Colorado

Two glaring omissions headline Biletnikoff watch list

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It’s not often that who’s not on what’s essentially a meaningless preseason watch list is the main storyline, but that’s the case when it comes to the Biletnikoff Award this year.

First, who is on the watch list for the award handed out annually to the nation’s top wide receivers: a total of 48 players at the position, which is actually a rather subdued number compared to other watch lists that come out this time of the year.

Headlining the four dozen receivers actually listed is Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who was a finalist for last year’s award that went to Alabama’s Amari Cooper.  Joining Higgins are 2014 semifinalists Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma and Nelson Spruce of Colorado.

Now, the players who was inexplicably excluded from the initial watch list? Auburn’s D’haquille Williams, first and foremost. The senior wideout was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month. He’s considered by many to be the best receiver in the SEC — Mel Kiper has Williams as his No. 1 player at that position — yet four receivers from that conference are included.  The only receiver on the Biletnikoff watch list to also make Maxwell’s is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.

Williams missed three of the last four games last season because of an injury, yet still totaled 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Kiper may have him a bit overrated on his Big Board, but Williams certainly deserves one of the 48 spots allotted — or the award should at least make room for a 49th.  Or a 49th and 50th.

That said, Williams can, and probably will, be added to an in-season update from the folks at the Biletnikoff.  The same could be said for Player. No. 2: Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Despite missing the last four games of the year because of a gruesome leg injury, Williams still led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and was second in yardage with 632.  Like Williams, Treadwell made the cut for the Maxwell, which is awarded annually to the best player in college football regardless of position.

Anyway, below is the complete Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State
Devonte Boyd, UNLV
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Ryan Burbrink, Bowling Green
KD Cannon, Baylor
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Rashon Ceaser, ULM
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
River Cracraft, Washington State
Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Josh Doctson, TCU
Travin Dural, LSU
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin
William Fuller, Notre Dame
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Donovan Harden, Georgia State
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Ajalen Holley, ULM
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
Marcus Kemp, Hawaii
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Mitch Mathews, BYU
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Artavis Scott, Clemson
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Shaq Washington, Cincinnati
Mike Williams, Clemson
Ron Willoughby, Buffalo

Former Army teammates reuniting on football field for Team USA

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Former Army teammates Trent Steelman and Larry Dixon will be reunited on the football field this summer. Steelman and Dixon were among the 45 players chosen by USA Football to represent Team USA in the upcoming 2015 World Championships. The fifth International Federation of American Football tournament will be held July 9-18 in Canton, Ohio. The United States, as you might expect, is a heavy favorite to win it all.

The team will be coached by former Boise State and Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins, and the roster includes 25 players from FBS programs. The rest of the roster consists of players from lower levels of football. Hawkins will have a staff including his son Cody Hawkins as quarterbacks coach and former Washington State head coach Paul Wulff as offensive coordinator.

Steelman is listed as a wide receiver for Team USA, and not quarterback. Steelman was Army’s quarterback from 2009 to 2012. Dixon was a team leader on offense as well, rushing for 1,102 yards for Army in 2014.

You can view the entire United States roster here.

Nebraska player offers personal scouting report on new Eagles WR Nelson Agholor

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The Philadelphia Eagles did not end up drafting Oregon’s Marcus Mariota in the first round of the NFL Draft, causing the team to go into some spin control while the fans in the city try to figure out how months of speculation and rumors came up so empty. Although Mariota is not making his way to Philly, Chip Kelly stuck to his Pac-12 roots and drafted wide receiver Nelson Agholor out of USC.

Whether or not drafting Agholor was a good move is up for debate considering some of the needs on the Philadelphia roster, but one Nebraska cornerback has weighed in with his personal scouting report on the now former Trojans receiver. Josh Mitchell, who covered Agholor in last season’s Holiday Bowl between Nebraska and USC, chimed in on Twitter…

Agholor was USC’s leading receiver in 2014 with 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was second in the Pac-12 in receiving yards only to Washington State’s Vince Mayle and his touchdown total was tied for most in the conference with Colorado’s Nelson Spruce and Washington State’s Isiah Myers. But as Mitchell said on Twitter, Agholor did not have a tremendous amount of success against the Nebraska corner in the Holiday Bowl. Agholor did catch seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown, but none of that came against Mitchell. USC won the Holiday Bowl, 45-42.

Maybe Mitchell will one day be picked up by one fo the NFC East rivals to go up against him twice a year in the future.

The reputation of USA football is in the hands of… Dan Hawkins?

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Former Colorado and Boise State head coach Dan Hawkins will be coaching football this season, but it won’t be intramurals. The former Buffs and Broncos coach will be the head coach of Team USA in the upcoming Federation of American Football Senior World Championships. The international American football tournament, held every four years, will be held in Canton, Ohio in July.

The players making up the United States roster are all college graduates and all levels of college football from FBS down to NAIA are required to be represented. Some notable names you may remember or recognize that have played for the United States include Arizona quarterback Adam Austin, Michigan State receiver DeWayne Lewis, and former Colorado quarterback and current Ohio State graduate assistant Cody Hawkins.

Hawkins and Team USA will be in a field that includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, Mexico and South Korea. Team USA is the defending champion and has won each of the previous two international competitions. Japan took the international crowns in 1999 and 2003. It should be noted the United States did not participate in the international tournaments in either of the first two years it was held. The United States was invited in 2007 and edged Japan in double overtime, 23-20 after blowing away South Korea (77-0) and Germany (33-7). The USA should be a considerable favorite once again this summer, as you might expect.

Hawkins was at the helm of Boise State as the program began to rise in the sport. Chris Petersen took the Broncos to the next level, but Hawkins set the table before leaving for a job at Colorado. This did not go nearly as well of course. Hawkins was last seen coaching above the border with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes for one season in 2013. He is now a college football studio analyst for ESPN.

Buffs get WR Nelson Spruce back for one more season

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As it turns out, Colorado won’t be losing the most potent and productive member of its offense this upcoming season after all.

After briefly flirting with the idea of leaving early for the NFL, Nelson Spruce informed head coach Mike MacIntyre prior to the school’s semester break that he will indeed be returning to the Buffaloes for another season, the Boulder Daily Camera reports. The wide receiver had stated back in mid-November that he was leaning toward a return, but still left the pro door open at the time.

Spruce’s 106 receptions in 2014 marked the first time a Buffs receiver had cracked the 100-catch plateau and stands fourth all-time in the Pac-12. His 8.8 catches per game were tied for third in the country, while his 99.8 yards per game was 13th nationally and third in the Pac-12.

As the Daily Camera wrote, Spruce’s return means “he will likely set new career school records in every major receiving category.”  The 6-1, 195-pound junior will enter the 2015 season with 205 career receptions for 2,294 yards and 19 touchdowns.  The current school records are, in order, 215 (Scotty McKnight, 2007-10), 2,548 (Michael Westbrook, 1991-94) and 22 (McKnight).