C.J. Mosley, Corbin Berkstresser

Alabama’s Mosley, Stanford’s Skov highlight Butkus Award watch list

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After a brief weekend break, we’re back with the preseason watch lists. The Butkus Award and Rotary Lombardi Award watch lists have been released today. The Butkus watch list is below, and we’ll have the Lombardi watch list a little later today.

Alabama’s C.J. Mosley and Stanford’s Shane Skov highlight the 51 candidates for this year’s Butkus award, given annually to college football’s best linebacker. Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o won last year’s edition of the award.

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

Jerry Attaochu, Georgia Tech
Anthony Barr, UCLA
Lamin Barrow, LSU
Dorian Bell, Duquesne
Greg Blair, Cincinnati
Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Carl Bradford, Arizona State
Preston Brown, Louisville
Jonathan Brown, Illinois
Max Bullough, Michigan State
Carlo Calabrese, Notre Dame
Glenn Carson, Penn State
Steele Divitto, Boston College
Dan Fox, Notre Dame
Jeremiah George, Iowa State
Spencer Hadley, BYU
Bryce Hager, Baylor
Anthony Hitchens, Iowa
Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
Cqulin Hubert, Southeastern Louisiana
Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
Derrell Johnson, East Carolina
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Christian Jones, Florida State
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Christian Kirksey, Iowa
Dede Lattimore, South Florida
Boseko Lokombo, Oregon
Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
Jamal Merrell, Rutgers
James Morris, Iowa
C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Trent Murphy, Stanford
Hayes Pullard, USC
Trevor Reilly, Utah
D.T. Shackelford, Mississippi
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Prince Shembo, Notre Dame
Deontae Skinner, Mississippi State
Shane Skov, Stanford
Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut
Telvin Smith, Florida State
Uani Unga, BYU
Kyle Van Noy, BYU
Brandon Watts, Georgia Tech
Derrick Webb, Colorado
Avery Williamson, Kentucky
Chris Young, Arizona State
Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA

Bud Foster says he is too invested in Virginia Tech to leave Hokies

Bud Foster

For years there was a thought that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster would one day be the successor to longtime head coach Frank Beamer. With Beamer announcing his decision to retire at the end of the season, there was never any word about Foster being handed the keys to the program. Instead, Virginia Tech has found a coach with an offensive identity in the hiring of Justin Fuente from Memphis. Given the way coaching changes can tend to go, nobody would have blamed Foster for being a tad miffed at not getting the job in Blacksburg, but he will remain the defensive coordinator of the Hokies as a key member of Fuente’s new staff. He says he has put in too much work to leave now.

“I’m rooted in here. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this place,” Foster said Monday. “It wasn’t hard. I wouldn’t have stayed here for as long as I’ve had if I didn’t feel like we had the opportunity to win at the highest level. I feel that more than ever right now.”

Fuente being able to keep Foster on the staff is a huge advantage. Foster not only ensures Fuente will have a dependable coach managing the defense, which should remain one of the top defensive units in the ACC as long as he stays put. Keeping Foster on the staff also allows for some tremendous stability during the transition, which can always be key when a coach with no previous ties to the university takes over a program. Foster can help Fuente get acclimated to his new surroundings and also keep valuable recruiting ties alive and well during the change.

Foster acknowledged he would love to one day be a head coach, and that dream will continue, but for now he is more interested in contributing at Virginia Tech.

“I always wanted to be a head coach. This would be a dream job. I’m happy with where I am. I’ll never be bitter. I won’t cry myself to sleep wishing “what-ifs” and they type of thing. My goal is to be the best football coach I can possibly be. I want to help this program be the best football program it can possibly be.”

Maryland wasting no time getting in touch with Mark Richt

Mark Richt

On Monday morning Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he was absolutely going to continue coaching even though his days at Georgia are coming to an end. If that is the case, Maryland would like to make that a reality for Richt.

According to a report from Inside MD Sports, Maryland has made first contact with Richt and a meeting could come as soon as tomorrow. Maryland is looking to fill a head coaching vacancy after firing Randy Edsall during the season. Richt will not be the only potential candidate to interview for the Maryland job. The Washington Post reported Monday interim head coach Mike Locksley was also given a chance to interview for the job on a permanent basis. That interview was reportedly set to happen Monday.

It would make sense for Maryland to make a call to Richt. With Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank looking to help build the Maryland program, there are sufficient funds to make a splashy hire for the program, which is showing signs of a well-structured future with plans to improve the football program. The Maryland job has some good potential in the long-term and competes in the same division as some tough opponents. That would include at least two coaches Richt is very familiar with; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Penn State’s James Franklin. Richt faced Meyer when the Buckeyes head coach was at Florida, and Franklin of course coached at Vanderbilt. All three were in the same SEC East Division down south. Could they be reunited in the Big Ten East in 2016?

Whatever the case may be, if Maryland can land Richt as its next head coach, it would be a tremendous hire for the Terrapins. Heck, he already has the attire for it.

Unlike Missouri, 5-7 Nebraska will jump at opportunity to go bowling

Cethan Carter

Nebraska will be first in line to accept a bowl invitation when it arrives in the mail, despite going 5-7 this season. The Huskers, who are first in line among 5-7 candidates based on APR scores, will reportedly accept a bowl invitation to fill the first vacancy left to fill once all bowl-eligible teams are slotted into the postseason mix.

Missouri released a statement earlier today saying it will not accept a bowl invitation following a 5-7 season. The Tigers would have been the second team among 5-7 teams to receive a bowl invitation based on APR scores. According to a report by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, Kansas State would be next in line, followed by Minnesota, San Jose State, Illinois and Rice.

Missouri and Nebraska would appear to have different agendas of course. Nebraska is coming off the first season under new head coach Mike Riley, while Missouri is in the midst of a full coaching search. The decision not to go to a bowl game allows Missouri’s coaching staff in place under the now retired Gary Pinkel to pursue new opportunities without having bowl preparations get in the way.

Maryland sack master Yannick Ngakoue entering NFL Draft

Yannick Ngakoue, Christian Hackenberg
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Maryland will have a new head coach in 2016. Whoever that head coach ends up being will have to find a way to replace one of Maryland’s best players. Defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue says he will skip his final year of eligibility with the Terrapins and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.

Ngakoue was the second in the Big Ten with 13.0 sacks this season, trailing only Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib. Ngakoue’s sack total is a Maryland school record and was one of the few reasons for optimism for Maryland’s dreadful football season, which ended with just three wins.