Alabama once again collected a Southeastern Conference title and two big league-wide individual awards. Quarterback Bryce Young is the SEC’s offensive player of the year and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is the top defensive player, as voted on by a panel of sports writers and broadcasters covering the league. The voting was released on Wednesday. Georgia’s Kirby Smart was the pick as coach of the year after leading the Bulldogs to a 12-0 regular season and into the College Football Playoffs. Bulldogs freshman tight end Brock Bowers is the selection as top newcomer after leading the team in receiving. Missouri tailback Tyler Badie, Anderson, and Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams were the only unanimous picks. Anderson, the Bronko Nagurski winner as the nation’s top defensive player, was named on some ballots as a defensive lineman/edge rusher. He’s leading the nation in sacks and tackles for loss. Young is the Heisman Trophy favorite after leading a 41-24 victory over Smart’s Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game. It was the second straight year Alabama had the offensive and defensive players of the year, with Heisman-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith and cornerback Patrick Surtain taking the awards in 2020.
BC’s Zion Johnson named ESPN All-American
Boston College offensive guard Zion Johnson was named to ESPN’s All-America team on Wednesday. It marked the first All-America honor of Johnson’s career. Johnson earned All-ACC accolades for the third time in his career and for the first time secured a spot on the All-ACC first team. The Maryland native allowed zero pressures in 2021 according to ESPN’s advanced stats and just one sack in 2,288 career snaps at BC. Johnson is listed as the No. 1 guard in the 2022 NFL Draft according to ESPN’s Todd McShay and rated the No. 32 overall prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft by McShay.
Former UMass coach Whipple joins Nebraska after leaving Pitt
Mark Whipple was named Nebraska’s offensive coordinator a day after he resigned from the same position at Pittsburgh. Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost also announced the hiring of Chicago Bears assistant Donovan Raiola as offensive line coach. Frost is making over his offensive staff following a 3-9 season, the Huskers’ worst since 1957. Whipple, 64, also will coach Nebraska’s quarterbacks. His Pitt offense averaged 43 points, 350 yards passing, and 503 total yards per game this season as the Panthers won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Whipple coached two of the top offensive players in the country this year in Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison. Pickett threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns and Addison caught a nation-leading 17 touchdown passes. “The opportunity to coach at a school with the history and tradition of Nebraska is special,” Whipple said. “Coach Frost has a great offensive mind, and I look forward to working together with him and our staff to best position our players for success. I can’t wait to get to Lincoln and represent Husker football.” Whipple was head coach at Massachusetts from 2014-18, and his resume also includes NFL stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.
Hawks lose veteran wing Solomon Hill for remainder of season
Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury, adding to the team’s growing lack of depth on the wing. The Hawks said that Hill needs surgery to repair a torn right hamstring tendon. Hill suffered the injury when he slipped and did a split in Sunday’s loss to Charlotte. The Hawks already are playing without starting small forward De’Andre Hunter, who is recovering from surgery on his right wrist. Another top small forward, Cam Reddish, is out with a sprained left wrist and shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic is recovering from a sprained right ankle. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has been the fill-in starter at small forward while Hill has played both forward spots and shooting guard. Hill averaged 4.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 71 games, including 16 starts, for Atlanta last season. He played in 13 games, with one start, while averaging only 0.6 points this season.
Blackhawks’ Khaira released from hospital after Trouba hit
Chicago Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira spent the night in a hospital after he was leveled by Jacob Trouba during a 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers. Team physician Michael Terry said Khaira was released Wednesday morning after undergoing “extensive testing.” “Despite the significant injury, his prognosis is excellent, and we expect a full recovery,” Terry said in a news release. “At this point, it is too early to put a timeline on return to play.” Khaira’s head was down as he gathered the puck in 6:10 into the second period Tuesday night. He looked up right as Trouba appeared to drive his right shoulder into Khaira’s chin. The back of Khaira’s head bounced hard off the ice, and there was no sign of any movement from him as the Blackhawks and Rangers scuffled nearby. A stretcher was wheeled onto the ice, and medical personnel worked on Khaira as each team looked on from the bench area. A handful of his teammates and the Rangers tapped the stretcher as Khaira was taken off. “Personally I was pretty shaken,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after the loss. “I’m not going to lie to you. Just glad to hear he’s doing OK.”
BU men ride dominant first half to win over UMass Lowell
The Boston University men’s basketball team beat UMass Lowell, 72-62, at Case Gym in Boston. BU’s Jonas Harper led all scorers with 17, while Javante McCoy and Sukhmail Mathon added 16 each as the Terriers jumped out to a 34-22 lead at halftime and cruised at home. Everette Hammond and Kalil Thomas each scored 16 for the River Hawks in a losing effort ... The Holy Cross women’s basketball team topped New Hampshire in a nail-biter on the road, 50-49. With the Crusaders trailing by a point in the final seconds, Avery LaBarbera hit a floater at the buzzer to steal it for the visitors.
Barcelona out of Champions League in loss to Bayern Munich
Barcelona will not play in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time in 18 years after a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich ensured the Catalan club was eliminated from European soccer’s premier competition. Barcelona drops into the Europa League playoffs after finishing third in Group E, thanks to Benfica’s 2-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the other game of the evening. That ended a Barcelona campaign which would have been unthinkable in the club’s heyday with Lionel Messi up front and Pep Guardiola as coach from 2008 through 2012. The group stage began with a 3-0 loss to Bayern at the Camp Nou and got worse with a 3-0 defeat and 0-0 draw against Benfica. Barcelona scored only two goals in six games, both against last-place Dynamo, and conceded nine. “We start a new era, from zero, from here, to work hard and to recover Barca and to put Barca in the place that we deserve, that is in the top of the Champions League,” coach Xavi Hernández told broadcaster DAZN. “This is our reality. We are out of Champions League, we are in Europa League, but this is not the place of Barcelona.”