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

QB controversy in Tuscaloosa? Freshman Tua Tagovailoa impresses at Alabama spring game

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Alabama’s annual A-Day spring game took place at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday and those tuning in to the Crimson team’s last minute 27-24 win over the White team had to be especially impressed with the Tide’s explosive offense under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

In particular that comes at the quarterback position, where there might be more of a controversy at the spot than first thought. Incumbent Jalen Hurts was very sharp on his downfield passes but his strong outing (301 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) was overshadowed by true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who simply stole the show down in Tuscaloosa.

The early enrollee signal-caller from Hawaii jumped onto the scene in the first half of the game and wound up completing 17 passes for 313 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while working with both the first- and second-team offenses. You could normally dismiss numbers put up against a team’s second-string defense, this is Alabama we’re talking about so you know it’s coming against numerous future All-SEC players.

Tagovailoa did throw a pick-six in the second quarter but that was mostly because linebacker Terrell Hall made an unbelievable play on a swing pass to snatch the ball out of the air and run it all the way back to the opposite end zone. Freshman tailback Najee Harris (70 yards rushing) as well as stud wide receivers Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Jerry Jeudy (134 yards, two scores) also stood out on Saturday.

In all, offense ruled the day as the two quarterbacks combined for over 600 yards through the air. That probably won’t make reviewing film with Nick Saban all that pleasant for members of the secondary next week but was probably good news to most fans after lackluster performances down the stretch to end last season.

Either way, everybody should probably start brushing up on how to pronounce Tagovailoa even if he doesn’t ultimately unseat Hurts as the starter because the young QB has lived up to the early billing by recruiting analysts.

Baylor freshman tailback Abram Smith out for the season with spring ACL tear

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Baylor kicked off the first spring game of the Matt Rhule era on Saturday and wrapped things up with a 65-39 Gold team victory over the Green squad that included a pretty impressive touchdown catch from former basketball player Ish Wainright.

The news wasn’t all rosy in Waco however as after the game Rhule announced that freshman running back Abram Smith would be lost for the 2017 season after suffering an ACL tear in the Bears’ first spring practice.

Smith wasn’t being counted on as being a starter this season but his loss is a fairly big blow to the team’s depth at the position. Returnees JaMycal Hasty and Terence Williams already missed parts of the spring game due to injuries on Saturday, leaving just senior Wyatt Schrepfer to take most of the carries late in the contest.

All three figure to be good to go by the time fall camp rolls around but there’s not much behind them with Smith being lost for the year. A three-star recruit coming out of high school, the early enrollee likely would have seen some snaps in 2017 but will instead have to spend it redshirting on the bench.

Brian Kelly takes the blame for Notre Dame’s struggles last season

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Notre Dame wrapped up spring football with the Irish’s annual spring game on NBC Sports Network on Saturday afternoon in South Bend and front and center was not surprisingly head coach Brian Kelly.

While fans of the team were probably most interested in how quarterback Brandon Wimbush looked, Kelly did go into detail about what the offseason has been like after last year’s disappointing 4-8 campaign. While the coach has been known to be a bit defensive when it comes to the team’s struggles, he did open up during a sit-down interview and was transparent in taking the blame for the way 2016 went.

“When you have a losing season, you have to look at yourself first,” Kelly told NBC Sports’ Jac Collinsworth. “I’ve always felt like there isn’t a bad football team but there is bad leadership and I don’t think I provided the kind of leadership (last year). It starts with yourself.”

Kelly goes on to discuss the significant changes to the Irish coaching staff, how this team is very much a work in progress and how Wimbush is handling taking over as the starting signal-caller.

The Gold team ended up winning the spring game 27-14 over the Blue team behind a strong defensive performance. If Saturday’s outing was any indication, Notre Dame should be much improved this upcoming season and that seems to start from the top on down.

SEC commissioner confirms graduate transfer rule changes will be discussed at spring meetings

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We’re still over a month away from the SEC’s annual spring meetings down in Destin, Fla. but one item we might be able to confirm is on the agenda will be the graduate transfer rules for the conference.

It’s a hot topic around the league and particularly so at Florida, which is in the mix to land Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire but can’t officially take him due to restrictions from the conference office.

That may change however, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed in a radio interview on Friday with ESPN Gainesville.

“It will come up,” Sankey said, according to SECCountry.com. “I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions. I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

At the heart of the issue is a rule that limits schools from taking additional graduate transfers if previous graduate transfers failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. The move was designed to prevent a number of situations where players would transfer over just to play and not really go through coursework at their new school.

Other NCAA conferences have failed to follow the SEC’s lead in this area however and now the league is being put at a bit of a disadvantage on the graduate transfer market. This is particularly an issue with the Gators this offseason but it seems as though there will be quite the discussion down in Destin among athletic directors and head coaches about changing the rules to be on more of a level playing field with other conferences on this front.