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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

Florida WR Antonio Callaway pleads no contest to drug charge

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Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway had charges for marijuana possession dropped after he decided to plead no contest to a drug paraphernalia possession misdemeanor. The no contest plea was part of an agreement Callaway made with the state attorney, which is said to be routine in incidents like the one Callaway was involved.

In May, Callaway was cited for possession of seven grams of marijuana in his pants and another 5.4 grams located in a vehicle Callaway was a passenger in. In June, the state attorney confirmed he had offered Callaway a plea deal, where Callaway could plead guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and then have the possession charges dropped entirely. The attorney denied making the plea deal because Callaway is a football player at Florida and insisted the plea deal is common for charges involving such a small amount of marijuana.

Callaway will likely be fined and/or sentenced to some community service, but that will be determined at a later point in time. Callaway was fined $301.

What remains to be seen now is how Callaway will be handled within the Florida program. A suspension of some sort would be expected for such an offseason incident, but for how long? It is worth noting Florida opens the season with a big neutral site game against Michigan instead of staying home to play a cupcake opponent in the opener.

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.

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.”

Scholarship offer for a nine-year-old? Nevada says sure, why not

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OK, this might be getting a little bit ridiculous. Check that — this is getting ridiculous.

Earlier this year, Lane Kiffin, long the king of way-too-early offers, further buttressed that reputation earlier this month when, just weeks after offering the seventh-grade son of Tee Martin, the Florida Atlantic head coach offered a scholarship to a quarterback who had just completed the sixth grade.  Earlier this month, Hawaii one-upped Kiffin by offering an 11-year-old who just completed the fifth grade.

At the time, we wrote, “Surely there’s not an offer to a kid still in elementary school in the offing.”

Nevada football: Hold my beer…

Welp.

Assuming young Mr. Finney just completed the fourth grade — fourth grade!!! — that would make him a member of the Class of 2026.  And you all thought that scheduling way-into-the-future home-and-home series was getting out of hand.

If nothing else, it has people talking about Nevada’s program at a time when not many are talking about college football in general and Wolf Pack football specifically.  Besides, what possible harm could come from entitling pre-teens with scholarship offers, right?

(Tip O’ the Cap: SBNation.com)