NCAA Football

Lane Kiffin's Return Is a Huge Boost for Alabama QB Jake Coker

That isn't a slight breeze you felt over the weekend when you stepped outside, it was Alabama quarterback Jake Coker.

Coker should be breathing a sigh of relief, after Alabama announced over the weekend that offensive coordinator Lane Kiffinwill return for a second year in Tuscaloosa. Kiffin, now entering his second season with the Crimson Tide, had been mentioned as the front-runner for the same role with the San Francisco 49ers by ESPN.com.

"This time of year, there are lots of things out there regarding other coaching opportunities, but I want to reaffirm my commitment to the University of Alabama, Coach [Nick] Saban, and our team," Saban said in a statement. "I'm excited about what our offensive staff was able to accomplish last year, but I also think there are a lot of things we can do a better job of in terms of putting our players in the best situation to have success."

Coker is one of those players.

The rising senior for the Crimson Tide came to Alabama last summer after graduating from Florida State, and was expected to take over the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Instead, Blake Sims took control and took Alabama to the SEC title and the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Coker, though, was in the mix to win first-team snaps as late as the third game of the 2014 season. 

Of the quarterbacks vying for the starting job this season—Coker, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett—Coker is the most familiar with what Kiffin wants to do and what he expects from his quarterbacks.

As Matt Hayes of SportingNews.com points out, that's enormous for Coker.

A clean slate is the last thing that Coker needed. Last season's battle that lasted into September gave him a head start on this offseason's battle, and Kiffin's return allows him to take full advantage.

"Our offense was extremely productive last season and we look forward to building on some of the good things we did on that side of the ball with this year's team," Saban said in Alabama's statement.

What's more, many of the receivers working with Coker this offseason will be players he's familiar with.

Alabama's top three wide receivers from last season—Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones—are all gone, as are running back T.J. Yeldon and three starting offensive linemen. For the most part, Coker will begin his quest to win the starting job at Alabama with a cast of characters he's familiar with.

Cam Sims, ArDarius Stewart, Robert Foster and Chris Black were all able to build a rapport with Coker last season, and that familiarity should allow Coker to hit the ground running this offseason rather than adjusting on the fly, as he did last summer.

There's no denying Coker's arm strength. Here's Coker slinging it 60 yards with ease without warming up too much prior to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game vs. West Virginia.

The question was whether or not he can play within an offense. Now that the offense won't change, the things Kiffin taught him all offseason will be applicable to the current quarterback battle, and the experience he gained as a junior at the Capstone will benefit him as a senior.

He didn't earn the chance to live up to what, in retrospect, was insurmountable hype in 2014. 

Kiffin's return allows him the chance to do it in 2015.

 

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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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

It’s crunch time for top programs across the country hoping to close out the 2015 cycle on a strong note. 

Last February, Steve Sarkisian and the USC Trojans were among the biggest winners on signing day.

With big names such as 5-star corner Iman Marshall and 5-star defensive tackle Rasheem Green still left on the board, Sarkisian is poised to try to repeat that feat in the final days leading up to national signing day.

Another player the Trojans are hoping to land is 3-star defensive tackle Kevin Scott—who picked up an offer from Sarkisian and his staff while on an official visit to USC on Jan. 19.

The 6’5”, 282-pounder from Bishop Mora Salesian High School has been a hot prospect of late, as he’s added recent offers from the likes of Kansas State, Miami, Ole Miss, Purdue and Texas.

According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Scott had scheduled visits to Miami last weekend and Ole Miss this weekend.

Scott has blown up after a senior season that saw him record 32 tackles, including 15 sacks with one interception and one forced fumble.

"I like Miami, Ole Miss, Purdue, San Diego State and Texas," Scott told Bartow shortly before the Trojans offer. "USC is in the picture too but I haven't been talking to them like that."

With the offer from his hometown school in hand, it will be interesting to see if he reverses course and sticks close to home for college.

 

Oregon Offers 2015 JUCO LB, Pac-12 Commit

Oregon is one school hoping to join USC in finishing out the 2015 class on a strong note.

Landing quality players at linebacker appears to be one of Mark Helfrich’s chief goals heading down the stretch.

The Ducks offered 3-star JUCO linebacker Jonah Moi—who is currently committed to Washington State, per Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.

Hopkins notes that the Ducks are trying to get Moi to come on a visit this weekend. Ole Miss, Oregon State and TCU are among the schools hoping to flip the 6’2”, 235-pounder from his pledge to the Cougars.

 

Florida State Offers Rising 2016 WR

One player Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles are hoping to close their 2015 class is 5-star defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr.

However, per Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, the ‘Noles offered 2016 wideout Karon Randolph—who is Beckner’s teammate at East Saint Louis (Illinois) High School.

The 6’4”, 190-pounder also has an offer from Kansas, but Wiltfong reports that more offers could be on the way for the rising senior.

The offer is another strong signal that FSU’s presence is growing in the metro St. Louis area.

 

LSU After 2016 5-Star CB

When it comes to developing standout corners, not many teams can boast a recent resume as strong as LSU’s.

The Tigers are looking to restock the secondary in 2016, and last week, Les Miles and his staff offered the nation’s top-ranked 2016 corner in 5-star Saivion Smith.

The 6’1”, 175-pounder has more than 20 offers already—with powers such as Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and UCLA among the schools that have tendered him.

Per Josh Newberg of Noles247, Smith maintains that he doesn’t have any favorites in his recruitment—which means the Tigers have an opportunity to jump in the race for one of the top defensive playmakers in the 2016 class.

 

Best of the Rest

  • 2015 3-star offensive lineman Sam Madden picked up an offer from Florida, per Bartow.
  • Per Bartow, Wisconsin, Clemson and South Carolina all offered 2017 safety Cyrus Fagan.

 

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

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Most Intriguing Coaching Changes from College Football Coaching Carousel

The 2014-15 coaching carousel is slowing to a crawl. With national signing day just 10 days away, there is only one FBS head-coaching opening, created when Central Michigan coach Dan Enos left to join Bret Bielema’s staff as Arkansas’ new offensive coordinator. When Central Michigan hires a coach, it’ll be the 15th program to change head coaches this offseason.

There are still a handful of staff and coordinator openings, but the pace has slowed to the point where we can evaluate the changes as a whole. Here’s a look at the most intriguing coaching changes (head coach and assistants) from this season’s round of college football coaching changes.

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CFB Recruiting 200: Top 21 Running Backs

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 Running Backs. 

Other Positions 

The 2015 recruiting class is stocked with rushers who can wear opponents down with chunks of yardage at a time or rip off game-changing runs. These backs have enjoyed success in various offensive schemes across the country, but they'll arrive on college campuses this year prepared to prove themselves all over again in a new environment. 

We broke down the latest high school game film for each running back rated among the top 200 overall 2015 prospects in 247Sports' composite rankings, looking to see how each playmaker progressed as a senior. These evaluations, along with in-person accounts, led us to grade all 22 athletes on a 100-point scale centered on ball security, power, vision, hands, speed and agility

Here's an in-depth look at the future of offensive backfields at powerhouse programs throughout college football.

*All prospects studied and graded by Bleacher Report national recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue

*Players listed in order of 247Sports' composite rankings.

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Tennessee's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

With national signing day just two weeks away, the Tennessee Volunteers are basically in maintenance mode with their fifth-ranked recruiting class.

The Vols have 28 commitments, and after taking a huge class in 2014, there simply aren't that many spots remaining. That doesn't mean, however, that they're finished in this cycle. 

A couple of positions remain needs, and there are a few prospects left on the recruiting board who would be luxuries for a roster rebuilt and seemingly ready to win.

UT has met most of its needs, but there are still holes, especially at offensive tackle. There are a couple of players left on the board who could fill that role nicely.

Also, the Vols have a couple of longtime commitments worth sweating in the days leading up to signing day. Then there's another target who has been high on the Vols forever but still hasn't pulled the trigger.

The way head coach Butch Jones has recruited the past two years, there hasn't been a ton of late-January and early-February drama. It's much the same this year.

None of the players on this list will break a strong class if they don't commit. But a couple could push a great class to elite if they decide on the Vols.

Let's take a look at six players who are on Tennessee's wish list or who the Vols want to keep on that list leading up to February 4.

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Miami Hurricanes' 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

The 2015 recruiting cycle is quickly approaching its most important date, so Al Golden and the Miami Hurricanes coaching staff are hard at work on the trail.

Since national signing day is Feb. 4, the leaders at Miami will be making their final pitches to highly touted recruits, hoping to add some elite prospects who should bolster the 'Canes in future seasons.

Obviously, Miami can't earn a signature from everyone, but "The U" would love to receive a national letter of intent from a handful of key players on its wish list.

Remaining targets are broken down into five categories based on various criteria, including proximity, common school, position, location and current commitment status. The prospects are organized on each slide according to their ranking.

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Ohio State's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

Fresh off their surprising run through the College Football Playoff, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes have refocused their attention to the recruiting trail in the hopes of finishing strong on national signing day. 

The Buckeyes, who have already secured 24 commitments, are carrying the flag for the Big Ten, as their class currently ranks seventh nationally. With a strong finish, Meyer could sign his fourth top-five class in a row. 

How can the Buckeyes make that jump?

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Virginia Tech Football: Hokies' 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

National signing day is just over a week away, and the Virginia Tech Hokies have most of their class locked up. Last season, Tech had some drama with the announcements of both Derrick Nnadi and Javon Harrison coming on signing day, and the news wasn't good for the Hokies.

Most of the drama around Tech's class of 2015 concluded in December when Josh Sweat, a highly regarded defensive end from the state of Virginia, chose Florida State over the Hokies. 

Since that time, Tech has picked up some impressive commitments, including 4-star quarterback Dwayne Lawson from Tampa, Florida, and defensive tackle Tim Settle of Manassas, Virginia. 

Virginia Tech currently has 23 commitments in the class of 2015, seven of which enrolled in classes earlier this month. The Hokies have the room to add maybe one or two more on signing day.

Can Tech perhaps steal a recruit away from one of its rivals? Here's Virginia Tech's 2015 wish list for national signing day.  

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Breaking Down Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Contract and How He Could Earn More

As it stands today, Michigan’s deal with coach Jim Harbaugh is rather light on the pockets.

However, the terms and conditions of his current seven-year, $35 million agreement could drastically change within 30 days of the Wolverines’ final game of the 2015 season, as athletic director Jim Hackett will assess the program’s progress and potentially reopen negotiations with Harbaugh, per a copy of the contract obtained from the university by Bleacher Report.

If his first season with Michigan is a hit, Harbaugh would likely be in line to ink a healthier deal in early-to-mid-February 2016. Winning increases market value, and reassessing the coach’s salary after the first year is part of the deferred compensation package that’s outlined by Hackett in the accompanying video below.  

Harbaugh has a golden resume and has won everywhere, so it’s safe to assume that he could soon do the same in Ann Arbor. He just left the San Francisco 49ers with the best winning percentage (.680) of any coach who spent four years in the NFL and before that, he shoved once lowly Stanford into the national spotlight.

Since signing with Michigan on Dec. 28, Harbaugh—who was officially introduced Dec. 30—has flipped a pair of 2015 recruits and assembled an All-Star cast of assistants and trainers. He’s goal driven: see target, get target.

His take-care-of-business attitude will almost certainly lead to a few more trips to the bank.

 

On the field

The Wolverines haven’t experienced the thrill of appearing in the College Football Playoff or playing in the Big Ten Championship. If they happened to make the four-team playoff, Harbaugh would receive a $300,000 bonus. If they won the national title, he’d get $500,000. If Michigan reaches the conference title game, he’d earn $125,000; he’d get $250,000 if his team claimed victory.

Winning the conference has always been the goal, but Michigan hasn’t won an outright B1G banner since 2003; it last shared a piece in 2004. That must be Harbaugh’s mission this fall or next. He’s already proved he’s not wasting time.

Fortunately for Harbaugh, Michigan doesn’t have to reach the conference title bout or College Football Playoff in order for him to receive a generous bonus—he’d get $200,000 if the Wolverines simply made a bowl game.

He’d earn $50,000 for achieving Big Ten Coach of the Year status (voted by coaches), and he’d get a cool $75,000 for winning a national coach of the year honor. However, he’s only eligible for one. For instance, let’s say he won ABC/ESPN’s coach of the year but was also tabbed for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award.

He’d only get paid once, regardless.

 

Off the field

Harbaugh’s base salary is $500,000 per year.

He’ll pocket that for simply coaching his team throughout the season.

However, the remaining $4.5 million per year—which will be equally distributed through 12 monthly payments—will come from other standard, non-coaching obligations and opportunities, such as media appearances, promotions and public relations.

Furthermore, he’s already received a $2 million bonus for writing his name on Hackett's paper. Per the contract, that bonus could have been paid as early as Jan. 5 or as late as Jan. 12 (a week to two weeks after signing). 

While some may view Michigan simply for its athletic programs, the rest of the general public sees it as one of the most respected academic institutions in the country. That said, meeting goals in the classroom will be just as important as reaching them on the playing field, an idea Harbaugh touched on during his inaugural address.

As a team, Michigan needs to score at least 960 on its Academic Progress Rate in order for Harbaugh to cash in his $150,000 bonus. As mentioned in the video by attorney Paul Vance, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Luckily for Harbaugh, a strong foundation was set in place by former coach Brady Hoke, who graduated 69 of 69 seniors prior to being fired Dec. 2—that probably wouldn’t have been possible without a concentrated emphasis on academics.

 

Big Money, Big Money

Depending on how scenarios unfold, Harbaugh could receive as “little” as $5 million and as much as approximately $6 million for his first year in Ann Arbor.

Realistically, given Michigan’s reputation, he’ll probably get the APR bonus and tip his total to at least $5.15 million for 2015-16. And that’s not counting paid expenses, the two dealer-provided automobiles and the rest of his exquisite fringe benefits package.

More money (including APR): Add an extra $250,000 for a conference title ($5.4 million); or $125,000 for just getting there ($5.275 million). Should he win a national championship, he’d stack $500,000 for the act and $300,000 for making the playoffs, giving him an extra $800,000 to spend on khakis and Gatorade.

But keep this in mind: Hackett and Harbaugh can completely renegotiate terms come early-to-mid-February 2016, at which time we could be talking about a record-breaking contract at any level of football.

 

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

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability.

Contract details were provided by Patricia J. Sellinger of the University of Michigan via FOIA request.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: The Best Transfers for the Vols of All Time

When the Tennessee Volunteers' 2015 early enrollees were introduced at halftime of the men's basketball game against Texas A&M on Saturday, one player stood out as someone who can contribute immediately: Alvin Kamara.

A one-time Alabama Crimson Tide commitment, Kamara left Tuscaloosa in 2013 and ended up at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas.

As a junior college player, he racked up 1,253 yards and 18 touchdowns in just nine games. With his explosive potential, Kamara may be the perfect complement to sophomore Jalen Hurd in 2015 in the Vols backfield.

Tennessee is no stranger to seeing players transfer in from across the country and make a big impact right away. Von Pearson, one of the team's top wide receivers, comes from a small junior college in California and is poised to be a breakout player for the Vols next season.

While only time will tell if Pearson and Kamara leave lasting legacies at Tennessee, here's a look back at five players who started their careers elsewhere but left Rocky Top as legends. 

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LSU's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

LSU has some work to do on the recruiting trail before national signing day in early February. 

The Tigers' 18 commitments in the 2015 class currently ranks No. 10 overall, according to the 247Sports team composite rankings, which is good enough for fifth in the SEC. LSU is the only school in the top 10 with less than 20 commitments, which means it has plenty of room for growth. 

Head coach Les Miles knows though time is running out. His coaching staff is looking to gain more SEC-caliber players throughout the country. 

The No. 1 thing that coaches hope for annually in recruiting is that none of their committed prospects go elsewhere. Most of the Tigers' commits are still being pursued by other schools. Miles can only hope they keep their loyalty with LSU when they sign the dotted line on February 4.  

With that said, here are a few players who are not committed to LSU that Miles wishes he can bring to Baton Rouge this recruiting cycle. 

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Ohio State Lands 4-Star TE, Continues Quick Success on 2016 Recruiting Class

It hasn’t taken long for Ohio State’s national championship run to positively impact their efforts on the recruiting trail.

Urban Meyer and his staff kept up their hot streak by adding a pledge from 2016 4-star tight end Jake Hausmann on Sunday:

The 6’5”, 235-pounder from Moeller High School in Cincinnati is the sixth member of the 2016 class—all of whom rank as 4-star recruits or higher. The No. 73 overall player and No. 3 tight end in the 2016 class selected Ohio State over offers from Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and Notre Dame, among others.

Hausmann’s pledge has moved Ohio State up to No. 4 in the 2016 class rankings, but it’s another sign that the Buckeyes are primed to make a run at No. 1.

According to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, Hausmann’s high school coach—John Rodenburg—said that Meyer pursued his star pupil as if he was the No. 1 target at that position.

"I think wherever he went he wanted to be sure he was their No. 1 guy, and that's the way Ohio State made him feel,” Rodenburg told Wiltfong.

Rodenburg told Wiltfong late last year that Hausmann has worked himself into a player who can handle the responsibilities of the position at the next level.

“He’s gotten stronger,” Rodenburg said. “He still has the soft hands. Got the good speed. He’s a true tight end. He’s not a guy you would think to move to tight end. He’s going to be a guy that can be detached or attached, and his blocking has really come on.”

Given that rising senior tight end Nick Vannett is just one of two pure tight ends scheduled to be on the 2015 roster, landing a potential early contributor at that spot was critical for Meyer in the 2016 class.

Hausmann has the frame and athleticism to add another dimension to Meyer’s offense—which thrived using tight ends such as Cornelius Ingram and Aaron Hernandez who created mismatches all over the field during his tenure at Florida.

As noted by Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts, his package of attributes gives Meyer some versatility to either line him up as a traditional tight end or flex him out as a receiver in certain formations.

His addition gives a boost to a group already consisting of elite talents such as 5-star running back Kareem Walker, 4-star running back George Hill and 4-star wide receiver Kierre Hawkins.

Additionally, they are in a good position with top 2016 standouts such as 5-star defensive end Nick Bosa, 4-star offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, 4-star running back Demario McCall.

Given the Buckyes' fast start to 2016 recruitment and the momentum within the program following the national title run, Meyer is assembling a class that could potentially be his best since arriving in Columbus.

 

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

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Texas A&M's 2015 National Signing Day Wish List

The Texas A&M Aggies will attempt to fill some of the gaps on the team with their 2015 recruiting class. The coaches need to finish strong in order to put the final touches on a top-10 recruiting class that will address some of the team's immediate needs on the field.

The Aggies currently have the No. 8 class in the country, according to 247Sports. If they sign the remaining players on their wish list, then they will have a top-five class on Feb. 4.

A&M's needs in this class are no secret. The team needs immediate help on defense and, as always, needs to add depth at the skill positions on offense. The most glaring need is quarterback, where the Aggies only have one scholarship player on the roster.

This is a look at Texas A&M's signing day wish list.

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Jameis Winston's Rape Accuser Documents Experience in 'The Hunting Ground'

Erica Kinsman, the woman who accused former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault in December 2012, is finally telling her story.     

Kinsman is one of the subjects to tell her story in The Hunting Ground, a documentary that premiered at this week's Sundance Film Festival. The film covers the ongoing sexual assault problems at college campuses and will premiere later this year on CNN, according to Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast.

Kinsman first accused Winston, then a freshman, of sexual assault on Dec. 7, 2012. As has been recounted many times during the investigation, the pair met at a bar before going back to Winston's apartment, where he was accused of forcing himself on Kinsman despite pleas to stop. 

Nearly a year after the case was initially opened, Tallahassee prosecutors declined to press charges on Winston, citing a lack of evidence. The investigation drew national coverage because of Winston's high profile—he was on his way to leading Florida State to a national championship and became the second freshman to win the Heisman Trophy—and the manner in which it was conducted. It took nearly 11 months for prosecutors to formally see the case after the alleged sexual assault.

In the film, Stern notes that Kinsman says she faced nearly constant harassment from other students during the investigation.

“All these people were praising [Winston]…and calling me a s---, a w----,” Kinsman says.

The case continued to make national waves in 2014, when Winston underwent a Title IX investigation that put him in front of the school's judiciary board. Winston did not testify in his behalf in the case but released a detailed statement of his account of the night, claiming their sexual encounter was consensual. The five-page statement read in part, per ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach:

I did not rape or sexually assault [the accuser]. I did not create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the short period of time that we were together. [The accuser] had the capacity to consent to having sex with me and she repeatedly did so by her conduct and her verbal expressions. I never used physical violence, threats, or other coercive means towards [the accuser]. Finally, I never endangered [the accuser's] health, safety, or well-being.

Despite the lack of testimony, Major B. Harding ruled Winston was not in violation of the school's code of conduct. He indicated the school did not adequately prove that "it is more probable than not that [Winston is] responsible for the charged violations." 

“I kind of just want to know…why me?” Kinsman says in the film, per Stern. “It doesn’t really make sense.”

Winston, who went 28-1 during his Florida State career, has left school to enter the 2015 NFL draft. Kinsman has an ongoing Title IX lawsuit against the university, which was filed earlier this month.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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How Zach Gentry's Flip from Texas to Michigan Impacts Recruiting Landscape

Zach Gentry boarded a Friday flight from New Mexico considered a top Texas commitment. He'll head home Sunday sporting maize and blue as his new colors of choice.

The 4-star quarterback flipped from the Longhorns to Michigan on Saturday night while attending a Wolverines basketball game in Ann Arbor. He notified the team's staff during halftime of a matchup with Wisconsin, according to Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com.

The 6'7", 230-pound prospect spent eight months committed to the Texas, but things changed when he became a primary target of Jim Harbaugh. The new Michigan coach didn't waste any time in his courtship of Gentry, showing up at Eldorado High School (Albuquerque) last Monday.

Things progressed quickly from that point.

Gentry, rated eighth nationally among pro-style quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, lined up an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend. He also canceled an in-home visit with members of the Texas coaching staff and removed any mention of his Longhorns commitment from a Twitter profile previously adorned with allusions to an eventual arrival in Austin.

As news spread of Gentry's impending journey north, the probability of him ultimately ending up at Texas appeared to drop precipitously, as 247Sports analyst Clint Brewster pointed out:

I speculated in an article Thursday that odds were in favor of Gentry committing to the Wolverines during his stay on campus. The allure of playing for a former star Michigan quarterback and NFL passer in Jim Harbaugh seemed too appealing to pass up, especially when you include his past mentorship of eventual No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck.

Gentry gives the Wolverines a pair of 4-star passers in this class. Alex Malzone, an early enrollee, was one of just six holdovers from Brady Hoke's depleted recruiting haul.

Both players should have a realistic opportunity to earn a role on Michigan's two deep in 2015. Harbaugh also inherits a few quarterbacks, headlined by redshirt freshman Wilton Speight.

However, Gentry is set to become the lone passer on the Wolverines' 2015 roster who was specifically targeted by Harbaugh and his staff. He'll arrive on campus fresh off a career-best senior campaign.

He earned honors as New Mexico's 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year, throwing for 2,978 yards and 26 touchdowns. Despite carrying a uniquely large frame, he added 1,057 yards and 22 scores on the ground.

Given his elite physical attributes and style of play, Gentry provides Harbaugh with a prospect who can make an impact as an underclassman if his transition to college football demands is smooth.

Michigan may have found its quarterback of the future, but Texas is left to explore alternative options as national signing day nears.

Charlie Strong and Co. have just 10 days to identify Gentry's replacement for a Longhorns class that's certainly in need of a premier passer.

Commit Matthew Merrick, rated 57th nationally among pro-style quarterbacks, has been slated for grayshirt status, which would prohibit him from receiving a scholarship until after the 2015 season. That plan might change by necessity if Texas is unable to track down a quality alternative. 

Kyler Murray is clearly the most wanted man in Austin at this point. The 5-star Texas A&M commit is considered the country's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback and spent time on campus Wednesday, tantalizing Longhorns fans with this Twitter post:

The 5'10", 180-pound passer may not possess Gentry's rare physical tools, but he'll go down in history as one of the all-time greats in Texas high school football.

Murray never lost a game during his three years as starter at Allen High School, which is located in suburban Dallas. He posted prolific statistics in 42 games, tallying 10,000 passing yards, 4,000 rushing yards and 182 touchdowns.

His surprise visit to Austin highlighted a VIP guest list for the Longhorns in recent days. Soso Jamabo (5-star running back), Damarkus Lodge (4-star wide receiver) and Daylon Mack (5-star defensive tackle) each spent time on campus during the past week, though none have followed through with a commitment.

If Murray is the lone legitimate quarterback option in place for Texas, it could spell disaster for the Longhorns. His father Kevin was a star Aggies quarterback, but he's looking at the possibility of sitting behind 5-star 2014 signee Kyle Allen for two or three years.

The pathway to playing time in Austin appears to be much clearer. Incumbent starting quarterback Tyrone Swoopes struggled mightily late in the 2014 season, and potential replacement Jerrod Heard, though talented, is unproven at the collegiate level.

Strong must find a way to develop better depth at the position. His chance for desired success in Austin may be counting on it.

With Gentry now headed to Michigan as Harbaugh's flashy new prize, Texas might now be engaged in a dangerous game of all—aka Murray—or nothing at quarterback as signing day approaches.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Lanard Fournette: What 'Little Brother' Can Deliver for LSU

Little brothers have it tough sometimes. Especially when big brother has been dubbed a star football player in the making for quite some time.

New LSU commit Lanard Fournette has heard about his big brother, current LSU running back Leonard Fournette, for as long as he can remember. And Leonard hasn't disappointed since dominating his high school career at St. Augustine in New Orleans and becoming a 1,000-yard back in his freshman campaign at LSU.

There was quite the fanfare for Leonard. Not so much for Lanard—but that may be the motivation Lanard needs to become just as electric as his brother.

Leonard was a 5-star running back coming out of high school. He committed to the Tigers last year during the fourth quarter of the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. Fournette's decision was welcoming, as the Tigers missed on three commits announcing at the game who had LSU as a finalist. Two of the three were New Orleans athletes from Edna Karr High School, wide receiver Speedy Noil and defensive end Gerald Willis III.

All eyes were on Leonard. As for Lanard, he is a 3-star athlete, and while the LSU fans are happy to have another Fournette on the team, the level of expectation for little brother is nowhere near where it was for big brother.

Still, they are brothers, and they will be future college teammates after Lanard verbally committed to the Tigers on Saturday. Lanard is commitment No. 18 for the Tigers.

Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. It's already been established what LSU will get out of Leonard. He's a bruising back with great speed and acceleration. He's someone who, at 6'1" and 230 pounds, is a handful to take down on the first try.

With Lanard, LSU will get a different type of player. Lanard is smaller and more streamlined at 5'10" and 185 pounds. Committed as an "athlete/specialist," Lanard will need to show himself worthy of being a go-to player at the next level—but he's up for the challenge. And he'll have a good role model to offer assistance in his brother.

Lanard's quickness, lateral movement and versatility makes him an intriguing option. A running back in high school, he can be a change-of-pace back for the Tigers. Imagine having two Fournettes running the ball.

And then, there's the roll of the dice in using Lanard as either a slot receiver or primarily as a returner on special teams. Again, his versatility is one of his best assets.

Trying to compare Lanard with his brother isn't the best idea. Trying to determine the level of potency the Tigers can reach with both Fournettes in the lineup may be the more reasonable thing to do. Particularly if Lanard shows the world that he was undervalued as a 3-star athlete.

 

All star-related recruitment information comes via 247Sports.

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10 Best Rising Seniors for 2015 College Football Season

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2015 NFL draft has passed, and 74 non-seniors are headed for football's premier professional league. But what about the guys who decided to stay in school for another year?

This piece will focus on 10 high-profile college football players who ultimately elected to use their final chance to showcase their skills at the Football Bowl Subdivision level in 2015.

A "rising senior" is classified as an athlete who just completed his junior campaign and will be returning for his final season of eligibility, no matter if he's a fourth- or fifth-year senior. The list is organized alphabetically by program.

As always, please join the conversation in the comments. Feel free to add another rising senior you think is deserving, too.

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Tosh Lupoi Hire Is Huge for Alabama Football Recruiting

In addition to trying to close out the 2015 recruiting cycle, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is also active in trying to fill a pair of vacancies on his coaching staff.

According to Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated, Saban has taken quick action in filling one of those roles, appointing former Washington assistant Tosh Lupoi as the Tide's new outside linebackers coach.

Lupoi replaces Lance Thompson, who left the Tide for a similar post at Auburn.

While the Tide already have the nation’s No. 1 class, the hire of Lupoi may represent Saban’s biggest win in this recruiting cycle.

This hire is big for a few reasons.

For starters, Lupoi is already familiar with the terrain in Tuscaloosa, and he is familiar with what Saban is looking for in a coach and in a recruiter.

He arrived at Alabama last February and was given a role described by Saban as an intern in the recruiting department, per Andrew Gribble of AL.com.

"He's going to be an intern, and he's got a lot of good experience both coaching and recruiting," Saban told Gribble. "He didn't get a job this year, didn't have any issues relative to the way we checked him out with the NCAA, which we do with everybody that we hire."

While he was out of coaching last year, he spent the previous six seasons as a defensive assistant in the Pac-12.

He was the defensive line coach at California—where he played in the early 2000s as a standout defensive lineman—from 2008 to 2011.

His tenure on the sidelines in Berkeley was highlighted by the Bears' top-25 national ranking in total defense in 2010 and 2011. He also tutored the likes of first-round draft choices such as Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan.

He moved on to Washington in 2012 and spent two seasons with the Huskies before agreeing to a mutual separation in the wake of allegations of improper recruiting tactics, per Adam Jude of The Seattle Times.

Despite that incident, in which the NCAA closed the case without penalizing him or the university, Lupoi’s tenure as a Pac-12 assistant earned him a reputation as one of the nation’s top recruiters.

Lupoi was named Recruiter of the Year by Rivals in 2010, per Adam Gorney of Rivals. Included in his haul that year was athlete Keenan Allen, who chose the Bears over Alabama.

As Evans notes, Lupoi has extensive connections with players and coaches on the West Coast—a place where the Tide have increased their activity and presence in recent years.

His presence was felt immediately in Tuscaloosa, as one SEC staffer remarked to Evans that Lupoi has already “been a big asset for [them].”

At only 33 years old, he will add more youth and energy to Saban’s staff.

Given his history of recruiting at a high level and developing talent on the field, Lupoi represents another quality hire for Saban and another big win for the Tide’s recruiting efforts.

 

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

 

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Senior Bowl 2015: Score and Twitter Reaction for College All-Star Game

Saturday's 2015 Senior Bowl was filled with standout performances from running backs and did nothing to dismiss the notion that this year's NFL draft is thin on viable franchise quarterbacks.

The North team defeated the South 34-13 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, as the top ball-carriers stole the show.

Nebraska standout Ameer Abdullah showed off an impressive all-around game, exploding for 62 yards on five carries along with four receptions for 40 yards before halftime.

SiriusXM NFL Radio noticed Abdullah's explosiveness and also mentioned that he won the game's MVP award:

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah wasn't ready to rank Abdullah higher than a Day 2 NFL draft pick, though:

Another Big Ten star in Minnesota's David Cobb imposed his will, rushing for 69 yards and scoring on a four-yard jaunt to put the North ahead 20-10 near the end of the third quarter.

That was only a two-play, 11-yard drive, sandwiched between two interceptions from South QB Bryan Bennett in as many attempts.

Turron Davenport of The Baltimore Times lauded the efforts Miami of Ohio cornerback Quinten Rollins made to snag the second pick off Bennett, a former Oregon backup QB who transferred to Southeastern Louisiana:

Miami Athletics tweeted footage of Rollins' sensational interception:

Charles Davis of NFL.com liked what he saw from Auburn standout Cameron Artis-Payne on the South side, the key cog in the Tigers' run-heavy attack in 2014:

Another less dynamic but underrated all-purpose back emerged in Northern Iowa's David Johnson, who scored the South's only touchdown on a 19-yard scamper in the first quarter to open the scoring.

ESPN Insider Chris Sprow and Josh Norris of Rotoworld gave Johnson strong reviews:

For more focus on the other side of the ball, Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis stood out with his outstanding motor, pursuit and athleticism.

After underwhelming a bit in 2014, Davis has boosted his stock in a big way. Joe Everett of DraftScouts.com was impressed with how Davis' practice-field work carried over to live-game action:

Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net fed the notion that Davis lit it up in practice even prior to the game:

Among the big-name quarterbacks on the field, Bryce Petty of Baylor was the most prominent one who got the longest look.

The Bears star expressed plenty of faith in his own abilities on Wednesday, per Newsday's Kimberley A. Martin:

I feel like I'm No. 1. I really do. That's not a cocky thing, it's not an arrogant thing. It's just me being confident in what I do and understanding that I have a learning curve [to adjust to]. 

But at the same time, I'm really like a little kid in a candy store. I love the idea of playing chess instead of checkers, which is what we've been playing in college. So beating you with my mind and my arm is an aspect that I haven't had the opportunity to do, so I'd love it.

Although there were some encouraging signs, concerns about whether Petty's spread-style game will translate to the NFL gridiron won't go away after Saturday.

Petty did complete nine of 13 passes for a game-high 123 yards, yet he missed badly on a seam throw that was high and behind the intended target and intercepted by TCU cornerback Kevin White.

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com analyzed Petty's game after the ill-fated throw:

The South's big notable was Blake Sims of Alabama, who completed four of 11 pass attempts for 50 yards but also showed athleticism with 23 yards on three rushing attempts.

Oregon State's Sean Mannion, who threw the only TD pass of the game to Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack in the second quarter, ended up 9-of-14 passing for 71 yards.

Shane Carden of East Carolina has an unconventional throwing motion that impacts his ability to get the ball out on time, so his collegiate numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Optimum Scouting's Alex Brown tweeted his take on Carden:

Helping the North's victorious efforts was LSU offensive lineman La'el Collins. Norris believes the big man is nimble enough to be a franchise left tackle, while Draft TV's Shane P. Hallam likes Collins' ability to play guard in the pros:

Collins came from a pro-style offense under coordinator Cam Cameron at LSU, with experience at both guard and tackle. He did nothing to harm his stock in Mobile and could be the highest selection of the entire lot of talented prospects.

Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel highlighted a lesser-known strong blocker on the North side in offensive guard Ali Marpet from Hobart College:

Yale Football was pleased when its prized fullback/tailback Tyler Varga found pay dirt twice in the fourth to help bust the game open:

The hard, hungry running on display from multiple running backs in this game offered a good showcase for the offensive linemen involved. It also showed some of the depth NFL teams can pick up later in the draft in the backfield.

Running backs have been devalued in the modern NFL because of the grueling wear and tear players at the position endure, along with the rules that favor teams with prolific passing offenses.

It's still a remote possibility that a ball-carrier will hear his name called on Day 1 of the draft, but plenty should yield outstanding value in the second, third and fourth rounds.

Among the QBs, Petty appears to be the most promising of the bunch, if only for his collegiate production and demonstrated confidence. What will be interesting to see is how he and other signal-callers bounce back after a week in Mobile in which no one distinguishes himself.

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Coastal Carolina Reveals Plans for Teal-Colored Football Field

The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are going to be making a bold statement with their football field.

For the 2015 season, the Chanticleers are planning on having a teal-colored football field at Brooks Stadium. The team revealed a rendering of the field on Twitter:

The Boise State Broncos started the trend with a blue field, but Coastal Carolina is taking it to a whole new level with the teal. Fans might not enjoy the new look, but they probably won't mind as long as the team keeps winning games.

[Twitter, h/t Yahoo Sports]

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