Heis­man fi­nal­ists: Jack­son, Wat­son, Pep­pers, 2 Soon­ers

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

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.

Foot­notes.

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.

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