Whopping 123 players included on Lombardi watch list

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Another day, another watch list — and a ridiculously big one, size-wise, at that.

The Rotary Lombardi Award announced its watch list Monday morning, with a whopping 123 players and 76 universities as a part of the initial group.  In other words, there’s a fairly decent chance that just about anyone, including yourself, will be featured on the list.

For those unaware of what actually qualifies a player for consideration for this particular trophy, here you go: “[e]ligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.”

The positional breakdown for this year’s watch list is as follows: 48 offensive linemen — 19 guards, 16 tackles, 11 centers and two listed as “offensive lineman” — 38 linebackers, 21 defensive ends, 14 defensive tackles and one “defensive lineman.”

Last year’s winner was Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald.

If you have a half hour or so, below is the complete 2014 Lombardi Award preseason watch list for your reading pleasure:

Henry Anderson, DE, Sr. – Stanford
Stephone Anthony, LB, Sr. – Clemson
Chi Chi Ariguzo, LB, Sr. – Northwestern
T.T. Barber, LB, Jr. – Middle Tennessee State
Jamaal Bass, LB, Sr. – Northern Illinois
Vic Beasley, DE, Sr. – Clemson
Michael Bennett, DT, Sr. – Ohio State
Austin Blythe, C, Jr. – Iowa
Joey Bosa, DE, So. – Ohio State
Brett Boyko, T, Sr. – UNLV
Kelby Brown, LB, Sr. – Duke
Brandin Bryant, DT, Jr. – Florida Atlantic
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Jr. – Michigan State
AJ Cann, G, Sr. – South Carolina
Justin Cherocci, LB, Sr. – Central Michigan
Le’Raven Clark, T, Jr. – Texas Tech
Ben Clarke, C, Jr. – Hawaii
La’El Collins, T, Sr. – LSU
Christian Covington, DT, Jr. – Rice
Carl Davis, DT, Sr. – Iowa
Tyeler Davison, DT, Sr. – Fresno State
Reese Dismukes, C, Sr. – Auburn
Jamil Douglas, G, Sr. – Arizona State
Spencer Drango, T, Jr. – Baylor
Ejiro Ederaine, LB, Jr. – Fresno State
Steve Edmond, LB, Sr. – Texas
Mario Edwards, DE, Jr. – Florida State
Cameron Erving, T, Sr. Florida State
Dominic Espinsoa, C, Sr. – Texas
Kyler Frackrell, LB, Jr. – Utah State
Devonte Fields, DE, So. – TCU
BJ Finney, C, Sr. – Kansas State
Trey Flowers, DE, Sr. – Arkansas
Leonard Floyd, LB, So. – Georgia
Alani Fau, LB, Sr. – BYU
Bryce Giddens, C, Jr. – Arkansas State
Hroniss Grasu, C, Sr. Oregon
Randy Gregory, DE, Jr. – Nebraska
Bryce Hager, LB, Sr. – Baylor
Justin Hamilton, DT, Sr. – UL-Lafayette
Lincoln Hansen, T, Sr. – Eastern Michigan
Rob Havenstein, T, Sr. – Wisconsin
Brock Hekking, DE, Sr. – Nevada
Ben Henney- LB, Sr. – Kansas
Treyvon Hester, DT, So. – Toledo
Sean Hickey, T, Sr. – Syracuse
Jermaine Holmes, LB, Sr. – Marshall
Chucky Hunter, DT, Sr. – TCU
Martin Ifedi, DE, Sr. – Memphis
Scott Inskeep, G, Sr. – UTEP
Myles Jack, LB, So. – UCLA
Tre Jackson, G, Sr. – Florida State
Grady Jarrett, DT, Sr. – Clemson
Chris Jasperse, C, Sr. – Marshall
Cameron Jefferson, G, Sr. – UNLV
Chris Johnson, LB, Sr. – Navy
Kaleb Johnson, G, Sr. – Rutgers
A.J. Johnson, LB, Sr. – Tennessee
Gerrand Johnson, DT, Jr. – UL-Monroe
Tyler Johnstone , T, Jr. – Oregon
Chris Jones, DT, So. – Mississippi State
Bronson Kaufusi, LB, Jr. – BYU
Eric Kendricks, LB, Sr. – UCLA
Andrae Kirk, LB, Sr. – Florida Atlantic
Arie Kouandjio, G, Sr. – Alabama
Qushaun Lee, LB, Sr. – Arkansas State
Cyril Lemon, G, Sr. – North Texas
Braden Lyons, T, Sr. – Florida Atlantic
Luther Maddy, DT, Sr. – Virginia Tech
Derrick Malone, LB, Sr. – Oregon
Greg Mancz, G, Sr. – Toledo
Nick Martin, OL, Sr. – Notre Dame
Shaquille Mason, G, Sr. – Georgia Tech
Tyler Matakevich, LB, Jr . – Temple
Josue Matias, G, Sr. – Florida State
Derrick Mathews, LB, Sr. – Houston
David Mayo, LB, Sr. – Texas State
Benardrick McKinney, LB, Jr. – Mississippi State
Silverberry Mouhon, DE, Jr. – Cincinnati
Ryan Mueller, DE, Sr. – Kansas State
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, So. – Ole Miss
Shawn Oakman, DE, Jr. – Baylor
Cedric Ogbuehi. T, Sr. – Texas A&M
Andrus Peat, T, Jr. – Stanford
Remington Peck, DL, Jr. – BYU
Denzel Perryman, LB, Sr. – Miami
Andy Phillips, G, Sr. – Central Michigan
Terrance Plummer, LB, Sr. – UCF
Hayes Pullard, LB, Sr. – USC
Mykhael Quave, T, Jr. – UL-Lafayette
Daniel Quave, G, Sr. – UL-Lafayette
Cedric Reed, DE, Sr. –Texas
Jacob Richard, C, Jr. – Ball State
Tyler Roberts, DE, Jr. – Troy
A’Shawn Robinson, DE, So. – Alabama
Jake Ryan, LB, Sr. – Michigan
Ty Sambrailo, T, Sr. – Colorado State
Brandon Scherff, T, Sr. – Iowa
Isaac Seumalo, C, Jr. – Oregon State
Danny Shelton, DT, Jr. – Washington
Steve Shumaker, OL, Sr. – Army
Robert Singletary, DE, Sr. – UTSA
Jake Smith, C, Sr. – Louisville
Jaylon Smith, LB, So. – Notre Da
Quinton Spain, G, Sr. – West Virginia
Eric Striker, LB, Jr. – Oklahoma
Junior Sylvestre, LB, Sr. – Toledo
AJ Tarpley, LB, Sr. – Stanford
Shaq Thompson, LB, Jr. – Washington
Laken Tomlinson, G, Sr. – Duke
Dominique Tovell, DE, Jr. – UL-Lafayette
Max Tuerk,G, Jr. – USC
Clint Van Horn, T, Jr. – Marshall
Zach Virgil, LB, Sr. – Utah State
Diaheem Watkins, DE, Sr. – UAB
Cody Whitehair,G, Sr. – Kansas State
Cody Wichmann, G, Sr. – Fresno State
Ucambre Williams, T, Sr. – South Alabama
Leonard Williams, DE, Jr. – USC
Ramick Wilson, LB, Sr. – Georgia
Eddie Yarbrough, DE, Jr. – Wyoming
Mason Y’Barbo, G, Sr. – North Texas

UCF’s 25-game winning streak now longest in all of college football

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When we say a streak, a stat, a side of the ball is the best in college football, typically it’s implied such a statement applies only to FBS. The game’s highest division gobbles up 99.9 percent of the attention, and with good reason — that’s where 99.9 percent of the best players live.

But when we say UCF’s 25-game winning streak is now the longest in college football, it’s actually true now.

Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) knocked off Mount Union (Ohio) 24-16 in the Division III National Championship on Friday night, in the process ending the Purple Raiders’ 29-game winning streak and handing UCF the crown.

According to a CFT study, half of the nation’s 10 longest winning streaks reside in the FBS, and with good reason. While the other divisions funnel all their best teams into one bracket in order to find the very best team, FBS puts only four teams in its tournament, allowing UCF to put together two straight unbeaten seasons (minus one game) without competing for the national championship.

Top 10 College Football Winning Streaks
1. UCF — 25 games
2. North Dakota State (FCS) — 20
3(t). Alabama — 15
3(t). Mary Hardin-Baylor (Division III) — 15
3(t). Morningside (NAIA) — 15
3(t). Valdosta State (Division II) — 15
7(t). Clemson — 13
7(t). Notre Dame — 13
9. Princeton (FCS) — 10
10. Army — 8

Certainly the Knights would trade their 25-game winning streak for a shot at Alabama, Clemson and the like, but their consolation prize is the longest winning streak in all of college football — for as long as they keep winning.

Oregon lands commitment from nation’s No. 2 player

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Mario Cristobal got the biggest win of his Oregon head coaching tenure on Saturday, the Ducks don’t play again until New Year’s Eve.

Oregon landed the commitment of 5-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux on Saturday, a 6-foot-4, 239-pound defensive end out of Oaks Christian in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Thibodeaux announced his pledge on ESPN during halftime of Utah State’s New Mexico Bowl drubbing of North Texas.

Thibodeaux is rated the No. 1 player in ESPN’s rankings and No. 10 by Rivals and 247Sports. Those rankings put him at No. 2 in the 247Sports Composite rankings, trailing only IMG Academy defensive end Nolan Smith, a Georgia commit.

Oregon beat out Alabama, Florida and Florida State for Thibodeaux’s services.

“There were a lot of reasons why I chose Oregon,” Thibodeaux said, via 247Sports. “I have a great comfort level with the coaching staff and I know I can go in there and get developed. I’ve known coach (Keith) Heyward since I was just a freshman and I really like coach Joe (Salave’a, DL coach) a lot. He’s a great coach, one of the best coaches in the country and I can’t wait to learn from him.

Thibodeaux will be only the third 247Sports Composite top-2 player to sign with a Pac-12 school in the past decade, following USC’s Matt Barkley in 2009 and UCLA’s Jalean Phillips in 2017. As a cautionary tale for all in Eugene, neither player really lived up to his respective billing. Barkely did not lead USC back to the elite of college football and has thrown just 174 passes as a mid-round NFL draft pick, while Phillips is reportedly leaving the team after two seasons at UCLA.

With Thibodeaux now in the fold, Oregon’s 2019 class now ranks No. 5 nationally in the 247Sports Composite team rankings, a 20-man class that includes 11 4-stars and now a 12th blue chip player in Thibodeaux.

Morningside College claims first NAIA national title

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A 16-yard touchdown pass from Trent Solsma to Connor Niles with 1:29 remaining handed Morningside College its first NAIA national championship on Saturday, capping a 35-28 win over Benedictine in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Morningside College is located Sioux City, Iowa, while Benedictine College is in Atchison, Kan.

The Solsma-to-Niles connection was massive for Morningside. Solsma completed 19-of-36 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns and two interceptions, with the bulk of the damage going to Niles, who caught seven passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns.

The game started with a Shaefer Schuetz 26-yard touchdown pass for Benedictine, as the Ravens held leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 20-14 — all in the first half. But the Morningside defense stepped up in the second half, allowing the Mustangs to take control of the game with two Solsma touchdown passes, the first an 80-yarder to Niles, then a 19-yard score to Reid Jurgensmeier, putting Morningside in front 28-20 at the 9:53 mark of the third quarter.

Benedictine forged the game’s third tie with a 1-yard Frank Trent rush with 5:49 remaining in the fourth quarter, then had a chance to take the lead again after forcing a Morningside punt, but a holding call killed the Ravens’ drive and then disaster struck when a botched punt snap handed Morningside the ball at the Benedictine 18-yard line with two minutes remaining. On a 3rd-and-8 from the 16, Solsma found Niles for the winning score.

“It was going to him no matter what,” Solsma said. “He’s made big plays his entire career. This was no different.”

Niles’ catch, the last of his career, saw him finish with 6,175 career receiving yards, the most in NAIA history.

“I just remember catching it and then going to my knees,” Niles said. “After that, it was all cameras and teammates mobbing me. This is absolutely amazing.”

Morningside had been on the cusp of their first national title for the majority of the decade; the Mustangs lost the NAIA title game in 2012 and then fell in the NAIA semifinals in four of the past five seasons. The semifinal round saw Morningside avenge its 2016 and ’17 playoff losses to the University of Saint Francis — who would go on to win those seasons’ national titles — in a 34-28 overtime thriller.

“I’ve been motivated to not let this season end,” Morningside head coach Steve Ryan said. “The toughest part for me was that, at the end of the night, the year would be over. I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished. It ended the way we were hoping … I’m ecstatic.”

Report: Former No. 1 recruit Jaelan Phillips leaves team at UCLA

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UCLA linebacker Jaelan Phillips has left the team and is unlikely to return, according to a report from BruinReportOnline.

Phillips, a Redlands, Calif., native, was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2017, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He enrolled in January of that year but has yet to make an impact one would expect of the top overall player in his class. He started his first game as a Bruin as well as three more in 2017 and finished the year with 21 tackles, seven TFLs and 3.5 sacks.

He appeared in just four games as a sophomore, posting 20 tackles with one sack, while battling a number of injuries.

According to the report, Phillips is considering quitting football altogether, but if he does transfer and play elsewhere — he would have two years of eligibility remaining — it would be at a school that offers a music production/technology degree, which UCLA does not.