Manti Te'o

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

Cost of attendance not having negative recruiting impact on Group of Five (yet)

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs for a first down against Temple during the second half of the American Athletic Conference championship football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Houston. Houston won 24-13. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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The outlook on the impact cost of attendance has on non-power conference institutions may not be known for another year or so, but after one recruiting cycle since the power conferences were granted autonomy powers, cost of attendance stipends have not been seen to be a major difference in the game as one might have thought originally.

Underdog Dynasty took a look at the issue and how Group of Five schools have fared. The initial findings suggest Group of Five programs are not struggling nearly as much as once suspected when it comes to cost of attendance stipends, although it is something that not every program has jumped into providing just yet. And yes, the topic of stipends does pop up on the recruiting trail, which suggests the Group of Five programs that can provide a little extra money as part of a player’s enrollment do figure to have some sort of advantage. However, stipends do not appear to be a game changer on a massive enough scale.

From Underdog Dynasty;

Another fear from last season was that smaller athletic departments couldn’t afford it. Those may have been overblown as well. My Google search turned up news of South Dakota State phasing in COA stipends for all student-athletes, something North Dakota and North Dakota State already have done.

All three are FCS schools. If they can afford the stipends, albeit funding 63 football scholarships rather than 85, G5 schools should as well. Even the Sun Belt distributes more than $1 million per school in College Football Playoff payouts.

Houston, of the American Athletic Conference, just landed a recruiting class that would make a good number of power conference programs jealous, although the Cougars were the only Group of Five program to finish ranked in the top 50 in the final team rankings compiled by Rivals (BYU finished No. 48). Boise State, UCF and Temple fell in the upper half of the FBS mix as well.

Just as one year of the College Football Playoff system did not provide enough empirical evidence to suggest the Big 12 should expand to 12 just to get a conference championship game, one year of cost of attendance stipends is not nearly enough to suggest it has a devastating or minimal impact on the recruiting game in college football. This is just something that will have to be watched for a few more years in order to gather more evidence to evaluate.

Former Wolverine Brian Cole transferring to Kentucky

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2013, file photo, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops watches from the sideline during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. Stoops has recruited some high-level talent since coming to Lexington three years ago and the Wildcats have taken substantial steps forward. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File
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Maybe it’s the new uniforms. Maybe it’s an opportunity for a fresh start. Whatever the reason, former Michigan wide receiver and defensive back Brian Cole is heading to Kentucky.

Cole was a four-star recruit in Michigan’s Class of 2015. The second-ranked player from the state of Michigan was a significant addition to the Wolverines by then first-year Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, which helps make his decision to leave for another program now a bit interesting to note considering the momentum seemingly being generated in Ann Arbor. He was released from his scholarship in Michigan in January.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Cole will be forced to sit out the 2016 season and will be eligible to return to the playing field again in 2017. The good news for Cole is he will still have three years of eligibility remaining.

Cole appeared in two games for the Wolverines in 2015, but he spent most of the season held back by injury issues. His addition to the Kentucky roster is a big win for head coach Mark Stoops, who has developed a little bit of a habit for adding some talented transfers to his program in Lexington.

Michigan and Notre Dame could be rekindling their football series

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 1994, file photo, Notre Dame's Derrick Mayes (1) pulls in a touchdown catch in front of Michigan's Chuck Winters (35) during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. Mayes may have grabbed this spectacular catch for a score, but Michigan's Remy Hamilton kicked four field goals, including a 42-yarder with 2 seconds left, to give the Wolverines a 26-24  victory. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File)
AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File
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The bitter divorce between Michigan and Notre Dame on the football field could soon be forgiven. There are hints and clues the series could be heading to a revival.

Michigan athletics director Jim Hackett started lighting the fire for the rivalry series renewal discussion last week when he mentioned during a radio interview the two schools have opened communication on the subject.

“I will tell you this, the relationship is good, and it started with [Jim Harbaugh] and coach [Brian Kelly] working together on a desire to play together,” Hackett said. “But (there’s) nothing firm yet.”

In 2013, when the two schools were beginning to play what was to be their final game son the existing contract, Kelly downplayed the rivalry with Michigan by noting it has not been one of the best rivalries in Notre Dame’s history. In his defense, he is right. In fact, Notre Dame has a more storied history with Michigan State, not to mention USC or Navy.

“I really haven’t seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries,” Kelly said according to the Chicago Tribune. “I’ve seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played.

“For me, I’ve been in Michigan a long time, I’ve always felt the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game. But in the Notre Dame history books, this game has (been) played, but obviously there have been some years where it hasn’t been played for a number of years.”

Kelly did later go on to say he was optimistic the series with Michigan would return in the future. Harbaugh was quick to follow up on the idea of playing Notre Dame again. Now we just sit and wait to see when that may become a possibility.

Scheduling for both Michigan and Notre Dame have become a bit more complex in more recent years than it used to be. Notre Dame is part of an ACC scheduling rotation that guarantees a certain number of power conference opponents from the ACC each season and the Irish continue rivalry game son an annual basis with USC, Stanford and Navy. Michigan is moving to a nine-game Big Ten schedule with the requirement to play at least one power conference opponent in its non-conference slate each season. The Wolverines already have that requirement met through the 2027 season but have shown a willingness to schedule two power conference opponents in a season, which is the case in 2020 and 2021 (games vs. Washington and Virginia Tech in alternating home-and-home deals).

Alabama reportedly fills defensive assistant vacancy with Derrick Ansley

Alabama defensive back Cyrus Jones (5) is mobbed by teammates after intercepting a pass in the end zone during the first half against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP
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When Alabama lost defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to a head coaching position at Georgia, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban stressed his program always manages to find good coaches to fill spots left by coaches going to accept other positions. Needing to fill out its staff following the latest changes in the coaching carousel, Alabama looks to have filled a defensive assistant role with the addition of Derrick Ansley.

According to a report Sunday morning from TideSports.com (a Rivals affiliate covering Alabama), Ansley will join the coaching staff at Alabama after serving as a co-defensive coordinator for Kentucky. While in Lexington, Ansley coached the secondary for the Wildcats. It is reported he is expected to fill the same role with Alabama under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Ansley previously coached under Saban as a graduate assistant in 2010 and 2011 before moving to Tennessee for one season. He joined the Kentucky staff in 2013. At Alabama, Ansley will fill the vacancy left by Mel Tucker, who moved to Georgia with Smart. Tucker was Alabama’s secondary coach as well.