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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:

San Diego State transfer Mark Brown lands at Texas Tech

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It appears Texas Tech has indeed bolstered its defensive line, although it won’t be an immediate boost.

Following up on speculation that has been simmering for weeks, Matt Clare of confirmed that Mark Brown has transferred into the Texas Tech football program. The defensive end had decided to transfer from San Diego State earlier this offseason.

The move to Lubbock will serve as a quasi-homecoming for Brown as he went to high school in Fort Worth.

Brown was a three-star member of the Aztecs’ 2017 recruiting class. He took a redshirt as a true freshman with the Mountain West Conference school, although he was named as the program’s Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year.

After sitting out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Brown will have three years of eligibility that he can use beginning with the 2019 season.

Alabama (still) a massive favorite over Louisville, other Week 1 lines

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It’s been about four months since we checked in on the Week 1 betting lines in college football, highlighted by Alabama’s installation as a massive favorite for its date with Louisville in Orlando.

And in the four months since, the public has clearly lost faith in the Nick Saban Football Machine.

After starting as a 29.5-point favorite, Alabama has been downgraded… to a 28.5-point favorite, according to lines released by Bet Online.

Other lines of note:

  • UCF (-20.5) at Connecticut
  • Northwestern (+4.5) at Purdue
  • Colorado (-6) vs. Colorado State (at Denver)
  • San Diego State (+14.5) at Stanford
  • Florida Atlantic (+23) at Oklahoma
  • Oregon State (+38) at Ohio State
  • Texas (-10.5) at Maryland
  • Boise State (-10.5) at Troy
  • Arizona (-14) vs. BYU (at Phoenix)
  • Auburn (-3.5) vs. Washington (at Atlanta)
  • Ole Miss (-1.5) vs. Texas Tech (at Houston)
  • West Virginia (-7) vs. Tennessee (at Charlotte)
  • North Carolina (+6) at California
  • Michigan (+2) at Notre Dame
  • Alabama (-28.5) vs. Louisville (at Orlando)
  • Miami (-3) vs. LSU (at Dallas)
  • Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Florida State

Check out the entire list of lines here.

San Diego State’s stadium proposal leaves room for possible NFL franchise

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Ever since the NFL’s Chargers made the decision to leave San Diego for Los Angles, San Diego State has had its focus on figuring out where they will be playing football in the years to come. The future of Aztec football seemingly boils down to two possibilities that will be up for consideration on the ballot this November, and San Diego State hopes its plan is the one that will win over the most voters so their plan can move forward.

San Diego State’s $250 million stadium proposal would erect a stadium with a seating capacity of 35,000 but would allow for expansion up to 55,000 should the NFL decide to make a return to San Diego in the future. Part of the plan, should San Diego State’s proposal win, would allow for a prospective NFL owner to purchase a portion of the land the stadium sits on to build up whatever facilities would be needed to accommodate an NFL franchise.

“What we’re proposing is an NFL owner could come in, take the east side of the stadium and the two end zones, take them down to the ground, build out the service levels and stadium that they need while keeping all the premium amenities on the west side,” San Diego State director of athletics John David Wicker explained, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. That may not sound all that enticing for any NFL owner who may want total control of the stadium, but the offer would apparently stand for as long as needed.

The other major stadium proposal up for consideration is the soccer stadium proposal from investors looking to attract a Major League Soccer franchise to San Diego. The soccer stadium plan would include San Diego State football in its plans, but the option for an NFL franchise would come with a timeline with an expiration date. In addition to the stadium, the soccer stadium proposal would set aside five acres of land reserved for a possible NFL franchise, but that land would be developed for residential use after the five years passes without any NFL interest.

“Ours doesn’t sunset in five years,” Wicker said. “Our opportunity to build an NFL stadium will be there as long as we have the site there.”

The other key aspect of this stadium proposal from San Diego State is the land would belong to San Diego State. That is a nice financial incentive on San Diego State’s side with or without an NFL team showing interest. San Diego State’s proposal also includes the possibility to host an MLS franchise as well, as it has become clear any new stadium will serve as the home site for San Diego State football and a prospective MLS franchise. And while both options have flexibility for the NFL as well, voters will decide which fo the two plans they like best in November. If either plan receives a majority of the votes, it will be the one that advances to the next stage of development in San Diego.

The city of San Diego seems content to realize it may no longer be building a structure that will one day welcome an event like the Super Bowl back to the city. And while not ruled out entirely, it would seem any new stadium built would lack in the appeal for a possible future College Football Playoff national championship game as well.

In the meantime, San Diego State has extended their contract to play football games in SDCCU Stadium through 2020, tacking on two more seasons to a contract that was set to expire at the end of the 2018 season.

Former San Jose State coach Ron Caragher joins San Diego State staff in off-field role

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Ron Caragher is back in the city of San Diego, just not in a role he is used to.

The former University of San Diego and San José State head coach joined the San Diego State staff this week, according to a release from the Aztecs. He was named by freshly extended head coach Rocky Long as the team’s new on-campus recruiting coordinator and offensive quality control assistant in a role that is largely off the field in nature.

Caragher most recently spent four seasons leading the Aztecs’ Mountain West rival in the Bay Area, guiding the Spartans to a 19–30 record during his tenure with one bowl game appearance (a win in the Cure Bowl). He was fired by the school after the 2016 campaign however and now is back in beautiful San Diego, where he lead FCS powerhouse USD to a 44-22 record over six seasons. The former UCLA quarterback also had a stint in Westwood as an assistant (at the same time as Long, it should be noted) among other stops.

The ex-head coach won’t be alone in handling recruiting for the program as it was also announced that former SDSU defensive lineman and longtime CFL player Jerome Haywood was named assistant on-campus recruiting coordinator/defensive quality control assistant. For what it’s worth, Caragher never beat the Aztecs while at SJSU (0-4).