Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list includes Wright, Oakman, Nkemdiche, Bosa & more

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You know we are starting to turn a page toward the next college football season when spring games are in the air and some award gets an early jump on watch list season. Today the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation got award watch list season underway with 42 players being named to the watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to a defensive player based largely on performance on the field and character.

Six players on this year’s first watch list were on the watch list for the trophy last season. Duke’s Kelby Brown, Michigan State’s Shilque Calhoun, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves, West Virginia’s Karl Joseph, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith and Oklahoma’s Eric Striker are among the players represented. Other prominent names for the award on the watch list include Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa, and Arizona’s Scooby Wright III. The watch list includes a total of 37 players from power five conferences, with the Big Ten leading the way with 10 players.

2015 LOTT IMPACT TROPHY WATCH LIST

LB Kevin Anderson, Stanford

DB Dante Barnett, Kansas State

LB Joe Bolden MichiganDB

DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota

DL Joey Bosa, Ohio State

LB Kelby Brown, Duke

DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon

S Michael Caputo, Wisconsin

DE Shilque Calhoun, Michigan State

S Jeremy Cash, Duke

S Su’a Cravens, USC

LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

DB Nate Gerry, Nebraska

DL Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

LB Deon Hollins, UCLA

DB Dylan Haines, Texas

CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida

DB Ryan Janvion, Wake Forest

DB Jonathan Jones, Auburn

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia

LB Bronson Kaufusi, BYU

S Derrick Kindred, TCU

DB Jordan Lomax, Iowa

DL Dean Lowry, Northwestern

LB Blake Martinez, Stanford

LB Viliami Moeakiola, Arizona State

LB Calvin Munson, San Diego State

DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

LB Jared Norris, Utah

DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor

DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

LB Joshua Perry, Ohio State

LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama

DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State

DE Sheldon Rankins, Louisville

LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

DB Weston Steelhammer, Air Force

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma

LB Jeremy Timpf, Army

LB Scooby Wright III, Arizona

DT Anthony Zettel, Penn State

Rocky Long returns to New Mexico as defensive coordinator

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From 1999-2008, Danny Gonzales worked on Rocky Long‘s staff at New Mexico. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.

On Monday, new Lobos head coach Gonzales announced Long as his defensive coordinator in Albuquerque.

“Look who’s back on the sideline together!!!” Gonzales tweeted. “Welcome back Coach Long DC /Linebackers Best DC in CFB!!! Let’s Do This! The goal is Conference Championship #5 Lets Gooooooo!”

The hiring concludes a strange saga for the 70-year-old Long (today is actually his birthday), who was rumored to interview for the Syracuse defensive coordinator job that later went to his own defensive coordinator in Zach Arnett. (Incidentally, Arnett has since left that job.) Two days later, on Jan. 8, Long stepped down as San Diego State’s head coach, a move the school termed as a retirement.

And now he’s back for his sixth tour of duty in Lobo colors.

Long first played defensive back at New Mexico from 1969-71, then joined the staff as a graduate assistant in 1972 while playing semi-professionally in Canada. After a stint at a New Mexico high school, he returned to UNM as a position coach in 1978, first coaching offensive backs before switching to defensive backs. After climbing the ladder as a coordinator, Long obtained his first head coaching job at New Mexico in 1998, going 65-69 with five bowl appearances in 11 seasons. He then went 81-38 with three Mountain West titles and at least a share of two division crowns from 2011-19.

Long is presumably set to take a major pay cut in the move. He earned close to $880,000 as SDSU’s head coach in 2019, while New Mexico paid then-coordinator Jordan Peterson $170,000 in 2019.

Two Rutgers players tweet decisions to transfer from Scarlet Knights

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Even as the Rutgers football program adds transfers, Greg Schiano‘s new squad is losing them through the same process.

Friday evening, wide receiver Mohamed Jabbie announced on Twitter that he has decided to transfer from the Rutgers football team.  Just a few hours later, teammate and offensive lineman Michael Maietti (pictured) used the same social-media platform to announce a similar decision.

Both Jabbie and Maietti will be leaving the Scarlet Knights as graduate transfers.  The loss of the latter, though, will likely leave the biggest mark.

The past three seasons, Maietti has started 33 games at center for the Scarlet Knights.  The New Jersey native earned Academic All-Big Ten honors each of the last three seasons.

Appearing in 27 games, Jabbie started 12 of those contests.

This past season, Jabbie set career-highs in catches (14), receiving yards (149) and receiving touchdowns (one).  He will apparently finish his Rutgers football career with 182 yards and a touchdown on 18 receptions.

CB Tony Butler posts classy, heartfelt goodbye in announcing transfer from Nebraska

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Thanks to a Nebraska football player, we won’t have to go through an entire day without a portal post.  Hurray?

Late this past week, Tony Butler announced in a very classy, heartfelt post on Twitter that he will be entering the NCAA transfer database.  The move would serve as the first step in a departure from the Nebraska football program.

The cornerback could also return to the Nebraska football team if he so desires.

That said, Butler would be leaving the Cornhuskers as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“In 2016, I came here as an 18-year-old kid lost and looking for a home.  Nebraska, you became my home and brought me in with open arms,” Butler wrote. “This place became very special. …

“Nebraska, you have done an incredible job at helping a lost boy become a man.  My family and I are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Butler was rated as the No. 22 player regardless of position in the state of Ohio.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past three seasons, Butler played in 27 games.  Four of those appearances came in 2019, which was likely the trigger for the decision to transfer.  Most of the games played came on special teams.

Butler is the third player to leave the Nebraska football program in a week.

Linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

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The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.