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Lou Groza, Ray Guy Awards release their respective watch lists

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Kickers and punters are football players, too, and thus get their own preseason recognition along with everybody else.

Both the Lou Groza and Ray Guy Awards released their watch lists Wednesday morning, with the former including kickers and the latter 27 punters. Headlining both groups is Utah’s Matt Gay, who won the 2017 Lou Groza Award and is looking to join Florida State’s Sebastian Janikowski (1998-99) as the only two-time winner of the kicking trophy.

One other finalist for the 2017 Groza Award is included in this year’s watch list — Utah State’s Dominik Eberle.

On the Ray Guy side of the watch list ledger, Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky is the lone returning finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Michael Dickson of Texas.  Three other 2017 semifinalists are listed — Ohio State’s Drue Chrisman, Missouri’s Corey Fatony and Arkansas State’s Cody Grace.

LOU GROZA AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Florida State junior Ricky Aguayo
Oklahoma State junior Matt Ammendola
San Diego State senior John Baron II
Georgia Southern junior Tyler Bass
Georgia junior Rodrigo Blankenship
FIU sophomore Jose Borregales
Colorado State senior Wyatt Bryan
Minnesota senior Emmit Carpenter
Mississippi State sophomore Jace Christmann
San Jose State senior Bryce Crawford
Louisville junior Blanton Creque
Utah State junior Dominik Eberle
Wisconsin senior Rafael Gaglianone
Utah senior Matt Gay
Clemson senior Greg Huegel
Texas A&M senior Daniel LaCamera
Baylor junior Connor Martin
Missouri junior Tucker McCann
UCLA junior JJ Molson
Michigan junior Quinn Nordin
UNLV senior Evan Pantels
Arizona State sophomore Brandon Ruiz
UTSA sophomore Jared Sackett
Oklahoma senior Austin Seibert
Southern Miss senior Parker Shaunfield
Colorado sophomore James Stefanou
Stanford junior Jet Toner
Toledo senior Jameson Vest
Notre Dame senior Justin Yoon
Ohio junior Louie Zervos

RAY GUY AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Adam Nunez, TCU
A.J. Cole III, NC State
Alex Kinney, Colorado
Anthony Lotti, Wisconsin
Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
Bailey Cate, Old Dominion
Blake Gillikin, Penn State
Caleb Lightbourn, Nebraska
Cody Grace, Arkansas State
Corey Fatony, Missouri
Corliss Waitman, South Alabama
Dane Roy, Houston
Derek Adams, Kent State
Drue Chrisman, Ohio State
Jake Bailey, Stanford
Jake Hartbarger, Michigan State
Jamie Sackville, SMU
Joe Schopper, Purdue
Logan Tyler, Florida State
Matt Bonadies, Middle Tennessee
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
Oscar Bradburn, Virginia Tech
Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech
Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State
Stefan Flintoft, UCLA
Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse
Wade Lees, Maryland

Michigan to visit South Africa later this year

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After visiting Italy and France over the past two springs, Michigan is taking a break from Europe and hitting South Africa in 2019. Wolverines director of football operations Mark Taurisani made the announcement through his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Jim Harbaugh started the field trips (which are funded by Michigan donors) as part of an educational experience for Wolverines players. The 2017 Italy trip was incorporated with Michigan’s spring practice, but the Wolverines did not practice in France last year and will not practice in South Africa this year, either.

Specific dates and tour sites have not been announced. The Wolverines will leave after the completion of the spring semester, which concludes after Michigan’s April 13 spring game.

Michigan lands All-MAC graduate transfer from Central Michigan

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As a Detroit native, Mike Danna has probably spent his entire life hoping and wishing and believing he could play at Michigan. While playing at Warren De La Salle Collegiate High School, he probably thought it. Throughout the recruiting process, when Michigan didn’t offer him and he signed at Central Michigan, he probably thought it.

Now he’ll get a chance to prove it.

Danna on Tuesday announced he was leaving CMU to spend his final college season with the big boys in Ann Arbor.

The 6-foot-2, 257-pound defensive end won the Herb Deromedi Award as CMU’s most valuable player after collecting 66 tackles, a team-high 15 TFLs and 9.5 sacks. He was named a First Team All-MAC honoree and a Pro Football Focus First Team All-American as well.

In three seasons as a Chippewa, Danna posted 151 tackles, 28 TFLs, 15 sacks and four forced fumbles.

While he may or may not start, Danna will be a significant contributor for the Wolverines in 2019. Michigan loses starting ends Chase Winovich (graduation) and Rashan Gary (draft), so Danna will team with senior Josh Uche (who led the team with eight sacks last season) and sophomore Aidan Hutchinson.

Miami to reportedly play Miami in 2023

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College football is notoriously hard to predict, but go ahead and mark this prediction down in ink: in the 2023 season, Miami will beat Miami.

Miami (Florida) will host Miami (Ohio) in 2023, according to FBSchedules. Neither school has announced the game as of this writing. The game will be played Sept. 2, 2023 at Hard Rock Stadium in Coral Gables, Fla.

In what has been previously dubbed the Confusion Bowl, the two Miamis have played three times previously, with the Hurricanes winning each time. All three games were in Miami, Fla., and green-and-orange Miami won by scores of 27-13 in 1945, 20-17 in 1946 and, most recently, 54-3 in 1987.

Miami (Ohio) will net $1.5 million for the trip, according to FBSchedules.

Miami (Fla.) has a home game with Texas A&M and a visit to Temple lined up elsewhere for 2023, while Miami (Ohio) will visit Cincinnati and host Liberty.

Brian VanGorder replaces Carl Pelini as Bowling Green DC

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After a little over two months on the job, one of the most glorious mustaches in all of college football has earned a promotion.

Tuesday, Bowling Green announced that Brian VanGorder has been named as first-year head coach Scot Loeffler‘s defensive coordinator.  In mid-December, the MAC school announced VanGorder’s hiring as linebackers coach and associate head coach.

VanGorder replaces Carl Pelini, who left last month to pursue another coaching opportunity.

VanGorder has served as a coordinator for a significant portion of the last decade, including stops at Louisville (2018), Notre Dame (2015-16), Auburn (2012) and the Atlanta Falcons (2008-11).  Prior to his one-year stint at Louisville, VanGorder served as a defensive analyst at both Georgia (2016, after he was fired by Notre Dame) and Oklahoma State (2017).

Interestingly, Bowling Green will travel to South Bend Oct. 5 this year to take on Notre Dame.

With VanGorder’s promotion, the Falcons also announced that Jim Herrmann has been hired to replace the new defensive coordinator as linebackers coach.  Herrmann will also carry the title of associate head coach.

Herrmann has spent the past baker’s dozen seasons as linebackers coach at the NFL level, with stops with the Indianapolis Colts (2016-18), New York Giants (2009-15) and New York Jets (2006-08) dotting his résumé.  His last college job at this level came during a lengthy stint at his alma mater Michigan (1985-2005).  The last nine years of his time in Ann Arbor, Herrmann worked as the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator.