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More than five dozen tight ends land on Mackey Award watch list

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If you’re a college football fan, there’s nearly a 50-50 chance that you’ll find one of your team’s players on this latest watch list installment.

The Mackey Award is next up to do the preseason deed, with the hardware going to the nation’s top tight end announcing a 64-player watch list Friday morning.  Unlike most other awards, not a single semifinalist from a year ago are up for the award won by Arkansas’ Mark Andrews in 2017.

A total of five teams placed two players on the list, with three of those coming from — surprise!!! — the Big Ten.  Iowa (Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson), Michigan (Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon) and Wisconsin (Zander Neuville, Kyle Penniston) represent that Midwest conference, while Louisville (Kemari Averett, Micky Crum) and South Carolina (KC Crosby, account for the other.

The Big Ten led all conferences with 12 players on the initial watch list, followed by the SEC (nine), ACC (seven), Pac-12 (seven), Mountain West (six) and Sun Belt (five).  There are four watch listers each hailing from the AAC, Big 12 and MAC, while Conference USA placed three.  There are also three tight ends from football independents.

Below is the complete 2018 John Mackey Award preseason watch list:

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.

Four-star wideout committed to Notre Dame says Irish pulled offer

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Not too surprisingly, it’s not just recruits who flip-flop on verbal commitments.

With more than a dozen offers from Power Five programs on the table, four-star 2019 wide receiver T.J. Sheffield announced July 6 that he had verbally committed to Notre Dame.  Five days later, the Tennessee high schooler took to Twitter to announce that the Fighting Irish had pulled their scholarship offer.

Why? “I received a call from [wide receivers coach DelVaughn] Alexander stating that Notre Dame was not going to honor my commitment due to a change of plans,” Sheffield wrote in the social media missive.  What those change of plans are specifically is the great unknown and, as Notre Dame is forbidden by NCAA rules from commenting on unsigned recruits, we are left with just one side of the story.

To Sheffield’s credit, he reacted to the football program’s about-face with grace and class.

“I completely accept Notre Dame’s decision as God’s will for me and know that God has an open door for me that no man can shut,” the receiver stated. “Thanks again to Notre Dame for considering me as a possibility for their program.”

The four-star prospect is rated as the No. 38 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Tennessee on‘s composite board.  He still holds offers from, among others, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Tennessee.

Penn State gives Beaver Stadium field patriotic cut

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In case you didn’t already know, it’s Independence Day here in America. (I would love to meet the person who had to be informed by a college football blog that today is indeed the Fourth of July.)

To mark the occasion, Penn State’s groundkeepers have dressed up Beaver Stadium in a patriotic cut.

The life of a college football groundskeeper must be a boring one or a great one. You’re employed to make the gridiron look as good as possible for six or seven Saturdays in the fall. The other months are prime for doing bits, apparently.

Purdue installs train horn to Ross-Ade Stadium

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Purdue scored 20 touchdowns in six home games last season. If Jeff Brohm has anything to say about it, that number will go up in 2018. Considerably.

And with each touchdown, the opponent’s eardrums will be punished with a new train horn sound effect.

The train horn blends with the school’s branding as an engineering school. The Boilermakers wear train-themed helmets from time to time, and this will continue to build on the program’s identity after going far too long without one.

Now it’s Brohm’s job to send everyone straight from Ross-Ade Stadium to their local otolaryngologist.