Josh Reynolds

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Cal’s Davis Webb shines in Senior Bowl victory

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It can be difficult to make too much out of one performance in the Senior Bowl as far as draft prospects go, but there is no denying you would much rather have a good performance to take away from Mobile, Alabama than a shaky one. Cal quarterback Davis Webb will return home with reason to feel good about what eh showed on the field in the nation’s top college football all-star game leading into the NFL Draft preparation season.

Webb orchestrated all three scoring drives for the South team in a 16-15 victory in the Senior Bowl on Saturday. Webb completed 11 of 16 of his passing attempts for 165 yards and a touchdown, a 39-yard scoring pass to Texas A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds, who also had a good showing. The Cal quarterback led the South to two scores in the final three minutes of the first half. Webb was named MVP of the Senior Bowl.

For the North, Pitt quarterback Nate Peterman also played well with a six-yard touchdown pass to East Carolina’s Zay Jones late in the game. A failed two-point conversion attempt prevented the North from taking the lead on the South, however. Toledo running back Kareem Hunt was named the North’s Most Outstanding Player after rushing for 118 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis received the South’s Most Outstanding Player award after forcing a pair of fumbles and recording a pair of sacks.

Second-half dominance powers No. 10 A&M past No. 17 Arkansas, 45-24

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No. 10 Texas A&M grabbed a late touchdown run from quarterback Trevor Knight in the first half and shut down No. 17 Arkansas in the second half of a 45-24 victory in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Aggies shut down the Razorbacks in the second half and scored 28 points on offense to improve to 4-0 and head into October thinking about making a run at the SEC West title (and potentially for real this time).

With the game tied at 17-17, Arkansas put together a draining 89-yard drive on 19 plays, but it was the Texas A&M defense that held strong down by the goal line. Just as they had done twice in the first half, Texas A&M prevented Arkansas from punching the football across the goal line, this time with a fourth-down stand. Two plays later, Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight unloaded a deep ball to Josh Reynolds racing down the right sideline. The ball was placed perfectly for Reynolds and he let his speed take care of the rest on a 92-yard touchdown drive. It was quite the momentum swing and the Aggies did not look back.

Texas A&M scored a touchdown after forcing Arkansas to punt on the ensuing possession and took advantage of a short field from the 15-yard line after an Arkansas fumble. Trayveon Williams did the honors on the first touchdown with a 33-yard scamper and Christian Kirk got his hands on a pass from Knight after the Razorbacks’ fumble.

Four games into the season and there appears to be enough evidence to suggest this Texas A&M defense has improved, and that helps make Texas A&M a formidable player in the SEC West moving forward. Is it ready to take down Alabama? Probably not, but the Aggies have the look of the second-best team in the SEC behind the defending national champions. Arkansas still has the potential to play spoiler with anyone on their schedule though, including Alabama.

Knight was a machine for the Aggies, ending his night with 225 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, a game-high 157 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Arkansas quarterback passed for 371 yards and two scores, but took a beating all night.

Texas A&M is 4-0 for the third straight season under Kevin Sumlin. The last time Texas A&M went 4-0 in three straight seasons was 1939-1941. It is also the third straight undefeated September for Texas A&M, which was last achieved from 1997 through 1999. The hot seat talk has been nowhere to be heard in College Station this season.

Arkansas gets a likely breather next week when they return home to host Alcorn State. A home game against Alabama looms after that. Texas A&M will stay in SEC play next week when they head to South Carolina. The Gamecocks are coming off a 17-10 loss at Kentucky.

Alabama lands 12 players on preseason All-SEC media selections

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Before we closed the books on the SEC’s week-long football preview week, the SEC released its annual media preseason all-conference selections. As if one team of preseason All-SEC players is not enough to hold us over, the good folks at the SEC made sure everyone working in the sports information offices throughout the conference (except for Vanderbilt) were busy by naming not two but three All-SEC teams.

The first team offenses is led by one of last year’s biggest breakout stars, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. He is joined by two of the conference’s, and perhaps the nation’s, top two young running backs; Nick Chubb of Georgia and Leonard Fournette of LSU. Fournette also received a nod on the All-SEC Special teams with a second team recognition. Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is expected to have a big return after seeing his 2014 season cut a little short by a tough ankle injury. He was named to the All-SEC First Team by the media this week. He is one of three Rebels to appear on the All-SEC First Team offense.

Among the three All-SEC teams put together by the media, no school had more players recognized than Alabama, with 12. Vanderbilt was the only school without a player selected.

OFFENSE
First-Team
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (170)
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia (189)
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU (180)
WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (169)
WR D’haquille Williams, Auburn (154)
TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss (128)
OL Cam Robinson, Alabama (167)
OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (159)
OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (131)
OL John Theus, Georgia (129)
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama (144)

Second-Team
QB Jeremy Johnson, Auburn (89)
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama (151)
RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas (82)
WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (147)
WR De’Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State (59)
TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas (97)
OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M (124)
OL Dan Skipper, Arkansas (95)
OL Denver Kirkland, Arkansas (85)
OL Greg Pyke, Georgia (83)
C Mike Matthews, Texas A&M (108)

Third-Team
QB Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee (62)
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas (80)
RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama (34)
WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (50)
WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M (39)
TE O.J. Howard, Alabama (87)
OL Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas (72)
OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (69)
OL Avery Young, Auburn (57)
OL Brandon Shell, South Carolina (50)
C Evan Boehm, Missouri (81)

DEFENSE
First-Team
DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (173)
DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (160)
DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M (155)
DL Carl Lawson, Auburn (131)
LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama (181)
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (121)
LB Curt Maggitt, Tennessee (102)
DB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida (186)
DB Cyrus Jones, Alabama (126)
DB Jonathan Jones, Auburn (122)
DB Jalen Mills, LSU (118)

Second-Team
DL Jonathan Bullard, Florida (115)
DL Derek Barnett, Tennessee (105)
DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama (99)
DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State (93)
LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU (93)
LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia (92)
LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (80)
DB Tony Conner, Ole Miss (117)
DB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee (115)
DB Will Redmond, Mississippi State (79)
DB Tre’Davious White, LSU (61)

Third-Team
DL Montravius Adams, Auburn (90)
DL Jarran Reed, Alabama (60)
DL Davon Godchaux, LSU (40)
DL Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss (34)
LB Kris Frost, Auburn (77)
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida (66)
LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri (61)
DB A.J. Stamps, Kentucky (59)
DB Eddie Jackson, Alabama (58)
DB Jamal Adams, LSU (56)
DB Johnathan Ford, Auburn (52)

SPECIALISTS
First-Team
P JK Scott, Alabama (161)
PK Marshall Morgan, Georgia (100)
RS Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (117)
AP Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (112)

Second-Team
P Drew Kaser, Texas A&M (92)
PK Elliott Fry, South Carolina (87)
RS Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (75)
AP Leonard Fournette, LSU (85)

Third-Team
P Jamie Keehn, LSU (52)
PK Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky (59)
RS Leonard Fournette, LSU (66)
AP Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (84)

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

Texas A&M adds former Hokies WR coach Aaron Moorehead to staff

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Virginia Tech wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead is making a lateral move to Texas A&M. The now former Hokies assistant will assume the same role as a member of the coaching staff Kevin Sumlin has at Texas A&M.

Texas A&M needed a new wide receivers coach after the man who previously held that position, David Beaty, moved on to accept a job as a head coach at Kansas. Moorehead, a former NFL star, will have some talent to work with at College Station. Josh Reynolds led the Aggies in receiving as a sophomore with 842 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014. The Aggies also have a dynamic freshman duo with Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones coming off encouraging debut seasons.

As noted by Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times, Virginia Tech now has just one assistant staff member that joined the program during a coaching overhaul in 2013. That is offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.

Photo credit: Virginia Tech Athletics.