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.

D-II head coach to reportedly take RBs coach job at Syracuse

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It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.

FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.  Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.

Former Baylor TE Tre’Von Armstead arrested in connection to 2013 sexual assault

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The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker.  And more ominous.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”

The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011.  It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.

“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.

Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015.  A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.

Louisville clarifies titles for revamped defensive coaching staff

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The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.

Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball.  Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.

As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.

New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.

Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).  They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.