Outland Trophy watch list dominated by SEC

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The Pac-12 may have led the way with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, but no conference appears to have a higher quality selection of interior linemen than the SEC. The SEC has 19 players on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which honors the top interior lineman in college football. The SEC had at least eight more players on the list, released by the Football Writers Association of America, than any other power conference.

The Pac-12 has 11 players on the Outland Trophy watch list, followed by the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 with nine each. The winner of the Outland Trophy will be chosen from the list of FWAA All-Americans at the end of the season. Semifinalists will be announced November 20 and the finalists will be determined November 24. A winner will be named on December 11.

One of the oldest individual awards in college football, the Outland Trophy has been awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman each year since 1946. The award is unique because it can be presented to an offensive or defensive lineman. Last year’s winner was Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, but an offensive lineman has won the award nine times since 2000. Nebraska leads the nation with nine Outland Trophy winners. Oklahoma has the second most with five and Ohio State follows with four winners. Five schools are tied with three Outland Trophy winners.

Here is this year’s Outland Trophy watch list:

G Vadal Alexander, LSU
C Jack Allen, Michigan State
DL Henry Anderson, Stanford
C David Andrews, Georgia
DL Michael Bennett, Ohio State
C Evan Boehm, Missouri
C Jake Brendel, UCLA
DL Malcom Brown, Texas
G A.J. Cann, South Carolina
OT Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
OT La’el Collins, LSU
OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
DL Christian Covington, Rice
DL Carl Davis, Iowa
DL Sheldon Day, Notre Dame
C Reese Dismukes, Auburn
OT Jamil Douglas, Arizona State
OT Spencer Drango, Baylor
OT Cameron Erving, Florida State
C Dominic Espinosa, Texas
C B.J. Finney, Kansas State
OT Jake Fisher, Oregon
C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
OT Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
OT Sean Hickey, Syracuse
OT D.J. Humphries, Florida
DL Chucky Hunter, TCU
OT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
G Tré Jackson, Florida State
DL Grady Jarrett, Clemson
G Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers
OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama
G Arie Kouandjio, Alabama
G Alex Kozan, Auburn
OT Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati
G Cyril Lemon, North Texas
DL Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
G Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech
G Josue Matias, Florida State
C Mike Matthews, Texas A&M
DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
OT Corey Robinson, South Carolina
OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
C Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
OT Brandon Shell, South Carolina
DL Danny Shelton, Washington
C Jake Smith, Louisville
OT Donovan Smith, Penn State
G Quinton Spain, West Virginia
G Laken Tomlinson, Duke
C Max Tuerk, USC
OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
C Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern
G Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
G Cody Wichmann, Fresno State
OT Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
DL Leonard Williams, USC
G Torrian Wilson, UCF
DL Gabe Wright, Auburn
OT Michael Yeck, BYU


Catch up on your watch lists released this week:

Maxwell Award (best player)

Bednarik Award (best defensive player)

Hornung Award (most versatile player)

Mackey Award (best tight end)

Rimington Trophy (best center)

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)

Ray Guy Award (best punter)

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.

Tulane officially adds Oklahoma State transfer LB Kevin Henry

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One of the nearly dozen Oklahoma State football players who entered the transfer portal this cycle has found a new collegiate home.

Thursday, Tulane announced that Kevin Henry has officially been added to the program’s roster.  As the linebacker left the Oklahoma State football team as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play for the AAC team immediately in 2020.

The upcoming season will serve as Henry’s final year of eligibility.  Henry had previously been awarded a sixth season from the NCAA after taking a redshirt as a true freshman and then missing all but one game of 2017 because of a torn ACL.

A three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2015, Henry was rated as the No. 25 safety in the country.  He was also the No. 20 player regardless of position in the state of Louisiana.  Only one signee on the defensive side of the ball in OSU’s class that year, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels, was rated higher than Henry.

Daniels, incidentally, ultimately finished up his collegiate playing career at Nebraska after transferring to the Cornhuskers in December of 2018.

During his time in Stillwater, Henry played in a total of 36 games, including a dozen appearances this past season.  He started one of those three-dozen games, Oklahoma State football’s Liberty Bowl win over Missouri following the 2018 regular season.

In those appearances, Daniels was credited with 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.

Texas A&M officially hires assistant who was at Florida State for a month

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Texas A&M football has officially pilfered Mike Norvell‘s first Florida State coaching staff.

Dec. 28, Norvell announced that he was bringing TJ Rushing along with him from Memphis.  Nearly a month later, and after reports had it headed in that direction for the last week or so, A&M confirmed that Jimbo Fisher has hired Rushing as defensive backs coach.

Rushing had not officially signed a contract at FSU. As a result, he will not owe that school any type of buyout.

“TJ has an outstanding track record of playing, teaching and developing quality defensive backs,” the Texas A&M football head coach said in a statement. “He is a tireless worker, an outstanding recruiter and he coaches with a lot of fire and enthusiasm. He will make a great addition to our coaching staff.”

The past two seasons, Rushing, who played his college football at Stanford, was Norvell’s defensive backs coach at Memphis. He was also the Tigers’ passing-game coordinator.

From 2016-17, he was the defensive backs coach at Arizona State.  He just missed working with Norvell on that staff as well.

Rushing started his coaching career as a graduate assistant (2012) and defensive quality control coach (2013) at his alma mater. His first on-field job came as cornerbacks coach at Northern Arizona in 2014.  In 2015, he was a defensive assistant at Stanford.

Rushing is the second assistant Fisher has added to his coaching staff in as many days.  Yesterday, Tyler Santucci was hired by A&M as linebackers coach.  Santucci had spent the 2019 season in the same job at Wake Forest.

Fisher still has one hole on his staff to fill.  Earlier this month, tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley took a job with Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. In addition to tight ends coach, Finley will also be passing-game coordinator.