Manti Te'o

Johnny Football headlines Walter Camp watch list

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As expected, the 2012 Heisman winner and one of the preseason frontrunners for the 2013 version of that trophy has somehow managed to find his way onto the watch list for one of the most prestigious awards in college football.

The Walter Camp Player of the Year Award announced Friday its 2013 preseason watch list, with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel leading a field of 50 players included in the initial grouping.  Manziel is one of two finalists from last year’s award to be included on this year’s watch list, the other being USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.

Not so surprisingly, offensive players dominate the list, with 38 of the 50 coming from that side of the ball.  Quarterbacks accounted for 18 of the players named, followed by 14 running backs.

A total of seven 2012 Camp first-team All-Americans have been listed, including Lee, Manziel, Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.  Another six players who earned second-team Camp honors last year are included as well.

Last year’s winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, the first defensive player to win the award since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997.  Just one other defensive player (Pittsburgh Hugh Green, 1980) has claimed the honor since its inception in 1967.

As always, below is the complete set of players who make up the 2013 Walter Camp preseason watch list:

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky
Dri Archer, RB, Kent State
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana Monroe
Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona *
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina *
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
David Fluellen, RB, Toledo
Phillip Gaines, DB, Rice
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
John Hubert, RB, Kansas State
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami Fla. #
Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC *
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan *
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M *
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M #
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama *
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Louis Nix III, DE, Notre Dame
Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
Keith Price, QB, Washington
Silas Redd, RB, USC
Bradley Roby, DB, Ohio State #
Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State #
Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame #
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Jason Verrett, DB, TCU #
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama

UCF announces largest financial gift in school history for athletics department renovations

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UCF announced the largest financial gift in school history from UCF alum Kenneth Dixon. The donation will help give UCF the support needed to move forward with its athletics facility upgrades, including an athletics village. Among those upgrades will be an expansion to the school’s baseball stadium and basketball facility, as well as a better atmosphere outside the football stadium for fans.

As far as the football program is concerned, the upgrades to the football operations and athletics headquarters have received a $2 million commitment to date. Most of the renovations will help bring the school’s other sports programs up to a more level playing field, but the football stadium will be given a fresh look on he outside with a plaza and promenade to make for a more inviting atmosphere for UCF fans before and after home football games.

In all, UCF is looking to invest $25 million in the renovation project, and the recent donation from Dixon has helped the school cross the $10 million benchmark.

“With more than $10 million committed to our $25 million facilities vision, our goal is to build the best Athletics Village in the nation,” UCF Athletics Director Danny White said in a released statement. “Thanks to Ken Dixon’s gift of more than $5 million, we’ve taken a major step in that direction.”

Duke QB Thomas Sirk to transfer

Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk (1) looks to pass against North Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk is leaving Durham in search of a new place to play football in his final year of eligibility. Duke announced Monday morning Sirk will transfer in 2017.

Sirk was recently declared a no-go for Duke’s spring football practices as he returns from an Achilles injury suffered last season. Sirk was granted an extra year of eligibility, his sixth, from the NCAA last November. It will be his final year of eligibility.

Sirk was Duke’s leading passer in 2015 with 2,625 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He was also Duke’s leading rusher that season with 803 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Naturally, he will likely be a quality dual-threat option for whatever program lands his services in 2017. As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play this fall at any FBS program.

Minnesota Row the Boat bobblehead features Gopher mascot rowing a boat

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 3: Goldy, mascot for the Minnesota Golden Gophers performs before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs on September 3, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
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With the rights to use “Row the Boat” successfully acquired through a deal with Western Michigan, Minnesota is going all in with the merchandising efforts to capitalize on the motto of P.J. Fleck. Aside from being able to use the motto for program-building measures, Minnesota has the rights to market the saying on merchandise, including an upcoming bobblehead featuring Minnesota’s Gopher mascot.

A limited edition University of Minnesota bobblehead featuring Goldy Gopher rowing a boat was unveiled on Friday by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. Though just an illustration now, it looks incredibly promising and I sort of want to add it to my bobblehead collection.

The bobbleheads are available for pre-order at a cost of $40.00. They should begin shipping in July of this year, in plenty of time for the first season of the Fleck era at Minnesota.

Ex-Rutgers QB transferring to San Diego State

PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Chris Laviano #5 of Rutgers attempts a pass during the second quarter against Illinois on October 15, 2016 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Illinois defeated Rutgers 24-7. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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It appears one of Rutgers’ transferring quarterbacks has found a new home.

In late November, Chris Laviano became one of three Scarlet Knights signal-callers who decided to transfer from Chris Ash‘s football program.  Over the weekend, as relayed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Laviano has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at San Diego State.

As Laviano would be coming to the Mountain West program as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately in 2017. This coming season will be his final year of eligibility.

Laviano had started 18 consecutive games for the Scarlet Knights until he was benched in October of last year.

In 2015, Laviano completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 2,247 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The completion percentage was the best for an RU player since 2008, while the yardage was good for eighth in school history.

Overall, he tossed 21 touchdowns and 15 picks during his time in Piscataway.