Clemson junior QB Deshaun Watson was named the winner of the Davey O'Brien Award.
The O'Brien is handed out annually to the best quarterback in the country. This is the second award of this variety that Watson has hauled in since the close of the regular season. He also picked up the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm earlier this week. As it would be a surprise if Watson managed to supplant Lamar Jackson for the Heisman on Saturday, these two honors for his quarterbacking prowess stand as nice supplemental prizes. Watson completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,914 yards during Clemson's 13-game regular-season campaign, posting a 37/15 TD/INT ratio along the way.
Uncommitted four-star 2017 RB Anthony McFarland tagged Miami, Maryland and Alabama as the three finalists for his pledge.
McFarland ordered them as above, with the Hurricanes currently sitting as leader for his commitment. The 5-foot-8, 186-pounder plans on making his commitment after taking his final visit to Alabama on January 11. While the Tide sit at third on his current totem pole, he said over the summer that Nick Saban is "like a god." So there's that. McFarland ranks as Rivals' No. 135 prospect in the 2017 class.
ESPN's Chris Low reports that former Texas HC Charlie Strong was scheduled to meet with officials at USF to discuss their open head-coaching position on Friday.
There is a ton of smoke surrounding Strong and the Bulls, with reports initially breaking on Thursday that USF was looking at him as a leading option to replace the departed Willie Taggart. Just to throw a disco sparkler ball into this house of mirrors, Taggart -- now at the helm of Oregon's ship -- has reportedly contacted Strong about coming on as the Ducks' defensive coordinator. All of this will sort itself out in the near future.
USC junior CB/WR Adoree' Jackson was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award.
The Jim Thorpe is awarded annually to the nation's best cornerback. The dynamic Jackson put in perhaps his best overall collegiate season in 2016, recording career-highs in tackles (51) and interceptions (four) while logging four touchdowns between punt- and kick-return duties. He saw just six touches on offense after receiving 34 in 2015, but that shouldn't come as a huge surprise. USC's plan this season was to utilize him more exclusively on defense. TFY Draft Insider's Tony Pauline has described him as possessing a "rare athleticism."
Middle Tennessee redshirt sophomore QB Brent Stockstill (collarbone) indicated that he has been practicing as though he will start in the Hawaii Bowl.
Stockstill suffered a broken collarbone against UTSA at the beginning of November and subsequently underwent surgery. Somewhat remarkably, he said that he began throwing again just a week after that surgery. The 6-foot, 192-pound gunslinger participated in the team's first pre-bowl practice, too. All of these are positive signs for a return against Hawaii on Christmas Eve, but until Stockstill receives medical clearance, his status should be considered up-in-the-air.
Multiple outlets are reporting that Ohio State DC Luke Fickell has been hired to serve as Cincinnati's next head coach.
An official announcement is expected to be made on Saturday. Fickell already had a little trial-by-fire test run as a head coach in 2011, when he served as Ohio State's interim man in the wake of the team's firing of Jim Tressell. That 2011 campaign ended with a 6-7 record. The Bearcats' hiring makes all the sense in the world on a logistical level, as Fickell is an Ohio State graduate with deep recruiting roots in the Midwest. At Cincinnati, he will replace Tommy Tuberville, who stepped down following the close of a dismal 2016 season.
Colorado senior QB Sefo Liufau (leg) participated in the Buffaloes' first pre-bowl practice.
Liufau is nursing a leg injury initially sustained against Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Following the Buffs' first pre-bowl practice, HC Mike MacIntyre offered an update on the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder's health, saying that he "moved around" and "did everything." Liufau's injury isn't completely out of the equation here, but given that Colorado will not be playing until December 29 (against Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl), Friday's update would seem to indicate that he has a strong likelihood of starting against the Cowboys barring a setback.
Penn State received a verbal commitment from four-star 2017 WR Kahlee Hamler.
There is no real way to know how much Penn State's near-Playoff run swayed Hamler's mind, but that certainly could have played into his decision. Scout tabs the 5-foot-9, 152-pounder as their No. 52 overall prospect for the 2017 cycle. The outlet notes that Hamler is a "[v]ery quick, explosive kid who creates a lot of separation." They are particularly keen on his body control. Even with a noticeably undersized frame, Scout believes the wideout's overall skill-set will allow him to find success at the collegiate level.