Swinney: Clemson DE Thomas done for year with foot injury


CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said starting defensive end Xavier Thomas will miss the rest of the season after re-injuring his foot.

Swinney said that the 6-foot-2, 256-pound fifth-year senior will need surgery on the foot he first hurt in August at training camp.

Swinney said having surgery sooner rather than later would give Thomas a reset for whatever he chooses to do next – return for a sixth year with the Tigers or prepare for the NFL combine.

“So if he does decide to come back to Clemson, he’s ready to go for spring practice and all that,” Swinney said. “And if he does go ahead and go pro, then he’s fully ready for the combine and he’s got no limitations and all those things. But man, your heart goes out to him.”

The 12th-ranked Tigers (8-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) play Louisville (6-3, 3-3) on Saturday.

Thomas has started 19 of 49 games in his college career. He’s had 30 tackles for loss and 14 1/2 sacks.

He missed the first five games before returning against Boston College where he had two sacks in just six snaps. Thomas did not play this past week in a 35-14 loss at No. 20 Notre Dame.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. returning for 2023 season

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE – Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. said Sunday he will return to the school for his sixth and final season of eligibility in 2023.

Penix announced his decision on social media and it was a surprising one at that. Penix was the national leader in passing this season, throwing for 4,354 yards and led Washington’s turnaround. The No. 12-ranked Huskies went 10-2 in the regular season, finished tied for second in the Pac-12 and will face No. 21 Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Penix will have a chance at setting Washington’s single-season record for yards passing in the bowl game. He also threw 29 touchdowns this season. Because of his performance this season, Penix saw his NFL draft stock rise to where he was being expected to be a second-day pick at the latest.

In his announcement, Penix wrote, “As I look back on this special season we had, I realized there were so many great moments and things to celebrate, but I KNOW there is so much for out there for this team and the job is still not finished. I can’t wait to be playing in Husky Stadium for the 2023 season!”

Penix started his career at Indiana and showed flashes of stardom while also battling injuries. He transferred to Washington after the 2021 season, a move that reunited him with new Huskies’ coach Kalen DeBoer, who was Penix’s offensive coordinator for one season at Indiana.

North Texas fires Littrell after .500 record over 7 years

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

DENTON, Texas – Bowl-bound North Texas has fired coach Seth Littrell, who went 44-44 over seven seasons.

University president Neal Smatresk said Sunday night that the decision to make the move came after a thorough assessment of the program.

The Mean Green are 7-6 this season after losing 48-27 to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game Friday night.

Phil Bennett, their defensive coordinator the past two seasons, was named interim head coach. North Texas plays Boise State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 17.

The 44-year-old Littrell had one year left on his contract in what was his first head coaching job. He was the youngest coach in Conference USA and one of the youngest at the FBS level when he arrived after two seasons as offensive coordinator at North Carolina with UNT coming off a 1-11 season at the time.

While the Mean Green are going to their sixth bowl since Littrell first got there, they haven’t won any of those yet. The bowl in his debut season came after only five wins since there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the slots. Consecutive nine-win seasons followed in 2017 and 2018, but they then had three consecutive losing records before this year.

North Texas also has an interim athletic director after Wren Baker was named as West Virginia’s AD last week.

Smatresk said Jared Mosley, the chief operating officer of UNT athletics, will serve as interim AD. The university is working with a search firm to find Baker’s successor.