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Coaches fund gives $10,000 to Hawaii football player who suffered serious spinal injury in diving accident

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Even if it’s just a sliver, there’s some good news for one Hawaii football player dealing with a significant health issue.

In early July, Kalepo Naotala was seriously injured in a diving accident after jumping off a wall near the iconic Waikiki Beach. In confirming the injury and asking for prayers, the football program did not state the specific nature of the injury; Thursday night, the school confirmed in a press release that Naotala suffered a serious spinal cord injury and has been moved from a hospital to a treatment facility in Colorado to further his rehabilitation.

It was also announced by the university in the same release that Naotala and his family were on the receiving end of a grant from the College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) to help with ongoing medical and non-medical costs. The CFAF was founded in 2010, and is described as “a group of collegiate coaches and athletic administrators concerned about the limited resources available to injured football players. Major donors include some of today’s top college football coaches and Bowls.”

The generous grant by no means ends the family’s financial responsibilities, but it will certainly help defray some of the rising medical costs. For those who are so inclined, you can make donations to further defray it at CFAFund.com, with any donation being placed in a fund reserved solely for Kalepo and his family.

Below are the statements from some of the pertinent parties involved.

NAOTALA FAMILY
“Words can’t express how blessed we’ve been in the midst of this trying time for our family. The outpouring of God’s love and grace through prayers, love and support from Virginia to Hawaii and now Colorado has been tremendous! We’d like to thank the College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) for their support and generous donation in allowing our family to focus on Kalepo and his recovery & rehabilitation. We are grateful and appreciative that such an organization exists and is able to help us out during this critical time in our son’s life.”

HEAD COACH NICK ROLOVICH
“As unfortunate of an incident as it was for Kalepo, the outpouring of support has been amazing. With the help of the College Football Assistance Fund and many others who have generously supported the Naotala family, it will make their journey a little easier.”

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DAVID MATLIN
“On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi, we wish to extend our appreciation to the College Football Assistance Fund for their generosity and support of Kalepo. This gift will make a big difference in assisting the Naotala family in Kalepo’s road to recovery.”

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

ACC tops as Bronko Nagurski watch list hits triple digits

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It may not be the biggest award in college football, but it’s certainly the most voluminous.

Watch List Season continued unabated Thursday morning, with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy revealing a group which consists of a whopping 103 FBA players.  Within that triple-digit preseason club, there are 30 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 25 defensive ends and 19 defensive tackles.

Two 2016 first-team Football Writers Association of America All-Americans appear on the list — Clemson’s Christian Wilkins (pictured) and Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden.

Conference-wise, the ACC leads with 20 players selected for the initial watch list.  The Big Ten is next with 16, followed by the SEC’s 14, the Pac-12’s 13 and the Big 12’s 11.  The AAC paced Group of Five leagues with 10, with the Sun Belt (6), Mountain West (5), Mid-American (3) and Conference USA (2) rounding out the conferences, while football independents chipped in the remaining three.

The Nagurski Trophy has been handed out annually since 1993 to college football’s best defensive player.  Last year’s winner was Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen.


Hawaii seeks ‘thoughts and prayers’ for player seriously injured in diving accident

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The initial news wasn’t good when it came to one member of the Hawaii football program.  Not long after, the university’s public response seemingly confirmed the dire situation.

Reports surfaced over the weekend that Hawaii football player Kalepo Naotala was seriously injured in a diving accident off of Waikiki Beach Saturday.  One report stated that Naotala was transported in serious condition to a local trauma center after sustaining a spinal injury.

Late Sunday night, UH released a statement attributed to head coach Nick Rolovich.

“In six months, Kalepo has made such an impact on our team,” the coach said. “By being here, Kalepo has strengthened our football program and now its time for our program to stick together in support of him and his family. He is, and always will be, a Warrior. At this time, Kalepo and his family can use your thoughts and prayers.”

It was also confirmed by the school that “Naotala was seriously injured after a diving accident in Waikiki on Saturday.” As was the case in previous reports, no details were divulged.

The release added that the university’s athletic department “is exploring fundraising options to assist Naotala’s medical expenses.”

A 2016 graduate of Menchville High School in Newport News, VA., Naotala enrolled at UH earlier this year and participated in spring practice.  The school’s release stated that “[h]e was expected to compete for playing time this season.”

Hawaii freshman DT seriously injured in accident over the weekend

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Tough news out of the islands as Hawaii football player Kalepo Naotala was seriously injured in an accident that took place over the weekend.

Details are still a little scarce but it appears the freshman defensive tackle was hurt Saturday afternoon in what the Honolulu Star-Advertiser described as a diving accident after Naotala jumped off a wall near the famous Waikiki Beach. An emergency services spokesperson told the paper that a 19-year-old man was injured after appearing to hit his head but did not seem to confirm that the person in question was Naotala.

A separate report from ABC affiliate KITV says that Naotala was transported in serious condition to a nearby trauma center after the accident and that multiple sources told the station he suffered a spine injury.

As of Monday afternoon, the school has not released a statement nor confirmed that Naotala was injured.

Naotala enrolled at Hawaii in January and had originally signed with the Rainbow Warriors as part of the class of 2016. His bio on the school website says that he lived in the state prior to moving to Virginia, where he played high school football.