Butkus Award adds its float to watch list parade

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(Don’t worry folks.  There are only three more of these — Davey O’Brien, Doak Walker, Walter Camp — to go.  Hang in there.  We’ll get through this.)

The Butkus Award Thursday was the latest in a long line of awards/trophies releasing their preseason watch lists for 2011, with 51 linebackers from across the country receiving recognition by the award that annually honors the best player at their position.

Luke Kuechly of Boston College is the only returning finalist, while Dont’a Hightower of Alabama, Sean Spence of Miami (Fla.), Travis Lewis of Oklahoma, Keenan Robinson of Texas and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame are returning semifinalists.

The SEC and ACC topped all conferences with nine nods apiece, followed by the Big 12 with eight and five each for the Big Ten and Pac-12.

As far as individuals schools are concerned, Alabama was tops with three — Hightower, Nico Johnson and Courtney Upshaw.  Florida, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Southern Miss, TCU, Texas and Wisconsin all had two players apiece named to the list.

The Butkus Award is named in honor of Dick Butkus, the former Illinois and Chicago Bears linebacking great.  The 51 players on the initial watch list represent the number Butkus wore throughout his Hall of Fame career.

Semi-finalists will be named October 24, finalists November 22, and winners will be notified on or before December 7.  Last year’s winner was Texas A&M’s Von Miller.

Here is the complete list of 2011 preseason Butkus watch listers:

Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
Nico Johnson, Alabama
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Vontaze Burflict, Arizona State
Jerry Franklin,Arkansas
Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Dwayne Woods, Bowling Green University
Mychal Kendricks, Cal
Jon Bostic, Florida
Jelani Jenkins, Florida
Nigel Bradham, Florida State
Corey Paredes, Hawaii
Tyler Nielsen, Iowa
Jake Knott, Iowa State
Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
Ryan Baker, LSU
Kenny Tate, Maryland
Ramon Buchanan, Miami (Fla.)
Sean Spence, Miami (Fla.)
Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
Lavonte David, Nebraska
James-Michael Johnson, Nevada
Carmen Messina, New Mexico
Zach Brown, North Carolina
Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
Audie Cole, North Carolina State
Darius Fleming, Notre Dame
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
Tom Wort, Oklahoma
Josh Kaddu, Oregon
Michael Mauti, Penn State
Max Gruder, Pittsburgh
Miles Burris, San Diego State
Jamie Collins, Southern Miss.
Korey Williams, Southern Miss.
Shayne Skov, Stanford
Tanner Brock, TCU
Tank Carder, TCU
Tahir Whitehead, Temple
Emmanuel Acho, Texas
Keenan Robinson, Texas
Garrick Williams, Texas A&M
Marvin Burdette, UAB
Chris Galippo, USC
Bobby Wagner, Utah State
Chris Marve, Vanderbilt
Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Mike Taylor, Wisconsin

After leaving Michigan State, Hunter Rison lands at K-State

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Less than two weeks after leaving East Lansing, Hunter Rison is headed a little bit further west to continue his collegiate playing career.

On his personal Twitter account this weekend, Rison revealed that he “will be furthering my athletic and academic career at Kansas State University.” The announcement came nearly a dozen days after Rison’s father, former Michigan State wide receiver Andre Rison, confirmed during a radio interview that his son would be transferring from his alma mater, citing a desire for more playing time.

After sitting out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws, the wide receiver will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Rison was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 46 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Michigan. The 5-11, 200-pound Rison was one of four four-star recruits signed as part of MSU’s February 2017 recruiting class.

As a true freshman, he caught 19 passes for 224 yards. In the September loss to Notre Dame, he set career highs in receptions (four) and receiving yards (73).

Former Ohio State assistant leaving Minnesota for Michigan

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An assistant with history on one side of The Game rivalry is headed to the other side. reportedly.

FootballScoop.com first reported that Minnesota’s Ed Warinner (pictured, center) is leaving Minnesota to take an unspecified job at Michigan. SI.com‘s Bruce Feldman subsequently confirmed the initial report.

While the Wolverines have not yet confirmed the addition of Warinner, the coach’s updated Twitter profile indicates that he’s now at U-M. As Jim Harbaugh already has his allotment of 10 on-field assistants, it appears likely that Warinner will serve as some type of offensive analyst.

Warinner spent the 2017 season as the offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota. Prior to that, He was the line coach at Ohio State from 2012-16. In 2015, he added the title of co-offensive coordinator.

Oregon officially confirms swiping of assistant from Wazzu

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Washington State’s coaching loss will prove to be a fellow Pac-12 member’s gain.

Following up on reports that had surfaced throughout the latter part of this past week, new head coach Mario Cristobal announced that he has hired Jim Mastro as his new running backs coach. Mastro will also serve as the Ducks’ run-game coordinator.

Mastro had spent the past six seasons as the running backs coach at Washington State.

“We are thrilled to add Jim to the staff,” Cristobal said in a statement. “He has extraordinary leadership skills which will be of great benefit in developing our talented group of running backs. Jim possesses a wealth of experience both coaching and recruiting on the West Coast, and he has consistently been a tremendous innovator on the offensive side of the ball.”

Prior to Wazzu, Mastro spent one season (2012) as the tight ends coach at UCLA. For the 11 seasons prior to that first taste of the Pac-12, Mastro was the running backs coach at Nevada.

Mastro has also spent time on FBS coaching staffs at Idaho (1998-99) and San Jose State (1995).

QB Keller Chryst announces transfer from Stanford

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Stanford’s quarterback room will have a decidedly different look this coming season.

Keller Chryst announced on his personal Twitter account Sunday afternoon that he has decided to transfer from the Cardinal for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  Chryst will graduate from the university in June, making him eligible to play in 2018 at another FBS program if that’s the path he chooses.

Chryst gave no specific reason for the decision, although the fact that he lost his starting this past season likely played a significant role.

Chryst began the 2016 season as the backup to Ryan Burns, who started the first seven games after winning the job coming out of camp before losing it to Chryst midseason; he replaced Burns midway through that season as the starter.  While he suffered a torn ACL in Stanford’s Sun Bowl win over North Carolina following the 2016 regular season, he began the 2017 season as the starter; an injury in the Week 4 win over UCLA opened the door for redshirt freshman K.J. Costello to start the following week against Arizona State.  Chryst returned in Week 6 and started the next three games.

Ahead of the Washington State game in early November, however, a healthy Chryst was benched in favor of Costello.  In what turned out to be the final three starts of Chryst’s career with the Cardinal, he completed just under 57 percent of his passes for 453 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

In parts of three seasons, Chryst, whose uncle Paul Chryst is the head coach at Wisconsin, passed for 1,926 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions in 289 attempts.