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Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Iowa’s Josey Jewell among Nagurski Trophy finalists

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Another day, another award has released its group of finalists.

The latest to do this particular deed is the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which on Wednesday announced its five finalists for its 2017 award.  Those five finalists include North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Iowa middle linebacker Josey Jewell, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver and Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith.

The Nagurski Trophy, given out annually since 1993, is awarded to the nation’s best defensive player regardless of position.  The 2016 winner was Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen.

Below is a rundown of each of the five finalists, courtesy of the Football Writers Association of American:

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (6-4, 275, Sr., Marietta, Ga.): Chubb leads the FBS in tackles for loss this season for the Wolfpack (7-3). Of his 23.5 tackles for loss (for minus-98 yards), 10 have been sacks for 66 yards in losses. He has 62 total tackles, nine quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, two passes broken up and a blocked kick. Chubb joins linebacker Levar Fisher (2000) as the only Wolfpack players to earn a Nagurski finalist nod.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama (6-1, 202, Jr., Old Bridge, N.J.): The leader of the defensive backfield for the unbeaten Crimson Tide (10-0), Fitzpatrick has made 44 total tackles, collected 5.5 tackles for 25 yards in losses, including 1.5 sacks for 15 yards in losses. In addition, he has intercepted a pass, broken up six passes, hurried the quarterback three times, forced a fumble and blocked a kick. Alabama ranks eighth in the country in fewest passing yards allowed per game (167 ypg). Fitzpatrick is the 11th Alabama player to be a Nagurski finalist, including last year’s recipient Jonathan Allen. The Crimson Tide has had a finalist now in each of the last seven seasons.

Josey Jewell, MLB, Iowa (6-2, 236, Sr., Decorah, Iowa): Jewell is fourth in the country in total tackles (104) for the Hawkeyes (6-4). He has registered 9.5 tackles for 39 yards in losses (including 2.5 sacks for 24 yards in losses). He has chipped in an interception (and returned it 33 yards) and added five passes broken up, three quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Jewell is the second Iowa player to be named a Nagurski finalist, joining linebacker Pat Angerer in 2009.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston (6-3, 290, So., Houston, Texas): A second-team FWAA All-American in 2016, Oliver followed up his freshman season with another fine year. He has 53 total tackles for the Cougars (6-3). Of those, he has 10 tackles for 39 yards in losses (with 2.5 sacks for 13 yards in losses), three passes broken up, seven quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick. Oliver is the first Houston player to earn a Nagurski finalist accolade.

Roquan Smith, OLB, Georgia (6-1, 225, Jr., Montezuma, Ga.): The leading tackler for the Bulldogs (9-1), Smith has made 82 total tackles this season. He has 4.5 tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks for 14 yards in losses. He also has broken up two passes, hurried the quarterback 10 times and forced a fumble. Georgia ranks fifth in the FBS in total defense, giving up just 277.5 yards per game. Smith is the fifth Georgia player to be named a Nagurski finalist, joining 1998 recipient Champ Bailey and two-time finalist David Pollack (2002, ‘04).

Arkansas early enrollee arrested on DUI charges

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Arkansas early enrollee Mike Woods was arrested Friday night on suspicion of DUI, minor in possession of alcohol and, crucially, improper turn/U-turn. The Washington County booking report says he was released on Saturday afternoon but due back for a hearing on Monday morning.

Hogs head coach Chad Morris released the following statement: “We are aware of the incident involving Mike Woods and are gathering information from the proper authorities. We will make a determination regarding his status once we have reviewed all of the information.”

A consensus 3-star recruit out of Magnolia, Texas, in the Houston area, Woods originally committed to SMU but followed Morris and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp to Arkansas.

Bill Snyder honored by Missouri Western with pavilion at football stadium

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Bill Snyder traveled to his hometown of St. Joseph, Mo., on Thursday, as Missouri Western State University christened a pavilion at its football stadium as the Bill Snyder Pavilion.

The pavilion was donated by Steven L. Craig, who already serves as the namesake for Division II Missouri Western’s football stadium and its business school. But for the new pavilion of Craig Field that holds two levels of hospitality space, Craig and the school elected to honor one of St. Joseph’s most famous residents and a former Missouri Western student. With the honor, Snyder became the rare (only?) person to have his name on two separate football stadiums; Kansas State plays in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

After graduating high school from St. Joseph’s Lafayette High School, Snyder originally enrolled at Mizzou, where he discovered the major university life was not for him. “I did extremely poorly,” Snyder told the Kansas City Star. “I was out of my element. My mother had saved all of her life to send me to college, and I was wasting her money.”

He returned home to enroll at Missouri Western, then known as Missouri Western Junior College, where he played on the basketball team. He then transferred to William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., where he played quarterback and defensive back before graduating in 1962. Outside a brief stint as a graduate assistant on John McKay‘s USC staff, Snyder spent the first decade of his coaching career at the high school ranks in Missouri and California. He landed a job in 1974 as the offensive coordinator at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and two seasons there led to a job on Hayden Fry‘s staff at North Texas in 1976. Snyder followed Fry to Iowa, and nine successful seasons as the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach granted him the Kansas State head job, where he has authored the greatest turnaround in major college football history.

Snyder, who will turn 79 the day after Kansas State visits Baylor on Oct. 6, is 210-110-1 as K-State’s head coach. He led the Wildcats to four straight 11-win seasons from 1997-00, a Big 12 championship in 2003 and, after a 3-year retirement, returned to lead the Wildcats to their first No. 1 ranking and a second Big 12 championship in 2012. Despite spending much of the off-season battling throat cancer, Snyder led Kansas State to an 8-5 record with a Cactus Bowl win over UCLA in 2017.

“St. Joseph will always have a special place in my heart,” Snyder said Thursday. “Missouri Western likewise.”

Snyder will open his 27th season as K-State’s head coach on Sept. 1 as the Wildcats host South Dakota.

 

Former Miami, Purdue QB Robert Marve arrested on domestic battery charges

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Former Miami and Purdue quarterback Robert Marve turned himself in to Hillsborough County, Fla., authorities on Friday morning after his girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in their Key West hotel room. He was booked on felony battery/domestic battery by strangulation charges and released an hour later on $50,000 bond.

According to the Tampa Bay Times:

(Marve’s girlfriend Channing) Tomes told the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office that Marve “lost control” after seeing messages on her phone. He then began hitting her face, chest, arms and legs, and stomped on her throat, according to the warrant.

“I am beyond relieved to know he is finally exposed as the monster he truly is,” Tomes said in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times. “I am so thankful for everyone who has worked tirelessly on this case, as well as other victims.”

Tomes also accused Marve of biting her on the lip, striking her face, knocking her unconscious and sexually assaulting her back in May.

“I do not care if I am the face of this case or if my sexual life, job or school is exposed in this process. My ultimate goal was to see that he never hurt another woman again and stand up for past victims who were too scared to come forward. Rape and domestic violence is never okay,” Tomes told the Times. “I have found that the only ‘safe word’ with Robert Marve is ‘911.’ ”

Marve led powerhouse Plant High School in Tampa to a Class 4A state championship in 2006 and signed with Miami in February 2007 as Rivals‘s No. 8 pro-style quarterback of that year. He later transferred to Purdue and needed six years to complete his college career, a season that was ended prematurely after a second ACL tear. He had a cup of coffee with his hometown Bucs and a brief career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL before retiring in 2015.

Marve currently lives in Tampa and works as the athletic director at the Tampa Sports Academy training facility, according to jail records, in addition to coaching Plant’s quarterbacks.

Michigan State to reportedly remove interim tag from AD Bill Beekman on Monday

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Michigan State is set to name interim AD Bill Beekman to the job on a permanent status on Monday, according to reports from the Detroit Free Press and ESPN.

The move brings a bit of stability to the university as the Larry Nassar saga continues to embroil the highest level of MSU leadership in controversy. Though its highest-profile employees, football coach Mark Dantonio and men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo, remain in their posts, AD Mark Hollis retired in late January as ESPN dug into the athletics department’s (lack of) response to sexual harassment within its ranks. MSU president Lou Anna Simon resigned two days before Hollis, but that may be the least of her problems stemming from the Nassar saga.

As for Beekman, he is a near-MSU lifer who has experience across university leadership but, prior to his appointment as interim AD five months ago, none in athletics. He was hired as an administrator with the MSU HealthTeam, per the Free Press, and has since risen to assistant dean of finance and planning for MSU’s school of medicine, executive director of the MSU alumni association, vice president and secretary of the MSU Board of Trustees, and he was even briefly named MSU’s interim president after Simon’s resignation.

He was appointed to the full-time AD position by interim president John Engler. Michigan State’s board are currently in search of a full-time president, but that person will not be in place until the end of the upcoming academic year.

Given all that ongoing upheaval, it will be interesting to see the contract Michigan State’s interim president hands to its now full-time AD with no prior athletics experience.