Pac-12 lands 18 players on Nagurski Trophy watch list

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No conference has more players on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list than the Pac-12. Of the 81 top defensive players listed on the watch list for the nation’s top defensive player, the Pac-12 is home to 18 players. The SEC followed with 16 players. The Big 12 has 13 players, the ACC has 12 players and the Big Ten has 10 players on the watch list.

The Nagurski Trophy has been awarded each year since 1993 by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America. Miami, Oklahoma, Texas and Northwestern are tied for the most Nagurski Trophy winners with two each. Northwestern linebacker, and now head coach, Pat Fitzgerald won two and is the only two-time winner of the award. Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald was the winner of the 2013 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

Finalists for the Nagurski Trophy will be announced on November 20 and the winner will be named December 8.

Here is this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list:

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford
LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson
DE Vic Beasley, Clemson
DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State
DB Craig Bills, BYU
DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DT Malcom Brown, Texas
LB Kelby Brown, Duke
DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DB Alex Carter, Stanford
DB Sam Carter, TCU
DB Jeremy Cash, Duke
DE Frank Clark, Michigan
DB Landon Collins, Alabama
DB Blake Countess, Michigan
DT Christian Covington, Rice
DB Su’a Cravens, USC
DT Carl Davis, Iowa
DE Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
LB Trey DePriest, Alabama
DB Quandre Diggs, Texas
DB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane
DB Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
DE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
DE Devonte Fields, TCU
DE Trey Flowers, Arkansas
LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia
DE Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
LB Alani Fua, BYU
DB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
DE Markus Golden, Missouri
DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
DB Anthony Harris, Virginia
LB Ben Heeney, Kansas
DT Chucky Hunter, TCU
DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis
LB Myles Jack, UCLA
DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
DE Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
LB Derrick Malone, Oregon
LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
LB Derrick Mathews, Houston
DE Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
DB Steven Nelson, Oregon State
DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor
LB Denzel Perryman, Miami
DB Marcus Peters, Washington
DB Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss
LB Hayes Pullard, USC
DE Cedric Reed, Texas
DB Jordan Richards, Stanford
DE A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
DB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame
LB Jake Ryan, Michigan
DB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
DT Danny Shelton, Washington
LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
DB Derron Smith, Fresno State
LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma
DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
LB A.J. Tarpley, Stanford
DB Jared Tevis, Arizona
LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
DE Tony Washington, Oregon
DB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
DE Leonard Williams, USC
DB P.J. Williams, Florida State
LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia
DT Gabe Wright, Auburn

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)

West Virginia RB Martell Pettaway opts for transfer to Middle Tennessee State

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A month after opting to leave the West Virginia Mountaineers football program, Martell Pettaway has found himself a new college home.

On his personal Twitter account Monday, Pettaway announced that he has decided to transfer to Middle Tennessee State. Pettaway’s decision to enter the NCAA transfer database to begin with was confirmed on Dec. 16 of last year.

As the running back left the West Virginia Mountaineers football team as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately at MTSU in 2020. This coming season will be his final year of eligibility.

During his time in God’s Country, Pettaway ran for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns on 217 carries. Most of that production (623 yards, six touchdowns) came in 2018. This past season, he carried the ball 27 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns; both of those scores came in the September win over Kansas.

Pettaway should have the opportunity to help the Blue Raiders immediately. This past season, sophomore quarterback Asher O’Hara was the team’s leading rusher with 1,044 yards. Senior Terelle West led all MTSU backs with 290 yards on the ground.

As a team, MTSU was fourth in Conference USA and 53rd nationally in averaging 171.9 yards rushing per game.

Clemson sees third player grad transfer out in less than a week

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For the third time in less than a week, the Clemson Tigers football program has fallen victim to the transfer portal.

First up was quarterback Chase Brice entering the NCAA transfer database late last week.  Next?  Defensive tackle Xavier Kelly hitting the portal over the weekend.  Monday, a Clemson Tigers football official confirmed that wide receiver T.J. Chase is portaling as well.

Matt Zenitz of al.com was the first to report the development.

According to 247Sports.com, Chase is on track to graduate in May.  That would give him immediate eligibility for what will be his final college football season in 2020.

A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class, Chase was rated as the No. 43 receiver in the country.  He was also the No. 33 player regardless of position in the state of Florida.

During his time at Clemson, Chase caught 25 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns.  He set career-highs in 2018 in receptions (13), yards (101) and touchdowns (two).  This past season, in Clemson’s run to another College Football Playoff championship game, Chase caught seven passes for 70 yards.

The receiver-heavy talent at Clemson shows no signs of abating anytime soon.  Last month, the Tigers added a pair of four-star wide receivers to the roster.

Kerry Coombs officially returns to Ohio State as DC

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The Ohio State Buckeyes football program has, as expected, brought back a familiar coaching face.

Speculation has been growing of late that Ryan Day would be adding Kerry Coombs to his OSU staff. Monday afternoon, the Buckeyes confirmed that Coombs has indeed returned to the program as defensive coordinator.

Coombs will replace Jeff Hafley, who left last month to become the head coach at Boston College.

In January of 2018, Coombs left OSU to take a job with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.  Prior to that, he was on Urban Meyer‘s staff for six seasons.

“Kerry Coombs is the coach I was really hoping we could hire and bring back to Ohio State,” the Ohio State Buckeyes football head coach said in a statement. “He is an excellent coach and he has had two outstanding seasons in the NFL on Mike Vrabel’s staff with the Tennessee Titans.

“I’ve spent a season on staff with Kerry and I really like his coaching and knowledge of the game, but I also like that he knows Ohio State and he knows how to recruit to Ohio State. He’s recruited some of the players currently on the team and he coached a handful of Buckeye defensive backs who went on to become first-round NFL draft picks.”

All six seasons he was at OSU, Coombs was cornerbacks coach.  He was promoted in 2017 to assistant coordinator, defense. He was also special teams coordinator from 2013-17.

Five corners who had Coombs as their position coach  — Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Bradley Roby and Denzel Ward — went on to become first-round NFL draft picks.

Coombs, a longtime Ohioan, spent the past two seasons as the Titans’ cornerbacks coach.

This will mark the 58-year-old Coombs’ first job as defensive coordinator at any level of football.

Jalen Hurts to represent both Alabama and Oklahoma at Senior Bowl

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The departure of Jalen Hurts from Alabama to Oklahoma was nothing but class. Not surprisingly, his departure from the college game will be just as classy — with the help of all-star game officials and a helmet company.

In January of last year, Jalen Hurts announced that he would be transferring from Alabama to Oklahoma for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  At the time, Nick Saban lauded the quarterback for “[t]he way he managed [the 2018 season]… and I think he showed a tremendous amount of class.”

After leading Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff — and with Alabama sitting out the CFP for the first time ever — and being named as a Heisman Trophy finalist, Hurts saw his collegiate career end with a throttling at the hands of LSU.  As he gets set to embark on what he hopes will be a career in the NFL, Hurts will take a huge first step in that direction by competing in the Senior Bowl.

Traditionally, the all-star game, which is played in the state of Alabama, features players who wear the helmets of the school from which they came.  Hurts will do the same, albeit with a twist.

On one half of the helmet, Hurts will wear the Alabama shade of Crimson with his old No. 2 on the side.  The other half, Hurts will have the Crimson of Oklahoma with the OU logo on it.

Hurts was surprised with the helmet, specially-made by the Riddell company, at a press conference in Mobile Monday evening.

Riddell actually made two of the custom helmets.  One will be worn by Hurts during the game.  The other will be auctioned off, with the proceeds benefitting charity.

For those interested, the Senior Bowl will be played this coming Saturday.  Kickoff is set for 2:30 ET.  The game will be televised by the NFL Network.