The Nagurski Trophy scoffs in the general direction of the Outland Trophy and its piddly 75-player watch list.
Given annually to the nation’s top defensive player, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy announced Thursday that a grand total of 81 players have been added to its preseason watch list. Just one of last year’s finalists appear on this year’s list, but that one is a fairly big one both literally and figuratively: South Carolina defensive end and preseason Heisman frontrunner Jadeveon Clowney.
The watch list this year is spread out fairly evenly among the three defensive positional groupings: 28 linebackers, 27 defensive linemen and 26 defensive backs.
Alabama and Stanford pace individual schools with four player each on the preseason watch list, while Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Texas and USC have three each. With two each, Arizona State, Florida, Florida State, LSU, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon, TCU, Tennessee, Tulsa and Virginia Tech are the only other programs with more than one player.
As expected, the SEC tops all conferences with 16 players listed, followed by the Pac-12 (14), Big Ten (13), ACC (12), Big 12 (12).
Last year’s winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
And, as is always the case in a post such as this, the complete Nagurski watch list appears below:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a college football player has decided to leave his original home and look elsewhere.
The latest to be hit with attrition via a transfer is Virginia Tech, with the Hokies confirming speculation that Carson Lydon is no longer with the team and intends to transfer to an undetermined location. No reason was given for the linebacker parting ways with the program.
Should Lydon decide to move on to another FBS program, he’d likely have to sit out the 2016 season, leaving him with three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the following season.
Lydon was a three-star member of the Hokies’ 2015 recruiting class coming out of high school in Florida. In addition to Tech, Lydon held offers from, among others, Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, North Carolina State, Rutgers and Syracuse.
As a true freshman last season, Lydon played in 11 games.
Earlier in the day, reports coming out of South Florida indicated that Juwon Young‘s time as a member of the Miami Hurricanes could be coming to an end. While it’s not at that point yet, there has been one confirmed development on that front.
Early Friday afternoon, UM announced that Young has been indefinitely suspended from the football program. The only stated reason was the vague “violation of department rules.”
According to a report, the suspension seemingly stems from the university’s investigation into a potential NCAA violation. From the Miami Herald:
Multiple people inside the UM football program do not expect Young to be on the team this season. One source cautioned that he’s in limbo and it’s still possible he could return but he’s not in a good position.
The matter, according to a source, involved Young gaining use of a luxury vehicle from a car agency. It’s unclear if Young paid for the vehicle or if he intends to.
As for additional specifics for the suspension itself?
The Herald‘s report went on to note that star defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad is being investigated for his involvement with the same agency; as of now, Muhammad remains an active member of the program.
As UM’s NCAA probation doesn’t end for another four months, the university is looking to get as far ahead of this situation as possible.
Young appeared in 14 games the past two seasons, including 10 in 2015.
Muhammad, a redshirt junior, played in 12 games in 2015, leading the team in both tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (five). He underwent a minor surgical procedure in late April to repair an issue in one of his knees.
A legal victory in court could lead to one defender’s return to the Central Michigan football team.
Facing trial on four misdemeanor counts, Malik Fountain (pictured, No. 31) was found not guilty on all four counts by an Isabella County (Mich.) jury that took less than an hour to come to their decision. “In a move never seen before by defense attorney Joseph Barberi, jurors in the Malik Fountain trial filed out of the Isabella County Courthouse Thursday morning and hugged Fountain, his mother, father, sister and brother,” the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun wrote.
Fountain was arrested in April of this year and charged with two counts of assault, one count of aggravated assault and one count of jostling in connection to a December incident.
In the incident, Fountain was accused of hitting two women, one of whom claimed she needed surgery on her nose after being struck. One witness claimed another man threw a drink on Fountain and another individual and a fight broke out between the groups.
Fountain denied hitting any women during the imbroglio, and could’ve taken a plea deal on only the jostling charge but wanted to clear his name entirely by taking it to trial.
Based on the university’s student handbook, Fountain, indefinitely suspended since his arrest, would be eligible to return to the team immediately. However, that’s a decision that will be made after the player and his head coach, John Bonamego, discuss what to do moving forward.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Fountain played in all 13 games last season. His 67 tackles were third on the Chips, while his 4.5 tackles for loss were tied for second.
Earlier this week, thanks to another off-field incident, Georgia lost a defensive back. A couple of days later, UGA has reportedly gained a player in the same position group.
While nothing has been confirmed, Dawgs247.com is reporting that safety J.R. Reed has decided to transfer into first-year head coach Kirby Smart‘s program. Reed comes to Athens by way of Tulsa, where he spent his true freshman season in 2015.
Because of NCAA transfer rules, it’s expected Reed will have to sit out the 2016 season. He would then have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.
Reed was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in Plano, Texas. He played in 13 games last season, and was listed as the co-starter on Tulsa’s depth chart exiting the spring this year.
Reed is also the cousin of Deangelo Gibbs, the No. 2 recruit in the state of Georgia for the Class of 2017 who has the Bulldogs as a potential future home.