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Kickers, punters boot their way into 2017 kickoff with Lou Groza, Ray Guy watch lists

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The 2017 preseason watch list extravaganza rolled forward Wednesday with the release of the Ray Guy and Lou Groza watch lists. With apologies to the importance of both positions, we’re going to dump both watch lists in one post because, well, come on.

The Ray Guy Award carries a clear favorite into 2017 as reigning winner Mitch Wishnowsky returns to Utah after claiming the prize in 2016 after averaging 47.7 yards on his 64 punts. Interestingly, Wishnowsky did not lead the nation in punting last season; that honor belonged to Johnny Townsend of Florida and his 47.89 average on an equal number of boots. Townsend also returns in 2017.

On the kicking side, no returning winer claims favorite status, so we’ll give that to Auburn’s Daniel Carlson (28-of-32 a year ago) and Ole Miss’s Gary Wunderlich (22-of-23).

Lou Groza Watch List
Ricky Aguayo, Florida State
Matt Anderson, California
Stevie Artigue, Louisiana-Lafayette
Michael Badgley, Miami
Jonathan Barnes, Louisiana Tech
John Baron II, San Diego State
Aaron Boumerhi, Temple
Drew Brown, Nebraska
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Emmit Carpenter, Minnesota
Bryce Crawford, San Jose State
Blanton Creque, Louisville
Tyler Davis, Penn State
Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
Greg Huegel, Clemson
Redford Jones, Tulsa
Kody Kroening, Fresno State
Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky
Tommy Openshaw, Vanderbilt
Eddy Pineiro, Florida
Canon Rooker, Middle Tennessee
Jason Sanders, New Mexico
Parker Shaunfield, Southern Miss
Skyler Simcox, Western Kentucky
Joey Slye, Virginia Tech
Luke Strebel, Air Force
Mike Weaver, Wake Forest
Matthew Wright, Central Florida
Gary Wunderlich, Ole Miss
Louie Zervos, Ohio

Ray Guy Watch List
Derek Adams, Kent State
Jake Bailey, Stanford,
Matt Bonadies, Middle Tennessee
Bailey Cate, Old Dominion
A.J. Cole III, North Carolina State
Jake Collins, Western Kentucky
Logan Cooke, Mississippi State
Steven Coutts, California
Trevor Daniel, Tennessee
Joseph Davidson, Bowling Green
Michael Dickson, Texas
Colin Downing, Iowa State
Corey Fatony, Missouri
Blake Gillikin, Penn State
Jonathan Hernandez, South Florida
Logan Laurent, Massachusetts
Wade Lees, Maryland
Johnny Linehan, BYU
Adam Nunez, TCU
Nick Porebski, Oregon State
JK Scott, Alabama
Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
North Carolina, Tom Sheldon, North Carolina
Zach Sinor, Oklahoma State
Spencer Smith, Memphis
Chris Tilbey, USC
Johnny Townsend, Florida
Shane Tripucka, Texas A&M
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

Shea Patterson, Michigan should have 2018 eligibility decision in late January/early February

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In an interview earlier this week, transferring Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson expressed confidence that he would be immediately eligible to play for Michigan in 2018.  Whether that confidence will be rewarded, though,  won’t be known for a couple of months down the road.

Patterson and other transferring Rebels football players have retained the services of Thomas Mars — known to most of the college football world as the bulldog attorney who handled Houston Nutt‘s lawsuit against Ole Miss — in their attempt at immediate eligibility next season without having to sit out the transfer season normally required by the NCAA.  In an interview with Angelique Chengalis of the Detroit News, Mars revealed that a final decision on Patterson’s eligibility to play for the Wolverines in 2018 won’t be known until late January or early February.

In the interim, Mars will argue to the NCAA that Ole Miss displayed “egregious behavior,” including misleading recruits like Patterson and his family regarding the potential seriousness of the NCAA issues facing the football program,  and thus the standard transfer year should be waived in this case. “At this point, there’s no room for Ole Miss to deny it unlawfully kept the NOA (NCAA Notice of Allegations) it had just received under wraps for five months while the school misled prospects and their parents about how the NCAA investigation would likely impact the future of the football program and the goals and dreams of the student-athletes who ended up signing with Ole Miss under false pretenses,” the lawyer told Chengalis.

The News also laid out the process that will play out between Patterson, Ole Miss, Michigan and the NCAA in the coming weeks:

In the case of Patterson, Michigan must send a package to Ole Miss with information that supports the premise of Ole Miss’ “egregious behavior.” Ole Miss has several options — it can support what Michigan sent, oppose it, express neutrality or not respond at all. Once the NCAA has Ole Miss’ position on this, it moves forward with its decision-making process.

“If Ole Miss supports the transfer waivers, this could be a very easy decision (by the NCAA),” Mars said.

If Patterson is able to gain instant eligibility, he’d immediately become the favorite to win the Wolverines’ starting quarterback job.

Seth Collins leaving Oregon State a second time

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Seth Collins‘ winding journey in Corvallis has taken yet another twist.

After asking for it, Collins has been granted a release from his Oregon State scholarship, the school has confirmed. The junior wide receiver has already parted ways with the team, and no specific reason for the departure has been given.

This marks the second time that Collins has left the Beavers football program.  In January of 2016, Collins, amidst speculation that he would be moved from quarterback to wide receiver, made the decision to transfer; three months later, he returned to OSU — as a receiver.

Last season, Collins was second on the team in catches (36) and yards (418).  After three games this season, Collins was ruled out indefinitely because of what was described by the team as a health-related issue; he didn’t play again for the Beavers in 2017.  In the three games in which he played this season, he caught 12 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

That illness was unrelated to the unspecified health event last season that left him hospitalized and caused him to miss not only the last two games of 2016 but spring practice this year as well.

If Collins moves on to another FBS school, it’s believed he’ll have to sit out the 2018 season.  That would leave him with one season of eligibility that he can use in 2019.

It was thought that, when Collins left the first time, he was headed to Northern Illinois, so that’s certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Minnesota assistant Ed Warinner tweets he’s ‘never been contacted’ about Kent State job

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You just have to love the vagaries of the annual coaching rumor mill.

The offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota, Ed Warinner has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Paul Haynes as the head coach at Kent State.  In fact, just yesterday, the former Ohio State and Notre Dame assistant had been labeled as a “strong candidate” for the opening.

Thursday night, however, FootballScoop.com tweeted that Warinner is no longer a candidate.

Less than 20 minutes after that tweet, Warinner took to his personal Twitter to confirm he is not only not a candidate for the job but claimed that he has “never been contacted by anyone involved with the school.” Left unsaid is whether those representing or associated with him had been in contact with the university.

Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen (HERE) and Syracuse offensive coordinator Sean Lewis (HERE) are the latest names du jour connected to the opening at the MAC school.

Kent State’s one of two jobs at the FBS level that remain open, although the other, Louisiana, could be closed in short order.

Report: Louisiana offers head coach job to Arizona State OC Billy Napier

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So much for that plan.

The odd marriage of Arizona State and long-time but not-in-a-long-time NFL coach Herm Edwards was made even odder by the fact that Edwards was retaining Todd Graham‘s entire offensive coaching staff.  Less than two weeks into his tenure, however, there could be a glitch in the plans to help ease Edwards’s return to coaching as 247Sports.com is reporting that Louisiana (the school formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette) has offered its head-coaching job to Billy Napier.

The 38-year-old Napier had just completed his first season as ASU’s offensive coordinator.  He was also given the title of associate head coach upon Edwards’ hiring.

Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry was also one of the potential candidates for the Louisiana job who interviewed for the opening.

Whoever gets the job with the Ragin’ Cajuns will be replacing Mark Hudspeth, fired earlier this month after seven years with the program.