Myles Jack one of 42 on Lott IMPACT watch list

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Yep, it’s that time of the year again.

Wednesday afternoon, the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation became the first of a slew of awards to release a preseason watch list, with 42 players making up the initial group for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.  There are 17 linebackers, eight defensive ends, seven safeties, five cornerbacks, three defensive tackles and two players listed as defensive backs for an award that’s given annually to the player who has the biggest IMPACT — Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity – on their teams both on and off the field.

There are no finalists or semifinalists from last year’s award, won by UCLA’s Anthony Barr, on this season’s watch list as each has moved on to the NFL.

Of the six schools with two players on the initial watch list, four are from the Pac-12: Stanford (CB Wayne Lyons, S Jordan Richards), UCLA (LBs Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks), USC (LB Hayes Pullard, DT Leonard Williams) and Washington (DE Hau’oli Kikaha, DT Danny Shelton). The only other schools with more than one on the list were Duke (LBs Kelby Brown and David Helton) and Nebraska (S Corey Cooper, DE Randy Gregory).

Not so unexpectedly based on the above, the Pac-12 paced all conferences with 11 players listed, followed by the SEC (eight), the Big 12 and Big Ten (seven apiece), the ACC (six) and Mountain West (one). Independent programs (Army, Notre Dame) accounted for the remaining two.

The 11th Lott Trophy will be handed out Dec. 14 this year.

For the complete Lott Trophy watch list, see below:

Geoffrey Bacon, DB, Army
Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
Kelby Brown, LB, Duke
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Sam Carter, S, TCU
Henry Coley, LB, Virginia
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Corey Cooper, S, Nebraska
Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
Michael Doctor, LB, Oregon State
Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE, Kentucky
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
Cole Farrand, LB, Maryland
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Bryce Hager, LB, Baylor
Vernon Hargreaves, DB, Florida
David Helton, LB, Duke
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee
Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Hau’oli Kikaha, DE, Washington
Ben Kline, LB, Penn State
Cameron Lynch, LB, Syracuse
Wayne Lyons, CB, Stanford
Jaylen Milles, CB, LSU
Jonathon Mincy, CB, Auburn
Ryan Mueller, DE, Kansas State
Cory Morrissey, DE, Iowa State
Hayes Pullard, LB, USC
Cedric Reed, DE, Texas
Jordan Richards, S, Stanford
Deterrian Shackleford, LB, Ole Miss
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Derron Smith, S, Fresno State
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma
Jared Tevis, S, Arizona
Leonard Williams, DT, USC
Ramik Wilson, LB, Georgia

Rutgers grad transfer tight end moves on to Pitt

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Matt Flanagan has officially moved on from one former Big East program to another.

In a missive posted to his personal Twitter account Monday, Flanagan revealed that he will enroll at Pittsburgh in short order and continue his collegiate playing career with the Panthers.  The tight end is expected to graduate in May from Rutgers, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately for his new team during the 2017 season.

This will be Flanagan’s final season of eligibility.

The past three seasons, Flanagan played in 33 games for the Scarlet Knights. In that time, he caught 18 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns.

Flanagan also takes the student part of the student-athlete moniker very seriously. From nj.com:

The former Rutgers tight end told NJ Advance Media last November that his goal was to find a master’s program in a research-based science discipline. At the time, he called his decision “purely academic.”

At Rutgers, Flanagan is part of a select group of Rutgers students studying at the Aresty Research Center. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Flanagan spent three years researching with the hopes of publishing findings on the effects of Creatine — the same supplement made famous by MLB sluggers like Mark McGwire — and how it impacts the cells that synthesize bone.

At his new program, he’ll join a squad that doesn’t return any tight ends who have caught a pass at the collegiate level.

Syracuse makes hiring of D-II Coach of the Year official

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Dino Babers‘ second coaching staff is whole once again.

Following up on reports that first surfaced late last week, Syracuse confirmed in a press release that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) has left his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as Babers’ running backs coach.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.

“The job Justin did as a first-time head coach was fantastic,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s also been a highly-successful assistant coach. The running backs he has coached have performed extremely well, and his special teams units have consistently ranked among the nation’s best. We’re very excited to welcome Justin and his family to Syracuse.”

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.

This will mark Lustig’s first job of any kind at a Power Five program.

“My family and I are excited, honored and grateful for the opportunity to come to Syracuse and join Coach Babers’ staff,” Lustig said. “He is building a championship program there. The future of Syracuse football is very bright and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

UNLV ‘very excited’ to share Las Vegas stadium with Raiders

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The biggest news of the day in the NFL has a decidedly college football connection.

By a 31-1 vote, NFL owners approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas later this decade.  The new stadium that will eventually serve as the home for the NFL club is expected to be ready for play for the 2020 season.

As expected, it will also serve as the new home for Sin City’s FBS team, a fact that UNLV’s hierarchy was quick to point out and highlight in the hours after the vote was officially confirmed.  Below are the statements from the three main characters involved with the football program.

Len Jessup, UNLV President
UNLV and the entire Rebel family welcome the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Raiders and the Stadium Authority Board to give UNLV football access to a world-class stadium and accompanying game day experience that will rival the best in college football. We also recognize and thank the numerous stakeholders – including the Adelson family – who invested their time and energy toward this vision. This is an historic day for Nevada and another example of how Las Vegas continues to reinvent itself.

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV Athletics Director
We are very excited to welcome the Raiders to our great city of Las Vegas. Our community is on the rise and that has clearly been recognized by the NFL owners with today’s vote. We can’t wait for the day our UNLV football program has a new home, sharing the new world-class stadium with the Las Vegas Raiders. What a great day for the NFL, our city and our university.

Tony Sanchez, UNLV Football Head Coach
Today is a huge development for UNLV Football and the city of Las Vegas. Sharing a state-of-the-art stadium with the Raiders is another thing that will allow us to recruit at a high level. The combination of an NFL stadium and our upcoming Fertitta Football Complex brings so much energy to this program and campus. As someone who has lived here for eight years, I’m also excited for this community. This is a great place to live and the pride of being an NFL city will make it an even better place.

In addition to being tenants in a new state-of-the-art stadium, the university will soon begin construction on an on-campus football practice facility.

There are five FBS teams that will share stadiums with NFL teams on at least a part-time basis in 2017 — UMass (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium), Miami (Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium), Temple (Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field), Pitt (Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field) and USF (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium).  Georgia State had shared the Georgia Dome with the Atlanta Falcons but are moving to the new Turner Field this season, while San Diego State will still call Qualcomm Stadium home even as the Chargers have bolted the facility for Los Angeles.

There has been chatter that both Temple (HERE) and USF (HERE) could find themselves in a position to build an on-campus stadium at some point down the road — although the latter could extend its agreement with its current home as it continues to evaluate its long-term plans.

The Los Angles Rams are also temporarily crashing at the home of the USC Trojans, Memorial Coliseum, until their new stadium is completed.

Kaylee Hartung leaves ESPN sidelines for CNN

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ESPN’s roster of college football talent has taken a bath lately. Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman broke up their critically acclaimed team for NFL work at different networks. Brad Nessler left for CBS. Brent Musuberger left for Vegas. Samantha Ponder has joined McDonough on the Worldwide Leader’s NFL team and, now, Kaylee Hartung is leaving the network as well.

Hartung confirmed her departure from ESPN on Monday. Though she did not name her next employer, it’s been an open secret within the industry for nearly a month Hartung will leave for CNN.

“Last night I worked my final event with ESPN,” Hartung announced on her Twitter page. “The decision to leave a job I love and take on a new challenge has been incredibly emotional but the overwhelming feeling I have today is gratitude. I am so grateful for the experience I’ve had within the ESPN family for 5 years. I’m grateful for the people I’ve worked with who have supported me, made me a better reporter, made me a better person and became my friends. I’m grateful for the coaches, athletes, staffers, and university officials who’ve shared their stories with me and let me be a part of their magical moments. I’m grateful for the fans who have embraced me and shared their passion with me. Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my life during this incredibly fun and exciting chapter. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter has in store… Now I get to be a fan of you all!”

Hartung started with Longhorn Network and since moved to SEC Network and the mothership. Her final event for the network was Sunday night’s Women’s Elite Eight match between Mississippi State and Baylor. Hartung worked in the political media prior to landing with the Longhorn Network as an associate producer for the CBS program Face the Nation.