NCAA Football

Notre Dame Spring Game 2016: Live Score, Top Performers and Analysis

2016 Notre Dame Spring Game

Blue 7, Gold 0—1st Quarter

Spring football is wrapping up for the Fighting Irish, and it's time for the annual tradition of the Blue-Gold Game that will hopefully erase the memory of the end of the 2015 season for Irish fans.

The Fighting Irish were seen as a College Football Playoff bubble team throughout most of last season, but they were knocked out of contention thanks to a last-second loss at Stanford in the regular-season finale.  Today, we'll find out what the prospects are for the 2016 version of the Fighting Irish.

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Why Boston College Safety Justin Simmons Could Crash the NFL Draft's 2nd Round

Without considering Jalen Ramsey as a safety prospect, the top safety spot remains unclaimed for the 2016 NFL draft process.

Boise State’s Darian Thompson seems to have assumed the top spot, but after a lackluster NFL combine, he’s far from a lock. Florida’s Keanu Neal earned an NFL draft invite, implying that he should be going high in the draft as well.

But Boston College’s Justin Simmons deserves to be in contention for the top safety spot. The former cornerback turned do-it-all safety offers natural ball skills, adequate and developing safety pickup coverage and efficient tackling that, coupled with top-flight athleticism, should merit Simmons’ place in the top overall safety discussion. He should be in the mix for a surprise second-round option.



The trait of “ball skills” has always been a crucial part of defensive back evaluation, but it’s grown in importance over the last few years.

In the past, most teams saved third down as their passing down, so a dropped interception usually still meant a team was going to punt and possession would be changed. However, as the passing game becomes a more frequent three-down option, defensive backs need to be able to finish at the catch point, contest throws on multiple downs and, when possible, finish interception opportunities.

Ball skills are both developed and instinctive. Over his four-year career at Boston College, Simmons has bounced between cornerback and free safety, earning starts at both spots.

Along with that experience in multiple situations and attacking the ball from multiple foot platforms, Simmons offers that unique, instinctive timing to adjust subtly when the ball is in the air.

In the two plays below (shown together in one GIF), Simmons’ inherent timing and reaction in passing plays allowed him to snag two interceptions in the team's game against Notre Dame. While neither are a testament to all of the coverage upside he possesses, they highlight the ball-hawking upside he offers as a finishing center fielder.

More impressively, however, is Simmons’ footwork in center field coverage when he’s forced to read and react. Playing center field requires more than just hands or lateral quickness. It’s about gathering steps, staying low and balanced in coverage and, when the opportunity arises, exploding on a throwing window in the seams.

As in the play below, Simmons plays with a textbook pedal, the control to cross feet and anticipate the ball, and finish at the catch point for the interception with room to return.



Still developing as a free safety, Simmons needs to improve his timing and man-pickup from his safety position. While he clearly has the footwork after playing cornerback, and he gets work as a slot corner (an area he can prove effective if need be), his work in pick-up coverage when aligned as a safety still needs improvement.

In the play below, you’ll see Simmons in a Cover 2 alignment and drop as he comes into the frame after the first cornerback stays put. 

Simmons stays low in his pedal and comes off just slightly delayed on the corner route. While he’s better suited as a Cover 3 free safety, he’ll need to work as a half-field safety in time.

It’s plays like this that he should anticipate and finish at the catch point rather than allow a catch, though it’s clear he narrowly missed an interception opportunity here and could see his footwork cleaned up quickly in the NFL.



Strong safeties are generally the safeties that offer the big hits, explosive tackles and dislodging plays on the ball-carrier that wind up in highlight reels.

But, generally, free safeties are relied upon to be the last line of defense, to finish with efficiency and reliability, not subject themselves to broken tackles.

Simmons rarely shows off powerful tackling ability in coverage, though it’s certainly in his arsenal, particularly on shorter and underneath routes when he’s in position. 

In the play below, Simmons saw one of college football’s most dynamic running quarterbacks take off in the midfield on a 2nd-and-long play. With only Simmons separating Clemson’s Deshaun Watson from the end zone, the safety forced Watson to adjust laterally and was required to slow down. That gave Simmons the opportunity to get closer to the runner before engaging as a tackler and finishing the play.

Simmons' tackle not only prevented a touchdown, but it kept Watson in 3rd-and-long. It’s that efficiency and reliability that NFL teams should covet in Simmons as a midfield tackler.

Despite postseason draft buzz after a strong Shrine Game and NFL Scouting Combine, Justin Simmons still hasn’t merited much national discussion on his upside.

But just because he hasn’t earned press clippings or rumored first-round interest doesn’t mean Simmons isn’t worthy of a top-100 pick. In fact, by my grading scale and evaluation, Simmons is well worth a second-round pick and could be an immediate nickel and free safety option for an NFL team.

NFL teams covet versatility, athleticism and ball skills in their defensive backs. Simmons not only offers all three of those traits, but every reason to expect him to continue to grow at the next level.

While he may remain a sleeper at this point in the draft process, don’t sleep on Simmons meriting a top-100 selection and earning significant playing time early in his NFL career.

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LSU Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

Spring has a different feel about it for Les Miles and LSU going into Saturday's exhibition.

Miles wanted change to breathe new life into the program and got it. Saturday marks not only the debut of a new-look 3-4 defense, but an offensive attack focused on the passing game, not elite running back Leonard Fournette.

In fact, Fournette won't be a major part of the show as the coaching staff attempts to keep him healthy ahead of the season opener against Wisconsin. Instead, Saturday is all about Brandon Harris' progress under center and how the new defense will fare against the best of the best in the SEC.

Given the implications on the conference as a whole, it's not a spring game to overlook on a weekend littered with them.


2016 LSU Spring Game

When:  Saturday, April 16, at 4 p.m. ET

Where: Tiger Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Live Stream: WatchESPN


The aforementioned Harris will get most of the attention going into Saturday's game, which makes plenty of sense.

Harris struggled mightily as a starter last year, completing just 53.8 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns to six interceptions, though he did add another 226 yards and four scores on the ground.

There's a new hope for Harris, though, as most of the reviews have been positive when it comes to his spring. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron told Ross Dellenger of the Advocate that an alteration in practice approach has the offense taking a more aerial slant:

The Tigers are no longer relegating their walk-throughs to the run game like they used to. They’re walking through the passing game, too, Cameron said.

They’ve shifted their quarterbacks’ focus in practice from zone-read and other QB runs to tossing the ball from the pocket – just like they did in Cameron’s first season in 2013.

An emphasis on the passing game means plenty of targets for guys like Malachi Dupre (698 yards, six touchdowns last year), D.J. Chark or Jazz Ferguson to step up.

While an opening up of the playbook on offense is nice, it's the defense demanding the most attention Saturday due to the scheme change.

It's tough for any program to pull off such a change given the players on the roster were recruited for a different scheme. Just like that, ends such as Arden Key have to stand up and play linebacker and guys in the trenches have to get accustomed to new roles and responsibilities.

Not that the Tigers aren't loving the change.

"I like it already and we haven't even put a blitz in yet," linebacker Kendell Beckwith said, according to's David Ching. "I think it's going to be something special. We've got a lot of the base stuff in and we'll continue to build and go from there."

For defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, the scheme change has so far worked as intended, as captured by Glenn Guilbeau of USA Today:

This should show on the field Saturday, even if the Tigers keep it as vanilla as possible so they don't give too much away to opponents.

If the unit is more violent and having fun, though, it won't be hard to see how different layers of complexity added throughout the season could give SEC opponents fits.

Fun seems like the keyword around these Tigers, owners of an absolutely loaded roster ready to compete. Even Miles took to social media to end spring practices with a positive sign off:

Things come to a head Saturday, when folks get to stop hearing about how improved Harris looks, and actually get to see it instead. Ditto for hearing about the new defense as opposed to seeing it in action.

A program in need of change has it. Saturday will provide the first sign as to whether it's for the better. If it is, Miles and the Tigers are going places in the SEC and beyond.


Stats and info courtesy of unless otherwise specified.

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Ohio State Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

Ohio State flashes its recruiting pipelines and muscle at Saturday's spring game in what might be a crowd of more than 100,000 fans at Ohio Stadium.

Urban Meyer's Buckeyes have to replace eight players on both sides of the football after last year's successful run to the Fiesta Bowl and a stomping of Notre Dame. Yet despite the turnover, ask around and the Buckeyes remain one of the favorites to qualify for the College Football Playoff.

Though Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa and others are gone, Meyer hopes a more pass-oriented attack and a rejuvenated, deep defense can help the Buckeyes make another seamless transition to contention.


2016 Ohio State Spring Game

When:  Saturday, April 16, at 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Ohio Stadium

TV: Big Ten Network

Live Stream: BTN2Go


There's a ton of pressure on the Buckeyes to perform well Saturday, hence the expected massive turnout.

According to's Austin Ward, the confirmed ticket allotment already dwarfs most turnouts from other major programs:

For Meyer, he hopes the attendees hit the number on the head so he can see how his new-look roster responds to the pressure:

Pressure abounds no matter the final number, of course.

Look at quarterback. Nobody will rip the gig from J.T. Barrett, but if any program knows just how important it is to have a viable backup ready to go, it's these Buckeyes. Meyer will run both Joe Burrow and Stephen Collier through their paces to see how they hold up.

Behind the quarterbacks, Elliott's void means one of Bri'onte Dunn or Mike Weber will have to step up and take control, though Meyer recently confirmed neither guy has a leg up on the other yet.

Meyer talked both wideouts and running backs with's Bill Landis:

"Meyer said he expects the running back competition between Bri'onte Dunn and Mike Weber to carry into this summer's training camp. He also mentioned receivers like Terry McLaurin and James Clark as guys who can help themselves on Saturday with Ohio State's top four receivers out this spring."

Then there's freshman sensation Austin Mack who has garnered the most hype of maybe any Buckeye player this spring and him jumping way up the depth chart and contributing wouldn't be too surprising. 

Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod captured Meyer's thoughts on the matter: "Austin Mack is going to play next year. It's two days and I know it's too early to say that, which I have a tendency to over-evaluate guys and get too excited about them, but he's doing fantastic."

As for the new-look defense, Chris Worley will attempt to replace Darron Lee at linebacker, while defensive linemen Dre'Mont Jones and Jashon Cornell will kick inside to man the tackle spots, leaving a bevy of rushers to explode off the edges to try make up for the loss of Bosa.

It's maybe the most interesting development around these Buckeyes this year. Jones and Cornell could have simply spent time as backup ends and not contributed. Instead, they'll start on the inside while Sam Hubbard and others play on the edges, with Meyer opting for more of an attack-oriented approach from the line at all spots.

Call it a trial by fire for the offense, which features running backs and receivers looking to make names for themselves while young quarterbacks get as much experience as possible in case the seemingly inevitable (for Ohio State, at least) happens again.

Few programs get a spring-game experience like Ohio State does, which is fitting given just how much hype and expectation chases the team despite 16 new starters stepping into the fray.

Under the watchful eye of 100,000, Ohio State's title pursuit begins again Saturday.


Stats and info courtesy of unless otherwise specified.

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USC Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

USC football takes another step toward regaining its past dominance Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the 2016 iteration of the program's spring game.

There, coach Clay Helton has his work cut out for him, needing to make a decision at quarterback and help smooth the transition to scheme changes on both sides of the football.

It's not an easy task, though returning veterans and spring superstars combine with another strong recruiting class to give Helton and his staff plenty to work with.

Hitting on all the necessary spring-game check boxes, USC's spectacle isn't something to miss.


2016 USC Spring Game

When:  Saturday, April 16, at 12 p.m. ET

Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

TV: Pac-12 Network

Live Stream:


USC faithful will notice the changes right away.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Trojans want to shift toward a more run-first approach, favoring the power game between the hashmarks to set up big plays down the field.

Such a change will help coordinator Tee Martin make a more informed decision about who starts under center. For now, the job seems to belong to Max Browne, though Sam Darnold and Jalen Greene have certainly turned a few heads this spring.

Helton, though, had made it clear to the media he's not seeing much in the way of a difference between Browne and Darnold, so the spring game will make the decision much easier.

“I’m going to let it go to the spring game,” Helton said, according to Scott Wolf, of the Los Angeles Daily News. “I don’t think it’s a huge gap. It will be (announced) shortly after the spring game. I want to take it to the spring game, that atmosphere, and see how the guys react.”

Browne losing the gig to a redshirt freshman would be rather unprecedented, and he seems to have an air of desperation about the situation, as captured by Rivals' Adam Maya:

Technically, neither quarterback should have much of a problem posting strong numbers if the power run works well.

This is especially the case with one of the most eye-popping wideout depth charts around, headlined by JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steven Mitchell Jr. and Darreus Rogers with a dash of Adoree' Jackson.

The defensive side of the football underwent the biggest change of all this spring. Under the guidance of returning coordinator Clancy Pendergast, the Trojans will continue to trend toward a more attacking defense as opposed to the read-and-react versions of the past.

Anyone familiar with the Trojans knows the problem, though, as the defensive trenches has taken hit after hit this spring. Defensive end Scott Felix lost an appeal and defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow went down with a knee injury, leaving inexperienced guys to get thrown to the wolves against a more experienced offensive counterpart Saturday.

"Have they progressed this camp?" Helton said, according to Zach Helfand of the Los Angeles Times. "Yes they have. Are they anywhere close to being ready? No they're not. Thank God we've got 29 more practices after Saturday to get ready for Alabama."

Call it the perfect testing ground. And behind the line there has been good news, with a star seeming to emerge, as Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman explained:

Saturday is the first real taste of how the Trojans continue to progress as a program.

A normal USC spring game offers plenty of pressure and expectations. This one, though, isn't any normal event, not with dramatic changes on both sides of the football and everyone rather open about how undecided some of the most important positions on the roster remain.

A program changing its identity in the hopes of a better future, USC takes the field Saturday hoping to grow. The Trojans better—Alabama awaits.


Stats and info courtesy of unless otherwise specified.

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Alabama Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

Now a global sporting event capable of drawing more than 65,000 people and having topped out at more than 92,000, Alabama's A-Day returns Saturday and commands the weekend's spotlight.

Why not? The reigning national champions have kept a veil over the comings and goings of the team this year, with Saturday's event the first real time observers get to see the upcoming 2016 Alabama Crimson Tide.

The game promises a little bit of everything, from a wild environment, new faces in new places and everyone's favorite—a quarterback competition.


2016 Alabama Spring Game

When:  Saturday, April 16, at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium


Live Stream: WatchESPN


Alabama, as it should, gets the ESPN spotlight Saturday. Not only does Nick Saban's squad have the honor of acting as defending champs, the program helped breathe life into the now wild spring-game process.

This one promises plenty of intrigue, too, now that Alex Byington of the Decatur Daily provided a look at the full rosters:

Start right at the top, where Cooper Bateman is the only quarterback folks have seen play, the other two being David Cornwell and Blake Barnett.

Bateman looks like the starter given his experience, though last year over 52 attempts he threw for just 291 yards with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Odds are the battle is far from over, especially if a high-upside guy can flash after showing he's fully digested the offense.

Hence Saban telling ESPN's Chris Low things can certainly change before the opener:

Remember, though, the spring game isn't just about the quarterbacks, not after Blake Sims and Jacob Coker struggled over the past two games and still did pretty well during live action.

Elsewhere on offense, Alabama faithful finally get to see Bo Scarbrough in an every-down role now that he's free of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake. In terms of passing weapons, the spring game offers fans the chance to see Robert Foster and O.J. Howard, the former coming back from injury, as well as ArDarius Stewart, who took home individual honors after last year's exhibition.

Still, the most intrigue probably comes on the defensive side of the ball, where the unit will be without vaunted coordinator Kirby Smart, who took the head gig at Georgia.

The defense is Jeremy Pruitt's show now and he's got much in the way of work cut out for him considering the Crimson Tide have to break in new starters in the trenches and in the defensive backfield.

Da’Shawn Hand, Da'Ron Payne and others make up the names to watch in the trenches, though perhaps more concerning these days is how a unit will hold up against the pass. Luckily for the Crimson Tide, young guys such as Minkah Fitzpatrick have put on an absolute show this spring ahead of A-Day.

Fitzpatrick really stands out given the weight he's added to his incredible athleticism, as noted by Matt Zenitz of

The next wave of talent tasked with carrying Alabama to another College Football Playoff, not to mention SEC glory, is a good enough reason to set a Saturday aside and get to the stadium.

Saban, though, made a point to tell Michael Casagrande of that attendance numbers for the game also have to do with something rather simple—competition with other schools:

But I think other people are trying to sort of copycat to their game a big thing so that they can say they had the most people at the spring game and all that. I think it's important that our fans show that they have just as much interest and enthusiasm for the program as they've ever had, and that they continue to come and support the team at this time of year.

It's hard to imagine Alabama will break an attendance record with the game on national television and all, but another year of dwindling numbers doesn't seem likely now that fans once again have a national champion to support.

And besides, odds are Saturday is a preview of a team that, despite plenty of new faces and roles, will likely be right in the hunt for another title.


Stats and info courtesy of unless otherwise specified.

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Notre Dame Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

One year ago, Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly, after a jarring spring game, flirted with the idea of running a two-quarterback system with Malik Zaire and Everett Golson.

Now the same questions surround the Fighting Irish as they head toward the 2016 edition of the Blue-Gold Game Saturday, where Kelly not only has to find a starter under center, but deal with major losses on the offensive side of the ball such as Will Fuller and C.J. Prosise.

Fresh off a 10-win campaign, albeit losing two in a row to end the season, there is plenty of reason for optimism around the Fighting Irish.

A fresh batch of recruits, new faces hungry to contribute and a wild crowd should say so loud enough Saturday afternoon.


2016 Notre Dame Spring Game

When:  Saturday, April 16, at 12:30 p.m. ET

Where: Notre Dame Stadium 


Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra


Again, this one starts right at the top with quarterback. Zaire is back in the fold, though his season ended prematurely last year with a season-ending injury in Week 2.

DeShone Kizer stepped into the fold and completed 63 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and another 10 scores on the ground. He's back and wants the job as well, though he'll also have to compete with dual-threat prospect Brandon Wimbush.

Odds are Zaire wins the battle. Experience matters, as does the fact he looked great last year before the unfortunate end. According to Mike Vorel of the South Bend Tribune, fans should be in for a treat Saturday with a healthy Zaire zipping around the field:

"You just really wonder what it's going to take to finally convince people enough that I'm able to do the job," Zaire said, according to the Associated Press' Tom Coyne. "I don't make the decision. I'm going to keep balling and do what I need to do."

Elsewhere on offense, perhaps the most notable holes exist at wideout with guys like Fuller gone.

One that pops to mind—other than versatile tight end Alize Jones—is true freshman and early enrollee Kevin Stepherson, a guy who has gotten work at wideout and as a returner on special teams thanks to the wealth of issues on the depth chart. 

He's made an impression, too, as 247 Sports' Nick Ironside pointed out:

The offense will get most of the attention this time out, but defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has his work cut out for him too.

Losing a player like Jaylon Smith tends to do that to a team. Nyles Morgan takes the pressure of the spotlight in the spring game, taking on the spot right in the middle of the linebacking corps. In the trenches, it's Jarron Jones needing to make up for the loss of Sheldon Day in the middle, while several names fight for starting slots in the defensive backfield.

JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago detailed VanGorder's thoughts on players to watch in the upcoming game:

Recruiting has the Fighting Irish looking like a plug-and-play contender this year despite notable losses, though the on-field talent will have to reinforce the notion Saturday in front of a large crowd and larger television audience.

It's an apt environment to see what the next line of Notre Dame stars have in store for the program, too, as the team doesn't have much time before traveling to Texas to start the season. Two weeks later the Fighting Irish welcome Michigan State to town.

With most of the notable spots up for grabs, and the results weighing heavily on the program's future, Saturday's spring game is more important than usual for the Fighting Irish.


Stats and info courtesy of unless otherwise specified.

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USC Spring Game 2016: Date, Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

USC football takes another step toward regaining its past dominance Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the 2016 iteration of the program's spring game...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Isaiah Robertson to Notre Dame: Fighting Irish Land 4-Star WR Prospect

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish bolstered their offense for the future, as they received a commitment from 4-star class of 2017 receiver Isaiah Robertson from Neuqua Valley (IL) on Friday.

Robertson took to Twitter to announce his decision:

Robertson—ranked as the No. 214 prospect in the nation—is the No. 4 prospect in the state of Illinois and the 27th-best wide receiver in the nation. The 6'3" Robertson is ranked as the second-best receiver in the state, behind Jeff Thomas out of East St. Louis High School.

With the addition of Robertson, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly secures his second 4-star recruit from Illinois for his 2017 recruiting class. Top Illinois tight end Cole Kmet from St. Viator High School is also committed to joining the Irish next year.

What makes Robertson an intriguing prospect is not just his size. At 6'3", he can outjump most defensive backs to make a catch in one-on-one coverage. Robertson uses his size to his advantage when it comes to speed, as well. He makes long strides in the open field, allowing him separation from the defenders. 

There were plenty of instances in his highlight tape, courtesy of Prep Force, that show he's more than just a big body teams can use on the outside.

It could possibly be a rough year or two for the Irish at the receiver position. Last year's leading receiver Will Fuller is two weeks away from finding a home in the NFL, and Chris Brown graduated last year. Torii Hunter Jr. is a senior this year, but Notre Dame has three 4-star receivers from its 2015 class expected to contribute heavily this year, along with two more 4-stars from the 2016 class.

It'll be a rebuilding process for the Irish offense, but Robertson's size and length give him a chance to contribute right away in two years.


All composite rankings from 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

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Meet the 0-Star Recruit with 5-Star Talent

You may not know his name yet, but mark our words: Brennan Eagles will be the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the 2018 class.

From his size to his speed to his power, Eagles has all the tools to dominate at wideout at the next level. See for yourself in the video above.

*Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

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4-Star Recruit K'Lavon Chaisson Honors His Late Father Through Football

HOUSTON — For K'Lavon Chaisson, keeping a low profile when it involves recruiting is paramount. Rarely will the 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid from the Houston area tip his hat about his future college plans.

So imagine the reaction when the North Shore High School product pulled out Baylor gloves and proudly wore a Baylor towel for random photo opportunities during The Opening regional in Houston earlier this month. The unassuming may think Chaisson's recruiting process was an open-and-shut case.

The unassuming may not know his back story.

Chaisson's father is Kelvin Chaisson, a former linebacker who played at Baylor from 1999 to 2001. He was shot and killed in November 2014. He was only 33.

"It's all because of my father," K'Lavon said as he put on the Baylor gear to prepare for The Opening competition. "He went to Baylor, and he was a big fan of where he went. I was, too, when I was little. I just decided to do this for him and wear all the Baylor things he had."

Chaisson's tribute to his father didn't go unnoticed—even though he'd rather it be seen as routine and not as a big deal. But when you're the nation's No. 7 weak-side defensive end and No. 115 player overall in the 2017 class, it's understood why Baylor fans are hoping the gloves and towel are tools of foreshadowing.

Chaisson has 20 reported offers, and he's an intriguing option as a hybrid defender for myriad programs.

Just don't expect him to say anything. At least not yet.

"I don't really get too deep into that," he said of his recruiting process. "I hardly ever do."

Ask Todd Huber, director of football for Student Sports, which puts on The Opening, and he'll tell you why Chaisson is such a wanted athlete. At 6'4" and 211 pounds, Chaisson is a solid pass-rusher and a ball hawk on running plays.

"No matter who you talk to and where they saw North Shore, if they saw them play in person or on tape, the first thing they mention is K'Lavon," Huber said. "He's a guy who just flashes. He's got big-time tape and is a productive player against both the run and pass.

"He's not a kid who talks a lot, but his tape does enough talking for him."

Jon Kay has been coaching at North Shore for 20 years and now is in his second year as head coach of the program. Chaisson's low-profile demeanor is nothing new to Kay.

All he wants to do is play football.

"It's fair to say he's not a rah-rah guy," Kay said, "but just because he doesn't have a lot to say doesn't mean he doesn't bring an immense amount of intensity to the game. He's an internally focused person, and when he's ready to go out and compete, he has a different look in his eye."

Chaisson was a part of North Shore's team that won the Texas Class 6A state championship in December. 

It's a nice achievement on a football resume that is still considered somewhat fledgling. Kay said Chaisson didn't play football his sophomore year, opting to play basketball instead. Chaisson's ability to adapt to football at the varsity level came naturally.

Chaisson's father was a preps standout at Smiley High School in Houston. He was a three-time all-district player and two-year starter, and he had a senior season that included 106 tackles, three interceptions and six fumble recoveries.

As a freshman at Baylor, Kelvin Chaisson finished with 49 tackles, despite not playing the first five games. He had a career-high 11 tackles against Oklahoma State on Nov. 20, 1999.

"Yeah...he was pretty good," K'Lavon said of his father.

K'Lavon said he's motivated by what his father brought to the table on the field. As a hybrid defender, K'Lavon competed with the defensive ends at The Opening regional, but he said he plans on playing outside linebacker at the college level.

In a 3-4 setting, playing outside linebacker could be the perfect opportunity for him to show his potential and be a major defensive threat.

"We're an even-front team, so he plays a lot of D-end for us, but we're able to drop him into coverage," Kay said. "We really took advantage of that in our blitz packages. The dynamic he brings definitely transfers well."

As for the next level of football, Chaisson said he's keeping all schools available as an option. Early predictions favor Baylor, Texas A&M and LSU, but Chaisson debunked any chatter about having favorites.

He said a decision could come before the start of his senior season, but he could also hold out until national signing day. For him, it's all about finding the right fit and taking advantage of the opportunity when given.

"Whenever I feel like I'm ready, I'm going to do it," he said of committing. "I'm really looking for a good 3-4 scheme where I can play outside linebacker and learn a lot. Coaching stability has got to be a major key, too. You can't recruit me and say one thing, but when I get there, you leave to a different school. That's something I'm really looking at."

Wherever Chaisson ends up, Huber believes that school will get a gem in the making. Chaisson is an athlete who plays with a high motor and is ready to shine against next-level competition.

If anything, it's what his father would want.

"I know my dad would be happy," Chaisson said. "He always told me to go hard every play. He motivates me."


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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8 Most Overpaid Coaches in College Football Today

College football is big business. You knew that already, but if you want proof, just look at the salaries pulled down by head coaches across the nation. Thanks to lucrative television deals fueled by conference realignment, college programs are as flush with cash as they’ve ever been.

Last fall, 16 coaches across the nation made at least $4 million, according to USA Today. All seven SEC West coaches made at least $3.96 million, with Alabama’s Nick Saban topping the division (and the nation) at $7.1 million.

Some coaches, like Saban, have earned that hefty paycheck. For others, there are questions about whether their results match the figure on their direct-deposit slip that arrives at the bank every two weeks.

In other words, they’re overpaid.

Here’s a look at eight of the most overpaid coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision. These are coaches who simply haven’t won enough to justify their salaries, especially compared to others in their salary bracket.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comment section. 

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Ludacris Concert at G-Day a Home Run for Georgia Football and Kirby Smart

From the moment Kirby Smart took the job as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, he's been asking 93,000 fans to show up for the annual G-Day Game, which is slated for Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET.

He might get his wish—with a little help, of course.

After several musical acts fell through, according to Chip Towers of, Georgia announced on Thursday that Atlanta-based rapper Ludacris will perform at Sanford Stadium 15 minutes before kickoff.

"Coach Smart wants 93,000 and we want 93,000," junior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said in the release. "We look forward to seeing a great crowd and going out there and competing in a game-like atmosphere."

It's safe to say that—even though Georgia scrambled and, according to Seth Emerson of, was approached by Ludacris' representatives on Wednesday—that this is a home run for Georgia and Smart. 

As Radi Nabulsi of notes, it gets the fans excited about a scrimmage that, after the first half, typically includes third-stringers and walk-ons getting work. What's more, the fact that Ludacris approached Georgia and will play in that setting with prospects in attendance will certainly leave a positive impression.

That list of prospects, according to Bob Miller of, includes an all-star list of visitors that includes 5-star corner Deangelo Gibbs, 5-star athlete JaCoby Stevens, 4-star quarterback commit Jake Fromm, 4-star wide receivers Nico CollinsTrey Blount, 4-star tackles Andrew Thomas and Tony Gray, 4-star defensive end Malik Herring, 4-star linebacker Jaden Hunter and 4-star corner William Poole, among many others. 

Not every prospect will like Ludacris. Some might like other genres of music, and that's fine.

But all of them like to have a good time and feel the enthusiasm of a fanbase that has been re-energized with the arrival of Smart and a recruiting class in 2016 that included 5-star pro-style quarterback and early enrollee Jacob Eason.

Plus, it creates good vibes for the fanbase and the athletic department going into the summer portion of the offseason. 

Fair or not, Smart has become a bit of a lighting rod during his first four months on the job.

The minor dust-up involving the transfer restrictions he put on former running back A.J. Turman blew up into a national controversy (for some reason) in March, and the new Freedom of Information Act law in the state of Georgia that will allow athletics department 90 days to respond to FOIA requests that Smart discussed with lawmakers hasn't exactly gone over well either.

Ludacris' appearance at Sanford Stadium on G-Day will tie a nice bow on a spring session that has been littered with quarterback questions, depth issues at running back, defensive line attrition and the arrests of Julian Rochester, Chad Clay and Jonathan Ledbetter.

The pregame concert might not erase all of that controversy, but it will leave a big impression on recruits, the college football world and should help Smart get much closer to the 93,000 fans he expects for G-Day. 

It's a home run in every aspect.


Quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of unless otherwise noted, and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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 SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Big Ten Q&A: Has the B1G Topped the SEC in Recruiting?

It's the biggest spring game weekend of the offseason in the Big Ten, with six schools from the conference—including Illinois' open practice—holding their annual exhibitions on Saturday.

But while the Fighting Illini, Ohio State, Maryland, Penn State, Nebraska and Purdue will each bring an end to their respective spring practices this weekend, Michigan continues to steal this headlines, this time thanks to the NCAA's decision to bring an end to satellite camps.

With the league so prominent at the moment, what better time to run a Big Ten Q&A? This week we'll tackle the state of the conference's recruiting, the Buckeyes' wide receiver targets, the league's new starting quarterbacks and, of course, the battle over satellite camps.

As always, you can tweet your questions to me each week @BenAxelrod. Let's get started.


So you're asking which conference is a bigger draw on the recruiting trail?

Even with the recent surge by the Big Ten—mostly thanks to Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh—it's still tough to make an argument against the SEC as the nation's top recruiting conference.

Just going off of the 2016 rankings alone—since the 2017 cycle isn't even halfway over yet—the SEC laid claim to half of the nation's top 10 classes. That includes two classes ranked above the Big Ten's only two top-10 classes (No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan) in No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 LSU.

Extend your standard out to the top 25, and the SEC held a 9-5 advantage over the Big Ten in the most recent recruiting cycle.

Factor in that Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have signed the nation's top-ranked class in each of the past six years, and it's going to be even harder to make a convincing case for the Big Ten as football's most prominent conference on the recruiting trail.

I will say this though: While Saban is still king, there's not a duo in the SEC I would take over the Meyer-Harbaugh Big Ten tag team. Les Miles' job at LSU seems far from secure, Hugh Freeze, Butch Jones and Gus Malzahn may each lack staying power and neither Kirby Smart nor Jim McElwain are proven entities as head coaches.

Meyer, meanwhile, is the nation's second-best recruiter behind Saban and, satellite camps or not, Harbaugh likely isn't far behind. The problem, however, is neither Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska nor Wisconsin have taken their respective recruiting to the next level, creating a top-heavy dichotomy in the conference, at least as far as recruiting's concerned.

Even with the addition of a coach like Lovie Smith at Illinois, the Big Ten still trails the SEC—by a significant margin—when it comes to recruiting prowess. On-field performance and recruiting are inevitably—and correctly—linked, and while the Big Ten has improved plenty when it comes to the former, it's time to catch up in the latter as well.


Admittedly, I'm not the guy to ask recruiting questions to—at least not in the "Which player is Team X going to land?" or "What school is Player X going to choose?" variety. There are plenty of people who get paid to follow that stuff and actually talk to recruits on a daily basis; I'm just not one of them.

From all of the recruiting reporters I talk to who I do trust, however, all seem to believe that 5-star wideout Trevon Grimes becoming a Buckeye is not a matter of "if," but "when." That would obviously be good news for Ohio State, considering the 6'4", 195-pound Grimes is the 22nd-ranked player overall in the 2017 class.

But what I find even more interesting about the seeming inevitability that Grimes will wind up a Buckeye is that Ohio State put in some work with him on the recruiting trail last season when it hosted its first—and apparently only—satellite camp. Then just a high school junior-to-be, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native made the short trip to FAU's campus in Boca Raton, where he could be seen chatting with Buckeyes wide receivers coach Zach Smith.

Sure, Grimes' high school, St. Thomas Aquinas—the former home of both Joey and Nick Bosa—has been an Ohio State pipeline since Meyer came to Columbus, and the Buckeyes still likely would have had a strong chance at landing the blue-chip receiver with or without the satellite camp. But any advantage one can potentially gain on the recruiting trail is definitely worth exploring, especially for a recruiter as aggressive as Meyer.

It also makes one wonder whether or not there's more to the Ohio State head coach being in favor of the existence of satellite camps than his desire to have MAC schools be able to attend the Buckeyes' camp. Ohio State had a satellite camp planned in Georgia this offseason before last weekend's announcement of the ban, and it's probably a safe bet the Buckeyes will still be making the trek to the Peach State if the recent ruling somehow winds up repealed.


When it comes to the Big Ten's quarterbacks in 2016, the makeup of the league's stable of signal-callers is certainly interesting.

The presumed favorites in each division—Ohio State and Iowa—each have established quarterbacks in J.T. Barrett and C.J. Beathard, respectively. And then there are other programs like Maryland and Penn State with jobs up for grabs on teams not expected to be contenders.

But in between, there are some ongoing quarterback competitions that could go a long way toward determining the championship races in both of the Big Ten's divisions. With that in mind, here are three conference quarterbacks to get to know before September.


Wilton Speight

Although John O'Korn was expected to take over for Jake Rudock entering Harbaugh's second season in Ann Arbor, redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight may have emerged from the spring as the front-runner to be Michigan's next starting signal-caller. At an open practice in Detroit during the Wolverines' final week of spring practice, it was the 6'6", 239-pounder who could be seen taking reps with Michigan's first-team offense, according to the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder.

If Speight can hold on through the rest of the offseason, he'll become the biggest wild card on a Wolverines team that is expected to contend for a national title in 2016. His experience may be lacking, but if Speight can beat out both O'Korn and Shane Morris, Harbaugh's faith in the third-year player will speak volumes.


Bart Houston

With Joel Stave being a four-year starter, quality reps in Madison have been hard to come by for Bart Houston. But when the Wisconsin quarterback did get on the field, he sure was impressive, leading the Badgers to a 24-13 win over Illinois last season while subbing in for an injured Stave.

Houston's 22-for-33, 232-yard, two-touchdown performance even led some to call for him to take over for Stave in Wisconsin's starting lineup. A fifth-year senior, the 6'4", 224-pounder will now get his chance, albeit against the toughest schedule in all the Big Ten in 2016.


Tyler O'Connor

Of all the new starting quarterbacks in the Big Ten, Michigan State's Tyler O'Connor already has the most impressive win on his resume. After all, it was O'Connor who quarterbacked the Spartans to last season's 17-14 win over Ohio State in Columbus in Connor Cook's absence, a game that helped propel Michigan State to the College Football Playoff.

With Cook now headed to the NFL, the fifth-year senior appears to be the front-runner in the battle to replace the Spartans' most accomplished quarterback in program history. Starting for a whole season is a lot different than doing so for just one game, but at the very least, O'Connor has some semblance of experience on his side.


I gotta admit, even though I'm a big pro wrestling fan, the tag team questions I get each week are a little played out.

Plus, at this point, Harbaugh's chief SEC rival wouldn't be Bret "Bert" Bielema, but rather Ole Miss' Huge Hugh Freeze.

I'm not going to get in a hypothetical fight between the two coaches/conferences, but I will say this: I think there's an easy solution to this whole satellite camp mess. Because on the one hand, Harbaugh's use of the practice was somewhat excessive, but on the other, the solution definitely shouldn't have been banning satellite camps as a whole.

At least in this sportswriter's opinion, the easiest fix would be to allow satellite camps to exist, but either limit the miles coaches are allowed to travel to attend them or the number of camps each coach is allowed to attend each offseason.

Ideally, you'd limit the number of off-campus camps coaches are allowed to attend, so smaller schools—for example, Bowling Green—could still benefit from being present for a bigger school's camp—like Ohio State's. Then the bigger schools—like Michigan—can hold either one or two (or whatever you decide the number is) camps in either the South or out West, limiting them from turning the practice into the traveling circus Harbaugh did last offseason.

If the SEC doesn't want to participate in it—or in Freeze's case, use his vacation time instead—so be it. It wouldn't be an absurd advantage, but it still would allow schools up north to set up shop off-campus once or twice each year.

Most importantly, it'd allow the smaller schools to attend the camps at the bigger schools, something many people—including Meyer—didn't realize would be outlawed with the banning of satellite camps. If the NCAA is truly about providing as many opportunities for student-athletes as possible, then there's certainly a compromise that can be reached in this instance.


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

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Kyle Smith, Portland State Football Player, Dies at Age 22

Portland State University offensive tackle Kyle Smith died at his apartment Wednesday at the age of 22, according to PSU spokesman Mike Lund, per the Oregonian's Ken Goe

A cause of death has yet to be announced.   

"I feel we have the most united, close-knit football team in America, and we just lost a major piece of that team in Kyle. Right now we have two concerns, Kyle's family and our football players," PSU coach Bruce Barnum said in a statement, per Goe. "The program is being tested, but we will come out of this on top."

According to the school's official release, Smith earned second-team All-Big Sky Conference honors for his strong performance during the 2015 season. 

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Kyle Smith," Director of Athletics Mark Rountree said, per the release. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. I would ask the Viking family to support our student-athletes and coaches with love and caring during this difficult time. We must all must show resolve to cope with this tragedy as best we can."

Smith's death is the second time the Portland State football program has been struck by tragedy this offseason.

According to the Oregonian's Scott Sepich, redshirt freshman linebacker AJ Schlatter died on Jan. 17 because of complications from a minor surgery to remove his tonsils after a blood clot formed and he fell unconscious. 

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4-Star Brothers Tre Swilling, Bruce Jordan-Swilling Talk Bond, Recruitment Plans

NEW ORLEANS — The recruiting process can be a stressful endeavor for most teenage athletes.

However, in the case of 4-star linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling and 4-star corner Tre Swilling, they are in rarefied territory in having a sibling along for the ride to help navigate through the ups and downs of the process.

The sons of former NFL linebacker Pat Swilling are two of the main attractions for college coaches at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans.

“It’s crazy. We get tons of mail everyday. We hear from a lot of coaches,” Tre told Bleacher Report. “There’s a lot of talks late nights and when we’re coming home from practice. We both have just talked about our future and laying out our goals for each other and as a family.”

Bruce, who is the older of the two, admits the competition between he and Tre can be fierce at times. However, the brothers serve as each other’s main support system as well.

“Just being out here with Tre, it’s a great feeling,” Bruce said. “He motivates me when I’m going through something on the field or off it, and I do the same for him.”

While they have enjoyed the journey that has led them to becoming coveted recruits on the gridiron, they both acknowledge that they don’t know whether or not they will play together at the next level.

Tre released a Top 9 list while Bruce announced his Top 10 earlier this week.

Alabama Crimson Tide, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, LSU Tigers and UCLA Bruins are the programs that made the cut for both brothers.

Tre has Ole Miss Rebels, Michigan Wolverines and Mississippi State Bulldogs added onto his list while Bruce has Arkansas Razorbacks, Georgia Bulldogs, Oklahoma Sooners and USC Trojans in the running for his pledge.

Both brothers insist that they are not a package deal—at least not as things stand currently.

“We’re not a package deal right now,” Tre said. “But further down the line, it would be kind of ideal [for us to play together.] I’m sure he wouldn’t want to play against me on Saturdays, and I wouldn’t want to play against him. It would be cool to play together at the next level.”

Bruce agreed, noting that he and Tre could end up together if one school happens to be the best individual fit for both.

“We could end up at different schools, definitely,” Bruce said. “We are going to pick the school that is best for us individually. If there’s one school that we both feel is best for us individually, then we will go there.”

While neither is in a rush to decide, they are preparing for either possibility.

Their family, particularly their father, has also made it clear that whatever each decides will be good as long as each brother is happy with his individual choice.

“[He tells us] just to enjoy it. If we need anything, he’s definitely there to help us out,” Tre explained. “But for the most part, he just kind of tells us to enjoy the process and do what we have to do. He wants us to make the best decision for us and not for him. That’s the biggest thing. He doesn’t want it to feel like I have to make him the happiest.”


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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4-Star Jaelan Phillips on UCLA Commitment: 'I Want to Be Part of a Revolution'

Followers of Pac-12 football patiently—and impatiently—waited for the verbal commitment of Redlands, California, standout Jaelan Phillips to hit social media Thursday afternoon. And when it was time for the 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid to announce, he said he simply went with his heart.

Advantage: UCLA

Phillips, the nation's No. 5 weak-side defensive end in the 2017 class, committed to UCLA and became the Bruins' fifth overall pledge and the top-ranked pledge of the class. He joins fellow 4-star defensive end Hunter Echols in the class.

In short, Phillips said he's been a Bruin at heart for a long time. His father went to UCLA, as did his aunt and grandmother. His grandmother received a postgraduate degree there. Additionally, his grandfather was the head of the music department at UCLA.

"We've been talking about it a lot," said Phillips, who had a top five of UCLA, USC, Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington, with UCLA and Stanford as his top two schools. "I went back and forth with UCLA and Stanford. It was a tough decision, but my family's extremely excited for me.

"My dad's overwhelmed that I'm going to his alma mater, and my mom loves UCLA and that I'm comfortable with where I'm going. I'm excited; I'm ready."

Recruited by defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Angus McClure and defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin, among others, Phillips said the combination of UCLA having a respectable athletic program, having a solid academic reputation and being close to home won him over. He's got an interest in earning a communications degree as an undergraduate and a business degree in graduate school. Phillips added that going pre-med is still a possibility, as well.

On the field, Phillips was a force for Redlands East Valley High School. As a junior, he finished with 87 tackles and 13.5 sacks. He also showed his ball skills by recording three interceptions.

Phillips said the UCLA coaching staff have talked to him about playing a hybrid role in a 3-4 setting. He can be equally effective as a rush defensive end as he could be as an outside linebacker.

"They want to me play kind of like how they used Anthony Barr," Phillips said, referring to the Minnesota Vikings' first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft—an outside linebacker who displayed versatility throughout his career at UCLA.

At 6'5" and 240 pounds, Phillips can be a similar athlete. He showed his versatility at The Opening Los Angeles regional and ultimately earned an invitation to compete in The Opening finals this summer in Beaverton, Oregon.

Phillips said choosing between UCLA and Stanford was tougher than some may assume. He's built a great relationship with the Stanford coaching staff, and the idea of having a Stanford degree was something he weighed heavily.

"A Stanford degree is one of the most prestigious degrees around," he said. "I loved the campus, the coaches and the players. I've had a place in my heart for Stanford since I was 10 years old. I never thought I'd play college football, so the goal was to get a degree from Stanford."

Choosing Stanford also would have meant Phillips starting his own legacy. He took that into account, but when it was time to make a final decision, nothing could sway Phillips from UCLA, a program he said "simply is the right place for me."

"It was a big decision for me, and nothing was cut-and-dry," he said. "With UCLA, I want to be part of a revolution and part of something that's getting better."


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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College Football Players Who Haven't Scratched the Surface of Their Talent

You haven't seen anything yet. In some cases, almost nothing, but you will. Just wait.

Cryptic enough for you? This is the way the college football careers of some highly regarded players have gone to this point, ones who possess a tremendous amount of skill and talent yet haven't been able to showcase it.

It could be because of injury, or maybe they've been stuck behind established stars who have finally moved on. Whatever the case, the opportunities to this point have been limited, but the promise is still there. Once their path is clear of obstacles, the sky is the limit.

We've put together a list of players who haven't begun to scratch the surface of their potential, but the 2016 season is shaping up to be when that should happen. No true freshmen or junior college transfers are included since those players are effectively new to FBS and haven't been held back yet.

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Make-or-Break Games for Every Top 25 College Football Team

Every college football team can look back on a previous campaign and point toward a specific game that changed the course of the season.

However, a majority of those contests were losses that essentially ended a program's aspirations. Only a handful of teams exit a respective year able to forget the "what-if" scenarios.

The list of the 2016 season's make-or-break games is ordered using Bleacher Report's most recent preseason top 25.

Each contest could ruin national championship hopes, conference title dreams or—in cases in which neither of those achievements are likely—chances at a meaningful victory in a rivalry matchup.

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Cal Football Player Ted Agu's Family Reaches Settlement in Wrongful Death Suit

The University of California and the family of former football player Ted Agu, who died during a February 2014 offseason team drill, reached a $4.75 million settlement on a pending wrongful death lawsuit. 

Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the news Thursday. The university admitted liability in the case in January.

Agu, 21, died after collapsing while on a run with teammates. The lawsuit claimed negligence on the university's part, saying coaches and trainers ignored signs Agu was struggling during the drill. 

"During the course of the conditioning drill, Agu experienced dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of balance, and other signs of extreme fatigue that were clearly symptomatic of the sickling process," a release said, per Kyle Bonagura of

The settlement also brings forth a series of changes to Cal's athletic program. Coaches will no longer be permitted to use “high-risk physical activity” to punish players. A definition has not been provided for what that entails, but Cal's programs will now need approval from others within the university.

“We were never going to accept just money,” said Steve Yerrid, an attorney for the Agu family, per Veklerov. “The most unnatural act in the world is for a parent to bury their child.”

There will also be a permanent display in Agu's honor in Cal's locker room. 

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