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Myles Jack headlines 51-strong Butkus Award watch list

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Last week, Myles Jack was one of 81 defensive players named to the Nagurski Award watch list.  Today, the two-way UCLA star has joined a more position-specific group.

The Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker, announced its preseason watch list Monday, with 51 players representing all eight conferences earning honors.  All but one of the 51 come from FBS programs, with the lone exception being Harvard’s Zach Hodges.

The SEC leads all conferences with nine players listed, followed the Pac-12 with eight, the ACC and Big 12 with seven and the Big Ten with six.  The only leagues that weren’t a part of this watch list were Conference USA and the MAC.

Georgia was the only team to place three players on the watch list, while seven — Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and Washington — had two players apiece.

The 2013 Butkus Award winner was Alabama’s C.J. Mosley.  Miami’s Denzel Perryman is the only 2013 semifinalist returning to this years preseason grouping.

Below is the complete 2014 Butkus Award watch list:

Stephone Anthony, Clemson
Kelby Brown, Duke
Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, Maryland
Dyshawn Davis, Syracuse
Aaron Davis, Colorado State
Paul Dawson, TCU
Trey DePriest, Alabama
Steve Edmond, Texas
Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
Maurice Falls, East Carolina
Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Kris Frost, Auburn
Alani Fua, BYU
Jarrett Grace, Notre Dame
Curtis Grant, Ohio State
Bryce Hager, Baylor
Ben Heeney, Kansas
Jordan Hicks, Texas
Zach Hodges, Harvard
Mike Hull, Penn State
Myles Jack, UCLA
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Taiwan Jones, Michigan State
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
Derrick Malone, Oregon
Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Derrick Matthews, Houston
Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
Braylon Mitchell, Arkansas
Mason Monheim, Illinois
Mike Orakpo, Texas State
Norkeithus Otis, North Carolina
Denzel Perryman, Miami (Fla.)
Terrance Plummer, UCF
Sunny Puetasi, Wyoming
Hayes Pullard, USC
Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Jake Ryan, Michigan
Stephon Sanders, SMU
Frank Shannon, Oklahoma
Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
Terrance Smith, Florida State
Eric Striker, Oklahoma
A.J. Tarpley, Stanford
John Tavai, USC
Shaq Thompson, Washington
James Vaughters, Stanford
Ramik Wilson, Georgia

Bryce Love ‘unlikely’ to play in Stanford’s opener vs. K-State

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Bryce Love #20 of the Stanford Cardinal is tackled by Kyle Gibson #25 of the UCF Knights in the first quarter at Stanford Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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It appears someone else will have to ease the load for a newly-minted starter under center and a Heisman Trophy contender, at least in the very early portion of the season.

According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Stanford head coach David Shaw has deemed it “unlikely” running back Bryce Love will play in the season opener Friday against Kansas State.  Love sustained what was described as a lower-body injury at some point during summer camp.

The good news for the program and the player is, after the opener, the Cardinal goes on a bye before hosting 20th-ranked USC Sept. 17.

Wilner writes that “Love… is considered central to eighth-ranked Stanford’s efforts to take the pressure off new quarterback Ryan Burns and tailback Christian McCaffrey.”  Burns has thrown one career pass and will be making his starting debut against K-State.

Last season, Love averaged 7.8 yards on his 29 carries.  He added 15 receptions for 250 yards, and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).

Rico McWilliams, 18-game starter at corner for Gamecocks, gives up football

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 10:  Malachi Dupre #15 of the LSU Tigers catches a pass in front of Rico McWilliams #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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South Carolina has seen one of the most experienced members of its secondary not only leave the program but the sport as well.

Rico McWilliams has decided to leave the Gamecocks and give up football, first-year USC head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday.  No reason was given for the decision.

McWilliams had started 18 the past three seasons, but began to tumble down the depth chart in the spring and failed to gain much ground in summer camp.  He had left camp early on for what were described as personal reasons, but eventually returned.

I am back with the team and have to stay focused,” the cornerback said just three days ago.

As a redshirt junior last season, McWilliams started 10 of USC’s 12 games, the lone exceptions being the contests against Georgia and Texas A&M.  He was credited with 32 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

Additionally, Muschamp announced that redshirt freshman wide receiver Christian Owens had left his team as well.  A three-star 2015 signee, Owens didn’t play as a true freshman.

Jim Harbaugh clarifies comments on Colin Kaepernick anthem controversy

Harbaugh Kaepernick
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Via social media, Jim Harbaugh has attempted to walk back some of his strong talk.

Monday, the Michigan head coach was asked to comment on one of his former San Francisco 49er players, Colin Kaepernick, who kicked up quite the controversy this past week by sitting down during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he believes to be the mistreatment of African-Americans in this country. Not surprisingly, the outspoken Harbaugh didn’t mince many words.

“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” the coach said.

A short time later, Harbaugh took to Twitter to offer a clarification that he had no issue with Kaepernick’s motivation, merely his methods.

Baylor suspends starting safety Chance Waz for first two games

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  Chance Waz #18 of the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Even as Baylor looks to put a tumultuous offseason in the rearview mirror, the football team simply can’t get away from the dark cloud hanging over the program.

Interim head coach Jim Grobe announced Monday that Chance Waz has been suspended for the Bears’ first two games of the upcoming season.  The only reason given was unspecified disciplinary issues.

The suspension will cost the defensive back games against Northwestern State and SMU.  Waz will be eligible to return for the Sept. 16 game against Rice.

After playing in 11 games as a true freshman in 2014, Waz started 11 of the 13 games in which he played last season.  He was again projected as a starting safety entering summer camp.

Speaking of BU starters, Ishmael Zamora is still listed as a first-team wide receiver on the final preseason depth chart released by the Bears Monday.  Zamora was caught on video beating his dog with a belt and kicking it, and was ultimately charged with misdemeanor animal abuse.

Grobe said he’s still awaiting the university’s decision on what if any punishment Zamora may be facing as a result of the incident.