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Three 2015 semifinalists highlight Biletnikoff Award watch list

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Another day, another watch list.

The latest to throw its hat into the preseason ring is the Biletnikoff Award, with the Tallahassee Quarterback Club announcing a watch list consisting of 53 receivers.  The Biletnikoff is named in honor of former Florida State All-American Fred Biletnikoff and has been handed out annually since 1994 to honor the outstanding receiver in college football.  It should be noted that the award states that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back, and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award,” even as all 22 winners have been listed as wide receivers.

Three semifinalists for last year’s award, won by Baylor’s Corey Coleman, are on this year’s watch list — Washington State’s Gabe Marks, USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor.

The MAC leads all conferences with eight watch listers, followed by the ACC, Conference USA and SEC with seven each and the Big Ten with six.  The Pac-12, with two, has the least of any FBS conference, tied with the Sun Belt.

Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia State, Indiana, Louisiana Tech, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Western Kentucky all have two receivers each on the list.

Below is the complete 2016 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list:

Rodney Adams, University of South Florida, SR.
Chance Allen, University of Houston, SR.
Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State University, SR.
Josh Atkinson, University of Tulsa, RSR.
Devonte Boyd, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, JR.
KD Cannon, Baylor University, JR.
Jehu Chesson, University of Michigan, SR.
Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana University, JR.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan University, SR.
Robert Davis, Georgia State University, SR.
Gehrig Dieter, University of Alabama, RSR.
Malachi Dupre, Louisiana State University, JR.
Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech, JR.
Shelton Gibson, West Virginia University, RJR.
Chris Godwin, Pennsylvania State University, JR.
Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois University, RSR.
Penny Hart, Georgia State University, SO.
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech University, RSO.
Hasaan Henderson, University of Nevada, SR.
Mack Hollins, University of North Carolina, SR.
Richie James, Middle Tennessee State University, RSO.
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina University, SR.
Ricky Jones, Indiana University, RSR.
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M University, SO.
Jesse Kroll, Central Michigan University, SR
Jerome Lane, University of Akron, JR.
Allen Lazard, Iowa State University, JR.
KeVonn Mabon, Ball State University, SR.
Gabe Marks, Washington State University, RSR.
Taquan Mizzell, University of Virginia, SR.
Ronnie Moore, Bowling Green State University, SR.
Drew Morgan, University of Arkansas, SR.
Nicholas Norris, Western Kentucky University, SR.
Zach Pascal, Old Dominion University, SR.
Brandon Reilly, University of Nebraska, SR.
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M University, SR.
Jerico Richardson, University of Nevada, SR.
Calvin Ridley, University of Alabama, SO.
Fred Ross, Mississippi State University, SR.
Travis Rudolph, Florida State University, JR.
Artavis Scott, Clemson University, SO.
Sebastian Smith, Ohio University, SR.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, University of Southern California, JR.
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State University, SR.
Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist University, SO.
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky University, SR.
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech University, JR.
Cody Thompson, University of Toledo, JR.
DJ Thompson, University of Southern Mississippi, RSR.
James Washington, Oklahoma State University, JR.
Jordan Westerkamp, University of Nebraska, SR.
Kermit Whitfield, Florida State University, SR.
Mike Williams, Clemson University, RJR.

Wisconsin launches early Heisman campaign for RB Jonathan Taylor

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The Heisman Trophy has generally been synonymous with the best quarterback on one of the best teams in recent years but there have been a few running backs who have broken through to win the most prestigious award in all of college football.

Hoping to become the next tailback to break the signal-callers’ grip on the stiff arm? That would be Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who appears to have a budding campaign for the trophy that was launched by the school on Thursday:

Herschel Walker. Ron Dayne. Ricky Williams. Adrian Peterson. LaDainian Tomlinson. Dominant running backs. Legendary names. Unrivaled production … until now,” one tagline reads. “There’s a new kid on the block and he’s “Bringing Running Back,” back into the spotlight, just like those that came before him. And his name is Jonathan Taylor.”

The website goes through all of the notable stats that Taylor has piled up in just two seasons in Madison and while it doesn’t explicitly say everything is designed to raise the junior’s awareness ahead of Big Ten Media Days and the upcoming 2019 campaign, it does note that his fellow Wisconsin Doak Walker Award winners have all been finalists in New York at some point in their career.

i.e. hint, hint media this guy is pretty good.

And nobody is debating that after he has set numerous records during his first two years on campus. Key to actually making it to New York though might be how Taylor’s team does around him. If the Badgers can get back to being in contention for the Big Ten title once again in 2019, chances are high that the tailback’s play will play a bigger part in getting him the attention he deserves than a website and a hashtag.

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy headlines 2019 Biletnikoff Award Watch List

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Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.

Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:

Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)

Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)

Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)

Damonte Coxie (Memphis)

Gabriel Davis (UCF)

Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

Aaron Fuller (Washington)

Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)

KJ Hamler (Penn State)

Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)

Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)

Tee Higgins (Clemson)

K.J. Hill (Ohio State)

Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)

Justin Jefferson (LSU)

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)

Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)

Collin Johnson (Texas)

CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)

Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)

McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)

Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)

Riley Miller (Ball State)

Denzel Mims (Baylor)

Darnell Mooney (Tulane)

Rondale Moore (Purdue)

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)

K.J. Osborn (Miami)

Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)

Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)

James Proche (SMU)

Jalen Reagor (TCU)

Jared Rice (Fresno State)

Sean Riley (Syracuse)

Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)

Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)

JD Spielman (Nebraska)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

Marquez Stevenson (Houston)

Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)

JoJo Ward (Hawaii)

Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)

Ryan Day isn’t going to name Justin Fields as Ohio State’s starting QB just yet

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Almost as soon as Justin Fields’ waiver to play right away in 2019 was approved, the Georgia transfer was pegged as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

Ryan Day, however, is picking up this whole being a head coach at media day thing pretty good because the new leader of the Buckeyes offense declined to anoint Fields as the starter despite ample evidence that he’s the guy for the job.

“It’s an interesting situation. Whoever is playing in that first game will be the first time. Justin and Gunnar (Hoak) are going to compete like heck to go win the job,” Day said from the podium at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday. “At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to who can play the game.”

Hoak, who grad transferred over from Kentucky, was a key pickup for the program in the offseason not just to provide some competition for Fields but to provide much-needed depth after a host of quarterbacks left for other schools. While he has experience playing in five games last year with the Wildcats, there’s a gap in terms of natural talent between him and Fields.

Day seems likely to stick to his timetable of naming the starter a few weeks into camp but it still seems pretty clear as to who eventually will take over for Dwayne Haskins under center for the scarlet and gray.

Still though, you have to hand it to the rookie for going full on coach-speak when it came to his signal-caller at his very first media day in charge.

Big Ten’s Jim Delany upset with College Football Playoff Selection Committee

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Thursday marked the final Big Ten Media Days press conference for outgoing commissioner Jim Delany.

While his appearance was fairly low-key all things considered, the longtime college athletics stalwart didn’t hold back when it came to discussing his league and the College Football Playoff, lobbing some critical comments towards the Selection Committee in particular.

“I wish we had a little more continuity. I wish they would demonstrate as well as state the stronger commitment to strength of schedule,” Delany said. “We should be playing comparable schedules and if we’re not, there should be somewhat to differentiate that.”

The Big Ten has missed out on the playoff the past two seasons and saw its champion be skipped over in another year for a divisional runner-up.

Delany also voiced support for something suggested by Big 12 counterpart Bob Bowlsby to require all teams to play at least 10 Power Five opponents in a season, helping even out the difference between eight and nine conference slates.

“I’ve been disappointed, quite honestly, about the strength of schedule,” he added. “We’re not going to change. There may be pressure to change, but I think that’s short-selling our fans, our players, our TV partners. I’m hoping that the committee catches up with the intent of the founders.”