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Toledo and Ohio top preseason MAC coaches poll

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While most of the 2017 conference predictions and preseason polls have been out there for over a month from the media day circuit, the MAC has held off until today to reveal its preseason coaches poll. As it turns out, the coaches in the MAC have some varied opinions on how things will shake out in the MAC this football season.

Ohio and Toledo were each selected to win the MAC East and West Divisions, respectively, by the coaches of the MAC, although a few others received first-place votes in each division as well. Ohio picked up nine first-place votes in the East to pull ahead of Miami. Ohio won the division last season and hopes to clinch its first MAC championship since 1968. Ohio has never played in back-to-back MAC Championship games, so returning to the game this year would mark a first for the Bobcats.

Toledo last won the MAC in 2004 but the Rockets are widely considered a conference favorite this season. Still, the coaches in the MAC have a different take on the West Division with four other teams receiving first-place votes. Toledo still received seven first-place votes, but defending conference champion Western Michigan picked up two, and Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Ball State each received a first-place vote from the MAC coaches.

Here is how the MAC coaches poll looks. For reference, the preseason media poll also tabbed Ohio and Toledo, with the Rockets being named the preseason conference championship favorite. The coaches did not vote on a preseason conference champion.

2017 MAC Head Football Coaches Preseason Poll

Team (First Place Votes)  Points

MAC East Division       

  1. Ohio (9)                                 69
  2. Miami (3)                              61
  3. Bowling Green                    45
  4. Akron                                     41
  5. Buffalo                                   20
  6. Kent State                            16

MAC West Division

  1. Toledo (7)                             66
  2. Western Michigan (2)        58
  3. Northern Illinois (1)            45
  4. Eastern Michigan               35
  5. Central Michigan (1)          31
  6. Ball State (1)                        17

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

Ball State transfer WR Damon Hazelton officially added to Virginia Tech roster

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Virginia Tech officially bolstered its receiving corps Monday, although they won’t see an offensive dividend this season.

A little over a month ago, Ball State’s Damon Hazelton took to Twitter to reveal that he would be transferring to Tech. In a press release, the Hokies announced that the wide receiver began summer classes yesterday and will continue his collegiate playing career with the football team.

That continuation won’t happen on the field in 2017, though, as NCAA transfer rules will force Hazelton to sit out this season. He will then have three years to use three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2018.

The 6-2, 207-pound receiver will, however, be permitted to practice with the team while he sits out his transfer year.

Hazelton was a two-star member of Ball State’s 2016 recruiting class. As a true freshman last season, Hazelton was second on the Cardinals with 51 receptions for 505 yards, while his four receiving touchdowns were tops on the team.

Ball State’s second-leading receiver transfers to Virginia Tech

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For the second time this offseason, Virginia Tech has landed an FBS transfer at the wide receiver position.

Damon Hazelton Jr. announced this week on his Twitter account that he has decided to transfer from Ball State.  Not only that, but the receiver confirmed that he will be enrolling at Tech and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Hokies.

Hazelton will be forced to sit out the 2017 season because of NCAA transfer rules.  He would then have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Hazelton was a two-star member of Ball State’s 2016 recruiting class. As a true freshman last season, Hazelton was second on the Cardinals with 51 receptions for 505 yards, while his four receiving touchdowns were tops on the team.

In late March, James Clark opted to transfer to Tech from Ohio State.  That receiver will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer.

Jim Harbaugh one of three elected to Senior Bowl Hall of Fame

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Three decades after playing in the game, Jim Harbaugh is being forever immortalized by the preeminent college football all-star game.

The Senior Bowl announced Thursday that Harbaugh is one of three players to be inducted into the game’s 29th Hall of Fame class.  The Michigan head coach will be joined in this year’s class by former Ball State Cardinal and NFL safety Blaine Bishop and former Arizona Wildcat and NFL linebacker Lance Briggs.

Harbaugh played in the 1987 version of the Senior Bowl before he was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears.

“Jim Harbaugh’s love of competition was displayed on the field during his playing days at Michigan and over his 15 years in the National Football League,” a statement from Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage began. “Now, he is recognized as one of the best coaches in the game, having achieved noteworthy success at both the college and professional levels.”

Both Harbaugh and Briggs spent extensive time with the Bears, the former for seven years (1987-93) and the latter for all 12 years of his NFL career (2003-14).  Bishop spent nine of his 10 years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans (1993-2001).  He finished off his time in the NFL in 2002 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

That trio pushes the total number of Senior Bowl Hall of Famers to 114.  To put that into perspective, more than 5,000 players have played in the senior Bowl since its inception nearly seven decades ago.