NCAA Football

Power Ranking USC's Positional Units for 2014

What USC lacks in numbers from three years of NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations, the Trojans make up for in talent...

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Why Florida at Alabama Is a Dark Horse for 2014 SEC Game of the Year

The Iron Bowl? Must-see television. And if you're lucky enough to be able to afford a ticket to the game between Auburn and Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 29, buy one. Or two.

Georgia at South Carolina in Week 3? Sign me up. With the exception of 2012, when it was in the middle of the season, the game routinely establishes the landscape for the SEC East.

Texas A&M at South Carolina on the first Thursday of the season? Absolutely. Life without Johnny Manziel meets life without Jadeveon Clowney in a game that will tell us a lot about both programs.

If you're looking beyond the headlines and want to find that one diamond in the rough that could serve as the dark-horse SEC game of the year, look no further than Florida at Alabama on Sept. 20 in Tuscaloosa.

Yes, Florida was mediocre at best and laughable at worst last year, sputtering to a 4-8 season. And yes, Alabama was a "kick six" away from either pushing the Iron Bowl to overtime or possibly winning it in regulation and taking home the SEC West crown. 

But this game between the Gators and Crimson Tide will serve as a tremendous gauge for both programs. Here's why:

 

What It Means For Florida

Florida's first three games are tune-ups for this big one. Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky—all in "The Swamp"—should allow new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to fine-tune his offense in game situations leading up to the trip to T-Town.

By the time the Gators face the Crimson Tide, they'll have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't within the new offense. If that means it has evolved into a wide-open attack in which quarterback Jeff Driskel slings it all over the field, then so be it. If the offense has been put on the shoulders of running back Kelvin Taylor and become more of a ground-and-pound no-huddle, fine.

Florida will have an identity at this point, and a win over Alabama would signal that the Gators are, indeed, "back."

But what if Florida loses?

That game kicks off a stretch of five games in which the Gators will travel to Tennessee after a week off, host LSU and Missouri, and then take a week off before traveling to Jacksonville to take on Georgia in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (yes, we still call it by its proper name).

If Florida falls to Alabama—and perhaps more importantly, if it's battered and bruised—the game with the Tide could serve as the beginning of the end for head coach Will Muschamp.

 

What It Means For Alabama

This game is huge for Alabama on both sides of the ball.

Transfer quarterback Jacob Coker—the likely starter—is very much a mystery. After three games against lesser opponents West Virginia, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss, he's still going to have a bit of mystery surrounding him, although we will know much more about him over the first three games than we do now.

Say what you will about the Gator offense, but Florida's defense is a different animal. The Gators boast one of the top secondaries in the country, a supremely talented linebacking corps and a front four that can get after the quarterback. 

Coker hasn't seen anything like what Florida is going to bring to the table, save for some "twos vs. ones" while he was serving as Jameis Winston's backup at Florida State. 

We'll know in this game if Coker is the real deal and can lead Alabama back to the division title and beyond.

Defensively, this will be a big test for head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

The Crimson Tide struggled with no-huddle teams with running quarterbacks during the final two games last season. If Driskel can get some help from his receivers, Florida could boast a multi-dimensional no-huddle attack that won't just give Alabama fits, but the rest of the SEC and country.

Fail either or both tests, and Alabama may not live up to expectations. Succeed in both areas, and the Crimson Tide will be nearly unbeatable in 2014.

 

What It Means Nationally

If Florida beats Alabama, it would eliminate any margin for error the Crimson Tide have in the SEC West, elevate Florida into the SEC East and national title discussion and give the the SEC one more true contender for the inaugural College Football Playoff.

If Alabama beats Florida, it would remove any lingering doubts about new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and hurt Muschamp's case to keep his job—especially if Florida looks bad in the process.

If that job opens up, it could have a domino effect throughout all of college football.

Go ahead and get your popcorn ready for all the SEC headliners, but save a bag or two for Florida at Alabama on Sept. 20. It will have a big impact on the entire college football season, even if it isn't the first big-time matchup that comes to mind this year.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com and all schedule information is courtesy of FBSchedules.com.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alex Ofodile Commits to Oregon: What 4-Star WR Brings to Ducks

Oregon has dipped its hands into the Midwest to land perhaps its biggest recruit of the 2015 recruiting cycle: 4-star wide receiver Alex Ofodile, who committed to the Ducks on Tuesday after taking an unofficial visit to Eugene last Friday.

Rob Cassidy of Rivals.com confirmed the initial reports:

Rivals250 WR Alex Ofodile confirms TV report that he has committed to Oregon. @DucksSportsAuthority

— Rob Cassidy (@Cassidy_Rob) June 24, 2014

Ofodile is a huge get for the Ducks, who have well-documented wide receiver problems in 2014 and could always use more depth in the future. He is the No. 73 overall player and No. 8 wide receiver on the 247Sports Composite; no other top-30 wide receiver has committed to a Pac-12 school.

Although he doesn't fit the archetype of a modern Oregon wide receiver (short, fast, scheme-specific), Ofodile has the physical tools to become a featured weapon in Mark Helfrich and Scott Frost's offense. He checks in at 6'3", 185 pounds, which is rare size on the outside for this scheme, but he also runs an alleged 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.

The Oregon offense is all about scoring quickly and creating long gains. On that front, here is how ESPN Scouts Inc. (subscription required) described Ofodile's big-play ability:

Shows very good short-area quickness to get into open space and get over the top. He is a guy who once is in the open field with a straight line he possesses the ability to build speed and pull away from people. Shows acceleration properties that you don't often see and bigger wide receivers. His combination of size, speed and ability to get away from press coverage makes him a consistent vertical threat. Can play on the inside and outside. Makes a lot of plays from the slot position in a crowd. Will extend in traffic and know he's going to get hit. He's got great toughness. Has a very sound football player that is reliable and at the same time produces a lot of big plays downfield. Is much better after the catch than you might think. Is quick to accelerate, can make the first defender miss and stretch down the sideline.

That is almost a verbatim description of what a receiver must do in this offense. He can play from the outside or the slot, he can get away from press coverage, he can make the first defenders miss and go.

The fact that he stands 6'3" is almost icing on the cake.

Oregon landed another tall receiver this past cycle in 4-star recruit Jalen Brown. Brown stands 6'2" and has a similarly lanky frame to that of Ofodile, but he does not have the same vertical speed. He is more of a possession receiver—a blocker and a red-zone threat.

On top of that, the Ducks have a pair of redshirt freshmen—6'0" track star Devon Allen and 6'2" Darren Carrington—who possess good size and blistering downfield speed. They will both be around until at least 2015 (and likely longer), and B.J. Kelley is another track star who will be a junior in 2014 and should stick around for his final season.

That is the trio Ofodile will compete with for playing time in 2015, while Brown, Dwayne Stanford and Chance Allen compete in a possession-type role. Any way you swing it, Ofodile is coming to a good spot with an opportunity for early playing time but not an expectation for immediate development. This team could use another instant-impact receiver by the 2015 season, but it probably will not need one. 

Even though it was surprising—based on his recruitment and the three Midwestern powers (Missouri, Notre Dame and Oklahoma) so hot on his trail—it is not hard to figure why Ofodile wanted to leave home and head for the Pacific Northwest.

What receiver doesn't want to play at Oregon?

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alex Ofodile Commits to Oregon: What 4-Star WR Brings to Ducks

Oregon has dipped its hands into the Midwest to land perhaps its biggest recruit of the 2015 recruiting cycle: 4-star wide receiver Alex Ofodile , who committed to the Ducks on Tuesday after taking an unofficial visit to Eugene last Friday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Power Ranking Texas A&M's Positional Units for 2014

The Texas A&M football team will have more talent and depth on the field in 2014 than it did in 2013. The Aggies have multiple positions where their overall depth should lead to improved results on the field in 2014. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have done a tremendous job of turning over the roster with SEC-level talent. They have recruited consecutivetop-10 classes and stocked the depth chart with players with the requisite size and speed necessary to compete for SEC titles. 

The Aggies have improved depth, but they do not have great depth at every position. There are positions on the roster where there are multiple NFL prospects and other positions where they are struggling to put SEC-level starters on the field. 

This is a look at the positions on the 2014 Aggies football team from the weakest to the strongest. The positions will be judged by overall depth and the presence of high-level players in the starting lineup. 

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Insider Buzz: Why 2015 Stud QB Travis Waller Could Start Day 1 for Oregon

The Oregon Ducks are on the hunt for the next star quarterback, and they are hoping to find him in the Class of 2015. According to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian4-Star dual-threat QB Travis Waller recently received an offer from the Ducks. Waller has many similarities to current starter Marcus Mariota.

Will Oregon be able to land the West Coast signal-caller? If it doesn't, where will it go from there?

Watch Adam Lefkoe and Justin Hopkins talk about Oregon's QB future.

 

Highlights Courtesy of XOS Digital

Rankings from 247Sports Composite

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Insider Buzz: Why 2015 Stud QB Travis Waller Could Start Day 1 for Oregon

The Oregon Ducks are on the hunt for the next star quarterback, and they are hoping to find him in the Class of 2015. According to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian , 4-Star dual-threat QB Travis Waller recently received an offer from the Ducks...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Is Steve Spurrier Right? Has Nick Saban Really Underachieved at Alabama?

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is a gem. 

No, he's more than that. He's a national treasure. 

Well, at least if you're a fan of offseason soundbites that create conversation during the slowest time of the college football year.

When discussing his "work smart" approach, which allows Spurrier and his staff more free time than other staffs, with Josh Kendall of The State, the Head Ball Coach took a thinly veiled shot at Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

How many SECs has (Saban) won there in eight years? He’s won two. He’s won three nationals, but he’s only won two SECs in eight years. Now, if you had the No. 1 recruiting class every year and so forth, I don’t know if he has maxed out potentially as well as he could.

First and foremost, Spurrier has built two SEC programs into powers, and he's earned the right to say whatever he wants. 

But is he right?

In this instance, not really. 

Winning national titles and SEC championships takes elite talent, fantastic coaching and a lot of luck. In the case of Alabama, and every team in college football, sometimes those pieces don't add up.

Take last year for example.

Cornerback Deion Blue's nagging injury, the revolving door at the other corner spot and injuries and suspensions in the secondary prevented the entire defensive backfield from developing at a level that has become expected in Tuscaloosa. As a result, the Tide were lit up by teams that could pass like Texas A&M and Oklahoma and didn't play disciplined against Auburn—even though the Tigers didn't take advantage of all those opportunities through the air.

Plus, think about where Alabama was when Saban took over. 

The Crimson Tide were wallowing in mediocrity, averaging just 6.5 wins per season from 2003-2006, although 10 of those wins were later vacated. They hadn't won a national title since 1992 before Saban's arrival and hadn't represented the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game since 1999.

It was a program dripping with potential that had lost its way. Essentially, it was Florida when Spurrier took over in 1990.

During Spurrier's run in Florida, he won six SEC titles and one national championship in 12 seasons. Conference titles came easy to him, but national titles did not. Considering the caliber of athlete he was working with in the Sunshine State, it's a comparable resume.

Just because you win the recruiting national championship—something Alabama has done every year since 2011—doesn't mean you should win the actual national championship every year. It means you should contend for it, something Alabama has done every year since 2008, Saban's second year in T-Town.

It's all about perception, and Spurrier knows this.

He knows that Alabama's still the 900-pound gorilla in the SEC West, and any way he can generate either positive buzz for his program or negative buzz for a team within his own division, he's going to do it.

That's what makes Spurrier great. He's going to speak his mind, and even though he's wrong in this instance, he has earned the right to speak his mind.

Never change, Head Ball Coach. Never change.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.


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What Mammoth 4-Star OL Tyler Carr's Commitment Means for Auburn

Tyler Carr committed to Auburn on Tuesday morning, capping off the latest battle in a continuous turf war between the Tigers and Alabama. The 4-star offensive lineman narrowed his options down to the pair of SEC powerhouses in advance of the announcement:

Carr, a rising senior at Southside High School in Gadsden, Alabama, emerged as a top target for both in-state programs early in the recruiting process. Auburn offered a scholarship last June, while the Crimson Tide extended one in September.

The 6'5", 311-pound prospect collected an expansive list of collegiate choices during the course of his recruitment. Miami, Georgia, Penn State and Florida are just a few of the teams who came up short in their pursuit of the powerful blocker.

Carr commands respect in the run game as a road grader who can clear out rushing lanes in a hurry. His size and strength is apparent, but short-area quickness sets him apart from massive linemen who struggle with coordination.

Auburn gains an athletically-gifted force who physically mauls opponents, but doesn't solely rely on raw power. Carr is precise with his first punch off the snap, swiftly gaining leverage against his defender.

He uses a formidable base to burst through with his lower body while directing traffic and clearing holes. Carr also demonstrates an understanding of when it's time to disengage and get to the second level as a play develops downfield.

Simply put, he's the guy you want to run behind on 4th-and-inches.

Carr, who lined up at left tackle last season, is an explosive downhill blocker but may be best suited for a career at guard in college. He doesn't appear to possess the lateral agility to handle speedy pass-rushers off the edge and could make a more immediate impact by moving inside.

Rated 10th nationally among guard recruits in 247Sports' composite rankings, Carr is the fourth offensive lineman to commit to Auburn's 2015 class. The three others—Kaleb Kim, Bailey Sharp and Marquel Harrell—are each from Georgia.

Carr understood there was some urgency to reach a decision considering the Tigers' stockpile of talent at the position.

"They are only taking five spots and they have three filled," he told John Talty of AL.com earlier this month. "It's getting nitty-gritty. They said if that's where I want to be, I shouldn't wait too long."

Carr elected to make the call early this summer, rather than wait for others to fill the Auburn bandwagon. The Tigers hold 16 commitments in a class that rates sixth nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings.

Auburn now awaits an announcement from in-state tight end Jalen Harris, who is scheduled to choose either Auburn, Alabama LSU, Miami or Vanderbilt Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M 2016 Commit OL Greg Little Will Be Future NFL 1st-Rounder for Aggies

Greg Little is considered the top recruit in the 2016 class. His massive size and technique are just a few attributes that have all the top programs drooling. Little recently committed to Texas A&M, giving the team a huge win in the recruiting game.

The Aggies hope that Little can follow in the footsteps of many previous offensive tackles who come through College Station. How big of a get was this for A&M?

Watch College Football Analyst Michael Felder break down this future Aggie.

 

Highlights Courtesy of XOS Digital.

Rankings from 247Sports' composite rankings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Defensive Duo Poised to Blow Up for LSU Tigers in 2014

LSU is looking to run the SEC this year with many players stepping into huge roles for the Tigers. Two names that stand out as key contributors to the LSU defense this year are Danielle Hunter and Tre'Davious White.

A strong defense to accompany the high-powered offense could lead to a very tough team to beat. Who do you think will break out this year for the Tigers?

Watch Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee provide their thoughts.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

At Which Premier Florida Program Will Stud RB Jacques Patrick Have Most Success?

Jacques Patrick is one of the toughest runners you will see in the 2015 class. This Florida native looks to be keeping his talents in state, with Florida, Florida State and Miami still in the mix.

Patrick has what every team is looking for in a collegiate running back. Only time will tell where this stud ends up. Where do you think he will land?

Watch College Football Analyst Michael Felder discuss where he thinks Patrick will land.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Rankings from 247Sports' composite rankings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Octavis Johnson Commits to South Carolina: What 4-Star ATH Brings to Gamecocks

South Carolina picked up three commitments for the 2015 class Monday, but none was as important as that of 4-star athlete Octavis Johnson, a projected defensive back from Clinch County High School in Homerville, Georgia.

Johnson announced the news with this tweet:

Picking up Johnson is a nice coup for the Gamecocks, who were always one of the favorites, but never the sole favorite, to land his services.

Per Phil Kornblut of GoGamecocks.com, Johnson had declared Tennessee his favorite as recently as last week and took a visit to Knoxville this spring. However, Clinch County assistant Rance Morgan explained that South Carolina was always in the back of his mind:

He had been thinking about South Carolina for awhile and South Carolina was always in his top three. He visited Tennessee a couple of weeks ago but kept thinking about South Carolina. He's been following recruiting and seeing the commitments picking up and he had to protect himself. He didn't want anything to slip away so he went ahead and pulled the trigger.

So, what does Johnson bring to the table in Columbia?

Versatility, mainly. He is capable of playing cornerback, safety, wide receiver or running back, and the Gamecocks can use him either (a) where he fits best or (b) where they most need a contributor.

At the moment, it looks like he might fall at the intersection of those two things. South Carolina is in desperate need of cornerbacks—according to Bleacher Report's Charles Bennett, converted tailback Jamari Smith is slated to start in 2014—and Johnson would prefer to begin his career in the defensive backfield instead of on offense.

"The wide receiver coach wants him to think about playing on the other side, but he wants to play cornerback," Morgan told Kornblut. "His favorite player is Champ Bailey."

Johnson isn't quite as long or fast as Bailey, one of the best defensive backs in football history, but he can do some of the same things. He is quick, and he breaks well on the ball in coverage. Here is how ESPN Scouts Inc. (subscription required) described Johnson as a prospect:

Johnson is a fun and exciting prospect. Plays in a very conservative, run dominated offense without many perimeter plays for him to be involved in. Would need to add bulk and strength to his frame to become a fulltime runner on offense. Measurables may be better suited for defense unless he's employed as a utility weapon in the spread offense which may be where his upside is the greatest. Will likely receive mid-major attention as well as some programs from the big five conferences.

STRENGTHS: Johnson is a quick, dynamic athlete who shows versatility to play in all three phases of the game. As a runner, has the speed to get the corner. Shows good balls skills to attack the football on both sides of the ball. Can break on the ball well in zone coverage. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Lacks top end speed. Shows some hip tightness to change directions suddenly as a defender. Will need to add more bulk and strength to his frame. ... BOTTOM LINE: Johnson could be recruited on either side of the football. Is a versatile athlete who does not do any one thing great but has potential to be a BCS caliber prospect.

Johnson is 6'1" and weighs 181 pounds. Those are pretty good measurables for a new-age type of cornerback. He has the height to defend longer receivers on the outside and the speed to chase quicker ones down the field on fly-and-go patterns.

He ranks as the No. 266 overall player and the No. 24 athlete on the 247Sports composite. His composite grade (.9019) would rank him as the No. 24 pure cornerback in the 2015 class.

Together with fellow Gamecocks commit Mark Fields, the No. 12 pure cornerback in the class, Johnson gives South Carolina a foundation for a very good secondary in the future. No. 12-ranked athlete Jalen Christian is also capable of playing cornerback (although he is more likely to play receiver), and No. 27-ranked safety Antoine Wilder helps round out the promising secondary group.

South Carolina's 2014 class included three 4-star cornerbacks—Wesley GreenD.J. Smith and Chris Lammons—along with 3-star early enrollee Al Harris. Because of that positional depth, there is a chance Johnson might be asked, at some point, to try his hand at safety in order to keep the best five defensive backs on the field.

Either way, he and the rest of these younger players should fill a need—and soon—for the Gamecocks. The secondary might struggle a bit in 2014, but the future at the position is bright, talented and deep.

Johnson is another big reason why.

 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Projecting College Football's 2014 All-Breakout Team

Last summer, was Jameis Winston a household name?

Two summers ago, did you know anything about Johnny Manziel other than that small dustup with the law?

Everett Golson didn't even really have a job two summers ago, and all he did was lead Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship Game.

The unknown is what makes college football beautiful. Players come from out of nowhere to not only shine in the spotlight, but translate that to success after their college days are done.

Who are this year's candidates to break out? Our picks are in this slideshow.

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Despite Getting Burned, Nebraska's Dual-Sport Recruiting Efforts Won't Stop

Darin Erstad knows what Bubba Starling and Monte Harrison went through. He's been there. That doesn't mean he could make their decisions for them, though.

For the second time in four years, the Nebraska Huskers missed out on a touted recruit. Harrison decided to play pro baseball instead of playing two sports at Nebraska, much like Starling did in 2011.

Two-sport student-athletes are rare, and the time and physical demand are the major reasons. But they're not the only reasons. It’s also because of Major League Baseball.

Universities are faced with the challenge of competing against the promise of millions of dollars from MLB teams when trying to recruit athletes, whether or not they play multiple sports. Two of the more notable and recent cases involving two-sport athletes for Nebraska are Starling and Harrison.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini recruited Starling as a quarterback, while Harrison was scouted at wide receiver. Both were expected to play baseball as well, so more time and effort were expended to recruit them. In the end, Starling and Harrison both decided to play pro ball instead.

With those disappointing results, is it worth recruiting dual-sport athletes? Nebraska baseball head coach and former dual-sport Huskers star Darin Erstad says yes.

“Nobody knows how it’s going to end up,” Erstad told Bleacher Report. “You look at Ryan Boldt, our center fielder, who was a projected first-rounder. He had an injury in the spring of his senior year and he dropped down in the draft a little bit. If we had stopped recruiting him just because we thought he was going to get drafted, fine. But he’s here.”

JC Shurburtt, 247Sports' national recruiting director, agrees.

“As far as effort goes, you have to weigh your time accordingly,” Shurburtt said. “You never know. All of recruiting is a gamble.”

The money that professional baseball potentially offers is a major challenge, though. As athletes weigh their decision, it can tilt the scale away from choosing college.

“It all boils down to how much money [a professional team] is willing to give you,” Erstad said. “That part of it is really the deciding factor. What’s your price tag for having a great college experience versus starting a professional career?”

Money definitely does talk, as it did with Starling and Harrison. However, former Nebraska dual-sport athlete Khiry Cooper noted it wasn’t everything.

“If all you want to do is play baseball and you would play for free, it makes your decision really easy. If you are set on going to college and wanting to experience things, then do that,” Cooper said. “Money won’t last forever.”

So that’s what Erstad and Pelini sell to recruits: the college experience.

“You lay out the college experience and the opportunities you have to grow and to get your degree started,” Erstad said. “For football, you get to play in front of 90,000 people. That’s just an unbelievable experience. It gives you an opportunity in a college setting to continue to develop in both sports and not have to make a decision on one or the other right out of the gate.”

It’s a strategy that both Erstad and Pelini used in recruiting Starling and Harrison. As the Omaha World Herald’s Jon Nyatawa reported, Erstad and Pelini have a great relationship. It’s one they’ll use again in the future if dual-sport athletes present themselves.

Those athletes don’t come around often, though.

“A trend you’re seeing is players under the illusion that they’re going to go play football and basketball, or football and baseball, then they get to college and it’s just not realistic,” Shurburtt said. “It takes a special player to do both in college.”

Cooper was one of those players. From a recruit’s perspective, he acknowledged the decision wasn’t easy. The Shreveport, Louisiana, native experienced the decision process firsthand in 2008. He was a fifth-round pick in the MLB draft who also had to weigh a future of playing two sports for the Huskers.

“It was a very tough decision, probably the hardest that I have made in my young life,” Cooper said. “I went back and forth for a while.”

As for what helped shape his decision, Cooper credits faith and family.

“My faith played a huge role, as well as my mom,” Cooper said. “I prayed about a ton and continued to talk to my mom about things and the possibilities. In the end, Nebraska felt right, I felt a peace in my heart about it, and I have never looked back.”

Erstad understands the importance of family in the decision.

“For most things, it’s just what each individual family decides is best for them,” Erstad said. “Some choose to want to try and get ready to chase their dream of being a major league baseball player, and some value education on a much higher level. It’s a complete family decision.”

Family was the deciding factor for him when he was choosing between college and a professional career out of high school.

“My mom told me I was going to school,” Erstad said. “It was pretty much the end of that conversation.”

As each player and family weighs their options, it doesn’t always fall in the university’s favor. Shurburtt doesn’t believe that should stop any program from recruiting them.

“I don’t think it’s a situation where you don’t recruit Bubba Starling or Monte Harrison,” Shurburtt said. “I think you need to go get them.”

Erstad agrees. “I’m not going to stop recruiting a player because he’s too good.”

When looking at Starling and Harrison specifically, Erstad would not have changed a thing.

"In the two cases at Nebraska with Starling and Harrison, not all guys go in the first round and get offered millions of dollars," Erstad said. "When you take a guy like Monte, he wasn’t a projected first-round pick when we started the recruiting process.

"As the summer goes on and he continues to develop at a very high level, his stock rises. At the time you’re recruiting them, they’re not slam-dunk first-rounders. That’s what happens. You have good players that continue to develop and they go up in the draft, that’s just a part of the deal. If you don’t want to deal with that, don’t recruit good players, but that’s just not going to happen [at Nebraska]."

Additionally, Shurburtt pointed out there are dual-sport athletes who do work out at the collegiate level.

"There are only so many Bo Jacksons, Deion Sanderses and Jameis Winstons out there, but they're out there."

Winston is a fine example of why Pelini and Erstad continue to recruit potential dual-sport athletes. The Florida State quarterback and pitcher/outfielder was drafted in the 15th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft but ultimately selected the college experience.

In the end, recruiting dual-sport athletes is a risk, but it’s one Erstad will continue to take.

“You’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some,” Erstad said. “You can’t stop going after good players. You just never know what’s going to happen.”

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jack Allison Commits to Miami: Hurricanes Land 2016 4-Star QB

Miami got a jump-start on its 2016 recruiting class Monday evening, scoring a commitment from 4-star quarterback Jack Allison from Palmetto High School.

Allison reported the news with this tweet:

Allison is the No. 249 overall player and No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the 2016 class, per the 247Sports Composite. Of the top-22 ranked QBs in the class, he joins Feleipe Franks (LSU), Shea Patterson (Arizona) and Zach Smith (Baylor) as only the fourth to commit to a school.

At 6'5", 200 pounds, Allison has the obvious trappings of a good pro-style passer. He has a strong arm (which should only get stronger as he matures), good accuracy and a solid head on his shoulders.

Kipp Adams of 247Sports spoke flatteringly about his skills:

Miami has assembled an impressive collection of quarterbacks under Al Golden these past few recruiting cycles.

Projected 2014 starter Kevin Olsen was a top-100 overall player in 2013, Brad Kaaya was a 4-star recruit and Elite 11 finalist in 2014 and Dwayne Lawson is signed up as another 4-star recruit in 2015.

Allison joins that group and becomes another dart thrown at the board. Quarterbacks are difficult to predict but important to develop; landing multiple big prospects is vital because you can never know for sure which one(s) is(are) going to pan out at the college level.

With Olsen and Kaaya both enrolled and Lawson committed, Miami already had a pretty good hold on its future at the position. It had a buffer. Now, it can feel one promising prospect safer.

This is another good get by Golden and his staff.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU Football: Strengths, Weaknesses and Secret Weapons

One of the toughest parts about LSU head coach Les Miles' job is reinventing his team on a year-to-year basis.

Miles has seen plenty of his talent head to the NFL with eligibility remaining. When that happens, he has to restructure different aspects of his team.

Last season, LSU had one of its best passing seasons ever. Miles relied heavily on new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, quarterback Zach Mettenberger and receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.

That will change next season, as Mettenberger, Landry and Beckham Jr. departed for the NFL.

Because of the changing roster, strengths and weaknesses of a team can change on a yearly basis. Here is a look at what the Tigers might look like next season.

 

Offensive Strength

Miles will have to rely on his offensive line next season to carry the offense, especially early in the season. As a former offensive lineman himself at Michigan, he has no problem with that.

The Tigers return four of five starters up front, led by left tackle and coveted 2015 NFL draft prospect La'el Collins. Left guard Vadal Alexander, center Elliott Porter and right tackle Jerald Hawkins will all be seasoned veterans next season.

The only position that needs to be filled is at right guard. First-year offensive line coach Jeff Grimes will make a decision between seniors Hoko Fanaika and Evan Washington for the starting spot.

Last season, the offensive line was above average. Miles will need it to be superb as the young offensive weapons gain experience.

 

Defensive Strength

On the defensive side of the ball, college football fans across the country will know the names of Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson by the end of the season.

White and Robinson form arguably the best cornerback duo in the country. They both showed All-SEC potential when they became starters as the 2013 season went along. They will also have talented backups in junior Jalen Collins and freshman Ed Paris.

LSU had its first major off-the-field incident of the offseason when RedStickNow reported on June 11 that senior safety Jalen Mills was arrested for second-degree battery.

There is no telling if Mills will play next season, but the Tigers have Ronald Martin, Corey Thompson, Rickey Jefferson and Jamal Adams at their disposal to form a solid safety pair.

The Tigers also have athletic linebackers in Kwon Alexander, Lamar Louis and Debo Jones that are superb in pass coverage. Alexander and Jones each returned an interception for a touchdown in the spring game.

The LSU pass defense was porous at times last season. Expect the unit to be improved next season.

 

Offensive Weakness

Following the footsteps of Mettenberger is not an easy task. The two quarterbacks battling for that opportunity are freshman Brandon Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings.

According to The Advocate's Scott Rabalais, Les Miles said he is not opposed to playing both quarterbacks. Nevertheless, Miles will eventually have to make a decision between Harris or Jennings for the starting role.

The bigger question mark, however, might be at wide receiver.

Travin Dural, the leading returnee at wide receiver, only caught seven passes last season. The only other wide receiver returning that caught a pass last season is Quantavius Leslie. Miles will look to John Diarse, Avery Peterson and Rob Bolden to step up.

LSU did sign four receivers in its talented 2014 class, headlined by 5-star Malachi Dupre. Expect Dupre to crack the starting lineup at some point.

The LSU passing attack will go through growing pains this season with young and inexperienced skill position players. But expect offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to find ways for his offense to be productive through the air.

 

Defensive Weakness

LSU's pass rush was below average last season. The Tigers' defensive ends combined for fewer than 10 sacks. For perspective's sake, 18 players had double-digit sacks last season.

Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco both return with starting experience and should form a solid duo. Hunter showed off his speed at the spring game, as he raked in two sacks. Backups Frank Herron, Lewis Neal, M.J. Patterson and Tashawn Bower should help as well.

The Tigers need more push up the middle as well. Quentin Thomas, Christian LaCouture, Maquedius Bain and Greg Gilmore will be the players to keep an eye on at defensive tackle.

There should be some improvement in the pass rush next season. With that said, until the Tigers prove they can do a better job of getting after the quarterback, it should be a concern.

 

Offensive Secret Weapons

Barbe High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has produced two 4-star receiving threats over the past two recruiting cycles. Luckily enough for Miles, they both chose LSU. 

Tight end DeSean Smith only caught one pass as a true freshman last season. But after a solid showing in the spring game, expect Smith to revitalize a position that has been below average at making plays through the air over the past two seasons.

Wide receiver Trey Quinn is a dark-horse candidate to be one of LSU's leading playmakers as a true freshman. Quinn was one of the four wide receivers LSU signed in the 2014 class. He broke national records at the high school level and could be a factor as a special teams returner.

Smith and Quinn will both undoubtedly be productive performers in their LSU careers.

The only question remaining is if they break out this season. If at least one of them does, the Tigers' passing attack will be stronger than expected.

 

Defensive Secret Weapon 

LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis is known for his exotic defensive schemes. Chavis' best might be the 3-2-6 "Mustang" package. The defense calls for six defensive backs to be on the field at once.

The most effective season of the "Mustang" package was in 2011, when LSU had lockdown defenders across the field.

Morris Claiborne and Tharold Simon played as traditional corners on the outside while Eric Reid and Brandon Taylor were the traditional safeties. However, the players who made the defense special were Tyrann Mathieu and Ron Brooks as the nickelback and dimeback, respectively.

If White and Robinson play at a high level on the outside, look out for Dwayne Thomas to be a productive playmaker in the role of either Mathieu or Brooks. Thomas played spectacularly at times at the position last season, highlighted by the game-clinching sack and forced fumble against Arkansas.

Expect Thomas to surpass his three sacks from last season and be a constant pest for opposing quarterbacks.

 

Recruiting information, stats and additional information provided by 247Sports.com, cfbstats.com and LSU Sports Information. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

16 Craziest College Football Stats from BCS Era

Though the BCS scheme itself has been referred to as crazy, the 16 seasons it dominated college football resulted in some of the wildest stats in history.

The era paid witness to a dramatic rise in the popularity of the game, creating a financial windfall that raised the stakes for everyone with a hand in the pot.  This wave of opportunity coincided with an unprecedented offensive explosion, spurred on by the need to manipulate the BCS computers with style points.

It all added up to one of the most exciting periods in history, producing some record statistics.  Though there are hundreds of numbers worth revisiting, here is just one crazy stat from each of the 16 years of the BCS era.

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Pac-12 Football Players Under Most Pressure for 2014 Season

Each passing day brings us one step closer to the start of Pac-12 football, and we're taking a look now at the players under the most pressure in 2014.

Pressure can take many different forms comes. For example, some players are feeling the pressure to finally realize their potential and become an NFL target. Others are replacing key names from the 2013 season and will feel some pressure to replicate their production.

Finally, there are some guys whose play will make or break the entire season. In order to become a championship-level squad, you need an entire locker room giving 100 percent, but some players are more important than others.

For example, the Ducks can probably survive if one of their three tight ends has a bad game. If Marcus Mariota plays poorly, however, the team is in trouble. The guys who carry the most weight will definitely be feeling the pressure this year.

Take a look at the five players under the most pressure to come up big in 2014.

 

All stats via cfbstats.com.

Begin Slideshow

Pac-12 Football Players Under Most Pressure for 2014 Season

Each passing day brings us one step closer to the start of Pac -12 football, and we're taking a look now at the players under the most pressure in 2014. Pressure can take many different forms comes...

Begin Slideshow

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