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Ronnie Lott
Associated Press

42 defensive players named to Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list

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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

57 centers named to Rimington Award spring watch list

AJ McCarron, Ryan Kelly
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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  The first watch list of the offseason has arrived.

The first for that honor this year is the Rimington Award, which on Tuesday released its spring watch list that is 57 players strong.  The Rimington Award, named in honor of former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the top center in the nation and is determined by the consensus All-American center pick from three existing All-America teams — Walter Camp. Sporting News and FWAA.

None of the finalists for the 2015 award, won by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly, are included on this year’s initial watch list as all three have since moved on with expired eligibility.

The ACC and SEC pace all conferences with eight watch listers apiece, followed by the AAC and Big 12 with seven each.  The Big Ten placed six, while the Pac-12’s three was the least of all of the Power Five programs.

All 10 of the FBS leagues, plus one independent (Notre Dame), are represented on the spring watch list, the full roster of which appears below.

AAC
Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati, senior
Ryan Crozier, UConn, redshirt sophomore
Will Noble, Houston, sophomore
Drew Kyser, Memphis, sophomore
Evan Brown, SMU, junior
Brendan McGowan, Temple, redshirt senior
Chandler Miller, Tulsa, sophomore

ACC
Jay Guillermo, Clemson, senior
Alec Eberle, Florida State, redshirt sophomore
Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech, redshirt senior
Nicholas Linder, Miami, junior
Lucas Crowley, North Carolina, senior
Alex Officer, Pittsburgh, redshirt junior
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, redshirt senior
Jackson Matteo, Virginia, senior

BIG TEN
Joe Spencer, Illinois, senior
Sean Welsh, Iowa, junior
Brendan Moore, Maryland, sophomore
Mason Cole, Michigan, junior
Dylan Utter, Nebraska, senior
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin, sophomore

BIG 12
Kyle Fuller, Baylor, senior
Dalton Risner, Kansas State, sophomore
Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma, junior
Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State, junior
Austin Schlottman, TCU, junior
Tony Morales, Texas Tech, senior
Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, redshirt senior

CONFERENCE USA
Michael Montero, FIU, senior
Dillon DeBoer, FAU, redshirt senior
Daniel Stephens, Middle Tennessee State, senior
Nick Clarke, Old Dominion, sophomore
Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, senior
Max Halpin, Western Kentucky, redshirt senior

MAC
Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green redshirt junior
James O’Hagan, Buffalo, sophomore

MOUNTAIN WEST
Jake Bennett, Colorado State, junior
Asotui Eli, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore
Nathan Goltry, Nevada, senior
Arthur Flores, San Diego State, senior
Austin Stephens, Utah State, senior

PAC-12
Toa, Lobendahn, USC, junior
Coleman Shelton, Washington, junior
Riley Sorenson, Washington State, senior

SEC
Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, junior
Brandon Kublanow, Georgia, senior
Jon Toth, Kentucky, senior
Ethan Pocic, LSU, senior
Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State, senior
Robert Conyers, Ole Miss, senior
Alan Knott, South Carolina, redshirt junior
Coleman Thomas, Tennessee, junior

SUN BELT
Devin Mondie, Arkansas State, senior
Andy Kwon, Georgia Southern, senior
Gabe Mobley, Georgia State, sophomore
Steve Matlock, Idaho, senior

INDEPENDENTS
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame, junior

ESPN selections set for epic opening weekend

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Clemson Tigers fans cheer in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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We already knew that the opening weekend of the 2016 was going to be epic.  Now we know on which channels (most of the) said epic-ness will take place.

Tuesday, ESPN announced its channel selections for the Week 1 slate of games, with the World Wide Leader kicking off its coverage with South Carolina-Vanderbilt on ESPN Sept. 1 — hold on, it gets better — and being bookended by Ole Miss-Florida State on Labor Day.

In between, it’s highly-anticipated opening Saturday matchups such as Oklahoma-Houston (noon ET, ABC), LSU-Wisconsin (3:30 ET, ABC, Lambeau Field), Georgia-North Carolina (5:30 ET, ESPN), USC-Alabama (8 ET, ABC) and Clemson-Auburn (9 ET, ESPN).  For those with an international lean, and are early risers, the Georgia Tech-Boston College will be broadcast live from Dublin, Ireland, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

Oh, and lest we forget the clash of iconic programs: Notre Dame-Texas, kicking off at 7:30 ET Sunday night as the NFL season will be a week away from kicking off.

And all of that is without even mentioning games that have yet to have their broadcast destination announced, including UCLA-Texas A&M, Kansas State-Stanford, Missouri-West Virginia and Arizona-BYU, among others.

So, yes, it’ going to be one hell of an opening weekend.  Go ahead and prepare your goodbyes to family and friends now, informing them you’ll see them on the other side of Labor Day.

Ex-Wolfpack lineman blisters Russell Wilson as “‘me’ player” in social media diatribe

RALEIGH, NC - SEPTEMBER 3:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #16 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drops back to pass with protection by Jeraill McCuller #50 against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the game at Carter-Finley Stadium on September 3, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The war of words between those connected to the North Carolina State football program and Russell Wilson appears to be back on. Again.

Over the weekend, the current Seattle Seahawks quarterback gave a commencement speech at Wisconsin, the school to which he transferred after parting ways with NCSU. During the speech, Wilson spun a yarn about his former Wolfpack head coach, Tom O’Brien, dismissed any hopes he entertained for playing pro football.

“‘Listen son, you’re never going to play in the National Football League,'” Wilson, in his speech, said O’Brien told him during a conversation. “‘You’re too small. There’s no chance. You’ve got no shot. Give it up.'”

The tenor of Wilson’s commencement address didn’t sit well with at least one of his former teammates.

A senior during Wilson’s redshirt freshman season, Kalani Heppe acknowledged in a NSFW social media posting “how much I despise Tom O’Brien on a molecular level.” With that out of the way, Heppe proceeded to rip into Wilson, saying, among other things, the Pro Bowl quarterback “was a ‘me’ player” and “it was really hard for Russell to field punts and play safety when his head was firmly lodged up all the offensive coaches (sic) ass on a daily basis.

Below is Heppe’s missive, which, again, is NSFW, depending on your place of employment.

Welp, no gray area there.

As for Wilson, the Pro Bowler seemed to sense the spitstorm he kicked up with his commencement address as he took to Twitter to assuage any Wolfpack anguish. Or at least, he attempted to.

Russell Wilson, giving Wisconsin commencement speech: Tom O’Brien said ‘you’re never going to play in NFL’

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Russell Wilson #16 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drops back to throw a pass against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Seemingly against long odds, Russell Wilson has turned himself into a Pro Bowl-level quarterback in the NFL.  What he still has an issue with, it seems, is his exit from North Carolina State.

Wilson was a two-sport athlete for the Wolfpack, playing football and baseball at NCSU.  With Mike Glennon on the roster, his football coach, Tom O’Brien, wanted a commitment to the sport from his All-ACC quarterback; Wilson, a MLB draft pick as well, couldn’t give that, leaving NCSU for Wisconsin for his final season of eligibility.

That was the spring and summer of 2011; fastforward to May of 2016, and Wilson gave the commencement address at UW.  And Wilson added to his version of the narrative by stretching it to the point of breaking.

The summer before my senior year of college, I’m playing minor-league baseball. I called my football coach at NC State and said, ‘Hey coach, I’d like to come back for my senior year.’ He told me I wasn’t coming back. He said, ‘Listen son, you’re never going to play in the National Football League. You’re too small. There’s no chance. You’ve got no shot. Give it up.’ Of course, I’m on this side of the phone saying, ‘So you’re telling me I’m not coming back to NC State? I won’t see the field?’ He said, ‘No son, you won’t see the field.’ Now this was everything I had worked for. And now it was completely gone. If I wanted to follow my dream I had to leave NC State. I had no idea if I would get a second chance somewhere else.

(Wilson’s speech begins at around the 1:04:45 mark)

I’m far from an O’Brien apologist, but by all accounts it was commitment, not talent, that ultimately pushed Wilson to leave Raleigh for Madison.  But, whatever narrative helps Wilson sleep at night or gives him quality fodder for a speech — a narrative, incidentally, that was decidedly positive when Wilson had his jersey number honored by NCSU a couple of years ago.

“This is truly an amazing honor and I am looking forward to being back in Raleigh and Carter-Finley Stadium,” Wilson said in a statement March 25, 2014. “My experience at NC State was an amazing one playing football and baseball but also accomplishing my goal of graduating in three years. My memories of playing as the quarterback for the Wolfpack are never-ending and the roar of the Wolfpack Nation still rings in my ear from memorable wins against FSU and UNC!

“I learned the value of great leadership, ultimate sacrifice, and the relentless belief that hard work pays off. I am grateful for all of my amazing teammates and players past, present, and future. I can still taste and sense the blood, sweat, and tears we all sacrificed to be successful.”

In the end, ironically, Wilson did exactly what O’Brien wanted: he focused solely on football.  That focus, though, only came after Wilson’s less-than-amicable divorce from the Wolfpack — a divorce that Wilson, still, can’t realistically come to terms with.