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John Mackey Award names eight semi-finalists for top tight end award

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Eight of the nation’s top tight ends were officially named semi-finalists for this season’s John Mackey Award on Monday. The award, named after Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end and former Syracuse player John Mackey, is presented to the nation’s top tight-end as determined by a select voting panel.

This year’s semi-finalists are:

  • Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

A couple of notable omissions from this list stand out. Florida’s Kyle Pitts, who has the second-most receptions and fifth-most receiving yards among the nation’s tight ends somehow slipped through the voters here. The sophomore for the Gators has averaged 4.2 receptions per game and has accounted for 566 yards and five touchdowns for the Gators. No other tight end in the SEC has more yards per game than Pitts. Penn State’s Pat Freiemuth being omitted was also slightly surprising. Freiermuth has seven touchdowns, easily more than any other Big Ten tight end this season and tied for third-most in the conference this season.

Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson won the John Mackey Award in 2018. Other past winners of the award include Dallas Clark of Iowa, Tyler Eiffert of Notre Dame, Jake Butt of Michigan, Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington, and Aaron Hernandez of Florida.

This year’s Mackey Award winner will be announced on Dec. 11th.

WATCH: Ohio offensive lineman lines up at WR, does in-play cartwheel

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If you ever find yourself in need of a video description of midweek MACtion, here you go.  And you’re welcome.

In the middle of the third quarter of Tuesday night’s Ohio-Western Michigan game, Bobcats offensive lineman Hagen Meservy (not pictured) split out wide as a wide receiver.  Okay, that’s unusual, but what happened after the ball was snapped was even more so as, after a bubble screen was faked in Meservy’s general direction, the 6-3, 300-pound tackle performed a perfectly-executed, on-field cartwheel.

During the play.

Coincidence or not, the gymnastic ruse seemingly worked to perfection as Nathan Rourke connected with Adam Luehrman on a 25-yard pass on the play, which was followed on the very next snap by a 10-yard De’Montre Tuttle touchdown run that gave Ohio a 14-10 lead.  That would turn out to be the Bobcats’ last lead in regulation play as the Broncos scored from four yards out on a LeVante Bellamy touchdown run in the first overtime to claim a 37-34 win.

That game-winning run, incidentally, was Bellamy’s FBS-leading 21st rushing touchdown of the season.

The win was huge for Western Michigan on a conference level as they improved to 5-2 in MAC play, a half-game ahead of Central Michigan and one full game in front of Ball State and Toledo.  WMU has already beaten Ball State and CMU, although they did fall to Toledo early last month.

For Ohio, the loss dropped them to 4-6 on the season.  If they fail to win their last two games — road trips to Bowling Green (3-6) and Akron (0-10) — Frank Solich‘s squad would fail to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2014.

Oregon’s Justin Herbert one of a dozen ‘Academic Heisman’ finalists

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As the watch lists for on-field honors continue to roll out, an award for what’s essentially scholastic excellence has significantly whittled its list to the chosen several.

The National Football Foundation, in conjunction with the College Football Hall of Fame, announced Wednesday the 12 finalists for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy. Commonly referred to as the “Academic Heisman,” the Campbell Trophy annually “recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.”

Seven of the 12 come from the FBS level, including six from Power Five conferences. Another three hail from the FCS, while Div. II and Div. III are represented by one finalist apiece.

The Pac-12 had two finalists, the most for any single conference.

Last year, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins became the 29th winner of the prestigious honor. The winner of this year’s award will be announced Dec. 10.

Each of this year’s finalists will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.  This year’s winner will see that scholarship dollar amount increase to $25,000.

“We are extremely proud to announce the finalists for this year’s Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda,” said NFF president & CEO Steve Hatchell in a statement. “These young men have an unrelenting commitment to excellence in all aspects of their lives, and they represent all that is right in college football. They serve as living examples that Football Matters®, and we are excited to honor their hard work and accomplishments with postgraduate scholarships.

As for the qualifications to even earn a nomination?

Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

Below are all 12 finalists for the 2019 Campbell Trophy who have met that criteria:

Bowling Green could head into Week 9 with one healthy scholarship RB

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I’m no run-game expert, but I don’t think this is exactly optimal.

Andrew Clair, who began the season as Bowling Green’s starting running back, missed his third straight game in the Week 8 loss to Central Michigan and could very well miss a fourth this weekend. During that same loss, Davon Jones, a graduate transfer from Boston College, went down with a serious leg injury.

With a road trip to Western Michigan on tap for this weekend, Jones is definitely sidelined while Clair is expected to be standing alongside him.

Given that, Bryson Denley will likely be the Falcons’ only healthy and available scholarship running back for the matchup with the Broncos. A true freshman walk-on, Trevon Raymore, is expected to serve as Denley’s primary backup.

Denley currently is third on the Falcons with 248 yards on the ground, behind Jones’ 334 and quarterback Grant Loy‘s 291. Raymore has rushed for minus-one yard on a pair of carries.

Toledo honoring undefeated 1969 squad by wearing throwback uniforms against WMU

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#MACtion is going retro this weekend.

As part of the celebrations on campus to honor the undefeated 1969 football team, Toledo is breaking out their throwback uniforms from the era on Saturday as they host Western Michigan in a pivotal conference clash.

While the look isn’t too far off from what you might find the current team wearing, there are a number of little touches like the ‘Glass City’ labels on the helmet and the older interlocking ‘UT’ logos that make for a pretty smooth look. The school is honoring the 1969 version of the Rockets, who went 11-0 back in the day on their way to a MAC title and rare top 20 ranking in the final AP Poll.

The modern day version of Toledo’s football team is certainly hoping some of that luck and good play from yesteryear rubs off on them as they host the Broncos in one of the MAC’s biggest games of the season so far. The Rockets are of course coming off a home win against BYU while WMU is 2-2 after competitive losses to Syracuse and Michigan State in non-conference play. The winner on Saturday likely has a leg up in the race for the West division title in the league and a solid claim on being the league’s best team entering October.