Myles Jack headlines 51-strong Butkus Award watch list

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Last week, Myles Jack was one of 81 defensive players named to the Nagurski Award watch list.  Today, the two-way UCLA star has joined a more position-specific group.

The Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker, announced its preseason watch list Monday, with 51 players representing all eight conferences earning honors.  All but one of the 51 come from FBS programs, with the lone exception being Harvard’s Zach Hodges.

The SEC leads all conferences with nine players listed, followed the Pac-12 with eight, the ACC and Big 12 with seven and the Big Ten with six.  The only leagues that weren’t a part of this watch list were Conference USA and the MAC.

Georgia was the only team to place three players on the watch list, while seven — Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and Washington — had two players apiece.

The 2013 Butkus Award winner was Alabama’s C.J. Mosley.  Miami’s Denzel Perryman is the only 2013 semifinalist returning to this years preseason grouping.

Below is the complete 2014 Butkus Award watch list:

Stephone Anthony, Clemson
Kelby Brown, Duke
Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, Maryland
Dyshawn Davis, Syracuse
Aaron Davis, Colorado State
Paul Dawson, TCU
Trey DePriest, Alabama
Steve Edmond, Texas
Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
Maurice Falls, East Carolina
Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Kris Frost, Auburn
Alani Fua, BYU
Jarrett Grace, Notre Dame
Curtis Grant, Ohio State
Bryce Hager, Baylor
Ben Heeney, Kansas
Jordan Hicks, Texas
Zach Hodges, Harvard
Mike Hull, Penn State
Myles Jack, UCLA
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Taiwan Jones, Michigan State
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
Derrick Malone, Oregon
Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Derrick Matthews, Houston
Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
Braylon Mitchell, Arkansas
Mason Monheim, Illinois
Mike Orakpo, Texas State
Norkeithus Otis, North Carolina
Denzel Perryman, Miami (Fla.)
Terrance Plummer, UCF
Sunny Puetasi, Wyoming
Hayes Pullard, USC
Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Jake Ryan, Michigan
Stephon Sanders, SMU
Frank Shannon, Oklahoma
Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
Terrance Smith, Florida State
Eric Striker, Oklahoma
A.J. Tarpley, Stanford
John Tavai, USC
Shaq Thompson, Washington
James Vaughters, Stanford
Ramik Wilson, Georgia

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.