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Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

Maxwell Award watch list highlighted by Bryce Love, Jonathan Taylor, Khalil Tate, McKenzie Milton

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The height of watch list season is upon us as the new week begins. The Maxwell Football Club got things kicked off this week with the release of the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award watch lists. Among the many names appearing on the organization’s watch list for its player of the year award are semifinalists from last year’s award; Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, Stanford running back Bryce Love, UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.

Alabama landed three players on the watch list, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and running back Damien Harris also joining Hurts on the watch list. Other players who played for the College Football Playoff participants last season include Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, Kelly Bryant, and Travis Etienne, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift,  Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson and Kyler Murray.

Last year’s Maxwell Award winner was Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Big Ten currently has the longest drought without a Maxwell Award winner among the power conferences. Penn State’s Larry Johnson was the last Big Ten player to win the award, doing so in 2002.

Here is this year’s watch list for the Maxwell Award:

RB Cam Akers, Florida State
RB Darius Anderson, TCU
RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
RB Alex Barnes, Kansas State
RB KirVonte Benson, Georgia Tech
QB Jake Bentley, South Carolina
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
RB Spencer Brown, UAB
QB Jake Browning, Washington
QB Kelly Bryant, Clemson
RB Stephen Carr, USC
QB KJ Costello, Stanford
RB AJ Dillon, Boston College
RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse
RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
QB Caleb Evans, ULM
QB Mason Fine, North Texas
QB Ryan Finley, N.C. State
QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
QB Deondre Francois, Florida State
QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
QB Ty Gangi, Nevada
WR James Gardner, Miami (Ohio)
RB Myles Gaskin, Washington
RB James Gilbert, Ball State
QB Will Grier, West Virginia
QB Justice Hansen, Arkansas State
RB Damien Harris, Alabama
WR N'Keal Harry, Arizona State
RB Darrell Henderson, Memphis
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
RB Karan Higdon, Michigan
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
RB Travis Homer, Miami
QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama
QB Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech
WR Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
RB Ty Johnson, Maryland
QB Daniel Jones, Duke
RB Xavier Jones, SMU
RB Patrick Laird, California
QB Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
QB Drew Lock, Missouri
RB Bryce Love, Stanford
QB TaQuon Marshall, Georgia Tech
QB Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State
QB Trace McSorley, Penn State
QB McKenzie Milton, UCF
QB Steven Montez, Colorado
RB David Montgomery, Iowa State
RB Jalin Moore, Appalachian State
RB Zack Moss, Utah
QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
QB Frank Nutile, Temple
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan
QB Malcolm Perry, Navy
WR Tony Pollard, Memphis
WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami
QB Armani Rogers, UNLV
QB Nathan Rourke, Ohio
QB Brett Rypien, Boise State
WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
RB LJ Scott, Michigan State
QB Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
WR David Sills, West Virginia
RB Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic
RB Rodney Smith, Minnesota
RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
QB Nathan Stanley, Iowa
QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
QB Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
QB Khalil Tate, Arizona
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
QB Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
RB Juwan Washington, San Diego State
DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
QB Manny Wilkins, Arizona State
RB Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
QB Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame
RB Darnell Woolfolk, Army

Michigan State transfer Trishton Jackson wants play football, basketball at Syracuse

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The Syracuse athletic department will be getting more than it originally bargained for from one of its incoming transfers.

A couple of days after leaving Michigan State in January of this year, wide receiver Trishton Jackson used social media to announce his transfer to Syracuse. As a non-graduate transfer, Jackson will have to sit out the 2018 football season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

The 2018-19 basketball season might be another matter entirely, though, as Jackson confirmed to the Syracuse Post-Standard that he has already started the process that would allow him to walk on to the Orange men’s hoops team. While Jackson hasn’t personally discussed the situation with head football coach Dino Babers, a fairly powerful intermediary, legendary men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, has already gotten the all clear for a two-sport run.

“I didn’t even get a chance to tell [Babers] from my mouth. The basketball staff ended up asking him. I kept telling them I was too scared to ask him,” Jackson said. “They ended up asking him for me and they said he said it was OK to do. I haven’t really talked to him about it yet. He’s always joking around with me about basketball so I think he’s pretty cool with it.”

That said, there are still some details that will need to be ironed out if he is to play hoops this coming season. From the Post-Standard:

… Since he was not recruited by either Michigan State or Syracuse to play basketball and never played a minute of college basketball at MSU, he would appear to be eligible to play basketball. (We are checking to see if that’s the case.) Jackson said he has already started football workouts. Training camp starts next month.

“We still haven’t really sat down and talked about a plan so I can do both,” Jackson said. “I know I’m ineligible for football this year. I still gotta sit down and talk to (Babers) about the summer plan as far as workouts, starting camp, to see if I can do both. But both of them gave me the OK that I can. I just have to fit my schedule.

The 6-1, 183-pound Jackson was a high school point guard in Michigan who earned honorable mention all-state honors his junior and senior seasons. He also played AAU basketball.

In football, Jackson was a four-star 2016 signee who 247Sports.com rated as the No. 44 receiver on its composite board. In 21 games (four starts) with the Spartans over two seasons, Jackson caught 17 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown.

Number of players who have left Nebraska football team since Scott Frost was hired now at 10

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Even as summer camp is under a month away from kicking off, the attrition in Lincoln isn’t easing up.

As noted by the Lincoln Journal Star, a pair of tight ends, junior Matt Snyder and sophomore David Engelhaupt, are no longer listed on Nebraska’s updated online roster. A school spokesperson subsequently confirmed that the pair are no longer a part of the Cornhuskers football program, although no reason or reasons for their departures were given.

Neither player caught a pass during their time with the ‘Huskers. Snyder was a three-star member of NU’s 2015 recruiting class, while Engelhaupt was a two-star signee in 2016.

Including Engelhaupt and Snyder, a total of 10 Cornhuskers players have left the program since Scott Frost was hired in December of last year.  The other eight are offensive lineman Bryan Brokop, wide receiver Zack Darlington (HERE) offensive lineman Michael Decker (HERE), linebacker Willie Hampton (HERE), fullback Ben Miles (HERE), quarterback Patrick O’Brien (HERE), inside linebacker Andrew Ward (HERE) and wide receiver Keyan Williams (HERE).  Eight of those 10 transferred, while one of the remaining two, Decker, retired from football and the other, Darlington, joined the Army.

By the Journal Star‘s count, NU now has 83 scholarship players, two below the NCAA-mandated 85-man limit.

Auto dealer deletes photo of Clemson WR Tee Higgins with fancy car

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There may have been some slight panic attacks for the Clemson football program this weekend after an auto dealer posted an image of wide receiver Tee Higgins in front of a top-of-the-line sports car. Fortunately for Clemson, there may be no real need for the NCAA to come open an investigation after the auto dealer deleted the image from its Facebook page rather quickly.

The photo of Higgins came from True Auto Mart in Piedmont, South Carolina. With Higgins posing in front of a McLaren Spider valued at about $200,000, the message from the dealer thanked Higgins for coming to purchase a vehicle at the dealer. Naturally, with the message attached to a photo of a prominent wide receiver from a college football program, it was easy for many to come to a quick conclusion that Higgins bought the car in the photo.

The dealership went on the record to say Higgins did not purchase the car he posed with in the photo, although he did take a ride in it.

“Mr. Higgins didn’t purchase the car in the picture,” the dealer later clarified, according to a report from FitsNews. “However he did love the McLaren and went for a ride in it. It gave him a lot of inspiration to be even better so he can get one with his signing bonus when he gets drafted to the NFL.”

Higgins also requested the image be taken down from the dealer’s Facebook page. Per FitsNews;

“We took the picture down at the request of Mr. Higgins,” another subsequent post from the dealership added. “We did not want to cause any problems for him even though there has been no wrong doing from him or us. We just wanted to post a picture with him in front of a nice car. We are working on getting him in one of our cars currently. We never said he bought the car he was standing in front of. Our other pictures we have of customers states the car they bought. This picture never stated what car he bought if any. People are always quick to judge and come to a false conclusion. It is a shame that a lot of people just want ridicule instead of saying something nice.”

A quick scan of the dealer’s Facebook page shows a string of photos of customers posing in front of their new purchases. The image with Higgins was clearly a publicity stunt for the dealer with no regard for any potential NCAA issues that may arise.

Helmet sticker to SB Nation.