Groza Award watch list headlined by last year’s winner

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Brad Craddock was the winner of the 2014 Lou Groza Award.  He returned for the 2015 season.  Not surprisingly, he’s earned a spot on a watch list.

Given annually to the nation’s top placekicker, the Groza Award is the latest to release its watch list, with a total of 30 players littering this particular preseason grouping.  Joining Craddock are Florida State junior Roberto Aguayo — after he eschewed early entry in the NFL draft — and West Virginia junior Josh Lambert, both finalists for the Groza in 2014.

From the Groza Award’s press release:

Only five returning FBS kickers attempted at least 10 kicks and made at least 90% of them, and all are on the Watch List: Craddock (94.7), Kansas State sophomore Matthew McCrane (94.7), Oregon sophomore Aidan Schneider (91.7), two-time semifinalist Duke senior Ross Martin (90.5) and Aguayo (90.0).

The Watch List also includes all ten returning kickers who made more than 20 field goals at a rate of 75% or higher: Lambert (30), Aguayo (27), two-time semifinalist Utah junior Andy Phillips (23), Bowling Green senior Tyler Tate (23), returning semifinalist Virginia senior Ian Frye (22), two- time semifinalist Arizona State junior Zane Gonzalez (22), Oklahoma State junior Ben Grogan (22), two-time semifinalist TCU senior Jaden Oberkrom (22), and returning semifinalist Clemson senior Ammon Lakip (21).

Below is the complete list of 2015 Groza Award watch listers:

Roberto Aguayo – Florida State
Kyle Bullard – Houston
Brad Craddock – Maryland
Ka’imi Fairbairn – UCLA
Elliott Fry – South Carolina
Ian Frye – Virginia
Rafeal Gaglianone – Wisconsin
Andrew Gantz – Cincinnati
Zane Gonzalez – Arizona State
Paul Griggs – Purdue
Ben Grogan – Oklahoma State
Donny Hageman – San Diego State
Andrew Haldeman – Western Michigan
Ammon Lakip – Clemson
Josh Lambert – West Virginia
Austin MacGinnis – Kentucky
Ross Martin – Duke
Jay Mattox – UTEP
Matthew McCrane – Kansas State
Trevor Moore – North Texas
Marshall Morgan – Georgia
Cole Murphy – Syracuse
Jaden Oberkrom – TCU
Andy Phillips – Utah
Aidan Schneider – Oregon
Robert Stein – Akron
Aleem Sunanon – South Alabama
Tyler Tate – Bowling Green
Cameron Van Winkle – Washington
John Wallace – Louisville

New USF HC Jeff Scott lands commitment from ex-South Carolina RB

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After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.

By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls.  As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.

The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.

Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country.  In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.

Eli Drinkwitz adds Charlie Harbison to first Mizzou staff

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Not surprisingly, Eli Drinkwitz‘s first coaching staff in Columbia is taking on a bit of a Boone feel to it.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, Drinkwitz is expected to add Appalachian State special teams coordinator Erik Link in the same capacity at Missouri.  What has been confirmed, though, is that Drinkwitz has brought Charlie Harbison along with him to the Tigers, a release from the football program announced.

Right now, Harbison will carry the official title of Associate Head Coach/Defense; his specific duties will be spelled out later.

“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.”

Harbison spent one season with Drinkwitz at App State, where he served as the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks coach.  He was also the Sun Belt school’s associated head coach.

Previously, Harbison has spent time as the defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at three Power Five programs — Auburn (2013-14), Clemson (2009-12) and Mississippi State (2008).  He’s also was the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 1998-2000.

In addition to bringing in coaches that worked on his staff at App State, he’s expected to retain at least three of Barry Odom‘s former assistants, including defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters, defensive line coach Brick Haley, and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Those retentions have yet to be officially announced.

Willie Taggart’s new job will offset the money Florida State owes him as part of his buyout, but not by much

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Every little bit helps, right?

Florida State’s decision to fire Willie Taggart less than two years into his contract came with a steep financial cost, with the deposed head coach being owed in the very ritzy neighborhood of $18 million. That buyout, though, would be offset by any money Taggart would make in his next job(s).

Wednesday evening, Florida Atlantic announced that Taggart had been hired as its next head football coach. As of this posting, FAU has yet to release the financial particulars of Taggart’s deal with the university.

At least a portion of that info, though, has now been made public.

 

For perspective, the man Taggart is replacing, new Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, was paid $1.432 million in guaranteed compensation for 2019.

So, if Berkowitz’s numbers are accurate — and they normally very much are — FSU’s future obligation to Taggart would drop to just under $14 million.  So they have that going for them.  Which is nice.

LB Joseph Ogunbanjo arrested after allegedly trying to carjack a police car, attempting to grab officer’s handgun; sophomore dismissed by Cal following weekend incident

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Joseph Ogunbanjo‘s recent downward spiral has taken a decidedly southward turn.

According to the Daily Californian, Ogunbanjo (pictured, center) was arrested early Sunday morning following a very disturbing incident this past weekend that certainly could’ve ended in tragedy.  The student newspaper reports that the erstwhile Cal linebacker is facing one count each of suspicion of carjacking, threatening violence on a police officer, attempting to remove an officer’s weapon and battery on a police officer.

From the newspaper’s report:

The man, identified by [Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Byron] White as Ogunbanjo, allegedly opened the driver’s side door and attacked the officer, prompting the officer to exit the vehicle and order Ogunbanjo to sit on the ground, the email said. White said in his email that a struggle followed as Ogunbanjo allegedly approached the officer and grabbed him — he also alleged that while the officer attempted to handcuff Ogunbanjo and call for emergency cover, Ogunbanjo reached for the officer’s handgun.

“The man continued his attack—demanding that the officer give him his handgun,” White alleged in his email. “At one point during the encounter, the man elbowed the officer in the head—knocking the officer off-balance. That’s when the man got in the driver’s seat of the police vehicle.”

According to White, with the assistance of other officers, Ogunbanjo was removed from the vehicle and restrained. According to the City of Berkeley Open Data booking log, Ogunbanjo was booked into Berkeley City Jail at 5:28 a.m. on Sunday, and Berkeleyside reported that Ogunbanjo was moved to a hospital as of about 2 p.m. Monday.

As a result of the incident, a football program official has confirmed that the 6-3, 240-pound Ogunbanjo is no longer a member of the Bears’ football team.  The sophomore’s name has been removed from the team’s official online roster as well.

“We are aware of an incident involving Joseph Ogunbanjo, and the details as described by the Berkeley Police Department are troubling,” a statement from the university began. “While he is no longer a member of our football program, we remain concerned for his well-being.”

After playing in 10 games as a true freshman, Ogunbanjo had seen action in seven games this year.  He has been credited with eight tackles, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble in 2019.

In mid-October, it was confirmed by head coach Justin Wilcox that Ogunbanjo was not with the team at the moment as he served an indefinite suspension.  Late in the regular season and prior to this off-field incident, Ogunbanjo had been permitted to return to the team.