Fresno State Football

Fresno State senior one of only four tight ends on 50-man watch list for Biletnikoff Award

Bulldogs’ Rice grows into job description, and a playmaker

Fresno State tight ends coach Scott Thompson discusses the development of tight end Jared Rice, who has become a factor for the Bulldogs blocking in the run game as well as when running pass routes.
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Fresno State tight ends coach Scott Thompson discusses the development of tight end Jared Rice, who has become a factor for the Bulldogs blocking in the run game as well as when running pass routes.

The watch list for the John Mackey Award will be out on Friday, and there’s a good chance that Fresno State senior Jared Rice will be on it.

But a junior season with 55 receptions for 664 yards and three touchdowns landed the Bulldogs tight end a spot on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award announced Thursday.

The Mackey Award annually honors the nation’s best college football tight end. The Biletnikoff is presented to the outstanding receiver.

Rice is one of just four tight ends to make the list, joining Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma), Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri) and Jared Pinckney (Vanderbilt).

The other 46 players on the watch list are wideouts.

Of the four tight ends, Rice had the most receptions last season.

Calcaterra had 26 receptions for 396 yards and six touchdowns, Okwuegbunam had 43 receptions for 466 yards and six touchdowns and Pinckney had 50 catches for 774 yards and seven touchdowns.

Rice, a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection, was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, trailing only wideout KeeSean Johnson. He had the fourth-most receptions and sixth-most receiving yards among FBS tight ends and enters his senior season with at least one reception in 20 consecutive games.

Semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award will be announced on Nov. 18, and three finalists on Nov. 25. The award will be presented at the Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 12. Past winners include Amari Cooper (Alabama, 2014), Brandin Cooks (Oregon State, 2013), Golden Tate (Notre Dame, 2009), Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech, 2007 and ‘08), Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech, 2006) and Larry Fitzgerald (Pitt, 2003).

Rice is the fourth Fresno State player to make the watch list for a national award this season with safety safety Juju Hughes and linebacker Mykal Walker on the watch list for the Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and running back Ronnie Rivers for the Doak Walker Award (best running back).

Former Bulldog KeeSean Johnson was on the Biletnikoff watch list last season and Davante Adams was a semifinalist for the award in 2013.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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