Aaron Donald

Whopping 123 players included on Lombardi watch list

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Another day, another watch list — and a ridiculously big one, size-wise, at that.

The Rotary Lombardi Award announced its watch list Monday morning, with a whopping 123 players and 76 universities as a part of the initial group.  In other words, there’s a fairly decent chance that just about anyone, including yourself, will be featured on the list.

For those unaware of what actually qualifies a player for consideration for this particular trophy, here you go: “[e]ligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.”

The positional breakdown for this year’s watch list is as follows: 48 offensive linemen — 19 guards, 16 tackles, 11 centers and two listed as “offensive lineman” — 38 linebackers, 21 defensive ends, 14 defensive tackles and one “defensive lineman.”

Last year’s winner was Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald.

If you have a half hour or so, below is the complete 2014 Lombardi Award preseason watch list for your reading pleasure:

Henry Anderson, DE, Sr. – Stanford
Stephone Anthony, LB, Sr. – Clemson
Chi Chi Ariguzo, LB, Sr. – Northwestern
T.T. Barber, LB, Jr. – Middle Tennessee State
Jamaal Bass, LB, Sr. – Northern Illinois
Vic Beasley, DE, Sr. – Clemson
Michael Bennett, DT, Sr. – Ohio State
Austin Blythe, C, Jr. – Iowa
Joey Bosa, DE, So. – Ohio State
Brett Boyko, T, Sr. – UNLV
Kelby Brown, LB, Sr. – Duke
Brandin Bryant, DT, Jr. – Florida Atlantic
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Jr. – Michigan State
AJ Cann, G, Sr. – South Carolina
Justin Cherocci, LB, Sr. – Central Michigan
Le’Raven Clark, T, Jr. – Texas Tech
Ben Clarke, C, Jr. – Hawaii
La’El Collins, T, Sr. – LSU
Christian Covington, DT, Jr. – Rice
Carl Davis, DT, Sr. – Iowa
Tyeler Davison, DT, Sr. – Fresno State
Reese Dismukes, C, Sr. – Auburn
Jamil Douglas, G, Sr. – Arizona State
Spencer Drango, T, Jr. – Baylor
Ejiro Ederaine, LB, Jr. – Fresno State
Steve Edmond, LB, Sr. – Texas
Mario Edwards, DE, Jr. – Florida State
Cameron Erving, T, Sr. Florida State
Dominic Espinsoa, C, Sr. – Texas
Kyler Frackrell, LB, Jr. – Utah State
Devonte Fields, DE, So. – TCU
BJ Finney, C, Sr. – Kansas State
Trey Flowers, DE, Sr. – Arkansas
Leonard Floyd, LB, So. – Georgia
Alani Fau, LB, Sr. – BYU
Bryce Giddens, C, Jr. – Arkansas State
Hroniss Grasu, C, Sr. Oregon
Randy Gregory, DE, Jr. – Nebraska
Bryce Hager, LB, Sr. – Baylor
Justin Hamilton, DT, Sr. – UL-Lafayette
Lincoln Hansen, T, Sr. – Eastern Michigan
Rob Havenstein, T, Sr. – Wisconsin
Brock Hekking, DE, Sr. – Nevada
Ben Henney- LB, Sr. – Kansas
Treyvon Hester, DT, So. – Toledo
Sean Hickey, T, Sr. – Syracuse
Jermaine Holmes, LB, Sr. – Marshall
Chucky Hunter, DT, Sr. – TCU
Martin Ifedi, DE, Sr. – Memphis
Scott Inskeep, G, Sr. – UTEP
Myles Jack, LB, So. – UCLA
Tre Jackson, G, Sr. – Florida State
Grady Jarrett, DT, Sr. – Clemson
Chris Jasperse, C, Sr. – Marshall
Cameron Jefferson, G, Sr. – UNLV
Chris Johnson, LB, Sr. – Navy
Kaleb Johnson, G, Sr. – Rutgers
A.J. Johnson, LB, Sr. – Tennessee
Gerrand Johnson, DT, Jr. – UL-Monroe
Tyler Johnstone , T, Jr. – Oregon
Chris Jones, DT, So. – Mississippi State
Bronson Kaufusi, LB, Jr. – BYU
Eric Kendricks, LB, Sr. – UCLA
Andrae Kirk, LB, Sr. – Florida Atlantic
Arie Kouandjio, G, Sr. – Alabama
Qushaun Lee, LB, Sr. – Arkansas State
Cyril Lemon, G, Sr. – North Texas
Braden Lyons, T, Sr. – Florida Atlantic
Luther Maddy, DT, Sr. – Virginia Tech
Derrick Malone, LB, Sr. – Oregon
Greg Mancz, G, Sr. – Toledo
Nick Martin, OL, Sr. – Notre Dame
Shaquille Mason, G, Sr. – Georgia Tech
Tyler Matakevich, LB, Jr . – Temple
Josue Matias, G, Sr. – Florida State
Derrick Mathews, LB, Sr. – Houston
David Mayo, LB, Sr. – Texas State
Benardrick McKinney, LB, Jr. – Mississippi State
Silverberry Mouhon, DE, Jr. – Cincinnati
Ryan Mueller, DE, Sr. – Kansas State
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, So. – Ole Miss
Shawn Oakman, DE, Jr. – Baylor
Cedric Ogbuehi. T, Sr. – Texas A&M
Andrus Peat, T, Jr. – Stanford
Remington Peck, DL, Jr. – BYU
Denzel Perryman, LB, Sr. – Miami
Andy Phillips, G, Sr. – Central Michigan
Terrance Plummer, LB, Sr. – UCF
Hayes Pullard, LB, Sr. – USC
Mykhael Quave, T, Jr. – UL-Lafayette
Daniel Quave, G, Sr. – UL-Lafayette
Cedric Reed, DE, Sr. –Texas
Jacob Richard, C, Jr. – Ball State
Tyler Roberts, DE, Jr. – Troy
A’Shawn Robinson, DE, So. – Alabama
Jake Ryan, LB, Sr. – Michigan
Ty Sambrailo, T, Sr. – Colorado State
Brandon Scherff, T, Sr. – Iowa
Isaac Seumalo, C, Jr. – Oregon State
Danny Shelton, DT, Jr. – Washington
Steve Shumaker, OL, Sr. – Army
Robert Singletary, DE, Sr. – UTSA
Jake Smith, C, Sr. – Louisville
Jaylon Smith, LB, So. – Notre Da
Quinton Spain, G, Sr. – West Virginia
Eric Striker, LB, Jr. – Oklahoma
Junior Sylvestre, LB, Sr. – Toledo
AJ Tarpley, LB, Sr. – Stanford
Shaq Thompson, LB, Jr. – Washington
Laken Tomlinson, G, Sr. – Duke
Dominique Tovell, DE, Jr. – UL-Lafayette
Max Tuerk,G, Jr. – USC
Clint Van Horn, T, Jr. – Marshall
Zach Virgil, LB, Sr. – Utah State
Diaheem Watkins, DE, Sr. – UAB
Cody Whitehair,G, Sr. – Kansas State
Cody Wichmann, G, Sr. – Fresno State
Ucambre Williams, T, Sr. – South Alabama
Leonard Williams, DE, Jr. – USC
Ramick Wilson, LB, Sr. – Georgia
Eddie Yarbrough, DE, Jr. – Wyoming
Mason Y’Barbo, G, Sr. – North Texas

SJSU loses third-leading receiver in school history to academics

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver Tyler Winston #15 of the San Jose Spartans pulls in a touchdown pass against Jonathan Norton #37 of the Fresno State Bulldogs in the first quarter on November 29, 2013 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.  The Spartans upset the Bulldogs 62-52 to drop them to 10-1.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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San Jose State will enter the 2016 season without one of its most experienced and dependable playmakers in the passing game at its disposal.

Head coach Ron Caragher confirmed Thursday that Tyler Winston will miss the entire 2016 season because of academics.  Provided he gets his academic house in order, Winston is expected to return to the playing field for his senior season in 2017.

Until then, Winston will be permitted to practice with his Spartan teammates.

“He’ll be a great scout team receiver for us,” the coach said according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Last season, Winston was tied for fourth on the team with 35 receptions, and was fourth in yards with 368 despite a season-ending knee injury he suffered in late October.  He is currently third on the school’s all-time list in receptions (171) and eighth in yards (1,920).

Of the 30 games in which he’s played, Winton has started 28 of those contests.  After being named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2013, he followed that up by being named second-team All-MWC in 2014.

Big 12 reportedly prefers expansion to be settled before start of season

WVU vs Marshall
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Unlike most goings-on in the conference, it doesn’t appear the Big 12 is going to drag its feet on the biggest issue it’s currently facing.

The Big 12 announced earlier this month that the conference will expand, whether by two teams or four.  Regardless of the final number, CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd, citing three individuals with knowledge of the ongoing process, reported Thursday, the conference “would prefer to wrap up the expansion process before the start of the 2016 football season.” The reasoning for an expedited timeline is simple: the powers-that-be in the league do not want expansion talk and speculation to overshadow actual football.

Such a timeline would also be beneficial for any incoming teams.

If the expansion teams are indeed announced before the season, that conceivably would give the new schools a chance to begin playing in the conference in 2017. For now, the league is in the process of contemplating how it will decide participants for its championship game that has been reinstated for 2017.

“I have not made any comment on time frame and do not plan any such statement,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Dodd in a statement.

It’s believed that any new members for the Big 12 will come from a group that includes teams from both the AAC (Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, UCF, USF) and Mountain West (Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State) as well as football-independent BYU.  More specifically, BYU, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn are considered by some/most observers as the front-runners, with some throwing Cincinnati in as well.

The AAC kicks off its Media Days Monday, and expansion will no doubt dominate the conversation during the two-day event.

FSU, Boise in talks to move 2019 opener to Jacksonville

10 Nov 2001:  The Florida State Seminoles mascot walks down the field during the game against the North Carolina Wolfpack at the Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida. The Wolfpack defeated the Seminoles 34-28.Mandatory Credit:  Andy Lyons /Allsport
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One thing is certain, Florida State loves themselves some neutral-site openers.

Florida State and Boise State are scheduled to open the 2019 season at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.  However, FirstCoastNews.com first reported, the two football programs are actively engaged in ongoing negotiations about moving that game to Jacksonville’s EverBank Field.

“A deal has not been reached but ‘positive discussions continue,” an unnamed official told the website.

FSU has a return game to Boise scheduled for 2020; as of now, the Tallahassee Democrat reports in confirming the initial news, FSU has no intentions of canceling that game.

If the game is moved to Jacksonville, it would give FSU neutral-site openers in four of the next five seasons.  They are already scheduled to open the 2016 season against Ole Miss in Orlando and the 2017 season against Alabama in Atlanta.  Additionally, reports surfaced earlier this week that FSU is closing in on an agreement to open the 2020 season in Atlanta against West Virginia.

FSU would reportedly make in excess of $8 million combined for the 2016 and 2017 openers.  The financial particulars for the 2019 and 2020 openers are unknown at this point.

One potential benefit of this spate of neutral-field games, the Democrat writes, is that it would “give FSU the opportunity to continue renovation efforts of Doak Campbell Stadium while boosting its strength of schedule against non-conference opponents.”

Steve Spurrier named ambassador, consultant for Florida athletics

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Not surprisingly, the Ol’ Ball Coach is coming home again.

Last month, Florida announced that it would be naming the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in honor of Steve Spurrier, something the coach considered “to be the biggest, most special honor I have ever received.”  Friday morning, UF announced that Spurrier’s name would continue on in another official capacity, revealing that Spurrier has been named “Ambassador and Consultant for the Florida Gators Athletic Department.”

There’s no official word on his specific duties, although I’m certain being shirtless and holding a Coors and cutting a rug are among them.

Spurrier played at Florida from 1963-66, becoming the first player in Gators history to win the Heisman Trophy. He returned to Gainesville as the Head Ball Coach in 1990, going 122-27-1 in his 12 seasons with eight SEC East titles, six SEC championships, 10 top-10 finishes and a national championship in 1996.

He abruptly retired as the head coach at South Carolina in early October of 2015, finishing his coaching career with a record of 228-89-2 (.718).  In February of this year, it was announced that Spurrier would serve as a special assistant for South Carolina president Harris Pastides and athletic director Ray Tanner.

Below are the pertinent quotes surrounding his latest appointment:

UF ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JEREMY FOLEY
“It’s a great day for the Gator Nation to be able to welcome Coach Spurrier back home. He has served as a tremendous ambassador to the University and the athletic department for 50-plus years and it’s only fitting that at this point in his career, he is back in Gainesville. Being a Gator has always meant so much to Coach Spurrier, but it means just as much to us have him come home.”

UF HEAD COACH JIM MCELWAIN
“I look forward to visiting with him on a lot of occasions and picking his brain on a number of issues. It’s a credit to Jeremy to get him back home where he belongs. More than anything I look forward to actually talking to him and being around him rather than just saying hello to his statue on my way to work every day.”

STEVE SPURRIER
“My wife, Jerri, and I are extremely thrilled to be returning home to our alma mater, and to Gainesville where we met on campus over 50 years ago. I’m very appreciative to Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, Head Coach Jim McElwain and Phil Pharr of Gator Boosters for their role in making this happen.

“I also want to say thanks to the University of South Carolina for allowing me to be their coach from 2005 to 2015. Also a special thanks to all of the Gamecock players, coaches and fans that allowed our teams to set so many school records. I will now pull for South Carolina to win every game but one, just as I did when I pulled for Florida to win every game but one as the Gamecock coach. I will try my best to promote and assist in any way I can to help the Gators to continue to be one of the very best athletic programs in America. I admire what Coach McElwain and his staff accomplished last year. I’m anxious to watch the Gator football team as they strive to be the best in the SEC and the nation in the years ahead.”

UPDATED 11:58 a.m. ET: Both USC and Spurrier have confirmed that the OBC will give up his position as special assistant at the school.