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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:



Auburn expects midseason return for Will Hastings

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One of the top returning members of Auburn’s receiving corps should be primed to give that group a midseason boost, Gus Malzahn stated Thursday.

In late March, Will Hastings underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL he sustained earlier in spring practice.  At his SEC Media Days appearance, Malzahn revealed that the Tigers expect the junior wide receiver to return at some point around the middle portion of the upcoming season.

“He’s off to a very good start,” said the head coach by way of ESPN.com. “His rehab is going excellent. We’re hoping we get him back by the middle of the season.”

Last season, Hastings was third on the Tigers in receiving yards with 525 and receiving touchdowns with four, with his 26 receptions good for fourth on the team.

Auburn will be without another receiver to begin the year as well as Eli Stove is rehabbing his own torn ACL.  Malzahn gave no indication as to even a general timetable for Stove’s return.

As a sophomore in 2017, Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards, the former total which tied him for second on the team.

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

Bryce Love among 62 Doak Walker Award watch listers

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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).

Brandon Martin no longer listed on Arkansas’ roster

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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.