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


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

UAB adds former Tennessee DE Mykelle McDaniel

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UAB is returning to the playing field this fall after a brief absence from the world of college football, and head coach Bill Clark is working hard to build a program once again. This weekend, Clark was more than happy to announce the latest addition to the program in the not-so-subtle ways college football coaches tend to do on Twitter.

A couple of hours after that tweet was posted by Clark, former Tennessee defensive end Mykelle McDaniel announced on his Twitter account he had committed to the Blazers, followed by a retweet of Clark’s previous post.

McDaniel will be forced to sit out the upcoming 2017 season due to NCAA transfers. He will be eligible to play again in 2018 with three years of eligibility remaining. McDaniel sat out the 2016 season at Tennessee as a redshirt.

Get an early look at those brand new $10,000 Texas lockers

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One of the fun headlines from this offseason has been focused on the amount of money Texas is spending to upgrade its lockerroom, complete with a full redesign of the individual lockers. Longhorns football players will now have fancy HD TVs fixated above their locker showing off their profile. The season may still be a month away, but we now have an early look at how those new lockers look.

And it looks like it was worth the money.

It is just a brief glimpse of the new lockers, but it falls in line with locker renovations being seen around the country at schools capable of investing in the resources to do so. The locker setup itself appears to be similar to lockers used at some other programs, but the burnt orange looks smooth in these lockers.

Chad Morris, Derek Dooley among betting favorites to be next Ole Miss head coach

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It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.

As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.

Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.

For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.

Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;

  • Chad Morris +300
  • Derek Dooley +500
  • Blake Anderson +700
  • Les Miles +800
  • Mike Norvell +1000
  • Brent Venables +1200
  • Scott Frost +1400
  • Chip Kelly +1400
  • Neal Brown +1600
  • Lane Kiffin +1600
  • Mike MacIntyre +1600
  • Charlie Strong +1600
  • Willie Fritz +2000
  • Bryan Harsin +2000
  • Bobby Petrino +2500

So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.

Virginia Tech defends decision to put Michael Vick in Hokies Hall of Fame

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Athletically, there is no question Michael Vick belongs in Virginia Tech’s athletics hall of fame. Heck, the Hokies might as well name the thing after him.

In his two seasons on campus, Vick (pictured, left) threw for 3,299 yards and 21 touchdowns — averaging 9.6 yards per attempt on 56 percent completions, in an era where anything over 50 was considered above-average — while adding an electrifying 1,299 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Vick led the Hokies to a 22-2 record, a Big East championship and appearance in the BCS national title game as a redshirt freshman in 1999, a campaign that saw him finish third in Heisman Trophy voting.

He was essentially a combination of Vince YoungJohnny Manziel and Allen Iverson, in a time when the I-formation and pocket passers still ruled college football.

But there is, of course, the non-football side of Vick’s life.

In the prime of his career — he came 26 passing yards short of a 2,500/1,000 season in 2007 — Vick’s NFL career essentially ended when he was convicted of running a dogfighting ring and served 21 months in federal prison. And all throughout that time, Virginia Tech was tangentially related to the biggest villain in sports.

Still, Virginia Tech announced earlier this month that Vick was a member of its 5-person 2017 Sports Hall of Fame class, to be inducted on Friday, Sept. 22. Vick’s inclusion generation a petition that has drawn more than 2,500 signatures protesting the decision.

“You know one of my friends volunteered to go down to his residence where all of this took place at the aftermath to help with the cleanup, if you want to put it that way,” Virginia Tech graduate and petition creator Jennifer Breeden told Collegiate Times. “It’s just kind of an embarrassment that (Virginia Tech) would want to honor someone like that.”

Arguing that Vick has paid his debt to society and shown remorse for his actions, Virginia Tech on Friday released the following statement saying that Vick will remain in the 2017 class.

Mr. Vick’s induction into the university’s sports hall of fame acknowledges his tremendous achievements as a student athlete—who some will say was the greatest in the history of the university.

We understand that there are those who do not and will never agree with this decision.

In considering Mr. Vick’s nomination to our sports hall of fame, the criminal activities in which he engaged, his subsequent conviction, and time he served for his crime were also considered.

And it was informed by the remorse he has shown since that conviction, the work he is currently engaged in to advance animal welfare issues, as well as his efforts to help our current student athletes, based on lessons he’s learned in his own life, make positive choices as they begin their adult lives.

This in no way condones the actions for which he was convicted.

The university remains dedicated to the protection of animal health and welfare and embodies great care and compassion for all living animals.

It’ll be interesting to see the reaction Vick gets at the Hokies’ Sept. 23 home game against Old Dominion.