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Reigning Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee one of 75 on preseason watch list

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The next stop on our tour of preseason watch lists is the Biletnikoff Award.

The award is presented annually to the top receiver in college football. Last year’s winner was USC’s Marqise Lee.

Lee is featured as one of 75 players on this year’s Biletnikoff preseason watch list. Other notable preseason candidates include Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin), Amari Cooper (Alabama), Stefon Diggs (Maryland), Rashad Green (Florida State), and Sammy Watkins (Clemson). The SEC leads all major conferences with 14 candidates, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with 10. The list is not final, however, as players can be added to it later.

The winner of this year’s award will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 12, 2013.

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

Jared Abbrederis, Sr., Wisconsin
Davante Adams, So., Fresno State
Nelson Agholor, So., USC
Alex Amidon, Sr., Boston College
Odell Beckham, Jr., Jr., LSU
Kenny Bell, Jr., Nebraska
Michael Bennett, Jr., Georgia
Chris Boyd, Jr., Vanderbilt
Corey Brown, Sr., Ohio State
Aaron Burbridge, So., Michigan State
Damiere Byrd, Jr., South Carolina
Michael Campanaro, Sr., Wake Forest
Brandon Carter, Jr., TCU
Brandon Coleman, Jr., Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, Jr., Oregon State
Amari Cooper, So., Alabama
Jamison Crowder, Jr., Duke
DaVaris Daniels, Jr., Notre Dame
Mike Davis, Sr., Texas
Quinshad Davis, So., North Carolina
Titus Davis, Jr., Central Michigan
Stefon Diggs, So., Maryland
Phillip Dorsett, Jr., Miami
William Dukes, Jr., FAU
Quinton Dunbar, Jr., Florida
Bruce Ellington, Jr., South Carolina
Mike Evans, So., Texas A&M
Shaquelle Evans, Sr., UCLA
Austin Franklin, Jr., New Mexico State
Jeremy Gallon, Sr., Michigan
Keyarris Garrett, Jr., Tulsa
Ryan Grant, Sr., Tulane
Rashad Green, Jr., FSU
Dorial Green-Beckham, So., Missouri
Deontay Greenberry, So.,  Houston
Noel Grigsby, Sr., San Jose State
Je’Ron Hamm, Sr., Louisiana-Monroe
Justin Hardy, Jr., East Carolina
Chris Harper, So., California
Robert Herron, Sr., Wyoming
Cody Hoffman, Sr., BYU
Josh Huff, Sr., Oregon
T.J. Jones, Sr., Notre Dame
Cody Latimer, Jr., Indiana
Marqise Lee, Jr., USC
Jordan Leslie, Jr., UTEP
Jordan Matthews, Sr., Vanderbilt
J.D. McKissic, So., Arkansas State
Trey Metoyer, So., Oklahoma
Matt Miller, Jr., Boise State
Malcolm Mitchell., Jr. Georgia
Donte Moncrief, Jr., Ole Miss
Tracy Moore, Sr., Oklahoma State
Alex Neutz, Jr., Buffalo
Kevin Norwood, Sr., Alabama
DeVante Parker, Jr., Louisville
Charone Peake, Jr., Clemson
Bernard Reedy, Sr., Toledo
Tevin Reese, Sr., Baylor
Paul Richardson, Jr., Colorado
Allen Robinson, Jr., Penn State
Shaq Roland, So., South Carolina
Alonzo Russell, So., Toledo
Jalen Saunders, Sr., Oklahoma
Jaxon Shipley, Jr., Texas
Tommy Shuler, So., Marshall
Devin Smith, Jr., Ohio State
Willie Snead, Jr., Ball State
Josh Stewart, Jr., Oklahoma State
Devin Street, Jr., Pittsburgh
Eric Thomas, Sr., Troy
Jordan Thompson, So., West Virginia
Eric Ward, Sr., Texas Tech
Sammy Watkins, Jr., Clemson
Brandon Wimberly, Sr., Nevada

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.