College football notebook: QB Hurts reportedly eyeing transfer
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Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal, allowing coaches from other schools to contact him without getting permission from the Crimson Tide.
Multiple media outlets reported the news Wednesday, two days after Alabama's season ended with a 44-16 loss to Clemson in the national championship game. Hurts graduated in December and would be immediately eligible at a new school in 2019. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Hurts compiled a 26-2 record as Alabama's starter while leading the Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff title game in the 2016 and '17 seasons. But after a poor first half in the title game against Georgia, Hurts was replaced by Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa rallied Alabama to a 26-23 overtime victory and then beat out Hurts for the 2018 starting position.
--The title game winner also took a hit to its depth chart, as defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, cornerback Trayvon Mullen and linebacker Tre Lamar -- all juniors -- announced they are leaving Clemson early for the NFL draft.
Lawrence -- who missed the College Football Playoff due to suspension for a positive drug test -- is projected as a likely first-round pick after earning first-team All-ACC honors this season. Both Mullen and Lamar were second-team All-ACC selections this season. Mullen had an interception during in Monday's 44-16 victory over the Crimson Tide.
--Former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields will ask the NCAA to allow him to play at Ohio State in 2019 and hopes to learn the answer within six weeks, ESPN reported. If immediate eligibility is not granted, he will have to sit out a year under NCAA transfer rules.
The freshman Fields played a limited role in 12 games with Georgia in the 2018 season. He was the No. 2 prospect in the 2018 recruiting class, behind Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
--Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois announced on Instagram that he is returning for his final season. Francois is expected to compete with sophomore James Blackman for the starting job. Blackman took over for Francois following the latter's knee injury in 2017.
Francois passed for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2016, but suffered a torn patellar tendon in the 2017 season opener against Alabama. That cost him the remainder of the season and he struggled at times in 2018, throwing for 2,731 with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
--Baylor coach Matt Rhule told his assistant coaches that he will return to the program after considering NFL opportunities, according to published reports.
Rhule reportedly announced his intentions with a text message to his coaching staff. The 43-year-old reportedly was a top candidate for the New York Jets' head coaching vacancy before talks broke off and the team reportedly hired former Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase.
--Oklahoma State announced it extended coach Mike Gundy's contact one year, through the 2023 season. Gundy is slated to make $5.125 million in 2019, stemming from a long-term deal he signed in 2017. The contract includes an annual $125,000 escalator clause. The Cowboys were just 7-6 this season, including a 38-33 victory over Missouri in the Liberty Bowl. Gundy has a 121-59 record in 14 seasons.
--Arizona defensive tackle PJ Johnson is also is bypassing his senior season and declaring for the NFL draft, he announced via Twitter. Johnson had 8.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks, in 10 games this season. He also registered a safety, recovered two fumbles and forced one.
--Oklahoma left tackle Bobby Evans Jr. also tweeted that he is forgoing his final season of eligibility to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. He started every game this season and made 40 consecutive starts to finish his college career. Evans was named second-team All-Big 12 this season.
--Former LSU offensive lineman Matt Branch, 29, recently had his left leg amputated after being shot in a freak accident while duck hunting in Mississippi. On Dec. 28, a bullet sheared through Branch's left thigh after a Labrador retriever named Tito stepped on the safety of Branch's shotgun and the weapon fired, according to The Clarion-Ledger of Mississippi.
--Kansas running back Pooka Williams was granted a diversion in his domestic battery case, according to multiple reports. Williams was arrested by the University of Kansas Police Department on Dec. 5 after an 18-year-old woman said Williams punched her in the stomach and grabbed her throat, according to court records. Williams told an officer he pushed her when he saw her in a room with other men.
--Tennessee has confirmed the hiring of Jim Chaney as offensive coordinator. He had served in the same role at rival Georgia since 2016 but previously was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee from 2009-12.