Sports briefs: Clemson’s Lawrence, Alabama stars Maxwell Award finalists

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Associated Press

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama stars Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith are the finalists for the Maxwell Award given to college football’s top player.

The finalists for nine college football awards were announced Tuesday, including those honoring the top defensive player, quarterback and running back.

The winners will be announced Jan. 7 during ESPN’s college football awards show. Lawrence and Jones are also finalists for Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, along with Florida’s Kyle Trask.

Smith is also up for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the outstanding receiver. Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the first tight end to be a Biletnikoff finalist, and Mississippi’s Elijah Moore made it three for three finalists from the Southeastern Conference.

Other awards and finalists:

Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player) — Zaven Collins, linebacker, Tulsa; Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, Notre Dame; Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Alabama.

Outland Trophy (top interior lineman) — Liam Eichenberg, tackle, Notre Dame; Alex Leatherwood, tackle, Alabama; Daviyon Nixon, defensive tackle, Iowa.

Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back) — Richie Grant, safety, UCF; Trevon Moehrig, safety, TCU; Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Alabama.

Doak Walker Award (top running back) — Travis Etienne, Clemson; Breece Hall, Iowa State; Najee Harris, Alabama.

Ray Guy Award (top punter) — Jake Camarada, Georgia; Pressley Harvin Jr., Georgia Tech; Lou Hedley, Miami.

Lou Groza Award (top kicker) — Jose Borregales, Miami; Jake Oldroyd, BYU; Will Reichard, Alabama.

Kendall Hinton’s time as quarterback one for books

DENVER (AP) — Wide receiver Kendall Hinton’s start at quarterback for Denver may have been forgettable, but it’s memorialized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and on practice fields across the NFL.

A half dozen teams sport a quarantined quarterback this month after the Broncos were forced to play the Saints on Nov. 29 without any of their four QBs.

The Broncos’ QB quandary began when No. 3 passer Jeff Driskel tested positive for the coronavirus on Thanksgiving Day. Two days later, the NFL disqualified starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad veteran Blake Bortles because all four had failed to wear their masks around each other earlier that week.

Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest before switching to wide receiver, was activated from the practice squad and became the first non-QB to start at the position since running back Tom Matte did so for the Baltimore Colts in 1965.

Hinton completed just 1 of 9 passes for 13 yards with two interceptions in Denver’s 31-3 loss, but he earned accolades far and wide, including from Matte, who wrote Hinton a heartfelt letter.

“Fifty-five years ago, I was in your shoes,” Matte wrote. “I was the Baltimore Colts’ ‘instant quarterback’ and believe me, it was an experience I’ll never forget!”

Hinton’s play-calling wristband was sent to the Hall of Fame this month and is on display in Canton along with Matte’s wristband from 1965.

Hinton went back to being a practice squad receiver when the Broncos’ three sequestered quarterbacks came off the COVID-19 reserve list.

Florida player out of hospital after collapsing on court

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida forward Keyontae Johnson was released from the hospital Tuesday, 10 days after collapsing on the court at Florida State and needing emergency medical attention.

The school released a statement from his family saying, “We continue to be amazed at the pace of his recovery and look forward to spending Christmas together as a family.”

The family added that it will share “any information we think could help others” regarding the cause and extent of Johnson’s illness.

Kentucky’s John Calipari is one of many coaches in college basketball who have said they would like to know if Johnson’s collapse was related to his positive COVID-19 test months earlier. “As much as everyone involved wants firm answers, the process to draw definitive conclusions continues, and we ask for patience as the medical professionals continue their work,” the family said.

Johnson crumpled to the floor coming out of a timeout on Dec. 12. He was moved to a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance as teammates, coaches, staff, fans and others watched in disbelief.

ESPN declined to show video of the incident. Witnesses said Johnson was standing near midcourt and suddenly fell forward and landed on his face.

He spent two nights at Tallahassee Memorial before being transferred to Gainesville via helicopter with his mother by his side.

Florida has postponed four basketball games since then. Like many of his Florida teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 in the summer.