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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

Title game rematch? Notre Dame AD “would love to play” Alabama

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The 2013 BCS National Championship was a meeting of college football heavyweights as Alabama and Notre Dame squared off for the seventh time in the schools’ illustrious history. The game itself turned out to be anything but interesting after kickoff though as the Crimson Tide ran right over the Irish on their way to a 42-14 bludgeoning and complete a run as back-to-back national champions.

While many Notre Dame fans would love to forget that night in South Florida, a rematch could be in store for the two programs down the road in the regular season. In a wide-ranging interview with the Indianapolis Star, Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick discussed a multitude of issues surrounding the football program and specifically addressed scheduling philosophy. The team recently added several SEC teams like Arkansas to their future schedules and it appears a rematch with the Tide could also be in the cards as well.

“Alabama is one of those opponents we would love to play. I hope we do get that done,” said Swarbrick. “It was interesting to see the list of teams we’ve never played (from the SEC, which include Mississippi State, Auburn and Kentucky). I frankly didn’t know it. I have a great relationship with the Auburn athletic director (Jay Jacobs), and I’d love to figure out how to do that. There’s something to be said for ticking off everyone on that list until you can say you’ve done it over the history of this program.”

The Fighting Irish are no stranger to going South as they’re scheduled to play an SEC school in each of the next four years. Alabama recently hired a new athletic director in Greg Byrne and it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see the two AD’s find time to schedule a game or two considering how many high-profile matchups are already on the docket for both sides.

Either way, given how scheduled out things already are for Notre Dame and Alabama, any such meeting would surely be several years into the future. That should give Irish fans plenty of time to erase that national championship game from their memory.

Kentucky gets in on offering scholarship to middle schoolers in a big way

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By now, the notion that a college football program is offering scholarships to kids in middle school is hardly enough to raise a few eyebrows. Sure, it’s weird and it may be time for the NCAA to look into establishing some sort of regulation on when scholarships can be extended. Until a change is made, however, giving a kid going into the eighth grade (or lower) after the summer is perfectly within the rules and therefore is fair game on the recruiting circuit.

With all of that in mind, take a look at the latest scholarship offer to a junior high player making waves today. Kentucky has extended a scholarship offer to Kiyaunta Goodwin of Louisville, Kentucky. He’ll be going into the eighth grade this fall, but you probably would not know it just by the looks of him. Goodwin is already a towering presence at 6′-6″ and 345 pounds. There are a number of college football programs that would like that kind of size on the roster today. Goodwin will keep them waiting a few more years.

Goodwin announced the reception of the scholarship offer via Twitter after attending a Kentucky football camp Friday.

Goodwin recently received Under Armour All-American honors, and the kid still has plenty of room for improvement. You have to love his emoji gloves he showed off earlier this year too. Kentucky getting in on the recruiting buzz now for the developing prospect is a fine strategy, considering the teams he rattled off as his favorites included his home town Louisville on top of a few national powers.

Is 13 years old still too young to be receiving college scholarship offers? Share your thoughts about this in the comment section below.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.

ACC, SEC place most DBs on Jim Thorpe Award watch list

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Another day, yet another watch list as the 2017 offseason barrels towards a merciful death.

This time around it’s the Jim Thorpe Award doing the honors, with the trophy given annually to the nation’s top defensive back releasing a watch list consisting of a mere 45 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  Headlining this year’s list are a pair of semifinalists from a year ago, Louisville’s Jaire Alexander and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The ACC and SEC lead all conferences with seven players apiece selected, followed by the Pac-12’s six and five each for the Big Ten and Big 12.  Conference USA was next with four, while the AAC, MAC and Sun Belt had three and the Mountain West two.

Alabama, Florida State and Stanford were the only programs with two players each selected.

USC’s Adoree’ Jackson won the 2016 version of the Thorpe Award.  The other finalists for last year’s trophy were Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis and LSU’s Tre’Davious White.  All three of those players were selected in the 2017 NFL draft.

Alabama voted by media as favorite to win SEC

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I didn’t see this one coming.  Talk about being blindsided.

One day after putting the wraps on its annual media days shindig, the SEC released the media’s picks for conference champion and predicted order of finish.  And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Alabama Crimson Tide, playoff participants in each of the first three years of the new system to determine a national champion, is the overwhelming favorite to claim yet another league championship.

‘Bama earned 217 points from the media when polled as to this year’s conference champ.  Next closest?  Auburn with 11, followed by Georgia’s six points and three each for Florida and LSU.  Showing that the media has a sense of humor and doesn’t take these preseason honors too seriously, even Vanderbilt was the recipient of a point.

Six times since 1992, the media has correctly picked the eventual champion in the preseason vote.  Two of those, though, came the last three years.

While ‘Bama was an overwhelming title choice, they weren’t a unanimous selection to win the West.  They did, however, reel in 225 first-place votes; Auburn (13), LSU (four) and Arkansas (one) were the only others to do so.

In the East Division, Georgia’s 138 first-place votes topped Florida’s 96.  South Carolina with five and Tennessee with three were the others to garner first-place votes in that division.

In addition to the predicted order of finish, the conference also released its Preseason Media Days All-SEC Teams. Alabama had the most first-team All-SEC selections with 10, which is a new record for this particular preseason squad.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Derrius Guice (LSU) received the most votes amongst individual players.