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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

Vanderbilt and UNLV announce future home-and-home series

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Vanderbilt and UNLV have set aside a pair of dates to play two future football games. The home-and-home deal will begin in 2019 and conclude in 2023.

According to the announcement from Vanderbilt, the Commodores of the SEC will host the Mountain West Conference’s UNLV on October 12, 2019 in the first meeting between the two schools on the football field. The second game in the series will be played September 16, 2023 at UNLV. Barring any other changes to the schedules before then, Vanderbilt’s trip to UNLV will mark the first time an SEC program has visited Las Vegas for a regular season game. The only other time an SEC team played in Las Vegas was in the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl, when UNLV topped Arkansas. UNLV has faced SEC competition before, but never at home in the regular season.

“We are delighted to add Vanderbilt to our future schedule,” said Reed-Francois. “Signing a home-and-home series with an SEC team shows how bright the future is for our program. Las Vegas is a world-class city and we look forward to hosting the Commodores and other fan bases from major programs in the coming years.”

By the time Vanderbilt makes their trip to play UNLV, a brand new football venue should be in place with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders preparing to move to Las Vegas once a new stadium is constructed in the next few years.

Vanderbilt has been reaching out to the Mountain West Conference for a number of future football matchups, many of which are home-and-home deals. Vanderbilt has additional future games lined up against MWC opponents Hawaii (2022-23), Nevada (2018), and Colorado State (2020-21, 2025-26).

As a member of the SEC, Vanderbilt is required to schedule at least one game per season against another power conference opponent or power conference equivalent of an opponent as determined by the SEC. UNLV does not satisfy that scheduling requirement, but Vanderbilt is covered with the non-conference scheduling demand in both seasons. In 2019, Vanderbilt will play at Purdue (Big Ten), and in 2023 Vandy will play at Wake Forest (ACC).

Vandy, Vols may be next for transferring Duck Rutger Reitmaier

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Expected to contribute immediately, a touted member of Willie Taggart’s first Oregon recruiting class will instead apparently be moving on.

247Sports.com was the first to report over the weekend that Rutger Reitmaier has decided to leave Taggart’s football program. The Oregonian subsequently wrote that the defensive lineman “did not respond to a text message seeking comment late Sunday, but his biography is no longer listed on the team roster.”

The website ScoopDuck.com is reporting that “the primary reason cited was distance from home.”

Reitmaier was recruited heavily by Brady Hoke when the latter was the Ducks’ defensive coordinator. Reitmaier’s a native of Nashville, while Hoke is currently the defensive line coach for the Tennessee Volunteers. Given that connection, as well as his reported desire to move closer to home, the Vols are already being rumored as a potential landing spot.

Obviously, hometown Vanderbilt would be a possibility as well. There’s also a personal connection to the Commodores.

Both of those SEC schools offered the lineman a scholarship prior to his signing with UO.

A three-star member of UO’s 2017 recruiting class, Reitmaier was rated as the No. 23 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Tennessee. Only a pair of cornerbacks, Deommodore Lenoir and Jaylon Redd, and linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia were rated higher on the defensive side of the ball than Reitmaier in the Ducks’ class this year.

An early enrollee who participated in spring practice this year, Reitmaier would likely have to sit out the 2017 season if he transfers to another FBS program.

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.

On the move? SEC reportedly considering Atlanta, Dallas and Nashville for media days

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SEC Media Days is the unofficial official start to the college football season every July and it’s been a tradition for hordes of national and local media to descend  upon Birmingham, Ala. every year to hear coaches share tidbits about their team and see what players have been up to during the offseason. While the event has expanded in terms of days — to almost a full week — and the number of people attending, one thing you could always count on was it being at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.

That run however, could be coming to an end.

Conference officials told the Baton Rouge Advocate that they are considering relocation the annual kickoff event, with commissioner Greg Sankey telling the paper that Nashville, Dallas and Atlanta are all “pretty good” potential new spots.

“We’ve got a great tradition here in Hoover. As our footprint has expanded, it’s appropriate to look at options,” Sankey said. “I said back in April that’s on my mind. I don’t have a prediction of when or where, but I think at some point mobility can be a healthy thing for this particular endeavor.”

Though the league office is located in Birmingham, a move elsewhere for media days has been something rumored for several years and has picked up steam with the not-so-new additions of Texas A&M and Missouri. Based on those comments from the commish, it appears the SEC is finally starting to explore those options beyond just the customary check-in.

Atlanta probably makes the most sense in many ways given that it’s the spiritual home of the league as the host of the conference title game and offers plenty of easy travel connections to just about anywhere in the region. The fairly new College Football Hall of Fame would certainly be a potential site to host the gathering and the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium could also be an option. Nashville is a fun area that has plenty of expertise from when it hosts the SEC basketball media days later in the fall.

But if you’re looking for the most intriguing option, that would be Dallas. The headline for this piece probably already perked up the ears of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, an Arkansas grad who has done his best to bring plenty of college football events to the metroplex in recent years. He is hosting the Big 12’s media days at his massive new ‘The Star’ complex in nearby Frisco, Texas already this month and would almost assuredly make room next year for his favorite league if asked. Things might be a little awkward with the Big 12 and a few fans in burnt orange but that would probably be left to Sankey and fellow commissioner Bob Bowlsby to sort out.

The Advocate notes that the 2018 site has not been determined and a return to Hoover and the Wynfrey remains on the table with the SEC’s deal with the hotel renewed on a yearly basis. Still, the fact that league officials are discussing the possibility of hitting the road for media days is quite the bat signal to the three cities mentioned and numerous others.