NCAA Football

Tre Lamar to Clemson: Tigers Land 4-Star LB Prospect

The Clemson Tigers have added 4-star recruit Tre Lamar to their linebacking corps. Lamar announced his decision on Twitter: 

The inside linebacker was the eighth-best prospect at his position and No. 15 coming out of the state of Georgia, according to 247Sports. According to the website, he turned down offers from Auburn and Alabama.

Lamar discussed his decision to choose Clemson with Nikki Hood of TigerNet.com:

I just felt like Clemson was the most comfortable place. I felt like it was the right choice for me and my family. I had kind of already decided to commit. I talked to my family before we came up here because I just had a good feeling. 

At 6'4", 240 pounds, Lamar recorded 131 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and four sacks in his senior season at Georgia's Roswell High School, according to Yahoo Sports. Lamar is the third linebacker Clemson has received a commitment from. Inside linebackers and twins Judah and J.D. Davis signed letters of intent on February 4, according to 247Sports.

Clemson went 10-3 last season, defeating Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl 40-6.

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FSU President John Thrasher Reveals Plan to Educate Student-Athletes on Behavior

In a Q&A session with the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida State University President John Thrasher revealed how he and head football coach Jimbo Fisher will attempt to better educate members of the team on their off-field behavior. 

You can read a snippet of Thrasher's comments regarding the steps he and Fisher will attempt to take, courtesy of the Democrat's Jim Henry:

We talked about the course (in social responsibilities). I think we are going to work on that. We talked about perhaps another compliance type person to come in and oversee some things like that. That’s in the discussions stages. Jimbo’s plan of bringing in some quality people to talk about character, role models I think can be a good influence on some of these folks is positive.

This comes after Thrasher personally met with FSU football players Monday to discuss the standards the school expects from them. According to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, he wouldn't be the only notable figure to address the team (with Florida's state attorney counted among them):

In an open letter published after his meeting, Thrasher wrote in part:

In light of recent off-field incidents, I reiterated to our players that they simply cannot put themselves in situations that reflect poor behavior or cause harm to others. They must remember that playing football for FSU is a privilege, not a right. The actions of a few have the capacity to do serious damage to the reputation of our entire university.

I told them their coaches, the Athletics administration and I will do all we can to support them and help them learn the values we expect them to uphold. But they will be held accountable for their actions.

Florida State has come under scrutiny recently following the legal troubles surrounding De'Andre Johnson and Dalvin Cook.

On June 30, Florida's state attorney's office charged Johnson with misdemeanor battery after he allegedly hit a woman at a Tallahassee bar. Fisher dismissed Johnson from the team July 6.

Fisher also suspended Cook indefinitely after the running back was involved in a separate incident where it's alleged he struck a woman outside a bar. Cook is also charged with misdemeanor battery.

The stigma surrounding FSU isn't anything new—the origin of which was the investigation into the sexual-assault allegations against former Seminole Jameis Winston. In April 2014, Walt Bogdanich of the New York Times explored some of the potential failings by both the school and the Tallahassee Police Department as they looked into the charges.

Six months later, Bogdanich and Mike McIntire took a wider look at how the TPD investigated additional allegations against other Seminoles players.

Following the Cook and Johnson arrests, Fisher reportedly barred any of his players from patronizing any Tallahassee bar, per Henry.

Following Thrasher's words, the onus will be on Florida State back up his proclamations if necessary. The public's expectation for the school will be to come down hard on any Seminoles player who runs afoul of the law.

Certainly in the case of Johnson, Fisher sent the message that the consequences from any sort of major infraction will be severe.

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Kyle Allen Will Be the Biggest Surprise in the SEC This Season

The Texas A&M Aggies, led by quarterback Kenny Hill, started out 5-0 last season. As Hill struggled through the middle of the season, true freshman Kyle Allen was thrown into the fire at starting quarterback. Allen proved capable of being a starter in the SEC, and even more should be expected from him this season.

Allen was the top-rated quarterback in the country coming out of high school, and he got an early chance to show his potential in the second half of his freshman season.

After Hill was pulled near the end of the 59-0 massacre against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Allen started the rest of the season. Allen struggled in his first start against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, and the Aggies barely pulled out a 21-16 win.

After his first start, Allen became more comfortable in his starting position, and it showed over the final four games of the year. He led the Aggies to two wins down the stretch. The first was a 41-38 road win at No. 3 Auburn. The second was a 45-37 victory over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl, in which Allen was named the MVP.

With Hill transferring to TCU, Allen should have the A&M starting job locked up for the 2015 season.

There's been speculation that 5-star recruit Kyler Murray will challenge him. But as Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee wrote, "Don't fall into the trap of thinking it's going to be much of a battle, though."

Head coach Kevin Sumlin confirmed that notion in a Periscope interview with Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage (via Brandon Wheeland of the Dallas Morning News).

"Kyle Allen is the guy right now. I usually go two weeks before the first game before announcing the guy," Sumlin said. "You can’t end the season as the MVP of the bowl game and not start off No. 1."

Allen took command of the Texas A&M offense in 2014 and helped the Aggies salvage a season that seemed to be headed for disaster after the team lost three straight games by two touchdowns or more in Hill's final three starts.

He showcased maturity beyond his years by getting the team to rally around him as a freshman. In 2015, Allen deserves the chance to continue what he started last season, and he'll take full advantage of that opportunity.

As impressive as his maturity down the stretch was, Allen showcased equally impressive abilities on the field.

When given the opportunity, Allen showcased his impressive arm strength, pinpoint accuracy and an ultra-quick release. His ability to stay poised in the pocket and read SEC defenses was more than anyone could have expected from a true freshman.

At SEC media days, Aggies offensive lineman Germain Ifedi mentioned how remarkable of a job Allen did down the stretch, per Sallee:

In his final four starts, Allen threw for 952 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions, including a 294-yard, four-touchdown performance in the Liberty Bowl.

Despite his play last season, Allen hasn't gotten the same level of hype as other first-year starters in the SEC.

Auburn's Jeremy Johnson and Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs were both named to the preseason All-SEC team heading into their first full seasons as starters.

Allen hasn't racked up the same preseason accolades, but his supporting cast should set him up for a big 2015 season.

Texas A&M should have one of the top receiving corps in the country in 2015. The Aggies return two of their top three receivers from last season in Josh Reynolds and Speedy Noil, who went for 842 and 583 receiving yards, respectively.

Ricky Seals-Jones returns after a solid freshman campaign, and the Aggies also landed 5-star receiver Christian Kirk as part of the 2015 recruiting class. Three of five starters on the offensive line will also be back for the upcoming season.

With his talent and the talent around him, Allen is headed for a stellar 2015 season in Sumlin's offense. An entire offseason of first-team reps should help him develop a stronger connection with the rest of the offense and improve on his freshman season.

He's not the same type of athlete or dual threat as Johnny Manziel was, but Texas A&M doesn't need him to be. He controls the pocket, makes precise throws and is capable of making a play with his feet when the situation calls for it.

Allen is a solid, accurate quarterback who is capable of leading his team through an SEC schedule. Any SEC team that overlooks him will regret it this fall.

 

Recruiting information via 247Sports.com

Statistics via CFBstats.com.

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Every Top 25 Team's Best Recruiting Sales Pitch to Their Top 2016 Target

College football recruiting is far more than just seeking out the best players who fit well into a program and then offering them a scholarship. That's the easy part.

Nowadays is takes a strong sales pitch to convince the country's top high school prospects to pick one school over (several) others, and just offering playing time isn't enough. That's something they're likely able to get from most of their suitors, and oftentimes they end up going somewhere in spite of the competition they face to get on the field immediately.

In order to convince an impressionable teenage athlete that his best move is to pick School X over University Y and Z State, it takes the kind of proposal that would sway a dyed-in-the-wool Republican to cross the aisle and vote Democrat or vice versa

Using Bleacher Report's Post-Spring Practice Top 25 as a guide, we've come up with a strong sales pitch for each school to use on its top remaining 2016 target.

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Biggest Questions Facing Indiana Football in 2015

With questions surrounding the offense, the defense and the future of head coach Kevin Wilson, Indiana football will have plenty of issues to tackle in the 2015-16 season. 

After a promising 3-2 start last season that included a massive 31-27 win over Missouri, the Hoosiers struggled mightily while losing six of their last seven games. 

A key reason for the 2014 disappointment was due to quarterback Nate Sudfeld suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the team’s sixth game against Iowa. Now fully recovered, he will determine how well the Indiana offense will play, especially after losing star running back Tevin Coleman to the NFL. 

The defense is also a concern, which has been a recurring theme during Wilson’s tenure in Bloomington, Indiana. How hot is his seat heading into this season after four subpar years? 

Here are five burning questions for the Hoosiers for this upcoming season:

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Crazy Quarterback Situation Could Be Ohio State's Kryptonite in 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With less than two months to go until the start of the 2015 season, it's hard to find a reason to pick against Ohio State repeating as college football's national champion.

Consider all that head coach Urban Meyer currently has working in his favor:

  • The Buckeyes return 14 combined starters on offense and defense from last year's championship squad.
  • The Buckeyes possess arguably the best offensive player in the country in Heisman Trophy candidate Ezekiel Elliott.
  • The Buckeyes lay claim to arguably the nation's top defensive player and potential future No. 1 overall pick Joey Bosa.
  • The Buckeyes will face a manageable schedule that may not see them legitimately challenged until a Nov. 21 date with Michigan State in the second-last week of the regular season—a game that will be played in Columbus.
  • The Buckeyes boast an embarrassment of riches at quarterback, football's most important position. Ohio State is the undisputed home of the deepest signal-caller depth chart in all of college football.

But whether that last point will wind up being a blessing or curse for the Buckeyes remains to be seen.

Whether or not you envy Meyer's upcoming decision between Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller in an unprecedented starting quarterback derby likely depends on if you're a "glass half-full" or "glass half-empty" type of person.

There's no debating whether or not Ohio State will have a qualified signal-caller behind center regardless of who is ultimately named the Buckeyes' starter, but how the quarterbacks who wind up on the bench handle the situation could ultimately determine how the 2015 Buckeyes fare in their quest to repeat as national champions.

Having spent much of the offseason considering the dynamic he will be facing, Meyer knows as much.

"The human element's dangerous," Meyer admitted. "If [the competition's] about them, it can be very bad. If it's about the team—I think our culture right now wouldn't support something about them."

The three-time national champion head coach went on to state that he hasn't seen any signs of the quarterback competition having a negative effect on his team yet—quite the contrary. "It'd be much harder if they weren't good players, to be real honest," Meyer said. "Trying to move the football with a bad quarterback—you've got a bad deal. That's real difficult.

"Fortunately, I'm not really having to do that."

Maybe not, but the reality remains that as soon as Meyer names his starter, two overqualified quarterbacks will be headed to the bench.

Between Jones (the national champion whose starting record consists of three postseason wins), Barrett (the reigning Big Ten Quarterback and National Freshman of the Year) and Miller (a two-time Big Ten MVP whose 2014 season ended before it started due to a shoulder injury), the Buckeyes' quarterback depth chart will look more like a preseason award watch list, regardless of the order in which it shakes out.

Meyer knows this, which is what will make how he handles the admittedly delicate situation so fascinating.

Factions forming across a roster with three quarterbacks who were each a part of a different recruiting class is also a real possibility, especially as soon as necks start turning once the starter—whoever it is—throws his first interception or even gets off to a slow start.

For what it's worth, Jones, Barrett and Miller have each said all the right things throughout the offseason, as have the teammates who—outside of the quarterbacks—have the most to gain and possibly lose from Meyer's decision.

In fact, Jones recently called Barrett his best friend on the team, and various Buckeyes have recently praised Miller's leadership while injured in 2014.

"Those guys are going to get after it and they're going to compete and that's all we ask for from every position," said senior linebacker Joshua Perry. "They really do care a lot about each other, so it's not going to be one of those nasty competitions. Obviously, I have a lot of faith in our coaching staff."

As does Jones, who bypassed an opportunity to enter the NFL draft in order to return to Ohio State for the 2015 season. The same goes for Miller, who could have used his ability as a graduate transfer to spend his senior season somewhere else.

One—or possibly both—of these players will be starting the upcoming campaign on the bench, and it will be interesting to see whether that leads to feelings of regret from either one.

One possibility Meyer has already admitted to considering is a two-quarterback system, which would best work with Jones and Miller's diverse skill sets.

That would likely mean leaving Barrett on the bench, but as a redshirt sophomore, he enters 2015 with the least amount of urgency to play—even if he's coming off a year in which he broke the Buckeyes' single-season total offense record and the Big Ten's total touchdowns mark.

But that doesn't mean you should count Barrett out either, especially with PredictionMachine.com's John Ewing indicating that advanced analytics give him an edge and Meyer stating that the competition will be statistically based.

Perhaps the best blend of both passer and runner among Ohio State's trio of quarterbacks, Barrett might be the safest bet for Meyer to turn to—even if it means leaving two players with aspirations for the 2016 NFL draft on the bench.

No matter how you look at it and regardless of the outcome, whichever choice the Buckeyes' staff lands on will lend itself to plenty of second-guessing.

That's the territory that comes with such an unprecedented situation in which two quarterbacks who have already accomplished so much will find themselves not even starting in the upcoming year.

"The only bad thing that I see so far is that there's one or two of the individuals that aren't going to play a lot," Meyer said. "That's terrible. All three of those guys have done major things. They're not like freshmen or rookies. All three have major impact on this program—major impact. You go down in Ohio State history, those names are going to be there."

That may be the only negative for Meyer at the moment, but it's also an unavoidable one. The possibility remains that Meyer will manage all three players' respective situations enough to satisfy them—or that the Buckeyes will simply overpower their opponents with their abundance of talent—but sooner or later, Ohio State will have to deal with the consequences of its coach's decision.

And how it does that could ultimately determine the fate of its national title aspirations.

The old cliche is that if you have two quarterbacks, you really don't have any. But what if you have three?

The Buckeyes are about to find out.

 

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

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Auburn Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

SEC media days opened this week with Auburn as the first team on the schedule. Later in the week, the event ended with Auburn as the first team on the media's ballots for the conference title.

Although the Tigers weren't predicted to win their own division—have fun figuring that one out—it's clear they received plenty of attention this week in Hoover, Alabama.

Even with a smaller-than-usual amount of experience on offense and a lack of recent success on defense, Auburn will enter the fall as a strong SEC and College Football Playoff contender.

Several faces of the 2015 team were on display at SEC media days. Head coach Gus Malzahn, quarterback Jeremy Johnson, linebacker Kris Frost and cornerback Jonathan Jones represented Auburn on Monday morning and received dozens of questions from the media masses.

In case you missed it, catch up on what a surprisingly cagey Malzahn had to say with this Monday piece and Johnson's big day under the bright lights in this Tuesday story

Here are a few of the remaining top quotes and main takeaways from Auburn's time at media days.

 

"The Muschamp Effect"

New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was, of course, one of Auburn's biggest storylines at media days. Malzahn made his thoughts clear on how important his new assistant was to the team's future.

"In my opinion, the best defensive mind in all of football, not just college football," Malzahn said. "Our defensive players have taken on his personality, which I really like."

Even though Muschamp's 2015 defense hasn't played a single snap yet, the energy is a lot different in the program when it comes to that side of the ball.

"We are all excited," Frost told AL.com's Brandon Marcello. "We feel like we have a new breath of life in us. Everything is so positive. I have never seen it so positive before, with everything circling around the team. For the team as a whole, we are extremely excited and pumped up about starting the season off."

And when the defense finally hits the field, Jones says Auburn fans should expect to see a big difference from last season's struggling unit thanks to Muschamp.

"People are going to see the changes right off the bat," Jones told the Kansas City Star's Tod Palmer. "You can look and see what he did at Florida as far as their defenses. They were always at the top. People want to play for great coaches, and he’s a great coach."

 

Kerryon Johnson could play early

True freshman running back Kerryon Johnson, the third straight Mr. Football signee for Auburn, will enter a strong backfield this fall.

Johnson will be behind JUCO star Jovon Robinson and sensational sophomore Roc Thomas, along with bruising redshirt sophomore Peyton Barber. But don't count him out as someone who will sit in 2015.

"I really feel like he will factor," Malzahn told Auburn Undercover's Phillip Marshall. "He’s a guy we expect to play. He has a unique skill set and can do a lot of different things. He can do a lot of things with the ball in his hands."

Johnson might not be a traditional running back in Auburn's offense to start his career. The 4-star athlete has the potential to get touches at slot receiver, Wildcat quarterback or return man this fall.

"He brings a lot to the table," Malzahn said. "He can do that. He can catch the ball very well. You can even split him out. He’s very versatile."

 

Jones is ready to go

Speaking of Jones, Auburn's top defensive back told reporters he's 100 percent heading into fall camp after foot surgery a few weeks ago.

"I feel the same," Jones told Marcello. "It wasn't a major surgery. It was something minor and I wanted to get it out of the way.

"You kinda want to test it out, see where you're at because you don't want to wait until right before the game to really see where you're at and it not be where you need it to be."

The junior has battled injuries during his time on the Plains but has still become one of the most consistent performers in the conference.

He was named to the media's All-SEC first team Friday after leading the conference in passes defensed last season. Jones also had six interceptions in 2014—the most of any returning defensive back in the league.

 

"It's real big"

One of the biggest—literally—stories in Auburn this summer has been the construction of the new 190-by-57-foot scoreboard inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Malzahn was asked about the scoreboard, which will be the largest in college football, late during his media days appearance on Monday.

"It's big. It's real big," Malzahn said. "When you get on the field and you actually see how big it is, it's really something else. I think it's going to be a great thing for our fans. The atmosphere, it will do nothing but help our atmosphere, which is already off the charts. I know our players are going to enjoy it."

He said the team will turn it on for practices during fall camp, so the players can get used to the massive sight by the time Auburn hosts Jacksonville State for its home opener.

"It will take me a little getting used to, but I'm really looking forward to having it," Malzahn said. "And we are going to practice some in fall camp with that thing on so it won't be a shock to us that first game at home."

 

All quotes are taken from SEC Network broadcast unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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

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Former Michigan DL Ondre Pipkins Will Transfer to Texas Tech

A former Michigan defensive lineman who grabbed national attention during his departure from Ann Arbor will now finish up his college career in the Big 12 with Texas Tech.

Ondre Pipkins is transferring to Texas Tech and will play his senior season in 2016. The news was first reported by ESPN.com's Joe Schad.

Pipkins tweeted a photo in which he is holding up a Texas Tech jersey next to Red Raiders defensive line coach Mike Smith on Friday afternoon:

"I believe they have the best plan for me," Pipkins told Schad. "Now it's all about executing the plan."

Pipkins told Schad in June that first-year Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and several members of the Wolverines' program pressured him to retire from football.

The 6'3", 305-pound former 4-star recruit tore his ACL against Minnesota in October 2013 but was able to play for the Wolverines last season, recording nine tackles in five games. He also battled concussions during his Michigan tenure.

Pipkins said the Michigan staff asked him 10 times over a two-month period to sign a medical scholarship form that would've ended his playing career.

Pipkins has been diagnosed with arthritis in his knee, but he told Schad doctors originally said it wouldn't threaten his playing career.

Harbaugh later responded to Pipkins' claims, telling reporters, "We don't run off players."

"I'll speak for myself personally," Harbaugh told MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner. "When it comes to the health and safety of the players, that argument trumps all other arguments." 

The Michigan head coach also denied giving Pipkins a deadline of July 1 to sign the scholarship form.

Pipkins, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, is now heading to Big 12 country after recording 24 tackles in 24 games at Michigan.

According to 247Sports' Daniel Paulling, the Red Raiders will need some immediate help at defensive line next season, and Pipkins would have a great chance to become a starter when he becomes eligible.

"Demetrius Alston, Brandon Jackson, Keland McElrath, Rika Levi, Donte Phillips and Marcus Smith will be completing their final season of eligibility this fall, which would be a huge loss of talent and depth," Paulling wrote Thursday.

 

Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Toughest Question: Who Will Finish Last in the SEC West?

HOOVER, Ala. — If you’re a serious fan of college football, you probably saw a sign at some point of last season reading: “Sharks have a week dedicated to” followed by their favorite team.

If it was from the West Division in the Southeastern Conference, it likely drew some laughter. Put simply, the regular season was nothing short of being a vicious survival test, and this time around could be even more brutal.

It’s definitely tougher to predict, and if picking the team at the top wasn’t hard enough, trying to figure out which one will finish last is even more difficult.

Seriously. Just take a look at the list of coaches and try to come up with who will be at the bottom of the standings looking up at everyone else next spring. There’s no new addition as everyone’s been at their present position for at least two years and no major rebuilding project for the other teams to feast upon.

Last season, all seven teams played in a bowl game. This year we might see them all ranked...at the same time. 

"In my opinion, the West is the toughest conference in football, I don't think it's even close," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "I mean, it's a man's league. There's no off weeks. Everybody asks about the SEC and all that, and the thing that really stands out to me is the grind. If you're not in it, you don't understand it.

In 2014, we didn’t have this problem. Coming off a winless season in SEC play, Arkansas was the clear choice for the cellar, although it was pretty clear the Razorbacks were on the rise.

Sure enough, they won two league games and played numerous rivals tough including an overtime loss to No. 6 Texas A&M, the 14-13 defeat to eventual SEC champion Alabama and fell 17-10 at No. 1 Mississippi State. Because Arkansas subsequently beat No. 17 LSU and No. 8 Ole Miss down the stretch, every team in the West finished above .500.

"I think it's ridiculous the amount of publicity and excitement that we're getting based off of 7-6," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said this past week at SEC media days. "I get it because we were 3-9, and before that we were 3-9. This is a team that was supposed to be up for a national championship. So I understand the excitement. Because of what they've done on the field and in the classroom, there's a lot of excitement and a lot of buzz. I don't want that to go away. I mean, it's absolutely awesome. But we're in the SEC West. We're a 7-6 team looking to improve."

Consequently, few, if any, are predicting another last-place finish. But if not the Razorbacks then who?

Essentially the one thing that everyone agrees on is that it’s extremely unlikely to be Alabama. Nick Saban’s teams have gone 7-1 in SEC play in each of the last four seasons and only once did that fail to put the Crimson Tide in at least a tie for first in the division. That exception was 2011, when it still went on to win the national championship.

Even though Alabama only has 10 returning starters, and for the second straight year will see a new starting quarterback, most prognosticators have the again-loaded Crimson Tide in their top five or slated to return to the playoffs.   

Otherwise there’s a wide range of opinions regarding the other six contenders after saying “They’re good.” For example, among the preseason publications, Athlon has every West team in its preseason top 25, but Lindy’s didn't have either Mississippi school ranked.

The Sporting News has every team in its top 25 except A&M, while Phil Steele has A&M 32nd and Mississippi State 39th.

When it posted its preseason odds to win the SEC, Sportsbook operator CG Technology had every West team between 5/2 (Alabama) and 15/1 (Texas A&M), which was nothing short of remarkable. 

As for national title chances, Bovada has 27 teams listed at 66/1 or better including all SEC West teams. Among them, Mississippi State has the longest odds but only barely behind Arkansas (50/1), Ole Miss (40/1) and Texas A&M (33/1).

One of the more interesting preseason evaluations is the Football Power Index by ESPN Stats and Info, which doesn’t necessarily try to project how each team will finish but rather estimate its overall strength. It’s a three-pronged formula using the prior year's offense, defense and special teams efficiencies; returning starters and head coach information; and recruiting rankings.

Five of its top 11 teams heading into the 2015 season aren’t just from the SEC, but the West—and that doesn’t include Auburn. Specifically, it has, in order, No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 LSU, No. 8 Ole Miss, No. 10 Arkansas and No. 11 Texas A&M. The other two division teams are No. 18 Auburn and No. 22 Mississippi State.

Regardless, every team has questions. Every team needs players to mature and elevate their play. And every team might be considered the one to beat if it instead played in another conference.

So when the results of the annual poll to predict the order of finish were announced at SEC media days,  Auburn was named the team to beat for the league title, with the West looking like: 1. Alabama, 2. Auburn, 3. LSU, 4. Arkansas, 5. Ole Miss, 6. Texas A&M and a team that was ranked No. 1 for a good part of the 2014 season at the bottom, 7. Mississippi State. 

Maybe Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was on to something when he half joked that "It's kind of like a tradition" to vote the Bulldogs last, although he'll simply turn around and use it as motivation. 

"I think the SEC West will be as competitive as ever and is still really the best division in all of college football and the most competitive division of all of college football," Mullen said. "But that's what we love, and those are the challenges we love. As a competitor, that's the league you want to be in every single day, every single week. On Saturdays, you roll out on that field knowing you're playing one of the best teams in the country every single Saturday.

"It's a great thing to be a part of."

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Hits and Misses from SEC Media's All-Conference Teams

The SEC wrapped up media days this week by unveiling the media's preseason All-Conference teams, and they make a lot more sense than their championship picks.

Georgia running back Nick Chubb, Florida defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland led the way in voting for the three All-SEC teams.

Defending SEC champion Alabama had six first-team selections, which were the most among any of the conference's 14 schools. The lone school left off the three teams for the second straight year was struggling Vanderbilt.

While the media voting seemed to have a great grasp on the top talent in the SEC, there were a few surprising omissions and slides down to the second and third teams, judging from the players' 2014 output and potential for the upcoming season.

Here are the three preseason All-SEC teams and the biggest hits and misses on this year's squads.

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LSU Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

Following three days of quips, one-liners and fashion forays from other coaches in the SEC, it came time for one of the masters of the podium to get his turn. But instead of topping them all, LSU's Les Miles instead used his turn at the mic to take a surprisingly low-key approach to the 2015 season.

And a long one at that.

"His opening statement in the main media room seemed like a filibuster," ESPN's Alex Scarborough wrote. "Miles broke down every position on his team, even the specialists. It was as if he was encouraging a government shutdown, only it was Twitter that slowed to a crawl."

Though he was long on substance, Miles didn't fire out as much sizzle as we've become used to during his tenure. Despite being picked by the SEC media to finish third in the ultra-tough SEC West, the aura around LSU's program just isn't what it was a few years ago. Multiple seasons where the Tigers were quickly out of the national- and conference-title discussion will do that, and Miles acknowledged as much.

"Our team, eight wins, certainly not enough," he said Thursday, per Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com. "We played some really good ball clubs in that eight-win season and played them very close, but our goal is the playoffs, our goal is the SEC championship. We're shy of our goals, and we want more."

LSU returns 15 starters from the 2014 team, a higher-than-normal amount for a program that tends to get pilfered by early NFL entry more than most schools. But that set of returners also includes one that may very well not start—and even if he does it wouldn't necessarily be considered a bonus.

That would be quarterback Anthony Jennings, the junior who went into this spring battling sophomore Brandon Harris for the second year in a row for the starting job. The duo combined to produce the worst passing offense in the SEC last season, averaging 162.9 yards per game.

Harris looked to have moved ahead of Jennings in the competition toward the end of spring ball, and he's firmly in the lead now due to Jennings' suspension in the wake of an on-campus burglary in June. He was one of three players suspended for that incident. Miles said he expects Jennings, as well as defensive end Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dwayne Thomas, to eventually return, but the timetable is dependent on how the legal process plays out.

"Right now Brandon Harris has done all the work with the players," Miles said, per Kleinpeter. "Until this thing, AJ is not available. The players say (Harris) is playing well. I'm not saying they're making the decision, but it certainly is a positive piece."

 

Missing Chavis

Whether it was in front of the large room of reporters, on radio and TV shows or in one-on-one interviews, one thing Miles seemed quite uncomfortable talking about was the messy divorce between LSU and longtime defensive coordinator John Chavis. Texas A&M hired Chavis to run its defense during the winter, despite him having signed a contract extension just before then, and the schools are currently embroiled in a legal battle related to a buyout in that contract. 

When asked how he thought Chavis would fare with the Aggies, LSU's annual Thanksgiving weekend opponent, Miles hesitated and then stumbled to talk around the question.

"You suspect that he will coach great defense at A&M," he said, per Kleinpeter.

Miles noted that, while Chavis had a big part to do with LSU's success on defense over the years, it's also been about the quality of the players that have come to Baton Rouge:

If you look at the number of guys that we've had on our defense that were drafted—simply put, we had eight players drafted in the 2013 NFL draft, all coming from the first five rounds. It's the only time in modern day history that an NFL—that one school had eight defensive players taken in the first five rounds. We've had 24 defensive players since 2010, which ties the most in the SEC during that span. We've had at least one defensive lineman taken in every NFL draft for the last 12 years. The five defensive players selected in the first round since NFL draft since 2010. So our talent pool has been pretty special. What I'm saying is that we would expect that that talent would continue and that we would have great defense, period.

LSU's 2015 recruiting class, which was rated by 247Sports as fifth-best in the nation, is highlighted by potentially the next great defensive superstar in cornerback Kevin Toliver II.

 

Saving the fourth wall

Miles' approach with the media has been one that's a mix between dealing with a necessary evil and making the most out of a difficult situation. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't do what he could to look out for those on the other side of the microphone, or in this case the video camera.

 

Leonard Fournette: older, wiser and much stronger

A year ago at this time, Leonard Fournette wasn't just the top-rated player in his recruiting class, but also a player who was heading into college with so much hype it seemed impossible for him to live up to the large expectations being placed on him.

Somehow, though, he still managed to put together a masterful first season by setting the school record for rushing yards by a freshman. Now we'll get to see what he can do after a full offseason of training and preparation, rather than just with a few weeks of training camp.

"Coming from high school, you're so used to running over everybody," Fournette told ESPN's Greg Ostendorf. "In the SEC, you have great tacklers, great players you're going to go against every week. So I kind of had to change my point of view from that."

Built like a linebacker but with the speed of a defensive back, Fournette has the kind of tools that could give him a strong chance to win the Heisman. One of his biggest challengers comes from the same league, though, in Georgia sophomore running back Nick Chubb.

They won't face each other this season unless Georgia and LSU meet in the SEC championship, but Fournette acknowledges there's an unofficial competition between them.

Fournette said he's also learned to better handle himself on the field and pick the right spots for celebrations, particularly those that resemble the Heisman Trophy pose following a touchdown run against FCS Sam Houston State last September.

"I regret it a little because it was kind of selfish of me and childish," Fournette said, per Jon Solomon of CBS Sports.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

3 Reasons Why WR Commit Josh Imatorbhebhe Will Be a Star for the USC Trojans

According to 247Sports, Josh Imatorbhebhe is a 4-star all-purpose back who is committed to the USC Trojans.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder gives three reasons why Imatorbhebhe will be a star for the Trojans.

How good can Imatorbhebhe be for USC? Check out the video and let us know!

 

247Sports rankings accurate as of June 29.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

3 Reasons Why WR Commit Josh Imatorbhebhe Will Be a Star for the USC Trojans

According to 247Sports , Josh Imatorbhebhe is a 4-star all-purpose back who is committed to the USC Trojans. Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder gives three reasons why Imatorbhebhe will be a star for the Trojans...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Walter Camp Award Watch List 2015: Full List and Bleacher Report Favorites

It's not quite the Heisman Trophy, but the Walter Camp Award still aims to honor the top player in college football regardless of position. 

With the release of the 2015 Walter Camp preseason watch list, 50 players will be vying for that title at season's end. Of course, a player doesn't have to be on the watch list to win the Walter Camp Award. 

“We are proud to continue the great work of Walter Camp and recognize the best college football players in the nation,” foundation president Robert Kauffman said in a statement on the Walter Camp website. “This watch list is a great start to what is shaping up to be another exciting year of college football.”

The previous two award winners—Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston—were also Heisman winners the same year. However, the Walter Camp Award hasn't always gone the way of the Heisman winner. Will that be the case this year?

Here's the full Walter Camp watch list, along with Bleacher Report's favorites, assorted by grouping and based on previous production, '15 season projections and roles within their teams: 

B/R FAVORITES

The Ground-and-Pounders

Georgia Running Back Nick Chubb

The freshman phenom rushed for more than 1,500 yards as Todd Gurley's emergency replacement. The Bulldogs seem to replace one surefire first-round draft pick with another future one. While this team is loaded in the backfield, Chubb should still be the go-to back, which means he won't have to sacrifice carries unless he gets hurt.

Chubb averaged just less than 17 carries per game last season, but expect that number to go up with the rigors of a full season. 

 

Ohio State Running Back Ezekiel Elliott

No running back—and perhaps no player other than his quarterback, Cardale Jones—finished the 2014 season strong than Elliott did. The junior had 200-plus-yard games in each of Ohio State's three postseason games.

Now that Elliott is no longer in the shadows of other Big Ten running backs like Melvin Gordon, he will be one of the most-watched running backs in the country. It helps, too, that Elliott is one of the leading favorites to win the Heisman, according to Bovada odds via OddsShark.com

 

LSU Running Back Leonard Fournette 

Fournette, like Chubb, Oregon's Royce Freeman and Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, was one of those impact freshmen at running back. Though he didn't have as many yards as Chubb or Perine (1,034), he's considered one of the top overall backs for his blend of size, power and speed. He's also a versatile player as a kick returner. 

 

Oklahoma Running Back Samaje Perine

Perine took the Big 12 by storm in 2014, leading the conference with 1,713 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. He's a bruising back at 5'11" and 237 pounds, but he'll still be a valuable weapon in Lincoln Riley's Air Raid offense. 

 

The Gunslingers

TCU Quarterback Trevone Boykin

Boykin's transformation from 2013 to 2014 was undeniable. He's the textbook definition of what an effective dual-threat quarterback should be, and the numbers reflect that: 3,901 yards passing, 707 yards rushing, 42 total touchdowns. He's the type of player who makes an easy case for postseason accolades.

The crazy thing is, though, he can get even better. If the Frogs are in Big 12/playoff contention in late November, Boykin's name will get a lot of chatter for the Walter Camp Award and more. 

 

Ohio State's Starting Quarterback

Unlike the Davey O'Brien Award, which just features Cardale Jones, the Walter Camp watch list features all three of Ohio State's quarterbacks—Jones, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett. Obviously, only one of those names has a chance to remain by season's end. Still, we've seen already that all three can lead the team to great heights, so giving them an equal chance in July is right on point. 

 

USC Quarterback Cody Kessler

Kessler should have all of the elements of a postseason award winner in 2015. He's a household name who plays in a blue-blood program, which could be in playoff contention, in a stat-friendly offense. That's not to diminish Kessler's skill set, because he certainly has the tools of one of the top quarterbacks in college football, but he also has several things going for him as well.

Kessler's name has been most commonly associated with the Heisman, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him take home the Walter Camp, Davey O'Brien, Manning or Maxwell Award. 

 

Mississippi State Quarterback Dak Prescott

Unlike the Heisman, the Walter Camp Award isn't as closely tied to the record of the recipient's team. This could be a good thing for Prescott if Mississippi State does in fact finish at or near the bottom of the SEC West standings like many media folks are projecting. Regardless, Prescott is the best returning quarterback in the SEC and is capable of being a one-man show on the field. 

 

Clemson Quarterback Deshaun Watson

Now that he's finally 100 percent healthy, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson should pick up where he left off in 2014—dominating defenses. Watson showed an unbelievable skill set and maturity as a freshman, and he takes the Tigers offense to another level when he's in the game. With the core of his wide receiver unit returning, he should put up huge numbers in '15. 

 

The Long Shots

Ohio State Defensive End Joey Bosa

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was the last defensive player to win the Walter Camp Award in 2012. Like the Heisman, the Walter Camp Award has predominantly gone to quarterbacks or running backs. However, if there's a player outside of those two positions with a great chance, it's Bosa.

As a sophomore in '14, he led the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss. He's so quick off the edge that even if you double-team him, he's tough to stop. Also, if you do that, it opens up opportunities for someone else to get to the quarterback. 

 

Ole Miss Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell

There are only four wide receivers on the Walter Camp watch list, by far the lowest of any offensive skill position. One of those four is Treadwell. The junior suffered a season-ending leg injury a year ago, so it'll be interesting to see how his comeback season turns out. However, he's as dominant as any wide receiver in the college game. He just needs the stats to back it up. 

 

UCLA Linebacker Myles Jack

Jack has moonlighted as a running back for the Bruins, which does technically help his stock as a versatile athlete, but he's best suited as a productive, hard-hitting linebacker. He has been crushing it for UCLA ever since his freshman year and has started all but two games at linebacker.

If Jack can move into that leading tackler role for the Bruins, he could very well get serious consideration for the Walter Camp Award. 

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year

The Big 12 is notorious for its high-powered offenses. From Baylor to Texas right on down to TCU and Kansas State, these programs know how to get the ball into the end zone.

Who will be next season's Offensive Player of the Year in the Big 12?

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer joined Stephen Nelson as they both revealed their answer to that question in the video above.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

Although all 14 teams in the SEC were represented at media days in Hoover, Alabama, this week, all eyes were once again on Alabama—from the masses of fans clamoring for autographs to the hundreds of reporters in the interview rooms.

The defending SEC champions, who were picked by the media to win the SEC West but not the conference, were the biggest draw of the week.

Head coach Nick Saban took the podium Wednesday morning and wasted no time in making some comments that created quite a stir in the college football world.

He was joined by running back Kenyan Drake, offensive lineman Ryan Kelly and linebacker Reggie Ragland at the annual event. Like their head coach, these veterans answered plenty of questions on their preparation for the upcoming season in Tuscaloosa.

Now that the dust has settled from media days, here are a few key quotes and takeaway from Saban and the rest of the Alabama contingent in Hoover.

 

Saban, the Sugar Bowl and a storm

Saban caused what was perhaps the biggest controversy of the entire event Wednesday when he mentioned his desire for the NFL Draft Advisory Board to move back their grading process for interested underclassmen.

He mentioned the draft grades' having an effect on Alabama prior to January's Sugar Bowl loss to eventual national champion Ohio State.

"I just felt like, in our experience last year, our team chemistry from the SEC Championship Game to the playoff game was affected by something," Saban said.

Last year, juniors contemplating the decision to leave school early for the NFL had to submit a request for a draft grade by Dec. 15. Saban said they received those grades "around Christmas" and right during the middle of bowl preparation.

"So I think a week, 10 days (added to the process) would be beneficial," Saban said. "And I think a rule that says you don't get information to players on draft status until after they've completed their college competition would be beneficial."

Saban's comments were immediately taken as an excuse for the loss to Ohio State by media members and college football fans all over the country, but he denied that in a later interview with Paul Finebaum.

The Alabama head coach had support from his players on this issue and its effects on the Crimson Tide prior to last season's playoff game.

"I think it should be pushed back," Ragland told Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples. "It would give people more time to make the right decisions for their lives. If you’ve got to rush it, you’re going to make a bad decision."

No matter how much criticism Saban's comments received, they were good proposals for change in the draft process and gave interesting insight on what was going on behind the scenes at Alabama prior to the loss in New Orleans.

 

Here comes Coker

Saban was quick to say no one has emerged as the leading candidate for Alabama's starting quarterback job, but he did give some criteria for the winner.

"That's going to be one of the keys to the drill in terms of somebody taking the bull by the horns at that position, being assertive, playing with confidence, distributing the ball and executing in a positive way, being a good decision-maker and showing leadership at the same time," Saban said.

Senior Jake Coker, one of the two presumed front-runners in the race, received some high praise from the head coach during his main media session Wednesday.

"Jake Coker has done an outstanding job for us," Saban said. "I think he's made a tremendous amount of improvement. I think that a better understanding, better knowledge of the system, better knowledge of what we expect, what's expected of him in our offense are all things that have contributed to his confidence and his performance level."

In terms of leadership, the veteran Coker isn't overly vocal, but his teammates say he is still showing the qualities of someone who could take over Alabama's offense in place of Blake Sims this season.

"He's not the most outspoken person," Drake told AL.com's Michael Casagrande. "But he's leading by example, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the competition as it progresses."

 

Focusing on the freshmen

Alabama's three player representatives at media days all mentioned some freshmen who were catching their eyes this offseason.

"Really, the entire freshman class has impressed me," Drake told Casagrande. "They came in with the hunger and a lot of will to learn from the older (players) who have been here, and they've definitely taken on even leadership roles."

According to Casagrande, Ragland was "impressed with cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield and Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety Ronnie Harrison...running back Damien Harris and receiver Calvin Ridley."

"I think they're going to get a shot to play this year, but I tell them all the time, every time (Saban) talks about the process, the process works," Ragland told Casagrande. "I'm a testament to it myself. It took me a couple of years before I could understand what Coach was really talking about and I started to see everything clearer and better."

Kelly's freshman to watch on the offensive line was guard Brandon Kennedy, who enrolled early at Alabama and went through some of spring practice before suffering an injury.

 

A super summer so far

After the arrests of four Tide players in the spring, Bleacher Report's Marc Torrence put "stay out of trouble" in his summer checklist for Alabama earlier this year.

The Crimson Tide have done just that this summer, and Saban is pleased with their progress.

"(I told) them how well I think they're doing this summer—working hard, everybody's all-in to doing things the way we want them to do them, not a lot of negative energy around, a lot of positive energy, a lot of good character, a lot of positive leadership," Saban said.

The spring had several headaches for the Alabama program, but everything has calmed down as fall camp approaches.

For Saban and every Alabama fan, that's the best news you can get out of the long offseason.

"The good news at this time of year is there's no news," Saban said. "If there's no news, that means your players are doing the right things personally, they're doing a good job academically, they're all into what they should be doing to get prepared for the season, and that has certainly been the case with our team this summer and since spring practice.

"They've done extremely well in terms of their decision-making and judgment."

 

All quotes taken from SEC Network broadcast unless otherwise noted.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Every Big Ten Football Team's Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for 2015

For Big Ten fans who always look at the glass half-full or prefer to say it's half-empty, you've all come to the right place as the offseason starts to come to an end.

These are the best- and worst-case scenarios for each of the 14 teams in the Big Ten, from defending champion Ohio State down to rebuilding Purdue. 

Of course, with any of these stories, these are the best and worst probable scenarios for these teams, judging by their overall talent and schedule setup.

The best and worst possible cases for everyone is to either go 15-0 and win every title imaginable or lose all 12 of your regular-season games.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at how this upcoming season could realistically work out in a Big Ten that has two strong College Football Playoff contenders and several wild cards that could disrupt things for the top teams.

Begin Slideshow

Best Facemask and Helmet Designs in College Football

In college football, players come and go. So do coaches. But year after year, for the most part, helmets endure. Sure, some teams like to change them up and use “alternate” designs to connect with recruits or just be different (looking at you, Maryland and Oregon) but for many programs, helmets are an iconic piece of their uniforms that doesn’t change from season to season. USA Today's Alan Siegel gave his take on the 10 best helmets in college football.

College football has some incredible helmets and logos. New-school and old-school, busy and minimalist. Here are some of the best helmet and facemask designs in the college game. This is a subjective piece, of course, and surely you have your own opinion. But in one writer’s opinion, these are some of the most interesting, well-designed, iconic helmets in the college game.

 

Facemasks

Let’s be honest. Most facemasks are the most anonymous part of a helmet. They’re the same color as the dominant color of the helmet, and they blend into the helmet. You don’t think about it. But more and more often, teams are taking chances with their facemasks, using multicolored schemes that stand out.

Two of the most unique adopters of this trend reside in the same state. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Oregon and Oregon State use multicolored facemasks. Oregon’s blend right in with an often-wild helmet design, and the Beavers also pull off a multicolored look with a dual-color helmet, using orange and black interlocking into one another. Pretty sharp, really.

 

Helmets

Alabama

Alabama has one of the most tradition-rich programs in the college game. On a home-game Saturday afternoon, Bryant-Denny Stadium drips with tradition, from “Sweet Home Alabama” wafting over the loudspeakers to the hype video that precedes the Crimson Tide’s charge onto the stadium floor, showcasing the program’s history from Paul “Bear” Bryant to Nick Saban.

The Tide’s uniforms reflect that, as well. They’re simple and understated, and so are the helmets. Crimson with a white stripe down the middle and the player’s number on each side in white, they lack in major decoration, but they’re hard to forget. They showcase a program that knows its place in college football’s history and knows its tradition is worth savoring.

 

Clemson

Clemson knows tradition. If you’ve never been to a home game at Memorial Stadium, aka Death Valley, you’re missing out on what veteran announcer Brent Musburger calls the “Best 25 Seconds in College Football,” with Clemson gathering at the top of the hill above the east end zone to rub Howard’s Rock and come charging down the hill while 82,000 fans go absolutely crazy.

While many programs have experimented with new uniform combinations, Clemson and Dabo Swinney have largely resisted, save for purple tops and all-purple uniforms broken out on occasion. The helmet? That’s always, always the same. Clemson orange, with a purple and white accent stripe down the middle, and the classic, unchanged Tiger paw on the side, the same as the one painted at midfield. Under Swinney’s watch, Clemson has become one of college football’s best teams, but in reality, it’s just catching up with its helmet.

 

Georgia

Under Mark Richt, Georgia has established itself as one of college football’s most consistent programs. A Saturday at Sanford Stadium is a bucket-list item for any college football fan, with raucous fans cheering on the Red and Black, clad in the “silver britches.” Georgia has experimented with alternate uniforms over the year, but the Bulldogs’ best look involves their classic red-and-black helmets.

They’re instantly recognizable across college football, with a big black “G” framed in white with a red background and white accent stripe, and a white facemask. Georgia has yet to win a national title on Richt’s watch, but in the helmet game, the Bulldogs will always be a national contender.

 

LSU

There are a lot of unique things about Tiger Stadium, home of LSU football. The atmosphere. The fans. The food. The feeling that envelops the place for a huge night game.  The H-style goalposts. LSU’s helmets? They reflect this.

With the yellow-gold background, the purple and white stripe accent and the Tiger logo underneath the LSU on each side of the helmet, you feel like you’re looking at a classic helmet when you see the Tigers take the field. It’s a history that runs from Billy Cannon to Leonard Fournette and plenty of stars in between, and the helmet is the perfect fit for such a tradition-rich program.

 

Miami

When you think of Miami football, what do you think of? “The U,” right? It’s an unforgettable look for Miami, which has been one of college football’s traditional powers since the days of Howard Schnellenberger in the early 1980s and the Hurricanes’ rise to prominence.

Miami fans across the nation throw up the “U” as an unforgettable hand signal, and it mimics the “U” found on the side of Miami helmets, with the left half orange and the right half green. While the helmets are best known with an all-white background, Miami has experimented with chrome, green and orange helmets in recent years. The “U,” however, has stayed the same throughout. And that’s the way it should be.

 

Michigan

As Michigan’s new football coach, Jim Harbaugh has some work ahead as he attempts to restore the Wolverines to their former glory, but one thing he won’t have to worry about? Michigan’s helmet design.

When Fritz Crisler arrived from Princeton in 1938, he designed the same helmet he’d used at Princeton. It’s a winged design that mixes blue and maize, and is one of the most enduring, classic lids in college football. It’d be hard to imagine Michigan wearing anything else.

 

Nebraska

Nebraska’s uniforms reflect its simple Midwestern tradition. The Cornhuskers are known as a meat-and-potatoes, hard-hitting program built on the run and strong defense, and a tradition of walk-ons fostered by legendary coach Tom Osborne.

While the Huskers have failed to find the success they had in the Osborne era, they haven’t changed their classic helmets: White, with a red stripe down the middle, a red facemask and a classic, big red "N" on each side of the helmet. Like Nebraska football, it’s a traditional design that still hasn’t gone out of style in the 21st century.

 

Notre Dame

There might be no place in college football where helmets are taken more seriously than Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish’s helmets contain flakes of 23.9-carat gold taken from the Notre Dame Administration Building, known as the Golden Dome. So week in, week out, players wear real gold on their helmets.

Until 2011, student managers actually repainted the helmets each week, a practice that ended when Notre Dame officials turned to a process that created a more consistent color of gold. Per the school's official site, athletic director Jack Swarbrick was frustrated with the color of gold on the helmets.

"We've got a color that looks a lot more like the dome," Swarbrick said in a YouTube video explaining the change. "Symbolically, the helmets have always been intended to reflect the dome, the most graphic symbol of this university. And quite frankly, we think we’re pretty darn close."

While the Irish have experimented with large green shamrocks and an interlocking ND on the side of the helmet in the “Shamrock Series” of neutral-site games, the classic all-gold helmet is one of the best in college football, and with good reason.

 

Tennessee 

Before each home game, Tennessee has one of college football’s best entrances. Players and coaches run through the “Power T” formed by Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Marching Band, all while a ravenous, packed Neyland Stadium crowd roars its approval.

The “Power T” also finds its home on the side of Tennessee’s helmets. The large, classic orange T stands out against a white background, along with an orange accent stripe running down the middle of the helmet with a white facemask. It’s an iconic helmet combination and while Tennessee has slipped from college football’s elite in recent years, its helmet certainly hasn’t.

 

Texas

Charlie Strong is trying to turn around Texas following the program’s downturn at the end of the Mack Brown era, and his first season at the Longhorns’ helm wasn’t exactly spectacular, with a 6-7 record and ugly Texas Bowl loss to Arkansas.


Rest assured, Strong will make changes in 2015, but Texas’ helmet won’t be among them. Simple and understated, with a white background, a white facemask and a burnt-orange Longhorn logo on each side, Texas’ helmets are immediately recognizable and something Strong shouldn’t mess with.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: Which QB Is Under Most Pressure to Win Starting Job?

Braxton Miller's decision to stay at Ohio State, quelling months-long transfer rumblings once and for all, was the best thing that could have happened to the Buckeyes' quarterback competition. 

For that matter, it's one of the best things that could have happened to college football. Why? One of the single best storylines in the sport this year is a full go. It is, as they say, officially on with Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.

The circumstances are rare: A defending national champion with great odds to repeat is hosting a high-profile position battle with not two, but three players who could probably start, and win, anywhere. It doesn't get much more dramatic than that. 

But while Ohio State's three-man race for the starting job is great football theater, it also has an unfortunate side, which is that two deserving, talented players are going to be disappointed with the outcome. Competing is part of football, and all three players agreed to the possibility of not starting when they opted to return for the 2015 season. That won't make the inevitable sting any less painful for two of them, however. 

Since we've seen what all three can do, and the kind of people they can be, there's a good amount of empathy for them in this scenario. Ultimately, though, head coach Urban Meyer must determine who's going to give this team the best chance to repeat as national champs. 

Undoubtedly, Jones is the quarterback feeling the most pressure to get that nod. 

Before continuing further, let's dive into why Miller and Barrett aren't feeling the same level of pressure (which isn't to say they aren't feeling pressure at all, because they are). 

Miller, first of all, is a Buckeye through and through. He's a son of Ohio who wants his own son to one day experience life at Ohio State. Miller has gone through a coaching change and a season-ending shoulder injury. Plenty of other players would have opted to finish their career elsewhere. In this day and age where major college football is a gateway to the NFL, you can hardly blame them for doing what's best for their future.  

Yet, despite all of that, here's Miller, ready to finish out his career in the same place he started. 

Whether Miller wins the quarterback job or not, or potentially switches to another position, he's decided that finishing his career at Ohio State is more important than anything.

Barrett's situation has been far more clear-cut from the beginning. Of the three quarterbacks, the redshirt sophomore hasn't been associated with the same type of life-altering dilemmas as Miller or Jones. He's also the guy with the most eligibility remaining. Given how young he is and that he's already been thrown into a tough situation—a situation in which he thrived, need we remind you—the odds of him starting again before his college career is up seem promising. 

Which leads us back to Jones. There aren't many other ways to put it: It's incredible that such a prominent athlete over the past six months could be sitting on the bench in Week 1. Yet that's a very real possibility. 

Jones' postseason run last season is well-documented. It was so remarkable, in fact, that Jones had the chance to ride that momentum straight into the 2015 NFL draft—and it wouldn't have been that crazy. He would have been a development project, for sure, but plenty of teams would have taken a shot on a 6'5", 250-pound quarterback who can chuck the ball three-quarters of a football field. They've done it before with far worse players. 

Regardless of how that pro career would have worked out, Jones would have been earning a paycheck for his services. The allure of that immediate financial change, even if only for a few years, is tough to ignore, especially if it means a better life for your family. 

However, Jones opted to return to school with a "goal to graduate," according to Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel. That was his decision alone to make, and it certainly can't be criticized. And as the only quarterback of the trio to be 100 percent healthy during the spring, Jones received valuable reps to build off of his end-of-season run. 

Still, Jones is moving forward with the mentality that he has the most to prove of anyone, as explained in this interview with Austin Ward of ESPN.com last month: 

I haven’t proven anything yet. I haven’t proven anything to myself, my teammates, my coaches to label myself as a starter. That’s my opinion, my personal opinion.

...

I’m working harder than ever. I understand that I want to be the starting quarterback of this team, but I know I have two guys in front of me who are working just as hard.

Jones isn't alone in that mindset. Barrett's father's even told Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, "If Braxton hadn’t gotten hurt, I would still be waiting for my baby to get the chance to play... In other words, Braxton should get that position back, then everybody else should go try to take it from him." 

The heart may say one thing, but analytics says another. Prediction Machine's John Ewing recently ran 50,000 simulations for Ohio State's quarterback dilemma and determined that Barrett, who had record-setting numbers in 2014, should start again this season:  

Regardless of which quarterback starts, the Buckeyes win more than 11 games on average. Ohio State finishes with the best record in the Big Ten and the FBS in each simulation. Ohio State is No. 1 in our Power Rankings whether Miller, Barrett or Jones is the first team quarterback.

By the numbers, if we had to make Urban Meyer's decision for him, Barrett would be the starter. Ohio State is a more efficient offensively, both passing and rushing the ball, with Barrett under center. The difference between Barrett and Miller starting for Ohio State is nearly a field goal per game. 

So, where does Jones fit in all of this? For as visible as he's been this offseason, throwing out first pitches and flirting with everyone at the ESPYs, there seems to be a growing feeling that he'll still be a backup at the end of preseason camp. 

That might be just a feeling and nothing more, but what a turnaround that would be for the guy who was on the field when Ohio State won it all. 

But Jones can't worry about that. All he can do—all any of Ohio State's quarterbacks can do—is continue to improve. Jones may be facing the most pressure of anyone in the trio, but he has to channel that pressure into being a better overall player. 

That's what will make up one-third of the most compelling quarterback battle in 2015. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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Georgia Football: Best Quotes, Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

The SEC media days have come and gone, and it ended with the Georgia Bulldogs taking the stage in Birmingham.

Head coach Mark Richt along with Malcolm Mitchell, John Theus and Jordan Jenkins were in attendance for the Bulldogs taking questions from media from all over the country. There were a lot of things for Richt and his players to talk about, including the outlook on the season, the quarterback battle and even Richt’s new look. Yes, Richt has a new look, and it was on display on Thursday.

Here are some of the best quotes and takeaways from the Bulldogs' stint at media days.

 

Best Quotes

One of the burning questions the media wanted to ask Richt is the quarterback situation. With the Bulldogs adding Greyson Lambert, it’s now a full-out competition to see who will start on opening weekend. Richt has this to say via John Zenor of the AP (via the Advocate).

“I think it’s going to take a while. We have 29 practice opportunities before the first game, and we’re going to get a rotation where we can see the guys that we want to see compete and then make a decision on who should be the starter.”

But one of the other things that was interesting with Richt is the question was brought up if he was going to retire anytime soon. This is what Richt had to say, via Mark Schlabach:

Richt said he has no plan to retire anytime soon. "I'm going to do it as long as the Lord says to do it."

— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) July 16, 2015

It’s good that Richt is not going anywhere anytime soon, but one of the things that generated the most buzz (literally) is Mark Richt’s new haircut. Jenkins had to take a double take when he saw it for the first time. Here’s what he had to say, via Dayne Young of WALRB:

 

#UGA LB Jordan Jenkins says the players didn't recognize Mark Richt after his buzz cut haircut. #Dawgspic.twitter.com/65Pwx5QV2M

— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) July 16, 2015

Mitchell was on hand because he’s expected to have a strong season for the Bulldogs after missing all of 2013 with an ACL injury, and he struggled last season because he was still recovering from it. Here’s what he had to say about making his comeback (via Les East of the Advocate).

“I’ve learned patience, I’ve learned persistence, I’ve learned to stay passionate about the things you love. I’ve learned to hold on to a dream long enough to see it through.”

 

Key Takeaways

One of the things that fans learned while reading about and watching the Bulldogs at media days is that it has been a quiet offseason for the Bulldogs. Jake Rowe of 247Sports said that someone asked Theus the question about that, and he said that the overall character of the team is good. He also mentioned the leadership in the locker room, and character development has also played a factor in the quiet offseason.

That is a good thing because the Bulldogs can focus on the task at hand, which is winning the SEC East instead of finding out when and if a certain player can join the team because of what he did during the offseason.

And speaking of the SEC East, the Bulldogs are the heavy favorite to win the division. The media voted on who would win the both divisions and the conference, and the Bulldogs got the most first-place votes with 166, which is well in front of second place Tennessee, who got 36 first-place votes (via Natalie Roe of the Red and Black).

Who the Bulldogs play will be a mystery because Alabama is picked to win the SEC West, but the winner of the conference will be Auburn…Go figure.

One of the reasons the Bulldogs are a favorite to win the SEC East is they could have one of the best offenses in the nation. However, with a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer, one would think the offense will be different, right?

That probably won’t be the case because Rowe said that Richt told the media when they were looking for a new offensive coordinator, they were looking for someone who had the same philosophy as himself and former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Richt also told the media that the plays they will run this season won’t be a lot different than what they ran last season.

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