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 College Football Player News & Notes

  11/27/20 - QB Sam HowellSo/2023, North Carolina, 6-1, 225 (DS#1 QB) + More +

  Behind only UCF's Dillon Gabriel (3,017), SMU's Shane Buechele (2,781) and BYU's Zach Wilson (2,724), Howell has the fourth-most passing yards in the country (2,631). He also ties for No. 4 in passing touchdowns (23). Irish head coach Brian Kelly said this week that Howell has the best deep ball in the country. Howell continuing to stretch the field vertically will be a key to exploiting Notre Dame's formidable defense. If Howell kept the Irish defense honest through the air, dynamic running backs Javonte Williams (120 carries for 868 yards and 15 touchdowns) and Michael Carter (116 attempts for 807 yards and four scores) will have better opportunities. - South Bend Tribune

(DS#1 QB) So/2023 QB Sam HowellNorth Carolina
News Source: South Bend Tribune
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  Jake Hescock has seen a lot in his three seasons as a tight end at UCF, but the redshirt senior isn't quite ready to close his college career. The Massachusetts native is going to take advantage of a one-time NCAA waiver that allows players who participated in this pandemic-altered season to receive an additional year of eligibility. "I think I'm definitely going to take it," Hescock said. "I think getting another year under [tight ends coach Alex] Golesh is going to be beneficial for me."

Hescock has appeared in 33 games during his career with the Knights, starting 12 times. He has 18 catches for 137 yards and five touchdowns during that stretch. This season, Hescock has seven catches for 37 yards and two touchdowns. He's spent time on the offensive line, at the slot position, at wideout and in the backfield to provide pass protection or run blocking. "We also have a very young room and it gives me an opportunity to leave a legacy with those guys," Hescock explained. "To help them figure out how to get things done and the process of being a college football player. So if I can stay and pass that along to those guys and get another year under Coach Golesh and grow, that sounds good to me." - Orlando Sentinel

(DS#34 TE) rSr/2021 TE Jake HescockCentral Florida
News Source: Orlando Sentinel
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  Vanderbilt junior linebacker Dimitri Moore has entered the NCAA transfer portal, according to multiple reports. Moore, an NFL prospect and preseason Butkus Award candidate, made headlines when he opted out of the 2020 season after his grandfather's death from COVID-19, but then opted back in after gather more information. Moore did not immediately respond for a request for comment. Matt Zenitz of was the first to report Moore entering the transfer portal. Moore, a 6-foot-3, 234-pounder from Cedar Hill, Texas, was an SEC All-Freshman selection in 2018. Last season, he led Vanderbilt with 99 tackles. He missed this season's opener at Texas A&M due to an injury. But he had 36 tackles in six games, tied for fourth on the team. Moore started in Vanderbilt's 38-17 loss to Florida last week and finished with seven tackles. - The Tennessean

(DS#15 ILB) rJr/2022 ILB Dimitri MooreVanderbilt
News Source: The Tennessean
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  Three Louisiana Tech senior football players decided last week forego the remainder of their careers in Ruston and enter their names in the 2021 NFL Draft. During his Zoom teleconference Tuesday, Tech head football coach Skip Holtz said while starting left tackle Donavaughn Campbell, wide receiver Adrian Hardy and running back Justin Henderson told him of their intentions prior to them announcing their departure from the program, he said he didn't agree with all three leaving before the 2020 season wraps up.

"They all three informed me of their decision. They came to me and told me this is where they are," Holtz said. "They're all seniors. They're all big boys and they need to make their own decision. I told them I didn't necessarily agree with it, but I wasn't there to argue with them. If they felt like that was in their best interest, then I would respect it. I would support it. "I asked them to explain to me why. I understand why they made their decision. I don't agree with all of them, but it's not my decision. It's their decision and we're going to react and respond to them with the players that are on this roster that want to play and represent Louisiana Tech." - Monroe News Star

(DS#57 OG) rSr/2021 OG Donavaughn CampbellLouisiana Tech
News Source: Monroe News Star
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  11/27/20 - QB Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-5, 220 (DS#16 QB) + More +

  Brandon Peters could not avoid the question. In fact, it was the first one asked of the Illinois senior quarterback on Monday afternoon. Does possessing an bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan make Saturday's 11 a.m. kickoff between the Illini (2-3) and No. 3 Ohio State (4-0) - the Wolverines' main rival - more meaningful to Peters? "For me, it's another game," said Peters, who transferred from Michigan to Illinois ahead of the 2019 season. "So being at Illinois now, it's obviously not a huge rivalry. But it's a huge game for Illinois this week, so we've got to treat it that way."

It's a spot for the Illini's current momentum, built by way of the last two weeks' road wins against Rutgers and Nebraska, to shoot into the stratosphere. The Buckeyes have won the last nine games with Illinois, though the Illini's last victory versus Ohio State came when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2007. Peters should play a sizeable role in any success Illinois experiences this weekend at Memorial Stadium. His return last Saturday from a three-week absence necessitated by a positive COVID-19 test saw Peters connect on 18 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another score as the Illini put up more than 40 points in a Big Ten game for only the second time in the last five seasons. "As far as completion percentage goes and execution," Peters said, "it was definitely, by far, my best game that I've played." - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#16 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  Georgia Tech defensive lineman Justice Dingle entered his name into the transfer portal Tuesday, Dingle's father confirmed to the AJC. Dingle, a sophomore from Bowling Green, Ky., had seen minimal playing time in four games this season. Dingle was recruited to Tech as a linebacker and was rated among the top signees in the Yellow Jackets' 2018 class. After redshirting in 2018, he was moved to defensive end in 2019, when he started one game, played in 11 and led the team with three fumble recoveries along with six tackles. He played both end and tackle this season and was credited with one tackle. - Atlanta Journal Constitution

(DS#999 DE) rSo/2023 DE Justice DingleGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  11/27/20 - QB Cameron RisingrSo/2023, Utah, 6-1, 220 (DS#43 QB) + More +

  Cameron Rising lasted all of 14 plays as the University of Utah's starting quarterback. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham opened his Tuesday morning Zoom press conference by announcing that Rising, a redshirt sophomore who won the starting job out of fall camp, is out for the season after sustaining a shoulder injury early in the second quarter of Saturday night's 33-17 season-opening loss to USC. Jake Bentley, who went 16-for-28 for 171 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in relief of Rising, will start this weekend The Utes were scheduled to play Arizona State on Sunday, but with the Sun Devils dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, that game was canceled by the Pac-12 late Tuesday afternoon. The possibility exists that Utah will wind up playing Washington after its Apple Cup matchup at Washington State this weekend was canceled on Sunday. - Salt Lake Tribune

(DS#43 QB) rSo/2023 QB Cameron RisingUtah
News Source: Salt Lake Tribune
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  11/27/20 - TE Kemore GamblerJr/2022, Florida, 6-3, 246 (DS#16 TE) + More +

  Pitts' return gives the Gators perhaps the most productive - and dangerous - tight end groups in college football. Pitts, Gamble and Zipperer have combined for 38 receptions for 656 yards and 13 touchdowns, which leads the nation for the position. All three were highly rated, four-star recruits coming out of high school. Pitts began to emerge that season, pulling ahead of the other two and showing signs that he had a chance to be special. Even with Pitts becoming THE guy at tight end, the other two decided to stick around - and they're now flashing big-time playmaking ability in games.

"I'm the type of guy that I don't want to get stuff easy," Gamble said Monday. "I always want to have competition around me. When (Pitts) got here, I was like, 'Hmm, this guy's talented, he's very athletic, I like that type of competition, so I ain't going to leave and I'll stick it out here and we can battle.' "My dad always taught me never run from competition, you've always got to sit down and face it and never just run. My dad and my step dad used to always tell me that. I was brought up hard and nothing comes easy." Maybe Pitts was in a similar situation a few weeks ago. Projected as a top-five draft pick this spring, Pitts could have opted out for the rest of the season after the big blow to the head he took in the Georgia game that concussed him and led to nose surgery. - Times Union

(DS#16 TE) rJr/2022 TE Kemore GambleFlorida
News Source: Times Union
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  Now in his fifth year in the program, odds are Jones doesn't take advantage of the free season of eligibility and heads to the NFL Draft in the spring. He's likely to get selected, and until then, Tucker and his staff will do all they can to help Jones get there. "Naquan is a young man I've spent quite bit of time with, one-on-one, you know just talking to him," Tucker said. "And Coach (Ron) Burton does an outstanding job coaching him and has a good relationship with him. You know, Naquan, he's a people person and he's obviously a big guy that's got tremendous talent. For his size he moves very well, has got initial quickness, and he's a guy that can do a lot of things. "What I talk to him about is consistency and performance. That's how you become successful. It's day-in and day-out, in practice, the weight room, all those things and you carry it over into the game. "He wants to be a good player, he wants to be a consistent player, and I see him working towards that and we're helping him do that." - Detroit News

(DS#12 DT) rSr/2021 DT Naquan JonesMichigan State
News Source: Detroit News
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  11/27/20 - P Zach Von RosenbergSr/2021, LSU, 6-4, 245 (DS#11 P) + More +

  LSU senior punter Zach Von Rosenberg was named the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week after his impressive game against Arkansas, the award committee announced Tuesday. Von Rosenberg punted seven times in LSU's 27-24 victory in Razorback Stadium, and five of them were downed inside the 10-yard line. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Zachary High graduate averaged 48.9 yards per punt with a long of 61 yards. This is the second time this season Von Rosenberg was named for the weekly honor. He was named Punter of the Week after LSU's 44-34 loss to Mississippi State in the season opener, when two of his seven punts were downed inside the 10 and he averaged 49.4 yards per punt. - Baton Rouge Advocate

(DS#11 P) Sr/2021 P Zach Von RosenbergLSU
News Source: Baton Rouge Advocate
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  11/27/20 - C Landon DickersonrSr/2021, Alabama, 6-5, 325 (DS#1 C) + More +

  Landon Dickerson on Tuesday became the second Alabama offensive lineman to accept an invitation to the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl. Dickerson joins teammate Deonte Brown as confirmed for the Senior Bowl, the annual NFL draft showcase that takes place Jan. 30 at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile. Game officials made the announcement via Twitter. Dickerson (6-foot-6, 325 pounds) has started 20 games the last two seasons for the Crimson Tide, 16 at center and four at guard. The Hickory, N.C., native began his career at Florida State before joining the Alabama program in 2019 as a graduate transfer. - Birmingham News

(DS#1 C) rSr/2021 C Landon DickersonAlabama
News Source: Birmingham News
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  Rob Jones' path through football has been far from that of a traditional college football player. Jones grew up in the neighborhoods of Chicago and played basketball and idolized Derrick Rose. He had the size, standing at 6-foot-5, but at more than 300 pounds, he was built more like a football player. Enter David Hampton and Gary Griffin. Hampton convinced Jones to play football. Two years later, Griffin was Jones' coach in his lone varsity season as a senior and helped him plot a course to earn a college scholarship. Four years later, Jones has transformed himself into an NFL prospect at Middle Tennessee State with hopes of one day getting his family into a better situation.

"Growing up in Chicago, it can be rough," said Jones, who was raised by a single mom. "It was easier falling into the trap that you see others fall into like gangbanging and dropping out of school like that and I made some bad decisions but I had my family who tried to keep me on the right track. I lost friends and everything like that and I knew that I didn't want that sort of life for myself. "That just motivated me to do better. Seeing what my mom had to go through at times, she always believed in me and always pushed me so I always just want to give her the best. I just wanted it all to be different." - Daily News Journal

(DS#23 OG) Sr/2021 OG Robert JonesMiddle Tennessee
News Source: Daily News Journal
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  11/27/20 - CB Emanuel DabneySr/2021, Liberty, 5-11, 180 (DS#999 CB) + More +

  Emanuel Dabney, who started seven straight games at cornerback for Liberty, entered the transfer portal Monday morning. The 6-foot cornerback has one season of eligibility remaining, and can play a second with 2020 not counting toward a player's eligibility. "I've decided to enter my name in the transfer portal after weeks of long thoughts and prayers, [I] feel that this is the best decision for me," Dabney wrote in a Twitter post. "Thank you Coach Freeze for blessing me with this opportunity when no one else would. I'll forever cherish the bonds I've made and all the accomplishments we had together as a team in year 2 but to my future school know y'all getting a DAWG that's hungry!" Dabney recorded 14 tackles (13 solo), six pass breakups and one fumble recovery this season. He traveled and was in uniform for this past Saturday's game at N.C. State, but did not play. "I wish Dabney the best," Flames coach Hugh Freeze said. - Lynchburg News and Advance

(DS#999 CB) Sr/2021 CB Emanuel DabneyLiberty
News Source: Lynchburg News and Advance
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  11/27/20 - TE Erick AllSo/2023, Michigan, 6-4, 242 (DS#7 TE) + More +

  Michigan's Erick All has his confidence back. The sophomore tight end nearly had as many dropped passes (four) than receptions (five) in the first three games of the season. But All has gone two games since without a drop and has six catches during that span, including four for 27 yards in Saturday's 48-42 triple-overtime victory over Rutgers. "Obviously, it was irritating dropping the ball," All told reporters Monday. "I don't even know why I was dropping it, but it was irritating because I knew how good of hands I had. I just felt like I just needed to trust myself, and once I found that trust in the Rutgers game, I felt confident. I felt like a new person took over me. I just felt like I had a different energy and it just made me a better player for this team."

On Nov. 11, tight ends coach Sherrone Moore said All was making "spectacular" catches regularly during practice but felt the former four-star prospect from Ohio was overthinking during games. All had a drop that would have been an easy touchdown in Michigan's opener and also had a costly one on third down against Indiana in Week 3. "After I dropped the first ball in the Minnesota game, I think it was just in my head," All said. "Thank god it's out because, man, I was down for a little bit." - Ann Arbor News

(DS#7 TE) So/2023 TE Erick AllMichigan
News Source: Ann Arbor News
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  11/27/20 - QB Justin FieldsJr/2022, Ohio State, 6-3, 228 (DS#2 QB) + More +

  Ohio State is averaging 45.3 points per game, the best mark in the Big Ten. Its next opponent is the conference's seventh-ranked defense by points allowed. Illinois (2-3) brings that metric and a two-game win streak into its 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday at Memorial Stadium with the Buckeyes (4-0). "It'd be mental to me," Illini defensive end Owen Carney said Monday afternoon of his approach to facing the vaunted Ohio State offense. "Hand placement, staying in your gaps, just not trying to go over and beyond because we're playing Ohio State. It's the little things that got us on this two-game winning streak, and it's the little things that's going to make us successful on the field Saturday."

Heading the Buckeyes' seemingly relentless offense is quarterback Justin Fields. The 6-foot-3, 228-pound junior is a reigning Heisman Trophy finalist and entered the 2020 season as an Associated Press preseason second-team All-American. What has Fields accomplished since receiving the latter accolade? He's merely completed 90 of his 113 passes - good for a 79.6 percent clip - for 1,208 yards and 13 touchdowns on top of rushing for three more scores. He didn't toss an interception in his first three games, but did throw three in this past Saturday's 42-35 win against then-No. 9 Indiana. "Justin Fields is as good a player as there is in college football," Illinois coach Lovie Smith said. "He so happens to be one of best athletes in college football also, so he can hurt you moving around to buy time to throw the football. When you have a guy like that leading the offense, it opens up everything." - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#2 QB) Jr/2022 QB Justin FieldsOhio State
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  The last time UNC played Notre Dame, linebacker Chazz Surratt started at quarterback for the Tar Heels. Surratt started seven games at quarterback in that 2017 season. He eventually agreed to a position switch in the spring of 2019 and became a revelation. In his first season at linebacker last year, Surratt garnered first-team All-ACC honors and finished runner-up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Through eight games this season, Surratt leads the Tar Heels with 68 tackles and five sacks to go with 6.5 tackles for a loss, five quarterback hurries, one interception, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Look for Surratt to be disruptive against Notre Dame's potent ground game. - South Bend Tribune

(DS#3 OLB) rSr/2021 OLB Chazz SurrattNorth Carolina
News Source: South Bend Tribune
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  If you saw Coastal Carolina junior cornerback D'Jordan Strong during the team's break from football activities due to the coronavirus in the spring and early summer, chances are he was carrying and tossing a football. Strong joined the Chanticleers from Northeast Mississippi Community College in January, in time for CCU's early spring practices in February and early March. During those sessions, defensive backs coach Bryant Foster was impressed with Strong's ability to cover wide receivers, and he also noted that Strong was dropping the ball a lot. Strong had just one interception in two years of JUCO football - though he notes he had a 100-yard interception return negated by a penalty - while playing predominantly single man-to-man coverage.

"I used to drop a lot of balls in the spring, and coach Foster texted me when coronavirus was going on big-time and said, 'Hey man, don't think I'm being funny, but you get you a football and just walk around and throw it in the air and catch it and see how it feels. Man, you could lead the conference in interceptions this season and be a first-team Sun Belt cornerback because you've got the ability to do it. If you just do this one little thing you've got potential to be something,' " Strong recalled. "That's what I did, and now I've got five interceptions and that's crazy because coach Foster called it." - Myrtle Beach Online

(DS#66 CB) Jr/2022 CB DJordan StrongCoastal Carolina
News Source: Myrtle Beach Online
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  Michigan State football's Naquan Jones said he had COVID-19 and has recovered. The senior defensive tackle is the second Spartan athlete to announce contracting the coronavirus, and Jones said it has had a ripple effect across his family. Offensive lineman Matt Carrick told The Canton Repository in August he had COVID-19 in July. "I've lost family members to COVID, and that's something that my family takes very serious…," Jones said Tuesday. "It was very stressful for my family, so I did have a few concerns. But at the end of the day, I love to play football. MSU was doing a great job with their safety measures, and I felt safe. So that thought kind of comes out of my head."

Jones said he was affected by COVID-19 shortly before the season began and experienced minor symptoms, including the loss of smell for two days before he "felt perfectly fine" again. He said he went and ran in an open field near his apartment to remain in shape while sitting out 14 days before returning to the team. "I went to go run with a mask on, and do what I could do outside, not being around people to spread COVID obviously," Jones said. "But I wanted to stay in a decent amount of shape before I had to go put pads on to play a game." - Lansing State Journal

(DS#12 DT) rSr/2021 DT Naquan JonesMichigan State
News Source: Lansing State Journal
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  11/27/20 - K Alex KessmanrSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 190 (DS#3 K) + More +

  When the Panthers travel to Clemson this weekend, they'll do so with one of the hottest kickers in the country. Kessman was named the ACC's specialist of the week after tallying a career-high 17 points in Pitt's 47-14 win against Virginia Tech last Saturday. He made all five extra point attempts and drilled all four field goals, including makes of 52 and 53 yards. Kessman's four field goals extended his own Pitt record, which now stands at 64 career conversions. His two long-distance kicks also secured what is currently an NCAA record. Kessman is now 12 of 18 on field goals of 50-yards or more. That success rate of 66.7% surpasses Arizona's Max Zendejas' 60.9% clip from 1982-85 as tops all-time in Division I-A college football, among those who qualify with a minimum 15 attempts from distance.

With two ACC games left on the schedule - and a possible bowl in Pitt's future - there's time for that percentage to improve or dip. Either way, it's remarkable Kessman is in this position at all after what he went through only last month. Kessman's first field goal of 50-plus yards this season came at Boston College. The big-legged senior drilled a school-record 58-yarder, one that probably would've been good from 65, with 40 seconds left in regulation to force overtime in a game Pitt had little business winning. - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

(DS#3 K) rSr/2021 K Alex KessmanPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
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  11/27/20 - FS Trent GordonrSo/2023, Penn State, 5-11, 199 (DS#999 FS) + More +

  Penn State redshirt sophomore safety Trent Gordon has entered the transfer portal, Rivals first reported. Gordon, a former three-star recruit in the class of 2018, made the switch from cornerback to safety this offseason. The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Spring, Texas, native played in four games while maintaining his redshirt status in 2018 and played in 10 games last season. - Centre Times

(DS#999 FS) rSo/2023 FS Trent GordonPenn State
News Source: Centre Times
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