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)

Punters are transfers too: Northwestern picks up grad transfer punter Jake Collins from WKU

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Punters are transfers too and Northwestern just picked one up.

The Bowling Green Daily News is reporting that Western Kentucky punter Jake Collins was given his release from the school and will be a graduate transfer to Northwestern. He is listed as a redshirt freshman and will be immediately eligible.

Collins has been the Hilltoppers punter the last three years and averaged 40.2 yards per punt last season. If you’re scratching your head hearing the name or school and wondering where you remember him from, Collins went viral for perhaps the worst fake punt in the history of fake punts when WKU played Florida International:

Collins will likely wind up replacing Hunter Niswander with the Wildcats after he graduated. His departure does leave WKU without a punter listed on their roster though some changes and walk-ons might wind up filling the spot for the 2018 season.

Clemson preseason depth chart lists Kelly Bryant as top QB, Trevor Lawrence as backup

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While some coaches fight tooth and nail to release any information about their program like who might be starting a game (cough, Jim Harbaugh, cough), that is not exactly how Clemson’s Dabo Swinney runs his shop. Case in point came Wednesday when the team released a “preseason” depth chart that featured few surprises but plenty of talent as the Tigers likely begin the year in the top four of just about everybody’s early polls.

Of course, the one storyline most people will focus on is the quarterback position for the team. Senior Kelly Bryant is listed as the starter as expected following spring practice but it is notable that there’s now a clear pecking order behind him as he fights off five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence, who was the clear No. 2 at the position following the transfer of Hunter Johnson. There seems to be some distance between Lawrence and fellow (redshirt) freshman Chase Brice, which means just about everybody will be wondering if No. 2 at the spot will eventually take over if Bryant gets off to a slow start in 2018 after some struggles in Clemson’s postseason run.

Elsewhere, there were a handful of positions that raised an eyebrow, including running back Travis Etienne jumping over last year’s starter at the position in Tavien Feaster. Adam Choice will also see plenty of time as that’s yet another deep spot for the team. Also notable is Kendall Joseph sliding over to take the starting job at middle linebacker in place of the guy who manned the same spot last season in Tre Lamar.

The school also notes that they have 17 returning starters (including both specialists), including their fearsome defensive line that “is the first in NCAA history to have four returning players who have been a first or second-team All-American previously.” Needless to say, Clemson will once again be the heavy favorite to win the ACC and make yet another trip to the national championship game.

Kentucky’s Marcus Walker charged with trafficking coke, weed

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The latest incident to trigger a resetting the “Days Without An Arrest” trigger is a rather serious-sounding one.

According to multiple media outlets in the area, Kentucky’s Marcus Walker was arrested early Thursday morning on multiple drug charges. WKYT-TV in Lexington reports that the defensive back was jailed — and remains jailed at this time — on charges of trafficking in cocaine and marijuana as well as one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Walker… was arrested at 4:40 a.m. Thursday by Lexington Police. He was allegedly trafficking in about 5 pounds of marijuana and 4 grams of cocaine, his arrest citation said. He was also charged with possessing drug paraphernalia.

A large amount of cash was also found when Lexington Police executed its search warrant at a home on Unity Drive, police said.

A UK spokesperson stated that the football program is “aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more information.”

247Sports.com‘s composite board had Walker rated as a three-star recruit in the Class of 2015.  After redshirting as a true freshman, the Florida native played in 21 games the past two seasons — 12 in 2017, nine in 2016.  He’s been credited with 17 tackles in those two seasons, including a career-high seven in a 2016 win over Austin Peay.

Pitt, Wisconsin announce future home-and-home

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It’s been more than half a century since they last met, but a pair of teams from the ACC and Big Ten are set to get it on once again.  Eventually.

Both Pitt (head coach from 2012-14: Paul Chryst) and Wisconsin (current head coach: Paul Chryst) announced Thursday that the football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series.  The Panthers will travel to Madison on Sept. 19, 2026, while the Badgers will make the trek to Heinz Field the following season on Sept. 11.

“In speaking with (Wisconsin athletic director) Barry Alvarez, we both felt this was a great scheduling opportunity,” Alvarez’s Pitt counterpart, Heather Lyke, said in a statement. “Despite our regional proximity, we’ve rarely played each other in football. It is a challenging and compelling non-conference game that our respective teams and fans can look forward to.”

The two teams have played each other twice previously, with the most recent coming during the 1967 season.  The last time the Badgers faced the Panthers in Pittsburgh came in 1937.

Pitt has won all three games in the mini-series, two of which were played in Madison (1938, 1967).