Rimington Trophy next to release spring watch list

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And then there were two (of many).

A handful of days after the Lott IMPACT Trophy became the first to release its spring watch list, the Rimington Trophy has done the same, announcing Monday an initial group of 64 players to watch.  There are two finalists for last year’s award on this year’s watch list: Auburn’s Reese Dismukes (pictured) and Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu.

Of the 64 players, 38 are seniors.  There are 22 juniors on the list and just four sophomores.

All 10 conferences at the FBS level are represented, paced by 11 from the SEC.  The Big Ten is next with 10, followed by seven from the ACC, six apiece from the AAC, Mountain West and Pac-12 and five each from the Big 12 and the MAC.  Conference USA and the Sun Belt had four and one, respectively, while three players from independent programs are recognized.

Dave Rimington, the award’s namesake, was a consensus first-team All-America center at Nebraska (1981 and 1982), during which time he became the Outland Trophy’s only two-time winner as the nation’s best interior lineman.

Last year’s winner was Florida State’s Bryan Stork.

After the jump you’ll find the complete 2014 Rimington Trophy spring watch list.

Alex Mateas Connecticut RS Senior 6’4 309
Alex Huettel Bowling Green RS Junior 6’3 292
Andy Gallik Boston College Junior 6’3 302
Artie Rowell Pittsburgh Junior 6’2 305
Austin Reiter USF Senior 6’3 286
Austin Barron Florida State Senior 6’3 292
Austin Blythe Iowa Junior 6’3 290
B.J. Finney Kansas State Senior 6’4 303
Betim Bujari Rutgers Senior 6’4 295
Braden Lyons Florida Atlantic Senior 6’5 295
Brandon Vitabile Northwestern Senior 6’3 300
Bryce Redman Houston Senior 6’1 285
Bryce Giddens Arkansas State Junior 5’11 300
Chris Jasperse Marshall Senior 6’4 289
Cody Waldrop South Carolina RS Soph 6’2 315
Collin Rahrig Indiana RS Senior 6’2 290
Dan Voltz Wisconsin Soph 6’3 313
David Peterson San Jose State Senior 6’5 297
David Andrews Georgia Senior 6’2 295
Deyshawn Bond Cincinnati Soph 6’2 296
Dillon Day Mississippi State Senior 6’4 300
Dominic Espinosa Texas Senior 6’4 305
Donald Senat FIU Senior 6’2 285
Dylan Foxworth Tulsa RS Senior 6’2 265
Edward Fusi BYU Senior 6’0 317
Elliot Porter LSU Senior 6’4 300
Evan Boehm Missouri Junior 6’3 315
Graham Shuler Stanford Junior 6’4 282
Greg Mancz Toledo Senior 6’5 300
Hroniss Grasu Oregon Senior 6’3 297
Isaac Seumalo Oregon State Junior 6’3 305
Jack Allen Michigan State Junior 6’1 297
Jake Smith Louisville Senior 6’3 307
Jake Brendel UCLA Junior 6’4 285
Joe Townsend Vanderbilt Senior 6’4 310
Joey Grant UCF RS Junior 6’2 291
Joey Hunt TCU Junior 6’3 295
Jon Toth Kentucky Soph 6’5 298
Jon Hoffing Western Mich. Senior 6’4 285
Jordan Smith San Diego State Junior 6’5 285
Kyle Friend Temple Junior 6’2 305
LaMar Bratton New Mexico Senior 6’0 291
Mark Pelini Nebraska Senior 6’0 290
Matt Skura Duke RS Junior 6’4 290
Matt Galas Nevada Senior 6’1 280
Max Garcia Florida RS Senior 6’4 311
Michael Husar Air Force Junior 6’0 275
Mike Criste Washington Senior 6’6 318
Mike Matthews Texas A&M Junior 6’2 285
Nick Beamish Central Mich. Senior 6’3 310
Nick Martin Notre Dame Senior 6’4.5 295
Reese Dismukes Auburn Senior 6’3 297
Robert Kugler Purdue Junior 6’3 290
Robert Waterman UNLV Senior 6’2 290
Ryan Norton Clemson Junior 6’3 280
Ryan Kelly Alabama Junior 6’5 296
Sal Conaboy Maryland Senior 6’4 290
Shane McDermott Miami Senior 6’4 296
Steven Gurrola Arizona Senior 6’2 291
Taylor Lasecki SMU Junior 6’3 296
Tommy Olson Minnesota Senior 6’4 301
Ty Darlington Oklahoma Junior 6’2 298
Tom Farniok Iowa State Senior 6’4 300
Valeria Ume-Ezeoke New Mexico State Senior 6’2 285

 

Texas LB Malik Jefferson’s status for bowl game still up in the air

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As Texas prepares to play in the Texas Bowl against former Big 12 foe Missouri, it remains unknown whether or not linebacker Malik Jefferson will play.

Jefferson was reportedly diagnosed with a case of turf toe recently and is said to be considered day-to-day. Nick Moyle of the San Antonio Express-News reported the medical update via Twitter, and he also notes Jefferson still has not made a definitive decision on whether to leave for the NFL or not.

Jefferson would be considered a solid draft pick option at linebacker in the event he decides to leave Texas a year early to pursue a chance to play in the NFL. How this injury might impact that decision is nothing but speculation. However, players deciding to take to the NFL Draft the following spring have increasingly made the trendy decision to forgo their senior season and skip the bowl game when injuries play a factor. If Jefferson is to go to the NFL, it would not be a stunner to see him decide to skip out on the bowl game as well.

Jefferson is Texas’ leader in tackles this season with 110, including 79 solo tackles.

Lane Kiffin’s biggest recruit to FAU may be Snoop Dogg

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There is no denying the allegiance Snoop Dogg has for his beloved USC Trojans, but Lane Kiffin has managed to find some room in Snoop’s rooting interests to bring him aboard the Lane Train. With Kiffin preparing FAU for their upcoming bowl game in the Boa Raton Bowl this week, Kiffin managed to bring Snoop Dogg and Luther Campbell out to a practice.

Campbell, of course, is a Miami fan, but FAU has become a bit of a popular secondary team with Kiffin to lead the charge. Getting Uncle Luke to suit up in FAU gear and pose for a picture with Snoop Dogg deserves an automatic retweet of Kiffin’s account on Twitter.

Kiffin coached FAU to the Conference USA championship in his first season as the head coach of the Owls. With a good blend of JUCO transfers and new offensive mindset, FAU soared under Kiffin as he rebuilt his coaching pedigree. Kiffin remains one of the names to watch in the coaching carousel, although this year’s cycle may have gone through the motions without Kiffin getting a chance somewhere else. But if Kiffin is successful in Year 2, the Lane Train may be leaving the Boca Raton station for another destination soon enough.

Middle Tennessee holds on to win the bizarre (and turnover-filled) Camellia Bowl over Arkansas State

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Middle Tennessee State entered the Camellia Bowl 121st in the country in turnover margin and had lost the battle in nine of their 12 games this season. Arkansas State was only a little bit better in the same category, ranking 81st in turnover margin in 2017. Predictably those kinds of statistics came into play on Saturday night in the Camellia Bowl as the two sides played a bit of hot potato — six giveaways — before MTSU hung on for a 35-30 win to cap off the first day of bowl season in college football.

Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill had a game that could have been a nightmare for a veteran quarterback but ended up being alright thanks to his defense continually picking him on a night where chunk plays were hard to come by. The signal-caller threw the first of his three interceptions on the night on the first drive of the game but bounced back over the final three quarters, throwing for 232 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. That kind of performance, which included several big throws in the second half, helped secure the first bowl victory of his career and give him the rare distinction of being able to win a postseason game with his father Rick as head coach.

It wasn’t all about the Stockstill combo for MTSU however as their run game produced a pair of touchdowns behind tailbacks Terelle West and Tavares Thomas, and the team’s defense had one of their best outings of the season to limit the Sun Belt’s highest scoring offense to well below all their season averages. Linebacker Darius Harris led the way when his unit was on the field, flying from sideline-to-sideline and racking up 12 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a two pass break ups. His running mate at linebacker, D.J. Sanders, was equally productive with seven tackles and a 54 yard fumble return for a touchdown just before halftime.

The Red Wolves did what they could to threaten to make things interesting down the stretch but never could get over the hill. The team ran a fake punt to open fourth quarter, resulting in a 21 yard strike from the punter to gunner Chris Murray along the sidelines and appeared to seize momentum after a subsequent  touchdown to Warren Wand. However the defense failed to get a stop and then Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Justice Hansen (337 yards, 3TD, 1 INT) threw a fourth down pass out of the end zone to all but seal a rather lackluster loss for a team that had won six of the last eight coming into the bowl.

Arkansas State also came up a bit short in the record books on the defensive side of the ball as well. In addition to allowing 35 points to MTSU, conference player of the year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones failed to record a sack and thus couldn’t break the NCAA career record (held by former Arizona State and current Baltimore Ravens star Terrell Suggs) of 44 career sacks after entering the game just shy of the mark with 43.5. While the pass rusher did manage to sack Stockstill in the game, the play was negated by a penalty to keep him from taking over on the all-time list.

The victory pushed Middle Tennessee over the .500 mark for the fifth time in six seasons and likely meant a little bit more to the program given how many key injuries the team suffered over the course of 2017 before capturing their first bowl win in eight years. Arkansas State did their best to prevent that from happening as they dropped to 7-5 on the season after a rather bizarre Camellia Bowl that had a little bit of everything.

Defense comes up big to help Middle Tennessee grab Camellia Bowl lead at halftime over Arkansas State

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Middle Tennessee State started off the Camellia Bowl on Saturday night in about the worst way possible with a pair of first quarter interceptions but leaned heavily on their stout defense to manage their way to a 21-10 lead over Arkansas State at halftime in a somewhat low-scoring affair few could have seen coming between these high-scoring offenses.

Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill tossed an interception on the team’s opening drive of the game but managed to bounce back and throw for  80 yards and a touchdown after another slow start for the veteran signal-caller. Luckily the team’s defense pitched a goal line stand after his first pick and proved to be similarly stout after his second to keep the team in things after such a rough start against the Sun Belt power.

Mistakes proved to be costly for the Red Wolves throughout the night on both sides of the ball as a roughing the punter ruined a potential stop early and led to MTSU tailback Terelle West running right off his left guard for a 45 yard touchdown and a quick lead for the Conference USA squad who wasn’t doing much to move the ball outside of that big play.

The wildest sequence of the bowl season (so far) happened in the closing minutes of the first quarter however, leaving fans, officials and coaches all confused at what exactly just happened. Stockstill appeared to find a receiver over the middle and on the door step of the end zone but ASU’s Justin Clifton had other ideas — stripping the ball and appearing to run it back (with help) for a touchdown. The call went through a lengthy review process that wound up giving Clifton an interception and his offense the ball back at their 18 yard line instead but they ended up punting it away for 61 yards to cap off a truly bizarre few minutes.

Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen had some decent numbers (151 yards passing, one rushing TD) but things just weren’t clicking for what had been the Sun Belt’s most prolific offense during the regular season. The signal-caller fumbled shortly before halftime, which allowed D.J. Sanders to rumble 54 yards with a fumble recovery touchdown that extended MTSU’s lead. The Red Wolves did manage to mount a scoring drive on the next possession to get right back in the game but they’ll need to show more down the stretch if they want to reach the eight win mark for the sixth time in seven seasons.

It’s had a few strange moments but the conclusion to the first Saturday of the bowl season is shaping up rather nicely down in Montgomery, Alabama. However both sides in this one will be sure to focus on correcting a bunch of mistakes after that somewhat whacky first half.