Thorpe Award watch list features 48 DBs

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Another day, another preseason watch list.

Today’s watch list is for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to college football’s best defensive back. There are 48 DBs on this year’s preseason watch list spanning all 10 FBS conferences. The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 lead all leagues with eight representatives, followed by the Mountain West with five.

The list is not considered final and players not on the preseason watch list can be added throughout the year.

Last year’s winner was Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State.

As always, you can view the entire list of preseason candidates below. You can now also check out our preseason watch lists repository HERE.

Kenneth Acker, Southern Methodist (CB), Sr.
Ricardo Allen, Purdue (CB), Sr.
Dion Bailey, Southern California (S), Sr.
C.J. Barnett, Ohio State (S), Sr.
Bene Benwikere, San Jose State (S), Sr.
Nat Berhe, San Diego State (S), Sr.
Tre Boston, North Carolina (S), Sr.
Christian Bryant, Ohio State (S), Sr.
Deone Bucannon, Washington State (S), Sr.
Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee State (S), So.
Carrington Byndom, Texas (CB), Sr.
Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern (S), Jr.
Sam Carter, Texas Christian (S), Jr.
HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama (S), Jr.
Ross Cockrell, Duke (CB), Sr.
Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (S), Sr.
Alden Darby, Arizona State (S), Sr.
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State (CB), Sr.
Quandre Diggs, Texas (CB), Jr.
Ahmad Dixon, Baylor (S), Sr.
Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky (S), Jr.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon (CB), Jr.
Ciante Evans, Nebraska (CB), Sr.
Antone Exum, Virginia Tech (CB), Sr.
Phillip Gaines, Rice (CB), Sr.
Andre Hal, Vanderbilt (S), Sr.
Najja Johnson, Buffalo (S), Sr.
L. J. Jones, Fresno State (S), Sr.
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (CB), Sr.
Isaiah Lewis , Michigan State (S), Sr.
Craig Loston, Louisiana State (S), Sr.
Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State (S), Sr.
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon (S), Jr.
Marco Nelson, Tulsa (S), Sr.
Isaiah Newsome, Louisiana at Monroe (S), Sr.
Dayonne Nunley, Miami, OH (CB), Sr.
Calvin Pryor, Louisville (S), Jr.
Ed Reynolds, Stanford (S), Sr.
Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State (CB), Sr.
Jordan Richards, Stanford (S), Jr.
Bradley Roby, Ohio State (CB), Jr.
Derron Smith, Fresno State (S), Jr.
Hakeem Smith, Louisville (S), Sr.
Damian Swann, Georgia (CB), Jr.
Jason Verrett Texas Christian (CB), Sr.
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (S), Sr.
Deron Wilson, Southern Mississippi (S), Sr.
Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State (S), Sr.

Neal Brown completes Troy staff with FCS co-DC

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For the most recent addition to his Troy coaching staff, Neal Brown has dipped into the Football Championship Series.

The Sun Belt Conference program confirmed Tuesday that Brandon Hall has been hired by Brown as his new linebackers coach.  Hall had spent the past four seasons as the co-defensive coordinator at FCS Jacksonville State.

“Brandon is an outstanding defensive coach and has experience coaching at a lot of different levels,” a statement from Brown. “He is relentless on the recruiting trail and already has developed strong relationships in the areas that we believe are key. Looking at his track record, it comes as no surprise that Brandon helped build one of the top defenses in the FCS at Jacksonville State over the last four years.”

Prior to JSU, Hall had spent time at Arkansas State, Auburn and Oklahoma.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to join this program and coaching staff,” Hall said in his statement. “You can’t help but get excited as a coach when you look at what Coach Brown and the rest of this staff has done over the past three years with the Troy program. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Trojan Family and continuing the strong tradition of Troy football.”

Longtime UCLA staffer Angus McClure’s hire one of two announced by Nevada

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The departure of a longtime UCLA staffer has officially been confirmed.

Late last week, reports surfaced that Angus McClure was leaving UCLA for a position at Nevada.  Tuesday, the Mountain West Conference football program confirmed that McClure has been hired as Jay Norvell‘s new offensive line coach.

McClure had been with the Bruins since 2007, serving at various times as position coach for both sides of UCLA’s lines as well as special teams.  Most recently, McClure had served as recruiting coordinator for the Pac-12 school.

McClure and Norvell have a prior working relationship as they were both on the same staffs at Nebraska and UCLA.

In addition to McClure, David Lockwood was announced as Nevada’s new safeties coach.  Lockwood was on the UNLV staff last season after spending the previous three years as the cornerbacks coach at Arizona.

“I think we made our staff stronger with these two veteran hires,” Norvell said in a statement. “I’m excited about the experience and expertise that we have added to the Wolf Pack coaching staff.”

Former Kansas State head coach Jim Dickey dies at 84

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Former Kansas State head coach Jim Dickey died on Saturday night at the age of 84.

A Texas native, Dickey played quarterback at Houston in the 1950’s and started his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater. From there he took assistant jobs at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas and North Carolina before landing the K-State job ahead of the 1978 season. He went 25-53-2 in seven-plus seasons on the job, which doesn’t look like much at first blush until one takes stock of where the Wildcat football program was at the time.

Dickey took Kansas State to the Independence Bowl in 1982, a 14-3 loss to Wisconsin, which was the first bowl appearance in program history. He was named the Big 8’s Coach of the Year for that season.

After back-to-back 3-win seasons in 1983 and ’84, he was let go after an 0-2 start to the 1985 campaign. The program would remain historically down until future College Football Hall of Famer Bill Snyder built the program up in the 1990’s.

Dickey finished out his career as an assistant on the pre-Steve Spurrier Florida teams before retiring in 1989. He lived at a rest home in Houston at the time of his passing, according to the Manhattan Mercury. Dickey’s son, Darrell Dickey, is the former head coach at North Texas and currently the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

Mario Cristobal reportedly reuniting with former assistant in Eugene

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The Oregon coaching staff is going to have a specific South Florida flavor to it. Head coach Mario Cristobal is a Miami native, a former Hurricanes player and assistant, and the former head coach at Florida International. On Tuesday, Cristobal moved to bring a fellow South Floridian with him to the Pacific Northwest.

According to Grant Traylor of the Huntington (W. Va.) Herald-Dispatch, Marshall offensive line coach Alex Mirabal is leaving the staff to reunite with Cristobal in Eugene.

Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman added Mirabal will work under Cristobal, who will handle the offensive line.

Mirabal is also a native of Miami and a Florida International graduate. He spent the first decade-plus of his career working in Miami’s high school ranks before joining Cristobal’s FIU staff as tight ends and later offensive line coach from 2007-12. He landed at Marshall in 2013 after Cristobal was forced out at FIU, where he remained until Tuesday.

Under Mirabal’s guidance, Marshall finished fourth nationally in sacks allowed at just 0.85 per game. Oregon finished 54th nationally in that same metric.