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

After stops at TCU, Arkansas State, Cameron Echols-Luper to give WKU a try

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?

On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.

As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.

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Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.