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

LOOK: Nebraska, adidas unveil uniforms honoring ’97 Cornhuskers team

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One of the greatest teams in the football program’s storied history is getting its sartorial due.

Nebraska and its apparel partner, adidas, announced Thursday a new alternate uniform that will pay homage to the 1997 Cornhuskers football team.  The uniforms will be worn for the Oct. 7 game against Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium.

From the release:

Centered around a one-to-one recreation of the mesh jerseys worn during the 1990’s, adidas designers were able to recreate the visual aesthetic and texture of the traditional numbers by utilizing a new framis screen-printing technique that also allows for flexibility and movement. Additional detailing for the retro look includes the classic white pants and the traditional white Cornhuskers helmet that features a classic red “N” logo on the sides and accented with player numbers featured in red the back of the helmet.

The new Primeknit Husker ‘97 alternative uniform is at the forefront of design and innovation, providing players the perfect blend of style and technology for elite performance. Made with a cutting-edge, proprietary yarn blend that increases durability and abrasion resistance, Primeknit is the premier compression uniform system, featuring the latest generation of adidas TECHFIT technology. Primeknit helps keep players cool and increases range of motion, giving athletes an unrivaled level of comfort and allowing them to perform at their highest levels. The jersey’s padlock system secures tension over the shoulder pads, while the bodymap fit adheres to the player, making it difficult for opponents to grab, hold or tackle.

The Husker ‘97 theme continues on the TECHFIT compression baselayer with the “Huskers” wordmark prominently place on the chest and accented with traditional stripes on the sleeves to help replicate the look that old school jerseys. Additionally, the theme carries onto the black adizero 5-Star 5.0 gloves, featuring a white oversized graphic of the “Huskers” moniker. The adizero 5-Star 5.0 gloves feature 4-way stretch mesh for compression fit and GripTack for consistent control in all weather conditions. To complete the homage, the team will don all black adidas adizero and FREAK cleats.

The 1997 Cornhuskers went 13-0, completing that undefeated national championship season with a 25-point win over No. 3 Tennessee.  Nebraska beat their 13 opponents that season by an average of 30 points per game.

Tha year was also Tom Osborne’s last as head coach.

QB brother of Joe Flacco transfers from Western Michigan to Rutgers

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That certainly didn’t take long.

Last week, reports surfaced that Tom Flacco, brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, was no longer a part of the Western Michigan football program.  Thursday, the Pardon My Take podcast was the first to report that Flacco is transferring to Rutgers. Nj.com, among others, subsequently confirmed the initial report.

The move, which hasn’t been confirmed by RU, serves as a homecoming for Flacco as the quarterback played his high school football in Voorhees, NJ.

Flacco will be forced to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  Beginning with the 2018 season, he will then have two years of eligibility remaining.

A two-star 2015 signee, Flacco played in 13 games the past two seasons for the Broncos.  As a true freshman, he completed 10-of-12 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown while adding 266 yards and two scores on the ground.  Last season, he attempted just one pass — an incompletion — and rushed for 74 yards, which included a career-long 55-yarder.

Ex-Alabama DL O.J. Smith tweets transfer to Minnesota

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After leaving one Power Five program, O.J. Smith has landed on his feet at another.

On his personal Twitter and Instagram accounts late Thursday morning, Smith announced that he is “Officially Family Of The University Of Minnisota !!!!” While the lineman says his move is official, the Gophers have yet to announce his addition to the roster.

If/when it comes to fruition, Smith will have to sit out the 2017 season, and will then have one year of eligibility to use in 2018.

Smith had announced in early June that he would be transferring from Alabama.

A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2014 recruiting class, Smith was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The defensive tackle redshirted his true freshman because of an injury suffered in summer camp.

The past two seasons, he’s played in a combined two games and was credited with one tackle in each of those contests.

Protests growing over Michael Vick’s impending induction into Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame

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One new addition to Virginia Tech’s Sports Hall of Fame is causing a bit of controversy and consternation and angst.

On July 11, it was announced that Michael Vick would be one of five inductees into the university’s Hall of Fame.  There is little doubt that, on the field, Vick was one of the greatest players in the history of Hokies football and, for that, he deserves a spot.

Off the field, some would argue, precludes him from such an honor.  After leaving Blacksburg, Vick served 19 months in a federal prison after being convicted on dogfighting charges.

As noted by the Roanoke Times,  there are two different online petitions on change.org (HERE and HERE) at the moment that are pushing for the university to reverse its inclusion of Vick as part of this year’s class.  As of this posting, nearly 100,000 individuals combined have signed the petitions, one of which notes that one of the school’s own criteria for inclusion is “[m]ust be of good character and reputation/not have been a source of embarrassment to the university in any way.”

“The College unequivocally opposes honoring an individual whose past actions contradict our values and the cornerstone of our mission,” a Facebook statement from Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, began. “Over the course of several days, I have communicated with President [Timothy] Sands and other campus administrators to express our disappointment and opposition to this decision. I continue to be in conversations with the president regarding this issue.”

In response to the burgeoning brouhaha, the university released a statement defending Vick’s induction that includes shining a light on the former Hokies quarterback’s post-conviction actions.

Mr. Vick’s induction into the university’s sports Hall of Fame acknowledges his tremendous achievements as a student athlete — who some will say was the greatest in the history of the university. We understand that there are those who do not and will never agree with this decision.

“In considering Mr. Vick’s nomination to our sports Hall of Fame, the criminal activities in which he engaged, his subsequent conviction and time he served for his crime were also considered, and it was informed by the remorse he has shown since that conviction, the work he is currently engaged in to advance animal welfare issues, as well as his efforts to help our current student athletes, based on lessons he’s learned in his own life, make positive choices as they begin their adult lives. This in no way condones the actions for which he was convicted. The university remains dedicated to the protection of animal health and welfare and embodies great care and compassion for all living animals.

Vick’s third-place finish in the voting for the 1999 Heisman Trophy is the highest ever for a Hokie.

The 2017 class, including Vick (for now), are scheduled to be inducted at a Sept. 22 ceremony. A day later, the same group will be honored at halftime of the football game vs. Old Dominion.