Bennett, Duggan, Stroud, Williams are Heisman finalists

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Quarterbacks Stetson Bennett of Georgia, Max Duggan of TCU, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Caleb Williams of Southern California were announced as finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Monday night.

The award given to the outstanding player in college football, determined by a vote of more than 900 sports journalists and past winners, will be presented Saturday at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Bennett has quarterbacked defending national champion Georgia to a second straight spot in the College Football Playoff and is 24-1 as the Bulldogs’ starter since last season.

The sixth-year player from Blackshear, Georgia, was most valuable player of the Southeastern Conference championship game after throwing for 274 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-30 win over LSU that ran the Bulldogs’ record to 13-0.

Of Georgia’s three all-time wins over a No. 1-ranked team, Bennett was quarterback for two of them. He was at the controls for the Bulldogs’ win over Alabama in the national championship game last January, and he passed for two TDs and ran for another in a 27-13 win over Tennessee last month.

Duggan willed TCU to its first CFP appearance with an inspiring performance in the Big 12 championship game against Kansas State.

Duggan, who had heart surgery two years ago, was at the center of one of the signature sequences of the season. It happened late in the fourth quarter when he broke loose for 40 yards and then, visibly out of breath, ran for an 8-yard TD and completed his 2-point pass to bring the Frogs back from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit. Duggan came up just short of the goal line on a run in overtime, and the Frogs lost for the first time this season, 31-28.

The fourth-year player from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was Gary Patterson‘s starter for two seasons before first-year coach Sonny Dykes picked Chandler Morris over Duggan in the preseason. Duggan regained the job for the second game because of an injury to Morris and ended up leading the Big 12 in every major passing category.

Stroud, in his third season out of Inland Empire, California, is a Heisman finalist for the second year in a row. He was fourth in voting last year. He came into this season regarded as the front-runner and remained the favorite as Ohio State piled up impressive numbers through the first eight games.

But he struggled against Northwestern, the worst team in the Big Ten, and he couldn’t rally the Buckeyes in the second half of their most recent game, a 45-23 home loss to Michigan.

Still, Stroud has the nation’s highest passer rating and is tied for the lead with 37 touchdown passes.

Williams transferred to USC from Oklahoma in February, two months after Lincoln Riley was hired away from the Sooners.

The second-year player from Washington is responsible for a nation-leading 21.7 points per game. He turned in a gutty performance in the Pac-12 championship game Friday, injuring his left hamstring on a 59-yard run in the first quarter but staying in the game and finishing with 363 yards passing and three touchdowns despite a noticeable limp in the 47-24 loss to Utah.

Williams has thrown for 37 touchdowns against just four interceptions and has amassed a school-record 4,447 total yards. Including his 10 rushing touchdowns, he has accounted for a school-record 47.

Williams and Stroud also are finalists for the Maxwell Award as the top performer in the college game, and they are joined by Duggan as finalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.