Another day, another one of these releases that signal yet another college football season is fast approaching.
The Doak Walker Award became the latest to release its offseason watch list, with a whopping 62 players comprising its initial grouping. The award has been handed out annually since 1990 to the nation’s top running back and is named in honor of the famed SMU halfback.
Headlining this year’s watch list is Stanford’s Bryce Love, who was named the 2017 winner of the Doak Walker Award. The list also features 2017 finalist Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin, and semifinalists from last year Justice Hill from Oklahoma State and Devin Singletary from Florida Atlantic.
The ACC led all conferences with 10 players, followed by the SEC (nine), Pac-12 (eight), Big Ten (seven) and the Big 12 and MAC with six each. The next wave includes four apiece for Conference USA and Mountain West, three each for the AAC and the Sun Belt as well as two for those from Independents (BYU, UMass).
A total of three schools have two backs each listed: Florida State (Cam Akers, Jacques Patrick), Arkansas (Chase Hayden, Devwah Whaley) and Western Michigan (LeVante Bellamy, Jamauri Bogan).
There’s been yet another personnel change at a Power Five school a couple of weeks before summer camp kicks off.
In an update released earlier this week, Brandon Martin is no longer listed on Arkansas’ roster. Citing sources close to the program, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes that the wide receiver “has run into an academic issue and is trying to regain his eligibility.”
Per a school spokesperson, however, the door has been left open for Martin, who would be a redshirt junior this season, to eventually return to the Razorbacks football team. Martin’s head coach, though, doesn’t seem as optimistic.
“Don’t know if he will become part of our roster again,” Chad Morris said at the SEC Media Days Tuesday. “I don’t know at this point. ..
“I do not see that happening right now,” the head coach added when asked if he could see the receiver rejoining the team this year.
Martin came to Arkansas from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, rated as the No. 1 junior college receiver in the Class of 2017 and the No. 7 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings.
In his first year in Fayetteville, Martin caught nine passes for 119 yards. Both of those totals were eighth on the Razorbacks, while his 13.2 yards per reception was sixth on the team.
A little less than two months after leaving the SEC, Will Gragg has landed in the ACC.
Pitt announced in a press release Wednesday that Gragg has been added to Pat Narduzzi‘s football roster. As Gragg, who transferred from Arkansas in mid-April, comes in as a graduate transfer, he is eligible to play for Pitt in 2018.
Not only that, but he’ll have another year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 as well.
“Our tight end room just got an immediate infusion of veteran talent with the addition of Will Gragg,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is a tremendously smart and tough competitor who will help us in the run and pass games. Will had a number of options following his graduation from Arkansas and we’re thrilled he picked Pitt to continue his academic and athletic careers.”
Pitt had been on the hunt for an experienced player at the tight end position since Chris Clark abruptly left the program in late March.
In his only action during his time with the Razorbacks, Gragg caught five passes for 61 yards in the 10 games in which he played last season. Gragg took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2015 and did not see the field at all in 2016.
The 6-4, 231-pound Gragg was a four-star member of UA’s 2015 recruiting class who was rated as the No. 7 tight end in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arkansas. Only two signees in the Hogs’ class that year were rated higher than Gragg.
It was a tale of two quarters between Missouri and Arkansas, with Arkansas rushing out of the gates for a 21-7 lead only to see Missouri battle back to take a 31-28 lead into halftime. Missouri kicker Tucker McCann kicked a 37-yard field goal in the final minute of the half to give Missouri the lead.
Arkansas cashed in on an interception by Missouri quarterback Drew Lock on the game’s opening possession by traveling 70 yards on five plays to take a 7-0 lead with a Devwah Whaley goal line run. Mizzou’s Ish Witter capped a 92-yard drive later in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7, but the Razorbacks stormed right back with a quick four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive highlighted by Austin Allen‘s 57-yard pass to Jordan Jones for the score. Moments later, a good punt return by Henre’ Toliver gave the Razorbacks the ball at the Missouri 29-yard line and two plays later David Williams ran in from 16 yards out for a score to push the lead to 21-7.
Lock led a second-quarter charge for the Tigers with three touchdown passes, including one from 55 yards and another from 56 yards as the big plays doomed Arkansas.
No. 2 Clemson went down. No. 8 Washington State fell. No. 10 Auburn blew a big lead and lost. Could top-ranked Alabama see a scare as well?
Not. A. Chance.
The Crimson Tide looked like an emphatic choice as the best team in the country on Saturday, rolling over Arkansas 41-9 in a game that was never in doubt for the home team on a lovely night in Tuscaloosa for Homecoming.
Not everything was perfect for Nick Saban’s squad though, as the team struggled to field punts and saw quarterback Jalen Hurts toss his first interception of the year. Of course, it’s not like it really mattered in the end, as the signal-caller finished with 155 yards and a touchdown through the air and another 41 yards and a score on the ground in a runaway.
Perhaps the biggest development for the Tide was that tailback Damien Harris might start to get a little Heisman love going forward. He started the game by ripping off a 75-yarder to the house (for the second straight time) and wound up with 125 yards and two scores on the ground all told. Harris did make a trip to the injury tent late in the second half but it’s possible he could have returned had the score not been out of hand. Either way, backups were in fairly early in the second half to spell the starters.
Razorbacks quarterback Cole Kelley did what he could in making his first start in place of Austin Allen, but it’s not exactly easy to face this Alabama defense. The big gunslinger passed for an even 200 yards with an interception and a TD, but was pressured on just about every dropback and took five sacks. It would have helped if he had a running game to lean on but Devwah Whaley could muster just 18 yards on five carries against that tough front seven.
In the end, another ho-hum Alabama victory. Considering what happened elsewhere around the country in a wild week for college football, it’s at least good to know you can rely on some things that never change.