Pac-12 lands 18 players on Nagurski Trophy watch list

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No conference has more players on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list than the Pac-12. Of the 81 top defensive players listed on the watch list for the nation’s top defensive player, the Pac-12 is home to 18 players. The SEC followed with 16 players. The Big 12 has 13 players, the ACC has 12 players and the Big Ten has 10 players on the watch list.

The Nagurski Trophy has been awarded each year since 1993 by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America. Miami, Oklahoma, Texas and Northwestern are tied for the most Nagurski Trophy winners with two each. Northwestern linebacker, and now head coach, Pat Fitzgerald won two and is the only two-time winner of the award. Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald was the winner of the 2013 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

Finalists for the Nagurski Trophy will be announced on November 20 and the winner will be named December 8.

Here is this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list:

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford
LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson
DE Vic Beasley, Clemson
DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State
DB Craig Bills, BYU
DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DT Malcom Brown, Texas
LB Kelby Brown, Duke
DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DB Alex Carter, Stanford
DB Sam Carter, TCU
DB Jeremy Cash, Duke
DE Frank Clark, Michigan
DB Landon Collins, Alabama
DB Blake Countess, Michigan
DT Christian Covington, Rice
DB Su’a Cravens, USC
DT Carl Davis, Iowa
DE Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
LB Trey DePriest, Alabama
DB Quandre Diggs, Texas
DB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane
DB Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
DE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
DE Devonte Fields, TCU
DE Trey Flowers, Arkansas
LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia
DE Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
LB Alani Fua, BYU
DB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
DE Markus Golden, Missouri
DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
DB Anthony Harris, Virginia
LB Ben Heeney, Kansas
DT Chucky Hunter, TCU
DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis
LB Myles Jack, UCLA
DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
DE Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
LB Derrick Malone, Oregon
LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
LB Derrick Mathews, Houston
DE Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
DB Steven Nelson, Oregon State
DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor
LB Denzel Perryman, Miami
DB Marcus Peters, Washington
DB Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss
LB Hayes Pullard, USC
DE Cedric Reed, Texas
DB Jordan Richards, Stanford
DE A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
DB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame
LB Jake Ryan, Michigan
DB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
DT Danny Shelton, Washington
LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
DB Derron Smith, Fresno State
LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma
DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
LB A.J. Tarpley, Stanford
DB Jared Tevis, Arizona
LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
DE Tony Washington, Oregon
DB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
DE Leonard Williams, USC
DB P.J. Williams, Florida State
LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia
DT Gabe Wright, Auburn

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)

Penn State trustee says he’s ‘running out of patience’ with ‘so-called victims’ of Jerry Sandusky

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With Baylor seemingly running away with the title of most embarrassing university in collegiate athletics, a Penn State trustee has said “hold my beer.”

Friday, former Penn State president Graham Spanier was found guilty on one count of endangering the welfare of children in a trial related to his role in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.  In an email to the Chronicle of Higher Education this week, PSU trustee Albert Lord had sharp words for the victims of Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child-sex abuse charges in June of 2012 and is currently serving a sentence of at least 30 years.

“Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth,” the trustee wrote in a portion of the email. “Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”

Spanier was found not guilty on two other charges, a second count of child endangerment and one count of criminal conspiracy.

In a statement, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees, Ira Lubert, attempted to distance the body from Lord’s comments.

“Al Lord’s comments are personal and do not represent the opinions of the board or the university.”

Sun Belt commish issues statement on Arkansas gun law

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A highly-charged state law continues to garner the attention of the college football world.

Last week, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would include college sporting events.  A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans to attend an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.

The amendment still must pass through the House of Representatives, leading SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, with the University of Arkansas as a member of his conference, to release a statement Tuesday that was no doubt meant to apply pressure ahead of the vote.  Thursday, the Sun Belt’s commissioner, Karl Benson, followed suit out of concern for his membership, including Arkansas State in football.

During the last week I have followed closely the news articles regarding Arkansas House Bill 1249, and now also a potential amendment to what is now Act 562. Given that both the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arkansas State University are members of the Sun Belt Conference — and as my colleague Greg Sankey of the Southeastern Conference has stated — I too support the Arkansas State Senate’s exemption in Senate Bill 724 that would prevent firearms from being allowed inside publicly funded stadiums and arenas in the State of Arkansas.

It’s unclear when the House will vote on the amendment.  Regardless of which version of thew law is finally agreed upon, it will go into effect Sept. 1.

Arkansas opens its 2017 season Sept. 2 against Florida A&M in Fayetteville.  Arkansas State’s home opener is a week later against the Miami (Fla.).

Foot injury could sideline Auburn’s Tashawn Manning for rest of spring

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After kicking cancer’s ass, this latest health issue hardly qualifies as a big deal.  Still, it’s a thing.

Tashawn Manning has been battling an unspecified foot injury of late, which has limited the defensive tackle’s availability for most of the first two-thirds of Auburn’s spring practice sessions.  With just five practices remaining, Manning could very well be sidelined for al of them.

“The problem is this is Day 9 and Saturday will be Day 11, so there’s a probability” that the player will not see the field for what remains of spring practice, Manning’s position coach, Rodney Garner, said according to al.com.

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, Manning, then an Auburn verbal commit, was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.  In July of last year, he was finished with chemotherapy and declared cancer-free.

The defensive lineman didn’t play at all last season, instead taking online classes as he built up his strength as well as his weight after losing more than 60 pounds because of the chemo.  In January, he enrolled at AU and, two months later, was cleared to participate in the spring.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.