NCAA Football

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Bowling Green Falcons Complete Game Preview

The Tennessee Volunteers will finally end all this hype and speculation when they take the field Saturday in a neutral-site season opener that will still have a hometown feel.

Coach Butch Jones' Vols will open in Nashville's Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, in a game that will showcase plenty of UT's young talent on display against Mid-American Conference upstart Bowling Green.

It's only fitting that the Vols open in the Midstate considering all the talent on the roster that hails from there.

After a preseason camp that featured far too many injuries, plenty of physical position battles and a wealth of attention from national media in nearly every major publication, it's good to finally be playing football. UT begins the season ranked 25th, and it'll kick right into full-throttle action.

The Falcons finished 8-6 a season ago with a win over South Alabama in the Camellia Bowl, and that was without star quarterback Matt Johnson, who'll return from a season-ending injury suffered last year.

"They're a very, very explosive offense," Jones told GoVols247's Ryan Callahan.

Tennessee, meanwhile, took an important step forward, finishing 7-6 to have its first winning season since 2009 and win its first bowl game since two years before that.

It was just the tip of expectations on Rocky Top, and this offseason already has come to a head of excitement ready to explode. UT fans are hungry to contend for an SEC title. That may still be a year away, but a strong start against BGSU may get the Vols believing.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know for the matchup.

 

Date: Saturday, Sep. 5

Time: 4 ET

Place: Nissan Stadium, Nashville

TV: SEC Network

Radio: Vol Network, Bowling Green Falcons Sports Network, Sirius 119/XM 192

Spread: Tennessee by 20.5 points, according to Oddsshark.com.

Begin Slideshow

College Football Betting Props: Win Total Odds Analysis for UCLA, TCU

When breaking down 2015 college football win totals and trying to assess best bets for the upcoming season, one of the most important factors to address is the juice you might need to lay to wager on the over or under when favored.

For this reason, bettors would be wise to look for value on the underdog side of the equation and hope oddsmakers missed the boat when setting their opening numbers.

However, one school that stands out this year with the same number on both sides for a pick’em at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark is the UCLA Bruins at nine over/under (20-23). The Bruins appear to be undervalued despite being public darlings because they underachieved last season.

Former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley was an early Heisman Trophy candidate but left school early after his junior year and went from being a potential first-round pick in the NFL draft to a fifth-round pick. The Bruins finished with a 10-3 record last season, but that included a 40-35 win over the Kansas State Wildcats in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Keep in mind that conference championships and bowl games do not count in the final win total tally at most sportsbooks, so make sure to check the rules.

This year, UCLA has one of the most prized freshmen in the country replacing Hundley in Josh Rosen. The Bruins are hoping the buzz around Rosen will help them play a lot better at the Rose Bowl this season after going just 3-3 there compared to 5-0 on the road.

If this team comes together and the offensive line protects Rosen better than it did Hundley, then going over nine wins is a solid play for this top Pac-12 contender.

Another school that looks to be over-hyped in 2015 is the Big 12’s TCU Horned Frogs at 10 over (2-3).

Even though the Horned Frogs are coming off a 12-win season and should be motivated after missing the College Football Playoff a year ago, they have tough road games against the Kansas State Wildcats and Oklahoma Sooners along with a difficult home matchup with the Baylor Bears in their home finale.

TCU going 9-3 does not seem like a long shot, although the betting odds have that possibility listed at 6-5.

With quarterback Trevone Boykin getting a lot of love as the early Heisman Trophy favorite, the Horned Frogs are receiving more media attention than ever. That has a tendency to backfire, so take a shot on the under with value.

 

Odds courtesy of Odds Shark.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Utah, Not Jim Harbaugh, Is the Most Important Thing to Watch on Opening Night

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the college football season kicks into high gear on Thursday night.

Yes, we’ve once again made it through another offseason and finally can put a halt to the bloviating and pondering to sit down and watch a real, live, actual football game.

One of the most anticipated contests of Week 1 has been the much-anticipated debut of Jim Harbaugh as the head coach at his alma mater, Michigan. You’d actually be hard-pressed not to know the game is happening judging by the amount of media coverage that has been generated by Harbaugh-mania.

While the return of a conquering hero (in the minds of the Maize and Blue faithful) is a notable storyline heading into Thursday night’s game, it is not the only one. In fact, if that’s all you know about the game, you might want to keep an eye out for the home team. 

You know, the one that we know is actually good.

Utah isn’t ranked in the top 25 to start the year, but they should be and enter 2015 as one of a number of teams which legitimately earn the label of “Pac-12 contender.” Head coach Kyle Whittingham’s squad is coming off a 9-4 season, has a ton of starters returning and will be led on the field by a Heisman hopeful in running back Devontae Booker.

Sadly for the Utes, the most notable media coverage they’ve gotten about their opener may have been about cupcakes. Yes, cupcakes.

In this month’s edition of Popular Mechanics, editors noted that the college football season will get underway with Michigan taking on a “cupcake” opponent in Utah. The line did not go unnoticed in Salt Lake City, and it was promptly posted on the team’s bulletin board, according to local station Fox 13.

While the team and the magazine later had a good laugh over the whole matter, the incident was quite indicative of what most fans’ thinking is coming into the game: Michigan, Michigan and more Michigan.

Even Fox Sports, which is broadcasting the game, has trotted out a Harbaugh-inspired bus with a khaki paint scheme to promote the game. Tune into a show on the network this week, and you could even be treated to a promo shot of a handful of people dressed up like the Wolverines’ new coach—complete with a whistle. Heck, Fox Sports’ press release for the game noted the company would be tracking Harbaugh’s every move by streaming a camera locked on the coach that they dubbed the “Khaki Cam.”

There was no mention of any Whitting-cam, it should be noted.

Despite all the attention on Big Blue, you won’t find the Utes playing the overlooked card as motivation. 

“Our guys know what’s out there,” Whittingham said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 conference call. “You shouldn’t really need much to motivate a football team to get ready for a game like this. We’ve just been going through our normal preparation process.”

Every opener is big. It sets the tone for the season in more ways than one. This game, however, means far more for Utah than a rebuilding Big Blue program. Expectations are high long-term for Michigan but decidedly mid-level for 2015.

That isn’t the case for Utah, which is looking to prove that last season’s breakthrough campaign in the Pac-12 was no fluke.

The Utes have every expectation of being in the thick of the Pac-12 South race. Their schedule is manageable—Arizona State and UCLA both come to Rice Eccles Stadium this year—and Booker figures to be one of the headliners on a team with plenty of potential. Quarterback Travis Wilson will start under center for his senior season and, if nothing else, has plenty of experience under his belt. 

The defense will miss defensive end Nate Orchard and his FBS-leading sack total from 2014 but still returns enough to be one of the saltier units opposing offenses will face. There's plenty more to be optimistic about in Salt Lake City, too.

Harbaugh is a legitimate national storyline to follow this season as he tries to revive an historic power in Michigan. Don’t be surprised if the Wolverines are better than expected record-wise (they have plenty of top recruits on the roster, after all) and play well in the opener and beyond.

Just remember that as you settle in to watch Utah and Michigan on Thursday night, the game isn’t all about the Maize and Blue. The home team will shape the national landscape of the college football season more on the field than Harbaugh's khaki's ever will off it.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Utah, Not Jim Harbaugh, Is the Most Important Thing to Watch on Opening Night

In case you’ ve been living under a rock, the college football season kicks into high gear on Thursday night...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Who Will Be College Football's Best Graduate Transfer Quarterback in 2015?

The year of the grad transfer quarterback in college football is officially a go. Now the question is which one rises to the top of the landscape? After all, the idea of the grad transfer quarterback as a quick fix is popular, but not always accurate, as diagrammed by Matt Hinton of Grantland.com

Not every one is the new Russell Wilson, but that hasn't stopped anyone from hoping they've landed him. 

In preparation for Week 1 games, depth charts from around the country were released. Specifically, three high-profile programs named a grad transfer quarterback as their starter: Georgia (Greyson Lambert), Florida State (Everett Golson) and Oregon (Vernon Adams Jr.). 

Additionally, Alabama and Michigan have a pair of grad transfers—Jake Coker and Jake Rudock, respectively—who are still in a quarterback battle, at least publicly. It's entirely possible that five major programs, many of which are in the preseason College Football Playoff conversation, will start a first-year transfer quarterback in Week 1. 

Which one has the best year? It depends on how you define "best," but Vernon Adams fills out some critical areas.

 

He Can Put up Video Game Stats

We've already seen this on a limited basis when Adams played two Pac-12 opponents: Oregon State (2013) and Washington (2014). Put one way, he's a one-man machine of the NCAA Football video game variety whose overall rating is 99. 

For his career at Eastern Washington, Adams compiled 11,670 total yards. He joins an Oregon team that, despite losing Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, returns plenty of skill players at running back and wide receiver. There's no shortage of speed and playmaking ability in Eugene. Royce Freeman, Charles Nelson, Bralon Addison and Byron Marshall are more than capable of scoring on every touch. 

Adams gives the offense something extra that longtime backup Jeff Lockie simply doesn't, as evident by his highlight videos from Eastern Washington and comments from former coach Beau Baldwin. 

"He's just so good in so many ways, that part of it is going to be a challenge," Baldwin told Andrew Greif of the Oregonian." It's a challenge for any team when they play Vernon Adams—you're up against one of the best in the country at any level."

All the same, he won't have to be a one-man show, either. And that's an important difference. 

Still, Adams is a two-time runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, which is the FCS version of the Heisman. If Adams can eclipse, say, 4,000 total yards in 2015, who's to say he won't have a shot at the actual Heisman?

 

He's Showing Natural Leadership

Despite the popular narrative, there's nothing guaranteed about a grad transfer quarterback coming into a new environment and starting. Earlier this month, I spoke to B/R colleague Michael Felder, a former college player at North Carolina, about what Adams was facing in his new home. Long story short, Adams had to come in humble, ready to work and willing to show the utmost respect to Lockie—and that was on top of mastering the playbook. 

That's a tough task. It doesn't matter who you are. Complicating things more was that Adams was late (albeit only by a few days) arriving to preseason camp because of a math test. There's a lot of trust he had to earn right away. 

But by being named the starter so quickly, Adams has showed he's gained the respect of the locker room. As Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports tweeted, that's a good sign for him moving forward: 

Now, that leadership must show itself during the season when Oregon finds itself in tight games. Most players on the Ducks roster have been together for two to four years. They trust one other. As a newcomer, Adams is in a position of leadership that requires instant trust. 

 

Oregon is Primed for Another Playoff Run

Yes, Mariota is gone. Even Adams can't "replace" him. No one can. Mariota was a once-in-a-generation player for the Ducks who had a season unlike any other before him. But that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare in Eugene. 

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports stated a case for why Oregon could return to the playoff this year. In summary, it boils down to the experience returning to the field:

Better still, the Ducks will surround Adams -- or understudy Jeff Lockie -- with even more skill talent than Mariota had last year. Royce Freeman is no longer a freshman, and he should prove to be one of the best RBs in college football. The guy who would've been the Ducks' top wideout last year, Bralon Addison (who missed all of 2014) returns, and he should lead a deep, fast, talented WR group.

DeForest Buckner is back to spark the D-line, and folks around the UO program are gushing about huge freshman DL Canton Kaumatule. The Ducks' front seven, with four seniors at linebacker, should be very stout, better than the group they had that made it to the title game.

What does that have to do with Adams? It shows he doesn't have to carry the entire team on his back. The pieces are in place for another run at a Pac-12 North title...which could lead to a Pac-12 title...which could lead to a playoff appearance...which could, well, you get the point. 

What Oregon has in Adams is a unique individual talent who can change and take over games like few others can. Surrounding him is a supporting cast of players who have what it takes to win at the highest level. 

The numbers, the intangibles, the national profile—it's all there for Adams to have a monumental year in his only FBS appearance. Not every grad transfer quarterback in 2015 will have things line up for him that way. That's what separates the Russell Wilsons of the college football world from everyone else. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com unless noted otherwise. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star Darnay Holmes Shares Advice from His Mentor, Oregon QB Vernon Adams

When Oregon announced Vernon Adams as its starting quarterback late last week, Darnay Holmes instantly beamed with pride. 

The 2017 5-star athlete shares the same hometown of Pasadena, California, with the new Ducks passer.

Adams’ journey from little-known recruit to the edge of superstardom has resonated with the 5’11”, 190-pound rising junior at Calabasas (California) High School.

“That’s a great honor for Pasadena,” Holmes told Bleacher Report. “I definitely know he is going to put on for the city and try to win the Heisman and bring that back to Pasadena. Oregon is definitely going to be a contender to win it all in my opinion. “

Holmes said the communication between he and Adams has been infrequent. However, he notes that Adams has given him some helpful advice on the recruiting process and finding success at the next level.

“When we do [talk], it’s about football and just trying become a better man,” Holmes said.

While Adams came up as an unknown in the recruiting world, Holmes—who is the nation’s No. 2 corner and No. 8 prospect overall in the 2017 class—is one of the biggest prizes in the country in his class. Still, he admits watching Adams overcome a series of hurdles to win the Ducks quarterback job has inspired him.

“He’s just telling me not to take anything for granted,” Holmes said. “He just tells me to keep working hard. He came from a lower-division school and I’m getting recruited from a higher-division school. So he worked his tail off to get to Oregon, so that definitely motivates me that no matter where I’m at, just to try and do my absolute best and play my heart out. He’s proof that if you do that, you can achieve great things.”

A two-way standout who plays both corner and receiver, Holmes appears to have a bright future ahead of him on the gridiron.

He’s already amassed more than 20 offers heading into his junior season, and his recruitment is beginning to take shape.

As noted by Brad Allis of 247Sports, Holmes released a list of his top 10 schools in late July. Alabama, Arizona, Miami, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, Stanford, USC, UCLA and Washington were the lucky schools that made his list.

However, he said his list could change if and when new schools enter the picture with offers.

His two most recent summer visits were to Ohio State and Stanford.

He came away impressed with his time spent in Columbus.

“They are a great program,” Holmes said of the Buckeyes. “They know how to groom players into men. They know what they are doing over there. They just have that dog mentality. When I went up there, it was just a different environment. Everybody was hungry. When I went to the camp, I was just acting like I was one of their players who already have that type of same mentality and I performed well.”

The Cardinal represent the in-state school that seems to have the most traction with him at the moment.

“When I was there on campus, it just gave me that feeling of wanting to strive for greatness,” Holmes said. “Stanford is definitely one of those schools that has great academics and the football side of it is also great now. They have a great 2016 class coming in, and that’s something a lot of the guys in the 2017 class are looking into and paying attention to. Stanford is definitely a school that is going to be on the rise in the next couple of years.” 

He has a tentative visit planned to Virginia Tech for the Labor Day matchup with Ohio State, which he said he will know for sure whether or not he will be able to attend by Wednesday. That trip is the only one on his agenda currently.

He tentatively mentioned next summer as a time that he would like to make a decision, but there are a few more visits he wants to take and schools such as Florida State and Texas he is hoping to hear from in the future.

For now, he plans to help his club—which features fellow 2017 standouts in 4-star quarterback Tristan Gebbia and 4-star receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr.—try to win a state title.

His duties are likely to include making game-changing plays on both sides of the ball, which is something he hopes to continue to do at the next level.

“Whenever I get to college, I will see how I fit in going both ways,” Holmes said. “If I’m man enough to play both ways, I think they will let me do it. In my opinion, I was born a corner. But I’ve played on the offensive side since I was young. If they give me a chance to go offense, I will definitely try to take advantage of that opportunity.”

 

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

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Freshman Malik Jefferson Makes Fun of Coach Charlie Strong's Height

Making fun of your coach probably isn't the best move for a freshman. But that's exactly what linebacker Malik Jefferson did Monday night.

Using this photo of Charlie Strong standing on a stool during a presser, Jefferson tweeted: "He didn't drink his milk."

Teammate Connor Williams may have said it best:

[Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which CFB Playoff Contender Can Make the Biggest Statement in Week 1?

Teams don't win championships in September. But that doesn't mean they can't get a head start in the race.

Week 1 of the college football season is prime time for programs who want to set the tone for a playoff push. While early losses won't put an end to those title dreams, teams can cement themselves as serious contenders with big opening-week wins.

So which team has the most to gain from a Week 1 victory?

As John Solomon of CBS Sports noted Tuesday, the first week of the 2015 season only has one game between top-25 teams—No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 20 Wisconsin at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. According to Solomon, fans were treated to three top-25 matchups to open 2014.

Being the only preseason contender to play a ranked team to open the season, Alabama would be the easy answer here.

But according to Odds Shark, Alabama is a 10-point favorite over Wisconsin, which is breaking in a new head coach and must replace half its starters from last season. While a loss for the Tide would produce some nuclear-level hot takes, few would be impressed if Alabama takes care of business in Arlington on Saturday.

The same goes for No. 2 TCU, which opened as a 16-point road favorite for Thursday night's game at Minnesota. No. 1 Ohio State is favored between 11 and 12 points on the road against a Virginia Tech team it lost to last season, and No. 6 Auburn is steady as a 10.5-point favorite over Louisville in neutral-site Atlanta.

Later on down the list, No. 11 Notre Dame is a nine-point favorite at home against Texas, and No. 13 UCLA has a slightly larger advantage on Virginia. If all six of these teams record multi-score wins this weekend, don't expect to see a big shakeup in the polls or the national conversation.

The rest of the major contenders, from No. 2 Baylor down to No. 19 Oklahoma, will feast on an easy and steady diet of Group of Five and FCS programs—except for one.

No. 15 Arizona State is becoming a trendier playoff dark-horse pick, and the Sun Devils have the best opportunity to make a huge statement on Saturday night.

Arizona State will face Texas A&M, which is ranked just outside the AP's preseason top 25, in a virtual road game at neutral-site NRG Stadium in Houston.

Spoiler alert: The crowd will mostly be made up of Aggie fans.

And that in-state advantage for Texas A&M makes Arizona State the underdog in this matchup. The Aggies opened as three-point favorites over the Sun Devils and are holding steady there, even though Arizona State is the higher-ranked team in all the major polls.

According to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is already well aware of the challenge his team will face from those "Aggies" who aren't lining up on the field Saturday night:

Obviously, I'm very familiar with what type of atmosphere we're going into; it's why we took the game. It's going to be one of the loudest places we've ever played. It'll be a big-time atmosphere, which we hope to get a lot of opportunities in.

There's a reason why they call [Texas A&M's crowd] the 12th man. They've got one of the best home atmospheres. Even though we're playing at a so-called neutral site, with their alumni base there, it will be a major crowd for them.

While they don't have the name value of a USC or an Oregon out of the Pac-12, the Sun Devils have the potential to make a serious run at championships this season.

Last year, Arizona State overachieved in a huge way, winning 10 games in a season in which it had just eight returning starters—with just two on defense. The Sun Devils beat four ranked teams in the span of five weeks.

Now, they have 16 returning starters, including their top two rushers, three of their top five receivers, four offensive linemen and all but two of their top playmakers from last year's defense.

Arizona State's offense is both balanced and explosive. The Sun Devils ranked No. 33 nationally in passing and No. 58 in rushing last season while finishing No. 20 for offensive plays of 10 yards or more.

One of Arizona State's few new full-time starters, senior quarterback Mike Bercovici, threw for more than 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns last season in just three starts. Now he's ready to take over an offense that returns plenty of weapons and veteran linemen.

"I know one thing: If I was an NFL coach, that's the kind of quarterback I'd look for—a guy that's not just talked about character, but has demonstrated it by his walk," Graham said, via Haller. "Mike's getting better every day. He's like having a coach on the field."

Bercovici and the veteran Arizona State offense will take on a Texas A&M defense that has struggled in recent seasons but has a new coordinator in veteran John Chavis. If the Sun Devils can hit the Aggies with their speed and power on offense, big plays will come against a unit in transition.

Arizona State should get the most trouble from Texas A&M when the Aggies have the ball, but the Sun Devils are experienced on defense.

Texas A&M will look to push the ball through the air Saturday night with sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen and a deep corps of talented receivers including Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones.

Arizona State returns its top six linebackers from a season ago and all but one starter in the secondary. The back seven will be busy, but it's the most veteran, battle-tested unit on the entire team.

As Ian Boyd of SB Nation wrote earlier this year, Arizona State is "perfectly designed to ruin (the Aggies') day," even though it's are considered the underdog in this matchup away from home.

"The Arizona State game plan will be simple: attack the Aggies with exotic blitzes on defense and motion/misdirection on offense," Boyd wrote. "Look for a lead, then pound the ball on the ground to avoid having to block (Texas A&M defensive end Myles) Garrett in crunch time."

If Arizona State can move the ball efficiently against the Chavis defense and frustrate what should be another high-powered offense from Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, the upset is there for the taking.

A big win in a virtual road game would give Arizona State huge momentum heading into a trio of home games—the last of which is a matchup with Pac-12 favorite USC.

Get the early-season hype train rolling, and these Sun Devils will be more than dark horses in the race for the national championship.

 

All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com. Recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Week 1 Predictions: Picking Top 25 Games Against the Spread

It's officially Week 1 of handicapping season, which of course means the return of college football!

(Wait…I think I might have had the backward.)

But seriously, welcome back for another year of picks against the spread, where each week we attempt to pick winners for the games involving Top 25 college football teams.

Last year I subbed in for Adam Kramer, who left the column to care for his newborn, and managed not to spit on his grave. I started slow in October, but a hot streak at the end of the year (31-13 over the final three weeks) landed me at 59 percent for the season.

That is a percentage I can live with.

Everyone who picks games against the spread has a unique handicapping philosophy. Mine relies heavily on numbers, but all numbers require context. I'll explain to the best of my ability why I make each pick I make, and I welcome any comments or criticism.

Just remember: We are all on the same team here. The line is our only enemy.

 

Note: Top 25 rankings refer to the Associated Press Poll. All Week 1 spreads via Odds Shark. All historical spread info via TeamRankings.com.

Begin Slideshow

Can Florida State Reclaim the No. 1 2016 Recruiting Ranking?

You hear it all the time. Big-time commit, stressed out about the recruiting process, announces his verbal commitment and feels as if a 500-pound weight is no longer on his shoulders.

Philadelphia standout Naseir Upshur fit the description perfectly. And when the 4-star tight end announced Tuesday afternoon that he has verbally committed to Florida State, it gave him a second wind of sorts, one that allows him to focus solely on his senior year at Imhotep Institute.

"I just feel free now," Upshur said. "No more stress."

Upshur chose Florida State over Michigan. He also gave the Seminoles and head coach Jimbo Fisher their 18th pledge—13 of those 18 are ranked as at least 4-star athletes. Cornerback Levonta Taylor is the team's only 5-star pledge.

Upshur's commitment also put Florida State in a good position to retake the top spot in the 247Sports team rankings for the 2016 class. Entering Tuesday, Florida State (253.19 points) trailed Ohio State (277.05) and LSU (266.15) for the top spot.

The Seminoles are still at No. 3 after Upshur's commitment, but the team now has 260.8 points.

Sure, the rankings are solely for entertainment, strictly for bragging rights, but in a game that thrives off of competitive natures, having the top spot is something every class wants.

And it's something within reach for the Seminoles.

The recruiting process is only in September, which means there are still five months remaining for coaches to gain—and potentially lose—top-ranked recruits. Florida State has done a solid job with its class thus far, particularly despite watching 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta and 4-star wide receiver Keith Gavin reopen their recruiting in July and August, respectively.

Landing Upshur could be the first step in Florida State overtaking the top spot. A few 5-star talents would boost the ranking. The No. 1 spot could be in reach with commitments of defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Shavar Manuel, as well as wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers. Lawrence and Manuel are ranked the Nos. 2 and 3 defensive tackles, and Craig-Myers is ranked the No. 1 receiver nationally.

The Seminoles still have room to also land 4-star players like cornerback Trayvon Mullen, linebacker Keion Joyner and offensive lineman Landon Dickerson. While those players can help Florida State's rise, potential decommitments from Ohio State and LSU also could play a role in the Seminoles being the top-ranked team.

It's still early to determine whether or not the Seminoles will be ranked No. 1 when it's time for athletes to sign national letters of intent. It is, however, safe to say that the Seminoles will be in the running for the top spot deep into the recruiting season.

Upshur was a big get Tuesday. Fisher and the rest of the coaching staff are hoping the good news doesn't stop there.

 

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 on Twitter @DamonSayles.

 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Where Michigan Turns After Missing on 4-Star Naseir Upshur

The Michigan Wolverines football team hasn't suffered many setbacks on the 2016 recruiting trail, soaring near the top of national class rankings

Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh faced a rare dose of adversity on that front Tuesday afternoon, when elite tight end target Naseir Upshur announced intentions to attend Florida State.

The 4-star Philadelphia prospect picked the Seminoles over Michigan in an exclusive commitment video with Bleacher Report:

Upshur, a 6'2", 233-pound senior at Imhotep Institute, received interest from the Wolverines as an underclassman. The program's pursuit intensified upon the arrival of a new coaching regime, as tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh made him a priority.

"I talk to Michigan just about every day, so I'm very comfortable with them," Upshur told Bleacher Report in April. "I talk to Jay Harbaugh on the phone at least twice a week for like an hour. We have a great relationship."

Michigan seemed to be in the driver's seat for this recruitment when summer arrived. A June visit to Ann Arbor further solidified his strong rapport with the Wolverines:

Just a month ago, Upshur discussed plans to spend an official visit at Michigan. He told Bleacher Report the goal was to attend a Wolverines home game against either Michigan State or Ohio State.

It remains to be seen whether Upshur, rated fifth nationally among tight ends in 2016 composite rankings, will still visit other universities. For now, his decision fills a need at Florida State and leaves Michigan searching for an alternative tight end option.

Ultimately, this entire process may come full circle.

Isaac Nauta, the nation's top overall tight end prospect, backed off an eight-month verbal pledge to the Seminoles in late July. The coaching staff suffered a major blow but quickly moved on to Upshur, who told Bleacher Report he frequently heard from Florida State even when Nauta remained committed.

This development turned the tide of his recruitment, gradually shifting momentum from Ann Arbor to Tallahassee. Rather than wait to weigh things further, Upshur elected to make a decision before the season.

As a result, Nauta now becomes the Wolverines' chief offensive concern. He already revealed plans to use an official visit at Michigan in October. 

The 5-star IMG Academy (Florida) standout will travel north for the team's Oct. 17 matchup with Michigan State. Nauta also locked in official visits to TCU, Georgia and USC.

He isn't just the country's No. 1 tight end recruit, as Nauta also sits atop the entire crop of receiver rankings in this cycle. His skill set and stout 6'4" physical frame will provide an immediate boost for whichever offensive attack he joins next season.

Michigan already claims a pair of 4-star running backs and an Elite 11 quarterback in its 2016 class. Solid pieces are in place, but none would arrive in Ann Arbor with greater initial expectations than Nauta, who is also mulling visits to Alabama, Oregon, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State.

A rough 2014 season and eventual coaching change cost Michigan top-tier 2015 tight end Chris Clark, who decommitted and eventually signed with UCLA. Nauta carries even more potential than Clark and could warrant all-conference consideration as a true freshman if he arrives healthy and motivated.

Expect Jim and Jay Harbaugh to heavily recruit Clark for the duration of this cycle. He and 5-star New Jersey defensive tackle Rashan Gary likely own the top two spots on the Wolverines' recruiting board.

Nauta's decommitment may have inadvertently derailed Michigan's chances with Upshur on Tuesday. Still, there's a possibility Wolverines fans will ultimately sing his praises on national signing day.

 

Quotes and info obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Auburn Starting RB Roc Thomas Will Explode in 2015

Another one bites the dust.

Game week has answered several lingering questions around the SEC, including ones surrounding quarterbacks at LSU, Georgia and Ole Miss.

Despite losing two-year starter Nick Marshall, Auburn didn't have that question hanging over its head. Head coach Gus Malzahn tabbed junior Jeremy Johnson as his No. 1 signal-caller shortly after spring practice.

Now we know who's going to be lining up behind (or alongside) him.

Auburn released its depth chart for the first week of the season via email, and the three-man running back battle taking place this fall among junior Jovon Robinson and sophomores Peyton Barber and Roc Thomas appears to be down to one.

With Thomas as the No. 1 and Barber and Robinson bracketed with "or," it's a clear indication that Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee have faith that their 5'10", 203-pound sophomore is ready for the big time.

Get ready for Thomas to become a star, because he's in the perfect place for instant success on the Plains

 

True All-Purpose Back

If you're looking for a home run hitter, Thomas is it.

He was "Mr. Football" in the state of Alabama in 2013 and was a 5-star prospect in the class of 2014 out of Oxford (Alabama) High School. He rushed for an eye-popping 5,515 yards and 76 touchdowns in three high school seasons and has the potential to be one of the most electric running backs in college football.

Johnson is excited about what Thomas is bringing to the table, according to Tom Green of the Opelika-Auburn News.

That's not good enough to be Auburn's feature back, though.

Former Tigers Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne each led the SEC in rushing attempts in 2013 and 2014, respectively. For Auburn to operate at the tempo that Malzahn likes, he needs to find a running back who can do everything and prevent the staff from substituting within drives.

Thomas ran much more north/south in the spring game than he did during his freshman season, and according to Lashlee, has improved as a pass-blocker as well.

"Hopefully, having more weight will help keep him healthy through the season," Lashlee said last month according to Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com. "He's not small—he's over 200 pounds, 5"11"—and 200-something pounds is a good sized back. Some guys that run hard and violent and with a lot of cutting like him sometimes you’re more concerned about them with durability.

"I think that's No. 1 thing we're most excited about. We hope that will help keep him healthy. And two, it has probably given him confidence to be tougher. He's been tough all fall camp. He's been great in pass protection. He's been great in short yardage situations. He's really grown up so far in practice from where he was in the spring."

Is he the same kind of back as Mason and Artis-Payne were for Malzahn?

No, of course not. But he has the burst to be a superstar, can do some of the things they thrived doing for their Tiger teams and has clearly won over a staff that knows a thing or two (or 12) about running backs.

 

The Perfect System

Malzahn gets pegged as a spread guru and perhaps labeled as gimmicky at times. Make no mistake, though, at his core, Malzahn is a two-back, power coach who operates out of the spread with tempo.

Over Malzahn's nine seasons as a college head or assistant coach, he's produced 12 1,000-yard rushers during stints at Arkansas, Tulsa, Auburn and Arkansas State.

There's no shortage of talent on the Plains. Thomas has a ton of hype, Robinson set the junior college rushing record in 2013 with 2,387 yards, according to his Auburn bio, and freshman Kerryon Johnson is carrying virtually the same hype to the Plains as Thomas did a year ago including the "Mr. Football" title.

Despite that dangerous backfield, Thomas has emerged as the starter despite only limited game action in college.

But wait, isn't Auburn going to be more balanced this year thanks to new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson?

Balance is the wrong word. As my colleague Michael Felder noted in our Auburn preview video below, it's not going to be different, it's going to be better and more complete. 

Don't forget, Malzahn became the first offensive coordinator in FBS history to produce a 5,000-yard passer (Paul Smith, 5,065), 1,000-yard rusher (Tarrion Adams, 1,225) and three, 1,000-yard receivers (Brennan Marion, 1,244; Trae Johnson, 1,088; Charles Clay, 1,024) in the same season when he did it at Tulsa in 2007.

The running game won't be diminished by a more complete attack, the Auburn offense as a whole will simply be better.

 

Let's Get Creative

Thomas is an all-around back and will get the first snaps, but neither a preseason depth chart nor a game-week press conference can properly indicate just how players are going to be used.

Expect Thomas to get plenty of looks not just as a running back out of the backfield, but as a receiver/safety valve for Johnson and in the speed sweep role splitting time with wide receiver Ricardo Louis.

While he has evolved into a true all-purpose back, his ability to move in tight spaces will be a huge benefit to Auburn on screen passes and in traffic off the edge. In the spring game highlights above, you see just how dangerous he is in space including at the 0:09 mark, when he stumbles, regains his feet, cuts outside, jukes one defender and takes it to the house.

That ability to be a home run threat, when combined with the creative ways Malzahn and Lashlee get the ball in the hands of playmakers in space, should vault Thomas into stardom in 2015.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Odds on Where 4-Star DE McTelvin Agim Commits

A player like Hope, Arkansas, 4-star defensive end McTelvin Agim, with his speed and strength, can instantly help a defense at the next level. One of four schools will receive good news by the end of the week.

In four days, Agim is set to announce his college plans in front of family and friends at a family reunion in Texarkana, Texas. Agim, the top-ranked player from the state of Arkansas and the nation's No. 3 strong-side defensive end, will choose out of his final four of Arkansas, Baylor, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

While there is heavy assumption, according to his 247Sports Crystal Ball, that Agim will stay in state and play for the Razorbacks, Agim has an appreciation for the state of Texas. He took recent unofficial visits to Baylor and Texas A&M, and he told Bleacher Report at The Opening he likes the way the Ole Miss defense swarms around the football.

The winning school gets a player who has nearly 150 tackles and 40 sacks in the last two years. Agim recorded 72 tackles, 22 sacks and six forced fumbles as a junior for Hope.

Here are some odds on where Agim commits Saturday:

 

Arkansas (3-1)

The Razorbacks appear to be the leader, and head coach Bret Bielema could use a player of Agim's caliber in the 2016 class.

In fact, Agim could be the missing piece to what would be an outstanding defensive lineman class. Arkansas already has landed 4-star defensive tackles Austin Capps and Briston Guidry, and with 3-star defensive end Hayden Johnson, the Razorbacks are looking at the class with high expectation for the immediate future.

Most importantly, Arkansas is hoping to play the in-state card with Agim. The Razorbacks, a team that loves to work with in-state talent, only have three of their 13 committed players hailing from the Natural State. Grabbing a fourth in Agim would be huge for Bielema, defensive coordinator Robb Smith, defensive line coach Rory Segrest and the rest of the Arkansas staff.

 

Baylor (4-1)

If there was a team that could really use a quality defensive end commit in its 2016 class, it's Baylor. Reason being, the Bears have 13 commits, and while seven of them are defensive pledges, only one of those seven, Bravvion Roy, is not a skill-position player.

With Roy being a 4-star defensive tackle, Baylor could use Agim's services to help strengthen that defensive lineman class. Baylor should feel pretty good with where it stands with Agim, as he made two trips to the campus last month, per 247Sports.

Defensive tackles coach Chris Achuff has been Agim's primary contact. And with ends Shawn Oakman and Jamal Palmer finishing their senior years at the end of this season, there will be opportunity for Agim to receive early playing time.

To add, location could play a role in Agim playing for the Bears. While Arkansas is roughly a four-and-a-half-hour drive north of his hometown of Hope, Baylor is roughly the same distance going west. Hope is roughly a half-hour drive from the Texas-Arkansas border.

 

Ole Miss (5-1)

Some may consider Ole Miss a dark horse, but with a top-10 nationally ranked class, don't be surprised if Agim chooses to play college football in Oxford, Mississippi.

Agim competed at The Opening over the summer in Oregon, and he had a chance to meet Rebels commits like 5-star quarterback Shea Patterson and 4-star wide receiver DeKaylin Metcalf—two athletes who are quick to pump up the family atmosphere and fan support Ole Miss offers.

Add in the fact Agim would team up with 4-star defensive tackle Benito Jones and 4-star defensive end Charles Wiley, and the possibilities of playing in an Ole Miss uniform become even more attractive. The Rebels take pride in their defense with the "Landsharks" running the show, and Agim could be a big part of that growing trend.

 

Texas A&M (5-1)

Texas A&M has a lot going for it in that it does two things potential defensive targets love. First, head coach Kevin Sumlin doesn't mind playing his young athletes over his veterans. Second, adding John Chavis as the defensive coordinator has been a welcomed move by many.

Agim would be a nice piece in Texas A&M's 2016 class, which currently is 14 strong. The Aggies already have two defensive end pledges in 4-star Mark Jackson Jr. and 3-star Alton Robinson, but with the way Chavis likes to rotate his defenders, game time wouldn't be a concern. Plus, potentially learning from defensive end Myles Garrett—who broke the SEC record for sacks as a freshman last season—would be a major assist.

Sumlin, Chavis and defensive ends coach Terry Price will challenge Agim to be better than the stacked line already in place. You can bet it would be a challenge Agim would emphatically accept if he chooses Texas A&M on Saturday.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Washington Huskies vs. Boise State Broncos Betting Odds, College Football Pick

Boise State began the post-Chris Petersen era a bit slowly last season but picked up steam and won its last nine games in a row, and three of its last four outings against the spread. The Broncos will try to pick up where they left off when they host their former head coach and his Washington Huskies Friday night on the Smurf Turf at Albertsons Stadium.

 

Point spread: Broncos opened as 11-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (see line updates and matchup report).

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 25.9-21.6 Broncos

 

Why the Washington Huskies can cover the spread

Washington only returns nine starters this season, five on offense and four on defense. But this is the second season of the Coach Petersen era, and the familiarity with his systems should help overcome the lack of returning talent. The Huskies went 8-6 last year, but three of those losses came by one score or less, and they ended the season with a 4-1 run against the spread.

Petersen had a fantastic record on the blue turf as head coach of the Broncos, and he should know how to scheme against his former offensive coordinator, Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin.

 

Why the Boise State Broncos can cover the spread

Boise State carries a nine-game winning streak into this season after ending last season with a Fiesta Bowl upset of another Pac-12 outfit, Arizona. The Broncos return 17 starters from a team that went 12-2 last year, including the entire offensive line and eight on defense.

And while they have to replace their starting quarterback (Grant Hedrick) and last year's leading rusher (Jay Ajayi), they believe they have those holes filled. This is the first shot the Broncosmany of whom were recruited by Petersenhave had at their former head coach, which may provide a little added motivation.

 

Smart pick

Boise State would love nothing more than to show Petersen it's just fine without him, perhaps in tough fashion. And the Broncos hold a large advantage in returning talent. Pac-12 teams don't usually visit Mountain West schools, and this game might be a good example why. The smart betting choice is with the team with the motivation, the team that will probably win this game, and that's Boise State.

 

Betting trends

Washington is 3-0 ATS in its last three meetings with Boise State.

Boise State is 9-0 SU in its last nine games.

The over is 8-1 in Boise State’s last nine games.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas A&M Aggies Odds, College Football Pick

Arizona State ended last season on a 4-1 run on the totals, while Texas A&M played three over results for bettors in its last four games to close last season. So the defenses better be ready when the Sun Devils and Aggies meet for the first time ever on a supposedly neutral field in Houston on Saturday night.

 

Point spread: Aggies opened as three-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (see line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 31.1-22.8 Sun Devils

 

Why the Arizona State Sun Devils can cover the spread

Arizona State gets back 16 starters this season from a team that nearly won a second-straight Pac-12 South title last year. The Sun Devils return seven starters on offense, including three along the offensive line, and a senior at quarterback in Mike Bercovici, who's not exactly a newbie after throwing nearly 200 passes last season. Nine starters are also back on defense, including five of last year's top six tacklers.

Head coach Todd Graham has a good thing going in Tempe, and a victory over a quality opponent would certainly help in the grand scheme of things for this season.

 

Why the Texas A&M Aggies can cover the spread

Texas A&M also returns 16 starters this season, the most it's had in its four seasons under head coach Kevin Sumlin. Eight starters are back on offense, including quarterback Kyle Allen, last year's leading rusher Tra Carson and three along the offensive line. Also, eight starters return on defense, including the entire front line and three-quarters of the secondary.

The Aggies struggled through the second half of last season, with some turbulence at the quarterback position, but did manage to pull off a minor upset over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl to finish 8-5. This year A&M looks ready to roll right from the start.

 

Smart pick

Texas A&M figures to own a home-crowd advantage for this game, playing just an hour-and-a-half drive from College Station, but the oddsmakers might have the wrong team favored in this game. ASU went 10-3 last year with just eight returning starters; this year it has double that figure. The Sun Devils might just win this game outright.

 

Betting trends

The total has gone over in eight of Arizona State's last 12 games on the road.

Texas A&M is 2-7 ATS in its last nine games.

Arizona State is 0-4 SU in its last four games vs. the SEC.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas A&M Aggies Odds, College Football Pick

Arizona State ended last season on a 4-1 run on the totals, while Texas A&M played three over results for bettors in its last four games to close last season...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Byron Murphy Tweets Top 8: Which Schools Have Best Chance to Land 4-Star?

Top-rated Arizona class-of-2016 defender Byron Murphy revealed the current state of his recruitment Monday evening, unveiling a collection of eight favorites on Twitter:

The 5'11", 160-pound Saguaro High School senior is among the Southwest region's premier prospects. Murphy commanded several scholarship offers as an underclassman and cemented his status as an elite playmaker last season.

He caught 65 passes for 1,348 yards and 13 touchdowns, per MaxPreps, adding 53 tackles and six interceptions in the defensive backfield. Murphy teamed up with Wisconsin quarterback commit Kare Lyles and 5-star Texas A&M signee Christian Kirk, leading Saguaro to a state title.

His skill set suits him well on both sides of the ball, though he is widely viewed as a collegiate cornerback. Murphy is rated ninth nationally at the position in composite rankings.

Bleacher Report recruiting analyst Damon Sayles broke down his game during B/R's CFB Recruiting 200 Series.

Murphy is a high-motor player who has a knack for making a big play at the right time. His change of direction is solid, and he stays in plays with his recovery speed. When the ball is in the air, he goes into attack mode.

Murphy's awareness may be his best asset. He has good vision and recognizes routes well. He uses his instincts to break up plays and create turnovers.

Plenty of programs would love to land Murphy before national signing day, and this latest development provides a glimpse at legitimate contenders. 

He included in-state options Arizona and Arizona State, along with Pac-12 opponents USC and Washington. Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M round out the list.

It's a group of potential landing spots representing three Power Five conferences. A commitment date is yet to be determined, so this process seems destined to feature multiple official visits and a fairly late decision. 

Murphy mentioned in the tweet he would consider alternative universities if new offers arrive. Judging by his hot start—317 receiving yards and four scores through two games, per AZCentral.com—expect other coaching staffs to evaluate him further.

Arizona and Washington currently carry the bulk of experts' predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball. Both teams claim 40 percent of commitment projections, while USC accounts for the remaining 20 percent.

Murphy is clearly a coveted commodity in Pac-12 territory, so don't be surprised if at least three of his official visits occur within the conference. Arizona and Arizona State are each unlikely to stop pursuing the local playmaker until his national letter of intent is signed, sealed and delivered, despite a possible midseason pledge elsewhere.

Beyond state borders, Texas A&M is an intriguing option to monitor. The Aggies beat out a crowded pack of suitors for Kirk, a former Saguaro star, in the 2015 recruiting cycle.

Now head coach Kevin Sumlin and company aim to pull off another pivotal pickup from the same program. Texas A&M is a no-brainer on Murphy's remaining travel itinerary, especially since Kirk can host him on campus.

He is expected to visit College Station on Oct. 16, per 247Sports. That trip will be preceded by an official visit to Washington later this month.

Now that Murphy is on the record about his top choices, he can anticipate schools to push hard for campus visits in the coming months. It's not quite crunch time yet, but the prized prospect appears primed to enter this final stretch with plenty of interest.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Louisville vs. Auburn Complete Game Preview

For the fourth straight year, Auburn will open its season with a matchup against an opponent from a Power Five conference. Three seasons after their Week 1 loss to Clemson, the Tigers will return to the Georgia Dome for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to face a new ACC power—Louisville.

Gus Malzahn's Auburn program heads into Atlanta with some new faces that are still familiar—from a star quarterback who has already taken the field in an opener to an elite defensive coordinator who once roamed the sidelines on the Plains.

Louisville has its own set of questions and new starters after sending a large amount of talent to the NFL ranks from last year's 9-4 squad. Head coach Bobby Petrino, who is quite familiar with the Auburn program, will have his Cardinals prepared to pull off the upset and put a dent in the Tigers' huge hopes for 2015.

How does Auburn match up with Louisville on both sides of the ball? Before we break down this Saturday's intriguing clash, here is the basic info you need to know about the latest edition of the kickoff classic.

Date: Saturday, September 5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Location: Atlanta (Georgia Dome)

TV: CBS

Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network; U of L Radio Network

Line: Auburn -10.5, according to Odds Shark

Begin Slideshow

Georgia Football: Recruits React to Bulldogs Adding Indoor Practice Facility

The Georgia Bulldogs football team tabbing Greyson Lambert as their starting quarterback wasn’t the only big announcement out of Athens on Monday.

The Bulldogs also released photos of a $30 million project that will add an indoor practice facility on campus.

According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in December and it’s expected to be completed before the 2017 season.

The news was a welcomed development for Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt, and something that he and his staff have been harping on in their recent recruiting efforts.

How are recruits reacting to the renderings of the new facility and what are their thoughts on its design and use? 

For 2016 3-star corner and current Georgia pledge Chad Clay, the news of an indoor facility is something that creates excitement about his future at the next level.

“[Georgia] already has beautiful facilities, but now with the indoor, it’s perfect,” Clay told Bleacher Report. “Because here in Georgia, we have all types of weather. In August and September, we may not have to go outside all the time when it’s 100 degrees. Then later in the year toward bowl season, you don’t have to practice in the snow or freezing temperatures. I think it helps keep practices productive. Some days, it might rain really hard and you can’t get things done like normal. With the indoor, you can go on about your business and get quality work in.”

Clay—who is a solid pledge despite schools such as Oklahoma making a push for him—also said the facility is something the Bulldogs coaching staff has been pumped about.

“They told us [about it] and said it would be up and complete for the majority of the time our class is here,” Clay said. “That’s pretty cool to be a part of the first class that will use it.”

While Clay is already bound for Athens, a pair of top targets for the Bulldogs in the 2017 cycle also had favorable views on the new addition to Georgia’s campus.

While he admits he wasn’t previously aware of the project, 2017 4-star athlete Jamyest Williams said it’s something that shows the Bulldogs commitment to maintaining a program that can compete for championships in the future.

“Today was my first time hearing about it,” Williams said. “I think that it’s very nice and I think it will will help the Bulldogs in the future.”

Likewise, fellow 2017 standout and 5-star corner Deangelo Gibbs has been a fixture on Georgia’s campus in recent months.

Gibbs noted that the new facility helps Georgia in the rapidly growing arms race in the SEC, where most programs already have indoor facilities.

“I think it looks great,” Gibbs said. “Every time I go up there, the coaches are talking about it and they are excited about it coming together. That’s been a big project for them. It’s cool for Georgia to get an indoor facility because a lot of other top programs already have them. I can’t wait for it to be ready so I can check it out when I get back on campus.”

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 College Football Players Who Will Dominate Stat Sheet in Week 1

Hey, look at that: There's (FBS) football in two days. By Saturday, your normal fall routine of vegging out on the couch/grilling/tailgating/enjoying adult beverages before the noon-o-clock hour will be back in full swing. 

So let's get to actual football predictions. Which players will light up the stat sheet in Week 1? 

Keep in mind these are not predictions of which team will win. Rather, it's a projection of which players can have huge games on the stat sheet because of a particular match-up that's advantageous for them. Specifically, we're going with teams that have released Week 1 depth charts. It's kind of hard to determine if a quarterback will have a big game if he still has an "OR" listed next to his name. 

With a few exceptions—Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. facing off against his former team is an obvious storyline—we'll try to stay away from the obvious stat-friendly games. There's a good chance Georgia running back Nick Chubb will top 100 yards against Louisiana-Monroe before halftime. That basically goes without saying. 

With that in mind, here are 10 players who could have huge games in Week 1. 

Begin Slideshow

Pages