NCAA Football

Why Clemson Tigers Will Win National Title in 2015-16 Season

With all due to respect to the Florida State Seminoles, it may be time to pass the torch to the Clemson Tigers in the ACC, at least for the next season or two.

For that matter, the rest of the nation needs to be on "Tiger watch," because Clemson is poised and ready for a statement year in 2015. We saw the Ohio State Buckeyes battle through quarterback injuries and question marks to become the first-ever College Football Playoff champions. They were a well-rounded team which beat some of the best in the country to win the title.

This year, Clemson may end up being the 2014 version of Ohio State. No, really, the Tigers have the potential to be that good.


Odds for CFP National Championship in 2015-16 Season

According to Odds Shark, the Buckeyes open as the favorites to win the CFP once again next season, with odds between 4-1 and 4.5-1. In comparison, the Tigers open with odds of 22-1 to 25-1 to win it all. Obviously, those odds show a level of respect given to Clemson, as it puts them on a similar level with teams such as the Oregon Ducks, Michigan State Spartans and Oklahoma Sooners.

Those odds make Clemson the favorites to contend for the CFP National Championship from the ACC this season, which isn't a huge surprise.

The Seminoles are losing quarterback Jameis Winston, wide receiver Rashad Greene, running back Karlos Williams and tight end Nick O'Leary offensively. On top of that, they'll lose defensive talents such as defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby.

With many teams in contention this year, the argument for the Tigers to get the job done is an intriguing one.


Buckeyes Facing a Tough Task

While Ohio State returns a ton of talent and has one of the best coaches in the country, the odds of the Buckeyes repeating don't factor in every aspect. Since the BCS began in 1998, only one team has managed to win back-to-back national championships. This was the Alabama Crimson Tide back in 2011 and 2012, according to

Obviously, we can't forget the fact that the USC Trojans won in both 2003 and 2004, but their second win was eventually vacated by the BCS.

So the question for the Buckeyes now becomes, how will their push for a repeat look with the entire nation gunning to take them down? Ohio State's 2015 schedule isn't overly tough, but they do have some major tests along the way. This includes teams such as the Virginia Tech Hokies in their first game and the Northern Illinois Huskies soon after that.

Let's not forget that those pesky Hokies were the only team to beat the Buckeyes last season.

As the season rolls on for Ohio State, they draw the Penn State Nittany Lions, Minnesota Golden Gophers and their biggest test, the Michigan State Spartans. The schedule isn't brutal, but the fact that they don't have the toughest schedule may actually come back to hurt them.


Clemson's Strength of Schedule

As much as we all love talking about what the Buckeyes did last season, let's not forget that Clemson doesn't have to be No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation to get in. The Tigers just need to win the ACC and take advantage of the chance to grab some big wins along the way.

While Clemson's nonconference schedule won't blow you away, the fact that they finish the season on the road against South Carolina will help. The Gamecocks may have gone 7-6 last season, but expectations are higher heading into 2015.

What really helps the Tigers in terms of their schedule, is that they not only draw the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this season, but they also have quite a few tough conference games. They'll be on the road against the Louisville Cardinals, Miami Hurricanes and NC State Wolfpack (who will surprise quite a few people in 2015).

Those are three tough road games, but the Tigers also benefit quite a bit from playing tough opponents in Notre Dame, FSU and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets all in Death Valley.

Also, it's worth noting that, according to the aforementioned odds from OddsShark, Clemson faces six teams who have odds of 100-1 or better to win the CFP National Championship. Those odds may seem a bit high, but a few other teams listed with odds of 100-1 include the West Virginia Mountaineers, Utah Utes, Arizona Wildcats, Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers and Nebraska Cornhuskers.


Plan for Replacing Lost Talent

It's not all good news in Death Valley in terms of their own losses in 2015, as multiple players from their top-ranked defense will be gone next season. This includes DEs Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford, DT Grady Jarrett, linebacker Stephone Anthony and CB Garry Peters, who are all graduating.

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables will have holes to fill, but there's talent waiting in the wings. Through the losses of all the big names, players such as DE Shaq Lawson, LB Ben Boulware and safeties Jayron Kearse and Travis Blanks are all ready to step in.

Let's also not forget about CB Mackensie Alexander, who is only a rising sophomore and has the potential to be one of the best in the nation next season.

The Tigers won't begin 2015 as the same dominant defense that they were at the end of 2014, but they're going to be a very good unit. Also, there's no reason to doubt Venables and head coach Dabo Swinney, as these two are masters at getting the most out of their players.


Offensive Firepower

Deshaun Watson, Artavis Scott, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman and Tyshon Dye. These are the players who opponents will line up against on a weekly basis. It's a pretty daunting task for any defense, especially since we just started to see Gallman and Dye scratch the surface at the end of 2014.

While Dye only saw action in four games, he put together an impressive 20 rushes for 124 yards and two scores against Georgia State. As for Gallman, he may be the man to watch in 2015. The redshirt freshman rushed a total of 16 times in his first four games, but he was called upon in a big way down the home stretch.

Gallman finished the year with 769 yards and four scores, but three of his four touchdowns came in the final four weeks. He also had 88 or more yards in four of the final five games, with the other game being against Georgia State, when Dye got the nod.

As for Watson, he has the potential to be a Heisman Trophy contender next season if he's able to stay healthy. While Watson is able to make plays with both his arm and his legs, he needs to be smarter when he takes off to run. The freshman rushed for five touchdowns last season, but he needs to avoid taking those big hits that can lead to injuries this season.

Let's not forget about wide receivers Scott and Williams, who combined for 1,995 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns. What makes those numbers even more impressive is the back and forth between Cole Stoudt and Watson at quarterback they dealt with. The numbers that those two could put up with extra time to work with a talent like Watson are pretty scary to predict.

The X-factor will absolutely be Watson. His pure talent mixed with his supporting cast makes it easy to see how he tossed six touchdowns against the North Carolina Tar Heels last season.


Instant-Impact Freshman Class?

According to 247Sports, the Tigers wrapped up 2015 with the eighth-best class. This included a combined 12 4- and 5-star commits. While many of these players may not see much action on a talented Clemson team in 2015, a few stand out as potential immediate playmakers.

Two specifically? Ray Ray McCloud III and Deon Cain.

Both of these players are incredible prospects. McCloud scored 55 rushing touchdowns over his final three years at Sickles High School in Tampa, Florida. He also rushed 570 times for 4,249 yards combined in his junior and senior seasons, while averaging 7.45 yards per carry.

As for Cain, he's played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and has even dabbled a bit on the defensive side of the ball for Tampa Bay Tech in Tampa, Florida. Through his junior and senior seasons, he combined for 5,633 total passing and rushing yards.

While Cain was a quarterback who showed he had some serious wheels in high school, he's slated to play wideout for the Tigers. Cain showed his versatility by not only throwing a 54-yard touchdown pass in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but also catching a 50-yard receiving touchdown.


Projecting the Final Four

For argument's sake, we'll assume that the Buckeyes make it back into the 2015-16 CFP. This leaves three spots for the Tigers.

It seems as though their biggest competition will likely be the USC Trojans, TCU Horned Frogs, Baylor Bears and whoever makes it out of the SEC West. Based on that alone, you have to like their chances, for a few different reasons.

Not only does TCU play Baylor, but they play in the final game of the 2015 season. There's a very good chance that we could see that game decide which team makes it the College Football Playoff next season, possibly taking up the second spot.

As for the Trojans, without question, they're going to have to earn their spot. Their schedule features the Stanford Cardinal, Arizona State Sun Devils, Washington Huskies, Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, Oregon and the UCLA Bruins.

That's brutal.

USC could very well surprise us all and get the job done, but seeing a team with more than one or two losses at most make the CFP is very unlikely. If the Trojans can get through that schedule as a one-loss team, it would be very surprising.

As for that muddled SEC West, will the Crimson Tide roll once again? It's likely that we'll see our fair share of surprising wins from that conference, but one team will still prevail and make the playoff. While I can even see an argument for two teams to make the CFP from the SEC West, I'm not betting on that.

Prediction (in no order): Alabama Crimson Tide, TCU Horned Frogs, Ohio State Buckeyes, Clemson Tigers


The Tigers' Case to Take Down the Playoff

It seems to be a common theme that the ACC gets overlooked, but in 2015 there will be quite a few talented teams in the conference. Remember how the Buckeyes were overlooked when the 2014-15 playoff began? We may see a similar situation with the Tigers.

While everyone will see big-time programs such as Alabama, TCU and Ohio State, the expectation will be for one of those three to get the job done.

A fair warning? Don't bet against Swinney, Watson and a Venables-led defense in postseason play. The past few seasons tell quite a story.

Since 2012, the Tigers have faced tough competition in the postseason and have shown up big both offensively and defensively:

YearRecordBowlOpponentOpp. RecordScore 2012 10-2 Chick-fil-A Bowl LSU Tigers 10-2 W 25-24 2013 10-2 Orange Bowl Ohio State Buckeyes 12-1 W 40-35 2014 9-3 Russell Athletic Bowl Oklahoma Sooners 8-4 W 40-6


Say what you will about Clemson, but Swinney is getting the most of his players on the biggest stages. In 2012, LSU was an early favorite to make the National Championship, but fell just short after a regular season loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. They then drew the Tigers and the rest was history.

Clemson's 2013 victory over Ohio State was against another team who nearly made the BCS National Championship. The Buckeyes lost in the Big Ten Championship Game, which left them on the outside looking in. Their consolation prize was the Orange Bowl, where the Tigers pulled off the surprising victory.

Lastly, comes the win over the 8-4 Sooners. While Oklahoma failed to live up to preseason expectations and they weren't on the level of LSU or Ohio State, this was a team with plenty of talent. To top it off, the Sooners got starting quarterback Trevor Knight back for the bowl game.

Knight did very little against the Tigers' stellar defense, though, completing 45.9 percent of his passes with 103 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.


Tigers Heading to Title Town in 2015-16

This Clemson team will likely have its most offensive talent since Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington, Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant back in 2012. Watson showed us glimpses of being one of the best quarterbacks in the country last year and was nearly unstoppable at times.

For his encore performance? How about shocking the nation and leading the Tigers to a College Football Playoff National Championship victory?

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John Chavis Right to Sue Both LSU and Texas A&M

Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis has served unofficially in that capacity since early in January, but not officially until Feb. 16, when Texas A&M announced its 2015 staff assignments.

Now we know why it took so long.

KBTX in Bryan/College Station, Texas, reported Friday afternoon that Chavis is suing both LSU and Texas A&M over his contract situation with the Tigers.

Chavis claims that LSU is demanding $400,000 because his contract with the school, which was set to expire on December 31, 2015, was terminated with more than 11 months left on the deal. Chavis, who turned in his 30-day notice on January 5, 2015, claims his last official day with the Tigers was February 4, 2015, which would result in Chavis owing LSU nothing.

Except that his last official day with the Tigers was long before that date, as Hunter Paniagua of notes.

So what's the deal?

This is Chavis protecting himself, plain and simple.

What's more, it's the right play.

Wait, what? Suing his current employer is the right play? 

LSU knows Chavis was out recruiting for Texas A&M in January. Texas A&M knows Chavis was out recruiting for Texas A&M in January. Chavis knows that Chavis was out recruiting for Texas A&M in January.

This was neither a secret nor should it come as a surprise to anybody involved in the process.

Would Texas A&M really put a provision in his contract—which is public record—stating that it will cover the expense if he's sued by his former employer? Of course it wouldn't. So this is the next-best thing. 

The following are quotes from the suit according to KBTX's story.

[Texas A&M] is currently obligated to satisfy or cause to be satisfied the liquidated damages, if any, associated with Chavis' previous Employment Agreement with LSU.

[Texas A&M] is "unwilling to tender the liquidated damages demanded by LSU because it does not believe that liquidated damages are called for under the Employment Agreement as mentioned above."

Well of course Texas A&M is unwilling to tender the liquidated damages now, because, technically, Chavis' last day with LSU was February 4 and his first day with Texas A&M was February 16.

If the court feels otherwise (which, let's be honest, it should), then a quick settlement will likely take place, the buyout will be taken care of and A&M and Chavis will be happy. Texas A&M waited a long time to officially announce Chavis as its new defensive coordinator, so it's not like this came out of the blue to the school. 

It knew what was going on, and the delay in the announcement suggests that it is on board with Chavis' plan.

Instead of jumping through a ton of legal hoops and souring the relationship with Chavis before he even starts the job, Texas A&M is putting up the facade of unwillingness now to protect itself, knowing that it might have to cover the damages at a later date.

It isn't risky that Chavis is suing his current employer, it's safe.

He's protecting himself and his bank account knowing that, while he might win his case against LSU, a loss wouldn't impact his own bottom line. Moreover, Texas A&M's actions suggest that it is on board with the plan, even though its words in the suit say otherwise.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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5-Star RB Tavien Feaster Poised 'To Set the World on Fire' for Clemson in 2016

Tavien Feaster, a 5-star running back, per 247Sports, is committed to the Clemson Tigers. The speedster will bring his athleticism and big-play capabilities to head coach Dabo Swinney's program. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Feaster's game, his comparisons and how he will fit in at Clemson. 

What is the ceiling for Feaster? Check out the video, and let us know! 

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John Chavis Suing LSU, Texas A&M over Contract Dispute: Latest Details, Reaction

John Chavis, who was hired as Texas A&M's defensive coordinator in January after spending six years in the same position at LSU, is reportedly suing both schools. 

According to Steve Fullhart of KBTX 3, Chavis' previous contract with LSU may require money going back to the university, and Texas A&M could be on the hook for it:

The suit, filed Friday afternoon, notes Chavis became the defensive coordinator of LSU in 2009. Originally, it says he was under contract until the end of 2011, but a pair of contract extensions pushed his deal to December 31, 2015.

According to the suit, when the 2014 football season ended, another extension was being discussed, but the negotiations broke down.

Also in Fullhart's report, Chavis claimed he wouldn't owe LSU anything if he terminated the deal when there was between zero and 11 months left on that contract. 

However, per the report, if Chavis opted out with between 11 and 23 months left on the deal, he would owe LSU $400,000:

"Based on Chavis' notice of termination on January 5, 2015, the 'termination date' according to the Amendment was effective thirty days after the written notice served to LSU or (sic) February 4, 2015, which falls within the 11th month remaining on Chavis' Employment Agreement," reads the suit. According to Chavis, he does not owe LSU $400,000 as a result.

Citing the lawsuit that was filed, Fullhart wrote Chavis claims Texas A&M is "currently obligated to satisfy or cause to be satisfied the liquidated damages, if any, associated with Chavis' previous Employment Agreement with LSU."

The cited lawsuit also notes that Texas A&M is currently "unwilling" to pay LSU the money because the school doesn't believe it's necessary under the terms of the aforementioned deal. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin hired Chavis away from his SEC rival following the Tigers' loss in the Music City Bowl against Notre Dame. The Aggies have had problems on defense throughout Sumlin's tenure, especially in 2014, when they finished tied for 75th in scoring defense. 

Hiring Chavis, who coached the always-potent LSU defense, was a major coup for Texas A&M. Not only did it upgrade Sumlin's coaching staff, but it took away a key coach from an SEC rival. 

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Check out a Florida Fan's 'Psycho' Pitch to Convince 4-Star to Join the Gators

Some fans will do just about anything when it comes to trying to convince recruits to attend their school of choice. One Florida Gator fan took it to a new extreme when the fan jokingly mentioned kidnapping Chauncey Gardner in order to get him to Gainesville. 

Is that the craziest thing you've heard a fan do? Check out the video and let us know! 

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2016 4-Star LB Tre Lamar Dishes on New Offers, Academic Deal-Breakers

With a 3.4 GPA and plans to major in civil engineering, Tre Lamar is equally focused on getting it done in the classroom at the next level.

For someone who has a knack for blowing plays up on a football field, Lamar hopes to put things together as an engineer when his playing career is over.

“The main factors are me feeling comfortable on the campus and really seeing myself being able to go there everyday for four years,” Lamar told Bleacher Report. “Also, I want the school to have a good engineering program. I want to go somewhere where I can feel good about getting my degree and who can provide the academic support and help that I need to get it done in the classroom as well.”

The beastly 4-star linebacker from Roswell, Georgia, is one of the most sought-after prospects in the 2016 class.

There’s no denying the credentials the 6’4”, 240-pounder has on the gridiron. Within the last week alone, Lamar’s lengthy offer list has expanded to include Georgia, Texas A&M and Oregon.

“They are just a winning program,” Lamar said. “They’re well-coached. They have awesome facilities. They have a lot to offer, so that’s why I like Oregon.”

He’s also high on the Aggies and their tradition of developing studs at his position. 

“In terms of Texas A&M, I’ve been watching them play, and they are also well-coached. I’ve seen a lot of great linebackers come out of Texas A&M like Von Miller and guys like that, so I think they do a good job of developing linebackers,” Lamar said. “If I went there, I think they would do the same with me.” 

He mentioned the Aggies along with Clemson and Georgia Tech as schools whose engineering programs have impressed him—something that could give head coaches Dabo Swinney and Kevin Sumlin a leg up in the recruiting process. 

Lamar has been active in the offseason. He was named one of the top performers at the Adidas Georgia Showcase camp earlier this month. He was also one of many studs on hand in Athens last weekend for Georgia’s junior day. 

However, his experience was made a little more special when Mark Richt personally informed him that he had an offer from the Bulldogs.

“It’s always awesome to get an offer from the in-state team,” Lamar said. “It’s really cool because I got that one from Coach Richt. I got to talk to him and they told me that they really like my film and they like what I could do at Georgia, so it was a good feeling to get that offer.”

The Bulldogs are pitching him on the idea of staying close to home for college. However, even though Lamar admits that thought does appeal to him, he maintains that distance won’t be a factor in his decision.

Trips to Alabama this weekend and then Auburn and Florida are on deck for the Peach State standout. In particular, Lamar—who noted that his school “went off” when Tide head coach Nick Saban visited him recently—is excited about his trip to Tuscaloosa this weekend.

“I’m definitely interested in Alabama,” Lamar said. “I have a great relationship with the coaches down there. Coach [Kirby] Smart and those guys, it’s good to talk with them again and get a more in-depth look at Alabama and kind of the academic side of it there. Also, I want to see how they see me fitting into the defense.”

Despite Lamar’s busy schedule—one that he mentioned will include trips to the Atlanta Nike Camp in March—he maintains that he’s in no rush to make a decision.

In fact, Lamar enjoys the traveling he’s been doing, and he feels each trip is a fact-finding mission that he hopes brings him closer to making his choice. 

“I’m really having fun with this process, and I want to take as many visits as possible before I make the decision,” Lamar said. “I want to get a good feel for the school I’m going to.”

In the end, his fit away from the field will have as much to do with the benefits he can provide for his future home on the field. 


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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'Coaches Are Going to Fall in Love With' Underrated 2016 QB Khalil Tate

Khalil Tate, a 3-star dual-threat quarterback, per 247Sports, has not committed to where he will play his college football. But the program that does get Tate's services will be pleased with his well-rounded game and athleticism. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Tate's game and illustrates why he will be rising up the big boards of many college coaches. 

Where will Tate land? Check out the video, and let us know! 

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4-Star Parker Boudreaux on Close Relationship with Penn State's James Franklin

Parker Boudreaux, a 4-star offensive lineman, per 247 Sports, has not decided on where he will play at the next level. With over 70 Division I offers on his table, he certainly has many options. 

Bleacher Report sat down with the talented lineman, and he touched on the two schools he may be narrowing in on. 

Where will Boudreaux play at the next level? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Can Lane Kiffin Keep Explosive Alabama Offense Moving Forward in 2015?

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Alabama’s 2014 season wasn’t necessarily that Lane Kiffin had so much success at the helm of the Crimson Tide’s offense but the amount of success that he had.

Alabama broke school records for yards and plays run. Quarterback Blake Sims broke the single-season passing mark, while wide receiver Amari Cooper broke just about every record in the book.

He did it with Sims, a first-year starter, utilizing the immense treasure of skill-position talent around him.

So after such a massive season on the offensive side of the ball, the question now becomes how does Alabama and Kiffin follow it up this year?

Kiffin will have to do almost a complete rebuild on the fly. He loses all but two starters from that uncharacteristically explosive team and will have to develop new stars in order to make things click for him once again on that side of the ball.

It will start, of course, at quarterback, where Alabama has more question marks than it has had in the past with no “sure thing” set to take the reins.

Jake Coker was supposed to be that sure thing, but he couldn’t pick up the offense quick enough in just a few months of work in Tuscaloosa before the 2014 season started. Now that he will get a full offseason’s worth of work in, he’ll probably be the de facto No. 1, but he is far from a slam dunk to win the job.

It’s hard to count anybody out in this year’s race, even true freshman Blake Barnett, whose leadership qualities are already impressing the coaches and the players—especially those in the 2015 class who are already in school.

Kiffin has a proven track record of developing quarterbacks, so whoever does end up winning the job will be in good hands. He has worked with mobile types, like Barnett and Coker, and pocket passers like Alec Morris and David Cornwell. Kiffin hasn’t given anyone reason to doubt that whichever quarterback he chooses won’t succeed.

Once the quarterback position is settled, though, he’ll need people to protect him and to throw it to.

Alabama’s top three pass-catchers—Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones—are all gone. The next-most productive receiver last year was Chris Black, who caught 15 passes for 188 yards. Behind him, it’s ArDarius Stewart, who caught 12 for 149.

Someone’s going to have to step up.

More than likely, though, Kiffin will use more of a spread-it-out approach as opposed to making one guy the first, second and third option, like Cooper was this year, racking up over 1,000 yards more than the next guy on his team.

While the faces of Kiffin’s offenses in the past have been quarterbacks, like Sims or Matt Leinart, and wide receivers, like Cooper and Marqise Lee, he’ll need to develop some offensive line talent quickly.

Alabama returns stud left tackle Cam Robinson and center Ryan Kelly but will need to piece together three other starters from a mix of players without much experience.

2014 JUCO signee Dominick Jackson should get a shot either at right tackle or right guard. Grant Hill, who has seen spot duty at both positions, too, will likely hold down the other.

Left guard will be a challenge, though. There are talented rising redshirt freshmen from Alabama’s mammoth 2014 offensive line class who could step up after a season’s worth of work. Or, a journeyman like Alphonse Taylor could fill that role.

For as many big, flashy plays as Alabama made this year, it wasn’t quite as dominant in the trenches as it has been in the past, and it cost them at certain points in the year.

It will be no easy task for Kiffin to put together an offense nearly from scratch during the offseason. In 2014, he had established weapons returning and was able to break in a quarterback to facilitate things quick enough to set a lot of records.

His second year in the program looks like it will be more difficult than the first.


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Rev. Theodore Hesburgh Balanced Notre Dame Football with Academic Excellence

"Texas has oil. Notre Dame has football. Neither should apologize." 

That quote is one of many great ones widely attributed to Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., who passed away at the age of 97 on Thursday night. The president of Notre Dame for 35 years and one of the foremost leaders in America as the architect of the groundbreaking Civil Rights Act of 1964, Hesburgh lived a life far from ordinary. 

"We mourn today a great man and faithful priest who transformed the University of Notre Dame and touched the lives of many," said the Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's current president. "With his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation's great institutions for higher learning."

Hesburgh's balance of academics and football—what Notre Dame was primarily known for when he took over as president in 1952—is nearly as interesting as his many pursuits. While he would come to recognize the place the game held in the university's DNA, it wasn't always that way. 

Take this snippet, from the New York Times' obituary

Father Hesburgh understood the special role football played in Notre Dame’s reputation. But he was not a huge football fan, and he resented the influence that collegiate sports had on higher education. At his inauguration as president in 1952, he was appalled when local newspapers sent sportswriters to cover the event, and he refused to cooperate with photographers who asked him to pose with a football.

“I’m not the football coach,” he barked at the surprised journalists. “I’m the president.”

Hesburgh's battles with legendary coach Frank Leahy likely created this fracture. Hesburgh recommended to Leahy that he retire because of health issues, even after four national championships and an undefeated 9-0-1 season that saw the Irish finish the season as No. 2 in 1953.

Lou Somogyi of Blue & Gold details Hesburgh's conversation with the legendary coach, who had his last rites administered after a halftime collapse in a game against Georgia Tech.

"Frank, this is ridiculous," Hesburgh recalled, per Somogyi. "I think you ought to seriously consider retiring, for the sake of your family and your health. But it's up to you, you still have two years to go on your contract, and we'd pay you the rest of it."

Leahy's departure marked the beginning of an eight-year run that still serves as the low point for Notre Dame football. And it brought the critics out in full force, after a university president accused of wanting football to fail. 

Hesburgh took to the pages of Sports Illustrated to talk about Notre Dame's intentions to balance academics and athletics. Penned 61 years ago, much of what he says could've fit in my column from yesterday. 

The fundamental difference between intercollegiate and professional athletics is that in college the players are supposed to be students first and foremost. This does not mean that they should all be Phi Beta Kappas or physics majors, but neither should they be subnormal students majoring in ping-pong.

Once this fundamental principle is accepted three equally obvious conclusions follow as the day the night.

First, any boy who has demonstrated during his high school days that he is quite incapable of doing collegiate work should not be admitted to college, even though he may have been an all-state high school fullback.

Secondly, once a qualified student who also happens to be a good athlete is admitted to college, he should follow the same academic courses, with the same academic requirements as the other students. Presumably he is in college for the same reason as the others: to get a good education for life, and to earn a degree in four years. This means, in practice, no fresh-air courses, no special academic arrangements for athletes.

Thirdly, the athlete should enjoy (and I use the word advisedly) the same student life in college as the other students. He should not be treated as prime beef, should not be given special housing and disciplinary arrangements, made a demigod on a special allowance who is above and beyond the regimen that is found to be educationally best for all the students of any given school. In this connection, I am reminded of the animal who is enthroned and crowned with great ceremony at the annual Puck Fair in Ireland. It happens to be a goat.

Hesburgh followed common-sense logic in all walks of his life. It was why he turned Notre Dame co-ed in 1972 and why he turned over the governance of the university to a lay Board of Trustees, a controversial decision that the Vatican approved in 1967. 

And after a tough run, greatness in football returned to South Bend. The Irish won a national championship under Ara Parseghian, part of three titles won in a 12-year span between 1966-77.  

"The Parseghian family was blessed when he made the decision to name me the head football coach in 1964," the former Irish head coach said in a statement released by Notre Dame. "We will be eternally grateful. Father Ted has touched many lives and we are honored that he made us a part of the Notre Dame family."

Lou Holtz won his 1988 national title a year after Hesburgh retired as president. But that didn't stop the president emeritus from serving as counsel to the former coach. 

"If Readers Digest asked me to write about the most amazing person I’ve ever met in my life, my answer would be, without a doubt, Father Hesburgh," Holtz said in the same statement. "I was blessed and fortunate to be under his tutelage while I coached at the University of Notre Dame...Whenever I’m faced with difficult times, I reflect back on Father Hesburgh and how he handled things and his outlook on life.”

Hesburgh's legacy will be about so much more than football. But as he built Notre Dame into America's premier Catholic university and elevated the academic profile of the university to among the best in the world, perhaps this quote best encapsulates his attitude toward the Fighting Irish:

"There is no academic virtue in playing mediocre football."  

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Why Alabama Redshirt Freshman DB Marlon Humphrey Will Set SEC on Fire in 2015

While Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany spins his wheels with the preposterous idea of reinstituting freshman ineligibility, the college football version of endangered species are preparing for their first seasons in competitive college football.

Redshirt freshmen used to litter rosters across the Southeast, but as more and more true freshman phenoms find the field across the SEC, redshirt freshmen are going the way of the dodo bird.

If you're looking for a redshirt freshman in the SEC who's going to explode onto the scene in 2015, look no further than Alabama defensive back Marlon Humphrey.

The son of former Alabama running back Bobby Humphrey, Marlon Humphrey signed with the Crimson Tide in the class of 2014 as part of a dynamic defensive back duo with fellow 5-star prospect Tony Brown.

At 6'1", 186 pounds, Humphrey is a taller defensive back who can go one-on-one with bigger wide receivers and bump them off routes at the line of scrimmage. He's got tremendous recovery and ball skills, is good in coverage and has everything it takes to be a star—including the speed of a track star.

Humphrey is spending his offseason on the Crimson Tide track team, where he's busy setting records in the 4X400-meter relay according to Drew Champlin of

"He was already so much faster than everybody else in high school so he was able to transition pretty smoothly," assistant track coach Matt Kane told Champlin. "He looks like a man as opposed to a college freshman, but he's not too bulky. People worry about that, but he's really got good football weight and everything."


As in, everything he needs to be a superstar.

The former Hoover (Alabama) High School standout was brought to Tuscaloosa to be an instant impact defender but instead had to adjust to working with the scout team. According to Michael Casagrande of, Humphrey did fine with that transition.

"It wasn't too hard," Humphrey said. "Once you get over the fact, it's not too bad."

That hard work might pay off in a hurry, because aside from Cyrus Jones occupying one cornerback spot, the rest of the defensive rotation at corner is wide open. Eddie Jackson and Bradley Sylve were inconsistent last year, Tony Brown was relegated to a reserve role, and the Tide finished the year ranked 11th in the SEC in pass defense (226.0 yards per game) and opponent passing plays of 20 or more yards (43).

Inconsistency against the pass has been a problem that's lingered for two years in Tuscaloosa, and Mel Tucker was brought in to coach defensive backs in an effort to fix it.

That means a clean slate for everybody, which is huge news for Humphrey.

Jones' improvement from Game 1 through Game 14 last year was an indicator that the light bulb went off in his head. So, barring any unforeseen injuries or problems, it's safe to assume that he's going to build off of that in the offseason.

For everybody else, the race is wide open.

Since nickel packages have evolved into more of the base defense in college football, that means there's even more of a chance for Humphrey to earn playing time and become a star.

Humphrey has the talent, is at a school that needs help and has the opportunity to shine thanks to a new position coach.

That's a recipe for redshirt success.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Why College Football Needs to Keep Its Title Games in College Stadiums

When it comes to the Super Bowl, the adage "If you build it, they will come" applies. In college football, it's a similar story. 

It doesn't have to be, though.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the San Francisco 49ers are planning to bid to host the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at their new palace, Levi's Stadium: 

A person with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the team will seek to host either the 2018, '19 or '20 title game when they come up for bid later this year. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there has been no announcement about the plans.

Cities interested in hosting one of those three title games have until May to bid. A decision on the winners is expected in the fall.

The bid, whether it succeeds or not, checks off the important boxes: a new and fancy stadium, solid location (Santa Clara, California, just south of San Francisco) and decent January weather. 

Here's something to consider: Why doesn't college football take back its own title game? Put the national championship on campus. You want tradition? You got it. And, yes, tradition is an important part of the postseason. 

When the idea of the College Football Playoff was in its infancy, a chief concern among college admins was how the bowl system would play into it. Question the business model of bowl games all you want—Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports successfully did in 2010 with his book Death to the BCS—but the long-standing relationships between bowls and conferences was too deep to cast aside. 

College power brokers made sure the bowls remained a part of the sport's postseason by incorporating the six biggest ones—the Cotton, Fiesta, Peach, Fiesta, Rose and Sugar, now called the New Year's Six—into the semifinal games. Only the national championship game is up for bid to a neutral-site location. 

Basically, the playoff became an altered version of bowl season with an extra game tacked on the end.

So why does that extra game have to be played at an NFL location? Imagine college football's national championship game being held in Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, or in Death Valley at LSU. There could still be a national championship at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles or other big-market college stadiums.

Have a college football stadium bucket list? This would be a dream come true. 

Why can't host committees, with the approval of the appropriate college football program, bid on that right, just like in the NFL? 

OK, so it wouldn't be just like the NFL. Mike Kaszuba and Rochelle Olson of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune uncovered the NFL's lengthy list of demands for hosting the 2018 Super Bowl. The College Football Playoff National Championship was big, but it wasn't Super Bowl big. Nothing else in America is. 

Schools already wine and dine bowl reps, so this would just be an extended version of that. A more expensive version, of course, but nothing they wouldn't be willing to do. Maybe it kick-starts that stadium/press box expansion project that's been on the table for a couple of years. 

After all, getting the playoff folks to share that willingness is the challenge. 

The No. 1 excuse by then-BCS executive director Bill Hancock—who now holds the same title with the CFP—was that college football stadiums/towns/etc. logistically couldn't handle a semifinal game, let alone a national championship. 

The program sacrificed to this logic a few years ago was Kansas State when Hancock pondered, via Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, "Can Manhattan, Kansas, take care of 1,200 media? Where will people stay?" 

However, there's a fallacy in that, as Staples pointed out in 2012:

Well, Bill, I say this as a media member who routinely stays two hours from a game site because of outrageously priced or unavailable hotel rooms. In your hypothetical, there is this magical place called Kansas City. They have great barbecue there. You should know. You live there.

Now, would there be an uphill battle to climb for Kansas State to land the hosting rights? Absolutely. The playoff would simply select the most desirable option every year. Guess what, that already happens. 

Besides, with advertising revenue and television rights being what they are, seating/press box capacity should be a few rungs down on the list of priorities (and they are). 

But wait. What if perennial championship contenders like Alabama land the bid and get another home game? That's a possibility, but it also exists in the NFL. 

There are complications in every plan. Budgets have to be made, plans have to be secured years in advance. However, with media rights contracts for Power Five conferences being what they are, and with more money coming in through the playoff, there's a lot of green to be spent. 

Schools would love nothing more than to showcase their facilities and town. It's an economic boost and a recruiting tool. Fans would get to experience a college football trip they might not have otherwise taken. 

So, to college football admins: Let's bring the national championship game on campus and have some fun with it. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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5-Star Alabama Legacy Ben Davis Breaks Down Top 7 in B/R Exclusive

Ben Davis may be the son of Roll Tide royalty, but his list of collegiate favorites extends well beyond Tuscaloosa. Interests lie as far as California and as close as rival Auburn.

The 5-star linebacker, rated 24th overall in 247Sports' composite rankings, named his top seven options Wednesday on Twitter:

Davis, whose father Wayne is Alabama's all-time leader in tackles, discussed his announcement in further detail Thursday evening during a conversation with Bleacher Report.

The 6'4", 230-pound prospect plays at Gordo High School, located approximately 25 miles northwest of Bryant–Denny Stadium. 

"We're pretty close to Tuscaloosa, but there are actually a lot of Auburn fans around here and they want me to go to there," Davis said. "I don't feel the pressure either way, though. People try to talk you into playing for their favorite team, but it's my choice and I haven't made it yet."

He appreciates his family's close ties to the Crimson Tide, though Davis is happy to have unconditional support.

"My dad will support whatever decision I make 110 percent," Davis said. "He hasn't really pushed me toward one school or another. He just wants to make sure I'm comfortable with the situation wherever I go."

Nick Saban sought out the legacy recruit early, extending an offer last spring. Davis has spent substantial time at Alabama, developing a solid rapport with the program's iconic leader.

"Coach Saban is fun to be around," Davis said. "People who don't know him might not expect him to be like that. He's a cool guy to spend time with. But when it's time for business, he's about his business. He's one of the greatest."

His latest campus visit occurred last weekend. At this stage, Davis possesses a strong understanding of what the team stands for and how he would fit within its scheme.

"They have all the national championships, an excellent coaching staff and very good structure," Davis said. "Alabama always has one of the best recruiting classes every year, so I'm interested to see what kind of class they put together this year too."

Auburn will welcome him to its facilities next weekend, and he expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming visit.

"I can't wait to get down there on the Plains," Davis said.

His interest in the program increased earlier this winter when head coach Gus Malzahn hired Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator. The move paid immediate dividends on signing day and certainly seemed to impact top 2016 targets.

"I love Coach Muschamp," Davis said. "He recruited me at Florida first, and now he's recruiting me really hard at Auburn."

The Gators remain in the mix despite dumping Muschamp. Count Davis among fans of new Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, who became known as the "Minister of Mayhem" at his last stop.

"My relationship with Coach Collins is pretty strong since he was at Mississippi State last year," he said. "Florida is a top-notch program and school. I need to get down to The Swamp to see more about it."

Davis also expressed interest in visiting Georgia. Again, confidence in the defensive coordinator is a large part of that appeal.

"Coach Jeremy Pruitt gave me an offer last summer at a seven-on-seven tournament in Birmingham," he said. "I like the way he coaches up that defense and the linebackers look good."

Ole Miss is another SEC squad that stands out to Davis based on the way it shines defensively. He admires the way Rebels players consistently dish out pain.

"I've watched a lot of their games and I like the way they hit," Davis said. "A lot of those guys on defense have a mean streak. I like their style."

It may come as a surprise, but Davis grew up a fan of both Alabama and LSU. 

The bitter rivals have each commanded his attention as a coveted recruit.

"I have a really good relationship with the LSU coaches," he said. "(Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele) and I know each other really well from when he was coaching linebackers at Alabama, so him going to LSU makes it even better there. I can't wait to get to a game and see what they have to offer."

USC is the outlier among this group, as the lone non-SEC squad. However, his background provides a glimpse of why the Trojans remain an attractive possibility.

"A lot of people don't know this, but I was actually born out in Arizona," Davis said. "I didn't move to Alabama until I was 10. So my experience and relationships on the West Coast are part of the reason why I'm considering USC."

He anticipates going on an official visit to the university. USC loaded up on elite defensive talent during the 2015 cycle, so Steve Sarkisian's staff should be psyched about sustained interest from Davis.

"They have a great history and tradition of putting guys in the NFL," he said. "It's been a powerhouse program. I'm definitely excited to see what they have going on at that campus."

USC signed four top-tier linebackers in February. Davis would encounter similarly stocked depth charts at several of his top options, but that's an aspect he embraces.

"I'm going to enjoy the competition," Davis said. "It reminds me of freshman year in high school. You have to earn your spot by getting better every day and showing you have what it takes. That's the only way to get onto the field."

Despite establishing a top-seven list, things are certainly subject to change.

Davis mentioned Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan State, Oregon and Ohio State as programs with whom he would appreciate increased communication. He seemed specifically interested in the Buckeyes, adding there is "a lot of family" in Ohio.

"Urban Meyer gets his team fired up for every game," Davis said. "He looks like a great guy to play for. They're the national champs so you have to respect that."

Though he doesn't yet have firm visit dates in place, Davis expects to stay busy on the recruiting trail in coming months. His goal is to announce a commitment before the start of his senior season, though he isn't setting a deadline.

"I want to have my mind totally focused on my team and trying to win a state championship," Davis said. "But it depends on how me and my folks feel when we sit down and go over all the options. It could take longer and last until the end of the season."

He may have crimson pumping through his veins, but Davis remains very much open to the idea of exploring several opportunities elsewhere.

Whether he ultimately follows in his father's footsteps and lands in an Alabama uniform or returns to Tuscaloosa on the visitor sidelines, it seems likely Davis will make a mark in the SEC.


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Brady Hoke's Recruiting Legacy Setting Jim Harbaugh Up for Success at Michigan

Brady Hoke was far from a perfect coach during his time at Michigan.

Players didn't develop at the rate they were expected to, the Wolverines lost to less-talented teams and truth be told, he probably should have been wearing a headset.

But one thing Hoke did do well during his four-year stint in Ann Arbor was recruit. And in his first season in succeeding Hoke, Jim Harbaugh could reap the benefits.

Particularly on the offensive line, where the former Michigan head coach consistently attracted some of the nation's top talents. They may not have developed into the players recruiting services projected them to turn into under Hoke, but that could all change next season.

"There's something special in there," new Wolverines offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Tim Drevno said following Michigan's Thursday spring practice session. "I'm excited about it."

And for good reason.

Despite all of the uncertainty surrounding the Wolverines heading into the 2015 season—particularly at the quarterback position—one unit that already has some stability is Michigan's front five. The Wolverines will bring back all five starters on their offensive line from a season ago, as well as the versatile Erik Magnuson, who started five games in 2014.

You wouldn't know it from the numbers—Michigan ranked 64th nationally in rushing a season ago with 162.8 yards per game and 63rd with 26 sacks allowed—but the talent on its starting line is there.

Left tackle Mason Cole arrived in Ann Arbor a year ago as a 4-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American, before going on to start all 12 games in his freshman campaign. Cole was joined in starting every game last season by Ben Braden, a former 3-star prospect and the 47th-ranked offensive tackle in the 2012 class.

The interior of the Wolverines' offensive line saw less stability, but still possesses plenty of promise, most notably in former 4-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American Kyle Kalis. After getting off to a rocky start in the first two years of his college career, the Lakewood, Ohio, native bounced back to start the final seven games of the 2014 campaign at right guard and began to live up to the promise that made him such a coveted prospect coming out of high school.

Starting next to Kalis was center Jack Miller, a fifth-year-senior-to-be who has started 16 games in his college career, including all 12 last season Left guard Graham Glasgow started 11 games in 2014, while Magnuson, a former 4-star prospect, has the ability to play both tackle and guard.

Between Cole, Braden, Kalis, Miller, Glasgow and Magnuson, Michigan will bring back a combined 93 starts on its offensive line in 2015. Of course stability is one thing, but what good is it if it's from a unit that's struggled in each of the past two seasons?

The Wolverines won't find out for sure until this fall, but they already seem to be headed in the right direction. After a historically bad 2013 that included a nation's worst 113 tackles-for-loss allowed, 36 sacks (109th in the nation) and 125.7 rushing yards per game (103rd in the country), Michigan improved in all three offensive line-indicating statistics in 2014, although not to the standards that have been set in Ann Arbor.

Enter Drevno, who coached under Harbaugh from 2004-2013 during stints at San Diego, Stanford and the 49ers, before serving as USC's offensive line coach and running game coordinator in 2014. After just two days of spring practice—neither of which have been in pads—Drevno's still not quite sure what he has in his new unit, but so far, he likes what he sees.

"It's a slow burn, but I'm feeling it," Drevno said. "These kids are great kids. They've got the want-to, they want to be coached. There's nobody resisting what we're doing."

Drevno is not only aware of the criticism that Michigan's offensive line has recently received, but the talent that it possesses. And having coached some of the best offensive lines in the NFL and college football in recent years, he believes he's the man who can bring it out of them.

"I don't worry about the past. I've made mistakes as a coach, players make mistakes," he said. "But the great competitors I've been around, at the highest level, like [four-time Pro Bowl tackle] Joe Staley, some of those NFL guys I've coached, they have short-term memory. They make a mistake, they forget about it and they push on. That is a true competitor."

Drevno knows it will be a process to bring the best out of Michigan's much-maligned offensive line, one he's been through before. But he also knows the results he can yield, especially from a group as talented as the one Hoke recruited before he and Harbaugh arrived.

"It's pretty cool when it happens," Drevno said. "You get that group inside there to believe in one another and the brotherhood about the want-to and how we lead this football team. That's pretty cool."


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Michigan CB Blake Countess Shows Up Teammate Jabrill Peppers in Backflip Contest

Earlier this week, Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers shared a video of him performing a backflip during a practice drill. He took a running start and performed the flip with a helmet on...not too shabby.

Fellow Wolverines defensive back Blake Countess decided to one-up his teammate. Here he is performing multiple back handsprings leading into consecutive backflips.

Which do you find more impressive?

Of course, while these two players are clearly athletically gifted, the bar for college football players remains sky-high, set by South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul in 2009 when he engaged in a similar contest with a teammate:

[Blake Countess, Jabrill Peppers, YouTube]

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Does UNC Have a Legit Shot Against Alabama for 4-Star QB Jawon Pass?

One of the nation’s most sought-after quarterbacks in the 2016 cycle is 4-star dual-threat passer Jawon Pass.

According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Pass has two programs—Alabama and North Carolina—tied at the top of his list.

While Pass mentioned Notre Dame and Penn State as other schools who he consistently communicates with, at the moment, the Tide and the Tar Heels are set to battle it out for the 6’5”, 220-pounder.

But does North Carolina have what it takes to beat out Alabama for a potential impact player such as Pass?

There are a few reasons that Larry Fedora’s program has a legit shot in this early tug-of-war.

For starters, Fedora’s offense appears to be a more natural fit for a stud such as Pass who can break down defenses with his arm and his legs.

Alabama, by comparison, has run more of a traditional pro-style set during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure—although it altered that a bit last season with Blake Sims at the helm.

Also, the Tide just brought in 5-star passer and 2015 early enrollee Blake Barnett—who was the crown jewel of the Tide's top-rated 2015 class. Additionally, the Tide already have former touted recruits such as David Cornwell and Cooper Bateman on campus who are talented underclassmen capable of competing for the Tide’s vacancy at quarterback.

Even though Fedora has signed at least one passer in each of his four recruiting classes since arriving in Chapel Hill, there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut successor to rising senior Marquise Williams—at least not yet.

The current backup, Mitch Trubisky, completed less than 54 percent of his passes while throwing for 459 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions last season.

Should Pass opt to head to Chapel Hill, he would give Fedora a similar, and perhaps a more polished, version of Williams—who accounted for 3,856 yards of total offense and 34 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.

As a junior at Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia, Pass accounted for 2,601 yards of total offense with 23 touchdown passes and another 11 scores coming on the ground.

Pass will visit both schools in the near future.

Bartow reports that the Columbus, Georgia, native plans to visit North Carolina for almost an entire week, beginning next week, while Alabama will host him the following weekend:

“I want to see how the players are there and I want my mom to meet the coaches and see the campus,” Pass told Bartow on his thoughts about his visit to Chapel Hill. “(Tar Heels) coach (Larry) Fedora is a great guy. They run a fast-paced offense. It’s more throwing than running but they said they can do a lot of things with me because I can run and throw. It’s like Carver’s offense.”

His familiarity with Fedora’s system is another plus that could ensure a seamless transition to the college level.

While Alabama is a recruiting heavyweight that can never be counted out when they are aggressively pursuing a top target, North Carolina appears to have enough ammunition to win out for Pass’ services in the end.


Collegiate stats via unless otherwise noted.

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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De'Andre Johnson's Brother, Elite 2018 CB Tyreke: 'Jimbo Fisher Is Family to Me'

Tyreke Johnson, a talented athlete and younger brother of Florida State QB De'Andre Johnson, is a class of 2018 standout ready to make his mark. 

In the video above, Tyreke shares his recruiting stories, his memories from attending Seminoles games, as well as his relationship with Jimbo Fisher.

Which school will Johnson commit to? Check out the video and let us know!

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Pitt Football Coach Pat Narduzzi Tweets Video of Epic Team Tug-of-War Drill

Much has been made of how new Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi has upped the social media and recruiting game for the Panthers.

This latest gem should get all football fans quite hyped (considering they've been scraping combine results to get their fixes in the offseason).

In the video, two Pitt players battle in a tug-of-war match, using every muscle. Everything is on the line, and the team is positively raucous. An exercise like this can go a long way toward impacting team morale.

Narduzzi's caption seems fitting: "Word of the day: Team."

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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Meet 'The Shark': 4-Star LB Jeffrey McCulloch Earning His Nickname, Big Offers

It all started as a joke.

Jeffrey McCulloch and his Davis High School teammates and friends were watching videos of game film. McCulloch, a 4-star linebacker, made a jarring hit on an opposing player.

And then another one. And another one. And another. Every play finishing with the same result: McCulloch racing full speed to a quarterback or running back and appearing to make a tackle with the impact of a minor car crash.

And then, McCulloch said, one of his teammates—2015 defensive back Kenneth Lathan, the one McCulloch called "the jokester of the team"—said something matter-of-factly that's happened to become something of a budding phenomenon.

"He said, "Man, you're out there like a shark," McCulloch said. "I would always run down the field, always going forward. Before the quarterback would get the pass off, I was hitting him."

"It was funny, because the team we were playing was in red. What do they say about sharks smelling blood?"

The nickname stuck. And now, "The Shark" is preparing for the spring, the upcoming 2015 regular season at Davis and the future—college football. He's the No. 78 player in 247Sports' composite rankings and the No. 6 outside linebacker in the nation.

At 6'2" and 230 pounds, McCulloch is the type of outside linebacker every coach wants. He's a strong, physical athlete who plays each down as if it was his last. McCulloch added that he's been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds.

Imagine a player with his size and aggressiveness running full speed into an unsuspecting player.

Shark tactics.

"I just try to be an aggressive pass rusher who can cover anybody down the field," McCulloch said. "Honestly, I didn't think [the nickname] would stick. I thought it was just us being silly at first. Then after a while, I heard teammates saying it, then friends were saying it, then teachers were saying it."

Angel Verdejo of the Houston Chronicle told Bleacher Report that McCulloch recorded 59 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hurries, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries during his junior year. Of those 59 tackles, 18.5 were tackles for loss. He also has eight batted passes and six pass breakups, showing off his coverage skills.

Because of his play, McCulloch has landed over 20 offers and could be at 30-plus by the end of the spring. And because of his nickname, he's also been able to get some pretty cool social media edits from fans of schools interested.

McCulloch said he has a top-seven list of schools but has chosen to keep the list a secret until the spring. Currently, 247Sports has Texas, LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Michigan and Auburn as potential destinations for him. Auburn was his last offer.

"Everything is just crazy right now," he said. "My head is on a constant spin every day, but I'm just taking it day by day."

Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor and Arkansas also should be considered in the running for McCulloch. He went to Texas A&M's junior day last month. On Saturday, McCullouch will be at Texas' junior day. He camped at Texas last summer.

And what will the winning school get, aside from a player who thrives on living up to his nickname?

"Whoever gets The Shark will get someone who'll play for four years and carry on the name of the program hopefully in the NFL," McCulloch said. "Some of the coaches are saying I have next-level talent and talent after that. I try to be explosive and a player who can do it all—play safety, outside linebacker, middle linebacker, defensive end, whatever."

"I just try to be relentless. I'll never stop until we have a championship. Multiple championships."

It's the perfect attitude to have for an athlete on a mission, a shark looking to make an impact in bigger waters.


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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Michigan Football: Top Candidates for Wolverines' Open Starting Jobs

Michigan has taken the plunge into spring, so finding replacements for six of its top departed starters is of the utmost importance.

On Tuesday, first-year Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh gave a brief and fuzzy update on recent events. Then again, he only had one practice to reference, so he really didn’t have much to talk about.

He knows that he has to replace quarterback Devin Gardner, but he doesn’t know with whom.

He’ll have to find someone to take wide receiver Devin Funchess’ spot as well, but again, Harbaugh doesn’t know which player will end up doing so. It’s just too early to make that call.

Due to the departure of Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer, Michigan is now looking for a pair to bookend the defensive line. And now that Ray Taylor’s gone, there’s a hole to fill in the secondary too.

Finding the next Jake Ryan could take time, but there are enough linebackers to bridge the gap.

Replacing two offensive weapons and four defensive starters should be relatively painless for Harbaugh, who—relatively speaking—has it easy when compared to other coaches around the Big Ten.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer lost a lot of talent to the NFL draft pool and graduation, so they’ll be seeking to replenish their wells this spring as well. And they need to do a lot more than tinker with a few positions.

The spring game is on April 4, which means Harbaugh has roughly a month to get his ducks in a row before the real test comes this fall. Time is of the essence, and Harbaugh has none to waste.


Who’s the Next QB?

Wilton Speight, Shane Morris and Alex Malzone seem to be the top three candidates to replace Gardner, but Harbaugh wouldn’t hint either way during his media availability on Tuesday.

The best one will win the job, which is the case for every position.

Morris, a former Warren De La Salle star, has the experience card, but Speight, who’ll be a redshirt frosh this fall, has become a more popular pick among fans and media. The 6’6”, 234-pounder out of Richmond Collegiate (Virginia) has an arm that can wow the masses and possesses ideal size.

Morris’ two starts and time in the program are pluses, but they’re not enough to guarantee him the job.

As for Malzone, well, the idea of a true freshman starting at quarterback is almost ridiculous. That’s not Michigan’s style, so it’s highly unlikely that the 6’1.5”, 200-pounder out of Birmingham Brother Rice gets the nod—unless, of course, he blows the doors off the competition this spring.

Zach Gentry arrives this fall, but the 6’7”, 230-pounder out of Albuquerque Eldorado (New Mexico) will face the same set of circumstances as Malzone, and the lack of reps this spring could put him behind the pace—at least for this year.

Today, until someone says otherwise, Morris and Speight are top two. Speight could be the one to emerge and earn the No. 1 role. The spring game will decide that.


Replacing Funchess

Losing Funchess isn’t a killer, but it doesn’t make matters easier for the Wolverines, who have just three receivers returning with 15 more catches.

One of the pass-catchers is tight end Jake Butt, who is also rehabbing an ACL injury.

At 6’6” and 250 pounds, Butt could theoretically fill the void of No. 1 target left by Funchess. His size makes him the obvious successor in the weaponry department.

As far as pure receivers go, Amara Darboh is the successor to the No. 1 role. That’s different than being the No. 1 target, which will probably end up being Butt’s duty.

Darboh has hands, but the 6’2”, 216-pound redshirt-junior-to-be lacks elite speed. However, he can absorb contact, grab and go over the middle and fly down the sideline for the deep ball.

Michigan has a stable of receivers who are 6’2”, 200 pounds or heavier: Jehu Chesson, Jaron Dukes, Maurice Ways and early enrollee Brian Cole could each at least compete for the primary role.

Nothing is set in stone at any position, Harbaugh said on Tuesday.


The Bookends

Taco Charlton, Mario Ojemudia, Henry Poggi and Chris Wormley are arguably the top four ends heading into spring ball.

Charlton, a 6’6”, 273-pound junior-to-be, has appeared in 21 games during his time in Ann Arbor. His praises had been sung by former coach Brady Hoke for two years, so it’s time that he emerges as the potential impact player everyone expects.

That should be easier now that Clark and Beyer are out of the picture.

Ojemudia has been an unheralded cog of the defense. The 6’3”, 252-pound senior-to-be has seen action in 33 games, but he’s started just thrice.

This spring is crucial for the former Farmington Hills Harrison star, as he’s in danger of being surpassed by the likes of Poggi, who was supposed to be one of the gems of Hoke’s 2013 class. However, the 6’4”, 273-pounder redshirted that year and has played in just six games.

Wormley’s been in the mix for two years, and he’s a player whom D-line coach Greg Mattison absolutely loves. At 6’5” and 300 pounds, the soon-to-be junior seems like a better fit for the inside. But an offseason of conditioning could reveal a leaner, faster Wormley who’d better serve as an end than a tackle.

It all depends on Mattison and new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. They’ll run a mix of the 4-3 and 3-4, so Wormley could easily slide inside and outside.

This past season, Beyer had 5.5 sacks and Clark had 4.5. Mattison and Durkin have enough knowhow and resources to manufacture at least 10 sacks from the DE position this fall. Replacing Beyer and Clark’s numbers shouldn’t be too tough of a task.


Step up for Ryan

Ryan’s senior year left a little to be desired, but he still managed to finish second in the Big Ten with 112 tackles. He averaged 1.17 tackles for a loss, the fifth-best mark in the conference, and consistently found a way to influence nearly every play on the field.

He played both inside and outside linebacker during his four-year tenure.

While in the middle, Ryan was often one of the first to meet the ball-carrier. His speed—he ran an impressive 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine—allowed him to make life difficult for tight ends and receivers too.

As it was last year, the linebacker position could end up being one of the most competitive during workouts. That’s not a bad thing, either.

Joe Bolden, a senior-to-be, stands out as Ryan’s successor. At 6’3” and 232 pounds, he packs a punch. However, he must improve on wrapping up running backs. That was one of his weaknesses in 2014.

Desmond Morgan will return for a fifth year, so it’s fair to assume that he’ll be a guy to beat. The 6’1”, 236-pounder has 31 starts to his credit, making him ideal to assume the lead role in Ryan’s absence.


Peppers for Ray

If not for a lower leg/ankle injury, Jabrill Peppers would have been the starting nickelback for the Wolverines. He would have also started at corner—and wherever else he wanted, really.

The 6’1”, 205-pounder is fully healthy now, evidenced by a recent spree of backflips, so it’s safe to assume that he’ll get Taylor’s job—or take someone else’s job. Either/or.


Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability. Stats were pulled from Michigan’s ESPN team page, and Recruiting info via 247Sports.

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