Talent departs, and new talent steps in to fill in the void. This tried and tested formula has long been college football’s cure for absorbing lost star power. It functions because there are future stars (eager to don the mantle, especially when it comes to replenishing the most important position in the sport).
Yet, as the 2014 offseason stretches out its legs and reaches for the remote, one can’t help but take note of the departures at quarterback—the names, the statistics, the impact and the hollows they leave behind.
And perhaps more significant than the talent group shuffling its way toward the exit is the lack of known commodities suddenly expected to keep the assembly line operational.
That’s where CBS Sports’ quarterback rankings for the 2015 NFL draft come in. It’s early, but it also tells a story. It doesn’t tell the whole story—and we’ll get to that—but it outlines the uncertainty that has suddenly been thrown upon us.
Of course, this list leaves off a few notable quarterbacks that warrant immediate recognition: Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley are all back for at least one more season. Their presence alone is enough to keep the totality of the position above water.
These are superstars capable of incredible things; the surest commodities college football will return—at any position—this fall. But the majority of the list is intriguing, and maybe the fitting to cast over the group is unproven.
It isn’t without demonstrated talents and intriguing prospects—like Baylor stat machine Bryce Petty or Ohio State’s electric Braxton Miller—but the sure things are dwarfed by those offering up unknown potential. More specifically, there are far fewer known commodities than question marks, which is a drastically different outlook than what we’ve been spoiled by in recent years.
To assess such uncertainty we must first address what’s been lost. And in 2014, the answer is quite a bit. Not just at quarterback, but everywhere.
“I would say the 2014 draft is the best I've seen,” Bleacher Report’s Lead Draft Analyst Matt Miller said. “That’s not the case at quarterback; 2012 actually has that honor. This year’s group is built more on potential than sure things.”
The transition from productive college player to NFL prospect loved by scouts is an undefined path. In fact, a handful of incredibly productive players likely won’t hear their names called until later rounds.
Players like Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd—two staple quarterbacks who thrived at powerhouses over an extended period—won’t be projected to continue such dominance at the next level. But their production at the college level was undeniable, and they will join a handful of other quarterbacks in a mass exodus.
Some will be drafted early on—perhaps as early as the first pick—others might not ever hear their name called. Regardless, the victories, touchdowns and yardage will be difficult to replicate.
It’s not just the names, jaw-dropping highlights, awards or the touchdowns that jump off the page. Well, it is, but it’s also the games played. It’s the countless snaps. It’s the security blanket these quarterbacks provided.
Many of these players have been fixtures of the sport for an extended period, thus making their departures that much more impactful. The Clemsons, Georgias and Alabamas of the world—just to highlight a few—suddenly find themselves in uncharted waters for the first time in years.
“I do think it's a weird year for quarterbacks,” Miller said while evaluating the 2015 class. “Mariota is my top overall player, and I love his game. As for Jameis Winston, I think he’s a bit overrated right now. I also love Brett Hundley's potential and think Bryce Petty has first-round upside, too.”
It’s the worst kind of cocktail. All ingredients are watered down—except ice—thus creating a less potent product. But assuming that the quality of football will fall well short of filling in the gaps fails to give our assembly line the credit it deserves.
This concept of replacing marquee players with new and exciting touchdown machines—especially at quarterback—has endured the losses of many special players. There’s not doubt it has its work cut out for it this year given the quality of the departed, but a list of senior quarterbacks only explores a sector of the potential replacements.
After all, how much of a sure thing was Johnny Football before 2012? And while you knew plenty about him given his high-profile recruitment, what guarantees were there with Jameis Winston before last season?
Stars will be reborn. Potential will develop into something more, while others will enter the fray without warning.
Perhaps it will come at Texas A&M with Johnny Manziel’s replacement. Maybe Florida State transfer Jacob Coker will thrive in Alabama surrounded by weapons. Or maybe Missouri’s Maty Mauk will grab hold of the starting role and deliver the carnage we saw glimpses of last year.
This is just a sample size of the potential, which is all it remains right now. Soon enough it will be time to see if there’s something.
College football has a quarterback drought on its hands—a more alarming one than usual—but help is coming. The stopgaps may not be in plain sight, but the formula is still crunching numbers.
The assembly line remains fully functional.
*Adam Kramer is the lead college football writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The defense for the Georgia Bulldogs is expected to be better with new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who has won national titles at Alabama and Florida State.
How much better remains to be seen, but Pruitt will inherit a group that has the talent to be great.
Losing Josh Harvey-Clemons is a significant blow, but the Bulldogs will return 10 starters on defense from last year, including probably the best player of the group, linebacker Ramik Wilson.
After being a reserve player for a couple of years to learn from Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, Wilson burst onto the scene in 2013 and led the SEC with 128 tackles. Because of that, he was named to the All-SEC first team. One could make the argument that Wilson was one of the surprise players in the conference.
#UGA's Ramik Wilson went from playing 10 games last year (no starts) to leading SEC in tackles and being named 1st Team All-SEC this year.— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) December 9, 2013
That sets up a possibility that Wilson will not only have strong season but also be the best defensive player in the SEC.
Wilson was effective at tackling opponents, but he was also able to chase down skill players in the backfield, as he had 11 tackles for loss. He could also get after the quarterback, tallying four sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
He was the bright spot for a shaky defense, and with 10 starters returning, the defense should be better and give Wilson more opportunities to make bigger plays.
One of the key returning players who will help Wilson be a better defender is fellow linebacker Amarlo Herrera. Wilson did finish the season as the No. 1 tackler in the SEC, but Herrera was not far behind him. He recorded 112 tackles, nine quarterback hurries and one interception, and he finished third in the SEC in total tackles.
Wilson also has two skilled outside linebackers who can fly to the football. Leonard Floyd notched 63 tackles and led the Bulldogs with 6.5 sacks. Jordan Jenkins recorded 45 tackles and five sacks and led the team with 12 tackles for loss.
The supporting cast is set for Wilson to have another monster season. But the coaching maybe the reason he becomes a difference-maker.
Pruitt has been successful since joining the college ranks in 2010. With Pruitt as defensive coordinator last season, the Seminoles finished first in the nation in scoring defense and third in the nation on total defense.
Before that, he was the defensive backs coach at Alabama for three seasons, and the Crimson Tide were ranked in the top 15 in passing defense each year.
Having Pruitt helps, but Wilson’s position coach will also be beneficial. Mike Ekeler was the linebackers coach at USC last season, and he was the linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator at Indiana from 2011-12. Ekeler has coached players such as Lavonte David, Cody Glenn and Will Compton, who are currently on NFL rosters.
The combination of Pruitt and Ekeler should help Wilson become a much better player, which will make the entire defense more aggressive. However, Wilson will have some competition for the title of SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Players such as Trey DePriest (Alabama), Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida) and A.J. Johnson (Tennessee) had strong 2013 seasons and will only get better this season.
But the fact that Georgia has 10 returning starters and a new (and most likely improved) defensive coaching staff should give Wilson the chance to become a household name when it’s all said and done.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Now that the NFL combine has come to a close, every draft eligible Florida Gator will have a chance to prove himself during the pro day on March 17.
If somebody had a poor performance during the combine, he can use the pro day as an opportunity to redeem himself. If he wasn’t invited to the combine, the pro day will provide a chance to shine. Even guys who performed well during their first workout can build on that momentum.
After an average combine, there are plenty of former Florida players who will need to show up in a big way. We can certainly start with the secondary.
The coaching carousel of college football is ever-present. It's a "What have you done for me lately?" world, and if you haven't done much, you're probably on the hot seat.
Bad years for guys like Paul Rhoads, Tim Beckman and even Will Muschamp have forced them squarely onto the chopping block in 2014 in what will almost surely be a do-or-die season for their head coaching careers.
With that, check out the seven CFB head coaches whose jobs will be on the line next season.
Not every former South Carolina Gamecocks can look as smooth and talented as Jadeveon Clowney did at the NFL Combine. But there is still time for the rest of the NFL hopefuls from the University of South Carolina to show off their skills during South Carolina's Pro Day.
Pro Day gives these kids an opportunity to showcase their talent in a familiar environment around their former teammates. Scouts will not be light on any of these players as all outside of Clowney have more work to get done.
Every NFL hopeful has to prove a lot at their Pro Day, and even Clowney will have to prove something by sustaining his high level of skill testing in drills. But some have more to prove than others.
Here are the three players with the most to prove at South Carolina's Pro Day.
The NFL combine may have just concluded, but there's still another chance for former Nittany Lions to showcase their talents in front of scouts before the draft.
On April 8, a handful of players will participate in drills during Penn State's pro day. They'll be run through a gauntlet of physical drills while personnel from various NFL teams look on.
Only three Penn Staters—Allen Robinson, DaQuan Jones and John Urschel—traveled to Indianapolis for the combine. For those who weren't invited, the pressure is turned up for them to impress come pro day.
Here are three players who have the most to prove when that day comes.
Les Miles is ready for his LSU Tigers to strap up the pads. Miles knows his team has a ton of work to do.
LSU loses a heavy load of talent on offense. Replacing quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill, right guard Trai Turner and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will be brutal.
The Tigers have holes to fill on all three levels of the defense. LSU finished the season strong but were exposed in conference play too many times.
Playing time is up for grabs on both sides of the ball. Spring battles this season will be as fierce as ever. Here are a few players who are looking to ascend the depth chart in March.
Jennings is the only quarterback that returns with experience. He was heroic against Arkansas but less than stellar in the Outback Bowl against Iowa in place of an injured Mettenberger. Rettig redshirted last season.
Harris has a vast skill set. He loves to run, but only when necessary. His tape shows he loves to sit in the pocket and wait for receivers to get open.
Jennings looks to be the leader right now, with Rettig as the backup. But Jennings will get the chance to take over the reins.
Landry and Beckham Jr. were remarkable in 2013. They are the only receiving duo in LSU history to go over 1,000 yards each in one season. The search for who will replace that production begins now.
Wide receiver Avery Peterson probably would have seen the field had he not broken his ankle last fall. Spring will be critical for Peterson as he looks to get into game condition. He has the talent to be the next breakout star for the Tigers.
LSU's top returning receiver, Travin Dural, only caught seven passes in 2013. Peterson can establish himself as the No. 1 target in the spring if he is able to stay fully healthy.
Senior safety Craig Loston is gone, which leaves open a starting role at defensive back. Corey Thompson was a part of a revolving-door rotation at safety, finishing with 40 tackles in 2013.
At 6'2'', Thompson is a hard-hitting monster with decent range. He saw his snaps change sporadically during 2013 due to inconsistencies in the secondary.
Ronald Martin, Rickey Jefferson and 4-star early enrollee Ed Paris will battle for snaps in the spring. Thompson will need to establish himself quickly if he wants to stay on the field.
Redshirt Defensive Tackles
Defensive tackle could be the biggest mystery position for the LSU defense next season. Who will fill the shoes of Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson?
Backups Quentin Thomas and Christian LaCouture return, but neither made many plays last year. Practices could be a little more physical than years past as players fight for snaps.
LSU has quite the history with defensive linemen that redshirt. The starting front four in 2011—Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Bennie Logan and Michael Brockers—all redshirted as freshmen. They were all eventually drafted in the third round or higher of the NFL draft.
Herron, a 4-star recruit from the 2013 class, will have a bright spotlight. He was listed as a defensive end last season, but he could move inside. Brockers and Logan made the same transition in their college careers.
All rankings and statistics via 247Sports.
Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
When NFL Scouting Combine physicians examined University of Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio's left knee, trouble surfaced.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, several teams failed the former Crimson Tide on his physical, citing an arthritic knee as the main concern:
It all began in 2011.
Tommy Deas of TideSports.com notes Kouandjio suffered both an ACL and MCL tear in his left knee that year during a game against the University of Tennessee:
Cyrus saw his season cut short with a knee injury sustained in the fourth quarter of UA's victory over Tennessee.
"I was blocking. We were running outside draw and I had the guy blocked, but a linebacker from the back side came in and kind of leg-whipped me trying to tackle the running back," Cyrus said. "I tore my ACL, my MCL, in my left knee."
Reconstructive knee surgery soon followed. Yet as is now evident, the damage may have already been done.
While precise medical details are not available to the public, it is very possible that instead of a "failed" surgery, it was the extent of Kouandjio's original injury that set in motion an unstoppable sequence of events culminating in his combine medical exam failures.
Then again, from the outside looking in, such thinking can represent nothing more than educated speculation. What is certain, however, is the severity of Kouandjio's initial condition.
Concurrent ACL and MCL tears often occur when forceful contact to the outside of the knee causes it to twist inward. The twisting motion overwhelms the ACL, and the inward stress tears the MCL.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski fell victim to a similar mechanism of injury in 2013.
Depending on the angle and magnitude of the hit—as well as the strength of the surrounding musculature—additional injuries may also occur. For instance, one of the two menisci—the soft, shock-absorbing cartilage within the center of the joint—can fray or tear.
Additionally, severe blows can damage the knee's articular cartilage, which lies at the ends of the femur and tibia.
Articular cartilage damage can lead to arthritis, characterized by chronic pain and inflammation within the knee. In later stages, pain and swelling can become significant enough to limit the knee's strength and range of motion.
To make matters worse, much of the time, arthritis is progressive—not regressive.
For Kouandjio, therein lies the problem.
At 20 years old, the 6'7'', 322-pound lineman is only at the beginning of a hopefully long career, but every single snap will place further wear and tear on his apparently already-ailing knee.
Furthermore, it seems some doctors are already foreshadowing serious problems.
For example, it's possible a knee X-ray showed an abnormally thin gap between the lineman's femur and tibia—though admittedly, radiographic findings do not necessarily correlate with the extent of arthritis symptoms.
Physical examination can also raise red flags—such as knee swelling or joint stiffness.
Fortunately, Kouandjio continues to work out, suggesting his condition is only minimally debilitating at the present time.
Yet the million-dollar question remains: How long will that hold true? And how much should NFL teams invest?
Luckily for Kouandjio, according to Dr. Matthew Matava—president of the NFL Physicians Society—medical grades are an inexact science.
"Each team has their own grading scale for players, and each medical team shares their grades with their general managers and coaches," Matava explained. "...At the end of the day, the coaches know that this is not a hard science and more of a subjective assessment based on imperfect information."
In other words, medical opinions may differ. While Kouandjio may completely fall off one team's big board, he may remain put on another's.
Matt Miller—Bleacher Report's NFL draft lead writer—similarly recognizes the wide range of possibilities.
"If every team has red-flagged him, it's a major issue," Miller offered. "If a few teams have, it could be something that never affects his draft stock."
Keep in mind that Kouandjio was—or is—a potential elite talent.
"Pre-injury concerns, he was a potential top-20 player with tremendous upside," Miller added. "That may still be the case."
Though it seems likely that all 32 teams will factor Kouandjio's long-term health into their draft evaluations, position needs come into play, as do salary caps and other factors.
Said another way?
For Kouandjio, all it takes is one.
Dr. Dave Siebert is a resident physician at the University of Washington who plans to pursue fellowship training in Primary Care (non-operative) Sports Medicine. Quotes were obtained firsthand.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The NFL Scouting Combine is over and players around the country await their next opportunity to impress NFL scouts: pro days.
The Virginia Tech Hokies will have their pro day on March 19, according to CBS Sports.
While scouts and personnel people will surely have their eyes on quarterback Logan Thomas, defensive end James Gayle and defensive backs Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, there are several other Hokies that didn't get to make the trip to Indianapolis.
Pro day is the only chance players like Jack Tyler and Derrick Hopkins will get with NFL teams before the draft. For players such as Thomas, pro day is likely just an affirmation on what teams already think or know.
Here are five Hokies with the most to prove on Virginia Tech's pro day.
Taylor Lewan is Michigan's most NFL-ready prospect, so he probably won't join the Wolverines during March 12's pro day at Al Glick Fieldhouse.
However, fellow senior Michael Schofield could definitely show up for scouts. He didn't bench press during the NFL Combine this past week in Indianapolis, so it's logical to assume that he could take advantage of the upcoming opportunity in Ann Arbor.
Jeremy Gallon had a productive combine as well. However, he doesn't really have anything left to prove to NFL executives. He ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash and caught the ball well—low and fast, per SI.com's Doug Farrar.
That being said, pro day is an event that draft-eligible Wolverines can use to get on the radar...if they're not there already, that is.
Who might that be?
This slideshow will assess the cases of three players not named Lewan, Schofield or Gallon...while using NFLDraftScout/CBS as reference unless otherwise noted.
Also, it's important to note that there isn't a published list of pro day participants. This slideshow will take a few educated guesses and project.
Michigan returns to the practice field eager to forget the memories of last season’s disastrous collapse. With outside temperatures in the low single digits, the team practiced in their massive indoor practice facility, shielded from the bitter wind chill outside and any prying eyes hoping to get a glimpse of the workouts.
“It’s good to be back on the field; there was a lot of energy,” said head coach Brady Hoke. “It’s fun to practice again.”
Hoke seemed satisfied with the intensity of the workout and announced some position changes and reports on key positions.
Here is a stock report from week one of the Wolverines’ spring practice.
Devin Gardner, Quarterback
Devin Gardner ended last season with a gutsy performance vs. Ohio State that fell just short of victory. Gardner played much of the second half with a broken foot that prevented him from being available for bowl preparations and forced backup Shane Morris into the starting role.
Hoke had indicated that Gardner’s rehab would limit his participation this spring. So it came as a surprise that instead of gently easing back into the grind, Gardner participated in the entire practice.
Hoke, commenting during a press conference posted on mgoblue.com, said, “He was live, we’re out there in shorts and helmets, but he looked great…Believe me, I was as much surprised how he went as anybody.”
Gardner's participation came as a surprise even to his teammates.
Gardner’s strong return means that his stock is rising after an uncertain offseason.
Jake Ryan, Linebacker
Two big changes were announced concerning the middle of the Michigan defense. Brady Hoke revealed that Jake Ryan is moving to middle linebacker after being lined up outside in past seasons.
The move is expected to keep Ryan in the middle of the action and provide him with the best opportunity to be involved in every play.
Coaching him will be defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who adds responsibility for the linebackers to his duties.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Mattison on mgoblue.com. “The reason we did this is it allows me…the best way to call the game and be where you need to be as a coordinator.”
Ryan has been a force on defense, and this move raises his stock. He should feast on the increased opportunities that come with being in the middle of the action, and the increased tutelage from Mattison is a bonus.
Ben Braden, Offensive Tackle
With the graduation of tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, Michigan loses two of its top performers from an offensive line that otherwise struggled last season.
Braden’s raw talent has been praised, and with the injury to tackle Eric Magnuson it’s critical that Braden nails down one of the open tackle positions this spring.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier laid out the challenge for the offensive line on mgoblue.com: "We have to secure the line of scrimmage, we can’t have loss-yardage run plays and can’t have sacks.”
It sounds simple, but the offensive line was a major problem all last season.
Braden is currently slated to fill the right tackle position, and his stock is on the rise as Michigan tries to fix the position group that played a huge part in the team’s late-season collapse.
Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, Running Backs
Former offensive coordinator Al Borges made no secret that he preferred to have one running back carrying the load on offense. This made it difficult for players to move up the depth chart even as last year’s starter Fitzgerald Toussaint struggled.
New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier favors a different approach.
“You’d like to use multiple backs,” said Nussmeier. “You look at the pounding the running backs take these days and how physical the game is. One back carrying the load all the time makes it awful difficult to stay healthy and sustain success over a season.”
That opens the way for multiple running backs in the rotation for next season.
“We haven’t established a runner,” continued Nussmeier. “There’s a group of running backs—that it will be interesting competition to watch develop.”
Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, both of whom showed promise at the practice, will get opportunities to carry the ball. Both of their stocks are rising as Nussmeier retools the Michigan offense.
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise, noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Nebraska football fans will have watched NU’s alums perform at the NFL Combine and will now be waiting for Nebraska’s pro day on March 6 to see how those alums do in their last audition for NFL scouts.
In addition to Nebraska’s three combine attendees (Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Spencer Long and Quincy Enunwa), other NFL prospects will have their chance to show their wares to the assembled NFL observers.
So here are five Nebraska alums who will have the most to gain by a good performance at Nebraska's pro day.
Few college football coaches get more national respect—and have as many fans rooting against them—than Alabama’s Nick Saban.
There’s a reason season-long rumors of Saban going to Texas, which were denied repeatedly, drew national attention.
Saban morphed the last two programs he inherited—LSU and Alabama—from sleeping giants to powerhouses, winning four BCS national championships along the way.
In many ways, Saban provides the hope for traditional powers across the nation that their programs are one transcendent hire away from reaching the elusive status of being “back.”
Wins and 5-star recruits alike flock to Saban.
“The Process,” in turn, churns out championships and NFL prospects.
Ever since Saban, then the Miami Dolphins coach, defiantly told reporters he would not be the next head coach at Alabama three weeks before accepting the position, fans have refused to take the coach at his word that Tuscaloosa would be his final stop.
Seemingly every time a high-profile job pops up, Saban’s name gets tossed around.
Yet every season he remains in place it seems more likely that Saban truly will retire as the head football coach of Alabama.
At this point it would be a significant surprise if Saban did uproot and take the helm of another program.
Naturally, that doesn’t stop fans from dreaming up scenarios of him leading other teams.
Here is the list of the five jobs college football fans would most like to see Saban take before he retires.
With the combine complete and the draft looming, NFL hopefuls are running out of opportunities to show what they can offer at the next level.
For former Buckeyes looking to pursue a professional career, one of those opportunities takes place on March 7 when Ohio State hosts its pro day.
Some, such as Ryan Shazier and Jack Mewhort, solidified their standing as elite prospects at the combine. Others still have work to do—especially those who didn't receive an invite to Indianapolis.
Whether they need to redeem a poor combine performance, build off a solid one or make up for not being invited, these three former Buckeyes have the most to prove.
Carlos Hyde had high hopes for his week in Indianapolis. The 5'11", 230-pound wrecking ball of a running back wanted to showcase his speed to earn first-round status.
That didn't happen, though. Hyde suffered a minor hamstring injury on his first attempt, which produced a disappointing 4.66 time. That foreshadowed a surprisingly poor performance in Indianapolis.
Of course, Hyde is still expected to be one of the first running backs taken, but he could use a strong outing here to regain some positive momentum.
Unlike Hyde, Bradley Roby had a stellar week at the combine.
The 5'11", 194-pound cornerback could have entered last year's draft after a breakout redshirt sophomore campaign. He elected to return for his junior season, only to see a dramatic dip in production.
That didn't stop him from entering this year's draft, and he proved in Indianapolis that he has all the physical tools to be an excellent pro.
Replicating his performance at Ohio State's pro day will only hammer home the notion that Roby can play at a high level in the NFL. If he does that, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him selected in the first round.
Offensive linemen don't typically garner many headlines, but that wasn't the case for Marcus Hall at the end of his senior season.
Hall was ejected from the Michigan game after a fight broke out early in the second quarter, and he famously gave the pro-Wolverines crowd a parting gift as he left the field.
Hall missed the Big Ten title game as a result, and after the Buckeyes' offensive line struggled with Clemson's defensive front in the Orange Bowl, the 6'5", 315-pound offensive guard needs to get something positive going.
After failing to land an invite to the combine, this will be Hall's best chance to impress NFL scouts.
Of course, there are predraft workout sessions, but with Hall not projected to be a draft pick, his chances of getting in the league could hinge on his performance next Friday. If all goes well, he could get picked up as an undrafted free agent.
All draft projections via Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
As much attention as the combine receives, it is merely the highest-profile stage of the evaluation process. Just as often, a player's pro day can make the biggest difference in his draft stock.
On March 26, the remaining Longhorn hopefuls will take to their home field and attempt to make a lasting impression on an NFL scout. After his impressive performance at the combine, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat will let his former teammates step into the spotlight. His draft stock is safe, as is kicker Anthony Fera's.
But not every Longhorn attempting to get drafted got a chance to show off at the combine. For Carrington Byndom, Trey Hopkins, Donald Hawkins and Mason Walters, this pro day is their last chance to realize their dream of playing in the NFL.
And for Mike Davis, it is an opportunity to put an untimely injury in the rear-view mirror.
Former members of the University of Miami football team will participate in the annual pro day, and a few players have a lot to prove.
While the NFL Scouting Combine invites a select few to Indianapolis, Ind., pro day provides an opportunity for all draft-eligible athletes from a specific school to perform in front of scouts.
Last season, 30 franchises were represented at the Miami pro day, and they sent scouts or coaches to watch the skills testing of the one-time Hurricanes.
The 2014 NFL draft is considered to have one of the deeper fields in recent history, so while it will be a struggle for many players to be selected, pro day gives the 'Canes one final chance to prove their worth.
"Jack of all trades, master of none," goes the figure of speech.
While at Miami, Brandon Linder played every position along the offensive line, and he was the team's most reliable player, too.
But collegiate success does not necessarily translate to the NFL, and Linder struggled against the defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl.
The National Football Post calls Linder an "average athlete" who "does not have much speed and looks to be a bit tight in the knees." Bleacher Report's Matt Miller currently projects Linder to be selected in the sixth round this May.
Linder excelling at position drills will be a main focus on pro day, because his combine workouts were unimpressive compared to his fellow linemen.
Typically, a receiver who catches 62 passes for 1,162 yards and six touchdowns at a major university demands attention.
As for Allen Hurns, however, he is fighting an uphill battle.
Hurns emerged as Stephen Morris' favorite target and safety outlet, tallying at least 98 yards in seven games as a senior. But that isn't enough for Hurns to be a notable prospect, especially given his combine results.
NFL draftniks consider the Miami-area native a possession receiver, which is also the polite way of saying not extremely fast. Hurns ran a simply decent 4.55-second 40-yard dash at the combine, and his 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill times were not anything special.
The wide receiver class is absolutely loaded, and consequently, Hurns' skill set is not valued as much as it would have been in previous years because of the extraordinary amount of talent near the top. Of course, Hurns was nowhere near this level of production before the 2013 campaign, either.
Hurns must reinforce his ability to separate from defensive backs without elite straight-line speed. Running crisp routes is imperative for slower receivers, and Hurns will certainly go undrafted if he repeatedly makes slow breaks or keys his next move.
But if Hurns impresses while going through the variety of routes, he will have an NFL home for training camp.
Following a scorching end to the 2012 season, many scouts were opening up to the idea of Stephen Morris as an early-round pick.
Well, Morris' 2013 campaign and offseason workouts have sent them running.
After the Senior Bowl, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks was displeased with Morris' "lack of accuracy and ball placement" and that "he repeatedly missed open receivers at intermediate range."
Quarterback evaluator Benjamin Allbright says Morris "has a strong arm and some athleticism, but that's about it." His biggest weaknesses are "accuracy, consistency and ball placement," and Morris' "mid- and short-game are less than desirable."
Plus, Morris repeatedly threw off his back foot last season, failing to drive the ball and seeing it sail past his receivers on multiple occasions—oftentimes landing in the opponent's hands.
As Allbright said, Morris has a strong arm and is capable of launching passes downfield, which is exemplified by his perfectly placed 52-yard bomb to Phillip Dorsett against Florida. But NFL teams are looking for more than a cannon—see Russell, JaMarcus.
Morris' overall game is not what it once appeared to be, and a stellar pro day will basically just save his fleeting draft hopes, as disappointing as that may be.
Note: All quotes obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
For Notre Dame fans over the age of 25, the mere mention of Northwestern is likely to awaken past demons that they have been attempting to bury since 1995.
It had been 47 years since the Wildcats had been to a bowl game, but in the 1995 season opener, Northwestern launched a miraculous run to the Rose Bowl with a 17-15 upset of the Fighting Irish in South Bend.
One of the stars of that Northwestern team was Butkus Award-winning linebacker Pat Fitzgerald, now entering his ninth year as the head coach at his alma mater. Fitzgerald guided the Wildcats to five straight bowls from 2008-2012, but after a 4-0 start last season, Northwestern dropped seven straight en route to its first losing season in seven years.
Notre Dame and Northwestern have not meant since that fateful day 19 years ago. That will change on Nov. 15 when the Wildcats return to Notre Dame Stadium. Fitzgerald has a veteran team that is hungry to prove last year’s two-month meltdown was no more than a fluke.
Northwestern kicked off spring practice Wednesday. Let’s take an early look at the 2014 Wildcats.
Miami signed the No. 12 class in the country, according to the 2014 247Sports recruiting rankings. A large reason for the Hurricanes' high ranking was due to them signing elite 4-star running back Joseph Yearby.
At 5'9" and 190 pounds, he has a compact frame that is full of excellent speed and quickness. He is one of the most instinctive running backs in recent memory, which is evidenced by the fantastic vision he consistently displays.
He is sure to be a playmaker for years to come in Coral Gables. That's much is known from his impressive highlight tape, which warrants a more in-depth breakdown.
All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports.
A little more than three weeks removed from pulling off a stellar first national signing day in State College, new Penn State head coach James Franklin is already making headway on topping himself in 2015.
Andre Robinson, a 4-star running back from Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pa., took to Twitter on Thursday to announce he is verbally committing to the Nittany Lions:
Robinson's commitment comes just three days after visiting the school for the first time. He chose Penn State over offers from at least six Big Ten schools, highlighted by Ohio State, Michigan State and Northwestern, per 247Sports. Boston College, Louisville and Syracuse were also known to be interested, though Penn State's proximity to Harrisburg put the Lions in a prime spot.
Verbal commitments are non-binding. Robinson can re-open his recruiting at any time between now and the date he sends in his letter of intent, at which point he could change his mind.
Considered the nation's 12th-best running back prospect in the country by 247Sports' composite rankings, Robinson is already the seventh commit Penn State has landed for 2015. He's joined by offensive tackle Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa.), athlete Kamonte Carter (Gaithersburg High, Gaithersburg, Md.) and running back Saquon Barkley (Whitehall High, Whitehall, Pa.) as the fourth 4-star recruit already committed to the Lions.
Each of Penn State's seven class of 2015 recruits has given his commitment this month. 247Sports' composite rankings, which will be subject to a massive amount of flux over the next 11 months, have Penn State with the 14th-best recruiting class in the nation thus far and first overall in the Big Ten.
With five of those commits coming from the state of Pennsylvania, Franklin is quickly making good on his promise from his introductory press conference.
"Our recruiting philosophy, we are going to dominate the state," Franklin said. "We are going to dominate the state. We are going to dominate the region."
While each of those players make a solid haul for Franklin, who still hasn't yet been on the job for two months, Robinson is obviously the biggest boost on a national scale.
The rising senior is listed at 5'9" and 205 pounds, and is a compact, physical runner who works for his yards. As a junior, he rushed for 2,338 yards and 29 touchdowns, helping lead Bishop McDevitt to the Class AAA championship game. Andrew P. Shay of PennLive.com notes that Robinson rushed only 14 times for 59 yards in that game, which arguably helped seal the deal for rival Archbishop Wood.
Heading into his final high school season, Robinson is the leader of a solid returning squad that should again challenge for the state title. He should also use this year to improve his elusiveness. Robinson tends to run hard and straight into contact, which can be a gift in short-yardage situations but can cost him yards in the open field.
Nevertheless, Robinson's arrival in Happy Valley is too far off to really assess. He'll have competition within his own class from Barkley, but the Lions' program remains in a state of flux. Bill O'Brien's departure combined with the still-looming NCAA sanctions hangs a cloud over the program that Franklin is now tasked with eradicating.
We're months off from seeing the product on the field. But, if the first nearly two months of his tenure is any indication, Franklin is awfully good at selling himself and this program.
All recruit information is via 247Sports.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter:
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Look around the 2014 rosters in the Pac-12, and a common trait is the presence of at least one standout wide receiver on every team. Parsing down the conference's receivers down to the best of the best is no easy task.
Among the class are burners, shifty playmakers, leapers and physical targets, all of whom can dictate how defenses are forced to cover the offense.
The combination of experienced quarterbacks and the nation's best collection of wide receivers promises to make 2014 a season of highlight-reel passing plays and big offensive numbers around the Pac-12.