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Kentucky LB Josh Allen will play in Citrus Bowl

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Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen will not be among the NFL prospects choosing to sit out of a bowl game this bowl season. The Chuck Bednarik Award and Nagurski Award winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year announced his intention to play in one final game for the Wildcats as Kentucky prepares for the upcoming Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2019.

“I am deeply humbled by the nominations and awards I have received this week,” Allen said in his statement. “I want to thank my coaches and the BBN. I am honored to say we have unfinished business and my teammates and I plan to bring the Citrus Bowl trophy back to Lexington.”

Kentucky has a chance to win a 10th game this season, which would be the first time the Wildcats have hit double-digits in the win column in a single season since 1977. To do that, Allen will hope to help Kentucky win its first bowl game since the 2008 Liberty Bowl as well. Kentucky is 0-2 in bowl games the past two seasons. For Allen to go out a winner would be a special moment for the senior defensive star.

Kentucky faces Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Tua Tagovailoa named Walter Camp Player of the Year, wins Maxwell Award

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The college football world’s elite gathered in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame for the 28th annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The night turned out to be a pretty eventful night for College Football Playoff representatives from Alabama, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all took home some major awards on Thursday evening.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took home the first player of the year award prior to the start of the show when he was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year winner for the 2018 season. The last five Walter Camp award winners have gone on to win the Heisman Trophy, but we will have to wait until Saturday night to see if Tagovailoa keeps that streak going. The last four Walter Camp award winners also took home the Maxwell Award. Tagovailoa later made it five straight by closing out the evening’s presentation by being named the winner of the Maxwell Award. For a college football player, Tagovailoa has completed the first two legs of the player of the year triple crown with the Heisman Trophy on deck this weekend.

Tagovailoa wasn’t the only Alabama player taking home some hardware. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award, and Quinnen Williams won the Outland Trophy.

Some quick notes:

  • Kyler Murray became the fifth Oklahoma quarterback to win the Davey O’Brien Award, following Baker Mayfield from last year. No school has more Davey O’Brien Award winners than Oklahoma.
  • Georgia defensive back DeAndre Jordan became the first Georgia player to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
  • Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly won his second Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (he previously won it in 2009 at Cincinnati). He is the first two-time winner of the coaching award.
  • Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was named the Biletnikoff Award winner, breaking a three-year run by the Big 12 since Alabama’s first Biletnikoff Award winner, Amari Cooper, won the award in 2014.

Here is a full list of the finalists and winners of awards handed out Thursday night. Winners of the awards are listed first and are in bold, with the remaining finalists following them in alphabetical order according to last name. Some of the awards were announced prior to the awards show but are included here because they were recognized or formally presented Thursday night.

WALTER CAMP PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  • Josh Allen, Kentucky
  • Will Grier, West Virginia
  • Gardner Minshew, Washington State
  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

MAXWELL AWARD
(Player of the Year)

  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  • Will Grier, West Virginia
  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD
(Defensive Player of the Year)

  • Josh Allen, Kentucky
  • Christian Wilkins, Clemson
  • Quinnen Williams, Alabama

DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD
(Best Quarterback)

  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
  • Gardner Minshew II, Washington State
  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

FRED BILETNIKOFF AWARD
(Outstanding Receiver)

  • Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
  • Andy Isabella, UMass
  • Tyan Wallace, Oklahoma State

DOAK WALKER AWARD
(Best Running Back)

  • Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
  • Travis Etienne, Clemson
  • Darrell Henderson, Memphis

JOHN MACKEY AWARD
(Best Tight End)

JIM THORPE AWARD
(Best Defensive Back)

  • DeAndre Baker, Georgia
  • Julian Love, Notre Dame
  • Greedy Williams, LSU

OUTLAND TROPHY
(Most Outstanding Interior Lineman)

  • Quinnen Williams, Alabama
  • Christian Wilkins, Clemson
  • Jonah Williams, Alabama

RIMINGTON TROPHY
(Best Center)

  • Garrett Bradbury, NC State
  • Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
  • Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama

LOU GROZA AWARD
(Outstanding Placekicker)

  • Andre Szmyt, Syracuse
  • Cooper Rothe, Wyoming
  • Cole Tracy, LSU

RAY GUY AWARD
(Punter of the Year)

  • Braden Mann, Texas A&M
  • James Smith, Cincinnati
  • Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

HOME DEPOT COACH OF THE YEAR

  • Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

WUERFFEL TROPHY
(Community Service)

  • Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
  • David Blough, Purdue
  • Dalton Risner, Kansas State

Butkus Award names 51 linebackers to 2018 watch list

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College football watch list season resumed Monday with the release of the Butkus Award and Jim Thorpe Award watch lists. The Butkus Award watch list named 51 linebackers to its preseason list, including players from 41 different schools.

This year’s watch list is highlighted by finalists for the 2017 Butkus Award in Devin Bush of Michigan and T.J. Edwards of Wisconsin. Josh Allen of Kentucky and Cameron Smith of USC are also on the list after being a semi-finalist last year. Former high school Butkus Award winners Caleb Kelly of Oklahoma and Dylan Moses of Alabama also were named to the list.

Alabama and Wisconsin lead the nation with three Butkus Award watch list players each. Ryan Connelly and Andrew Van Ginkel join Edwards of Wisconsin and Anfernee Jennings and Mack Wilson of Alabama are also included.

The list will be trimmed down to a list of semi-finalists on October 29 and then down to a smaller list of finalists on November 19. Georgia running back Roquan Smith won the award last year.

2018 Butkus Award Watch List

Curtis Akins, Memphis
Otaro Alaka, Texas A&M
Josh Allen, Kentucky
Jeffrey Allison, Fresno State
Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic
Joe Bachie, Michigan State
Markus Bailey, Purdue
Thomas Barber, Minnesota
Bryton Barr, Massachusetts
Tevis Bartlett, Washington
Devin Bush, Michigan
Josh Buss, Montana
Te’von Coney, Notre Dame
Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin
Deshaun Davis, Auburn
Troy Dye, Oregon
Koa Farmer, Penn State
Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas
Porter Gustin, USC
Nate Hall, Northwestern
Terez Hall, Missouri
Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
Darius Harris, Middle Tennessee
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
Khalil Hodge, Buffalo
Justin Hollins, Oregon
Oluwaseun Idowu, Pitt
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Gary Johnson, Texas
Kendall Joseph, Clemson
Caleb Kelly, Oklahoma
Jordan Kunaszyk, California
Tre Lamar, Clemson
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Bobby Okereke, Stanford
Justin Phillips, Oklahoma State
Germaine Pratt, N.C. State
Shaq Quarterman, Miami
David Reese, Florida
Cameron Smith, USC
Ty Summers, TCU
Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin
D’Andre Walker, Georgia
Devin White, LSU
Mack Wilson, Alabama
Juwon Young, Marshall

What do Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher have that Nick Saban doesn’t? A No. 1 overall NFL draft pick

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The NFL draft is coming up later this week, and a handful of college football coaches could potentially have their first player chosen first overall. Among those looking to join a short list of active head coaches with a top overall draft pick on their watch includes Penn State’s James Franklin, USC’s Clay Helton and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.

There are just six active head coaches in FBS that have sent a player to the top of the NFL draft order, and only one of those coaches are currently at the same school they had a player go No. 1 overall. Stanford’s David Shaw was the head coach of the Cardinal when Andrew Luck went with the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts. The other five coaches on the current list have since moved on to another job since they had a player go with the first pick in the draft. Three of those active coaches will have new jobs starting this fall.

Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M was the head coach of Florida State when quarterback Jameis Winston went first overall in 2015. More recently, Sonny Dykes was the head coach at Cal when Jared Goff went to the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Dykes is now the head coach at SMU. And just last year, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin saw defensive end Myles Garrett go to the Cleveland Browns from Texas A&M with the first pick.

The two other coaches on the list of active coaches with a top draft pick are Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Mark Richt of Miami. Meyer was getting settled in at Florida after leaving Utah, but he was watching admirably as Utah quarterback Alex Smith went to the San Francisco 49ers with the first pick in 2005. Richt’s top draft pick from his time at Georgia was quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was taken first overall by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

You may have noticed (as if the headline didn’t give it away) there are some notable head coaches in college football without a top overall draft pick. Despite all the success of Nick Saban at Alabama, including a factory of NFL talent sent through the draft in recent years, a top overall pick continues to elude Saban. Not that he is worried about such a thing of course. Alabama’s NFL draft output is far more impressive when you realize quantity and quality are not short on supply in Tuscaloosa. During Saban’s time at Alabama, the highest draft pick from the school has been running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft (Cleveland Browns). Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus also went third overall to the Buffalo Bills in 2011.

But again, Alabama may not have a first overall pick, but the Crimson Tide lead the pack when it comes to first-round draft picks.

Here is a list of all the active head coaches with one No. 1 overall NFL draft pick:

  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona: Myles Garrett, DE (2017)
  • Sonny Dykes, SMU: Jared Goff, QB (2016)
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Jameis Winston, QB (2015)
  • David Shaw, Stanford: Andrew Luck, QB (2012)
  • Mark Richt, Miami: Matthew Stafford, QB (2009)
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Alex Smith, QB (2005)

Wyoming’s Josh Allen is considered one of the favorites to be chosen with the first pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, which would add Craig Bohl to the list (and he gets some of the credit for No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz, too). Penn State running back Saquon Barkley would add James Franklin to the list. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is another trendy pick for the top pick, but his head coach, Jim Mora, is no longer an active coach at this time. Sam Darnold of USC would add Clay Helton to the list, and Lincoln Riley would make the jump into the conversation if Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield happens to go first overall.

We’ll find out Thursday night if a new coach joins the list or not.

Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta steals show in Senior Bowl; Baker Mayfield leaves early

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The Senior Bowl can be a terrific opportunity for top senior prospects from the lower divisions of football to make a serious impact in the NFL draft cycle. On Saturday in Mobile, Alabama, it was Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta who shined the brightest in the annual Senior Bowl. Lauletta passed for a game-high 198 yards and three touchdowns to help the team of top seniors from the South blow out the North, 45-16.

Lauletta, the CAA Offensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-CAA, took advantage of the opportunity against some of the top senior players college football had to offer in the top all-star game college football has. Lauletta connected on some big plays to LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark (who had five receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown). Lauletta was named the Senior Bowl MVP for his performance.

Lauletta also showed off the ability to send a laser into the end zone when needed.

The South also got a big game out of Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White, who completed eight of his 11 pass attempts for 128 yards and a touchdown. It was White who was one of the stars of the first half of the game. San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny was also making plays all day long, ending his final college game with 64 rushing yards on nine attempts and one 73-yard touchdown reception (after Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert made a nice play to avoid pressure).

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen had a slow start to the game once coming into the game for the North, but he was in control in the second half. Allen threw both of his touchdowns in the third quarter before ending his day with 158 yards and 9-of-13 passing.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield started the game for the North team but appeared just for a couple of offensive series before leaving the game late in the first quarter and then leaving the stadium entirely at halftime. After completing three of seven pass attempts for nine yards, Mayfield’s exit from the Senior Bowl came quickly. Mayfield reportedly left the stadium to return home to be with his mother, who was recently hospitalized for a heart condition. Washington State quarterback Luke Falk left Mobile, Alabama on Friday to attend the funeral services for former teammate Tyler Hilinski.

South Alabama safety Jeremy Reaves had a solid outing in his home stadium. Reaves was tasked with covering Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki in coverage, and Reaves broke up two passes intended for one of the top tight ends in the country, including one on a two-point conversion try in the third quarter. Not too many players managed to cover Gesicki that well the past couple of seasons. Reaves also came up with an interception of Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee later in the third quarter.

Other players having solid outings included Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage (10 carries for 57 yards), Colorado State wide receiver Michael Gallup (3 receptions for 60 yards), and UCF wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (5 receptions, 79 yards, 1 TD).

There was a moment of comedy late in the game when UCF’s Shaquem Griffen was doing a sideline interview for the NFL Network. While discussing his chances of being invited to the NFL Combine and his tackling techniques, Griffen was alerted he was supposed to be on the field for punt coverage, which sent Griffen scrambling to get on the field before being pulled back to the sideline.

After having great weather all week long, the Senior Bowl moved to a running clock in the second half as the weather continued to turn nasty. And now, another Senior Bowl is in the books as some of the top seniors in college football now officially move on to pursue their NFL dreams.