San Diego State Aztecs

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

Maxwell Smith has appeal for sixth season denied

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Maxwell Smith #17 of the San Diego State Aztecs passes against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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After much uncertainty, the sun has officially set on Maxwell Smith’s playing days, at least at the collegiate level.

Tuesday, San Diego State head coach confirmed that the NCAA has denied Smith’s appeal for a medical waiver that would’ve given the quarterback a sixth season of eligibility.  Smith had been wavering as to whether wanted to play in 2016 irrespective of the NCAA’s decision, which is why head coach Rocky Long had previously indicated that the player would have a job in some capacity with the Aztecs football program if he wanted it.

It’s uncertain whether Smith, who has previously indicated he wants to pursue a career in coaching, will accept a position at SDSU.  What is certain is that he has suited up for the last time collegiately.  Professionally, however…

“I don’t want to regret not taking a shot at the NFL,” Smith said according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s something I might look back on and regret. I talked to a lot of people … The (pro) level can suit some people better than the college level. Everybody sees with quarterbacks that it’s hard to predict what happens. You work hard enough and persevere long enough, maybe something good will come.”

Smith’s appeal for a sixth season was based on on the fact that he missed the equivalent of two seasons at Kentucky with ankle and shoulder injuries. Smith won the starting job after transferring from UK in January of last year, but sustained a torn ACL at the end of the year that would’ve made his availability for the 2016 uncertain to begin with.

After coming to the Aztecs as a grad transfer, Smith started the first 11 games of last season before the injury.  He completed 55 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 200 attempts.

SDSU wants Maxwell Smith to be ‘player/coach’ if QB gets sixth year

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Maxwell Smith #17 of the San Diego State Aztecs passes against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Regardless of what the NCAA ultimately decides, there’s a role for Maxwell Smith at San Diego State.

Because of various injuries, Smith is seeking a waiver from the NCAA that would give the fifth-year senior a sixth season of eligibility.  The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote early last month that ‘[t]he case for another year of eligibility will be based on Smith missing the equivalent of two seasons at Kentucky with ankle and shoulder injuries.” Smith won the starting job after transferring from UK in January of last year, but sustained a torn ACL at the end of the year that would/will keep him out of spring practice if he gets that sixth year.

If the waiver is approved and Smith does return, though, it wouldn’t be as the starter as sophomore Christian Chapman, who took over for the injured Smith, will maintain that role. From the Union-Tribune:

Smith, who is completing a graduate program at SDSU, has been invited to serve in a “player/coach” role.

Long said it would give the Aztecs a “mature guy who can step in if we lose our starter.”

Smith does not want to comment on the situation until he decides what he wants to do. He has been spotted a few times watching spring practices.

Smith has expressed a desire to be a coach when his playing career is over, and Aztecs head coach Rocky Long would like to help the player get his start at his current program.

“Since graduate students only take a couple classes, we’d let (Smith) sit in staff meetings and offensive meetings and he would sit in all the quarterback meetings,” Long said. “He says he wants to be a coach, so that would help him to his goal of being a coach someday. He hasn’t decided he wants to do any of that yet.”

After coming to the Aztecs as a grad transfer, Smith started the first 11 games of last season before the injury.  He completed 55 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 200 attempts.

Smith’s replacement, Chapman, started the last two games, including the Hawaii Bowl win over Cincinnati.  In the two-plus games after Smith was injured, Chapman connected on nearly 68 percent of his 34 passes with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.

SDSU’s three interceptions as a team — Chapman had one early on in the season — were the second-fewest in the country behind Navy’s two.

Injuries to prevent SDSU’s top punt returner from playing in 2016

Lloyd Mills
Associated Press
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San Diego State is in the early stages of spring practice, and yet the Aztecs have already lost a key piece of their special teams — and perhaps a key piece of their passing game for good measure.

Following a practice session earlier this week, head coach Rocky Long confirmed that the football program is seeking a medical redshirt for wide receiver Lloyd Mills. As such, the senior-to-be will be sidelined for the 2016 season.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Mills has been dealing with various knee and shoulder injuries sustained during his football playing career.

“I’m uncomfortable and the trainers are uncomfortable with him being out there,” Long said. “He hurt himself playing football and some other ways, too.”

The Union-Tribune writes that Long “did say that Mills already has graduated … [and a] medical redshirt would enable him to remain on scholarship while pursuing a master’s degree.”

Each of the past two seasons, Mills has led the Aztecs in punt returns — 9.5 yards a return last season, 11.4 in 2014. In that latter season, he was named second-team All-Mountain West as a punt returner by both the coaches and media.

On the receiving end, he’ll apparently finish his career with 23 receptions for 316 yards and a touchdown. He also returned one punt for a touchdown in 2014, and threw a seven-yard touchdown pass in 2015. In fact, Lewis completed both of his career pass attempts and has a pass efficiency rating of 357.4.