Miami Hurricanes opening up 12th spring practice since joining ACC

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Today the Miami Hurricanes will begin spring practices. It will be the 12th time the Hurricanes have done so since leaving the Big East for the ACC. And for the 12th spring one of the questions sure to be asked at some point in the perhaps not-so-distant future will be whether or not this will finally be the year Miami plays for an ACC championship.

At the time Miami left the Big East for the ACC, it was widely assumed the addition of the Hurricanes and Virginia Tech would bring a balance to the power of the football conference regularly dominated by Florida State. While the Hokies have more than held up their end of the bargain through the years, Miami has yet to even reach the ACC Championship Game, never mind winning it. Since joining the ACC, Miami has finished as high as second place in its division just four times. Miami’s move to the ACC 12 years later has been a disappointment in terms of on-field football production, and there is no dispute about that. Which is why this spring Miami fans and columnists will be wondering if this can finally be the year Miami can make a run to the top of what could be another wide-open season in the ACC Coastal Division.

Before even bothering with the routine “Is Miami back” or “Is this finally the year for Miami” questions, Golden and his coaching staff have some more important questions to answer in spring practices.

Miami appears to have some reasons for optimism moving into 2015, which will be the critical fifth season on the job for head coach Al Golden. That’s right, Golden is entering his fifth season at Miami. This could be his best yet, but stop me if you have heard this before about Miami. I tend to forgive Golden and Miami for the first two seasons because an NCAA cloud of uncertainty floated above the program before ultimately turning out nothing but bad looks for the NCAA. Regardless, Miami may need to show some improvement in order to ensure Golden’s job will be safe.

Miami went 6-7 last season and the Hurricanes lose running back Duke Johnson, which should lead to a nice competition at running back this spring. Miami also has to replace its top three receivers and fill three spots on the offensive line. One solid position on offense though will be quarterback, with Brad Kayaa giving many following Miami reason for optimism. Kayaa passed for over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns as a freshman and could be one of the top offensive players in the ACC this season if all goes to plan. Miami improved defensively in 2014 but also loses some key players to open some competition in the spring.

California JUCO defensive back shot, killed

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Sadly, there’s yet another deadly shooting involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets in the Sacramento area, Sierra College defensive back Chancelor “Chance” Fields-Colbert was shot and killed very early Sunday morning following an incident during what was described as a college sendoff party in Fair Oaks.  Fields-Colbert was shot once inside the residence in which the party was being held and managed to get out of the house before collapsing in an intersection a short distance away.

The sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It’s disbelief and shock,” the junior college’s head coach, Benjamin Noonan, told ABC’s Sacramento affiliate. “It’s been a nightmare these last 48 hours and the kids are, you know, pulling it together and just want to be around each other.”

As a freshman this past season, Fields-Colbert played in five games for the Wolverines.

Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton headlines Outland Trophy watch list

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With eight semifinalists from a year ago gone, the Outland Trophy’s 2019 preseason watch list takes on a decidedly fresh look this go ’round.

Headlining the 83-player group of the nation’s top interior linemen is Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton, who is the only Football Writers Association of American All-American from a season ago on this year’s watch list.  Throckmorton is one of 12 players from the Pac-12 listed, which is tied for third among all conferences with the Big 12; with 13 apiece, the Big Ten and SEC lead all leagues.

The ACC’s 10 is the fewest among Power Five conferences, while Group of Five leagues are paced by the AAC’s six.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, including the Mountain West (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (three).  Independents account for four as well.

Throckmorton is one of four linemen from Oregon, tied with Michigan for the most of any single school.  Georgia has three, while another 15 schools have two each.

A total of 32 offensive tackles are on the watch list, the most for any single position.  That group is followed by 19 defensive tackles, 18 offensive guards and 14 centers.

Temple confirms changes to Rod Carey’s coaching staff

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Less than two weeks before training camp kicks off, Rod Carey has (again) finalized his first Temple coaching staff.

Earlier this month, it was reported that longtime Temple assistant and the program’s current special teams coordinator Ed Foley would be leaving the school and reuniting with Matt Rhule at Baylor.  Monday, the Owls confirmed that Carey has promoted Tyler Yelk to outside linebackers coach.  Yelk was a part of Carey’s Northern Illinois football staff this past season.

Additionally, it was announced by the football program that Brett Diersen has been hired as associate special teams coordinator.  Diersen spent the 2018 season as the defensive line coach at SMU.

This will mark the third time Diersen and Carey have worked together, first at Wisconsin-Stout in 2000 and then again at Northern Illinois from 2013-17.

“Tyler is an excellent young coach and we promoted him to add balance to the coaching staff,” said Carey in a statement, making reference to the fact that there are now six full-time coaches with an offensive background and five on defense. “We are very fortunate to get a coach of Brett’s caliber in the role of special teams coordinator. I’ve known him for 20 years and am excited that he and his family can join us at Temple.”

Nearly 100 defensive players land on Nagurski Trophy watch list

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Of all the watch lists released thus far this month, this one’s the biggest — literally.

Via the Football Writers Association of America, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Tuesday released its preseason list of players to watch, with a whopping 97 individuals making the award’s initial cut.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, as are 65 individual schools.

One first-team FWAA All-American (LSU safety Grant Delpit) made the initial watch list for the award given annually to the best defensive player in college football, while a trio of second-teamers from a year ago (Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo) made the cut as well.

Conference-wise, the SEC has the most with 18, followed the other four Power Five leagues in the Big Ten (15), ACC (12), Pac-12 (12) and Big 12 (11). The AAC led all Group of Five conferences with six, followed by Conference USA (four), Mountain West (four), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (two).  Football independents accounted for five of the watch listers.

With four, Alabama led all individual schools. Iowa State, LSU, Notre Dame and Penn State placed three each, with another 16 schools placing two apiece on the list.

As for the positional breakdown, there are 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.