Rimington Trophy watch list adds two players

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Does your school have a center? Odds are he appears on the Rimington Trophy watch list, which was updated today.

The initial watch list for the Rimington Trophy was initially released back in mid-May, but two new names have been added for the official release of the watch list. Idaho’s Mike Marboe and UTSA’s Nate Leonard join the 64 players previously named to the watch list.

The watch list features two finalists for last year’s award with Auburn’s Reese Dismukes and Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu. Of the 66 players, there are 40 seniors and 22 juniors. Four players are sophomores.

The Rimington Trophy is awarded to the nation’s top center by the Boomer Esiason Foundation, an organization raising awareness in the fight against cystic fibrosis. The award is named after former Nebraska center Dave Rimington. Finalists for the award will be announced on December 8 and the winner will be named December 11 during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The award will formally be presented at a banquet on January 17.

The Rimington Trophy was first awarded in 2000. Michigan is the only school with two Rimington Trophy winners with David Baas in 2004 (tied with LSU’s Ben Wilkerson) and David Molk in 2011. Florida State’s Bryan Stork was the 2013 Mackey Award winner.

Here is this year’s updated Rimington Trophy 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 Marboe Idaho Senior 6’2″ 296
Mike Matthews Texas A&M Junior 6’2 285
Nate Leonard UTSA Senior 6’0″ 280
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

On Monday the watch lists for the Maxwell AwardBednarik Award and Hornung Award were released.

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.