NCAA Football

Miami Football: Updating Former Hurricanes at All-Star Events

Six former Miami Hurricanes showcased their skills at the Medal of Honor Bowl, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, while four more are currently at the Senior Bowl.

Most of the players occupied significant roles during the 2014 campaign, and the common reaction to their respective performances is a positive one.

Al Golden and his coaching staff have been blasted for lack of player development, but the All-Star events are showing the problems lie more toward utilization and execution.

But that's another story for another day because the ex-Hurricanes and reactions from scouts are the main focuses.

 

Medal of Honor Bowl

Ryan Williams tore his ACL in April, and that unfortunate injury opened the door for freshman Brad Kaaya to snatch the starting job. Williams returned midway through the season but was merely the No. 2 option at that point.

But the 6'6" gunslinger was anything but a reserve at the Medal of Honor Bowl, which took place Jan. 10 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Williams earned MVP honors, completing seven of 15 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown—one that was ultimately the game-winning score.

"It was definitely fun to get back out there on the field and play again," Williams said, per Pete Iacobelli of The Associated Press. "I've been waiting to get out there. I hoped to get a chance at Miami, but I got a chance today."

In an NFL draft stretched remarkably thin at quarterback, perhaps a franchise will hold out to sign Williams as an undrafted free agent. A professional career is certainly not guaranteed, but it's not completely unrealistic either.

Thurston Armbrister also played in the Medal of Honor Bowl, managing one assisted tackle for the game.

 

East-West Shrine Game

Anthony Chickillo never lived up to his 5-star billing, but his performance at the East-West Shrine Game supported the notion he was misused at Miami. The defensive end tallied a pair of sacks during the event.

B/R's Dan Hope noted Chickillo's production was a result of more than a different scheme, but that shouldn't take away from the defensive end's outstanding week.

"I think playing in a 4-3 at the Shrine Game gave Chickillo a greater opportunity to showcase his pass-rushing skills than he had in Miami's 3-4," Hope said. "Bluntly, I think part of his success in the game itself was a result of the West's offensive tackles being badly overmatched. Nonetheless, I thought he was the most impressive player in the game, and overall, I thought he had a solid week."

As NFL.com's Mike Huguenin notes, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah considered Chickillo one of the Shrine Game's four most impressive prospects in drills, along with Miami teammate Jonathan Feliciano.

An important cog on the offensive line, Feliciano racked up 46 starts at a couple of spots up front while with the Hurricanes. His combination of experience and versatility makes him an intriguing prospect as a reserve lineman in the NFL, though he did leave the All-Star event due to injury.

"I think Feliciano is best suited to play guard at the next level," Hope said. "That is where he spent most of the week at the Shrine Game, and it makes the most sense given his measurables (335 lbs, 31.5-inch arms at Shrine Game, according to Optimum Scouting).

"That said, I ultimately think his versatility is his calling card to success; he's probably not going to be an NFL starter, but his ability to play all over the line significantly increases his value as a backup, and as a potential Day 3 pick."

Shane McDermott contributed to the East Team's 19-3 victory as the long snapper.

McDermott was Miami's starting center for the past three seasons, missing just two games due to injury. He's not a highly touted prospect, but again, there's potential for McDermott to be a late Day 3 pick.

 

Senior Bowl

Phillip Dorsett is fast (4.21 40-yard dash). Fluff that up with any adjective you'd like, but Dorsett is undeniably a burner. For that reason, however, the receiver can raise his proverbial draft stock if he shows something more than elite straight-line speed.

"I think it's important that Dorsett catches the ball consistently this week and shows some ability to run diversified routes," Hope said. "Like you said, we know how dangerous he can be on a go route—he might clock as the fastest player at the NFL Scouting Combine—but is he a one-dimensional player? This week is his chance to prove he's not."

B/R's Luke Easterling said, "So far, Dorsett has been fantastic. The speed is there, but his quickness and sharp routes have been impressive, and he hasn't struggled with catching the ball as much as I had expected. He was easily one of the top performers on Day 2."

But Dorsett isn't the only Miami pass-catcher turning heads. Clive Walford, who Hope said has a strong case to be considered the best senior tight end in the class, has also shined.

"[Walford is] big, physical, created separation with great technique and used his body well," Easterling said. "Caught the ball well at different angles. He and Dorsett stole the show at South practice [on Day 2]."

Walford amassed a career season in 2014, largely due to the rapport he built with Kaaya as the go-to late-down and red-zone target.

B/R's Matt Miller ranks Walford as the second-best tight end and No. 81 player overall, so he's definitely one of the more appealing talents. However, the 6'4", 258-pounder must improve one specific area of his game to rise on draft boards.

"To solidify himself as a top prospect at the position, I think he needs to prove that he can also be an effective in-line blocker," Hope said. "If he can do that, I think he's a third-round pick."

Though Denzel Perryman missed one day of practice, the middle linebacker is a candidate to end the Hurricanes' seven-year first-round drought. The biggest perceived negative is his stature, but Hope noted Perryman's height and weight (5'11", 242 lbs) should be assessed individually.

"Bigger question, in my opinion, is how much does his lack of height really matter? Look at how well Chris Borland (also 5'11") played as a rookie—it's one of those things we overanalyze in the draft process, and it certainly might cause [Perryman's] draft stock to fall, but I don't think it will stop him from being a productive player."

Perryman was named first-team All-ACC twice, a Butkus Award finalist, a third-team All-American and the team's 2014 defensive MVP.

Ladarius Gunter entered the Senior Bowl as the Miami's relative unknown, but the corner has also impressed scouts—most notably B/R's Matt Bowen, a former NFL defensive back.

"Gunter displayed the best technique on the field Wednesday at the cornerback position during the South practice when looking at his footwork, hands and transition speed to break on the throw," Bowen said, adding that he loved the way Gunter finished on the ball.

The 6'1", 200-pound defensive back saw some action at safety, but Hope believes Gunter will most likely stay at cornerback because of his size.

Although Miller currently lists Gunter as the No. 24 corner, don't be surprised if he—or any of the Hurricanes for that matter—rises following a strong performance at the Senior Bowl.

 

Note: Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and logged two tackles. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information via 247Sports.

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Roquan Smith Finalizes Visit Plans: Who Has the Edge in Race to Land 4-Star OLB?

The nationwide recruitment of 4-star linebacker Roquan Smith has come into focus this week as he plans his final stretch toward national signing day. 

Smith shared a list of three finalists—Michigan, Georgia and UCLA—Tuesday with Steve Lorenz of 247Sports. Just a day later, ESPN analyst Gerry Hamilton broke news of his remaining official visit plans:

The latest development would appear to thrust Texas A&M into the mix, presenting Smith with four viable options and limited time to make a choice. There will be less than 50 hours remaining until signing day by the time he returns from his visit to UCLA.

Smith, a senior standout at Macon County High School in Georgia, carries more than two dozen offers. He collected scholarships from Ole Miss and UCLA as a sophomore, setting the stage for a whirlwind recruiting process. 

The Under Armour All-American is rated fifth nationally among outside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings and is considered the 47th-best overall prospect in this 2015 class.

Smith tallied 79 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions in just six games as a senior, per Ethan Levine of SaturdayDownSouth.com. His effort included a virtuoso performance—24 tackles, 263 rushing yards and three touchdowns—in a regional title-clinching victory, according to Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

His accomplishments, skill set and 6'2", 205-pound frame indicate Smith provides potential as a multiyear collegiate starter who could challenge for a role on the two-deep as a true freshman.

With four teams reportedly vying for his commitment, let's take a look at how each factor into the decision.

 

Georgia

The in-state Bulldogs extended an offer immediately after Smith's junior season and welcomed him to campus for the 2014 season opener against Clemson. He returned to Athens in December for an official visit.

There are vast temptations to leave home, but like many Georgia products, Smith developed a fondness for the program during his youth.

"That has always been his dream school," Macon County coach Larry Harold told Carvell. "Guys on the defensive staff—Roquan is excited about them as well as the other UGA commits that he played with at the RisingSeniors junior all-star game. Guys like Terry Godwin, Trent Thompson and D'Andre Walker."

Those three commits are key components of a Bulldogs class that currently rates sixth nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings.

Mark Richt and company have stockpiled talent along the defensive front, headlined by Thompson (No. 1 overall national prospect). That group should free things up for linebackers to roam freely in the future. 

 

Michigan

Michigan has made a major push for Smith since the arrival of Jim Harbaugh. His hiring of former Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is expected to pay dividends on the Southeast recruiting trail.

Durkin formerly pursued Smith on behalf of the Gators and continues that hunt with the Wolverines.

"Roquan and Coach Durkin have a really good relationship from when he was at Florida," Harold told Carvell.

Smith spent this past weekend at Michigan, where Harbaugh is looking to sell 2015 recruits on a new vision and the possibility of early playing time. The Wolverines hold just six commitments in the wake of a disastrous 2014 campaign, but the program has started a new chapter that's clearly appealing to Smith.

 

Texas A&M

You can chalk this one up to the presence of new defensive coordinator John Chavis, who previously sought to bring Smith down to LSU. That recruitment progressed to the point where he was scheduled to spend an official visit in Baton Rouge.

Instead, he's headed to College Station this weekend. 

"Coach Chavis was all over Roquan when he was at LSU," Harold told Carvell. "Coach Chavis has contacted him since the move, and we had an extensive talk last weekend."

Texas A&M whiffed on coveted in-state linebacker targets Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal last month when the duo committed to Texas. Daylon Mack, a 5-star defensive tackle, decommitted from the Aggies shortly after.

Issues must be addressed on that side of the ball if head coach Kevin Sumlin hopes to elevate the Aggies in the SEC standings. The addition of Chavis was a serious step in the right direction, and he's already proved valuable by securing a visit from Smith.

 

UCLA

The Bruins beat everyone else to the party by offering Smith a scholarship in April 2013. Fittingly, UCLA will also cap things off as the last team to host him before signing day.

Jim Mora reached into the Southeast last year, securing a signature from 4-star New Orleans linebacker Kenny Young. He aims to duplicate that success with Smith, who would bolster a Bruins defensive haul highlighted by 5-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South.

Despite a disadvantage in proximity, the program has maintained Smith's interest. A longstanding relationship with the defender sets the stage for UCLA to steal him away from the East Coast.

"They've been on him since day one, and they've always been a serious contender," Harold told Carvell. 

 

The Leader

Visits to Texas A&M and UCLA loom large, particularly as Smith develops a better understanding for Chavis' defensive outlook in College Station. Both teams will need to impress because, at this point, we give a slight advantage to Georgia and Michigan.

Harbaugh is selling the program hard and carries immense clout among college recruits following his success in San Francisco. He's made inroads with Smith by using Durkin as a facilitator, luring him to campus last weekend.

While we respect the Wolverines' late surge, this remains Georgia's race to lose. The Bulldogs must withstand sales pitches from three strong alternatives, but the opportunity to join his home state's top 2015 talent in Athens gives Richt an edge.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Texas A&M Football: Who Will Replace Aggies' Top 2015 NFL Draft Prospects

The Texas A&M Aggies have a number of seniors and one junior who should be selected in the 2015 NFL draft. The team is going to have a hard time replacing some of the talent that is leaving to play on Sundays.

The range of draft prospects for the Aggies spans from likely first-round selection left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi to borderline seventh-rounders like kicker Josh Lambo. Draft-eligible Aggies will need to improve their positions on the draft boards through the scouting combine and all-star games.

Players who should expect to hear their names called at the draft include Ogbuehi, Jarvis Harrison, Trey Williams, Lambo and Deshazor Everett. How well the Aggies can replace these players will go a long way toward determining what kind of season they have in 2015.

Here's a look at who will replace the Aggies' top 2015 draft prospects next season.

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Potential Replacements for All of Alabama's Coaching Vacancies

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — While Nick Saban and his assistant coaches are out on the road, trying to persuade the country’s top prospects to join his Crimson Tide, Saban will also be trying to do some persuading of a different set of people.

With Kevin Steele hired by LSU to be its defensive coordinator and Lance Thompson to Auburn as linebackers coach, Alabama now has two vacancies on its defensive coaching staff.

The way the staff was set up in 2014, Alabama had two linebackers coaches—Steele coached inside, Thompson outside—while defensive coordinator Kirby Smart worked with the secondary.

Smart has previously coached linebackers, so we could see some more shuffling of duties this offseason. Still, Alabama has two spots to fill, however that shakes out.

Here are five potential new hires for these two open spots.

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Brandon Allen Is the Perfect QB to Deal with Lofty Arkansas Expectations

Three years ago, Arkansas was the toast of the SEC. Former head coach Bobby Petrino was the toast of the SEC, the program had established itself as a contender in the SEC West and was being mentioned in the national title discussion heading into spring practice.

Then, Petrino wrecked his motorcycle and covered up an inappropriate relationship with a staff member, sending the program spiraling into a pit of anonymity.

It stayed there for two-and-a-half seasons, before head coach Bret Bielema—in his second season as the Razorbacks head coach—led the Hogs back into the conversation.

Part of that resurgence was quarterback Brandon Allen.

Allen completed 190 of 339 passes (56 percent) for 2,285 yards, 20 touchdowns and only six interceptions for the Hogs, and he proved that, at the very least, he can manage the game in a way that Bielema wants for the offense to be successful.

The best is yet to come.

Allen will enter his senior season as the unquestioned leader of an offense that returns star running backs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, four starters on the offensive line, leading receiver Keon Hatcher and versatile safety valve Hunter Henry at tight end.

He's the perfect player at the perfect time to lead Arkansas back.

"When you see a kid who's going into his senior year who has been through so many trials and tribulations and there are so many good players coming back around him, that gets me excited," Bielema told B/R. "I think he's going to be bigger, faster and stronger. I know that may not seem to carry a lot of weight with quarterbacks, but it does. He'll be more physical and allow him to take those hits through a 12-game season."

That's been the issue with Allen in the past. 

He injured his shoulder in the third game of the 2013 season diving into the end zone, and he fought through it for an entire season. Last year, Allen injured his ankle against Ole Miss in late November, which forced him out of the second half of the win over the Rebels. The next week against Missouri, Allen fought through pain and constant pressure from the Tigers to keep his Hogs in the game until the end.

His toughness is something that impresses Bielema.

"There's three things I can't wait to see come out of his senior year," Bielema said. "He's incredibly tough, he's a very smart football player, and the biggest person who wants to have success in our football program is Brandon Allen."

Success might be coming, too.

After shutting out Ole Miss and LSU in November, and following it up by holding Texas to a lob wedge worth of total offense (59 yards) in the win in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, Arkansas has vaulted into the SEC West discussion. 

The Sporting News went so far as to rank the Hogs fourth in the country in its way-too-early Top 10. That preseason hype is something Bielema addressed head-on when he met with the players once they returned to campus.

"There's nobody that ended the season any stronger than we did, but is that going to be our ending point? Are you happy at 7-6?" Bielema asked his players. "Their answer was a resounding 'no.'"

Allen is the most important piece of that puzzle.

 

He has already proven that he's resilient, tough and can manage the offense. Now, he has the weapons to transform himself from a game manager to a difference maker.

What's more, new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, while a pro-style coach, has produced 3,000-yard passers in four of the last five seasons at Central Michigan.

Don't sleep on Allen taking another massive step forward in 2014.

He has experience and continuity working in his favor, and the change to Enos should only accelerate his progression.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

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

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Every College Football Power 5 Team's Worst Offseason Nightmare

Welcome to college football's offseason, where anything can happen, but most of it ends up being bad.

Between the end of the 2014 season and the start of the 2015 campaign, teams and their fans must stress over early NFL departures, national signing day and spring practice while also worrying about off-field incidents getting in the way of on-field progress. So much can go wrong, and the impact of these issues can have a major effect on how the upcoming season goes.

While much of this is general, every power-conference team has at least one specific concern it's hoping doesn't pop up during the offseason. We've listed what these potential nightmares are, as well as what they would mean for the program.

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Top Candidates for Tennessee's Next Offensive Coordinator

According to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, Tennessee's offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian is leaving the Volunteers coaching staff, creating a vacancy. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee breaks down the possible candidates to replace Bajakian.

Who should be the next offensive coordinator at Tennessee?

Check out the video and let us know! 

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Why Kyler Murray Should Flip from Texas A&M to Texas

Let’s be clear: Kyler Murray is a Texas A&M commit, and a strong one, at that. The chances of the 5-star quarterback signing with another college football program are slim.

But Wednesday's random trip to Texas—an unofficial visit—cannot be avoided. Neither can this photo he tweeted.

Aggies fans are calling Murray's mid-week visit a trolling move, just an opportunity to give Longhorns fans false hope in the race for one of the nation's best quarterbacks. Texas fans, on the other hand, are trying to defend the argument that trips like Wednesday's aren't just made matter-of-factly.

Add in the fact that the visit was made with uncommitted 4-star wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge, and you have to wonder what they're thinking. Both have said in previous conversations that they'd like to be college teammates.

But where?

Texas A&M is still expected to be Murray's home, but there are definitive arguing points as to why he would fit better in Charlie Strong's offense. For starters, Murray can come on the Texas campus and be considered an instant contender for the starting job.

Tyrone Swoopes was hot and cold most of last season, highly touted Jerrod Heard was redshirted his freshman year and 2015 QB commit Zach Gentry has yet to take a snap wearing burnt orange.

And then there's what’s going on at Texas A&M. Kyle Allen established himself as a reliable starter in Kevin Sumlin’s offense. His Liberty Bowl performance against West Virginia—four touchdown passes and a fifth score on a 14-yard, second-quarter run—showed that he's matured since taking over duties earlier in the season, replacing Kenny Hill. He shined as a freshman who only made five career starts.

Murray is the type of player who isn't used to being a backup. He's a winner. In three years as a starter for Allen High School, he went 43-0 and won three consecutive state championships at Texas high school football’s highest level. He silenced all critics regarding his 5'10", 180-pound frame by playing larger than giants in big-game situations.

Would Murray immediately replace Allen at Texas A&M? Probably not, since Allen's a worthy incumbent. Would Murray be an automatic potential starter in Austin? There's a good chance of that—assuming Strong doesn't redshirt him a la Heard, who won two Texas state championships of his own at Guyer High School in Denton.

Murray is talented enough to be an all-conference signal-caller for four years—or sooner if he ultimately gets drafted in the NFL. You want his talents on the field the minute he arrives at college. The Aggies will have a big decision to make in time for the start of the 2015 season.

Here's the best part about Murray’s recruiting process: His father, former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray, has groomed him to be silent with every action. In short, only Murray really knows what he wants to do. Well, him and his father.

And let's not forget that as good of a quarterback as Murray is, he's equally talented as an infielder. There is talk of him being drafted high in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft. He made history by becoming the first player to play in both the football and baseball Under Amour All-America Games.

Murray will have a decision to make come national signing day. While it appears to favor the Aggies, the world will wait to see his official move. He'll sign on the dotted line, but we're not sure if the fax will go to College Station, Austin or somewhere else altogether. 

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Trae Elston, Damore'ea Stringfellow Arrested: Latest Details, Updates and More

Ole Miss football players Trae Elston and Damore'ea Stringfellow were reportedly arrested early Thursday on charges of disorderly conduct. Elston also faces a resisting arrest charge.    

Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger reports that further details surrounding the incident that led to the arrests are not yet publicly available. The only information relayed in the log was that it occurred after midnight.

"Safety Trae Elston and wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow were both arrested shortly after midnight today and charged with disorderly conduct, according to the Lafayette County Detention Center's booking log," Kellenberger reported.

It's the second incident involving Stringfellow in less than a year. Adam Jude of The Seattle Times reported in April that he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges relating to an altercation following last year's Super Bowl.

The wide receiver has since transferred from Washington to Ole Miss. He was forced to sit out the 2014 campaign, but was expected to return to action next fall.

Elston just finished a junior season that saw him register 59 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in 12 games.

There is no word yet on how the situation will impact their status with the Rebels.

 

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Torrance Gibson vs. Brian Cole: Did OSU or Michigan Get the Better Athlete?

The Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry extends beyond the field onto the recruiting trail. The Buckeyes landed 4-star dual-threat quarterback Torrance Gibson, while the Wolverines landed 4-star athlete Brian Cole, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder debates which school got the better athlete.

Who will have a bigger impact on his program?

Watch the video and let us know! 

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5 College Teams That Will Have the Most Players Taken in the 2015 NFL Draft

Do you like mock drafts? Good, because you're going to see around 10,000 of them (give or take) over the next few months. Be prepared for those mock drafts to change, perhaps significantly in spots, as individual stocks rise and fall. 

Still, there should be a handful of schools that will have several players taken—perhaps in the double digits. Only 74 underclassmen declared for the draft—compared to 98 a year ago—but there are plenty of seniors and early graduates for NFL organizations to consider. 

Which schools will have the most players drafted this spring?

Here are our best projections based off rankings from B/R draft guru Matt Miller

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Is 5-Star OLB Osa Masina a Lock to Commit to USC on Friday?

Lauded Utah linebacker Osa Masina will announce his collegiate intentions Friday, Jan. 23, and USC seems to be situated in a strong position among top contenders.

The Trojans, who hosted Masina in late November for the last of his three official visits, are considered the favorites among national recruiting experts. USC is projected to sign him by 58 percent of analysts in 247Sports' crystal ball predictions, garnering the six most recent predictions. 

Masina, a 6'3.5", 230-pound U.S. Army All-American, is also still weighing offers from fellow finalists and Pac-12 programs Arizona State and UCLA.

"My experience with USC and their coaching staff has definitely been positive, but I'm still considering all my options," he told Bleacher Report earlier this month.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff have been diligent in their pursuit of the Brighton High School standout. USC paid him a visit Wednesday, showing some last-minute love before the big decision:

Masina rates third nationally among outside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings and 35th overall among 2015 prospects. He skill set has garnered more than 20 scholarship offers from some of the country's top college programs.

"Just recently he had to tell Oregon, Stanford and Notre Dame he wasn't going there, which is a very difficult thing," Brighton coach Ryan Bullett told Brandon Gurney of the Desert News.

Masina compiled a career-high 97 tackles and 10 sacks in 2014, per MaxPreps. His prowess as an all-around playmaker is further evidenced by 2,239 rushing yards and 33 scores on the ground since 2013.

He shined among America's elite high school football talent last summer at The Opening, an invite-only showcase held at Nike's world headquarters in Oregon. His athleticism compared favorably among the majority of front-seven defenders in attendance.  

"I enjoy getting after it on defense," Masina said in Oregon. "I'm working to improve and build up my strength. I think I can make an early impact in college."

USC obviously views him as a pivotal piece of its plan to coordinate a strong final push toward national signing day. The Trojans are still firmly in the mix for several coveted recruits, including fellow 5-star defenders Iman Marshall and Rasheem Green.

A commitment from Masina would certainly provide a positive start toward the Trojans' lofty goals with less than two weeks remaining until signing day.

USC already welcomed 4-star inside linebacker Cameron Smith to campus as an early enrollee, and he'll participate in spring camp. The Trojans are also considered a favorite for fellow Utah linebacker Porter Gustin, who hosted Sarkisian on Tuesday for an in-home visit:

Gustin told me he's likely to end up in an interior role at USC if that's where he lands. Masina complements both him and Smith well with his ability to wreak havoc off the edge and patrol the perimeter as an outside presence.

UCLA is arguably the biggest threat to USC, and it hosted Masina on campus for a game in October. However, 5-star Bruins defensive end commit Keisean Lucier-South sat next to him at the Rose Bowl and noted his interest in the Trojans.

“I spent a lot of time talking with Osa Masina at the UCLA game, and he really seemed interested in USC," he told me afterward. "It’s a place he could see himself playing."

More than three months later, there's little lingering doubt that Masina will ultimately end up in a Trojans uniform.

Consider USC a prohibitive favorite when he steps to the podium Friday.

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated. Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Is 5-Star OLB Osa Masina a Lock to Commit to USC on Friday?

Lauded Utah linebacker Osa Masina will announce his collegiate intentions Friday, Jan. 23, and USC seems to be situated in a strong position among top contenders...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

New Arkansas OC Dan Enos Will Provide Much-Needed Spark to Hogs Offense

Arkansas had been without an offensive coordinator ever since Jim Chaney decided to take the same position on Pitt's staff, and his replacement came out of left field.

Actually, it wasn't even left field. It was from outside of the ballpark.

Central Michigan head coach—yes, head coach—Dan Enos has been tabbed as the new offensive coordinator for the Hogs.

"We are thrilled to have Coach Enos joining us in Fayetteville," said head coach Bret Bielema in a statement emailed by the school. "Dan is a great fit for our program. He runs a pro-style offense and brings expertise at the quarterback position as both a player and coach. We played against each other in college and he was a very intelligent and talented quarterback who showed great toughness and leadership."

Enos spent five seasons at Central Michigan. He led the Chippewas to three straight seasons in which they finished .500 or better overall, finished over .500 in the MAC and earned two bowl bids.

"I want to thank Bret (Bielema) for this wonderful opportunity to be part of something special at the University of Arkansas," said Enos in the statement. "The challenge of winning a championship in the SEC and developing young men at the highest level of college football is very attractive. Bret and I share many of the same philosophies and I’m excited to open the next chapter of my coaching career down in Fayetteville."

During his time at Central Michigan, Enos produced two 1,000-yard rushers—Zurlon Tipton (1,492 yards, 19 touchdowns) in 2012 and Thomas Rawls (1,103 yards, 10 touchdowns) in 2014. 

That will play well with Arkansas, which returns the dynamic duo of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins at running back—both of whom topped the 1,000-yard mark last year for the Razorbacks.

While Enos will run a traditional pro-style offense in Fayetteville, he is willing to open things up when appropriate, and will swing the pendulum ever so slightly away from Bielema's old-school values and more toward the new era.

In four of Enos' five years at Central Michigan, his starting quarterback topped the 3,000-yard mark through the air. Bielema has only had one quarterback throw for more than 3,000 yards in his entire head coaching career—when Russell Wilson threw for 3,175 at Wisconsin in 2011.

What's more, Enos provides a head coaching presence in a coordinator role, which is huge for the development of the offense. Instead of scrambling and finding somebody to earn that trust, Enos will walk into the meeting room and demand it.

Why the jump?

Money could be a good reason. He was only making $360,000 as Central Michigan's head coach last year, according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

According to Kurt Voigt of the Associated Press, he's getting quite a bump in pay by taking a "step down."

As Andrea Adelson of ESPN notes, it's not the first time a "group of five" head coach has left to become an assistant in either the NFL or a Power Five school.

Central Michigan's loss is Arkansas' gain.

The Enos hire is surprising, but he's the perfect fit for what Arkansas wants to do. He's traditional, but flexible, which will pay immediate dividends for the Razorbacks.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

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

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These Monster Linemen Recruits Are Ready to Dominate College Football in 2015

The 2015 class is full of absolute monsters who are ready to bring their talents to the college circuit. These are the recruits who are ready to make an immediate impact. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer give their picks for the biggest monsters in the 2015 recruiting class. 

Who will be the biggest monster from this class next season?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Ranking Every Big Ten Football Team by Best Returning Players

Ten players return next season from the All-Big Ten media first team. Nine players return from the coaches' first team, and 17 players return from either of the second teams.

But how are those star players distributed?

The Big Ten is notoriously imbalanced, a chasm existing between Ohio State and everybody else. Michigan State and Wisconsin make up the second tier, but after that there's another steep drop-off.

Or at least that's how the league was last season. With so many players leaving, might one of those teams be primed for a fall? Might another team be primed for a leap? You never know.

Obviously, there is more nuance to winning football games than "Who returns the best players?" But star power is undoubtedly important. The rosters with the most talent from last year's All-Big Ten teams, plus the honorable mentions, have a distinct early advantage.

Here's a look at who each Big Ten team returns.

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Watch Most Dangerous 2015 Recruit Christian Kirk Score from 6 Positions

Christian Kirk is a 5-star wide receiver, as per the 247Sports composite rankings, and he is one of the most versatile and dangerous players in the 2015 recruiting class. 

Watch this mixtape of Kirk scoring from six different positions on the field, showing off his incredible athletic prowess that will surely be an asset next season at Texas A&M. 

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Perception, Reality and the Role of College Football Recruiting Hostesses

For college football recruiting hostesses, the difference between perception and reality is nearly as big as the difference between a 5-star blue-chip prospect and an uninvited walk-on.

There is an unfortunate stigma that comes with the job. Often thought of as just "eye candy" to show to recruits, the reality is that they're one of the most integral pieces of the college football puzzle. 

"Like everything else in college football and really in our society, abuse leads to restrictions," Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema told B/R. "If everybody would just do it the right way, in the right manner and with the right approach, we wouldn't have any problems. When people try to abuse the situation or stereotype the situation, that brings negativity on all of it."

Hostess programs have been cast in a negative light over the last few years, including former Tennessee hostess Lacey Pearl Earps' role as "The Closer" for Lane Kiffin's program on Rocky Top (via: Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports).

"Our job was to flirt with them," Earps said in The System, a book published in 2013 and written by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (via Wetzel). 

But is that truly the case? 

"People think they are there to just be 'eye candy' and whatever happens, happens," said B/R national recruiting writer Tyler Donohue, who was a recruiting assistant for the Rutgers football program from 2006 through 2008. "From my experience, there was more flirting from the prospects trying to spit game, and maybe the girls would smile at them. I never saw a reciprocation or anything like that."

The perception that recruiting hostesses engage in nefarious practices in the hopes of luring that next superstar to campus is one that hostesses routinely fight and hope will change.

"The perception of things is not always how it is in reality," said Meredith Martin, a former hostess at the University of Georgia in 2008. "You don't want people to assume you're one way because you have this job, when in reality, it's very different."

The primary role for hosts and hostesses during the week is to assist in creating and distributing recruiting materials to prospects.

"Day-to-day, they were really important, because your goal as a Division I program was to get mail in front of prospects as much as possible," said Donohue. "They were the ones printing stuff out, cutting the cardboard, stuffing envelopes, making sure addresses are right, getting it out there. They're almost the secretarial cog of our recruiting department. While we were next door watching tape, they were doing the clerical work."

On the weekends, the duties change a bit. Coaches are busy during game days and on busy recruiting weekends during the offseason, there's only so much of the head coach to go around.

It's up to the hostesses and hosts to show prospects around on official visits, which typically include a tour of the athletic facility, meetings with coaches, training staff and administrators, a tour of campus and meetings with academic advisers and teachers. Many of those stops along the way are specifically chosen by the football staff based on the major each prospect intends to pursue.

Amy Eikmeier was a campus tour guide for the office of admissions at Nebraska in 2006 and added recruiting hostess responsibilities from 2007 through 2009. Her responsibilities didn't change all that much.

"I'm not an expert on the football program, but that wasn't my role," she said. "My role was about life as a student. Obviously I learned some things about the football program and facilities, so I could discuss those with recruits, but it was more about what it's like going to school here, the academic side and all of the opportunities.

"Other than the football stuff, a lot of it was very similar to the things I did in my job as a general tour guide and working for new student enrollment."

Many schools, including Arkansas and Nebraska, have male and female hosts for recruits for game days, official visits and unofficial visits. Rather than just "eye candy," hosts and hostesses are chosen based on their ability to connect with prospects and convey the message that the school is trying to deliver.

"I can promise you, I'm not a good-looking individual," joked Ian Anderson, a former Nebraska recruiting host. "You had to be a tour guide of some sort [to be able to host recruits]. You had to give a practice tour to make sure you were able to give a tour of the university and answer any academic questions. If you were good at that and able to give positive unofficial tours consistently, then you could be able to do official visits. It was kind of a perk. If you were doing official visits, it was because you earned your way up there, not because you were the best looking."

That's it, as far as requirement for the job. Did anything happen after hours?

"I did not ever party with the team or recruits, and I do not know of any other hostesses who did," said Martin, who is a longtime Georgia fan who applied for the unpaid job online prior to the 2008 season.

Eikmeier echoed those same sentiments. 

"No," she said when asked if she had ever heard of any hosts or hostesses doing that. "I mean, you read things I suppose, but no, I've never heard of that personally or anything like that."

For most hostesses, working in the athletic department allows them to get a foot in the door that could lead to career advancement.

"A lot of these girls have aspirations," Donohue said. "It's kind of a bummer, because many had aspirations just like I did. Some wanted to work in an NFL front office one day or run things in a recruiting office. There is that negative connotation that goes with it."

Do players party at night? Sure, that happens. 

Sometimes—as was the case during the Colorado scandal in the mid-2000s that cost former head coach Gary Barnett his job in Boulder—sex and alcohol are present in places where recruits hang out during visits.

During game days, the duties of a hostess are rather straightforward.

An itinerary is created based on the specific desires and goals of a prospect but for the most part, game day includes a sample of campus life, experiencing the traditions that make the school great and a trek down to the field as the players prepare for the game.

"We arrived [at the facility] four hours before game time to meet our recruit and their family, coach or whoever they brought as their guest," Martin said. "From there, we would eat either lunch or dinner depending on the time. We would get on the bus, ride to the stadium, stand down on the field during warmups and then go up to a suite for a snack before going to our seats."

That might sound easy, but when a large group of people who might be unfamiliar with the stadium, campus and crowds that accompany both on game day, it's a logistical nightmare. Hosts play an integral part of moving along the process.

"People probably don't realize this, but we have something like 150 tickets reserved each weekend for game-day recruiting," Bielema explained. "So 'Johnny B. Goode' comes on campus, and he's entitled to three tickets. Not only does he need guidance, but his guests need guidance, and they have to be herded through a huge amount of traffic. You can't just lay out two yellow ropes and guide them to their seats."

On top of the logistical issues that go along with the orchestrated chaos of official visits, hosts are also charged with keeping an eye on potential NCAA violations.

"You have people trying to get at them who we know we can't let them get at them," said Bielema, whose program, like many nowadays, employs both male and female recruiting hosts. "A highly recruited kid is recognizable, and you don't want a donor grabbing him. You would be blown away with the amount of detail our recruiting department goes through just to avoid potential NCAA violations.

"One time, at my previous institution, I had a tackle, Joe Thomas, who was a great player, first-round draft pick, an unbelievable player in the NFL. He just happened to be on campus in the offseason with his wife playing in the sand volleyball game. My O-line coach is walking with a recruit and literally ran into him, unplanned. We had to turn that in as an NCAA violation. I mean, how much sense does that make?"

It isn't just first-round draft picks or the donors that hosts need to be on the lookout for, though.

"The NCAA is stiff," Anderson explained. "I had an official visitor one time who wanted to call home and needed to use my phone. I told him that he couldn't do it because he doesn't pay for the minutes."

Typically, once the game wraps up, hosting duties are done and prospects on official visits are handed off to their player hosts.

"If it was a night game, it'd be an all-day tour," Eikmeier said. "If it was an afternoon game, typically we would be responsible for the time before the game and not always after the game. It just depended on the schedule and what the football [office] has planned for them, because they have player hosts as well. Sometimes the player host would take over responsibilities after the game."

How do players get matched up with specific hostesses?

Sometimes high-profile players will request specific hostesses, as former blue-chip running back Bryce Brown did with Earps, according to Benedict and Keteyian. But that's largely out of the hands of the hosts and hostesses.

"That was all decided by people above me," said Eikmeier. "The coordinators for the football department would figure out who's coming in, organize the tour and who were the hosts for those recruits and set up all of the specific stops along the tour."

At Rutgers, according to Donohue, hosts and hostesses are in charge of different areas and show recruits around based on when they arrive on campus. Some hostesses escorted players through Scarlet Walk, others pointed out other traditions around the school, while others waited at will call to make sure that each visitor gets the appropriate number of tickets and sideline passes.

In fact, hosts and hostesses sometimes serve a greater purpose for the parents or guardians of the prospect, rather than the prospect himself.

"Everybody thinks we're trying to do it for the 17- or 18-year-old young man, but it's that parent who can ask a question to another student that they'd never ask a full-time employee or a coach," Bielema said. "We'd get better feedback from our hosts because those hosts are not viewed as a coach or an employee."

It's a system that's mutually beneficial for the player and host. Prospects get an in-depth tour of the school, and hostesses get to meet prospects and families from various backgrounds, each with different goals for themselves and their families.

"The same thing applies in the workplace," Martin said. "You're going to be put in all different kinds of situations and meet different people constantly, and it's important to be able to communicate and relate to them."

For some, it's also a chance to give back to the school they love and be part of the team. 

Martin comes from a Georgia family that bleeds red and black. Her role as a hostess added extra meaning to national signing day and games that involved players who she hosted.

"My parents are big fans and season-ticket holders, and follow [recruiting] very well," she said. "So they'd be really excited for me when players I knew committed, and made national signing day very special.

"It’s really exciting knowing that you had a tiny little part in making their experience a good one, and if they end up coming to the school that you want to do well. It’s exciting and a proud moment knowing that you had a part in that."

Had a part in it, even if it comes with a negative perception that isn't reality.

"Think of the young lady that wants to be a host," Bielema said. "She doesn't want that image out there. She's doing it for the love of her school and maybe [to] put it on her resume."

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

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

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CFB Recruiting 200: Top 12 Safeties

After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report recruiting analysts Sanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 200 players in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and provided in-depth analysis. As national signing day draws near, Bleacher Report provides a position-by-position breakdown of the best college football recruits. Today, we present the Top Offensive Tackles. 

Other Positions 

Safety is a position that has become a valued commodity in the college game today.

Players at the spot have to be versatile enough to cover receivers and tight ends, and they have to be physical defenders in run support. 

The 2015 group has a number of elite athletes, headlined by 5-star Florida State pledge Derwin James, who is the No. 6 player overall in the 2015 class.

The latest batch in Bleacher Report's CFB 200 series will focus on safeties, scoring them on their abilities in key metrics such as ball skills (20 points), tackling (30 points), run support (25 points) and pass coverage (25 points). The cumulative figures from those traits resulted in our overall grade of each prospect. 

How does the 2015 group of safeties stack up?

*All analysis from Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Sanjay Kirpalani. All rankings courtesy of 247Sports Composite Rankings

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Georgia Football: 5 Things That Must Change for the Bulldogs to Improve in 2015

The Georgia Bulldogs finished the 2014 season strong with a win over Louisville in the Belk Bowl. They ended the year with a 10-3 record and a Top 10 finish in both polls.

That looks good on paper, but the Bulldogs know they could have accomplished more if they did not come out flat against the South Carolina Gamecocks and Florida Gators. However, the Bulldogs will have a strong nucleus coming back in 2015, and they should be a favorite to win the SEC East and possibly the entire conference.

But in order for that to happen, there are a few areas the Bulldogs need to improve in to be a better team this upcoming season. Here are five things that need to change in order for the Bulldogs to improve in 2015.

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