We are finally here. The first real games of football of the year – no disrespect to the NFL preseason games of course – have arrived. Miami will take on Florida in what figures to be an interesting matchup and has Florida as seven-point favorites. Beyond the game, there is lots of news in the world of college football.
College Football News
Ohio State named sophomore QB Justin Fields starter for the fall campaign. He has been the favorite since Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin transferred in the offseason but never separated himself fully from Gunnar Hoak and Chris Chugunov. There were periods of time where Fields visibly struggled and wasn’t able to be as accurate as Ohio State was looking for. His raw talent and athleticism were ultimately too much for Ohio State to leave on the pine and he’ll likely improve on his weaknesses as the season progresses. He’ll make his first collegiate start against Florida Atlantic on August 31st.
Oklahoma named senior QB Jalen Hurts starter for the fall campaign. Not much of a surprise here. There was reportedly a “camp battle” going on between Hurts, Tanner Mordecai, and Spencer Rattler but it never amounted to much. The seasoned quarterback ultimately won out. He’s an incredibly intriguing player to watch this season in Lincoln Riley’s system after largely struggling as a passer at Alabama. He showed flashes of ability when filling in for Tua Tagovailoa in the SEC championship game but beyond that, his passing has been sporadic at best. We’ll get our first look at the post-Kyler Murray era against Houston on September 1st.
North Carolina freshman QB Sam Howell has been named the starter. He separated himself from redshirt freshmen Jace Ruder & Cade Fortin for the top spot and is now working exclusively with the first team. Howell’s a former four-star recruit who’s impressed the coaches so far in camp. In a corresponding move, Fortin entered the transfer portal and will try his luck elsewhere. Howell will look to start off on the right foot in the Tarheel’s season-opener against South Carolina on August 31st.
Wake Forest HC Dave Clawson named redshirt junior QB Jamie Newman the starting quarterback for the August 30 season opener against Utah State. He was the starter at the end of last season after taking over for Sam Hartman and played well, leading the Demon Deacons to a 3-1 overall record. Newman beat out Hartman for the job throughout the offseason and draws the start against Utah State. The only downside with Hartman remaining on the roster is that Newman’s leash may not be that long. If he has a bad stretch of games, Hartman could see time this season.
Arkansas redshirt senior WR Deon Stewart will miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a torn ACL. He was penciled in to be a starter for the Razorbacks, making this a big loss for the offense. He had 404 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 33 receptions last season and was also a factor on punt returns. Arkansas now has a major question mark in its pass-catcher group with just one healthy senior on the squad.
Former Wisconsin senior WR Quintez Cephus has been reinstated to the university. This is an interesting turn after he was dismissed from Wisconsin last August on two counts of sexual assault. Those charges have since been dropped and Cephus’ application to the school was accepted. Upon admittance, it was unclear what his status will be with the football team, but he rejoined the team just a handful of days afterward. The coaching staff made it clear that if his legal issues were resolved he would allowed back on the team. He likely won’t be a part of the offense immediately but was seen practicing on Wednesday. He was also deemed eligible for the 2019 season and could play a significant role down the stretch for the Badgers.
Arkansas State HC Blake Anderson is taking a leave of absence. This is a sad story as Anderson’s wife is currently battling cancer. He is arguably the best coach in the Sun Belt Conference and will take as much time off as need be. An interim head coach has yet to be announced but he has “full confidence” in his staff while he’s gone regardless. They kick off the season against SMU on Saturday, August 31st.
Commitments and Transfers
LSU received a verbal commitment from four-star 2020 WR Koy Moore. He chose the Tigers over Arizona State, Oregon, and Mississippi State. Moore was originally committed to USC but rescinded that decision in early February. 247Sports’ Gabe Brooks compared him to Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan and believes he could be an ideal slot wide receiver. He’s the 45th-ranked wide receiver in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
Washington received a verbal commitment from four-star 2020 CB Jacobe Covington. He chose the Huskies over Oregon, USC, and LSU. The coaching staff at Washington believes he’s “build for press coverage” and is a “physical player” who can “bully opposing receivers.” Covington is Washington’s 17th commitment in 2020.
Georgia received a verbal commitment from four-star 2020 G Sedrick Van Pran. He picked the Bulldogs over LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Texas A&M. This didn’t come as much of a surprise for those involved as Rivals noted that Georgia “had the momentum” in Van Pran ‘s recruitment for a while. He’s the 3rd-ranked OG in the 2020 recruiting cycle and is Georgia’s 17th commit in the class of 2020.
Nevada head coach Jay Norvell named redshirt freshman QB Carson Strong the starter. He beat out Malik Henry, a transfer from Florida State. Strong is a former three-star recruit with no career pass attempts. … Illinois freshman CB Marquez Beason will miss the 2019 season due to a knee injury. Beason was one of Illinois’ top recruits as a four-star player according to most recruiting services. He’ll now have to sit out the entire season and enter 2020 as a redshirt freshman. … Texas Tech freshman WR Cameron Cantrell (collarbone) will miss the 2019 season. He was expected to play a rotational role on the offense in 2019. He’ll be a redshirt freshman in 2020. … Oregon freshman WR Mycah Pittman (shoulder) will be out 6-8 weeks. He was expected to start early in the season but will now be out for a good chunk of games. It’s unclear what his role will be when he returns. … The Athletic's Dave Southorn lists Boise State redshirt junior RB Robert Mahone as the starter. He’ll get the first shot at being a bellcow for the Broncos this season. … The Athletic's G. Allan Taylor reports that West Virginia junior QB Jarret Doege has been ruled eligible for the upcoming season. Doege is eligible but won’t be the starter with redshirt junior QB Austin Kendall earning those honors. … Missouri redshirt junior TE Albert Okwuegbunam (knee) was a full participant in Tuesday's practice. He missed a number of practices during the offseason but now looks to be nearing full health. He should be good to go for the start of the season. … 247Sports' Brandon Marcello reports that Auburn freshman QB Bo Nix will be named starter for the coming season. The highly-ranked prospect beat out Joey Gatewood for the starting gig. He’ll look to get going in Week 1 against Oregon. … Mississippi State named redshirt senior QB Tommy Stevens starter for the fall campaign. The Penn State transfer beat out Keytaon Thompson for the starting job. His first challenge will be Week 1 against Louisiana on August 31st.