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Manning Award features 30 QBs on its preseason watch list

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Don’t quote me on it, but I do believe we have come to the final preseason watch list of the 2018 offseason. Maybe?

Thursday, the Manning Award released its initial list of the top 30 quarterbacks in the country to watch for the upcoming season, although a player not on this initial list is not necessarily precluded from winning the award. This is the only major award, it should be noted, that is handed out after the bowls, and is named in honor of the quarterbacking triumvirate of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Highlighting this latest watch list are four of the finalists for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield — Penn State’s Trace McSorely, UCF’s McKenzie Milton, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Arizona’s Khalil Tate.

All 10 FBS conferences are represented, led by the SEC’s five and four each from the ACC and Big Ten. The Pac-12 is next with three, while the remaining leagues — the AAC, Big 12, Conference USA, MAC Mountain West and Sun Belt — come in with two apiece. A pair of football independents, Notre Dame and UMass, are also represented.

Of the 30 watch listers, 17 are seniors and 12 are juniors. The lone sophomore is Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson.

Below is the complete 2018 Manning Award preseason watch list:

Jake Bentley, Jr., South Carolina
Jake Browning, Sr., Washington
A.J. Erdely, Sr., UAB
Caleb Evans, Jr. UL-Monroe
Mason Fine, Jr., North Texas
Ryan Finley, Sr., N.C. State
Nick Fitzgerald, Sr., Mississippi State
Andrew Ford, Sr., Massachusetts
Ty Gangi, Sr., Nevada
Will Grier, Sr., West Virginia
Justice Hansen, Sr., Arkansas State
Ben Hicks, Jr., SMU
Alex Hornibrook, Jr., Wisconsin
Josh Jackson, Soph., Virginia Tech
Daniel Jones, Jr., Duke
Kyle Kempt, Sr., Iowa State
Brian Lewerke, Jr., Michigan State
Drew Lock, Sr., Missouri
Trace McSorley, Sr., Penn State
McKenzie Milton, Jr., Central Florida
Gus Ragland, Sr., Miami (Ohio)
Malik Rosier, Sr., Miami
Nathan Rourke, Jr., Ohio
Brett Rypien, Sr., Boise State
Kyle Shurmur, Sr., Vanderbilt
Nathan Stanley, Jr., Iowa
Jarrett Stidham, Sr., Auburn
Khalil Tate, Jr., Arizona
Manny Wilkins, Sr., Arizona State
Brandon Wimbush, Jr., Notre Dame

Pair of Penn State players, one a starter, retire over health concerns

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The “R” word delivered a one-two punch to Penn State’s roster Wednesday.

In a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Ryan Buchholz (pictured) abruptly announced that “it is time for me to retire.” The Penn State defensive lineman cited “multiple back surgeries and the inability to perform 100% at this level” as the reasons behind his decision.

“You only have one body and my health and future well-being is most important to me,” Buchholz wrote.

Buchholz, who was sidelined for three games last season because of injury, started six of the 23 games in which he played for the Nittany Lions in his career.  All six of those starts came during this past season.

The redshirt junior had been penciled in as one of the starting ends for James Franklin‘s defense.

A few hours after Buchholz posted his social media missive, teammate Jordan Miner tweeted that he “was diagnosed with a heart problem that will have to put a hold on my football career.” Miner did not go into the specifics of the heart problem.

Miner was a four-star member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. The Tampa, Fla., product was the highest-rated defensive back for the Nittany Lions in this past year’s class.

Miner is the second Penn State football player to be forced to retire from the sport this year due to a heart condition, joining fellow 2018 signee Nana Asiedu.

The health issue involving Asiedu’s heart was discovered by the Penn State physicians who conducted medical testing standard for all incoming Nittany Lions football players this past spring. According to both his mother and former high school coach, the diagnosis very likely saved the offensive lineman’s life.

2017 finalist Trace McSorely of Penn State headlines Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award preseason watch list

NCAA FOOTBALL: JAN 02 TaxSlayer Bowl - Penn State v Georgia
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If you thought Watch List Season 2018 had come and gone, you’re sorely (McSorely?) mistaken.

Tuesday morning, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award announced its preseason watch list, which features 49 of the top quarterbacks in the country.  In our annual reminder, the award is given yearly to the top signal-caller in the country who is either a senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class and takes into account his accomplishments both on and off the field.

Headlining this year’s preseason watch group is Penn State’s Trace McSorely, who was a finalist for the 2017 version of the award claimed by Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

All nine FBS conferences are represented, with the Pac-12’s nine and SEC’s seven leading the way.  Next up at six each are the ACC, Big Ten and Conference USA, followed by the Mountain West (five), AAC (three), Big 12 (three), MAC (two) and Sun Belt (one).  One football independent, Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush, made the initial cut as well.

Below is the complete 2018 preseason watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award:

Jake Bentley, South Carolina
David Blough, Purdue
Ross Bowers, Cal
Jake Browning, Washington
Kelly Bryant, Clemson
K.J. Carta-Samuels, Colorado State
Christian Chapman, San Diego State
Keller Chryst, Tennessee
Taylor Cornelius, Oklahoma State
Eric Dungey, Syracuse
A.J. Erdely, UAB
Ryan Finley, NC State
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
Ty Gangi, Nevada
Will Grier, West Virginia
Justice Hansen, Arkansas State
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin
Tyler Huntley, Utah
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo
Daniel Jones, Duke
Kyle Kempt, Iowa State
Hasaan Klugh, UTEP
Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
Drew Lock, Missouri
Jake Luton, Oregon State
Trace McSorley, Penn State
Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State
McKenzie Milton, UCF
Gardner Minshew, Washington State
Steven Montez, Colorado
Hayden Moore, Cincinnati
James Morgan, FIU
Shea Patterson, Michigan
Bryce Perkins, Virginia
Gus Ragland, Miami of Ohio
Malik Rosier, Miami
Brett Rypien, Boise State
Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss
Khalil Tate, Arizona
Alex Thomson, Marshall
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Brady White, Memphis
Manny Wilkins, Arizona State
Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame

Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State 1-2-3 in preseason Coaches’ Top 25

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Not surprisingly, some very familiar faces reside at the top of the first major poll of the 2018 season.

Early Thursday afternoon, USA Today released its preseason coaches’ poll, with reigning national champion Alabama sitting comfortably at No. 1.  Not only that, but the Crimson Tide garnered 61 of the 65 first-place votes.

The only others to receive first-place votes are 2017 College Football Playoff semifinalist Clemson (three) and Ohio State (one), although the Buckeyes have a little more to worry about than their placement in a meaningless preseason poll.  The Top Five is rounded out by No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Oklahoma, while Nos. 6-10 are Washington, Wisconsin, Miami, Penn State and Auburn, respectively.

Below is the remainder of the first coaches’ poll of the 2018 season:

11. Notre Dame
12. Michigan State
13. Stanford
14. Michigan
15. USC
16. TCU
17. Virginia Tech
18. Mississippi State
19. Florida State
20. West Virginia
21. Texas
22. Boise State
23. UCF
24. LSU
25. Oklahoma State

For those who keep score of such things, the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC have the most teams in the Top 25 with five each, followed by the ACC’s four and the Pac-12’s three.  Just two Group of Five squads made the initial cut, one apiece from the AAC and Mountain West.

Jay Paterno implores Ohio State to ‘stand up to mob mentality’ in making decision on Urban Meyer

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Yep, this will end well.

Even as his support seems to be eroding, possibly even from his employer, in the wake of a bombshell report, Urban Meyer has a champion in Jay Paterno.  The former Penn State assistant, whose father, the legendary Joe Paterno, was ousted from his longtime post amidst scandal, penned an impassioned post on his personal website titled “Due Process & Rule of Law for Urban Meyer” in which he “implore[s] the Board at Ohio State to stand up to the mob mentality” in making a decision on the head coach’s fate.

“We should wait for facts,” Paterno wrote. “We should drive a stake in the ground to defend due process. We should shed our implicit bias against people we dislike being accused. We should have courage to stand against the virtual mob gathering for a virtual lynching before we know the facts.

It’s alleged that Meyer’s wife, Shelley Meyer, knew that the wife of former OSU wide receivers coach Zach Smith, Courtney Smith, was being physically abused by the assistant.

“Shelly said she was going to have to tell Urban,” Courtney claimed in an interview. “I said: ‘That’s fine, you should tell Urban.’ I know Shelley did everything she could.”

Courtney Smith acknowledged that Shelley Meyer never confirmed that she told her husband about the alleged abuse.  And Meyer has previously vehemently denied that he knew of allegations of abuse in October of 2015.  However, a purported text message conversation between Courtney Smith and one of Meyer’s longtime football staffersseemed to show that Meyer discussed the 2015 allegations with Smith at the time, which the assistant denied.  Still, such a conversation would indicate that Meyer was aware of the situation, as he was with an alleged 2009 domestic abuse incident when Meyer was the head coach at Florida and Smith was a staffer.

“No matter what is proven about these allegations against the former wide receiver coach at Ohio State,” wrote Paterno, “this much is beyond doubt: Urban Meyer did not commit a crime, he did not witness, nor did he cover up any crimes. He hasn’t even been accused of one but yet there will be voices unjustly calling for his job.”

Paterno went on to “implore the Board at Ohio State to stand up to the mob mentality, to say that ‘when we have the facts of the case and only when we have the facts of the case will we react and make informed decisions.’ …

“We should wait for facts. We should drive a stake in the ground to defend due process. We should shed our implicit bias against people we dislike being accused. We should have courage to stand against the virtual mob gathering for a virtual lynching before we know the facts.

And for those who need a refresher course: Published allegations do NOT automatically equal facts.”

For the entire text of Paterno’s impassioned post, click HERE.