Over 100 players make preseason Lombardi Award watch list

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In addition to the Butkus Award watch list (which you can view HERE), the Rotary Lombardi Award preseason watch list was released today as the college football season inches ever closer.

The Lombardi Award is given annually to the best lineman or linebacker in college football, and this year’s preseason watch list is over 100 players strong. You’re probably on it too. (Congratulations!)

The 2013 Lombardi Award will be presented Dec. 11 in a ceremony at the Wortham Center in Houston, Texas. Last year’s winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

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

C Josh Allen, ULM
LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
DT Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State
LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
DL Morgan Breslin, USC
LB Preston Brown, Louisville
LB Vince Buhaglar, San Jose State
G Austen Bujnoch, Cincinnati
LB Max Bullough, Michigan State
G Chris Burnette, Georgia
DT Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State
G Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
G La’El Collins, LSU
DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State
NG Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
DE Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
LB Jake Doughty, Utah State
DT Dominique Easley, Florida
DT IK Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech
LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
LB Jake Fely, San Diego State
DE Devonte Fields, TCU
C BJ Finney, Kansas State
G Dominic Flewellyn, Bowling Green
DE Ben Gardner, Stanford
DE David Gilbert, Miami
C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
OL Ryan Groy, Wisconsin
DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
LB Ben Heeney, Kansas
DE Brock Hekking, Nevada
LB Anthony Hitchens, Iowa
LB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
DT Chucky Hunter, TCU
T James Hurst North, Carolina
DE Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech
DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis
C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
LB Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky
G Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
G Tre’ Jackson, Florida State
DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
LB AJ Johnson, Tennessee
DT Anthony Johnson, LSU
T Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers
T Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
T Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
LB Christian Jones, Florida State
G Nicholas Kaspar, San Jose State
C Zac Kerin, Toledo
T Cyrus Kouandijio, Alabama
C Tyler Larsen, Utah State
DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
T Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati
T Charles Leno, Boise State
T Taylor Lewan, Michigan
G Spencer Long, Nebraska
G Antwan Lowery, Rutgers
DE Aaron Lynch, USF
LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
LB Gabe Martin, Bowling Green
G Zack Martin, Notre Dame
T Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
T Morgan Moses, Virginia
LB CJ Mosley, Alabama
LB Trent Murphy, Stanford
LB Jonathan Newsome, Ball State
DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
DE Roosevelt Nix, Kent State
LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
G Andrew Norwell, Ohio State
T Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
LB Zack Orr, North Texas
DE Alex Page, South Alabama
LB Hayes Pullard, USC
DT Travis Raciti, San Jose State
T Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
G Cyril Richardson, Baylor
C Weston Richburg, Colorado State
LB Jake Ryan, Michigan
G Eric Schultz, Utah State
DE Tyler Scott, Northwestern
C Issac Seumalo, Oregon State
LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
LB Prince Shembo, Notre Dame
LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
T Jeremiah Sirles, Nebraska
LB Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut
DE Chris Smith, Arkansas
LB Keith Smith, San Jose State
G Anthony Steen, Alabama
G Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
C Travis Swanson, Arkansas
T Brandon Thomas, Clemson
DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
LB Jack Tyler, Virginia Tech
G John Urschel, Penn State
LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
C Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern
G Mason Walters, Texas
T Austin Wentworth, Fresno State
T David Yankey, Stanford

Virginia Tech loses starting DE Vinny Mihota for rest of 2017

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For the second straight week, Virginia Tech has lost a starting member of its defense.

The school confirmed in a press release that Vinny Mihota will miss what’s left of the 2017 season because of a knee injury. The defensive end suffered the injury in the Week 12 win over Pittsburgh.

This is the second consecutive season Mihota’s year has ended prematurely because of injury as he missed last year’s bowl game with a lingering shoulder issue that required surgery.

“I share Vinny’s disappointment that he’ll miss the rest of the season,” a statement from head coach Justin Fuente began. “But based off last offseason, I also know no one will rehab more diligently than Vinny to get back on the field with his teammates.”

Mihota has started all 11 games thus far this season. He’s been credited with 24 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks.

A week ago today, Tech announced that starting safety Terrell Edmunds would miss the remainder of the year after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder.

Akron earns second-ever spot in MAC championship game

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Akron came into Week 13 needing to either win or rely on someone else to lose.  In the end, the Zips decided to just go ahead and punch their own ticket to the Motor City, thank you very much.

Jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead Tuesday night, that margin proved to be more than enough for Akron as they easily cruised past rival Kent State in a 24-14 win.  Kent actually outgained its hosts 246-191, but a fumble return for a touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the second quarter essentially sealed the win for Akron.

Both Akron and Ohio entered this week tied atop the MAC East at 5-2.  However, the Zips beat the Bobcats in Week 12, meaning Akron is the first MAC team to claim a spot in the conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field next weekend.

This will mark the Zips’s second-ever title-game appearance, with the first coming in 2005.  That season, Akron beat Northern Illinois 31-30 for its first-ever conference championship.

Akron will play either NIU (6-1) or Toledo (6-1) in this year’s title game, although it’s trending heavily toward the Rockets as they own the head-to-head with the Huskies.  So, the possibilities?

Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

Report: Florida appears ready to move on from Chip Kelly pursuit if deal isn’t consummated soon

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Florida’s search for a new head coach could very shortly be ready to take another twist.

Despite a certain former Head Ball Coach saying UF’s new head coach would be a current one, speculation on Jim McElwain‘s replacement has seemingly centered on Chip Kelly over the last few days. In fact, a group of UF officials headed by athletic director Scott Stricklin and president Kent Fuchs visited with Kelly in New Hampshire over the weekend to discuss the job.

While it walks, talks and smells like the university has targeted Kelly as its top choice, it appears they want an answer, one way or the other, from the former Oregon head coach sooner rather than later. From Yahoo! SportsPat Forde:

But with other potential candidates becoming available for discussion this weekend, Florida officials appear to be ready to move on shortly after Thanksgiving if a deal has not been struck with Kelly.

Potentially mucking up the works in Gainesville is UCLA, which fired Jim Mora Sunday and is also said to be targeting Kelly as a replacement.  In fact, it’s being reported that the Bruins’ search contingent has already met with Kelly.

UCF’s Scott Frost, who is believed to be Nebraska’s top choice when/when it moves on from Mike Riley, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen are thought to be likely targets should either Kelly snub the Gators or they move on.

One very likely reason for UF’s reported urgency for a decision from Kelly is the revamped recruiting calendar. This year marks the first time that there’s an early signing period in football, with Class of 2018 recruits given a 72-hour window from Dec. 20-22 to sign their National Letters of Intent.

The sooner UF can wrap up its search, the sooner its new coach and his staff can try to hold together some semblance of a first recruiting class with the program – especially with two SEC programs, Tennessee and Ole Miss, already looking for a head coach while a couple of others (Arkansas, Texas A&M) could be on the hunt as early as this coming weekend as well.

Miami jumps Clemson, Wisconsin remains No. 5 in latest CFP rankings

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The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.

USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.

Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.

The top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Clemson
4. Oklahoma
5. Wisconsin
6. Auburn
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
17. Washington
18. LSU
19. Oklahoma State
20. Memphis
21. Stanford
22. Northwestern
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech