Michigan State Spartans

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31:  Wayne Gallman #9 of the Clemson Tigers scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners during the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2016 Las Vegas win totals think highly of Clemson, FSU, Sooners and Vols

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The top two teams in the ACC, Clemson and Florida State, are widely expected to once again lead the way in the ACC and the first batch of season win totals from Las Vegas outlet The Golden Nugget back that up. The initial 2016 win totals for a handful of college football programs were released by The Golden Nugget this week, and it would appear the sportsbook expects a big season from the defending ACC champion and national runner-up Clemson.

As noted by The Sporting News, The Golden Nugget gave a regular season win total of 10 to Clemson and Oklahoma, both coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff last season. Florida State also gets a double-digit win total, as does Tennessee. Defending national champion Alabama has a line of 9.5 for its win total.

Tennessee having a higher win total than Alabama? Well, consider the divisions each play in. The SEC West is still arguably a stronger division than the SEC East, suggesting Tennessee will have an easier path to hitting 10 wins during the regular season. Tennessee opens the season on a neutral field against Virginia Tech in Bristol, while Alabama hits the big stage in Arlington to take on USC. The Trojans have a win total of just 7.5. There was no number available for Virginia Tech.

Defending Big Ten champion Michigan State has a win total number of 8, which is half a game lower than the 8.5 given to Ohio State (take the over now while you can) and 1.5 games lower than in-state rival Michigan (9.5). Defending Pac-12 champion Stanford has to get to eight games to break even. The Golden Nugget set UCLA’s win total at nine, the highest among Pac-12 teams.

Clemson 10 (over -120)
Alabama 9.5
Florida State 10 (over -120)
Oklahoma 10 (under -130)
LSU 9.5 (over -140)
Michigan 9.5 (over -120)
Houston 9 (under -150)
Notre Dame 9 (under -125)
Ohio State 8.5 (over -115)
Tennessee 10
Baylor 9 (under -125)
Michigan State 8 (under -135)
Stanford 8 (under -130
Ole Miss 7.5 (under -115)
Georgia 8.5 (over -145)
Auburn 7 (over -120)
UCLA 9 (over -120)
USC 7.5 (over -120)
Oregon 8.5 (under -120)
Florida 8 (under -125)
Louisville 9
TCU 8.5 (under -125)
Oklahoma State (under -130)
UNLV 4.5

42 defensive players named to Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list

Ronnie Lott
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Another day, another watch list.

One day after the Rimington Award released its initial spring watch list, the Lott IMPACT Trophy has followed suit, with the award named in honor of former USC great Ronnie Lott unveiling a watch list consisting of 42 players from seven of the 10 FBS conferences.  The trophy is handed out annually to the defensive player who most represents the qualities of the honor’s namesake – Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Last year’s winner was Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib.

Alabama is the only team with three players on the list. Six teams placed two players each: Michigan, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, USC and Virginia. There was also one FCS team represented — Harvard.

Conference-wise, the Big Ten paced all leagues with 10 players selected, followed by the SEC”s eight and the ACC’s seven. The Mountain West led all Group of Five conferences with two players. The only other G5 league to get an initial nod was the AAC (Houston).

Below is the complete 42-player watch list for the 2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Sean Ahern, S, Harvard
Joey Alfieri, LB, Stanford
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Dante Barnett, S, Kansas State
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Evan Berry, CB, Tennessee
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State
Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State
Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Dylan Haines, S, Texas
Charles Harris, DL, Missouri
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
Derwin James, S, Florida State
Joshua Kalu, CB, Nebraska
Andrew King, LB, Army
Desmond King, S, Iowa
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
Jourdan Lewis CB, Michigan
William Likely, CB, Maryland
Dallas Lloyd, S, Stanford
Cameron Malveaux, DE, Houston
James McFarland, DE, TCU
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
Viliami Moeakiola, LB, Arizona State
Calvin Munson, LB, San Diego State
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Arrion Springs, DB, Oregon
Weston Steelhammer, S, Air Force
M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
Drue Tranquill, S, Notre Dame
Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pitt
Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
A.J. Wolf, DL, Duke

Mich. St., Virginia confirm additions of Nebraska, ECU grad transfers

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 22: Defensive tackle Kevin Williams #92 and defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler #55 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers chase down quarterback Kevin Yost #15 of the Idaho State Bengals during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Another day, another couple of graduate transfers are officially in the books.

Following up on reports that first gained traction over the weekend, Michigan State announced that defensive tackle Kevin Williams “has signed a valid Big Ten tender” and will join the Spartans for the 2016 football season.  The upcoming season will be Williams’ final year of eligibility, and his addition could help ease the attrition the Spartans’ defensive line has ben hit with of late — provided he can stay healthy, of course.

Williams missed his entire true freshman season in 2011 because of a knee injury, then missed the entire 2013 season because of another knee issue.  His healthiest season came in 2014 when he played in 10 games.

This past season, a groin injury helped limit Williams to eight games.

Williams was a three-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 36 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Ohio. In between the injuries, he played in a total of 23 games for the ‘Huskers.

Late this past week, MSU announced that Damon Knox, a projected starter at tackle, had decided to leave the program to pursue a career in law enforcement.  Back in April, MSU confirmed that sophomore linemen Craig Evans and Montez Sweat had left the program.

In addition to Williams, Virginia also announced that quarterback Kurt Benkert has joined the Cavaliers.  It had been reported late last month that Benkert would be moving on from East Carolina to UVa.

Benkert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Benkert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

Benkert, who will be eligible to play in 2016 as a graduate transfer, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Report: Mich. St. the landing spot for ex-Nebraska DT Kevin Williams

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 22: Defensive tackle Kevin Williams #92 and defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler #55 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers chase down quarterback Kevin Yost #15 of the Idaho State Bengals during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Michigan State seen its depth along the defensive line take a hit this offseason.  Kevin Williams is in need of a new home.  In the end, it appears this will be a match made in football roster heaven.

While the school has to confirm a consummation, 247Sports.com is reporting that Williams (pictured, No. 92) is expected to sign with MSU and play his remaining football for the Spartans.  The recruiting website writes that “[a] source indicated the pairing is happening and is close to being a done deal from a paperwork standpoint with Williams.”

As Williams would be coming to East Lansing as a graduate transfer, he would be eligible to play immediately in 2016.  This upcoming season will be the defensive tackle’s final year of eligibility.

In November of last year, it was announced that Williams had received a sixth season of eligibility.  Five months later, Williams decided to use that sixth season somewhere other than Nebraska as it was announced in April he’d transfer.

Whether the oft-injured Williams actually takes the field could be another matter entirely.

Williams missed his entire true freshman season in 2011 because of a knee injury, then missed the entire 2013 season because of another knee issue.  His healthiest season came in 2014 when he played in 10 games.

This past season, a groin injury helped limit Williams to eight games.

Williams was a three-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 36 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Ohio. In between the injuries, he played in a total of 23 games for the ‘Huskers.

Late this past week, MSU announced that Damon Knox, a projected starter at tackle, had decided to leave the program to pursue a career in law enforcement.  Back in April, MSU confirmed that sophomore linemen Craig Evans and Montez Sweat had left the program.

Mich. St. loses projected starting DT Damon Knox… to career in law enforcement

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 21:  Damon Knox #93 of the Michigan State Spartans rushes against Ronnie Stanley #78 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 21, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 17-13.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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There’s something you don’t see every day.

Friday, Michigan State announced that defensive tackle Damon Knox will not be returning to the Spartans for a sixth season.  The reason?  The lineman has decided to pursue a career in the field of law enforcement.

Knox had been a participant in spring practice, so the decision to forego his final season of eligibility could be described as unexpected.  Taking it even further, Knox was a projected starter heading out of the spring, so it’s a rather significant blow to MSU’s line on that side of the ball.

“Damon has been a major contributor to our success the past five years,” head coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “We appreciate his time and commitment to the Michigan State football program and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

While Knox was eligible for a sixth season, he hadn’t even submitted the required paperwork for the waiver, mlive.com reported.

As CSNChicago.com noted, “Knox was supposed to help fill the voids left by three departing starters — Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath and Lawrence Thomas — from last season’s defensive line.” Malik McDowell is the lone returning starter.

The last three seasons, Knox played in 38 games, starting three of those contests.

Knox becomes the third defensive lineman to leave the program this spring.  Back in April, MSU announced that sophomores Craig Evans and Montez Sweat had left the program.