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More than five dozen tight ends land on Mackey Award watch list

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If you’re a college football fan, there’s nearly a 50-50 chance that you’ll find one of your team’s players on this latest watch list installment.

The Mackey Award is next up to do the preseason deed, with the hardware going to the nation’s top tight end announcing a 64-player watch list Friday morning.  Unlike most other awards, not a single semifinalist from a year ago are up for the award won by Arkansas’ Mark Andrews in 2017.

A total of five teams placed two players on the list, with three of those coming from — surprise!!! — the Big Ten.  Iowa (Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson), Michigan (Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon) and Wisconsin (Zander Neuville, Kyle Penniston) represent that Midwest conference, while Louisville (Kemari Averett, Micky Crum) and South Carolina (KC Crosby, account for the other.

The Big Ten led all conferences with 12 players on the initial watch list, followed by the SEC (nine), ACC (seven), Pac-12 (seven), Mountain West (six) and Sun Belt (five).  There are four watch listers each hailing from the AAC, Big 12 and MAC, while Conference USA placed three.  There are also three tight ends from football independents.

Below is the complete 2018 John Mackey Award preseason watch list:



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

Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor returning from suspension for Kentucky game

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In desperate need of some positive personnel news, Tennessee is on the receiving end of just that.

In a statement, beleaguered UT head coach Butch Jones announced that Darrell Taylor has been reinstated and will be available for tonight’s game against Kentucky.  The defensive tackle was initially suspended after being involved in a physical altercation with a teammate that reportedly involved Taylor kicking Trey Smith in the face.  The incident resulted in Smith needing stitches.

The suspension cost the redshirt sophomore games against South Carolina and Alabama.

“Darrell has completed the requirements we had set for him to return to play and he will be available tonight against Kentucky,” Jones said in the statement. “He must continue to meet criteria we have set forth for him on a daily and weekly basis.”

Taylor had started the first five games this season prior to the suspension.

It was announced earlier this week that John Kelly would be suspended for the game against the Wildcats after being cited for marijuana.  Kelly currently leads the Vols in both rushing and receiving.

Additionally, it was reported late this week that Quinten Dormady is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.  Dormady began the season as UT’s starting quarterback.

With Dormady out, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, the new starter, and true freshman Will McBride are the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster at the moment.

Tennessee suspends DT Darrell Taylor following reported practice altercation leaves teammate needing stitches

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Fights between teammates during a college football practice are known to happen across the country, but sometimes the physical aggressiveness goes a little too far. That appears to be the case in Knoxville as Tennessee has suspended defensive tackle Darrell Taylor following a reported incident at a recent practice during the bye week. Taylor reportedly got involved in an altercation with teammate Trey Smith.

Multiple reports have said Taylor — who was already serving a suspension last week for fighting in the previous game —  kicked Smith in the face, leaving the star freshman to need stitches.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said “multiple factors” led to the indefinite suspension but the Vols coach was reluctant to go into the details. Instead, Jones offered a glowing review of Tennessee’s bye week and spoke about getting players “leadership reps” in a way only Jones could.

It’s just a guess to say that Taylor is going to have to get in a good amount of leadership reps before he is reinstated by Jones and the Vols.

No. 24 N.C. State leading No. 17 Louisville at halftime of ACC clash

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Oh what a difference a year makes for N.C. State and Louisville.

After a lopsided result that was not in their favor last season, the 24th-ranked Wolfpack are giving No. 17 Louisville everything they can handle on both sides of the ball to lead 17-10 at halftime of an intriguing ACC battle down in Raleigh.

Neither team could get much going offensively in the first quarter, with Heisman winner Lamar Jackson being well contained by that tough NCSU defensive line led by Bradley Chubb. Once the clock ticked over to the second quarter however, both offenses started to get going with some big plays.

Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley (268 yards, one touchdown) kicked things off, lobbing a perfectly thrown pass into the waiting arms of Kelvin Harmon for a 48-yard touchdown. State tacked on a field goal on their ensuing possession following a 79 yard catch and run by superstar all-purpose threat Jaylen Samuels and then scored again just before the break. We’ll see if the team can keep that second quarter momentum up despite losing starting center Garrett Bradbury with a chest injury but their final two drives without him bodes well for them to do just that.

Jackson and the Cardinals also found a little bit of a rhythm in the second frame, as the dual-threat signal-caller racked up 190 yards through the air by halftime. He found Seth Dawkins for the team’s only touchdown early in the second quarter, which was a bobbling affair down near the end zone before the wideout hauled it in for the score.

There are a ton of major sporting events going on Thursday night but the lone college football game on the slate has turned out to be a pretty good one despite the relative low score. We’ll see if either side can make some big adjustments — especially defensively for the higher ranked team — in order to pull out a key win in the ACC Atlantic race.