Outland Trophy watch list dominated by SEC

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The Pac-12 may have led the way with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, but no conference appears to have a higher quality selection of interior linemen than the SEC. The SEC has 19 players on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which honors the top interior lineman in college football. The SEC had at least eight more players on the list, released by the Football Writers Association of America, than any other power conference.

The Pac-12 has 11 players on the Outland Trophy watch list, followed by the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 with nine each. The winner of the Outland Trophy will be chosen from the list of FWAA All-Americans at the end of the season. Semifinalists will be announced November 20 and the finalists will be determined November 24. A winner will be named on December 11.

One of the oldest individual awards in college football, the Outland Trophy has been awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman each year since 1946. The award is unique because it can be presented to an offensive or defensive lineman. Last year’s winner was Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, but an offensive lineman has won the award nine times since 2000. Nebraska leads the nation with nine Outland Trophy winners. Oklahoma has the second most with five and Ohio State follows with four winners. Five schools are tied with three Outland Trophy winners.

Here is this year’s Outland Trophy watch list:

G Vadal Alexander, LSU
C Jack Allen, Michigan State
DL Henry Anderson, Stanford
C David Andrews, Georgia
DL Michael Bennett, Ohio State
C Evan Boehm, Missouri
C Jake Brendel, UCLA
DL Malcom Brown, Texas
G A.J. Cann, South Carolina
OT Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
OT La’el Collins, LSU
OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
DL Christian Covington, Rice
DL Carl Davis, Iowa
DL Sheldon Day, Notre Dame
C Reese Dismukes, Auburn
OT Jamil Douglas, Arizona State
OT Spencer Drango, Baylor
OT Cameron Erving, Florida State
C Dominic Espinosa, Texas
C B.J. Finney, Kansas State
OT Jake Fisher, Oregon
C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
OT Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
OT Sean Hickey, Syracuse
OT D.J. Humphries, Florida
DL Chucky Hunter, TCU
OT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
G Tré Jackson, Florida State
DL Grady Jarrett, Clemson
G Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers
OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama
G Arie Kouandjio, Alabama
G Alex Kozan, Auburn
OT Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati
G Cyril Lemon, North Texas
DL Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
G Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech
G Josue Matias, Florida State
C Mike Matthews, Texas A&M
DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
OT Corey Robinson, South Carolina
OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
C Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
OT Brandon Shell, South Carolina
DL Danny Shelton, Washington
C Jake Smith, Louisville
OT Donovan Smith, Penn State
G Quinton Spain, West Virginia
G Laken Tomlinson, Duke
C Max Tuerk, USC
OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
C Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern
G Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
G Cody Wichmann, Fresno State
OT Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
DL Leonard Williams, USC
G Torrian Wilson, UCF
DL Gabe Wright, Auburn
OT Michael Yeck, BYU


Catch up on your watch lists released this week:

Maxwell Award (best player)

Bednarik Award (best defensive player)

Hornung Award (most versatile player)

Mackey Award (best tight end)

Rimington Trophy (best center)

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)

Ray Guy Award (best punter)

Suspended Michigan State staffer receives another contract extension

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Michigan State has added another one-month extension to the contract of suspended football staffer Curtis Blackwell as the school continues to investigate several sexual assaults involving the Spartans.

A schools spokesman confirmed the extension to the Detroit Free Press on Friday.

The move comes on the heels of a previous one-month contract extension for Blackwell that came at the end of March. His official title is that of the team’s director of college advancement and performance and he was hired by head coach Mark Dantonio back in 2013 after running a number of major recruiting camps in the region.

Blackwell was originally suspended back in February as the school and police began multiple investigations related to sexual assaults. According to reports, one Michigan State staff member had an arrest warrant issued for obstructing an investigation but he was never publicly identified by the school.

Probes into the matter, including a Title IX investigation, remain ongoing in East Lansing. The football team recently wrapped up practice missing over a dozen players in the spring game so it appears this wide-ranging scandal that has embroiled the Spartans is not going to be over anytime soon.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announces transfer from Texas Tech

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Thursday may have been a high point for the Texas Tech football program upon learning that former quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Friday afternoon though, the Red Raiders dipped right back down as star wide receiver Jonathan Giles took to Twitter to announce that he was leaving the program and transferring out of Lubbock.

Giles was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist a season ago after catching 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers led the team in each category despite trailing off a bit down the stretch as Tech missed out on a bowl game.

Playing time could have been a big factor in the decision to leave the program as both Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee emerged as the top receiving targets and Giles was relegated to second-team status coming out of spring practice.

Tech’s Air Raid system and NFL quarterbacks had a lot to do with Giles’ big numbers but it’s fairly rare to see such highly touted and productive wideouts hit the transfer markets. While the decision probably isn’t what some Red Raiders fans wanted to hear on Friday, the receiver probably won’t be lacking for options when it comes to his next stop.

Pitt dismisses senior defensive tackle for disciplinary reasons

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Bad news in college football is typically reserved for Friday and it appears the Pitt Panthers just got a taste of some.

Per Pittsburgh Tribune-Review beat writer Jerry DiPaola, head coach Pat Narduzzi has dismissed starting defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni for disciplinary reasons.

Taleni emerged as a starter down the stretch for the Panthers and will be a big loss up front for the team as they already have to replace the stellar production from the soon-to-be-drafted Ejuan Price.

No further comments were given when the school confirmed the news so it might be a while before we find out what led to Taleni’s dismissal and whether he plays college football at all next season.