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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

Former UMass, Penn State TE Adam Breneman retires from football

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Former All-American tight end Adam Breneman has announced he will be retiring from football for good. Citing prolonged health concerns that stem back to his time at Penn State, Breneman wrote in a blog post the extent of the injury he suffered in 2014 was even more challenging to come back from than many had publicly known.

This is the second time Breneman has made the decision to retire, and this one will likely stick. Breneman retired briefly from the game in 2016, after his injury concerns at Penn State proved to be too risky to continue playing. Breneman had significant damage in his left knee that the All-American says required “complicated surgery and a long recovery process.” Doctors suggested his playing days would be over, but Breneman felt his knees became good enough to give a shot at playing in the NFL one more chance, which led him to revive his playing career at UMass. However, it was during his time at UMass when reality resurfaced for Breneman.

This past season things began to deteriorate quickly. Even though I enjoyed on-field success, I knew my knee was getting rapidly worse with every game I played. The consistent dream of playing in the NFL was my motivation to push through the pain. I knew what was happening, but I was afraid to accept it and be disappointed yet again.

When the season ended, I hoped with some time off and without the physical rigors of the season, my knee would begin to feel better. However, once I started training daily for the NFL draft in January 2018, I realized my situation had not improved. After additional medical evaluations and creative treatments, my doctors and I have come to the realization that there is no solution that will allow me to continue to play football.

Breneman was a key recruit of former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien and a key face of the first full recruiting class to join Penn State following the hefty sanctions levied against the program in the Jerry Sandusky scandal’s fallout. Along with Christian Hackenberg, Breneman helped keep a key recruiting class mostly together.

Breneman appeared in 11 games for the Minutemen in 2017 with 764 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. The previous season, Breneman had 808 receiving yards and eight touchdowns for UMass after two years off from football. He appeared in 11 games for the Nittany Lions in 2013 and caught three touchdowns with 186 receiving yards in his first and only season on the field in Happy Valley.

Penn State defensive lineman Garrett Sickels to enter NFL Draft

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Get ready to see another Penn State defensive lineman be picked up by an NFL team in the NFL Draft. Redshirt junior Garrett Sickels has announced he will be entering the NFL Draft this year, thus passing on the final year of eligibility he had with the Nittany Lions.

The All-Big Ten selection is coming off a season with a career high in tackles (47) and sacks (6) and proved to be a dominant force up front off the end of Penn State’s defensive line this season.

“This journey has been an amazing ride from my commitment to Penn State in 2012 to this past Rose Bowl game,” Sickels said in a statement released on Twitter. “I have made friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. I’m so unbelievably proud to call myself a Penn Stater. I take great pride in knowing me and my fellow classmates of the 2013 recruiting class have left Penn State in a much greater place then when we arrived.”

Sickels was one of the key recruits in Penn State’s Class of 2013 that remained committed to the program immediately after the program was slammed with NCAA sanctions at the time. That same class brought quarterback Christian Hackenberg, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, linebacker Brandon Bell and tight end Adam Breneman (who just finished off a stellar season at UMass), among others.

The loss of Sickels means Penn State will replace both starters at defensive end in the fall, although the Nittany Lions have some young options that have been waiting to get in the mix, including four-star addition in the Class of 2016 Shane Simmons, who redshirted this past season.

Biletnikoff, Mackey Award semifinalists announced

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The semifinalists for the Biletnikoff and Mackey Awards, given annually to college football’s best pass-catcher (regardless of position, though only receivers have won it) and tight end, respectfully, were announced Monday morning as awards season (sort of) gears up in earnest.

Your Biletnikoff Award semifinalists:

Austin Carr, Northwestern (75 REC, 1,102 yards, 12 TDs)
Corey Davis, Western Michigan (62 REC, 1,029 yards, 14 TDs)
Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse (79 REC, 1,246 yards, 8 TDs)
Carlos Henderson, La. Tech (61 REC, 1,179 yards, 16 TDs*)
Zay Jones, East Carolina (139 REC*, 1,473 yards*, 6 TDs)
John Ross, Washington (52 REC, 896 yards, 15 TDs)
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky (77 REC, 1,340 yards, 13 TDs)
Trent Taylor, La. Tech (103 REC, 1,343 yards, 10 TDs)
James Washington, Oklahoma State (56 REC, 1,132 yards, 9 TDs)
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma (68 REC, 1,254 yards, 14 TDs)

*= leads FBS

And for the Mackey Award:

Adam Breneman, UMass (58 REC, 699 yards, 7 TDs)
Jake Butt, Michigan (38 REC, 460 yards, 4 TDs)
Evan Engram, Ole Miss (59 REC, 824 yards, 7 TDs)
Gerald Everett, South Alabama (41 REC, 637 yards, 4 TDs)
Cole Hikutini, Louisville (38 REC, 526 yards, 6 TDs)
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech (36 REC, 514 yards, 5 TDs)
O.J. Howard, Alabama (29 REC, 352 yards, 2 TDs)
Jordan Leggett, Clemson (28 REC, 480 yards, 4 TDs)

The Biletnikoff will announce its three finalists Nov. 21, while Mackey Award finalists will be announced Nov. 22. Winners of both the awards will be announcedDec. 8 on ESPNU.

 

Oklahoma C Ty Darlington wins Campbell Trophy as nation’s top scholar-athlete

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They won’t take home the Heisman Trophy, but that hasn’t stopped Oklahoma from bringing home some serious hardware. Quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Burlsworth Trophy on Monday as the nation’s top former walk-on, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley on Tuesday won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, and on Tuesday night center Ty Darlington took home the Campbell Trophy, given to college football’s top scholar. Awarded by the National Football Foundation, the Campbell Trophy is known as the academic Heisman.

Already the winner of the Wuerffel Trophy for community service, Darlington holds a number of significant leadership posts, both within and without his locker room. The Apopka, Fla., native is a team captain, the president of the Big 12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and OU’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, and sits as one of 15 Division I athletes on the NCAA’s autonomy legislation committee.

He’s also started 24 of the last 25 games at center, anchoring an offense that ranked third nationally in scoring, seventh in total offense and ninth in yards per play, helping the Sooners win the Big 12 championship and reach the College Football Playoff.

Oh, and he did all that while graduating in two-and-a-half years with a 3.91 GPA.

“It’s an honor to be considered for such an incredible award,” Darlington said in October upon his appointment as a finalist. “Thank you to the National Football Foundation Awards Committee, and also to all of my family, coaches, teachers and staff who made this possible. Glory to God, and Boomer Sooner.”

Darlington beat out a group of finalists that includes Ohio State center Jacoby Boren, Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango and Massachusetts quarterback Blake Frohnapfel.

He’ll take home a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship and join a fraternity boasting the likes of Peyton ManningChad PenningtonTim Tebow and Barrett Jones.