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Penn State defensive lineman Garrett Sickels to enter NFL Draft

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Get ready to see another Penn State defensive lineman be picked up by an NFL team in the NFL Draft. Redshirt junior Garrett Sickels has announced he will be entering the NFL Draft this year, thus passing on the final year of eligibility he had with the Nittany Lions.

The All-Big Ten selection is coming off a season with a career high in tackles (47) and sacks (6) and proved to be a dominant force up front off the end of Penn State’s defensive line this season.

“This journey has been an amazing ride from my commitment to Penn State in 2012 to this past Rose Bowl game,” Sickels said in a statement released on Twitter. “I have made friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. I’m so unbelievably proud to call myself a Penn Stater. I take great pride in knowing me and my fellow classmates of the 2013 recruiting class have left Penn State in a much greater place then when we arrived.”

Sickels was one of the key recruits in Penn State’s Class of 2013 that remained committed to the program immediately after the program was slammed with NCAA sanctions at the time. That same class brought quarterback Christian Hackenberg, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, linebacker Brandon Bell and tight end Adam Breneman (who just finished off a stellar season at UMass), among others.

The loss of Sickels means Penn State will replace both starters at defensive end in the fall, although the Nittany Lions have some young options that have been waiting to get in the mix, including four-star addition in the Class of 2016 Shane Simmons, who redshirted this past season.

Biletnikoff, Mackey Award semifinalists announced

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The semifinalists for the Biletnikoff and Mackey Awards, given annually to college football’s best pass-catcher (regardless of position, though only receivers have won it) and tight end, respectfully, were announced Monday morning as awards season (sort of) gears up in earnest.

Your Biletnikoff Award semifinalists:

Austin Carr, Northwestern (75 REC, 1,102 yards, 12 TDs)
Corey Davis, Western Michigan (62 REC, 1,029 yards, 14 TDs)
Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse (79 REC, 1,246 yards, 8 TDs)
Carlos Henderson, La. Tech (61 REC, 1,179 yards, 16 TDs*)
Zay Jones, East Carolina (139 REC*, 1,473 yards*, 6 TDs)
John Ross, Washington (52 REC, 896 yards, 15 TDs)
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky (77 REC, 1,340 yards, 13 TDs)
Trent Taylor, La. Tech (103 REC, 1,343 yards, 10 TDs)
James Washington, Oklahoma State (56 REC, 1,132 yards, 9 TDs)
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma (68 REC, 1,254 yards, 14 TDs)

*= leads FBS

And for the Mackey Award:

Adam Breneman, UMass (58 REC, 699 yards, 7 TDs)
Jake Butt, Michigan (38 REC, 460 yards, 4 TDs)
Evan Engram, Ole Miss (59 REC, 824 yards, 7 TDs)
Gerald Everett, South Alabama (41 REC, 637 yards, 4 TDs)
Cole Hikutini, Louisville (38 REC, 526 yards, 6 TDs)
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech (36 REC, 514 yards, 5 TDs)
O.J. Howard, Alabama (29 REC, 352 yards, 2 TDs)
Jordan Leggett, Clemson (28 REC, 480 yards, 4 TDs)

The Biletnikoff will announce its three finalists Nov. 21, while Mackey Award finalists will be announced Nov. 22. Winners of both the awards will be announcedDec. 8 on ESPNU.

 

Oklahoma C Ty Darlington wins Campbell Trophy as nation’s top scholar-athlete

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They won’t take home the Heisman Trophy, but that hasn’t stopped Oklahoma from bringing home some serious hardware. Quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Burlsworth Trophy on Monday as the nation’s top former walk-on, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley on Tuesday won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, and on Tuesday night center Ty Darlington took home the Campbell Trophy, given to college football’s top scholar. Awarded by the National Football Foundation, the Campbell Trophy is known as the academic Heisman.

Already the winner of the Wuerffel Trophy for community service, Darlington holds a number of significant leadership posts, both within and without his locker room. The Apopka, Fla., native is a team captain, the president of the Big 12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and OU’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, and sits as one of 15 Division I athletes on the NCAA’s autonomy legislation committee.

He’s also started 24 of the last 25 games at center, anchoring an offense that ranked third nationally in scoring, seventh in total offense and ninth in yards per play, helping the Sooners win the Big 12 championship and reach the College Football Playoff.

Oh, and he did all that while graduating in two-and-a-half years with a 3.91 GPA.

“It’s an honor to be considered for such an incredible award,” Darlington said in October upon his appointment as a finalist. “Thank you to the National Football Foundation Awards Committee, and also to all of my family, coaches, teachers and staff who made this possible. Glory to God, and Boomer Sooner.”

Darlington beat out a group of finalists that includes Ohio State center Jacoby Boren, Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango and Massachusetts quarterback Blake Frohnapfel.

He’ll take home a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship and join a fraternity boasting the likes of Peyton ManningChad PenningtonTim Tebow and Barrett Jones.

Three from Big 12 headline Biletnikoff Award semifinalists

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Three wide receivers from the Big 12 are among the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award this season. Baylor’s Corey Coleman, TCU’s Josh Doctson and Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard were among the 10 semifinalists for the award, which were revealed Tuesday morning by The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.

The 2015 Biletnikoff Award Semifinalists

Fans are now encouraged to cast their vote to help determine the three finalists for the award. by casting a fanvote online by November 22. The top three receivers receiving votes will each be given one official vote toward determining the finalists for the award by the award’s national selection committee. The winner will be announced on December 10 during the college football awards show on ESPN. Former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard will announce the winner.

Last year’s winner was Alabama’s Amari Cooper. The last Big 12 player to win the award was Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, who won back-to-back awards in 2010 and 2011 to join Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree (2007, 2008) as the only two-time winners.

LSU’s road game at Syracuse a rare trip to the Northeast for the SEC

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LSU will travel to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse at noon ET Saturday, and if that game feels a little weird, it’s because it is.

But it’s not as odd of a scheduling quirk as UMass’ home game against Mississippi State at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro next year, or Mizzou’s trip to UConn in 2017. At least it’s against a power five opponent.

Road games that far north of the Mason-Dixon line are a rarity for the SEC. Looking at the number of times Army, Boston College, UConn, UMass and Syracuse have welcomed an SEC team since World War II (Buffalo has never played an SEC team at home):

Army (6): 2009 vs. Vanderbilt, 1991 vs. Vanderbilt, 1988 vs. Vanderbilt, 1974 vs. Vanderbilt, 1973 vs. Tennessee, 1968 vs. Vanderbilt

Boston College (7): 1987 vs. Tennessee, 1983 vs. Alabama (Foxboro), 1979 vs. Tennessee, 1963 vs. Vanderbilt, 1949 vs. Ole Miss, 1947 vs. LSU, 1946 vs. Tennessee

UConn (1): 2010 vs. Vanderbilt

UMass (1): 2013 vs. Vanderbilt

Syracuse (5): 2001 vs. Auburn, 1998 vs. Tennessee, 1991 vs. Florida, 1991 vs. Vanderbilt, 1986 vs. Mississippi State

Of these 20 games, Vanderbilt accounts for nine of them, while Tennessee has traveled to the Northeast five times. The last SEC team not based in Tennessee to play in the Northeast was Auburn in 2001.

So that gives LSU’s trip to Syracuse some historical context. And Mississippi State’s trip to Foxboro next year. And Mizzou’s trip to UConn in 2017.

Gotta hit that fertile Northeast recruiting territory, I guess.