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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

Georgia officially moves Mecole Hardman to wide receiver

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Mecole Hardman spent most of his first season at defensive back after arriving at Georgia as a 5-star athlete out of Bowman, Ga.

That experiment is now over.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart confirmed to reporters at SEC Media Days on Tuesday that Hardman is now a full-time wide receiver.

“I think that’s safe to say,” Smart said, via the Athens Banner-Herald. “You guys have finally cracked the egg. Mecole worked over there about 95 percent of the spring. He did a lot of work there. He did double as a DB on some occasions when we were very down on DBs in the spring.”

Hardman appeared in 11 games as a true freshman, recording six tackles with one kickoff return for 17 yards.

He’ll join a crowded pass-catching landscape at Georgia. The Bulldogs return 11 of their top 12 receivers from last season, led by senior Isaiah McKenzie‘s 44 grabs for 633 yards and seven touchdowns. Georgia did lose its key kickoff returner last season as Reggie Davis took his 21.13 kickoff return average with him upon graduation.

“We think Mecole’s biggest attributes will help us in the offensive slot/return game,” Smart said. “He can do a lot of different things. We’ve got to try find a way to get him the ball, but he’s also got to find a way to protect the ball. That’s going to be a growing curve for him carrying the rock very much that Isaiah (McKenzie) and Reggie (Davis) went through upon my arrival.”

Georgia RB Elijah Holyfield (son of Evander Holyfield) charged for marijuana possession

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Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield is facing a pair of drug charges to get the week started, and he could be suspended for a game because of it.

Holyfield, the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, was charged on Monday with possession of marijuana of less than an ounce and possession and use of drug related objects, according to the Associated Press. University police made the arrest and Holyfield was released on a bond in just under an hour. The bond totaled $4,050 according to the Athens Banner-Herald report.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is aware of the situation, according to a Georgia representative. According to the school’s drug and alcohol policy, Holyfield would have to serve a suspension of one game as this is his first violation. If he serves the suspension right away, Holyfield would miss the season opener against Appalachian State on September 2.

Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley is also facing a suspension for the season opener following a misdemeanor marijuana possession arrest earlier this spring.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

Georgia doles out pair of hefty raises to two staff members

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Two football staffers at Georgia received a nice raise this offseason, according to documents obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

According to the AJC’s Seth Emerson, Bulldogs running backs coach Dell McGee took home a pay bum of $75,000 recently to put his total compensation at $350,000 per year. 2017 will be his second season with the team under head coach Kirby Smart and is probably worth it alone given the role McGee no doubt had in convincing star tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sonny Michel to return to school this season.

That’s not the only staff member to get a nice raise however as the program’s strength and conditioning coordinator, Scott Sinclair, received an even larger raise of $80,000, according to the same report. He now makes a whopping $300,000 a year.

While you might think the six-figure raises for two staff members is a tad excessive, even for an SEC program, Georgia is saving $125,000 on the base salary of new defensive line coach Tray Scott compared to his predecessor. Given how important McGee and Sinclair will be for one of the SEC East favorites this year, it is probably money well spent for Smart and the administration.