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Report: Vanderbilt Search Down To Two Names; (Update) Mason Hired

Search button 2Are Stanford’s Derek Mason and Clemson’s Chad Morris the two finalists for the head coaching job at Vanderbilt?  A report out Thursday by 24/7 sports indicated that Morris, Clemson’s offensive coordinator, was “gaining significant traction” and indicated that Mason, Stanford’s defensive coordinator, “was the name to beat.” The National Football Post agrees with the Mason assessment, calling him the “top choice” to replace Franklin. Other reports back Mason as the favorite – see here and herealso here.

Sentiment is not as uniform on Morris’ chances to land the job.   “After talking with a source in Nashville this morning, we don’t believe Morris is going anywhere,” says the Clemson Rivals site.

Meanwhile, in Nashville, Vanderbilt A.D. David Williams says the search is not over.  When will it be done? “I hope soon, but until we find a coach we still have some things we have to do and people to talk to.” In addition to Morris and Mason, other names linked to the search include St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and  Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.  Both Hamilton and Mason reportedly interviewed on Thursday. Bruce Feldman says Hamilton has taken his name out of consideration.

The man the new coach will be replacing has reportedly taken several of his assistants with him to Penn State.  Six of James Franklin’s assistants still on the payroll at Vanderbilt resigned Thursday morning, according to The Tennessean.  

Update: 24/7 Sports says Mason will be named the coach but “no details on when it will be announced.”  Citing sources, Bruce Feldman says job was offered to Pep Hamilton but he decided to stay with the Colts.

Update II: Vanderbilt has hired Mason.

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Breeding Up for Burlsworth Trophy

Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas punter Dylan Breeding is the school’s inaugural candidate for the Brandon Burlsworth Trophy.

The trophy, which is in its first season, is given to the nation’s best football player who began their career as a walk-on. It is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Springdale.

Breeding, a sophomore, is averaging 42.9 yards per punt this season.

“Dylan’s had a good year for us,” Petrino said. “He’s kicked some balls in the end zone this year or his net punt would be a lot better.”

Petrino said he has been impressed with Breeding’s clutch kicking in pressure situations. That includes a 56-yard punt out of his endzone with the game tied in the fourth quarter against Georgia earlier this year.

“He’s changed fields for us,” Petrino said. “Any time the game’s been on the line, he’s come up with a big punt for us.”

Breeding is one of two players from Hoover High School nominated for the award. Alabama redshirt sophomore defensive back Will Lowery is another one of the 45 nominees.

Each school can nominate one player for the trophy. The finalists will be announced Dec. 1 and the winner will be recognized at a banquet in February.

Brandon Burlsworth was an all-American offensive lineman for Arkansas during his senior season in 1998 after beginning his career as a walk-on. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft, but died in a car accident just 11 days later.

The award, which was unveiled in August, is one of several ways Burlsworth’s legacy is remembered. His number 77 is retired at Arkansas and his locker is enclosed in a glass case in the Razorbacks locker room.

Jeff Kinley wrote a book about Burlsworth entitled “Through the Eyes of a Champion: The Brandon Burlsworth Story”. There is also a movie in the works about Burlsworth’s life. Greater is set to be released in 2012.

For more visit You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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