145 — yes, 145 — players on Lombardi Award watch list

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Most in the media, and many a fan, scoff in the general direction of preseason watch lists every time one’s released.  For those who fall into that category, here’s additional ammunition for your argument.

Tuesday morning, the Lombardi Award, handed out annually to either a lineman on either side of the ball or a linebacker who lines up no deeper than five yards off the line of scrimmage, released a watch list that includes 12 dozen, plus one football players.  That’s right, this watch list contains a whopping 145 players. Or, put another way, every one of the 26 letters of the alphabet besides “U” and “X” are represented.

Included in that rather lengthy list is the 2014 winner of the award, Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, and another finalist for last year’s award, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa.  Additionally, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun and Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, 2014 semifinalists, are in the initial grouping as well.

Below is the complete list of players on this year’s preseason Lombardi Award watch list:

OL Ramadan Ahmeti, Central Michigan
LB Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma
G Vadal Alexander, LSU
C Jack Allen Michigan, State
LB T.T. Barber, Middle Tennessee
DL Alex Barrett, San Diego State
OL Willie Beavers, Western Michigan
OT Adrian Bellard, Texas State
OL Caleb Benenoch, UCLA
G Dalton Bennett, Troy
LB Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
LB Zeek Bigger, East Carolina
DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
OL Adam Bisnpwaty, Pittsburgh
DE Ronald Blair, Appalachian State
DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
G J.T. Boyd, East Carolina
LB Jatavis Brown, Akron
DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon
LB James Burgess, Louisville
DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
LB Brandon Chubb, Wake Forest
DT Kenny Clark, UCLA
OT Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
OL Ben Clarke, Hawaii
DT Trevon Coley, Florida Atlantic
OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
DE Kamalei Correa, Boise State
DT Sheldon Day, Notre Dame
OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State
DE Hunter Dimick, Utah
OT Spencer Drango, Baylor
G Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati
DE Ken Ekanem, Virginia Tech
G Pat Elflein, Ohio State
G Steve Elmer, Notre Dame
LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
G Dan Feeney, Indiana
G Sedrick Flowers, Texas
LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia
G Isaiah Folasa-Lutui, New Mexico State
C Kyle Fuller, Baylor
G Joshua Garnett, Stanford
DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
DT Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech
OL Darrell Greene, San Diego State
OT Ike Harris, East Carolina
DT Tylor Harris, Wake Forest
G Marcus Henry, Boise State
LB Nick Holt, Western Kentucky
C Alex Huettel, Bowling Green
OL Matt Hugenberg, Army
LB DJ Hunter, Marshall
LB Great Ibe, Eastern Michigan
LB Myles Jack, UCLA
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
G Darius Johnson, Middle Tennessee
DT Gerrand Johnson, ULM
OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
DT Jarron Jones, Notre Dame
DE Bronson Kaufusi, BYU
DT Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama
C Kaydon Kirby, North Texas
LB Hunter Kissenger, ULM
OL Tejan Koroma, BYU
OL James Kristof, Western Michigan
LB Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia
DE Royce LaFrance, Tulane
OL Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
C Taylor Lasecki, SMU
LB Darron Lee, Ohio State
DE Dadi Lhomme-Nicolas, Virginia Tech
LB Steve Longa, Rutgers
LB Alex Lyons, Rice
C Nick Martin, Notre Dame
LB Blake Martinez, Stanford
DL Praise Martin-Oguike, Temple
LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
LB Boomer Mays, Northern Illinois
LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn
LB Marc Millan, Idaho
LB Mason Monheim, Illinois
OL Alfredo Morales, Texas Tech
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida
DE Silverberry Mouhon, Cincinnati
C Andrew Ness, Northern Illinois
DE Thomas Niles, UCF
DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
LB Reggie Northrup, Florida State
DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor
DE Pat O’Connor, Eastern Michigan
OT Rees Odhiambo, Boise State
DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
DE Joe Ostman, Central Michigan
LB Montese Overton, East Carolina
DE Denzell Perine, FIU
G Caleb Peterson, North Carolina
LB Joseph Peterson, Georgia State
DT Davion Pierson, TCU
LB Manoa Pikula, BYU
G Greg Pyke, Georgia
OT Mykheal Quave, Louisiana
LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
DE Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
OL Andrew Reue, Rice
DE Tyler Roberts, Troy
DT A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Massachusetts
C Joseph Scelfo, South Alabama
LB Joe Schmidt, Notre Dame
DE Ian Seau, Nevada
DL Blake Serpa, Central Michigan
C Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
LB Ryan Simmons, Oklahoma State
C Matt Skura, Duke
OL Pearce Slater, San Diego State
LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
LB Terrence Smith, Florida State
OT Garrett Stafford, Tulsa
OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
LB Graham Stewart, Connecticut
DE Chris Stone, Arkansas State
LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma
LB Christian Tago, San Jose State
G Chris Taylor, Tulane
LB Jeremy Timpf, Army
LB Dominique Tovell, Louisiana
C Max Tuerk, USC
OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
G Landon Turner, North Carolina
LB Tanner Vallejo, Boise State
OT Clint Van Horn, Marshall
DL Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
LB Nick Vigil, Utah State
DE Trent Voss, Toledo
DE Michael Wakefield, FIU
DT Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
OT Toby Weathersby, LSU
LB Scooby Wright III, Arizona
DE Eddie Yarbrough, Wyoming
OT Avery Young, Auburn
DT Anthony Zettel, Penn State

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.