Cody Prewitt

ACC and SEC load up on Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists

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The Butkus Award semifinalists were announced Monday morning, and so too were the semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame announced the 15 names on the semifinalist list for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the top defensive back in college football.

The ACC and SEC each have four players appearing on the semifinalist list. The Big 12 and Pac-12 each have two players listed and the ACC, Big Ten and Conference USA each have one player. Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard was named the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award, but an SEC player had won the award the previous four seasons.

Of the players listed as a semifinalist, Louisville’s Gerod Holliman and Senquez Golson of Ole Miss are tied for the nation’s lead in interceptions. Each player has eight picks this season and each has returned one of those turnovers for a touchdown. None of the players with two pick-sixes this season is a semifinalist for the award.

THORPE AWARD SEMIFINALISTS
Sam Carter, TCU, Sr.
Jeremy Cash, Duke, Jr.
Landon Collins, Alabama, Jr.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, Sr.
Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, So.
Senquez Golson, Ole Miss, Sr.
Josh Hawkins, East Carolina, Jr.
Gerod Holliman, Louisville, Jr.
Ronald Martin, LSU, Sr.
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, Sr.
Jordan Richards, Stanford, Sr.
Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma, So.
Triston Wade, UTSA, Sr.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State, Jr.
PJ Williams, Florida State, Jr.

Has Ole Miss been better than Alabama? Cody Prewitt thinks so

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Ole Miss is gearing up for one of the biggest game sin the grove in a long time. Alabama, now the top-ranked team in the coaches poll, is heading to town this weekend for one of the SEC West triple-threat matches this weekend. The Rebels have been a fascinating program to watch build and grow under the leadership of head coach Hugh Freeze, but the Rebels are still a program looking for a signature win. It could come this weekend with a win over Alabama. Ole Miss defensive back Cody Prewitt is nothing short of confident in his team’s chances against Alabama. In fact, he thinks Ole Miss has already put together a better season than the Crimson Tide.

“We understand that we haven’t played a team that’s going to be as good as Bama,” Prewitt said, according to FOX Sports. “But we don’t really think Bama is as good as they have been. And we’re better than we have been. We’re looking forward to getting to the game plan and really nailing down all the tweaks and stuff that we’re going to have to put into Bama.”

To recap, Alabama started the year with a victory in Atlanta over a West Virginia team that may be heading to a bowl game this season. That was followed by home wins over Southern Mississippi and Florida Atlantic. The Crimson Tide also opened SEC play with a home win over Florida. Ole Miss also opened the season with a win in Atlanta, over Boise State. The Rebels then opened SEC play with a 41-3 win at Vanderbilt and home wins against Louisiana-Lafayette and Memphis. The Rebels have allowed just 8.5 points per game.

Alabama vs. Ole Miss is just one part of a terrific Saturday line-up of SEC West battles.  No. 5 Auburn is hosting No. 15 LSU and No. 12 Mississippi State is hosting No. 6 Texas A&M. This weekend could easily separate the contenders from the pretenders. Let the war of words begin.

Bednarik Award watch list names 76 players

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Watchlist season continued Monday with the release of the 2014 Chuck Bednarik Award watch list by the Maxwell Football Club. A total of 76 players were named to the watch list.

The Chuck Bednarik Award is awarded to the nation’s top defensive player as determined by the Maxwell Football Club. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was named the Bednarik Award winner each of the first two years the award was presented (1995 and 1996), and Penn State has had four Bednarik Award winners, the most of any school. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the 2013 Bednarik Award winner.

This year’s watch list includes three of last year’s semifinalists, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and USC defensive end Leonard Williams. Georgia has three linebackers on the watch list and Stanford continues to gain respect on defense with four players named to the watch list.

Here is the 2014 Bednarik Award watch list:

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford

LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson

DE Vic Beasley, Clemson

DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State

DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State

LB Kelby Brown, Duke

DT Malcom Brown, Texas

DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

CB Alex Carter, Stanford

S Sam Carter, TCU

S Jeremy Cash, Duke

DE Frank Clark, Michigan

S Landon Collins, Alabama

DT Christian Covington, Rice

S Su’a Cravens, USC

DT Carl Davis, Iowa

LB Trey DePriest, Alabama

CB Quandre Diggs, Texas

CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane

S Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State

DE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky

DE Mario Edwards, Florida State

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State

DE Devonte Fields, TCU

DE Try Flowers, Arkansas

LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia

DE Dante Fowler, Florida

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

DE Markus Golden, Missouri

DE Randy Gregory, Nebrska

LB Bryce Hager, Baylor

CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida

DE Eli Harold, Virginia

S Anthony Harris, Virginia

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas

DT Chucky Hunter, TCU

DE Martin Ifedl, Memphis

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson

LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia

LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA

LB Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington

CB Jordan Lucas, Penn State

DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech

LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple

LB Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville

LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor

DE Norkeithus Otis, North Carolina

LB Denzel Perryman, Miami

LB Terrance Plummer, UCF

S Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss

LB Hayes Pullard, USC

DE Cedric Reed, Texas

S Jordan Richards, Stanford

DE A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

DT James Rouse, Marshall

CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

LB Jake Ryan, Michigan

LB Frank Shannon, Oklahoma

DT Danny Shelton, Washington

S Derron Smith, Fresno State

LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma

DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma

LB A.J. Tarpley, Stanford

S Robenseon Therezie, Auburn

LB Shaq Thompson, Washington

CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

DE Leonard Williams, USC

CB P.J. Williams, Florida State

LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia

Earlier today the Paul Hornung Award watch list was released. The Maxwell Award watch list was released alongside the Bednarik Award watch list as well.

Sneak Peek: 2013 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

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WHO: 7-5 Ole Miss (SEC) vs. 7-5 Georgia Tech (ACC)

WHAT: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (15th Year)

WHERE: LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee

WHEN: Dec. 30 at 3:15 p.m. ET

WHY: One of the up-and-coming teams in the SEC gets a chance to end their season of progress on a high note. Ole Miss has thrived on some youthful energy this season to follow-up a stellar recruiting season and now has a chance to win the sixth straight bowl game for the program, although that is over a span of 12 years if they pull off a win against Georgia Tech.

Ole Miss will be looking to shrug aside a two-game losing streak to end the regular season, including a heartbreaker in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State, when quarterback Bo Wallace had a sure-touchdown simply fall out of his hand on the way to the end zone. Wallace also threw three interceptions in that game, but that should not overshadow what has been a fine season for Wallace. This season Wallace passed for 3,090 yards and 17 touchdowns. Having targets like Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell certainly helps.

On defense Ole Miss will be given the task of finding a way to avoid allowing Georgia Tech’s triple-option to run wild. This is easier said than done for most, but the Rebels have some players who can make some big plays. In addition to Class of 2013 stud Robert Nkemdiche, linebacker Mike Marry has a knack for knocking footballs loose and defensive back Cody Prewitt is one of the best in the SEC and intercepting passes. Of course, Georgia Tech will not be likely to take to the air too often. Paul Johnson’s coaching style will see running back David Sims lead the ground game and quarterback Vad Lee always willing to take off and run. Georgia Tech’s fourth-ranked rushing offense should have a solid day against the nation’s 55th ranked defense, but the Rebels may not wear down as easily as some of the Georgia Tech’s opponents this season.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss 32, Georgia Tech 23