Heisman finalists: Jackson, Watson, Peppers, 2 Sooners
new york» Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second consecutive season, joining Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Oklahoma teammates Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook.
The finalists were announced Monday and the award will be presented Saturday in New York.
Watson finished third in last year’s voting, behind Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and winner Derrick Henry from Alabama. Just like last year, he heads to New York not as the favorite but as the contender coming on strong at the end.
“You just don’t have a lot of two-time Heisman finalists over the history of your program. He is our first, and he’s deserving,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “I believe he is the best player in the nation and has been a great representative of our University.”
Mayfield finished fourth last season, but did not get an invite to the Heisman presentation in New York.
Westbrook and Mayfield are the first teammates to be finalists since Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart from Southern California finished first and third, respectively, in 2005.
Peppers is the first defensive player to be a Heisman finalist since Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo was a distant runner-up to Johnny Manziel in 2012.
Finalists are determined by the margins between vote-getters. The ballots of more than 900 voters, which included former Heisman winners, were due Monday.
Fournette to enter draft
B baton rouge, la.» LSU All-America running back Leonard Fournette plans to bypass his senior season and enter the upcoming NFL draft.
“I will be declaring for the 2017 NFL draft after our bowl game,” Fournette wrote in a note on Twitter. “I make this announcement now so that there will not be speculation and distractions while we prepare. I want everyone to know that I will forever treasure my experience as a Tiger.”
Fournette is regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2017 draft. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay ranks Fournette as the No. 1 overall prospect, while ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has him second behind only Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.
As a sophomore, Fournette set an SEC record by rushing for 162.8 yards per game — plus his 1,953 rushing yards last season rank second in conference history behind Alabama’s Derrick Henry (2,219).
Brohm joins Purdue.
After leading Western Kentucky to back-to-back wins in the Conference USA championship game, coach Jeff Brohm is heading to Purdue.
Brohm received a sixyear, $20 million deal. The school said that the deal will officially be announced after it is approved by the board of trustees.
BYU will open the 2017 season by hosting FCS Portland State. … Mississippi receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. … Nebraska hired Arizona cornerbacks coach Donte Williams as a defensive assistant.