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Three Power Five WRs added to Biletnikoff watch list

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For the fourth time in a little over a month, a major college football honor is adding to its watch list.

This week, the Biletnikoff Award announced that it has added five wide receivers to its watch list, including three from Power Five schools and two from Group of Five programs.  Those included this go-around are Louisville’s Chatarius Atwell, Western Kentucky’s Lucky Jackson, Syracuse’s Trishton Jackson, Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings and San Jose State’s Tre Walker (pictured).

Below are each players’ statistical particulars for the 2019 season:

  • Atwell: 46 receptions for 810 yards, eight touchdowns
  • L. Jackson: 62-839-2
  • T. Jackson: 51-780-8
  • Jennings: 50-771-7
  • Walker: 59-896-1

Walker is currently 13th in the nation in receiving yards, Lucky Jackson 17th. The latter is also tied for 25th in receptions per game.

The Biletnikoff Award is handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding FBS receiver. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, which oversees the honor, stresses that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award.”

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy was the 2018 winner of the award.  A wide receiver has won the award every year since it was first handed out in 1994, and all of the players added this week are listed as receivers.

Butch Jones pulls name from Rutgers search

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After a brief hiccup, the signs continue pointing to the gridiron gang getting back together in Piscataway.

With buzz continuing to grow about Greg Schiano-Rutgers reunion, the former RU head coach met with university officials in Columbus, Ohio, for several hours Tuesday regarding the opening for a head football coach at the Big Ten school.  No agreement was reached, however, in large part because of what was described as unspecified “significant demands” on the part of Schiano and his camp.

While Schiano has been viewed as the clearcut choice for most connected to the university, Butch Jones, who interviewed for the job late last week, has been considered the fallback option should the talks with the former RU head coach implode.

Thursday, however, it’s now being reported by nj.com that Jones has removed his name from consideration for the job with the Scarlet Knights.  The development is yet another sign that, provided both sides can get beyond the “significant demand” divide, the university is on the verge of again going all-in on Schiano.

Jones, meanwhile, will continue his journey to get back on the sidelines.

The 51-year-old Jones, whose first coaching job at the collegiate level came as a graduate assistant at Rutgers from 1990-92, parlayed successful stints as the head coach at Central Michigan (2007-09) and Cincinnati (2010-12) into the same job at Tennessee.  While Jones put up a pair of 9-4 seasons in Years 3 and 4 on Rocky Top, a 4-6 record through 10 games of his fifth season proved to be the end of his tenure as he was fired by the Volunteers in November of 2017.

Jones ended up going 34-27 overall and 14-24 in SEC while at Tennessee.  Overall, he’s 84-54 as a head coach.

Three months after his dismissal, Jones was connected to an off-field job at Alabama; Jones took a job as an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide in March of 2018, a job he’s held ever since.

Buzz continues to grow around a Greg Schiano-Rutgers reunion

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Will Rutgers look to its past for its future head football coach?  The signs seem to be pointing in that general direction.

Almost immediately after Rutgers mercifully pulled the plug on the Chris Ash era in Piscataway after three-plus seasons and just eight wins, speculation turned to Greg Schiano, the head coach who made Scarlet Knights football relatively relevant earlier this century, as a potentially attractive successor.  Since then, attention over the last month or so has turned to the likes of Joe Moorhead (HERE) and Butch Jones, with the former Tennessee head coach reportedly interviewing for the job late last week.

A couple of days after that reported interview, however, speculation has circled back to Schiano as nj.com is reporting that, according to what were described as several high-level donors, “[a] meeting between Rutgers officials and… Schiano is imminent.” According to the website, “the Scarlet Knights’ coaching search is trending toward a return for the former head coach” and that an announcement could come as early as Wednesday, a date which marks the 150th anniversary of the first-ever college football game between RU and Princeton.

As of Sunday night, Schiano and RU officials had not met formally, although there have been informal talks since Ash was canned.

In 11 seasons from 2001-11, Schiano went 68-67 as the head coach at Rutgers.  In the seven-plus seasons since Schiano left for the NFL, the Scarlet Knights have gone 35-56 and are 13-43 since the start of the 2015 season; in the 17 years prior to his arrival in Piscataway, they went 67-114-2.

After leaving Rutgers, the 53-year-old Schiano spent two decidedly unsuccessful seasons (7-9 in 2012, 4-12 in 2013) as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Schiano served as the defensive coordinator at Ohio State from 2016-18 before being replaced as part of the post-Urban Meyer staff shakeup by new OSU head coach Ryan Day.  In the two years in between the NFL and OSU stints, Schiano coached at a Tampa preparatory school.

In 2017, Schiano was the leading candidate to replace Jones at Tennessee until he wasn’t.

Rutgers reportedly interviews Butch Jones for coaching vacancy

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Nearly five weeks after ridding themselves of Chris Ash, Rutgers’ search for a replacement has kicked into gear.

Citing a person with knowledge of the situation, nj.com reported overnight that Butch Jones interviewed for the RU job in Piscataway Friday.  Jones is the first known coach to interview for the vacancy.

The 51-year-old Jones, whose first coaching job at the collegiate level came as a graduate assistant at Rutgers from 1990-92, parlayed successful stints as the head coach at Central Michigan (2007-09) and Cincinnati (2010-12) into the same job at Tennessee.  While Jones put up a pair of 9-4 seasons in Years 3 and 4 on Rocky Top, a 4-6 record through 10 games of his fifth season proved to be the end of his tenure as he was fired by the Volunteers in November of 2017.

Jones ended up going 34-27 overall and 14-24 in SEC while at Tennessee.  Overall, he’s 84-54 as a head coach.

Three months after his dismissal, Jones was connected to an off-field job at Alabama; Jones took a job as an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide in March of 2018, a job he’s held ever since.

Rutgers, incidentally, has won a combined 13 games — and lost 43 — since the start of the 2015 season.  That woebegone football program could do a helluva lot worse than an experienced head coach like Jones.

Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead (HERE) and former RU head coach Greg Schiano (HERE) have also been mentioned as possibilities for the permanent opening.

Both injured Tennessee QBs medically cleared

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After seemingly experiencing a season’s worth of injuries under center this month alone, Jeremy Pruitt now has a welcome signal-calling decision to make.

Jarrett Guarantano (pictured, left) started the first four games of the 2019 season before losing the job to true freshman Brian Maurer (pictured, right), who suffered a concussion in each of the last two of his first three collegiate starts and missed last Saturday’s win over South Carolina. In that same game, Guarantano suffered a broken bone in his left (non-throwing) hand and underwent surgery to repair the damage.

Ahead of this coming Saturday’s nonconference matchup with UAB, Pruitt announced that both Maurer and Guarantano have been medically cleared to play in Week 10. What the head coach didn’t announce was which quarterback, including J.T. Shrout (pictured, center), will start the game for the Volunteers against the Blazers.

“They’re all ready to go,” Pruitt said according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “How we play them, we’ve not decided yet.”

A decision likely won’t be made until closer to kickoff Saturday.

Guarantano, who entered the season having started 18 games for the Vols, has completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 1,140 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Statistically, Maurer pales in comparison as he’s thrown five picks versus two touchdowns in completing less than 50 percent of his 55 passes.

In the most extended action of his career, Shrout went 7-11 for 122 yards and a touchdown last weekend.