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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

Ex-Texas QB/WR Kai Locksley commits to UTEP

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Kai Locksley left the state of Texas, but has now found his way back.

The former University of Texas quarterback announced on Twitter Monday night that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at UTEP. The Miners’ new head coach, Dana Dimel, addressed the development on his own Twitter account.

Locksley, whose father Mike is an assistant at Alabama, was a four-star member of the Longhorns’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Maryland. After not attempting a pass or playing a down his first two seasons at UT — he ultimately transitioned to wide receiver — Locksley moved on to an Iowa junior college.

After spending the 2017 season at the JUCO, Locksley was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback at that level of football.

Marshall pushes bowl winning streak to six in escaping with win over Colorado State in New Mexico Bowl

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The Streak lives.  Barely.

Marshall (8-5) came into Saturday’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl having won five straight bowl games.  Exiting Albuquerque, Marshall will head back to Huntington armed with a six-game postseason winning streak as they escaped with a 31-28 win over Colorado State (7-6).

The first half was all about the passing of quarterback Chase Litton.  The second half was all about the running game — with a little Litton sprinkled in as well.

Up 21-14 at halftime, Tyler King outran the CSU defense to score on a 90-yard touchdown run very early in the third quarter to give MU a 28-14 lead that had the feeling of putting the game out of reach.  King finished the win with 106 yards rushing, one of two Thundering Herd running backs to top the 100-yard mark as Keion Davis chipped in with a team-high 141 yards.  Davis himself scored on a 68-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Herd its halftime lead.

After throwing for 177 in the first half, Litton finished with 262 through the air.  Tyre Brady, who caught six passes for 165 yards and a touchdown, was named the Player of the Game.

Entering the fourth quarter, MU held what walked, talked and looked like an extremely comfortable 31-14 lead.  CSU, however, cut the lead to 31-28 midway through the quarter on a pair of Nick Stevens touchdowns (one passing, one rushing).  Getting the ball back with just over six minutes remaining and pinned back on their own 16-yard line, the Rams, who caught a break when a fumble recovered by the Herd was negated by defensive holding, couldn’t reach midfield on their last drive as their hopes for a come-from-behind win were extinguished after turning the ball over on downs.

(That Michael Gallup catch to briefly extend that last drive, though.  Wow.)

While Marshall extended its winning streak — Doc Holliday is 5-0 as head coach — Colorado State extended a skein in the opposite direction as the Rams have now lost four bowl games in a row.

Slumbering offenses awaken as Marshall takes halftime lead on Colorado State in New Mexico Bowl

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
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If you’re a fan of defensive football, you were loving the Gildan New Mexico Bowl — until the second quarter happened.

After a first quarter completely dominated by both defenses, the two combatants traded offensive jabs in the second as Marshall (7-5) took a 21-14 lead on Colorado State (7-5) into the halftime locker room.  And what a second quarter it was as the two teams combined for three lead changes and a pair of ties.

Very early in the period, Thundering Herd quarterback Chase Litton threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Tyre Brady to account for the first score of the half.  On the ensuing possession, a Detrich Clark five-yard touchdown catch from Nick Stevens capped 15-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at 7-all.  The possession after that, Litton tossed his second touchdown pass, hitting Ryan Yurachek from 15 yards out for MU’s second lead of the contest.  The possession after that, Stevens called his own number and scored on a nine-yard run to knot the score once again. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but, on the possession after that, Keion Davis rumbled 68 yards yards for a touchdown to hand the lad back to the Herd.

Litton finished the half with 185 yards passing, 136 of which went to Brady.  Stevens, meanwhile, passed for 128 yards.

On the running side of the ledger, Davis had 85 yards on the ground on just six carries.

Thanks to special teams, the Herd, looking to win its sixth straight bowl game, could’ve taken a two-touchdown lead into halftime as Hyleck Foster returned a punt 83 yards for a score early in the first quarter.  However, he was penalized for an illegal fair-catch signal and the touchdown was taken off the board.

While the Herd is looking to extend a winning streak, the Rams are looking to snap its three-game bowl losing streak.  Their last postseason win? The 2013 New Mexico Bowl

Colorado State will get the ball on offense to start the second half.

AFCA lists 146 players to Good Works Team watch list

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It’s watch list season, and we all know the deal with watch lists. “These guys had good years last year,” the organizations say, “now pay attention to us because it’s the dead of July.”

Usually the watch lists simply consist of every FBS player who started at that position a year ago — or, in the case of positions with multiple starters, the best returning starter from each team. Which makes sense. No one’s being excluded here.

And then there’s the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The Good Works team has nothing to do with what happens on the field — its 22-member team will be released in September. “The student-athletes nominated for this esteemed award embody the true spirit of teamwork and selflessness, donating their limited free time to helping and serving others,” the press release reads.

But, still, the Good Works Team and its sponsor need publicity just like everyone else — and, thus, we have a list of the 146 best dudes in college football.

“After looking at the bios of the 146 nominees we received for 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, it really shows that there are great football student-athletes all over this country who just don’t care what happens between the sidelines, but they also care about their community and giving back to others,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry said in a statement. “The AFCA has been proud to partner with Allstate these past 10 years to honor football players who give more of themselves to help others in need.”

View the 146 watch list members below.

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)

Arizona State – Tashon Smallwood

Arkansas – Frank Ragnow

Arkansas State – Blaise Taylor

California – Raymond Davison

Auburn – Daniel Carlson

Central Florida – Shaquem Griffin

Baylor – Taylor Young

Connecticut – Vontae Diggs

Boise State – Brett Rypien

Georgia – Aaron Davis

Bowling Green – Nate Locke

Houston – Steven Dunbar

BYU – Fred Warner

Illinois – Nick Allegretti

Clemson – Christian Wilkins

Kansas – Joe Dineen, Jr

Colorado State – Zack Golditch

Kentucky – Courtney Love

Duke – Gabe Brandner

Louisiana-Lafayette – Grant Horst

East Carolina – Jimmy Williams

Louisville – Lamar Jackson

Florida State – Mavin Saunders

Maryland – Adam Greene

Georgia Tech – Matthew Jordan

Memphis – Spencer Smith

Georgia Southern – Myles Campbell

Miami – Demetrius Jackson

Indiana – Rashard Fant

Minnesota – Eric Carter

Kansas State – Dalton Risner

Mississippi – Javon Patterson

LSU – Danny Etling

Missouri – Corey Fatony

Marshall – Ryan Yurachek

Nebraska – Chris Weber

Middle Tennessee – Brent Stockstill

Nevada – Austin Corbett

Mississippi State – Gabe Myles

North Carolina – Austin Proehl

North Carolina State – A.J. Cole, III

Notre Dame – Tyler Newsome

Northwestern – Justin Jackson

Oklahoma – Nick Basquine

Ohio State – J.T. Barrett

Pittsburgh – Brian O’Neill

Oklahoma State – Mason Rudolph

South Alabama – Tre Alford

Old Dominion – Josh Marriner

USC – Jordan Austin

Penn State – Brandon Smith

Tennessee – Todd Kelly, Jr

Rutgers – Sebastian Joseph

Texas – Naashon Hughes

San Jose State – Nate Velichko

UTEP – Ryan Metz

SMU – Justin Lawler

Toledo – Cody Thompson

Stanford – Harrison Phillips

Tulsa – Willie Wright

Syracuse – Zack Mahoney

Utah – Chase Hansen

TCU – Shaun Nixon

Virginia – Quin Blanding

Texas A&M – Koda Martin

Wisconsin – Derrick Tindal

Texas State – Gabe Schrade

Utah State – Jontrell Rocquemore

Tulane – Parry Nickerson

Vanderbilt  – Tommy Openshaw

UCLA – Kenny Young

Virginia Tech – Joey Slye

Alabama – Minkah Fitzpatrick

West Virginia  – Rob Dowdy

UAB – Shaq Jones

Western Kentucky – Marcus Ward

Combined Divisions (FCS, II, III & NAIA)

Amherst College – Reece Foy

Moravian College – Nick Zambelli

Aurora – Kurtis Chione

Murray State  – Zach Shipley

Berry College – Michael Wenclawiak

Norfolk State  – Kyle Archie

Bethel (Minn.) – Josh Dalki

North Greenville  – Johnny Burch

Butler – Isaak Newhouse

Northwestern College (Iowa) – Jacob Jenness

Carnegie Mellon – Sam Benger

Notre Dame College – Justin Adamson

Carson-Newman – Antonio Wimbush

Ohio Dominican – Austin Ernst

Chadron State College – Steven Allen

Ohio Wesleyan – Jerry Harper

Chapman – Diano Pachote

Peru State College – Gunnar Orcutt

Colorado State-Pueblo – Zach Boyd

Princeton – Kurt Holuba

Dakota State – Jacob Giles

Saint Augustine’s – Justin Shaw

Davidson College – Ryan Samuels

Saint John’s (Minn.) – Will Gillach

East Stroudsburg – Larry Mills

Samford – Deion Pierre

Eastern Kentucky – Jeffrey Canady

South Dakota State – Jake Wieneke

Edinboro – Ryan Stratton

Southern Arkansas – Stacy Lawrence

Ferris State – Jake Daugherty

Southwestern Assemblies of God – Stephen Lawson

Fordham – Manny Adeyeye

Stephen F. Austin – Marlon Walls

Franklin & Marshall College – Tyler Schubert

Stonehill College – Jermel Wright

Frostburg State – Jordan Procter

Susquehanna – Tommy Bluj

Georgetown College (Ky.) – Kody Kasey

Texas A&M-Commerce – Luis Perez

Grinnell College – Carson Dunn

Catholic U.– Patrick Vidal

Harding – Gavin De Los Santos

The College of Wooster – Patrick Mohorcic

Hillsdale College – Danny Drummond

U. Chicago – Chandler Carroll

James Madison – Jonathan Kloosterman

Mount Union – Alex Louthan

Kalamazoo College – David Vanderkloot

Puget Sound – Dwight Jackson

Kennesaw State – Luther Jones

Saint Mary – Kyle Dougherty

Liberty – Trey Turner

St. Thomas (Minn.) – Matt Christenson

Manchester – Jared Bourff

South Dakota – Stetson Dagel

Marist College – Lawrence Dickens

Wartburg College – Matt Sacia

Mercer – Thomas Marchman

Wayne State (Mich.) – Deiontae Nicholas

Michigan Tech – Cayman Berg-Morales

West Texas A&M – Dillon Vaughan

Millersville (Pa.) – Kevin Wiggins

Western Carolina – Keion Crossen

Minot State  – Logan Gunderson

Western New England – Garrett Jones

Mississippi College – Chris Manning

Wingate – Lawrence Pittman

Montana State – Mitchell Herbert

Youngstown State – Armand Dellovade