Getty Images

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

Leave a comment

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

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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.

Ohio State football player says he’ll feel like baseball player with new uniform rule

Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images
5 Comments

Starting this season, college football players will be required to wear pants that will cover a player’s knee pads. The new uniform code is not being well received by some players, including Ohio State wide receiver Johnnie Dixon.

“The fact that we have to wear our pants so low, now I’m going to feel like a baseball player,” Dixon said, according to Lori Schmidt of Gridiron Now.

The need to cover the knees is designed to protect the knees. The idea is players will wear knee pads. Knee injuries are no joke, but covering the knee with pants isn’t going to protect any player from a torn ACL or other serious knee injuries.

Of course, this is not the first time a uniform enforcement has not been received warmly by Ohio State football players. A rule to stop players from exposing their abs was seen as some as a response to the signature look of former Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Father of USC freshman WR dubbed the ‘Lavar Ball of college football’

Photo by Alius Koroliovas/Getty Images
15 Comments

The basketball world got to know LaVar Ball quite well the last few years. If there is a college football of that on the horizon, the LA Times seems to think they found him.

John Brown, the father of USC Class of 2018 wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, has drawn comparisons to LaVar Ball for a variety of reasons that include the demand and vision for excellence in professional sports for his son. St. Brown was a five-star recruit for the Trojans in the most recent recruiting cycle, according to his Rivals profile. He was also ranked as the top recruit in the state of California and the top wide receiver in the nation. That alone brings reason to expect big results for St. Brown at USC.

The genes are certainly running in the family. John Brown is a former championship body builder. St. Brown’s oldest brother is former Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Osiris St. Brown, the middle son in the family, will be a redshirt freshman this fall at Stanford. With so much talent in the family, John Brown may be tapping into his inner Lavar Ball by suggesting Amon-ra could play in the NFL right now.

This is, of course, a ridiculous thought considering that even the most talented college freshman still have a long way to go to be ready to compete at the high level the NFL demands. But where Brown differs from Ball is he expects his sons to have to earn any accolades that may come their way.

“I’m going to request [USC head coach Clay Helton] put his butt at the bottom of the charts and see what he’s made of,” John said in a featured story published by the LA Times this week. “Make him fight. Sharpen the knife.”

John even goes so far to suggest Amon-ra has his eyes on making some unprecedented (and likely impossible) college football history.

“He’s serious about everything,” John says.

Ask Amon-ra what his goals are for his first year with the Trojans. With an unblinking, straight stare he will tell you, “I want to win the Heisman. All three years.”

All three years, eh? Putting aside the prediction that Brown is already predicting his son is jumping to the NFL after his junior season (an idea that is not at all far-fetched if St. Brown plays out the way recruiting experts and USC expect he will), we have to smile at the historic bar Brown is setting for his son.

Only one player has ever won the Heisman Trophy twice (Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975). It is also worth noting the last wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy was Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. Tim Brown of Notre Dame (1987) and Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska (1972) are the only other receivers to win the award since the Heisman Trophy was first presented in 1935. This may not go down in the history books alongside Beano Cook predicting two Heisman Trophy awards for former Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus (which never came close to happening, of course), but that does set the bar high for Amon-ra’s personal goals.

Brown may lay the foundation for athletic success for his sons, but fortunately for the college football world, he seems to be far more tolerable than LaVar Ball.

Nine current, former football players suing Minnesota for $45M in federal discrimination lawsuit

Getty Images
2 Comments

The fallout from an ugly incident in 2016 involving the football team continues to affect the University of Minnesota and the latest battle ground now appears to be a federal court.

ESPN has obtained a new lawsuit filed against the school on Friday, which alleges “racial and gender discrimination; intentional, willful, and malicious misconduct; and deliberate indifference” from the university that caused damage to nine current and former Gophers football players. Ten players were initially involved in the original sexual assault incident that led to various suspensions and expulsions from the program but the report does not say which of the group is not participating in the lawsuit. It does however point out that three current members of the 2018 team are involved with the lawsuit: Antoine Winfield Jr., Seth Green and Antonio Shenault.

“We are aware of the lawsuit served on behalf of several current and former students,” the school said in a statement released to ESPN. “The University thoughtfully and thoroughly responds when faced with disturbing allegations, and provides extensive process to students accused of misconduct, including the opportunity to be heard during thorough investigations, panel hearings, and Provost review. Further, aggrieved students have a right to review by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. We will vigorously defend the University.”

The lawyers for the group are seeking $45 million in damages, or about $5 million per player.

While there are a lot of details involved in the story, most will remember the initial fallout from 10 players getting suspended when the Gophers entire football team held a short boycott of activities shortly before they played in the Holiday Bowl. The team eventually relented from the boycott and went on to beat Washington State in the game but the damage was already done to many involved and then-head coach Tracy Claeys was eventually fired after supporting his players in the matter (he somewhat ironically was later hired by the Cougars as their new defensive coordinator).

No charges were brought in the matter by prosecutors but the heart of the lawsuit alleges mishandling by the university in how they dealt with the case internally — including the eventual suspensions and expulsions of the 10 players. It goes without saying that this will be something to keep an eye out for over the coming months and years, to say nothing of the awkwardness of having three Gophers playing for and suing their own school at the same time this season.