamora, who was suspended this past season for three games over an animal abuse incident, plans to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

    • The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Zamora is eligible for this year's draft since he redshirted in 2014 followed by two seasons on the field.

      "I made this decision for a lot of reasons and family is the No. 1. I loved Baylor just as much as the next guy but I couldn't stay there forever," Zamora wrote on his Twitter account late Saturday night.

      Zamora made 63 catches for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games in 2016.

      EXOS also announced Zamora was joining its NFL Combine training program.

      Zamora was suspended for the first three games of the season, drawing national attention after a video surfaced of the wide receiver beating his dog with a belt and kicking the animal. He was charged with a misdemeanor and given a citation and a fine.

      Baylor also required that Zamora perform 40 hours of community service "in a manner that will teach him kindness and respect toward animals."

      Zamora had to undergo counseling and relinquish his dog to an animal-friendly home. He sent the dog to live with relatives in Houston after the incident.

      "I am sorry that I took out my frustration on my dog and accept the punishment that comes with it," Zamora said in a statement in August. "This incident will never, ever happen again. I truly love my dog, however, I know that my actions showed differently and I know that I made a big mistake. I apologize to my family, teammates, Baylor University and our fans for my actions.

      "Eventually, I hope that everyone can see who I really am and that I am not a terrible person. This incident does not and will not define me, and I know that I am the one who will have to prove that to others in the days ahead."

  • Robinson heads Alabama trip in declaring for draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, January 13, 2017

    Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson is among three Crimson Tide standouts who declared for the NFL draft on Friday.

    • Robinson was joined by cornerback Marlon Humphrey and receiver ArDarius Stewart. The three announced their decisions at a campus press conference.

      The 6-foot-6, 327-pound Robinson is rated the top offensive tackle for the 2016 draft and the 14th overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com. He has been a dominating anchor on the Crimson Tide offensive line in his three college seasons and won the Outland Trophy this season as the nation's top interior lineman.

      Humphrey, a third-year sophomore, is bypassing his final two seasons of eligibility. The son of former Alabama star and NFL running back Bobby Humphrey is rated the second-best cornerback and 20th overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com.

      Stewart is viewed as a mid-round pick in this year's draft. He had a team-best 864 receiving yards as a junior.

      "These three players have made significant contributions, not only in how they played but how they affected their teammates," coach Nick Saban said at the press conference. "We have a great appreciation for this, and we appreciate them more than you know. They are part of the fabric of this organization."

      Robinson's stock has remained high despite being charged last May for illegal possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

      He didn't face prosecution because the district attorney handling the case dropped the charges, citing Robinson's football potential.

  • Florida State WR Rudolph declares for NFL draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, January 13, 2017

    Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph will forego his senior season to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

    • Rudolph led the Seminoles for a second straight season in receiving, finishing with 840 yards on 56 catches and seven touchdowns in 2016.

      The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Rudolph finished his Florida State career ranked seventh in receptions with 153, including at least one in each of his final 31 games. His 2,311 receiving yards rank eighth in school history.

      "After carefully considering my options with my family, I have decided that it would be in my best interest to enter the 2017 NFL Draft," Rudolph said in a statement released by the university on Friday. "This was a very difficult decision and one that I didn't take lightly. It has truly been an honor to wear the Garnet and Gold."

      Rudolph became the third Seminoles receiver under head coach Jimbo Fisher to record a touchdown in four straight games to end the regular season and averaged 31.1 yards on his 18 career touchdown catches.

      Rudolph was a second team All-ACC selection in 2015 and 2016.

      He joins running back Dalvin Cook and offensive tackle Rod Johnson as Seminoles to announce they are leaving early to enter the draft.

      Rudolph was rated as the No. 8 wide receiver for the 2018 draft by NFLDraftScout.com.

  • Cal reportedly set to hire Wisconsin DC as head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Cal is close to announcing that Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will be its next head coach, multiple media outlets reported Thursday night.

    • Wilcox, who was a Cal assistant coach for three seasons (2003-05), would replace Sonny Dykes, who was fired over the weekend after four years as the Golden Bears' head coach.

      Wilcox, 40, reportedly was in negotiations with Cal officials to finalize a contract.

      According to reports, Dykes' dismissal resulted from poor season ticket sales and his pursuit of job openings at Baylor and Houston as well as mediocre results. Dykes finished 19-30 with just one winning season in four years at Berkeley.

      Athletic director Mike Williams said he wanted a coach who would remain at Cal for the long term.

      Wilcox was raised in Oregon and played for the Ducks. He later worked as a graduate assistant at Boise State before joining the Bears' staff under Jeff Tedford.

      Following his time as a Cal assistant, Wilcox was a top assistant at several major programs, including Tennessee, Washington and USC.

      Most recently, he served as defensive coordinator under Paul Chryst at Wisconsin in 2016. The Badgers had one of the top defensive units in the country this season.

      Wilcox and Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital were the only confirmed finalists for the Bears' vacancy.

      The San Jose Mercury News reported that former Cal assistant coach Tosh Lupoi figures to be a candidate to serve as defensive coordinator under Wilcox, with whom he is close.

  • Clemson's Swinney repeats as Bryant award winner
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Clemson's Dabo Swinney saw his great week get even better on Wednesday after being named the 2016 recipient of the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year award.

    • Swinney, who also won last year's award, vanquished Bryant's former team (Alabama) in the national championship on Monday.

      Swinney is just the second coach to win the award on multiple occasions since its inception in 1986, joining Boise State's Chris Petersen (2006, 2009).

      Swinney guided the Tigers to back-to-back national championship appearances and posted a 28-2 mark over that stretch.

      Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, who saw his team drop a 35-31 decision to Clemson in the title game, was also a finalist for the award. Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan), James Franklin (Penn State), Clay Helton (USC), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Mike MacIntyre (Colorado) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) were also finalists.

  • WRs Williams, Scott leave Clemson for NFL Draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    Clemson wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott declared for the 2017 NFL draft on Wednesday, two days removed from helping the Tigers' win the national championship.

    • Williams is projected as the top wide receiver off the board by NFLDraftScout.com and Scott is viewed as 14th on the list.

      The duo joins quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Wayne Gallman as Tigers underclassmen entering the draft.

      Williams returned after breaking his neck in 2015 to lead the team with 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He caught eight passes for 94 yards and a score in the title game against Alabama, including a 24-yard reception on the winning drive.

      Scott reeled in 76 catches for 614 yards and five touchdowns this season.

  • CB Lattimore to jump from Ohio State into NFL Draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    Ohio State sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore took to social media on Wednesday to announce his decision to enter the NFL draft.

    • Lattimore, who played his first healthy season as a full-time starter in 2016, is joining fellow Ohio State defensive backs Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley in forgoing their eligibility and turning to the professional ranks.

      Lattimore is projected as a first-round pick and the fourth cornerback off the board by NFLDraftScout.com.

      "Being a kid from the inner city motivated me to become the best player I could be," Lattimore posted on Twitter. "It also helped me deal with the adversity and challenges I've dealt with during my time at Ohio State because I've been going through rough times all of my life. ... I have a chance to compete at the highest level, and in the midst, change my family's lives as well as mine also.

      "With that being said, I've decided to enter the 2017 NFL draft."

      Lattimore was selected first-team All-Big Ten after collecting four interceptions and 13 passes defended last season with the Buckeyes (11-2).

  • College football notebook: QB Watson to enter NFL draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    With a national championship trophy in tow, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is ready to take his game to the next level.

    • After leading the Tigers to a thrilling 35-31 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Monday night, Watson announced he will forgo his senior season at Clemson and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

      "It's my time to go," said Watson, who was named the game's offensive MVP after completing 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns while adding 43 yards and another score on the ground to account for 463 total yards.

      -- Clemson rose two spots and leapfrogged Alabama in the final AP Top 25 Poll after the Tigers pulled off a thrilling victory over the Crimson Tide.

      Alabama (14-1) fell to second after its last-second loss on Watson's 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow, which gave Clemson (14-1) it first national championship victory since 1981.

      USC (10-3) jumped six spots to No. 3 after its 52-49 shootout victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl last Monday. The Nittany Lions (11-3) dropped two spots to No. 7.

      -- Steve Sarkisian's first day on the job as Alabama's offensive coordinator did not go as planned.

      Sarkisian was promoted to the top playcalling role one week before the championship game against Clemson after coach Nick Saban decided to let outgoing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin go early.

      Despite an inconsistent outing for true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and a Crimson Tide offense that stalled for portions of the team's eventual 35-31 loss to the Tigers, Sarkisian insists that Kiffin's departure had little impact on the outcome.

      -- Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough sustained a broken bone in his lower right leg during the second half of Monday night's loss to Clemson, ESPN reports.

      Scarbrough was injured on a rushing attempt with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter as he was dragged down from behind. He walked to the sideline under his own power, but was later spotted limping to the locker room.

      Before departing, Scarbrough was relied upon heavily as the Crimson Tide's primary offensive weapon. He totaled a game-high 93 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns on 16 carries.

      -- Michigan all-purpose star Jabrill Peppers is declaring for the NFL draft, a decision he shared with Sports Illustrated.

      Peppers, who had two years of college eligibility remaining, projects as a safety at the NFL level after playing outside linebacker this season. He also is a stellar kickoff and punt returner who occasionally lined up on offense for the Wolverines.

      Peppers finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting this season. He is rated as the No. 13 overall prospect despite evaluators not having enough film on him at either safety or linebacker.

  • Michigan's Peppers will enter NFL Draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    Michigan all-purpose star Jabrill Peppers is declaring for the NFL draft, a decision he shared with Sports Illustrated on Tuesday.

    • Peppers, who had two years of college eligibility remaining, projects as a safety at the NFL level after playing outside linebacker this season. He also is a stellar kickoff and punt returner who occasionally lined up on offense for the Wolverines.

      "It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," Peppers told Sports Illustrated. "I'm choosing between cementing my legacy as a college player and starting my pro legacy. It's something you dream of when you were a kid. I was torn between the two."

      Peppers finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting this season. He is rated as the No. 13 overall prospect despite evaluators not having enough film on him at either safety or linebacker.

      For example, teams interested in Peppers as a safety didn't get much chance to assess his coverage skills in 2016.

      Peppers understands the quandary.

      "All the questions will be answered," Peppers said. "And they're good questions. I think I'll be able to show that I can play one position well when I focus all my time and attention to it. I'm really excited to focus on my back pedal, flipping the hips and my coverage. I'm going to really hone in on that and iron out my weaknesses.

      "I know my weaknesses and I know what I'm good at and need to improve on."

      Peppers said he reached his decision over the weekend and broke the news to coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday.

      "He thanked me and told me it was a pleasure to coach me," Peppers said. "I told him it was a pleasure to play for him. He molded me for the next level, that's how he operates. He runs his program like an NFL team. He's done more than enough to prepare me for this moment."

  • Clemson tops final poll; Alabama and USC follow
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    Clemson rose two spots and leapfrogged Alabama in the final AP Top 25 Poll after the Tigers pulled off a thrilling 35-31 victory over the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff Championship on Monday night.

    • Alabama (14-1) fell to second after its last-second loss on Deshaun Watson's 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow, which gave Clemson (14-1) it first national championship victory since 1981.

      USC (10-3) jumped six spots to No. 3 after its 52-49 shootout victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl last Monday. The Nittany Lions (11-3) dropped two spots to No. 7.

      Washington (12-2) remains No. 4 following its 24-7 Peach Bowl loss to Alabama in a CFP semifinal. Ohio State (11-2) fell four spots to No. 6 after its 31-0 CFP semifinal loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

      Oklahoma (11-2) jumped two spots to No. 5 after a 35-19 win over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. That loss dropped Auburn (8-5) seven spots to No. 24. Florida State (10-3), Wisconsin (11-3) and Michigan 10-3) round out the Top 10.

      Florida (9-4) used a 30-3 rout of Iowa in the Outback Bowl to catapult six spots to No. 14.

      Western Michigan (13-1) was the highest-ranked school from a non-Power 5 conference at No. 15 following its 24-16 defeat to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.

  • Alabama RB Scarbrough breaks leg vs. Clemson
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough sustained a broken bone in his lower right leg during the second half of Monday night's 35-31 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff Championship, ESPN reports.

    • Scarbrough was injured on a rushing attempt with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter as he was dragged down from behind. He walked to the sideline under his own power, but was later spotted limping to the locker room.

      Before departing, Scarbrough was relied upon heavily as the Crimson Tide's primary offensive weapon. He totaled a game-high 93 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns on 16 carries.

      "Not to have him was probably a little bit of a disadvantage for us," Alabama coach Nick Saban said after the game.

      Scarbrough rushed for 812 yards and 11 touchdowns over 15 games with the Crimson Tide in 2016. He came on strong in the postseason, totaling 364 yards and six touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game against Florida, the CFP semifinal against Washington and the loss to Clemson.

  • Sarkisian: Kiffin transition had little impact on Alabama loss
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    Steve Sarkisian's first day on the job as Alabama's offensive coordinator did not go as planned.

    • Sarkisian was promoted to the top playcalling role one week before Monday night's College Football Playoff Championship against Clemson after coach Nick Saban decided to let outgoing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin go early.

      Despite an inconsistent outing for true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and a Crimson Tide offense that stalled for portions of the team's eventual 35-31 loss to the Tigers, Sarkisian insists that Kiffin's departure had little impact on the outcome.

      "I really don't think the transition had that much of an impact," Sarkisian told ESPN.

      "The week of practice went really well. I wish we would have played a little better. I wished I could have called a better game and helped us to not be in the position we were in late."

      Hurts broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown run with 2:07 remaining to give Alabama a 31-28 lead, but Clemson's Deshaun Watson orchestrated a game-winning touchdown drive capped off by a two-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left.

      Hurts finished 13 of 31 with 131 yards and one touchdown pass and the Crimson Tide offense was outgained by the Tigers 511-376 despite a 93-yard, two touchdown effort from running back Bo Scarborough, who left the game after breaking a bone in his right leg.

      Sarkisian, who had been serving as an offensive analyst for Alabama this season, was promoted to offensive coordinator after Kiffin was hired as the next head coach at Florida Atlantic.

      Kiffin remained with the Crimson Tide for their 24-7 win over Washington in the CFP semifinals before Saban cut him loose after deciding he had become a distraction.

      During the game, Kiffin posted a picture of himself on Twitter wearing Crimson Tide pants and expressed his support for Alabama.

  • Watson declares for draft after Clemson wins title
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    With a national championship trophy in tow, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is ready to take his game to the next level.

    • After leading the Tigers to a thrilling 35-31 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Monday night, Watson announced he will forgo his senior season at Clemson and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

      "It's my time to go," said Watson, who was named the game's offensive MVP after completing 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns while adding 43 yards and another score on the ground to account for 463 total yards.

      Watson delivered the go-ahead score with one second remaining on a two-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow, sealing Clemson's first national championship victory since 1981.

      Clemson lost a 45-40 shootout with Alabama in last year's title game.

      Watson became the first Heisman Trophy runner-up at the quarterback position to win a national championship since Vince Young led Texas to a 41-38 victory over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

      The 21-year-old native of Gainesville, Ga. threw for a career-high 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2016, adding 624 rushing yards and nine rushing scores. He was awarded the 2016 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award honoring the nation's top senior or fourth-year quarterback.

      Watson finishes his three-year college career with 10,168 passing yards and 90 touchdowns along with 1,929 yards and 26 scores on the ground.

      According to NFLDraftScout.com, Watson is the second-ranked quarterback in the 2017 draft class behind only North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky.

      "Whoever picks me up is (going to) get a champion, not just on the field, but off the field, and just a champion at heart who'll make people around him better," Watson told ESPN's SportsCenter after the game.

      The Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers have the top two picks in the upcoming draft and are both expected to be in the market for a quarterback.

  • Alabama closes in on another national crown
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, January 9, 2017

    TAMPA, Fla. -- Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, who scored two long touchdowns in last year's championship win against Clemson, came through again Monday night, catching a 68-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the Tide a 24-14 lead over the Tigers in the national final at Raymond James Stadium.

    • Clemson had pulled within three points after trailing 14-0 early, but the Tigers left Howard wide open, and freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts found him for the long touchdown with 1:53 left in the third.

      Quarterback Deshaun Watson was the key to Clemson climbing within 17-14. Watson set up a touchdown drive with a quick kick on fourth down from the Alabama 43, which was downed at the 5-yard line. After a three-and-out, Clemson got the ball at the Tide 42, and Watson threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow to pull the Tigers within a field goal.

      Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson forced and recovered a fumble from Clemson's Wayne Gallman on the opening drive of the second half, returning it to the Tigers 16-yard line. Alabama had to settle for a 27-yard Adam Griffith field goal and a 17-7 lead.

      Bo Scarbrough, who put away Washington with a 68-yard touchdown in Alabama's semifinal win, was back at it Monday night. His scoring runs of 25 and 37 yards against the Tigers produced a 14-0 halftime lead.

      Clemson was held in check early, producing 72 yards on its first five drives, before coming alive in the second quarter. Watson hit receiver Deon Cain for 43 yards on a short screen, then converted a third-and-10 with a 26-yard pass to tight end Jordan Leggett. Watson capped the drive with an 8-yard scoring run to pull the Tigers within a touchdown.

      Clemson moved the ball in the second quarter well enough to be outgaining Alabama 203-183 at the half, though the Tigers trailed on the scoreboard.

      The game's first break came when Clemson decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Alabama 41-yard line in the first quarter. The Tigers pitched wide to Gallman, who was dropped by defensive back Tony Brown for no gain, turning the ball over on downs.

      Alabama got 20 yards on a scramble by Hurts. Two plays later, Clemson's Clelin Ferrell was flagged for roughing the passer, and Scarbrough followed with a 25-yard scoring run for a 7-0 lead with 9:23 left in the opening quarter.

      Watson fumbled a third-down snap late in the first quarter, and Alabama's Ryan Anderson recovered to set the Tide up at the Clemson 40. The Tigers' defense stepped up, however, and after a penalty, a 2-yard loss and two incompletions, Alabama had to punt.

      NOTES: Former Florida coach Steve Spurrier and former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, announced earlier Monday among the new class for the College Football Hall of Fame, were on the field for the coin toss before the game. ... Clemson last beat Alabama in 1905. The Tigers won the first three meetings between the schools, but none since, including last year's national championship game. ... Clemson S Tanner Muse was credited with a partial deflection of a first-quarter punt, which still went 25 yards for Alabama.

  • Michigan adds Hamilton to coaching staff
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, January 9, 2017

    Pep Hamilton is moving from the NFL back to the college ranks, joining Michigan's staff as the passing game coordinator and assistant head coach after spending the past season with the Cleveland Browns.

    • The former Stanford offensive coordinator is reuniting with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. The two worked together at Stanford when Harbaugh was the head coach there and hired Hamilton as receivers coach in 2010.

      A vacancy opened on the Michigan staff after passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch left this week to become UCLA's offensive coordinator.

      Hamilton, 42, coached quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford and then moved on to become the offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts after Luck was drafted. He was fired by the Colts during the 2015 season.

      In 2016, Hamilton was the assistant head coach/offense under first-year head coach Hue Jackson with the Browns. His departure was part of a coaching shakeup in Cleveland that included defensive coordinator Ray Horton being replaced by Gregg Williams after a 1-15 season.

      NFL Network reported that former Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman could take Hamilton's place with the Browns.