Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers passes during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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2015 winner Deshaun Watson one of 30 O’Brien Award watch listers

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The 2016 Davey O’Brien Award preseason watch list has a decidedly 2015 feel to it.

Included in the group of 30 watch listers is Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, the 2015 winner of the award handed out annually to the nation’s top quarterback.  Watson, a junior, is attempting to become only the second player ever, joining Oklahoma’s Jason White, to win the O’Brien twice.

Additionally, a finalist for the 2015 award, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, is included, as are three other semifinalists from a year ago — Luke Falk (Washington State), Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Seth Russell (Baylor) and Greg Ward Jr. (Houston).  Finally, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, a semifinalist for the 2014 award, is back as a quarterback to watch.

With five nominees each, the Big 12 and Big Ten lead all conferences, followed by the Pac-12 and AAC with four apiece.

Almost half of the watch listers are seniors, with juniors contributing another 11.  That leaves five sophomores among the 30 — Rosen, Washington’s Jake Browning, BYU’s Tanner Mangum, Boise State’s Brett Rypien and Middle Tennessee State’s Brent Stockstill.

Below is the complete 2016 Davey O’Brien Award preseason watch list:

Tommy Armstrong Jr. (Nebraska, Sr., Cibolo, Texas)
J.T. Barrett (Ohio State, Jr., Wichita Falls, Texas)
C.J. Beathard (Iowa, Sr., Franklin, Tenn.)
Jake Browning (Washington, So., Granite Bay, Calif.)
Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee, Sr., Alpharetta, Ga.)
Dane Evans (Tulsa, Sr., Sanger, Texas)
Luke Falk (Washington State, Jr., Logan, Utah)
Quinton Flowers (USF, Jr., Miami, Fla.)
Skyler Howard (West Virginia, Sr., Fort Worth, Texas)
Brad Kaaya (Miami, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.)
Chad Kelly (Ole Miss, Sr., Buffalo, N.Y.)
DeShone Kizer* (Notre Dame, Jr., Toledo, Ohio)
Taylor Lamb (Appalachian State, Jr., Calhoun, Ga.)
Mitch Leidner (Minnesota, Sr., Lakeville, Minn.)
Wes Lunt (Illinois, Sr., Rochester, Ill.)
Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech, Jr., Whitehouse, Texas)
Tanner Mangum* (BYU, So., Eagle, Idaho)
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma, Jr., Austin, Texas)
Nick Mullens (Southern Miss, Sr., Hoover, Ala.)
Josh Rosen (UCLA, So., Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State, Jr., Rock Hill, S.C.)
Cooper Rush (Central Michigan, Sr., Charlotte, Mich.)
Seth Russell (Baylor, Sr., Garland, Texas)
Brett Rypien (Boise State, So., Spokane, Wash.)
Anu Solomon (Arizona, Jr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
Brent Stockstill (Middle Tennessee, So., Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
Zach Terrell (Western Michigan, Sr., Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Phillip Walker (Temple, Sr., Elizabeth, N.J.)
Greg Ward Jr. (Houston, Sr., Tyler, Texas)
Deshaun Watson (Clemson, Jr., Gainesville, Ga.)

Headed by ACC’s 15, record 88 player named to Wuerffel watch list

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Quarterback Danny Wuerffel #7 of the Florida Gators readies to throw during a game against the Kentucky Wildcats on September 28, 1996 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  The Gators defeated the Wildcats 65-0.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Records were made to be broken, even this kind of a record, I guess.

Continuing the watch list avalanche is the Wuerffel Trophy, which announced 88 players have been recognized as part of the annual preseason grouping.  That number is a record for the award, which is named in honor of former Florida great Danny Wuerffel and is awarded to the FBS player that “best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”

The 2015 winner of the Wuerffel was Oklahoma’s Ty Darlington.

As far as the conference-by-conference breakdown?  From the release:

The Atlantic Coast Conference led all conferences with 15 players appearing on the 2016 watch list. Following the ACC are the SEC with 12 players, Conference USA with 10 and the Big 10 and Big 12 with 9 players each. The American Athletic followed with 8 players while the Sun Belt added 7, the PAC 12 submitted 6 and the MAC and Mountain West followed with 4 each. All FBS Conferences are represented on the list, as were Independent representatives BYU and United States Military Academy (Army) with 1 nominee each.

Below is the complete 2016 Wuerffel Trophy preseason watch list:

JK Scott, Alabama, Junior, P
O.J. Howard, Alabama, Senior, TE
Darian Small, Appalachian State, Senior, DL
Vilami “Laiu” Moeakiola, Arizona State, Senior, LB
Brooks Ellis, Arkansas, Senior, LB
Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State, Junior, DB
Andrew King, Army, Senior, LB
Daniel Carlson, Auburn, Junior, PK
Seth Russell, Baylor, Senior, QB
Mitchell Juergens, BYU, Senior, WR
Jonny Linehan, BYU, Senior, P
Jack Austin, California, Junior, WR
Jamal Covington, Charlotte, Senior, OL
Deshaun Watson, Clemson, Junior, QB
Sefo Liufau, Colorado, Senior, QB
Zack Golditch, Colorado State, Junior, OL
DeVon Edwards, Duke, Senior, DB
Zay Jones, East Carolina, Senior, WR
Jarrad Davis, Florida, Senior, LB
Shalom Ogbonda, Florida Atlantic, Senior, DL
Michael Montero, Florida International, Senior, OL
Alec Eberle, Florida State, Sophomore, OL
Jeb Blazevich, Georgia, Junior, TE
Keith Rucker, Georgia State, Senior, TE
KeShun Freeman, Georgia Tech, Junior, DE
Greg Ward, Jr., Houston, Senior, QB
Joe Spencer, Illinois, Senior, OL
Mitchell Paige, Indiana, Senior, WR
LeShun Daniels, Jr., Iowa, Senior, RB
Cole Netten, Iowa State, Senior, PK
Fish Smithson, Kansas, Senior, DB
Dante Barnett, Kansas State, Senior, DB
Antwan Dixon, Kent State, Sophomore, WR
Nick Cuthbert, Kent State, Senior, LB
Karmichael Dunbar, Louisiana, Senior, DL
Brandon Radcliff, Louisville, Senior, RB
Colin Jeter, LSU, Senior, TE
William Likely, Maryland, Senior, DB
Ryan Yurachek, Marshall, Sophomore, TE
Jake Elliott, Memphis, Senior, PK
Brad Kaaya, Miami, Junior, QB
Josiah Price, Michigan State, Senior, TE
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee, Sophomore, QB
Damarius Travis, Minnesota, Senior, DB
Evan Engram, Mississippi, Senior, TE
Brandon Holloway, Mississippi State, Senior, WR/RB
Drew Brown, Nebraska, Junior, PK
Jeremy Maculey, Nevada, Senior, OL
Nick Weller, North Carolina, Senior, PK
Tony Adams, North Carolina State, Junior, OL
Drew Hare, Northern Illinois, Senior, QB
Matthew Harris, Northwestern, Senior DB
Jarrod Barnes, Ohio State, Senior, DB
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, Junior, RB
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, Junior, QB
Tyler Compton, Old Dominion, Senior, OL
Ryan Nall, Oregon State, Sophomore, RB
Adam Biniswaty, Pittsburgh, Senior, OL
James Conner, Pittsburgh, Junior, RB
Mike Caprara, Pittsburgh, Senior, LB
Darik Dillard, Rice, Senior, RB
Daniel Brunskill, San Diego State, Senior, TE
Tim Crawley, San Jose State, Senior, WR
Nick Mullins, Southern Mississippi, Senior, QB
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, Senior, OL
Aaron Curry, TCU, Senior, DL
Brendan McGowan, Temple, Senior, OL
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee, Senior, QB
Trevor Knight, Texas A&M, Senior, QB
Felix Romero, Texas State, Junior, OL
Patrick Mahomes, II, Texas Tech, Junior, QB
Brad Spelman, Toledo, Junior, LS
John Johnson, Troy, Junior, WR
Marshall Wadleigh, Tulane, Senior, TE
Dane Evans, Tulsa, Senior, QB
Justin Holman, UCF, Senior, QB
Bobby Puyol, UConn, Senior, PK
John Plattenburg, USC, Junior, DB
Travis Seefeldt, Utah State, Senior, DL
Oren Burks, Vanderbilt, Junior, LB
Matt Johns, Virginia, Senior, QB
Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech, Senior, RB
Ryan Janvion, Wake Forest, Senior, DB
Jeff Lindquist, Washington, Senior, TE
Skyler Howard, West Virginia, Senior, QB
Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky, Senior, OL
Marcus Ward, Western Kentucky, Senior, DB
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan, Senior, QB

Three 2015 semifinalists highlight Biletnikoff Award watch list

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster #9 of the USC Trojans catches the ball before carrying it into the zone on a 50 yard touchdown pass play in tthe first quarter against the Idaho Vandals at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Another day, another watch list.

The latest to throw its hat into the preseason ring is the Biletnikoff Award, with the Tallahassee Quarterback Club announcing a watch list consisting of 53 receivers.  The Biletnikoff is named in honor of former Florida State All-American Fred Biletnikoff and has been handed out annually since 1994 to honor the outstanding receiver in college football.  It should be noted that the award states that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back, and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award,” even as all 22 winners have been listed as wide receivers.

Three semifinalists for last year’s award, won by Baylor’s Corey Coleman, are on this year’s watch list — Washington State’s Gabe Marks, USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor.

The MAC leads all conferences with eight watch listers, followed by the ACC, Conference USA and SEC with seven each and the Big Ten with six.  The Pac-12, with two, has the least of any FBS conference, tied with the Sun Belt.

Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia State, Indiana, Louisiana Tech, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Western Kentucky all have two receivers each on the list.

Below is the complete 2016 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list:

Rodney Adams, University of South Florida, SR.
Chance Allen, University of Houston, SR.
Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State University, SR.
Josh Atkinson, University of Tulsa, RSR.
Devonte Boyd, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, JR.
KD Cannon, Baylor University, JR.
Jehu Chesson, University of Michigan, SR.
Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana University, JR.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan University, SR.
Robert Davis, Georgia State University, SR.
Gehrig Dieter, University of Alabama, RSR.
Malachi Dupre, Louisiana State University, JR.
Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech, JR.
Shelton Gibson, West Virginia University, RJR.
Chris Godwin, Pennsylvania State University, JR.
Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois University, RSR.
Penny Hart, Georgia State University, SO.
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech University, RSO.
Hasaan Henderson, University of Nevada, SR.
Mack Hollins, University of North Carolina, SR.
Richie James, Middle Tennessee State University, RSO.
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina University, SR.
Ricky Jones, Indiana University, RSR.
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M University, SO.
Jesse Kroll, Central Michigan University, SR
Jerome Lane, University of Akron, JR.
Allen Lazard, Iowa State University, JR.
KeVonn Mabon, Ball State University, SR.
Gabe Marks, Washington State University, RSR.
Taquan Mizzell, University of Virginia, SR.
Ronnie Moore, Bowling Green State University, SR.
Drew Morgan, University of Arkansas, SR.
Nicholas Norris, Western Kentucky University, SR.
Zach Pascal, Old Dominion University, SR.
Brandon Reilly, University of Nebraska, SR.
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M University, SR.
Jerico Richardson, University of Nevada, SR.
Calvin Ridley, University of Alabama, SO.
Fred Ross, Mississippi State University, SR.
Travis Rudolph, Florida State University, JR.
Artavis Scott, Clemson University, SO.
Sebastian Smith, Ohio University, SR.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, University of Southern California, JR.
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State University, SR.
Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist University, SO.
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky University, SR.
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech University, JR.
Cody Thompson, University of Toledo, JR.
DJ Thompson, University of Southern Mississippi, RSR.
James Washington, Oklahoma State University, JR.
Jordan Westerkamp, University of Nebraska, SR.
Kermit Whitfield, Florida State University, SR.
Mike Williams, Clemson University, RJR.

2015 winner Desmond King of Iowa headlines Thorpe Award watch list

AMES, IA ? SEPTEMBER 14: Defensive back Desmond King #14 of the Iowa Hawkeyes breaks up a pass meant for wide receiver Tad Ecby #6 of the Iowa State Cyclones late in the 4th quarter of play at Jack Trice Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Ames, Iowa. Iowa defeated Iowa State 27-21. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Watch list season continues to roll along, with defensive backs getting their turn in the spotlight.

Monday, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame released the annual preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award.  Given annually to the nation’s top defensive back, this year’s watch list includes 39 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  No players from football independents were included.

Included in the group is Iowa’s Desmond King, the 2015 winner of the Thorpe Award.

The Pac-12 paces all conferences with six selections, followed by five each from the MAC and SEC.  The AAC, ACC, Big Ten and Mountain West all have four apiece, while the Sun Belt has three.  Along with Conference USA, the Big 12 brings up the rear with two.

Air Force (two), LSU (two) and Washington (two) are the only teams with more than one player on the list.

Most of the watch listers are juniors (13) or seniors (23), with the lone exceptions being a trio of sophomores — Florida State’s Derwin James, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Whitehead and Wyoming’s Andrew Wingard.

Below is the complete 2016 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list:

Jamal Adams, LSU, Jr.
Tony Annese, Central Michigan, Sr.
Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado, Sr.
Budda Baker, Washington, Jr.
Bobby Baker, Georgia State, Sr.
Quin Blanding, Virginia, Jr.
Cody Brown, Arkansas State, Sr.
Sean Chandler, Temple, Jr.
Jeremy Cutrer, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
Zach Edwards, Cincinnati, Sr.
Nate Gerry, Nebraska, Sr.
Adoree’ Jackson, USC, Jr.
Eddie Jackson, Alabama, Sr.
Derwin James, Florida St., So.
Sidney Jones, Washington, Jr.
Damontae Kazee, San Diego State, Sr.
Desmond King, Iowa, Sr.
Roland Ladipo, Air Force, Sr.
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan , Sr.
William Likely, Maryland, Sr.
Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois, Jr.
Marcus Maye, Florida, Sr.
Demetrius Monday, Kent State, Jr.
Deatrick Nichols, USF, Jr.
Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama, Jr.
DeJuan Rogers, Toledo, Sr.
Boise Ross, Buffalo, Sr.
Weston Steelhammer, Air Force, Sr.
Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma State, Sr.
Jamar Summers, UConn, Jr.
Cameron Sutton, Tennessee, Sr.
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson, Sr.
Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma, Sr.
Jaleel Wadood, UCLA, Jr.
Tre’Davious White, LSU, Sr.
Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh, So.
Marcus Williams, Utah, Jr.
Andrew Wingard, Wyoming, So.
Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech, Sr.

Syracuse, MTSU announce 2017 game at Carrier Dome

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 08: The Syracuse Orange mascot with the cheerleaders during a game against the USC Trojans at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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The mini-rush of scheduling agreements continues, with an ACC school and one from Conference USA the latest to agree to a gridiron hookup.

Both Syracuse and Middle Tennessee State announced in tandem press releases that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a one-off game in the not-too-distant future.  Specifically, the game is set for Sept. 9, 2017, and will be played in the Carrier Dome.

This will mark the first-ever meeting between the two squads.  It will also serve as the first game the Orange has played against a current member of Conference USA.

In addition to MTSU, Syracuse has 2017 games scheduled at home against Central Michigan (Sept. 16) and at LSU (Sept. 23).  The Orange still have one hole to fill on that year’s non-conference schedule.

For the Blue Raiders, that year non-conference slate is now complete. MT will open the 2017 season at home against Vanderbilt Sept. 2, then go on the road to take on Minnesota on Sept. 16 before returning home to play host to Bowling Green on Sept. 23.